Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






China: Day 5

by Kathy 7. July 2010 14:10

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Day 4: Beijing—The Summer Palace & 798 Arts District | Day 6: Xi’An—Within the Walls >>

 

Datong—Hanging Monastery & Yungang Caves

 

We were up at 4:15 a.m. in order to make our early, one-hour flight to the city of Datong. We were devoting a day to seeing two amazing places near there—a “hanging monastery” built into the side of a cliff, and the Yungang Caves containing over 51,000 carved Buddhas.

Here are Genevieve and Sebastian waiting outside of our hutong:

Last night at Qing’s house, she had confirmed our flight information with China Air and discovered that the flight was leaving 45 minutes earlier than the time printed on our tickets. Thank goodness she checked because otherwise we might have arrived at the airport too late to board the plane!

Wangchen got us to the airport on time. Here are Ben and Wangchen:

We grabbed a quick breakfast at the Beijing airport. Sebastian chose a sandwich:

Genevieve and Sebastian, at the small Datong airport:


Because the monastery and caves were far apart, we had pre-arranged (and prepaid) to have a driver and guide waiting for us. Unfortunately, no one was there at the airport. We called the Chinese travel agency that we had used, but we got a recording spoken in Chinese. We tried several phone numbers that we had, and actually reached someone who said spoke to us in Chinese. We don’t speak Mandarin, and the person did not respond to our English.

After waiting half an hour, I was ready to move into “Plan B” mode—we would hire a local taxi driver for the day. Several at the airport had already approached us, asking if we needed a ride.

Just then, a van appeared and stopped in the empty airport parking lot. A woman emerged, looking a little flustered. It was our guide, Li Ann! Hurray! She apologized for being late, stating that traffic had been very bad. We loaded into the van, and off we went.

Our first stop would be the Hanging Monastery, located about 40 miles southeast from Datong.

Li Ann turned toward us from the front passenger seat and began to recite lots of facts about the 2400 year history of Datong and the Shanxi province.

I tried to follow along as best I could, but it took me a while to understand the rhythm of her accent.

Li Ann really was a wealth of information, as well as a very kind person. She studied tourism for 4 years in the capital city of the Shanxi province, Taiyuan, and she has been a guide for about 10 years. She said that she has been to the Hanging Temple about 3000 times (wow!). Her Chinese first name is Ying, which means “hero”; when she was born, her parents thought that she would one day do something heroic.

Li Ann, with Genevieve:

The passing landscape was generally very dry, with buildings that blended with the earth.


At first glance, this photo below appears to show just a wide expanse of open land. However, there is actually a row of buildings near the middle (hint: find the electrical tower).

The drive took about an hour and a half, over some winding roads. We had to stop once to let Genevieve get some fresh air to quell her motion sickness.

Sebastian kept himself entertained with my glove liners:

Li Ann told us that this bright sculpture represents a sunrise, and symbolizes prosperity:

A new public park had a wide expanse of concrete with playground equipment along the edges.

The Hanging Monastery is located on Mt. Hengshan, one of the five sacred mountains in China. At the entrance to the parking area is a tall column topped by the symbol of Chinese tourism—a horse standing on a sparrow.

Perched over 160 feet in the air, and clinging to the side of a steep cliff, the monastery was visually astounding.


Li Ann commented that we had arrived at a good time (late morning), with the sun beaming against the cliff wall. In the winter, the surrounding mountains block all but 2 hours of sunshine from hitting the monastery.

The Hanging Monastery was initially built about 1500 years ago (with periodic restorations). According to Li Ann, the flooding on the valley floor, and the pounding rain and wind on the mountain top, made the side of the cliff seem like the best location. The design, however, required some creative engineering. Deep horizontal holes for the foundation beams had to be painstakingly chiseled out of the rock face. Wooden beams were then inserted into the rock, with 2/3 inside; 1/3 of each beam remained outside to support the various structures. Some of the rooms were partially carved into the cliffside, supplemented by ornate wooden walls.

Under the buildings were a number of long wooden poles that stretched downward, appearing to be adding to the structural integrity.

However, Li Ann said that the posts are mainly for decoration—probably to make people like us feel “safer” when walking out onto an overhanging deck! (I must add, however, that I actually DID feel safer . . . surely those poles added a tiny bit of structural support . . .)

In front of the monastery was a gorge, with a small river and a waterfall that was currently frozen.

On the opposite wall of the gorge, from right to left, were the symbols for “Buddha,” “Peace,” and “Meditation”—all painted in 1997.

We crossed the bottom of the gorge on a low, swinging bridge.

The river flowing through the gorge had been dammed in 1958, so the water under the bridge was merely a small stream.

For safety reasons only a certain number of people are allowed to enter the monastery at one time.  We had heard that there is sometimes a very long line of people waiting to enter. We were lucky today—there was no line at the entrance!

Looking up at one of the towers:

The Hanging Monastery was once a Buddhist temple; however, the last monk left the Hanging Monastery during the Cultural Revolution, when the Red Guard invaded temples, churches, and monasteries throughout China and destroyed many buildings and objects connected with religion. (Many monks and religious people were also killed, tortured or sent off to labor camps.)

Entering:

In one of the first rooms was a statue of a fat Buddha—rubbing his belly is purported to bring good luck, rubbing his hand means that you will get what you want, and rubbing his forehead will endow you with “no worries.” We rubbed all three spots.

Visitors must follow a one-way, winding route through the monastery. Signs pointed us in the right direction:

The buildings are connected by a maze-like series of stairways and bridges, some of them which seemed a bit precarious.


Genevieve and Sebastian led the way:

(Of course, this picture doesn’t have the added sound effects of my voice calling out after them, “Stay close to the wall, please!”)

Sebastian peeked cautiously over the edge:

A view of the ground below:

Visiting the temple is perhaps a true exercise in faith. Although the boards did not creak or move under our feet, we were undeniably perched high above the ground in a structure that was hugging the side of a rock face. We had to maintain the belief that all of the seemingly fragile wooden support beams would continue to hold us in the air.

From their high position, Genevieve and Sebastian could see the frozen waterfall and were looking forward to testing out the ice later:

There were not many people visiting today, so we did not have a flow of bodies pressing us forward through the temple areas. We had plenty of time to linger and admire the architectural details:




The modern, green, mushroom-shaped garbage can was in stark contrast to the traditional elements here:

As we wandered and climbed, we also looked into some small rooms.

One had a statue of Buddha and other figures:

Another room was labeled “Chunyang Palace”--a barren room containing a traditional bed with woven mats and a place underneath for a warm fire.

Above the bed, we could see the faint remnants of a painted gold design, so perhaps the room was once more “palatial.”

Then we reached the “Hall of Three Religions.”

The Hall of Three Religions unifies under one roof the founders of China’s three main religions.

First, there was Sakyamuni Buddha, who is considered the founder of Buddhism:

Second was Laotzu, who is associated with founding Taoism:

And third was Confucius, whose ideas are embodied in Confucianism:

In China, it is considered very unusual to have all three represented together in one room. This feature draws many tourists who view the three figures here as symbolizing hope for religious tolerance, harmony and understanding.

I must say that the eyes on most of the statues were a bit disturbing because someone had chiseled out the original eyes (precious stones, perhaps?). Some of the eyes had been replaced by black stones, and some were still empty.



After the Hall, we climbed more stairs to reach the uppermost rooms of the temple.

Genevieve and Sebastian:

Here I am with Li Ann:

People had placed offerings of money in front of one Buddha:

There were many statues to look at, each one with a story. Li Ann explained the religious importance of every character. Genevieve and Sebastian were definitely on “historical information overload” at this point, and I had reached my saturation point too. Nevertheless, we did enjoy looking at the figures:



Here we are in the last tower room before leaving the monastery: 

Genevieve and Sebastian had been eyeing the frozen waterfall all morning. They couldn’t wait to scoot around on it. However, when we reached the waterfall path, Li Ann insisted that walking on the ice was much too dangerous. Even though the children were very disappointed, we respected Li Ann request and told the children that we could only view it from a distance.

We then drove a short distance to the small city of Hunyuan for lunch at Luyuan Restaurant. The food was basic and good, although we have to learn to ask if the meat has bones in it next time (we are finding that sometimes a dish of pork or chicken consists of small bite-size chunks that are mostly bone underneath the outer fried coating layer). We were not adventurous enough to try the rabbit heads with the brains, which Li Ann said is a specialty in Datong, and very delicious.

With Qing and Wangchen in Beijing, we had all eaten our meals together; however, Li Ann was much more formal and insisted on eating at a separate table with the driver, Jia. (Jia, I must add, had stunned us in the parking lot of the Hanging Monastery, where he had tossed a big paper cup out of the window and laughed. The children, with their deeply ingrained “don’t litter” mentality, had looked at me in horror. I counterbalanced my desire to pick up the cup with my knowledge that to do so would made Jia “lose face,” something that is very important in the Chinese culture. Right or wrong, we drove away with the paper cup still on the ground.)

Here is Genevieve outside the restaurant:

A view down the street:

Our next stop would be the Yungang Caves with the carved Buddhas. To reach the caves, we would be making the long drive back to Datong, and then going 10 miles west of the city.

In retrospect, I should have planned for 2 full days in Datong, with a visit to the caves tomorrow. We were all tired (especially the children), and our brains were full from viewing the Hanging Monastery. However, what little information that I could find on Datong (in English) before our trip had said that the city was not a place to linger (i.e., dirty, not much to see). This proved not to be true, but I didn’t know that when coordinating our travel details back in California.

In any event, Genevieve and Sebastian rested during the drive to the caves. We were finding the drivers in China to be very fluid and easy going. For example, people would pass other cars very slowly, and the oncoming traffic would just move over onto the shoulder. There were no horns blaring or angry gesturing out the window.

New construction was everywhere, including lots of large apartment complexes.

A few years ago, the head of the district had decided that people needed to move out of the cities into the rural areas. The government began resettling people here from the city of Datong, regardless of whether the people wanted to move.

As we got closer to Datong, we saw hundreds of newly planted trees.

In the past, the desert storms north of Datong would often color the sky yellow.  The powerful winds would sometimes blow the sand all of the way to Japan. The Chinese government was promoting the planting of trees to purify the air—and the plan was working! Each year, the air quality was getting better and better. Li Ann said that groups of Japanese people come every year to help plant more trees.

Many large trees had also recently been planted within the Yungang Caves area.

A big blue truck was making a tree delivery:

Yungang Caves (or Grottoes) was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2001. Along with that designation came a huge increase in visitors. (While the UNESCO label is often bestowed in order to recognize and preserve the special characteristics of a site, some say the UNESCO label is a “kiss of death” to many pristine, tranquil places.) The Chinese government was in the process of changing the entire area around the caves, with new buildings that would provide services to the ever-growing flood of tourists.

Near the front entrance, an elaborate complex was being built, complete with bridges over what would be an artificial lake.



Li Ann said that there used to be a village here before this new complex, and that the villagers had all been relocated to a brand new village, ½ hour from here; she hinted that at least some of the people “perhaps” had not wanted to move.

The "caves" are really a series of man-made carvings into a sandstone mountain. Numerous large and small rooms and niches were hollowed out, with over 51,000 Buddha figures that grace the interior, the walls and ceilings, and even adorn the exterior. Most of the carvings were made from 453 to 494 AD by the Northern Wei dynasty, when Datong (then called Pingcheng) was the capital of northern China.

From the entrance to the caves, we looked up and could see some of the openings that had been carved into the mountainside.

The Yungang Caves were spectacular. Jaw-dropping. Really. Words are just inadequate. I had read the descriptions, but I just was not prepared for the true magnificence.

Even the photos cannot convey the wonder of being surrounded by thousands and thousands of detailed statues, bas relief designs, and architectural elements, all painstakingly carved out of sandstone. Here are some of my favorites:









Many of the larger caves had “windows” carved high above the entrance. Some were small, and some were quite large:


Li Ann explained that these “windows” were the initial entrances into the caves. The artisans would start a cave by making a very high hole (the “window”) into the sandstone; then they would gradually carve out the interior of the cave by working inward and downward. Thus, a large Buddha statue would be carved starting from the head.

The effort involved in creating all of the caves must have been tremendous.

Here is an example of one interior wall:

Sandstone is a very soft rock that is eroded easily over time when exposed to harsh weather. Many of the sandstone figures and designs in the Yungang Caves area have slowly disappeared or been damaged over the centuries.




In the 1600’s, the Qing Dynasty attempted to shield a 55-foot Buddha and a 50-foot stone pagoda from further deterioration by building a wooden structure in front of two adjoining caves (numbers 5 and 6)—photos are also prohibited in those caves. Here is the wooden temple facade:


The Qing Dynasty also drilled numerous holes in the sandstone statues in order to cover the figures with a coating of clay, much of which has worn off.

For each of the caves, Li Ann wanted to stop and tell us the story behind the figures depicted, as well as who had ordered the carvings and why.

She was extremely knowledgeable.

Some of the Buddha faces:



To Genevieve and Sebastian, however, all of the figures started looking alike. After the first few caves, they were more interested in finding things that they could crawl onto or under.


They even found small sticks and leaves that they combined together.

Li Ann understood that the children were a bit tired, but she also wanted to make sure that she provided us with all of the detailed stories and tidbits of information related to the caves. Ben could see that I was absolutely enthralled with the caves, so he graciously took the kids outside to the open plaza area, where they could run around, while I listened to Li Ann’s descriptions.

In the end, Li Ann and I visited the last four caves together, backtracking past the entrance to visit cave numbers one through four. I doubted whether I would ever make it back to Datong, and I didn’t want to miss seeing anything. Here I am with the large Buddha in Cave #3:

Waiting for us at the main exit of the caves were numerous vendors, who were very low-key and did not call out to us or try to convince us to buy their items:

We watched in fascination as a crane hoisted the large tree that we had seen earlier.

A year from now, this area will undoubtedly look completely different--transformed, for better or for worse, to serve tourists (like us).

Scenes leaving the Yungang Caves:






Tonight we stayed at the Datong Garden Hotel, which surprised us with its exceptional service, a large comfortable room (luxurious, by our standards), and a plentiful and delicious buffet breakfast, all for less than $100. We were very pleased.

The hotel is in downtown Datong and within walking distance to several tourist sites (a temple, a drum tower, and a 9-dragon screen) that we didn’t have time to visit. We would also have liked to visit the nearby coal mine, which has underground public displays that show different techniques used for extracting coal over the years.

For dinner, we walked two blocks and found a promising restaurant, the Yong He Chinese Food Hall. None of the wait staff spoke English, and we unfortunately had a server who acted completely disgusted and irritated that she had to wait on us. Luckily, she was the only negative aspect of our dinner. The food was good, and the other servers (who giggled and smiled as they passed by) seemed very nice. We were the only obvious tourists there. To convey our order, we pointed at pictures, other people’s dishes, and even elicited the assisted of a helpful customer who provided us with the proper words for “plain rice” (sounding like “mi fan”).

Genevieve liked her pastry dessert:

Here are the children giving a final toast to our wonderful day:

Day 4: Beijing—The Summer Palace & 798 Arts District | Day 6: Xi’An—Within the Walls >>

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Comments (5) -

7/12/2010 7:37:40 PM #

Donnie

Hi Kathy!

Thanks for another great up-date!  You kids sure are lucky to have parents that take them to such cool places!  You have a PM on ADV.

Donnie  

Donnie United States | Reply

7/12/2010 11:26:23 PM #

debbie Messmer

Hi,
I'm planning a trip to China and I'm wondering if you could give me your top five places/ things you saw. We only have 3 days in Beijing and were wondering if it is worth taking a day to go to datong for the hanging temple and caves. We're also wondering about the terracotta army.
Thanks,
Debbie

debbie Messmer United States | Reply

7/14/2010 10:04:38 AM #

Kathy

Debbie, our journey through China was so rich with experiences that it is really hard to pick five "favorites."  However, if I were forced to choose, I would say:  1) experiencing the warmth and hospitality of a family in Beijing, 2) hiking on the Great Wall, 3) visiting the terracotta warriors, 4) staying in a rural community in the gumdrop mountains outside of Yangshuo, and 5) visiting the Yungang caves.  Seeing the Lijiang Impressions show comes as a close 6th.

I am not sure from your question whether your time in China is limited to only 3 days in Beijing, or whether you have 3 days in Beijing in addition to other days that you will be traveling through China. If it is the former, I would recommend just staying in Beijing--there is enough there to fill up your 3 days (and more).  For my husband, visiting the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square was one of his all-time highlights (I loved it too, but it didn't fit into my top-5).  In my opinion, taking a day and traveling to Datong wouldn't leave you with enough time to experience the basic pleasures in Beijing.  

If you are like me, you "want to see it all" (ha! ha!). Without kids, I generally try to squeeze in as much as possible if I know that I won't be back anytime soon.  However, with or without kids, I have to keep in mind that each day must have a balance, with enough space to mentally and emotionally process and absorb all of the things that we have seen and learned at each site.  Sometimes "less is more," if that makes sense.

Feel free to ask more questions!  I hope that you have a great trip!
Kathy

Kathy United States | Reply

9/8/2010 6:28:16 PM #

Genevieve

You're right, that dessert I had was good.

Genevieve United States | Reply

4/4/2012 5:55:20 AM #

Yoga During Pregnancy

Hi, I must say that you have made some good points about Yoga During Pregnancy in the post. I performed searches on this topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Thanks for sharing this information.

Yoga During Pregnancy United States | Reply

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Our travel map



Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
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   Gom Kora
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   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
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Bolivia
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   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
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   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
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   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
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   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin