Lone Mountain Ranch – the final days…

Day 4: Yellowstone National Park

Can you believe I’ve never been to Yellowstone National Park?  So when we booked our trip to Lone Mountain Ranch they were running a special- a private Yellowstone tour!  PERFECT for our 5-year anniversary trip.  The ranch has tours into the park and you go in a little mini-bus, but for this tour we got to take the black SUV and moved at our own pace.  Yellowstone is shaped like a figure 8.  There is the upper half (including Lamar Valley where a lot of the animal sightings are) and the lower half (featuring Old Faithful).  I so badly wanted to see wildlife BUT since I hadn’t yet seen old faithful we figured we’d do the lower half and see what we could see for wildlife.  We met Colleen for an early start at 7 AM.  It took about an hour to get to the park entrance.  We saw several waterfalls and we arrived in time to see Old Faithful erupt.

We saw the famous Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and we saw wildlife.  We saw trumpeter swans, bison, and a black wolf feasting on a carcus that Colleen thought looked like an Elk. Everyone was pretty excited about the wolf spotting.  I on the other hand was not so impressed.  They had several binoculars and telescopes set up and we still couldn’t see it.  Finally Fred pointed out a (small) black dot hopping out in the field and I zoomed in with my little camera.  I was thankful to get a decent (although blurry shot).  But seriously– this thing was a LONG ways off! But it was still fun and exciting to see. I was only slightly bummed that we saw no Elk, Moose, or Bear.

We left the park at 3:30 and had a brief moment to stop along the road and say high to Kyle, Fred’s cousin that lives in West Yellowstone, before heading back to the ranch.  That night was prime rib night-.  It was a wonderful feast.

Day 5: Cowboy Breakfast and Canoe Trip on Cliff Lake

It was a chilly morning today!  We met some of the ranch guests at the stable and loaded up the wagons.  The horses took us up to the small cabin in the woods and we had our cowboy breakfast.  This was a GREAT breakfast, WONDERFUL-COZY atmosphere, and all around awesome!  We both enjoyed it very much.

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The inside of the cozy cabin for breakfast, during the winter months they bring the sleighs up and have dinners at this cabin!

Kali Armstrong (pronounced Kay-Lee), one of the wranglers, sang for us up at the cabin.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Watch for this little lady- she will be in Nashville before too long and I’ll bet we’ll see something from her!

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Allow me to introduce: Miss Kali Armstrong!!

After breakfast today we left and did another all day trip!  We met up with guests Joe and Jane and headed out with Mike, our guide, towards Cliff Lake.  It was a 1.5 hr drive.  Before we came into the beautiful clearing we rode through this prairie.  Looked like nothing was around, except the antelope!  Yes we saw antelope!

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Sorry for the blurr but can you see them?!  THE ANTELOPE ROAMING!

As we passed from prairie to a little bit more country and finally more into the mountains we came upon CLIFF LAKE.  A BEAUTIFUL lake.  The words “water like St Thomas” came out several times.  Beautiful tropical green-blue waters!  We canoed and saw birds… oh! And a snake! And then we had lunch.

When we got back to the ranch we went to eat supper.  Joe and Jane came shortly after we had ordered so we invited them to sit and enjoy with us!  We enjoyed our talking with them.  On Thursday nights in Big Sky, in the summer, they have a local come in and play music in the park- we decided as a group to go into town and check this out.  We got the ranch SUV to drop us off in town and then we walked around a bit.  BOY did it attract a crowd!

Having enough of it we decided to try walking back to the ranch.  We could’ve called but we decided we wanted to walk.  The cautious men calculated that it would take 28 mins to walk the 1.2 miles and they were concerned as the sun was setting fast.  So we hurried along to get started and BOY I am glad we chose to walk.  As we were going I was in the lead and I happened to look up the hill and low and behold what should I spot?!

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A {COW} MOOSE!!

Now- needless to say I was THRILLED to see this cow moose and a little breathless at the same time…(because I was a little nervous)!  We snapped our pictures and then Fred urged us along as it was fast getting dark and we didn’t want her to charge there was nothing but 2 trees separating us from her.  As we neared the highway we had a beautiful last night sunset viewing.

And at that point we decided it would be safe to take our chances on the highway than to chance running into other “unseen” animals on a trail we were unfamiliar with.  When we got back we stoke the outdoor fire in the fire pit and helped ourselves to some s’mores before saying our goodbyes to the other couple and heading to our cabin.

Day 6: the final farewell

This morning we enjoyed one last fire in our stove, I enjoyed the ranch slippers as I sipped on my hot mint chocolate tea!  Ahh- very relaxing indeed!IMG_20170829_071311852

I managed to get the Stable manager to allow Fred and I to take one last short horseback ride at 8:30 (instead of the 9:30 ride) so that we could be back by 9:30, shower, and out of our cabin by 10.  The weekend we left the ranch was full with an incoming destination wedding so we needed to be out early.  So they obliged and gave us one last trail ride with Kali! We enjoyed our talks with Kali and our trail ride.  After that we headed to our cabin for a quick shower and to get our bags out of our cabin.  Then we got the ranch SUV to take us up to the Big Sky Ski Resort so we could walk around.  There were shoppes, tons of restaurants, and places to stay.  We could’ve ridden the ski lifts up the mountains for more great views or even taken a tram up to the point of the mountain but we chose to just walk around instead.  Around noon we went back to the ranch for lunch before catching our 1 pm shuttle to the airport for our late afternoon flight.

I was truly surprised at how peaceful and relaxing this busy trip was.  While we hiked or horse-backed or canoed we were BUSY but when we got back we’d have an hour here or there and we’d just lay around.  We read the bible, talked, played outdoor games like horseshoes, hiked on our own and sometimes just totally SAT.  It was wonderful.  I just told Fred last night- I miss our little cabin and the creek flowing by! ~Until Next Time~

So what did you think of our adventure?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any questions you might have for me on this beautiful ranch and this beautiful state!

Safe Journeys-

Megan

 

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Adventure at Lone Mountain Ranch – hiking and horseback riding!

Day 2: life on a ranch:
One thing you will want to know about the ranch is that it is a very LAID back atmosphere.  The breakfasts don’t open up until 7.  (I’m fine with that because I like to sleep in).  And most trail rides don’t start until 9:30 and the day trips don’t start until about 8-8:30 unless you pre-request something different.  So surprisingly we were awake at 6 AM.  We ate breakfast at 7 (and were about the only people there that early!).  We then hiked some of the trails around the ranch and we ran into our first wildlife sighting, the mule-deer.  I was pretty excited even though I thought “we see deer all the time at home”.  (I was hoping for moose or bear?! I must be crazy to want to see a bear–)

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The mule deer was just ahead on the walking path right in front of me. Can you see him taking a peek at me?

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Once we came through the trees the mule deer were in a clearing. How many can you find in this picture?

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baby mule deer following mom…

After the hike we met at the activities/lobby area and went on a hike to Ouzel Falls.  We drove about 3 miles to this trail head and spent the morning there.  There were about 6 other people besides Fred and I and our guide, Martha.  The falls were beautiful and the hike was wonderful!

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We made it!

After hiking and lunch we had our “intro ride”.  Anyone that plans to ride horses while there you must do the intro ride so they can see the level you are at and also to familiarize yourself with the horse that is “yours” for the week.  Joe and Jane are a couple from Georgia and they were on our hike to the falls with us and they also showed up at the same intro ride as us.  There were just 4 of us on this ride and our wrangler, Sarah.  We had so much fun!  Joe had never ridden a horse before and did great!  They were a fun couple and we ended up spending time with them or chatting with them frequently.

That night was the BBQ themed evening.  Instead of eating at Horn and Cantle we met up at the Pavilion.  It was fun times under the “tent” with a bonfire going and even a gentleman playing the guitar.  It was a great evening.

Day 3: a day on the trails!

Today was my FAVORITE.  It was the all-day trail ride.  We had heard we were going to Sage Creek with two other guests but when we got to the stables our wrangler, Lindy, thought since we were more experienced riders than the other two ladies that we’d like the ride up to Bear Basin instead (note:  we did NOT see bear…).   It ended up just being Fred and I and the wrangler.  It was GREAT! We had just walked out of the stables and it started to rain.  A little ways up the trail we stopped to put our slickers on.  It did stop and we enjoyed a lovely and beautiful day the rest of the time.  We even got to trot with the horses which was fun- but hard on the back end– we were feeling it by the time we got back at 4:45 PM.  After supper we came back and pretty much went to bed.  We were exhausted and a little sore- but it was SO fun!

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Bear Basin

My final post will be about our last two days in Montana and more importantly our private day tour into Yellowstone National Park.  I hope you are enjoying our adventures in the “Treasure State”…

Safe journeys- Megan

Adventure at Lone Mountain Ranch- just the beginning!

INTRODUCTION TO OUR TRIP:  
Most of you that know me know that I am a beach-going, sunshine-searching, palm-tree loving, warm-weather only, kind of girl!  So when the Zika virus interrupted ALL of my 5-year anniversary plans I looked to my husband for suggestions within the US 48.  He surprised me when he suggested a dude ranch.  We had said we’d like to try one of these–some day– sometime.  But now?  Having just planned a few for other guests I decided I SHOULD try it out.  So we started looking.  First of all let me say there are dude ranches in ALOT of states, but we settled on Montana- Big Sky Montana to be exact.  I had never been to this beautiful state and after we booked I was actually getting PRETTY excited!  The day came and we were both SO ready for a little getaway.

We flew from Peoria through Minneapolis and into Bozeman- we arrived early around 10:15 AM.  Bozeman is about a 1 hr drive to the ranch.  We were met at the airport and picked up by the ranch.  They had “carton” water for us (better for the environment) and snacks in the SUV.

Introduction to Lone Mountain Ranch and Big Sky, MT:

Lone Mountain Ranch is located (as stated previously) in Big Sky, Mt.  Big Sky is home to about 25% of the people the other remaining 75% of the population is the people that come and go to the 2nd and 3rd vacation homes…  Big sky has also morphed into a big time ski outfit in the winter.  While the “town” dies the Ski Resort at Big Sky is bustling with activity.  Last year Big Sky built a new medical complex in part with Bozeman health!  Big Sky has an “old” downtown area and a new “central” townplace.  The ranch is 1.5 miles from the townplace.  It can be reached along a busy highway OR via a nice little hiking path.  When full the ranch has about 70-80 guests.  We were full the week we went (the last week in August) and I will tell you we saw people but I don’t feel like we saw 70-80 people.  They hosted theme nights: BBQ Night, Prime Rib Night, and a Cowboy Breakfast (OUR FAVORITE! Don’t miss it!).  They have 97 horses, several trailheads, and other outdoor activity options ranging from Canoeing, trips to Yellowstone, Fly Fishing, and White Water Rafting.  They have 1 restaurant – the Horn and Cantle, reservations are recommended as people from town also come in and eat.  We didn’t know this until we left but there is also a menu at the Saloon (attached to the Horn and Cantle restaurant) that is different from the main restaurant and you can order off there too!  We chose the all inclusive plan (vs the Bed and Breakfast plan).  We got all our meals and water, tea, soft drinks.  Alcohol was extra.   While the food was good (Desserts were the BEST part) it was very “nice” meals and at times we wished for something simple like pizza, chicken tenders, or just an easy burger.

Day 1: arrival to the ranch / orientation

I’m going to let the pictures do most of “talking”.  Upon arriving and stepping out of the SUV onto the crunchy gravel I looked at Fred and whispered– “I feel like I just arrived at camp for the week”.  He smiled and we headed to check in. It was nice we got there around 11-11:30 and we got right into our cabin, no waiting around.  They dropped our bags off to the door and handed us each a back pack.  The manager, Alex, walked us over to our cabin and showed us around.  SERIOUSLY you guys– I can’t get enough of our little cabin.  It is SO quaint and cozy and just PERFECT for our 5-yr anniversary trip!  It is smaller than a hotel room but was all we really needed.  It had a nice bathroom and the bedroom had two nice leather chairs with an old record player on a stand between them.  After Alex left we turned on the record player and talked while we got settled in.  There was also a corner stove that we happily lit a fire in every evening and sometimes in the mornings!  It was chilly but the baseboard heat would’ve been enough but we loved the smell of the wood smoke and the crackling fire.  We were in the Porcupine cabin.  We shared a deck with the Chipmunk cabin.  The North Fork creek bubbled right in front of our cabin.  It was so wonderful and truly peaceful!

And this is just the beginning!  I have so many pictures and I have so much more to tell you– so- I’m going to make this a 3-part blog post!  Stay tuned to learn about the rest of our 5-year anniversary getaway to Montana!

Safe Journeys- Megan

What’s in Nebraska?

As a travel counselor we have lots of continuing education in the form of conferences and online studies.  Learning about all the different, new and upcoming destinations, along with all the new ships and tour operators!  There is so much for us to learn!  Oftentimes in life we learn from our own trials/errors.  And oftentimes we find we learn from others.  At least I do!  That’s what happened to me this spring!  While sitting in my office with a client and having some casual talk she mentioned the really neat Zoo in Nebraska.  (INSERT: Jaw dropping)  Now, no offense to those that live in Nebraska but other than Tornadoes and flat roads/highways I didn’t think there was ANYTHING else in Nebraska, at least nothing “touristy”.  BUT!  I was wrong!  I’ve been educated!

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Arriving into Nebraska at dusk

So being the planner that I am- I took a trip that we had planned to Iowa (to go see my in laws) and turned it into a family vacation.  They were excited to join us on our adventure so we met up with them in Nebraska, stayed 2 nights, hit the zoo and then came back to Iowa for a relaxing weekend with family.  From Central IL it is a 6-hr drive.  For my family in Iowa it was about 3.5-4 hours.

A little bit about Nebraska- {Omaha to be exact}:
I recommend you check out the Visit Omaha website!  There are LOTS of quaint places with lots of great eating places- perfect for the FOODIES out there!  There is shopping and things to do!  One of those things to do with families is to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

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View of the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, NE

It was a good experience.  Fun for the kids and lots to see.  But I will say I wasn’t impressed with the “shows”.  Rather there weren’t any shows– they had Sea Lion training, Elephant training, and Lion training and really it was just giving the animals commands while a narrator told what they were doing and checking with the animals.  I was SUPER excited for a sea lion show with my son but the show started 5 minutes late (not good with an active, needing-a-nap 2-yr-old) and then did not hold his attention because they didn’t really do anything.  The show ended quickly after it began.  We were all pretty disappointed.  So don’t waste time with the shows!  But I will say the exhibits all had LOTS of viewing areas so you were never “on top” of other people trying to get a “peak”.  There were plenty of windows to move about and see the animals.

While it would’ve been so fun to go “downtown” and eat and walk the streets, our kids were NOT in the mood to be able to do that!  After a long day and heat everyone went back and crashed at the hotel for a short time before we found a BBQ joint nearby, Smoking Jays BBQ.  A mom and pop shop with pretty affordable and good food.  We then spent the evening back at our hotel swimming pool and in our cozy comfy beds!

Another tour option nearby Omaha is Council Bluffs, IA.  We chose to stay here as it was a tad cheaper in price and was about 7 minutes away from the Zoo and the rest of Omaha.  We stayed at the Springhill Suites Marriott.  I could write a blog post on this alone!  Suites are  so nice when traveling with kids.  We also took advantage of the free hot breakfasts! Afterall, who wants to pay for a buffet for a 2-yr old that is going to pick around and eat like a bird?! My niece and sister in law are gluten free and we were pleased with their selection of items available for them as well; they had yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.

So let’s break this down!

Omaha for the families:
YOU GUYS! I’m still learning so much about this place and we seriously will need to plan a trip back!  Here are some things to do with your family– in this family-friendly destination!

  1. Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, get up close to the worlds fastest aircraft, Walk under, sit in the cockpit, or peek into the bomber bay of rare warplanes!
  2. Visit Bob The Bridge!  I would’ve loved to take a walk on this Bridge!  Did you know it’s taller than the leaning tower of Pisa?!  It floats 60′ above the Missouri River!
  3. Float down the Elkhorn River in a tube!
  4. Catch a kid-friendly show at the Rose Theater; a fully-restored 1927 theater showcasing childhood favorites!
  5. Rent Heartland B-cycles and go for a family ride through Omaha city parks. (Ages 12+)
  6. Visit the Heartland of America Park and go for a gondola ride similar to those found in Venice, Italy.  Then marvel at one of the worlds largest shooting fountains!
  7. Eat, Play, and Ride at the Amazing Pizza Machine.  A 60,000 sq ft funhouse filled with indoor rides, arcade games, and pizza!
  8. Train lovers?  Walk up to Kenefick Park and visit the Centennial No. 6900 and the Big Boy No 4024, two of the most powerful locomotives ever built.
  9. Explore the First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park, featuring more than 120 bronze sculptures.
  10. Visit the Children’s Museum!

I’m thinking Fred and I just may need to go back ourselves even, as a couples getaway.  We would stay downtown and visit the Old Market, Midtown Omaha, Central Omaha and so much more!  Each of the entertaining areas deserves to be scouted out and observed!

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Finally- our hotel was located near a large BASS PRO SHOP!  With two “outdoorsy” guys we couldn’t say goodbye to Coucil Bluffs without a stop!  It was fun.  I tried my hand at shooting some fake raccoons, never fear, my aim is terrible.  I think I shot 1 thing (out of 25).  My husband fared a little better….

And finally, after our fast trip to Omaha and the zoo we headed back to Iowa.  There we had the privilege of eating dinner with one of my clients that I get to call MY FRIENDS!  I love the PEOPLE aspect of my job.  I love making YOU happy and I LOVE that the relationships turn into friendships.  I am blessed and thankful!

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Sorry for the blurry picture and the lighting.  It was late and kiddos were tired!  A fast snapshot was all we got!

Safe Journeys,

Megan

Wicked: A weekend in Chicago

So two years ago I took an amazing group of people to Chicago for an overnight trip to see Disney’s the Lion King- on Broadway in Chicago.  I have long wanted to see Lion King so why not have others join us?!  It was a fantastic weekend!  Christmas Shopping, friendly conversation, and a wonderful stay at the Westin on Michigan Ave.

SO- when I saw that my FAVORITE Broadway is coming to Chicago I knew this was another opportunity for me to see it again!  I say again because this will probably be my ….fourth time going?  This is one of my favorite shows.  And you know?  When I FIRST heard about this show; the word WICKED alone; made me think it was something I didn’t want to partake of. I thought it must be a very bad show!  But you know- someone TOLD me about it and RAVED about it so for my birthday one year my sister and I went to see it!  IMG_0602.JPGIt is simply the pre-story to the WIZARD OF OZ! Now i’m guessing MOST of us can say that we have seen, at some point, the Wizard of Oz.  You know– Somewhere Over The Rainbow?  {Random insert:  Interestingly enough I have to share that I JUST TODAY saw that 30 miles from my hometown in Bloomington, IL there is a grave, Infant Dorothy Gage who died of congestion of the Brain at 5 mos old, her aunt and uncle were so devastated that the uncle- writer Frank L Baum, used Dorothy’s name in the Wizard of Oz?  Seriously ?  How cool is that?}

SO– back to Wicked!  Here is the excerpt from the website explaining the story line a bit; I like to abbreviate this explanation; I usually tell people that it is a story about friendship.

“The untold story of the Witches of Oz.  Wicked looks at what happened in oz from a different angle.  There is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin, smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent.  Then she meets a bubbly blonde.  Their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one GOOD and the other one WICKED.” {excerpt as taken from the Wicked The Musical website}

Besides a wonderful story-line, both humorous and endearing, you will hear AMAZING songs (yes I own the soundtrack!!) that, if like me – they just might move you to tears.

So in January, (12-13, 2018) I plan to return to Chicago for a weekend of “Wicked.”  I have roundtrip rail tickets from Bloomington to Chicago, roundtrip transfers to/from the hotel and to/from the show, 1 night staying at the fabulous Westin on Michigan Ave, and tickets to see WICKED!   This is a GREAT opportunity for a couples getaway, a mother-daughter(s) trip, or a ladies group trip!

So won’t you consider joining me? Space is limited- contact me today to reserve your space!  Megan@dreamsellertravel.com or 309.696.5890

Safe Journeys-
Megan

Bloggers Block

Sometimes I get bloggers block– I get stuck on one thought or how something NEEDS to be and I can’t get past it.  Believe it or not, even if my posts are sometimes few and far between, I actually enjoy writing!  I might not be any good but I enjoy it none the less.  Putting my thoughts down on paper.  As a young girl I kept a journal and I wrote stories.  I even shared it with my 8th grade English teacher for pointers in hopes of some day getting published.  And then I found other things I also liked to do– typing, office work, TRAVELING, and eventually “mommying”.  And these things took over my writing.  It is this newest job title of mommy that delays me from sitting down immediately to jot down my thoughts.  Then the “thought has left me” and I feel it wasn’t very important anyway and no one wants to read it.  So I don’t write about it.

To be honest, when I set up this blog I did it after a travel conference I was at.  Encouraging us to blog about our passion:  TRAVEL.  That excited me and so I started up a blog.  But you know what?  This season in my life of being wife, mommy, and THEN Travel Agent isn’t full of exotic destinations and getaways.  It is full of day to day REAL LIFE.  It’s full of diaper explosions, snotty noses, potty training, biting, speech and swim lessons, teething troubles and tears, some days LOTS of tears.  But hey, its real life.

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Teething Troubles for Little One

So I get stuck in “bloggers block”– thinking I need to only write about travel.  But lets be real, I haven’t blogged because I haven’t had a getaway to blog about since last summer.  And if I blog about where I’ve been or where I want to go then discontentment can easily creep in, or even make me feel like I’m “less” of a travel agent because I haven’t been EVERYWHERE!  But let’s be realistic!  This is a BIG world– has anyone been EVERYWHERE?!  So since I don’t have exciting travel things to blog about I wasn’t blogging, even if I had other things that I wanted to say that weren’t travel related.

So today i’m changing that and going to try and get out of my Bloggers Block.  The reason I named my blog “All My Passions” was so that I could feel free to talk about anything I’m passionate about and that my friends is my faith and my family and my travels if God allows me the opportunities to travel.  If my posts continue to bore you or don’t provide enough “travel” insight then perhaps you’d like to go over to my facebook page or to my website to see more travel-related content.  Here you are going to get it all:  the good, the bad, and the ugly at times.  That’s all.  Nothing fancy, not always about an exotic destination- just real.  The insight to the woman behind the Travel Agent!

Safe Journeys,

Megan

 

 

{Belated} Fathers Day Thoughts

So as usual it’s been awhile since my last post.  And I was going to do better this year on blogging but here we are…. Fathers day has come and gone and I couldn’t even get this posted on time.  But that’s OK.  We spent the day worshiping the Lord our Savior in church and then with family so it was OK that I didn’t have time to sit down and jot my thoughts down.  I didn’t even have time to go to the cemetery to see my dad’s grave.  And that’s OK too, because kids sleep schedules and the busy rush of getting to church on time always seem to interrupt going to the cemetery.

As I sat in church and listened to the message on Fathers Day (I actually got to listen as my daughter was napping and my son was with Grandma!)…I was touched and convicted.  He spoke of the older men helping to guide the younger fathers in the room.  Get rid of your pride- no you weren’t perfect- but teach us so we can learn from your mistakes!  And somewhere in time my heart and thoughts drifted to my own dad- as it always does on Fathers day and I felt compelled to teach and encourage others out there.  This can apply to both sons and daughters but being a woman I am more directly focusing on the daughters!

You might be a young teen or in early-womanhood years, or a mommy of your own with small children at home, or a mother with grown children; regardless of your “status” now- ALWAYS remember….you were FIRST a daughter.  A daughter first loved by her Creator and Lord whether you’ve accepted that fact as truth or not, the truth still remains.  And second a daughter loved by her earthly father.  You’ve heard it said (and I can attest to this) you won’t know the love of your parents until you become one yourself.  Being a parent, so full of LOVE, JOY, and EXCITEMENT as you watch your child grow is SUFFOCATING.  (in a good way).  Some days I am so full of this joy and love that I feel I cannot breath or that my heart will BURST with the emotions I feel.  You will not understand this until you become a parent.  As a parent you want nothing but the best for your tiny loves.  When we watch them go through hurts or pains we want to “fix it”, help, and guide, all through an aching heart.  And sometimes as children we are resistant to this help and that causes a strain and a friction in the relationship with our father- both heavenly and earthly.

While everyone yesterday was posting pictures of their fathers giving them away on their wedding day I was thinking…  I have no high school graduation pictures with my dad,  he wasn’t at my baptism at church when I publicly announced Jesus as my Lord and Savior, nor was he at my wedding to give my husband words of wisdom on how to “deal with his daughter”, and he wasn’t there to hold his precious grand-babies that he would love SO much.

OH Daughters.  Stop what you are doing.  Stop the “yeah but…” thoughts and the “but he said” or “he hurt me”… just stop.  Whatever your relationship with your father good or bad, RUN to him.  Hug him like you never have before. Hold tight.  Smell his scent.  Hear his laughter, watch his eyes well up with tears at your sudden change of heart, and whisper I LOVE YOU DADDY.  If you are at odds with your fathers this will be hard to do.  But let me tell you– if he was on his death bed it would be the easiest thing for you to do.  And you would be sobbing and wondering if he heard you and if he really knows how much you love him.  Don’t wait- don’t wonder or assume  he knows.  Do it for him.  Do it for you.  Because someday he won’t be there anymore and you will forget what those strong hugs from daddy feel like.  

Happy Belated Fathers Day to my Fathers in Heaven.  I will always love you!  Until we meet again–

Megan

 

Like a child…

Recently in the early morning hours my daughter of 3 months woke me with her cries.  She NEEDED me and was pleading for me to come to her with her ferocious cries.  I knew she was hungry and begged to be fed.  As I prepared her bottle and quickly picked her up from her crib I attempted to comfort her with my light whispers and my touch.  As I settled into the rocker I attempted to tuck her burp cloth around her chin to catch any dribbles.   As I did this her head tossed from side to side as she frantically searched out her food source and her arms flailed about in frustration as her wailing grew louder and more adamant.  Taking one of her arms I gently tucked it underneath mine to contain it and once again attempted to begin feeding.  This time her face turned into the burp cloth and nibbled anxiously at the cloth, the fake food substitute that wasn’t food at all but how she longed for something!!! Finally I managed to get her head aligned with the bottle and she sucked fervently until she succumbed to sleep. As I rocked her and fed her and changed her and cradled her I wondered with a smirk on my face “doesn’t she know I want to help her?  Doesn’t she know I’ll take care of her but she is hindering me with her flailing arms and tossing head?”. 

And that’s when I stopped still.  And prayed.  I realized that I too, a “grown” women, am just like my child…my infant baby in fact.

We ALL are.  You see it starts with….we ALL need something! So we cry out to our Father.  Sometimes the middle of the night or during daytime or morning hours.  Pleading and begging for Him to come.  We NEED help, grace,peace, answers to our questions of why.  We demand answers and understanding.  We say “thy will be done” but we continue to toss out heads and flail our arms thinking He hasn’t heard us or He isn’t there doing anything.  And He thinks, “doesn’t she know I want to help her?  Doesn’t she know I’ll take care of her but she is hindering me with her flailing arms and tossing head?”. 

So He continues to holds us.  Cradles us, loves us, and whispers love to calm us but our cries of anguish and our demands drown out his Fatherly voice of calm, reason, and patience…

This is human nature.  My daughter was born with the ability to cry and be heard so I would know to come to her and give her nutrients.  We are born with that same ability.  It’s okay to cry out to God and to share our hurt, frustrations, fears and sorrows.  But then we must fight our “infant childlike” nature and pray dilligently and leave it there.  Resting calmly and waiting while He holds us and loves us.  He WILL answer in his timing.  He will come to us and answer our calls. Don’t stuff your fists into your mouth or your burp cloth by finding other sources of things to comfort you.  NO! Wait on Him.  He is there working to help you.  Let Him work.

Praying for you today my friends that you can seek HIM and cry out to him… Wherever you are in life.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!”

Safe journeys!

Megan

A Costa Rican Honeymoon!

Hard to believe that five years ago today, Monday January 16th, my husband and I headed off on our honeymoon! We’d had a great wedding and reception on Sunday surrounded by our family and friends and had left the reception and drove to Chicago.  We spent the night in one of the park and fly hotels and the next morning took the shuttle to the airport.  These hotels are great options and are available from most airports.  Allowing you to pay for a good nights sleep and get free parking while you are gone.  Sure beats those airport parking charges!

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Arriving to Liberia Airport, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

About Guanacaste, Costa Rica
We flew into Liberia Airport, Guanacaste area of Costa Rica.  Guanacaste is considered the “Next Hawaii” as it is just as diverse in its region as the islands of Hawaii.  They are also experiencing a “building boom”.  Costa Rica has beautiful expansive beaches, many of them with black volcanic sand.  Beautiful sparkling blue and clear water bordered with forest life. The WEATHER in Guanacaste is drier that the rest of the country and can be subject to drought.  The rest of the country is by far wetter and is considered more of a rainforest with its own unique area to explore.  Guanacaste area boasts farms and cattle ranches and also has a large cowboy plantation.  Generally speaking, Costa Rica has a drier season (our Winter) and a wetter, rainy season (our Summer).

Accommodations in Costa Rica
We chose to stay all inclusive for our honeymoon.  There are many all inclusive options but we chose the Hilton Papagayo.  (note: Hilton Papagayo has since been re-branded and is now the Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica!)  This property was beautiful and among the things I remember the most is the hillside it was built into and the calm water in front of it!  There was a shuttle that ran around the resort as the rooms were in separate buildings, built into the hillside on some pretty steep hills.  You are welcome to walk it yourself or you can ride from room to pool / food areas.  We did some of each.  The water, since it is on the Papagayo bay, is extremely calm.  Think mild, quiet, lapping waves at your feet.  Not the ocean swells rolling in like your common beach location.  A wonderful beach that had very few people enjoying it when we were there.

Activities in Costa Rica
Well I didn’t want my new husband to be bored on our honeymoon just sitting in the sun!  We scheduled couples massages, a must-do splurge on any honeymoon, in my opinion!  And then scheduled an ATV-Zip lining activity.  Let me tell you!  this was SO fun!  We each got a quick orientation of our ATV’s and then we were off!  We mostly stuck to main roads/country roads and a few fields.  We arrived to the Zip line location and our guide left us while we did the zip-lining.  That was a lot of fun.  We could hear the monkey’s screeching but alas – to my disappointment- they were not to be seen in the trees!!  After the zip lining excursion we were re-united with our ATV’s and guide.  He whisked us off and we took a NEW route home.  This route was fun and a little more “off road!”.  We both had a ball.

There is so much to do in Costa Rica.  Zip Lining and ATV’s are just a small scratch.  You can also do day tours into the central portions of Costa Rica and to the rain forests and volcanoes.  There are multiple land AND sea tour options!  This is a GREAT destination for corporate meetings, weddings, and family travel as there is truly something for everyone- all ages!

Until next time!!  Safe journeys!
Megan

Hyatt Regency Hill Country: In Review

Hyatt Regency Hill Country– another of the signature properties that I recommend.  This is a very nice property!  Sitting just outside the River Walk area of San Antonio about a 1/2 hour.  We chose NOT to rent a car and we used Lyft to get there.  It was not a bad drive and the cost was not bad as we planned to stay and relax at the resort and not be out and about.  However for the more active travelers there are plenty of surrounding “cowboy” towns that come highly recommended!  We would’ve loved to have tried one of these towns but time just didn’t permit on this trip!

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Pulling up to the Hyatt!

This resort is located on 300 acres and boasts 3 golf courses, numerous conference/meeting and ballrooms, and a 5-acre water park.  While we were there (as it was July) there were a lot of multi-generational families there.  Grandpas and Grandmas, Aunts and Uncles, children, and parents.  The property- is exceptional for families and I see it as a great potential meeting point for family reunions and vacations.

The resort is laid out nicely in a way that those adults coming for conference/meetings were near the golf courses and the nice restaurant but were on the opposite side of most of the rooms and the other commotion and activities of the hotel.

When you walked into the resort lobby you could go left to the reservation and concierge desk as well as to a majority of the rooms.  To the right down a hall and past the coffee shop and souvenir shop there were a few more rooms, a restaurant and then that went on to an even longer hallway where you ran into the beautiful ballroom and meeting rooms as well as the fine dining option: Antlers- which I’ll mention more on later.  We did venture to Antlers one evening and had a great fine “southern” dinner out!  Please note:  reservations are recommended at Antlers.

The property hosts 2 presidential suites and 2 VIP Suites.  For those families wanting a more quaint experience consider renting the Sunday House.  It has two bedrooms upstairs and their own private outdoor sitting area with a grille.  This property is on the grounds but separate from the main building and its accommodations.  The Sunday house can sleep up to six and there is a golf cart at your disposal to use around the grounds.

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Our king room overlooking the grounds below

Nearby the Sunday house there is a spa- the Windflower Hill Country Spa; with services ranging from special packages, to body massages and scrubs, nail services, hair and makeup services, gentlemens packages, and young adult services for those under 17.

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Windflower Spa

Plenty to do:  There is plenty to do during the day and night at Hyatt Hill Country.  We mostly enjoyed our days lounging by the adults only pool (shaped like the state of Texas!) and the hot tub with a beautiful waterfall into it!  Nearby there are cabanas that you can rent for the day for your family.  They had small fridge’s in them, TV’s and some chairs.  A nice quiet private meeting point for your family throughout the days activities.  Next there was an activity pool that hosted water volley ball and basketball.  We also enjoyed time floating the lazy river.  My husband even attempted the water slide a few times and enjoyed himself!  Probably one of the most sought after attractions was the flowrider.  You can rent it for $25/hr and they work with you for the whole hr along with a small handful of other participants.  It was fun to sit at Vince’s watering hole and watch the surfers.  In the evening they had S’mores available.  That was a fun experience for the whole family to gather around the fire pit under the stars and roast!  They also had a family movie night under the stars complete with blankets and popcorn.  There are complimentary bikes for your use, a walking/hiking trail (shared with the bikers) and as mentioned previously: golfing!  Camp Hyatt is offered at an additional charge for kids ages 3-12 and offers a variety of activities with the camp counselors such as arts and crafts, face painting, scavenger hunts, board games and more!  When we saw these “campers” around they were always smiling!  You must book these services 24 hrs in advance.

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Adults only jacuzzi!

Plenty to eat:  The Spring house cafe was the main dining establishment serving all three meals.  They offer a buffet or a menu to order from.  We sampled the breakfast buffet one morning and it was good- albeit very expensive we felt from a family view-point.  We also ordered and shared off the menu. In the same waiting foyer as the Spring house cafe you will find the General Store.  Here you could get things like suntan lotion, shirts, jams, pop tarts, muffins, soda, pizza, and more for your purchase.  They also had egg burritos for breakfast and coffee drinks should you want something smaller than what the Spring house breakfast has!   We got their pizza from the General store however and were not impressed with it.  It was fairly generic

We didn’t have a rental car so we didn’t venture out however I would recommend ordering pizza in or even Chinese- as it might be a little cheaper and there were places nearby (just not within walking distance) that you could eat at.  Antlers was the fine dining option.  It was only open Tuesday – Saturday and reservations were recommended.  A great place for “sophisticated Texas cuisine paired with your choice of fine wine”.  Outside there were several pool bars such as Papa Ed’s pool bar and Ice Cream Parlor and Vince’s watering hole.  Great places with great beverage and “lunch” grilled items around the pool.  We had the chicken fingers and the endless chips and salsa and there was so much more!  The ice cream is a little pricey but you got a decent amount for the price.  Finally the Cactus Oak Tavern is located near the golf course and offers sandwiches there for lunch as well.

An additional bonus to booking this property through me or on my website:  you will receive full breakfast for 2 daily at the Spring house Cafe, a $50 resort credit, and complimentary valet parking!

Again- this is a great central stopping point near the downtown riverwalk, as well as other nearby cowboy towns, just 4 minutes from Seaworld and 18 mins from Six Flags San Antonio.  This is a great family-friendly place with an ideal location in central San Antonio Texas!

Safe Journeys-

Megan