On The Edge of 50

So it’s a little after nine and we are chilling at a Comfort Inn off Route 1 in Half Moon Bay, CA. So far today we have checked out a few cool art galleries, wandered around San Francisco, walked a section of the Golden Gate Bridge and packed for our flight tomorrow to Maui. We should be exhausted. In fact we are exhausted. But also excited. And ready to be somewhere new, to hike on trails unknown. If we could drive to Hawaii we would. But instead we will tackle long term parking, airport shuttles, and rental cars. Yuck. Will let you know how it goes.

Not so easy packing up the camping gear.


Going up?

Along the Truckee River in Reno

At the Holiday Inn in Reno. It’s morning and I just stepped into an elevator. Woman inside asked if she was on the 15th floor. I told her there are only nine floors. “That’s OK, I always leave a big tip.” Hmmm. She said something about being in the field too long. Then as she walked into the lobby she muttered “just want to take a shower.” We’ve all been there.

The sprawling desert along Route 93 from Twin Falls, Idaho to Wells, Nevada

A Nation of Distance

The falls at Idaho Falls

To paraphrase “Alice Isn’t Dead” (a super cool podcast that Henna has hooked us on), we are a nation influenced as much by distance as we are culture. You feel it when you drive from Chicago to Valentine, NE to Dubois, WY down through Pocatello ID and then to the truly lovely town of Twin Falls where we watched three young men base jump off a bridge into a crazy deep canyon. And we haven’t even driven the road to Hana yet. Anyways here are a few photos from the last few days. You can watch the base jumpers on Corey’s Instagram feed (thirstyboots2).

Entrance to ranch near Victor, ID.

At this canyon in Twin Falls, ID is one of the few places you can legally base jump

Got a little too close to these moose in Cascade Canyon (Grand Teton National Park)

Cascade Canyon. Actually prettier in person than in this picture

4th of July traveling

Every year we are away for this celebratory day. Often we are in Canada, and peace and quiet reign supreme. This year, we are staying in the quiet of Teton National Park choosing to avoid the busy town of Jackson. We woke late, feasted on books, hash brown and eggs then had some adventures; kayaking and exploring. We enjoy the more subdue kind of day in which we stay clear of crowds, drunks and loud noise. Tonight we hope to enjoy the sunset from our back porch and sit by the fire (it’s cold at night). Tomorrow is our last day here in the park and we have a big hike planned to keep us busy all day long. This place is very special to us, and each time we come we find a new spot we have overlooked. I hope you all have such a spot, and if your not there tonight hope you are very soon.


A little roadside humor

Outside the Klown Doll Museum in Plainview, Nebraska

How do you know if your fence is goat tight? Throw a bucket of water at it. If a drop slips through then it ain’t goat tight.

That was the joke I overheard while waiting to see Urinetown at the Fort Robinson Post Playhouse. It was told by one rancher to another. Both of them looked like they knew what they were talking about.

The only other conversational tidbit worth sharing was the man who approached me while I was pumping gas in O’Neill, NE. He told me that I must be happy to be anywhere other than Illinois. When I pushed back a bit he laughed and handed me a business card. Only instead of listing a business it showed a picture of a rabbit in distress saying “What a harebrained idea.” I laughed. No one does humor like Nebraska.

Outside Valentine, NE

A Hipster’s Guide to North Central Iowa



A few beers in at Single Speed Brewery (Waterloo, IA)


For the twentieth time Corey and I left Chicago in order to spend a Summer away from home. Henna of course is also with us but this is only her fifteenth time tagging along (16 if you count the time she was in Corey’s womb). And what did I learn from the experience? Well today I learned that Waterloo, Iowa has been taken over by a band of benevolent (we hope) hipsters.



Expect a lot of camping this summer, but tonight we chose AC and a comfortable bed


Maybe a dozen years ago we would have been camping tonight but with this humidity… forget about it. After a brief flirtation with Dubuque we stumbled upon a former John Deere warehouse in Waterloo that has been repurposed quite nicely by Marriott into an affordable Courtyard. Our hotel room ceiling have to be at least 12 feet tall and are supported by the original columns which are almost as wide as they are tall. We could have spent the night wandering the John Deere museum (well, if it was open we might have; this is still Iowa so everything pretty much closes around 5). Instead we checked out Single Speed Brewery which, of course, is also located in a former factory. Over Brussel sprouts roasted in hoisin sauce and flat bread sourced with local goodies we toasted our amazing luck stumbling upon this Pilsen of north central Iowa. Then we stumbled back to our room ready to begin again tomorrow.



Even the Waterloo bathroom stalls are hip!



That time of year as come yet again.   Road trip/adventure time.  We want to thank everyone who follows us and tolerates/enjoys our posts along the way.  This humble blog started as a way to keep the parents/family in tune to our crazy ways, but then became a cool way to chronicle our travels (plus it keeps Noel’s creative juices flowing).  Noel and I have two very different styles of writing, but as our relationship proves these two forces do quite well together.  Some day we are hoping that Henna will contribute her wit and wisdom; I mean this blog is called Henna…Cor…Noeli days.  Feel free to bug her about this and guilt/encourage her to add her voice.  It’s a smart voice; I’d love for you all to hear it more.

This year is crazy significant for so many reasons.  As by our title, it includes two huge numbers that blow me away. The first one, the 20, signifies how long we’ve been doing this together. Yes, this is our 20th summer sojourn together.  Yikes.  The 50 represents the closure of visiting every state together as a family.  Not that Henna remembers all of them (insert cute shocked smiley face), but like we always tell folks who are in awe of all her travels, we didn’t start doing this for her.  She simply has to come along, whether she derives anything from these adventures is her call….half the time her nose is in a book!  Ha!

It also is an emotional trip because Henna graduated 8th grade this year, and will be heading into high school next year.  Holy crimey!  Where has the time gone?  20 years?  High school?  I want to press the stop button right now.  I don’t recognize this young person we will be taking with on vacation this year.  Honestly.  She used to fill up a back pack with all sorts of toys, crayons, paper, small games, binocular, insect cages, you name it!  This year it was like, ok…a small purse, my phone (so many podcasts to catch up with), and some books.  Next year she might be driving a bit on our trip.  gulp.

grad pic

I know as a parent, each year as traditional events occur, we are more aware of the passing of time and it gives us a punch to the stomach as to how fast it goes.  And where does it go…., and how come I don’t notice the changes in everything until it’s too late…, or how come you don’t ever notice the last time you do anything for your kid?  Like when was the last time I read a book to her?  Or the last time I needed to help with homework?  Last time I HAD to tuck her in or she couldn’t sleep?  So as with every summer, and this one more then ever, I will be holding my finger on that pause button (even if just for 6 weeks). I will be take a long look at this smart, beautiful young person and listen to every word she has to say.  I will savor every moment together and bottle it up inside for when I wake up and can’t see her younger self as clearly as I once could.

I mean come on….look at this face?

baby pic

Who is this little girl?

So now you know my style is the super sappy one.  The- this is where my emotions are in the moment one.  The- I remember things based on how I feel one.  The-I love these two people more than life itself one.  The- gonna savor every single moment I can one.

Time is moving way too fast people.  So have an awesome summer!  Please feel free to comment and let us know what your up to this summer.  We love everyone and will miss you all.  But we always come back more humble, better humans, and ready to better friends and family.  Or at least we try.


Corey of HennaCorNoeli days crew.


A Few Thoughts While Sitting on My “Porch” in Missoula, MT



Noel’s Front Porch (Missoula, MT KOA)


It’s not exactly a porch. I am actually sitting on my former camping chair (Henna stole it from me just before we left town) just in front of my car and facing the campground road. Across from me are two adorable little girls helping their dad/grandpa take down the tent. Every few minutes someone walks by and we wave hello to each other. Just now another family walks by with a puppy and the two girls go nuts. Did I mention that I already skimmed the “Missoulian?” It was delivered to my tent sometime before I woke around seven. Although a bit transient, this is really a nice little town.



Northwest Highway/ U.S. 12 along the Lochsa River in Idaho


So if you take Northwest Highway (which we take several times a day when we are not camping across America) and go through Park Ridge and then Des Plains and then choose Rand Road and then keep going through Wisconsin you will, after a few days, eventually reach us. And maybe, just maybe, Corey and Henna will be awake.



Taos and Santa Fe: Pueblos, Earthships, and Motels


earthship photo

One of the more whimsical Earthships located just outside Taos, NM


After a sandy morning we left Great Sand Dune National Park and then had a killer breakfast in Alamosa. Refreshed we drove south to Taos where, just outside the city limits, we stopped to tour an Earthship. No, we were not smoking any Colorado weed. Earthships, unlike Starships, are very much real. First conceptualized by architect Michael Reynolds in the early 1970s, Earthships utilize recycled materials such as tires as well as solar panels and water filtrations systems to create completely off the grid homes. Rain water, for example, is funneled from the roof into a system that uses the resource multiple times. Much of the living space is also below ground which helps regulate the temperature. The model we were allowed to tour was comfortable, cool, and had a very hip southwest feel. It is hard to pin down exactly how much one of these cost but a quick google search found a 1900 square foot home selling for half a million and a much smaller Earthship priced under $200,000.


Taos was a bit too crowded for our tastes. And overbooked. Regrouping we opted to “plan ahead” which meant that I called a motel in Santa Fe that the three of us stayed at over a decade ago. They only had a few rooms available so we “made reservations.” Knowing then that we had a place to stay we decided to check out the Taos Pueblo where we lingered a bit before taking the very dramatic 70 mile drive south.


Ruins of the original church built by the Spaniards in 1619 but then destroyed during the Spanish Revolt of 1680. Later rebuilt it was destroyed once more by the United States Army in 1847 which at the time was at war with Mexico.

In Santa Fe we showered, went to bed at a reasonable time, and then spent a wonderful day wandering one of America’s oldest city. At night we chilled in the Plaza and listened to some great music by The Battle of Santiago who describe themselves as a “Canadian Afro-Cuban post rock band.” They had us dancing in our lawn chairs.



Hard to take a bad picture in Santa Fe


So now we are rested and one week into our trip. Tomorrow we will be…. I don’t know. And it feels good to say that.



Henna at our temporary home, the Garret Desert Inn in Santa Fe



From Springfield to KC


cahokia mounds

Henna begins the hike up Monks Mound in Cahokia Mounds (just north of St. Louis on Interstate 55). The Cahokia settlement was a pre-Columbian city estimated, in the 13th century, to be larger than then London. As of 2017, admission is free.


It’s raining south of Kansas City. Yesterday, not too far from here, we met a couple outside a gas station. They saw our plates and wanted to talk about the Cubs. He, a friendly fellow dressed in overalls, told us several stories about him and his relatives catching the Cubs nearly a decade ago when they played the Royals in inter-league play. His pick up truck had a Cubs border around the license plate. And he also has a signed Ron Santo rookie card. Nice people.

mother jones monument

Born outside Cork, Ireland in 1837, Marry Harris “Mother” Jones endured the Civil War, the Chicago Fire, and the death of her husband and four children to yellow fever. A champion of miner rights she was once called the “most dangerous woman in America.” She died in 1930 and was buried along side many of the victims of a late 19th century labor strike/massacre.

Near the end of our conversation, with dark clouds forming above, a crazy looking man with a Scooby Doo inflection in his voice (like the cranky caretaker when he pretends to be a ghost) asked us which way the clouds were heading. The man then kind of chortled when I said had no idea and then, kind of like a prophecy, he warned the fourth may be ruined. I guess maybe he was right.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical when Corey first broached her “no plan” idea for this summer. But yesterday, with no commitments in our future, we stopped several times at places we might have otherwise driven by. And thank you Tom, the Bird Man of Edison Park, for recommending we check out the Mother Jones Monument and Cahokia Mounds. The latter was truly awesome and should be considered on par to Mesa Verde.



What to do when your local high school closes? How about repurposing the building as one giant, permanent flea market. That’s what they did in Livingston, Illinois and it makes for a pretty cool stop.


The rain here does not seem willing to move on. But we are. Will catch you up when we get there (wherever that may be).