Tag Archives: Travel

Punta Cana 2009


“The Tradition Continues”

This post is definitely late given that we returned from Punta Cana on July 18th. Busy times lead to prioritization of efforts…the Wykleville blog has taken a back seat. Needless to say, the trip was a hit! As can be seen in the above picture, only two couples (Wykles and Noltings) from the 1st annual adult vacation were able to make it. The Robertsons had family related issues that precluded them from attending the 2nd annual trip. However, in an effort to keep the tradition alive, a flat version of Tina and John made the trip. The “Flat Robertsons” had a blast also! You can see their escapades in a separate photo album here.


Given the great success of last year’s trip, the group decided to return to the same resort Grand Palladium Punta Cana Resort and Spa in the Dominican Republic. The resort was the same and the weather cooperated perfectly, with only 30 minutes of total rain fall during our 7 days. The following pictures are a few shot from our first evening in Punta Cana.

First dinner - Punta Cana 2009First dinner – Punta Cana 2009
First dinner - Punta Cana 2009First dinner – Punta Cana 2009
The whole gang pose with MargaritaThe whole gang pose with Margarita

Before leaving the mainland, we decided that we would again go on the Saona Island excursion due to the immense fun that we had last year. We were not disappointed, as the trip proved again that it was a nice distraction from the daily resort laziness. Our videographer turned out to be the same guy from the previous year. Ricardo claimed to remember us from the previous year…I’m not completely convinced, but it made for a cool instant connection.

Heading to SaonaHeading to Saona
Chris and Shelley heading to Saona IslandChris and Shelley heading to Saona Island
Ready for the gun show!Ready for the gun show!
Shelley soaking at Saona IslandShelley soaking at Saona Island
Wykle's self portrait in the natural poolWykle’s self portrait in the natural pool

This year we decided we would try and venture out and meet some other vacationers. We were quite successful and met many nice Canadians and a group of brothers from England. Here are a couple of pictures of our new vacation friends.

Chris, Shane, Shelley, and Mayra hangin' at the poolChris, Shane, Shelley, and Mayra hangin’ at the pool
Cat, Chris, Pedro, and Shelley pose in the poolCat, Chris, Pedro, and Shelley pose in the pool
Andy, Phil, Chris and the Flat RobertsonsAndy, Phil, Chris and the Flat Robertsons

Conclusions – The second year was as memorable and delightful as the trip last year. We left the island vowing to make the trip again next year. The 7 days of rest and relaxation is therapeutic for both Shelley and I. After 11 years of marriage and kids, it is easy to loose ourselves in the day to day grind and forget about what made us who we are. Love, fun, and sun for us all!!!

To the Capital We Go!


Given our close proximity to our Nation’s capital while in Maryland attending Corey and Jodi’s wedding, the Wykles decided to make a detour to DC.  After the ceremony on Saturday we grabbed Nana and hopped in the van and headed south toward Obama headquarters. It took about 2 hours to arrive at our hotel in Alexandria, VA. Shelley had booked us in the Washington Suites. It turned out to be a older apartment building that had been converted into a hotel. Our room included a full two bedrooms, two baths, and fully functional kitchen. The kitchen appliances were circa 1970’s, but functional and came in very handy to prepare the quick snacks and a few diners.

Eli and Natalie pose in front of the Washington Monument.Eli and Natalie pose in front of the Washington Monument.

Our first day touring was Sunday. We hopped the Metro blue line at the Van Dorn Street station. 45 minutes later and we arrived at the Smithsonian stop. We decided to start off with the Gray Line double-decker bus tour. We hopped the bus at stop #3 on Constitutional Ave and jumped off at the Lincoln Memorial.

Shelley, Eli, Natalie, and Kelly pose at the Lincoln MemorialShelley, Eli, Natalie, and Kelly pose at the Lincoln Memorial
Natalie and Eli strike a pose in front of Lincoln.Natalie and Eli strike a pose in front of Lincoln.
Natalie on the steps of Lincoln's Memorial.Natalie on the steps of Lincoln’s Memorial.

The tour took about 2 hours to see most of the popular DC sites. The weather was gorgeous! The next stop took us to the Natural History Museum. We also met up with a HS friend (and family) of Shelley’s that happened to also be traveling through the area. Both families strolled casually through looking at all of the cool exhibits.

Natalie and Eli in their authentic dress.Natalie and Eli in their authentic dress.
Shelley and high school friend JennShelley and high school friend Jenn

The first full day of touring took at a lot out of the troops. Here is what a full day of sight seeing can do to a person.

Shelley after a long day of walking and kids whining...Shelley after a long day of walking and kids whining…

The second day of touring started off with a great start. We set up a guided tour of the Capital through Representative Davis’s (R-KY) office. Intrestingly enough, the intern that was assigned to give our tour was a former student of Shelley’s…what a small world!

Heading the Capitol tour.Heading the Capitol tour.
Our tour guide (Krista) describing facts about the Capitol rotunda.Our tour guide (Krista) describing facts about the Capitol rotunda.
Eli and Natalie stand in the center of the crypt...the center of DC.Eli and Natalie stand in the center of the crypt…the center of DC.

After the Capital tour, we headed to the American History Museum. Next  we hit the Crime and Punishment Museum. Lastly, to round out the day we ended up at Madame Tussauds Was Museum. The kids (and adults) enjoyed this attraction the most. The figures are unbelievably realistic.

Chris and General Lee have a discussion.Chris and General Lee have a discussion.
Natalie and LincolnNatalie and Lincoln
Shelley giving Bush the look.Shelley giving Bush the look.
Shelley and JFKShelley and JFK
Shelley feeling up the RockShelley feeling up the Rock

Corey and Jodi Get Hitched


Last weekend, the Wykles made a trip to Hagerstown, Maryland to attend the wedding of my brother Corey Morgan and his lovely finance Jodi Bowman. We left early on Friday to make the 7.5 hour car trip to Hagerstown. The trip was uneventful as expected. The ceremony was planned to be a small and intimate with only immediate family and a few close friends. On Friday evening we all headed over to Corey and Jodi’s house to check out all of the byproduct of all of the sweat/tears that has been invested in their 1920’s home. After a tour, the group headed out for dinner and then back to Corey/Jodi’s house to unwrap some wedding gifts.

The gang having dinner the evening before.The gang having dinner the evening before.
Corey and Jodi open a wedding present.Corey and Jodi open a wedding present.

Saturday arrived and the big day was here. We got moving early and decided to get a little exercise prior to heading over the ceremony. The kids hit the pool and Shelley and I tried to keep up with a little treadmill and P90X action. Needless to say, we didn’t execute our timing as we had hoped. We were late leaving the hotel and didn’t realize that the ceremony was 30 minutes away from Hagerstown. Time to drive like a bat out of hell! We arrive at what we thought was 20 minutes late at the Purple Iris at Hartwood in Martinsburg, WV. Thankfully, we made it in plenty of time and a service didn’t kick off until shortly after 12 PM. Whew! That would have been a had one to live down.

The Purple Iris at Hartwood.The Purple Iris at Hartwood.
Jodi and father make the walk.Jodi and father make the walk.
Jodi and Corey with the hand fasting ceremonyJodi and Corey with the hand fasting ceremony

The first kiss as the married coupleThe first kiss as the married couple

The venue was beautiful and the weather was picture perfect. The couple provided a string trio for everyone’s musical enjoyment. The ceremony was an outdoor service and was delivered in an expedient fashion. The ceremony was officiated by Pastor Debra and featured a hand fasting ritual.

The parents and the couple pose.The parents and the couple pose.
Corey and Dad.Corey and Dad.
Corey, Jodi, Eli and Natalie.Corey, Jodi, Eli and Natalie.
Chris, Mom, and CoreyChris, Mom, and Corey
Chris and CoreyChris and Corey

After the ceremony many pictures were taken of all of the attendees. I have included a few of my own that were taken along side the professional photographer. Many more can be located in the photo album.

Natalie starts the signing of the guest plateNatalie starts the signing of the guest plate
The couple's place setting.The couple’s place setting.
The wedding cake.The wedding cake.

To wrap up the perfect day, the couple hosted a lunch reception inside the beautiful Hartwood Mansion. Ordeuvres were served and the attendees were encouraged to sign the guest plate. The plate will capture all of the signatures and will be fired in order to preserve the memory.

Natalie Turns 8…Chicago Anyone?


Our little girl Natalie turned 8 years old last week. As promised, to celebrate, the girls went on a road trip to the Windy City. The ultimate destination was the American Girl Place. Natalie and her best friend Brooklyn had been looking forward to the adventure for many months. They had been hording cash in order to purchase the ultimate desires.l

On Friday morning, Shelley, Natalie, Tina and Brooklyn all heading north toward Meca.

This is Shelley finally posting….We started the drive to the frozen tundra of Chicago around 10:30 on Friday.  Along the way we heard lots of giggling and the asking of “are we there yet?” every hour or so.  All in all it was a pleasant car ride with lots of good sugary snacks!  We crossed the big bridge and saw the huge building of the city in front of us and the girls were in awe!  They were even more excited when we were driving through downtown to find our hotel.

We found the hotel and went inside to check in.  While we were waiting the girls were impressed by our accomodations for the weekend.  They thought the lobby was pretty fancy.  We had prebooked our room on Hotwire.com and had called earlier in the day to request 2 beds.  Our room was on the 36th floor…the girls were psyched!  The room was beautiful with a huge bathroom that had a walk in shower and a stunning view of Lake Michigan.  Unfortunately it only had one bed.  I went down to change the rooms.  The next room was on the 17th floor…bummer…still only 1 bed though…We were getting frustrated at this point and on the third try we finally got what we needed….unfortunately it was your typical average room…no fancy bathrooms or fantastic views.  Still we would survive.

We all got ready to go to our “secret” fancy dinner.  We left the hotel and walked about 3 blocks to the American Girl Place MegaStore.  It is 2 full stories of nothing but AG!  Talk about heaven.  The girls were amazed and immediately pointing out all the things they couldn’t wait to buy.  We looked around the store for about an hour and made lists of all the items the girls wanted (mine and Tina’s strategy to minimize crying at the register).  Then they were getting hungry…it was almost dinner time…they had no idea that we were having dinner at AG Place.  When we went upstairs and stood at the doors the girls began begging us to go to dinner.  When we said we were there they were completely shocked.  Natalie just kept saying “I can’t believe this”.  The sheer joy on their faces was so worth the money that we spent.

Dinner was excellent…great food and very fancy.  The dolls had their own seats and dishes!  As the evening grew to a close there were many girls getting birthday cakes….well, when booking I had said no to this option…silly mama!  Tina slyly went to the hostess stand and I quickly followed suit…we were able to get the cake and ice cream delivered.  Natalie was at the point of tears because she thought they were not going to get a cake…then they did…evening saved!

After dinner we went back to the store and made off with our purchases.  Natalie likes all the “stuff” to go with the dolls, she purchased a concession stand, a picnic set, a pet dog and the gymnastics outfit.  Brooklyn prefers the clothes and she bought several outfits and had Julie’s ears pierced! (yes they do that).  We hauled our loot back to the hotel and turned in early…we were exhausted.

We woke the next morning ready for breakfast…we trolled upstairs the the Skyy Lounge on the 40th floor and ate what we thought was our free continental breakfast….until the bill came that is.  The girls of course loved it because they were treated like princess and drank apple juice from champagne glasses….you can imagine the cost!  After breakfast we went to the Hancock building, the girls were amazed by the view.  We then braved the public transportation (bus) and you would have thought we were in a limo!  They both had to stand and hold the bars on the way to the aquarium.  We visited the Shedd Aquarium and then ventured on to the Planetarium…both nice places.  We then headed back to Michigan Avenue to wander the shops.  We ordered pizza for carry out and ate it on our beds that night…something we would never do at home!

Sunday was our last day.  We awoke early and decided for a cheaper breakfast at the Corner Bakery.  It was snowy and windy outside…and very, very cold.  After breakfast we headed toward Garrett Popcorn (a mere 12 blocks away)….did I mention it was snowy, windy and cold?  We finally made it…almost frozen solid and my heart sank…it was closed.  We headed to a Borders books to warm up and bide our time.  We finally picked up our popcorn and needed to head back to AG one more time…two blocks into the walk and I was almost frozen…we hailed a taxi (another highlight of the trip) and headed to AG and then the hotel to check out.

I apologize for the length of this post but we did a ton!  The girls are already planning next year’s trip back to the windy city!

Mia and Josephina can now have teaMia and Josephina can now have tea
Mia, Natalie, and Josephina looking at the menuMia, Natalie, and Josephina looking at the menu
Nice table decorationsNice table decorations
Listening to the audio tourListening to the audio tour
Brooklyn and Natalie at the Adler Planetarium - ChicagoBrooklyn and Natalie at the Adler Planetarium – Chicago
Natalie in the Lego Store - ChicagoNatalie in the Lego Store – Chicago

Glacier National Park

I was in Spokane this week attending a meeting at Itron headquarters. A few of us decided to head into Montana (4 hour drive) to visit Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana. It is another breathtaking national park that I will recommend to anyone looking for an all inspiring trip. We left early Friday morning and headed towards the park. We checked into the McDonald Lake Lodge and then did a quick hike on Avalanche Lake trail.

Avalanche Lake Trail: It was a nice 1.9 mile trail and ended up at a lake that is created by snow melt. Avalanche Lake has an exit that runs down toward McDonald Lake. As shown below, the water is running with considerable force and has cut trough solid rock. Really cool color that is created by pulverized rock minerals.

The next morning we got moving early and headed over Logan pass to the Many Glacier area. About 9:30am we started a 4.9 mile hike into Iceberg Lake.

Iceberg Lake Trial: This trail starts at Swiftcurrent and leads you 4.9 miles Northwest heading towards the Ptarmanigan Wall. I’m not sure of the change in altitude during the hike, but it was quite gradual. The weather could not have been better. 60-70F during the accent and 70-80F during our travels back. The total round trip travel time was approximately 5.5 hours. As you can see by the pictures below, the views are incredible and well worth the effort.

After the Iceberg hike, we hopped in the car and drove back to Spokane.

Avalanche Lake. Melting snow above cascading down multiple place to feed lake.Avalanche Lake. Melting snow above cascading down multiple place to feed lake.
Exit stream from Avalanche LakeExit stream from Avalanche Lake
View into Iceberg Lake. Walls are approximately 2000' high.View into Iceberg Lake. Walls are approximately 2000′ high.
Iceberg LakeIceberg Lake
Nice flower and peak in backgroundNice flower and peak in background
Young buck decides he wants to walk the trail. He passes us and continues on along the trail.Young buck decides he wants to walk the trail. He passes us and continues on along the trail.
Random girl decides to wade out and stand on ice block.Random girl decides to wade out and stand on ice block.

Trip from HELL!

It has taken me 24+ hours to recover and get up enough gumption to write about the Wykle’s most recent road trip to visit Nagi and JPop in Orlando.

June 11 – We started the day off like a well oiled machine. Everyone was up and ready for our early start and left the house by 5 AM. This would clearly allow us to make it to Orlando by 7 PM. Everyone piled in the car and off we went down interstate 75 heading south. Shelley, Natalie, and Eli where all snuggled up in their blankets sleeping away while I was focused on navigating the sparse traffic until the sun broke the horizon. About 1-1/2 into the predicted 14 hour trip, a loud “POP!” broke the drone of the grooved pavement. Quickly the sinking “thmp thmp thmp” sound echoed through the cabin. FLAT TIRE! I jumped out and swapped the donut for the flat with a 3″ gash in the middle of the tread. This isn’t starting off to a good start.

Given that it was only 6:30AM it was obvious that it was going to be hard to find a tire repair shop. We decided to keep heading south on the donut and look for a Walmart later in the morning. We sped along keeping our eyes pealed once the clock hit 8. We found a Walmart Super Center in Knoxville that would be our savior. 45 minutes later we had a new Goodyear and upbeat spirits.


Fast froward 11 hours…

The GPS was reading only 65 miles left to salvation. Then it happened at 70 miles an hour. The van lurched and then the engine revved. I quickly noticed white smoke coming from under the hood. I quickly pulled the van onto the shoulder and rolled to a stop. Upon lifting the hood, white smoke bellowed from the engine compartment. Their were signs of liquid all over the right hand side of the engine. Something had given way and spewed liquid and then quickly turned to steam under the heat. We made a few calls and decided to try and make it to the next exit only a 1 mile away. The van started right up and made it to the exit. After talking with a few of the locals, we landed in a Wendy’s parking lot with a toe truck on the way. Nagi met us and we loaded what we could into her van and then had the car hauled to Blount Honda in Leesburg. The whole ordeal ended when we pulled into 380 Hamocks Dune Place at 10:45PM. 17:45 minutes after the start of our trip.

June 12 – We just received a call from the service manager at Blount Honda. “Full transmission failure” is the diagnostic code that has been determined from the “all knowing” computer. The only option at this point is to put a new rebuilt transmission into the 2004 Honda Odyssey with only 80K miles.


You can guess how this news was received. Holy S#$T and we will not have a van until next Wednesday. We are going to be stranded and out nearly $5,000!

The real shame in this whole fiasco is my utter disappointment in Honda’s failure with this van. This was the 4th Honda that Shelley and I have owned over the years. Up until now all of the vehicles have been worry free and only require PM and the scheduled maintenance. I have 165K on my 2001 Accord and we also got 190K out of another 1990 Accord. We pay more for Honda’s because we expect more. I will now have to seriously think about our next purchase given our new found experience with Honda.

This last picture says it all.

Kid melt down after 17 hours and a broken van.Kid melt down after 17 hours and a broken van.

The Grand Canyon

I was in Phoenix this week attending the American Gas Association trade show for work. After I could take no more of the classes and demonstrations, a group (Nicole, Scott, and I) decided to make a run to the Grand Canyon. On Thursday morning we got up at 5:00 AM (8 EST) and left for the Canyon. It took us a little over a 3.5 hours to get there and the temperature dropped 30 F. The entry point for the Canyon is at 7500 ft and was a little overcast with a fair bit of wind to go along.

All I can say is WOW! Not much can prepare you for the overwhelming size and beauty. The pictures do not do it justice, but I still will post a few here. You can see the album for more.

Neat rock formations.Neat rock formations.
Chris grits his teeth...it was 55F with strong winds.Chris grits his teeth…it was 55F with strong winds.
See the people...upper left standing on the ledge.See the people…upper left standing on the ledge.
Chris, Nicole, and Scott pose for a quick picture.Chris, Nicole, and Scott pose for a quick picture.
Nice clouds.Nice clouds.