Tom and Donna Ovokaitys and their four children—Breeann, Kayla, Ellie, and Jared—recently took a 10-day family vacation together out west, traveling 4,200 miles in a rental van. And the Post traveled with them!
“We started the sight seeing in Colorado with a Cog Railway trip to Pike’s Peak and then hiking around Garden of the gods,” said Donna. “We learned of the Colorado incline (one mile straight up the side of Pikes Peak) and Breeann could not resist! She made it in 29:28 and had sore muscles the next day to prove it.” They visited Great Sand Dunes National Park, then headed to Mesa Verde where Donna needed to deal with her fear of untethered heights and small enclosed places, while walking around Balcony House and Cliff Palace. “This ended up being my highlight!” she said. They then went to Four Corners National Monument where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah all meet. Close by was the beautiful Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, where some of the family were wondering at first “where is the forest?”
“Our next stop was at the Grand Canyon, where the views were fabulous and we learned not to blindly trust the GPS to navigate the way out of the park,” continued Donna. “We did not drive into the Grand Canyon on a 2 track!” They then visited Hoover Dam, where the temperature was 103 and theyall agreed that they love Michigan weather. Their final stop was to go White Water Rafting on Clear Creek in Colorado.
“None of us had ever gone rafting prior to this event, but there were no beginner rapids for us to experience as a result of the snow melt being extreme at that time of the year,” explained Donna. “So, we went for a ride on class 3 and 4 rapids in 36 degree water. This was, hands down, the family favorite. It was only about a 45-minute trip, but there was a new thrill every other second!”
After that they started the long trip home. “We were all tired and ready to end the vacation, but the memories will be with us forever,” she said.