Posts categorized "Travel" Feed

Our Amazing Summer 2012 Trip and Planning for 2013

DSC_0027Last summer provided some epic travel opportunities for me with work and family time interspersed. At the time, I had intended to blog about one particular trip as friends were interested in our route and where we stayed as we journeyed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I haven't gotten around to it until now as we're planning a return trip for the summer of 2013. Here's our intinerary from last year: 

July 22

Drove from Chicago to Council Bluffs, IA

Stopped at Whitey's Ice Cream in Bettendorf IA as recommended by Foursquare (I then remembered that I had visited this place before in college as my tennis team often went to meets at Iowa colleges such as Cornell and Grinnell)

Had dinner at a steakhouse in Omaha and more wonderful ice cream (homemade) at Ted and Wally's

July 23

Drove through Nebraska to Laramie WY

Stopped at a Pony Express Office in Gothenberg, NE en route

Stopped in Cheyenne and had a great meal at this Mexican restaurant, Hacienda Guadalajara.

July 24

Visted Cheyenne's Frontier Days 

Watched a parade, attended rodeo events and visited the Frontier Days carnival midway

July 25

Drove northwest through Wyoming to Jackson Hole

Checked in at our rented condo in the Aspens, Wilson WY

Had dinner at Sweetwater's off the Jackson town square

July 26

Hiked to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park

Swam in Jenny Lake

July 27

DSC_0887Took the tram up Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Hiked around the alpine area at the top of Rendezvous and played on snow

Had dinner at Calico, Wilson WY (very family friendly; kids can play on an exansive lawn while parents watch from tables on a wrap around porch)

July 28

Took part in a riding/rafting package through Jackson Hole Whitewater - rode horses in the Teton Wilderness area in the north part of the valley in the AM; took a rafting trip on the Snake in the afternoon just south of the town of Jackson (Note: I would not try to do two activities like this in one day again; I'd spread them out over two days if possible).

Had dinner at Rendezvous Bistro

July 29

Visited the new location for a camp that both my mother and I attended as kids. Looks like my daughter will be attending there the summer of 2013. 

Dinner at Mountain High Pizza Pie

July 30

DSC_0550Spent the day in Yellowstone

Saw Old Faithful and valleys full of bison 

Dinner at the Old Faithful Inn (food was okay; not spectacular)




July 31 

Shopped in Jackson

Visited the Shane Cabin and swam in Kelly Warm Springs

Attended the Bar J Chuckwagon (totally touristy, terrible food, but fun entertainment... I could only take so much of this)

August 1

IMG_0798I rented a car and drove through Yellowstone into Montana en route to Missoula for a work gig. Kids and my husband started back to Chicago via South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Before leaving the Teton Valley, I spent time at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, contemplating life. I then drove north, staying in Livingston MT with a friend for a couple of nights before moving on to Big Sky to stay with a friend of my husband's. I stopped in Bozeman along the way. I then arrived in Missoula for a conference and flew home from there. 

Meanwhile, Peter and the kids drove home stopping at every cheesy tourist attraction you can think of: Bear Country USA, Flinestone Land, Repile World, Wall Drug and the Corn Palace. They also stopped at Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse memorial, and the Badlands. 


You can see exactly where I was according to Foursquare as I've enabled a setting that posts my check ins to a Google Calendar (you have to scroll back to July 2012 to see check ins from this specific trip).  Foursquare was a huge hit with my social media shy husband and the rest of my family. It was a fun way to document our trip and to get tips on places we visited. Our kids particularly liked earning badges.

Speaking of technology, I usually try to find related content to put on my kids' iOS devices whenever we are traveling. I lifted this idea from David Pogue who, during a visit to the Illinois Computing Educators conference, mentioned that his local library would assemble personalized reading lists for his children based on where his family was vacationing. In the case of our Wyoming trip, we had apps for the major tourist stops on our itinerary including Mt. Rushmore and Cheyenne Frontier Days,  maps of  Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, photos apps for documenting our experiences, and playlists of related music and stories. An example of this latter category would be audio recordings of Robert Services stories which were often told me to me as a camper at Teton Valley Ranch back in the day. Providing multimedia for your children enhances learning experiences on the road. 

Anyway, back to Foursquare. Make sure to set the calendar to July 2012 to see all of our stops. 

And, you can see where we went on this Google Map:

View Our 2012 Summer Trip in a larger map


We're going to do a modified version of this trip again this summer, as we'll be taking our daughter to camp mid-July in Wyoming. Our plan is to stay two nights in Dubois WY at this motel as the camp is located near there and we're coming for its 75th anniversary celebration, and then another 5 nights will likely be in a condo in the Aspens (Wilson WY) again. For those of you considering a similar trip, the Longhorn Ranch might make a good place to stay if you're visiting this region, but keep in mind that it's fairly long drive to the Teton Valley and Yellowstone from there. 

Friends have told us that KOA has nice affordable cabins for rent, and we checked out this option. The KOA in Dubois has really cheap rates, but the one near Jackson charges more than our daily rate for renting a condo, believe it or not. We've also looked at Dornan's cabins located in Moose WY and the rates there are still not a bargain in comparison to renting a condo. These cabins probably are rented quickly as Moose is conveniently located at one of the entrances to Grand Teton National park . 

If money were no object , without a doubt I'd stay at Jenny Lake Lodge  or  Jackson Lake Lodge.  The bottom line for us is that most traditional accomodations seem to be $200-250 a night at least, and it's possible to find rentals that are cheaper or that can be negotiated. Try Vacation Rentals by Owner or look at Rental Properities in Trip Advisor for leads. Of course, you could always camp or stay at a cut rate type of hotel, but my guess is that a lot of the camp grounds book early. And, keep in mind the fact that many bargain hotels such as Super 8 are priced much higher in Jackson than in other areas of the country. 

Hope you'll find this useful as you start to plan for your summer!


Busy, Busy Weeks Ahead for the Grays

Things are getting hectic and a bit exciting around here for us. On Halloween, my five year old lost his first tooth as he bit into an apple. He was quite surprised as he had no idea he had a loose tooth; now he resembles a gap-toothed jack o'lantern. Then, a former colleague advertised a stray cat she found and we decided to adopt "Smokey". On top of this usual day to day stuff, I'm off to three events this month, the first being a meeting  tomorrow at WestEd In San Francisco with the Knowledgeworks Foundation and then back-to-back meetings in D.C and Palm Springs for the National Center for Technology Innovation and an NEA executive director event which will focus on Knowledgeworks' fabulous education map. AT NCTI, I'll be on a panel discussing the digitizing of materials for special needs people, and in Palm Springs, my preso will focus on the digital divide and social networks. Let's hope I don't encounter are airport delays on all these trips!

Anyway, here's a little something we put together for Henry's teacher last night to talk about our busy weekend. I found it was a good way to get my son to focus on what he is saying!

Global Education Collaborative Meeting #1

I'm playing around with this very cool video conferencing tool called FlashMeeting. It's sponsored by Open University, I think, which hosts all sorts of open source content and courses. FlashMeeting is used for research purposes, so you to submit an application to be able to book through them, and meetings are recorded. Anyway, I'm hosting my first FlashMeeting this Sunday evening (September 16th 8PM CST)to discuss global education efforts; please consider joining and sharing any ideas that you may have. The meeting will be available for viewing when we're finished, too.

If you need more info, please contact me or check out the Global Education Collaborative ning.

Field Trips 2.0 Project

I am part of a group of teachers working on a project that we plan on submitting to the Apple Learning Interchange. Specifically, this project focuses on the idea of reinventing field trips as we traditionally know them. We'd like to show teachers how to plan effectively for mobile learning experiences, what great excursions look like, and help them kick field trips up a notch by taking advantage of collaborative opportunities, digital tools, and web-based resources.

Interested educators are welcome to join our project. There are a couple of ways you and/or your colleagues can help:

1) Add bookmarks to our resource collection in by tagging any great links with the tag: Fieldtrips2.0.

2) Let us link to your educational blogs, blog posts, and Google Earth files that deal with your own field trip experiences. We also would love links to geocaching projects. We will post your name and school along with any links you send.

3) Participate in a group audio and/or video. We want to record a conversation, preferably using iChat AV, between multiple educators on how to make a field trip work, particularly when using Apple stuff and other digital equipment.

Send any of us an email indicating strands of interest if you'd like to participate. Additional details will then follow.

Thanks in advance,

Lucy Gray - University of Chicago Charter School
Judy Beaver - Punahou School
Andrew Gardner - The School at Columbia
Julene Reed - St. George's Independent Schools
Mike Searson - Kean University

The Global Education Collaborative

Link: The Global Education Collaborative.

Excuse the multiple cross-postings on various listservs etc....

Please consider joining a Ning community on global education:

At the National Educational Computing Conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia this June, fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Julene Reed and I will be hosting a workshop on global collaboration. I plan on utilizing a variety of tools and resources throughout this hands-on class, including Ning, a service that allows one to establish a custom social networking site. I am hoping to seed this site with people and content in preparation for this workshop, and I would like to invite anyone to jump in and participate.

I've made a few prior attempts at creating an online meeting space for those interested in global collaboration which included the establishment of a .Mac group and a blog. While I still plan on posting to these resources, I think this environment might be more inviting because it allows for the posting of photos, videos, and RSS feeds. Users can make their own custom personal pages, contribute to discussion forums, network with other like-minded individuals, and comment on these features. I've been inspired by the success of Steve Hargadon's Classroom 2.0 and School 2.0 Ning communities, particularly by the forum conversations in the Classroom 2.0 one.

I also hope that this will also serve as a hub for anyone who will be presenting at conferences on various global education topics. Please consider uploading any relevant files including presentation slides. You can upload slides to sites such as SlideShare and Scribd, which I think, will give you the html code to embed videos in a Ning community. If you need help with any of this, just let me know.. it's pretty easy. Of course, you can probably also save slideshows as Quicktime files and upload them directly, too.

Please let me know if you have any questions...

Continue reading "The Global Education Collaborative" »

Friday 5: Google Earth

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I just looked through my group archives, and I can’t believe I have never compiled a Friday 5 devoted to Google Earth. It is such an amazing application, and once you’ve experienced it, I think you’ll agree that it has great implications for enhancing teaching and learning.

A couple of projects have occupied me during the last couple of weeks. I’ve been playing with Google Earth and I have even started collaborative projects using Google Earth files. Inspired by a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator who collected holiday greetings in audio format and podcasted them for the ADE group, Ken Tuley and I came up with the idea of posting New Year’s resolutions from around the world using Google Earth. Several ADEs created a file of a Google Earth place mark indicating where they currently live or work, and put New Year’s resolutions into the description field of the place mark. Files were emailed to me and I compiled them, simply by dragging and dropping .kmz files into a folder. I then emailed the main file back to all participants. It was great fun to “fly” around the world, seeing people’s homes and gathering inspiration from various New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve started another similar project, and this one is geared for all teachers and students. Participants again will create a place mark indicating their home, workplace, or other special location. In the description field, they are supposed to write a paragraph or two about their favorite teacher and/or learning experience. I’ll collect these files via email, and put them into one file that will be posted on my blog and in the Google Earth Community. Follow the link below if you’d like to participate… detailed directions are included.

Have a great weekend,

Lucy Gray


1)    Google Earth

Download the free software here.

2)    Google Earth – Wikipedia

A little background info on GE.

3)    Google Earth Community: Teacher Meme

This is the link to my current project. Join the fun!

4)    The Good Earth

Read about how teachers are using Google Earth in this Edutopia article.


5)   Google Earth Education Community

6)   Juicy Geography’s Google Earth for Teachers

5)    Tom Barrett’s Classroom Google Earth Wiki

Lots of great resources can be found here and if you feel inspired, you can add your school’s location to a collection of files from other schools.

6)    Google Earth Users Guide

7)    Google Earth Wikipedia Layer

This is a blog post about a relatively new feature in Google Earth.

8)    Virtual Globetrotting

9)    Google Earth Blog

Click on the links labeled GE to download the file and view in Google Earth.

10)     Google Sightseeing

11)     Official Google Blog: The Illuminated Continent

National Geographic naturally has content viewable in Google Earth.


12)     GeoGreeting

Send a fun message to a friend using satellite images. Thanks to Charlene Chausis for this link!

13)     Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes: Google Earth Education Initiative

Get a free copy of Google Earth Pro for your school. Follow the instructions posted in this blog.

14)     Google SketchUp

Create 3-D models in SketchUp and import them into Google Earth.  You thought Google Earth was mind blowing? Wait until you try this!

15)     Google 3D Warehouse

Store and share SketchUp files here. Check out Fred Bartel’s collection of designs for 21st Century schools:
and his Designing with SketchUp Infowiki :

Friday 5: Europe

September 8, 2006

Hello –

Following my trip to the National Educational Computing Conference this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to also travel to Europe as part of a delegation of Apple Distinguished Educators charged with developing a global awareness curriculum. This curriculum will become publically available at no cost in the Apple Learning Interchange ( sometime in early October.

As an unofficial part of this project, I’ve started an online group to discuss and share anything related to global education. People interested in joining this conversation can email me at and I will send you an invitation with instructions on how to join.
This week’s list is comprised of web sites related to the aforementioned Apple global awareness project and to some of the cities I visited. ADEs toured Berlin and Prague led by EF Education ( ) and afterwards, I headed to Florence and Paris with two other ADEs. I don’t know why I waited so long to travel extensively in Europe. All I can say is that if you haven’t gone abroad yet in your life, do everything in your power to make it happen. The rewards will be numerous.

Take care,

Lucy Gray

Continue reading "Friday 5: Europe" »

Global Education .Mac Group

I'm interested in continuing the conversation about global awareness, and I've taken the liberty of starting a .Mac group on this topic. I've never really taken advantage of .Mac groups before, so this provides an opportunity to explore this tool as well.

My goal is to provide an inclusive forum for ADEs, informal external partners, and other interested educators to discuss and share anything related to global education. Many ADEs who attended this year's institute consulted outside resources in preparation for the trip; this forum may be a way to include these groups. I see this .Mac group as a vehicle for sharing resources, collaborating on projects, and for possibly garnering feedback on our various curriculum projects. I am sure there are other ideas that we can come up with regarding how to best utilize this resource.

If you'd like to join this group, please send me an email at or, and I'll send you an invitation with instructions on how to join. Feel free to pass this on to other people that may be interested as well. Participants do not need an active .Mac account to join, only a .Mac ID.

tags technorati :

Berlin Photos

I've created a photocast of Berlin pictures:

and the same pics are available on Flickr:

I'll try and write about our experiences thus far later on today... all I can say right now is that Berlin is fascinating and I'm enjoying the company of my fellow ADEs. The ideas, stories, and support that we all share is simply fabulous.

tags technorati :

Greetings from the Sky

I'm enroute to Berlin Germany for the Apple Distinguished Educator 2006 Institute! Although I am crammed like a sardine into my seat, I have wireless access. It's not free, however. I was surprised to learn that Lufthansa has wireless access on its planes, and if I were in business class, I'd be able to plug in my laptop. In economy class, I can't plug in, so I am dependent on my quickly draining laptop battery. It's really hard to actually getting any work done, too, as I have my 17 inch PowerBook tipped at sort of an angle so that it fits on my tray table. Since connecting, I've checked my email and chatted with another ADE flying from Oregon to Germany. How cool is that? He's going to try and skype someone to see how it works from the skies; I don't have a headset handy and I don't want to bother my fellow sardines with talking out loud.

Anyway, I am thrilled about this trip, although my material extincts have made me slightly neurotic at the thought of leaving my two kids and husband at home. I left detailed word processed instructions, set up babysitters complete with their pay in marked envelopes, created an AIM account for my family to chat with me, and also created an email address for my daughter. She's 7 and getting interested in email, so I thought this would a good opportunity to keep in touch with her and introduce her to this form of communication.

We will arrive in Berlin early Saturday morning, and I think we'll be off sightseeing right away. I hope I can avoid jet lag, so I plan on sleeping as much as possible soon. If you haven't heard about this project, about 70 Apple Distinguished Educators, Apple employees, and a few people from the George Lucas Educational Foundation are going abroad with EF Tours to write a global awareness curriculum. We will visit Berlin and Prague during this trip, and then I will continue on to Florence and Paris with two other ADEs. I am so excited!

Watch this space for more developments. Also, I have another blog where you might find some stuff about the institute and we've created a Flickr group for the trip. Larry Anderson is also blogging about the trip, and I'll post that link as soon as I hear more about it.

tags technorati :

San Diego Pictures

Link: San Diego.

My family and I have arrived in Anaheim, actually Garden Grove, for some post NECC r and r. I now have a bit of time and decent bandwith, so I can post some of our favorite photos from the past week. These photos are posted using iWeb and one of its newer templates.

My favorite places and happenings from our tourist experiences include the kids' whiffle ball game at Petco Park, sitting in the splash zone at Sea World's Shamu show, steak diane at D'Medici, and everything at LegoLand.

We visited Legoland yesterday en route to L.A and it is the epitome of a family friendly attraction. It was busy, but not insanely crowded, had plenty of stuff for the younger kids and absolutely the best food I've encountered in a theme park. Most importantly, we loved the whimsy and cleverness of all the lego creatures and creations that were to be found everywhere.

I still have a lot to process regarding my NECC experiences, so hopefully, I'll be adding some posts on the conference.

tags technorati :

Live from San Diego

My family and I are in San Diego for the NECC conference. On Sunday, we took in the Padres game, and here is my daughter's take on our trip thus far. I took this with my new Nikon L3 digital camera, by the way! I would have posted this sooner, but the high speed internet access that I paid for at the Embassy Suites is remarkably slow. :)

tags technorati :

Trip Planner - Yahoo! Travel

Link: Trip Planner - Yahoo! Travel.

Here's a cool little doodad from Yahoo. I just stumbled upon it as I was printing out directions for my SoCal sojourn. You can make your own itinerary on the fly as you browse travel options, keep it private or make it public, and subscribe to its RSS feed in your news reader of choice. It is also a social service in that you can share your itinerary and browse those designed by other people. Nifty!

tags technorati :

School's Out

School's out and I am ready for some adventure! I am pinching myself because the summer of a lifetime awaits me. In two weeks, my family and I will be traveling to San Diego so that I can attend NECC 2006 and so that we all can do the Southern California tourist thing... Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Disneyland etc.

And, I had this all planned before I knew about the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute for this summer which promises to be another amazing experience. We're traveling to Europe July 21 -31 to collaborate on a digital global awareness curriculum in conjunction with EF Tours. We will be addressing an essential question via four themes, and this curriculum will hopefully be published on Apple's web site in the fall.

At any rate, I plan to be blogging on a more regular basis now that I have some time. As instructed by David Warlick in a recent post regarding tags for NECC, I'm adding mine here:

tags technorati :

Here's to a fabulous summer ! Yay!