Blog Category: travel

Just before Christmas I took a road trip with Denise, and her dog, Henri. Denise and Henri are the faces behind Travel Tails. They travel around and check out all the great places to stay, eat, shop, and meandor. They look for dog-friendly places….and have a lot of fun doing it! Denise is also a fabulous dog trainer. Her business, Love Trust Teach, is known for positive re-enforcement training. She helped us train our St. Bernarnd over a decade ago, and now helps with our little dogs, Cicero and Freckles. I can’t say enough good things about her! Anyway, she asked me if I’d like a free trip to the Gulf Coast with her and Henri. Of course I said yes! Here are some images I took on the trip. Some with my camera, and some with my phone. I urge you to visit her blog and read all the details of places we visited. 🙂

This past summer our family took an RV trip out west. We had 2 adults, 4 kids, and a cat. Yes…we took the cat! We survived 15 days, 4,120 miles, and 8 stops. Not only did we survive, but it was the best vacation we’ve ever had! We stopped at the Kauau Ancient Ruins, Aztec Ruins, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Yosemite, Death Valley, and White Sands. If you have a chance to take a trip like this DO IT. You won’t regret it. Getting ready to go was hectic. I had a lot of lists of things to pack, things to buy, things to know…it was nuts. The end result was wonderful. Obviously I took my professional camera, but some of these are just iPhone images. They are all worth a million bucks to me. If you don’t have a fancy camera who cares?! Use whatever you have, but take lots of pictures. 🙂

Some of the APP’s we used that were helpful are:

BLM Campgrounds/USFS Campgrounds
MotionX GPS

That last app, MotionX GPS allowed us to track our entire trip. Here is what it looked like for us.

I know a lot of people make fun of people with selfie sticks, but get one. If you want to be in pictures on your trip you’ll need one. We were fortunate enough to run into kind people that would take a family shot for us once in a while, but I was glad to have the stick.

The Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. It was a gorgeous view! Our first stop was at the Kauau Ancient Ruins in New Mexico. This was the view when we pulled into the parking lot.

Our guide was wonderful. He had so much information. The picture on the bottom right is The Painted Kiva. He took us up on the roof, and then we climbed down inside. There were beautiful, story-telling painting that had be recovered and saved all over the walls of the Kiva. It is considered sacred, so no images were allowed.

Next stop was nearby. The Aztec Ruins, New Mexico. This was a really neat place to see. We were able to walk all through these ruins, and the main building had a short video to tell the whole story. You can read about this place at this link.

Monument Valley, Utah! What a gorgeous site. If you ever go here make sure you take a few hundred to spend. See that road that goes in front of the large rock forms?? You can take a tour on that road to get a much closer, eye level look. Only catch is they charge huge amounts to go.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona. Make sure you take the bus. Each stop along the Canyon has a different view. There are picnic tables as well, so if you want to eat and wait for sunset go for it! I’ve set myself a goal. Before I’m 40 (currently 36) years old I will hike the Canyon. I’ve already begun getting physically ready. It’s going to be amazing!

Thank you to the sweet man that offered to take a family picture for us! So happy I have this.

There were so many great campsites we stayed at!

Hoover Dam, Nevada. This was a last minute stop we decided to make. It was 108 degrees, and midday. We stopped, we saw, we left. Haha! I wanted to walk across, but it was something like 2 miles, 100 steps. There was no way my two little people were going to make it in that heat. I’m betting this would be a great stop in the fall. 😉

Cooking out was another fun time! Desert was always smores. 🙂 The campsite we stayed at in California was gorgeous, but the bears were a little too curious to eat too long outside. 🙂 See that image in the top right corner? That’s our Levi getting his National Parks Passport stamped. It was such a cool thing for him, and he’ll keep it always. Everytime he goes to any national park he can get it stamped, and get a sticker for the page.

Yosemite, California! What can I say? This is one beautiful place. This is a place we plan to go back to, and stay longer. So many things we didn’t have time to do.

Death Valley, California. There is a reason for that name. We planned to arrive by 8am, but got there at 9:30…it was already 109 degrees. There were signs that said ‘do not hike after 10am’, and ‘avoid overheating turn off A/C next 10 miles’. Constant signs that reminded you to drink water. They weren’t kidding. We had stopped before we got there, and got 6 gallons of water – most was drank by the time we left! Something we didn’t know ahead of time was in order to get to the area with the moving rocks you had to either have an offroading vehicle, or hire one of them. They happened to be closed that day, so no moving rocks for me. :/ I’d love to go back and spend more time at the Badwater Basin.

I can’t remember where this was, but I wanted a picture of a cactus so much! The kind we watched on cartoons as children. 🙂 I was not prepared for just how big they really are! That’s our 12 year old daughter standing next to an average sized one.

Our last stop on the way back home. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Another very hot, dry place. Very awesome to see! You have to either bring or buy a round snowsled to get the most of your visit. 🙂 Make sure you take lots of water with you when you walk up to the top to sled down. And wear hats! That sun is hot, and the white sand reflects it right back into your face.

Several places we are hoping to one day spend more time at, but our next RV trip we’ll be heading northwest. Happy Travels!

Sweet Ainsley Katherine,

You are the luckiest girl in the world because you have not 1, not 2, but 3 big brothers to keep you safe. You are wanted. You are loved. I’m sure your mama wants to keep you little for a while, but I can’t wait to watch you grow up!


And I can’t post without showing you the next set of images. With each baby we’ve photographed them in this hat. Some heads fit better then others, lol! Here is a little side by side for you. From left to Right: Tate, Tripp, and Ainsley. Poor Jack was already a toddler when his mom and I met. 😉

On July 3rd, 2014 at 1:19pm a beautiful baby girl was welcomed by her parents, 3 big brothers, and two grandmothers. Ainsley Katherine Henson weighed a perfect 7 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long. I was blessed to be there to tell her story. It was an honor, as it always is, to photograph the very first images of Ainsley, the first moments her big brothers held her, the look on her mother and father’s face as she came into the world. Thank you for having me!


This was my second trip to Haiti. The first time I went with a team to help out in Port Au Prince, which is the city. You can see pictures from my time there at this blog post. The first thing you realize about Haiti is how impoverished they are. But after you get past that what you find is a people with great joy and love of Jesus and of life. This is what you fall in love with.

I had been wanting to get back for a couple years, but the first time I was pregnant, the second I had just had Clary. It was perfect timing on try #3! This trip was much different. This time we helped way up in the mountains in a town called Thoman. We stayed there, without much more ammenitites than the townspeople. What I loved about that was we got to be totally immersed with the people and the town. It’s a strange feeling to be without every single luxury (and I do mean all of them!), and then just as you’re getting used to life it’s time to go home.

I feel like there is just so much I could tell you, but to be honest, I’m not one of those that opens up and shares everything. So I hope this is enough. 🙂 If you have a heart to help there is a way you can! Keep scrolling down and you’ll find out.

This was our first visitor the morning after we arrived. She lives just up the road a bit, and this was her first day out in 3 months! When a mother gives birth to a baby they stay inside for a long time. It’s a custom, one that must give them some serious cabin fever! 🙂

Here is just a little bit of what we got to do. We had a medical clinic for this town. They live so far away from anything that if someone gets sick they often don’t see a doctor. They don’t have cars, and it’s a very long walk when you are sick.

…and we even got to help out with some injuries with the kiddos that played all day in front of our place. Notice how he isn’t wearing shoes? He (and many other children) would run on the rocky ground all day playing soccer. I can’t even imagine.

Here are 2 of the boys I saw every day. I wish I had gotten video of this, but alas I did not. They used these old tire rims and a stick and they would run with the wheel, never loosing control with the stick. It was so cool. Remember when kids had imaginations? Ya, me too.

This is Cladel. He was our main interpertor, and with us all the time. This man has an infectious joy about him. This is an image I caught during our mealtime of him singing his favorite Christian songs. He would just start singing whenever he felt like it. Loved it!

Here is one of the many babies our nurses met. Bella (beautiful).

This is a typical home/neighborhood in Thoman.

On one of the days we took a trip down to the river. Thoman doesn’t have sinks and faucets, tubs or toilets. They don’t have a well either. If you are awake at about 3 or 4am you’ll see lots of children starting their daily walk down the side of the mountain to the river for their water. This walk is not an easy walk. Trust me, been there done that. It’s far, and they don’t have anything but their little head and hands (occasionally a donkey) to help them carry these buckets of water back up. Everytime I go to Haiti it makes me face the reality that we are lazy. Like really lazy. And I worry that we are raising a generation of entitled little people. But that’s another story. Back to the river.

See that stream way down there?

They have to hike all the way down there, and back.

Sometimes they are lucky enough to have a donkey…

but they can’t ride the donkey back up because the donkey can’t carry the water and them. It’s too difficult.

A friendly neighbor as we make our way to the river.

When you get down to the bottom you very quickly surmise that it’s not only for drinking, but bathing, swimming, laundry, etc.. This is their only source of water. I’d love to show you more river images with the people, but I’m trying to keep this blog PG…they don’t exactly have a need for swimsuits there.

But boy do they love to see themselves in pictures! I so wish I had a poloraid. I’m getting one before I go back again.

Remember when I said that if you kept scrolling I’d tell you a way your family can help the people of Thoman? Well here it is…

see that bright, smiley girl above? She is that happy for a couple reasons.
1) she is getting an education.
2) she is eating a meal. Quite possibly her only meal that day.

…and so are all of these kids.

Your family can sponser a child for just $35/month. It will pay $8 for the school and the other $27 towards the food program. Your one sponsorship will feed your child PLUS 3 MORE! Notice there is no overhead? You can account for every single penny you are sending. These children are in school, but without a good meal the learning is not happening. It’s hard to learn when you live in a state of hunger.

Visit for all the information on sponsoring a child, plus other one-time donations that can really help the villiage of Thoman. This organization was started by someone I know personally, someone here in NWA. This is not some late night commercial I’m touting. The ‘buy a block to build a home’ donation is wonderful. The first time I was in Haiti that is what I did. We build a new home for an orphange with these blocks.

This is Pastor Mathurin. He and his wife (who teaches at the school), and their six children live in Thoman. Pastor is known by everyone. He is the one who organized clinic for us which helped us to see 625 people over 4 days! You can get some more facts on the success of our trip here.

This group of girls were obviously at recess. I wish you could hear the singing and dancing. Oh wait, you can…I posted video below. 😉

Haiti 2013 from melinda worthington on Vimeo.