Monthly Archives: July 2015

Day 573 of Life on the Road as a Family, Arches National Park

IMG_1997Early Friday morning, and we’re driving into Arches National Park to hike before the heat really hits.  Arches has miles of trails, but we only “need” to do a few of them.  We call this a “drive park”, like Bryce, because you can just drive around and see the highlights.  And what highlights they are!  That’s Balanced Rock, second from the left.

IMG_2003We wanted to hike to Delicate Arch first, but we weren’t the only ones.  An easy 3 miles round trip, it was already 85 degrees before 8 a.m., and we were on the trail with a couple hundred others tourists.  Most of them not speaking English, which I really enjoy.  You can tell by the inflection what’s being said sometimes.  This part of the trail was beautiful.

IMG_2016That’s us under Delicate Arch!  A young woman from Bavaria who just finished med school in Germany took the picture for us and I’m so grateful.  We really wanted this shot – it’s iconic.  Everyone was very polite waiting in line for their own picture, although I noticed several people who wouldn’t venture out that far.  It wasn’t that narrow, but I did ask my family to not move me around; I was a little nervous.

IMG_2023A little ledge hiking and I could barely keep up with those three.  I like hiking behind them to get cool pictures, but for this one, they caught me and all turned around!  This drop off was far enough that I knew I never would have been able to hike the Eye of the Needle in the Grand Canyon.  I was practically gripping the wall!

IMG_2037On the hike in we had seen a sign for Petroglyphs on the left and knew we’d check it out on the way back – so happy we did.  Only a couple other people detoured with us.  The informational sign says these are from the 1600’s, probably by Ute Indians.  They have it roped off, but it’s still amazing that people haven’t ruined them.  The “Indians” had just gotten horses, so they were documenting it. Fun fact:  Utah was named after the Utes, even though the Mormons wanted the state to be named Deseret.

IMG_2041Here’s the cabin Dan and I would be happy to live in the rest of our lives!  Perfect size.  It was built by the Wolfe family in the 1800’s.  They lived in a sod house until his married daughter came to visit and made him build this one.  He had moved from Ohio to recover from an injury, but at the end of his life went back to Ohio.  There was a small stream nearby and it was the only water for miles around.

IMG_2063After a picnic lunch, we stopped at a few more places to hike, but it was starting to get so hot that we were ready to be done. This is the North and South Windows.  Beautiful hike around the back on a “primitive trail”, which means you hunt for the cairns and aim for where you want to go.IMG_2101Many of the formations are named in the park, and the others we made up our own names.  The one on the left above is The 3 Gossips and they are facing The Sheep.  I hope you can expand them enough to really see them!  After stopping at the Visitor’s Center and running into Nate and Eiiza’s old principal, we headed back to the RV park to nap, swim and eat a great dinner.  Life is rough.  Only 14 days left of our adventure and then we’re home!

Day 572 of Life on the Road as a Family, Bryce to Moab

As we’re ending our adventure, I’m thinking of everything I haven’t blogged about yet, and I now realize, I probably won’t get it all in here, darn!  It’s nice to have wifi again so I can get caught up, but we’re so busy exploring each day, I don’t have time to get it all from my journal to here.  Before I forget, however, I have to add how much Dan and I LOVE drive days with our huge front window!  That’s one of the reasons we bought this rig – so we could have the huge view.

IMG_1940We left Bryce about 7:45 a.m., which is a little late for us to hit the road when we have 274 miles to go.  Dan and I get up and he takes care of the rig while I do the dogs, and kids if they get up!  It’s always a good time for them to sleep in if we’re not stopping anywhere special on the way. They get out of their bunks when we put the slider in, and hop back in immediately and go back to sleep.

IMG_1947Here’s a sign we don’t enjoy seeing, but when you’re in the West, it’s inevitable.  Dan’s a conservative, careful driver, so we take signs like this seriously.  We stay in the right lane, slow down, and try not to get going so fast that we can’t control the weight of it.  We’ve had drivers pass us on the right and left.  Really?!  If you’re driving a car, give those truckers and Rv’s a little respect!

IMG_1993That isn’t our rig and tow, but this is our Rv park and I was so excited – this is where Dan and I stayed in 1998!  I loved this park because right behind the sign is a pool where I spent my days (110 degree heat that week), and where we’re going to spend a lot of time this week.  They’ve changed the name, so we didn’t realize it was the same park.  It’s in Moab itself, which has grown into a cute little town.  Can’t wait to explore it after a long day of driving!

Day 571 of Life on the Road as a Family, Bryce Canyon National Park

IMG_1865Woohoo, Nate’s feeling better, so we get to show him Bryce!  A stranger took this photo for us as we headed into the park.  It was already in the 80’s, but at this high altitude, it feels hotter.  Love it.

IMG_1887I took this picture at Bryce Point, as Dan was 1/2 mile back in the car, waiting to get into a parking space.  We didn’t take the shuttle in case Nate wasn’t feeling well again and needed to go back to the rig quickly, so we had the horror of bumper to bumper traffic.  After a few minutes, the kids and I got out and walked to this view point – gorgeous!  And I love this picture because Eliza hopped up a little to momentarily be taller than her younger brother!  We walked back to Dan who was still in traffic.  He didn’t mind that he missed the view because we had seen it before on our previous bus tour.

IMG_1905A view from Sunset Point.  I took over 40 pictures today of these views that just don’t quit. Again, I cannot wait to blow some of them up for our home!  We all trooped out to see it, then Dan and the kids went back to the rig, and I kept hiking to the Lodge.  Nate wasn’t feeling great, but I wanted to see the old Lodge before we left in the morning.  It was a nice, hot hike and the Lodge was quaint.  It’s hard not to compare it to Yellowstone or Yosemite. Same vintage, just not as big or outstanding.

IMG_1925  While the men relaxed, Eliza and I spent our evening playing games, and it’s our family tradition to keep track, so here’s the scoreboard… Eliza beat me 15 games to 2!  (A couple games I won are from another day.)  We’ve played games all over the country, inside the rig and out, in heat and in storms, with electricity and without.  We don’t always remember to write it down for posterity, and we sometimes write it on the game box itself.  It’s really cute to see when she was 4 and beating me even then!

Day 570 of Life on the Road as a Family, Bryce Canyon National Park

IMG_1772Here’s a pano of Bryce, as Eliza and I head out for a hike for the day!  It almost does justice to how vibrant the colors are and how wide and vast the area is.  We drove to the Fairyland trail head early, ready to hike down into the canyon and back out on an 8 mile loop.  Sounds simple, right?

IMG_1735The trail was easy to start with, and I followed Eliza as we headed down.  I took almost two dozen pictures before the canyon floor and just kept saying, “look at that” “did you see that hoodoo?  It looks like a …” and a continual, “wow.”  We were so happy to be hiking together.

IMG_1752The trail isn’t flat at the bottom like I remembered, but it was beautiful.  We’d learned that the sun, wind and erosion created all the spectacular hoodoo formations, but I think God must be smiling at His masterpiece, Bryce.  We met more people from all over the world here than any other place we’ve been to, including NYC and Boston.  People just want to see Bryce.  (And Zion and the Grand Canyon, it’s an easy loop.)  Bryce is set up well to handle international visitors, and our campground, Ruby’s Inn, had signs in 8 different languages.  I met people from Holland, China and other parts of Europe who have dreamed of coming here for years.  You can see why!

IMG_1753I love that this little flower is able to survive in the canyon and grows out of the rock.  We didn’t see any water in the canyon, but we did hike across the now dry washes that the storms have created when the water dumps in mass.  From the rim, the washes look like roads, but there are really areas that the water pushes through, and the sides can be 10 feet tall.

IMG_1773Here we are, back at the top after a long hike to the rim!  So happy to be here and so hot.  We passed tons of people going down into the canyon, some again without any water.  How can people hike in the heat without water?!  Even down to see a famous landmark was 1.7 miles and it was over 85 degrees on the rim, so was hotter on the canyon floor.  Please people, carry water!

IMG_1798We think this is the formation called The Great Wall.  As the guide said earlier, you’re supposed to use your imagination when you look at them, and come up with what you think they are.  Before, we were able to see the lion, horse and chicken in another area, but we never saw the Snoopy the guide pointed to.  It’s just like clouds, you say what you think they are.

IMG_1804The hike along the rim back to our car was 2.5 miles.  The newspaper described it as a stroll, but we beg to differ.  At this spot, it’s flat, but the first 1.3 miles were up, and the last 1.2 miles were at a 6-10% grade going down. That’s a stroll?!  My hip hurt going up and Eliza’s knees hurt going down, so we were quite the pair.  We just wanted it to be over.  For some reason, this hike just wasn’t fun.

IMG_1838Our last view of Fairyland – beyond beautiful.  We made it!

Day 569 of Life on the Road as a Family, Bryce Canyon National Park

IMG_1670Eliza and Dan and I took a 3 1/2 hour guided tour of Bryce Canyon National Park, while Nate stayed at the rig, sick, in his bunk.  We had made reservations the day before and could have cancelled, but he was happy to have us gone so he could sleep in a quiet atmosphere, and we were happy to be gone, away from his germs.  I think he picked up a virus on the shuttle bus in Zion.  There were people coughing and hacking every time we rode, and there was no way to get away from them.

So we took the tour and I enjoyed every minute. The guide definitely knew his facts about Bryce, and he shared interesting stories, in between corny jokes.  We were able to ride all the way out to Rainbow Point, which isn’t possible on the park’s normal shuttle system.

IMG_1675This is the view from our last stop, Fairyland.  The colors were breathtaking and we took more panoramic pictures here than anywhere previously on the whole trip.  I cannot wait to see them blown up for our walls at home.  Where we will be in 18 days.  18 days left of solid family time, then we are back to  two careers, a home without wheels, and our favorite city, Bend, Oregon.  But for now, we’re enjoying Bryce!

Day 566 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Narrows

IMG_1422Here we go, early morning, into Zion again!  I’ve taken so many pictures of the mountains, and still, just driving in, I have to take another one!

IMG_1435We rode the shuttle to the very last stop, the Temple of Sinawava, hiked the mile down the Riverside walk, and then started hiking up the Virgin River in the canyon called The Narrows.  It was my favorite hike ever!  Hiking and water, what could be better?!  We didn’t rent the shoes that many people recommended and I am glad we didn’t.  The water wasn’t that cold and our closed toe shoes were fine.  We had checked the weather report for the day and there was no chance of showers or flash floods today, yeah.

IMG_1447The canyon was this beautiful for every step.  We would hike through the water to a little bit of land, then through the water to the next land.  We all had walking sticks to help us and I am so happy we did.  It really made a difference in how we stepped on the wet rocks.

IMG_1454After a few hours of hiking, this is where we had our  lunch.  It was hard to stop because we kept on wanting to see what was around the next corner!  “Oh, just one more” we said about a dozen times.  Finally we were too hungry.  Also, it was getting to be a little crowded.  When we had started out at 8 a.m., there were only a handful of people in the canyon with us.  By 11:30 a.m., it was getting to be a zoo.  It had been so peaceful and quiet before, and we really enjoy nature that way.  If you go, go early morning.  There were hundreds of people in each little stretch of canyon as we hiked out.

IMG_1466On the way back, I took a few minutes to swim in this pool – after being told by my daughter that a boy died in Minnesota after swimming in a lake that was filled with microbes that made him sick.  Very sad for the boy and his family, but not swimming is akin to not breathing for me. This is a moving river, so it was worth the risk.

IMG_1479This is the end of our Narrows hike!  I was still sopping wet, but we were all so happy to have done it.  I would do it again and go further.  I’ll have to come back someday!

IMG_1498After the shuttle took us back to our car, we hopped in so we could drive through the tunnel.  Man-made in the 1930’s, you can drive through in a car, but would need a ride if you’re on a bike, or an escort if your RV is as large as ours.  We didn’t want to hassle with either, so decided to take the car.

IMG_1506And here’s why we wanted to go through the tunnel – to get to the other side – miles of this beautiful view!  Amazing to see trees grow out of the sandstone, and all the incredible colors.  We’ve seen tons of paintings and photographs of Zion, but none are as grand as seeing it in person, with the sun shining, with your family.

IMG_1531This is part of the Checkerboard Mesa.  Nate and I wanted to climb all the way up, but we knew it would be very hard to climb down, so he only went this far.  It was the perfect climb to end yet another perfect day on the road.  We are so lucky.

Day 565 of Life on the Road as a Family, Zion National Park

We got up early and drove into Zion National Park, parked, and hopped on the shuttle to the Grotto to get to the most exciting hike in Zion, Angel’s Landing.  Dan and I had hiked it years before and we couldn’t wait to show the kids how cool it is.  After hiking by the Virgin River for awhile, we got to…

IMG_1361… the famous Walter’s Wiggles, 21 switchbacks built into the side of the hill by master craftsmen years ago.  I was gasping for air and happy to take a break for this photo opportunity.  It’s only 2.4 miles to the end, but it’s all uphill and it was already scorching hot in the shade.

IMG_1369Eliza and I are firmly seated on Scout’s Landing while Dan and Nate check out the trail as it continues to Angels Landing.  It goes right up the side of that hill and then another 1/2 mile out to the end.  It has steep drop offs and a few chains to hold onto.  6 people have died on it.  Dan and I hadn’t gone to the end years ago, and I knew I couldn’t now.  Eliza didn’t go because her shoes had no tread, which is necessary.  Dan went up a ways and then turned around to come sit with us.  It was hard for him to admit he couldn’t do it, and even harder to let Nate go alone.  We had talked about it before and Nate said he really wanted to do it, so we let him.

IMG_1372This is the view 4 feet to my left.  Straight down to Big Bend.  Scary.

IMG_1381This is Angels Landing.  I swore I saw Nate hike through the gap to the left of the trees.  He’s got a very distinctive walk.

IMG_1598Look closely.  That’s Nate’s boot, right on the edge of Angels Landing.  I cried when he texted this to me later in the day.  That’s straight down!  My son stood there!  He didn’t take a selfie or ask anyone to take a picture of him, but I think this picture is priceless.  We started this trip with a 6th grader, and we’re going home with a young man who wants to be a Marine.  Wow.

IMG_1395Here he is, back safe and sound and we can breathe again.  He wasn’t scared, he had a blast, and he’s so glad he did it.  It only took him 30 minutes to go out and back!

IMG_1413After getting back down, we hiked to the viewpoint for the Court of the Patriarchs, but there wasn’t anyone around to take our family picture, so we tried this selfie.  Hilarious!  We’d been hiking long enough, so we headed back to the RV park for wifi that works, a dip in the pool and a great dinner.  Life is rough.

Day 561 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Grand Canyon

IMG_1157The view of the north Kaibab trail from the Bright Angel  viewpoint.  That huge gap on the left is the canyon that Dan and Nate hiked, all the way out to the end and the Colorado River.  The far side is the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  It’s our last day here and I am cherishing every view we can take in.

IMG_1169We sat for awhile on the back porch of the lodge, enjoying that view!

IMG_1179The front drive and view of the Lodge.  They’ve recently put on a new roof and it’s disconcerting versus the very old interior. When you walk in the front door area under the flag, you go down a funky old staircase to a room that has huge windows and the best view of the canyon on the north rim!  Even when the lodge burned and they re-built it, they kept the floor plan that the original architect had designed.  It’s beautiful. Go visit.  It’ll be as hard for you to leave as it was us.

IMG_1204Back at our campsite, we made the last S’mores of our Grand Canyon week.  They were delicious!  We played board games (Eliza won), laughed about the dogs’ antics, and talked about every fun thing we’d done that week. Truly a dream come true that Dan and I got to take our kids to the Grand Canyon and we won’t soon forget our magical week.

Day 560 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Grand Canyon!

Today’s the big day!  Eliza and I are hiking into the canyon to meet the men, who hiked down to Phantom Ranch yesterday and are hiking the 14.5 miles back out today.  We thought it would be fun to meet them on the trail, instead of just waiting at the top trail head.  Oh, silly us.

IMG_1086Here we are, 7:38 a.m. blissfully unaware about what it going to happen…

IMG_1099Here’s the view down the north Kaibab trail to the canyon, and the operative word is down.  As we were hiking, we kept talking about how far we were going to go to meet the men. Should we stop at Coconino point?  We have to make the tunnel, can we go further?  Could we make it to Redwall bridge?  Could I make it through the Eye of the Needle and walk along the cliff edge?  I wanted Eliza to see the springs, could I make it that far?

IMG_1104Turns out that we could only make it to this gorgeous bridge, Redwall.  It had taken us an hour and 40 minutes to hike the 2.7 miles down, with the last .7 taking us a long time. Too slow compared to other hikes and I was frustrated.  There were small pebbles and huge rocks on the trail and we were both stepping carefully so we wouldn’t get hurt.  We slid many times, but never hit the ground, so that was good.  I knew going back straight up was going to be a slog, and as much as we wanted to meet the men further on, I knew they wouldn’t be happy to hike the last miles of their long day slowly.  So we had lunch on the bridge and headed back out.

It was hot, but not as hot as it had been the week before. We were so lucky!  Only in the 80’s, with an occasional cloud cover that saved us from baking in the stone canyon.  We hiked with a few people heading down, and many of them had no water.  There are huge signs on every trail head stating how much water you would need for how long of a hike, but many people didn’t heed the instructions.  Crazy.

As we were going back up, there were tons of people on the trail and we did a lot of side-stepping of the mules’ leftovers.  I actually had one foot on the trail and one foot on the side of the mountain as one mule train passed, and the rider didn’t keep the mule to their side of the trail and almost stepped on me.  I was able to jump to the side of the mountain with both feet, staying out of the ditch and out from under the mule.  Needless to say, we think mules should have their own trails on the rim, and stay off the hiker trails.  If you’re too lazy to hike this hard, stay on the rim!

IMG_1139Here we are back at the Coconino overlook, whew.  I’m holding the sign to keep me up!  We rested here for about 20 minutes, telling a couple of nice guys about Bend, and the whole time, I was watching the trail below us for the men.  I knew they would have left Phantom Ranch at 5:30 a.m., and it was 14.5 miles out, so they should be catching us any minute.  Eliza had just headed up the trail again when I saw them below us and I hollered to her to keep going, and we’d catch up.  She had been patiently waiting for me the whole hike up, and wanted to see how fast she could do the last .7 miles, so she was going on ahead. As I watched the guys stride, I knew I was in trouble because they were coming up much faster than I’d be able to go.

I’d had my PBJ, so I took off up the trail after Eliza.  I had hollered hello to the men, but they didn’t hear me.  Eliza made it to the top in 15 minutes, while I made it in another 15, and the guys were 15 minutes after that.  So we didn’t get to hike with them as we had planned, but we also didn’t hold them up.

IMG_1148Here are Nate and Dan coming up the trail at the end!  I am “whooping and hollering”, which of course, Nate could have done without.  I was and am so proud of them.  29 miles in 2 days, with a steak dinner at Phantom Ranch, and 100 degree temperatures in the canyon.  Going down, search and rescue had them go around a hiker who had died on the trail, so they knew what a tough hike it was.

IMG_1151Here they are!  Tired, hungry and full of stories of their hike.  Dan told Eliza and I that we did the hardest 5.4 miles of the hike, so that made us feel better.  Well, a little better, we were all exhausted.  Another perfect day on the road and a dream come true to hike the north Kaibab trail with our kids.

Day 558 of Life on the Road as a Family, Widforss hike

We all slept in and I made a huge breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and homemade maple syrup.  We’ve had so many mornings where we are rushing out the door to hike or play that it was nice to take it easier for awhile.  I’m laughing because we think we’re so busy – we’ve been recreating full-time for a month now!  Like being busy is something to whine about while we’re travelling in paradise.  We are all so grateful to be done with online school – forever.  Never again.

Eliza and I headed out to hike the Widforss trail, excited to see what it would be like.  It didn’t disappoint us; it was a beautiful trail and really well maintained so no worries for my ankle/foot.  I had been wrapping it full-time and it really helped to keep moving. I was determined to keep hiking; no way was I coming to the Grand Canyon and sitting around. Another bonus to this was trail was that it didn’t allow mules.  At the trailhead there was a sign instructing us to stay away from the blue grouse that was protecting her nest, and we heard from other hikers that she was agitated.  When we got to the pink tape, Eliza was quick enough to realize that we had to head off to the right of the trail, to a temporary one that they built to keep us away from the grouse.  So all those other hikers had gone under the pink tape into her area!

IMG_0922I keep forgetting to put all my flowers pictures in the blog!  I take tons of them and enjoy them immensely, but haven’t taken the time to find out what they are all called.  My Dad is an expert in wildflowers, so I’m planning to show them all to him when we get home and he can tell us what they are.  The flowers in December in the Keys were beyond description they were so pretty and fragrant, but I appreciate even this tiny flower when we hike.

IMG_0965This was the 5 mile turn around point for our hike and Eliza was brave enough to walk out there for this picture.  Isn’t that an incredible view?!  We sat and just stared for awhile, enjoying it.  Dan and I have talked for years about bringing the kids to hike here, so for me, it’s a dream come true to be on the trail with my daughter.  I did venture out to the point, briefly, before practically crawling back to the flat trail.

IMG_0978You can’t see my heart racing or my knees shaking in this pic!