June - July 2016
  • Day17

    Goodbye Las Vegas!

    July 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 39 °C

    Everyone slept in until around 10am - unheard of!! Checked out and headed to a yummy breakfast in Downtown. Tom dropped the three of us and all our luggage at McCarran, so I could squeeze in our last items - no easy feat, we are jammed!! The boys were very wild and crazy - think we're all ready to be home.

    Gonna be a hot one!! Left at 100 degrees and climbing. Happy to be out of the heat, but not totally looking forward to high 60s and raining in Seattle.

    Can't wait to sleep in my own bed after 16 nights on the road and have the boys in their own rooms!! :-)
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day17

    Viva Las Vegas!

    July 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

    Another early morning, up before 7am. Gave away extra food to neighboring RVers (one had been our neighbor in Bryce!), got rid of trash and recycling. Three hour drive to Las Vegas - the kids and I packing and cleaning. Pick up a rental car at the airport, refuel and turn in the rig.

    Head over to Cowabunga Bay, a good sized water park. The kids were SO excited!! Frustrating at first with two big attractions closed, long lines, and poor management (literally sat in line 40 minutes for one ride - had to point out to supervisor that no one had come out of the tube in 10 minutes), but it improved. The kids had a blast and the parents had a good time too. No photos - left our phones in the car.

    Checked into our hotel in the center of the Strip - the LINQ, which is the remodeled and rebranded Imperial Palace. Had a reasonably good dinner across the street at Caesars, then enjoyed my favorite part of all of Vegas - watching the Bellagio fountains dance. Ice Pan was next - handmade right in front of you. We had a delightful gal who was entertaining to watch and was enamored with Rowan, treating the boys to an extra ice pop.

    Having not been to Vegas in 15-20 years, it was interesting to be there with kids. Explained it as a Disneyland for adults. L is worldly enough to ask a lot of good questions, to which he received age appropriate answers. R was relatively oblivious to all of the adult misbehavior and mayhem around him (especially given it was Saturday night on a holiday weekend). Both kids were bothered by the ever present cigarette smoke. By the end of the evening, L declared that he didn't want to come back to Vegas again. Kind of proud and kind of sad.

    High Roller was next - the highest big wheel in the world at 550'. Really cool and slightly unnerving to be that high off the ground in a plexiglass bubble. Caught two partial performances of the Bellagio fountain, plus fireworks show at Mandalay as it slowly rotated.

    Finally, off to bed at midnight!
    Read more

  • Day15

    More Zion Narrows Photos

    July 1, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Started the day overcast. First sunshine was popping through by the time we turned around. Clouds rolling in less than 90 minutes later. The rocks and cliffs were really pretty, but you could see how the sheer faces could be dangerous in a storm - heard people die in the Narrows every year, yet it's still the #1 attraction in the park.

    Water had been at about 47 cubic feet per second (CFS) yesterday. Flash flood Thursday evening and overnight, drove it up to over 110. Was about 60 CFS and 60 degrees when we hiked (normal around 30), certainly a good flow, but not an issue, even for R. Right after we got onto the tram, the dispatcher announced they closed the Narrows. Flow spiked up to around 90 CFS after we were off the river.
    Read more

  • Day15

    The Narrows

    July 1, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Only alarm this trip - 7am to beat the crowds. Hearty breakfast, loaded our pack and water bottles. Swim suits on, trekking poles in hand. Park at the Visitor Center and 40-minute tram ride to last stop - Temple of Sinawava. One mile walk to the stairs leading down to the river. We trekked two hours up the Virgin River through the "Wall Street" section. Absolutely stunning! Took 100s of photos (will add once we're home) and enjoyed the lovely Narrows - sheer cliff walls on both sides.

    Finally reached a 'Y' and turned back a little after Noon. We'd met others who said the rangers recommended being off the river by 2pm due to weather warnings. We were off around 2:10pm and not 10 minutes later, huge thunder claps rambled through. Ten minutes after that, the rain began. And rain it did. We were pretty wet by the time we got back to the tram stop. Amazingly, there were still hikers heading up the river! Waited through two trams with other bedraggled hikers before we squeezed onto a shuttle.

    Was hoping to stop at a couple others we didn't see yesterday on the way back, but didn't dare get off since there were people unable to get on the trams. Went to the Human History Museum to watch the video and had the opportunity to see a condor nest on the cliff by telescope. Tragically, the male died of lead poisoning two weeks ago and the mama and chick hadn't been seen recently. (Chick probably died without both parents and mom left.)

    Walked to the Nature Center for the boys to recieve their Zion Ranger badges (taking home booklets for Paleontology and Wilderness for them to mail in) - believe this was #11 on the trip!!

    Stopped for ice cream and t-shirts in Springdale, then back to our campsite in Virgin. The kids were able to have our final campfire, grilled burgers, and started packing.

    Fell in bed exhausted!! :-)
    Read more

  • Day14

    Last National Park

    June 30, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Kind of wearing out. If we did this trip again, I'd do it in reverse. Feel like Zion is getting short shrift - didn't think twice about a three mile hike in the beginning. Less energy for sure now. Not ready to stop seeing neat things, but ready to go home at the same time. Wish I had built in a 'down day,' although I don't do nothing very well, so I'm at a loss as to what that would exactly look like. A nap for sure!

    Arrived Zion around noon. Going through the Mt. Carmel Tunnel - built in the 1920s, they have to flow it one lane at a time due to big vehicles. Parking in Springdale was a challenge. Ate lunch in the RV, then caught a shuttle up to the park. Made a couple of shuttle stops, hiked up to Lower Emerald Pools. Enjoyed a nice respite in he shade of a gigantic oak in front of the lodge, followed by cool treats.

    Neat thunder storm in the early evening on our way out of the park. Rainstorm with flash flood warnings. Stopped for giant burgers before heading to our campsite for an early bedtime.

    Read more

  • Day13

    Hoodoos Everywhere!!

    June 29, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Full day in Bryce Canyon - delicious scenery! The red, orange, and white rock spires were so extraordinary! Look like something impossible in nature, yet there they are! Met a wonderful family from Annapolis, Maryland on our first shuttle ride - their boys were 8 and almost 11 and were heading to the sake hike we were. We ended up hiking together the entire 3-mile loop and it was so much fun! The boys mostly paired up and chattered the entire time, excited to have someone other than their brother to hang out with. They gave us some great tips for Zion. Headed back to the Visitor Center, watched their award-winning film, then said our goodbyes.

    Afterwards, we drove out to the farthest stop on the scenic drive, Rainbow Point, and worked our way back. Loved the vistas! Could look at those rocks forever! I can see why each of these parks have been set aside - all very special places that I hope to visit again in my lifetime!

    Attempted a Ranger program, but thunder forced the rim walk indoors. Instead, the ranger swore in the Junior Rangers and read Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Well known symtory, but very entertaining nonetheless!

    As dusk was approaching, we saw a prairie dog, mule deer, pronghorn, etc. coming out to browse Picked up fresh made slices of pie for dessert. Kids really wanted a fire, but it was way too windy. Rains started as we sat down to eat in our dry vehicle. Tough getting the goofball down to sleep!

    Read more

  • Day12

    Scenic Highway 12

    June 28, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Winding drive between Capitol Reef and Bryce, through Dixie National Forest. Tom drove through the worst of the zig zags. Lots of fir, pines, and aspen. Funny to see cows grazing along the roads. R had fun mooing at them! Looks a lot like driving the East side of Highway 2 in Washington.

    Stopped at the Anasazi Museum in Boulder. It is a lovely little museum, with fantastic pottery and arrowheads. All was good until I was looking at pottery in the gift shop. I didn't get a precarious one positioned just right...I'm now the sorry owner of $475 worth of broken pottery. Fortunately, it broke in two large pieces and my parents know a place that does repairs. Good lesson for my kids about being careful in shops!!

    Stopped at several vistas, after a while, "Mom, please stop! We've been looking ay rocks since the Grand Canyon!" Fed the boys when they started acting grumpy. Short stop at "Hole in the Wall" Historic Center - mid-point of the Mormon journey to settle Bluff. Learned a few interesting tidbits, but the guys had more fun goofing with ants.

    Went to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center. Good video about the 2M diverse acres and a Utahceretops fossile sketelon. The kids earned Junior Scientist badges. First thunder claps as we left.

    Arrived in Cannonville too late to go to their Visitor Center. Rounding the bend toward Bryce, we encountered our first hoodoos!

    Found our campsite and had just set up when the rain started falling. Washed out our plans to go to Bryce for sunset and astronomy program, which was disappointing. Two bummer events today!! :-/

    Relaxed, had pasta & meatballs for dinner, and the kids worked on their Night Sky Junior Ranger books instead.
    Read more

  • Day12

    Animals on our journey

    June 28, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Special post for Joy! We've seen:
    * cows
    * horses, including a baby foal
    * sheep, including baby lambs
    * elk
    * mule deer
    * ravens
    * quite a few lizards
    * insects - neat beetles, giant orange stink bug, cicadas, grasshoppers, giant bumble bees, several types of butterflies, gnats, (fortunately almost no mosquitoes)
    * wild turkey
    * peregrine falcon
    * chipmunks
    * ground squirrels
    * Jack rabbit
    * quite a few birds
    * hummingbird
    * frogs & tadpoles
    * marmots
    * family of quail
    * pronghorns
    * prairie dog (we think)
    * hawks
    * vultures
    * eagle
    * fox (deceased)
    * blue jay

    Was really hoping to see condors, but no luck. Kids want to see a bighorn, but we struck out there too. Gave up on seeing a snake! Couldn't even score a (domesticated) bison, but did pretty well overall!

    Wildest of anything we saw was probably our children!! Haha! :-)
    Read more