My Journal

I got to swim in The Narrows this week. It got deeper. Jessie walked with me and wanted to climb rocks with me. I think it is a river for animals. A park ranger told us the pools are for animals and people shouldn’t swim in them. I am going to listen to her. When we were playing in the river we made bridges from the rocks. 

It was hot in the tent. I said we needed air conditioning in there. I didn’t get how it was hot in the tent and cold outside. 

The next day we went back to Zion and I talked to a park ranger. I scared her when I pointed out a squirrel and Jessie was there. My sister said there were fish that weren’t nice in the river. So that’s why we built a bridge.

We drove from the desert and stopped for slurpees. We deserved it and it’s also seven-eleven day. We got the show on the road. Then we went to the Grand Canyon. I saw a lot of rocks and a river. 

Then we went to the campsite. We were playing on the log and whoever fell off would lose. Then Korey said the log is the bad guy and he tries to knock us over. I designed a tree house on paper not in a tree. It’s too bad we can’t build one in our tree. 

A Grand Day

The rain definitely came down while we at the Grand Canyon. I am so happy we remembered our rain jackets. Korey kept commenting on people wearing plastic bags (ponchos) and how she was happy she didn’t have to wear one of those! We used that time to hit the visitor center, a shop and they market. The visitor center was super informative and interactive. Of course the boys were fixated of the replica of giant sloth poop. Meanwhile, Korey was checking out the interactive model of the canyon itself. 

The market actually had better choices for gifts than the gift shop. So we picked up a few things for dinner and headed on to the campsite. Surprisingly when we left the market, no rain!!! It seems that storms typically roll through pretty quickly out west. 

Everyone inhaled their food! They were hungry. They love the mountain pie pizza sandwiches we make and of course had to top it off with s’mores. 

The kids have learned so many things on this trip. Some things are profound while others necessary. For example, things like: which side of a post card you write the message on and which side you write the address to the importance of not feeding the wildlife and what it does to their bodies and their behavior. 

I have two little boys who are seriously thinking about being park rangers and I have a little girl who can climb anything and everything and wants to pursue rock climbing when we get back to Virginia. 

I am beyond happy we could give them this experience and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

We got up this morning and broke camp early to head to the Bright Angel Trail. We didn’t hike the whole thing as it’s pretty steep but we got another look at the vast canyon. As you look and another corner catches your eye, your mind has a hard time comprehending the beauty right before your very eyes. We encountered some horses on the trail and the kids claim we now need horses when we get our “next house”. And sorry Papa but Eli has some big plans for a tree house. He drew up the blue prints and all, somehow it will have to fit a triple bunk bed! Ha! 

Heading towards the Petrified Forest now!

7-11

We weathered a pretty rocking storm last night. It dropped the temps though so it was warmly welcomed. 

We packed up camp, grabbed one last shower (they were great! There was a pull string so you didn’t waste water) and headed out the north entrance of Snow Canyon. We also had to celebrate July 11th with some free slurpees from 7-11!

There were so many beautiful scenes on our way to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at Le Fevre Overlook in Fredonia, Arizona. You could see so far in the distance, it was almost overwhelming. We also stopped at the Navajo Bridge and saw the Colorado River. I made lunch while everyone checked out different views and of course the kids climbed the rocks. Korey even wandered over to a Navajo jeweler. She came back and told me the woman was so nice and lowered the price of a crystal necklace from $30 to $25 just for her (meanwhile, Korey has already spent all of her money and got a crystal necklace in Seattle). 

After some car karaoke (Bohemian Rhapsody a must), we made it to the Grand Canyon. With some storm clouds in the background and an occasional lightning strike, the views were stunning. We are doing the South Rim and stopped at the Watchtower first. We hiked down a little trail to get another view, i can’t say better because every view is breathtaking. Yet once again, I feel so small next to something so deep, vast, and luxurious.  

Sweatin’ in Snow Canyon

Much better night was had by all! We had to wake Noah up, he was snoozing away! There is a lot of neat wildlife around the site. Noah saw a few quails scurry across the road last night. Several rabbits, lizards and even a little kangaroo mouse (I know it is “rat”, but I refuse to call it a rat). He is a cute little thing and visits in the evening. Just as the sun is going down we also get to see a couple of bats flying around.We decided to head back to Zion to beat the desert heat. It is unseasonably warm in Snow Canyon. Korey said that the park lied and I asked why and she explained that there is no snow anywhere! Ha! When Noah and Eli found out we were heading back to the water they ran to get their swimming trunks! Jess is following us and then will leave to head home to Arizona. 

We hit “Weeping Rock” which was intriguing. Desert, you think dry. The water comes from snow melt and rain on the plateau and then filters through layers of sandstone until it weeps out of the rock itself. There are several hanging gardens that are a result of the moisture. It seems an unlikely pair, rock and vegetation. It is stunning to see the vibrant greens next to such dry, orange and yellow sandstone.

We started up to The Narrows and had lunch before we ventured on. The kids were stoked to get in the water again. There was a warning of flash flood so we didn’t hike down the river but we hung out in the water. Noah was jumping from a rock into a pool of water. He tried talking Eli into it but Eli couldn’t muster up the courage. 

I headed back to the car a little before the rest of the crew because my eyes were in revolt again. Once I got to the car and got the contacts out, I laid on a boulder and waited for them. While I was laying there I heard a bunch of rocks falling down the canyon side and I looked up to see a mountain goat saunter up and over the ridge. 

Once we reconvened, we headed out and bid Jess save travels. We really appreciated her coming to hang out with us. In fact, the kids were really bummed she was leaving. Hopefully we will see her when she comes home to visit!

We stopped by the grocery store before we went to camp to pick up a few things for dinner. We got back to camp and started dinner. The kids were begging to go on a night hike, so with some clouds rolling in from the distance we put the headlamps on and went for a quick hike up the sandstone faces right by our site. The kids were having so much fun climbing the rocks, but it was cut short due to the wind at the top. The wind about knocked Eli over. It was powerful enough for a small pebble to be carried by the wind and hit Jud on his cheek. 

When we got back down, the kids showered and headed to bed. Jud and I hung out checking out the stars. We have also been able to enjoy some local brews in the evenings. 

Ama-Zion! 

We met up with Jess Ehrbar in Utah. I was so happy to see her and be able to catch up with her. She moved to Arizona and was a former athlete of Jud’s. She has totally become family and we miss her. We are currently desert camping in Snow Canyon State Park. The first night was rough. It was super hot and we hadn’t acclimated just yet. After a pretty sleepless night, I tried to put my contacts in. I think with a combination of no sleep, dry eyes and dry weather, the contacts revolted. So, glasses it was. 

We headed up to Zion. Once again, no words can describe the awesome beauty of the sandstone and it’s varying reds and oranges. We hiked Emerald Pools and saw the lower, middle and upper pools along with an amazing waterfall. After hanging out at the upper pool and cooling off in the shade and the water we headed down the Grotto Trail. 

Zion has shuttles that run to nine different stops throughout the park. Before we hopped on the shuttle we played in the river. The kids built a rock bridge to the rapids and I climbed a tree that hung over the river. The tree was super relaxing and allowed for some cool views. 

We ventured up to the Riverside trail in order to hike a little into The Narrows. We saw plenty of squirrels (super tame and love people) and a few deer (three bucks and two females).

We got to the end of the trail and started into the river. The Narrows hike is pretty much a water hike. The further you hike down the river the closer the canyon walls come together (hence, it’s name The Narrows). The water was super clear and the further you hiked the cooler the water.

The kids, of course had a blast swimming and playing in the water. You may be able to take the beach kids away from the beach, but they will find a way to get to the water.

We headed back to the visitors center after an amazing day in Zion. I encountered a fellow educator on the shuttle. He teaches History and was on a trip with a few seniors. They were from Northern California and are heading to Colorado before they head home. We both agreed that traveling and being outside enjoying nature is a great way to spend the summer. 

Sequoias for the Sixth and Seventh

We got up the morning of the sixth and started to tear down camp. The kids were able to get some last minute river play in. We didn’t have far to drive so we took our time.

We headed on to Sequoia National Park. Once we got there we headed up to check out the largest tree in the world (I’m still skeptical, but Jud thinks I’m silly). We hiked down to General Sherman and then took the Congress trail, which I highly recommend. So many people are content with seeing the major attraction they miss out on a whole other grove of redwoods just as grandiose and amazing. It is about a two mile hike through some incredibly huge and unforgettable trees. I was wondering why they called it the Congress trail and soon found out because it is home to the President Tree, The Senate Cluster and the House Cluster. On the trail we all slid down a felled sequoia. The kids were having such a good time! We joked that it was part of nature’s playground for us.

Venturing to the campsite we saw a few deer and a sunset with colors indescribable. Our campsite is awesome! We love the location and the kids love the big boulders they can climb. They made a friend, Lucas and played hide and seek with him the morning of the seventh. 

We gathered them for a hike to the second largest tree in the world (still skeptical), General Grant. It was about two miles from where we camped. Once we got to the grove we saw the Michigan Tree that was formerly named the Spring Tree due to the spring of water that ran under it and later added to its demise. It ended up falling over in 1931.

We also walked through a hollowed log of a sequoia, that I would totally live in if I could. The kids crawled under a sequoia through a fire scar. Finally we made it to General Grant. We climbed some boulders and hung out on the rocks and just observed the tree. 

As a kid, I practically lived in our trees. We had two pines in the front and a cherry and apple tree in the backyard. My brother and I were always climbing a tree. One of my favorite things to do was to look up at the sky through the tree branches. I still love looking up through the branches and a I laid back on the boulder and looked through the sequoia branches I was thinking of the times this tree had been through. Then my mind wandered to my life and what has brought me to this point. 

We hiked back and spooked a few deer off the trail. It was a mama and her two young deer, one male as he started budding antlers and the other a doe. We had lunch and hung out in the hammocks for a little while after lunch. Then we suited up and headed to Lake Hume for some fun in the sun and the water. We went to Sandy Cove and enjoyed the natural water slides among the rocks. The kids had a great time cooling off and sliding down the rocks. I laid out and worked on my awesome “hiking tan”. The water was cool and so refreshing. Once you got your head under it was much more tolerable. We found a little pool of water to hang out in. 

Lake Hume is home to a Christian camp so the place was crawling with teenagers. It was funny because Jud and I totally felt at home! Talk about Paradise for these teens! I was excited for them and for us to have such a great afternoon.

This evening we got back to the site, the kids were in hammocks, bouldering or collecting pine cones. I cooked dinner (so good, buffalo chicken with quinoa and mozzarella cheese). Then we checked out the sunset and chilled around the fire.

I love the days we don’t have to rush around and we can hang out at he campsite. 

My Journal

We played hide and seek. Then I gave up and went to the campsite. We saw lizards, which God made. We went for a hike to the General Grant tree. God made that tree. I crawled through a tree and climbed big rocks. Then we were walking back to the campsite and saw three deers. We ate lunch and then I hung out in my hammock. 

We went to Hume Lake. I slid down rock slides and played in the water. 

Then we went to the campsite and started a fire. We had dinner. I played with Noah on the rocks tonight. We collected 22 pine cones and we add them to the fire.

The stars are out right now.