Entries in great american west (5)

Saturday
Aug132011

the grand finale!

Last stop: Lake Powell and Zion NP. I think the greatness of this last leg of the trip was due to several factors.

1. We met up with my bff's (of 20 years and counting) family and after 2 weeks of family togetherness, they were certainly a sight for sore eyes ;)
2. After seeing the "red rock" of Bryce, which was fantastic for sure, it was mind-boggling to take in the beauty of Zion. It is aptly named in no uncertain terms.
3. Lake Powell is every boater's dream. My husband grew up around boats and lakes and he has passed that on to us. We've owned a boat for 4 years and have taken it around TX, but mostly just around here. (haha). One of our favorite parts of Zion (the Narrows), is exactly what Lake Powell boasts of. It was amazing to be cruising along without a clue of where the turn was.. then you'd see it and take it and it would snake around, inviting you to take just another corner. What a fantastic adventure! Water 200' deep and cliffs 3-5x that tall on either side of you.. AMAZING!!


First up: Zion NP. We all hiked "the Narrows" the first day. You can only go if there isn't a chance of flash flooding, which there wasn't. We hiked for a couple of hours IN a frigid river (one up to our chest!?), where the walls get more and more narrow. we weren't able to go the whole way with the kids, but we did get down to where the walls were just 5 feet across with the cliffs up to 2000" above you on other side. AWESOME!
Lake Powell: the first day, our boat broke about 2 hours in, and a fabulous couple (FL Gator fans, despite my hubby's LSU shirt!haha) rescued us on their houseboat. It turned into an absolutely lovely day, when it could have been absolutely miserable (and at $250/hour for the coast guard to tow us 4-5 hours, insanely costly).
next day went without a hitch. We explored and played as soon as we could get the boat (new company) until the sun kicked us out! One of our favorite days of the entire trip!!

gosh, that was hard to choose from the 5k pictures I took on this trip! I may have to do a "rejects" post like I did with CR last year ;) Here's a little lagniappe of the kids that I put together. They had a great time becoming jr rangers at the parks. If you are planning a trip in the future, I highly recommend it. Some were harder than others: yellowstone and tetons I recall feeling like my college degree was required!?, but overall it truly enhanced the kids' experience, and even ours as well. We did also find ALL 50 states, not beleiving that we'd be able to find Hawaii.. be here's proof we did! (we saw about 3 more HI's too). Would you believe that our hardest state to find was... New Jersey?

Friday
Aug122011

epic part 3.1: Utah ;)

ok, Utah gets two posts. I had to save the best for last. Ooh.. i hate saying that but I think it's true! No disrespect for CO and WY, but the biggest surprise was southern Utah.. more on that tomorrow. Today you have the "red" utah that I imagined in my head. Bryce Canyon was up first. We drove all night from Yellowstone so I could catch the sunrise and we spent the entire day exploring on top, then below. One of our favorite memories was taking a completely moonlit tour to the bottom (it was a full moon and we happened to sign up early since we were there for the sunrise and all). Score on the amazing factor!
the following were taken at Arches NP and Canyonlands. We were at Arches for sunset and Canyonlands all day on a jeep tour with our friends. Amazing scenery everywhere you turned and wonderful company as well.
3.2 coming soon so check back! It's like waiting on the grand finale! ;)

Friday
Aug122011

epic part 2: wyoming

week 2 was spent in wyoming, which we'd never been. The Tetons were a fun surprise. Since they have no foothills, they just rise out of the ground, all jagged and majestic, demanding your attention. The town of Jackson was lovely as well.. it's definitley on my list to hit once ski season rolls around ;)


The water was COLD, yet it was calling my son's name. The rest of us happily enjoyed being on TOP of the water in the canoe.. he decided to dive right in.
a short hour drive to the north, begins the iconic yellowstone. I must admit (and a little ashamed bc I was a geography teacher for 4 years) that I didn't know a lot about it going in. I knew there was Old Faithful and maybe some waterfalls, but that was it. Oh and I'd heard about the bison. Boy were we in for a surprise! I have to say a lot of the time, I felt we were on another planet.. one that bubbled and gurgled and made me feel quite aware of my mortality. I remember waking up (the Old Faithful Inn was incredible) and looking out the window and gasping. There must have been 30+ geysers with their vapors shining in the morning sun. The whole earth around me was alive and it felt a little precarious to me.. would this be THE time it will all blow again? haha.. alas, we "escaped" unharmed (no bear incidents either) and it's been nice to look back at the photos and see what the camera captured of this amazing landscape.

another gasping point: lower falls at artist point. I'm so thankful our kids are able to experience God's creation and magesty at such an early age. I know travel is not possible or even desired by everyone, but it's one of our passions as a family and such an incredible time to grow and learn and relate and discuss and stretch (see earlier post of 14er in particular!). But the best is yet to come. So check back ;)