Hey, I'm finally back in the world of electricity and internet! I have a lot to tell you about our adventures over the past two weeks.
The California Grandkid Tour
We first went to the Sacramento area (Roseville, actually) for the first leg of the Grandkid Tour. We did get to go see Josh play baseball. Here's a picture of him running into home. It was great fun to see a bunch of 6-year-olds learning how to play ball!
As a bonus, we also got to go see Ashley and Tyler in their martial arts class. They weren't taking lessons, though. They're both Black Belt's and have been selected to be Junior Instructors. They work with 5-year-olds to instruct them in their beginning lessons. If there's anything more entertaining than watching 6-year-olds playing baseball, it's 5-year-olds learning martial arts. What a kick! Here's a picture of Ashley and Tyler.
After we left Sacramento, we went on down to Tulare to visit with Mike's brother Henry and his wife Carletta. It was a short, but enjoyable, visit.
Then we went on down to L.A. to see Avery. We took him down to the park to feed the ducks. And, of course, he absolutely had to have a drink of water at every opportunity. We also got to babysit him for about 24 hours so his parents could go play -- We had a great time. He knows several words now, and he loves to run and dance (like his gramma -- the dancing, that is, not the running). Here's a picture of Avery with a new doggie friend at the park.
The Real Adventure Begins
We finally left California last Monday (4/16) and headed toward Utah. We've been in Utah all week, and will be for another few days. All I can say is WOW! I never imagined that this state was so beautiful!
Let me back up and say that I'd never been up I-15 past Las Vegas. Most of it was a bunch of flat desert (surprise), but at the border between Nevada and Arizona (before you cut across to Utah), there's a town called Mesquite. It was a very pretty little town -- kinda like Palm Springs, but prettier. I was surprised by that.
We then cut across the border of Arizona for just a few miles (during which we saw 2 (!) highway patrolmen), and headed to St. George, Utah. What a pretty town -- and new homes and buildings everywhere! A lot of places we drove through, I said "Why would people choose to live here?" But St. George -- I get it.
We drove through St. George and on up to Hurricane (they named it that because of the strong winds blowing through -- and they were right). That's where we stayed for a couple of nights, and our basecamp to go up to Zion National Park. The first day we were there, though, it was too late to go anywhere, so we decided to jump into the pool at the RV park. That was the first time we actually felt like we were "on vacation." Jumping into the spa after that helped too. ;-) Michael and I talked about the fact that it will take us a while to actually relax and get out of the "go-go-go" mentality that we've been stuck in for quite a while.
Upward to Zion
So the next morning, we headed up to Zion. OHMIGOSH! Zion is so beautiful! The Virgin River cuts through a gorge like you've never seen. We went through the entire park in a shuttle, then went back up to go up to specific spots. We ended up hiking up a trail up to a waterfall that we could walk behind. Very cool. After that, we went to the end of the park and hiked up the river. The road ended, but there was a hiking trail for another mile or so. That trail finally ended where the gorge narrowed so much that only the river could pass through. We walked a LOT that day, but it was so enjoyable to be walking through such beauty.
I found out that Zion is the second most popular place for people to rock climb (after Yosemite). We saw several people rock climbing that day. It looked so crazy for those people to be hanging up there so high in the sky! I was told that it usually takes them 2 days to climb up to the top, so they have to sleep on the rock wall too. Is that crazy or what?
As luck would have it, on the way back down on the shuttle bus, four of the rock climbers got on board and sat next to us. They came down the wall prematurely since it was so windy that day. It was very interesting to talk to them and find out about their motivation and lifestyle. One couple was just there on a 10-day vacation from Southern California. But the other couple, who were from Maine, are traveling the country for several months, going from rock to rock, to climb as many as possible. They saved half their salaries when they were working, they eat lots of peanut butter and sleep in their car, and they live to climb. It was very interesting to talk to them.
On to Bryce Canyon
The next morning we packed up and drove a couple of hours to the Bryce Canyon area. We unhooked the fifth wheel, and drove on up about 50 miles to Escalante where we had heard there was some rare petrified wood. We climbed up a sometimes steep trail up to the top of the mountain (or was it just a hill that felt like a mountain?), and lo and behold, there was the petrified wood. It was amazing how the wood had turned to stone of various colors. I'd never seen anything like that before.
We came back to Bryce and drove through the entire park. It's an amazing geological phenomenon! It's one of many plateaus in the area, but it's like a peninsula surrounded by huge canyons. The canyon on one side is amazingly full of "hoo doo's" (that's new terminology for me too). The hoo doo's are partly-eroded sandstone that stand as sentinals in the canyon. Amazing. I've attached a picture, but there's no way a picture could do it justice.
We did something cool that night. At about 10pm we drove back out to the Park (yes, they just leave the front gate open). It was so incredibly dark and quiet out there, that I wanted to see what that was like -- well, it was incredibly dark and quiet! The moon was a slim crescent over on the opposite horizon, so there was really no moonlight to speak of. Michael made the truck lights stay on for a bit while we made our way up the trail, but when they went out, it was kinda scary! I was afraid a bear (or worse) would come up on us, and we couldn't see a thing. But the amazing part about that experience was to look up in the sky and see at least a bazillion stars! And it was so quiet that even if you held your breath, you could still hear your heart beat. While I was out there, I was reminded of Psalm 8, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" I felt so small and so insignificant out there. It was really awesome!
Well, that brings us to today. We were going to leave Bryce and go on up to Salt Lake City. But instead we just decided, "Let's go on over to Moab." It was another 275 miles added to the trip, but oh well -- "We're going to do what we want when we want" -- isn't that the way it's supposed to work?? ;-)
Tomorrow we're going to go up to both the Arches and the Canyonland National Parks. I'll let you know about that later.
This update is much, much longer than I thought it would/should be. But my intent was to write about our adventure the way I would tell you in person (hmm, maybe that means I yak too much, huh??) ;-)