Travel Journal, Day 2 (Part II): From Page, Arizona To Utah

June 17, 2018

When we left Page in Arizona, we still had two to two and a half hours, before we arrived at the resort east of Zion National Park. Southern Utah has the same landscape as Northern Arizona.

Kevin, the girls and I finally made it to our destination, the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, in the early evening. After we checked in, we went to our cabin to get our luggage in and have a sandwich for dinner. Sara wanted to go for a swim, so we’ve got her ready and walked down to the pool. While Kevin kept an eye on her, Katelynn and I walked around to check out the area. They have quite a bit of activities for children and teens at the resort. There’s ping-pong, wall climbing, mini golf, a pool … just to name a hand full of activities.

When Katelynn and I came back, Kevin went with Katelynn to the Recreation Center on the property. Katelynn went sip lining, and Kevin informed himself what we could do with the rest of the evening at the resort. He found out, that Zion Ponderosa has a Sunset Jeep Ride, which takes the guests up to a mountain. The area is hard to reach with a regular car. The best way to get up there is in a Jeep or with an ATV. I was definitely in for that. At 8 PM local time, we went with three Jeeps up to this mountain. On top of it, our guide/driver explained to us how this mountain range formed and that the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument doesn’t end in so-called park. It reaches all the way from Salt Lake City to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Standing on that mountain, it can be seen perfectly as a staircase. It was very beautiful up there. We watched the sunset, while standing on the roof of Zion National Park. The guide showed us, where the Narrows begin in that valley in front of us. Looking on the other side of the hill, we could see our resort. Shortly after the sunset, we made our way back to Zion Ponderosa. Getting up was the easy part, getting down was a little more adventurous. The trail is much narrower. Sometimes we’ve got a little smack across the face from nature. πŸ˜€

Coming back, we walked to our cabin. Katelynn and Sara tumbled on top of the bunk bed, while Kevin and I enjoyed the view on the cabin’s porch. I’ve got my camera set up to capture several photos of the Milky Way. That Sunday night, I was too tired to get a perfect shot. But it was fun seeing so many stars in the sky.

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 2 (Part I): From New Mexico To Page, Arizona

June 17, 2018

After a good night rest, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I had a nice breakfast at the Motel on Father’s Day. The sky didn’t look promising, outside. I was worried, it would rain when we arrive at the Four Corners. We still had a few sprinkles. But when we arrived at the corner of all four states, it was surprisingly nice. The sun came out and the ground dried up for Sara putting her hands and feet in each state. Since we arrived early, it wasn’t so busy at the Four Corner Monument. A bus full of British tourists, and a few couples and families were there. I guess, the early hours are the best to go and see it. If you decide to go there, be prepared for a steep entry price. We paid $30 for the vehicle to enter. Since we were four, it was $7.50 per person. And we stayed maybe for about 30 minutes. Looking at it that way, it’s still a decent price.

Kevin and I decided to take Highway 160 and Highway 98 to get to Page, Arizona. This seemed to be the most efficient way to get to Zion National Park. While Kevin looked at the route, I looked at the map and said: “I have an idea. Since the Horseshoe Bend is only a couple of miles outside from Page, I really would like to see it this time.” In 2008, we were rafting in the Horseshoe Bend. And when we came back to Page, it was getting too dark to walk all the way down the trail and see it from above. Now ten years later, I really wanted to see it. When we arrived there, it was a long way to get to the bend. There were long stretches walking through red sand and down hill. But the hardest part was hiking back up. It was in the afternoon, and the sun was beating down. But I was determined. And therefore, I’ve finally got to see it and can scratch it off my bucket list.

Before we entered Utah, we made a stop at the local Walmart to refill on food and water. At the Glen Canyon Dam, I asked Kevin to let me out so I could see the dam better. Kevin drove across the bridge, while I crossed it by foot. Katelynn came halfway on the bridge, because she wanted to see the dam. I asked her, if she can remember the Glen Canyon Dam from riding on the raft boat in the canyon. She said, she has only a vague memory of it, because she was only four. “… But I remember, you showing me pictures of it, Mom!” Across the bridge, we went into the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Katelynn was hoping to see more dinosaurs. But she was happy with the foot prints outside the entrance of the center. Once cooled off and refreshed, we all were ready to get to Utah.

… to be continued …

Back From Utah

This was a fun trip through the Four Corner States in the last five days. We left on Saturday morning, and arrived at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort on Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, we saw a whole bunch of landmarks along the way; took a Jeep ride on top of the mountain to see the sunset over Zion National Park; saw two National Parks; and yesterday evening, we came back home. After a good night sleep, we will take it easy today. And the next days, I will post about our adventures out in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. As much as I love travelling, it is always good to be back home.

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Each family member is in a different state at the Four Corners.

Our Grand Canyon Trip In 2008

Yep, you read the headline right. Nope, no typo! πŸ˜‰ Our first trip to the Grand Canyon lies ten years back, now. Last December, we took Sara to the Grand Canyon for a couple of hours. We wanted to make sure, she sees this big gap in the Earth for herself. Back in early May 2008, when we went there for the first time, Katelynn was 4Β½ years old, and Sara wasn’t even “planned”, yet. πŸ˜‰ The last trip gave me the idea, that I want to blog something about the trip, we took a decade ago. And it all started by planning it, first.

In February 2008, Kevin talked about going on the road again. This is his way saying: “I desperately need a vacation!” We were brainstorming, until I said: “Remember, when we drove with your parents to California; I saw the sign, how many miles it was to Grand Canyon; and I really wanted to go up there, so bad?” Kevin remembered and said: “Well, let’s plan a camping trip in Arizona. Do some research and let me know what else you would like to see along the road.” Said, done!

In May of the same year, we drove to Amarillo, Texas to get to I-40, which brought us through Albuquerque, New Mexico again. And from there it wasn’t too far to get to Arizona. We wanted to visit the Petrified Forest National Park first. But we arrived in Arizona in the wee hours of the morning. So, we decided to keep driving and take that National Park on the way back home.

Around 6 am, we arrived at the Barringer Meteor Crater. Katelynn just woke up in her car seat. And we still had two hours to wait, before the place operated. After we ate some breakfast we had in the cooler, I put some warmer clothes on top my shirt and shorts on. It gets a itzy bitzy more frigid in the desert and at the higher altitude. Katelynn and I walked around for a little bit, while Kevin took a short nap behind the stirring wheel. (No worries! The Jeep was parked by the gate.) After sitting in the car for so long, it was nice to stretch out our muscles. I took a good look at the rim of the crater, and noticed how massive it was seeing it just from outside.

At eight o’clock the gate opened, and we could access the parking lot at the crater. After we paid the entry fee, we looked at some neat stuff, like the Apollo Test Capsule, the “Window to the Desert”, and the biggest fragment that has been found from the meteor, which impacted the area. While we waited for our tour guide, we could look outside a window to see the crater. Kevin and my jaws dropped. With beingΒ about 3,900ft (1,200m) in diameter and some 560ft (170m) deep, it is a huge hole in the ground. The tour guide told us stories about the impact of the meteor, a plane crash in 1964, Mr. Barringer’s findings, and the NASA trainings for the Apollo Missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The tour and the higher elevation made us hungry. We decided to have lunch at the Subway inside the center, before we traveled to the canyon. By the time we will arrive, our camping lot should be ready.

Kevin, Katelynn and I spent three nights at the Grand Canyon. At the day of the arrival we built the tent, checked out the Village and looked in the canyon from the South Rim. I remember very well how I reacted, when I was standing at the rim for the first time. First, I looked all the way down. I have fear of heights, and for some reason it comforted me looking down. And as I went up with my head looking at this vast Grand Canyon, my jaw stayed in place wide open. My eyes began to water. And I must have been standing there like this for a while. Because Kevin asked me: “When do you gonna shoot some photos?” Let me say something to you: If you ever need a reality check and you need to come back down to the carpet, go to the Grand Canyon. This is one of the most sacred places, which will definitely put you in your place as a human being on this beautiful planet. We are literally only a speck of dust.

The following day, we did some more hiking at the canyon. Katelynn got a Junior Ranger Patch for doing some research, with the help of her parents of course. πŸ˜‰ Kevin and I learned a lot of fun facts about the canyon and its surround area as well. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be explained in adult words. It is nice, when it is as simple that even a 4-year-old can understand it. And we did a little tour with a Park Ranger. We really enjoyed it. And we look at the desert at a whole new way. Before the tour, I thought the desert was a dry, dead place. But the Park Ranger advised us, that the desert is very alive.

On Monday, we had our busiest tour day. Since we planned going to Page to see the Antelope Canyon, we also planned a trip down the Colorado River as well. We organized this all in early March. And all what we had to do is show up and tell the receptionists we have arrived for the tours. Everything was paid ahead. Therefore it all went very smooth. In the morning, we had a Navaho tour guide showing us, in a small group, the Antelope Canyon. It’s one of the most photographed places on the planet. I was fascinated, what water can do to sandstone over all those years.

In the afternoon, we went with the raft from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry. It was a 4Β½ hour tour on the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon. Chuck, our tour guide and rafter, told us interesting stories and read us poems about the canyon. At the NE corner of the Horseshoe Bend, we stopped and looked at the Ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs. Some of these petroglyphs symbolize that these native people found a herd of Pronghorns close by. A more hidden one shows, what we believe to be an Eagle. Back on the raft and further down the river, we saw some very interesting stone formations. My favorite one is the Finger Arch. The afternoon trip on the river was fun and definitely not boring. We were surprised, Katelynn lasted that long. But she crashed in my arms in the tour bus, when we were on our way back to Page. It was a looooong day for her. She was sleeping in the car all the way back to the Grand Canyon Village. And she was very happy to snuggle with her little lamb “Mimi” in her sleeping bag that night.

Tuesday morning, I brushed my hair while stepping out of our tent. A lady from the neighboring camping lot approached me slowly and said: “Look to your left and move slowly away.” First I thought, she is talking about a venomous snake or a bobcat or something really frightening. It was White-tailed Deer. But that young buck was so close, if I had stretched my arm out, I could have touched its nose. Not a good idea! The annual reports show, that accidents happen more with “cute little bambies & bunnies” than with any other “dangerous” wildlife. Because some stupid tourists think, oh look at that sweet little deer, do photos while hugging them and wonder why they get kicked in the groin. On the other hand, there have been “only” three bobcat attacks in the last Century. And usually the cats only attacked, because they were cornered … by tourists. Do you get the point? (I could tell some interesting stories, I’ve witnessed on my two-day trip in Yellowstone N.P. in 2010. But that’s material worth to write in another blog.) Back to the white-tailed deer buck: Kevin and Katelynn came back to our campground from getting cleaned up. I told them to be very quiet. Kevin picked up the camera and filmed the now three deer on our lot. One thought it owns the place, while the other two were licking stones to get minerals. Katelynn and I sat on a boulder and watched them from a safer place. We also invited more camp neighbors to capture photos of the deer. Sharing is caring! πŸ˜‰

After the deer adventure, we packed up and drove to the Tusayan Ruins & Museum. It was very interesting to see, how ancient people lived at the edge of the Grand Canyon. The rest of Tuesday, we traveled east on I-40 to get to a motel close by the Petrified Forest National Park. We wanted to be well rested, before we visited the park and travel back home to Texas.

The following day, we looked at some interesting stone formations and petrified tree stomps. The Blue Maze and the Painted Desert just look stunning. After we purchased a couple more souvenirs, we were on our way back home.

It was a fun trip I always wanted to blog about since the last several months. This blog might be long and boring for some of you. But I really enjoyed revisiting my memories and writing about our adventures to the Grand Canyon. We had a very young child with us. So we had to plan age appropriate tours for her. Katelynn didn’t get bored. And Kevin and I still could see, what we wanted to see on this trip. When the girls are both in their teens, we still can consider, if we want to plan a bigger trip to the Grand Canyon to do a hike into the canyon or do a wild water raft on the Colorado. Meanwhile they both look at photos and chat about that huge gap in the Earth divided by a “tiny” river. “It’s biiiig!” Sara said to her Dad, when she was sitting on a bench near the Desert View Tower in December.

Travel Journal, Day 6 & 7: From Arizona Back To Texas

December 29 & 30, 2017

Friday was a much better day. I was back to my normal self. After getting cleaned up and leaving the motel, we ate breakfast in a family owned restaurant. At the table next to us sat four tourists from Sweden. They were here to see the canyons in Arizona and Utah, before they would go to the Californian coast. I shared some information, about the Antelope Canyon and the Colorado River Discovery Tour in Page. Back in May 2008, Kevin, Katelynn and I went camping at the Grand Canyon. While we were in Arizona, we also did the above mentioned tours, walked the rim of the Barringer Meteor Crater for half a mile, and looked at petrified wood and mesas along the Interstate 40. This is the reason why we stayed only for a couple of hours at the Grand Canyon, this time. That way Sara could see the canyon, before we drove back home to Texas.

A little bit north of the Barringer Meteor Crater is a rest area at Interstate 40. I let Kevin know, that I would like to stop and capture several photos of the outer crater rim. Katelynn, Sara and I climbed up on some boulders to get a better few of the rim. It is still huge, seen from a 6-mile distance. Since Kevin, Katelynn and I have seen the Barringer Meteor Crater almost 10 years ago, we decided to save the money and move on.

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The Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona

At Friday evening we left New Mexico and made it past Amarillo in Texas.Β  At the rest area we slept for several hours in the car. It was nice and cozy with all the blankets and comforters we were wrapped in. And it was a good decision, we stopped in the Texas Panhandles. Shortly after some dense fog rolled in. But the colder wind blew it out of the area over night.

On Saturday morning, we got some breakfast from a drive thru place and moved on. There were only 290 miles left to get home. We all were relieved, when Kevin drove up the driveway. Lexi, Luis, Joshua and Chewbacca greeted us, as soon as we opened the front door. After a long trip with the van, it was so nice to be back home. πŸ™‚

~ The End ~

Travel Journal, Day 5: From California To Arizona

December 28, 2017

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Viva Las Vegas! Sin City looks like an average city by daylight.

On that Thursday, I didn’t feel well when I woke up with a neck ache. I took an Ibuprofen and made sure I stayed hydrated throughout the day. But I still could not get rid of it. Later in the day it turned into a headache. We think, the higher elevation driving through California and Nevada played a part in it. Hoover Dam was planned in. I told Kevin, I can’t make it all the way up the stairs to stand on the bridge and look down Hoover Dam. “How about we cross it and find a parking spot on the other side? I don’t mind seeing it from the backside. It still will be impressive”, I suggested. Said, done. After looking at the Hoover Dam and parts of Lake Mead/Colorado River, capturing some photos and a potty break, we found out we had to cross the dam again. The road to the dam in Arizona was closed. So, we had back track to get to Highway 93. Driving through Arizona, I grabbed my neck pillow and took a nap for most of the way to Williams, AZ. I was glad, when I could stretch out and sleep in the motel bed. Kevin, Katelynn and Sara went for a walk and had dinner in that small Western-style town.

… to be continued …