Tomorrow is the big the day, Katelynn will fly with her school band to Florida. This will be the fourth time for Katelynn being in Walt Disney World. But it will be the first time without us parents. She’s growing up so fast! 😦 😉 Katelynn’s band won’t march. But they still will have a good time seeing other High School bands marching in the parades. There will be also a few local bands from the DFW Metroplex.
After a Two-week-break, Katelynn and Sara are back in school. Katelynn started her second semester as a Freshman. When she came home, she said, her interests are mixed and well balanced. There are two subjects she really loves, and two she is not so font with them. She usually loves Mathematics. But she doesn’t like Algebra. I remember, first I wasn’t a fan of Algebra either. But once I figured it out, it wasn’t so hard anymore. But it took a bit to click in my head. Katelynn is going through the same struggles. She’s excited for Science. She can’t wait to talk about her collection of dinosaurs. Then there is another semester of Band in this school year. And English Language Arts is the other subject, she’s raising her eyebrows. She was never a fan of ELA. 😀 But Katelynn has a lot of fun in High School. And that’s also very important. Sara said, she had an amazing day in school, too.
Kevin celebrates his 44th Birthday, today. We were considering going out for his big day. But I could talk him into, me cooking a nice meal for him. Since the weather is in the 70s, I decided to cook some German Hamburger Patties, which are nicely seasoned. And as the side dish I made Potato-Cucumber Salad. Kevin agreed, my food tastes so much better. And it is much cheaper and healthier to eat at home. Our New Years Resolution is to reduce the days eating out and rather spend the time on cooking a decent meal at home. We are planning a trip to Seattle/Vancouver trip for this Summer. And in Spring 2020, we would like to go back to Walt Disney World. These trips cost a lot of money, and therefore I always need to find a way to save more $$$.
June 20, 2018
Our five-day vacation came officially to an end. After breakfast in the Motel, we left Cortez to drive home. We made our way from Durango in Colorado back to New Mexico. In Santa Fe we took a break and had lunch. Once we crossed the New Mexico/Texas Border, I was happy to be on Texas grounds again. It took us until 11 P.M. to get to our house. We had a fun trip. But it’s nice to be home in Texas, again. As always, it was lots of driving, my buttox hurt and my feet started to swell. But I can’t wait for our next adventure.
~ The End ~
June 19, 2018
If Arches National Park is the famous park of Utah could be argued. But back in the day living in Germany, when someone mentioned Utah, the first picture coming into my head was the Delicate Arch. Therefore, the park was the one that stuck in my head. I didn’t know that Utah had many more National Parks, State Parks, Monuments, etc., until I moved to the United States. Since years, seeing the Delicate Arch was on my bucket list. On this trip, I’ve finally got to see it. We looked at it from the Lower Viewpoint, and we hiked all the way up the hill to the Upper Viewpoint. I scratched the Delicate Arch very lightly out on my list. Because I still want to hike all the way up to it and touch it.
But the Arches National Park has more to offer than just the Delicate Arch itself. There are many view points of interesting stone formation. Sometimes I think, these places are Mother Natures playgrounds. If she doesn’t want to play in this “sandbox”, she’ll play in another.
We didn’t make all the way back to the “Devils Garden”. There were just too many places to see along the road. And I’m not gonna post all the photos I’ve captured. Here are the 36 best photos I’ve shot in Arches National Park:
When we left Arches National Park, we drove to Cortez in Colorado, to rest for the night there.
… to be continued …
June 18, 2018
Zion National Park is only a stone’s throw away from the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Coming down from Twin Knoll Road and making a right turn on Highway 9, we could see the East Entrance of the park already. Once we entered Zion National Park, we all were in awe. I said to Kevin: “Bryce Canyon N.P. and Arches N.P. might be the famous Utah parks. But Zion N.P. is a hidden gem.” I wish, we would have taken the shuttle bus, since it is free of charge. But we didn’t know that. And of course, we didn’t go to the Visitor Center to ask, if there was a fee to ride on the bus. Now, it’s one of many excuses to come back again. 😉
… to be continued …
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 …
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.
Our Utah vacation was almost jeopardized by my minor medical setback. But I’m feeling good, now. And I’m ready to go. I wish I had a few extra days to get a couple more things ready for the trip. Kevin and I just have to make a trip to the store and grab a couple more shorts and I need to find a smaller, lighter tripod than the one I have here. When we hike and come across a neat waterfall, I would like to capture it in long exposure. The only way to get a decent shot, I need a tripod for these photos. The lighter the backpack, the easier the hike. 😉 I will take a short break from blogging. And when I come back, I will have a whole new story to tell, and hopefully some cool pictures to show y’all.
Today, I spent most of the day doing some online research for our Summer vacation. This one is a little bit of both: planned and spontaneous. Kevin and I decided to take the kids to a few Utah National Parks, last weekend. When Kevin came home, we debated and planned a little more. And while Kevin booked a cabin, I went outside to capture some photos of this evening’s sunset. My brain began to hurt a little. And the best way to relax is to watch the Sun setting. Now, we are all excited and look forward to hike some trails at the canyons of Utah. 🌄
Yep, you read the headline right. Nope, no typo! 😉 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 4½ years old, and Sara wasn’t even “planned”, yet. 😉 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 being 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. 😉 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 4½ 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! 😉
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.