Monday, June 28, 2010
I am in Boulder, CO after camping for four days in and around various state parks throughout Utah. Utah wasn't originally really on our radar (When I think Utah, I think Mormons and skiing), but they have some really amazing scenery there!
We woke up in St. George early so that we could get to the first-come-first served campsite in Zion. I caught the last 20 minutes of USA vs Algeria. It was nerve-wracking, but so exciting! The small fans in the car made the drive bearable, and it was only an hour or so to get to the park. Since it was really hot, we set up our tent and relaxed in some shade under a tree. We grabbed some lunch, went on some errands to get firewood, and then headed for the trails. We were a little worried about hiking in the heat, but we took the river walk trail and hiked through the river to where the canyons narrow. The water was freezing and sometimes it was as high up as my waist, but we stayed cool and in the shade! Plus, it was really cool being by cliffs that tower over you! I made the smart decision of putting my camera in Harrison's backpack because I don't really have the greatest balance. It turned out to be a good life decision because I ended up taking a pretty epic fall. We were wading through a part where the the rapids were a bit stronger. My right foot got stuck on one side of a rock and the current started pushing my left foot off another rock. I practically did the splits before I tumbled into the water. Then I just sat there laughing for while before actually getting up because I looked pretty ridiculous. But yeah, if I had my camera in my own bag it would not have survived, which would have been very upsetting. The hike was still amazing and well worth getting soaked. I would highly recommend it, but definitely take a walking stick. Without mine, I probably would have fallen about 30 more times.
We also saw a few deer along the way, and Harrison contributed to the random "rock castles" (small rock towers) on our way back. We had a lovely pasta dinner and just relaxed in the cool desert air before going to sleep. We had to wake up early the next day to get out the east entrance to Bryce Canyon before they closed the road for construction. I ended up not sleeping well that night because it got extremely windy at night and the tent was really noisy getting blown around. Melanie also tends to move around in her sleep a lot and was practically rolling on top of me. Bryan Canyon wasn't that far, but it took us a bit longer than expected to get there because we accidentally went to the wrong campsite at first. We ended up not really doing much on Thursday because we were all a little tired, and it was extremely hot. We hung around our campsite's pool, did laundry, and napped. It was actually nice to relax a little.
On Friday morning, we woke up with the sun because it was so bright outside! It was much cooler in the morning, too, so we thought it would be better to explore the canyon when it was cooler outside. We went hiking on a combination of the Navajo Loop and the Queen's garden loop, about a 3 mile hike overall. The trail went down into the canyon and looped around through the hoodoos (what they call the rock formations). The canyon was really pretty, and there were so many different colors in the rocks and plants! One part on the trail had a very large collection of little rock castles like the ones we saw on the river in Zion. I think one person must've thought "I think I'll make a rock tower" and then more people saw it and made their own. Some of them were pretty impressive and had arches or delicately balanced rocks.
We stopped and ate our lunch at the park lodge and went to the Bryce and Inspiration viewpoints before heading to the Grand Staircase National Park in the afternoon. We had seen pictures of some canyon narrows, or slot canyons, and that park had the closest ones. The roads in the park were poorly maintained (most of them were dirt or sand roads) and I was a little worried that our van might get stuck out there. We took the Willis Creek trail which had some smaller canyons. They were cool, but not as spectacular as Zion. We turned around before the end of the trail because it started raining (yes, raining in the desert!) It ended up not raining too much, just a little thunder, but we didn't want to risk getting caught out there. We were all pretty tired from the hikes and such, so we went back to camp and went to sleep early.
On Saturday, we woke up and headed north to Moab, a small town close to Arches National Park. We took the scenic route 12, which goes through more of the Grand Staircase park and some national forests and other parks. The views were gorgeous!! There was one part that was very gray and ugly, and what we imagined the moon might look like. We checked into our campsite, and then headed to the Moab brewery (they make several Microbrews and their own ginger ale!) to grab lunch and watch he US/Ghana game. A little disappointing, but oh well.
While at the brewery, Melanie found a brochure for this place called Hole N' The Rock, and we decided to check it out because Arches is really hot during the day. It turned out to be a museum of a home in a rock that this crazy couple made. Seriously, the husband was in the mining business and basically blew out a large portion of a rock to make a cave/house. The tour was $5 but totally worth it because I haven't laughed that hard in a good while. They left the house the way it was since the wife died in the 70s. She had a collection of really creepy old dolls and collected random trinkets that she put in random notches on the cave walls. The husband was an amateur taxidermist and there were 3 stuffed and extremely creepily posed animals in the home, one of which was by the couple's bed. He also had a bunch of paintings of Jesus all around the house, and he was apparently really obsessed with FDR because he painted a portrait of him, made a bust of him, and carved his face into the rock on the side of their house. I waited until we were out of the building before I doubled over laughing. It was definitely one of the funniest/most bizarre roadside attractions ever.
When the sun started setting we headed to Arches, and went on a few short hikes (about 1 mile each) to see the different arches and fun rock formations like the balanced rock and the petrified dunes. We watched the sunset in a spot recommended by a park ranger, and it was beautiful! The rocks changed color in the light and it was really neat. We went back to the campsite when it got dark for a late dinner. Our neighbor came over and chatted with us for a while. We told him we were gonna make s'mores and he didn't know what they were. I don't really know how anyone could not know what s'mores are considering they are one of the most delicious treats in the universe, but we showed him how to make one. Seriously though, how do you not know what s'mores are?! So sad.
P.S. Melanie has her pictures from the trip on Picasa if you want to check them out!: http://picasaweb.google.com/melaniebeth.martin