Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 9

The next day we went to the visitors lodge, saw the reservoir (we'd like to boat on it someday), hiked, and took pictures.  We also did a little swimming in the pool.  All in all it was a fine last day before we headed to Centennial.

Ridges around the canyon

View from up high

Down a side trail -- we got trapped in here by a cattleman dropping off cattle

Looking down from the visitor center -- the water was hundreds of feet deep
Did I mention that Liz hated the drive into Wyoming?  She thought to herself .. why would anyone live here?

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 8

Selah was feeling much better when she woke up the next day.

We had spent the night at the Salt Lake City KOA, which was an odd experience.  It was literally a huge parking lot in the middle of the city with a little grass and lots and lots of people.  Fine for us overnight, but there were obviously some people that stayed there for long periods of time.  To each his own, no doubt.  Of course some of those campers were amazingly luxurious!

We went to see the Great Salt Lake.  On the way there we saw literally tens of thousands of birds doing aerial displays and maneuvers -- it was breath-taking but our pictures didn't come out.  We did see some of the buffalo living on the island and took a picture. We also went to the beach and walked out to the water.  I must say walking was very painful in our bare feet!  I ended up ferrying the younger girls across the worst parts.
Great Salt Lake

We were mortified to see the keep off sign after we took the picture

More Buffalo

Floating in the Great Salt Lake

Jacob with his buddy

Most of the birds were gone when we drove back

That night we headed out for Firehole Canyon and the KOA there.  We got in plenty early enough to take a drive through a canyon teeming with wildlife.  The poor moose we saw thought we were chasing him!  He kept moving along the road, so we would slowly move up and take more pictures.
Quit Chasing Me

I'm not so gruff

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 7

The day at Bryce didn't start auspiciously, as poor Selah was feeling way under the weather.  We took a break and did laundry, hoping some extra rest would help her feel better.
Bryce is beautiful

We then took the shuttle into Bryce.  Bryce is experienced from the top of the canyon.  We saw one area, and stopped at the lodge for lunch.  Selah then demonstrated she was really sick, and we headed back to our camper and drove to salt lake city as fast as possible.
Well, I may not feel well but game boy helps
I must say, the drive into Salt Lake City was spectacular.  The Joshua Trees along the way were way cool.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 6

The next day we put our camper down early but left it and drove to the Grand Canyon.

On the way we admired the forest fire.  Foreshadowing?
Circle of forest life

We looked at the buffalo.
Wild buffalo

Then, the canyon.  I must admit I was curious after seeing the movie entitled Grand Canyon.  Would it be as peaceful as portrayed in the movie?

More Vastness

Cute family shot

It was amazing, but I think I already had a good appreciation for God's creation.

We took the quick drive back to pick up our camper, and headed to Zion!  I think this was our favorite canyon park.  The drive into the canyon through the narrow tunnel, the switchbacks to the canyon floor,  We ate lunch by a stream near the visitors center, then hiked and took a tour bus to several stops.
Zion -- experienced from the canyon floor

This stream always had water for the settlers

Beautiful walls

An arch

The canyon is quite long
From Zion we headed to a campground near Bryce /Canyon where we again met my Dad and sister.  Construction was being done on the road into Bryce, so we were much later than planned (basically vehicles waited a half an hour coming and going as a pilot truck took trips back and forth).  A great family meal and we fell to bed exhausted -- what a day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 5

So the next day we were off to the north rim of the Grand Canyon where we would meet my father and sister.  The distance wasn't great as the crow flies, but for some reason there aren't any routes that are super direct.  Maybe it's because of the big hole in the ground.

We made an unscheduled stop at the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  Very, very cool.  We picnic'd there, and had a great time.  Arizona is the last state that doesn't observe daylight savings time, which meant calculations on arrival time needed to be done carefully.

Photos don't do the painted desert justice

These were so neat

What a rock garden

We got kids booklets for them to fill out as we traversed the trails.

At least she didn't weigh as much as the tree

I was very grateful that my Dad and Elizabeth were there -- they rented a cabin and got free showers.  The showers for camp1ers were several dollars a minute.  We didn't feel up to using our camper shower after the hot day in the sun

Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 4

We spent the whole day in Albuquerque today.  When i scheduled the trip, I thought we would need a break from driving, we had old friends here to visit, and it's a place that my wife and I have considered living.  So we planned some tourist activities and left our camper with our air conditioner running on low.

We went to Petroglyph monument.
Not sure what it says, but there were many of these

Great view

There were rattlesnakes, but fortunately we didn't see any

It was hot though!  Lots of sunscreen

We tried to go to the balloon museum -- but that was the one day a week it was closed!

So we went back to the camper, did laundry, and went swimming.  It was a very nice park -- on Route 66 with lots of kitschy nick-knacks..
So Dad tries to hold as many kids as possible at once

Frick and Frack look for our chairs that blew away

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 3

The third day started with a more leisurely morning.  We were trying to be in Amarillo, Texas at The Big Texan Steak Ranch for lunch, and we didn't have far to go.  So we let the kids play in the park on the big train.

Train in the Park
We then went over by the pond, and were immediately chased by some ducks looking for a handout.

Where's the food?
We then drove on to The Big Texan and had a fabulous steak lunch.  Several people tried the 72 oz Steak challenge (featured on an episode of man vs. food), but no one succeeded while we were there.  We did see our only rattlesnake of the trip there, which was probably more disappointing to me than to Liz.
Not so dangerous in a glass cage

Of course we had the usual tourist pictures.
Kids outside

Tableside entertainment

Inside with lots to do .. and spend money on
We went from there to the Cadillac Ranch, where we again did the tourist thing.
At the entrance

We didn't do all the painting
Frankly, I didn't really get this place, but we still had fun.

Finally we drove to Albuquerque, NM.  Although we didn't get pictures, the drive was very beautiful and very lonely -- the amount of abandoned little towns and gas stations along the way was sort of sad.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 2

The next day we drove into Oklahoma and went to stay the night in Sayre City, OK. We saw several small towns in the west offer RV parks in their city parks -- and what a deal! A few dollars a night in a good place to stay. Nearby was the Black Kettle National Grassland which contained the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site. This site, where the U.S. Army attacked a peaceful Indian Village, has a beautiful walking trail with a many stops that describe the day's events.
Near the entrance to the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

I have to admit I was very nervous about tornadoes -- after all I love the movie Twister -- but we had great weather (and did for the rest of the trip.

Friday, June 15, 2012

2012 Southwest Vacation Day 1

I returned Thursday evening, June 14th from a great week in Boston with my work team. My flight landed in Dayton at 7 PM (on time), and I rushed home to finish packing for our our scheduled leaving time of 4 am the next morning. Needless to say we didn't make it, but we did roll out a bit before 6.
About to leave before 6 am
A view from inside the car
Our first stop was the Saint Louis Arch. We toured the museum (first use of our National Park Pass), but the lines were too long to make it up into the arch. We ended up eating lunch underneath a nearby bridge which was actually very cool! Watching the boats, trains, the helicopter coming and goings, and the people were quite entertaining.
View of the arch from where we ate lunch.
That night we stayed in Bennett Spring State Park, which has a trout hatchery. Although it was too dark for good pictures, it was very neat to see the trout in the pools trying to jump up waterfalls and swarming to be fed. The fisherman stood shoulder to shoulder trying to catch the fish in the river -- but the water was too warm as we learned after a short hike upstream and saw all of the floating, dead fish.
The rows of the hatchery where trout of different ages are kept.
Fish trying to jump between the pools.