Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grand Canyon, AZ (Sat.4/25-Sun.4/26)

Levi, Elan, Shae and Dad went to Skeleton Point – getting our first look at the Canyon from under the rim.

The whole family repeated part of the route, making it to “Ooh, Ah” point.

It's so hard to get everyone to look for a picture

With money from the grandparents, the boys are equipped with Camelbaks to be a fully hydrated family. Kim spotted a few people taking pictures of Kobe...

We got the permits, we got the gear – the plan is to be heading down by 6 A.M. Tomorrow (ouch, that's early).

We heard the I-Max show wasn't very good, but we went anyway. We really liked it. Having low expectations probably helped. So we suggest that you go see this crummy film... and you'll love it! It had plenty of wet your diaper type flying scenes – which is what everyone is really looking for in an I-Max show. Kobe was a little disturbed by the Mountain Lion scene, but we made it through.

Grand Canyon, AZ (Thur.4/24-Fri.4/25)

We made it to the Grand Canyon. The Campground, just 2 miles outside the main gate of the park, is expensive and pretty dumpy. The water had very little pressure when we got here. The water in the bathrooms wasn't working at all for the first day, $1.50 for showers, beat up picnic tables, the whole thing. They are pretty brazen about it, saying how they still fill it up 'cause of the location. A little more competition would do wonders for this place. Even so, we're thankful to be here.

my lens isn't close to wide enough

We checked on gear rentals (tents, backpacks, etc.) - prices are a lot better than buying new at their outfitter store where it's 2 to 3x. We are planning to make it to the bottom sometime during our stay.

Some fun facts from our “River to the Rim” Ranger talk
*3 ½ hours = the average time spent at the Grand Canyon
*95% of people never go below the rim
*>99% don't make it to bottom of the canyon
*5 million / year visitors
*#1 asked question (yes it was my first as well)... How many people fall over the edge?

Answer: 5/year die falling over the edge, but with a little bit of smarts he assured us that we can beat the odds (most victims are 22 – 35 year old males (I just turned 37 – so I'm already ahead of the game))

haven't fallen over yet...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lake Mead area, NV (Sat.4/19-Wed.4/23)

The sunsets are smoggy/hazy, but the moon rises were excellent.

There is a nice bike path along much of Lake Mead – though we only visited a small portion which brought us to the visitor center.

We went to see the dam at night, but it was difficult to get a good view.

We met our campground neighbors (from Switzerland), great people, as we were leaving. I shut off the truck, we toured their camper and them ours. It was really fun, I wish we had met them earlier, but we had to get going. We were thrown off our groove a bit, though -- we drove about 100 miles before realizing we left two loads of laundry (plus detergent and $10 in quarters) at the campground. After running the calculations that it would cost more to drive back than replace the stuff, Kim called the campground. They checked that the clothes were still there and since some of the towels weren't dry, they added a couple quarters and agreed to use the remaining money to pay to send the stuff on. Deal! A double dose of helpful, friendly people.

Lake Mead is very pretty though it looks like the bathtub after our boys have been in

Off to the Grand Canyon (and get an address for our laundry to be sent to).

Hoover Dam, Bolder City, NV, (Mon.4/21)

We couldn't park in their parking lot next to the visitor center building because of the auxiliary fuel tank on the truck, while initially irritating, it ended up saving us $7 and only cost us the time to walk across the dam which we wanted to do anyway.

Hoover not only makes good vacuum cleaners, but good dams too. Splitting Arizona and Nevada, Hoover is a big boy, Dam big they say (depending on the tour guide you get you might hear about the Dam traffic, a Dam movie and so on, but our tour guide was pretty family friendly).

Some specs on this bad boy:
*726 ft tall
*1244 ft across
*660 ft thick at base, 45 ft at top (It's a big cement wedge shoved into this canyon)
*3.25 mil cubic yards cement
*Weight: 6.6 mil tons

It more than one-ups the Glen Canyon Dam as it has enough cement to make a 4 lane road from LA to Miami

over 4 billion kilowatt-hours a year - enough to serve 1.3 million people

A new bridge in construction to speed up traffic flow

Completed 2 years ahead of schedule and I'm guessing it has more than a few million tons of cement safety factor built in. The two most common questions at the dam: 1) How many people died during construction and 2) How many are buried in the cement. Answer: about 96 died, and no one buried in the cement (I figure it's about 96 that died since any buried in the cement aren't talking)

Las Vegas, NV (Sun.4/20)

A friend of my dad's, Marsh, a fellow Navy pilot, took our family out to eat. The family enjoyed meeting Marsh and of course going out to eat.

Marsh warned us about the traffic in Vegas but we drove through anyway – how bad can it be on a Sunday night?

New York doesn't sleep I know, but Vegas doesn't either – they are happy to take your money 24/7

The Jimmy Buffet one is for you Duane!

the lights the boys were waiting for...

...the glorious golden arches

It was quite packed but we made it through. One drive through the strip was enough for us...

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV (Sun.4/20)

After church in Las Vegas (which seems like an oxymoron) we went to Red Rock Canyon. Some serious climbs that take people a couple days to do, and some areas for us to scramble up.

the rock looks bigger as you get close – notice the climbers on the face

Mom is down in the red truck (it's like where's Waldo)

my favorite is the “Charlie Brown” dandelion

Elan, Shae and Kobe continue to collect badges from Jr. Ranger programs. Great hiking and we never even had to clean the wound

Pipe Spring National Monument, Moccasin, AZ (Sat.4/19)

We stopped at a podunk place on our way to Nevada to get a stamp in the boy's passports (The “passport” is a place to collect stamps and stickers from monuments and national parks). It turned out to be an early Mormon settlement with info on early life in the desert south west. Interesting.

We were happy because they had a Longhorn! And we're not even in Texas... cool animals

Glendale, UT (Fri.4/18)

Levi will be driving in a couple years – I told him he could pick out his favorite car in the lot.

We're not sure what the story was here... flash flood I suppose – now, it's fun for the kids

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bryce Canyon, UT (Fri.4/18)

Not officially a canyon as it's open on one side, but I'm not going to tell anyone.

From North to South, the flow of the canyons (elevation wise) was described to us like this: the bottom of Bryce is the top of Zion, and the bottom of Zion is the top of the Grand Canyon. Either way, we wanted to go to the top and bottom of Bryce one more time.

No matter how you look at it - it's just a beautiful "canyon"

It was 70 degrees and sunny but plenty of un-melted snow hiding in the shadows.

Goof ball 3 and 4 had problems staying on the trail (this is not a new problem)

Goodbye Hoodoos

Zion National Park, UT (Thur.4/17)

We decided to make our 3rd trip into Zion. This time it's Dad and Shae. I figured that since the Angels Landing was the best hike I've ever been on and that Shae would do well, just the two of us – here we go. As we exited the bus, Shae started feeling a little sick and even threw up a little bit. I started downplaying the hike and said that he'd probably have another chance sometime in his life. After sitting for 5 minutes or so, Shae said he could try it.

They list the hike as 4 hours. We took a 25 minute lunch break at the top and still did it in 2 hours and 23 minutes. Shae was an animal. We stopped once for water on the way up (because I asked to) and on the way back, we ran / jogged most of the way down (because he asked to).

Great hike (again) and great Shae and Dad time.

Kobe finished his first day of not sucking his thumb so we all went out for ice cream at night to celebrate. He did great – we're tentatively optimistic (with the tabasco sauce ready in my back pocket)

Here's the sliver we climbed up...