Sorry for the lack of posts, but national parks tend not to have cell towers. It’s like they want you to actually enjoy nature or something! Most of the pictures are still in the real camera, but here’s a quick update of the past week or so…
Yellowstone: this place is even more awesome than I expected. I know everyone said its amazing, but that just scratches the surface. The wildlife (we saw all the key critters except for moose. The moose we thought we saw was an elk. Those suckers are HUGE) was right there! We HEARD a black bear eating berries because he was RIGHT FRICKEN NEXT TO US (we were in a car). The grand prismatic lake actually made me speechless. Between the colors, steam and wind (you never see the steam or the wind in the photos) we didn’t want to leave.
I didn’t know what to expect with the Grand Tetons, but they were awesome. We saw a bald eagle. He was just hanging out. Of course that was the one time Todd didn’t have his zoom lens. We hiked along the lake so we could see all the peaks. We were rushing a bit, but the view was worth it! We also met our only cranky park ranger here. The boys have been doing the Junior Ranger programs (highly recommended! They’re booklets to fill out about the park and you get a badge at the end. For free! Anyone ages 4 and up is eligible. Yes, even adults!) and the Grand Tetons require a ranger program, which we missed because we were in urgent care for Brian’s bug bite. She had us wait around for 20 minutes to go to the next one. (Side note: we missed a couple pages at Zion and they still signed off the boys).
Antelope Island was crazy! Between the fire, the stars (first clear night without campground lights) and the Great Salt Lake, I would totally go back. Swimming with brine shrimp/sea monkeys was weird but floating was so fun! I had a blast watching the seagulls chase the brine flies for breakfast.
Then we stopped at an old Mormon Pioneer fort: Cove Fort. It was very odd realizing that “current” history out here is a couple of hundred years less than back east. An old building here is from the 1850s. I don’t think that counts as historic in Boston 😉 our tour guide recommended Bryce Canyon over Zion. So we deviated from plan (yep, I deviated!) and hit Bryce.
As soon as we entered the park, we were blown away by the geology. Then, we found out we were in Red Canyon, which the national forest service cares for and calls “Bryce’s sneak peak”. Bryce was amazing and freaky, due to the lack of guard rails. My favorite were the stubborn plants growing in the middle of the canyon.
Then we went to Zion and came in through the tunnel. After that road, I think Todd may be willing to try driving mount Washington again! Again, the geology was breathtaking. We woke up early and took one of the first shuttles up to the Narrows. It’s a 1 mile hike on a paved path that ends in the Virgin River. You then can continue up to 5 miles up River. We had rented neoprene socks and aquatic hiking books and wooden sticks to help with our hike. I was planning on going to the fork, which is where the high ground ends and before the official “Narrows” start. But, the flow was only 35 gpm when we set out and no likely flash floods, so we went up to floating rock, which is about 3 miles up river. If we had lunch, we may have kept going! Brian had his GoPro on and recorded the whole upstream trip. By the time we got back, it was 1230 or so and the river was packed!
We left Zion and headed to Page, AZ for a rafting trip. It was 5+ hrs total, 3 of them on the Colorado River. Our sense of perspective was thrown way off, everything seemed much smaller than it really was. The Colorado is 45 degrees year round because of the glen canyon dam. But when it’s 103, that’s pretty darn refreshing. We were rafting along the Navajo lands, and saw some free range horses, went through horseshoe bend and just felt very very small.
Then, the Grand Canyon. It’s huge. Like, “Wait, is this still the Grand Canyon?” huge. But, it’s also a very popular tourist attraction. So, you end up with the irritable older woman complaining that there aren’t enough shuttle buses. Or the lost woman who doesn’t speak English (the bus driver got her on the right bus to her family). If you do go, check out Desert View. It’s not on the shuttle bus route, but you can watch rafts go through the Rapids. Yaki Point for sunrise (no guardrails, minimal tourists) and any of the viewpoints just west of Desert View for sunset (some guardrails, minimal tourists). We didn’t hike down the canyon trails, so we left a day early.
Instead, we hiked sunset crater volcano. It is literally a volcano in the desert. Rather odd. It’s not a fertile soil as in Hawaii due to the lack of rain, but the pine trees are growing pretty well for the past 1000 years. Then we toured a pueblo, and watched a storm move across the desert.
And here we are now. Sitting on a corner in a campground in Winslow, AZ taking it easy 😉