Monday, August 24, 2009

Trip to Utah!! 6/25/08

Since I am now between jobs, I wanted to take a small vacation while I was off for 2 weeks.  (I start monday the 30th, aaahh, its coming too fast!!!)
So, we went and camped in Utah.  We are attempting to camp in all 50 states and visit all the National Parks (i think there are only around 40 in the Nation). 
So far we have camped in; Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah.  - 9.  not very many it seems.  National Parks: Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Tetons, Great Basin, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Arches = 8. 

We left very early Thursday morning, getting up around 4ish and getting into the car around 5.  It was about a 340 mile drive, and took us less than 6 hours to get there.  Here are some of the photos.

We drove the 6 hours from Colorado to Utah, and were really excited to check out Moab, Utah.  We arrived at our campground around 11am, and were hungry for some lunch.  I cooked hot dogs and made salad in the shade while josh set up the tent.  There were lots and lots of little lizards all around, they were pretty fun to watch.  Moab is called the "high desert"  the altitude is about 4500 feet above sea level.  There are lots of cactus (not the tall ones), and desert scrub trees, lots of sand, and heat heat heat!!!

    <---- In this photo you can see the LaSalle mountain range in the background!  Very beautiful!!!

Above is our KOA campsite.  We chose to stay here because they offer showers (and we were camping for 4 days in the heat) and a swimming pool.  It was a totally different experience for us, usually we choose to camp as secluded as possible.  However, we had a really nice time at the KOA after asking for a site which would have shade.  As you can see in the photo above, our picnic table is under the tree in the shade, and that is where we stayed from about 12-5pm during the hottest part of the day.  Saturday it reached 101 degrees!  yikes!  It was super hot!!
The whole day Thursday we hung around the campground, swam in the pool, napped, and checked out the town.  We had reservations Friday morning to go River rafting down the Colorado River.  We bought a $15 waterproof camera, and all of the pics of the rafting are on that.  I hope to get it developed this week sometime, but we have 8 photos left. 
The rafting was AWESOME!!!  I think I found a new sport!  We have never rafted in Colorado, it took us to go to Utah before doing the white water rafting, but it was worth the wait!  It was sooo fun!  I really enjoyed it, and would have loved to try some bigger waves.  I think i might take up kayaking.  We plan to take another rafting trip this summer in the Royal Gorge area, or possibly Glenwood Springs. 

 Here are some photos of us playing mini golf (at the campsite) Friday night, after the brewery.  :)
I really like this pic of josh (RT), doesnt he look cute :)   Next, he is focusing really hard on beating his wife...and he thought he might do it too...but alas, I won!!! 

 Here is a fun shot josh got of me...the camera was under a rock the ball had to go through.   In the photo on the right, you can see the sunset behind me.  It was finally cool enough to be out from under the shade at 8pm. 

 Above are pics from our 2nd site and the views we could see.  The river in the left photo you can barely see, but it is reallly high and wide right now.  One guide said it was higher than she has seen it since 1995.   The pic with the 2 chairs was where we could put them so we were out of the sun.  There is a Simpsons episode ( i think its the simpsons) where the sun is sooo hot, the charactor puts his toe in the sun from the shade, and immediately it's burnt.  Yes, that is how it was here.  We huddled in this teeny bit of shade.  (i am taking this pic after the sun went behind the canyon, of course)

 The next Day, Saturday morning, we packed up early (we had only 2 nights reserved at the KOA, and we were eager to camp somewhere more secluded) and headed into the canyon to find a campsite.  The day before we had gone rafting and you take a bus 21 miles up the canyon beside the river to start your adventure.  We knew there were campsites up the canyon, and found a few we liked, so that on Saturday we could really get up early to find the best and most shady spot!!!  So, by 9am we were in the canyon finding a site.  We found a great site right next to the river in the reeds and trees, which we thought would provide us some good afternoon shade.  (however, we were wrong, the angle in the canyon was a little off, we did not get much shade, it was terribly hot!!!!) 

 After we found our campsite, and ate some brunch, we went to find a mountain biking trail to do.  Now, Josh is very very good at riding bikes, he is not scaired to hit his head against a rock, and he handles the bike really well.  I am not as good, and a bit freaked about mountain biking (remember, uncle tim, when we went in Mass??)  After going to the "most popular site in the USA, the famous SlickRock Trail" and then being told it was not for beginners being technically challenging, so we left...Then went to a local bike shop where we asked for a moderate trail, & we were pointed here.  The first photo on the right is leaving the parking lot, i really like the red sand.  You can see the Lasalle Mountains in the back.   The 2nd pic is of a HUGE canyon we came across on our 8 mile loop.  It is much bigger than the photo shows, and really really far down.  The path you can see is a dried up river bed, not a dirt road.  You can see Josh below. 
The bottom 2 photos in the above group are one of us riding and in the photo on the right, the slickrock which was so famous in the area.  I really enjoyed riding on the slickrock, it made your bike tires grip real well, and was much more different than riding on dirt.  Josh would ride down these big steep hills, jumping rocks and going really fast.  I, on the other hand, would go down very very slowly, but I could muster my way UP really well!  I got up most of the hills without pushing at all, while josh had a harder time with going up (it takes strength, not courage).  It was kinda funny to me.  Overall, it was a really fun loop.  It was lots of up and down, slickrock, and just regular trails.  If mountain biking in Colorado were that fun, i just might do it more.  But, its more...ride your bike up a huge mountain, then ride down really fast.  its not my thing.
After the bike trip, it was about 1pm, getting really hot.  Instead of going back to our tent, we went into Moab and opted for lunch in AC and a beer.  We stayed there for a while, and got back to our site around 3:30.  By then we had to put the chairs in the teeny shade, as shown above, and both of us decided to nap.  We had now learned, the key to the summer in Moab, get up early and do your hiking/sports/etc, and then go back and nap anywhere from 12-5, but stay in the shade, then get up in the evening. 

Josh sleeping in the tent. 

While on the river rafting trip, one of the drivers told us, that when we went to Arches (our Sunday plan was to hike in Arches) we should go during the night, when the moon was still out, and hike the Delicate Arch (the one on the UT license plate) at sunrise.  This sounded like a sweet idea to us!!!  So, Sunday morning we got up at 3:30am and got into the truck and drove into Arches.  It was summer solstice and the moon was out and BRIGHT each night we had camped.  However, this night, it was semi cloudy and the moon was not completely full anymore.  It was a little harder to see than the night before.  We drove through the park at night seeing these massive towering rocks in the moon.  We got to the delicate arch still at night, and started up the trail.  Never have we done a trail at night before, and it was definately a lot of fun!!!  We were all alone out there, and you see a different sort of beauty at night.  You also can't see the carins very well (carins = rock piles guiding you where to go on the trail since you are hiking on slickrock there is no dirt trail), sooo, we got lost.   We knew we just had to go UP to the top of this mountain, but we came out way far to the right side on the other side of a HUGE canyon.  It was just becoming light when we got to this point.  WE finally figured out where the delicate arch was at and we hiked toward it.  I will say the Delicate Arch was one of the coolest things I have ever seen!!!!!  It is perched on the side of a canyon, in this bowl-like-rock.  It was really neat, the pics don't do it justice.  Here are a few of them. 

See what i mean about the bowl.  The far side of the arch is a huge canyon. I came out on the other side of it at night while hiking out there.

Here is the nearly full moon above the arch.  WOW!!!

<---  I am in this pic under the arch.  

 A different arch on the sunrise hike.  Me!  It was a steep climb to get there, but on the slickrock your shoes grip real well.  I bet its fun to mountain climb!!   The arches at Sunrise. 

The petroglyphs on the trail.  Estimated time drawn. 1620-1800. 

  You can see the delicate arch here from far away!
Here is a pretty view as we are nearly back to the car.  Lots more people have showed up by this time. 

Here are some more stunning pics from Arches National Park. 

Looking up at the arch.

I am in the blue, under this big arch. 

Devils Fingers.

Jen & josh, devils Fingers. 

More cool arches. 

At about 11am, we left and drove back to our campsite, at the height of the heat!!!  It was terribly hot, and we ate some lunch and huddled in the shade.  We had decided we would leave Sunday afternoon to get home 1 day early for Josh to do his homework before class Monday night.  So, at about 1pm we left.  Though, our day did begin at 3am, i didnt feel too bad about it.  We got home at about 6pm, and showered, I was asleep at 7pm. 

Well, thats most of the trip.,  I hope to post a few more pics (of the rafting) at a later time. 

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