July 19, 2010

Colorado Hospitality

Colorado is a beautiful place. Luckily for us we also know some beautiful people on Colorado! Dominick has a lot of family out here, and once he knew that we were heading to Mesa Verde National Park he hopped on the phone and called his great Aunt and Uncle Jo and Carmen. We got to stay a few days and nights at their wonderful house in Cortez where we hunted prairie dogs and watched a lot of Glen Beck. Jo and Carmen really took care of us and treated us like kings. Thanks Jo and Carmen for opening your house to us and being so fun and caring during our stay!

Dom, Carmen and Jo

We spent a few days checking out Mesa Verde where dwellings remain from when Native Americans lived in the caves about 800 years ago. We went on 2 ranger-guided tours and learned a lot of interesting stuff about Mesa Verde and the Native Americans that lived there so long ago.

We had to get on our hands and knees at one point to barely squeeze through the tunnel.

Before we left Mesa Verde Carmen told us that we had to check out a little town called Telluride. He and Jo had lived there for a long time before moving to Cortez, and they loved it. We only spent a few hours there at sunset, but could tell that it was a beautiful place!




Night shot in town

After Telluride We checked out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Gunnison is a huge river that cut through rock to create a massive and amazing Canyon. We did a scenic drive through the park and hiked to a few viewpoints to get an upclose look at the Canyon and the Gunnison River running through it. The camera can't really do justice to the Canyon or River and we are really blessed to get to see these places with our own eyes.

Black Canyon

Painted Rock

Leaving the Black Canyon we had a long 6 hour drive ahead of us towards Boulder, CO. We stopped for lunch in the town of Gunnison and I gave a high school friend a call. He went to school in Boulder but is now living in Colorado Springs where he got a job at a bank. I asked if he might want to grab dinner or something, and he offered to have us over at his place for the night! He even cooked up some amazing burgers for us and sang along to all the songs while we watched CMT's Singing Bee. We met his awesome girlfriend and went on a hike at Garden of the Gods the next morning. Thanks Kev for taking care of us!

Ally, Kev, Danielle and I

After hiking arond the Garden of the Gods we loaded up and headed off to Boulder CO. About an hour later the Rolls started to overhead so we stopped at a Starbucks and let the RV cool down for at least an hour. Mallory and Danielle loaded up on Iced Teas and refilled 3 times each at just 50 cents a pop. We also used Starbuck's free wifi as we sat in the parking lot and played a few games of Hearts. It was a pretty fun way to pass the time.
Once the Rolls was ready to Rumble again we headed towards Longmont CO where Dominick's Granparents Dick and Mary Kay live. Dom had told us about Mary Kay's amazing cooking. He also mentioned their awesome basement that had a poker table, PingPong/Pool table, a fridge full of drinks, and a brand new bathroom! We pulled in just around dinner time. Mary Kay had cooked chicken and had biscuits, corn on the cob, cole slaw and all types of veggies and fruit as side dishes. The next morning we all headed out to see the Rocky Mountain National Park. Before reaching the park we stopped at They Stanley Hotel where the movie The Shining was shot.

Some "fun" playing PingPong

Stanley Hotel

At Rocky Mountain Park had a picnic and tried to avoid getting rained on. On the way home we stopped by their favorite ice cream shop in Estes Park and treated us all to some great homemade ice cream. They have spoiled us non stop since we showed up and we are really grateful. Thanks Dick and Mary Kay for taking care of us and showing us around Colorado!

Rocky Mountain

Dom, Dick and Mary Kay!

Canyonlands National Park

After the long and exhausting night spent in Arches we decided to make our trip to Canyonlands easy on ourselves. Instead of driving the extra couple of hours to make it to the "Island in the Sky" district which is the most popular of the 3 districts in Canyonlands, we drove to the closest part called Needles. When we got there we realized why Needles isn't exactly hopping with tourists. The visitor center was tiny, and so was the park.

There wasn't a whole lot to see or do, so we went on a short drive and short hike and then spent the rest of the day throwing the frisbee and relaxing.

July 14, 2010

A Night in Arches National Park

Arches National Park is in the Moab Desert, and is really hot. We decided to stay in the shade during the day, and wait until after dinner to head out to see the beautiful Delicate Arch. We left the RV around 8pm on a 3 mile round-trip hike to the arch. We were hoping for a couple of shots of the arch, and maybe a little bit of star gazing. We ended up biting off more than we could chew.

The hike up to the arch was super difficult. It was almost all uphill. The only markers to follow were occasional piles of rocks that weren't exactly easy to see. It was already getting dark and the only people we saw were hiking down from the arch. Mallory and I decided to run to the top to get some shots of the arch before the sun was completely gone. We were able to sneak out a couple shots between the huffing and puffing and gulping down water.

Danielle and I

The Delicate Arch lived up to its hype, and the star gazing wasn't too shabby either. Unfortunately we didn't really notice the time passing us by, and it was 10pm before we knew it. Searching through the backpack for a flashlight was tedious... and did not end with us finding a flashlight. At this point we realized that we were in trouble. Well, that and also the fact that the trail was almost impossible to follow, we only had 3 granola bars to eat, not one of us packed a jacket, and we had a mere 2 inch blade on a pocket knife to make us feel safe.

We decided to try to hike down from the arch using the only cell phone we brought and our camera as flashlights. That worked for about 5 minutes before we realized we had no idea where we were going. We thought it best to stop and stay where we were, and enjoy a wonderful night of star gazing and sleeping on hard rock. Luckily the tempurature stayed around 70 which was really comfortable. We each probably got 2 or 3 hours of sleep max, and always kept at least 1 person up as a "lookout". Most of the time the 4 of us were up looking around and praying that no hungry mountain lions came our way.

The time slowly passed and eventually the black sky started turning more of a blue again. We hiked back up to the arch to get a final few pictures.

The hike down was soooo long. We were tired, hungry, and grungy. I wasn't really looking forward to seeing the ticket on the window or any mad rangers since camping in the park is illegal unless in a specified campsite. Luckily for us our RV was still sitting there without any tickets or mad rangers around, and nothing broken or stolen! We praised God for a while as we unwound... and talked about what had just happened (we were able to convince each other that it wasn't simply a dream). This night is definitely one of the most crazy, scary, fun, exciting, unreal, unique nights of any of our lives. Thank God for watching over us and getting us through it safely!

Capitol Reef National Park

On our way to Capitol Reef National Park we noticed that most of the stores in the tiny little towns we were driving through were closed. We also saw a lot of LDS churches since we were in the middle of Utah. We then put 2 and 2 together and realized it must have been Sunday. I guess the days are already starting to run together at this point!

We finally found an open burger joint which turned out to be really good. We reached Capitol Reef at Sunset and caught a few shots just in time.

We spent the night in a campsite at the park and went on a scenic drive the next morning. The park was much smaller than the first 3 we have already seen. Here are a few shots from the drive.

There wasn't a ton to see at Capitol Reef so we took off pretty early and headed out towards Arches National Park...

July 10, 2010

Bryce Canyon

Our third stop on this trip was Bryce Canyon in Utah. Bryce was so different than The Grand Canyon and Zion. The Grand Canyon and Zion were larger and more busy. Bryce Canyon gave off a more intimate vibe and the detail in the canyons was amazing.

We drove around and checked out a bunch of different viewpoints:

Sunset Point

Sunrise Point

Bryce Canyon Viewpoint

Next, we decided to hike a 8 mile round trip trail on Peekaboo Loop.

See the thunder storms rolling in...

However, we ended up getting caught in the middle of a Thunder storm. By thunder storm, I mean rail, hail, high winds, thunder, and lightning. We huddled up with a family from Russia who was also drenched. Our shoes had about a pound of mud stuck to the bottom of them. I said that I can understand how people die in flash floods and storms like those because we were slipping and I was totally exhausted. We were really thankful to get to the RV.

On our way out of the park there was a mother antelope and her two babies.

They are the fastest animal in the world besides the cheetah. The babies are really cute, too. The two babies were chasing each other around the meadow.

Tomorrow we are off to Capital Reef National Park...

Next Stop: Zion National Park

I am a few days behind because we couldn't get any internet. However, we are in Bryce Canyon, Utah in a parking lot in front of the laundromat where our clothes are spinning using the wifi!

Zion was an absolutely stunning place.

It was blazing hot outside so we ended up walking down a trail to the Virgin River and spending the day in the water.

Travis hanging out in the river. We would swim down stream and hop on this rock.

That night we stayed at a Walmart 25 minutes outside of the park. We set up our laptop and lawn chairs outside and watched a movie. Classy.

We went back to Zion the next day to hike some of the trails.

On to Bryce Canyon!

Til next time...

Quick trip update!

We are super bummed that we haven't been able to post pictures of our trip so far. However, we can still share with you our thoughts on the amazing things we have seen and experienced.

So far we have been to The Grand Canyon (North and South Rim), Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon. All of these places have exceeded our expectations and were absolutely breath-taking. The Rolls has been running great with the occasional stall-out. It is a little cramped with all 4 of us but an absolute blast!

Earlier today we got caught in the middle of a thunder storm while hiking Bryce Canyon. It was hailing on us and we had a pound of mud stuck to the bottom of our shoes while trying to hike UPHILL fast to get out of the rain, hail, thunder, and lightning. We huddled up with another family from Russia. Quite the experience. Travis actually gave me a piggy back ride...he's great. He also RAN up the hill ahead of us to get us towels to bring back down. It was the best work out I have ever had and I had to have been going slow as ever. We'll never forget this experience.

Right now we are sitting in front of a Laundromat in Bryce Canyon, Utah. There is free wireless internet here. Score. We just stopped on the side of the road to watch a mother antelope and two of her babies prance around the meadow. They are the fastest animal in the entire world besides the Cheetah. Pretty darn cute, too.

We will try to get pictures up on here but for some reason it hasn't been working. However, we have been able to post pictures to Facebook so look me up on there if we aren't already friends.

Thanks for following!

July 7, 2010

First Stop: Grand Canyon!

We left Escondido, CA on Tuesday morning at 1am. We drove about 10 hours to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. What a beautiful creation!!

We hiked a trail called Bright Angel. It was fairly short but the sights were amazing.

On our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Heading into the park, Travis got out of the Rolls to get a shot of this buffalo.

The difference between the South and North side of the Canyon were astounding. The South side was very dry, hot, and bare. The North side of the Canyon looked more like a forest. It was much cooler with beautiful trees and meadows everywhere.

Mallory and Dom being brave...

The four of us!

Onto Zion Nat'l Park

Til Next Time...