Arches National Park

 

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The far mesas and distant eroded, striated cliffs on the desert drive to Arches National Park were striking.

Roadside scenery.
Roadside scenery.

When we arrived at Arches, the park ranger advised us to quickly secure a camping spot.  He told us of a couple sites nearby, and his favourite, “Moonflower.”  The road to these campsites was directly alongside a river in a gorge of red sandstone.

Campsite gorge.
Campsite gorge.

To get to the campsite he recommended, we would have to hike 3 miles!  We settled for a spot alongside the river.  That evening, the weather was so perfect, Adam slept on top of the picnic table under the endless stars!

Three Judges.
Three Judges.

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Since we still had some daylight left after grabbing a campsite, we headed back to Arches, and explored the park by car.  We got out to hike a trail called “Wall Street,”and instead of retracing our steps, I thought it might be closer to walk back on the road.  Wrong!!!

Instead of retracing the trail, we took the much longer route on the road.
Instead of retracing the trail, we took the much longer route on the road.

Adam thought he would like to skate the gently winding roads we had just walked, so he duct-taped the camera to a stick for a self-made Go Pro.

There were several landmarks we wanted to see.  Balanced Rock,

Balanced Rock.
Balanced Rock.

Delicate Arch (road closed due to past rain), Landscape Arch.

Our goal was Double O Arch, which was a varied and primitive trail, following rock cairns most of the way.  It was a challenging hike, clamboring up and walking along rock fins, scrambling up walls, and trudging through rocky, sandy, juniper areas.

The trail to Double O Arch was challenging but fun.
The trail to Double O Arch was challenging but fun.
Double O Arch.
Double O Arch.

Afterwards, Adam and I agreed this was the best hike, because it seemed like “exploring” hiking, and was so varied and interesting.  We had fun climbing around Double O for a while, and managed to see Landscape Arch as the late evening sun was dipping below the rock faces.  It’s helpful that it doesn’t get dark until 9 PM!

Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch

I was fascinated as the early morning light played over the top of the river canyon where we stayed, and gradually spread it’s golden rays down the face of the gorge. Since Adam had slept outside, he was up early too.  We broke camp, and headed towards Bryce Canyon.

Salt Lake City

 

Cars are definitely handy things to have.  We picked up our Mazda mini sport, threw in all our gear, and shook the dust of Portland off our feet. We had a push of a drive to get to Salt Lake City that evening, and a couple of stops to make on the way.

Adam at Multnomah Falls
Adam at Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls was just a little way from Portland, at the beginning of the Columbia Gorge.  A very popular tourist site, the Falls are a picturesque double waterfall. We hiked to the top, then ever craving more, hiked along a forested trail along the mountain, that really didn’t lead anywhere exciting.

Switchbacks!
Switchbacks!
Beautiful Multnomah Falls!
Beautiful Multnomah Falls!

 

The beginning of the Columbia Gorge was pretty, and sort of like the rolling hills like I paint for my railroad backdrops. Yes! The beautiful scenery quickly turned boring… A whole lotta nuthin’, until around Boise Idaho.

 

 

 

I paint hills like these for my model railroad backdrops!
I paint hills like these for my model railroad backdrops!

We diverted to Pendleton, Oregon, for a leg-stretching, and to check out the Pendleton wool store.

Evening fell, and there was not much to see, until Adam looked out the window and said “Whoa! Look at the stars!”  Stopping at the side of the road, we climbed up a sandy embankment and marveled at the stars that went all the way to the horizon! It felt like the Milky Way was almost within reach!

We stumbled down the embankment and headed on our way, but a certain funky smell made us wonder if we had stepped in animal droppings.  Turns out it was the ambient aromas from big meat-factory farms! The smells made us gag for much of Idaho.  Luckily, time and the highway soon put that unpleasantness behind us.

We drove into Salt Lake City and arrived at my cousin Jennifer’s at 1:30 AM.  She was at work at the hospital as an ER Doc, and her husband, Dave and their two kids were getting up early for a duck hunt.  We snuck into our room, and crashed.  Jennifer was expecting a couch delivery in the morning.  The deliverymen brought it in and set it up, but it literally took up her whole living room! The guys were not overjoyed to pack it all up and reload into the truck. I tactfully suggested she tip them well! ;-)

My cousin Jennifer and her family.
My cousin Jennifer and her family.

Dave and kids returned after Zoie bagged 3 teal ducks!  We all piled into the Tahoe for a hike to Lake Mary, a reservoir in a ski resort.  Poor Jack fell asleep in the car, and was a little groggy for the beginning of the hike.  But after he woke up… who could stop him!  He wanted so badly to follow Adam on a hike around the lake, and he did!  Jennifer was  biting her tongue not to yell out to him “Be careful!” She has seen too much working in ER, and is ever vigilant with her kids.

Adam At the Lake Mary reservoir.
Adam At the Lake Mary reservoir.
Li'l Paca at Lake Mary
Li’l Paca at Lake Mary

My impression of Salt Lake City: A mishmash of architectural house styles and eras.  Lots of 60’s, storybook, cottage style, and modern.  Lots of “wildflower” front yards, but neat and tidy.  This was also the first place since the midwest we saw big box stores!  The next day, Adam and Dave went off to go mountain biking, but the threat of rain prevailed.  Jennifer, the kids, and I went to the barn, so I could meet Bodie, their horse, and watch Zoie take a lesson.

Jen and Zoie with Bodie.
Jen and Zoie with Bodie.

On Monday, Dave and Jennifer had to work, so Adam and I planned to visit nearby caves.  On the way there, I phoned Jen, and she suggested that  we may need reservations for the cave tour.  Sure enough – they were full, so we redirected, and went to Red Butte Garden, but didn’t want to pay the fee to get in.  We had a tailgate lunch, just as a light rain began to fall.  It had stopped as we finished lunch, and went to retrace some neighborhood hills Adam had found while skateboarding. Afterwards, we went back to the Reynold’s, and Adam and Jack tried some BB target shooting.  It was good to see him engaging with the kids.  Jen had just installed a TV in the “Duck Room,” a room over the garage that was to be the kids’ hideout.  And that’s where they all hid out!

Adam, Jack, and Zoie enjoying the new TV in the Duck Room!
Adam, Jack, and Zoie enjoying the new TV in the Duck Room!

 

 

Portland

IMG_3144Our Portland plans began to fall through.  We had already extended our stay with the Gordon’s in Seattle, and I had plans to meet Betsy, a friend from St. Charles who had moved back to the Portland area the next day for lunch. In desperation, I rented a motel.  Linda drove us down to Portland, as she had an errand to run while we settled into the room, and then she returned to pick us up and drop us off in the city.

We strolled through Powell’s, because I guess you haven’t seen Portland unless you visit this huge bookstore! We went to the Chinese Garden, but decided we did not want to pay the $10 each admission.  Dinner was a lucky last-day offer of a BOGO Noodles coupon.  Timing couldn’t have been better!  Our impression of Portland: Lots of homeless.  Funky.  Weird. I think we like Seattle city a little better.

Took the Maxx train back to the motel, and Adam crashed. He slept for 14 hours! I measured him a couple days later, and I think he grew 1/2 inch!

Betsy picked us up at checkout time, and we headed over to The Grotto, in a light mist.  It’s a Catholic garden, very peaceful and well-maintained, with a great view from the Meditation Chapel.IMG_3145

After lunch at 5 Guys Burgers, we tried to find my cousin Alison’s house.  I had the wrong address, and the neighborhood seemed a little sub-par for my cousin, and we could not locate the house.  Finally I figured out the correct address, and we arrived with little fanfare from Elsa the dog.  My cousin arrived home from work early with her son in tow.  He was not feeling well, and had come home early from school. Adam had gone longboarding, so Ben and I played cards while Alison made dinner.IMG_3150

After dinner, Alison’s husband, Mike, who is a computer guru, helped me with this blog site.  THANK YOU MIKE!  It has taken me 4 months, 3 themes, and 3 computer people to get this blog where I want it to be! I loved to see how Mike came alive while he was helping with the website.  It’s cool when people groove when they are enjoying doing something.

 

Washington/Seattle

Sunset, Bainbridge Island

I haven’t spent any time in Seattle when it wasn’t beautiful and sunny!  I think the locals want to keep the rest of the world away from their treasure.

We stayed on Bainbridge Island with my friends the Gordons, from high school, and two of their high school-aged kids. While the kids were in school, Adam and I rode the ferry across Puget Sound to the city, and explored.  Of course, Pike Place Market was a favorite.  Adam liked the fish-throwing guys, and the Bubble Gum wall.  View from Bainbridge ferry IMG_3028 IMG_3032 IMG_3036 We walked to the area around the Space Needle, where there was lots of art to be seen.  Chihuly Glass, the undulating architecture of a museum (don’t know what it’s called!), a mosaic wall, and a tall, rusted steel sculpture installment that reminded me of corn or wheatfields. Chihuly glass sculptures IMG_3051IMG_3053As we headed back downtown, we ducked into a glass-blowing shop that was giving demos, and that was fascinating as well.

IMG_3056Just before leaving for the day, we took an “Underground Seattle” tour, and learned some of the history of the city.  Like some other great cities, Seattle too, burned to the ground.  The city fathers wanted to flatten some hills, so when it came time to rebuild, they built concrete walls around the roads, and filled them in with the hillsides.  This raised the streets up ten feet above the storefronts, so they just capped the sidewalks, putting in glass prism skylights, so the underground space would still be useable. During Prohibition, these areas became used for disreputable purposes, and they also became rat-infested (still are!). So most shops in Seattle are actually the second floor at the current sidewalk level!

IMG_3058Saturday was Linda’s birthday, and she chose to go hiking up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains, a spot she and Jim had been to early in their marriage. Their daughter Dalina opted to come along, which was surprising since she was really not the hiking type, and was fighting a cold.  She was a trooper!IMG_3123

IMG_0722IMG_3074IMG_0709Adam was contemplating the view of Canada and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from a ridge near the peak, when a four-point buck poked his head from a steep path not ten feet away.  The rest of us were scattered at various points along the path below, and we stood transfixed.  What was the buck going to do? The path was too steep and narrow to turn around.  With just a glance towards Adam, he continued down the path, and just kept strolling towards us.  We stepped aside for “His Majesty,” and he confidently continued his walk towards the bottom of the ridge, and photobombed some girls!IMG_3082IMG_3084

We saw other wildlife that were completely unafraid.  Does with fawns, which we were able to come to within 5 feet.  Grouse poking around the hillside, birds that would land on your hands. The marmots seemed a little cautious, though!IMG_3072IMG_0739

Ravenous after the hike, we went to town to search for  restaurant that would suit all our tastes, and decided Chinese fit the bill.  Our first clue should have been an empty restaurant at dinner time.  Our second clue should have been the only Oriental person in the restaurant was the cook! The decor was decidedly NOT Asian, with marble floors and walls, and Chippendale-styled chairs.  There were Christmas wreaths hung on the walls, interspersed with Rococo style paintings featuring people with Who-ville noses!  To top it off, the restroom stall walls stood no higher than my chest.  Peek-a-boo!  They were certainly tall enough for the cook though!

An epic homeschool, longboard, and adventure around the world