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This is Palm Desert, Ca. time...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boise Here We Come!!!

So we again ate at The Cracker Barrel (LOVE that place) and started on a long day's worth of driving up to Boise. We have a nephew that just finished his first year at BSU and we have been dying to visit him!
We drove up the 15 and onto 84 into Idaho. So many wonderfully beautiful places that all I can do is post pics.

We did find a great place to stop along the Snake River, in Twin Falls, Idaho. There is a beautiful place called Shoshone Falls and it is just breathtaking!
Evel Knievel attempted a jump back in 1974 and there are still remnants of the ramp to be seen. Not only are the Falls incredible, but they also have Dierkes Lake there!

The kids had a blast and it was so funny to see Tierney jump right in, as Cope took a good 30 minutes before he felt comfortable to jump in...they both made a friend they played with and it was a perfect place to stop and relax! We also had a small picnic there in the grass.

Finally we made it to Boise and stayed at a Shilo Inn, our first time. It was a great hotel to stay at! We loved the beds, showers and the room was very comfy!
We met up with Jake and he took us to a great place downtown for some Chicago-style pizza.

We had never had it before! It was very yummy! Then back to the hotel for an early morning wake-up!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bryce Canyon revisited (and feeling MUCH better)

Yes- today was a MUCH better day at Bryce Canyon! I was feeling really bad that I was so disappointed in the day-but come to find out we just didn't have enough information!
So we wake up and head on over to the kiosk to purchase a yearly pass- and the lady so nicely explains that the free shuttle goes to the Visitor's Center first and to see the movie there that she recommends (which we did) and then the shuttle takes you to the end of the line and you start visiting the different points coming back! Oooooh!
No one mentioned that to us yesterday, so we didn't know why it wasn't stopping where we wanted! Sooooo- you start at the end, which is Bryce Point, and spend as much time as you want there, then take the shuttle to the next point which is Inspiration Point, then on to Sunset Point (where we took in the Geology talk with Ranger Jan), and on to Bryce Canyon Lodge (beautiful!), and again on to Sunrise Point and back to the Visitor's Center!
Well that all made sense when she explained it- so we went back today FULL FORCE and took most of Bryce Canyon in and LOVED IT!!!!
We did just as we were told, and went to Bryce Point first. Beautiful and so amazing that this was all pushed up and up and then exposed and weathering so.
We hit all the Points we missed yesterday and then some!

Finally we made it back to the Visitor's Lodge and the kids turned in their Jr. Ranger booklets, answered some questions and were swore in as Bryce Canyon Jr. Rangers! Now they are Jr. Rangers in Zion and Bryce! It was very exciting!

Back into the car as we headed out of the park and went looking for Mossy Cave just East on the 12. Well, somehow we completely missed it, and ended up making a bathroom stop in a little town of Escalante. WAY CUTE!!!! If you get the chance to drive through- make sure you STOP and enjoy yourself at a shop/cafe called ESCALANTE OUTFITTERS.
Excellent food and a wonderful shop filled with everything imaginable to play outside-hiking, backpacking, etc....YOU GOTTA GO!

Heard a secret from the store owner...and found a secret local hangout where the kids could play in the water we so missed! So off we went in search of this place and we found it! The kids had a ball swimming and wading and being brave!

Moving on we then drove all the way 12 N going through Escalante, Boulder Town, Grover, Torrey, Loa, Lyman and Sigurd. We hopped N to Salina and took the 50 across to catch the 15. 15 all the way to Spanish Fork, which we found no place to stay, and moved onto to Springville! WHEW! Pooped to say the least! But guess what is RIGHT NEXT TO THE HOTEL?
That is right baby- The Cracker Barrel! Oh we are in Heaven! More tomorrow!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bryce Canyon in a day

(Waiting to pick up the free shuttle into Bryce Canyon)
Well, Bryce Canyon is a HUGE contrast to Zion...and being the 1st time for us at both...I was sort of disappointed. I guess I thought it would be more Zion-like, but it was very different.
Now don't misunderstand- It truly is breathtaking and Ranger Jan gave a very informative and wonderful geology talk on the canyon...BUT...did you know there is no water there?
I had our day bag packed with suits, towels and flip-flops, but no place to go in the water! Did I miss something?
I know that even though it is called Bryce Canyon, it truly is NOT a canyon. (This explanation came from Ranger Jan) They have over 200 days of 'freeze-thaw" which had led to major erosion of the canyon. Hoodoos are EVERYWHERE and they are so incredible to look at! If you go-make sure you visit Sunset Point. The Hoodoos are so close, it feels like you could just reach out and touch them! You can almost imagine yourself jumping across the tops of them all the way across the canyon! Bryce is at the 8,000 ft mark, so Ponderosa Pines are everywhere and that old familiar (Flagstaff) smell brought back so many memories! I also had forgotten how cool big, puffy and thick white clouds could be! (Still waiting for my thunderstorm)
As beautiful as it all was, I am most disappointed that there was no water! I miss water! We had so much fun yesterday in the water, even though it was freezing. Yes, I am disappointed in the no water part; everything else was beautiful and worth seeing!(This was so COOL! An automatic water bottle-filler)
So-things on the the To-Do List:
  • Visit the Lodge
  • Watch the Bryce Canyon movie in the Visitor's Center
  • Gift shop in Visitor's Center
  • Sunset Point
  • Ride the free shuttle all over the park
  • Get, read and study the park guide newspaper for TONS of park info
Things to ponder:
  • Going to more than 1 National Park? Buy the yearly pass for $80.00
  • Bring in a backpack for all your stuff
  • Scope out eating and sleeping arrangements ahead of time
  • make sure you can get free Wi-Fi
  • If you have kids- join the FREE Jr. Ranger program- great for kids and you!
If you have any ideas I missed- please add in comments!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 2 with an Incredible View!

Jeff and I got no sleep last night because we were worried about getting into the 2 hour ranger-led tour this morning...
(This is Jeff, so tired, and put shampoo on his head instead of lotion)

We got up at 6:00am, showered and at breakfast by 7am, done eating by 7:30- to drive the 30 minutes over to Zion by 8:00am to hopefully get our name on the list for the tour! (Brochures say 12 people max)
(Cope and Tierney joined the Jr. Ranger program)
Success! Not only were we added, but the ranger let out a sigh of relief due to only 4 others being signed up! Boy did Jeff and I stress all night about being able to get into that tour! LOL
It was a fabulous tour- which I highly recommend! (Thanks Dad!)
We were hungry for lunch and stopped at the Sol.......and then off in search of some water to swim in. Right behind the Visitor's Center is a perfect place to hop in the river and cool off! (Did I mention it was 102 today?) The kids met another family that
really went in the water and they had such a fabulous time!
Soon it was time to head out to Bryce Canyon. The drive there was incredible- we hit everything from desert, to red rocks, to scrub, to Aspens, to pine trees and back again....

(Menu Falls) A gorgeous place to see!

(Tierney and Cope being inducted as Jr. Rangers!
They had to finish a workbook about the park and answer
questions from the ranger before being inducted and receiving a badge or patch)

The water was freezing but felt sooooo good!

(On the way to Bryce Canyon- we went through two of these)

You gotta make this a FOR SURE thing to

PAUNSAUGUNT WILDLIFE MUSEUM www.Brycecanyonwildlifemuseum.com

Over 600 beautifully mounted animals from all over the world, Indian Artifacts, Gift shop and live deer you can feed-which was the highlight of the trip for the kids!
This place was so incredible that 1 day is not enough! Around every corner and in each display was so much beauty! This is a definite MUST for anyone going through to Bryce Canyon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beautiful Scenery and Sore Butts on Day 1

Can we fit anything else in the van? What did we forget?Our neighbor was riding by (at 5:00am!) and took our picture! LOLOn the road at a decent hour!Having breakfast at Starbucks!
Going through "the Virgin River Gorge"...just breathtaking!
Cope sleeping and Tierney picking on him....
Heading up to Zion....
So our travels for Day 1 were from Palm Springs to Zion, with a stop in Las Vegas for lunch with Jeff's parents, sister and his nephew Jack. Great time and it was good to see them!
Now we are relaxing at a local hotel in Hurricane, Utah and ready for hiking and playing in the water tomorrow! Sadly we did not get a campsite, but this is summer time after all!
Excited to see what Zion has to offer! With any luck we will be able to take the Zion Scenic Tour and then play in water! Whew.....I'm pooped.