Saturday, April 10, 2010

Three Days, Three National Parks

We have lived in Utah for ten years and yet, we still have a mile-long list of sights to see and things to do within the state. Somehow, having having a graduating senior has caused us to kick it into high gear and start checking things off the list.

Our story begins with the fact that we had three National Parks to visit and three days to do it in. We have three boys, so we decided to assigned each a day and location to be in charge of. This meant figuring out the best route, best activities and of course, the BEST places to EAT!

Day One, Park One: Bryce Canyon

We had heard that Bryce Canyon was incredible. The sights took our breathe away! So did ALL the snow. We had planned for leisurely hikes and outdoor time, but it was COLD...much too cold for the dummies who only packed shorts!

We stayed at the historic Ruby Inn. The kids have decided that historic is another word for OLD! Honestly, they are spot on. All the snow meant that nothing was open. We had two dinner choices: eat at the Inn's only restaurant, or go hungry. In hindsight, I should have packed more snacks. The pile of snacks that I thought would last three days were eaten on the four-hour car ride to the first destination.

See what I mean about breathtaking sights? Every direction was equally spectacular!

The only problem with the vast expanse of scenic beauty is the lack of cellular coverage. Remember, this is DAY ONE and already our first born's head is ready to explode from lack of air time with the important relationships in his life. Big clue to where we rate on the food chain!

This was a notable highlight of Day One. Kid in charge read about a mossy cave that was said to be worth the hike. It was!

Day Two, Park Two: Zion National Park
After our visit to Bryce Canyon, I was convinced that there was nothing more beautiful on this earth. I forgot about Zion National Park. It was a different kind of beauty, but equally breathtaking!
Kid #2 planned the events of the day. He was kind enough to let the brothers take off to hike Angel's Landing...not for the faint of heart. Supposedly there is a stretch that involves a narrow ridge with support chains that you can hang on to in an effort not to fall 1500 feet down the canyon. Somehow, that didn't sound even remotely fun to me...but it was quite the party for two adventurous boys and their dad. Kevin froze up halfway across the ridge and had to turn back. I'm just glad that I didn't know about the five people who have died trying to hike this trail; the most recent one being just last year.

While Dad and brothers were off being adventurous, Kid #2 and I saw the sights through the eyes of a camera lens. No thrill-seekers here. But give me a IMAX screen (and a bucket of popcorn) and I'll live vicariously through someone much braver!

Whenever we are on vacation we inevitably run into our neighbors while we are 100's (and in one case 1000's) of miles from home. For us, "What Happens in Vegas, will NEVER Stay in Vegas." A very good reason to ALWAYS mind our manners!

Day Three, Park Three: Grand Canyon
We did it! We breezed through the first two destinations and were heading into day number three when we found out that the 18-year-old in charge hadn't done his homework. Of course, who would have thought that the Grand Canyon could possibly be closed. Not us!

Uh oh!

We found accommodations at a quaint Inn on Jacob's Lake. Oh, and might I add, quite historic. Kids will tell you that a motel using the words quaint AND historic to describe it means that it is OLDER than the hills! Kevin and I cracked up because everything about this motel brought back memories of the family vacations of our youth.

Our room wasn't quite as old as these out-buildings, but not by much! Thankfully there was one available cafe. The dining room wouldn't open for a couple more weeks, but we were able to huddle at the counter (along with the other stranded family and two employees) and enjoy a decent meal. The peach pie was actually worth the trip.

Here's where we had some decisions to make. We could admit defeat and return home. Two out of three ain't bad, right? But we were way too close to give up now. We took a vote and decided to take off early the next morning (and by early I mean before 9 am) and drive the three hours to the south rim. Yes...a six hour detour. Thank you dear 18-year-old!

Here's a sight to warm any mother's heart. Kids were too far away to hear me yell. They tell me that it was safer than it looked.

I easily have another 70 - 80 photos that I'm happy to share, if you're interested. The point really isn't each stunning picture. It's the story behind the picture. Kevin and I are betting that decades from now the kids will look back fondly on these photographs and the stories will be even grander than the one just told!


Beth Graham said...

I'll bet going to the Grand Canyon when it is closed will become the best part of their story to tell!

samnarene said...

Your photos are great, and I enjoy your talent for storytelling. After seeing your blog, you will have more readers eager to see these National Parks.