Friday, July 24, 2015

Vacation (Part 3)

July 6th we set off for our last week of our adventure. The last week was by far the hardest week of vacation. I know that sounds funny, hard week of vacations, but try taking too kids as far as we did and you'd see what I'm talking about. It doesn't help that I planned way too much stuff for so little time. At the time I planned this trip we were still thinking of going back to our house in Florida next year so this was going to be the big west coast trip to see as much as we can before we pack it up and leave. Well now that we aren't planning on leaving we have all the time in the world to see this stuff, again and again. So if I was to plan this again I would have planned staying at least two nights in each location, not just one. I actually had a bad dream last night that we were doing the last week of vacation again and I had to pack up the car. Haha. No it wasn't a bad week. It was the best family trip we have had so far, but packing up the car was the most dreaded ordeal of the day.
Since we got back from vacation we actually decided to look at camping trailers. Next year we are going to sell the house, buy a new one out here, and then get a camping trailer. No more having to take the kids out for dinner, no more having to find a clean toilet, no more having to spend 40 minutes trying to pack a car, or fighting to wrangle a toddler that won't stop charging at the barbed wire fence in the campground. More on that craziness later.
So the first part of our day was a nice drive from Montana to Idaho so we could camp in Targhee National Forest. We really could have spent a whole week just relaxing and fishing here but we only got a night. When we got there I realized it's a bit closer to Rexburg than I thought it was so I had Natalie text my niece to see if she wanted to come on over. Natalie was doubtful Maurina would show up. I told Natalie they run through corn fields in Idaho because there is nothing else to do. Sure enough less than 2 hours later Maurina and her fiance were at our campground for dinner and a hike.
The next morning we woke up and immediately left for Craters Of The Moon, about 3 hours west Targhee. A couple months ago I was at the dermatologist for a mole removal and they were showing Craters Of The Moon on The Weather Channel. So I looked it up, it wasn't too far out of our way, and I put that on the itinerary. This was a really cool place to visit. Next time I'll definitely need a couple days there. It's just a gigantic field of volcanic rocks from explosions ranged from 15,000 - 2,000 years ago. They have volcanic caves you can hike in but they were closed at the time, spatter cones, craters, and what looks like huge sand dunes covered in black rock.
We tried to do probably 5 miles of hiking in one day, carrying kids in the sun and rain, up and down volcanoes and it was pretty tiring. A lot of fun but really exhausting. At the end of the night the kids didn't want to sleep. This was the start of the craziness that made us decide we are getting a trailer. I walked Zach through the campground probably 4-5 time trying to get him to sleep. Once he got back to the tent we was a wild man. After a two hour fight with the kids we finally got them to sleep.
The next day was another long drive all the way down to Provo, Utah were we decided to stay at a hotel. I hadn't seen my friend Brent in over 5 years so we stopped in Provo to meet up with him. We all went out for Neapolitan pizza. When Brent mentioned pizza the New Yorker kicked in and Natalie was acting like a pizza snob and said she didn't want west coast pizza. However this place is owned by a guy who moved her form Sicily and imported his oven. They cook really thin pizzas at 800 degrees in under a minute. So I was able to twist Natalie's arm into going and it turned out to be the best pizza I have had in a very long time.
The next day we headed down towards Zion. Since we are considering moving to Utah, if work allows it, we got off the freeway a little in Cedar City to look around. We also stopped in Beaver so the kids could have a bathroom break. Natalie came out of the gas station with a big smile on her face and said they have all kinds of merchandise that says I love Beaver. So of course I had to go in and get a shirt, coffee mug, shot glass, and I think there was something else too.
Before getting to Zion we got off the freeway and drove through Kolob Canyon. It was a nice scenic drive but we didn't get the kids out of the car. We got to Zion in the early afternoon. Right as we were getting out of the car a deer went running through camp. That was one of the many deer we would see running around that day. The next day we did all our hiking in Zion. We took the tram up to the top and made about 5 of the ten stops coming down. There's some places we couldn't get to with the kids, like The Subway, but we still did a lot, especially considering we were only there one day. We probably hiked a good 6 miles with those kids plus all our other gear and we were pretty beat at the end of the day.
I should have just booked another night in Zion but instead we stayed the night about 90 minutes away in Kanab. This campground was quieter, no mariachi music blasting in the campground until 10pm but it was kinda sketchy and there were roaches all over the place by the water spigots. The best part for Natalie was that it was right next to a cemetery. She doesn't share my sense of adventure with cemeteries. She was creeped out, I wanted to go sit out there with candles telling scary stories.
Next next morning, now July 11th, was our last day. We headed over to Moqui Cave where we did a short tour then headed home. The plan on the way home was to stop at the Glen Canyon Dam as well as Sunset Crater, close to Flagstaff. Well there are two highway 89's and we took the wrong one to stop at Glen Canyon Dam and I didn't feel like back tracking. Shortly after we got to where we were heading back south we decided we are just going home. We already did a volcano a couple days earlier, this one is only 2 hours from home, we were tired, and we threw in the towel. Two hours later vacation was officially over.
Targhee National Forest

 Our visitors, Cameron and Maurina.

 We were looking for a Moose but found nothing.

From our campground at Craters Of The Moon.

 These monoliths were actually moved here from the cone about 3/4 of a mile to the west (right behind the monolith from where we are standing). When the volcano blew the northeast side blew out to where these monoliths are.
 I believe this was called Inferno Cone. Lightning started when we got up there so I ran down that hill really quick. No where to hide from lightning up there.

 Adri and I hiked pretty far up this one but I could only take the kid so far. Next time I'll need a half day to explore this one.

 The spatter cones. Spatter cones are a sign that volcano activity is coming to an end. I think there were at least 3-4 of these spatter cones all just a hundred feet or so apart. We were able to walk into two of them.

 Inside one of the spatter cones.

 This is across from Inferno Cone. We hiked a little over half an hour up and down this thing. Didn't get to go all the way around it.

 Looking at the spatter cones from the big crater across the way.

 This trail is called The Devils Orchard. I thought it was a pretty cool trail. Vegetation has actually started to grow here. It's pretty close to the caves.

 Back at camp.

 After dinner we went hiking between the camp and the highway.

 There's another view of the monoliths and the cone that they got blasted from.

Brent playing with Zach at dinner. After dinner we just hung out at the hotel. I didn't feel like chasing kids anymore.
Driving through Kolob.

 At the visitor's center. I actually saw people with room temperature IQs trying to get pictures petting the deer.

Dinner at Baby Sumo in Zion. My stomach wasn't feeling so great that day. I had some yogurt in the morning that may have been questionable. Mexican food for lunch didn't help it. After having some a steak bowl with rice and half of Natalie's Sapporo I finally felt better. 

 The park staff actually asked us not to get so close to the deer. I was amazed that they thought this little deer would come after me but they said nothing to the preteen 100 feet away that was twice as close.

 The Watchman.

 Temple of Sinawava trail.

 I could be wrong, but this looks to me like the rock that I got stuck on 25 years ago. I went out to a rock and had to have my mom rescue me.

Adri knows what to do when she sees metal.

I think they called this weeping rock or something.

 Walking back down Adri was doing her funny walk trying to keep her balance.
We had to stop for a while after lunch while we charged our batteries for our last hike up to the emerald pools. We made it to the first two of the three. I wasn't going to push the kids to the third one even though it was only another half mile.

 Hiking up to the Emerald Pools.

 This is driving out of Zion.
 On our way out we got to drive 5 minutes through a long tunnel. Of course everyone was honking in the tunnel like a bunch of kids.

This is just good advertising. We stopped to take a picture with the sign and ended up staying for dinner. They did have some pretty good pie with a butter rum topping.

 At the Ho-Made pie store they had this sign. I thought it was pretty funny.
 After giving us hell before bed time look how peaceful this little guy is.

 At Moqui Cave. This was a one time thing. Not something I'd really care to go back to.

 Crossing the Colorado River.