Saturday, August 29, 2015

Daytrip to Dinosaur

We took a day trip to Dinosaur National Park the Saturday before school started. It was a 3.5 hour drive, but well worth it. We ate lunch in Vernal and headed over to the visitor center. The tram took us up to the fossil quarry. The kids took some great pictures on their camera of the fossils inside. After enjoying the many fossils in the quarry, we took the 1. 5 mile hike down and saw some dinosaur bones still in the mountain side. The temperatures were climbing up to the mid 90's and our water was in the car so we were happy to get back inside. We watched the movie on the park and took the scenic route drive.

This dinosaur is an Allosaurus. 

This is a Camposaurus.

One of the most in tact dinosaur skulls in the world.

A baby stegasaurus.

There were many petryglyphs to see along the scenic drive, so we stopped and checked them out.

 We searched for a long time for the famous lizard on one wall. Only to discover it was not there. 

 It was around the corner, with multiple other lizards. 
 It was so large you could see it from the car up high on the cliff. 
 The views were beautiful. 
 On our way home, we drove by the Vernal Utah LDS temple. I believe it is one of the few temples that is not white. Still beautiful, with the grounds well kept.
We have now checked off another National Park off our list.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lake Powell

Last week we went to Lake Powell with the families of a couple of my really good friends from high school- the Carys and the Greenwoods. It was fun getting the families together, reminiscing of the great times in high school and previous Powell trips, and watching the kids interact so great and have so much fun with each other. It turned out to be a fantastic trip. The weather cooperated wonderfully, we had a perfect camp site, and all the boats and vehicles functioned without any problems.

We headed out Wednesday after work and drove straight to Ticaboo Lodge. Lisa found us a smoking deal and reserved the room for $60 for that night. The next morning we picked up our houseboat rental at Bullfrog and headed south. Dave and Amber Greenwood grabbed several kids and headed off in their boat to scout out a camp site while the rest of us plodded along at 6.5 miles per hour in the houseboat.

This was the most crowded I had ever seen Lake Powell. Every single possible campsite or beach between Bullfrog and the Rincon was taken. Our normal favorites were already occupied.  Thankfully though Dave and Amber found a sweet cove with a big beach just south of the Rincon for us. At first I was a little nervous about the lack of shade and the exposure to the channel, but as it turned out we didn't need the shade because the temps never got over 93 degrees and we didn't notice any waves from the channel. In fact, there were many times that we would have inexplicable glass in the channel by us even in the middle of the day. 

Here's a view of our campsite from the channel.

The views from the back of the boat were heavenly. We were treated to some great sunsets that bathed the high canyon walls in reds and yellows each night.

Check out those anchor lines. We guys did a marvelous job with those.

 Doug's wife Heather getting ready to put their baby Grace in Dave's boat.

As much as I absolutely love Lake Powell for myself, I also really, really love seeing my kids enjoy it. Much of our labor is for them, and seeing them embrace it and love it like I do makes all the hard work worth it. The kids did a ton of playing on that beach. I can honestly say that I never heard one kid complain about being bored or wanting something to do. That's pretty impressive for having 12 kids together and no electronics.  They were loving digging in the dirt, swimming in the cove, playing on the paddle boards, and fishing.

Dave and Doug bought some inflatable paddle boards, and the kids commandeered them almost immediately. They were out on them so much, it was great to see them putting the boards to use. I am tempted to buy me one now. Once fully inflated they looked and felt like a normal paddle board.

Blake and Cade had fun swimming around together. This trip was a huge improvement for Blake over last year. He was gladly going down the slide, cliff jumping, riding the tube, swimming, etc. He was fearless this year.

Aubrey and Sam were off by themselves being silly and provided a great photo opportunity.

All of the kids were addicted to fishing. There was always somebody fishing. As a result Dave, Doug and I were constantly untangling lines, baiting hooks, unhooking fish, and retying hooks. It was a ton of work, but worth it to see the kids smile. I think every single kid caught at least one fish.  Carp and catfish were the most caught fish.

When the kids weren't busy playing in our cove we would take them out on the boat and do some water sports.

We hooked up Dave's double tube and got some great shots of their excited/fearful faces as we tried to knock them off.

Aubrey and Sam catching some air.

Tucker and Jayce right before they hit a huge wave. Jayce did a back flip off the tube. It was quite the sight.

Max and Ty getting whipped outside the wake.

Back at camp the kids were right back at it. Blake was like a fish out there.

The kids all worked together to dig this huge pit. At one point they were putting the fish in there after they caught them. It was their own little aquarium. Thankfully they released the fish back in the lake when they were done. And none of the fish were harmed from it.

They even decorated it with some sea shells that they had found.

The kids also got some time on the skis and wake boards.

We even took a trip over to one of my favorite cliff jumping sites. It has an easy exit from the water, and then a gentle slope up that gives you the chance to progressively jump from higher and higher and test your nerve.

This picture here brings a smile to my face. Blake was jumping on his own and loving it. Our baby is growing up!

This was about the highest we were jumping from- 25 feet. Enough to get a thrill, but not so high to get injured.

At one point I dove in head first. Man oh man did that hurt my scalp. I won't be doing that again.

Aubrey and Jane doing some tricks as they jumped in.

As I mentioned before, we had some great sunsets each night. What a sight.

It wasn't all work catering to the kids though. We adults took time to do our water sports.  Dave was a maniac on the wake board. He was getting some monster air.

I was trying to keep up with him, but fell short.

Here's a cool sequence of photos of me going into my turn on my slalom ski.

Check out that look of determination.

Dave showing us how it's done.

Even the wives got out and did some water skiing and wake boarding. Amber was getting some air off the wake.

Lisa is starting to getting the hang of rotating her hips parallel to the wake. She tends to wake board like she water skis, with her hips squared forward, and that usually sends her shooting out side the wake. By the end of the trip she was getting a better feel for it.

When the water was a little rougher we would go surfing behind Dave's boat. His boat kicks out a great surf wake.

Here's a photo right before I crashed pretty hard. By the end of the trip I had some bruised ribs from crashing so hard on the wake board over and over again.

After Doug blew out his ear drum on the wake board he decided to stick with the gentler surfing.

On Sunday the weather was pretty overcast and the forecast predicted rain. So after a morning devotional with everyone we headed down to the Escalante to take everyone sight seeing.

We went to the Cathedral in the Desert. The water levels are a little too high to see the whole thing unfortunately, but what is above water currently is still fantastic.

We also went to La Gorce arch. Here's a view as you approach it.

And here it is on the back side.

It was a fun, pretty boat ride. On the way back we got some rain showers that provided some cool waterfalls. It seemed like every cliff face had some awesome waterfalls.

Thankfully the rain storm didn't last long. That night we were treated to an incredible sunset.

It was so beautiful.

When Monday morning rolled around it was time to pack up and head back. I let Tucker steer the houseboat for a while when we were in the channel.

It's always a little melancholy driving back to the marina on the last day.

We had a great time as a family and with friends, and the kids are already begging us to go back again next year.