We had such a spectacular family vacation and just got home shortly after 6 PM yesterday. Last week I shared many photos from the first half of our trip. Today I thought I'd share the rest from our "National Parks Road Trip 2017."
June 18th – Sunday
We left our Wilson, WY condo very early on this morning, because we had a lot of driving to do. We had to get to Moab, UT which meant about 12 hours of travel with our planned stops. Because we were traveling through Salt Lake City (where the Stampin' Up!® conventions are often held), I just HAD to have my family try the food at my favorite restaurant, Red Rock Brewery. This was Father's Day, so I joked with my husband that we drove all the way out here for his celebratory meal. Can you guess which beverage was his? I posted this photo on Facebook, too to see if our friends and family could match the beverage to the right person. It was fun for the boys to see the responses.
After eating at Red Rock, Tim wanted to see Temple Square which was just a few blocks away from the restaurant.
I love this pool of water (a gentle fountain) right next to the Mormon temple. You can stand on the edge and make it look like you are walking on the water. (Wish I would've taken a clearer photo, though. I took this one with my iPhone.)
Our next stop was not planned, but I really wanted to see my cousin Jennifer. And since I was picking up some stamping supplies not far from her (the June Paper Pumpkin kit) from my friend, Kristin Kortonick, I thought it would be sad not to stop in and say hello on our way through the area. I wish I would have taken a photo with Jennifer and her family!
We were only there for about 20 minutes, but the boys got to meet Collin, her son (who is the same age) and "ooo and ahhh" over their in-ground trampoline. She fed them ice cream sandwiches, too. So they loved that we stopped there!
Then we were off for a long ride again! Here is a photo showing some of the beautiful rock structures as we drove from Salt Lake to Moab. Since we are from Minnesota, landscapes like this just blow our minds.
We finally arrived at our Moab condo around 7:30 PM. And holy cow was this place big! There was an upstairs with a second living room/TV room, another full bathroom and the boys each had their OWN bedroom with queen-sized beds!
June 19th – Monday
Because Arches National Park is undergoing some road work right now, we weren't able to go in super early to see the sunrise. So instead I woke up early and watched it from the condo.
Once in Arches we explored for about 5 hours straight. It was a super hot day, but my youngest still refused to put on shorts and a t-shirt. LOL (I hope it's a phase.) Here is Luke showing off the beautiful twisted trunk trees that we saw growing everywhere in the park.
The boys loved climbing and running their hands through the super fine, red sand.
Luke even wanted to sleep in it!
The arches were such amazing rock structures!
We didn't walk to all of them. That would take a few days stay, but my zoom lens helped us to capture many of them with just a small amount of walking.
And Arches National Park has more than just arches. The land was just so beautiful! I'd come back and visit for a week with proper hiking gear during a cooler time of year for sure.
I bet my family would too. (In this photo Tim and Nick are standing in front of the famous Balanced Rock.)
We got back to the condo around 1:30, took naps from the exhausting heat, and then hit the outdoor pool shortly before dinner time. We really needed that and had a fun time with others who were renting condos in the same complex.
June 20th – Tuesday
After another quick breakfast, we packed up and left Moab early (around 7:30 AM) so we could do another long day of driving an exploring before our next destination. Our first stop was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado.
We only had an hour to see the sights, but it was totally worth the visit. The depths of these gorges made me dizzy! It was a humbling experience – we felt so tiny looking down into the deep canyons.
As we got closer to my Aunt & Uncle's (where we were going to stay for the next two nights), we stopped at Bishop's Castle. They had suggested we take a peek at this crazy cool, still-in-progress structure. And I'm glad we did! It was scary walking around and up and down inside, but it was worth it to see what the builder had made.
As we got closer to Scott & Donna's place we could see the Rockies Mountains!
The final stretch was about 10 miles of unpaved road. My relatives live in the high plains of rural Colorado and own over 50 acres of land. Because there isn't much traffic out there, we weren't far from a mother pronghorn nursing her two fawns. She saw us but let us take a photo before they all jumped off.
We arrived and unpacked. This was the beautiful sunset we saw that evening. They weren't impressed and told us that this was nothing compared to what the sky shares on other days/evenings – that even on some days there can be some weather pattern going on in one part of the sky and another on the other horizon. You can see for miles in all directions from their home.
June 21st – Wednesday
Scott and Donna took care of us the whole time – fed us all our meals and gave us all the luxuries of home (our own bedrooms, linens, etc.). They were such generous hosts, and we had a fabulous time! In fact the boys ranked their house as their MOST favorite place to stay the whole trip. And there was no pool! hahaha
I wish I would've taken photos of the inside of their home. We want to repaint and redecorate the rooms in our house now! But here is a photo of the outside.
They also built a greenhouse (have it filled with berries, herbs and vegetables) after they moved in a couple years ago next to their barn that Scott plans to finish soon. But a fence is their next priority. In fact they take turns leaving the property because the local cattle graze and move through their land quite often – sometimes even coming right up on their front porch! And if they aren't home, the cattle have been known to do some damage.
Misha, their collie was a great playmate and kept the boys company during our stay. She is such a good dog! And Donna shared with us afterwards that she spent the day laying near the room where the boys slept waiting for them to return. 🙁 She enjoyed them as much as they enjoyed her. Guess we need to think about getting a dog?
We had to leave the next day, so there wasn't a lot of time to explore the area. After watching the last movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (they had the movies!), Scott took us to see the Graneros Gorge. And though Scott kept saying it wouldn't be that great after our visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we were still impressed and found it a spectacular view!
June 22nd – Thursday
It was time to depart and make our way home. Our adventures were over, and we needed to make our way back to Minnesota. But we prolonged leaving that morning, because we didn't want our stay at my aunt and uncle's to end. Scott shared (and let us try out) all his fun instruments, we collected a few bugs from the grill of our van for our collection (a joke between my sister and me), and we took a few photos together that morning.
As we made our way to Denver we decided to stop and see Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. The boys didn't even look out the window (they keep reading their books), because we were so tired and burnt out of touring parks. Sad, huh? And I didn't get many good photos because we never stopped the van to get out. But I thought the unique rock formations were beautiful.
We also stopped to visit my friend, Mackenzie Grimme (a member of my Stampers With ART community). Again, I didn't take any photos during this short visit and now feel so bad that I didn't think of it until after we left. It was so fun to visit her at her home and see her and her little girls again! I loved how her oldest kept tickling her to get her attention. What a sweet family. My boys got a kick out of her little ones as well.
June 23rd – Friday
After an evening at a hotel in Denver, we went out for breakfast at a nearby restaurant before departing for Kearney, NE. Luke's eyes were too big for his stomach. He looks hungry here in this photo, but he ended up only taking about three more bites before declaring that he was full. Sigh. (Oh! He does know how to use a fork, but was being silly for the photo.)
Lunch on the road that day was a place that I don't like…McDonald's. The boys were happy, though. And I needed to eat up some of my yogurt from the cooler.
That evening was our last hotel stay in Kearney, NE. The boys enjoyed one last swim…
…before we went out to eat at Red Lobster. What fun it was to see the live lobsters in the tank! The hostess even brought one by our table for the boys to see.
June 24th – Saturday
My husband, Tim was a trooper and did all the driving on this trip. The last day of driving was another long one, but it went fast because we were pros! LOL We forgot to take photos on this last day, but the boys got along really well in these last 8-1/2 hours in the car. We took a friends advice – instead of giving the boys a large sum of spending money at the beginning of the trip, they had to earn it. They could earn up to $2 a day. We started them at $2 and subtracted a quarter at a time for moments that they weren't behaving. They could earn back the quarters lost, though. And most days they earned their full $2. This last day they walked away with $2.25 each because they did so well! And…they ended up spending wisely because they only had a little at a time.
We are at home today resting, doing laundry, catching up on our mail, mowing the lawn, etc. Now I need to look ahead on my calendar to plan a time to scrapbook all of our photos and journaling. This will be I trip that I will definitely want to look back on. We are very blessed.