Happy Belated Birthday Gifts

Since I didn’t get gifts on my birthday, we had a little celebration when we got home. I got some Legos, squishamals, a Tamagotchi egg toy and a few other things.  After 3 months of surgeries, stitches and pain Mom is happy to report that the mechanical pencil tip is officially freed from her little toe. Just 3-4 stitches this time. What a giant pain for her. After seeing the sharp piece that was in her foot I really appreciate all the hiking she did with us this trip.
5mm of jagged death as Mom calls it. It may not look like much but in your little toe it was a lot.

Amarillo, Texas

Since we left Page a few days early we were able to break up the drive with a stop in Amarillo, Texas for two nights. We had some seriously frightening weather coming in to town and when we were hooking up at the campsite but it calmed down quickly. We had a nice pizza dinner out and avoiding the famous steak place.

We started out with a very muddy trip to Cadillac Ranch. It is an art installation with 10 Cadillac’s planted nose up in the ground. One night it was secretly moved to a new location because tourists were kind mistreating someones property. We stomped through the mud to get out to see the cars.  We stopped at the “Cadillac Ranch Museum”took a few photos and left. Everything was so expensive, t-shirts were at least $30!  Up next was the RV museum! This was a total hit. We loved seeing how the old RVs looked and all the fun things that they had on display from each time period. The highlight of the stop was the Gornicke bus from the movie RV starring Robin Williams. Checking out a few more before the need to explore nature set in. We stopped at the Amarillo Zoo. FYI mom got stunk by a Tarantula Hawk Wasp after pumping gas on the way in to town. This is now how she feels about them! The zoo was small, the animals didn’t look great and I felt it wasn’t a healthy place for them. We wandered around for 20 minutes and left. We also took a trip out to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We drove through the parka nd took a few small hikes to see the overlooks. It was really pretty but we are currently jaded after Black Canyon and Grand Canyon on this trip. The rains were coming and we needed to kill more time while Dad worked. We ended up at the Don Harrington Discovery Center for the afternoon. We had a fun time playing in the hands on exhibits and participating in a robotics class. Back to the motorhome, laundry and bed! We all are ready to get home!

Page, Arizona

Obligatory Fry Bread Photo. We ate several! Glen Canyon dam tour. Again another repeat from a few years ago but we had a great time. E was checking out he conglomerate that makes up the dam. This was a core sample for testing. The water level is really low right now they are expecting the snowmelt to raise the water over 30 feet in the next few weeks!! I found this hilarious! Learned MORE about hydro-electroic power. The dam, due to the water level, was running very low capacity. We stopped off at the visitors center that talked about the Grand Staircase Escalante and the Therizinosaurus dinosaur. It had sickle like claws that were a meter long and stood 9 meters high! We then took a 4×4 trail into the recreation area and along Grand Staircase Escalante our to the areas they were unearthed. Mom thinks it was terrifying but I really enjoyed it. The jeep was brave! This was taken from the top of a peak that was barely wider than the Jeep. We read about coal fires and went in search of one. Mom spied some smoke and we headed towards it. We found one coal fire. They happen when lightning strikes the ground igniting coal deposits. You could smell the coal burning and feel the heat pouring out of the ground. Tread softly!  Back on our drive. It was amazing how the landscape changed as we went around each corner. I turned 14 in Page too! Mom booked a kayak trip (another post on that later) and slot canyon tours for my birthday! We did the Lower Antelope tour with Dixie Ellis. It was hot, crowded and smelled terrible. There were far too many people in the canyon at the same time and some hadn’t showered in days! It was really neat to see all the carved Navajo sandstone in the slot canyons.  We learned that up above were boxes with rope ladders in case of a flash storm and flooding. They will toss down the ropes so you can climb out and not die, that was nice! Birthday ice cream pie! The next morning we stopped at the  Powell Museum to learn more about the geology of the area and the explorers that came through. After the museum we headed to Upper Antelope for the canyon tour. We had a great tour guide. She helped us all take some amazing photos. The colors danced in the slot canyons. This canyon was not “underground” like lower was. If a flash flood came you would just be washed out the other end, assuming you survived being smashed into all the sandstone!  We hit up Nemo’s Fish and Chips on the way back to the campground. Mom thought this sign in the bathroom was funny. With a lot of tourists I guess it is needed apparently! On Dad’s birthday (which was two days before mine if you are keeping track), we started out on a drive to go put our feet in the Colorado River. We got sidetracked and realized how close we were to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon so we detoured and made a day of the Grand Canyon. Things weren’t yet on season yet since there was still a lot of snow on the roads in. We had luck at the lodge and then did some small hikes.  Chilling out and enjoying the breeze and carpenter bees. I got in a little studying for my summer SPC class in the lobby. We earned our Jr Ranger badges and called it a day. Mom drove us back to Page. We opted to leave Page a day early to hit the road towards home. 

Jensen, Utah and Kaylynn Visit

Next up was Jensen Utah! We arrived at our campsite only to find it not to our liking. Mom quickly called the KOA in town and we rerouted to a better location and campsite. It was a a blessing in disguise. We were closer to where Kaylynn lives too. I met Kaylynn on a Disney cruise last year and vowed to visit if we ever passed through. It was a great week of laughs and adventure. We started out at the Flaming Gorge Dam Tour.  I am trying to check off all the major dams in North America! The tour was great and we learned a lot about hydroelectric power, fish populations and ecology of the area. On the lower platform of the damn we saw massive bass in the water. Who knows what this is about with Emmerson. He is silly! Kaylynn is part mountain goat! We hiked and scrambled all over. We turned over ever rock in our path. We found several of these little scorpions. They were small and fast. The view was amazing! This was from the visitors center window! We drove out to Red Canyon and also did the Sheeps Creek Geological loop. The geological loop was pretty but could have used more interpretation signs or even a brochure. The next day we visited Dinosaur National Monument, part of the Morrison Formation. We saw all the bones in-situ. It was quite impressive!  E was back at it with the camera off and on. We hiked a few trails and E got exhausted and needed carried. We could have taken the shuttle back from the top of the mountain but we opted to hike out.  I found this little guy near the river at the Josie Morris Cabin. We also visited the Utah Field House. It was a much smaller display that we thought but we still had fun reading nd exploring the fossils. There were these silly dinosaurs all over the grounds as well, reminded me of Dinosaur World in Plant City. Back at the campground for a day of fun and games. We played on the playground, rented peddle cars and went swimming in the rain. I am going to miss Kaylynn and family! Until we meet again!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP

We arrived at Black Canyon of the Gunnison and it was like a cloud was sitting at the top on the canyon. We went into the visitors center and watched a 20 minute video and came out to snow on the ground. And the car!!! More snow, seriously?It was really coming down. We drove the roads of the park to get the lay of the land. Along the drive we sang Christmas songs, it was very fitting. The snow was coming down pretty fast now and the roads were getting covered. Thankfully the jeep is a 4×4 and has a snow setting so we were all good. We pulled off at some of the scenic overlooks but didn’t want to walk out if we weren’t sure where the ground actually was. The spring wildflowers were all covered in a blanket of snow. 
Mom hopped out to clean beneath the wiper blades and said the front of the car was frozen. Sure enough, it was a giant sheet of ice! We called it a day and headed to the campground, which had ZERO snow due to the lower elevation. The next morning we took another crack at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We have declared that it is our new favorite National Park! The geology and geography was stunning. Two billion years ago the Gunnison River carved the canyon through precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks. We went on a geology hike with a ranger. He used to be a college geology professor and was impressed with my knowledge of rocks and ecology. We saw gneiss, schist and pegmatite intrusions in the rocks on the hike. We learned about the layers of the canyon, depth and and composition. If you listened really carefully you could hear the Gunnison River raging below. Much calmed than in the past due to the dams up river. E and I were chosen to demonstration the mountain building events in the area and how the rivers carved the canyon. The views were absolutely spectacular! We hiked out to every viewpoint. Most were relatively short walks but some were near a mile. We had a blast looking in all the “potholes”. These areas in the rocks above provide a water source for local animals. Don’t tell anyone that E and I were being super nice to each other. The nature brings out the best in us. Emmerson went crazy taking photographs! Mom too!
What an amazing time we had at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison!
We got our Jr Ranger badges and sadly had to say goodbye to the canyon! We did stop down at the river for some hiking but the water had washed out the trail. We started to forge a new path over rocks hoping to find the trail but no luck. We did find this cute little garter snake hiding amongst the rocks. The river was running green. We didn’t get a clear answer as to why but assume it was something in the rocks breaking down with the melting snow. Maybe similar to why some of the lakes in Canada were a greenish blue.