Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/11/2019

We got up later this morning that we have most of the trip. In fact we were late enough that we were nearly late to our whitewater trip. The river was up and running fast. This meant that we got to go a little farther than normal. 14 miles of great whitewater paddling! I would show you photos of our whitewater, but ‘m too cheap to buy any!

After paddling, we walked over to the outdoor restaurant nearby. It was next to the river and a ropes course. It was great, except for the TV blocking the river. Who needs a TV when you are this close to a river?

Now was time to drive. We were headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park the next day. We ended up taking a narrow mountain pass to make the drive interesting. Also interesting was the Ride The Rockies event going on the same route as us in the opposite direction. We had to wait at an intersection for a long time before we could get through. We were going up a narrow pass as they were coming down.

We stopped to take in the view.

This person had a snowboard and kite and was moving quite fast all over the mountain.

Its hard to beleive that we went from snow, to a warm summer evening when we got to our campsite. We were staying at a resort/oaisis/campground/swimming pool for the night. The water came out of the ground around 90 degrees and non-stop. The swimming pool was constantly refreshed with new water from the spring.

I often cook pizzas on camp fires and BBQ grills. This one wasn’t quite hot enough, so we used the “bottom rack” to get the oven effect we were looking for.

With food out of the way, Corvin and I did our Colorado Unicycle ride while the girls relaxed.

With the constant hot water flowing in, they had a few ponds with interesting fish and other wildlife hanging out. It was a very interesting and cool place to stay!

The only drawback to the campsite was the wind. Our tent rattled all night and I thought it might blow over, but I would go back and stay there again!

Hogan Haake

 

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/7/2019

We got up from our hotel and were on the road at 6am. The goal was for Corvin and I to unicycle California before it got super hot outside. We got to the head of Mustard Canyon and started riding at 8am. We didn’t get very far before the gravel road was too rough to unicycle on. We walked for over half of the short canyon till we got back out to the road. A few shots were set up for uni-cycling before heading on back to the Furnace Creek Visitor’s center where Danelle and Corvin waited for us to finish. The wind was 20 gusting to 30, so it was a tough ride. Luckily for us, the wind on our face plus sweating helped keep us cool.

With our massive effort and sweating out of the way, we went on to other parts of Death Valley. Devil’s golf course was our first stop. It looked normal till you got closer, then the ground was very rough and sharp with salt everywhere.

Badwater Basin was cool. It ended up being a salt flat that you could walk out on. It also happens to be the lowest land in the united states. We joined the flocks of people walking out on its vastness.

Here is a time lapse of Mustard Canyon that we tried to unicycle through.

We finished what we were going to be able to see on this short drive and went out of Death Valley. On the way to Vegas, we stopped by the ghost town, Rhyolite. We got a few photos and stopped a bit. Its worth a visit if you’re in the area.

During the drive, we had a rock kick up and chip the windshield on the van, our second chip of the trip. Feels like the van is falling apart around us, now I’m hoping that we make it home without breaking down.

Walking across the hotel parking (Travelodge on the strip, a horrible place) lot were some Vegas “Show Girls”. Basically girls dressed scantly with wings on their backs. I got a photo with Corvin and myself. It was worth the $20 to embarrass him. While he was embarrassed, he’s still a young man and enjoyed it! Sorry, I’m not going to share the photo for Corvin’s sake.

We had a family walk on the strip to see the lay of the land. Sonora was surprised at the way people dressed and many of the advertisements around. She isn’t a huge fan of the place currently, but is warming up to the area as we focus on more family things.

We’ve spent so much money in Vegas that we decided to try and be cheap. We drove around looking for dinner. We ended up at Fries and Pies. Its a Poutine and Pizza chain we have never been to before. The food was great and it was a good break from the crazy Vegas Strip.

Back at the room, Danelle and I found two things for the family to do that should make the kiddos happy. One is a giant Ferris Wheel and the other is a mid-evil knight show at Excalibur. I’m pretty sure I saw this show back in 1995 on a different vacation.

Since Danelle bought the tickets on Groupon to save money, we needed to go to the hotel to pick up tickets. Danelle and I left the kids at the room and walked over to get tickets. While we were out, we gambled and lost $2 after being up as high as $9. We eventually found the open box office and got our tickets printed. We got to the box office just in time as ladies lined up behind us for the “Thunder From Down Under” show.

We walked back and stopped at the Coke store and tried 12 different drinks from around the world. The kids were passed out when we got to the room.

It was off to bed as we had a long day in Vegas tomorrow.

Hogan Haake

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/5/2019

Slow start today. We got up and went grocery shopping. Then we headed straight for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Okay, we made a pit stop at Horseshoe Bend. Its a total tourist trap. Sweet views, but too many people.

It might have been more impressive if we hadn’t seen Goosenecks the day before. We also made a pit stop at Navajo Bridge. Its a pedestrian bridge that goes out over the Colorado river. I’m normally not one for sunglasses, but the sun was so bright here, I wished that I had some when we went out on the bridge!

Eventually, drove on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

It is a very remote location that you have to want to get to. Its a 4 hour drive from this location to the south rim. We reserved a campsite back in February 2019 and had been patiently waiting to camp. We  pitched our tent right away. They were having water issues, so it was just port o potties for us. Corvin and I opted for a short 9 mile hike out to a scenic point (Uncle Jim Trail). Along the way, talked to a couple that said they never found the point nor the people shortly behind them. We went anyway and found it easily. Not just that, but the view was outstanding!!!

On the way back, we were not quite done hiking, so we started down the North Kaibab trail. We learned later that this trail is the one that allows you to hike from the north to the south rim. Its about 26 miles one way. We only went for about 30 minutes down, and wanted to explore longer! Overall a 9 mile hike that evening.

While we were out hiking, Danelle and Sonora relaxed at the campsite. They started the fire and cooked our hot dog dinner.

It gets dark quickly and it was cold enough that we all slept quite good that night!

Hogan Haake

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/4/2019

Danelle got up early and went for an early morning walk with Corvin to get photos of the sunrise.

When she got back, I went for a short walk with Danelle. Then we went to the included breakfast. This is a small motel and about the only place in town. It felt like every person staying was getting breakfast at the same time. We grabbed some food and went outside to a picnic table. Since breakfast wasn’t that great, I had alternate plans. From the night before, the gas station/general store next door was making big cinnamon rolls. I ended walking out with one cinnamon roll and a slice of breakfast pizza. Unfortunately for me, the kids got to it first and I was left with nothing. Its okay though as the kids are more important!

Not far from Bluff,  Utah is Mule Canyon. It took us two tries to find it including asking some friendly campers where it was. The canyon had a semi-wet creek that went through the center of it. The vegetation was lush all around. Several different flowering plants were showing their colors. The peak of the hike was a “house on fire”. It is an old home of rocks made against the cliff to create protection from the elements. The signs asked us not to go in to protect the history. In reality, as typical Americans, most of us could not fit into them. The door was smaller than most car windows. They offered little protection.

Always start with sun screen!

Corvin can still fit in the smallest places.

Its very dry out, but the vegetation is abundant near the creek.

The famous “house on fire” in the next few photos. Its an optical illusion depending on what time of day you show up.

Some time after this photo, I was climbing around on rocks and had a rock break under me (I get it, I’m fat) and I fell a few feet. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but one of the rocks landed on the top of my right foot. It took a few hours, before pain registered and I’m limping now… Corvin and I hiked nearly one additional mile back and up on the rocks in the canyon before coming back to the van. It was great to get out and get to play in this environment.

Unfortunately for Danelle and Sonora, they walked back to the van while Corvin and I walked farther down the path. Unfortunate because Danelle didn’t have any car keys. They had to wait till Corvin and I came back, and they were out of water. It all worked out, but we were all ready for some air conditioning and rest while we drove to our next destination.

Next up was a drive to the Moki Dugway. When we got there and stopped for photos at the top, I talked to a guy who was also getting one and he directed us to Mulley Point before going down. The view was worth the extra 30 minutes to get a cliff top view of the whole area!

The 4 photos below are Mulley Point. Its hard to describe how great it is at the top looking out on the valley!

Its hard to describe driving down the Moki Dugway. its a bunch of switchbacks in the side of a mountain with not a lot of room for traffic. Sonora had her sliding door open when her side of the van was open to the drop off. Don’t worry, her seat belt was on!

At the bottom of the Moki Dugway, I decided to take a chance and turned on the road for Valley Of The Gods.This is the valley we were staring at from the top before driving down. Its fair to say that we were the only minivan driving this road and there were some places that it got a little iffy, but overall a great drive.

We were quite hungry and found a local place in Mexican Hat, Utah. They served “River Rat” pizza, and it was perfect. We had a nice chat with the lady that owns the place and she seemed grateful for our visit.

After lunch, we backtracked a bit to go to Goosenecks State Park.Its hard to describe the beauty at this park. We managed to see a few rafts down on the San Juan River as well. Also of note, we saw JoJo and Jason there. It was a complete surprise! I had no idea they would be out this way on a trip the same time we were out there!

Jason’s mom (Mary I think), was kind enough to get a photo of the group of us.

The kids and I climbed down for a better look freaking out Danelle a bit, but it gave us the adventure out of the car that we were looking for!

.Eventually, it was time to move on. We made a long drive to Page, Arizona to spend the night before tomorrow’s adventures. But before going to sleep, Corvin and I went for another walk to use up some excess energy. Also walked to stretch out my hurt foot.

Hogan Haake

 

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/3/2019

This day started off with a morning swim in the pool and some sauna time. We came back up to the room to change before breakfast when we got a surprise. The fire alarm went off. This one was turned up to 11, so there was no reprise from the noise anywhere in the hotel. We got the most important bags and headed out to see what happened. Eventually it went off and we then had to fight the crowds in the breakfast room. We got our food and eventually went back up to the room to pack up and head out.

Our first stop was Petroglyphs. We got in and Sonora wasn’t happy. She and I hiked while Danelle and Corvin went around. C/S both didn’t really care for it, so we left after not much time in the park. Funny how you expect something to be good and spend time there and it ends up a bust!

I enjoyed the desert flowers and the hike, but the kids were having none of it. Rather than try to force it, we decided Danelle and I could come back some day on our own and visit.

I decided to take the family to Whataburger for lunch. Its still fast food, but the family had never been to one together and I was quickly running out of options. With ice cream shakes in hand, the kids were satisfied as we left. The day wasn’t lost just yet.

Corvin started driving but had trouble staying awake. I took us straight to Shiprock, NM to get photos of the rock. I wanted to get closer, but we didn’t have enough time.

After Shiprock, we headed to 4 Corners Monument. There, you can stand at the geographical center of 4 states at the same time. We got in with the obligatory photo.

While we were there, Corvin and I each uni-cycled around the outside.

Finally when that was all done, we headed to Bluff, Utah. There we logged an early night to allow Danelle and Sonora to watch the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final.

Hogan Haake