Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/8/2019

This morning started out with Corvin and I uni-cycling the Las Vegas strip to get our Nevada complete. Once we completed it, we came back to the room to clean up. Corvin even completed some of his paperwork for his class.

The first family thing to do today was visit the Hoover Damn. I’ve driven across it before, but never been inside for a tour. I was quite excited to see it along with the rest of the family. We got there early to make sure we could get in on the extended tour. The tour was fantastic, we only wish that it was longer.

Giant pulley system to get equipment to the bottom of the damn.

Waiting to get in.

Looking in at the power generators.

In a maintenance tunnel.

Looking downstream.

At the top of the damn.

I was a little concerned about door dings on my van when we got back to the parking lot. We saw a questionable car parked next to us. Lucky for them, I didn’t see any dings!

We picked up up lunch on the way back and started walking to our next destination. The streets look clear, but they are dangerous.

Right before our eyes was one of the world’s most evil supervillains, Dr. Evil.

Its quite interesting how many characters are around the Vegas streets. They all want money for you to get a photo with them. But we avoided his evil plans and made it to the “High Roller” Ferris Wheel. Its a 550 foot high ride, at the time, the highest in the world. The views of the  strip are cool and Groupon made it affordable 🙂

The kids were warming up to Vegas at this point. We had done some interesting things for them. Sonora is a huge fan of Fountains of Bellagio, so we took a few videos for her.

We still had one more thing up our sleeves for the night. We were going to Tournament Of Kings at Excalibur.

I saw this show around 1995 on a family vacation and remember liking it them. It was just as good as i remembered. Sonora loved all of the horses and the show was entertaining.

After the show, we walked back to the hotel on a high, enjoying the entertainment of the day. It was a mixed blessing that it was our last full day in Vegas. I loved the energy and people watching, but we also spent a small fortune for a single day! Time for bed.

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 – 6/6/2019

Corvin and Danelle got up super early and got sunrise photos at Angel Point. I slept in till 7 when I also woke up Sonora. Corvin and I did our unicycle ride for Arizona on the road. I had some issues with the hills as we started mostly straight up hill. The elevation was around 8,500 feet. We finished our ride and saw lots of surprised faces as they realized what we were doing.

Once back, we packed up camp and site. We left a bit early and headed out to Angel point all together to check it out.

It may sound silly, but we finally had enough of the amazing sites and headed out. We drove straight for Parumph, NV as our stop for the night. Along the way, we stopped at the Nevada state line for a photo. Then again at the Virgin Valley High School so Corvin could do a track workout. He got 3 laps around the track (1 for me) and lots of pushups before being done. The temperature during the workout was 102 F with no shade. Its hard to argue with the view.

We spent the night at the Saddle West Hotel Casino RV Resort. The casino sucks and the rooms are dark. During the STL Blues Hockey game (they won), Corvin and I did laundry across the street and ordered pizza. We brought it all back in just over an hour. Now its time for bed. Death Valley, CA waits for us tomorrow morning.

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