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

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/2/2019

Today was looking up. We partly cloudy skies and a full parking lot of people escaping the rain the night before. It wasn’t much of a drive before we made it to the New Mexico border. It almost seems like they were worried you might miss the state border…

With the border out of the way, we headed to Tucamari, NM where we would unicycle for New Mexico. You can read about the unicycle portion of the trip on a different post. What I want to focus on is Tucamari. This feels like a dying town that got passed up by the interstate highway. Its part of historic Route 66. If I didn’t know better, it was the setting for an old Pixar movie.

You might be wondering why we went to this town if its dying. The answer is that they are known for their murals. Last I checked, there are 33 of them. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the mural telling you where all of the others are. Here are a few that we saw!

Eventually, we saw as many murals as we were going to see and decided to strike off for our next destination. We hopped back on the interstate and headed to Albuquerque, NM. While driving there, Sonora made the mistake of asking me how to spell Albuquerque. I told her to hang on, I would play a song for her that spelled it for her. That song is Weird Al’s Albuquerque! If you’re not familiar with it, its a 12 minute song telling a long story. At the end, he [mostly] spells Albuquerque. The kids were not too sure about the song and gave me strange looks during the whole song. Later in the vacation, this would become our theme song with the kids playing it once a day and laughing!

We arrived in Albuquerque in early afternoon and headed to this day’s main attraction. I knew it would be a bit expensive, but worth every penny. When we arrived at the Sandia Peak Tramway, the kids were in awe. They had seen mountains as we drove towards them, but now they were going to interact with them. Before we left the van to get tickets, we switched into hiking boots and I packed what extra clothes I could into my water backpack. The kids had no idea how cold it would get at the top.

The tramway is a 2.7 mile ride in a suspended cable car that gets nearly 1,000 feet off the ground and raises you up 6,559 feet to over 10,000 feet in elevation. This was going to be awesome!

It didn’t take long before we were up on top with a fantastic view of everything!

Sonora was getting lightheaded and didn’t want to hike once we got to the top. There is an interesting stone cabin built about a mile away from the top of the tramway. Corvin and Danelle took off to see it while I hung out with Sonora.

Sonora and hung out and made jokes together and I got her to slowly hike at her pace out a bit down the trail.

Meanwhile, Danelle was trying to satisfy Corvin’s thirst for danger with this compromise to get to the edge.

They made it to the cabin and got photos.

It took lots of convincing on my end, but Sonora and I eventually struck out and did the same hike about 45 minutes later. We met about 1/2 mile from the top, but couldn’t convince them to come back to the top with us again.

At the very top, I’m pretty sure we saw some tiny amounts of snow or hail. Sonora got my flannel shirt cause she was freezing!

How about an 11 minute tram ride sped up to 26 seconds!

 

After we got back down to the parking lot, we found the Fairfield Marriott where we were staying for the night. We took turns between the pool, hot tub, and sauna. Talk about a perfect day!

Hogan Haake

 

Southwest Summer Adventure – 6/1/2019

Our first full day of vacation started with Corvin, Danelle, and I getting up early. Sonora slept in as we crept down for a preview of the hotel’s included breakfast before heading to a bike path in downtown Tulsa. This was Corvin’s and my first state to record in our 48 wheels trip to unicycle all lower 48 states for an hour.we were all super excited and Danelle was there to record it. I’ll leave a few photos here, but you can check out our official log of Oklahoma.

After riding, we went back to the hotel to shower and pack for the day. After we cleaned up, the four of us went down for breakfast (some of us for a second time). With food out of the way, it was time to drive! One of the drawbacks of seeing so many states is the requirement to drive as much as we did.

We drove through some threatening weather. Corvin and were worried about how we would get our uni-cycling done, but it ended up not being an issue. We drove through and out the other side of the storm. We got to Texas a bit earlier than expected and decided to have an early dinner before uni-cycling. We at at The Big Texan steakhouse. I’ve read about this restaurant and wanted to try it out for myself. It was going to be our big expense for the day, but we decided it would be worth it.

The food and atmosphere were both great. Corvin was just dumb enough to try the jalapeno pepper on his plate. He figured a tiny bite wouldn’t be that much and drank a ton trying to cool his tongue off.

With dinner out of the way, we had the rest of the afternoon/evening to visit Palo Duro Canyon. This is where Corvin and I would log our second unicycle state. Immediately upon entering the park, we were all taken away with the beauty of the canyon.

While Corvin and I were off riding for our hour, Danelle and Sonora took a scenic hike.

Eventually, we all met back at the van after our various activities. We wanted to stay longer and explore the park, but it was getting late, there was an event going on that blocked out half the park, and it appeared a thunderstorm was moving in.

We decided to drive out to the town of Amarillo and catch Highway I-40 west a bit before stopping for the night. Before we were half way back to Amarillo, the rain started. Danelle wondered if there could be flash flooding and asked me to stop at a nearby gas station. The land around was very flat and we didn’t know local conditions. When we stopped we got hailed on for a bit and I was glad I wasn’t driving during that. I got impatient and continued on into town.

When we got into town, things got real interesting. The whole town was not designed for this type of storm. Most of the roads were covered in water a few inches deep and moving fairly quickly. I kept thinking if I could just get to the north side of town and the interstate, we could get out of there and to safety. I followed some cars through some deep water in the van and turned around at other intersections where I didn’t know how deep the water was.

At one point, we stopped and hung out at a local repair shop in their parking lot because I thought the water was too deep to cross. Eventually I was too tempted after seeing so many other vehicles successfully cross the intersection and decided to go for it. I followed another vehicle into deep water. We did make it, but we had a wave that would have swamped a sedan. Our license plate was bent from the water coming against the grill of the van. I never want to experience a flash flood again like this. And if you didn’t think I learned my lesson after reading this, going through the very deep water caused a micro crack in my exhaust header of the van. When we got back, the repair bill was $1700 to get it fixed!

Watch the video we took of the flooding and stay out of flooded roads!

Hogan Haake