Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Break 2011

We tried to make the most of it this year! (On a budget) The pictures here aren't so great.  I web sized them, but made them too small trying to make them load faster.  Too bad for you I guess. he he

Monday- snowboarding at Brighton. Perfect weather. It was so warm and sunny, a little extra glare off the snow gave some of us a sun burn. But, oh, so much fun! I find myself wishing the resorts could stay open all year. It would be so awesome when it is 100° outside to go cool off on a slope. {sigh}

Tuesday we recovered. Sort of. Brynja ended up with a pretty good burn, due to her being the only one that didn't take any breaks from boarding until time to go home. So she wasn't wanting to be seen in public... or private.

Wednesday, Josh had karate (since we are in a different school district down here in Happy Valley), and then Josh and Leah got to go to Classic Skating for the afternoon. Brynja was still recovering, and in hiding.

Thursday, I can't even remember.

Friday, it was either snowboarding or taking off to Southern Utah. I was not fully recovered from an event on the bunny hill, so snowboarding was sounding slightly painful. And Brynja was worried about more sunburns. So, I checked the weather, and Capitol Reef was looking just about perfect. So, at 10pm Thursday night I made an executive decision (because we all know that is what mom's get to do), and decided we'd head south in the morning.

We love Capitol Reef National Park, we've been going there for as long as I can remember since getting married. It's about a 3 hour and 20 minute drive from our house (allowing for one pit stop in Salina for food, gas and bathrooms). So that makes for a vacation that is relatively close but seems far away.

We left at 9am, so we got to the visitor's center of the park about 12:20pm.  After eating lunch, getting the park maps and checking out cacti we headed down the scenic drive.  (If you haven't been, you should know that this park is free unless you take the scenic drive.  If you enjoy hiking, you can do a lot of hikes without taking that road! Just take the turn out areas along the highway.)

Our first hike was the Capitol Gorge Wash trail.  It's super easy, as it is the wash area from flash floods.  So it is flat, just loose stones and a few larger boulders to go around.  You can take dozens of little side shoot canyons and explore more.  There are also a lot of crevices and holes for your adventurous side!
Leah deciding if she wants to climb the rock.

If you are a fan of rock, like me, there is just an endless supply!

These cute little lizards were all over the place.  They were as small as an inch and a half long to about five inches.  They also ranged from this brownish color to a really pretty green with orange belly.  The kids really wanted to catch some and bring them home.

This is the Pioneer Register in Capitol Gorge Wash.  There are quite a few names carved in the wall from the time the pioneers went through this area in the late 1800s.  It's pretty cool to see it.

My girls are magnets for sandy spots.  The first time we took Brynja hiking in southern Utah it was to Escalante.  She was about two, and we plopped her down at one point for a break.  There was a shady spot with sand, so it was a great place to put a toddler.  However, we discovered that she wanted to stay there forever.  She threw such a fit when we were ready to move on!  That was when we decided she needed a sandbox.  And it looks like nothing has changed in the last 13 years or so.

At one point, across the trail from the "Tanks" there is this cave like area.  Something lives in it, but I don't know what.  It makes me nervous to check it out, but it has always been empty when we've peeked.  I hope it stays that way!

This was a crevice right next to the cave Leah was peeking into.

We hiked up to the tanks, the kids remembered this from the last time we visited the park.  The water has never looked so gross!  I think they were actually ice covered last time, but still... eewwww.

There are tons of these juniper "trees" in the park.  I decided to see what a juniper berry tasted like.  Of course they aren't ripe this time of year, but there were some on the ground from last season.  They tasted the same, ripe or not.  It is pretty much the taste you'd expect from the smell of the tree.  I can't remember what good these berries do, but I really hope I never have to need them in my diet.

After hiking the wash we headed back to the main highway.  We went to the Hickman Bridge trail next.  This is also a pretty easy hike.  It has a steep beginning, but once you are on the top of the rock it's not too bad.  There is a spot that I remembered from a trip we took a few years ago.  We actually had a cougar cross our path here.  We hiked up, saw a deer leg on the way, commenting on how weird it was.  And in the way back down (it was November and there was snow) the leg was gone and there were cougar tracks in the snow.  That was a little unnerving.  But the spot here is cool!  The water in the floods washes down this spot, and the rock actually has been carved out underneath.  So it is like a mini bridge.

 You can see the kids in the shadows under the bridge if you look really carefully.  Sort of hidden by the bush and the shade.

And then we made it to Hickman Bridge.  It's funny because you can't see it until you go around a slight bend, and there it is!  It's so big that it surprises me how hidden it is.  The kids were really disappointed that I wouldn't let them try to get on top.  I had to draw the line somewhere...

On the back side of the bridge Aliyah found this fabulous little spot to lay in.

And then Brynja "died" from all of the hiking.

On the way back down the trail we saw two big horn sheep. You can't really see it in this picture, it is so perfectly camouflaged!  It's on the right side of the picture below the reddish rocks, near the top. They were so close!  I am sure they are kind of used to hikers, but I never expected we'd be this close.  We watched them and crept closer to them for probably 5-8 minutes before some hikers on their way up scared them (they couldn't see them until they had already scared one off).

And then it ran across the trail right in front of us!

After that hike we drove East on the highway and checked out the Behunin cabin.  Then we took a road that went to Notam, and that was pretty, but not really exciting.  So we headed back West.  We stopped to see the petroglyphs on the wall, and some deer that seem to always be there.  And then we saw the little Fruita school house.

After that we headed over to see Chimney Rock closer on our way back out of the park.  The kids want to do that hike next time.  It has dinosaur foot prints and petrified wood.  It's a long one though, so we couldn't tackle it on our one day adventure.

Then one last stop at the Gooseneck overlook and Sunset Point.  We actually hit that spot almost at sunset, and it was really gorgeous!

 We headed back to Torrey and had dinner at Slacker's.  Then headed back home!