Saturday, January 31, 2009

Las Vegas Baby

Yes, Even though we are very outdoorsy we even spent a few nights in Vegas. Why not we were on our way through and Chelsie's Birthday was at the same time. This was one of the most luxurious stops that we made thanks to Willis, Chelsie's Dad. Yes we did gamble. No we didn't loose big. We each spent two dollars at the Flamingo Casino. The Bellagio fountains were spectacular. Perfectly coordinated and timed with music. The show was every half hour.
And a taste of Paris.

We had dinner at PF Chang's in Planet Hollywood. This has become one of our favorite restaurants.

The Mile Mall had a wild realistic painted ceiling.

The pool at the resort was beautiful and romantic.

The room was comfortable.

Vegas was wild. Not a family friendly vacation destination. But a good time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Zion National Park

Even in the dead of winter, Zion was beautiful. This is one park that we definitely want to come back to in the fall or late summer. Many of the trails were closed due to ice, so we didn't get to hike as much as we would have liked, but even from the car the views were beautiful. The initial drive into the valley included spectacular views, crooked roads, and even a mile long tunnel.

We did a 3 mile hike to the emerald pools and Jesse had a great time taking photos of the reflections in the water.

Chelsie takes a peek over the edge on the hike back from emerald pools.
It was much warmer here, we didn't have to wear gloves while making dinner. We camped at the only open campground which was located in the valley of Zion and close to the town of Springdale. We had electricity that night, so we rented a movie from the local grocery store and had a date night with hot cocoa in the tent.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Here we are at Bryce Canyon. This was our first time to get a hotel room. It is tough to find campgrounds with running showers this time of year and so after four days without a shower we decided to get a hotel room. It felt so good to sleep in a bed again and take a hot shower, plus it gave us a chance to reorganize a bit. It turned out to be a good thing we got a room, because the temperatures that night fell below zero and there was a heavy blanket of snow. We stayed nice and warm that night and were ready to go again the next day.

We took a great hike down into the Canyons, the trails were very steep and icy in some parts, but with a little scrambling around we managed just fine.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Grand Staircase National Monument

This National Monument accounts for 4% of the state of Utah. Basically it was a lot of erosion. We found the petroglyphs to be the most interesting aspect of this park. A panorama of the park. Jesse loves to pull over whenever he sees a sign for an overlook. We have some beautiful pictures, but it also takes a few extra hours between destinations. Jesse loves taking pictures, but hates the tourist image.
Chelsie is less enthusiastic about stopping to hunt for petroglyphs. Jesse LOVES to hunt for the glyphs because it is like "treasure hunting". This part of history is such a great part of the American Southwest. We were directed toward these markings by a local. It was a great hunt. The markings below are called "100 hands". Their meaning remains a mystery. Was it a record of the tribe?

Chelsie on the search for the petroglyphs.

Some very unique glyphs. Do you see the hunter using his bow? The other warriors appear to be elaborately dressed.

The classic bighorn sheep native to the area.

On the drive to the next park we passed a marker which pointed to the cliff above. You must look carefully to see the granary which was left behind.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef campground was our first really enjoyable camping. It was warm enough here that you could be outside your sleeping bag and not freeze. As it gets dark about 5:30 pm, it is interesting finding stuff to keep occupied with before going to bed. We have done a lot of driving at night for this reason. Here at Capitol Reef it was warm enough to play cards in our tent and we had a great game of cribbage. Much to my dismay, Jesse won both games.
Out on the trails.

Jesse loved finding petroglyphs. These are about 1500 years old.

They had several orchards in the park, about 2,000 trees. When the fruit is in season the guest are able to help harvest and enjoy the produce.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Canyonlands National Park

This was quite a spectacular park, and although many of the trails were closed, due to snow, we did get to hike a few.

Another one of Jesse's Panoramas, click on it to see a larger view of the photo. This is a view of the canyon from one of the trails.
I Loved feeding the birds, your not really supposed to I know...But at least it was organic bread. This Raven followed me back to the car to see what else I had to eat.
If you look closely you may see me on the arch. This arch is known as Mesa Arch. We were very excited about seeing this arch because it was featured in the National Geographic
Adventure Magazine.
Jesse didn't want me to put this one in because people might think he was weird. I told him it was too late.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Panorama of Arches

Click on the Photo for an enlargement of this spectacular view.

Arches National Park

Our first National Park was Arches. This was also are first night to camp out in the cold, and we mean really cold. That first night it got down to a nippy 4 degrees. Chelsie was fine in -5 degree bag, Jesse on the other hand didn't fair quite so well as his bag was only rated for 30 degree nights. We were both glad when morning came. Below is our first arch, Window Arch. The drive on scenic route 12 was phenomenal. It was very exciting to begin to see the change in the landscape.

This is in honor of Pops. (Eric) Chelsie coined this the "cow" tower.
Can you spot the cow.
Landscape Arch. It was a 1.8 mile kike to a spectacular view of this 290 foot arch. This is presently the largest known arch in the world.

The spectacular icon of Utah, Delicate Arch, was our evening hike. The sunset at delicate was breathtaking and well worth the hike. We hiked a total of 9miles that first day through ice covered trails and it left us a tad bit sore the following day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snowy Evergreen Colorado

It was so much fun to have a reunion with family that hasn't been all together at one time for a number of years. Chelsie was able to meet many of her new relatives. A good, old, traditional game of hand and foot with Oma. We have been playing this for years.

Uncle Richard and Aunt Melanie were able to show us the slopes at Mary Jane/ Winter Park Ski area. It was an early morning, but beating the crowds was well worth it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Skiing with the Family in Colorado

My Mom and Dad spent a week in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and Jesse and I joined them there for a few days. It was a great time with family. Left is the view out of our cabin.

Skiing at Wolf Creek was a blast. Above is the family (a few of them), Faith, Ben, Myself, Amber and Ethan.

There was no lack of snow while we were there... Above is what was left of Ben after skiing into a snow bank, there was about 5 ft. of powder.

Jesse being his usual goofy self

Grant soaring through the air after hitting a ramp that the boys made.