Earlier this month Marathon Girl and I took the family on a camping trip to the La Sal Mountains east of Moab, Utah. We had a great time camping, river rafting, and visiting many state and national parks. Highly recommend the trip to the area if you've never been. Here's some photos from our 6-day adventure.
The road to hell.
Going towards the light.
Exploring a summer path.
The summer after Marathon Girl and I were married, we took a trip to the north end of the Great Salt Lake to visit Robert Smithson's earthwork Spiral Jetty. At the time, the Spiral Jetty was something most people didn't know about or had no clue how to get there. We drove out and spent an hour walking on salt encrusted rocks amid pink waters and enjoying the silence. Since it had been about 14 years since we went out, we thought it would make a fun day trip to take the kids out to see it.
I knew before we left that the Great Salt Lake was near record low levels but seeing just how low it was really surprised me. As you can see below, the water is at least a half mile from the jetty.
The dry lake bed didn't deter the kids from running out there and walking on the black basalt rocks that the Spiral Jetty is made from.
Apparently the cool thing to do is to write your name on the packed sand between the rocks. As you can see, one of the kids decided to use a pseudonym. He's always been a bit of a joker.
After that the kids wanted to hike out to the lake. About a third of the way to the water, the bottom of the lake bed turned from mud to rock hard salt.
Near the lake we spotted a glove on a pool waving to the water.
Once we reached the shoreline, the kids had to play in the one small section of mud. Kids will be kids, I guess.
Aside from some minor sunburns, the trip was a success and the kids had a good time.
My favorite part about going out there, however, is how quiet it is. Just the desert, the lake, and the Spiral Jetty. No cell phone service, paved roads, lights or any other sign of civilization. You can sit on the rocks overlooking the area and think. Think without distractions. A place like that is difficult to find today.
"You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Its pretty, but that's not the thing of it. You can sit on the edge of that big ol' thing and those rocks... the cliffs and rocks are so old... it took so long for that thing to get like that... and it ain't done either! It happens right there while your watching it. Its happening right now as we are sitting here in this ugly town. When you sit on the edge of that thing, you realize what a joke we people really are... what big heads we have thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much... thinking that our time here means diddly to those rocks. Just a split second we have been here, the whole lot of us. That's a piece of time so small to even get a name. Those rocks are laughing at me right now, me and my worries... Yeah, its real humorous, that Grand Canyon. Its laughing at me right now. You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cud on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 mph." -- Danny Glover, Grand Canyon.
North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, July 15, 2014
Before we left on our trip last week, I wasn’t sure how our first family vacation with three kids was going to turn out. We’ve taken kids on overnight trips before but they’ve usually been a three or four hour drive away and we’ve always stayed with a family. We’ve never taken them on a 1,300 mile round-trip, stayed in hotels, and had them meet people and kids they’ve never seen before. Thankfully, we couldn’t have asked for things to turn out any better.
Instead of making the drive to Phoenix in one day, we made it a two-day journey. We thought that the kids would do better with shorter drives. We were right. After about six hours in the car the kids were ready to run around. So it was nice to have a place to stop and let the kids expend all their energy. It was also nice to learn that the kids found the hotel an exciting, mysterious place with cool things like swimming pools, ice machines, and elevators – three things they couldn’t get enough of.
The second good decision we made was to buy a portable DVD player. Okay, the DVD player wasn’t just for the trip. Marathon Girl and I do like watching movies together on the weekends after the kids are asleep and my laptops a little too big to be comfortable in bed. But we thought that during long stretches of the drive the kids might like watching a movie and keep them out of mischief.
I should admit that until this trip I’ve been opposed to kids watching movies in the car. And there was no real reason for my opposition other than I just figured the kids would either sleep or find something to do themselves or enjoy whatever part of the country we were driving through. Of course that’s easy to say when you’re an adult and the one doing the driving. I remember talking long, family vacations when I was a kid and being bored out of my mind during the long drive. At the very least, this would give them something to do for a few hours.
The DVD player worked just liked we hoped. About two hours into a drive, the kids would become bored and restless so we’d start a movie. This would keep them focused on something for another two hours. After we turned the movie off they’d sleep or play until we reached our destination. And while we won’t use this DVD player on short, every day trips, it’s nice to know that when we have to take a trip longer than two hours, the kids have multiple entertainment options – including the occasional movie.
The third good decision we made was not to pack the days with lots of events but small things that the kids would enjoy. (This was helped by the fact that the friends we visited had kids roughly the same age as ours.) Whether it be trips to a “train” park, a baseball game (more on that later), or swimming at the hotel, or eating at a place the kids would enjoy, we tried to make the trip as kid friendly as possible. We must have done a decent job of it because, much to our surprise, our two oldest kids expressed disappointment when we told them we were finally heading home.
It’s nice to know they enjoyed the trip just as much as the adults.