Monday, May 30, 2011

a walk through town

Yesterday we ventured out of the calm of our campground, into the chaos of hoards of tourists here in Sedona for the Memorial Day long weekend. We rode a free shuttle into the uptown area to look around. Found a cool store with lots of masks and we all had fun trying them on!

After icecream cones and little snack we were happy to leave the crowds behind and head back to the area of our campground. We explored some of the art galleries nearby and the amazing works of art that grace this town.

 Kicking back in a surprisingly comfortable rock chair!

 Gorgeous views in every direction!

Then back "home". We've been here for 6 nights and have loved exploring this area. Sedona will certainly hold a special place in our hearts.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

another day in paradise!

We've been spending lots of time down at the creek that runs right behind our campsite. It's the same creek that we enjoyed at Slide Rock State Park  - Oak Creek. Before I get to today, here are a couple of photos from our afternoon at Slide Rock. It was such a fun place!

The creek is the kid's favorite place to be around here. Our campsite is right in front of the path leading down to it, so we're regulars there! It's shady, cool, and there's water! What else could you ask for when you're in the hot desert?!

Sweet time with the kids, playing in and enjoying nature. Taking time to breathe.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

loving life in sedona!

It’s been fun to explore so many places that I’ve heard about for years and have wanted to see. Sedona’s another of those places and we’ve been enjoying our time here. (I was here as a young kid, but have no memories of that trip.) We found a wonderful campground right beside Oak Creek with big trees and lots of shade and some HUGE blue heron nests. There are baby herons chirping constantly and big adult birds flying around. The kids are enjoying watching them and getting a closer look at these majestic birds.

A few days ago we spent an afternoon at Slide Rock State Park, swimming and enjoying this natural wonder. It’s a natural waterslide carved into the red slick-rock surface of Oak Creek Canyon. Most of us found the water pretty cold, but Zara was in there having fun for hours! She and John jumped off some small cliffs a few times. Zara had no fear or hesitation about jumping. Other people went up there and hemmed and hawed, but Zara didn’t even count to three! She just launched into the cold water below! (I haven’t downloaded these photos from John’s camera yet, so will post Slide Rock pics soon.)

On our walk out of the park, we watched some teenagers jumping off some MUCH higher cliffs into the canyon lower down. These cliffs were at least 60’ high and Zara asked “Can I do that Mom?” No way Zara! Maybe when you’re their age!

It’s been nice to have some relaxing days here. It’s worked well so far to have a few days where we travel long hours and cover lots of ground, then find a place we want to stay and settle in for a bit before doing it again. We were only going to stay here until Friday, as it’s a long weekend in the USA and everything was booked up. But when I went into the office to pay for Thursday night, the woman at the desk was just getting off the phone with someone who had called to cancel their weekend reservation. There was a wait list for the site, but since I was standing right there, they gave it to us! I love the way the universe looks out for us like that!

So we’ve had some good down time. The kids are enjoying playing with their toys, and making friends with other kids. Zara is loving having some young girls to play with.

 It was quite a novelty to walk some dogs this morning. (Some of our neighbors are travelling with SIX little dogs! Can you even imagine?!?!?)

Yesterday we did a little sight seeing and saw some of the "prehistoric" buildings of one of the Native American tribes that inhabited this area from about 1000 - 1400 AD.

This was at the Tuzigut national monuement - remnants of a pueblo built about 1000AD. Some interesting history.  Thor refused to walk anywhere yesterday! It was HOT and he just didn't want to walk in the heat. Bella was happy walking as long as she could take photos!

Montezuma's Castle was very cool. Even Thor thought so! This is a dwelling built into the side of a cliff. Zara enjoyed reading the interpretive signs, we watched lizards and imagined what life must have been like back then.

As much as we're enjoying Sedona itself, we have almost had our fill of the desert! It's HOT and dry! The ocean is calling us.... loudly!

One more photo of the gorgeous red rocks in the area. It is definitely beautiful!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

more red rock and the grandest of canyons!

Oh where to start! We are now in Sedona, Arizona, but I’m going to spend this post filling you in on what we’ve been doing since the last post.

In case you couldn’t tell from my last post, we LOVED Moab. There was so much to do, the scenery was stunning, and it just had a great energy about it. On Saturday last week, a dream came true for me when I spent the morning mountain biking near Moab. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for about 15 years, so it was wonderful to get out there and find out why the area is so well known for its biking. I went with a group of 5 others and a guide. They picked me up at our RV park and off we went about 20 miles to the trail head. We biked about 2 miles on dirt trails, then got up onto the slickrock and just climbed up and up and up. We saw dinosaur footprints in the rock, and amazing scenery all around. It was rough rock - not smooth at all - so my body certainly got jarred around. But nothing compared to coming down! At the very top, we left our bikes and hiked into a remote area of Arches National Park. So beautiful! Then down we came….. bumping all the way down the slickrock. Everyone else in my group had rented bikes with dual suspension, so I was the only one getting jarred around on my 17 year old hardtail bike with a trailer bike attachment on the back -  I got a few looks! But I had fun and I kept up with a couple advanced riders in the group, so I didn’t worry about it! It was just thrilling to be out there. I kept saying to myself…. I’m mountain biking in Moab…. I’m actually here!

The next day we did something completely different and somewhat incongruent, a hummer excursion into an area called “Hell’s Revenge”.

This area is famous for its jeep track and people come from all over the world to drive over these fossilized sand dunes. (What’s also called slickrock, or sand stone) We were driving almost straight up some steep hills and coming straight down the other side!

 It was quite an adventure. I probably wouldn’t choose to do it again, but we did get to see some areas we wouldn’t have otherwise and it was quite the experience!

That afternoon, we got into the RV and headed towards Bryce Canyon, stopping along the way at many other beautiful places. We stopped in at the Valley of the Goblins – a valley full of little hoodoos in so many different shapes and sizes. That was fun until the wind picked up and it started to storm! We took refuge in the RV then continued south-west. We drove through Capital Reef park, more amazing red rock and sheer cliff walls. We spent the night in the bush somewhere, then arrived at Bryce Canyon the next morning. It was very different from what we had been seeing but by then the kids were getting pretty tired of looking at red rock! So tired in fact, that we decided not to go to Zion as planned, but head straight to the Grand Canyon.

We did a long day of driving and camped at the Grand Canyon that night. Our first hike out to the rim that evening was so cool. What an amazing place! So grand, it’s hard to really take in the scale of it.

The next morning we saw the IMAX movie on the “Secrets of the Grand Canyon” – an amazing journey through the history of the people who have explored it. So well done and so fascinating. Then we went exploring ourselves!

It’s challenging keeping 3 kids engaged when we’re doing so much sight seeing! John and I were so excited to see the Grand Canyon - I almost needed to pinch myself to believe I was there. But the kids were squabbling, and cranky and just wanted to go back to the motorhome! Argh! So frustrating. But once we got to the rim and sat down and had a snack while taking in the view, they started to enjoy it.

We got on a shuttle bus and took a little ride into the Grand Canyon Village where we took in some more views of the canyon. The kids enjoyed watching the squirrels and chipmunks scampering around and the birds surfing the updrafts off the canyon walls.

I'm so happy we got to see this incredible place. I know the kids won't remember it, but I sure will! One day, when they are older, we'd love to go back and raft the Colorado River. One day......

From there, we beelined it for Sedona. We're here now, enjoying this magical little town. But more on that later. Internet access has been hit and miss and when we do have it, I often don't have time to sit down and write a post. It's amazing how much there is to do when travelling with 3 kids! It's not a vacation, but it's certainly an adventure!

Friday, May 20, 2011

magical moments in moab!

We arrived in Moab on Wednesday and were so happy to settle in and not do any driving for awhile! It was raining when we got here and has been off and on ever since, but we’ve decided to stay and wait it out so we can experience this area in it’s full sparkling glory. When we arrived at our campsite, Thor asked for his cars and monster trucks, settled himself into a patch of dirt and played happily for almost 2 hours! Bella spread out on the floor with a bag of toys and everyone was happy just to stop driving. We unhitched our bikes, rode into town, picked up some groceries at a natural food shop called Moonflower and rode “home”.

Friday morning, braving the rain and trusting that the sun would shine through, we headed up to Arches National Park. The road was steep and full of switchbacks at the beginning, then we arrived at the top of a huge plateau and as far as the eye could see there were massive red rock monoliths rising out of the earth at random. It was mind-blowing!

We drove the full 18 mile main road with a few side roads, stopping at a few hikes that we had read were particularly suitable for young children. The sun did come out and it was warm and lovely and gorgeous! The kids loved the hike into Sand Dune Arch. We followed the path through some huge, fin shaped rocks, squeezing in between the opening where it opened up to a long narrow canyon, full of sand and a few bright green trees. We made our way up to the top of it where there was a beautiful arch and some fun caves. The kids loved climbing around on the sandstone. It’s called “slickrock” because the first settlers found it very slick for their horses metal shoed hooves, but it’s actually very grippy and feels like sandpaper. Great for climbing around on!

We ended our day up there with a hike into Double Arch. This area was absolutely awe-inspiring. We ran out of adjectives to describe the beauty all around us.

 As we were walking in I could feel the powerful energy of this magical place and it moved me to tears. So absolutely incredible. I wanted to just lie down in the sun and soak it up! I climbed up to the top and looked out through one of the arches and the view was stunning. I stayed up there for awhile just taking it all in.

It was so fun to have the kids out hiking and loving it! They complained at first, but quickly realized how great it was and didn’t want to stop! We assured them we’d be hiking again the next day.

 As we were leaving the park it started to rain again, and was still raining when we got back to our campsite. Keeping the kids happy in the rain has been challenging, but within an hour or so, the sun popped back out, Bella and Thor put on rainboots and had a great time jumping in the puddles! A great ending to our wonderful day full of sunshine, fresh air, red rock, and magical moments.

Have I mentioned that we love this place?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

it's still winter in yellowstone!

We’ve seen so much in the last couple days! After leaving Missoula we headed east, then south towards Yellowstone. It felt good to get off the interstate and into the mountains where we saw rafters and kayakers and beauty all around. We spent that night in West Yellowstone just outside the park boundary, but before settling into our campsite, we explored a Bear and Wolf Discovery Center.

We do not like supporting animals in captivity so we were glad to find out that none of these animals had been taken from the wild to be put on display. The wolves were from a place in California that breeds animals for photo shoots and movies (where I guess they ended up with too many wolves). The grizzly bears were all “garbage bears” that would have otherwise been killed – mostly from Alaska.

It was interesting to see the animals so closely, but the exhibits in the info centre are what stays with me. They had so many facts about bears and wolves but what really got my attention was how misunderstood and poorly treated these animals have been and still are. Just as an example, when the white people arrived in California in the 1800’s they started killing grizzlies for sport…. torturing them, then killing them just for the thrill of it. They killed over 10,000 grizzlies in a relatively short period of time – KILLING EVERY LAST ONE. It just hit me so strongly and made me feel physically ill – to think of all the animals on this earth that have been wiped out because of human ignorance and/or greed. I could go on but enough ranting!

That night was COLD! It got down to below freezing and we wondered what the heck we were doing in the mountains! For some reason I hadn’t planned for cold weather! But the next morning we woke up to blue skies and headed for Yellowstone. I had no idea what to expect from this National Park, but let me tell you, it blew me away! Amazing! Animals wandering wild and free all over the park. Bison, elk, deer, eagles, hydrothermal water features, steam rising from holes in the earth, geysers …. incredible beauty in every direction.

 I did not know that Yellowstone was a caldera in a very old volcano. We learned so much and enjoyed every minute of it. Old Faithful was magical. Just a steaming vent, then all of a sudden a massive geyser spewing superheated water into the air. The kids all enjoyed it too. We broke some rules and let the kids ride without seatbelts so they could be looking out the windows and taking it all in!

 This is what Old Faithful looks like most of the time.

This is what it looks like what it's exploding!

From Yellowstone we headed south into the Grand Tetons, another area I’ve heard about for years and was keen to see. After being in Yellowstone though, it rather paled in comparison But still beautiful. Snow everywhere! The lakes were still frozen solid.

 We stopped at a great Wildlife Art Museum just outside of Jackson where we saw all sorts of beautiful things. There was a wonderful kids area with costumes, crafts, stamping and other things all relating to wildlife. The kids played in there while John and I wandered around!

We stopped for supper in Jackson Hole, a place I’ve been curious about since watching Warren Miller ski movies as a teenager. A very quaint, rustic town set in a stunning mountain location.

I love these signs! They feel very appropriate right now!!

 We arrived in Moab this afternoon but I'll write more about that tomorrow.