Last year I recruited the kids to provide words describing
their Vacation experience. Each day, one kid or the other (or both)
recounted their day. This year, I did the same thing, although not every
day. So, each entry starts with the day, date, and the person who
described the day. For the boys entries, they
talked and I wrote down what they said.
Here are two maps showing our trip. The first shows the trip
to Yellowstone, and the second shows the trip
home. The squares indicate places we spent the night, and a couple of
places we visited to make the route come out right. We entered Yellowstone
from the West entrance and left through the South entrance. This allowed
us to catch the southern tip of Montana
and add Montana to the list of
states we have visited.
On the trip from Chatsworth to Yellowstone,
the squares are St. George (7/3), CedarCity (7/4), LehmanCaves, Wells (7/5) and Arco (7/6).
The red circle is, of course, Yellowstone
(7/7-7/9). On the trip from Yellowstone to
Chatsworth, the squares are Grand Tetons (7/10),
Jackson (7/11-7/12), Montpelier,
Golden Spike, Ogden (7/13), Salt
Lake City (7/14-7/15), Moab
(7/16-7/17), Torrey (7/18-19), Bryce (7/20) and Las Vegas
Sun July 3 (Jackie) – We started out at for our first big driving day ~410 miles. The
hardest part about long driving days is not the driving – the boys are good as
gold in the car, dividing their time between reading and playing gameboy.
But once we get to where we are going, Benjamin, at least, cannot stay
still. We crossed into Utah,
checked into a St. George motel, and pulled out one of the new games we had
brought. Marc settled into a chair, Jackie and Jonathan laid on the bed, and Benjamin played the entire game in
between dashes from one end of the room to the other. For dinner, we went
to “Chuck-o-rama” – a Homestyle buffet-type restaurant that had an amazing
desert bar. Jackie had one bite of about 8 different desserts and all
were really good!
Mon July 4 (Jackie) - The next day, we took it easy – we saw
the Rosenbrush Wildlife Museum in St. George, which is mostly a showcase of all
the big game animals that Mr. Rosenbrush shot in his life. Jackie was
amazed at all the different types of sheep there are. Marc was interested
to hear that one of the types of sheep is faster than a cheetah. (Although research on the internet did not support this statement.)
After lunch we drove to CedarCity.
We played games and swam in the hotel pool. We experienced celebrating
July 4th in a city where fireworks are legal. We went to the
local high school to watch the city fireworks (which were shot off at the
nearby airport) and many others joined us. Most of them brought their own
firecrackers and fireworks. There was on scary moment when a particularly
mobile piece moved itself to our car and lodged itself against our backpacks
which were sitting on the ground next to the car. Fortunately, nothing was
damaged. The people with the store-bought fireworks reminded Marc of his
childhood, except that his family was a lot less childish. The city
fireworks were fast and furious, but only lasted 15 minutes, which Marc and
Jackie were grateful for, since they had to wait until before it was dark enough to start. If they do
fireworks in Salt Lake City, what
time do they start?
Tues July 5 (Jackie) - Cedar
Breaks was pretty, but not particularly impressive. We heard our first
Geology talk of the trip. The boys got their Jr. Ranger badges. In
Cedar Breaks, we discovered that the song really is true – “Wherever you go,
there’s always someone Jewish.” The ranger asked Benjamin what his last
name meant, and he said it came from the Hebrew word Ze’ev which means wolf.
This sparked a conversation with a women standing nearby who happened to also
be Jewish. She wondered where the nearest Temple
was, which Marc knew because he had happened to notice Temple Beth Am in St.
The original schedule planned by Jackie had us going to
Cedar Breaks on Monday, but the Rosenbrush museum in St. George had not opened
until noon, so that had pushed the schedule back. Jackie started
stressing that we would not be able to do all the things she had planned.
Marc told her to stop stressing or he would clop her on the head and throw her
in the back of the car. We pushed on to LehmanCave (in Nevada),
arriving in plenty of time to take the
tour (thanks to the time change!) Our tout guide was excellent, pointing
out things that the LehmanCave
managers and visitors had done over the years that affected the cave. The
original managers had carved out passageways to additional rooms. The
early visitors had broken stalactites and left their names on the
ceiling. Modern managers had added lights, which enables the growth of
algae. Modern day visitors leave behind tiny fibers from their clothing
which you can see on some of the stalactites.
we saw some interesting insects. While waiting for the tour to start,
Jackie found a grasshopper with red and blue legs. After the tour, we saw
this huge moth sipping nectar from flowers.
Jackie had not pushed the boys to finish their Jr. Ranger
badges before the tour because she thought they would have half an hour after
the tour before the visitor center closed. However the 90 minute tour
lasted 110 minutes, leaving the boys only 10 minutes which was not enough
time. Fortunately for the boys, Jackie talked the rangers into letting us
have the Great Basin badges and the boys completed the
Jr. Ranger books on the way to dinner. Even though it was getting late,
we decided to continue driving after dinner and do half of the distance to our
next stop, Craters of the Moon, Idaho.
This would enable us to have a more relaxing trip on the next two days.
Sun-Tues July 3-5 (Benjamin) - We did a lot of driving and I
didn’t like it very much. Then when we finally settled down, we played
OY! and Man Bites Dog and then went to bed. We
had breakfast in the lobby. We went to a museum and learned a lot about
animals because we went to an animal museum. Then we saw a movie of ZionCanyon. Then we went to CedarCity and found its hotel and then
we drove to this place and saw fireworks. Some were made by people who
make fireworks and some were real fireworks and then we went to bed. The
next day we went to CedarCanyon
and then went to Great Basin and had the LehmanCave tour and then went a really
long way to a new town
Sun-Tues July 3-5 (Jonathan) - We got up and drove and
that’s all we did we got to the place and had dinner there too. The next
morning there was a whatever-it’s-called breakfast. Then we went to the
animal museum. It was really nice. We had a guided tour. We
saw a Zion documentary. Also
after that we drove some more and got to the place where we watched the
fireworks. But before we watched fireworks we went swimming at the hotel
and we played a couple of games. At the fireworks we played Frisbee while
watching home done fireworks. We had some snacks. From afar we
watched the fireworks. It was quite an experience to watch silent fireworks.
Then we went back to the hotel and slept. We woke up and went to the
other continental breakfast. After the other continental breakfast, we
went to a National Park. We did the Jr. Ranger program. There was a
lot of snow there. We saw a canyon that looked like a mini-GrandCanyon. We heard a geology
talk. Then we drove for a bit and went to a different National
Park. We did the Jr. Ranger program which we didn’t finish. We went
into a cave which was really cool. There was
some parts that had been put back together after being taken apart. There
was some other interesting parts like the pillar of
moral support. Then we drove to another place and had dinner and then
Wed July 6 (Jackie) - We woke up in Wells, Nevada
(where?) and set out for Craters of the Moon. We had a little trouble
with road construction, i.e. they were repaving the road and would completely
halt traffic for sometimes as much as 15 minutes at a time. Somewhere in Idaho,
we had waited too long before having lunch and the boys got cranky. We
were crossing a bridge, so we pulled off to the side of the road and went under
the bridge and ate a snack. Jackie took some pictures of the river that
came out very nice.
We decided to take a minor detour and visit the Shoshone ice
cave. That was interesting. We finally pulled into Craters of the
Moon after . This was going
to make satisfying the requirements for the Jr. Ranger badges before the
visitor center closed challenging. So we just saw enough of Craters of
the Moon so the boys could get their badges, including climbing to the top of
Inferno Cone which is very steep (but thankfully short.) Here we are on
the top of Inferno Cone – you can’t really tell how high up we are from the
pictures. There was only one tree on all of Inferno Cone, so we took a
picture of it.
We came down from inferno cone and went back to the visitor
center and the boys took their pledges. Then we went back into the
Craters of the Moon and saw the caves and the spattercone with the snow at the
bottom. The caves were eerie – We’d never been in caves where you needed
a flashlight without a tour before. We didn’t go very far in.
We then went on a ranger walk with a ranger who was sooooo
boring that after 45 minutes we cut out. We spent the night in Arco.
Wed July 6 (Benjamin) - We went to the ShoshoneIceCave
and in the front there was a model of a man riding on a dinosaur. After a while
we went on a tour and we went along way before we got to the cave. On the
way, we saw and learned about lava tubes and models of two Indians. Right
before we got into the cave she told us about how the cave was found and how
they replaced the opening with a door. When we got in, we got a short
tour and we learned that the ice was sturdy enough to go ice skating on.
Then we got out we had to wait a long time for our tour guide to go back and
tell a couple to sit down and wait for the next tour. Then we went back
and went on a long drive to Craters of the Moon.
Wed July 6 (Jonathan) - When we were in the ice caves we
found out how the caves were formed and when shown under a black light you
could see how many different types of rocks there were. When we arrived
at Craters of the Moon at first it looked like a big expanse of really boring
rock, but that’s not what it was. First we went to the visitor center and
got Jr. Ranger stuff. Then we went to a pile of rock called infernal cone
which was very short and very steep and very windy. It was very windy during
out whole stay at Craters of the Moon. Then we saw some spatter cones and
then we went back to the visitor center to get our Jr. Ranger badges.
Then we went to a couple caves and did real splunking. Then we went back
for a ranger talk which we left after a little while then we drove some where
and had dinner there and slept there. Also at Craters of the Moon we went
to Snow Cone, which was a big hole with rocks in it. Also we saw a bunch
of squirrels which were very cooperative when we tried to take their
picture. Before we went on the spatter cones.
Thurs July 7 (Jackie) – Arco has the conning tower from a
nuclear submarine set in a patch of grass on the side of the road so we took
pictures. I don’t think the boys really understood what it was.
We then drove to EBR1 – Experimental Breeder Reactor
1. We learned what a breeder reactor is and how it is different than a
nuclear power plant.
The left picture below is the boys in the control room
pretending to run the reactor, and the right one is Benjamin using one of the
remote arms that they have set up for people to play with.
Then on to IdahoFalls for lunch. We stopped in West
Yellowstone for ice cream and then pulled into Yellowstone
around 4. We saw our first wildlife shortly after entering the
park. We checked into our cabin at Canyon planning to relax and play
games that night. We were amazed to see a bison walk between our cabin
and the next one – if the people in the next cabin had opened their door as it
went by, they could have pet it.
Fri July 8 (Jackie) – Jackie’s friend Phyllis (who lives in
Jackson Hole now) and family were going to join us in the evening and spend
Saturday and Sunday romping around Yellowstone with us (“and family” meant
Phyllis’ two girls and her friend Mike) So we had to decide what to do on the
day that they would not be with us. Knowing nothing about what there was
to see in Yellowstone besides the names on the map, we
decided to do the northwestern-most corner and see Mammoth Hot Springs.
We skipped all the geyser basins around Norris. The first thing we
stopped at was RoaringMountain
(the left picture) to listen to the mountain, though it was more like purring
than roaring. Stopped at Obsidian Cliffs (the right picture), some
roadside exhibit and then at SwanLake.
There were two trumpeter swans in SwanLake.
We reached the hot springs
shortly thereafter. We passed the upper parking lot, (not realizing it
was the upper parking lot) but then saw one of the springs from the road and
pulled off. We walked back a ways, trying to figure out how to get to
it. We were getting pretty far from the car, so Marc went back to get the
car and Jackie and boys pressed on. Marc picked us up at the entrance to
the parking lot and we drove to the trailhead and parked. While Jackie
was pondering the map, Benjamin took off walking toward the spring we had seen
from the road. Jackie noted that the springs are on a hillside and that
there are two parking lots – one on top of the hill above the springs (which
was where we were) and one at the base of the hill below the springs. It
occurred to Jackie that parking in the lower lot had the advantage that we
would be going up hill first when we were fresh, and down the hill at the end,
when we were tired. However, we were here, so we called Benjamin back and
set off. If you start at the top of the hill, you reach the most
spectacular spring first (the left picture,) and we were very impressed.
We skipped some of the springs because it was hot and we
didn’t want to push the kids too much. However, after we got back to the
top, we did go down to the spring near the road (the right picture,) which was
well worth the trip. When we could not bear the smell of sulfur anymore
we left. We drove the upper terrace loop without stopping at any of the
springs there and went into Mammoth for lunch. The boys received activity
books with their lunches, which they enjoyed. We went to the visitor
center and saw that there would be two ranger talks that the boys were
interested in attending, one on bears and one on wolves. After the talks,
we decided to head over to the Tower-Roosevelt area. We stopped at the WraithFalls trail and hiked to the
waterfall. The boys played poohsticks at a couple of the streams we
crossed. Actually “stream” is a gross overstatement of what these were –
we’ve seen bigger irrigation channels.
We saw a tree that a bison had been rubbing against and left
hair clinging to the tree (must have been a “fur” tree!) We saw many
animals along the side of the road. In the Tower-Roosevelt area, its easy to find animals. You drive until you have to
stop because there are all these cars stopped in the road, and then you look
where everyone else is looking and then you take pictures of the animals.
This time it was a young Black Bear.
In Tower-Roosevelt, we went to the petrified tree (left
picture) which was somewhat of a disappointment after last year’s trip to the petrified forest. Next we went to Tower Fall (right
We had dinner at the Tower lodge. Afterwards we
stopped at Calcite Springs Overlook. Jackie was the only one who wanted
to do it, so she went off without Marc and the boys. But after a few
minutes she came back to the car for more batteries and talked everyone else
into coming with her to see the osprey. At one point, they came around a corner
and there was a man looking at a cliff across the canyon with binoculars.
“What are you looking at?” Jackie asked. “An eagle nest with an eagle in
it,” he responded. He explained where the nests where (there were two
nests.) Fortunately Jonathan had brought the good binoculars.
However the man was wrong about it being a eagle – it
was an osprey. Benjamin had a hard time finding the nests and we spent a
long time figuring out how to tell him where they were. In the right
picture, one nest is centered about a quarter of the way up from the bottom and
the other is about a third of the way from the top, just right of center and
has an osprey in it.
When we left, it was near sunset – prime
time for animal viewing – and Tower-Roosevelt is *the* prime animal
viewing area. We saw a moose, elk, bison, and a bear.
Benjamin and Jackie could not agree on whether it was a Black bear or a Grizzly
bear, but people to whom we showed our pictures thought it was a Grizzly.
That was Benjamin’s choice too.
By the time we got back to Mammoth Hot Springs, the sun had
set and by the time we got to Norris, there was no light left. This made
the remaining drive rather hairy as frequently there were elk crossing the
road. We got back just before 10 and asked whether Phyllis had left a message
for me. They told us that we had just missed her and gave us the campsite
number. So Jackie dropped Marc and the boys off at the cabin, went to the
campsite office to get a map, and found the campsite. Phyllis was glad to
see Jackie, as they had been there for a couple of hours and were a little
concerned. They chatted for almost an hour and then agreed that Jackie
and gang would come over to Phyllis’s campsite for breakfast pizza.
Sat July 9 (Jackie) - While breakfast pizza sounded good to
the boys, their feelings about the actual product were more mixed. After
breakfast, we all piled into Phyllis’s truck and set off. First we went
to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We went to Inspiration Point to see
the Grand Canyon and YellowstoneFalls. If you make these
pictures big (just click on them,) you can see the (upper?) falls to the right
of Jonathan’s head and to the right of Mike’s head. Phyllis’s girls
(Kelsey and Sara) had not quite turned 15 and 12 when these pictures were
Next we went down the road to the trail to the top of LowerYellowstoneFalls
(left picture.) From the top of LowerYellowstoneFalls
we could see another trail on the other side of the river that we had
considered taking. It looked awful – like there were many, many steps
carved in the face of the cliff (right picture.) The trail we had taken
was not flat – indeed there was lots of complaining climbing from the top of
the Falls back up to the parking lot, but we were glad
we had done the trail we had chosen.
We left the river and set off for Sulfur Caldron and Mud
Volcano. On the way we saw hundreds of buffalo, many of which had nursing
calves with them. At Mud Volcano, we saw a Bison lying next to one of the
mud pots just a few feet from the board walk. Our favorite thermal feature
was the “Dragon’s Mouth Spring” which had spurts of steam coming out of
We went a little further and had lunch at picnic benches at
the side of the road. After lunch we set out for LakeVillage. The boys had figured
out that if they collected 4 stickers from the gift shops at Mammoth,
Tower-Roosevelt, Canyon, Lake and Old
Faithful, they would get a prize. So they were eager to go
to the gift shop at Lake. First we went to the
visitor center and showed our bear pictures to the ranger. She sent us to
another ranger who said it was a grizzly. Then we asked this ranger about
whether the birds we had been seeing were swallows or swifts. He sent us
back to the first ranger. Next, we went to the Gift shop so that the kids
could get their stickers. After that it was on to GrantVillage, where they have a very
nice exhibit on how fire has affected Yellowstone.
we got popsicles and then went back to Phyllis’s campsite for dinner
(tacos!). When we got there we discovered that our car (that had been
there all day) was covered in pollen from the pine trees. No wonder Marc
had been suffering so badly from allergies! After dinner, we made plans
with Phyllis for us to come back to her campsite for breakfast. We went
to bed with all the windows open.
Sun July 10 (Jackie) - Jackie woke up cold in the middle of
the night and closed all the windows. This was fortuitous, because Marc
was awakened several hours later by the sound of pouring rain. Boy was he
surprised to find the windows closed already! When we woke up in the
morning, it was still drizzling, but at least it wasn’t pouring! We were
pleasantly surprised to discover that we did not need to drive to Phyllis’s
campsite for breakfast. Phyllis and Mike had brought breakfast to
us! We cooked “omelets in a bag” in their
camper and ate breakfast in our cabin. By the time we were ready to check
out, the rain had stopped. Before we left Canyon, we had to stop at the
gift shop so the boys could get their stickers. Then we went to Norris.
We were pleased that our boys got along so well with Phyllis’s girls, that they rode in the truck rather than in our
van. We went to all the thermal features beween Norris and Madison –
Steamboat Geyser (left picture), Artists Paintpots, MonumentGeyserBasin. Jackie went a little nuts with the digital camera, and now we have
several hundred pictures of thermal features. If you need any, we got
We drove Firehold Lake Drive,
saw an elk, and stopped at the Great Fountain Geyser. We decided to have
lunch there, and after lunch we noticed that it was steaming and spurting a lot more than before lunch. That was very
Then on to Old Faithful. We
got there just a few minutes after it had just erupted. That gave us time
to – you guessed it – go to the gift shop and get the boys their
stickers. Then we walked around the Old Faithful
area and Jackie took more pictures of mud pots (left picture). We saw
Castle Geyser erupt (right picture) – not the spectacular event that Old
Faithful is, but very cool none-the-less.
We got front row seats for Old Faithful
and waited for the grand event. We were not disappointed in the show, but
the pictures do not do it justice.
After we saw Old Faithful, we went
into the lodge to look around. Also, we wanted to try and collect the boys’
free gift for collecting stickers. We knew we had a potential
problem. The boys had not discovered that they could get the free gift
for collecting stickers until after we had left Mammoth Hot Springs and
Tower-Roosevelt, so we didn’t have stickers for those two places. They needed four stickers and they only had three.
But we had been to Mammoth Hot Springs and we had been to Tower-Roosevelt, so
we hoped they would take our word for it. So we went back to the gift
shop and asked if they would take our word that we had been to the two spots we
didn’t have stickers for. The gift shop manager asked if we had been to
the gift shop in each of those places. We said we couldn’t remember if we
had been to the gift shop at Mammoth Hot Springs, but we had definitely been to
the one at Tower-Roosevelt. because we had dinner in
the lodge and we went to the gift shop after dinner. She decided she
would give the boys the free gifts and went off to get them. We expected
some cheap plastic toy, and were astonished when she came back with two decent
quality stuffed moose! She said that they had been giving out bears and
moose, but they didn’t have any bears left. She said that if we wanted
bears we could ask in Grant if we could trade. At this point, Phyllis and
gang were heading home and we were going to West Thumb, so we split up.
We went off to the GeyserBasin
at West Thumb. After West Thumb we went to the gift shop at Grant only to
be told very abruptly that as far as the free gifts were concerned, “you get
what you get.” Good thing we didn’t ask that gift shop manager if she
would take our word that we went to the Tower-Roosevelt gift shop! Then
we headed out for the Grand Tetons. We got into Colter Bay Village pretty
late, and figured we should get housing first. Turns
out there is a dearth of reasonably priced housing in the Grand Tetons,
and what little there is was already full. We thought about staying in a
tent cabin, but desisted and instead found a room in Hatchet, which is just
outside the park boundaries. We had dinner there, too, and had family
game night. The boys like family game night better than
sightseeing. They would be perfectly content to vacation for two weeks in
their own house and play family games every day.
Mon July 11 (Jackie) - We had a slow morning, partly because
Jackie wanted to call in for her daily morning teleconference for her
work. She found that things were going better than she feared, but worse
than she hoped. Around 11 we left, and went to the Grand Teton
visitor center at Moose. The boys found that Jr. Ranger badges required a
1 ½ hour ranger led activity between
at the other visitor center. They weren’t interested, so we skipped Jr.
Ranger badges. We then went to Menor’s ferry and looked at what they used
to cross rivers in the late 1800’s. Having completely exhausted the
supply of things to do (that the boys were interested in doing) in the Grand
Tetons, we decided to go to Jackson.
But first we took some pictures to prove we were there. Do the mountains look
like what they are named after?
In Jackson, we
had lunch and went to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, which the boys, at
least, enjoyed. Next was a nearby photographers
gallery, where we spent a lot of money. Then it was kid time. We
did the “Amaze ‘n Maze,” the “Alpine slide” and some miniature golf. At
the maze, the goal was to find four specific locations in the maze and get out
within 6 minutes (if you were a grown-up) or 10 minutes (if you were a
kid.) Only Jonathan beat the time limit, but everyone had a good
time. The Alpine slide was set up on the ski slope. You rode the
ski lift up, and then slid down something that resembled a plastic luge track
on a one person sled. The kids loved it. The sled had a brake of
which Benjamin made abundant use. So Jackie, who was the only person (in
our family, anyway) after him did not have the trilling experience that Marc
and Jonathan did. After the ride, Marc and Benjamin went to the bathroom,
and Jackie killed time by telling the youth at the desk about how she couldn’t
convince Benjamin that the “slow” signs at curves really didn’t apply to him,
because he was already going slower than they wanted him to go on the
curves. She hadn’t meant it as complaining about her ride, but when the
youth offered her 2 complementary passes for another ride, she didn’t turn them
down either. Marc and Jackie decided to let the boys use the tickets
alone. Jackie suggested to Marc that he get the camera while she waited
in line with the boys. When Jackie and the boys reached the head of the
line, she expressed concern that Benjamin would not be able to manage moving
his sled from the ski lift to the top of the slide (~100 ft) by himself, and
offered to go up and help him and ride the ski lift down. The operator
told her to go up and ride the slide down. So Jackie got another ride for
free too. Benjamin went faster this time and Jackie allowed a bigger gap,
so she got a pretty good ride this time.
After the second slide, we went back to the maze and the
boys did the maze again. Jonathan did it fast enough to get his name
entered in a drawing for a bicycle that looks like a motorcycle chopper.
They promised us that if he won, we won’t have to come pick it up! After
finishing the maze, we went to the main square in Jackson,
where an old-western skit was ongoing. For dinner, we joined Phyllis,
Mike and the girls at the Bar J Ranch Chuckwagon for barbeque and a concert of
old western cowboy songs. A good time was had by all, except Benjamin,
who got bored quickly. Fortunately for the rest of us, he is old enough
to be given a pack of cards and sent to the area just outside the auditorium to
play. Unfortunately for the other people in our aisle he is also old
enough to come back to where we were sitting several times to ask us questions
on how to play, or just to tell us what he was
doing! After the show we went to Phyllis’s house for the night.
Tues July 12 (Jackie) - Jackie woke up at 6 and heard water
in the pipes, like someone had used the shower upstairs. So she dressed
and went upstairs. She heard what sounded like a blow dryer, so she
figured that Phyllis would be out in a minute. But time went by and
nobody came out, and the noise didn’t change, and Jackie realized it was not a
blowdryer. So she went to the car to get her book. But before she
had read half a dozen pages, Phyllis came out. They decided to ride and
then have breakfast. Phyllis had just bought the horses the week before
and had actually not had a chance to take them out for a trail ride yet.
Jackie, having longer legs, took the saddle with stirrups that could not be
adjusted and the more skittish of the two horses. They just rode around
the (unpaved) streets in the neighborhood. As we passed their house,
three dogs decided to tag along for the ride. After awhile, Jackie asked
if they could lope. Phyllis declined, but told Jackie to go ahead.
So she did. Phyllis’s horse was not happy at being held back – the two
horses like to be together. When they returned to Phyllis’s house, Phyllis
told Jackie she could take another lope around the block by herself if she
wanted. This really upset Phyllis’s horse, who
bugled repeatedly the entire time Jackie was gone. Jackie’s horse was
also not happy about the separation. When told to lope, she went a lot
faster than casual lope of before, and she no longer walked, she pranced.
When Jackie got back, Jackie and Phyllis took the girls to their riding
lessons, and then it was the boys’ turn to ride. Jonathan took the calmer
horse while Benjamin rode the mare with Jackie leading her around the
After the boys got bored, it was Marc’s turn, and he and
Jackie took the horses out while the boys jumped on the trampoline.
When they got back, they had lunch and then it was rafting
time. Phyllis and Mike have a 6 person raft. Mike, Jackie, Marc and
the boys drove with the raft to the put in place on the Snake river. We all put on life jackets, put
the boat in and we were off! We brought jackets for everyone, but it was
quickly clear that Jonathan and Benjamin were useless as paddlers and we put
their paddles away. The boys liked to dangle their feet in the water.
Once, when Jonathan was doing this, he just slipped of into the water.
Fortunately Marc, who was on the same side as Jonathan, grabbed his arm before
he could drift away from the raft. A little while later, Benjamin did the
same thing. Jackie wasn’t quite as fast as Marc, but Benjamin was holding
onto a strap when he slipped off, so he, too, was quickly hauled back into the
raft. We went through several sets of rapids, some of which were enough
to send water over the side of the raft (fortunately, it is a self bailing
raft) but none of which were particularly scary. After a while the boys
would complain when a rapid would not live up to its initial promise.
Then we came to a section that looked fun. It was clear that we needed to
go to the left or to the right of center and Mike steered us to the
right. The water was moving pretty fast, and we hit the center closer
than he wanted. The side of the raft with Jonathan and Marc went way up
in the air, and before anyone could blink, the raft
had overturned on top of Jackie and Benjamin, and Marc, Jonathan and Mike had
been thrown into the water. Marc actually jumped forward to avoid landing
on his wife and son. Jackie came up under the raft and dove forward to
get out from under it. Jonathan found himself upstream of the raft near 2
paddles, which he had the presence of mind to grab, and then he grabbed the
raft. Marc, also upstream of the raft, never let go of his paddle, and
grabbed the soft sided cooler that had our water. He noted that Jonathan
was holding onto the raft and panicked because he couldn’t see Benjamin.
Fortunately for Marc’s nerves, it was only a second or two before he popped up
from under the raft. Marc latched onto Benjamin and the raft.
Benjamin grabbed onto a ring on the side of the raft. Meanwhile, Jackie
was freaking out because she couldn’t see anyone. She spotted Mike
significantly downstream and knew he would not be able to get back to the raft
anytime soon. She made her way around the raft and was relieved to find
Marc on the boys there. Marc and Jackie rotated the raft so they could
see what was coming. What they saw was more rapids. All we could do
was to hold on and wait for quieter water. We went through the rapids
clinging to the side of the raft, with intermittent wave washing over our
heads. Once through, Marc and Jackie tried to move the raft over to the
side, without success. They floated through another section of fast
moving water (no rapids though) and then hit a bend and were able to get to the
side. Mike was able to get there too, and we all got out of the water and
took inventory. Mike had the three remaining paddles, so we had all the
paddles. Everyone had started with a hat, and only Jonathan still had
his. Mike also lost his sunglasses, but Marc, Jackie and Jonathan all
(miraculously) still had their prescription eyeglasses. We hung out on
the side for awhile, drying off and warming up, and when we couldn’t stand the
insects anymore, we piled into the raft and set off (ignoring Benjamin’s
request that we just hike out!) Well, we were only about half way down
the river, with many more rapids to go (although none as bad as the one that
overturned the raft!) The boys were no longer complaining about the
rapids that didn’t get them wet. Benjamin was a trooper; he never
complained or cried, but whenever we had to go through rapids, his eyes would
show what he was feeling. We skirted rapids whenever we could.
While we had been rafting, Phyllis had picked up the girls from riding and they
picked up the truck from the drop-off point and brought it to the pickup
ramp. When we put in, they were waiting for us. We gave the boys
the option of going down again with Phyllis and the girls. Benjamin
declined, but Jonathan was game. We all piled in the truck and went up to
the drop off point. Marc supported the Snake River
fund by buying Jackie a new hat to replace the one she lost on the first trip
and took Benjamin back to Phyllis’s house in the second car. Mike took
the truck back down to the pickup point and stayed to fish, and Phyllis,
Jackie, Jonathan and the girls put the raft in again. This time we didn’t
bother with a paddle for Jonathan. Now we had been told by professional
rafters that saw us overturn that we should have taken the rapid that
overturned the raft about a foot and a half to the right of where we took it
(which we knew!) Phyllis was following all the commercial rafts through
the rapids, but when we came to the one we were concerned about, they all went
to the left, not the right. We started to the right, as we had
been told, but it became clear to Jackie that the water was moving too fast and
we would never make it. So she back paddled, and pulled the boat to the
left. Again, we hit the center closer than we should have (this time on
the left,) and one side of the raft went up – but this time we didn’t
overturn. It did neatly flip Jackie right out of the boat, though!
This time, not having a raft over her head, she held onto her paddle (and her
hat!) Knowing there were rapids coming, she told the people in the raft to
wait before hauling her back into the raft. Once they were through the
rapids, getting into the raft was easy. The rest of the trip was
uneventful. Jackie was amazed to find how quickly they reached the point
were they pulled the raft to the side on the first trip. It sure seemed
longer when we were in the river! We went back to Phyllis’s house and
after a shower and a glass of wine, Jackie was fully
recovered from her day. Mike barbequed steak and salmon for dinner and
afterwards we played the dictionary game and had ice cream for dessert.
What a great day!
Tues July 12 (Benjamin) - When I got dunked when we were
rafting I was under the raft. I had to hold my breath and swim to the
outside of the raft. When I was outside the raft there were a few
rapids. I was under the surface when those rapids came but they were
little rapids and I could hold my breath and bob back up again. I was
really happy when I got back into the raft.
Wed July 13 (Jackie) - Set out after breakfast for Salt
Lake City. Decided to go through Montipelier and
see the National Oregon / CaliforniaTrailCenter and MinnetonkaCave. The Center was cool –
they tried to give you a real flavor of what traveling the Oregon
Trail by wagon train was like, what supplies they had to bring and
what decisions they had to make. We decided to skip the cave and head on
to Logan. In Logan,
we went to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Cache Museum because the AAA book
said they had wool-dying, carding and spinning demonstrations. They
didn’t, but we got directions to the Golden Spike National Historical
Site. We wanted to go to Jensen Historical Farm, but we realized we had
to choose between that and the Golden Spike and we chose Golden Spike.
Aside from being a shlep to get to, this monument is nicely done. They
have a “Junior Engineer” program which the boys completed (minutes before
closing, as usual.) We got to see them put the engines (replicas, of
course.) We also got to see a nest with baby birds in it. We
decided to spend the night in Ogden,
so we could go to the George C. Eccles Dinosaur park
in the morning.
Thurs July 14 (Jackie) - The George C. Eccles Dinosaur park
was fun, although the day was very hot. The boys got scared by one dinosaur and
got to feed a triceratops (see pictures,) They dug for
gems in a tourist trap.
Afterwards we had lunch and went on to Salt
Lake City. We checked into a hotel and went to
Wheeler Historical Farm. We wandered around looking at the equipment and
animals and crops. We also got to each take a turn milking a cow.
We had dinner in the mall across the street from Temple
Square and then walked across to Temple
Square and took a tour. The tours are given
every 10 minutes from .
They are free, but you have to be willing to put up with the
proselytizing. Afterwards, Jackie went over to the FamilyHistoryCenter
to check it out and Marc and the boys went back to the hotel.
Fri July 15 (Jackie) - Jackie dropped Marc and the boys off
at the Laguna (an amusement park) and she went back to the FamilyHistoryCenter.
She wanted to find immigration records for her grandmother. First she
searched St. Alban’s list without success. Then she looked at the “Detroit
arrivals.” No dice there either. Next, she tried the Baltimore
port entries – bingo! First she found a manifest that she thinks is for
her great-Aunt Bessie Katz and then she found the manifest for her
grandmother. Hurray! Bessie immigrated in 1909 and her grandmother
immigrated with her mom and 2 older brothers in 1912. So Jackie Looked in
the 1910 census for Bessie and found a record that might be for her.
After lunch, Jackie looked for records in Poland
without success. Most of the microfilming was done in the 1970s and they
weren’t allowed to film records less than 100 years old, so most of the records
stop in 1970-1880. For the most part, Jackie doesn’t have information
from before 1880. Next Jackie went back to St. Alban’s list looking for
her Galinsky relatives that immigrated from Canada
to New York around
1919-1920. She didn’t find them, but she might have found a record for
Louis Galinsky, her great-great-uncle. She wanted to do some more
research, but it was time to go get the boys. They went to dinner at Fish
House, where Benjamin had King Crab legs and Jackie had this yummy halibut dish
with dried apricots in a light ream sauce. Jonathan had California Pizza
Kitchen from across the street. Dinner was expensive (except for
Jonathan’s) but *very* yummy. We wandered around the mall for a while and
then went back to the hotel.
Fri July 15 (Benjamin) - When Mommy was at the FamilyHistoryCenter,
first we had our hands stamped. Then we put a bunch of stuff in a
locker. The first ride we went on was a new ride called “The Bat.”
It was very wiggly and we were under the track. It was very wiggly and I
liked it but it was short. The next ride we went on was called “the Log
Flume.” It was a log ride with a few curves but we didn’t get wet.
Then there was a big drop and we barely got wet – just a few drops. The
next ride we went on was called “Rattlesnake Rapids.” When we first got
on, there was a turntable, but when we got on to the real thing that keeps you
out of the water we found there were more people on it. Then we found
there was a wheel that you could keep things in and if you jerked it you would
spin around. Then we started spinning around. Then there was a cave
that was misty that I didn’t like because I didn’t know if there was going to
be any big drops at the end. Then there was a small black rock and then a
really big grey rock that was pouring water onto everything that went beneath
it. Then I got soaked by the water in the waterfall. Then soon we
spotted a big black ramp and Daddy said it was the end and he was right.
Fri July 15 (Jonathan) - I was going along and I thought I
was going to miss most of the water and then it didn’t feel like I had missed
the water. The water didn’t come from the waterfall.
Sat July 16 (Jackie) - Jonathan and Marc got up early and
went to Walmart to buy “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Our plan
was to go to a Peppermint Factory about half an hour south of Salt Lake City
and then on to Arches, but it was only 8:30 and the Factory didn’t open until
10. So Marc and Jackie decided to buy a new cooler – the handle had
broken on their old one making it difficult to move. That chewed up all
the extra time quite nicely. When they got to the peppermint factory
(which was quite a challenge, because the exits were no marked correctly on the
brochure and there were no road signs to follow) they found that it doesn’t
operate on Saturdays, so it was rather a disappointment. They decided to
go to Provo for lunch – a
previously unscheduled stop. Jackie noted that there was a museum on the
BYU campus that looked interesting so they went. There was a reptile show
at , but at the boys were done, so we left – on to Arches.
We arrived at Arches around in
105 heat. Lovely.
We stopped at the visitor center and then checked into a motel room, where
Jonathan finished his book, Benjamin worked on a puzzle he had bought at the
dinosaur park and Marc took a nap. After dinner we walked around downtown
Sun July 17 (Jackie) - Because of the heat, we decided we
would look around Arches until lunch and then hang out until dinner in the cool
of the motel room and then go over to Canyonlands after dinner. First we
went to the visitor center and the boys got their Jr Ranger books. Then
we went to Balanced rock (left picture) and walked
around it. It was about ,
but already it was pretty hot. We skipped Windows and went on to the
Delicate Arch Viewpoint (we decided to skip the 3 mile walk to the base and
Next, we went to aptly named Sand Dune Arch. The kids
loved the walk to this arch because it was short, shady and there were rocks
they could climb on.
We then went on to the end of the paved road thinking that
we would be able to see Skyline arch, but it’s not visible from the road.
We went back to the trailhead, but it was now so hot that only Jackie was
willing to do the 0.2 mile walk to the base of the arch. So she went
there alone and the boys waited in the car with Marc. It was too hot to
do any more, so they headed back, with a brief stop at the Fiery Furnace
overlook and another at the visitor center to get the boys’ ranger badges.
After a lunch in Moab,
we went to a kinetic art gallery. Most of the kinetic art was either
waterfalls or nothing special, but Marc found an interesting sculpture of a
bird made out of a seed pod, which we bought. The gallery had no
information about the artist at all, not even his name, but an internet search
later on revealed the artist to be a local Moab Cherokee artist named Donnie
Then we went back to the motel and read and watched TV until
dinnertime. However at dinnertime, Jackie realized that if we went to a
restaurant for dinner we wouldn’t have enough time at Canyonlands. And
Jackie and Marc weren’t hungry either. So we got McDonalds for the kids
and set out for Canyonlands. After we passed the last gas station, we
thought about how low we were on gas. But we knew we should have enough,
so we didn’t go back for gas. We went to Green River Overlook.
The temperature was very comfortable, and we enjoyed the
view very much. We would have liked to have gone on to one of the other
viewpoints but we were concerned about how much gas we had left. So we
headed back instead. Next time. On the way
back we reached the trailhead to Mesa
arch, a 0.8 mile loop and decided to do the trail.
We liked the trail a lot, except that whenever we stopped to
take pictures there were these tiny yellow bugs that would land on us and fly
up our noses and ears. Very annoying. But
they would leave us alone if we kept moving. We got back to the car when
it was still light, but the remaining light faded quickly. Jackie and
Marc each spent much of the drive back in the dark imaging what they would do
if we ran out of gas. We didn’t, of course, and when we pulled into the
first gas station, we found that we were 2 gallons away from empty – about 50
Mon July 18 (Jackie) - In the morning, we packed up the car
and headed out for capitol reef. We arrived just before and drove all the way through without
stopping as the place we were spending the next two nights was on the other
side, in Torrey. We were staying at an RV Park in cabins they have,
because Al and Irene (Marc’s father and his wife) were also going to spend the
2 nights at the RV Park in their 5th wheel. When we checked
in, we were pleased to find out that Al and Irene had arrived right before
us. We had lunch with them, mostly food that they brought, which Jonathan
wasn’t too happy about, because there is very little intersection between what
he is willing to eat and what Al and Irene are willing to eat. But he did
not complain. After lunch, we went to Goosenecks overlook (left picture)
and Panorama Point (right picture.)
After that we had drunk all our water and it was very hot,
so we went back to the RV Park. We hung out in the 5th wheel
until dinner, talking and playing games. We had dinner in the RV
Park. Our choices for dinner were chicken, pork, steak and vegi-burgers,
so we ordered chicken for Jonathan without bothering to ask him. The
smells from the kitchen made him think he was getting a hot dog, and the
disillusionment when his meal arrived, along with his dissatisfaction with his
previous meal was more than he could bear stoicly. However, although
visibly upset, still he did not complain. Some cereal from our stores, a popsicle, and the promise of a hot dog at lunch the next day
restored his good humor. After dinner, we walked around and talked and
went to bed.
Tues July 19 (Jackie) - The boys needed to attend a ranger
talk at 9 am for their Jr. Ranger badges so at 9 am we were at Chimney rock for
Even at , it
was already plenty hot. We learned all about the names of the different
layers of rock. After standing in the hot sun for half and hour, Jonathan
was unusually irritable, so Jackie asked what would make him stop
complaining. Jonathan said, “a hot dog.”
We decided that 40 hours without any appreciable amount of protein was really
too much to ask of our 12 year old, so we decided that was just what we would
do – get him a hot dog, even though it was only 10 am. So we went back to
Torrey and got him a hot dog. Then we went back to Capitol Reef.
After the talk we went to the visitor center and then we meant to go to the
visitor center and then we meant to go to the schoolhouse, but they were doing
road construction right in front of it, so we went on to the petroglyphs (left
picture.) Those were interesting and the viewpoint was shaded, so the
temperature was not oppressive. Benjamin saw a lion in the rock face, and
his lion impressed Jackie very much, except that the lion he saw and the one
she saw (right picture) weren’t the same. So then they spent something
like an hour, each trying to figure out what the other person saw.
We then decided to skip the school house, because Jonathan
did the petroglyph section in the Jr. Ranger book rather than the schoolhouse
section. We headed back, but when we came to an orchard we stopped to
pick fruit. It had apricot and peach trees. The apricots were very
ripe, but the peaches were not quite there yet. We ate a bunch and took a
handful more for later. Then back to Torrey for lunch. Jonathan had
another hot dog. The boys had done everything for the
their Jr. Ranger badges except pick up trash. We went back into
the park and gathered som trash. We went to another orchard, an apple
orchard this time, but the apples were not ripe. Then we went to the
nature center. We had fun playing with the pioneer toys and learning to
throw the atlatl.
Then back to the visitor center to get their Jr. Ranger
badges. Next we went back to the RV park to wait
out the heat. We played scrabble with Al and Irene. Irene, who was
behind most of the game, came from behind to win the game. We got pizza
for dinner and headed back into the park. We wanted to do the Hickman
bridge trail (about a mile each way.) First, we stopped at Chimney
Rock. In the morning the rock had been in shadow and we wanted to take
pictures with the light shining on it (compare this picture to the one above
next to the picture of the boys with the ranger.) Then,
on to the trail. Al and Irene had decided not to come with us,
which was good because the initial trail was pretty strenuous and it was hot,
even though it was late in the evening. It was gorgeous in the setting
sun and we took lots of pictures.
We went about a third of a mile, and Marc and Jonathan
decided they had had enough. Benjamin wanted to go on, so to humor him,
Jackie went on with him. They were walking along a dry streambed and
there was a lot of red soil there. at one point
they spotted a rock face where people had used the red soil to decorate the
Jackie and Benjamin went about another third of a mile and
Benjamin was getting tired. It was also getting late and they did not
have flashlights. So they headed back. We got back to the car
before dark, but by the time we reached the RV park,
it was dark.
Wed July 20 (Jackie) - We packed up the car and headed out
for Bryce on highway 12. Highway 12 is very pretty and very twisty.
Its only 110 miles from Capitol Reef to Bryce, but it’s a 3 hour trip.
The boys could not play gameboy or read, their two favorite car pastimes.
We put on a tape called “Everything you know is wrong” which is a series of
lectures on what schoolbooks teach incorrectly about history. Benjamin
found them boring and tedious and complained mightily. At Bryce we went
to our chosen hotel and found that it was full – first time we had that happen
to us on either this trip or last year’s trip. But we found nice
accommodations just a couple of miles away. We even got separate rooms
for us and the boys for less than the first place would have cost us. We
left a message for Jackie’s cousin Emily who was also in Bryce and went for
lunch at the lodge. Afterwards we caught the shuttle to Sunrise
point and walked the rim to Sunset point. It was raining off in the
distance, which made for some neat pictures.
We thought we were going to hear a talk on butterflies, but
that talk turned out to be the next day, and today’s talk was on Geology.
Marc and Jackie groaned at the thought of hearing yet another Geology talk
(about the same geology!) but the boys needed a Ranger talk for their Jr.
Ranger badges, so we decided to stay for the talk. After the talk we
decided to walk the rim some more. The next stop is inspiration point,
about 0.7 miles. About half way there Benjamin started complaining.
We got to the point where you either go up a very steep (and not so short)
grade to the point, or down to the shuttle stop. Marc was not inspired to
go on to the point. Jackie asked who wanted to go up to the point with
her and Benjamin (the one who had been complaining) said, “I do! I do!”
So Jackie and Benjamin went up. One side of the path had a half log next
to a railing, so Benjamin (who had been told numerous times not to walk on the
edge) could safely walk on this log and hold the railing if he lost his
balance. There was no cliff on the other side of the railing so Jackie
let him enjoy himself. It did make for slow going up to the point, but
Jackie will take slow over complaints any day. After resting for a while,
Jonathan got bored and started up after them. The view from inspiration
is truly spectacular. We had been seeing hoodoos for days. But the
density of hoodoos and the colors at Bryce are simply amazing.
After inspiration point it was back to the visitor center
for Jr. Ranger badges. Then on to Emily’s hotel.
It turns out we got there only moments after they did. So we sat around
in the lobby and chatted and the kids played cards until dinner. We all
had dinner together and then it was off to our rooms. We had just enough
time for family game night, which pleased the boys mightily. We also saw
a bunch of nice birds and reptiles this day. The pictures below are of
wild Turkeys, a Clark’s Nutcracker, a Stellar’s Jay, a
Short Horned lizard, and a Junco.
Thurs July 21 (Jackie) - Off to Lost Wages! We drove
through Zion without stopping,
having been there just last year, and stopping in St. George for lunch.
After the slowest lunch since Denny’s we went on to Vegas where we got a room
at the Flamingo. In Vegas it was too hot to walk around, so we turned on the
TV. We couldn’t get Animal Planet, the kids’ favorite station, so we put
on ESPN, which was showing “the outdoor games” (wood chopping, sawing, pole
climbing, walking on logs.) Marc took a nap and Jackie was bored and
decided to walk around. She wandered out to the pool and discovered that
it was not just a pool – it had several water slides. So she went back to
the room and told the boys, “Put on your suits – we’re going to the
pool.” The boys enjoyed the pool very much, despite that the water slides
were a little tame for Jonathan. After the pool, we had dinner and walked
around the strip. We went to Treasure Island and
then to the Wynn. We came back to Treasure Island in time for the show
they do outdoors and waited only to learn that it had been cancelled due to
high winds (there was a storm coming in,) so we went over to the Mirage to see
the volcano erupt. We had to wait about 20 minutes and we amused
ourselves by watching the lightning. We thoroughly enjoy the
Fri July 21 (Jackie) – Home again. We were very
pleased to discover no ants in the house and that the pool was really warm,
despite not having the pool cover on for three weeks. So we did laundry
and swam all afternoon.
It was a marvelous vacation, with not nearly enough time in
each place. The heat was somewhat of a problem. Jackie would have
liked to do far more hiking than we did, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
Next time we’ll have to go in the spring or the fall. Then we’d be able
to get away from the roads more – although we still got to see lots of
Jonathan and Benjamin’s favorite part was the day with
Phyllis, rafting, riding and bouncing on the trampoline. Jackie liked the
wildlife in Yellowstone best.