Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Little Super Hero

I know it is not Halloween and I have posted photos like this before, but tonight as I put Keegan to bed, he fought it mightily. In the midst of the struggle, I noticed that he had a Batman action figure in his room and remarked on it. This followed:

Keegan: "Dad, when I go to sleep, I can become Batman."

Dad: "What happens then?"

Keegan: "Then I can save the world!"

He was asleep five minutes later. The world should be safe tonight, I think. How I love my little guy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carrizo Plain National Monument

If you came to this place in May or later, you would ask, "who on earth would make THIS a national monument?" (The answer is Bill Clinton, which might explain a lot, particularly for most of you who still read this blog). Even if that did explain a lot, you might still ask, "why?"

But if you come earlier in the spring, about a week earlier than I did two weeks ago, you might have a different thought. The California wildflowers here can be spectacular. We were about a week late, but still managed to catch some photos showing why it can be a special place.

But of course, one of the real reasons, is that it is also home to the most spectacular surface example of the San Andreas fault. Nowhere else can the way in which the Pacific plate slides past the North American plate be seen so clearly. Here is a photo.

Driving along that road (to the right of the obvious fault), and walking along that ominous crack in the earth, makes you nervous, no matter how remote the odds might be. If you have to be in Bakersfield, this place is only an hour west, and worth the visit, especially in February and early March.

Not Quite Camping But . . .

I don't know if it is sacrilege to have campfire smores when you are not camping, but I don't think the kids really cared. There is a lot to be said for a back yard fire pit and a warm (enough) spring night :-). So glad winter is finally over with, we just had to celebrate, didn't we?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Moab in March

At the end of March, work finally offered a Friday with room to breathe, so we headed to Moab. March in Moab is not your sunny-St. George-with-warm-weather-and-pool type vacation. Rather, it sits at about the same elevation as Salt Lake, with similar temperatures during winter months. This March Friday was no different -- cloudy and cold, with rain threatening or pouring down all day. So rather than hike, we put the Acadia through its paces, and started the morning with the kinder, gentler Bailey version of four wheeling.

Luckily, in this place, kinder and gentler can still yield spectacular views, even on a cloudy day. Above, Kate enjoys an overlook of Kane Spring Canyon, just southwest of Moab.

After returning from Kane Spring, the weather was still cloudy in town, so we decided to take a little road trip further south (notwithstanding the drive the day before -- I love car DVD players) down to Needles Overlook in Canyonlands National Park, a place I had never been before.

The weather was slightly better (??? --right-- it actually hailed on us as we drove in, and was dang cold) but the views were breathtaking. Keegan had fun scrambling around even in the chilly breeze. Below is the grand panorama that greeted us.

Kate found all kinds of nooks and cranny's to crawl into, including the one below. She just loves being outside and exploring -- it always brings a smile to her beautiful face.

I also had a lot of fun looking for photos -- it is one of my life's great passions, though I wish I could spend more time perfecting my art (one of these days, I really will learn Photoshop, I swear). Below are a few snaps of the place that hopefully capture some of the feeling of being there.

Just as we finished, we got a call saying the rest of Kathleen's family had arrived in Moab, and wanted to meet us in Arches at sunset, so we booked out of there, just in time to catch them in the Windows section of the park. Aldy was kind enough to pose for the photo below to give this arch a sense of scale.

Unfortunately for him, it also acted as a wind tunnel, and nearly blew him off his feet. He was so cold his teeth were chattering. He toughed it out with a little help from his aunt Kari and her coat.

The thing that makes Moab and Arches so special is the the proximity of high blue and green mountains with the red, orange and yellow sandstone. This place is a wonderland of variety, and beauty unlike anywhere else on earth.

We decided to make the most of it, and took off early the next morning for Delicate Arch, which is a mile and a half one way, with a pretty good grade, particularly up a huge sandstone hill. My boys really made me proud! Keegan made it most of the way to the Arch before needing assistance, and Alden walked the whole way (holding Dad's hand most of the time -- hated that, really I did -- Not!). Of course, Kate and I had done this a couple of years ago together, and she made it without even breaking a sweat -- in fact, I last saw her about a hundred yards into the trail, and didn't find her again until we reached the top and heard the quintessential "what took you?" as only she could say it.

Here is Aldy, standing on a ledge, leaning precariously against the wind (one mother nearly hit me over the head for even letting him stand there), so that he could get his celebratory picture. As you can see, it was still cold, but he seemed to have fun anyway. What a great little guy.

Here is the fam, with the famous Arch. Thanks to Uncle Nate, we may have our Christmas Card photo taken care of already. :-)

You have to admit, those are some pretty cute little hikers there. No doubt about it, Moon genes are very good genes indeed.

You can't really understand how big this arch is, or how precariously it sits on a cliff top, until you stand underneath it. There is a sheer drop of several hundred feet just off to our right on the back side of the arch. Aldy, finally wisening up, was not too thrilled by that. Still, he gave it a shot as long as Kate and I were holding his hands. Truly an amazing place -- if I believed in vortexes, this would be a biggie.

After our hike, we headed back to Arches campground, and the perfect camp site. Lunch never tasted so good.

The campsite is a wonderland of scramble, and I don't think we heard from the kids again until we called them all in. Below are some pics of the fun, and the amazing views that are available in this place. It may be one of the best campgrounds in America.

Those are the La Sal mountains in the background, with the biggest Kids Playground on the planet providing foreground color. Below is a view from inside Skyline Arch, which is pretty accessible from its back side (though the front side (right) has a drop of at least a hundred feet).

Evening gave me the chance to run out and chase the rising moon at Balanced Rock. One of the benefits of the cold weather was that almost no one else was around, making for a really great moment, filled with deep gratitude for the God that created such a spectacular planet.

Above is our last view of the park as we left. The flaming red on the Colorado river gorge was just amazing -- the photo cannot do it justice.

Early the next morning, we arrived at home, and woke up to the typical clean up duties. Of course, no trip is complete without having to clean out the cooler once you are done. Alden and Keegan took a bit of an unorthodox approach, but these are boys who love a bath, any time, any where, as long as the water is warm. As you can see from their faces, we had a great time from start to finish. Life is good.