Road Trip 2013: Day 13, September 11, 2013

(click here for today's pictures)
Zion National Park

We slept the latest so far on this trip-7:45.  The boys had already had breakfast with Pops by the time that we woke up.  It didn’t take long for my girls to be ready and they went to breakfast with Nonna while Robby and I loaded up the car.  

It took Robby and I a bit to load the car because every single person that walked by us wanted to chat.  First it was New Yorkers who talked about their shuttle problems from last night and then it was a man that had just moved to Arkansas who talked about the Hogs.  Finally, we finished spreading things back out since Nonna and Pops weren’t coming with us.  Then we went in for our quick breakfast.

We then loaded up and said bye to Nonna and Pops.  They took the shuttle to the airport and flew out this afternoon and have
already made it home for supper out.  Out first stop was gas and while we were still in the streets of Vegas we were able to pass out our final homeless bag that we brought.  You should have seen Reagan’s face watching the lady dig through that bag-she couldn’t have been more proud of herself.  I will have to start collecting stuff for more bags to make-though I should have grabbed some toothpaste out of that bag before we handed it out.  We only brought 4 tiny tubes of toothpaste for the trip.  We weren’t really thinking that 18 days with 7 people brushing their teeth twice a day would be 288 squeezes of toothpaste.

It started raining this morning on our drive.  The rain was never hard but just messy.  Robby let me drive a bit since he had to work some.  So I fought the rain and flew us on down the road.  The kids were pretty good this morning and not too needy.  

Before Pops and Nonna were even on their plane we had traveled through a bit of Arizona and then were into Utah.  We again had left the craziness of the city and were in the serenity of nature.  We stopped briefly at a visitor’s center.  Robby was hoping for a 15 minute stop but it was 25 minutes-I think that is pretty good for us.  

Once we made it into Utah, the drive became beautiful.  We followed the Virgin river as it meandered through these huge canyons.  They were massive canyons worthy of being a National Park area themselves.  Soon we were in a little town that had a real grocery store so Robby ran into the grocery store after getting gas.  

At the store, they had a dinosaur sculpture in the parking lot.  Anderson asked to get out so Robby parked next to it.  He went in and the rest of us got out for pictures.  It had been misting but as soon as we all get out of the car, the bottom falls out.  We quickly took our picture and jumped back in the car.  

We had to dry off with the kids sleeping towels we were so wet.  I figured that Robby probably didn’t want to run to the car so we moved up to wait on him.  We were busy talking and didn’t see him standing under the awning motioning for us to open the doors for him and his groceries.  

Finally, Reagan saw him through the down pour and shouted “there’s Daddy.”  I opened the doors and he threw in his bags-with one bag full of 2 liters falling to the ground.  He grabbed one, had to search for one and another man graciously ran the last one to him since it had started rolling down the parking lot.  We sure won’t be opening any of those any time soon.  Campbell was laughing about Robby being soaking wet and then she started laughing about the “Duck Dynasty man” that handed Robby his coke.  We were confused until we caught a glimpse of the good Samaritan-he had on camo and a beard.  

What all did Robby buy?  Well, he bought more lunch meat, more chips, candy, a little something for the birthday celebration tomorrow and more toothpaste.  I don’t even want to know what he paid for it since I have at least 20 tubes at home in my closet that were bought for free with coupons.  Oh, well, I guess expensive toothpaste beats the alternative-no toothpaste.  

We drove a bit more and pulled over to stop before we lost our phone signals.  Robby tried to change our hotel for tonight but wasn’t able to.  Which turned out of be a good thing so he ended up changing the one for tomorrow night-on the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  They say it has a “canyon view”-pray for no earthquakes.

After sitting still on the edge of the road for about 10 minutes, one of the kids looked up and said “why are we stopped?”  They aren’t the most observant-whenever we are some place scenery worthy, we have to turn of the tv or make them put down their kindles.  Reagan is still clicking away with her imaginary camera and after today, she will probably need to load some more film. 

The rain was still in our way and pretty troublesome.  We were nearing Zion National Park and were pretty sure that the day was going to be a wash out.  We entered the park and were surprised at how crowded it was-one of the most visited US National Parks.  At the park gate, the ranger we saw  had a beard and Campbell said “there’s another Duck Dynasty.”  By the time we found a parking spot, the rain had let up and had stopped.  Maybe we could have our picnic lunch after all.  

We parked by a picnic table and then strolled to the potties.  Next up was our picnic lunch in one of the must beautiful settings imaginable.  These huge mountains loomed over head and the clouds just added to the beauty.  Some pretty big drops fell on our heads causing me to put up the food just in case it started raining again.  But it didn’t so we cleaned up, grabbed our coats because it was chilly and headed to the Visitor’s Center.  

At the Visitor’s Center, we stamped our books.  The kids really love stamping their passport books and Robby and I will soon have to get a new book because ours is almost filled to the brim with stamps.  I looked around the gift shop in search of a Christmas ornament to remind us of this part of our adventure.  And Robby went to talk to a ranger about some news he had over heard.

When he was eavesdropping, he heard people talking about a road to Bryce being closed.  And indeed it was.  That meant that our 45 minute drive to our hotel tonight and a bit more than that to Bryce would now take over 2 hours.  They had a rock slide due to the rain and the ranger wasn’t really sure when it was going to be opened again.  I personally didn’t care if they opened it right away-I wouldn’t mind waiting until they were sure all of the rocks had slidden down that wanted to.  It all worked out fine though because we didn’t have time for Bryce today and our hotel change earlier in the day gave us time for it in the morning.  

In the past, Zion had 5,000 cars a day on the park road which is a dead end so now they have a mandatory shuttle system.  It worked out well and they were plentiful.  The entire loop they said was 80 minutes but I don't think it was really that long.  Most of that time actually was waiting at the 7 or so stops.  

Let’s talk about Zion-absolutely amazing.  If you are the traveling sort, go ahead and book yourself a stay at the lodge.  The town before the park is quaint and the park is one of those places that you just want to set outside and take it all in.  I love Yosemite and Yellowstone but this park might just top those.  This advertisement was paid for by...seriously, it is worth a trip.

At the lodge tram stop, we got off and headed out on a hike.  Graham had been asking and asking if we were going to do a hike today so Robby obliged.  This trail was to the emerald pools-we just opted for the lower pools which was a .6 mile trail one way.  

It wasn’t a bad little hike despite it being uphill on the way.  Unfortunately, the rain caused the paved trail to be muddy!  It wasn’t bad muddy but just enough that you could slip easily (I did slip but thankfully didn’t fall and get my bottom muddy or plummet down the edge of the cliff)  The hike was stunning and at the end of our trail, we were under a massive waterfall.  The kids were so amazed with the waterfall.  They just couldn’t believe that we were under a waterfall.  

The pool was supposed to be emerald color and the river should have been clear.  But the sediment that it picked up from the rain caused it to be muddy.  The bus driver said it would be 4-5 days before it was clear again.  Muddy or not, it was still beautiful.  

We then hiked down the trail and stopped at the lodge for a few minutes.  We even took a back picture-it is getting hard to find a spot big enough for all of us to sit on to get our backs in the picture.  When we were walking down the trail, someone commented about the kids and Robby said back (under his breath and hopefully not audible to the passerby) “this is just half of them.”

Back on the bus and we rode to the end of the road and then turned around.  Again, it was beautiful and on the way we saw more deer and wild turkeys.  By that time, we looked at the time and were shocked to see that it was already 5:30.  We had lost an hour sometime today but we just let time slip away from us.  That was fine though because our drive to our hotel wasn’t as bad as we had expected.  

Actually, it was beautiful.  I wish I had a better word for the view-our pictures do not even do it justice. When I think of Utah I think of what all I saw today.  At one point there was a cloud that looked like it was at the end of our road and we were just going to drive right into the clouds.  At one point on our road, there was a bridge that was being repaired.  So they had a stop light only letting a few cars pass on the one lane road at a time.  Anderson was quick to notice this and said “I can’t believe they have stop lights way out here.”  We were miles from anything but there was indeed a stop light!

My car riders did well this evening.  Keaton and Campbell slept and the big ones watched a movie. Whitman was good for most of the time but the last 20 minutes he just screamed.  He didn’t want his milk and didn’t want to be in his seat any longer.  There wasn’t much we could do so we just listened to him-of course his fussing woke Keaton up and she herself was a bit whiney.  

And speaking of the last 20 miles-that is when we really started questioning the GPS.  It was dark, pretty deserted and when you see a road sign that says “hwy 89T closed at dark” you could possibly begin to panic.  We couldn’t find that highway T on the map though we were on the number part of it. Thankfully, we didn’t have to use that road and were pretty relieved when we pulled up to our hotel. Of course, there would have been no way to miss our hotel because it is the only thing around.  We had driven through a bigger town but this little town is just a Best Western.  And because of the road closure all of the hotels around here are full tonight.  

Actually, this is a motel and we are first floor and parked right by our room which is awesome.  As soon as the kids walked in the door, we had everyone strip and passed out towels for them to cover up with so we could get their clothes into the laundry.  As Robby was taking off Whitman’s diaper, Campbell was talking to him.  She said “you have a peepee like Anderson’s, but yours is little bitty.” Glad that our biology lesson for the day is now completed!  It was a big room so there was plenty of space to spread out but you can see how they ate supper all huddled together in front of the tv.  

There is no closet for Keaton tonight.  I know that she slept in an armoire last night but we didn’t think that she would fit in a drawer tonight!  Robby does have her caged in a little area-he took out the drawers to lay beside her so she wouldn’t leave her spot.  Actually last night, at one time she was laying half in and half out of the armoire.  I think she could sleep anywhere-at least once she gets to sleep.  But that is true for most of the Dennie kids.  

Tomorrow is a big day-Reagan’s 8th birthday, Bryce Canyon National Park and the little cabin on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  My kiddos are pretty estactic about all of that!  

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