Sunday, September 19, 2010

9 Days, 7 national parks, 3 time zones and only 5 showers what a marathon

We did it and now its over, the first National Park we visited was the Great Sand dunes in Colorado. We camped out in front of the dunes what a view to wake up to and plus at the rear were the Sangre de cristo mountains. The sand dunes formed at the base of the mountains from blowing winds, melting ice, and moving water. These dunes are the largest in North America with covering 330 square miles and peak at about 750 feet.

our front door view

cooking in my kitchen

Ji, enjoying it while i cook haha

So is just for looking? no, we climbed it. Remember we already 8000 feet above see level and climbing soft sand that felt more like quick sand. We reached the top, took us about 2 hours we started early morning just at sunrise lucky it was cloudy that morning. Temperatures can reach 140 f. degrees in the afternoons.
early bird catches the worm!

view from the top

our foot steps you can almost see your camp

The camp site was nice lots of wildlife birds, deer and bears fortunately we didn’t see the later and bonus very few insects but minus no showers. Next stop Mesa Verde NP.

Mesa Verde national park Colorado, was established 1906, for cultural significance by preserving the Ancestral Puebloans ruins. We took a ranger guided tour of Cliff Palace the largest Puebloan ruins discovered. They dated to the year 1100's and they said they know the exact date from the tree samples used in the sites. They talked about how the cliffs eroded from freezing water to make the space for the dwellings and to why the Pueblo’s abandoned Mesa Verde in the 1200's. Its all really interesting stuff.

The camp site was good, had showers felt so nice after all that sand dunes hike, also laundry and wi-fi not bad for 24 bucks a night. To the famous Arches national park of Utah next.

our Ranger was very knowledgeable

cliff palace from above and the group before us

Ji, on the ruins

the cliffs from afar how they ever built those structures amazing

for some reason Ji, liked taking pictures of these trees

Arches national park, these seemingly sculptured rock arches are the unofficial symbol of Utah.
The’re many arches in the park but none as famous as Delicate Arch it takes about an 1.5 hike to see it but what a great view. It seemed like a religious pilgrimage the line of people walking to its base.
an hour drive just to the interior of the park

just following the line of people

the pilgrimage to delicate arches

reaching the end of the trail and taking our pictures with delicate arch

We arrived late to Arches and the camp was full they only have 53 sites so we headed back the the near town of Moab. This little town was packed we couldn’t believe it all the hotels were full
we searched up and down the town with no luck all NO VACANCY. We were contemplating sleeping in a parking lot when we saw the KOA sign drove in and found a self check in board
to our luck it was a really nice camp site clean showers, washrooms and good wi-fi. We ended up staying 2 nights.

view of the north window arch

Capitol Reef national park Utah, was named for it resemblance as a water reef. Inside park is the Fremont River along the river beds there are fruit orchards that have apples, apricots, pears and peaches growing. These farms were established by the early Mormon settlers and now the national park service maintain it and visitors are allowed to pick the fruits that are in season. We pick some small apples and tiny pear, I guess we came late in the season.

In the park they have a 8 mile scenic drive and at the end they had a trail into Capitol Gorge, the hike was long and hot along had some interesting petroglyphs from American Indians that date back to 700‘s. We managed to walk to the parks so called tank its bowl shape in the canyon collecting water and very dirty. Camping was cheap at only $10 but no showers.

farming the apple orchards

my helper

indian petroglyphs of what?

this was the so called tank

view into capitol gorge
inside the steaming gorge

leaving capitol reef and a picture in front of the goose neck

Bryce Canyon national park in Utah, with its interesting Hoodoos structures was a park we really enjoyed. Hiking down to the bottom just before sunset was the perfect time we got to see different colors and the temperature was comfortable. Hoodoos structures themselves were created from freezing and thawing water. The Puebloan believed the Hoodoos were people that had been turn to stone.

Camp site was good had showers but had to pay $2 for 8 minutes. Just before the hike I got stung by a bee on the leg which made the hike a little painful.

view of Bryce national park

sunset colors before the hike down

at the bottom looking up
from the trail

Ji, taking in the view from an arch way

exploring the voodoos you can't tell but i just got stung by a bee on the right leg

Jieun, is really taking some nice pictures she is not using the auto mode only now!

Zion national park Utah, was a pleasant change from the dry and hot parks we had seen it had a large river flowing though it, full of greenery and good temperature. Zion was a very busy park it had a free shuttle driving back and forth alone the river running about every 8 minutes very convenient and reducing traffic in the park. Hiking was very relaxing alone the river and if equipped in the river. In the park they had fresh filter spring water stations which was much better than the chlorine tasting water of the other parks. We lucked out by getting a camp site but no showers and surprisingly not many insects.

Bryce nation park is popular with rock climbers.
Bryce nation park, starting to look same at the others?

view up from the canyon

Ji, never gets tired of hiking

cooling off the feet after a long day

free refreshing spring water ah...

look at the view

Grand Canyon national park Arizona, the last park on our 9 day marathon was huge. The park itself has a north and south rim we visited the north first but the camp site was full they told us we needed a reservation 6 months beforehand so we tried the to find a room at the lodge and again full. So we made the best of the situation using the amenities. We did our laundry $3.50, showered for $2 bucks, used the picnic and the public wifi at the general store. Left after sunset for the south side a 4.5 hour drive.

Doing this drive at night fall is not recommended no street lights, alot of wild life along the sides of the road and pretty steep canyon road. We arrived at the south rim around 11:30pm the camp office was closed so just parked in front of the lodge for a night. In the morning again lucked out and got a site for 2 nights. South side rim was huge and really site up for huge tourist traffic. Three free shuttle bus routes alone that run every 15 minutes. A village at the centre route that has a grocery store, shops, bookstore, restaurants, post office and even bank not an ATM a full bank. The village felt like a little town with travelers from around the world and the workers very international also name tags showing which country they are from.

Grand Canyon itself was not as impressive as the other parks we visited but its sheer size and the Colorado river running through it which makes it such a big draw. We didn’t hike to the bottom because it takes minimum 2 days hike so its better to leave that for the extreme hikers. We did do a 3 hour hike in the scorching afternoon what a mistake! All the views were expansive

how big is it? just ask Ji

its huge further than the eye can see almost

take a good look at that rock structure at the end

we got a close up look of it 3 hours later in the hot sun

taking a break on this dead tree, died from the sun most likely

back to the top of grand canyon dam it

9 days and its over! writing this section in Las Vegas now no more can food dirty feet its buffets and pool time. keep you posted.