|Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon|
|We love finding little windows and arches on our hikes.|
|Hiking down into the Hoodoos was awesome!|
|The boys ran down these switchbacks...it was super steep.|
|This is their favorite pose right now.|
The hike down through Wall Street was beautiful, the best we’ve done so far, and Dad caught up before they even got to the bottom of the slot canyon. We pushed pretty hard through the Queen’s Garden, but we still enjoyed the tanagers and the squirrels. The boys thought the hikes through the tunnels along the trail were amazing, and they were really troopers. When we got to the climb at the end, Dad picked up Seth, and Mom was the one who almost didn’t make it to the top! But we reached the trailhead at exactly 10 am and had a great time at the ranger program learning about geology. The boys even got to participate in the ranger's demonstrations. Then we saw a Stellar’s Jay at the Visitor’s Center as we turned in the Junior Ranger booklets.
|Dad caught up just in time to take this picture at the bottom of Wall Street.|
|The boys had a great time together on this trip.|
|Seth seemed a little concerned about the distance in Queen's Garden.|
|We like to take family photos in hopes they'll be a good cover for our Family History books.|
|There were a lot of Western Tanagers in southern Utah.|
|We figure the boys walked 12 to 15 miles on this trip!|
|There was a man-made tunnel on this hike.|
|Family photos are easy in the busy national parks.|
|This is at the far end of the Queen's Garden trail right before the climb out of the canyon.|
|Bryce Canyon has a lot of cool rock formations.|
|Dax, Seth, and Mark were hoodoos. Seth crumbled because he didn't have a hat on to protect him.|
|Seth really got excited about the Junior Ranger program on this trip. He earned 5 total badges.|
The restaurant, which was a food truck that we had planned for lunch wasn’t open, so we ate at the Rustler’s Restaurant in Tropic. The food was overcooked and overpriced, but we left full. Then we started the longest driving portion of our trip. We drove all the way out to Anasazi State Park in Boulder. We didn’t know that the drive out along Hwy 12 would be the highlight. The so-called Million Dollar Road winds through slick rock and is an absolutely amazing drive! This turned out to be the highlight of the day.
|After the ranger program, Mom, Dax, and Mark hiked the Rim Trail.|
|Dax may look worn out, but he was an amazing hiker and didn't complain about his sore knee at all!|
|Seth and Dad waited in the van and then set out to find them. This was the reunion scene.|
|Stellar's Jay is pretty much everybody's favorite bird.|
|Mom was pretty proud of catching this Jay mid-hop!|
|Dad and Seth posed at the Scenic Highway 12 overlook.|
|We enjoyed Anasazi State Park, even though it is pretty small.|
|Mark and Dax have amassed around 50 Junior Ranger badges overall!|
|Mom loves her Delicate Arch shirt!|
Anasazi State Park is small, and we didn’t spend too long walking the grounds and looking through the museum, but the boys did become Junior Rangers for the second time today. Then we drove back to Escalante where they did the program there and earned their third badge! We also did the hike 1 mile uphill in the scorching sun to see the petrified wood. Dad even ran around the additional .75 mile loop with the camera. The petrified wood here is all different colors which we were amazed to see. Then we changed into our swimsuits and relaxed by the lake and had a picnic dinner. The boys splashed along in the water while Mom made sandwiches.
|Every time the boys pass a balanced rock, they insist on this pose.|
|The chunks of petrified wood are massive!|
|It was quite a climb to see the petrified wood, and the boys were dreaming of a swim the whole way.|
|Seth doesn't really know what "not hiking" is like. It's just part of his life.|
|We'd have counted lizards on this trip to southern Utah, but numbers only go so high.|
|The level of the reservoir in Escalante was super high, and the water was cold.|
|But that didn't stop Dax, who is always our most adventurous boy.|
|Mark jumped off the dock. It's at least 2 feet deep right there!|
|It was such a beautiful spot for a picnic.|
We also made a brief stop at the Hole in the Rock Heritage Center. This is a very small museum that is dedicated to the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers. We watched a short video, and the boys were pretty interested since we'd heard about this expedition on a trip to Bluff a while ago. It was amazing to think what those Pioneers did, especially since we will be driving a portion of their route tomorrow.
|We've seen a lot of covered wagons, and the boys love these Pioneer adventures.|
|Dax learned a little bit about telephones in this museum.|
We still had a few things that we wanted to do in Escalante, and it was already nearly 7 o'clock. So we rode out Cedar Wash Road, which was dirt for ten miles to do a couple of hikes. The first hike was to a natural bridge called Covered Wagon Natural Bridge. This one was short and easy stretching barely a half-mile roundtrip. Behind the bridge there was a really cool alcove that was cool, wet, and shady, and we had fun playing around for a little while.
|The natural bridge was large enough to walk through.|
|What kind of face is that?|
|The sandstone was so soft the boys could crush it in their fingers.|
|The trail leads through the bridge to the grotto.|
Then we went a little farther up the road to Cedar Arch. This hike was supposed to be less than a mile roundtrip, but we got stuck on the wrong trail. We walked down into a wash on the slickrock, and at a little over half a mile, the trail played out. We turned around and went back to the van. On the way back, Mom spotted the arch way off in the distance. We decided it was too late to try for the arch, but Dad jogged down the trail just a bit, and found that within about 200 yards you could see the arch really well. Mom, Mark, Dax, and Seth trudged down the hill, and we followed the slickrock and reached a nice overlook for Cedar Arch. Then we decided to call it a day. After all, we still had a long dirt road back to Escalante, and an even longer ride back to the cabin.
|This is in the middle of somewhere, but not on the right trail to Cedar Arch.|
|The boys kept sliding down the sandy hill, which they thought was pretty funny.|
|We found a pretty cool place for a photo. I think we need a cat for that last alcove.|
|Seth didn't like hiking on the slickrock. He thought it was too dangerous. You can see why!|
It was late when we left Escalante, and we still had a 45 minute drive to the cabin. We passed an elk crossing sign and hoped we wouldn't see any elk along the dark winding road. After we saw two sets of skid marks we slowed down a little and then passed three huge bull elk on the side of the road. It was difficult to get a picture in the dark, but the elk were beautiful!
|The first 2 bulls we saw had massive antlers.|
|We chased them off the road with our picture taking, but we felt like that was a good service anyway.|
It had been a really long day, and we weren't sure we wanted to push the kids anymore, especially since we didn't get into Cannonville until 10 pm. But this week is the Astronomy Festival at Bryce Canyon, and they had about 60 telescopes set up way out in the dark part of the park. We decided that it was going to be a late night, so we bundled the kids up, drove to Bryce and hopped on the shuttle. We really enjoyed looking through the telescopes. We saw the bands on Jupiter, as well as it's four moons, the rings of Saturn, and Mars, which is at opposition, meaning at it's closest point to Earth. We also saw the Milky Way, a few galaxies, some double stars, and a globular cluster. The boys were amazed at the amount of stars you could see, and we even found it hard to pick out constellations with all the stars out. We didn't make it back to the cabin until almost midnight, but it was a really great day.