Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Callie's Birthday

My little cousin Callie had her first birthday this week, and I was lucky enough to get to go to her birthday party in Dalhart. Here are a few pics and a video from the party.

Let's dig in!!

Can I PLEASE have some cake?

Present time!

Grandad's girl!

Driving around

These girls can drive! The girls were having a blast racing around on these little scooters. Watch Molly in the video as my dad leaves....he was trying to get her attention during the party and she pretty much ignored him up until this point!


Ok, in the craziness of trying to post about all of our adventures, I forgot to put Yosemite where it belongs:) We went to Yosemite from Pismo Beach, before we went to Arches National Park. We camped out at Wawona Campground both nights. As soon as we got there, we went to see the grove of giant seqoias.

That is one big tree!

The next day, we headed to Yosemite Village with the intention to hike the "Lower Valley Loop Trail". Sadly, the trail was not marked very well and we got off of it just as quickly as we got on it. We still got to see everything we wanted, and we hiked at least 13 miles that day. We saw several jaw-dropping views....another hike where "WOW!!!" was extremely overused by both of us.
Yosemite Falls

Us at Mirror Lake

Half Dome

Bridalveil Falls

Fort Collins....our final stop

Driving from Moab to Fort Collins was a beautiful adventure..... We drove through amazing mountains and "ski towns" and the continental divide. We drove through huge tunnels, through a blizzard (yes a BLIZZARD), and finally made it to Fort Collins. We tried to stop in Vail to grab some lunch, but everything was closed when we got there! Fort Collins is a neat town, very fitness oriented! They have over 30 miles of bike trails which cross under major streets and highways, making it much safer to ride. We opted to go to Fort Collins instead of Estes Park, which was the origional plan due to cold weather and snow on our hiking trail. We read on the internet that people were ice climbing on the hike we were going to take to Chasm Lake.....since we have no ice climbing experience and don't really care to have it, we thought we would go back in the middle of the summer to do the hike:) In Fort Collins, we went to the New Belgium Brewing Company, because it was rated as the number one place to work in the country. When we got there, we were able to pick four different kinds of beer and taste them. Seeing as how we have no idea what good beer tastes like, we went ahead and picked four that we thought sounded good and sipped away.....although we did not even finish two samples between the two of us :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tioga Road

Tioga Pass was our only option for getting from Yosemite to Moab, Utah. When we got to Yosemite, we were surprised by the fact that Tioga Pass was still CLOSED due to snow!!! As we desperately searched for an alternate route, we were disappointed to find that there isn't one. At this point, we thought we were going to have to figure out an alternative destination for the rest of our vacation. Out of desperation, we headed to the park entrance to find a park ranger who could guide us in another direction, when we saw the glorious sign that Tioga Pass had OPENED just in time for us to use it! Thank you Lord, for looking out for us on our vacation. Below are a few pictures from Tioga road, which was absolutely beautiful! If you ever go to Yosemite, it is worth driving through.

Arches National Park

The next stop on our trip was Arches National Park. For the record, after we got off Tioga Pass, there was NOTHING between Yosemite and Moab, Utah! We drove through the whole state of Nevada and all of 3 tiny little towns. On our last day in Yosemite we resorted to buying $4.50 gas, which ended up being well worth it! On an interesting note....we did pass right by Area 51....although you can not actually see it from Highway 6, we looked it up later and found out where it was. Arches national park is really neat, most of the scenery didn't even seem real. The arches are formed from different kinds of sandstone that erode at different rates. We had planned to do a long hike in Arches, but due to bad weather and tired legs, we opted for several shorter hikes instead.

This picture is of the "Delicate Arch"
The "Balance Rock"

Andrew in one of the "windows"
Andrew in the "window"; it was huge!

We really enjoyed Moab, it is very outdoor oriented!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach was the next stop on our road trip. We drove through the desert all day to get to California from the Grand Canyon! We saw very few towns until we actually got to Cali, but once we got there, there were TONS of orchards and little towns all the way to Pismo. We were exhausted from the drive, but when we saw the first view of the extremely blue and beautiful Pacific, we both perked up:) We checked into our hotel, where we had a room with a beautiful ocean view. It didn't take us long to get ready and go for a walk along the coast. We found the nearby "Dinosaur Park" and headed to the point to get a view of the water at sunset. We saw a couple of seals perched out on a rock, letting the waves splash into them, but we were not close enough to them to get a great picture.

This was the view outside our hotel room.

Another shot from outside the hotel room

The next day, Andrew woke up early and headed out on the Pacific Coast bike trail to ride for a bit. After that, we headed to 2 different beaches to hang out for the rest of the day.

Avilla Beach

The water is beautiful there, but it is also very COLD! On our way home from the beach, we stopped by a fresh fruit stand and got some amazing, juicy fruit! I wish we could have fruit like that to eat every day. We were very sad to leave Pismo Beach, we are total beach bums and the town was just our style.

Driving down Highway 1

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Grand Canyon

The next stop on our trip was the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had seen the canyon before, and were blown away by how huge and beautiful is.This picture was taken during our first view of the canyon, right as you enter the park. Once we got there, we decided to find our campsite and set up our "truck tent"; which worked very well for the nights we camped out.

Once we got set up, we headed down to Grand Canyon Village, which contains several shops and restaurants. At the village, we hopped on the "rim trail" and looked around the canyon. We were in absolute awe of it, and couldn't stop taking pictures!
Our plan for the next day was to hike from the rim to the very bottom of the canyon (to the Colorado River) and back. Once we got to the park, we saw several signs stating that "it is not safe to hike all the way from the rim to the river and back in one day"; and that many people are rescued each year trying to do this. We naturally thought "this doesn't apply to us, we are going to do it anyway:)" So; we packed up our water bottles and Cliff bars and grabbed the bus from our campsite to the Kaibab Trailhead at 6:30am the next morning. When we started down the trail, the temperature was in the 30s, and there was still snow on the ground around our campsite, but temperatures can be up to 20 degrees warmer below the rim, so we dressed in layers.Heading down the Kaibab trail.

We made it to the river! It took us about 3 hours.

Once we made it to the bottom, we stopped by the river and had a quick lunch. It was already about 80 degrees when we got down there! We decided to head up the Bright Angel trail because there are several places to get water on on this trail, and NO water stops on the Kaibab. We did not learn until after we hiked that the Kaibab trail is 7 miles and the Bright Angel is 10!! Below is a picture of the trails we hiked up and down all day.

A little waterfall on the way back up!

We made it to the top! We hiked 17 miles, ascended and descended about 5,000 ft, got some advice from a cowboy, got a cliff bar stolen by a squirrel, avoided many mules hauling people and mail, saw a helicopter deliver supplies to the people living in the bottom of the canyon, got AMAZING views, and had a great time!

Once we made it to the top, we had a delicious dinner in one of the restaurants in the village. Then, we went and took a shower and headed out to watch a beautiful sunset at Yavapi Point. What a perfect day!