Monday, August 24, 2015

Race to the end

After Colorado the original plan was to drive about 4 hours to Guernsey State Park in WY and stay overnight, then drive 5 hours to the badlands and stay overnight, and finally drive the last 5 hours home.  Well when we got to Guernsey everyone was done.  We went swimming of course but it was clear everyone was out of steam with nothing really to look forward to.  So from our stop over  in WY we just booked it home with one last long drive to the end.  Really a learning experience that it's probably how it should have been planned.  So the 33 day trip became a 32 day trip.  The extra day was needed before heading back to work, leaving the yard for the month of June without a maintenance plan proved to be a mistake it was an overgrown mess.

Pictures from our last stop:

How I spent my last evening on the road

Since I brought up that I was reading The Stand here's my vacation reading list for the trip:
Into Thin Air : About climbing and death on Mt. Everest.  Non-fiction so worked well that I could start it before vacation.  For some reason (that I'm starting to question) I only allow myself to read fiction while on vacation. This was the 2nd best book I read on the trip.
The Road : Was worried that it would be a too much of a downer for this vacation but it fit into my Apocalypse/Survivalist vacation reading and I've been wanting to read it so I gave it a chance.  Really good book, the best one I read from this group. 
Prey : Written by Michael Crichton, I wanted to read Jurassic Park but couldn't find it at Last Stop so I grabbed this one since some reviews compared it to Jurassic Park.  Well it was a mistake, not a very good book, worst one of the lot. 
The Stand : Unabridged later released version, extremely long.  Very good, close run for number two but reading it ran a couple weeks past the vacation causing me to break the fiction only on vacation rule.  Characters were great and really had me invested, if it wasn't for that damn ending.  How HBO or someone hasn't picked it up and made it a series is beyond me looks ripe for a long running tv show.

The Final Family Truckster update:
Total miles driven: 6431
Gallons of gas burned: 591

This really was a trip of a lifetime.  At the end it was great to be home but it didn't take long to wish we were back on the road living out more adventures.

Colorado pictures

Ahh the cool air of the Rocky Mountains.  It was glorious getting away from the heat.  We felt great and spirits were instantly rejuvenated  We made the right decision leaving the miserable desert behind us.  The temperatures were in the 80's and it felt great. We had thought we were closer to Estes Park by the Rocky Mountain National Park but we were actually on the other side by Steamboat Springs on the western slope.  An area of the country I didn't know existed but was a wonderful surprise.  Huge rolling green hills/mountains made me think more than once about the Sound of Music.  I don't remember much about the Sound of Music but I remember something about green hills.  Anyway we stayed at and Stagecoach State Park which is on a reservoir about 20 miles outside of Steamboat.  Of course one of the first things we did after making camp was walk down to the swimming beach and go for a swim.  Getting into a freezing cold mountain lake made us feel right at home, well not home home but our new on the road for a month home.  We filled our extra two days going horseback riding and swimming in the hot springs.  Everyone but me enjoyed the horseback riding... if I never get on a horse again it's all fine and good with me.  When we got to our originally planned 2 days the highlight was our planned white water rafting trip.  We did a half day tour with Mad Adventures, it was great we all wished we had done the full day instead of just the half day trip.  Lucas was a little frightened, we had told him it would be all class 1 and class 2 rapids but when the guide said it was class 2 and class 3 he wasn't all that happy with us.  But he had a great time and was probably the most bummed out when it was over.  Marcus and I took a swim in the Colorado and we all go to go cliff jumping, the kids was only about a 3 foot jump but ours was about 20 (We have rafting pictures just can't find them at the moment).

The hills are alive

Getting ready to ride

Steamboat Springs, they had a cool main street area didn't really get a good picture

They thought they were safe away from the ocean but boats would make some pretty big waves.

Areal view of our campsite

Brothers gotta hug

Campground ground view

Arches National Park

Well it's been awhile since I last posted, we've been home quite a while now and it's about time I got caught up on the end of the trip.  

After Zion we headed over to Moab and Arches National Park.  On the way we discussed calling an audible and getting out of the desert.  We were planning on staying 3 days in Moab but with the excessive heat we had to get out of there before we melted.  When we got to the RV park (the only commercial rv park we stayed at all trip) it sealed the deal.  It was still 108 degress and the RV park was a little cramped with campers right next to each other and sharing a sliver of green space.  They did have a pool so we stayed there most of the evening after having supper at Denny's and running into the national park to check it out and plan our sprint tour for the next morning.

The next morning we got up pretty early and checked out a couple of Arches before calling it good and breaking camp to head for cooler weather.  Colorado and the mountains were calling.

Here's some picture from Arches.

Balancing Rock

Lucas adding his own balancing rocks

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Steamboat Springs, CO. A pleasant surprise.

After nearly cooking in the desert heat of Moab, we left early Tuesday and made it to our campground outside Steamboat Springs, CO.

As soon as I saw the snow capped mountains I knew we were going to be someplace better. 

We rolled into camp in the early evening and with a ranger's help got setup in a spot not far from the spot we had already reserved for the end of the week. Then we immediately went swimming in the reservoir. 

The campground was quiet and the temperatures were only in the low eighties. What's better is that it dropped to the fifties overnight! 

When we found out we'd be heading east earlier than expected, I booked a short horse back ride for the whole family for Wednesday. I was so excited to get everyone on horses I could barely contain myself. 

We were each assigned a horse. I got Bart, Samus got Rojo, Lucas rode Whisky, and Marcus got little Peanut. Jason got Cider. 

Thankfully I was at the back of the crew and got to see everyone interact with their horse. 

To say that Cider was not thrilled to be carrying our heaviest member was an understatement. She was making all kinds of noise and kept darting for grass. She even passed Bart and me at one point. Jason asked me, "why is your horse behaving?". "Because I know how to use him," I replied.

Sam's horse was also a prolific grass eater. But Samus wasn't afraid to yank the reins and get Rojo back on track. Marcus was being led by the trail guide so his ride was pretty uneventful. Then there was Lucas and Whiskey. Whiskey was not really into going on a trail ride just then. He would slow down or stop every few steps. The trail guide told Luke to give him a good kick, but Lucas suddenly became the most gentle child ever. Finally the guide gave Luke a stick and told him to give whiskey a tap on the butt to get him to keep moving. Unfortunately Lucas' interpretation of a tap was more like a piece of cotton floating down to the ground. Needless to say, Whiskey just did what he wanted for the duration of the trail ride. 

In the end everybody had had a great time. Except Jason, who was sore. After 45 minutes of riding. 

Afterwards, we toured the quaint downtown and everybody got their souvenirs. And ice cream. Which was becoming a daily "need".

We wrapped the night with swimming in the campground's reservoir. 

Thursday we decided to seek out one of the towns namesake hot springs. 

It was like the town's city pool except it was fed by a hot spring. There was a series of seven different pools. They went from the hottest and most unfiltered on the left to the coldest and most filtered (and most like a swimming pool) on the right. We all enjoyed the warmer pools and the boys loved going down the waterslide. 

Friday was the day we had scheduled our white water rafting trip down the Colorado River. None of us really knew what to expect so we were all a little apprehensive.

We got a totally cool river rat kind of guy who kept us all together and heading down the river in the right direction. Who knew you sat on the edge of the raft? Not me. But that's where Samus and Marcus stayed for the whole trip. Do not even get me started on how fearful I was about Marcus falling out of the boat. But he made it. On the ride down, cool guide dude told us all about the history of the area we were rafting and pointed out wildlife. 

Toward the end of the trip, we stopped at a tall looming rock face where we could choose to jump into the water. It looked scary from the boat. But I knew if I didn't do it I'd regret it. So up the cliff side Jason and I scuttled. Two girls went before me and then it was time for courage. I surprised myself and just jumped. And then I fell for what I felt like was two minutes. But I fell with grace. At least that's what I thought until we saw the pictures. My mouth was wide open screaming (which I don't remember), and my legs were all akimbo. I truly thought I went in like a toothpick. 

While we were only shooting class two Rapids (and one class three), it was a total hoot! 

That evening we decided to check out the other spring in Steamboat called Strawberry Springs. This place was way more rustic. None of the water was filtered and you could jump into the river with the fish anytime you wanted to cool off. It was fun too and would be amazing in the winter. 

I'm not going to sugar coat anything here. We were still doing fun things and making memories, but we were ready to be home. Tempers flared, squabbles broke out easily, and exhaustion was written across everyone's face. Jason and I made the executive decision to make our next stop our last. We would have a super long last day getting home, but that's what needed to happen. 

That night the boys and I snuggled as they fell asleep. It was wonderful.