Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Vaca to Lake Powell, Grand Canyon

We have never been to Lake Powell or Grand Canyon as a family, and I have never been myself. It's something Chad and I really wanted to take the kids to. On our way down we passed Fillmore, Utah's first state capitol. We made an unplanned stop to the statehouse, which I highly recommend. It was worth our time. Mira, Ella, and Micah are standing in front of what I believe was a replica of an old cabin:
Here are Ella, Mira, me, Matthew, Micah, and Colin just outside the statehouse:
We first walked into the gift shop. Shoot, the kids would have been happy to stay there the entire time. It had some cool stuff. Too bad they didn't have any money! (Incentive for Saturday chores, right?) There was a small entrance fee, and then we went on a self-guided tour. The long hallway was just covered from floor to ceiling in portraits. That alone was neat. There were rooms off the hallway which depicted transportation, music, china, handicrafts, tools, etc. It was a great stop for a family with kids. Matthew was excited to get on the saddle given as a gift from Ira Hinckley (President Hinckley's father) to someone.
There was a room that was used as a temporary prison cell. Of course we had to have some fun with that:

The lone chair in the cell.

Only after the kids got on the carriage did we notice the "Do Not Touch" sign. Oops! We're naughty. Don't tell anyone.
Ella chained up:
Upstairs in the statehouse was a ballroom which was used by all the high-ups for dances. We visited with a couple of people who told us about a youth group on their way for youth conference. I thought it would be a great place to hold one. They get to do a lot of hands-on pioneer games, learn some old time ballroom dance, camp out, and do dutch oven dinners. Outside there was a rose garden. The girls, Micah, Matthew and I made our way around and smelled just about all of them!

The Statehouse. Plan a visit!
Continuing on our journey, next stop was Lake Powell. Here we planned on tenting it at a campsite. We had access to a resort with a swimming pool. It was roasty toasty and we all wanted to get in the water. Just never plan on going anywhere without being supplied with snacks. That's my gem to you all.
There's the lake, right behind the fence. It was a beautiful view. And dry and hot. Perfect swimming weather. It felt like vacation.
Look at all those houseboats. Doesn't someone want a nice family to come take care of theirs for a week? We promise we'll clean up after ourselves and treat it nicely!
Colin's helping Matthew get a better view of the lake and little birds that were flying around, looking for crumbs.
Colin was a big help to Chad in setting up the tent. His incentive was he got something passed of in his Scout book by doing this. But now he knows how to do it and we'll always have a set of capable hands. Nice job, Colin.
People say that if you go to Lake Powell, you need to have a boat or stay in a houseboat. Au contraire. We didn't and the kids had a great ol' time. Micah brought his net and was determined to catch himself a lizard. Those buggers are fast, though. They would hide in the sagebrush and we could hear them scurrying and even spot them. But come close, and they'd be off like lightening.
They all got into it. Matthew was happy to tag along. And the kids took really good care of him. They watched over him and included him in everything. Such a blessing.
Beautiful view of Lake Powell from where we camped.

After that first night, we made our way to Glen Canyon Dam. We took a tour and the kids joined the Jr. Ranger program and earned badges for their participation. It was really interesting to learn about the building of the dam. I learned a few things. And the bridge they made for easier transport of people and materials was impressive.

Inside the Visitor's Center it was nice and cool. I think whoever took this was trying to get Matthew to force a smile. Funny thing.

The two days we spent at Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam were really nice. We played in the water, layed on the beach, played catch, swam out to the bouys, and just had a nice time. It was after to couple of days we made our way to Grand Canyon. This is when our comedy of errors began. During this trip we lost a gas cap, our car's elecrical system started acting up, our still camera was dropped and permanently broken, our cargo carrier popped open and we lost a few sleeping bags and a baby blanket. I guess we need a "replace things broken on the vacation" fund next time. But even with all that, it was a great trip.
We were happy to play around on the rocks before going anywhere.
Something that stood out to me was the drive from Lake Powell to Grand Canyon. Going through through the Navajo Reservation it was so barren and dry. I couldn't imagine living there. Besides homes sprinkled here and there amongst the dust rocks were their little stands for selling their wares. I couldn't guess at what other occupation they might hold around there. Too dry to raise crops or cattle. No business, really. I suppose they might do well with all the visitors that come through there. In talking to a teenaged Navajo boy at a deli closeby, I learned that the elementary students travel an hour to and from school each day. When they get a little older (7th grade?), they can opt to live in the dorms. I asked if the students were all Navajo, or if there were any whites. He said there were only about three whites when he went, and they were the children of the doctors who served the community. Very interesting.
Our first stop was the old watchtower. This was a unique structure. You can go up several stories and get a nice view of Grand Canyon. Inside the watchtower were Navajo drawing and artwork. Colin took some good video for us.

Just outside the watchtower were some great spots for taking in the sights and taking pictures. (Micah)
The Historic Watchtower:
Cute Mira, all windblown:
Her self-portraits:

We tried for a family shot, even though we had considerable opposition from some members of the family. I'm so glad we got a couple, because it was just after this our camera broke.


Chad and Mr. Matthew:

I laugh to myself when I look at this one...take notice of Ella in the background. "I'm so hot!" (We kept everyone hydrated.)
Matthew wants to be a big boy and sit on the steps like the others:
I liked this:

During our two days at Grand Canyon, we stayed at a Best Western just outside the park. After two days of living in sand, sand in shoes, in clothes, and sleeping in it, it was heavenly to get a clean room, bathe, and be in air conditioning. We were upgraded to a rather swanky room, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

I'm so glad we went. Recently, Chad said to me, "You know, I've decided something. I've been working long enough and have put in plenty of time at work. I think we need to do more family trips. And so I'm going to make time to do it. If I need to take a few days off here and there so we can, I'm going to." That was music to my ears! It's fun to make these memories. I love looking back at our pictures and knowing we are doing neat things together as a family.

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