Friday, 29 May 2015

Zion National Park - 2nd Apri

When we woke up in our lovely little hotel rooms in Springdale, we saw the view we had missed the night before - reddish mountains right behind the hotel.

I went and started the laundry in a little room next to the breakfast room, and Tom and Harry came with me for moral support! The machines each took 8 Quarters, and we did a whites wash and darks wash in the two washing machines. We then went and had breakfast, and Lucy, Jack and Scott joined us a bit later.
I had gorgeous 'biscuits' (fluffy scone things) and eggs, and the lady working there said that all the breads were homemade.
Scott then watched the boys swim in the outdoor pool while I put the clothes in a dryer, showered and packed up.

We drove a little way down the road, and just parked by the road side, because everywhere was packed. We walked down to where you get the bus to Zion National Park, but realised we really needed an extra rucksack, because we were taking our lunch stuff with us in a plastic bag, as we only had one rucksack left between us! (The others got stolen!) I felt a bit stressed, because I hadn't really known what we were doing, or that we needed to take lunch with us, but we bought another rucksack from the shops near the bus stop, then queued for the bus.

We had bought an annual ticket for the National Parks at Sequoia, so it didn't cost us any more to get the bus. Although there were loads of people waiting (you can only go into Zion National Park by bus at this time of year), there were loads of buses, so we didn't wait too long.
We decided to get the bus to the furthest stop, and then work our way back through the park.
On the bus, the lady behind me got talking to me, and she was a Mormon too!
The scenery was fantastic! Beautiful towering red rocks, with trees and streams everywhere. The weather was gorgeous again too!

Taken out the bus window.

When we got off the bus, we did a hike up to the start of the Narrows.

Lucy at the Narrows entrance.

On the walk back from the Narrows, we stopped off at a little beach bit by the river, and had some lunch. The kids paddled, and I had a go, but the water was FREEZING!

Scott got accosted by a squirrel, that came and tried to eat his bagel! There's $100 fine for feeding the squirrels here though.

 I enjoyed lying in the sun for a bit!

We carried on walking back to the bus stop, and caught a bus to Weeping Rock.

It was just a short walk to the Weeping Rock itself - a big overhanging rock that had water sprinkling down from it (something to do with how water moves through the different layers that the rock's composed of).

We the got the bus again, to the Zion Lodge stop, and did the hike to the Emerald Pools. There are three pools and we ended up doing the hike past the first two, and all the way to the highest one - about a six mile round trip.
It was quite a narrow sandy trail, sometimes steep, and also very busy, so we had to start and stop a lot. I was pretty tired out, but got into my stride after a while. The kids and Scott were perfectly happy with it.

Overlooking the lowest pool.

The second pool.

Sharing out the last of our English chocolate by the second pool - Tesco's Chocolate Raisins!

This rock wall was MASSIVE!! Look how small the fir trees look!

At the highest pool. It was surrounded by really steep rock faces, and while we were sitting on some rocks nearby, we heard a big rumbling and crashing, which scared me - I was keen to get out of there!

For some reason it was a lot quieter on the walk back down, and Scott and I didn't see very much of the kids!

We then got a bus back to the start (I sat next to another Mormon Mum and we had a good chat about what our Wards/callings were like etc), then we went back to the shops and toilets, and Harry bought a soft toy raccoon.

After that we walked back to our car, and drove an hour or so to Cedar City, passing these funny looking little houses on the way!

The main road through Cedar City.

We couldn't see our Motel on the main road, so we stopped off for dinner first. We saw a diner which was apparently awarded Best Diner in the State, so we stopped there and each had a burger. I chose a Silverado burger, because that's my favourite truck! The food was yum, and the place was very Mormony, with quotes on the walls and stuff! We found our Motel 6 after that on one of the side roads, and had adjoining rooms.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Hoover Dam and Southern Utah - 1st April

In the morning I went to Scott's room and he had managed to secure another people carrier for us with our same car company! He then went off to Las Vegas airport to swap cars. No more Chevy Suburban!
I spent some time editing photos and hated my new Windows 8 laptop a lot less when I started using the wireless mouse that came with it. I still can't believe though that all the extra moving around the screen and 'clicks' it takes to do stuff could be seen as an improvement by anyone.
I also had some messages that left me feeling stressed, including one from a friend in England saying our bedroom window was wide open again. (She'd messaged before about it, and got a local builder to close it for us, bless her! The handle on it was broken.)
Anyway, Scott came back and went with the kids to the pool (here they are in the pool, as seen from my hotel room window!) and I made decisions about the messages I'd had and got everything sorted out. Luckily we didn't have to check out till noon.

Jack had reluctantly decided not to go on the roof top rides, because it would use too much of his holiday money. I was glad!!!
We packed up and lugged our stuff down to the car area, while they bought round our car. We were pretty nervous about the size of it and fitting everything in.
While we were waiting, Scott and I chatted and acknowledged that of course there would be stresses and things crop up with the size of our undertaking! Also in any 3 week span, I would feel stressed/a bit sad at times. I felt better anyway, but glad to be leaving Las Vegas. It's an interesting place to see, but I don't really like being there.

When the car came, we just chucked everything in - extremely cramped! - and drove off. We had to lean one of the back row seats forwards to make room for the luggage, plus there was stuff crammed everywhere!
Tom was pretty sad about the arrangement and near to tears. We were only driving 20 or so minutes though to a casino and eat all you want  place called East Cannery, on the outskirts of Vegas.
We traipsed through the casino, and joked about it being like the pleasure place in the Percy Jackson book where you lose track of time and become disorientated!
The buffet was great though! $8 each (less for Harry), and loads of nice food to choose from. Everyone cheered up immensely and ate loads!

Afterwards in the car park we sorted out the car a bit better, and folded down 2 of the back seats. Lucy went in the back on her own, with all the suitcases next to her, and the three boys went in the middle. Harry wasn't very happy to start with about being in between Tom and Jack, but we showed him a little storage compartment he had, and the boys all had good leg room, and were OK with it after not too long. Getting better at adapting!

We then drove for about half an hour to Hoover Dam. I was a bit disorientated at first because we were coming in from a different way than we did 5 years ago. First we drove to the new bridge.

We parked and walked a little way, then out onto the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. It's ridiculously high up!! A bit scary, but with an incredible view of Hoover Dam! We walked about half-way over it, then went back to the car, and drove to the new car park down near the Dam.

The boys racing us down the ramps while we took the stairs back to the car.

Lucy chilling out in the toilets of the multi-story car park next to the Dam!
We were all very cheerful and in good spirits. Also we named the new car 'Stanley Yelnats' (from 'Holes')!

We walked over the Dam and back along the other side. One of my very favourite places!! The whole thing is totally vast and incredible. It was really hot and lovely too - 86 degrees.

View of the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

This was my photo of the bridge being built in April 2010.

The water level has dropped again too, since 2010.

I liked the memorial by the Dam, to those who had the vision for it and built it. I'm staggered by what people can do.

We then drove 2-3 hours to Springdale in Southern Utah - near Zion National Park.
Me trying one of the kids' sweets!

Lots more long straight roads and desert, plus big rocks on the drive to Utah!

We had to pass right by St. George, Utah, so drove up and parked right next to the St. George Temple, which was opened in 1877. We went for a pleasant walk around the Temple block.
St. George is funny! Nice neat houses everywhere, and massively wide roads, which take ages to get across!

We also stopped off at a Walmart and stocked up on lunchy stuff. I could tell we were in Utah by the book stand!!

We reached our motel in Springdale after dark, so had hardly any idea of what the surrounding area looked like, though it felt fairly mountainy. The boys were happy to see another outdoor swimming pool, though I said they's have to wait till morning. Scott took a while to check in, so the kids and I filled up water bottles from some massive big baby water bottles (just the cheapest water at the supermarket!) and got the car organised. I felt happy at how smoothly we had got the packing and unpacking of the car each day and how organised we managed to keep everything!