Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Labor Day trip 2009

I finagled to have my first 3 day weekend off in almost 2 years, as I usually end up on-call these weekends for some freak of scheduling. I traded my time with another employee, and we packed up to go somewhere. A few days before the trip, we still had not nailed down where we were going, but we knew we were going to camp somewhere, hike on sunday somewhere, and sightsee, while the other 2 days, we were unsure.

We ended up picking Caineville, Utah and Capitol Reef for sightseeing. Caineville is about 15 minute from Capitol Reef area, and only about 15 minutes from Hanksville, Utah, which is a gateway to Lake Powell. There is a fairly famous riding area in Caineville called Swing Arm City. I have seen many videos of riding in this area, and was intrigued. So, the suggestion was to bring the motorcycles, and camping gear, and ride saturday and monday, while sunday we would simply drive around and walk around capitol reef area.

We took off way too late on Friday to make it in time to setup a tent. It would have been midnight, once we reached the camping area. So, instead, we detoured to Christy's parents home in Monroe, Utah, which put us some 20-30 minutes out, but was along the way enough that it saved us for that night. We arrived around 9pm. After a quick trip to Walmart to grab some last minute items (seems each trip needs this last stop), we went to their home, and crashed for the night. John and Lu loved it. The kids loved it. It was nice to simply pull up, and crash, even though i was really looking forward to another night in the tent as a family. The next morning, we got up earlier than anyone wanted too, and headed out. We quickly left, without showering, eating, or anything. We grabbed some bfast at McDonalds on the way out. It was sad to not get up and cook, like we had planned, but McDonalds has a pretty good bfast menu. John and Lu had decided to come along with us on Saturday, and ride with us. So, we all headed out to Capitol Reef. We stopped in Torrey, at a Kiva, and walked around it. The kids have been studying indians in school, and really enjoyed the stop. Once we reached Capitol Reef, we drove straight through it, looking at stuffs along the way. On the other side of Capitol Reef, I have never been, and was amazed at the desolation, yet stark beauty of the area. Before we knew it, we were at the camp site. Its a small area off the road, owned by a retired couple that owns property on the other side of the road for some farming. They have owned the campsite for 20 years, and its a bit run down, but still functional. We dont need a lot, nor want a lot when camping, as we are used to camping in primitive areas, so this was, even in its current state, a step up for us. There was a bathroom with showers. And we had the place to ourselves.
We setup our camp fairly quickly, and everyone seemed happy to help out. Once all gear was up, and ready, even the sleeping bags put up for the night, we were able to talk with the campsite owners, and get a bead on where to ride. We decided to drive the trailer and bikes into Swing Arm City riding area, which was about 10 minutes up the road.

Once there, it was even more desolate, bizzare, and open. It truly seems like an otherworldly location. It needs to been seen to appreciate. The massive mesas in the distance. The towering, sweeping piles of sand that have tracks all over them from other adventurers. The area looked like it was misplaced from the moon. We were the only people there for quite a while, and this was perfect for us. The kids could ride for long distances, and still be visible to the parents wondering where they were at. Treyson became a hill climber on this trip, and was so proud of himself. Alyssa finally had a place to practice jumps, and even pushed her little 90 to heights never before accomplished. Kylie got out and was going all over, on all 3 bikes, as she resorted to stealing her siblings bikes various times, as a gag. I took the girls around some large hills, to investigate, and found some amazing structures to gaze upon in awe and wonder.

A storm came up towords the end of the afternoon, and as it approached, we started packing up. We misjudged the timing of the storm by about 15 minutes, as it pounded down upon us with a vengence we have rarely felt by mother nature. Within minutes, we were being pelted with rain in such ferocity, that it seemed to have a mind of its own, and was in a terrible mood. The ground around us turned to a sludge, and we worried that exiting the area would not be possible, as we slipped and slid all over the path back to the road. Once on the better traction of the road, it took forever to slough off all the mud we had collected. We started worrying about the tent and other camping gear back at camp, and hussled to see the damage. Once arrived at camp, our fears were unfounded, as the storm barely touched our camp, our gear, and the surrounding area. All was fine. This ended the bulk of the day for us, as we were wet and muddy. We cleaned up as best we could, covered the biked for their Sunday nap, and had some dinner. John and Lu took off before dinner was prepared. Later in the evening, I took all the kids into town to get some items from the grocery store, ice being premium among the needs at the time. We had a great time going, shopping and returning, leaving mom alone at camp for some reading. Once reunited, we retired for the night.

Sunday morning was a leisurely one, as we arose, and took our time eating and getting going for the day. Naps were had after breakfast, games were played, short walks around camp. All in all, a nice easy morning. Close to mid day, we decided we had better make our way into Capital Reef and do some sightseeing. We stopped along the way at each item of interest, spent some time reading, learning, and more often than not, hiking the surrounding areas. Our little adventurers always seem to find a hill they can climb, and we assault it with vigor, and pictures to prove our actions occurred. We stopped for lunch on the side of the road, and had a great time in a small grotto eating and talking. There is a natural bridge named Hickman's Bridge that we went on. It was a steep climb, with a descent trail to follow. For some of the kids, it became a burden, but we each persevered and made it to the arch/bridge. Its amazing what things are out in nature, and if you will take the small amount of time and effort to visit, you will create memories to last you and yours a lifetime. What a great little couple mile hike we had. Even with the hardships along the way, we all enjoyed it. After hiking, we stopped at some indian drawings along the side of the road. Amazing to be in a place that had humans living and leaving their marks from so long ago. After we had seen a lot of the area, we headed back to our camp for dinner. Again, once at camp, we kicked back and simply enjoyed the together time. The camp area did have more visitors than just us, the first night. But most arrived late in the evening, and left early the next day. We essentially had the entire camping area to ourselves.

Monday morning started early, and hot. The storms had all passed thru, and quickly, we realized this was gonna be a hot one. We cooked some breakfast (one of our favorite things about camping is getting up, cooking hot chocolate, and making a hearty breakfast). We had to tear down camp, as we were going to depart that day, and along the way, ride our dirt bikes somewhere. We still didnt know where yet.
We took off from the campsite, intending to repeat the days events of Saturday, when we drove by Caineville wash. It was a dirt road, and I wondered how far we could drive with all the gear. We turned down this path, and wondered a bit. We ended up near what appeared to be an old airport landing strip, next to the wash. A wide swath of pavement, larger than a road, simply sitting there straight along next to the wash for a few hundred yards. We parked at the end of it, and unloaded the bikes. It was as good a place as any to stage for a ride. The girls and I intended on riding up the road, to see where it went. Trey and Mom stayed back and trey simply rode up and down the weathered airstrip. I jumped down into the wash to goof around, while i waited the girl out. They soon followed me, having believed that I had taken off without them on our adventure. We soon regrouped and headed up the wash, since we were already in it. The wash was wide, and wondered across the valley. It was not easy, but the girls had a fair time riding up it. We spread out, found our rhythm, and simply went where the landscape took us. The vistas were incredible, and each turn seemed to grant us another view into the vast desertscape. Kylie was leading, and took a turn up a tributary that slowly narrowed, until walls were encroaching upon us, but not in any dastardly manner. The towering walls were in such a variety of colors and shapes, that we found ourselves looking at them more than at the trail ahead. A wonderful adventure, we had.

We were gone for over an hour, and upon return, found the temperature had risen into the 90's. We were out of ice, cool drinks, and needed to head home. On our way home, we stopped in Hanksville and grabbed some drinks, gas, and snacks. We got to stop at the rock store that the kids missed last time we went thru to visit Lake Powell. After juicing up, we headed home through Price, along the route that is becoming so familiar to us in our travels lately. We made good time, stopped periodically, talked, watched movies, listened to audio books, and had a great time. Home was reached in a descent amount of time, and great time of day. Unloading is always a chore, but occurred in due course, all the while letting the kids slowly slip back into a normalness of the nighttime activities and get ready for school the next day.

Family Trip = WIN

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