Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break 2012-Grand Canyon

"Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see." -Theodore Roosevelt

There are times in my life when I feel like the luckiest, most blessed person on the planet. When I am camping with my family, those are times I feel it the most. We have been planning this trip to the Grand Canyon for over a year and we couldn't wait to go. Theodore Roosevelt was right! Every American should make a trip to the Grand Canyon at least once in their lifetime!

Our first stop was to the Visitor's Center and the lookout at Mather Point. Breathtaking and very cold!
Mitchel looks like he is the king of the world in this picture!
There are many lookout points of the Grand Canyon. This one is called "Powell Point" in honor of Powell who traversed the entire Colorado River and mapped it out. Because of him and his exploring, we are now the benefactors of his amazing discoveries. The monument to him was pretty impressive.

Miles is just a little cutie. He loved gathering all the pine needles all over the camp site to put into our "bonfire."

The Grand Canyon also has visitors centers and ruins dedicated to the Native American people who lived there for thousands of years. Amazing to think that these people could survive this harsh climate!

At one end of the park, this tower was built in the 1920's or so. It was built to look like it fit in with the landscape, but it is actually a lookout tower and gift shop. The view from the top is spectacular.

This is inside the tower.

I could have taken 1000 pictures with the Grand Canyon as a background. It is almost too amazing to believe it is real. Mitchel commented that he felt like he was in the movie "The Truman Show" and if you just walked far enough, you would run into the backdrop. Every lookout point gives you a different perspective of the canyon and even the time of day makes everything look different by the way it is lit. Really beautiful!

Of course the boys earned their Jr. Ranger badges. That is one of the fun parts of spending more that one day here. There is really so much to learn about the geology of the canyon and the history of it all. We loved going to all the visitor centers, ranger programs, lookout points, and tours. We are all now experts on uplift, erosion, down cutting, animals, Native Americans, early explorers, and all else related to the Grand Canyon.

We are so lucky to have Grandma and Grandpa Harker who are willing to come and share our adventures with us. Pat makes some of the best dutch oven cooking ever, so we always eat really well when they come along. My boys also love the fact that she always has gum in her purse. I feel bad that they had to sleep in a tent though, because the nights were pretty chilly! They are pretty tough cookies!

A cool thing that the Grand Canyon does is have a bus system that goes all over the park to reduce traffic and keep everything quiet and clean. It will pick you up and drop you off at each of the lookouts every fifteen minutes. A really great system that makes it much more enjoyable. The picture above is what was at the end of the bus route called "Hermit's Rest." I bought my souvenir t-shirts here and some yummy hot chocolate!
On our last day, we decided we better actually hike down into the canyon a bit. To get all the way to the bottom is many miles and takes at least two days. This is the beginning of the most famous and most used trail, "Bright Angel Trail."

We hiked down about a mile. And when I say down, I mean down! Switchbacks that go straight down the side of the canyon. We gained at least twenty degrees just by coming down. So at the top it was windy and freezing, and 30 minutes later we were sweating.
After about a mile, we figured we better head back up so that all the little legs would be able to make it. Miles got carried on Mike's shoulders most of the way, but the rest of them were troopers. It was a pretty steep climb back up.

Of course I have MANY more photos of the beautiful canyon. I am so grateful we got to go and share this adventure with our children. Mike wants to get serious one day and backpack down into the canyon to the river and back out the other side. We might someday. I'll put that on my bucket list. But for now, I just feel so blessed that I get to enjoy this amazing world we live in and get to share it with the people I love the most. I can't wait for more camping adventures this summer.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pinewood Derby

Are these the coolest Pinewood Derby cars you have ever seen or what!! Mitchel and Max....okay really Mike, spent months making these into the most perfect cars I have ever seen. Mitchel wanted a killer whale to remember our trip to Sea World, while Max wanted a Bumblebee car from Transformers. They went online to see what others had done and then came up with the design they wanted. From there, Mike went into "crazy dad building pine wood derby cars" mode and worked for over two months on these. He cut, then sanded, then weighed, then sanded and sanded and sanded. Then finally came the paint, more sanding, weighing, and the wheels. The boys were thrilled with how they turned out. Now the questions was, would they go fast?

Here are the cars that they were up against. Luckily, both of their cars were fast. Maybe not the fastest, but still quite good.

The night ended with Mitchel tying for first in the Weblos den and an award for "Most Realistic" for his killer whale. Max didn't place, but he won the "Best of Show" award for his awesome Camero. It was a fun night and we were all proud.