We can check another state off our list...Utah. What an unexpected treasure this state was; I honestly had no expectations for Utah and was beyond surprised to find how much I really loved this state. Our first stop was Zion National Park...home to some of the prettiest hiking I have ever done. The kids were very excited to get here and wear their Zion School clothes to the park...I cannot tell you how many people stopped us and asked what their shirts meant! Zion is set up fantastic, you park at the visitor center and they have continuous shuttles running to all of the stops. We hopped our bus and headed up the mountains to our first big hike, "Emerald Pools". This is a 4 mile roundtrip hike that led us up rocks, through caverns, around waterfalls and even under trees to three different places, lower pools, the falls and upper pools. One was prettier than the next and my guys had a ball climbing and "accidentally" getting wet! We hiked to "The Lodge" for a fun lunch, complete with actual mountain spring water tapped right from the spring. (I even drank some which says A LOT!) A few more short hikes led us back to the bus where we went all the way to the top and planned to get out and hike "Riverside Walk". On our trek up the mountain the weather started shifting, you could see that clouds changing right before your eyes and Craig & I (much to the dismay of the boys) opted to stay on the bus and wait to take the loop back down rather than get off. Boy are we thanking God for that decision...Zion quickly got hit with one of the worst storms in recent history and we experienced it all firsthand from the safety of the bus rather than the middle of a trail next to a river! The boys decided our Zion connection was God's way of watching out for us :) As we made a very slow trek down the mountain, the roads were washing away right before our eyes. The radio in front kept announcing alerts to the drivers of what roads were now closed and we literally had just passed each of these minutes before. (This was fortunate as every bus behind us ended up being stuck on the side of the road, full of passengers for hours). I kid you not the paved road was completely white from hail and I only wish I had been able to get a clear picture to show y'all what we were watching. We were grateful the watchful eyes looking over us this day and safely tucked ourselves away in our RV to listen to the storm for the rest of the night.
After being RV bound for 2 full days thanks to storms, the kids and I made a second trip into Zion for another fun day and to complete the Riverside Walk trail. What fun this trail was, full of giant rocks to climb in the river and we had even got to have a picnic lunch right on the river. The bus ride up was a true eye opener as the black paved road was now orange from the runoff and the piles were waist high lining the road of debris, rock and tree scraps that the bulldozers had moved. Our whole hike you could see the line on the rocks where that water had risen to, evidence that we definitely made a GREAT decision not getting off that bus :)
We made our second stop in Utah in Moab, a tiny little town on the Eastern border of Utah. It is home of Arches National Park which is not as exciting as Zion but home of really cool rock formations. The kids and I made use of our National Parks pass once again at this spectacular place and spent a few hours learning the history or Arches, the city of Moab and it's place in Utah. That afternoon was a fun treat for the kids...Moab is home to a fantastic aquatic center, complete with waterslides and multiple diving boards. My guys were in heaven for this fun twist on PE and spent hours doing crazy tricks off the boards! Sadly this type of PE was right up my alley but a giant migraine sidelined me to a spectator rather than a participant...we are definitely gonna have to find another diving facility along this journey!
Moab was also home to a highly anticipated adventure for 4/5 members of this family (can you guess the 1/5???)...a 4x4 Hummer ride up Hell's revenge, followed by whitewater rafting down the Colorado River! I tried to offer up my ticket multiple times but sadly had no siblings hop a flight to Utah! Unfortunately the rain we had gotten caught in at Zion was now in Moab so our day started wet, but according to my people "that's what makes it even funner!" (Ummmm...ok?!!?) We had a 7am arrival and it was 49 degrees when we got there, yep, cold and wet...doesn't this sound delightful??? My guys all hopped in back of the Hummer leaving me to the front seat where I literally spent 1/2 my morning looking at the sky! I kid you not, there would be a 100 ft rock/boulder/mountain in front of us and we would go straight up the side! My people had a ball! Not only enjoying the adventure but getting tips from the driver on bringing the Jeep back here someday! (Count me out people!). The highlight of this trip was Luke...he was wearing 5 layers of clothes (including waterproof raingear) as to to keep his itty bitty body warm and happy. When the rain started back up, he snuggled up in a sleeping bag, covered with a towel AND FELL SOUND ASLEEP! Like a bear in hibernation, he got all snuggled in and literally slept for over 1/2 of a Hummer ride through Hell's Canyon!!! I truly think he offended our driver :)
Once we were back at the Adventure Center, we boarded a van to Adventure #2, whitewater rafting! I was slightly more excited for this as it is something I have never done, but I would have happily given up my seat had someone asked ;) I will say, I had a change of heart...rafting is fun! I don't know that I ever have a strong desire to do it again, but I can say that I did it and enjoyed it! My guys on the other hand LOVED it! All 4 of them can't wait to get to go again and are thinking they need to do a multi-day rafting trip...all I have to say to that is "have fun!" We rafted only class 2 and class 3 rapids (class 5 is highest) as it is low season for the river but even those sent Luke flying across the raft and left us all soaked! Fortunately the kids all had full raingear on as Craig & I didn't want them to be completely miserable since it was 50 degrees out and the water was 52 so they all didn't have the reality experience I had :) All said and done...Moab is now my kids current FAVORITE city in America as it is truly an adventure city...rock climbing, zip lining, mountain biking, 4x4, rafting, kayaking, tubing are only the beginning of the things to do in this 12 mile long town! Next stop...Colorado ;)