Saturday, October 9, 2010

30 Before 30: # 7 Go to a National Park

When I wrote the 30 Before 30 List, I was pretty sure that a few things wouldn't really get done, and I was totally fine with that. It was mostly a goal list and, as I'm finding out, a good way to figure out what I think I enjoy doing and what I actually enjoy doing. It's also revealing in the sense that my life has changed so much, but I am still transitioning into that change. For instance, have a fun karaoke night with friends probably won't happen for a few reasons. One, I really don't have that many friends who I would actually invite to a sing-along fest, and even if I did, we all have kids, so hitting a pizza joint and staying up singing "Eye of the Tiger" until midnight doesn't even really sound like a super-blast. I guess I'm moving from thinking in terms of "single/married fun" to "family fun". Not that anything I did was uber-un-family, it's just that you don't take your 16 month old out to the Round Bar at 11pm and sleep in until 9 the next morning.
Anyways, all that to say, when I wrote the list, I wasn't quite sure how we were going to get to a National Park. The closest one is probably Joshua Tree, but we didn't have any realistic plans to head out to that area, let alone in September heat. So, when Tim suggested we extend our Lake Powell trip another week and tour the southwest again, I knew there were quite a few places we could go to complete this item. We were pretty ambitious in our planning, at first, but we did temper the trip and ended up choosing Arches National Park. Not only did this complete a 30B30 item, but it's actually been my #1 desired NP destination for about 6 years now. There is nothing more glorious to me than red rocks. I don't know what it is, I think it's the influence of hot summers driving in an old Suburban, with the windows down, out through the Mohave toward red rock county for endless family vacations. It's the folding levels of Lake Powell's shores that slip into sparkling blue water. It's the spiring pinnacles of stacked sun-burnt rock in Valley of Fire SP. I don't know what it is, but I just love this landscape. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous Delicate Arch, but I was very excited to seeLandscape Arch too. Of course, the largest natural arch is actually at Lake Powell: Rainbow Bridge.
So, we stored our boat and stayed in St. George on Saturday and headed out for Arches NP the next day. We drove into the park and took our obligatory family park sign picture.
We then stopped by the park headquarters to see some of the exhibits and get oriented with the park. We also grabbed a map and took a few pictures of Madeleine. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of the huge bronze Borregos outside, they were much too hot in the sun. We did manage to snag this picture of an awesome Sportmobile. We're thinking when we hit 5 or more kids, this might be the way to go. We're saving now though, since a sup-ed up one can round out to $80,000! Or we'll just buy a horse and wagon =)
Outside the NP HQ, Dada creates Madeleine into an arch:
The sun was already on its way down, so we just did a quick drive tour. I used to bemoan the fact that so many of our national Parks are road accessible (Bryce Canyon comes to mind) and that you could really tour many of them from the luxury of your vehicle and never get out, but now I don't know if I want to moan about it anymore. When you have a toddler, are pregnant, or are elderly, I could see why accessibility is really for all people. Arches is a relatively small park, so we were able to see many of the prominent pinnacles, arches and windows from the car. We did get out to do a little one-mile hike to North and South window and Turret Arch.
South Window @ 33 weeks:
North and South windows:
After our little hike, we were debating trying to get out to see Delicate Arch. It is supposed to be amazing at sunset, especially for pictures. However, a 5 mile for our family wasn't really in the future and we decided to just go to the lookout. We saw lots of people lining the trail out to the arch. Delicate Arch
We again miscalculated the time and our timing and pushed Madeleine a little far. We had to search for a long time for a campsite and had forgotten that when we were packing we did not have an propane for our stove. At home it was a simple, "We'll get it on the road". But since we needed it now, it became a drive to Moab and a late dinner for baby. She slept fine in the tent with me until I tired to cover her with a blanket around 5am. We were up and trying to get food down and get out of there for Madeleine was trying to wake everyone in the site with crying. It's quite a different experience camping with children. Yes, it was difficult, but she had already been on the road for two days after a week on the houseboat. I think we set some rather large expectations for her, and she really was amazing. After a nap on the drive into the park, she seemed a little more adjusted, but still was not interested in sitting in the KidPack for too long. We planned to go out to Navajo Arch but cut our trip short. I was very tired too, so Tim and I took turns heading out to see Landscape Arch.

Landscape Arch:
The scenery was breathtaking and I was glad to see Arches NP. We decided to head on toward Denver and try and give Madeleine a little rest from everything. Thanks to my wonderful husband for making it happen, and for understanding when Mama and babies needed to quit looking at rocks and lay down =)
Love, Lauren

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