Aug 23, 2019

This...Every Night

8/23/2019 — cori

This is Chloe and me every night at dinner. At 15, I love how she still wants to hold my hand while we eat. She's always the one to initiate. In her world, we should be touching at all times - while walking, sitting, eating, reading. I love this so much! It is not my "normal" love language, meaning: it's not the first thing that pops into my brain. I'm more likely to encourage her, compliment her, or make her tea. But she reaches out for me. There's a huge lesson in that for me. I need to make it more of a habit to reach out to people first. It's a beautiful thing being on the receiving end of being reached out to.

Aug 11, 2019

Southwest Vacation

8/11/2019 — cori
This year we travelled to a part of the country we had never before been but had heard a lot about. Lake Powell is a popular destination for many people around here. It was a huge canyon on the border between southern Utah and northern Arizona that was created by the building of the Glen Canyon Dam. It is beautiful, but filled with controversy. This was the first stop in our southwest vacation.

Here we are at 5:30 in the morning, thrilled to be setting out on our next adventure (Gavin, not so much).

A short while later, they looked like this.

After an eleven hour drive, we finally arrived! It doesn't take long to realize that we are in the high desert. It is nothing but red and brown dirt/sand and low scrub brushes everywhere you look.

 There are also gorgeous plateaus and mesas surrounding you everywhere you look. I never ceased to be amazed by the people who live and thrive in this harsh landscape. This is a view of the town of Page, AZ where we stayed during our visit.

It was formed by the building of the Glen Canyon Dam in the 1950s and 1960s. Technically, the government confiscated Native American land to build the city to house the dam workers. This area is part of the huge Navajo Nation - the U.S's largest Reservation. 

We woke up the next day ready and excited to go kayaking on Lake Powell. We were supposed to meet our friends here and rent a boat together, but they were unable to come (sad panda) and so we had to go with the more cost efficient kayaks. The lake is 1932 square miles. We only saw 9 of them. However, our immediate concern was getting these kayaks onto the roof of our car.

Our secondary concern became making sure they stayed on during the 15 minute drive to the lake. These kayaks are "secured" on the car with a contraption that included 4 styrofoam pool floaties and some pvc pipe. Needless to say, it was a long, slow drive.

This is what we came to see and explore!

Once we got there and unloaded, then we had to figure out who rides with who, where our backpacks went, how to install the seats. Which way to turn once we get on the lake, right or left? Endless decisions.

Posing for the customary "here we are a Lake Powell" picture.

Once we got on the lake, it was spectacular. The color of the water was so beautiful. The sun was bright and hot. The heat was a perfect 100 degrees for playing in the water all day.

I kept reminding myself that what we're seeing is the top of canyon cliffs. The lake plunges the depths of 558 feet.

It's also known for having all these "finger lakes", little tributaries that extend off of the main lake. Our goal was to find some of these narrow finger lakes, explore them, and then get out of our kayaks and explore the surrounding area. That goal was never fully experienced.

Gavin was lucky enough to have his own kayak which meant that he had only his own weight to row. The rest of us had 2 people to row. One would think this might be more helpful, when in fact, one would be wrong because some of the people,(not to be named - but can be guessed) really had no clue how to row. Sadly, this was unknown to the kayak mates prior to this grand adventure. Some of the kayak mates may have gotten a wee bit snippy at other kayak mates who were operating at a "less than optimal" level. However, these same kayak traveling buddies eventually made up and were nice to each other again by the last hour of the adventure - kind of.

This is an example of a narrow opening off the main lake. When we went to explore this area, it turned out to be a dead end - like a small cul-de-sac if you will. We were starting to get a tad bit worried that we might never find these so-called "finger lakes." We rowed and rowed and rowed. Turns out we rowed for 7 hours straight. Lakes DO NOT have currents. Whenever we stopped rowing, we just sat there. We looked longingly at all the boats zooming by us. We desperately wanted one of them to have mercy on us and throw us a rope so we could be pulled behind. Our arms were slowly detaching from their shoulder sockets. And still, no finger lakes in sight.

However, at long last, we found a small alcove off the side of the lake and rowed over to it like we had been drifting in the middle of the pacific for the past 30 days. In this alcove were a ton of rocks and shallow swimming areas. It was a dream. We camped out here for a good hour nursing our sore backs, arms, and hands.

We swam like fish. The water was so clear. You could see everything with goggles on.

This is the best description of what the rest of the evening looked like. We could hardly move. We just laid in bed, groaned, and fell asleep watching the "Mr. Rogers" documentary (which was incredible, btw).

The following day we went to see the famed Horseshoe Bend. The Colorado River takes a little detour around this massive boulder before heading back on its course again.

That afternoon, we headed out to the Reservation to take a tour of the Antelope Slot Canyons. They are on the Navajo Reservation. You can only see them with a Navajo guide. It is worth every penny! This was our descent into the canyon.

It is stifling hot down there but the views are 100% worth it.

This particular formation is called "The Lion". Can you see the lion head silhouette?

This is our guide, Ron. He was so nice! He explained about the history of the canyons and how they had been formed over millions of years from fast running storm water eroding the soft sandstone of the mesas. He said he and his friends used to explore and play down in the canyons as kids.

This one is called "Half Pike."

We couldn't take enough pictures. I think Chuck and I each took at least 50 pictures while we were down there. And the pictures don't really even do it justice. It's too beautiful to describe.

Another family shot in one of the larger openings. Most of the time you are walking sideways in order to move through the canyons so you can fit through one at a time.

This one is called "Lady In The Wind."

We are one big sheen of sweat. But we are together and we are happy.

This was right before exiting the canyon.

And here we are coming out of the slot canyon. Incredible, isn't it?! You never would have guessed something so beautiful was hidden in this apparent wasteland.

This was after our tour. They treated us to much desired ice cold water! This was our tour group. The other family was from Chile. We were amazed at how many foreigners were visiting. Everyone in our hotel spoke a different language it seemed. It was incredible.

The evening was no less incredible! After watching "Dr. Strange",  Gavin suggested we head out to a dark spot outside of town to star gaze. We were hoping to catch of glimpse of The Milky Way. And we did!! It was magical. We sat there in silence and awe. We were unable to take a photo with our cameras, that is why I'm using the amazing photo captured in the AZ desert by John Wise ( It was a day of unbelievable beauty.

The following day we drove 2.5 hours south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were shocked by how forested it was and by the buffalos at the entrance of the park.

This was a breath-takingly beautiful sight to behold.

We had no idea that the North Rim was so different from the South Rim. We didn't really know what to expect, but certainly not this. We thought it would be more deserty, I guess. The magnitude of the scale is hard to see in a mere picture. It doesn't do it justice. 

The Fam amidst a backdrop of awe and wonder.

This just doesn't get old.

We came back to the hotel and spent it doing the only thing you can do when it's 104 degrees outside.

The next day we drove 4.5 hours to Durango, CO. We were desperately trying to get there before 1pm because we had tickets to ride the famed Durango and Silverton Steam Engine at 1:40pm. However, Googlemaps and road construction were working overtime to thwart our arrival time. We got to the train station at 1:10 only to be told that where we were to board was actually another 17 miles outside of town. They kindly exchanged our tickets for the next morning's ride. We went to the hotel exhausted. It actually turned out to be a good thing because it stormed like the dickens the rest of the afternoon. The kids had fun swimming in the hotel pool while I read. It was a slow, low-key day for a change. That evening, after the rain cleared, we walked through old downtown Durango.

The next morning it was all aboard for a two hour train ride deep into the San Jaun Mountains.

We were 400 feet above the Animas River.

Our state car was identical to when it was built over 130 years ago.

There were no streets, no trails, just the train tracks and the river. It was also a perfect morning weather-wise for a ride, a comfortable 72 degrees with zero rain. 

From there we drove to Mesa Verde State Park.

It had some pretty spectacular views, but our favorite were the views of the ancient cave dwellings, pit houses, and pueblos.

These were literally unbelievable. This is called the Cliff Tower House

They are built into the sides of cliffs that are a thousand feet or so above a very rocky valley. How did these people survive here? How did they grow crops or raise livestock? These native people lived here between 2000 and 700 years ago.

This is the type of terrain they had to climb to get up to the cliffs.

This is the largest of the cliff dwellings that are all over the park. This is called the Cliff Palace. You can sign up for a guided tour in which you can climb and walk through these magnificent structures. We didn't have that chance because of time. But it sure would have been fun!

We headed for home the next day, driving a southern route through the mountains that we hadn't taken before. It was nice to see more of the state we now call home.

We also like to refer to this vacation as The Only One Meal Per Day Vacation. We always ate breakfast at the hotel, but then lunch was always iffy, so we just ate snacks and usually ate a real meal sometime between the hours of 3 and 8pm. You just never knew when. This flippant eating style never would have worked when our kids were younger. But now they go with the flow so well, we can fly by the seat of our pants even when it comes to food. Half the time we just weren't hungry, or we were in the middle of the desert and there was literally nothing, or we were kayaking, or our options were not palatable for anyone. What does that say about us that we would rather not eat than eat mediocre food? 

Another vacation in the books. Lessons learned (NEVER kayak Lake Powell - only rent a boat), experiences lived (the Milky Way at dark), sites seen (Grand Canyon - check), movies watched (Mr. Rogers and Dr. Strange), and life lived together. That's my kind of fun!

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