Friday, July 29, 2011

Last of the Colorado Photos

 Last post of our Colorado trip! It's been fun to think back to it as since we've been back we've been sick and have had more routine work. It sure is nice to get away and have some fun memorable times.

On our last day we went up to the Maroon Bells, a really scenic area managed by the Forest Service. We took a rare family photo.

 Then we managed to get a photo of our whole group. We sort of look like marmots, don't we, sunning ourselves on the rocks!

 My brother Ed and I hiked the scenic loop and found the source for the lake water--a huge spring that started out of nowhere.

Afterwards we decided to check out Aspen and then head up to Independence Pass, the second highest pass in Colorado with a paved highway, at 12, 095 feet.
 The wildflowers were at their peak, and I sure wanted to go hiking up to some of those mountains! Hopefully I will be back.

 Desert Girl did a little hiking with her uncle.

 Some random dude next to the sign. Note the bicycle--there were tons of cyclists on both this road and the Maroon Bells road. It sure would be fun to get in good enough shape to ride those roads!
I have a nearby road I should start practicing on.

 Then it was time to see off the grandparents, who were traveling back to the Midwest via Amtrak.

 I recognized the conductor from our train trip the previous year. The grandparents got to have some interesting train adventures on the way back, becoming misconnects. My brother got a ride from an old friend to Denver, and then we were headed west.

 Our first stop was Rifle Falls State Park, which had a super waterfall. It also had another really fun attraction in its 100 acres: caves.

 They were all small caves, and Desert Boy delighted in exploring. Okay, Mom did, too.

 I found the water line in this cave fascinating. (and I tried to ignore yet more dirty clothes!)

 We could see the falls from the entrance of one of the caves.

 We took the trail and enjoyed the hike that goes up and around the falls.

Then it was back into the van and driving time.

 I couldn't resist a photo of the Utah dinosaur sign. Desert Boy was very excited about seeing dinosaurs, as we had decided to take a roundabout way back so we could visit Dinosaur National Monument. As it turned out, the last shuttle to the quarry left at 1:15 p.m., so we couldn't see it. The main visitor center that is being built to replace the condemned one won't open until October, so we went into the small temporary one and saw a couple dinosaur bones on display.

Desert Boy also earned a junior ranger badge, his first one. We'll have to go back to see the quarry and explore the beautiful canyons and take a rafting trip in the national monument.

We had lots more driving to get home, with nothing noteworthy on the way. It was good to be back home, but we sure enjoyed our trip a lot!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Colorado

 There's a lot to do around Glenwood Springs. One evening we went up the tram to Glenwood Adventure Park. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and when we got off the tram I was mildly surprised to find a fairly large amusement park. Desert Boy was my date, but he was a little too small for some of the rides.

 He was a great size for the cave tour through Glenwood Caverns, and we had the added bonus of going with a family with kids so all the kids kept each other entertained. Plus, the grandpa was one of the early cavers in the cave and told us stories about his exploration trips.

 The kids had some dancing moves for one of the platforms!

 Then it was time for some other activities, including crawling through this wooden box.

What, you say, are you doing crawling through a wooden box?

 Why, it was the Speleobox! Desert Boy went in and I had to follow. And it seemed to go on forever. Five levels high, and you go up and then come down. It was tight, and I got bruises from it. I saw about eight people in it at the same time.

Desert Boy was much faster than me going through it, and by the time I had gotten out, he had headed back in. I peeked through the cracks to watch his progress.

 Somehow he managed to pass a couple of people.

 He could go on his hands and knees, but for adults it was a belly/side/back crawl, with some interesting contortion moves. Desert Boy thought it was very easy, even with shoes on the wrong feet! We thought one person had gotten stuck and the manager came with a drill to remove some boards. But the person was able to keep going, so no board removal was necessary. Looking closely at the screws, it was obvious some speleobox rescues had been completed in the past!

 Cavers were just starting to dance to a great band. Desert Boy didn't want to slow down to dance, though.

 He headed into the maze with a new friend and they rushed to get to all the towers and back out in a fast time so they could get a prize.

 Then it was time for the fun coaster slide. I didn't get the camera out until we were heading back up! We wanted to do it again, but the line was long.

 Anther fun thing to do around Glenwood Springs is the bike trail next to the Colorado River. Most of it was closed due to flooding, but about five miles of it was open.

 Desert Boy rode about half of it. The best part for him was when the trains went by. There were a lot of freight trains!

 I'm not sure what the town of Glenwood Springs thought about 1,000+ cavers descending on the town, many of them camping next to the Roaring Fork River.

 Folks often camped with their grotto (caving club). I particularly liked the sign above.

 This wasn't just any campground, it had a sauna and a hot tub.

I didn't get many photos of the campground. I guess if you want to see more, plan on heading to the next NSS Convention, in West Virginia next summer. I'm sure it will be fun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NSS Convention

 As you might have guessed from my last post, I spent some time last week hanging out with cavers. It was time for the annual National Speleological Society (NSS) Convention, and it was held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. That meant it was within driving distance and we could go!

It had been several years since I've driven across Utah on I-70, and I had forgotten what an absolutely beautiful drive it is. There were many scenic pulloffs, but we only stopped at one, where we got out to stretch our legs.

 We didn't want to dawdle, because we had a destination in mind:

 The Dinosaur Museum in Fruita, CO. We checked out some of the exhibits, watched the movie (which was mainly about Dinosaur National Monument), and did a couple activities. The best part was the moving dinosaurs.
 This T Rex terrified Desert Boy and Desert Girl. They wouldn't even pose for a photo in front of it.

Afterwards we went to the visitor information center, ate dinner at Old MacDonald's (that's Desert Boy's name for it), and decided to go visit Dinosaur Hill.
 Dinosaur bones were excavated from this hill and shipped back to the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. We couldn't actually see any dinosaur bones, or at least I didn't. A certain four-year old saw them everywhere.

 We took a trail up and around the hill. The kids weren't always the happiest, but I figured it would be good for them. I can be a mean mom like that sometimes.
 The view from the top was great. We could see the swollen Colorado River and several ponds.

Then it was time to decide where to stay the night. I hadn't been camping yet this summer and I kind of wanted to save money, so I was leaning towards camping. I wasn't one hundred percent sure, though, because huge storm clouds loomed to the south and it was 95 degrees. But it was getting later, the clouds were dissipating, and the temperatures slowly dropping... we went to a nearby state park and they had space. But silly me, when I mentioned we wanted to tent camp and the lady asked if we wanted the walk-in tent camping, I said yes.
 That meant we parked, put all our camping stuff in a wheelbarrow, and walked to a campsite. That was a little more adventure than I had anticipated traveling alone with two little kids!
 We set up the tent, and then it was time to explore. It was a state park, which meant it had wonderful amenities, like a playground and hot showers. I like camping so much better when I can have a hot shower!
 I took a photo as the sun was setting. Nearby was Colorado National Monument, with gorgeous sandstone cliffs.

 We all slept pretty well, although the kids were up soooo early!

 Here's the sunrise photo.

After breakfast and church, it was on to Glenwood Springs, where we picked up our registration materials. Then we met up with my brother who had flown in for the week, and my parents, who had taken Amtrak to watch the kids while I did convention things.

I didn't take a whole lot of photos at the convention, as much of it was spent in rooms listening to talks. Somehow that doesn't make for the most compelling photos. But I did take a few photos of the more photogenic events.

 One of those events was the climbing contest. Participants compete in 30 m or 120 m distances using classic 3 knot, sit-stand, or mechanical climbing systems. The competition is divided into male and female and age groups. I wanted to do well, so I had been practicing in my yard periodically for a few weeks before the contest.

I use the sit-stand, or Frog system. Here's Dan demonstrating it:

Meanwhile, Desert Boy was fascinated with CaveSim, a fake cave with formations wired so if you touched them (or got close to fragile ones), it would beep and keep track of your mistake. He also liked the big BLM blow-up cave.
Here he is at the entrance.

And how did I do in the climbing contest?

Let's just say that the world record board will have to have a new entry for my age group!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Where in the World?

Where in the world have I been? I've been sorely neglecting this blog due to a trip out of town last week and lack of time/technical difficulties with Internet connections.

So here's a hint of where I've been:

What should I get for our van?
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