Sunday, June 7, 2015

Memorial Day Trip Day #3: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

 We left Boulder, Utah Monday morning, bidding farewell to our gracious hosts and new and old friends. We stopped to check on the tadpoles, but the pools were so muddy we couldn't tell if they were in there or not. Then we headed on the marvelous Highway 12, with magnificent views of canyon country. A number of bicyclists were also on the road, which was harrowing for both them and vehicles as the shoulder is extremely small and the amount of traffic is pretty high.

When we got to Hole-in-the-Rock road we turned down it. I had wanted to do Peekaboo and Spooky Canyons during the trip, but the clouds were already gathering and we knew it just wasn't a good idea for that day. Lots of traffic was on the road, so maybe others were going to try and do canyons or just check out the 55-mile long road. We went to Devil's Garden, where we found plenty of places for the kids to explore.

I followed Desert Girl, and soon we were off on our own.

She was ready for some barefoot climbing challenges.

The rock was so much fun.

And the sand was nice and soft.

 We found flowers blooming, and Desert Girl always makes sure she stops and smells the flowers.

I had her try this tricky traverse and she did just fien.

Next we went to Escalante and had a picnic lunch at this nice park. It was getting cooler as the dark clouds approached, but Desert Girl couldn't resist enjoying the splash park.

We stopped at the Grand Staircase-Escalante visitor center and learned a bit about the ecology of the area, including the amazing cryptobiotic soil, which is held together by a combination of bacteria, fungi, and algae. I asked the lady at the counter if all the traffic was normal, and she said the monument was seeing a threefold increase from last year, mainly due to people learning about the place from the Internet. Many wanted to explore canyons.
We had one other notable stop on the way home: the swimming pool in Beaver, Utah. It was the first time we went there, and it was a lot of fun. Desert Girl let me give her swim lessons the whole time and she swam across the short way of the pool and later went off the diving board with a life jacket. Desert Boy almost managed a flip off the diving board. It was a lovely way to finish off the trip (and I got most of the sand out of my hair from the day before!). We'd definitely like to go back and explore more of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

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