Blog 2 of 2 (days 8 – 19 of trip; May 31 – June 10)
Blog Co-Author: Parker Bockoven
Isaiah 61:11: “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument & Bryce Canyon National Park, Thousands Lakes RV Park, Torrey, UT (3-nights): https://www.thousandlakesrvpark.com/ We were able to visit three destinations with Thousands Lakes RV Park as our home-base.
Capitol Reef National Park: We stopped by the Visitor’s Center with our RV to get Parker’s National Parks Passport book stamped and get maps of the area. There was a nice river across the street where Mayah and Gabby had a great time walking through the cold water, Mayah actually laid down and when she got out she ran all through the red sand, so excited, but extremely sandy. Papa washed her off while Nana dried her before putting her back into the truck. Parker was having a good-ole time singing “I’ve Been Everywhere Man” by Johnny Cash. Every National Park we have visited is a little different with something unique. Capitol Reef was originally settled by a Mormon Family, the “Fruita’s. Very interesting story, they grew orchards that are still maintained, there’s an old historic Fruita school house and other historic sites.
We drove to our RV Campground, set-up camp and drove back to Capitol Reef National Park. Papa had learned in the Visitor’s Center that the Capitol Gorge Trail was a popular trail, mostly accessible by driving down a very rugged, 4.5 mile long back dirt road trail that leads to a up cliff hike to the “Tanks.” Papa was laughing and joking about how we in a 3/4 ton truck with another two large heavy trucks behind us were all lead down this narrow, single lane rough road by a small Prius, bouncing all over the road. It was a good thing there were restrooms at the end of the road, as bouncing around this rough terrain was tough on the bladder. Once we arrived at the end of the road, there was a nice hike between two canyons, we saw Pioneer Petroglyphs carved onto the rocks, there were large cavities in the rocks where we took some photos, and Parker was the only one of us who hiked up the steep walking trail to see the Tank (a giant pothole that erosion has carved over time in the sandstone).
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument: We drove the Scenic Byway 12 through Dixie National Forest with nice scenic overlooks along the way on our drive to Grand Staircase Escalante. There were a few scenic outlooks where we stopped to take photos. “Despite covering nearly 1.9 million acres, much of the sweeping Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is quite remote. Very few trailheads can be reached on paved roads. All others are accessed by dirt roads that range from good graded roads to unmaintained, rocky, or sandy doubletracks.” Most of Grand Staircase is viewable from a distance on the very high and narrow “Million Dollar Highway” that was built to traverse the peaks with steep drop-offs on both sides of the 2-lane road. Papa really didn’t care for the white knuckle portion of the drive. Grand Staircase Escalante was on our way to Bryce and we wanted to spend most of our day visiting Bryce. We stopped for lunch at a small family-owned, dog-friendly café on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. Mayah made friends with one of the owner’s two dogs.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Bryce Canyon was one of our favorite places we visited several years ago. It is very unique with all its pink rocks, pink-cliffs, and endless vistas. Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. The most famous of these is the Bryce Amphitheater, which is filled with irregularly eroded spires of rocks called hoodoos. Since it was going to be a long day and we did not want to leave the dogs in the RV, we took them with us on the hike. It was a tough 1.6 mile hike, downhill at first and you know “what goes down, must come back up,” so an even tougher hike back uphill. We started at Wall Street, a specific part of the Navajo Loop Trail at Sunset Trailhead. It was just as beautiful as Papa and Nana remembered over 20-years ago. There were chipmunks running throughout the hiking trail which put a little “pep in Gabby’s step,” our 10-year old Toy Fox Terrier. Papa, Nana, Gabby and Mayah were exhausted after this busy, long day, Parker not so much! It was another night we had to bathe both dogs who were covered in pink sand and dirt from the long hike.
On our last day at Thousand Lakes RV Park, it was a day to relax with no touring scheduled. It was a wash day for Nana with six-loads of wash, the most we have ever had after such a short number of days on the road. Papa and Parker swam, we all enjoyed our day at the campground surrounded by beauty. Parker cooked tacos for dinner. It is encouraging that Parker wants to learn to cook, he is very helpful in many ways while traveling with us. This campground has a large covered pavilion set-up as a casual dining where guests can order a delicious meal, Torrey Grill & BBQ. People from town and surrounding campgrounds come to Thousand Lakes RV Park to eat at Torrey Grill where you can also order the meal “to-go.”
Psalm 72:3 “The mountains will bring peace to the people.”
Zion National Park, Southern UT RV Resort, Washington, Utah (2-nights): Southern Utah RV Resort in Spectacular St George UT – Gather Differently (southernutrv.com) This is a nice RV park, however, Papa had thought there was a swimming pool and there was not. When we arrived, the temps were 105 degrees, needless to say very hot and miserable. It was about 1-hour from the Zion National Park entrance, but Papa had tried several other RV parks closer to the park and they were all booked up at the time we made our reservations.
We arrived late afternoon, setup camp, left the dogs in the cooled-down RV and drove to Zion National Park. It was enough time in the evening to stop at the Visitor’s Center for Parker’s National Park Passport stamp, pickup park maps and drive through the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. You can not drive through the tunnel with an RV because the tunnel is too low (11’ 6” height) and narrow. It is a 1.1 mile tunnel constructed in the late 1920’s and completed in 1930. Throughout the tunnel there are windows that allow light to shine through and give you a quick glimpse of the beauty outside the tunnel. Once out of the tunnel at one of the outlook sites, you can look up and view the window that was carved out of the stone mountain, view with amazement. We stopped at an overlook site where Parker had seen people climbing up a wide-tall embankment of pink-layered stone. It was early evening, just before sunset and we enjoyed watching Parker having fun running and climbing the pink stone. We took a few funny photos, Parker only wanted one of the silly photos in the blog, so he selected the approval for the blog.
Our second day, we set the alarm to leave for Zion early morning. It was a good thing we made it to the Visitor Center by 9 am. There was already a long-line to take the “free” park shuttle up the mountain to Temple Sinawava which is only accessible by the park shuttle, no personal vehicles are allowed. The line was very long, but it went pretty fast. When we arrived at the Temple Sinawava the temps were cool and the Narrows trail was shaded. This trail by far was one of our favorite hikes. There is the beautiful Virgin River that flows along the trail, there is natural growing fern/greenery and flowers growing from the rocks along the paved hiking trail. The Ranger at the Visitor’s Center warned all visitors to not get into the river, nor drink the water or allow your pets to drink the water, as they were experiencing high-levels of river bacteria. So we took lots of nice pictures without immersing ourselves in the tempting cool flowing river which is very difficult since we all love getting our feet cooled in the river.
We enjoyed lunch and a beautiful scenic view at the Zion Park Lodge’s Restaurant. Next was another park shuttle to our next planned hike at the Grotto where one can hike 1.5 hours up to the Emerald Pool trail. All of us with good intentions, started up the “steep climb” at the beginning of the trail and all three of us unanimously decided just shortly up the trail that we wanted to turn around and skip the hike. The afternoon temperatures were rising, it was much hotter and this particular trail was not only a steep climb, but it also was in the direct sunlight, no shade. It was kind of funny that a teenage boy was standing across from us on the trail as we were discussing turning around and he was playing the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin.” We were not sure if he was playing the song aloud to encourage us or if it was just coincidental. Nana laughed and told the young fella that was an appropriate song for us at the time.
Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Oasis RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada (3-nights): https://www.oasislasvegasrvresort.com/ Arrived early afternoon at the Oasis RV Resort, the temperature was 105 degrees of dry, desert heat. Fortunately this Park has a pool, Papa and Parker took a dip soon after we set-up camp. Nana looked online for a family friendly show to see that had tickets available and found The V-Ultimate Variety Show. We took a drive to the Las Vegas strip, stopped at the Planet Hollywood, Miracle Mile Mall https://www.miraclemileshopslv.com/ and purchased our tickets for the 8:30 pm performance then walked around the mall.
Our first evening in Vegas: The V- Ultimate Variety Show https://vtheshow.com/#6584b63b-026a-40fa-bfcd-efc0bbfee78b was supposed to begin at 8:30 pm, we arrived by 7:30 and the doors to the show did not open until almost 9 pm. It must be that Vegas Shows do not stick to a scheduled time, at least when it came to this show. The performance was worth the wait as Parker enjoyed the performance and Nana thoroughly enjoyed watching him laugh out loud, as he watched intently at the entertainers. The host, Wally Eastwood, was a professional juggler. He showed his skills using various props, one of the most impressive was his playing an enlarged piano keyboard by bouncing balls on the keys and he was quite the musician at the piano. He had the audience “name that tune.” He really made the evening entertaining between the other performances. Parker was impressed with the magician who had several doves appear from no where and at the end he had a large parrot appear and then fly across the audience. There were a couple of acrobats that were quite impressive, and there were two Argentina guys who played the Bongos, one of which was a comedian too. The show ended with The Skating Aratas https://youtu.be/BwBG9v9Fm1s, a couple who were on quad roller skates on a small platform board doing amazing dare-devil skating. The couple was a finalist on America’s Got Talent and recently made an appearance on the Ellen Show. In all, the show was a wide-range of family friendly entertainment that we recommend your seeing. After the show we walked around the Vegas strip and stopped to watch the fountain water-show at the Bellagio Las Vegas.
Our second day/evening in Vegas: Drove to Hoover Dam, although the Visitor’s Center was closed, we walked across the dam and took some photos. The concrete was so hot that we had to carry the dogs. A security patrolman had his security canine in heat-protected paw boots with the canine by his side. Nana mentioned it was good to see his dog’s paws protected and that was why we were carrying our dogs, and he replied that many people do not think about protecting their dog’s paws from the scalding hot concrete (105+temps).
Papa surprised Nana with dinner reservations at the Gordon Ramsay Steak Restaurant https://www.caesars.com/paris-las-vegas/restaurants/gordon-ramsay-steak located in the Paris Hotel/Casino to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. It is a very nice restaurant, the ambience is just what you would expect from Gordon Ramsay and the food was delicious. Papa had the beef Wellington, Parker had the 10 ounce filet, and Nana had the shellfish platter, the potato puree was really good and Parker claims the french fries were the best he has ever eaten. After dinner we walked down the Vegas strip to the M&M store where Parker filled a souvenir cup full of various colors of M&Ms.
Our third day/last evening in Vegas: Drove to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Although it is not a National Park, so they do not have an official section in the National Parks Passport book, they did have a stamp and sticker, so Parker placed them in the back of the Passport book. It was a nice scenic drive. Nana purchased tickets to the Slotzilla Super-Hero Zoom zip line https://vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line/ over Freemont Street in advance which was a good decision since they were sold-out for the day when we arrived for our scheduled time at 6 pm. We were hoping to get tickets for a later zip line ride, at dark so the night-lights would be on, but the evenings were already booked up by the time we purchased our tickets. The ride was one of the best we have done zip lining. It was not very fast and went 6-blocks under the Freemont Experience canopy. We all agreed it was one of the highlights of Vegas and that with the wonderful dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak we think we got our monies worth in Vegas.
On Tuesday, June 8, we woke at 6 am and were on the road by 7:35 am to begin our roadtrip home. We’re scheduled to be home by Friday, June 11 with Parker having scheduled baseball tournaments all weekend. He has practiced throwing the ball, done a little exercising, and he is ready to play ball! Nana and Parker followed his team playing tournaments using the app GameChanger. The team sailed through the June 5 & 6 weekend games and we were excited to see that they won all the games and won the Championship. Our first day headed home was a very long day and we drove approximately 540 miles. We arrived in New Mexico hoping to spend the night at Bluewater Lake State Park, but after driving over 20 miles off the freeway over to the Park, we discovered the GPS sent us to the wrong location. The camping area of the lake is in Prewitt, NM not Theodore NM. As an alternate we drove on to Grants NM to a KOA Journey only to discover the campground was fully booked. Then we finally landed at Blue Spruce RV Park, which thankfully was just across the road from the KOA at 10:30 pm.
Wednesday, June 9 . . . Papa and Nana’s official wedding anniversary day! Parker wanted a bacon and egg omelet and we slept in a little latter, not getting on the road until 11 am. Parker introduced Nana to the microwavable bacon packages which is a quick, cleaner way to cook bacon in the RV. Nana was happy to purchase it for Parker and Parker enjoys his bacon! Our first day to start our return trip home.
Thursday, June 10 . . . Departed Oasis RV Resort, Amarillo, Texas https://www.myrvoasis.com/ at 9:40 am, surprising Amy and Karl by having Parker home a day earlier than originally planned. Parker has been talking with his Mom, trying to keep her convinced that he will not be home until Friday, as originally planned. Parker just learned that this weekend’s baseball tournaments have been cancelled. Not only is this tournament cancellation a disappointment for Parker, also it means we could have scheduled a few more days vacation to visit Uncle Gerry and Aunt Pat in Tucson, AZ.
Summary: 18-days on the road, 4300 miles driven, 400 gallons of diesel, 12-Campgrounds
Visited: (1) Big Texas Steak Ranch (2) Petrified Forest National Park (3) Grand Canyon National Park (4) Monument Valley (5) Arches National Park (6) Canyonlands National Park (7) Capitol Reef National Park (8) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (9) Bryce Canyon National Park (10) Zion National Park (11) Las Vegas (12) Hoover Dam (13) Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Thankful to our Lord and Savior for His protecting us on this roadtrip, thankful we had the opportunity to take this trip with Parker, our awesome grandson.