August 15, 2010

Family Vacation, Hippie-Style: Arches National Park

Keene and I decided back in January that we wanted to go on a vacation to San Diego. Of course, back then, we had just gotten our tax returns and I had received a fat bonus at my job.

Ideally, we thought, we would set aside money each month. By the time June rolled around, we would be ready. However, by the time June actually rolled around, we were worse off due to job changes, longer commutes, summer daycare prices, car repairs, and that pesky lost wallet.

A more responsible person would have cancelled the trip. We, however, improvised. Remember the post about how I always Google and substitute while cooking? Well, our trip was like that. A hotel costs $500 for a week? about we camp instead? A rental car costs $300...we'll just take my occasionally unreliable 17-year-old car. And so we substituted until we could afford the trip with just my paycheck, while using Keene's for bills and regular expenses.

There was still plenty of reasons why we shouldn't have taken this trip. To start, we had never tested Old-Man Car's ability to withstand a trip longer than that to Wyoming. Also, if something went wrong financially, well...we were taking a risk. However, sometimes a little risk is necessary in order to properly live life. Even if that risk nearly leads you to being stranded in the desert.

But more on that later.

As the trip grew nearer, I began researching everything I could think of, beginning with meals. My plan was to prepare every meal, including those for the road trip and for the days we would be at theme parks. This is a lot harder than you might think. This is one area into which we should have put a little more thought. For the drive, we prepared deli-style wraps, fruit, muffins, bagels, sandwich fixings, and other snacks.

We packed the trunk with clown-car-esque efficiency and put the cooler in the back seat, between the children. This turned out to be a fantastic idea, as the snacks were within easy reach and the kids didn't squabble once during the 20-hour drive to California, separated as they were.

Our first major stop was in southern Utah: Arches National Park.

Read on

Despite being born and growing up in Utah, I had never explored the state. For all my criticisms of Utah, this area was beautiful: bright red rocks and mountains, clear skies, steep cliffs, sparse traffic.

For those who are interested in the workings of nature and like to look at (or hike on) rocks, Arches is a fascinating place. It costs only $10 per car to visit and one could easily spend 3-4 hours exploring the various formations.

After a quick lunch, we hiked to Double Arch and the Cove of Winds:

Parade of Elephants:

Cove Arch and the back side of Double Arch:

Courthouse Towers:

Balanced Rock:

Landscape Arch:

Fiery Furnace:

One-half of Windows Arch:

Three Gossips (with Sheep Rock off to the right):

Skyline Arch:

Then we headed off toward the next leg of our journey: Las Vegas and Route 66!

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