We are having an amazing time here in Las Vegas area starting with
Bonnie Springs where spend a few days at the Ranch enjoying the shows and the pool winding down from all the hikes in Zion and cooling down from the heat (> 107 F). July 23rd is full of surprises and starts with a horseback ride in the desert followed by a great breakfast at the Ranch to kick off Mara’s birthday – what a surprise! Mara was also super happy about the present sent by his god father Sven- Thank you! And Thanks to Amazon who was finally able to deliver it to Bonnie Springs. At lunch, Prisca (Yolanda’s Sister) and Marcus join us – Mara cannot believe her god mother is here.
Las Vegas Lake: After a few days at the Ranch we transfer to Las Vegas Lake and are spending a few days in a gorgeous condo with pool. We enjoy relaxing, cooking and do a daytrip to the famous valley of fire. Due to the heat conditions and following the Rangers recommendation we decide not to hike to the fire wave – we will keep this place on our to do list for our next visit. Mara and Elin are happy to have her Aunt and Uncle here to play with. And of course they enjoy getting pampered. Finally we move on to get to
Las Vegas! We check in at the Venetian – wow what a huge hotel! The kids enjoy the big hotel room, Michael Jackson Live show #MJLIVE. Mara and Elin, both love the show! Thank you Markus for inviting us all to the show – it is an amazing night!
Getting into Zion National Park, we are not quite sure whether we can drive thru the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel or not due to the traffic control for oversized vehicles. Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920’s and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. The purpose of the building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park. Unfortunate, our RV is an oversized vehicle with a width of 8 feet and 10 inches meaning that we need to pay to go thru. Unfortunate, we get too late to Zion – all campsites are full at 12 p.m. so we drive thru and luckily we got a spot in the village next to the park entrance. Visiting a dozen of NP, we are extremely surprised how well the parks are organized and how well they manage all the crowd. Shuttle buses waiting time in the morning is between 30 and 45 minutes to get into the park! We load our Bikes and get into the Park. Here we enjoy a few smaller hikes including the river walk to the Narrows. What a surprise and amazing hike! Mara and Elin enjoy walking in the water and splashing. Luckily, Mara and I loaded our Bikes and enjoy a long decent down the valley to the campground. We drive fast to get some wind and cool down as temperatures are climbing over 100 F.
We all now enjoy the lower pace of travelling. Here in Brice Canyon we enjoy hiking, playing at the campground with other Swiss- or English speaking kids and as usual, we never miss the Junior Ranger Program that Mara and Elin love. This National Park in Utah features a collection of giant natural amphitheaters and is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos. We all enjoy and admire the hoodoos and arches on our hike (Navajo trail, Queen Garden and Wall Street). The latter is an impressive climb (mostly in the shade) up to Sunset Point. Back at the campground (after a 5 Km hike), Mara asks to go Biking. So we pack our Bikes and enjoy the ride along the nice bike trails in the National Park up to Inspiration point. This is truly an inspiration point and we get rewarded by a gorgeous view over the Amphitheater! We drive back our bikes and still get the whole afternoon to play in the pool!
We enjoy the scenic drive thru Capitol Reef National Park. The Park is located in south-central Utah. It offers plenty of hidden treasures filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, bridges and water wholes. In the park we undergo the mandatory Junior Ranger program with Mara and Elin and enjoy a few amazing hikes such as the Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash (Tanks), … As part of the program we join the Ranger Talk and learn about the fruit Orchards (Apricots) in the valley. We reduced our pace a bit and are enjoying light activity days, playing in the pool and on the lawn at the campground!
We finally got to Moab to visit the famous Arches National Park with it’s beautiful icon „Delicate Arch“. Unfortunate, we are not able to visit all the 2’000 natural sand stone Arches of the NP, but we do enjoy this gorgeous landscape and visit some of those lovely places here that got formed by Wind and Rain (North and South Window, Sand Dune Arch, Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch View Point, …). This morning, Mara and Felix wake up at 6 a.m. to go for the delicate Arch hike.
Another trip from here is the Canyonlands National Park. We enjoy the drive along the canyon as well as the three hikes per recommendation at the Visitor Center. This time we miss any dirt roads since permits are required.
In the afternoon we hang out at the pool to cool down – even though the temperatures are low we definitely feel the heat > 96 Degrees Fahrenheit.
We continue our trip towards Capital Reef National Park and pause on the way out of Moab on Dead Horse State Park which offers us a gorgeous view into Canyonlands.
This National Park is a World Heritage Site located in Colorado by Cortez. We enjoyed visiting this well preserved ancestral puebloan archeological sites. We explore the National Park and do the Cliff Palace Balcony House and tour. The later was quite scary with the kids climbing up a 32 foot latter to get up to the palace cliff! What an adventure! It is quite impressive seeing this evidence of how room and passageway construction in the alcove evolved through time. We enjoy watching some indigenous dances at the cultural center in Cortez. We extend our stay here. Mara and Elin enjoy their surprise – a horseback ride in this beautiful Colorado back country. It is amazing to see this diverse landscape (it changes dramatically after a 30 min ride out of Cortez). We enjoy the trees and water surrounded area.
Monument Valley is a land of contrast. With orange sands set against a cerulean blue sky, and the magnificent red-rock buttes jutting out of the earth, the sight is gorgeous. It is a part of the Colorado Plateau and the Navajo Reservation. We enjoy the bumpy 17 mile ride on the dirt road passing along various sandstone formations such as the Elephant, the three sisters, the cube and many others. On our way to Mesa Verde we stop in Bluff – a lovely little town enjoying the Bluff Fort Historic site offering plenty of activities for kids and grown up including costumes for cow girls, cowboys and much more. The time flies and we almost forget to continue our trip to get to Mesa Verde.
Funny enough – we are working on improving our performance to hook up the trailer. Meanwhile, we are 2x faster in hooking up the trailer than a month ago!
We are now on our way from Joshua Tree to the Grand Canyon. We do a break in Kingman and enjoy a welcoming rain (and Thunderstorm) – Welcome to Arizona! Amazing colors appear during sunset! On the road – route 66 – we also get to know the lovely village Viliams. Here we stop for lunch to watch the soccer game German – Italy. We continue our trip and get live ticker about the game submitted by Sven. Suddenly, a weird odor arise in the cockpit! The breaks again? A flat tire? We try to identify the cause. We pull off to the shoulder. On the outside of the car we cannot find the cause and get back on track. But the smell of melting/burning gum is still there. We finally identified the root cause (smoke) – the iPhone charging cable almost put us in big troubles, but luckily we were able to unplug it safely on time!
We finally get to the Grand Canyon and enjoy the amazing view down into this giant canyon. Mara and Elin get a private tour from a Ranger. They learn a lot about scat, plants, wildlife, … and accomplish the Junior Ranger Program. It is amazing to see all the crowd being managed in this National Park. The Busses are packed and queues are inevitable on most of the bus stops. However, if you go far enough and go for a hike it clears up rapidly.
It is July 4th weekend and all campgrounds are full. We decide to move on towards page. We don’t get to Page (we are not able to get a site here either) and stay in Cameron for the night.
The traffic out of Los Angeles is incredible – to be honest, just crazy. Imagine a 7 lane highway (one direction) as busy as you can imagine with 1/3rd of the traffic being trucks and rather aggressive driving style! Somehow we manage to get out of LA. Uff. And luckily, traffic improves, the further away we get. We drive thru a typical Californian landscape – dried out landscape with few bushes along the valleys and a few passes to get to Joshua Tree. Happy to see civilization and RV Service. There is also T-Mobile signal in town allowing us to get an appointment since we urgently need to get a break control installed (smoky breaks on the car makes us nervous). Moving on to the National Park we first try to stay at the hidden valley campground. Unfortunate, max. length allowed is 25 feet. The trailer is 17 feet which seems reasonable but together with the Suburban we must be approx. 35 feet and we won’t fit on this campground. We turn around and head to Jumbo Rock Campground – Wow! What a beautiful campground in the middle of the desert – a gorgeous landscape up here and plenty of rocks to climb on! While setting up the trailer, I noticed that the cable from the trailer got completely pinched and needs to get repaired. We must take care of this before heading to the Grand Canyon. Here in Joshua Tree National Park we enjoy the Campground, head to Oasis Mara and do the Arch hike. We all enjoy this beautiful and unique landscape with a variation of Cactus, Joshua trees and the amazing rock formations. It truly is an awesome and unique place to visit! With temperature between 92 and 106 Fahrenheit we drink a lot of water and try to shift our major activities into the morning and evening. We focus on smaller hikes for now and look out for shade to climb, staple rocks and play – just relaxing and enjoying this awesome time together! As usual, Mara and Elin are working on the Junior Ranger Program to get their batches.