Bandido and Tequila were glad that she opted to stay in the motor home, too, 'cause they weren't allowed in the camping cabin.
There is no shortage of things to do here, so we made the most of our time together. I cooked ahead to have some of their favorites on hand, like my Aunt Jan's chocolate chip cookies and the egg casserole we traditionally had on holidays and that I fixed for them on school mornings during exam week in high school. It tasted even better outside at the picnic table!
DAY ONE: We solved that problem on day one by getting an early start and doing the two relatively shady "cool" hikes at Zion National Park; first the Lower Emerald Pool, then the Riverside Walk and wading in the Narrows.
If the photos look better than usual, it's because I let Amanda (who has a very artistic eye) be in charge of the camera.
I also let her do the editing and special effects. She took SO MANY photos that our hikes were slow-going, which her sister and daughter chided her about nonstop!
With Amanda manning the camera, there are of course a disproportionate number of photos of her daughter, Kaia. No problem as far as I'm concerned!!
Here's a cute photo of Kaia and her Aunt Robyn together at the shuttle bus stop:
We had water shoes and hiking sticks ready for the girls for the Narrows portion of our hike.
As you can see, we had plenty of company hiking in the cold water that day -- did I mention it was HOT?? The crowd in the water was not an issue, because most of our time was spent staring at our feet, trying to place each foot in the rocky bottom of the river and keep our balance.
Here's Kaia modeling her water shoes, showing how rocky the bottom of the river is. You really do have to concentrate on each step to keep your balance.
Roger, always the show-off, decided to continue around the bend, through the waist-deep cold water. I snapped his photo as he waded back to us. He had hoped we'd all follow him, but I could have told him that wasn't gonna happen.
I have to show you my favorite photo of the day, Kaia and her Mee-Maw. This year she has grown so tall that she's officially taller than both Roger and I now! She was my little buddy and constant companion from ages 2 - 10, when I was her daily babysitter. We will always have a special bond.
DAY TWO: Another hot, hot day in the forecast at Zion, so on day two we packed a picnic lunch and drove 140 miles to show the girls the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
First, though, we made a quick stop to get a photo of the "shoe tree" that Roger and I have smiled at every time we drove from our camp site to Zion. It looks even better with our three models posed in front of it.
The drive to the Grand Canyon wasn't as bad as you might expect, because the first portion of it was through Zion Canyon, through the tunnel, and through the east side of Zion National Park. We did a few stops along the way so the girls could climb around on the slickrock for a bit, as Roger and I had done the previous Sunday.
Of course, I had to hold Amanda's Diet Coke so she could take the photos.
Amanda, the artistic one, noticed this aspen tree at our picnic site with an "eye". She calls it the "all-seeing tree."
Amanda had us all pose with the tree, so here are some of my favorite photos:
After our picnic lunch, we walked through the lodge and gawked over the edge of the canyon.
We were glad to be able to give Kaia the chance to see it. Then we set off on the 3-mile Transept Trail that leads from the lodge to the north rim campground. The trail afforded great views of the canyon at nearly every turn:
If you're more interested in the scenery than our family photos, here's an album of the photos Amanda took at the Grand Canyon:
North Rim Grand Canyon Scenery
On the way home we ate at an excellent restaurant, the Rocking V Cafe, in Kanab. This put our drive back through Zion and the tunnel at sunset, so we made several photo stops at Amanda's urging.
As we drove through, gawking at the sunset, I spied what could only have been a California Condor, swooping down and catching his supper. We watched him for a while through my binoculars (too far away for a photo, but NO other bird is THAT big -- up to 9-foot wing span!) California Condors are known to inhabit the tall cliffs at Zion, and I was thrilled to actually see one.
That night Amanda took some sunset photos at the river behind our camp site. I couldn't decide which one to use in the blog, so here is a slide show of all 15, if you're interested:
DAY THREE: Unfortunately, Robyn (a very busy gal) had to fly back to L.A. on Sunday. Her flight was late in the day, so we took the opportunity to spend the day in Las Vegas, to show Kaia some of the big hotels. Robyn was our tour guide, since she lived in Las Vegas for a year when she performed with Second City at the Flamingo Hotel.
We didn't escape the heat in Las Vegas, of course, but as they say, "it's a dry heat." We were indoors most of the time anyway, and the girls did a little shopping.
We were glad to show Kaia the canal shops in the Venetian. While we did that, Mandy and Robyn played a few slots. Then it was time to head for the airport to drop off our firstborn.
DAY FOUR: Another hot, hot day in Zion was a perfect time to drive 95 miles to Bryce Canyon, which at 7800 feet is always cool. I've always thought Bryce Canyon is the most beautiful place on earth. Roger and I will spend a week there when we leave Zion next Sunday, so I won't show all 112 photos Amanda took. They are amazing, though, so I've uploaded those without family in them to a Photobucket album. Here's the link:
Amanda's Bryce Canyon Scenic Photos
We hiked from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point via the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden.
A beautiful day in a beautiful place! Amanda got really close to a small ground squirrel/chipmunk and got a good photo of it:
We interrupt this blog for an important announcement: As I was writing this, who should walk by but RV Sue and Her Canine Crew! (Link to her blog). Sue was visiting her friends Geri and Chuck here at Zion River Resort this evening. Roger and I rushed out to meet Bridget and Spike, the canine crew. I've followed her blog since before she retired, getting ready to hit the road. She has quite a following, many more than read our humble little blog. The RV world is truly a small one! Back to the blog....
Fourteen years ago, before we had a trailer or a motor home, Roger and I dipped our toes back into camping by taking a three-week road trip with a mini van and a tent. That trip took us to Arches, Bryce, and Zion and we vowed to return. While at Bryce we took the Sunrise Point-to-Sunset Point hike, and after huffing and puffing our way up the switchbacks to the top, a ranger offered to take our photo. It has been one of our favorite photos together.
Amanda helped us try to recreate the photo at Sunset Point before we started down the switchbacks. We're obviously older and grayer, but 14 years ago we were both still working (Roger at his school and I at Charles Schwab) and I think we're both actually in better shape now than we were back then. At least the trails seem easier!
As we drove from Bryce Canyon back to Zion River Resort, we again needed to drive through Zion National Park and the tunnel (not exactly a hardship). Just before we reached the first tunnel, Roger saw a big-horned sheep right next to the road. He is the only one who noticed it, and immediately turned the car around and we parked.
Amanda took off down the road with her iPhone to get a closer look. I took off after her with the camera to get a few shots of my own:
As soon as I got there, just like with the mother deer during our Watchman Trail hike, the sheep decided to take a whiz! Looks like he's also sticking his tongue out at me, saying "Take that, you tourist!"
One last trip down memory lane: When we first bought our motor home, before Roger retired, we took Kaia on a road trip to Florida to swim with dolphins and then up through the Carolinas. On that trip we let her add the state stickers to our map.
Since this was our motor home's first trip into Utah, we waited for her to arrive to help us put the Utah sticker on the map. Looks like we've visited a few states since 2007!
The pet photo of the day is a shot of Bandido the morning after the girls arrived. He was more than happy to stand guard over Kaia all night! Both dogs spent most of the week at Doggie Dude Ranch, since we were gone way too long each day to leave them alone. I know we missed them more than they missed us.
Tuesday morning it was back to Las Vegas to take Amanda and Kaia for their flight back to Florida, then straight to Doggie Dude Ranch to pick up our furry "kids." Tomorrow our adventure will be Roger and I attempting the Angel's Landing hike. I already know I won't be joining him at the very top!