Day 379 – The Grand Canyon North Rim

We got out a little later than expected today due to a little extra work we need to get handled and some mortgage docs that we had to complete for our upcoming closing at the end of July.  It’s not a lot of fun trying to get a mortgage approved in this climate.

Printing and scanning documents is time consuming and our internet access is so slow that it takes forever to download and upload anything here in Kaibab National Forest.

Luke said the internet access was so bad that he can’t do anything.  His playstation won’t connect to the outside world and his friends are all upset that he can’t join them.  This is life as a 12 year old during COVID.

Anyway,  we did make it to the North Rim but, not until about 3pm.  It was a 1 hour drive from our campground (just outside the park) to the rim.  There is absolutely nothing but, open untouched land for the entire journey with one exception.  There was a small country store about 1/2 way to the rim which had a small supply of groceries, some gifts and a food truck.  

There was also a primitive campground across the street from the country store with absolutely no hookups or internet access. I knew this campground was here and after reading the reviews decided that driving the extra 1/2 hour to be in some form of civilization was worth it.  We had zero cell signal and that just doesn’t work for us.

The north rim is a very tranquil and beautiful place.  It’s quite the opposite of the South Rim and gives you a feeling of what the Grand Canyon was like in the 60’s and 70’s.  Old log cabins with small porches and rocking chairs, a large stone and wood lodge as well as hiking trails everywhere.  

We even came across some bridal paths for horseback riding although we didn’t see any horses.

We walked the Bright Angel trail out to a point in the canyon.  The wind was blowing and the trail was narrow with cliffs that fall away on both sides.  It feels a little awkward when you look down.  The entire world spins for second until you can get your bearings.

The kids didn’t enjoy some parts of the walk and Sydney held my hand for a good portion of the trail. I have to say that I’m not a big fan of heights but, I generally handle it well.  Today, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as we looked over the edge in certain spots.

After our hike the kids said it was really awesome and that they were happy to be back in the car.

I love sharing things with them that they will remember forever.  I got the feeling this hike would stick in their heads for a while.

We stopped at the general store on the way out of the park and we picked up a few items to remember this place.

I’ve always had a huge fascination with the Grand Canyon and I enjoy every opportunity I’ve ever had to come here.  This was officially my 6th visit to the canyon and it never gets old.  I even camped down in the canyon many years ago, something I don’t think you can do very easily any longer.

While it’s only 82 degrees on the North Rim today, it is easily 105 down near the Colorado River and many people don’t know that.  When traveling down the narrow paths to the canyon floor you have to be extremely prepared for that experience.

In two days we will be heading down to Las Vegas where it is 115 degrees this time of year.  So, we will get our chance to fully experience the hot weather from the shore of Lake Mead.

Day 378 – Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon North Rim

We woke up this morning and headed south out of Utah to the Grand Canyon. 

We crossed the border into Arizona and changed time zones today. It’s always confusing changing time zones because it throws off all your calls and meetings.

Most of Arizona doesn’t change their clocks for daylight saving time so, for most of the year they are 3 hours behind New York instead of 2 hours (like the rest of the mountain time zone).

I found us a campsite that is just outside the Grand Canyon NP and has full hookup for the RV.  Kaibab Camper City is the name of the place and it turned out to be a very beautiful campground deep in the woods. It’s also 8000 feet up in the mountains and it was nice and cool.

There is absolutely nothing here except this campground and a gas station but, we are as close as we can get the entrance of the national park.  It’s roughly a 40 minute trip to the park entrance and about 1 hour to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

When we arrived at the campground, I started up the Jeep to disconnect it from the RV and the AC condenser started hissing out air.  So, the AC is no longer working in the Jeep.  That really stinks. 

One of the things I never really liked about the jeep is that the AC condenser has no protection from rocks flying up off the road.  The front grill has large bars with 2 inch openings where a rock could fly through and cause damage.  It finally caught up with me.

We got settled into our spot at the campground and set up for the night.  It is so quiet and beautiful here.

Day 377 – Bryce Canyon National Park

We slept like babies last night. Their are no freight trains in National Forests. Lol

The temperature dropped during evening and we opened the windows to the cool night air.  It was such a refreshing evening and a beautiful morning.

We cooked up a nice breakfast and headed out to our reserved campground to check in.  Our plan was to check in, get the rig hooked up and then head to Bryce Canyon NP for the day. 

The campground was decent but, they had an electrical issue at our campsite.  We decided to just let it be because we were only spending one night here and all we really needed was a safe place to park, water and sewer hook up.  The solar panels on the roof are awesome and they would keep our batteries topped off while we hit the National Park.

Bryce Canyon was incredible.  We hiked a 3.5 mile loop that started on the Rim trail, turned to the Queens Garden trail and ended with The Wall trail.  The trail drops gradually,  over 700 feet, into the canyon and then comes back up quickly at the end.  Hence the name WALL TRAIL. We ascended 700 feet with a series of switchbacks held together by brick walls and staircases.  It was an intense climb that took us somewhat by surpise.

Caitlin loved the hike and led our group the entire way to the top.  Jenn kept telling everyone that she was training for the Olympics as she raced her way to the top.

The Wall trail out of Bryce Canyon. Wow!

We had no idea that we were in for such a steep climb and I had to carry Sydney for a portion of the trail as her legs and energy ran out.  It was a bit too much for her so, I got to be her rockstar for a little while.  A fathers work is never done. Lol.

We finshed the day with a trip to Rainbow Point which we drove to.  Our legs were feeling like rubber after climbing The Wall and I couldn’t have talked them into walking to a steak dinner at this point. So, we drove to Rainbow Point which is the highest point in the park at 9,115 ft.  It provided an incredible view of the entire park.

On the way out of the park we stopped at the visitors center to get Caitlin and Sydney their junior ranger badges.  We picked up the junior ranger workbooks when we entered the park and Sydney and Caitlin were working on the books all day with a lot of help from Jenn.  There was no way we could leave without those badges.

We headed home for dinner with a head full of great memories, a magnet for our fridge, a stuffed animal chipmunk named Bryce, some postcards (for our friends) and last but, certainly not least, junior ranger badges.

Tomorrow we are off to the Grand Canyon North Rim.

Day 376 – Salt Lake City to Bryce Canyon

We had another terrible night sleep with the freight trains blowing through town all night.  I think 6 trains came through last night and at one point Jenn and I started laughing at how ludicrous this was.

When the morning light came Jenn and I were sure we weren’t going to stay here for another night and I started looking for places to go.

The kids were back outside today, having fun with their new friends so, we let them play all morning and didn’t leave Salt Lake City until about 3pm.

We were once again, leaving a paid campground in search of something better but, we needed to follow our instincts and Salt Lake City was bad for my health.

After doing some research, I found that Bryce Canyon National Park was almost directly on our path to the Grand Canyon.  The only problem was that we couldn’t find a campsite to stay for the night.  I was able to book something for tomorrow night and with that, we left Salt Lake City.

It was a 4 hour drive to Bryce and we stopped once for Diesel along the way which added about 20 minutes more. 

When we finally reached Bryce around 7:30pm all the state forest campgrounds were full and there were a few shady looking campgrounds that we simply passed over. 

I would rather sleep in the woods than stay in some of the campgrounds we passed. The only problem I had was that I couldn’t find a spot in the woods. 

I parked the RV in a rest area that did not permit overnight camping and jumped in the Jeep with Sydney to find a campsite.  It was now about 8pm and everyone was getting hungry for dinner.  

Sydney and I found a dirt road that took us into Dixie National Forest and there were signs for dispersed camping sites as well as a campground 7 miles down the road.  

I always loved the idea of dispersed camping but, thats kind of hard to do with a 42ft motorhome towing a 15 ft Jeep with bikes hanging off the back. 

Most of the sites we found were designed for a small car and a tent.  Some of the access roads were not wide enough or tall enough to take a motorhome down.

We ended up going 7 miles down the dirt road, with the Jeep vibrating as we drove the rough road, to the campground.  This campgound was awesome and it was on a lake however, every site was in use so we had to turn back.

Jenn and I were a little concerned at this point.  The sun was starting to set and we had no place to camp.  As a final ditch effort, Sydney and I drove down a side road about 2 miles from our RV and hit the jackpot.  Dispersed camping sites with fire rings made of stones, all setup a waiting for us to move in.  There were about 6-7 other sites on this road and about 1/2 of them where occupied.

We drove back to the rig, hooked the Jeep back up, and drove everyone back to the campsite.  We were so relieved to find a spot and we were so happy to be camping in the woods.

The stars above where absolutely incredible tonight.  It was so dark in the woods that you could see millions of stars, the milky way pouring across the sky and millions of stars that you would never see without perfect conditions.  I was blown away.

And it was so quiet… freight trains. YES!

Day 375 – Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has grown a lot since the last time I was here.  It seems to have spread out in every direction.  The traffic was intense and the people did not come off as inviting. 

Additionally, everything in the city was closed.  No watering holes, swimming pools, mini golf or other family fun activities. Even the museums where closed.

The girls played with a few friends they meet yesterday.  Sydney meet a girl named Sydney and the two of them became besties.

Jenn and I handled business calls all day and also managed to get out to do some grocery shopping.

Everything we really wanted to see in Salt Lake City was hours away and the kids were not interested in driving.

The salt flats where 2 hours away and Park City was a 50 minute drive in the opposite direction.  We decided to let it go. The kids were having fun playing with other kids and Jenn and I agreed it was too far to travel with them after the 6 1/2 hour drive yesterday. So we skipped the exploring and let them be kids.

Jenn and I decided that if we can’t find fun places to visit near by and we can’t get a good nights sleep then we should leave Salt Lake City.

So, thats the plan for tomorrow.  I’m going to find us someplace new to experience tomorrow.

Day 374 – Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City

The drive from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake city was awesome.  We actually extended the trip to see a place called Bear Lake. 

Bear Lake is a turquoise mountain lake that spans the border between Idaho and Utah.  

So, I know that your thinking….wait a minute…you were in Wyoming.  Your right, I left Wyoming and drove west into Idaho.  Then I headed south through Idaho until I hit Utah.

Jenn and I really wanted to see a little bit of Idaho and it was a beautiful trip through one more state that we weren’t sure we would see. 

We had orginally planned to travel through Sun Valley Idaho but, due to our shortened schedule we just couldn’t make it that far west.

Bear lake was awesome and I included a picture so you can see it for yourself. 

Bear Lake

This place is a getaway for lots of folks and there are some gorgeous homes built along the lake and up in the mountains with lake views.

As we travelled along the lake we entered Utah and continued out of the mountians and back to the interstate. 

About 6 1/2 hours after departing from Jackson Hole, we arrived in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City was very locked down.  Everything at the campground was shuttered and the kids were sad.  The pool, hot tub and the playground were closed and roped off in yellow ribbon.

I pulled out the hoverboards for Kate and Sydney and they took off to explore the campground.  An hour later they had meet 3 friends and were trading messenger names so they could text each other.

The girls have no problem meeting friends.  They find friends everywhere they go.  We have to slow them down most days and remind them to keep some distance while still having fun.

We got the RV all setup. Slides went out, hooked up the power, water, emptied all the tanks and leveled the rig for a good nights sleep.

At about midnight a freight train rolled past the campground.  It was probably a 1/2 mile away but, it felt like it was right outside the window.  As it rolled through town it layed on its whistle through every intersection and let me tell you, there was no sleeping through that.  I looked at Jenn and was shaking my head.

I eventually fell back to sleep and then another train rolled through at 2am, followed by another at 3:45am and another at 5am.  By the time I got out of bed, the next morning, I was a zombie in need of a strong cup of coffee.


Day 373 – Beaver Pond Again

The kids had such a great time at Beaver Pond yesterday that we decided to go back again today.
Our kids don’t get enough time playing with other kids and they really need that.

The pond is refreshing, has lots of kayaks, paddle boards and even a canoe for the kids. There is also a raft that they can swim out to.  Its the perfect escape from the everyday.

They are making memories and we couldn’t help but, let them do it.
After the pond everyone was shot.  They didn’t want to do anything else but, we dragged them to Jackson Hole Ski Resort so they could see it before we leave tomorrow.

When we arrived we found out that the gondola was free from 5pm until 6pm when it closes.  So, we all jumped into the gondola and went to the top of the mountain.

We finished up our day walking through the resort shops and then headed home for dinner.  I really enjoyed the Jackson Hole experience to end the day.

Day 372 – Visiting friends and Beaver Pond

Jenn’s business friend Jenny Carr lives in the southern part of Jackson Hole and we plan to visit her today.  

If you remember, we already meet them a few days ago when they hunted us down in our campsite at Colter Bay in Grand Teton.

We drove about 15 minutes south to their house today and hung out with them on their deck.  Their house in on a creek with a deck that juts out over the flowing stream.  It’s a little piece of paradise being there.

We all put our feet in the river until they went numb from the freezing cold water and shared a ton of stories about our trip and their adventures in Jackson Hole.

 After about 2 hours we decided to drive another 7-8 minutes down the road to Beaver Pond where the kids could play in some warmer water.  It wasn’t much warmer then Jenny’s creek but, it was warm enough and the kids had a blast.

Day 371 – Traveling to Jackson Hole WY

We drove down through Grand Teton National Park today and really loved the voyage. 

We caught sight of deer, elk and field full of bison as we drove.  The heard of bison was a real treat.

Driving into the town of Jackson Hole was a real surpise for me.  I was expecting a real laid back relaxed western mountain town and instead found a tourist hot spot.  I had no idea.  

It turns out that the people who live here don’t really consider the town to be their’s. It’s more of a business hub for the national parks and ski resorts.

We drove right through the heart of town with our rig and found our way to our RV park as fast as possible.  I was very worried about making the turns in town with the busy streets and pedestrians everywhere but, we got through it just fine.

After setting up our campsite we drove back into town with the Jeep and checked out a few stores before heading back home for dinner.  I plan to see some other parts of Jackson Hole tomorrow that don’t include t-shirt shops and souvenirs.

Day 370 – 4th of July – Jenny Lake

We arrived at Jenny Lake around 11am and the parking lot was so jammed that we had to park on the access road.

We went to get a bite to eat before leaving the Jenny Lake center for our hike and had to wait on line for 20 minutes.  They were letting 6 people in the store at a time and the line was 15 deep.  So, that took a while but, we got some food and sat, on a bench, in the shade to eat.

The crew doesn’t move so well unless we feed them well.

After lunch we went to the boat launch, to get across the lake, to the hiking trails.  They have a fleet of roughly 5 boats that take hikers across the lake to a trailhead.  Because of Coronavirus the boats were half full and they sat family’s together as much as possible.  Our boat to the trail was just the 5 of us which was awesome.

The trails were wide and well kept which made the hike very cool but, Caitlin and Sydney were immediately tired after walking about 1500 feet.  

If you have kids you know how this works.  It takes you hours to get where you are going and once you finally get there the kids are done and want to go home.

There are 26 miles of hiking trails at Jenny Lake and we told the girls that we were taking 2 reasonable hikes and they had to do them.  They didn’t like that answer much and they moaned a lot.

Our first destination was Hidden Falls which was only about 3/4 mile up the trail.  Their wasn’t much hiking and the falls was incredible.  It was about 4 falls combined into one that fell roughly 80 feet.  When we reached the base of the falls there was an incredibly cool breeze that hits your body and cools you down from the hot day.

After spending some time at the falls we continued up the trail to Inspiration Point.  The trail up the mountain elevated us about 500 feet and was cut directly into the side of the mountain. 

It reminded me of the trails into the grand canyon. When you look over the trail edge it drops about 200 feet.  Passing people on the trail felt slightly scary because you needed to walk along the outer edge of a cliff.

After hiking for about 20-30 minutes we reached Inspiration Point.   I had to carry Sydney for a short period of time but, we made it.

From the Inspiration Point you could see all of Jenny Lake speadout below you and rows of mountain’s extending into the distance.  It was worth the hike to see this view.

As we decended the mountian, the weather started to change from a beautiful hot day to a dark and cloudy afternoon.  The sky changed to rain clouds and as we waited to get on the boat, back to the Jenny Lake Center, the rain began to fall. 

It started out as a light rain but, that didn’t last long.  It quickly turned into a heaver rain and then a full out hail storm!  The hail was painful and the boat arrived as it started to fall. So, we ran for the boat and grabbed a seat in the covered section.  Others weren’t as lucky as us and due to the Coronavirus, we didn’t have enough room to take everyone waiting on line.  Some were left online in a hail storm wearing shorts and t-shirts. Ouch.

We made it back across the lake and it hadn’t rained there yet.  We got off the boat and hightailed it to the Jeep before we had to live through that again.  We even closed up the top on a Jeep we saw getting wet as the rain began to fall.  Jeep owners need to stay together.

One of Jenn’s business friends “Jen” was staying in the Colter Bay campground this week and just arrived in Grand Teton today.

So, just to be clear, my wife Jenn had a friend named Jenny who lives in Jackson Hole and another friend named Jen who is pass through the area in her RV.  So, we have 3 Jennifer’s and the conversations about our plans each day are nothing if not confusing.  Which Jennifer we will be seeing today?

We made a point to meet up with her, her husband Ryan and their kids in the afternoon today.  The lack of cell signal meant that we actually had to go to their campsite without a conversation about what we were doing.

Remember those days, before cell phones?

We put our feet in at the lake together and then decided to go back to our campsite and hang out for the 4th.  We had a much bigger site with a firepit and space to spread out. Plus, we had cornhole setup at our site and they wanted to check out our rig.  We needed a little friendly cornhole competition to keep things real.

All in all we had a great day and surprisingly we didn’t see or hear a single firework all day.  Welcome to the national parks!

Can you feel how tired we were?