Tag Archives: Kids

Suzhou – Kids Enjoying a China Spring

Thought we would get out and take a few photos while the flowers are still on all the trees and bushes. Springtime in Suzhou is amazingly colorful. The kids let me take a few of them.

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Western Adventure, Day XXII, Arizona to Utah at Bryce Canyon with Dirt Bikes

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

We survived the winds and headed north to Utah. Our goal was to get to Bryce Canyon City. There’s the Ruby RV Park located just outside the National park and it has motorcycle trails all around it. After getting settled, we got the bikes out and rode around to explore the surrounding area. One of the trails took us right up to the Bryce Canyon National Park rim.

Where Monument Valley was terracotta in color, Bryce was peach, orange and white. Beautiful. We found the Bryce Canyon entrance sign. So we stopped by and got our photo in front of the sign with the bikes. Now that was cool!

Have to share a funny story. Nathan popped a wheelie across the park entry road right in front of a Sheriff. Then he proceeded to make a turn right in front of him in the parking lot. We all thought we were going to be ticketed. Lucky for us, the Sheriff just kept driving on. It’s okay to ride on the roadway in Utah, as long as, you are geared up. Thank goodness! Tomorrow we plan on heading down to Zion National Park.

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Western Adventure, Day XX – Arizona at Navajo Bridge and North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Newest bridge is on the right

Newest bridge is on the right

A bright, lightly winded day in AZ today. We had planned on taking a tour through the lower Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation. Little did we know it would cost so darn much to enter the canyon to only have one hour to take photos and explore.

Since we didn’t have enough cash, we decided to change our plans and travel to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We never did plan on seeing the GC this trip, but Mike asked if we could find the time he would love to. So today, it is…

Our first stop on the way was the Navajo Bridge which extends over the Marble Canyon and Colorado River. There are two bridges there now. One is the original built in the 1920s and the other was just completed in the late 90s.

The old bridge is now just a foot bridge. I did make it mid span and turned back. As usual, my troublemaker, Nathan, was busy trying to freak me out.

This was a great place to stop. The gift shop was excellent: Lots of good books, art and helpful people. The architecture was beautiful. The staff recommended we stop by the Glen Canyon Park on this side of Marble Canyon.

Wow! We felt like we had stepped onto another world, like planet Mars. The terrain was nothing we have ever seen before. One rock was so huge, it remiinded us of the Jawas Transporter from Star Wars. It may be hard to tell in the photos, but some of the rocks were over 30 feet in diameter on little pedestals.

We did find access to the river. The dog got to get their feet wet only. The river was too fast for them to swim in.

Heading to GC, the most amazing thing happened to us… we found trees. Old, large pine trees… The kids and I had not realized how long it had been since we had been in the woods. Tears glistened in my eyes at the sight. As the Badlands was spiritual for Zachary, the trees were for Nathan.

The first thing Nathan did, getting out of the truck, was to lay on the ground… then he went and hugged a tree. So emotional for him. He spent a good amount of time off on his own, just enjoying the trees and such. When he was ready, he returned with a big, refreshed smile on his face. He also informed us he did not want to go back to the desert. Trees only for him.

I took over 500 photos. It was windy. It averaged 20 mph with gust over 40. So a lot of our photos have flying hair and wind filled coats. At times, we would have to stop and just hang on until the wind slowed, so we would not get blow off the the trail. Mike was a crazy guy in some of the photos… hanging off the edge and such.

We stopped at the Visitor Center for a bite to eat. Did you know there are cabins available right next to the canyon? What a vacation it would be to see the sun rise and set over the canyon right from your front porch.

We left the main visitor area and drove down a road that called us. We found a lookout that was fantastic called Point Imperial. As the sun started to set, we took off and drove to the Condor release site in the Vermillion Valley. We had hoped to catch sight of this bird with over an eight feet wind span. No such luck. But we did watch the sun set in the valley before we headed back to the trailer.

A high wind advisory for tomorrow?! Yikes! 40 to 70 mph. How much wind does it take to blow over a trailer? We discovered it would be best to stay put and hold tight for day before leaving AZ for Utah (UT).

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Western Adventure, Day XVIII – New Mexico to Arizona

This day was a grand day and full of challenges. First off, we had originally planned on flying Mike out of Memphis TN, as the kids and I continued to Mississippi to visit relatives. Since the flooding and tornados were so bad, we diverted to CO and flew him out on a new ticket from Denver to home. Unfortunately, the airline I booked the ticket with cancelled the entire ticket when Mike was a no show in Memphis. So when Mike got to the airport, he had no ticket. To top it off, he was informed he would have to use another airline to purchase a ticket. Mike was livid.

Mike found a flight out with Southwest and was blessed with a three hour earlier arrival than planned. Thank goodness for the performance chip we purchased for the truck before this trip. The savings in fuel, more than paid for this ticket. We only needed one mile per gallon better to pay for the chip and we have been averaging about three miles to the gallon better than before the chip.

The KOA in Bernalillo, just outside of Albuquerque was an outstanding RV Park. The facility was the best we had experienced since Hill City and the owner was a gem! He let us leave the trailer past check out time to go get Mike from the airport; didn’t charge us an extra cent. No other RV Park I have been to would have done that.

Picking up Mike was sweet… we all missed him so much! The kids tore out of the truck as soon as they saw him. All three jumped him in mid stride. They all beamed with excitement as their daddy hugged and kissed them. Mike had the biggest proud papa grin on his face as he got into the truck.

Back at the trailer, I shaved off Mike’s hair like Zachary’s… He was so nervous. He kept threatening Nathan, he was going to shave off his hair too. I had to laugh. Great new hairdo for Mike!

The challenge of the airport was not enough for the day. We got one more doozy. As we started to head out of town on Highway 550 east, our truck overheated and dumped all of its antifreeze. Then to be precariously parked on the side of the highway on a steep downhill slope. Yikes!

Trying to figure out what happened, Mike called the local Chevy dealer. Decision was to let her cool down, fill her up with water, go back down and retry to climb up the hill. We did discover the use of the recycle air puts too heavy a load on the truck while climbing and it was the culprit. She took an hour to cool. We made it down and back up with no problems. Heading east to AZ, we decided to continue on through some beautiful terrain.

The desert without easy access to a water land form is nice to visit, but we are pretty excited to get to Lake Powell in Glen Canyon. The weather forecast was looking good for the next few days, the low 80s. First, we are going to stop at Monument Valley to watch the sun rise. We drove through the night and made it to the valley by 1am. We parked in the visitor center parking lot and got a few hours of shut eye before we needed to be up.

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Western Adventure, Day XVII – New Mexico at Puye Cliff Dwellings and Santa Fe

Puye Ruins

Puye Ruins

Up early and out the door by 7:45am, we quickly gobbled up breakfast at The Range and purchased three bags of ice for our cooler at the local grocery store. The cooler has been a blessing. It’s great to have a fresh supply of cold water for the doggies and their water bowl and cools drinks for us. The drive north to Espanola area, north of Santa Fe, was attractive and a lot more enjoyable to be in than around the Albuquerque area; there were trees and interesting land formations. After a few reroutes, we found the entry to the Puye Indian Cliff Dwellings on the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation.

Did you know the difference between “Pueblo” vs “Tribe”? I sure didn’t until this day. Our guide informed us, all Native Americans who have been heavily influenced by the Spanish use Pueblo. All the others… Tribe.

We purchased tickets to take the entire tour at a convenience store just outside the entry sign to sight: dwellings and ruins. The tour was scheduled for two hours. We ended up spending over three hours with our guide. It was money & time well spent… highly educational. As we drove seven miles to the parking lot, I said to the kids, “I hope our guide will share the spiritual side of the Pueblo besides the archaeological one.” Our guide, in an orange shirt in the pictures, was chalked full of information and was more than willing to answer any questions on the sight and Native Americans in general. She also shared the spiritual challenges the Puye face with having the Pueblo beliefs and the Catholic religion combined.

Interestingly even to this day, the Pueblo is a patriarchal society. No women are allowed to be part of the Indian counsel and government. Also to be part of the Pueblo, one has to have two generations in a row of male descendants in order to be registered as a Santa Clara. She stated the Pueblo’s registrations are declining rapidly because many of the women are marrying outside the tribe, thus their children are ineligible to register.

We had a bit of time before our tour began, so we looked at the dwellings with the provided binoculars and went through the exhibit room. I also took some photos of the kids. Zachary was sporting his slick cowboy hat and boots. What a handsome guy! We walked and climbed up steep ladders to the top. Each rung was over 16 inches apart. There were three tiers to reach the top.

Our guided shared the openings to the homes were originally smaller than what I photographed; smaller due to Erosion from natural elements and people going in and out of the caves. She said her people during the time of occupation, 1100-1200s, were small–about 4.5 feet tall. She stated the holes were no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

The rows of small holes above the bigger openings were from the wooden poles used for the facia; enabling the family to put an exterior rocked dwelling. Briana guessed the holes were for light or air.

There was a ritual were the women would throw clay at the dwellings to keep them intact. Since the Pueblo moved closer to water around the 1200s, the clay ritual stopped and the exterior dwelling slowly has eroded and fallen down hill into the reservoirs that were used to collect rain and snow melt. In the summer, once the reservoirs dried up, the women would have to walk over three miles a day to collect water in the Santa Clara Creek.

There were many petroglyphs. The spiral was found often at the site. The guide informed us it signified a map and how they connected with others. We also got the opportunity to see our first Alien petroglyph in person. That was pretty darn cool! Many times during the walk the kids would easily be distracted by the local small lizard. No matter how hard they tried, they never did catch one.

A plant I photographed was the reason the Spanish first thought the Santa Claras and surrounding Pueblos had blue corn. The women would take the branch, burn it and use the ash for salt. The ash had a blue tint; adding it to their corn made the corn look blue. It is called the Salt Bush. There were many artifacts we were able to touch; mainly fragments. Our guide said pots would have been as large as four feet tall; as large as the kids. Obsidian and other flint rock from nearby mountains were in the fragments.

At the top of the dwellings, we walked through the ruins and descended into a Kiva, a place of worship and gathering. We met the Pueblo engineers who monitor the water and air quality due to Los Alamos, where the govt does all kinds of testing. They expressed the need to monitor the environment to keep their people safe because they are not alerted by the govt when to be concerned. (There was a large explosion that occurred while they were talking. It made our guide nervous.)

On our way back to the trailer, we stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch and walk around a bit. The cathedrals were beautiful, the shops were fun and lunch was a yummy Mexican restaurant next to the train station. Our favorite shop was the trading post established in 1603. The lady inside told us of its ghosts, old well and start as a barn. She even showed us the original purchase papers. It was in Spanish, but we could make out the date. With a bit too much sun than planned on our skin, we headed back to the trailer around 7pm. Tomorrow is to bring 90s and the best for us is Mike! He will be arriving around 3pm. Once we pick him up, we are heading to Monument Valley in Arizona for a sunrise photo opt. Yeah!

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