Friday, December 27, 2013

Zion National Park - Hiking "The Narrows"

Have you ever had an experience that when it is over, you just know that it will be one of those experiences that you will never forget?  One that you will be replaying and reliving and talking about with those involved for years to come?  Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park was one of those experiences for our family.
   We visited Zion in July of 2012 on a family jaunt out west to see several National Parks.  While we were in Zion National Park, we hiked on several trails and experienced some wonderful adventures, but the highlight was definitely our hike into The Narrows.
   We got an early start on our day and climbed aboard the required shuttle to the trailhead.  To get to The Narrows, you must take the shuttle to the farthest point on the shuttle route to the Riverside Walk trailhead. 

   The Riverside Walk Trail is a level, paved one mile trail that meanders along the Virgin River.  When the Riverside Trail comes to a dead end at the river's edge, you just step into the river and keep going.  The Narrows Trail is not a 'marked' trail.  It simply follows the Virgin River upstream through the canyon.  The boys, ages 13, 9, and 7, were giddy with the anticipation of being allowed to walk through the river all day.
    We unloaded the shuttle at the trailhead equipped with a walking stick, hiking shoes, and a dry pack on each of our backs.  We all carried our own lunches and drinks in our backbacks and Bradley and I packed a small first aid kit, extra drinks, snacks, and cameras in our back pack.  Since we knew that the back packs would get wet on the hike, we double bagged all of the items that needed to stay dry (like the cameras and sandwiches) in heavy duty ziplock bags, which worked perfectly.
    The Riverwalk Trail leading up to The Narrows was very lovely, but we hardly paid attention to that part of the hike, because we were so ready to get going in the river. 
We began our hike through The Narrows with several other families.  The first section of the hike was much thicker with people than the last.  The farther we hiked into the canyon, the fewer people we encountered.  While we are happy that other people enjoy the beauty of the National Parks, we  prefer to avoid the thick crowds when possible.
    Shortly after we began our hike, we came to the deepest section of the river.  The water was really cold and was about waist deep on the adults at the depest part. This section of the hike delighted the boys beyond belief and are still talking about how much fun it was months later.
We hiked up the river for a couple of hours.  We stopped for drink breaks and to just enjoy the view several times.  The majority of the hike was spent crisscrossing the stream in the paths that we deemed the easiest to cross.  Each group traveling up the river was forging their own path. 
We hiked until we made it to where the walls of the canyon got more narrow and seemed to be touching the sky above. 
We stopped at the farthest point in our hike for a picnic lunch and simply enjoyed the moment.
At this point in the hike, the boys reported to us,
"This is the best hike we have ever been on!"
After we were rested and refreshed, we began our journey back out of The Narrows. 
We stopped for a little bit of fun rock jumping on our way back out.
We stayed inside The Narrows for a total of about 6 hours.  The entire hike was perfect.  It had everything we desire in an adventure.  It was stunningly beautiful, the boys got to enjoy a bit of clammoring over rocks, the hike had water, the temperature was perfect, and we were together. Who could ask for anything more in a hike?
We have experienced many adventures together as a family.....
hiking the Grand Canyon
rafting down the Snake River in the Tetons
exploring caves in Mammoth Cave
watching geysers erupt in Yellowstone
hiking around a mountain lake in the Rocky Mountains
star gazing in Canyonlands
climbing through an arch at Arches Nationa Park
sliding down the dunes at Sand Dunes National Park
....just to name a few.
But out of ALL of these adventures, hiking The Narrows remains near the top of the list for us.  I am thankful to have gotten to experience it with my family.
"For all of this, we are grateful to you."
                                                    ~ Acts 24:3

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Kindergarten Tale of Jesus' Birth

   Each year, I ask my K students the question...."Why do we celebrate Christmas?".  This year, I asked each student individually and was shocked that only 5 out of 18 kids gave a response having something to do with Jesus. 
   Later, we had a whole class discussion about Christmas festivities, which was guided into a discussion about the birth of Jesus.  I prompted the discussion by saying, "Who can tell me something they know about Jesus' birthday?"  Although a couple of the kids could recall details of the story that they had heard at home or at Sunday School, many of them were at a total loss. 
   Here is a combined quick summary of Jesus' birth, as told by my Kindergarteners....
     "Baby Jesus was born in the snow.  He drank a bottle.  When he woke up, he saw Santa.  Santa gave him presents.  Then, on Halloween he went trick-or-treating.  When he was outside, a reindeer ran into him and he died."
Um Kay. Wow.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Money Well Spent

      Our family dreams of travel.  Constantly.  We thrive on adventure and seeing new places and hiking and backpacking and canoeing and rafting and snorkeling.  We are discontent when it comes to just doing the daily grind.  We discuss travel over dinner.  We look at maps longingly wishing we could cover more area of it.  We reminisce over past trips and discuss possibilities for new ones.  We long to travel together more often.

      Unfortunately, the bills just don't pay themselves.  We haven't quite figured out a way to fund full time travel, so we deal with what we have to work with.  We spend the entire year socking away what we can to fund our summer adventures.  We rarely eat meals at restaurants.  We use coupons when we can.  We drive 10+ year old vehicles.  We wear lots of clothes from the thrift store. We never go to the movie theater, nail salons, or concerts.  We certainly have all that we need and plenty of what we want, but we would all give up all of our "things" for more travel adventures.  We have never regretted a single cent spent on travel, but we have many times regretted splurging on unnecessary "things"

     This quote on this photo has become sort of my "motto" lately.  I have the picture printed and hung on my refrigerator as a reminder.  Just there to remind me that another adventure is always just around the corner, and I can do without whatever it is that I am wanting to buy.