Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch

A year ago last May, I got up early (before 6:00 am) and started dialing Xantara - the company who makes all the reservations for Phantom Ranch. I was only the 19 call and I still couldn't get the cabins and dates I wanted. The Grand Canyon is a difficult place to stay, but I did get reservations for two nights at the bottom of the canyon. I was supposed to be taking Preston, Jip and my friend, Terry, but Jip ended up not being here so Preston asked his friend, Garrett, to go with us. We spent the night at the top of the south rim and although it was May, the weather was nice, so we didn't feel rushed to be up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat.

We headed down the South Kaibab trail and it wasn't long before Preston and Garret were light years ahead of Terry and I. With my bad knees I'm slow at going down and the Kaibab trail is extremely steep - almost 7 miles of switchbacks.

While the trail is steep the views are breathtaking and I wanted Preston and Garrett to see how beautiful the canyon is. You get a completely different perspective of the canyon as you hike down into it than the view you get from the top just looking over the edge. Everything is so much larger than it looks from the top and so much further away.

After about 4 hours Terry and I finally made it to the river and the ranch. Preston and Garrett beat us by about an hour - youth!!

Phantom Ranch was built around the turn of the century and is the only place where the post office delivers by mule. In fact, all their supplies are delivered by mule.

We stayed in dorms that house 10 men or women and you get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. You receive a 4:30 am wake up call each morning for hikers who are hiking out that day.

We all enjoyed a nice soak in the freezing water of Bright Angel Creek that runs through Phantom Ranch. The temperature at the bottom is about the same as Phoenix's, so the creek was a nice place to stay cool as well.

The next day we headed up the trail towards the north rim about 6 miles.

A good portion of the trail follows Bright Angel Creek crossing it several times and is shaded by cliffs and cottonwood trees.

In the end you are rewarded with Ribbon Falls - a beautiful waterfall. This picture doesn't do it justice or give you the perspective of how big it is. We arrived early and were the only ones there for about an hour. The falls were still in the shade and the water was freezing!

While this looks like the top of the waterfall, it really starts hundreds of feet above this spot. I think places like this are what make the Grand Canyon so wonderful. You are hiking along in the dust and then you come to a place with ferns and moss and beautiful water - so unexpected.

Preston was the bravest of us all and while the falls were still in the shade and very cold, he went in under the falls and on the top of the falls. He also hiked as far as he could along the crack in the wall and you can see him - just a little spec. Again perspective is everything and you can't tell how high or far he is.

We spent most of the day playing and laying around the waterfall, and when it finally warmed up enough, I made a couple of treks into the falls.

Preston was also the first to check out the hole under and inside the falls which we all ended up making our way into.

Here is Terry gingerly picking his way to the little "cave" through the icy water. The wind was blowing and would shift the falls and the mist and absolutely take your breath away if you were hit by either.

The little rocks were sharp and none of us had brought water shoes.

Here I am looking through a hole you could climb up to after going in the bottom hole. You can see it just above Terry's head on the previous picture.

We got nice and wet and then started the 6 mile hike back to the ranch to listen to the ranger talk and have dinner.

The next morning we got up early to start our climb out of the canyon. Here I am crossing the Colorado River on our ascent.

Preston and Garrett decided to hike back up the Kaibab trail, while Terry and I headed up Bright Angel. We had three more miles to go than the boys, but Bright Angel is not as steep and we are old. The boys ended up beating us by about an hour again, but they both said that hiking out was one of the hardest things they had ever done (wait until they get on their missions).

Here's Terry smiling away as we leave the river.

This is looking back at the part of the trail known as Devil's Corkscrew. It is a devil of a trail, and we were glad when we had finished this part. While the trail can be daunting, you are rewarded with unsuspecting jems like this waterfall

that looks small but really was quite large. Here is Terry finally making his way out- after 10 miles and 5 hours. You really have to admire him. He carried a 25 pound pack down and up and is 71 years old! All total, we hiked about 30 miles in 3 days, of which 17 of it was straight up or straight down.

The Grand Canyon is a magnificent place but it can really kick your butt! Garrett, we loved having you, but Jip we wish you had been with us!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


We had a nice Easter this year. It was even better because Jason was able to make it home for a long weekend.
Here are my little boys, Easter morning with their Easter baskets. Look at those happy faces.

At first the Easter egg hunt was low key and fun. But when Jason wasn't looking, Preston would run over and grab an egg out of Jason's basket. At first Jason didn't notice and then because he had so many more eggs than Preston he didn't care too much. But it didn't take long before Jason's natural instincts took over and the Easter egg hunt turned competitive.

By the time they had found all the eggs and Preston had pilfered about half of Jason's eggs, and Preston ended up with the most eggs. Still Jason didn't seem to care too much - that was until they started to open the eggs and Jason realized that there was money inside of them.

Then someone really seemed to care that his eggs had been snatched right out of his basket and he was on the short end of the egg count.

In the end, Jason wasn't too happy with only $13 - after all he is a poor starving student.

Preston was thrilled with his $22, because he too is a poor starving student who lives with his parents, who pay for his car, room and board, wash his clothes, cook his meals and pay his insurance. He didn't need to share with his brother who he stole eggs from in the first place and has to pay for his own gas, room and board and has to wash his own clothes and make all his own food.

That evening, Raquel, Dave and Millie came over for dinner. When Raquel was told about the Easter egg business, she demanded money from both of the boys who still owed her money for Christmas gifts! So in the end a child who hadn't even participated in the Easter egg hunt ended up with the most money.

Millie looked adorable in her first Easter dress,

and Raquel made her first ever carrot cake that was delious.

But if you asked Millie what the best part of the day was - she would say getting ready for bed and having Grandpa feed you your bottle. Can't get any better than that!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring Break

Well, summer has been in full swing for about three weeks now and I'm trying to get caught up on life, that seemed to stop while I was teaching. That means that I've been attempting to clean my house, organize the mounds of papers I had left at the end of the school year, take some classes to help me be a better teacher next year, finish photo albums and catch up on blog posts.

I've actually debated whether to just bag blogging altogether since it seems as though I have no time for it any more and I seriously doubt anyone reads them. But I really do like the help blogs give me for journaling and having a starting point for photo albums. So I'm still attempting to blog for the time being.

To catch way up, here is our trip to Utah over spring break. Since this was Preston's last spring break for a couple of years, I asked him what he wanted to do and there was little hesitation - snowboarding!

He and I drove up to Utah and skied/boarded one day at The Canyons, where I'd never been before. The snow was typical spring skiing snow, but not too bad yet.

Here we are on the gondola to the mountain.
Here's Preston anxiously waiting for him mother to take the picture, so we can get on the slopes. I thought the snow park was the most fun part of The Canyons and I made Preston go down it time and time again. I did go off some fairly high jumps (at least for me) and did do a couple of rails. Preston was braver that I and tried some really big jumps and did great. But we did see some amazing jumps that people did on the huge jumps and were in awe. That will never be me - too old!

Here we are at The Canyons.

Raquel and Millie flew in that night and we all crashed my mom's house for the week. My mom is the BEST hostess and had a wonderful dinner prepared for us each night we were there.

The next day we headed to Snowbird, can you tell the difference? Look at the size of the mountains. The Canyons is more on high hills, whereas, Snowbird is on MOUNTAINS.

It had snowed over night so there was a couple of inches of new snow on top of ice - typical spring skiing conditions. It was super windy and when we would get to the top, the fresh snow would sting our faces like sand in a dust storm. Preston loved Snowbird and got much better at black diamond runs and moguls - another thing I'm too old for.

The following day Raquel went with Preston snowboarding and my mom and I got to babysit. Raquel gave us very explicit instructions as to what we were to do to take care of Millie, but we didn't do a very good job of following them. Millie survived though and we had a wonderful time with her!
She sat in her bumbo chair and watched us cook and grade papers all day. I think she loved it! We also had to have a photo shoot of four generations of girls. I didn't get any pictures on my camera and the ones on Raquel's didn't turn out too well. But this one of Millie did!

Thanks mom for letting us all camp at your house for a week and providing all the wonderful food you did! Your the best!