Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our National Parks, Deliver The Unexpected


Cliff Palace
In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks System and to answer the call of our personal family Bucket List, we planned an eight-day adventure to three National Parks, across three states in a Class C, 19' Motor-home. 
We expected unparalleled beauty, a journey into history and ancient civilizations, a lesson or two in both geography, geology and the power of Mother Nature. But, honestly, we experienced so MUCH more. During a year of social and political upheaval within the United States, I believe we experienced a reckoning. Truly, an account of all the people, from every walk of life, race, sex and social economic dimension, who worked tirelessly for decades, to insure the preservation of these invaluable places. I came home, reassured, if the National Park System could be established, if we can continue to fight the balance of demands placed upon it, if we can impart their irreplaceable value upon our children, we can accomplish anything, together. With my faith in humanity restored, from such an unlikely source, I can honestly tell you, this trip was life-changing for everyone in our family. I encourage you, to seek out these places, to observe all you expect and so much more, you do not. Gifford Pinchot, a pivotal individual who worked tirelessly along with many others, who were never made famous, once said " it is greater to be a good citizen, than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat." 
Cliff Palace


David Nighteagle, NPS Ranger
Our first stop, Mesa Verde National Park, was 
Balcony House
Overcoming my fear of Heights!
unforgettable. We toured Cliff Palace and Balcony House in total awe. The Ancient Pueblo people were brilliant, innovative and obviously undaunted by heights! Hauling children, game and other heavy items up more than 30` to reach their dwellings. A moment we will never forget started with the man on the left, David NightEagle, Lakota Tribal Member and Internationally known Flute Maker. He has played for the Opening Olympic Ceremonies and for several First Ladies of the United States. The acoustics in Cliff Palace were phenomenal and his music gave us goosebumps. Even more inspiring, he has served as a Ranger for Twenty YEARS! http://davidnighteagle.com/ 
Kiva in Cliff Palace
Mesa Verde, translates to Green Table and boy was it GREEN. We camped in peace overnight at the Morefield Campground and attended a Ranger Led presentation in the evening. Very quiet, highly informative. 

Cliff Palace
Onward HO! We dispatched from Mesa Verde and made our way to Moab, Utah, where we would establish a base-camp at a SWEET RV Site within reach of our remaining two Parks: Arches and Canyon Lands. The RV site was tricked out with a pool, hot tub, showering houses and a very well stocked mercantile. Our first journey into the Colorado River began with PADDLING OURSELVES down 17 miles of Class 1 thru 3 rapids with another eager family, who joined us from So Cal. I have not been that excited or scared in a VERY long time but we had a total blast!
Lunch Spot on the Colorado River
Ogden's and Collins, inside Delicate Arch

We maneuvered the raft and jumped out to float the rapids with Gavin. Needless to say, the bulge of Gavin's eyes told me, it was an experience he was unlikely to forget. He road the nose of the raft, gulping gallons of water with glee! Only one picture to share, for what I hope are obvious reasons! Eric had never paddled a raft in rapids and he is officially HOOKED! Tons of fish as well.
The CREW!

Pioneer Cabin
Delicate Arch
Everything is made better with old friends and this journey was no exception. We were so anxious to see the Ogden's we could have burst! Both Ogden's are natives of Utah, so we knew they could hike us through Arches National Park and take us any place else we could dream up. And, they did. With FIVE adventurous boys in tow we hit the Delicate Arch Trail with amazement.  The drive through the Park itself, is spectacular. We lounged near Delicate Arch and admired all she could offer. 




Petroglyphs
As we left Arches, Jeanna knew the temperature would mandate some swimming and boy did she deliver! You can imagine the excitement of the kids and adults alike when we found the spot below. In the 90 degree temps the water felt incredible. We were transformed into kids again, jumping off what appears to be nothing, is actually quite high. Courage mustered by all, we each leaped, some repeatedly. :)

Hot afternoons were spent in the pool while evenings brought us together with our RV's sitting around watching the meteor shower and eating some BBQ off the grill! Bringing his Eagle Scout merits to bear, Jon and Jeanna made incredible tin-foil dinners and I whooped up a caramel apple cobbler in the dutch oven. We have missed them all so very much! 
Taller than it LOOKS! Cliff Jumping!
No one was prepared to return to New Mexico but the time came to head to Pagosa Springs where more adventure awaited us. We hugged our friends, said our farewells and began to jaunt South. Ending our journey involved a soak in more than one dozen (of 20 available) geothermal hot springs under a starry sky and a long inner tube float down the San Juan river, which Gavin absolutely loved! Full of all the senses only water can engage we returned to New Mexico with incredible memories of rafting, hiking, jumping and soaking. We were enthralled with the heat, the huge river and the very kind people we encountered in Utah. We joked about continuing on in our RV to Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Yellowstone, Sequoia and Yosemite. Another round of Parks with all their unexpected offerings await us and we them, as I now understand why John Muir said, "wildness is a necessity." 

In Gratitude,
Ness
"It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature." Theodore Roosevelt.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” 
― John MuirOur National Parks