Guest Interview – Weston Liam Pickwell, Age 6

I’m interested to see how this interview goes.  If my hunch is correct, you’ll see a clear dichotomy between Wyatt, and my very verbose 6 year old.  Hope my fingers can keep up.

Weston, would you like to tell me a little bit about your trip?

Hmmmm….. well, I liked seeing the bears.  Um…. I liked seeing the sequoias, the tall trees, and the Grizzly Giant.  I liked Yellowstone because I liked the campground, and it was clean, and I liked the geysers, fumaroles, and mudpots.  Um…. I liked staying in a camper. Um… and…umm… well… I liked…. seeeeing the faces of Mt. Rushmore.

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What did you think about all of the driving we had to do?

Um…..  It was fun when we got to watch movies and play on our iPods.  And um… we liked um…. well I liked seeing a whole bunch of flags on Mount Rushmore.  About riding in the truck…  Oh yeah…. well I did like going to McDonalds one time, I think… and um… we got a toy Minion.

What was your least favorite part about riding in the truck?

I think it was waiting 15-20 minutes for iPods.  Why did you have to wait?  We were acting crazy.

Was there was there anything fun about driving that far?

I already told you!  The iPods!

Do you have any thoughts about the scenery you saw?

Um… it was pretty, but we have no idea if way out there there are more sequoias.  The scenery was high and pretty.  And um… I think I saw a canyon with a road in the middle with rocks in it that looked like they were from Lion King.  I think it was in Arches.

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What did you think about Yosemite?

It was interesting with all of the squirrels.  They wanted to get fed so they got just like one inch away.  Well, they walked up to a lady and she shot them with a water bottle.  Then another squirrel came.  We weren’t supposed to feed the squirrels or they could get relocated somewhere else or killed.  I think in the Badlands, what we saw was a chipmunk.

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Tell me about your experience in Zion NP.  How was that?

I think it was quite burning up in there but it was a little fun.  We stayed at Zion River Resort and it was clean and I think it had a pool.  We even had a ‘smores’agbord.  And we swam in the virgin river.  And we even hiked the narrows.  What was that like?  Well, it was a little tricky.  We went like 5 miles through water, like, kinda a current, like tiny water falls that made the current.  Well, there was patches of land that we could go on.  We ate cold pizza for lunch and cookies.

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What was your top 5 National Parks?

1. YosemiteIMG_5485

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3. ZionFullSizeRender 172 FullSizeRender 177

4. Rocky MountainIMG_6506 IMG_6508

5. SequoiaIMG_5541 IMG_5526

What were your 5 top experiences?

1. See the giant sequoias and the Grizzly Giant

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2. Seeing the geysers and hot springs

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3. Swimming in the Virgin River

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4. The Jeep Ride in Moab

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5. The ATV in the hail storm

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Why don’t you tell everyone what it is like to live in a camper for 6 weeks.

Well, when you live it in theres not much room.  For the kids, they can play in their beds with stuffed animals and they can come to life.  When you live in a camper on a trip, you have to drive like 100 miles or something to get to your campground.  And it is like 50 miles to get to a state.  And if you are going to skip a state, you have to drive 1000 miles, maybe.  I liked playing the Ranger game with Wyatt.

What was your favorite state?

Wyoming because we got to go to a cowboy thing.

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Anything you would like to add?

Yeah, there was this Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone and the highest it exploded was like 300 feet.  We didn’t get to see it, but it was the highest.  That’s all!

Guest Interview – Wyatt Lee Pickwell, Age 8

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to hear from someone else besides myself on how our West Coast Trip went?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear the perspective of a kid?  I thought you’d think so.  So here is Wyatt Pickwell, my oldest son, and his thoughts on our little adventure.

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Tell me about your trip.

Well it was really fun; it was really hot.  We went to 20 states, National Parks, and 9000 miles.

What did you think about all of the driving we had to do?

All of the driving was pretty much miserable.

Didn’t you get to watch movies?

Well, it was miserable for you guys.

What was your least favorite part about riding in the truck?

My least favorite part was when it rained really bad.

Was there was there anything fun about driving that far?

The fun part was watching movies and playing the iPods.

Do you have any thoughts about the scenery you saw?

It was really pretty; really exciting.  I think that’s about it.

What did you think about Yellowstone?



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We had to drive a long ways to get to each individual place.  Yellowstone, was actually the first National Park to ever be established.  In Yellowstone it’s actually a humungous active volcano.  I saw a lot of geysers, hot springs, a few mud pots, and a few fumaroles.  I saw a lot of wildlife.

What was your experience in Arches?

So in Arches, there is a bunch of arches… of course.  We actually went through a few canyons on a hike.  It actually took three hours.  And….um……what were we talking about?  Arches.  When we were in Arches and coming back from balanced rock, we saw so much rain pouring down in the distance it looked black.  And at that same time we saw a bunch of lightening hitting the ground.  It was really weird.

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What was your top 5 National Parks?

1. Yosemite
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2. Rocky Mountain
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3. Arches
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4. Bryce Canyon
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5. Shenandoah
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Why do you say Shenandoah?

Because we got to drive through clouds.

What were your top 5 experiences of the trip?

1. Fishing
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2. The Jeep ride
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3. Playing in the pool
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4. Hanging out with my family the whole way
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5. When me and you were unhooking and I unhooked the water and it splattered all over me.

What was it like to live in a camper for six weeks?

Once you get used to it, it’s pretty much like your house.  It’s like driving around with a house on your back.

Fiery Furnace

Friday – July 10

Day 36

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The Fiery Furnace isn’t so fiery.  Jennifer says its because God loves me.  That being it was in the low 70’s while we did the Fiery Furnace in Arches.  The ranger said it usually is in the 100’s by the time he starts the hike at 9AM.  If it’s because God loves me, then I’ll take it!  I was so proud of the boys.  The Fiery Furnace is a 2 mile, 3 hour guided tour, with rock scrambles, cliffs, narrows, and fun hiking challenges.  They did amazing.  And the hike was well worth it.  One of our favorites so far.

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The boys did so well on the hike, we thought they deserved another swim break.  If we lived here we’d be at the Moab Aquatics center every day.  Great place!

Itinerary: Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park

Saturday – July 11

Day 37

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Heading East starts to bring about the feelings of finality – that this trip is almost over.  But until then, we’ll milk it for all its worth.  We had a great time driving through Vail, Hot Sulpher Springs, and along the Colorado River.

IMG_6427 IMG_6425Lastly, nothing can beat hot chocolate…. except hot chocolate with a roasted marshmallow in it.

Route: Moab, UT to Grand Lake, CO

Campground: Winding River Resort

Time: Left 8:15 MT.  Arrived 5:00 MT 8hrs 45mins.  Stopped for groceries and Sally (our GPS) mis-behaved.

Arches

Thursday – July 9

Day 35

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Sometimes its a good thing to wake up at 4AM.  I’m still surprised we were abled to pull it off.  We woke the boys up at 4:15, gave them toaster waffles, threw them in the truck, and hauled off to Canyonlands National Park.  Why in the world would we do such a silly thing?  Mesa Arch at sunrise of course!  I will have to say, it did not disappoint.  The colors look great in the photos, but hey still are no match to what the human eye experiences.  The brilliance of the sun coming over the horizon and lighting up the arch is spectacular.  Just be careful though.  You don’t realize you are on the edge of a huge cliff until the sky lights up a bit!

Some people have no manners.  I don’t have pictures for this one, but it is probably best for the bobos I’m talking about.  Mesa Arch is a photographers dream.  The smart ones get there on time.  We were the third party there.  The first two were photographers that staked out their plot for the best shot – and I admire them for that.  The ones I don’t admire are the morons who don’t set their alarm, and think they can just squeeze in on your space, sticking their butt in your face, and never once asking “am I in your shot.”  They also forget that they are precariously perched next to a cliff with people they just made enemies with.  I cannot imagine how many fights break out in that place. The world loves our parks.  I am not exaggerating when I say this.  I think 70% of the people I hear in our national parks are not from America.  Japan, Korea, China, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, and who knows where else.  It amazes me that they love our jewels enough to come see them.  It amazes me even more that they outnumber Americans.  Do we even know what splendors we have at our disposal?  Have they become too commonplace for us? IMG_6279 IMG_6274 IMG_6270 IMG_6268 IMG_6230 IMG_6249 IMG_6242 When they say ‘arches,’ they mean ‘BIG arches.’  I wasn’t prepared for the size of these things.  They are huge!  Giant sculptures of sandstone standing in the desert, these structures tower over you, juxtaposed with the deep blue sky.  Arches has over 2000 of such pieces it gets its name from.  Some are a mere three feet wide.  But many are as tall as a ten story building!  Look closely at each picture to see if you can see the boys.

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Elephants can live in the desert.  Jennifer said, ‘I hate to say this, but that looks like a bunch of elephant butts.’  The boys guffawed.  Sure enough, on the map, the butte is called ‘Parade of Elephants.’ IMG_6316 IMG_6315 It does rain in Moab.  We’ve had some crazy weather.  It is best to get out early to beat the heat.  But more importantly, it is best to get out early to beat the afternoon thunderstorms.  Every afternoon we’ve had some doozy storms.  So much so, we’ve seen some street flooding – as is illustrated by the girls rafting down the street.

Itinerary: Mesa Arch at Sunrise (Canyonlands NP), The Windows (Arches NP) – Turret Arch, North & South Windo, Double Arch, Moab Aquatics Center

Moab Bound

Tuesday – July 7

Day 33

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The landscape changes every hour in Utah.  Today we saw the most diversity I’ve ever seen in a 5 hour drive.  We came down from Bryce Canyon, leveled out into desert and painted rock, then ascended it what seemed to be Ireland.  The trees changed, grass began to emerge, and the temperature plummeted.  We saw nothing but pine and an abundance of aspen.  As soon as it appeared, it disappeared, giving way to red stone.  In fact, in one of the mountain pictures, you can see the desert below.  It was a gorgeous drive.

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IMG_6002 IMG_6006There’s always time to squeeze in another national park.  While in Utah, why not just complete all of the big 5?  Between Bryce and Moab you have the opportunity to pass through Capital Reef National Park.  We didn’t stop to see any of the sights.  But we did get an apple pie.  Apparently, growing apples was a big thing at the Gifford Homestead.  And since the ham we packed for lunch was frozen, apple pie was on the menu for lunch.

Route: Bryce Canyon City to Moab via Hwy 12 and Hwy 24

Campground: Portal RV Resort

Time: Left 8:30 MT.  Arrived 2:30 MT 6Hrs

Wednesday – July 8

Day 34

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Dan Mick is the bomb!  If you are ever in Moab, make sure you book time with Dan Mick.  He, his son, and is brother-n-law, are the nicest people, very knowledgeable, and very capable.  They showed us dinosaur tracks; took us down declines that made you feel you were going to flip forward; took us up inclines that made us feel like we were going to flip backward; and amazingly put Jennifer at ease with the whole thing.  Dan Mick is a legend in Moab.  Companies send him parts to test out on his jeeps.  His 100K modified jeep is basically sponsored by other companies.  And the kids absolutely had a blast.  I don’t think there was a moment they weren’t grinning ear to ear.

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Part of Utah is frozen in time.  These are petrified sand dunes.  We were off roading on these (called slick rock formations) all day.  You can actually see the wind marks in the dunes.

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Dinosaurs are frozen in time too.  Dan’s son, Richard, showed us at least three types of dinosaur tracks, all in the same area.  You could almost imagine what was taking place between them all.  There was a raptor, a stegosaurus, and something that would eventually turn into T-rex.

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When they say ‘red rock’ they aren’t kidding.  After our adventure with Dan, we journeyed through Arches to get a glimpse of our next day.  Storms chased us out.  But before we left, we saw dark, blackish red cliffs, Balanced Rock, and a whole host of treasures waiting for us over the next few days.

Itinerary: Hell’s Revenge Trail with Dan Mick; Arches National Park