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.

Bryce Canyon

Saturday – July 4

Day 30

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3 Hours can make a huge difference.  We left hot hot hot weather in Zion National Park.  It was over 100 during the day and 80’s at night.  Your only solace was to find the river.  Bryce Canyon is at over 8000 feet altitude and that makes a lot of difference.  It is in the mid 70’s and beautiful!  Feels amazing!

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Bryce Canyon is unique.  It is one of the smaller national parks.  We are here four nights, so we don’t feel rushed to see what it has to offer.  Today we drove to Rainbow Point and drove back the length of the road stopping at various viewpoints.  The Hoodoos stand like an army in the valley.  It really isn’t a canyon, though named as such.  It is more of a natural amphitheater created by erosion leaving precarious hoodoos to guard the landscape.  Tomorrow we get to hike among them!

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America celebrates Independence day.  Sadly, one year I was in Canada on the 4th of July…. long story.  There was a noticeable absence of fireworks.  No one was setting off bottle rockets.  There were no Roman Candles.  There were no mortars going off in the distance.  And you couldn’t find a fireworks show anywhere.  It was sad.  Not so in Utah.  It wasn’t the Stars and Stripes Spectacular of Spotsy county.  But it did the job!

Itinerary: Rainbow Point, Bryce Point

Sunday – July 5

Day 31

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Cicadas are everywhere!  We were hiking the loop and kept hearing this clicking sound echo through the Hoodoos.  A little investigation and we found our culprit.

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Bryce Canyon is a mix of Grand Canyon and The Badlands, yet accessible.  We didn’t try any hikes in the Badlands, and maybe there are some interesting ones.  The only hike you can take at the Grand Canyon is down to the canyon floor.  That is 9 hours round trip and several liters of water.  The lower you go in the Grand Canyon the hotter it gets.  Bryce Canyon feels more at your disposal.  You can hike down into the Queens Garden (that is Queen Victoria 4 pictures down) and continue onto Navajo loop to enter Wall Street.  Wall Street is The Narrows of Zion without the long hike and without the water.  The walls envelope you.  But, as with any good hike, and as we have learned many times on this trip, what goes down must come up.  Zig zag zig zag like ants up their tunnels.

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Water in this place is surprising.  Yes, it has been raining every evening.  That isn’t normal. Nor is having to wear a jacket on 4th of July.  But still, finding a river in this terrain feels out of place.  It was a beautiful and refreshing.

Itinerary: Queens Guarden Loop, Navajo Loop, Moss Cave

Monday – July 6

Day 32

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Cows are loud.  We headed out to fish today (yes in the rain, and no we didn’t catch anything).  On the way we got caught in a cow-jam, hundreds of cows on a drive down the road.  They were more interested in watching us do our thing than being part of the drive.

Itinerary: Fishing at Tropic Reservoir

The Narrow Hike

Wednesday – July 1

Day 27

IMG_1002 IMG_5804 IMG_5802You don’t have to be in a National Park to experience N.P. beauty.  Driving into Zion, we kept asking ‘Why isn’t this part of the park?”  There are breathtaking views everywhere!

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The Narrows earns its reputation as one of the most amazing hikes in the U.S.  The kids are kids.  They expire quickly on hikes.  But I knew we were in good shape when Weston asked, “Is there more to go?”  When I said there was, he exclaimed, “YES!”  Most of it is in water.  Some of it is on sandy ground, but they preferred staying in the river.  There are pools to swim in, places where you wade waste deep (depending on river flow could be much higher), and towering canyon walls.  It is a hike that beckons you to look around the next corner.  We ended up hiking 5 miles round trip, taking us to the beginning of Wall Street, where the walls narrow considerably.  I think an overnight backpacking trip through the narrows has been added to my bucket list.

IMG_5791This is the Court of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Itinerary – The Narrows

Thursday – July 2

Day 28

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Zion may be one of our favorite parks.  I got to hike the Canyon Overlook trail today.  Breathtaking views of the canyon.  There is a beauty here you can’t find anywhere else.  And right in the middle of it is the refreshing Virgin River.  It is easy to get to from Virgin, UT.  You have a beautiful gateway town in Springdale.  You can hike and get all nasty, then jump in the river to cool off.  There aren’t too many places with this type of diversity.  Plus, they’ve restricted automobile access past a certain point, which cuts back on traffic congestion.  One of the more surprising things about Zion is how busy it is.  There are TONS of people in Zion.  If I were to come back, I’d try May.  Hopefully it wouldn’t feel like Hell.


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There are surprises everywhere in National Parks.  You really don’t know what you are going to experience around the next corner.  We wanted to take the Zion Tunnel (built in 1930) up to the Canyon Overlook trail.  I knew it was 1.1 miles long.  I didn’t realize its pitch black in there.  I also didn’t know about the great arch.  And I certainly didn’t know I was bout to meet up with some Desert Big Horn Sheep.  After reaching the overlook, I hiked back to Jennifer and the kids.  Getting our packs together, we heard some rock falling.  I just assumed it was loose rock.  We looked down and there was a family of Sheep climbing up the mountain.  This was the last animal I really wanted to see on our trip.  When we got back to the truck, we were still in shock we saw them.  Then out of the blue, they emerged up above us as we waited in line to go back through the tunnel.  Absolutely amazing!!

Itinerary – Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, Canyon Overlook Trail

Friday –  July 3

Day 29

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Today we drove from Virgin, UT to Bryce Canyon City.  Its a whole new world!  Cool.  80’s.  Drops into the 50’s at night.  What a welcome reprieve from all of the heat!

Route: Virgin, UT to Bryce Canyon City

Campground: Ruby’s Inn Campground

Time: Left 8:15 MT.  Arrived 1:30 MT 4Hrs 45 Mins – Got stuck in traffic from a truck overturned carrying bottles of water.  Ironically it caught fire.