Friday, April 3, 2015

Gorgeous Gorges Trip, Day 10/Vacation Wrap Up!

Spring Break day 10
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Holbrook, AZ to home!

It was a beautiful morning in Holbrook when we loaded up Ghillie for the last time. We did a little letterboxing around town before beginning the final leg of our trip home. Our plan was to take highway 77 all the way home - a long drive, but we knew it would be more scenic and less busy than the interstate. Curtis picked several letterboxes on the way back to help break up our drive. Our first stop was at some wetlands near Showlow.

Well this isn't like any trail we've walked on before...

We were excited because we were going to drive through the Salt River Canyon. This is just a 7 mile section of highway 77 that goes down and up the Salt River Canyon - we had done it twice before, but for the first time, we were going to get to drive it in daylight! It takes a bit longer to go down, up, and around all the switchbacks, but it's more worth it during the day when you can enjoy the views. ;)

On the North rim

We stopped at lookouts on both the North and South side of the canyon for the views...and for letterboxes. The good news is we found every letterbox that we set out to get today! Oh, except for one sketch one hiding behind a hotel...Don't hide letterboxes behind hotels, people. Really. :)

From the South Rim

Here is one thing about Ghillie that we are absolutely loving: While it is an automatic, it has the ability to easily switch over to a 6-gear manual when needed! This is a WONDERFUL thing that is becoming popular in newer cars. Curtis used it a ton on vacation whenever we were going down long downhill sections and we were marveling over it the entire time. It's an amazing thing to be able to switch from automatic to 5th gear manual without having to stop! The only thing that drives us crazy is everyone on the road who doesn't have it and wants to just fly downhill and wear out their brakes!

The Salt River
One last vacation selfie!

After this, we finished up the remainder of the drive to Tucson. The highlight of this was seeing the bright spring colors all around the desert. The lowlight was being stuck behind slow Sunday afternoon drivers the entire time...oh well, the most important thing is that we made it home safely!

Actually, the most important thing is that we were finally reunited with our baby! We are SO thankful to have found Kennel Nirvana in Tucson. It sounds like Charlotte had a blast during her visit, and became BFF's with a Border Collie puppy. The owners were very knowledgeable about animals and we know she was in good hands. If you're looking for a great kennel for your pets in Tucson, check this place out!! 

It was such a happy reunion when she came out to see us for the first time, and we were all smiles on the drive home! We celebrated with pizza and snuggles for the rest of the night. :)

Day 10 Wrap Up: Drove 230 miles, found 4 letterboxes.
Highlight: Getting our baby back :)

Alright folks, now that we are done with the reports on our Spring Break Vacation, it's time for the final ranking on which Utah National Park was our favorite! In order from least to greatest, here it is:

5. Arches - Sorry Arches, you fell in last place! This was a combination between it being such a busy park, having a "primitive trail" that did not live up to its name, and honestly having nothing but arches to show, and we saw natural arches at almost every park that we visited! Better luck next time!

4. Canyonlands - We honestly didn't think that we could give this a fair rating, considering that you need to backpack to enjoy this place to the fullest. Still, it was huge, and we know there is lots more to see. However, from what we saw, it didn't come across as being jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, stop and stare forever gorgeous. Don't take it personally Canyonlands, you're still beautiful!

3. Bryce Canyon - This came as a surprise to me. I thought Bryce would rank higher just from looking at pictures beforehand, but our friends were right - you can spend as much time here as you like, but at the end of the day, all you've seen are hoodoos. Still, it ranks 3rd because of the great views both in and above the canyon, and we really enjoyed seeing it in its snow-covered beauty!

2. Capitol Reef - Our expectations were set high thanks to friends who raved about this park, and we are pleased to say that it met up to the high standards it was given! I think this is the park that we did the most hiking in, and we were able to see a lot and enjoy the colors, canyons, and rock formations all around. And there's still so much more that we haven't seen! We will be back to visit someday, Capitol Reef, we promise!

And our #1 park for this vacation was...

1. Zion!! Whooo! I'm convinced that this wasn't just because it was the first park we saw - it was honestly the only one where I sat down to take it all in and thought to myself, "I never want to leave." Even though there were so many people on the day we visited, that didn't take away from the grandeur of the canyon or the great reward from the challenging hike. Angel's Landing still ranks as my favorite hike from the trip as well. If I had to choose one park to visit again, I would come here and do a backpacking trip along the rim. 

Thank you to Holly & Paul, Lydia & Jeff, and Mitchell for all your suggestions and letting us borrow books and maps! One book we found especially helpful throughout the entire week was Hiking from Here to Wow: Utah Canyon Country by Kathy Copeland. It described all the hikes we did so well, and I wish we could have a book like this for every state that we live in! Definitely check it out if you're headed to Southern Utah to do some hiking!

That's all for now! Be sure to check back later or subscribe to our Youtube channel to see what videos we create from our trip. :)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and beautiful photos! I'm planning a solo trip to North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion NP, and maybe Bryce NP for October and this helped a lot. I'm also trying to decide if I want to drive the long way around from the North Rim, past Page, and then around Escalante to get to Zion. Your descriptions of the drives and knowing how many miles you can drive in a day and still get in some hiking really helped. Thanks!