Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break

Last week was spring break for the children. My last day of classes was Wednesday so on Thursday we headed out for a four day vacation. First stop was Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park just over the border into Nevada along U.S. 50-- the loneliest highway in America. We took a hour tour complete with Joel and Will trying out candle lit lamps which they then blew out leaving us in total darkness.

 Lehman Caves is noted for many interesting disk-shaped formations. The ranger explained how they were formed, but don't ask Marie or me to explain it.

The original entrance to the cave is now sealed off by this bat friendly barrier.

If we had had more time and if the upper road was not closed by snow, I would have loved to have driven up snow capped Wheeler Peak to see the ancient bristle comb pines. Guess that can wait for another trip.

Looking east across the basin-and-range landscape that extends from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Wasatch Mountains. It is an easy pattern to learn: basin-range-basin-range-basin...The highest peak in the distant range is Notch Peak which I climbed last fall with the scouts.
It was a beautiful drive south through the back roads of Nevada to Las Vegas where we stayed with my cousin Betsey Hickman Holley and her husband Richard.  Next morning, Betsey, her daughter Cathrine and her two children joined us for a trip to Hoover Dam with the new bridge in the distance
A lower than usual Lake Meade

Touching the feet of this angel figures in to the plot of Rick Riordin's Percy Jackson books that both Sarah and Joel love to read and re-read.

That afternoon we explored Las Vegas. We usually just drive on by. We avoided the slots and black jack tables.

Sarah found it abhorrent to have her picture taken in front of fake Egyptian antiquities when she has actually visited the really thing. We visited the Luxor hoping to see the Titanic exhibit, but at $35 a person we opted not to.
Instead, at Betsey's suggestion, we visited the Belaggio Hotel and Casino which has a wonderful tulip exhibit in its atrium.

We also enjoyed the free dancing waters. Notice Donny and Marie Osmond in background. That evening I gave a Holy Land fireside in the Holley home to many of Richard and Betsey's friends and ward members.
Saturday (after yet another great meal in the Holley home) we drove to Prescott Arizona--with snow first flying in Kingman--to visit Marie's niece Marie Amara and her daughter Amara Blythe.
Marie and her husband Kyle looking at a scrap book of motivational quotes submitted by the Tueller clan and compiled by Marie Amara's sister-in-law Ayae Tueller.

Amara having fun playing with new blocks from her great-aunt Marie.

We then head north to the Grand Canyon hoping to see much of the South Rim before dark. No such luck. Snow was falling and visibility was almost zero. Good thing the pool at the Holiday Inn Express was in-doors.

Next morning was spectacular as the clouds lifted and the sun stared to shine.
The view from Mather point.

Underneath our coats were our Sunday clothes. We had hopped to finish in time to get to a sacrament meeting in Cameron, Tuba City or Page--but the timing just didn't work out. Instead we listened to three fireside talks (two by John Bytheway and one by Chad Lewis) and some Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs on  the long drive home. All in all it turned out to be a great sabbath.

Notice the foot bridge across the Colorado River.

Many of the buttes and pinnacles in the park are named after sacred places from many different religions--this was new to me. On the left is Isis temple, center Cheops pyramid and right Buddha temple.This view is from Yavapai point.

Will could not resist throwing a snow ball out into the abyss.

I took the kids on a short hike down the trail at Grandview Point. Marie opted to not try her nerves more than necessary.

The archeological remains of a kiva (ceremonial round house) at Tusayan Ruin.

Looking west from the east end of the canyon. Nance rapids are the first white water in the river.

The Watch Tower as Desert View.

Navajo Country.
Final stop was at Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. The drive through the Navajo reservation, and then along U.S. 89 via Kanab and Panguitch was more beautiful than I remembered--no stops for photos though because it was a school night for the kids and as it was we didn't get home until 9:30.