Arches National Park – Saturday, July 16, 2016

The kids really enjoyed Arches. Hannah said that they’re “climbers” now and would like to climb everything. They certainly were doing their share of climbing! Here are some things we’ve seen or noticed so far…

  • Foreigners really love our national parks! At Arches, I’d say the ration was maybe 70/30 with 70% being foreigners! It’s a great opportunity to practice my language skills. Last night in the hotel I was walking down the hallway and a little boy walked by and casually said, “Bonjour.” I replied, “Bonjour.” Then his whole family smiled and said hello. On the trail yesterday, I was able to use a little German and Spanish. We also spoke with families from Austria, Netherlands, France, and Japan. The parks are their own little melting pot.
  • We saw a man at Mesa Verde who was biking to a bunch of the  parks we’re visiting. If I remember correctly, he was from Virginia, but when I say “biking,” I don’t mean motorcycle. He was literally on a bicycle! He had four packs on the back of his bike and we saw him everywhere. He biked up the huge hills at Mesa Verde. He has biked all across the west. And then someone else yesterday said they saw him biking toward this direction. Daniel said he must have thighs of titanium.
  • The park rangers were talking about how many people go out on the trails in Arches without enough (or any!) water so when Daniel and Hannah and I hiked to Delicate Arch, we took plenty of water for ourselves (with extra for me) and then we took one of our gallon jugs of purified drinking water to share with others. As we came upon people who looked like they were struggling, we would give them a refill (because it was obvious who had run out a long time before). These people were incredibly grateful for more water. It makes you think of a lot of things. I’m glad we planned ahead and I’m glad we were able to bless some others. Hannah said she expected me to start giving out prayer pamphlets. “Here’s your water; now here’s your pamphlet. Let me pray with you.” I didn’t do that, but I was very nice and tried to let people know we cared about them. One guy at the top said he thought it was awesome that we were giving out water when it was such a commodity there. 🙂
  • Speaking of water, we’ve become water addicts. We’re drinking about 4-5 gallons per day EACH. I’m sure I’m drinking even more than that because I’m paranoid about getting a blood clot and my leg is still swollen from our trek into the Great Sand Dunes. But anyway, we love water now. It’s precious. And delicious. And necessary!

Well, I’m out of time again. We’re having a great time. Honestly I’ve been doing pretty well other than my leg and also I seem to be incredibly allergic to something here. I think it’s the Juniper Pines. My throat feels like I have two small golf balls in my old tonsil holes! It’s frustrating because I can’t breathe well and it hurts. We’ll be in this area for a few more days and then hopefully it will subside when we head north.

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Hovenweep National Monument – July 15, 2016

We enjoyed the trail at Hovenweep. We did the entire trail, which I think was 2.5 miles with the extra loop. You can do a shorter version of the trail and see most all the ruins just as well, but we wanted to climb down into the canyon. For the entire trail, you go down into the canyon and back out on the other side. It’s a beautiful hike, but there is quite a bit of climbing.

The ruins here were neat, but I think I enjoyed the wildlife on this trail most. We saw a long-nosed spotted leopard lizard, a collared lizard, several birds and a rabbit. It is a nice wildlife walk.

For anyone reading this who might be trying to decide where to visit, I will add that the road leading to Hovenweep isn’t the best. It is paved, but it’s old paving and it has a lot of potholes. With that said, you can always go around the holes or even drive in the middle of the road (which I did and the car behind me followed) because there is barely anyone out there. I think it’s around 24 miles from the turnoff to the monument, but that 24 miles took us about an hour. It seems to go on just forever. We cranked up the music and just enjoyed the drive. It’s pretty; it’s just long.

The rangers at the museum were very nice and there is a great short film to watch about the area. We always watch the films when they’re available. It gives you a much better perspective on the history of the monument or park.

 

I believe this is a long-nosed leopard lizard. I've never seen one. It was beautiful!

I believe this is a long-nosed leopard lizard. I’ve never seen one. It was beautiful!

This is a nice shot of the little long-nosed spotted leopard lizard. He (or she) was so cute!

This is a nice shot of the little long-nosed spotted leopard lizard. He (or she) was so cute!

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This is the other side of the canyon. If you do the whole trail, you have to hike down and then back up, then around. It's a nice hike with some fun climbing. Definitely strenuous.

This is the other side of the canyon. If you do the whole trail, you have to hike down and then back up, then around. It’s a nice hike with some fun climbing. Definitely strenuous.

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Beginning of the Hovenweep Trail.

Beginning of the Hovenweep Trail.

Reading about Castle House at Hovenweep.

Reading about Castle House at Hovenweep.

Boulder House. You almost have to look twice to realize there was actually a house inside this giant boulder.

Boulder House. You almost have to look twice to realize there was actually a house inside this giant boulder.

One of the ruins.

One of the ruins.

Sand Flats Recreation Area – Moab, Utah

Slick Rock is amazing. I like the colors and shapes in particular, but it’s also nice just to sit and feel it. Hannah has decided that she likes climbing – everything. And I can’t even begin to keep up with Daniel. We all definitely agree that we like rock MUCH better than sand. I’ve always liked sand, but I discovered I don’t like hiking in sand. Hiking on rock, however, is a different story. You cover much greater distances much more easily.

On Friday night we stayed at Sand Flats Recreation Area in Moab, Utah. It is a pay campground – $15 overnight. This is a little steep since there is only a vault toilet with no other facilities, but it definitely is a nice campground and you’re really kind of paying for “entertainment” here. It appears that most people come prepared with their bikes or ATVs to swarm over the rocks in the morning and evening hours. Although we had neither, it was quite fun watching all the vehicles on the slick rock. After watching this for a couple of hours, we finally decided to give it a try with what we had available – our feet. Clambering over massive boulders and reaching the top to see amazing vistas was a terrific experience.

There is no water at this campground, but one thing we really liked is that you’re only about five to ten minutes from town and a well-stocked grocery store. We normally wouldn’t drive back into town for anything, but we had forgotten ice and really needed this. We were able to go to the store, buy ice and snacks and use my cell phone to call my husband, in less than an hour.

As for sleeping, this has been one of our favorite spots. Despite the fact that this is rock, the lower areas (including the campgrounds) are covered in a fine reddish dirt (from the rock) and the ground is quite comfortable. The bikers were out of the campground by 10:00 (curfew) so it was also quiet. We considered going back there for another night, but opted to use one of our hotel stays after a long day in Arches. This was definitely a great campground, though, and a nice recreation area whether or not you have all terrain vehicles.

(I’m having difficulty getting photos to load on here in any reasonable time, but they go onto FB just fine so I’m going to put the blog posts here and the photos on FB. I’ll combine them when I go home.)

Mesa Verde National Park – Thursday, July 14

This is the first real chance I’ve had to relax. We decided to do our Mesa Verde tours today and then come back to the campsite to relax this evening. That gives us a chance to do laundry, eat a nice meal, catch up on news, etc.

We saw an ermine today. That’s a short-tailed weasel in case you didn’t know! (Don’t fret. I didn’t either.) It was incredibly cute and ran right by our campground. Speaking of that, this morning Hannah and I went to shower around 6:00 a.m. and there was a mule deer right outside our tent.

Today we did a 9:00 tour of Balcony House. This involved climbing a 30-foot ladder, going through a tiny tunnel, standing on the edge of a precipitous cliff, etc. It’s considered the most harrowing of the cliff dwelling tours. I overcame my fear of heights to enjoy this experience with Daniel and Hannah. It was great.

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This is one of the tunnels you have to go to for access to Balcony House. There is another where you have to crawl on your hands and knees, but I didn't get a photo of that one.

This is one of the tunnels you have to go to for access to Balcony House. There is another where you have to crawl on your hands and knees, but I didn’t get a photo of that one.

 

This is a nice, wide balcony on another house, thus "Balcony House." :)

This is a nice, wide balcony on another house, thus “Balcony House.” 🙂

I was trying to show what you can see from the canyon here if you sat on the balcony. You'd have a very wide view.

I was trying to show what you can see from the canyon here if you sat on the balcony. You’d have a very wide view.

You can see the balcony at the top of this little dwelling. If you were to sit on it, you'd be able to see up and down the entire canyon.

You can see the balcony at the top of this little dwelling. If you were to sit on it, you’d be able to see up and down the entire canyon.

If you look toward the middle, left of this photo, you can see the impression of soot on the roof where there used to be another rectangular dwelling here.

If you look toward the middle, left of this photo, you can see the impression of soot on the roof where there used to be another rectangular dwelling here.

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A view from beginning of Balcony House tour.

A view from beginning of Balcony House tour.

This was our tour guide for the Balcony House tour. She did a great job.

This was our tour guide for the Balcony House tour. She did a great job.

After Balcony House, we toured the museum on Chapin Mesa, found some bee sting relief for Hannah from a ranger and ate a wonderful lunch out of our van. (Hannah was wearing a bright yellow shirt and a bumble bee got tangled in her hair. It stung her arm and is pretty swollen still.)

Following lunch, we drove around Mesa Top for a bit and then took our last tour – Cliff House. This is actually the one Chris and I did with the kids in 2007 when we visited here. I really began to feel my leg hurt on this one. It’s still bright red from sunburn and it’s swollen, but it’s not excruciating so it must be ok. I’ll see how it feels tomorrow. I’m taking blood thinners so there’s really nothing else we can do. I just have to be careful about the high elevation hikes because it keeps swelling when I go up in elevation. I just want to see everything and do these hikes, though. I can live with a little pain to see these amazing places.

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A view of one of the houses from Mesa Top Loop. You can’t see it well, but you can see that there was building within the alcove, which I think is neat.

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Our first view of Cliff Palace. It’s amazing that these ruins have survived 800 years.

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There are even buildings and granaries in the tiny slots at the top of the alcoves.

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Itinerary

tripline map

 

For this trip out west, I discovered a website called tripline.net. It’s a terrific way to plan, set dates, make notes and even share details with your travel companions that you don’t necessarily want everyone in the general public knowing.

If you’d like to see where we’ll be visiting, I’ve listed most of the actual sites on my tripline account. For safety reasons, I haven’t shared specifics of what we’ll be doing or where we’ll be camping. Once we travel through a particular location, I’ll post updates and photographs of all our adventures from each national park, monument, historic site, etc.!

 

Kentucky Horse Park

Recently my daughter and I visited the Kentucky Horse Park so that she could try to meet some of her scout requirements to earn the horsemanship badge for American Heritage Girls, a Christian scouting organization. We had the pleasure of spending several hours at the park watching shows, visiting exhibits, touring the grounds and, of course, learning more about horses.

In addition to the shows that are included with the price of admission, visitors can walk through various barns, including the Big Barn, the Hall of Champions Barn, the Breeds Barn, the Kids Barn and the Mounted Police Barn. Each barn highlights something unique and visitors are certain to come away more knowledgeable. There is also a Farrier Shop where guests can learn about appropriate hoof care for horses and why it is necessary.

Set on more than 1,200 acres in the famous Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, visitors also have several museum options. Visiting these museums was one of my favorite parts of the horse park. The International Museum of the Horse was especially insightful, with exhibits that include historic artifacts, interesting facts and equine history recreations in miniature. Exhibits include Draft Horses in America, Horses in Sport, Horse Drawn Vehicles, Angels for Horses:  The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Al-Marah Arabian Horse Galleries and others.

While a visit to the horse park in person is ideal, if this is not possible, I would recommend a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park website for anyone who wants to research horses, equine breeds, equine history, etc. In regards to scouting requirements, it is possible to meet several of the requirements just by visiting the website. A link to the International Museum of the Horse site provides further resources and most exhibits are online as video or slide presentations so it’s really more like a virtual tour. Students could spend hours on this website alone learning about history related to the horse. For those who live close enough or who can travel, I would definitely recommend an in-person visit to the park.

In addition to general admission tickets, there are also options for season passes, group discounts and additional activities such as horseback rides. Traveling guests can choose to stay at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground for a reasonable nightly fee.

Whether you’re visiting the Kentucky Horse Park to meet scouting requirements or for a day of fun and entertainment, I’m sure your visit will be memorable and you’ll come away with a new appreciation of these beautiful animals.

Creation Museum

The wildflowers along the trail at the Creation Museum bring beauty to the landscape.

When considering explanations for the creation of our universe, it’s difficult to know where to go for accurate information. If you’re willing to consider various theories, including the possibility that a divine Creator is responsible for all the beauty we see around us, it’s an even greater challenge. Most of us don’t have much of a choice anymore. We take our children to museums where we are bombarded with evolution, stories of an old earth, and a conscious exemption of God, unless it’s to talk about human “myths.” Unfortunately, we receive these same messages on television, in school and the workplace, and sometimes even in church. There is a conscious effort in our society to ensure that upcoming generations have no faith in the Biblical accounts of creation, sin and redemption.

 

So what’s a parent to do? Perhaps you are a Christian and you just aren’t sure how to defend your faith from a scientific standpoint. Or perhaps you’re not a believer, but you are willing to consider the possibility that the earth and all that’s in it didn’t just evolve from a few specks of bacteria.

Even among families, you can see much diversity. Insect collections on display at the museum show some of the amazing differences within the same species.

At the Creation Museum, part of a 100,000 square-foot complex near Cincinnati, visitors can walk through fascinating state-of-the-art, family-friendly exhibits that share the story of mankind from creation through modern times. As you travel through the museum, you begin to develop a greater appreciation for the authenticity and authority of the Bible. Hard evidence from scientific fields such as astronomy, geology, physics, biology and anthropology support Biblical accounts of historical events – dating all the way back to creation. Visitors will be thrilled by all the wonderful things they can learn about our world if we take the time to study all the evidence and they will be amazed at how the evidence lines up with accounts passed down through the Bible.

This was one of my favorite displays. Scientific evidence supports the “orchard” theory (that various animals came from an original animal of that “kind”) much more than evolution’s “tree” theory (that all animals came from a single cell organism that changed into other organisms).

As a Christian parent, I greatly enjoyed the Creation Museum because the exhibits are designed not just to assert Biblical truths, but to show how these Biblical truths are evident throughout science, history, anthropology, medicine, and so many areas of our lives. As a writer, however, I was trying to put myself in the position of a non-believer or even a Christian who just wasn’t sure about all the Biblical accounts of history. This wasn’t difficult to do because I talk with a lot of people who say they are believers, but yet they still believe the earth is billions of years old, for example, or that we possibly could have evolved from some lower life form. I believe the designers of the Creation Museum have done an excellent job appealing to all groups of people – and it’s difficult to come away without a realization that perhaps our science teachers – and others in positions of authority – aren’t telling us everything.

These were some of my favorite flowers along the walking trail.

 

One thing I enjoyed most about the museum is the fact that they present an account of history based on scientific evidence. Yes, some of this i s even the same evidence used by evolutionists, but it is interpreted differently. Many evolutionists approach science with a pre-conceived bias that they already know what the answer is so they’re not really looking for the truth, but instead they’re trying to find a way to support what they already believe. It’s circular reasoning. Scientists at the Creation Museum have addressed this issue and allowed the evidence to speak for itself.

 

Another aspect of the museum we enjoyed was the fact that they do present the story and purpose of mankind. Why does man exist? Why does sin exist? How are we supposed to treat one another? What is our purpose in life? These are among many of the difficult questions addressed at the Creation Museum.   After touring the exhibits inside the museum, there is a beautiful flower-lined walking trail outside that leads to a petting zoo. The walking trail is a great place to reflect on the exhibits and even discuss some of the concepts with your family.

 

Whether or not you believe in a Divine Creator, I would highly recommend a visit to the Creation Museum. It was refreshing to visit a museum that wasn’t afraid to allow the science to be interpreted without the prejudiced eyes of those who have an agenda to push evolution. Since most of us have been raised in secular classrooms, your beliefs might be challenged. You will learn something new. Your eyes will be opened to scientific truths that have been hidden. And I believe you will come away with a new understanding and appreciation of Biblical truths.

 

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