Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Family Campout to Eastern Utah

For our family summer vacation this year we spent a few days in Eastern Utah camping at Steinaker Reservoir State Park and visiting Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge.

Day One
Before we left we stopped by Orem to visit Robert's grandma who was in the hospital with pneumonia. She was pretty weak at that time and later she told Robert's mom she doesn't even remember her hospital stay. She has since been moved to as rehabilitation facility in Orem to get her strength up so she can finally go home to Sacramento. She got sick when she came out to visit and be sealed in the temple to her parents.

Lauren was also visiting and Julia was taking pictures with my phone.

Then we drove three hours out to Eastern Utah, just outside of Vernal. We set up camp and had dinner and campfire cones.
Day Two
We went to Dinosaur National Monument and saw their impressive wall of dinosaur fossils. There are over 1,500 fossils on the rock wall from almost a dozen different dinosaur species including Allosaurus, Diplodicus, and Stegosaurus. The kids all got a junior ranger booklet and completed it while we were there so they became junior rangers and got a Dinosaur National Monument Junior Ranger badge.

Some of the fossils you were allowed to touch.

This area used to be the end of a river bed. These dinosaurs died in various places along the dried up riverbed during a drought. Then the river came back and washed all the bones downstream where they all ended up stuck at this one spot.

No, they don't normally let people climb on the fossil wall. The two people behind Robert are the head paleontologist for the site and a visiting paleontologist who was going to be giving a presentation that night.

Micah is such a sweet boy. He's pretty good at posing for me when I want to get a nice picture.

To access the fossil wall, called "The Quarry," visitors ride a tram from the visitor center up to the Quarry building (they have built an entire building around the wall to keep it protected). The kids loved the tram, they called it a bus and it was one of their favorite parts of the trip. On the way up someone on the tram started humming the theme song to Jurassic Park, and it did feel kind of Jurassic Parkish, where you had to take a tram through a closed gate.

With one of the iconic dinosaurs at the visitor center. This dinosaur was one of nine dinosaurs sculpted for the 1964 World's Fair in New York and arrived at the monument in the late 1960's. It has been painted a variety of colors over the years and in this picture it's paint job was inspired by the African Gemsbok (an antelope-like animal). Just a few weeks after we visited I saw on the Monument Facebook page that the dinosaur got a new paint job, this time a more, umm, natural looking paint job, or what you might actually think a dino might look like. So we were one of the last ones to see it with the old paint job. They said this new paint job should last it forty years!

Julia was really into sneaking my phone away and texting people and taking pictures. Her other front tooth, which she has been missing since December, finally come in in July.

 After the Quarry we found a picnic site for lunch and then headed off to explore the monument. We did a driving tour which gave background on the geology and other, later, inhabitants of the monument besides dinosaurs. The tour included getting out to see some of the various sites.

Native American petroglyphs. We saw a lizard petroglyph on the driving tour pamphlet but we couldn't find it among these petroglyphs.

The next stop was a longer hike to the petroglyphs that including a lot of uphill to the side of a cliff.

 That's where we finally found our giant lizard.

Camden was having a great time going uphill, until we got to the top and he realized just how far up we had gone. Then he wanted Dad to carry because he was scared. More petroglyphs.

 Don't let me go Dad.

The view from where we were.

Other inhabitants of the area were early settlers. This was the cabin of a lady named Josie Morris who lived out here by herself for fifty years, until 1963, without running water or electricity.

Having fun back at our campsite. There was a beach to get wet at the reservoir, but we never did make it down to the beach. Getting everyone fed and dressed or ready for bed was our priority when we were at camp. I was also eight months pregnant and not feeling all that adventurous.
 Day 3
This day instead of driving East towards the Monument we drove North to Flaming Gorge. We had some lunch at the reservoir and then went for a hike.

We started our expectations low and just said we would go however long it took until everyone was tired. We ended up going about 1.5 miles roundtrip, and that's with no one in a hiking backpack. Camden actually is a great little hiker when he wants to be, he will even run to keep up since his legs are shorter than everyone else.

Trailhead for our little hike. The end is suppose to have a nice view of Flaming Gorge, but we didn't make it that far.

Then we went on a tour of the dam. We were the last tour of the day and it was only us, so the tour guide gave us an abbreviated kid friendly tour so the kids wouldn't get bored. We mostly just walked through the dam and fed the fish that congregate at the base of the dam, Flaming Gorge was at high capacity so they were letting water out of the reservoir that day right next to where we were and the rate that water shoots out is incredible to see.

Some of the electrical workings inside the dam.

Walking across the dam. It was really windy!

Looking down to where we were.

We got back to camp that evening and had dinner and desert (cinnamon and sugar biscuits cooked over the campfire), but it was really windy and not that enjoyable to be sitting out in. So we made the decision that since we were just going to get up and pack up and leave the next morning we would go ahead and pack up that night. Robert was going to leave for a Ragnar race the next afternoon so we needed to get back early anyway.

It was like 9:00 pm when we left and around 1:00 am (we stopped in Park City to pick up some things Robert had left up at the Holiday's cabin) when we got home. But the kids fell asleep about an hour into it and slept the rest of the way, even Micah who had slept for a long time at the campsite when we got back from the dam! We could not get him to wake up even though it was windy and hot and didn't look very comfortable. Camping can be hard work for a little kid (and the adults)!

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