Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Road Trip 2010

July 27, 2010 we left Orange County for Las Vegas. Zack’s team had his 10U tournament, and the 5onFive President quickly put a 9U together team to take to Vegas that I was going to coach and Trent would be on the team. This was going to be fun. Trent got some good AAU experience in Vegas. Trent’s team only had 3 practices and we didn’t have one when we were all together. We had a few kids cancel at the last minute so we only had 4 confirmed players going into the last practice. We needed a miracle. Luckily, we were aloud to bring some 10 year old to bring us up to 7 total players. We could go and play, but we could not win a championship because of the 10 year olds. Well, when we got there, we found that most of teams in our division were 10 year olds with only a couple of 9U’s. So with only 3 practices under our belt, our 9U’s played their hearts out. The lost every game, but to me they won because they did their very best. They all gained a great deal of higher level experience.

Zack’s team had been playing very well near the end of the season. They won Championships from 3 of the final 4 tournaments they played in. But this was Vegas. This is a whole different ball of wax. All the teams they played against were much more athletic than our team. But what the opponents didn’t know was the high octane, never give up attitude of 5onFive. They beat very good team the first game. Then they battled another great team. This other team (who had two 12 year old on the team) had to make a desperation, fall away, 3-pointer, with two defenders right in his face to win. I guess they need those 12 year olds to beat us. The next game we battled a tough team from Colorado. Zack had his best game of the season. He scored 16 points in 10 point win over a much more athletic Colorado team. The bummer is, the very next day we had to play the same team in the semi-final. The other team made some adjustments and we couldn’t counter them, but once again they played hard all the way and had a great tournament.

Now that we were done with basketball, it was time to decompress and get ready for our journey. We were off to Brian Head, UT. We stayed in our time share in Cedar Breaks/ Brian Head for 3 days. It was nice to relax away from the hustle and bustle of basketball and Vegas. On our first full day we drove up to Brian Head peak to see everything. The elevation on the peak was a little over 11,000 feet. The altitude was really getting to us here. Zack and I hiked down 10 or 15 feet to a little abandoned well. When we hiked out, it took me a minute or two to actually catch my breath. We looked around the peak for a while watching the thunder clouds build and seeing the native flowers and rock formations. Then we were off to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This monument was formed over millions of years of erosion. Boy it is a site to see. It’s shaped like a half bowl. We went out to the point where you can really see its beauty. A ranger came out to tell us he was closing the point due to the approaching thunder storm. Earlier in the week a lightning bolt hit the point very near to the visitor’s center. As we walked back off the point he told me to be sure and look out at the bowl after the rain. He told us the rain really brings out the red color of the monument.

On day two we decided to drive out towards Cedar Breaks and hike Alpine Pond. This hike was a 3 mile educational power house. We all learned so much about nature and all the little animals that live in it. We paid $1 for a guide pamphlet that really made the hike special. After our hike we had a great pizza in Brain Head.

The next day we were on the road to Moab, UT to see the Arches National Park. Luckily, thunderstorms were following us everywhere we went. The big benefit to the storms, (besides me loving the storms) was keeping the temperatures nice comfortable. I think it barely got into the mid 80 while we were there. We got into Moab and stayed in a nice place. The next day we got an early start out to Arches. This place was beautiful. Our goal was to hike Delicate Arch and maybe some other arches and view bunch more. We did all that. Delicate Arch was another 3 mile hike. The boys loved climbing the big rock up to the arch. Even Matt loved it as he sang his “energy song.” Delicate Arch was awesome and huge. We took turns taking pictures under the arch. It’s much taller and bigger than I anticipated. When you look up, you really get dizzy…the arch is tall and if you fell, you would get banged up pretty good. (Not as scary as Half Dome cables though.) After our hike we continued on to a short hike of the “Windows” and the “Turret.” Matt and Stef sat these two out, but they were pretty cool to see. We then continued to several viewing points for the “Gossip Sisters, Balanced Rock, Windows, and Park Avenue.” This was defiantly one of our highlights of the trip.

The next day we’re going to drive through 4-Corners on our way to Monument Valley. 4-Corners was a bit of drive out of the way, but well worth the stop for a photo opp. They’ve re-done monument and it looks great. There was short line for a picture for us to all be in CO, UT, NM, and AZ at the same time. Some of the others in line cautioned us about the Navajo police. They said to drive the speed limit exactly. I guess they will write tickets even if you are 1 mph over the speed limit. I was very careful from that point on while driving on the reservation. The monument is run by the Navajo Nation so we had to try the Navajo bread. Basically it was fried bread with cinnamon, or honey, or powdered sugar on top. We tried them all. Ummmm they were good.

Now we were on our way to Mexican Hat, UT. We were only staying one night in Mexican Hat, so once again we left early to see Monument Valley. Monument Valley was the set for many of John Ford’s Westerns. You can see a great deal of the beautiful monuments from the road. But an even better view can be seen by going into the park. The best view was from the visitor’s center. I think my favorite buttes were the Mittens. We decided to get a better look by taking the 17 dirt road around the majority of the site. After the bumpy ride, we felt that the view from the visitor’s center was the best. We got back on the road and it was off to Zion, UT

We arrived at the park and it was beautiful. The formations of the rock were so different than I’d ever seen before. Red and white striations or layers that were created over millions of years. We drove through the two man-made tunnels that got us to the other side of the park where we were staying in Springdale, UT. The weather was nice and cool due to the earlier thunderstorms. Springdale is awesome. It’s a town right next to the park with the best shuttle service ever. We got some dinner and got ready for our hike. Zack I decided to take pre-hike so we knew where were going and what we needed to get. We were ready. We took the first shuttle to the park and then took another shuttle to the trail head. We had decided to hike the Emerald Pools. We did get a picture of us all at the first stop. Matt made it about 3 quarters of the way up and then the energy that his energy song gave him ran out. So, Stef and Matt headed back. And it was a good thing he did. The trail got a bit more technical (rocky) and some storm clouds were closing in. Zack, Trent, and I made it to Upper Emerald Pool. It was beautiful and SO tall. The canyon walls probably were 100-150 feet up from where we stood. Then we started to hear some thunder. It was getting closer, so we decided to head back. People were still coming up, while we were headed down. By the time we found some adequate shelter, the lighting had pretty much stopped, but we were already soaked. The boys wanted to plow down so we decided to keep hiking in the rain. By the time we got to the bottom, we were WET and a little cold. We got some hot chocolate and I got 2 new shirts. (Package deal) Once we got warmed up, the sun came out and it was time to go see more of the park. Stef wanted to see a movie at one of the stops in the park. It was an educational movie about the park. Zack, Trent, Matt, and I wanted to see more of the park. So we got back on the shuttle that went around the park. We got off the shuttle at Temple of Sinswava. The tour bus guide told us that this water fall usually only flows in the spring…but it was flowing now…so we got a picture. We got back on the first shuttle and then the second shuttle right back to our motel. We had some pool fun and then got ready for our last leg back to Vegas.

We got into Vegas at around 10:30. Not only did we leave around 9 or so, we gained an hour with the time change. Since we were so early, our timeshare room was not ready. We decided to visit one of our new favorite restaurants, The Aloha Kitchen, to burn some time. (The other was Thai…Lotus of Siam…yum!) After lunch, the room was still not ready. They gave us a pool key and we went out to the big pool for some fun. On one side the pool has a neat water fall that falls from a pyramid type temple. On the other side are the four slides. Two for younger kids and two for the bigger ones. The boys had a blast on slides. When the room was ready at 4p…they were ready to go. When we got to the room, it was a site to see. We actually had two bedrooms and a pull out couch. We had been living out of our suitcases for about two weeks, so I was glad we were staying two nights here. We had more pool fun the next day and then we got ready for home. We were really looking forward to getting home into our own beds.

As our summer adventure was nearing its end, we really noticed, how beautiful Utah is in many ways. And we were really only in the Southern part of Utah. We saw the upper elevations of Brian Head, to the desert regions of Moab, 4-Corners, and Monument Valley, to the canyons of Zion. This was a great adventure!

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