Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red Rocks, NV

After so much travel over the last couple of years we were a little travelled out and needed a break so we made a goal to stay home until April 1. We had a great couple of months skiing and taking classes including a fabulous two week Shakespeare camp which culminated in an amazing performance of Twelfth Night with 28 other homeschool students. It was a truly incredible feat....30 homeschool kids ages 6-14, 70 pages of pure Shakespeare language and two weeks to prepare! With the help of two Shakespearean directors from Seattle, the kids delivered a show that could give adult Shakespeare companies a run for their money. A week later we spent two days in Yellowstone with a wildlife biologist as Isaac has so aptly described in the previous posts. Two days later, we headed out of town bright and early (for us) April 1 and headed to the desert. We were actually going to leave March 31 but we woke to fresh powder that morning so we opted to skip driving on icy roads and went skiing instead....a very good call. I should mention here that our original plan was to drive our beloved VW camper van Sylvia on this two week trip. A sense of foreboding hung over me as we made these plans. Was it that after spending a blessed six months traveling the U.S. in her it was only a matter of time before we really ended up stranded somewhere remote? Thankfully a week before our departure Sylvia decided to run on only three cylinders, again, saving us a stranding in god-only-knows-where. After scouring the web for camper van rentals we located Escape Campervans and reserved a funky Ford van to take Sylvia's place. So Sylvia stayed home in the shop and we packed up my car with climbing gear and headed to Vegas. As we cruised down the interstate in my silky smooth, super-reliable bullet car I counted my chickens before they hatched. This was the future...we would gobble up the long miles in my car and then rent a reliable, safe camper van close to our destination. No more wheels almost falling off and no more major engine failures along the road.

We picked up our funky, ocean-themed Ford camper van named Kasha in a seedy section of Vegas (isn't it all seedy?) and hightailed it out of town as fast as we could between stoplights. I think we managed to hit every single stoplight in the fifteen miles between the pickup location and Red Rocks. What can I say about the van....well, it looks really cool. But it is, after all, a Ford van and the driving experience was very wander-y at best. It was a constant struggle to keep it in our much for dreams of driving a safer vehicle. As for the camping experience....well, it couldn't touch our Sylvia. The VW Vanagon Westfalia is a genius's like a Swiss Army knife on wheels and we missed having her along immediately.

After we grabbed lunch and snagged the last campsite in the campground, we headed out for a hike at Calico Basin where Aaron was on high-alert for all things birds, especially canyon wrens. It was a huge goal for this trip to see canyon wrens. He even brought along his canyon wren stuffy that makes authentic canyon wren calls. As we worked our way up an old wash we heard a familiar call ahead which we all thought was Aaron's stuffy, but it was the real thing. With much excitement we pushed ahead in hot pursuit of our little canyon wren friend but, alas, he managed to outwit us and stayed hidden from view. As Aaron and I waited and watched and listened, Jason and Isaac ventured a little further. When it began snowing on us (wait a minute....wasn't this vacation about getting away from the snow and cold? Weren't we in Las Vegas?) we reunited and turned around to head back to the camper.

After a dismal nights sleep on the lumpy van bed, we headed to the Gallery for some climbing. It's always a big transition moving from the climbing wall to real rock in the spring so we took it easy. It was just nice to be outside in the sun and relative warmth. Aaron spent the day delighted to be in the desert and on the lookout for more birds. The following day we hiked Calico Tanks where Aaron got his heart's desire....he finally saw two canyon wrens! It was a happy day. That evening Jason's brother and family joined us from San Diego. In the morning we packed up and hiked into the Black Corridor where we set up a couple of top ropes. While we climbed to our heart's content, Aaron and his cousin played and played and played. It was so fun to watch them play in the sand together. After everyone had had their fill of the Black Corridor we hopped into the campers and headed north to St. George, UT where we squeezed in a few more climbs at Chuckwalla and a quick bite to eat before pushing on to Zion National Park. We arrived after dark and immediately collapsed into bed, tired and happy.

Click here for photos.

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