Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break in Death Valley!

This Spring Break we were going to head up to Big Sur for the week but the forecast was for rain all week so we outsmarted old mother nature and headed for the desert. It was our first trip to Death Valley.

I knew we had made a good choice when the first car I saw when we got inside the park was an AMC Eagle. You could title this pic
'The One Roman Let Get Away.'

We were greeted by blue skies and a chocolate lake, I tried to go swimming in it but it was only three inches deep all the way across.

That's a big three inch deep lake.

Death Valley's biggest claim to fame is the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, -282 ft below sea level. It also might be the brightest place in North America with that desert sun bouncing off the white salt. I'm not sure if Rigdon or Jillian ever even saw Badwater Basin.

Family picture. Jillian still trying to cover up.

Slot canyon 1 of 3.

The kids were troopers as we averaged two or three hikes a day.

We told the kids it was a race to the natural bridge. Caroline was the first one there. She is going to be an athlete someday. Rig and I climbed up on top of it but I had the camera in my pocket so Sara couldn't take a picture of us from the bottom.

Fodder for the next Smart Girls video.

Caroline was not as fortunate on the race back down the canyon to the car. She tripped and belly planted on the dirt and rocks. She did that at least once a day for the remainder of the trip.

This is the called Devil's Golf Course, and yes I told them to line up like that for the picture.

Sara going cowgirl.
(Wrangler Bum, where you from?)

Jillian was a little under the weather. That made her less than agreeable for most of the trip. She tested mine and Sara's patience as well as the single guy camping next to us.

Rigdon and Livi are constantly messing around with each other and always appear to be having way too much fun. Most the time I am grateful that they are such good friends but sometimes it can test your patience as well.

More messing around. I think they are pinching each others necks for this picture.

After being tuckered out from a long day of hiking, they would always get a second wind when we got back to camp to ride bikes.

Caroline actually rides her own two wheeler very confidently and for the most part keeps up with Rig and Livi, but for longer rides she comes on the tag-a-long with Dad.

Jilli resists bike rides always siting the same reason, "I too scared." Mom is a pretty crazy driver. Eventually she warms up and smiles a bit.

If you ever camp in Death Valley make sure it is at Texas Springs. This was one of the coolest hikes we did and it was right in our campground.

Caroline climbing on all fours to keep up with Rig and Livi.

Up on top surrounded by cliffs 100 ft above the ground.

Everything in Death Valley seems like it has the word Devil somewhere in it's name. Rig and I named this part of the hike Devil's Backbone.

Livi held my hand for part of it, Caroline did for all of it.

Cool scenery.

Ridgon is always excited to show off for his sisters.

Ready to hike the Badlands.

Ready to ride a horse through the Badlands.

Jillian refuses to wear her sunglasses unless they are upside down.

Rig led Mom and Livi up a treacherous ridge.

Two sisters still hiking the Badlands with one on strike.

One of the favorite sites was the historic Scotty's Castle.

Inside the Castle courtyard.

The kids got recruited to the Jr. Ranger program. They all took it very serious. This is Jillian looking extra studious with her Jr. Ranger workbook.

This is Ubehebe Crater. I begged anyone to hike down in it with me but it was raining and pretty cold. For what it was worth Rigdon said he would have done it with me if he had his skinny jeans. I am not quite sure what to make of that comment and am just going to leave it at that.

Livi slept out with me one night under the incredible desert stars. Taking to Livi and sharing my ipod to listen to Beach Boys music until we fell asleep was one of the highlights of my spring break.

Jillian finally at least warmed up to Caroline.

Pillow pets and mummy bags. Pretty darn cute. The next night I got to share the bed with these two. Getting to listen to Caroline and Jilli's pillow talk was one of my other highlights of spring break.

The kids were looking forward to nothing more than our trip to the sand dunes. They wanted to climb to the tallest dune. We saved it for the last day of the trip.

This is the way the blondes go up the dunes.

This is the way the redheads go up.

The tallest dune was a only a one mile hike, but through the sand I didn't figure the kids would make it half way before they wanted to turn around. I was wrong.

They bounded up dune after dune just to roll down the other side. Sara even got caught up in the excitement and couldn't resist rolling down a giant dune. She complained of sand in every orifice of her body for the rest of the day but the kids didn't complain once.
What a whiner.

As we finally neared the summit of the tallest dune. The wind became very intense and the sand was stinging like it came out of a sand blaster.

Once we could no longer hide below the ridge 3 of the 4 redheads started crying in unison. I pleaded with them.
"We've come all this way. We are only minutes from the summit you guys have to make it."

"No they don't, I am getting them out of here. Give me the backpack."

Within minutes Sara and the girls were reduced to tiny dots in Death Valley's version of the Sahara Desert.
Even though I was only kidding about the whiner comment I have to officially take it back because Sara carried Jillian all the way back to the car and never complained once.

Rig and I were left to summit.

Overall Dad gives the trip an E rating for Epic.