Canyons and Colds

On our way home from Zion, Asia was feeling a little under the weather. We thought it was because she had hiked Angel’s Landing twice and figured it was muscle fatigue and maybe a little dehydration. We had her take it easy and drink lots of water. It wasn’t until Micah came down with a fever that we realized Asia had actually picked up the flu and was contagious. Living in a camper, viruses travel through the ranks pretty quick. Asia, Micah, River and I all had fevers, body aches and fatigue for a few days, followed by the sniffles and a pretty rough cough. Erich had to work five 12 hour shifts in a row, so we tried to protect him. He slept in the little camper during the day and we grilled and ate dinner outside before he’d head back to work. Thankfully, Erich and Jake were both able to dodge the bullet. After his five shifts, we had four days off and had planned to hit up Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon before the crowds got bad. The four of us still had pretty bad lingering coughs, so I had my reservations, but we figured we might as well go do something fun.

Antelope Canyon was amazing! There are two parts to the canyon, both requiring a separate tour. Upper Antelope Canyon is above ground, with the bottom of the canyon walls starting at ground level and towering up to 120 feet tall. The upper canyon is shaped like this /\ with the top of the canyon much narrower than the bottom making for really cool sun rays. Lower Antelope Canyon is several miles away, on the other side of a huge wash, and the top of the canyon is at ground level. So, the whole canyon is basically under ground and shaped like this \/. As I’m sure you can guess, the sandstone canyon walls are formed and shaped by water. What is surprising is that they get flash floods even when it’s not raining in or near the canyon. The water collects from areas upstream and eventually rushes into the wash, making it’s way quickly downstream, flooding into the lower canyon, filling it sometimes completely with water. It’s very dangerous, which is one of the reasons you can only see the canyons via tour now. They have alarm systems in place to prevent people getting caught in a flash flood and rescue ladders and nets in case evacuations don’t happen quick enough. The tour for the lower canyon was drastically cheaper, so our family of six opted for that one. It was crowded and hard to get pictures without other people in them, but it was worth every penny. The lines, colors, textures, and waves in the sandstone walls were mesmerizing. I’ll never forget it.

After Antelope Canyon, we headed back to our favorite BLM campsite, near the Belly of the Dragon, where the kids enjoyed playing by the creek while we sat back and watched. We decided to take in the sunset at the Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park up the road. It was crazy. There are over 3,000 acres of pinkish sand dunes, some over 100 feet tall, in the middle of nowhere. The kids of course had to climb the tallest one. My body was still in recovery mode from being sick and my lungs were struggling with the cold air. I’m not sure how River and Micah were doing it, because I wasn’t enjoying myself quite as much as everyone else seemed to be. But watching them run and play in the sand made up for the discomfort. As they set off to climb the next tallest dune, River and I decided we weren’t up for it and began the long trek back to the truck, envying all the ATV’s and dune buggies playing in the sand. We might need to add that to our bucket list.

That night was rough, with all the lingering coughs, and we debated heading home the next morning. Bryce Canyon was just up the road though, and we weren’t sure we’d make it back that way again, so we went for it. I remember seeing it as a kid and not being that impressed. What we didn’t realize was that it was at a much higher elevation and there was still snow. We weren’t quite prepared for that, but the snow added so much depth to the already unique rock formations. I was glad to see it again, in a new light. We were wrapping up our visit when River threw up all over the Visitor’s Center floor, making it very clear we had pushed our limits too far this time. We headed back to the camper, hitched up and headed home.

Life lessons this week; trust your mom instincts, know your kids’ limits, and don’t push past them.

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