Last year, Kent and I wanted to take our kids camping; but we never set aside a time to do it, and suddenly school was back in and then it was snowing. This year, we decided to PLAN a camping trip, and when I came across a bargain for a rafting trip in Moab (found on CityDeals.com) in March, I jumped at it. And lucky for us, our friends, the Petersons, happened to be visiting when I saw the deal online, and they got in on it too. Within a few weeks, we had campsites and the trip date reserved and on the calendar.
At the beginning of August, we spent three days in Moab. Even though our campsite (at Ron's Pack Creek Campground, which we liked) backed up to a stream and was shaded by river trees, the sun was still beating on us at 100 degrees as we set up camp. But almost as soon as our tent was up, a brief rain storm blew through and left us with a cool evening.
We decided to visit Delicate Arch in Arches National Park before it got dark, and the timing turned out to be perfect. The desert was still wet from the rain, the air was cool, and the sunset against the arch was amazing.
#1 got this great photo of Delicate Arch.
The only disappointment came from #5 who looked around at the small crowd viewing the arch and said, "Where's the guy selling the license plates?"
It grew dark as we drove back to camp, and we had a late dinner to fill our sleepy kid's stomachs before they conked out.
In the morning, I woke the children saying they needed to wake up or we'd be late, at which point I revealed the surprise rafting trip. One kid was excited because she apparently has always wanted to go rafting, one thought it sounded fun, one wanted to keep sleeping, one informed us that she hates rafting, and one was indifferent. (Kind of the same response as the time we surprised them by showing up at Disneyland, and all they wanted to do was get in the hotel where they could watch cable TV.) I'm starting to learn that I should keep my expectations low when I try to surprise them.
Anyway, we went rafting for the day.
Once everyone was suited up and headed up river in the bus, the excitement started to build. We chose a rather calm river trip hosted by World Wide River Expeditions. The most challenging rapids were a class three, which was great for our young families. No one fell out, but everyone got wet!
Even #4--who had protested very much about our camping trip, insisting vehemently, "I hate camping. I hate the nature."--ending up loving the rafting, as evidenced by this photo:
The air by the water was cooler than the rest of the desert, and whenever we got hot, we just jumped in and floated alongside the raft.
The river guides provided lunch at a beach midway through the trip, and it was nice to just float and talk and not have a care in the world.
That evening, following a Dutch oven dinner, we had another lovely hike in Arches where we all climbed around on the rocks and sat in a stone window to watch the sun set.
On Saturday, we took down camp and rested at a park in town. The playground was a group of oversized chimes, drums, and xylophones that kept all of us, children and adults, entertained for quite some time. Then, going with our play-it-by-ear theme, we discussed plans for the rest of the day. Our neighbor had recommended a Hummer tour on the slick rock, but it was too pricey for this trip's budget. We had wanted to go sledding down the sand dunes, but we were already too hot. So we opted to head home with a detour to Dead Horse Point.
The view was amazing! Getting photos there was humorous in the wind. (#4 looks like Cousin It! I guess I can see why she's not in love with "The Nature".)
There isn't much hiking to do there, but we spent two hours at the visitor's center learning about the geology and ecology of that portion of desert. There was a photo gallery downstairs where I found some fantastic artwork that I would like for my home someday. #5 and the Petersons' #3 became Junior Rangers--she did most of the work.
Plus, we got a second "passport" stamp in our Utah State Parks Field Guide.
We spent the rest of the day enjoying our air-conditioned vehicles, and grabbed dinner together in Provo before our friends continued home up north. It was nice to arrive home in the early evening and have time and energy to unpack and start laundry. Even though much of the trip was played by ear, everything worked out perfectly and I enjoyed the short vacation immensely. It was really fun to camp with friends, too. Besides having plenty of good conversation and someone to split meal duties, we could send grumpy kids to the other family's vehicle and they would almost magically be on better behavior. We came home having enjoyed our children because they enjoyed themselves more with others too. And now that I know there is so much to do in Moab, I look forward to saving up for horseback riding, Hummer tours, and late-night dining when we go again.