Here's the group. (Megan's family was not in attendance.)
We also did some old photo recreations, but since I don't have the originals we were recreating, it doesn't make much sense to post the new ones. If someone in the family gets those to me, I'll put them up.
On August 2 we took Heather and Addie to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for a day camp. They got to feed some koi, took a puppy for a walk, fed it treats, and toured their medical facility. I sat on the patio and took pictures of hummingbirds.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
After lunch we drove out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We parked, got everyone sunscreened, walked out to the dunes, and a storm rolled through. So we huddled under the observation platform and watched the storm.
On August 1 we had a reservation to visit Antelope Canyon outside of Page, Arizona.
Glen Canyon Dam
So I, Jess, and the girls headed off early to visit Glen Canyon Dam on our way.
In this picture, Corinne refuses to look at the camera and Jess has just poked Heather in the eye with her sunglasses, but doesn't realize it yet:
After our dam tour we headed in to Page for lunch and ice-cream at Slackers. Then it was out to the staging area for our Antelope Canyon tour. We got there, the rest of the family arrived, and then it started pouring, thundering, and lightning-ing. Then, after we all got flash-flood warning alerts on our phones, they canceled the tour. So no Antelope Canyon for us. Which was frustrating as I had booked it something like 6 months ago and was looking forward to it.
After being rained out at Antelope Canyon we needed to come up with something else to do. We decided to take a look at what's left of Old Paria--a ghost town that my family visited when I was growing up that has since been burned down by vandals. On the drive back up in to Utah we stopped at Big Water Visitor Center to let the girls out for a bit. It was closed, but had some outdoors exhibits we could still look at about dinosaurs and the geological history of the area.
We got to the trailhead for Old Paria just as the rest of the group was heading in, so we joined up with the back of the caravan.
The dirt road was in decent shape most of the way out to a picnic area. We did have to cross one wash, but it was manageable even with 2-wheel-drive minivans, but then the road crosses the river bed which was not going to happen in our vehicles. So we parked there and walked.
(The guy in the green shirt isn't with our group.)
Here's us sort of recreating an old picture from when my family visited the same Paria Cemetery when I was growing up. If someone gets me that picture I'll put it up too, but I don't have it.
It started raining with some thunder while we were at the cemetery. So we turned around to head back to the vehicles.
Our family vacation this year was a road trip across across Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Idaho (and necessarily crossing Nevada to return home).
On July 29 we met up with most of the rest of my family outside of Zion National Park for a family reunion which was originally planned as a retirement celebration for Dad.
We all stayed in a vacation rental out past the east entrance of the park. Lots of room for cousins to run around.
On July 31st we went in to Zion National Park, briefly. We drove in, parked, got on the shuttle, and rode it up to the Narrows station. We let the girls play in the water at the mouth of the Narrows for a little while.
Then we hopped back on the shuttle with the intent of doing one of the short, child-friendly hikes. Instead, Corinne completely overheated and we stopped at the lodge in order to find some air conditioning and get her cooled down again. After which we decided we better just get heading back to the house. So that was our trip to ZNP. Better luck next time.
Jess, Heather, and Corinne went down to Texas to visit with her family for about a week. This left me in the unprecedented situation of having a weekend with no one home. I decided to take the opportunity to go do something that no one else in the family would want to do with me. So I drove up in to the forest and hiked a mountain.
There are a handful of old fire lookouts scattered across the American West that you can rent out. I thought that'd be fun to do, but when I was making these plans a couple months ago everything was already booked. So I thought it would still be fun to hike up to one anyways. Turns out the one I was looking at is closed for repairs so I could hike up and not bother anyone. I found a little hidden gem of a cabin nearby. I wasn't sure it really existed as I could find no information about it except the one Recreation.gov information page.
I'm a bit reluctant to share my find because right now it's basically unused and easily booked. But that runs the risk of it being closed down due to inactivity and it could use a few repairs. So, here it is: Hirz Cabin on Shasta Lake.
It is fully off grid with solar panels and a battery bank to provide electricity. It has a propane tank for heat, hot water, and refrigerator. I had never seen a propane refrigerator before; didn't know they even existed.
It has two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining table, living area, and deck. Nothing else around it with a private gated driveway. The introvert's dream.
Finding it is not easy--even with directions. So I'll help out with that. Here are the geo-coordinates of the cabin: 40.868194, -122.255826.
Here are some pictures. You should find all these same pictures on the Recreation.gov page (once they're approved) as I uploaded them all to their site as well.
I arrived Friday evening and hiked along the lake for a couple of hours before heading to bed. On Saturday I slept in, ate breakfast, and swept and mopped the floors downstairs as they really needed it. I did some reading and preparing of my gear. I cooked myself a nice dinner to load up for my hike.
The Hike to Hirz Mountain Lookout
As sunset approached it was time to head up the mountain. Since the day was about 109F my plan to was to take off in time to reach the top before sunset and then hang out and cool down before returning after dark. The location of this lookout was also not entirely clear. Some Google-maps sleuthing led me to correct location of the trailhead, but I wasn't able to identify the location of the lookout.
I drastically underestimated how long it would take me to get up the mountain (5 miles with a 36-pound backpack) so I did not make it up in time for sunset. I took a picture with my phone along the way, but it does not do it justice, it was a really nice sunset:
I did, however, get up in time to catch moonset--which was awesome:
Venus, I believe, was hanging out with the Moon that evening:
Since it was dark I wasn't able to get a picture of the lookout itself, but here's the plaque at the base as proof I did make it up:
And the last full view of the moon before it slipped below the mountains:
I had originally intended to hang out at the lookout past sunset and take some pictures of the stars. But, I discovered that during my 3-hour hike up I had drunk all but a cup of my 100 ounces of water. So I figured I better start heading down again while that water was still in my system as I had no way to replenish it.
2 hours and 40 minutes later I was back down the mountain and my legs ready to collapse. I drove back to the cabin and dropped in to bed.
Eventually I got up the next morning and while my legs were not happy about it, they did support me. I packed up my car and locked up the cabin and headed in to Redding to find a whole pile of food to eat. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hash browns from a Country waffles made for a nice breakfast (and lunch).
After filling up I drove out to Shasta Dam to catch a tour.
You can catch the resident ospreys in one the nests near the visitor's center:
I like this sign because it reminds of something that would have appeared in a late-1990s / early-2000s video game set in the future. And now we live in the future:
Shasta Dam is one of the largest in the country. Not as tall as Hoover, but larger overall.
On this tour you do get to go through the generator room.
After my tour I loaded back up in the Civic and drove back home. It was a fun little trip. I think we'll have to take a family trip up to the cabin some fall when it's not too hot and maybe rent a 4WD vehicle to drive everyone up to the fire lookout to watch sunset.