Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Adventure to Say the Least

When Jon first suggested taking the kids down to visit his family for their annual Lake Powell trip, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. The thought of my two children on water with the likeliness of a decent nap at a minimum was not a pleasant one. But we hadn't seen Jon's family since Thanksgiving and we were all way overdue for some quality Nielsen time. So go we did.
Since most of the Nielsen clan travels to Powell by way of Utah, California and Colorado, they usually launch at Bullfrog. For those not well versed in Lake Powell lingo that means really-really-seriously-crazy-completely-out-of-the-way-middle-of-nowhere far away from the Lake Powell Nevadans usually cruise.

We don't have GPS and we didn't even think to Mapquest our trip before we left. Jon and I had gone to Powell one time before, when he introduced me to his parents. So, with our trusty Atlas and our less than accurate account of the first time we made the trip, we set off.

If you look on a map, the trip involves heading straight North about two hours past the lake then cutting East and heading back South to finally reach our destination. Most of the way is two lane highway. I just couldn't help but notice the little red line that beelined straight from the 15 to our destination. Now, according to Jon's map, red lines were highways, grey lines were paved roads and dotted grey lines were not paved roads. There was a lot of red on the path I was considering and a bit of grey but no dotted grey. We were feeling adventurous for whatever reason and decided to take the path less traveled. That is when things started to go downhill... literally.

It started out so well. The drive through Bryce Canyon was smooth and absolutely beautiful. The kids were being so good in the car. A few twists and turns but overall a beautiful road.

It got a little darker then and the road got a little more rural. There was no longer a line separating the two lanes and it was a little more curvy but there were reflectors on the side of the road and it was still relatively smooth sailing.

The sun was gone by then and we were on the lookout for our next turn off. We probably should have taken it as a bad sign that our turnoff was marked by a hand painted sign on a 2x4.

Then we drove by this sign - Not this exact sign, it was dark, but you get the idea.
And then, just as the sign promised, the pavement ended and we continued turning through the mountains on dirt and gravel. If you have ever driven on a dirt road, you know how they tend to get large grooves in them that make your car vibrate? Yeah, we shook for a good 30 minutes. Not only that but any reflectors or lights from anything from our front headlights were non existent. Then we hit another sign.
It seemed innocent enough. Caution Downgrade ahead. We slowed down a lot, thank goodness, just in time to see the hairpin turn in front of us. As our headlights swung around the turn, we finally saw what was in front of us. A complete drop off, a stretch of blackness, then a sheer cliff wall as high as the eye could see.
What The Heck
I grabbed onto my door and my heart, and tried not to scream (both kids were fast asleep) as we hairpin turned our way twelve times down the side of a mountain. When we made it to the bottom, I said a very heartfelt prayer of thanks and cursed the moment I was ever allowed to view the altas. The road became paved again shortly after and we twisted and turned our way to our destination 7 1/2 hours after we started.
Now onto the less harrowing part of our trip. It was actually so much better than I had anticipated. The Nielsens let us stay in the one room on their house boat so my kids got their naps in every day. Not only that, Jon's uncle also brought his house boat so there were lots of room, air conditioning, and even cartoons when needed.
Not only were the accommodations great, but the kids had an amazing time. Scarlet was in heaven.

Rhode was also a big fan of sand time, the cleaning off in the lake afterward? Not so much.
Jon took both the kids out kayaking several times. (This is Rhode and our niece Olivia)
There was even some fishing to be had. My adorable nephew Hawkins and his singular boat obsession was to catch a fish. I kept having to warn him to keep fishing hooks away from humans as there was one dangling in front of my face more than once. He was a man on a mission. Here is the success.
I know it is a good trip when I have time to do this.
Scarlet was great about keeping her life jacket on while we were on the boat. Rhode struggled a little more. The biggest problem was, well, he is pretty chubby. The life jacket came up right under his chin and with the extra meat he's storing under there he just couldn't get his head to turn. He looked like he was being strangled every time we wrestled him in it. So he was eagle eye watched and only forced into his neck brace when we went for a boat ride.
Scarlet would beg every second of the day to go on another boat ride so we went out as often as we could.
But when she pretended not to be interested in tubing we figured she was just being shy. This kid loves the boat and the water. What wouldn't she like about tubing?
Yes, that is the top of her head barely visible as she hid in the hole and cried.
She peeked out just enough for us to know that she was still absolutely terrified so we stopped and pulled her in.
Rhode, on the other hand, had an amazing time on his first tube ride.
I couldn't tell if he was liking the ride. His neck brace kept him from turning his head to see me. So I flipped him around to see how he was doing and he was grinning, waving his arms and squealing with delight.
Coincidentally, this was also my first tube ride since high school. Sadly, it was not my last.
Jon convinced me to take a ride with him. I have decided tubing is kind of like child birth. We somehow only remember all the good moments and forget all the painful ones.
There were a lot of good moments...
Followed by the painful moments...
That is my head and that is Jon's tube rope caught on in. How fun would it be to barrel roll over my wife's tube? .
This fun...
By the way, it looks like he is still not on his tube.. but he is.
I totally love that it was captured on film. That always extends the life of 'things that you can hold over your husband's head'. Remember when you almost decapitated me? Oh you don't! Here let's pull out the photo album.
Jon was so upset by his actions he immediately made sure the kids and I were well away from any boat danger. Spending the afternoon skiing with his dad was punishment really!

We had a quick celebration for Rhode on his birthday while we were there but saved a more official celebration for later. (Post to come soon)
We took off Tuesday afternoon still debating on which road we would take home. Jon really wanted to take our 'road less traveled' again to see it in daylight. Thankfully, for our sanity, marriage, and our lives, the road was closed because of rain. We took the longer route and got home almost exactly 7 1/2 hours later. I think I will count that as my adventure of the year. May all other trips be calm, relaxing, and maybe even uneventful.


dirty>south said...

hey glad you crazy kids are safe, but if you would've crashed Kristi would've been like "Ha, see! It's not just me!!!"

Gui said...

LOL. That has got to be one of the best stories ever. I am glad you overall had fun. I am also glad you're home.

Campbell Family said...

Scary drive!!! Chase and I may have done that exact same drive before we had kids... You are so brave bringing both kids to Powell, I'd better not let Chase see this post because he'll be on me about it big time! (I tell him I'm not ready yet for Powell and two little ones)

Lori said...

I love LAKE POWELL!!!! It makes me feel young. And thanks for hosting Tyler, Danielle and Em....

Samantha and Tyrel Ross said...

Awesome trip!! Not so awesome drive, but now that you're alive, good story! I agree with the tubing thing I went while at my parents and it's like all these fears of pain came rushing that I had never known before when I was younger.

Angie Larkin said...

Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard at the tubing pictures. Especially the ones of Scarlett! SO SO funny. What a funny story. I love lake Powell. But it is such an ordeal to get there even if you DO know where you are going.

Katie said...

You always make me laugh! What a trip. I'm glad you're all back safe and sound. I've always wanted to try Lake Powell. Maybe one of these days =-)

Stacie said...

Wow, what a trip! Those pics of you and the hubby tubing are hilarious!

Tyler - Danielle - Emree said...

As always, well written, hilarious and I can hardly believe the adventure.