Phew…done with my fourth night, with the weekend to enjoy my family and maybe squeeze in one more sight-seeing trip. A co-workers daughter is trying to get her permit driving hours in so she can get her license so she drives her mom to work and I drive her back home. I have enjoyed getting to know her. It has been a while since I have talked to a teenager about their hopes and dreams, and also I count it a huge complement that this coworker whom I have known for such a short time trusts me with her baby. After dropping her off I headed home with a plan to propose a day trip, albeit long, to one of the National Monuments close-ish to us that Chad and I had both been hoping to see.
Chad was on board with that, as long as it didn’t require a hotel stay as we need to save up for the 7 or so hotel stays it will take us to get to our next assignment.
We had breakfast. I changed out of my work clothes, we walked Myra, and then all piled into the car. I have joked about the kids developing calloused behinds, but I am partially serious. The four and a half hours to the visitors center involved only a few requests for a bathroom stop and lunch, no complaints.
The visitor center at Grand Staircase-Escalante was smaller and less taken care of than I imagined it would be in the whole spectrum we have seen so far. Funny because I didn’t realize I had an expectation until it wasn’t met.
Quoting from the visitors guide, “Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation in 1996 (for our fellow homeschool kids, who was president at that time?)…According to the Proclamation, ‘Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged, and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental United Sates to be mapped. Even today, this unspoiled natural area remains a frontier, a quality that greatly enhances the Monument’s value for scientific study….'” It spans nearly 1.9 million acres of Americas Public lands. Scientists from around the world come to GSENM for all kinds of areas of study.
We didn’t do their Jr. Scientist program, as it was after lunch and frankly, I didn’t have the energy for it. I kind of regret that decision now, as it was an opportunity we never know if we will have again. Oh well, it truly was beautiful and I LOVE bumpy dirt roads and exploring, so the park was a real treat.
With the park being so HUGE, there is no way to see it all in one day and too hot do do any long hikes (only 102). We really enjoyed our 30 miles one way up and back on a bumpy dirt road drive, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Chad, Caleb, and Hannah started up the Cottonwood South trail a little over 1/4 mile.
We keep saying we are going to need to come back to this area, maybe Flagstaff, because there is so much we had wanted to do but are just not going to get to.
We were sad to say good bye to the park, and turned on an audio book, pointing the car towards home.