Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rocky Mountain & Canyons Trip

For our big summer trip this year, we planned a trek through the Rocky Mountains up to Missoula, Montana (to visit the Thompsons again), with a return through the canyons of Arizona and the desert of West Texas.  This was the longest trip we've gone on thus far, at a whopping 21 days.  We traveled over 4,000 miles in the truck, went though 8 states, stayed at 7 different hotel (plus the Thompson's lovely home), visited 4 Texas State Parks (Lake Arrowhead, Copper Breaks, Franklin Mountains, and Hueco Tanks), and explored 6 National Parks (Rocky Mountain, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest). 

The biggest surprise of the trip - and also what made it the most memorable - was that it was still really cold and snowy in the Rocky Mountains in May.  It was serious snow, like nothing we've experienced before.  Roads were closed and trails were packed with over 20 feet of snow!!  It was beautiful snow, all soft and powdery.  For the first time ever, the boys were able to have a real snowball fight, build a good-sized snowman, make snow angels, and frolic in huge snow piles.  It was amazing!  The best part of the trip, for sure.

The biggest joke of the trip was that every single hike that I had painstakingly planned - after pouring over travel books and reading online articles to pick out the just-right-for-us hikes - was foiled in some way.  No joke - every . . . single . . . hike.  It happened so often that it stopped being frustrating and just came to be expected and laughed about.  The biggest culprit was the snow - trails were either completely closed because of the bazillion inches of snow, or we were unable to hike very far along the trail because we did not have proper winter gear.  The second big hindrance was the bears - either blocking our path on a trail, or the rangers had closed trails because of bear activity.  Then there were snow and sleet storms, rivers furiously gushing from all the snowmelt, and Memorial Day crowds creating long theme-park level lines at trailheads.  

Even with the setbacks, the trip was a real blessing.  We got to see and explore many areas of this beautiful country that most people never get an opportunity to see.  I am extremely grateful that we are able to take our boys on trips like this and create memories that will last a lifetime.  

I've created separate blog posts for each part of our trip, but want to include a few of my favorite pictures here:

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