Celebrating the National Parks Service Centennial!

We got back to Raleigh on Election Day and the vacation high was abruptly  crushed as Wednesday morning rolled around. The world felt like a different, stranger place overnight.  I still haven’t recovered from the shock of it all.  Today, I finally decided to stop being so despondent and do something productive – like download our vacation pictures.  And as if the Universe knew, the pictures of the mighty landscapes are proving to be surprisingly therapeutic.  I wanted to share them with you with the hope that they distract you and in a small way somehow put things in perspective.  The beauty and the good in the world will continue to exist and we must recognize it in every little thing and pass it on.

The National Parks Service celebrated its 100th year in 2016 and our vacation was a way to join in on the party.  We started in Denver where we spent two nights seeing the city. From there in a rental minivan we drove to Moab, Utah which is usually a 6 hour drive but with our stop and go ended up being much longer.  The kids did fine though and we made it a point to stop at anything that looked interesting along the way.

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Moab is a tiny but awesome little town which puts you within minutes of the Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. We had our Ergo carrier and a Deuter’s Kid Comfort Pack to make sure we could hike around with both kids.  Some trails like the Broken Arch and Sand Dune Arch were easy enough where the kids just walked along with us (although it took us 3 times as long since they stopped to inspect every little rock on the way), but most others including Delicate Arch and Mesa Arch were too steep, high and dangerous for our littles. Having said that, we saw countless kids who looked like 6+ climbing along with their parents.  I am pretty terrified of heights and Devang is just as fearless.  He had Asha climbing all over the place while I reverted to praying.  Our most difficult hike was to the Delicate Arch but worth it in every single way.

 

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Family photo under Balanced Rock.  

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Both kids fell asleep on the hike up and woke up just in time to shake out their wiggles on top of a very narrow and high mountain top.  Not scary at all. 

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This picture makes the hike up to Delicate Arch look easy. But to the right of the rim is death fall. 
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While Arjun and I stuck to the path, the fearless other half went exploring way up high.

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On top of the world! And so so proud. 

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Canyonlands is divided into three zones, only one of which – Island in the sky – is accessible by a regular car.  We hiked the Mesa Arch and stopped at countless overlooks which were breathtaking.  The Needles and the Maze require a four wheel drive or a guided tour using bikes.

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From Moab we made the four hour drive to Page, Arizona.  Again, there are lots of stops along the way, but the one we loved most was Goosenecks State Park.  This is where the San Juan River bends around the mountains and the view is so peaceful and epic.  There was only one other car eating their lunch when we got here. And then our kids got out of the car and took our the space and silence just like kids can. We spent one night in Page where we visited Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope canyons.

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I just realized after seeing this picture that Asha totally licked that mile marker!  

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Picture curtesy of Asha.
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Picture by Asha. 
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Monument Valley. 
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Playing around in the sand while we waited for our tour to begin.

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Antelope Canyons

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Picture by Asha! 
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The 10-minute truck drive to and from the Antelope Canyons is very dusty. We were crusted in the red sand.  This picture was taken by Asha too. 

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The next day we left for Scottsdale, Arizona where the comforts of the Omni Hotel seemed so luxurious and grand after roughing it in small hotels.  The drive from Page to Scottsdale felt the longest of all even though it really wasn’t. In Scottsdale we explored the city and didn’t partake in any hiking given that temperatures were in the 90s during the day. Instead we went to the pool, roamed around downtown, visited the children’s museum, and had fun eating out.  Our room at the Omni came with a back yard and that was another bonus towards relaxation since we didn’t always have to take kids out for them to have fun! All four of us took it ultra easy after these past few days of heavy hiking.  Perhaps this is also why I have very few pictures from this part of our trip.  From Scottsdale we flew to Chicago for a very quick stay over.  It was one of those perfect Chicago days which made us question why we ever left.  We walked on the 606, saw Asha’s old teachers, and walked by our condo.  All of which was very very emotional for me.  We have so many good memories there! On Tuesday we finally made it back to Raleigh and it was so good to be home after being out for 14 days.

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This was most likely our last trip for the year and what a phenomenal time it was.  We live in such a beautiful and diverse country that sometimes I forget that I don’t always need to go over the pond to Europe to see something amazing.  Being close to nature felt so peaceful and meditative.  It felt good for my soul! I was also amazed at how well accessible and well maintained our National Parks are for all the people to enjoy.  We saw people of all ages, all abilities, taking in the beautiful landscape.  I am lucky to be living in a country where such things are honored, respected, and cared for. As always it was also a great reminder that you can travel pretty much anywhere with kids! I hope our trip inspired you to take one of your own and explore the nearest State or National Park around you.

Thanks for reading! Happy Travels.

 

 

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

3 thoughts on “Celebrating the National Parks Service Centennial!

  1. The photo of Asha licking the post made me laugh out loud. So cute!!! I love your photos. I am adding this trip to my list. It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. Miss you!

    Like

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