S: Summer 2011 - Family Trip
FC: Summer 2011 Las Vegas Nevada Rafting the Grand Canyon
1: July 1-3 Hoover Dam Zumanity Valley of Fire Guy Savoy Wedding Chapels and pawn stores O July 4 A quick flight to Marble Canyon A long day of nothing July 5-10 Rafting in the Grand Canyon Dozens of rapids Great meals Vasey's Paradise waterfall Redwall Canyon Little Colorado River (bright blue water Elves Chasm Deer Creek Falls Havasu Canyon Helicopter to the rim July 10 Buffet at the Bellagio Thunder from Down Under
2: We waited in a DAM line! | We walked on the DAM road! | We watched a DAM movie! | We went on a DAM tour! | There were so many DAM jokes!
3: The dam tour was really interesting. We were able to go into the bowels of the dam and see what felt like the entire operation...
4: While building the dam, they diverted the water around the build site. The building of the dam was potentially the most impressive project in American history. That being said, men worked 363 with the option to work July 4th and Christmas too. In total, 112 men died while building the dam, We got to walk out to one of the vent holes in the face of the dam and peer out. It was a long way down!
5: It is said that you can rub the feet of the winged statues for good luck. We all took our turn before touring one of the museums.
6: The Valley of Fire was really cool (although very hot). The weather had caused some neat erosion patterns which left holes in the rocks. There was also a lot of neat layering in the area. Depending on how old the chunk of land was, or what kind of rock it was, it had different characteristics and sometimes different colors. | Valley of Fire National Park
7: There were a series of walking paths and along one of the paths were a number of pictographs. It was really neat and fun spotting them as we walked. While walking, our toes were a tingling. It was over a 100 degrees and the sand was very warm. At the end of the trail was a natural watering hole. Sadly, there was a bees nest so we couldn't get close to it.
9: Wild life in the dessert | There were a number of petrified trees in the Valley. Honestly they would have been hard to make out if they hadn't been gated off. | There were these amazing little chipmunk type animals. They would run around, then find a bit of shade and lie down for a 10 second rest.
10: Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada. It covers an area of 34,880 acres and was dedicated in 1935. It derives its name from red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. The park’s jagged peaks were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs. These features, often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays.
11: Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape. The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. Other important rock formations include limestones, shales, and conglomerates.
12: We wandered around the sights of Las Vegas including the pawn shop that has a show on Discover Channel and some of the lovely wedding chapels that Vegas has to offer.
13: We did a little bit of gambling, but none of us went too crazy. We also enjoyed the water show at the Bellagio a couple of times. It was lovely. Sara, Jen, and Libby went to see Zumanity at New York New York. On our last night in Vegas, Jen and Libby went to see the Thunder from Down Under.
14: In 1995 while spending the summer in Europe, we spent an evening in Paris at a wonderful restaurant named Guy Savoy. When Jen was doing research for this trip, she noticed that Guy Savoy had also opened another restaurant in the Bellagio. Everyone got dressed up nicely and we spent an evening at the American version enjoying our meal and everyone's company. Some of the highlights of the meal were the steaming lobster plate and the dessert cart. Everything was delicious!
15: Potentially Libby's favorite part of the trip was watching Cirque du Soleil's O. The entire stage was a giant pool with a movable solid stage that the performers could also perform on. At one point, | the acrobats were swinging then jumping and doing flips into the pool.
17: We flew to Marble Canyon early on the morning of July 4th. There, we spent a day waiting for the tour of the Grand Canyon to start. On the morning of the 5th we met up with our group and got outfitted. We were each given small and large wet-bags to put our things in. We loaded onto our rafts and started the trip. | Western River Expeditions 6 day trip
18: Jen, Libby, Mike, and Sara | Wiley, Gracie, Scott, and Erica | Laura and Lisie | The Rabb family (whose names I've forgotten) | Beth and Jay | Russ and Tammi
19: Dylan, Ed, and Tania | Ken and Rich | Brian, Laura, and Teryl | Brian and Teryl's son Michael | Connor (Liam's son), Liam, and friend Johnny | Will and Willy (father of Liam and son of Liam)
20: There have been a number of theories on how the canyon was formed. Currently, most believe that it was part erosion and part the Colorado plateau beginning to lift. The canyon is made out of limestones, sandstones, and schist (among other things). There was a lot of fun with schist jokes. The history of the canyon ranges from 1.7 billion years ago to erosion that's still happening today!
25: Because of the separate stages in which the rocks formed, you can see neat veins. There are also tunnels carved out by water passing through cracks in the rock. Depending on how rainy it's been, there may or may not be a waterfall in given locations. When the fall is dried up, you see bleaching of the stone. You also still see massive chunks of rock breaking off the canyon wall from time to time. Thankfully we didn't see it first hand. These massive chunks of rock are often what forms the rapids since they mess with the flow of the water.
26: There is a period of unconformity of about 450 million years in which the rocks are missing. My best theory for this is aliens. The geologists are working on backup theories.
27: The whole canyon area used to be under water. This is why there are so many visible layers from the sediment settling and stuff. What's really neat is that you come across chunks where the layers are vertical. At some point, these areas were forced up on their sides!
28: From time to time, we would have to tear out attention away from the glory of the canyon to pass through rapids. The Colorado River rapids in the canyon max out at a level 3 on the international rating scale, so they developed their own scale just for the Canyon from 1-10. We rode about a dozen that were in the higher part of the scale.
30: Although they don't look like much from afar, the rapids can pack quite the punch. On Sockdolager Libby almost got to take a swim in the river. There was a little dip, then we hit a wall of water. Thankfully there were plenty of helping hands who dragged Libby back into the center of the raft. Given that the water maintains a frosty 50 degrees, she was glad to not swim.
31: All of the rapids have names. Some are named by their mile marker, some are named for geological features in the area, and some are named after the first person who died in them. The word sockdolager means something that settles things, or a decisive blow. The markings on the rock below are from the original expedition to survey the canyon. Sadly they lost a number of men along the way.
32: The raft itself was a pretty interesting beast. There were 5 large pontoons with metal canisters strapped to them. On the back was a small motor which kept us moving at a steady pace the whole way and helped the guides to steer through the rapids. When sitting on the front, you were guaranteed to get a wild and wet ride. On the front of the canisters it was more mellow and behind the canisters you could take a nap while riding the rapids.
33: Our guides did their best to nab the best campsites for each night. Given that there aren't many sandy spots large enough for all of us, it was important that they not miss the turn into a site. A couple of the nights were clear enough that we were able to sleep under the stars. It didn't get too cold, so it was very comfortable. On the other nights, there were brief 10 minute rain showers that had most people sleeping inside tents. Anyway you chose to sleep, it was pretty comfortable for "roughing it"
34: Camp life consisted mostly of drinking, eating, hanging out, and sleeping. When the sites were big enough everyone would gather around together. Because the river was always so chilly, we were able to leave canned beer in drag bags and have chilled adult beverages whenever we wanted.
35: Even more important than the beer was the food! The guides made three gourmet meals a day. On the menu were burritos, steak, pancakes, and wraps. Potentially the most impressive culinary treat was ice cream on day 5! Apparently they packed it down low with the dry ice and it came out hard as a rock! The food was so delicious that we didn't even mind washing our own dishes.
37: The guides had great attitudes throughout the entire trip, but they showed it most while entertaining us. They dressed up for a number of the meals, and encouraged us to do the same. We even had a toga party. On the last evening, they broke out the nail polish and many of the men and a few women got their toes painted. Dad's purple toe nails were truly lovely.
38: When it was time to get off the raft for the night or back on in the morning we would fire line all of the provisions. This way, it moved quickly and no one got too tired. During every fire line, there would be a loud protest as soon as one particular bag came along. Apparently this person brought an anvil with him. It's still not 100% clear who the hoarder was...
40: We were split up onto two rafts each consisting of about a dozen people and two guides. We all bonded as a group, but got closest with the people on our own raft. At times there was over an hour to wait in between rapids. While going through the rapids, Lisie liked to yell out "suck rubber" which we were told was the reminder to keep you head low.
42: Because we were out in nature we had the pleasure of dealing with the local flora and fauna. This included a rattle snake at one of our camp sites. Wiley gently and carefully picked it up with kitchen tongs and put it in a pillow case then walked it away from camp.
43: Other friends included a variety of lizards, scorpions, and some big horn sheep. The vegetation seemed more limited. There was a little greenery, but a lot of the plants seemed to be very dry, brittle, or sharp. There were certainly some cacti that didn't want to be hugged.
44: This is Vasey's Paradise, a waterfall coming straight out of the face of the canyon wall.
45: Deer creek falls were a very short walk away from the rafts. The water fell from such a tall height that you couldn't get too close or it would beat you up. It did however leave a nice little pool for a swim if anyone wanted to take one. | Sadly, at this point, Libby had a nasty migraine was was napping on the raft. Thankfully it really was possible to sleep through rapids if you were in the princess pad.
46: At one point, the little Colorado river joins the main Colorado river. It gets it's bright blue color from dissolved sediments in the water. Looking at the two rivers meeting was quite the sight. The waters blended together to make some cool colors. The most exciting thing about this swimming spot is that it's as warm as bathwater! There is also a little area that you can float down for a little excitement. Apparently an old hermit used to live near here, and his hut is still there.
48: Excuse me! We're leaving! | We stopped at the Redwall Cavern for a while to get off and stretch our legs. Sara tossed around a Frisbee for a while with the kids. Libby got to see some fossils which were in the rock of the canyon. The best part about the stop was when Lisie and Laura were on the rafts and they started to float away. Instead of shouting "help" or "oh no!" Laura went with "Excuse me! We're leaving!" It took a while for the guides to realize that there was a problem. Then we had the pleasure of watching them sprint over to the rafts to make sure that they didn't float away.
51: We walked a fair way up into a side canyon on one stop. There, Erica played a few songs for us on the violin. The acoustics were amazing and it sounded beautiful! The rocks were also pretty amazing in that we could see millions of years of history with every stripe.
52: We had to hike up a good ways to get to this waterfall, but it was well worth it!
53: This is Elve's chasm. We were able to climb up under the falls and around to then be able to jump in.
54: Visiting the Havasu falls was an amazing experience. We spent the better part of a day there. We had to hike up into a side canyon a good ways to get to the good swimming areas. There were loads of natural pools and plenty of | places to jump off the rocks. Not only was it beautiful, but it was also relaxing, and a lot of fun
56: One of the least exciting things about camping is relieving oneself. In order to preserve the cleanliness of the river, all liquid waste goes in the water, but all solid waste goes goes into a bucket which is taken out of the canyon. You could either use the tent which smelled horrible or just enjoy nature while contemplating things. They always picked the best spot at camp for the outdoor sitter.
57: We passed under the black bridge that was built for mule riding tourist traffic. The Kaibab trail leads to this area and there were a large number of hikers who descended the canyon trails on foot. | One of the most exciting things about this stop was the presence of a flush toilet!
58: On the last day, we ran one of the largest rapids, then went to meet the helicopters. There we were shuttled out of the canyon a few at a time. Sadly, there wasn't much of a tour or view from the helicopter since they took us straight to the Bar Ten Ranch.
59: At the Bar Ten Ranch, we were all given a simple lunch while waiting for our flight back to Vegas. There was also the opportunity to take showers and purchase souvenirs from the gift shop. After the flight back to Vegas, Sara rushed to the airport to get onto an earlier flight back to Philly (instead of her scheduled red-eye), while Jen, Libby, and Dad all got a hotel room to wait for their flight the following day. | It was a really fun trip and we were left with memories that will last a lifetime!