Summer 2011: An Epic Saga -- Episode 1, Hitting the Road

(In case you missed it, check out the Prologue for a brief introduction and a map of our trip.)

We struck out from Narberth early on May 25.  We wouldn't see our apartment again for two months!  We sobbed quietly on the road to Manna's.  No, we didn't.  

We made excellent time to Kentucky and got there in time for dinner (I always love going to Matt and Anna's house, because I know I'll have really good food to eat).  It's been great living so (relatively) close to them these past few years, because it's meant we've gotten to watch Miles and Mia grow.  We just love those kids.  Here are some of the things we did with them:

 We saw some sharks!

 We petted some sharks!

We went to the races!  (See, you can see a horse's rear end)

We only had a few days at Manna's before we had to hit the road, but we knew we'd see them again at the end of the summer.  

Our route to Utah took us through Kansas, which looks like this:
Please, no.  No more.

But we also saw some pretty things on the way, like this:

Still, we didn't get really excited until we saw this:
It's the Rockies!

We got to spend two excellent weeks with Phil's family in Utah.  I hid in the basement under a pile of books much of the time, while Phil roughed up his city-boy hands getting the deck ready for Kristina's wedding.  We managed to fit in some fun things, too—we spent a lot of time hiking and driving through the mountains with the newest member of the family, Daisy, and we enjoyed plenty of classic Nibley cuisine.

Good dog.

Nibleys don't mess around when it comes to carrot cake.

The highlight, though, was definitely our four-day Capitol Reef camping trip.  

This was our first time camping since our honeymoon three years ago.  Three years is too long to not sleep outside at all.  Phil and I drove down there to spend one night on our own, and Paul, Bronia, Dave, Alex, Andie and Avery joined us for two more nights.  We spent our first day on a short hike through Grand Wash.  It is a narrow canyon with sandstone cliffs up to 500 feet high.  It was an excellent start.

We couldn't get a site in the national park for the first night, so we found a little spot next to a creek out on BLM land.  There's not much wood around that area on account of it being a giant desert, but there were plenty of cow pies.  I had heard somewhere that those burn pretty well, so we tried it out, and what do you know?  It works.  Just don't stand in the smoke; it smells like burning cow pies.

Poo fire. 

The next morning, we grabbed a campsite at Fruita and then hiked Burro Wash on Matt's expert recommendation.  The distance was nothing crazy—maybe 8 miles round trip—but there was enough wading, climbing, and shimmying to make it a full-body workout.  The slot canyons were stunning and super fun to squeeze through.  It was an extremely rewarding hike overall, and we can add our hearty recommendation to Matt's.

 Phil barely made it through.  Fatso.

 I caught a frog!  Those are Phil's hands, though; not mine.  Thankfully.

 After watching 127 Hours at Manna's house, the chockstones made me a bit nervous, but we made it out without cutting off a single limb.

We returned to our campsite safe and sound, made a lasagna in the dutch oven, and then stared at it hungrily until the rest of our party arrived.  
The lasagna was tasty, but it was no match for Paul's over-the-top breakfasts.  Pancakes with berries and cream taste even better when camping.

The best part of our camping trip was definitely having these sweet, funny girls along.  

They did great hiking and playing in the dirt, but they LOVED shooting Paul's .22.


Phil and I took the scenic route back to Provo.

Phil loves scenery so much.

Thanks for the fire, little buddy!

Pretty soon after returning to Chateau Nibley, we had to cram our car full again and leave for the next leg of our journey.  I'll write about that next.

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