Dan and Hannah Celebrate Owen’s 10th Birthday with Ted and Carolyn on a Mountain in New Hampshire – 2022

Can you really take a hike named Ted’s Trail seriously?  That’s like saying I can’t wait to pedal on Dan’s Driveway or drive the speed limit on Hannah’s Highway.  Real trails have names like Mount Monadnock (NH) or Landscape Arch (UT) or Hot Springs (Santa Barbara, CA).  Ted’s Trail lacks drama, gravitas, or a sense of outdoor adventure is at hand.  Sadly, it smacks of small time, something easily forgettable.  And to stay gender neutral, we’ll be hiking back on Carolyn’s Trail.  I’m guessing Carolyn is a sweetheart with a mountain woman’s tradition, but what about the Mount Carolyn Trail!  My expectations are low for our hike this first Tuesday in August 2022.

At the trailhead

How wrong could I be?   Mea culpa, mea culpa.  Hikers the world over will love this six-mile loop woodland trail with views to, yes, the aforementioned Mount Monadnock.  Our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip used the All-Trails App to find Ted’s Trail near Greenfield in central New Hampshire.  Scouting it out two weeks ago, they chose it for the five of us to celebrate their son Owen’s 10th birthday hike with his grandparents.  You might know them.  One Dan and Hannah.

Proud grandparents and the awesome ten-year-old

You see, Hannah and I are creating a tradition of hiking into the mountains of New England with our grandsons and granddaughters.  Two years ago, we hiked Mount Major in central New Hampshire with Owen and just this past June we summitted Mount Monadnock near Jaffrey, New Hampshire with Owen and his brother Max (8).  Our son Will’s kids (Brooks [4} and identical twins, Charlotte and Reese [2]) are swinging some heavy lumber and ready on deck.

Up before dawn, Hannah and I drive 70 miles to the Union Street Grill in Milford, New Hampshire to carbo load for our hike up Ted’s Trail and down Carolyn’s Trail.   Muggy, mid-80s temps are in the offing so an early start makes all the sense in the world.   Just opened this year, the Union Street Grill in the center of town gives us window seating as the town of Milford wakes up at 7 AM.

The Monk, the daughter, the son, and the Omi

At the trailhead, we slip into two of the four spots for parking at the trailhead. Molly’s family slips on their Camelback backpacks of water as Hannah and I wrap our fanny packs around our waists. As veterans of this trail, Molly and Tip will guide us up Ted to the top of North Pack Monadnock.  My superficial, most likely flawed, search on the Internet has it that Ted and Carolyn developed these trails and donated the land to the state of New Hampshire for us all to enjoy. 

13 miles, 26 minutes

Taking to Ted at the outset (a bold line for Ted’s Trail and a dashed line for Carolyn’s Trail)
The first half of the trail has a gentle rise and easy on the feet

Owen, Molly, Hannah, and Tip
Much of our hike is in this Wildlife Refuge
The Monk joins the other hikers

The hike begins with Ted who either he or a surrogate has conveniently nailed yellow plastic blazes to trees to guide us to the mountaintop.  Ted’s trail is steep in places and follows a dried streambed.  Though there is no such liquid exuberance during this summer of drought in New England, I can only imagine the cascades of water in springtime.

Blueberries abound at eye level.  Molly picking them makes for an artsy picture.

Look carefully for all the blueberries

Ever creative, Owen makes a cheese stick blueberry “sandwich.”

With 1300’ of elevation gain to the top, we have a serious hike. Thank you, Teddy.

Hannah, Owen, Pops, and Molly at the mountaintop

After lunch at the summit we descend on the gentle Carolyn’s Trail.  Owen finds more blueberries.

The planks behind Owen would be needed during the rainy season

Ten year olds?  This one is a joy.  He is adventurous, creative, good company and during the six miles hike his energy never flags.  Up for anything and grateful indeed, he and I talk about his upcoming fourth grade year and his life as a soccer player.  The parenting he and his brother Max get is exceptional.

Check out our daughter Molly’s celebration of Owen’s life to date.

As the month of July comes to a close, we wanted to share a few highlights as Owen turned 10 last week on July 23! He is such an incredible kid who loves being active outside, playing with Max (the two of them have an incredible imagination and have such fun together), kayaking, reading and reading some more! Last year, he had a fabulous time in 3rd grade and is looking forward to being a fourth grader!

Here’s a short video montage of this amazing kid!

And in Owen’s words, here’s what’s on his mind and what he enjoys:

Looking forward being 10 because: being the oldest person at school 

Some strengths: kicking soccer balls, being friendly, making friends

Proud of: my super-duper awesome family & my awesomeness 

How I want to make the world a better place: spread knowledge of animal protection  

Favorite colors: green, teal, and blood red

Fav food: gyros   

Fav dessert: ice cream cake

Fav board games: Dragonwood, Stratego, Ticket to Ride, ShaThead

Fav sport: soccer

Fav books: Percy Jackson series, series about animals and/or mysteries    

Fav shows: nothing recently. I’ve been enjoying movies recently 

Fav movie: Penguins of Madagascar, Home Alone, Home Sweet Home Alone

Fav outside activities: soccer, biking, salamander-catching, camping   

Fav inside activities:  Legos, playing with Max “Legos or otherwise”, game time (playing Dig This or PBS online games)

Fav thing about school: hanging out with friends

Goals for the upcoming year: be a better goalie in soccer

Anything else to share? I really like soccer.

Just a little glimpse into our son, Owen! 

We hope you are doing well. We wish you a wonderful and enjoyable August! 

With love,

Molly & Tip 

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire with their Grandsons, Max and Owen

Typically I don’t sleep well the night before an early morning departure, be it to catch a flight or as Hannah and I will do this morning, meet for breakfast two hours away at 7 AM.  Waking repeatedly through the night, I am startled by the 4:30 AM alarm nonetheless.  Off just after 5 AM, I drive with Hannah nearly two hours to the Monadnock Country Café in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

100 miles, one hour fifty-five minutes

There we meet our grandsons, Owen  and Max with their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, for our pre-hike breakfast. You see, this morning we are all going to climb the granddaddy mountain of southwestern New Hampshire – Mount Monadnock.  Eggs over easy, pancakes, both blueberry (Owen) and chocolate chip (Max), home fries, and delectable biscuits with our coffee, tea, or milk set us up to take on the challenge of one tough hike.

Tip, Molly, Hannah, Owen, Dan, and Max

Driving five miles after breakfast, we know that Mount Monadnock is an outrageously busy state park on spring, summer, and fall weekends and holidays. Yet this last Tuesday of June we happily find that we have our choice of parking spots at 8:30 AM.   But do not be fooled, usually one needs an online reservation, which we have for both cars, to get into the park. 

The trailhead of our summit hike with 1800′ of elevation gain

Tip, Dan, Max, Hannah, Owen, and Molly at 8:30 AM

We choose the White Dot Trail which can take two hours to climb the two miles to the usually wind-blown bald (treeless mountain top).  Though comfortably warm at the trailhead, we bring extra layers for the expected chill of the mountaintop.  It’s a steady rock-filled climb on this the second most popular hiking trail in the world!  Mount Fuji in Japan is numero uno. 

At the outset the trail is wide and rocky amid the green of New Hampshire
Well-placed stones greet Molly and her mom
One of the many stone faces we have to climb. Clearly, this is your memo “Don’t mess with Hannah!”
Halfway up the mountain Hannah and I take a break with Owen

Generally I wouldn’t recommend an eight-year-old for this boulder-filled, hands-on-rocks climb.  But Max is no ordinary eight-year-old.  His parents have prepped him well for challenging hikes by making hiking a natural part of his young life.  Consider just this past April he climbed to the high plateau Cassidy Arch in Canyonlands National Park as well as a mile and a half down at 8000’ into the amphitheater that is Bryce Canyon National Park. 

Father and son. (Max and Tip)

Owen, Max’s nearly ten-year-old brother, scales rock faces and scoots ahead, both due to his joyful, energetic personality and his parents’ commitment to giving him many outdoor experiences.  Regularly he reaches back for my hand as I climb the stone faces.  Basically, I melt when he does that!

Owen moves and grooves on the mountain
More stone faces to climb

That said, Max is eight and is the first to need a break or have his mom carry his two quarts of water in his Camelback backpack.  While both parents are understanding of the challenge of this 1800’ climb in elevation for an eight-year old, they know what it takes to motivate Max to keep him hiking/climbing.  Tip has Max take slow or small steps but keep going.  Molly says she’ll carry his Camelback as long as he is ahead of her on the trail.

Hannah leads; we follow!

At the top we are surprised that the usual 30-40 mph winds are but pleasant zephyrs.  No need to bundle up today as we have done in past years. Nor is the mountain covered in the fog of the low hanging clouds.

Rocky Mountaintop
Glorious day with the Family Rawding at the Mountaintop

Descending, within four hundred yards of the top, we choose the slightly longer (by 0.2 of a mile) but less steep White Cross Trail though the summer forest of southern New Hampshire.

The White Cross Trail

The Indian trail tree grabs our attention on the way downThis is an example of the large trees that exhibit deformed growth and distinctive forms bent to a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. 

Hannah and I stay on terra firma

Four hours later we settle in for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruities, and veggies, washed down by sparkly water.  I am already thinking of Owen’s ten-year-old hike – Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Dan and Hannah Hike the Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (April 2022)

Lunching on Tip’s mouth-watering sliced turkey, ham, cheese, and veggie sandwiches at the picnic area on the rim at Sunrise Point (8000’), we fuel up for the signature hike at Bryce Canyon National Park – the Navajo Loop Trail.

At the visitor center
Omi and her grandson Owen

The spectacular reds, oranges, rust colors of the hoodoos (A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock formed by erosion) rising from the canyon floor greet us at every turn of the switchbacks as we enter the canyon,   

The Bryce Canyon amphitheater with hoodoos and hoodoos

Again, we have a mile and half of low-effort hiking as we descend below the park rim.  The wind stays brisk, requiring me to hold literally on to my hat from time to time.  Alas, our run of good weather for hiking in Utah will soon be running out. You see, the forecast for tomorrow in Lehi, Utah (near Salt Lake City), where we’ll be staying with our friend Nancy Turley, is for cold and rain. Five out of six ain’t bad!

We’ve had 70s and 80s for our hiking three days in the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and sunny winter-in-California 60s at Capitol Reef yesterday as well as today at Bryce Canyon National Park.  We’ll not be so fortunate tomorrow as the high in Salt Lake City is forecasted to be upper 40s with windblown rain. In late April! Six to 18” of snow will fall in the Wasatch Mountains above Salt Lake City!  Bryce will get snow showers.

On the trail to Queen Victoria (Dan, Hannah, Molly, and Tip)

You got to admit this is one tough tree that has an unmatched will to live!

We take a side trail to the Queen’s Garden to spot Queen Victoria hoodoo high above the canyon floor.  See if you can spot her in the first photo below.  The two photos that follow will zoom in on the queen.

Can you spot Queen Victoria? She’s there.

A little closer (dead center)
The queen up close and personal

As usual the climb down the trail is easy peezy for Owen and Max as well as their grandparents in their eighth decade.

The wide sandstone trail on this very popular hike
At the bottom of the trail, we have stone bridges behind us

Eventually, the climb up the Navajo Trail is relentless.  Seasoned hikers that they are, Owen and Max do not lag as we climb to the rim.  Eventually we come to the Navajo Trail switchbacks near the top.

Navajo Trail switchbacks from below
The hiking switchbacks from above

It’s no secret why Owen and Max succeed at these hiking challenges.  Their parents and grandparents have given them multiple opportunities from an early age to learn that hiking in the outdoors is as natural as breathing and sleeping, walking and weeping (a little poetic injustice).  At seven, the boys climbed Mount Major in New Hampshire and at eight Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire. When in California, they hike into the mountains above Santa Barbara (e.g. Rattlesnake Trail) and in the high oceanside mountains of Big Sur.

The glorious Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

What I won’t forget about the last week on the trails of national park Utah is the many times Max naturally reaches for my hand as we hike.  Owen’s go-to move on the trails is being sure his Omi and Poppa are doing okay.

Once at the rim, Hannah and I have our 25K steps for the fifth day in a row in the spring/summer weather of southern Utah.

We bid adieu to Bryce Canyon National Park (Molly, Owen, Hannah, Dan, Max, and Tip with the selfie phone)

As our last hike in Utah 2022, we are delighted that we have invested in the hiking lives of our daughter Molly and her husband Tip and our grandsons, Max and Owen. Even the stock market does not promise such returns on investment as the natural world of national parks.

Dan and Hannah Hike to the Tower Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (April 2022)

Bryce Canyon National Park is in the lower right corner

Our latest VRBO is just as fabuloso as our first.  I can’t stress enough that when you are next visiting the national parks of Utah, run, don’t walk to the “cabin” in Lyman, Utah, just 25 minutes from Capitol Reef National Park.  Cabin hardly describes this five bedroom (4 queen beds and three twin beds in another room), country kitchen, and spacious living room where we chill with a fine Black Box merlot after a day on the trail.

The basement twin bedroom for Max and Owen

Picture taken out the front door of our VRBO at 7 AM. Rural America that many of us don’t know.

Off from our VRBO by 8:30 AM, we drive with little traffic on country roads to Bryce Canyon National Park by 10:15 AM.  The forecast for this mid-April 2022 Thursday is for sunny, windy, and 63F.  Quite a contrast to tomorrow’s forecast with a high of 42F and flurries! 

As we enter Bryce Canyon National Park, I get a little greedy and want a parking spot at Sunset Point parking lot where we will kick off our morning hike. Driving past the overflow visitor center parking lot with many spaces, we arrive at the Sunset Point trailhead where it is quite apparent that I am dreaming if I think I’ll get a parking spot this late in the morning. We crawl in a conga line of cars with not a spot to be had.  Tail between my legs, I return to the overflow lot.

Still in shorts and a long sleeve tee-shirt at 8000’, Hannah and I with our grandsons, Owen and Max, and their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, walk through the campground to the rim trail.

The 3-mile Tower Bridge trail is our morning hike of choice

Hannah always looks good in red (and blue, yellow, peach, etc.) with the hoodoos behind her

Descending to the Tower Bridge “windows” are Hannah and Max

Very soon, we are descending the Tower Bridge trail to the sandstone windows 1.5 miles away.  The challenge with canyon hiking (and let’s be clear Bryce Canyon is not a canyon, it is an amphitheater of weather sandstone towers of rock spreading out on this high desert plateau)… But I digress, the challenge I find with canyon hiking, especially with kids, is that the first half of the trail is easy peezy downhill.  Climbing out is the challenge.

Far below the amphitheater rim, Max with his Omi and Poppa
Molly jumping for joy (Jump photos are staples for Molly’s family on the trails)

Despite the parking congestion mid-morning, we again don’t find the trail crowded just bubbling with people.

Max and Owen approaching Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge

Traveling with Molly’s family gives us the best of both worlds.  We get to hike side by side with both Owen and then Max in one of America’s most beautiful outdoor setting.  But ultimately, their parents are responsible for their safety, their meals, and their bedtimes.

Ah, the life of grandparents!

Owen and Max know how to have a good time.

Dan and Hannah Hike to the Cassidy Arch in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park rests in south central Utah

Five years ago (2017), Hannah and I came to Capitol Reef and discovered the Cassidy Arch trail, named after, you guessed it, Paul Newman. Well, not exactly Paul but his character Butch Cassidy.  On that no clouds 80F afternoon (90F in the sun), we found it challenging to climb up to the plateau above the arch. With that heat seared in my memory, I wonder if today’s also full sun hike will be too much for Owen (9) and Max (7); it will be our second hike of the day. Click here for that morning hike to the Hickman Bridge.

A national park jewel in the middle of nowhere

Though the 3.4 mile round trip hike with 700’ of elevation gain was a challenge then, Hannah and I agree with Molly and Tip that the boys are up for it.

Taking a windy rocky dirt road for a couple of miles from the visitor center, we find the parking lot at the Cassidy Arch trailhead without space for one more vehicle on a mid-April 2022 Wednesday.  Molly lets us off with our fanny packs, camelbacks, and water bottles.  With a smiling universe ever present, by the time we unpack, a parking spot opens up.

Let the hiking begin (Owen, their Omi, and Max)

We hike three-tenths of a mile on the sandy bottom of the Grand Wash.  Along the way, Owen scampers up the mountainside and says he wants to hide in one of the crannies in the wall to surprise his parents, who are just behind us.  Hannah decides to stay with him as Max and I figure this is our opportunity to put some daylight between us and the others and get to the Cassidy Arch first.

The crucial sign 0.3 of a mile from the trailhead of the Grand Wash that it seems some hikers can miss

The trail to the plateau above is a series of sandstone switchbacks.  Thinking as long as Max is motivated to climb quickly above the others, I jump at the chance to keep moving and grooving before his energy flags.

Exaggerating (I think), Max says we must be a mile ahead of them.  If that motivates him to keep going, I am all in.  Clearly (I think), they are at most a few hundred yards behind us, if that.

Max leads the way up the sandstone cliffs

Energetic, Max takes the sandstone stairs on a day when the trail is happy with hikers here and there.

Since this hike is rated as strenuous, there are far fewer people on the trail than the Hickman Bridge trail that we hiked earlier in the morning.  Still seven-tenths of a mile away, Max and I spot the Cassidy Arch. 

Almost dead center (though there is no sky behind it), the Cassidy Arch whets our hiking appetite.

Looking back down the mountain, we just never see the other four.  Max and I are keeping a steady pace. to the slick rock at 6000’ elevation. 

Cassidy Arch with Max awaiting

Never seeing the others at any point, Max and I arrive at the Cassidy Arch.  We chill and we wait and we wait some more. Seems odd that such an athletic foursome as Hannah, Molly, Tip, and Owen would be so far behind us. 

Then twenty minutes after we arrive, Max says, I see them.  They are still ten minutes away across the slick rock.

The slick rock trail with stone cairns (piles of guiding stones) approaching the Cassidy Arch

When they arrive at the Cassidy Arch, they have an admission to make.  We got lost.

A view to the valley below, opposite the Cassidy Arch

It seems that all four of them missed the trail sign that was 0.3 of a mile down the sandy Grand Wash.  They walked an additional 0.6 of a mile before finally realizing this can’t be right.  So by the time, they began to climb up from the wash, they had done an additional 1.2 miles.  By the time, we return to the trailhead, Max and I will have hiked the 3.4 miles while the others 4.6 miles. At least they got more Fitbit steps than us.

In all our travels in Utah, this is the one arch that you can climb on. It’s wide and safe for those with a modicum of common sense. Molly’s family takes to the Cassidy Arch.
The Jumping Rawdings (Molly, Tip, Owen, and Max) above their shadows

And what do you know?  Max was right all along that we were a mile ahead of them on the trail!

With the Cassidy Arch in the distance, we descend triumphantly.
Owen, Max, Molly, and Tip find the nooks in crannies along the Grand Wash as we conclude our hike to Cassidy Arch.

Time with just Max on the trail made the Cassidy Arch hike a blast. It was just as enjoyable as the morning hike to Hickman Bridge with Owen.  These two hikes turned out to be my favorites of our six days in Utah, primarily thanks to Max this afternoon and Owen earlier this morning.

The Grand Wash is to the right. Marked in red is what Max and I hiked. The others hiked further up the wash beyond the upper righthand corner of this map.

Dan and Hannah Hike to the Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Our mission is to hike four of Utah’s five national parks during April 2022 spring vacation week with our daughter Molly’s family. Today we drive north from Moab on route 191 for Capitol Reef National Park.  Located in south central Utah, Capitol Reef used to be a hidden jewel of the national park system.  No more.  World travelers from Asia, Europe, and the Americas are flocking here.

The three-hour drive from Moab is through some of the most desolate country known to man or woman or beast of burden.  It’s flat, parched with dry stone everywhere.  Yet the brilliant reds, rusts, and oranges of the mountain sandstone highlight its beauty in the national parks in Utah.

Traveling grandparents!

Traveling into the park on route 24, we pull into a parking lot around noon for the Hickman Bridge without a space to be had.  So Tip drops us off with our fanny packs, camelback water systems, and water bottles, parks on the highway as we prep for the one-mile hike to what seems like an arch but is called a bridge.  You be the judge!

Our day, ideal for hiking, will be one of full sun, low 60s.  That contrasts with summers which can be brutal here – 100s for long stretches.

The one-mile trail to Hickman Bridge begins with Tip, Hannah, Max, Molly, and Owen

Owen and I get paired up at the back end of the six of us.  Our conversation turns to trekking sticks, which he is looking for.

My experience with trekking sticks has no happy ending. For me, I find they get in the way 95% of the time.  I am just lugging them around. Perhaps, in my dotage, I’ll appreciate them when I hobble down mountain trails.  But that day is not today. I gladly offer mine to Owen.

Watching for hikers with trekking sticks, we find two agreeable, it turns out, women from Michigan, who are most willing to sing the praises of their trekking sticks and let us try them out.

Owen beside the ladies from MIchigan with their trekking sticks.
Owen and I try out their trekking sticks at the Hickman Bridge
The Hickman Bridge in the background. Owen in the foreground.

Arriving at the Hickman Bridge we find an outdoor class of high school students from Washington, DC journaling.  They’ve been on the road for two months and have a month more to go.  We learn that they are preparing to write testimonials on their outdoor experiences.  Education beyond four walls!  A dream for students like me! And you?

We hike beneath the Hickman Bridge and loop back to the main trail

With Max ahead with his parents, Hannah and I have an hour that passes quickly with our grandson Owen hiking back to the trailhead.  Owen is an agreeable and up-for-adventures kid who is delightful company with thoughts on just about everything – especially when it comes to the kind of super power he would like to have.  As his confidence grows, he engages comfortably with other hikers on the trail. All much older than he is.

Owen finds many a nook and cranny to explore just off the trail

Of what will be twelve hikes that we’ll do in the national parks in Utah this April 2022, this hike to Hickman Bridge becomes my favorite.  Though the scenery is spectacular, the hiking in the outdoors invigorating, it’s being with our personable grandson Owen that makes it numero uno.

Funny, though, this afternoon, I learn that our hike to Cassidy Arch is just as enjoyable as this one to Hickman Bridge.  But the reasons why are for next week’s blog.

Route 24 is the white ribbon above

Dan and Hannah Hike Whale Rock and to Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Do you remember the scene at the at the end of “Thelma & Louise” (1991) where the car sails out into the canyon? Well, it was filmed in Canyonlands National Park?

Even though Louise (Susan Sarandon) wonders at the start of this clip if they are at the Grand Canyon, they are not. Click on this three-minute link of that scene.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66CP-pq7Cx0

Returning from hiking the windswept Grand View Point trail (Click here for that blog.), Hannah and I with our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, and our grandsons, Owen and Max, lunch in our Toyota Sienna mini-van as we drive to Whale Rock, a favorite hike of Hannah’s and mine from five years ago.  This one mile, 100′ of elevation gain trail leads up the side of a sandstone dome, ending with broad views of the Island in the Sky section of the park. There are indeed steep drop-offs.

Whale Rock from a distance in Canyonlands National Park
Describing what we have in store for ourselves this mid-April afternoon.
Whale Rock from the trailhead
Atop Whale Rock
Our ever-enthusiastic traveling party (Molly, Hannah, Owen, Max, and Tip)

Molly at the far end of Whale Rock with the park road in the distance

With three short hikes at Canyonlands in the books this mid-April 2022 Tuesday, we head to the final ranger recommended hike – the Upheaval Dome.

Finding a parking spot next to a compact car with Nebraska plates, I see intertwined rings chalked in white on the side window with “just married”  written on the back window. Turning to the couple in their mid-20s, I ask them if this is their car.  The smile and nod it is.  We learn that they were married four days ago on Friday, April 15 in Nebraska, the very date his parents and his grandparents were married.  Tradition! (Sing that word as if you are Teyve in Fiddler on the Roof.)

Hannah smiles at them and says, gesturing to us two, This is what 50 good years of marriage looks like (Our 50th anniversary is July 1, 2022).  That’s my girl.  The new bride then asks what bit of advice do you have for us? 

My two cents:  If you have kids, be sure to attend to the two of you.  Do not sacrifice your relationship as a couple for the kids.  Kids will be better off if your relationship is strong.

Hannah adds,  Remember why you first fell in love with the other one

If you are, were, or will be married, what would be your advice be to newlyweds?  Please respond in the comments section below.

Sandstone trail greets us as the path to the Upheaval Dome begins as Max hydrates from his Camelback

As we head out from the trailhead on our 1.6 mile roundtrip hike to canyon overlooks, I spot a guy with a Mothman tee shirt.  Who wouldn’t ask what is Mothman? 

He explains it’s a Big Foot-type phenomenon in southeastern Ohio in the 1960s, exactly  when Hannah and I were students at the College of Wooster in northeastern Ohio.  I had never heard of Mothman.

He said check it out on Google, and we did.

On November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, West Virginia (on the Ohio border) told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights picked it up. They described it as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings.”

(From a faithful reader of this blog, my buddy Scott, I learned Mothman (2002)is a movie with Richard Gere. See Wikipedia comments about this sci-fi thriller.)

Carrying on, we hike to the overlooks to wrap up our day in Canyonlands National Park. 

Upheaval Dome

We hike to the promontory at the upper center of the picture

Our always willing family up for a photo op

Canyonlands delivers. Don’t miss it!

Re: MothmanSupernatural thriller focusing on a journalist whose wife experienced a strange moth-like vision immediately before she was killed in a car accident. Two years later, driving to an interview, he suddenly finds himself hundreds of miles out of his way in the remote town of Point Pleasant, where there has been a proliferation of Mothman’ sightings. His research concludes that the visions are omens of disaster.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Mesa Arch and Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

A full kitchen and dining table for six in our VRBO at Rim Village in south Moab gives Max a chance to shine with morning scrambled eggs. 

Scrambled eggs a la Max

Breakfast at N-4 condo in Rim Village, Moab, Utah (Five stars!) before we head to Canyonlands

As a Biblical name for the land just short of the Promised Land, Moab, Utah is no quiet western outpost.  There are many major chain motels, restaurants galore, four wheel adventure stores, Colorado river rafting and condos, condos, condos.  These getaway townhouses seem to be solely built for people like us looking for an outdoor vacation in eastern Utah. 

This mid-April 2022 morning we are off to Canyonlands National Park, 45 minutes north and west of Moab.

Dan, Molly, Owen, Tip, Max, and Hannah

No longer is Canyonlands the little sister to Arches.  Though we don’t need a reservation to enter the park as we did In Arches National Park, we have come at popular time of year – school vacation week in the Northeast, which includes Massachusetts where our grandsons, third grade Owen and second grade Max attend school and our daughter Molly rocks as a math specialist in an elementary school.

Asking the park ranger what she would recommend for hiking, she says our three signature hikes are Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, and Upheaval Dome.  We’ll hit the first two before lunch, and third at the end of our hiking day.

The desert landscape on the way to Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch is regularly used for advertising because of its spectacular-ness (see the end of this blog).  It’s a simple half mile with little elevation gain to the arch, which makes it uber-popular.  Perched at the edge of a cliff with vast views of canyons, rock spires, and the La Sal Mountains in the distance, Mesa Arch spans fifty feet across atop a 500-foot vertical cliff.

Mesa Arch
Magnificint Mesa Arch

9 AM at Mesa Arch (Tip, Max, Owen, Molly, Hannah, and Dan)
Mesa Arch is to the right of this map

Driving through to the end of the road in Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, we have little traffic and no trouble finding parking at the trailhead for Grand View Point.  See the map below for the two other districts of the park with different entrances).

At the trailhead of the Grand View Point one mile trail with Owen, Max, Molly, Hannah, and Tip

With 15-20 mph winds buffeting us, we take the promontory trail between the canyon created by the Colorado River and the one created by the Green River.

The rocky sandstone trail to the promontory (in the distance) of the Grand View Point trail
Dan and Hannah away out West in Canyonlands National Park

Solid chunks of rock, three-layer cairns guide us between the canyons below for the one mile hike out. 

Owen and his Omi
The Grand View Point trail

From the viewpoint at 6,080 feet elevation, you can see distant mountains, canyons, basins, and the White Rim Road.

One grand view towards the Green River Canyon

Weeks after we returned from Utah, this image popped up on the DailyOM blog that I get for inspiration each day. The Mesa Arch!

Dan with Molly, Tip, and Max Hike to Sand Dune and Broken Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Throughout the morning Owen (9) has given his all rock scrambling and climbing the sandstone monoliths on the eight mile trail to and from Double O Arch.  Four hours later he is whooped.  He chooses to hang back in the car with his Omi while we four (Max, Molly, Tip, and moi) hike the two final arches.

Molly’s family loves to capture “jump photos” whenever they travel. Here is Max at Broken Arch.

With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we find a parking spot across the road from the trailhead, which leads first to the nearby Sand Dune Arch and then out across the prairie to the Broken Arch.   

Mid-day at 6000’ in mid-April 2022, I join the other three on the side trail up a slot canyon (a narrow gorge amid sandstone walls) to the sandy beach of a trail to the Sand Dune Arch. 

George Mason U Molly at the slot canyon to the Sand Dune Arch

Wading through luxurious sand, we very quickly find ourselves in front of the aptly named Sand Dune Arch.

With Molly under the Sand Dune Arch, the guys always appreciate her enthusiasm
Molly and Tip at Sand Dune Arch mid-afternoon

On a day going to the mid-80s and with the condo association pool awaiting us 30 minutes away in Moab, we four have a winding one mile trail across a prairie of greening tumbleweed to the Broken Arch.

The prairie trail to the Broken Arch

The Broken Arch isn’t really broken, but a large crack at its top gives it that name.  We add this final arch jewel to our charm bracelet of rusty red stone landscapes.

The Broken Arch is so named for the crack at the top center of the arch
The crack that gives the Broken Arch its name.

By 2PM we are whooped.  Even so, we make one last stop at the Balancing Rock.

Balancing Rock

Returning to our sweet VRBO for a late lunch, we have a chill afternoon ahead.  For my part, I enter first drafts of each of today’s two hikes into my laptop, edit the pictures from my iPhone 12, and then surrender to a quiet bedroom in our now quiet condo.

The others have the Rim Village pool to cool their jets on a mid-80s afternoon.  The warm pool and then the even warmer hot tub are therapeutic for what ails Owen and a joy for Max. 

A travel tip if you are looking for wine in Moab.  There is one small liquor store with hours Monday through Saturday from noon to 6 PM.  Snaring a fine Black Box, I was 12th in line at the one cash register open.  When I finish on this mid-afternoon Monday, there were 16 others behind me. 

With our “grapes,” the adults toast another day in paradise.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Landscape Arch and Double O Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Our VRBO condo in south Moab, Utah is just fifteen minutes from the entrance to Arches National Park.  With a timed reservation (we must enter between 7-8A), we have an uncrowded park morning ahead of us in mid-April 2022 in search of more magnificent arches of eastern Utah.

Arches NP in east central Utah

Driving to the end of the park at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead, Hannah and I with our daughter Molly’s family of Tip, Owen, and Max will soon have an Avenue of Arches for our viewing pleasure. 

Hannah and I first came here in 1992 with our three kids (Molly [then 12}, Robyn [10], and Will [8] on the first of our four consecutive family cross-country trips (1992-1995).  She and I have returned again and again as we love the outdoor vibe of Moab, the warmer weather, and the being-away-ness of the place.  The at-home “to do” lists just dissolve. Today we get to share our love of this uber-popular national park with Molly’s family (she is now 42) that includes hubby Tip, and our grandsons Owen (nearly 10) and Max (nearly 8). 

All the sandstone climbing you could want. Max with his Omi.
Owen, the rock scrambler.

As we set out at 8A, we six have a mission to hike the two mile winding, slightly ascending trail to Double O Arches.  Along the way, we’ll have side trails to multiple other arches, including the Granddaddy of them all – Landscape Arch. Though temperatures will go to the 80s this mid-April afternoon, this morning we all start out in long sleeve tee-shirts or sweatshirts.

Almost immediately, we have a side trail the Pine Tree Arch. 

Early morning Molly and Tip at the Pine Tree Arch

Taking the sandstone trail northward, Owen and Max get more Fitbit steps than Hannah and I do as they haven’t met a rock side or sandstone summit they couldn’t climb.

Owen, the sandstone scamperer

Our next focus is the classic Landscape Arch that stretches some 300’ from side to side though is only 11’ wide at its center.  All rock formations at Arches National Park are temporary as water shapes and transforms the sandstone.  They will eventually all crumble. In fact, in 1991, a 60 ton slab of stone fell from the center of the arch when visitors were allowed under the arch. As you might imagine, no one is allowed under this arch anymore. My pictures are taken behind a fence some 300′ from the arch itself.

Landscape Arch accentuated by the deep blue Utah sky
Brothers Forever, Max and Owen

We then find side trails to Navajo and Partition Arches.  Our what we thought we might be a simple four-mile roundtrip hike to Double O stalls as we celebrate two more arches.

Tucked away but oh so accessible Navajo Arch
Our traveling party of six at the Partition Arch (Owen, Max, Hannah, Tip, Molly, and the blogger)

After walking though the Partition Arch, we have ourselves a modest climb
Max and Owen tucked into the sandstone with their Omi

Our destination is the Double O top and bottom arches which we arrive at three hours later.  Peanut butter and jelly, salted almonds, granola bars and lots of water sustain as we quickly stow our long sleeves for summer’s short sleeves.

Within two months of our 50th Anniversary on July 1, 2022, Hannah and I celebrate at the Double O Arch
With the Double O Arch in the background, Dan, Hannah, Molly, Owen, Tip, and Max have reached their morning destination.
I told you Owen was quite the rock scrambler.

As we return to the trailhead, we hike all the sandstone fins back to the trailhead from the Double O Arch.

By 1230 PM, we are back at our rented Toyota Sienna mini-van for nourishment.  Our hiking day of nearly eight miles is not quite done.  With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we want one more fix of arches. We’ll hike first the Sand Dune Arch and then out into the fields to the Broken Arch.  That’s next week’s blog.