Every once in a while, Becca get's this homicidal look in her eyes (okay, maybe it's a little more frequent than that) which lets me know that it's time to get her out. Out of these four walls, out of this city, as far away as time/money will permit. A little over a month ago, I recognized the early warning signs and realized that I needed to take action immediately. We decided to use some of the precious little vacation time that hasn't been used for my final ROTC class, and head down to Capitol Reef.
Becca is planning on blogging this trip as well - if you want the "warm fuzzy" version of the trip, then you'd better read her blog - this version is the "hardcore awesome" version.
Day 1 - We left Salt Lake in the afternoon, the same day that I took my first Army PT test in about 2 years (I still am hurting, but I passed). We drove for about 3.5 hours until we arrived at our hotel in Torrey. I know that a hotel is not very "hardcore", but after a long day of hiking, off roading, and shooting stuff... relaxing in the hot tub seemed like an acceptable alternative to sleeping in a tent in Fruita.
You can see the picture of Eli setup for the road trip with his portable DVD player and big glass of rootbeer. We ate dinner at a cool place called Slackers - which had the BEST burgers we've tasted in a long time.
Day 2 - We woke up early in the morning and headed into the park - looking for any hikes that Eli would be able to complete on his own legs.
Amazingly enough, he dawdled during the short walk through Capitol Gorge to The Tanks, but he led the charge up the side of the Grand Wash to Cassidy Arch - a 3.5 mile round trip hike that ascends over 1,000 feet from the valley floor. Apparently all he needs is motivation (bring on the suck - Eli loves suffering and pain!). His primary motivation is that he was our leader - he carried the GPS the entire trip and pointed out over sign or trail marker we came across.
The pictures we took on the trail to Cassidy Arch don't do justice to the views we experienced.
Later on that night, Becca's brothers, Danny and Mike showed up - Eli was a little unhappy that this meant he now had to sleep on the floor - but that's a sacrifice that I was willing to make (I'm not making father of the year any time soon).
Day 3 - we took the Notom road along the Water Pocket Fold (ancient coral reef that runs the entire length of the park) down to the Burr Trail. Close to the intersection of these two dirt roads is a stretch of road on the Burr Trail call "The Switchbacks". I don't know how high they climb, but it was an amazing drive that made Becca very nervous in the passenger seat.
We climbed the Strike Valley Overlook where Danny and Mike got some awesome pictures of themselves looking cool in an equally cool setting, and then set out for our main event of the day - killing commies... er... rabbits. We drove around on a dirt road off of the Burr Trail, looking for the hordes of rabbits that had menaced us in that area last year.
We executed a few bunnies, and then along the way, we somehow got the pathfinder stuck on a part of the jeep trail which had been washed out by the spring rains (the cause of this incident is something we don't bring up in conversation around our house). We used an e-tool (folding shovel), a jack, and a lot of rocks which Becca found to lift up the pathfinder, which had been high centered, and spent close to an hour getting it out of the hole I drove it into on the road that Becca didn't want us to drive on :-)
In the end, we all agreed that we had a lot of fun getting the pathfinder unstuck.
As a bonus, on the way back to the Burr Trail, we saw a bunch of rabbits just STANDING/SITTING (whatever the hell jackrabbits do) STILL BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! I stopped the car and was about the shoot the first one, and Becca told me to give her the gun and let her shoot. This was a true test of our love, and I almost failed. I finally gave Becca the gun, and let her shoot at the passive rabbit - which she missed. Three times. She gave up, so I grabbed the gun, and went "tactical". For those of you who AREN'T in the Army, "tactical" means that while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, you go prone in a pile of thorns so you can accurately shoot a rabbit with an AR15 from about 80 feet.
After killing a few more rabbits, we drove on to Boulder, where we ate a delicious meal at the Boulder Mesa Cafe, where Eli played with a bucket of toy trains (his highlight of the trip, on par with swimming at the hotel in Torrey - just ask him if you don't believe me).
We drove across the east side of the Boulder mountain as quickly as possible in the dark, so as to make it back to the hotel before the pool closed. We took great care to avoid the skunks, deer, and elk that were crossing the highway, but managed to add a vehicular kill to the number of dead rabbits for that day (score one for the good guys!).
Day 4 - we were so sad to be coming home - we hiked up to Chimney Rock and ate lunch in Fruita before driving home to all of our problems back in SLC. Our timing couldn't have been better though, since it snowed/rain the entire drive home!