Yellowstone Road Trip

Hello,

I have been thinking about starting to write a blog for quite some time and with everything else in life, it has been put on back burner. Speaking of back burner, there are lots of things that are on back burner which I hope will end up on my blog if I make it a habit. Thoughts race through my mind at random times and most inopportune moments and I tell myself, this one needs to go on my blog. Enough about all that. I wanted to describe one of the most amazing vacations we have had. I have been very lucky to be able to go to cool places with my family on vacation. My family, that is, Bimal (B) my husband, Vrishti (V) my older daughter and Hirni (H) my younger daughter. The vacation that I am going to write about was really special for us because this was the last vacation we took before Vrishti starts college (and yes more about that later). We have done a lot of vacations with my friend Paulomi (P) and her family, i.e. her husband Sarju and her son Aarjav who is same age as Vrishti. Long time back in 2004, Paulomi and Sarju asked us if we wanted to go on vacation to Hawaii with them. At that time we had a lot of discussion with Sarju on how vacations are a way of building lots of memories with your family. These memories are what will stay with you when your kids move on. Well, that Hawaii trip with Paulomi’s family did not work out but we did end up going to Hawaii a couple of weeks after them. That was the beginning of some great vacations that the two families would eventually go on.

This time around, we (Bimal and I) wanted to go on vacation but we hand’t even decided until late June. Paulomi was in the same boat. Cruise or Cancun were the top options but neither of those fit our budget and it was a little too late. Paulomi and Sarju bounced the idea of road trip to Yellowstone and I loved it. V and H were really skeptical about a road trip. They did not enjoy long road trips especially because they always end up in the back seat of the van. We convinced them and started planning. Sarju had a pretty good itinerary to begin with. All I wanted to add to that was Teton National Park (why – I will write later). We dropped an extra day in Denver and add Grand Teton on our list. Booking hotels and cabin based on driving times, location, proximity to Indian restaurants, etc. made it really difficult. We however had all reservations done before we left and now that we are back I can say that between Paulomi and I, we did a great job.

The weekend before we left, we spent 3 day weekend in Pinetop, AZ. We returned on Sun. and I had TOGAF training from Tues. to Fri. And I had heard that TOGAF training is quite intense which proved to be true. We had reading assignment during lunch break on the first day. I was stressed about all the packing, getting clothes ready etc. before leaving on Fri. Especially because we were to leave right after I would come home from work. Ready or not here we come is how I felt on Friday afternoon. Thanks to Paulomi, we were well prepared. She had Friday off and she took care of shopping for snacks, breakfast for the first couple of days, fruits, insect repellent bands etc. We loaded all our bags in the van, picked out some dvds and were ready to leave.

Day One – Fri 7/25/2014

We left Phoenix for Moab, UT. Moab, UT was our first destination for visiting Arches National Park. We rented a three bedroom condo rented in Moab. We left Phoenix around 5:30 PM so we knew it would be late by the time we made it to Moab. The plan was to stop in Flagstaff for dinner, get gas and then drive to Moab. We decided to stop at Pita Jungle because we didn’t think we would be able to eat at a Mediterranean restaurant for the rest of the trip. We had some left overs which we decided to take with us. Sarju started driving from Flag. We knew there won’t be many rest areas after leaving Flag because when we were looking for hotels/condos we noticed that there were only two small towns along the way. The kids were sleepy and so was I especially that intense training was still on my mind. Sarju was driving at constant speed and it was pitch black all around. Suddenly I felt the car swerve twice. I was the only one to scream. Apparently, Sarju was trying to save a mouse and he was successful. Immediately after that we heard a loud thud. Thinking it was something on the road, Sarju kept driving. A little while later he saved a rabbit that was trying to cross the road. It was almost 2 AM by the time we reached Moab. I opened the condo, went to the garage to open the garage so that we could park the car and unload the baggage. And what do I see, a huge gray bird stuck to the front of the car. I told Bimal and Sarju about the bird. That’s when we realized that the loud sound was from the bird hitting the car. The kids were very sleepy by then. V & H slept in the bedroom with twin beds. There was a rolling bed for Aarjav but he was so tired that he decided to sleep on the couch.

Day – Two 7/26/2014

Next morning, we woke up after it was bright outside. I looked out the window and there were huge walls of rock right in front of the window. Utah Rocks – were truly in front of us. The view from the condo was great. We felt like we could stay there for a few days, but our check out time was 11 AM. Sarju and Bimal had to take care of the bird so they took the van for a wash. Turned out it was huge owl that was trying to get the mouse. Its claws were literally stuck on the front grill of the van. Sarju had to unclaw it from the bumper and trash it. It left a hole on the bumper.

Everybody had bagels for breakfast except Bimal. It was day one of his month long fast (one meal a day) for Shravan. It was a bummer but he is pretty good about following that. He has been doing it every year for almost 25 years. So he had some cut mangoes for breakfast.  The condo was really clean and nice. We felt like we needed to come back and stay there. The guest book in the condo was signed by people all over the world (yes from China also). And some were repeat visitors – no wonder.

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The entrance to Arches National Park was not too far. On the way to Arches, we saw some ski lifts so we thought we could stop and take the ride but they were closed. We took a detour on a scenic road and stopped to take some pictures, next to colossal rock walls. There was a stream of cold water running through the rocks. After that we headed to Arches. We decided to buy the yearly national parks pass because we had a few national parks in our itinerary. Our first stop in Arches NP was “Balanced Rock”. Balance Rock is just amazing. A huge rock is balanced on a lot taller but skinnier rock. It looks as if the top rock is glued to the bottom one. And by rocks, I mean these are 40 to 50 feet high rocks. From there we could see a couple of distant Arches.

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Our next stop was going to be Delicate Arch – Delicate Arch is one of the most photographed arches in the park. It is 45 feet tall. You would have to hike 3 miles in order to reach the arch. We did not have time to hike that long so we decided to hike to a viewing point from where the arch was clearly visible and it was “only” 0.3 miles. However by then it was very hot and we did not realize that 0.3 miles is a climb not a walk. Half way through Hirni felt dehydrated and did not want to come all the way to the top. I was carrying a water bottle but did not have a lot of water with me. Bimal convinced Hirni to come to the top. I gradually managed as well but I realized that I need to be prepared with water for the next stop. Delicate arch was beautiful and we took some amazing pictures. We were looking at nature at its best. The arches have formed over millions of years due to erosion from wind, rain and snow.

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As soon as we came back to the car, Paulomi cut some cold apples and peaches. That helped a lot. We all drank water and “Ice”. Our next stop was Sandstone Arch. Sandstone Arch is truly formed of sand stone and if you touch the arch or the surrounding rock walls, you can feel the sand sliding off the rocks. The sand surrounding Sandstone arch was so fine, it was as if you were on a beach. There was a narrow passage between two rocks to view Sandstone Arch. We all sat down under the arch and took pics. Vrishti could not stop herself from laying on the sand – this was one of many times that she “slept” during the trip. P also decided to do try lying on the sand. B and A climbed a tall rock to take pics / selfies. There was lady who was constantly blocking B’s pics and so he was very irritated.

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Next was Skyline Arch. That was a quick stop to take some pics. The Devil’s Garden arch needed a 3 mile hike so we skipped that and started driving back towards park entrance. We had skipped Windows Arch and Double Arch on our way. We decided to check those out before leaving. The two arches known as Windows arch, truly look like two windows on top of a castle. There was no parking by Windows arch so we decided to go park near Double Arch and walk/hike to Double arch. At this point V & H were too tired and hot to leave the van. P even offered a wet towel but they were done. We started walking slowly towards the arch. The double arch was just spectacular. You could see the blue sky from beneath with two arches in the view. We lay down on the rocks, using our bags as pillows, we watched the beauty of the humungous arches. You had to be there to experience that. We could only imagine what it would be like to watch the stars at night from that place. P & A climbed a few more steep rocks and took pics. We went back to the car and left for the Visitor’s center. We realized that we should have stopped at the Visitor’s center on our way in. We filled up our bottles with Spring water, took a restroom break, bought souvenirs at the center. From there we left to go to Avon, Colorado.

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I am going to stop here for now. Need to drop off H at 6:45 in the morning. More later. Hope you enjoy reading. This is my first time writing so there is room for improvement. And this has been long due to so I am going to publish it without reviewing.

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