I chose Sheri Griffith Expeditions after hours researching rafting companies and reading reviews. Given Avery’s age (6 yrs. at the time) we were limited to one of the gentler, family-oriented trips and thus ended up on the Green River through Desolation Canyon.
The group consisted of 3 families: ours, a couple with 1 son (6 years) from CA, and a couple with 2 sons (6 & 8 years) from WA. Perfect for Avery; Arielle handled the situation with (surprising) grace, sometimes playing with the boys and sometimes enjoying quiet time alone. The 3 terrific guides rowed the boats, provided and cooked all the food, and kept the kids well entertained.
Here are the highlights of the trip as we remember it:
- Flight in a small plane from Moab to the raft put-in site. Beautiful, exciting, and saw wild horses!
- The second day was rainy so that by the end of the day Avery was shivering with cold. The other parents helped me set up the tent so that I could quickly get Avery into dry clothes and wrapped in a warm sleeping bag.
- Cool wildlife: wild horses, coyotes, Great Blue herons.
- As we pitched tents on the beach one afternoon, a wind gust came up and turned one of the tents into a big hamster ball – with one of boys inside. Gave the poor kid a bit of a scare, but later that night one of the guides turned the episode into a funny, hyperbolic story that had us all in stitches.
- Approaching a stretch of rapids one day, Avery was playing with a loose tooth. Our guide told us all to hang on. I pleaded with Avery to leave the tooth alone until AFTER the rapids and JUST as we reached them he held up the tooth and said “It’s out!” as he grabbed a rope to steady himself. He received a cool river rock in lieu of money from the tooth fairy the next morning.
- The kids dug and drew pictures in the sand, found interesting bones and wildlife tracks, and scrambled over rocks.
- Kayaking in the “ducky” with Avery.
- Wilderness camping and Leave No Trace; using the “groover” and bathrooms with a view. Arielle had a few issues with sand and dirt on “her” side of the tent, but overall the kids did great and I was very proud of them.
After the rafting, we spent another couple of nights in the hotel in Moab. I had to work the next day, so we got the laundry done as I worked and then headed out for an afternoon hike at Arches National Park. I think we could spend another few days in the parks around Moab!
We drove back to Texas by way of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Once again, I was determined to camp that night. We stayed at Brantley Lake State Park roughly an hour away from the caverns. There we enjoyed watching the wild rabbits and a beautiful, starry night. Well, that’s how the night started out anyway. Halfway through the night, I looked up out of the mesh ceiling and realized that I could no longer see stars and a wind had risen. One of the great things about the Kingdom 6 is that you can put on the rain fly but roll it back so that you can still see out on the mesh side. Luckily, I had done this with the fly when setting up the tent. I quickly jumped outside to secure the rain fly. Unfortunately, I had NOT thought to guy it out. The wind started howling. The tent walls flapped violently, but the tent stayed up. Avery woke up and snuggled up with me through the storm. Arielle woke up long enough to say “See, I told you we should have stayed in a hotel.” She then promptly fell back to sleep. (And interestingly did not again complain about camping until this past spring.) In the morning, I found that some of the tent poles had bent rather badly but I was just thrilled that the tent had stayed up. When we got home, I took the tent to REI asking if I could perhaps buy an extra set of poles and they handed me a brand new tent. I LOVE REI!
At Carlsbad Caverns, we took the Kings Palace tour which included a moment of turning out the lights to feel the complete darkness of the place. Definitely a bit eerie. I have very faint memories of visiting the caverns as a young child. The formations are truly amazing and beautiful, but the kids were getting quite weary of being on the road, so we headed home and arrived back in Austin later that night.
All in all, it was a very successful trip and launched us on a series of wonderful adventures.
Next month I have two trips planned: backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness and a road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll post on those when we get back! Until then . . . ENJOY!