We pulled the Flowbee out and Karen cut the boys hair (all 3). Notice Sam's black eye. He got it at school when he was 1) running up the stairs and 2) not holding onto the handrail. The stairs won that battle!
Yesterday we started the day out by setting a daily record low temperature (-31 degrees) and in the evening we had a total lunar eclipse (next one will be Dec. 2010). Here are four pictures of the moon that I took last night.
We skied at Copper Mountain on Sunday, Feb. 10. It was an awesome day! It was too bad that Jean and Greg couldn't come with, but they flew out that day. Jean, Greg and Stevi watched Sophie for us (otherwise it would have cost $88 for daycare at Copper Mtn). The temperature was about 30. It was so nice out, we ate lunch outside. We had a great day, and we were all exhausted when we quit. We should have quit earlier because the traffic was terrible back to Denver. What should have been about 1 hour, took us almost 3 hours. Because of the delay, we weren't able to turn in our rental skis. Stevi turned them in for us the next morning. Thanks, Stevi. Sophie had a great day also! She conned Uncle Greg into buying her a stuffed animal and sunglasses.
We made it to Denver to watch Stevi play two games for the Regis Rangers. She played great! She had 24 points (tied her career high) and 9 rebounds on Friday night. On Saturday she had 15 points and 7 rebounds. They won Friday night and lost in overtime on Saturday. It was Senior night on Saturday so Stevi, Jean and Greg were introduced before the game.
We were supposed to meet Jean and Greg on Thursday February 7 in Silverthorne, CO. On Friday we were going to ski together at Copper Mountain Ski Resort. It was a great plan, until it started to snow heavily and they shut down Interstate 70 at the Vail Pass. We were less than 20 miles from Copper Mountain, but they closed the Interstate due to a multiple car accident and bad weather. We had to backtrack some 60 miles because all the motels were sold out. It was amazing how many trucks were lined up along the on/off ramps and even on the Interstate. There must have been several hundred. We were able to go south to Leadville and then north to Copper Mountain to bypass the Vail Pass, but it was too late to ski. I don't think it would have been very good for the kids anyway. It was cold, windy and they had over a foot of powder. Not exactly good conditions for Sam.
We toured the Spruce Tree House cliff dwellings. They are about 200 feet x 90 feet and it is estimated that about 100 people lived in them year round. The park has done a little stabilization, but more than 90% of the walls etc. are original (from about 1200 A.D.). Most of the cliff dwellings are closed in the winter.
There were several kivas at the Spruce Tree House. The kiva was an important religious/ceremonial room. The top picture shows a kiva without the roof on, but most kivas had a roof similar to the two in the second picture. A ladder was used to get in and out of the kiva.
For their reading classes, Alex and Emily were supposed to keep a journal. I would like to say that they wrote in their journals every night, but they missed a few days and had to catch up on the last few days.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon after dark and the temperature was 0 degrees. The day before they received over one foot of snow and most of the roads and trails were closed. Alex and Emily got up with me to watch the sunrise. It was very cold and windy in the morning, but the view was spectacular! During the day it warmed up nicely and the wind died down. It was an incredible day.
The kids wanted to hike into the canyon. We asked a ranger and he suggested the Bright Angel Trail. But he cautioned that we should have ice crampons for our shoes/boots because it is very steep and slippery. We checked and they would cost us about $150, so we decided to just walk down the trail a little way without them. This is the trail that the mules take riders down every day. The mules actually made a very nice trail, almost like little steps in the snow. I don't think the ice crampons would have helped at all. We hiked down about one quarter of a mile to the first tunnel (the mules go down about 6 miles for the day trip).
While visiting with a park ranger, he encouraged us to take the tour of the Kolb Brothers Studio. We did, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. They built the dark colored house/studio before this was a National Park and were able to live in and work out of it until 1976. Imagine waking up to the view in the first picture each morning. In the second picture you can see how the studio is right on the edge of the rim. When the park took over the building, they were amazed that it had never toppled into the canyon. The park stabilized the structure before giving tours. The lower dark colored window is where they took pictures (and then sold them) of the mule riders every day. If you double click on the last picture, you can see mules coming up the trail toward their studio. This is the same trail that we hiked down.
It is amazing how big the Hoover Bridge is! It is over 700 feet tall and almost 700 feet thick at the base. The second picture is of the water intakes and Lake Mead. The lake is at 49% of capacity (you can see the white marks on the canyon walls). They are only able to produce about 28% of electricity compared to when the lake is full. We took a tour of the dam's power plant. In the last picture, you can see the bridge they are erecting to divert most of the traffic away from the bridge. It is expected to be completed in 2010.
We took in the Fremont Experience and drove down The Strip in Vegas. The kids liked all the lights and kept saying, "Can we stay there, Can we stay there" Most of the hotels will not let you have over four to a room. We thought we were going to stay at New York, New York, but by the time we got there they were sold out. Oh well.
The kids thought we should hike out to these sand dunes. The little dot part way down the tallest dune in the bottom picture is someone running down the dune. It did look like fun, but we decided to go to Badwater, or it would be too dark to see anything.
We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful Death Valley was. It has a lot of mountains and very pretty canyons. It is not at all what I expected. There is a mountain peak (Telescope Peak) that rises to an elevation of 11,049 feet that is only 15 miles from Badwater (the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level). This vertical drop is twice that of the Grand Canyon. We definitely noticed the temperature drop. It was in the 20's when we were at about 4500 feet and it was 60 degrees in the valley.