Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Chapter 23 - Springtime in California 2019 - Part 1

To say we love California is an understatement. We LOVE California! There, better.

Seriously, with the exception of the ridiculous traffic, we pretty much love everything about it. Ok, not the LA smog or the gas prices either. But other than that... we love the ocean, are huge fans of sunshine, the hiking is amazing and the scenery is to die for. Oh, and bonus... our son Austin lives there! So because we had an open calendar for 2019 we loaded up the spring with sweet California house sits. And what a spring it's been. Allow me to recap.

First up, Irvine, CA where we took care of these 2 sweethearts, Sullivan and Rambo.

Sullivan
Rambo
Sullivan is a super fun dog who would literally play fetch with you all day if you'd let him. He loves to go for car rides and hikes and goes happy-bonkers when you take him to the beach. Rambo is a giant snuggle monster and a giant cat as well. Both were a joy to take care of.

Irvine is nicely located just below Anaheim and only a few miles inland from 3 awesome beaches - Huntington, Newport and Laguna. We spent nearly every evening on one of these 3 beaches sitting in our camping chairs and watching the sunset while we ate dinner. That's like our favorite thing to do.

Here's a typical evening at Newport Beach


Huntington Beach is extra special because they've designated a full mile of it as an off-leash dog beach, which meant Sullivan was free to run around like a madman and play with the other hundreds of dogs you encounter along the way. It was pure delight for everyone.

Things we did in Irvine:

Hiked up to Black Star Canyon Falls. Here we had to work our way up a normally dry riverbed for a couple of miles, but CA had a rainy spring so the river was flowing free. Overall we probably had to cross about 10 times each way. I kept taking pictures of Charli on the slippery rocks in hopes I would get a hysterical shot of her falling in, but sadly she let me down.

Eventually we clamored our way to the top and were greeted by this lovely site, which I understand is a rare event there. Meaning water... flowing and falling... in southern California.

Black Star Canyon Falls
Witnessed the super bloom. Speaking of rare events, another product of the rainy spring was the once-every-ten-years super bloom, and we happened to arrive right at its peak. This is when an area of nearby Lake Elsinore erupts into a sea of orange poppies surrounded by yellow, purple and white wildflowers. This event is so prolific in fact, it is visible from space. Did you hear that? SPACE! You shouldn't be able to see poppies in space, but lucky for us we didn't have to. We could seriously publish an entire coffee table book with the pictures we took but here's a few to show just how spectacular these flowers were.

Houston, we have poppies. Over.


Next up was Encintas, CA, where we sat for these two adorable monsters.

Honey
Riley (what, I didn't do it)
They look so innocent don't they? I say that because when they play, they chase each other through the house like cartoon characters, smashing into the walls when they can't stop on the slippery hardwood floors. And when they wrestle they look like two wolves ready to tear each other apart, with the growling and the teeth. A few times we joked we could lose a leg if we got too close. But in the end it was just two siblings doing what brothers and sisters do... playing without hurting, because they truly do love each other. Seriously though, these big, lovable goofballs were super sweet.

Encinitas is a beach town with miles of waterfront to play in. AND, it's the home of Peace Pies, the uber-delicious restaurant Austin works at. So for us it was a yum-yum win-win!


Here are some of the things we did in Encinitas:

Hiked through the Elfin Forest of Olivenhain.


Twas a beautiful place but alas, Legolas was nowhere to be found.


Hiked up Mt. Woodson to Potato Chip Rock

This is a natural rock outcrop in the shape of a dangerously delicious potato chip. It doesn't look too risky in these pictures but the tip of it hangs out over a drop-off taller than the trees. So if you fell off you'd pretty much be toast. A lot of people take the overused approach of simply walking out to the edge. Charli and I, on the other hand, chose the more traditional approach of crawling on our hands and knees, you know, like the first explorers probably did.


Then, instead of standing up, I chose the role of "protector" to keep my wife safe, because I'm a chicken good husband that way.


Met our grand chickens

Yes, you heard that right. We might not have any grandchildren at this time but we have plenty of grand pets, including Austin's adorable family of 1 dog and 3 chickens. Here's Alvi, seen here standing on his hind legs because he wanted me to pick him up so he could go for a ride in the car.


And here are 2 of his 3 chickens, Darkness and Ghost. I told Austin to name them Amelia Egghart and Attila the Hen but he said that would be silly.

What the cluck you lookin at?

Spent a day at Mission Beach in San Diego

Mission Beach is the ocean's side of the gigantic Mission Bay area of San Diego, which is the largest man-made aquatic park in the country. This is a great place to relax on the sand, walk the paved path along beach-side shops and homes, eat at any of the dozens of restaurants or even ride an old wooden roller coaster. It's a beautiful and bustling area with no shortage of things to do.

When we first arrived we were greeted with a flyover by the Pelican Squadron.


A view of the boardwalk

Doesn't really have boards

A view of the beach, amusement park and Mission Bay from above. No I didn't bring a drone and yes it is an internet image.


And finally, a view of the the Mission Bay side of the beach


As you can see, Charli and I have been enjoying our California springtime very much. And these are only the first 2 of the 4 towns we've lived in. So stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of... "Springtime in California 2019 - Part 2."

Monday, December 24, 2018

Chapter 22 - On The Road Again

At the end of Chapter 20 I noted that we would be taking a break from house sitting in order to take care of my mom, "... what we will do is push the 'pause button' on future house sits indefinitely until it no longer makes sense for mom to live here, at which time we will reevaluate our options and forge ahead again. This, as the section heading reads, is one of the curveballs of house sitting."

Curveballs indeed. The last year and a half has been both challenging and rewarding. Challenging in that providing live-in home care for an elderly parent is no easy task. Rewarding in that we were able to give my mom an extended period of time in which she could stay in the home of her dreams. But eventually it was just not possible for two non-clinical people to provide the geriatric care needed for an 88 year old woman in a house not designed for a person with limited mobility. Fortunately last June we were able to find her an excellent apartment in an assisted living facility where she is getting the care she requires and thriving as a result.

Since then, our family has been busy going through all the extremely bonding steps of fixing up her house (the one we all grew up in) and preparing it for sale (note to self... approach TLC with premise for new reality show - Extreme Bonding). 

SO... as of December 14, Charli and I are officially houseless, because if you recall, we sold our last house back in 2014. But we are not addressless, because thank you South Dakota! I know, South huh? Yes, we now have a mailing address in Sioux Falls, and for a few good reasons:
1. SD caters to vagabonds like us who don't have a permanent home and travel in RVs... or Priuses packed to the ceiling. They actually have a mailbox company that will issue you a regular street address, which is important because many institutions won't allow you to use a PO box.
2. SD will take you as a resident for the mere act of staying ONE night in a South Dakota hotel or campground. And, their DMV and vehicle registration offices welcome you. In fact, we were able to obtain a SD drivers license and get new license plates in just a couple of hours, not to mention registering to vote at the same time. Charli and I are now two of the newest "great faces" you can find there.
3. SD has no income tax. It's not a huge reason to emigrate to the plains, but hey, we'll take it!

All of this leads to now, December 24, as we sit at our first house in 18 months in downtown Los Angeles. These next few weeks will be a bit of a scramble but for now we have plans in place for the rest of the holidays until early January, when we head up to Lincoln, NE for a month. This will be our "base camp" where we can settle back into our routine and get our future gigs locked down. It will also be a good location for me to head back up to MN for a few days at the end of the month to take care of some personal business, see some friends and play some music! All good things.

So here we are, back on the road again. We are super excited to see what lies ahead on our house sitting adventure. It has been exactly 4 years since we pulled out of St. Cloud in our little road warrior, who by the way has just surpassed 200,000 miles! People keep asking us, "how long will you do this?" and our response has always been, "until it's not fun anymore." Well guess what... it's still fun! So I guess that means we forge ahead and go where the road leads us. And at the risk of sounding redundant, I will once again leave you with our motto de la vie -

Not all those who wander are lost - Tolkien

Friday, June 1, 2018

Being a Better House Sitter

There are a LOT of house sitters out there. But there are also a LOT of opportunities as well. So even though us house sitters are "competitors" in a sense, we all belong to the same community. With that in mind I believe the more we can learn from each other the better we all become at what we do.

Now, I understand there are also a lot of blogs and books dedicated to house sitting with galactic tons of information on every aspect of it, but I wanted to drop another one onto the interwebs with our personal spin on some of the things we do that (we think) can help make us all better house sitters. Then, I would like to encourage everyone, from house sitters to home owners or interested bystanders to leave comments on what they do (or don't do), or would like to see in a house sitter.

Sharing. I learned it in kindergarten.

Pre Arrival Planning

Restart communicating about two weeks before. Many times the initial interviews and information exchanges took place months earlier. You will want to touch base to make sure both sides are in sync and everything is good to go. Don't just assume everyone has remembered everything. And if you haven't already, send the owners your house sitting checklist.

Be flexible. If the homeowners suddenly change their departure time or date and ask you to arrive at a different time, do it! It may take extra time or cost a few dollars to get a room, but it's a small price to pay for what we receive in return.

Offer to drive the owners to/from the airport. Most of the time the owners will have made other plans, but sometimes they are just not comfortable asking the house sitters. In these cases they are always super thankful that we asked, as it saves them a lot of hassle and expense that is not needed at the start of their big trip.

Plan the arrival details.  Arrival day can be a little awkward if plans haven't been made in advance. This means deciding what day/time we will arrive and what everyone will do after we arrive. For example, will there be a meal involved? Will it be at the house or at a restaurant? What can we bring? We always offer to take the owners out to dinner as thanks for letting us stay in their home while they are gone. However, sometimes they will insist on paying for the meal. Either way, a dinner on the first night is always a good way to relax and have a productive conversation where we learn about each other, the trip, the pets and the house sit.

First Impressions

Think about what a home owner is putting on the line. They are entrusting their dearly loved pet, who is considered a family member, and the entire trust of their home and property to strangers. This is a huge leap of faith and can be the make or break point of someone having either an excellent worry-free vacation, or one filled with stress and regret. And this is why their first impression of us is so important.

Everyone has heard some version of the comment, "it only takes 'x' number of seconds to form an opinion of someone." True or not, making a good first impression is critical. Especially since there is not a lot of time to make a  better impression if the first one isn't favorable. Here's a few things we consider before rolling up to our new home:

Arrive tidy.  This means don't come pulling into the driveway looking like you just spent 2 weeks in a yurt in the desert, or have fast food bags all over your dashboard. Straighten up your luggage and interior. The homeowners almost always come out to greet you and one of the first things they will be thinking about is the fact that you will be living on their furniture and sleeping in their beds. They certainly don't want to have to worry if you're bringing fleas and bed bugs with you. If you have the time, rent a hotel or AirBnb the night before and leave in the morning clean and polished. At a minimum, stop at a rest stop or travel center and spruce up. In other words, don't arrive in sweatpants and a tee shirt with ketchup stains on the front. Show a little class. Put on your nicer clothes and comb your hair. You know, personal hygiene stuff.

Wash your car. Once you start house sitting in the more upscale neighborhoods or gated communities you're going to want to make sure you don't look like the Beverly Hillbillies coming into the neighborhood. Take some time to make sure your vehicle is clean and in good repair. If you have a dented fender or broken taillight, get it fixed. People may not say anything but it's a certainty they don't want a worn out looking beater in their driveway while they're gone.

Arrival protocol

Arrive on time. This is common courtesy and one instance where you don't want to be "fashionably late," especially if the owners have requested a specific time. Most of the time the owners will have some sort of plan in mind and will be basing it on your arrival time. Likewise, don't arrive early. People preparing for a big trip are often rushing to get everything ready at the last minute and don't need you in their space any sooner than necessary. 

Greet the pets. Before you arrive at the house review the information about the pets and learn their names. This helps to start an immediate bond that both the pets and the home owners will appreciate.

Take your shoes off. This sounds obvious but it's a subtle and important sign of respect. And if you're in Hawaii, leave your shoes outside. This is very important culturally. Also, make sure your big toe is not sticking out of a hole in your sock. Just sayin.

Don't unload the bulk of your belongings until the owners are gone. If you're like us, you have a LOT of things in your vehicle, and piling them all over their garage or living room while they are trying to pack and leave can be overwhelming. In our case, we carry 2 small overnight bags that contain a change of clothes and the toiletries needed for the first night. Then after the owners are off on their adventure we empty the car on our own time.

The Stay

Once the home owners are on their way there are several things we can do as house sitters to ensure the sit goes well and the owners are happy upon their return:

Take pictures of the house and property. We like to take pictures of all the rooms when we arrive. This allows us to make sure we put the house back the way we found it before the owners return. Sometimes after staying somewhere for 6-8 weeks we may have rearranged furniture a bit or moved some kitchen appliances around and this is an excellent way to look at how it was when we arrived. It also allows us to remake the bed with the 10 decorative pillows and two teddy bears the same way it was before we put them all in the closet for the next two months.

Use your own bedding. Speaking of beds, another thing we like to do is use our own bedding. The first thing we do before using a bed is carefully remove the blankets, sheets and pillow cases and put on our own. This makes the bed feel more personal, prevents the owner's linens from becoming worn or damaged in the washer/dryer, and allows us to put their linens back on without having to rewash them. Sometimes people have old, personal quilts or feather comforters and it's just better all the way around to not put them at risk.

Use your own consumables. Just because someone has allowed you to stay in their home doesn't mean they are giving you their things. The owners have paid for their consumables and you should as well. Here's the things we either buy upon arrival or replace before we leave.
  • food... Sometimes the owners will specifically ask you to eat anything fresh that will spoil while they're gone, which we do if it fits our diet. But this is not an invitation to raid their cupboards and eat all their groceries. We always buy everything we need for ourselves and leave the owner's food alone. We also carry a portable "pantry" that includes all the spices we cook with. Spices are actually kind of spendy.
  • toiletries... This includes soap, shampoo and especially toilet paper. The last thing an owner needs when they return is to have to go out and restock.
  • paper towels... Same as above. You use it, you replace it.
Communicate often. Nothing puts the owners more at ease than frequent reports that everything is going well, and seeing photos of their pets engaged in activities or snuggles. It doesn't have to be a novel. Just a few short emails or texts per week goes a long way toward providing them peace of mind and a care-free vacation.

Be available. Every now and then we will get a last minute request to take care of some business that sprang up while the home owners were gone. This may include a forgotten scheduled service call, a vet or car appointment or even a realtor showing. When these things present themselves the owners always appreciate it if you can oblige. The return of a positive experience for the owner is well worth the small investment of your time.

Fix it if you can. For this I'm referring to the little things. We carry a small tool kit with us that allows us to repair most of the day-to-day things that any homeowner might encounter, such as a jammed garbage disposal, broken light switch or clogged gutter. Of course this is dependent on the skill and comfort level of the house sitter. In one case I was able to remove a dishwasher pump and extract a small piece of glass that was preventing it from working. It's nice to be able to save the owner the cost of a service call if you can prevent it.

Replace what you ruin or break. This refers to anything you may have inadvertently damaged on your watch. For example, maybe you ruined a skillet, dropped a glass or spilled wine on a pillow. If you know what kind it is you can usually find it on Amazon. If not, let the owner know you tried and offer to pay for it.

Maintain the property. This includes mowing, raking or weeding as necessary as well as watering, harvesting fruits/vegetables and sweeping the sidewalks. In the winter it may include shoveling or raking the snow off the roof. It also includes NOT spilling oil on someone's brand new asphalt driveway and creating a huge discoloration while trying to clean it up. Not that I ever did that.

Respect the vendors. This refers to anyone the owners have contracted with to provide service at the house, including cleaning, lawn, pool, pest control and others. In these cases, always make sure the animals are contained and not in the way, or appearing threatening. There's something about the lawn service teams that seem to set dogs off every time. Also, ask the house cleaning team how they prefer to work. We always volunteer to leave the house so they can do their thing without us in the way. Sometimes they appreciate that and other times they say it's not necessary.

Be ready for company.  You never know when a neighbor or relative might stop by unannounced. For this reason you should always be presentable enough to greet them at the door and not be embarrassed. You don't need to be wearing makeup but at least make sure you're always wearing pants and your hair is combed. You know, the basics.We like to make sure the house is also at an above average level of tidy as well so Hazel next door isn't emailing the homeowner and telling them their house sitters are slobs.

Respect the neighborhood.  Again, basic common sense. The idea here is to respect quiet hours, keep the property tidy, bring in the newspapers and garbage can and clean up the doggie doo-doo daily. Nobody wants to walk by a yard full of land mines.

The Turnover

As a first impression sets the tone for the home owner's trip, the last impression sets the tone for their return... including their subsequent review. And since our review is really the only form of payment we receive, we feel it's important to return the house as shiny as possible. Here's how we approach a turnover.

Clean a little deeper. On the day before the owners return we hit the house from top to bottom. Here's the short list of things we do:
- wash all towels
- dust and vacuum all rooms
- clean the kitchen, including the refrigerator
- clean/sanitize the bathrooms
- mop all tile/hardwood floors 
- clean the washer/dryer
- sweep the patios, sidewalks and driveway
- dust all furniture, clean all hard/glass surfaces, clean all mirrors.
- wash any glass doors that pets have smudged up

Leave a little something to eat.  No one wants to come home from a long day of traveling and have absolutely nothing ready to eat. Therefore, we always like to make sure there are a few fresh basics waiting for them on their return. This includes a bowl of fruit, a loaf of bread and, if we have time, a simple meal such as pasta or homemade soup in the fridge. As strange as it sounds, not once has anyone ever been disappointed that they had something waiting for them.

Feedback

As I mentioned above, a good review is our main form of payment and critical to our success as house sitters, as it is with any business. Therefore, our philosophy is to provide the best house sitting experience possible in exchange for the opportunity to do what we love the most... traveling the world while living in nice houses for extended periods of time.

It's important to note that we don't provide this service only because we hope it will net us a good review, we do it because Charli and I have always been customer service oriented in every career we've had. It's something we both love and just part of who we are. The good reviews that come along with it are the byproduct that allows us to continue enhancing our opportunities. So hopefully other people can learn from our experiences, and if you leave yours in the comments we can learn from you as well. Thanks!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Chapter 21 - Pets of 2017

2017 didn't provide a lot of pet care for us, as we spent a large portion of it visiting national parks (as noted in our National Parks series) followed by an extended stay with my mom so we could take care of her in her home. But that doesn't mean we had no pets, just fewer. Here were our sweet furry friends from 2017.


Monday, September 18, 2017

The Great National Park Tour - Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks

To recap... In 2017 Charli and I needed to drive from Vancouver, Canada to Duluth, MN. However instead of driving the 1800 miles straight across the country the way a crow would, if crows could drive, we decided to take a little 1900 mile detour and stop at a few national parks along the way, because that's how we roll. And roll. And roll.


The first two legs of this amazing trek can be found here and here. After Zion we continued on to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon feels like you've stepped into a fairy tale. Everywhere you look enormous spires are bursting out of the ground to form natural castles. It is truly in-spiring.





Like most breathtaking landscapes, pictures don't do it justice. This is one of those places you have to experience in person. Bryce Canyon has many trail loops you can take that will lead you down to the valley below. You can hike 2, 5, 10 or 20 miles if you have the time and desire. This park is truly magical in every sense of the word and is worth every minute you can spend there.

Here's a few more shots, and if you're interested I can easily send like 1000 more. Just let me know.






Capitol Reef National Park

Just around the corner from Bryce Canyon is Capitol Reef National Park, which is named for a line of rock domes (the reef) that someone back in the national park naming days decided looked like a capitol building dome. This is the main dome you will see when you first enter the park.

Capitol Dome
And here's another one I grabbed from the Capitol Reef web site.

"There is nothing like a dome. Nothing, in this world."

But this place ain't just about domes. Capitol Reef is like a geological smorgasbord of landscapes.




At one point Charli and I hiked to the top of Chimney Rock to see the view. This place had a great Lion King vibe so I thought I would try to recreate that famous scene with Simba, but sadly he was all, "why does everybody always want to hold me up over dangerous cliffs?!!!" and wouldn't have anything to do with it.


A bonus feature of Capitol Reef are the old orchards that were planted by Mormon pioneers, which are now maintained by the National Park Service. Visitors can pick apples, peaches or pears for $2/lb. There is a scale in the field with a lock box to drop your money in, using the honor system of course.




One side note regarding our accommodations on this journey. Charli and I love to camp, and one of the things we discovered in the past was a little thing called "disbursed camping," which is how we camped for most of our trip. This is where you are allowed to camp for free outside of a national park boundary in areas owned by the Bureau of Land Management, otherwise known as BLM camping. This is a great way to find a really remote area adjacent to a popular park as opposed to trying to squeeze into the usually crowded camp sites within the park. For example, here was our home while we stayed at Capitol Reef.


In summary, we only scratched the surface of this stunning place. The park itself is over 100 sq/miles and has dozens of trails that would take days to hike. The main road through Capitol Reef offers only a glimpse of what the larger park has to offer, and we definitely intend to return again to spend a lot more time exploring it!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Great National Park Tour - Zion National Park

September 2017

When we decided to go to Zion National Park, everyone said the same things... "OMG, Zion is amazing!" "Zion is our favorite national park!" "You're gonna love Zion!"

So we rolled out of Crater Lake and set our GPS for Zion. We didn't know much about it so we did some research along the way. First we learned that Zion has a free shuttle bus service that takes you to eight stops along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. This eliminates the need for cars and makes getting around the park super easy. These shuttles will drop you at a museum, lodge, scenic rock formation or a trail head. The next thing we learned is that there are a couple of "must see" attractions at Zion... Angels Landing, The Narrows and the Emerald Pools. Ok, these things sounded pretty cool and we were intrigued. And when we arrived at this camp site 14 hours later we knew we were in for a treat.

Camp site nestled in The Valley of Amazeballs
Angels Landing

The first thing we wanted to know was, what is Angels Landing? It sounded so peaceful and nice... like a puffy little place where cute little cherubs stop for a break whilst they strum on their golden harps. And then we saw these.


WHAT THE HOLY HELL?!!!

This was no angelic respite. This was one misplaced footstep away from certain death! You KNOW when the opening sentence on their main poster says, Since 2004, seven people have died falling from the cliffs on this route that this is not for the faint of heart, anyone with a fear of height, or anyone who is slightly clumsy. In other words... me.

So now we had a decision to make. Do we face our fears head on and accept the challenge, or run away like frightened little kittens. And then we thought, "well, what is the worst thing that can happen?" And then we said, "death." And then we started crying. But eventually we decided that if we just took our time and didn't do anything dumb, like try to navigate it in a slippery rainstorm for example, we would be fine. And we promised ourselves that if it got too scary or dangerous we would simply turn around and leave our dignity on the trail behind us maybe try it again some other time.

And so we forged ahead. And holy crap what an adventure it was. Pictures don't do this hike justice, but they're better than nothing, so here is just a tiny sample of the majestic beauty of this heavenly place.

As you climb the main trail, this is what surrounds you.




Eventually you will get to a natural "bridge" that is only a few feet wide and drops off hundreds of feet below on either side if you slip. As I crossed it I wanted to just close my eyes and hope for the best but quickly decided it was in my best interest to pay attention and take it slow.

Here's Charli starting her traverse across the bridge. I went first and turned around to take this pic. It's important to note that if not for the guide chain this would have been a non-starter for both of us.


After crossing the bridge, you are faced with the climb to the top of Angels Landing. Here is what it looks like as you approach. Pish-posh, that doesn't look so bad.


AND... here's what it looks like while you're ascending. Note that the lower side of this slope drops about 1200 feet. Also note that at this precise moment both of our hearts were pounding like jackhammers.

No chain, No gain
But eventually we made it to the top. Alive. And it was good.


SO... after spending about 15 minutes at the summit, we started to notice that those clouds behind us were getting darker, and moving towards us! This meant one thing. GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

And because the only way down was the way we came up, we literally had to make the same heart-stopping journey in reverse. But then the unthinkable happened. First the lightning in the distance.

"Honey I love you. We're going to die. Do the kids know where our insurance papers are?"

And no sooner did we put our first step onto the slanty ledge from hell when sure enough... rain!


And not just a sprinkle, but "the heavens opened up" kind of downpour. SO much rain in fact came down that the canyon walls erupted into waterfalls. And no, I'm not exaggerating.


Fortunately we didn't slip to an untimely death and become another statistic on the Angels Landing welcome poster. Sure it was scary, but it was also the single most exhilarating thing either of us have ever done in our lives. And because of that, I would do it again in a chest-pounding heartbeat.

On a nice dry day.

The Narrows

The Narrows is one of those things that on the surface doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. "So here's the deal see... you put on 'water shoes' and walk up a muddy river against a strong current with a bottom full of large rocks for about 5 miles. Oh and you have to find a big stick somewhere to keep your balance otherwise you'll fall on your face. Either that or buy one in our gift shop for 10 bucks. Then, after about 3 hours you'll get to a place that's really pretty so you can tell everyone you did it later on." 

However... sensible or not, we were NOT going to be denied.

And there was a touch of irony to the fact that the very day after a huge rainfall we would decide to take a hike up a river that had multiple warnings to NOT hike up the river after a rainfall because of potential flash flooding. Ok, irony might not be the right word. What's the word I'm looking for... oh yeah, stupidity.

But the day was beautiful and the river looked fine. And besides, gobs of other people were making the pilgrimage so we made a similar decision to the one from Angels Landing. If it got too hard or dangerous we would simply turn around. Or, if a flash flood hits we would get a free fast ride back down. Bonus!

So hike up the river we did. And it was tough, and it was wet and it was beautiful! But most of all, it was really, really fun. We hooked up with some other people and chatted our way upstream, had a nice lunch at "Wall Street" (the unofficial destination of the hike) and soaked up the sun. And our shoes.

Here's a few pics of this adventure.

Getting started



The river




Heading into "Wall Street"


Lunch!


A slight obstacle


My trusty staff... ready for the next guy


Summary

The next day we hiked the Emerald Pools loop and it too was amazing, but I don't seem to have any pictures for some reason. I guess I ran out of film. But here's one I stole from the internet so you can see what a magical place this is as well.


The fact is, pretty much everything about Zion is magical and ridiculously beautiful, and now I am officially that guy. You know, the one who will tell you "OMG, Zion is amazing!" "Zion is our favorite national park!" "You're gonna love Zion!"

Because it's true.