Calvin and his friend Josh have been hounding me to climb Mt. Baker this summer; so this week Markus joined us as we made the ascent. The 'partly cloudy' Thursday forecast turned to a light drizzle and dark clouds as we approached the trailhead. We contemplated postponing for a day but the forest service office encouraged us to go ahead since it would clear up in time for our morning ascent, We met a few climbers coming down who had horror stories of their morning summit - high winds and ice pellets. We continued on with the hopes of clear skies by midnight. We hiked through the fog to the high camp at Black Buttes. It was cold, cloudy and windy so we took care of dinner and essentials and then spent the evening in the tents, Unfortunately, I only slept for fifteen minutes before our two o'clock wake up. We woke to a clear blanket of stars and a towering summit. With head lamps and rope we headed up. As we made our way up we enjoyed stars, sunrise, views and a towering mountain. The final hour was extremely exhausting. We arrived on the summit at 8 am, the first party of the day. It was cold and windy but the views were amazing! The long hike back to the trailhead was agonizing, but we were glad we had the summit over as we met crowds of climbers heading up for the next day's summit. We are thankful for a safe trip and great weather. This was my third ascent of the mountain and my body is telling me it should be the last.
Actually, it turned out to be a Bulthuis family event this weekend. Bjorn, Jenny and Ada were returning from Georgia where they spent time with Jenny's sister Jill and family. They decided to give us a couple of days before returning home. Markus came home for part of the weekend as well. We went to Belfair State Park to enjoy the sun and ate at the Blue Agave. Saturday, Bjorn and I went sailing while the girls went shopping. Brett came over for dinner and we got to reminisce. On Sunday we all went to Markus' church, Quest Church in Seattle. It is amazing how much Ada is changing. The mobility of walking has transformed her into quite the busybody. She has also become very verbal, at least in the departments of volume and chatter fluency. In all the babble there is the rudiments of Mama, Daddy, Please and ByeBye.
One of the anxieties that we have had about Calvin attending International Christian University in Japan is his housing situation. They have very limited campus housing and there is no guarantee the international students will get on campus housing. The prospect of Calvin finding reasonable and accessible housing in Tokyo was a big concern of ours. Even though we had committed ourselves last month by sending the full year's tuition, we did not know if he had a spot in one of the dorms. Well, this week Calvin received notice from the school that he has a spot in an on campus dorm. Praise the Lord! His dorm is called 'Canada House' which was the one he most wanted to get in because it was more reasonable and had two students to a room. Calvin is not the only one excited about this as it takes a load of concern off our hearts as well. The thought of Calvin commuting 45 minutes to an hour across town, living with students from a variety of other Tokyo schools didn't set well with us. We are excited for Calvin. His dream is getting real close to coming true.
Sunday and Monday were travel days getting back home from southeast Utah. We did take a few hours to visit Park City. We expected a resort town like Whistler, but Park City is much bigger. There was a big Fourth of July celebration going on with thousands of people. We found a restaurant out of the bustle and rode our bikes on the great bike paths into Main Street to walk around and see the shops and people. Then it was back on the road for the long haul. We enjoyed the nightly accommodations of Super Walmart in Mountain Home, Utah. Our final day found us grinding back home. We did take a slight excursion by driving Chinook Pass over the mountains. It had been many years since driving it and we enjoyed it over the familiar and crowded I 90. We made it home, having driven about 3400 miles, visiting five National Parks, staying four nights in motels and four nights in the van. We made it back to Washington just in time for summer weather to start.
Mellowing in Moab Before our mad dash for home, we slowed the pace a little to enjoy the town and surroundings of Moab. Situated between Arches and Canyonlands NPs, as well as multiple off road venues, the town booms as a recreational hub, but has taken on the tourist destination feel with lots of motels, restaurants and shops. First, we switched motels from the rip off Motel 6 to a plush La Quinta, at a cheaper rate courtesy of a travel coupon. (Thanks for the tip Susan) In the midday, we explored Canyonlands National Park with short hikes to Mesa Arch and Grand View Point. In the afternoon, Esther went shopping while I checked out the world famous Slick Rock Trail. I intended to watch other bikers, but since there was no one there, and I couldn’t embarrass myself, I took my bike on the practice loop. I crawled through the course, stopping to get off once in a while. The trail is marked by white dashes painted on the rock. The scenery was amazing and I fortunately escaped injury. I think I’ll stick with commuting and bike paths for my biking! We enjoyed a late afternoon swim at the motel pool and a good dinner at the crowded Moab Brewery.
The Red Canyon is just north of Bryce Canyon. There is a nice paved bike trail that winds up the canyon. We started our day off with an hour bike ride. We then pointed the Sienna towards Moab. On the way, we had some scenic surprises. Highway 12 from Bryce to Torrey has got to be one of the most scenic highways in the country. Much of it is in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. From red rock canyons to rolling hills of aspen groves; from grand vistas to Anasazi ruins, this highway covers it all, with very little traffic. We also stopped in Capital Reef National Park. This lesser known NP has a lot to offer, but is much less developed than its neighbors. We took the time to take a hike up the Grand Wash to the narrows. It was a little on the warm side because the elevation is lower, but we enjoyed the shade and breezes of the canyon. We made it to Moab on the late side, and unlike our usual habit, checked in to a Motel 6.
'Hoodoo City' - In the morning we drove through the rest of Zion Park, including the mile long tunnel built in 1930. We arrived at Bryce Canyon Park in the early afternoon and found a campsite. We were glad to feel the cooler temperature of the high altitude. After a buffet lunch and a park introduction at the visitors center, we plunged into the canyon for a three mile hike. Strolling through the canyons and pinnacles was definitely worth the hike. Looking over a canyon has one kind of grandeur, looking up at the columns of red rock provide a different one. We drove to the several lookouts and then watched the sunset while strolling the rim. We ended the evening enjoying the Lodge and stumbling across an astronomer's bash enjoying the pre-moonrise in a remote high altitude setting. We enjoyed the cool night in our 'hardshell camper'.