Here's the requisite group shot. Buglet was with us from this point on; she and all her stuff :) Her dad's step-grandma (is that even a real relationship title?) gave her a numbered collectible ceramic doll that we got to juggle between pillows for our remaining journey. That was quite an adventure and quite educational. I have vowed to never ever purchase a doll like that for a little girl or to encourage anyone else to do so.
Our first view of the canyon. Jim was totally enamored with this park. It is stunning in person, and our pictures do not do it justice at all. The sun was high and bright and the days were beautiful.
This moment was fantastic. Jim was teaching Aeryn about the process of stream erosion creating canyons and I felt very proud. Since my teaching qualifications are primarily middle school, it is unlikely that I'll get to teach Geology again unless I do a Master's in Geology (which Jim is gently encouraging me to do). I'll miss that class and all the crazy kids I've had in there.
And then I look at that circa 1982 jazzercize style tank top with weird overshirt thing that Aeryn is wearing and I'm too distracted to worry about it anymore.
Another view of the canyon.
To keep Aeryn motivated to press forward, Jim let her wear his Garmin watch and she became our official distance tracker. It was awesome. She loved seeing how far we went and then we'd keep track of how far we had left to go when we were headed back. Really, I don't know how successfully we would've completed all the little walks we did.
It's funny to realize how many group shots we have from this stop. Someone (me, again) forgot the charger to the camera battery and somewhere along, oh, day 1 about 15 minutes in we realized that the battery power was pretty darn low. As the trip progressed we got a little more confident that we had enough power to get the pictures we really wanted and took a little more liberty to get group shots and other photographic miscellany.
The rangers do an Astronomy program in the campground ampitheater that we planned on attending, until evening brought in thick clouds and the sky was not visible. Instead we stayed in our tent, convinced Aeryn we were not going to be killed by a bear, and watched Despicable Me on Jim's computer.
The scale just doesn't show here. It's so much larger than it looks. Really, how do those National Geographic photographers take such remarkable photos????
Why the concern over bears, you may have wondered. Well, the camp host came around to make sure everyone knew to be responsible campers (i.e. don't sleep with a steak under your pillow) so as to limit the appeal to wildlife. Only in this case it was especially important because the campground has a resident bear that would wander around. Fortunately he has so far been seen to be afraid of people and would run away if he sees them, but I'm fairly certain that all it would take was one wayward s'more to convince him that 20,000 Calorie diets are easier to meet with people food than all the tiny little berries they were previously scavenging.
The camp hosts taught Aeryn what to do if she saw the bear, but it freaked her out more than anything. So, even now 10 days later, she still randomly tells me how to respond to a wild bear.
There is a road to the bottom of the Canyon that we drove the morning we left. It was early morning and the sun was clearly not high enough to illuminate the base of the canyon. We took a quick picture and then Jim and Aeryn waited patiently while I pestered a nearby USGS worker about what he was doing (setting sensors to measure stream discharge.). We headed back up the canyon road, said farewell to the raging Gunnison river, and ventured to our next destination.