Saturday, March 15, 2008


For spring break this year I had two suggestions for the family. The first suggestion (which I might add was very quickly shot down and ridiculed) was a week of driving the "Grand Circle" and hiking and camping the several national parks of Southern Utah and visiting Monument Valley and the Four Corners region. Although I have visited those areas several times in my life, my children have not. We know Zion very well and will continue to frequent the back country of Zion for many years to come. However, we seldom venture past Zion and visit Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and of course the Grand Canyon (other than Toroweep). I tried to explain to the family that millions of people come from all over the world to visit these National Parks, that they are considered "world-class sites" and we live right here and haven't put forth the effort to visit them. Instead, we spend lots of time and money to visit other world class sites in other areas of the world. It doesn't make sense! It is not unlike the St. George native (a Gubler or Hafen or McArthur) who hasn't ever hiked the Narrows or the West Rim Trail in Zion. And let me tell you that most of the descendants of those sturdy pioneers have hardly ventured into Zion or it's canyons. Perhaps it is just as well that the hordes stay away from the canyons. Let them stew in their narrow comfortable pitiful lives in the cities and leave the back country to those who are not afraid to get up early, hike and put forth an effort to reach those awesome places on our planet. Just not my kids too if I can help it! Now for suggestion number two, which I might add was quickly accepted and embraced with enthusiasm. A week on a small island off the coast of Belize in Central America. In all fairness I must confess that it was a choice that I also applauded, as my first visit to Belize four years ago was unforgettable. We caught the "red-eye" out of Vegas as soon as the kids were out of school and by the next afternoon we were riding a "water taxi" speed boat across the warm blue waters of the Carribean from Belize City to the island named "Caye Caulker". The islands off the coast of Belize are known as "cayes" (pronounced keys) and range in size from several miles in length to small patches of sand and a few trees. Caye Caulker is about 2 miles long and a 1/4 mile wide. It is known among backpackers as a great kicked-back place to stay and for its layed back and slow pace. Most people walk everywhere, but others drive golf carts or ride bicycles. There are no paved roads and there are about a dozen open air restaurants and dive shops along the beachfront where everybody gathers each day. We rented a villa on the beach that was quite nice and ate fresh fruit and fish every day. The only glitch we had was that it rained for first 3 days and that made for some cold boat rides out to the reef where we snorkeled or dove. When the sun finally did come out we all quickly got sunburned. We snorkeled, learned to dive, swam among turtles and sting rays and sharks, went cave tubing and even did a night snorkeling session under the star lit sky of the warm Caribbean . Even Eric did very well diving down to 40 feet for 45 minutes with a dive master. Rebecca especially loved diving and I suspect she will go onto become certified. Marty was nearly attacked by a large green moray eel and Rebecca tried to ride some large sting rays. I liked swimming along side a giant sea turtle 60 feet below the surface one afternoon when I went out on a dive at St. George's Caye while everyone else spent some down time sunning on the beach and visiting some of the open-air shops and artists. Deb was along for all of it and soaked up the warmth as much as she could and enjoyed sharing our previous experiences in Belize with our younger kids. (Sorry Sheri and Angie but it is your husbands duty to provide you with such experiences now). It is nice to be back home and in our own beds and no doubt Southern Utah is beautiful as well, however, I could have spent more time exploring Belize and soaking up the Caribbean sun and sipping on fresh made lime juice below a palm tree on a white beach.