Today was Levi’s 10th birthday! The boy who made us parents. The boy who asks endless questions because he loves to learn. The boy who chose all our meals today – cinnamon rolls, pizza and a taco bar.
Notice our matching shirts? A couple of weeks ago, we had a little tie dye fun and Levi requested we sport our creative (ummm…hippie) shirts today. We had a few people ask where we were from. I supposed families who are dressed alike screams “tourists” – HAHA!
After breakfast, our first stop was the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal, UT. The museum wasn’t crowded so we were able to explore while still social distancing. (This vacation has been perfect for social distancing since we’ve spent nearly all our time outdoors in the wilderness.)
After a quick movie about the area and the museum, we began our tour. The boys loved “digging” for bones and checking out the dinosaur skeletons.
Throughout the museum, you could see sculptures in their yard.
The replica below was originally constructed in the 1950s. They had a video explaining the errors in the replica based on new information since the original creation. For example, the stance is too wide and the tail is too short. So many details go into the discovery, identification and assembly/display of dinosaurs!
After lunch, we headed back to the lone black mailbox on the highway to find Moonshine Arch. This time I picked up a map, we all wore tennis shoes and sunscreen, packed a backpack cooler of water and arrived well before sunset. Many times spur of the moment adventures are the best, but being well prepared can definitely improve the experience.
The hike was only about a mile and a half one way, but it was a fairly consistent climb to the top. It was the heat of the afternoon so the air temperature was in the mid to high 80s. A saving grace was that Utah has very low humidity – a stark difference from back home in Indiana! (In fact, we haven’t turned on the AC in the camper even one time during this entire trip.)
We made it thanks to our map and tips from families we saw last night and today along the trail.
Behind the arch was a shallow washout in the plateau where we sat for a water break and to enjoy the views.
The size of the arch was incredible. You can barely see the arch begin to bend in the picture below.
On the other side of the arch, Emmitt thought he might have found fossils so he was showing them to Levi.
Just past the arch had incredible views! There was no end to how far you could see.
The hike back down the hill was much easier and even felt a little cooler. Emmitt had more of a pep in his step on the way back as well.
Moonshine Arch was approximately 2 miles north of our campground. Further north was Flaming Gorge, Ashley National Forest and several scenic routes. Since it was our last day here, we took the (very) long route back to our campground which involved driving north on Hwy 191 to the Ashley National Forest and venturing off on Red Cloud Loop.
Red Cloud Loop was unpaved and included dirt roads in many areas. I had just finished saying that I would like to see wildlife when we drove up on a mule deer and her two babies. We saw another two closer to our truck, but scared them before we could snap a picture.
During the drive, we read pamphlets about the landscape and wildlife in the area. We also studied the history and purpose of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The full drive for Red Cloud Loop is supposed to take around 3 hours. Since we already had a full day, we took the “shortcut” down Trail Mountain Road back to town. This road basically cuts the circle In half and sends you straight south back into town.
Before heading can to the camper, we made a quick stop at Walmart for fuel and more water for our travels tomorrow. We ended the night with dinner, a movie and ice cream to celebrate the birthday boy.