Fourth and Last Day at Zion National Park

Posted by Stella on Monday May 9, 2011

May 1st, we got ready for our last day at the awesome Zion National Park. It really was awesome, especially that last day. We went on two hikes, and we were planning to do four and a half miles of hiking. But of all the walking in the whole day, we walked about five or five and a half miles. It wasn’t hard, though, actually, it was quite easy, but doesn’t it sound like a lot of walking to you? Five miles? Sounds like quite a lot to me. ( Although we did six miles yesterday so easily that I thought we did only four.)

So anyway, the first hike we did was two miles, (and these were extremely easy miles that were all paved and flat) one mile in, one mile back. The hike went to the beginning of the Narrows, a hike where the only path is the Virgin River. It goes through narrow valleys and it’s one of the most advanced hikes in the country. Since it flows through thin and narrow valleys, it is called the Narrows.

We walked the first trail, down to the Narrows, and it was pretty fun. It was also pretty horrifying, though, because of all the squirrels. People in Atlanta, you might be thinking, squirrels? There are tons of squirrels here! And they aren’t scary at all! They’re just little furry animals with bushy tails that don’t even come anywhere near you! And hey! Don’t say squirrels are mean or scary because I like these squirrels and I’m very protective of them! Well, I feel the same way about the Atlanta squirrels, but the squirrels here in Zion give me nightmares. I might sound ridiculous but they were SO SCARY!! They kept on running across the hiking path, right in front of me. Sometimes they were so close that I almost stepped on them. They were really scary in that way. But also, they were really aggressive because humans feed them. When humans feed wild animals, the animals forget how to live on their own.

But anyway, the squirrels. The squirrels were really aggressive because they have been fed their whole lives.

On the way back from the entrance to the Narrows, there was this one woman who was trying to get her picture taken with the pretty, colorful rocks in the backround, and she sat on a colorful stone or rock or whatever you want to call it with a second one right next to it, almost touching, and a squirrel came up to her, thinking she was sitting there, waiting for the squirrel to come up to her (which it did) and get some delicious, yummy food. When it came up, at first it only came up to the bottom of the rock right next to the one she was sitting on, but pretty soon it decided that wasn’t enough. He jumped up on the rock and sat up there watching her. Then he stuck his paw out and scratched at her sleeve… If I were that lady I would have given up my picture, screamed, peed, and ran! I really was scared of those squirrels…

On the way to the second hike, we got off the shuttle at the Zion Lodge. When we stopped to pick up litter, Ana spotted a gray fox. It was awesome! It was so awesome, I almost forgot to add it in the post!

Ana spotted this gray fox near the Zion Lodge

The second hike was to the Emerald Pools. The Emerald Pools are these seep springs coming from the top of the mountains and making pools when they had to go onto flat land. There was a lower pool, a few middle pools,(which were closed) and an upper pool. We were planning to hike all the way up to the upper pool, which we did, but you have to pass by the lower pool to get to the upper pool.

There were three mule deer along the Emerald Pools trail

Once we made it up to the upper pool, we got to have our peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches that we had packed. Right when we were getting finished with our food, a squirrel came close, so close that I… Can you guess what I did? You’re probably thinking, Screamed, peed, and ran! And you’re very close… I screamed, leapt and ran! And man, I leapt far! I shreiked and took off for the trail!

We headed back down the trail to the bottom and we made it back safe and dry.

That day was pretty fun… I’ll have more tomorrow!

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Zion National Park: Day 3, Kolob Canyon

Posted by Ana on Sunday May 8, 2011

April 30th was our third day in Zion National Park. Me, Ellie, Stella, Greta, and Daddy went to Taylor Creek, which is in a different part of the park, in Kolob Canyons. We went on a long hike up into a canyon, where you cross Taylor Creek about 40 times to get to the end of the trail, then you hike back. Actually, not a long hike, because around the 13th creek crossing, one of my feet went in the icy cold water when me and Greta were crossing.

This Taylor Creek crossing was long and difficult, but we made it across this one.

Daddy took his clean shirt and put my wet sock in it and rolled it up to squeeze the water out. Then he stuffed his shirt inside my wet shoe. Greta felt very bad for me, so I decided to give her something that she wanted, which was to go swimming. Daddy asked me if I wanted to go back or keep on hiking, so I said go back. On the way back, we were crossing the creek at another difficult place, and a lady helped us get across. She tried to pick me up and lift me across the rocks, instead of just holding my hand, and both my feet went in the water. This time we just kept on walking because it took a long time before to dry out my shoe and this time both were wet and we were close to our RV anyway. It wasn’t so bad walking with wet shoes.

We drove to a lookout over six different canyons. My dad says they were the Kolob Canyons. They looked like fins, all lined up in a row. We could see Zion Canyon from the lookout, far away. My dad pointed it out.

Looking out at the Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park

After Kolob Canyons, we drove down to the campground and went swimming. The pool was heated and it was inside. It was nice and fun. We played who-can-jump-the-farthest and who-can-have-the-littlest-spash and who-can-have-the-biggest-spash and who-can-have-the-loudest-spash and dolphins. Then we took showers and walked to Subway for dinner. I had a footlong BLT with pickles on it. It was good.

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Zion National Park: Day 2

Posted by Ellie on Sunday May 8, 2011

April 29th, we got up early to go catch a shuttle with Ranger Sonja to get a tour of Zion Canyon. Ranger Sonja checked off all our names and we saw she had a caterpillar crawling up her arm. On the tour, Ranger Sonja told us all about the canyon. We learned a rockfall happened one year and people were trapped at the Zion Lodge. We learned that three mountain peaks in a row were called the three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they were named by the Mormons who settled there. We learned how to tell the difference between a California Condor and a Turkey Vulture: Turkey Vultures usually fly in groups, Condors by themselves; Turkey Vultures have white feather tips on their wings, but Condors have white on the leading edge of their wings; Condors are the biggest bird in North America with a wingspan of more than nine feet. We also learned that at one time the Condor was almost extinct. There were only 22 left. Now there are about 400.

We saw a seep spring along the tour. A seep spring is where water comes out of the sandstone. Water at the top of the canyon get soaked into the sandstone and flows down through the canyon walls until it hits the harder rock layers below. Then it has to go sideways and seeps out of the sandstone walls. It can take a thousand years for the water to go from the top of the canyon to where it seeps out. Ranger Sonja told us all the water in the park comes from the seep springs. Someone spotted a duck swimming in a pond up on the canyon wall below the seep spring.

We could look up and see Angels’ Landing, where we hiked the day before. We couldn’t see Walter’s Wiggles, but we could see the top of them where we stopped. And, we could see the narrow ridge that you had to hold on to chains to get to the end of the trail at the tip of Angels’ Landing. Looking at it from below, it was easy to see why we decided not to hike that part of the trail.

From the floor of Zion Canyon we could see the Angels' Landing hike. The part of the hike with the chains goes along the top of the dark ridge from the right side all the way up to the tip.

We drove to St. George to drop off my mom. She had to fly to Denver for work. I felt sad having to take Mom to her second flight away from us.

After we dropped my mom off, we made enchiladas for dinner. We mixed the chicken and beans and cheese and stuff inside the tortillas and covered them with salsa and put them in the oven. We were really hunger while we were waiting for them to cook. The timer finally went off, but then we remembered we had to sprinkle cheese on them and let them cook for five more minutes. We were really unhappy because we had to wait such a long time while we were smelling them, but they tasted so good. We all had seconds.

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Zion National Park: Day One

Posted by Greta on Friday May 6, 2011

On April 28th, we entered Zion National Park- through a tunnel!

Zion is just gorgeous; there is every kind of beauty in the park. Mountains, canyons, wildlife, all the beautiful things you would find in a national park. Dad said it would be one of the most spectacular views on the entire trip, and he was so right. To enter the park, we had to drive through a super long tunnel that was carved through a mountain. It was awesome. With that I knew the actual park would be amazing.

We parked at the visitor center, and Ellie and I had our most terrifying experience there. There were caterpillars. Lots and lots of them. THOUSANDS of caterpillars. I absolutely HATE crawly things. Roaches, caterpillars, spiders… Ellie is scared of that kind of thing too. They were everywhere; I know I stepped on at least twenty, and I tried SO hard not to get their nasty guts all over my shoes. I took a picture of a pole covered in them to show you how many there were. Here it is: (EEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWW!!!)

Oh my gosh this has got to be one of the grossest things I have ever seen!

We took a shuttle around Zion Canyon to see all the great views, and then we rode to meet our ranger for a talk about how the canyon was formed. The ranger’s name was Adrienne and her talk was very interesting. She talked about the colors in the canyon walls, the Virgin River, (the river that carved the canyon) and the age of the rocks and the different layers in the canyon walls. Ana really liked the talk, or maybe she just really liked Adrienne. She followed her around during the entire walk. Jean joked that maybe Ana thought that the ranger was her mama and that she had lost her mama like a little duck in a story we know. Here she is, like a baby duck behind her mama duck:

Like a mama duck with her ducklings

After the ranger talk, we took the shuttle to The Grotto, a bus stop where our trailhead was. We were hiking the Angels’ Landing trail, but we weren’t going all the way to the top ’cause it was going to start getting dark and the last bit of the trail was steep and terrifying. The path was paved, but it was steep and tiring to walk up. When we reached the top we realized there was still quite a bit to go, but at least we were under the shade of the canyon walls. There was a cool little cave on the side of the trail, and we took our picture in it:

Isn't that a great little cave? Very cozy!

When we reached Walter’s Wiggles, I knew that we were almost to our destination, Scout’s Lookout. Walter’s Wiggles is an incredibly steep part of the trail with 21 switchbacks (I counted!) that is the last part before Scout’s Lookout. It’s also the toughest part before Scout’s Landing.

Stella is looking down at the wiggles (in her new hat!). You might be able to spot me near the very bottom.

We were all tired and hungry but we made it up anyway, huffing and puffing. We scarfed down our sandwiches at the top, grateful that we had packed dinner. After that Dad, Stella, and I decided to try a little bit of the rest of the trail leading to Angels’ Landing. We barely made it up at all because of the insane steepness of the “path” (there wasn’t really a path; there were just chains to grab on to) and we were basically hanging off the edge of the canyon. Dad was terrified that one of us would slip and fall so we turned around.

There we are on the trail to Angel's Landing!

The hike back was a breeze because the air was much cooler and the whole thing was downhill. We chatted, ate cookies, and had a good time. Ellie and Ana did a great dance show for us near the bottom.

Sunset on the cliffs in Zion Canyon

When we finished it wasn’t even dark. We hopped on the shuttle and rode back to the visitor center, where we were parked. Most of the caterpillars were up in the trees by then so it wasn’t as bad, but I swear at least one fell in my hair. It was horrifying.

I loved the first day in Zion; now read on to find out about our other days at the park! 😀

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Another KOA!

Posted by Stella on Thursday May 5, 2011

On Tuesday night, April 26, we drove from Bryce Canyon back toward Kodachrome. Dad said it was going to be so cold at Bryce that we needed to drive down to Cannonville for the night so our pipes wouldn’t freeze. We stayed at a KOA campground that night and this is what I wrote the following morning:

This morning I woke up from a good dream about school and my friends because of the sun. It was SO bright and it even kinda hurt my eyes. I opened up my curtain/blinds and I saw lots–and I mean lots– of birds. They were on the grass next to our camping spot, probably searching for worms or something. I saw one that plucked a worm out of the grassy soil, and it was pretty cool. Then another bird landed with the others, and it was definitely the prettiest of all. All the others were black and brown like normal birds, but this one was pretty amazing. First of all, it was pretty big. All of it was black like the other birds except for the head. At first I thought my eyes were tricking me, but when I concentrated a little more, I was sure it had a yellow head. I even took a picture to make sure, and here it is.

Here is the bird with the yellow head

Well anyway, then I went to take a shower and I silently sang about being a cowgirl, (which I REALLY want to be) and stood in there for at least 20 minutes. It was so hot, and it felt so good. When I finally finished, I hopped out and headed back to the RV.

Later, when we were leaving the KOA, Ellie, Greta, and I decided to go over to the playground. It looked pretty boring to me but we’d find a way to make it fun–somehow. ( I was the first one out, of course, ’cause I don’t think I need to look extremely nice just to go to the playground, and by the way, I was wearing jean-shorts and a t-shirt that said “No more school, see you at the pool” which is funny because I had just told Ellie and Greta to meet me at the pool; it was right next to where the RV was parked. ) I stood by the pool as it was being filled up. I thought I was going to be bored waiting for my sisters but nooo, I glanced at the pool and I saw, like, a 20-foot-long drunk snake that looked like it was having a seizure. I got interested and looked closer. Oh my gosh – it was not – it was – a hose!! A hose that was supposed to be filling up the pool! I guess it kinda was, but all it looked like it was doing to me was spraying water out of the pool! And it kept wiggling around like – like it was drunk! It would shoot up into the air, almost spraying me, even though I was outside the fence, and then flop back down into the, like, inch of water it had filled! It was just – so — *sigh*

Ellie and Greta finally came out, and I showed them the drunk snake/hose. Ellie laughed but Greta cracked up, and she thought it was so funny that she said, ” Hold on!” , and dashed back inside the RV. When she came out, guess what she was holding? Her camera! She took a video of it and we stood there, watching it for a long time. Dad says I can’t post Greta’s video because it takes up a lot of space on the computer and website, so hopefully I described it well enough.

Anyway, after we got bored with the hose, ( which took a really long time) we decided to check out the General Store at the entrance to the KOA on the way to the playground. I looked around at the magnets, postcards, little packs of candy, bags of Trail Mix, bottles of water, homemade Navajo jewelry, Guatemalan weaved bracelets, tennis and ping-pong balls, sports equipment, dish-soap, t-shirts, sweatshirts, other items of clothing, Birthday and Get Well cards, soap containers, and other items of interest. In the back of the room, I spotted something that made my eyes light up…. a cowboy hat!!! Oh my gosh! I ran over there and tried one of them on. It was too big. I tried another one on. It was too small. Oh, no, I thought, I hope this one fits! And I really did; it was the only one left, plus, I really loved it! I tried it on and…. IT FIT!!! I was so excited! But I still didn’t know if Jean and Dad would allow me to get it. Greta looked over. ” Ooo, that looks good on you! ” I smiled. ” Thanks.” Ellie looked over, too. ” Oh, yeah, that looks really good!” I kept smiling. I hoped it did. But I really hoped I could get it!

I showed it to Jean and Dad and I recieved the exciting news. It’s mine!

Anyway, now it is the day I am submitting this post. You will see a picture of my hat in the next post. I wear my hat every day. I love it so much, I even wear it when it’s 110 degrees outside! ( Okay, okay, Daddy made me wear it, but it really was 110 degrees!) I’m inside right now and I’m wearing it! I thank that KOA so much and I’m glad we got to stay.

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The Bryce Canyon Lodge and Astronomy Talk

Posted by Greta on Thursday May 5, 2011

After checking out the visitor center and watching the park movie, we went to the Bryce Canyon Lodge. It was nice and cozy, and the family got our own little area with a coffee table, couches, and armchairs. We drank hot chocolate which tasted so good after being outside in the freezing cold. After hanging out for a bit, we ate dinner at the lodge restaurant. I had a burger and fries, something I haven’t had at a restaurant since I was probably six, but it still tasted good. We ordered two bowls of elk chili, and everyone thought it was delicious.

After dinner there was a ranger program in the lodge auditorium about astronomy. It was really interesting, and the ranger, Ranger Ron, was great, inviting people up to do hands-on experiments. It was a great way to get the crowd to enjoy the talk. I liked learning about the color spectrum, exoplanets, and lots of other great stuff.

We left the lodge pretty late, so we got in bed while Jean took us to our campground. It was a fun and exhausting day! 😉

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Bryce Overlook

Posted by Stella on Thursday May 5, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, we hopped out of the RV, realizing how cold it was. I had stepped out in jeans, a sweatshirt, and almost completely bare feet except my brown and pink-flowered flip-flops. Man, my feet were as cold as ice! I can’t even describe how freezing they were! ( You know what I wish I could do? I wish I could take a video, I mean, like, not a video, but…. I guess a video, where if I posted it on this website, and you played it, you would feel freezing cold wind blowing out of your computer, just as cold as it was for us, as we were standing there. Wouldn’t that be so cool?! ) Well anyway, I really can’t describe how freezing it was, especially since I don’t know how many degrees it was. (Dad says it got down to 15 degrees that night.)

So, as you should know, I was really cold, and we had to go on a hike. Well, not really a hike, but a short walk down to the lookout. I had been groaning and moaning about having to go out in the cold, but really, it was…. I guess worth it.

We began walking to Bryce Canyon Lookout, and I wanted so bad to complain about my feet being cold, not to be annoying, but because they hurt from the cold, but I was afraid I’d just get yelled at. So I didn’t say anything. I wanted to run or at least jog down the trail to the lookout, ’cause I was freezing, but Jean and Dad said no way, that’s very dangerous. I guess that was true. I looked around me and thought, Yeah, I don’t really want to run. When we finally made it down to the end of the lookout, I stared over the edge. I really did think this hike would be boring, but…. It looked like a soft pink and white castle with shiny white pearls and stony pink walls that would block any water that would come near….

Dad writes: The pink and white hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. And I write: I don't think this is the right picture, because, in real life, it looked really pink and really white.

“Wow, this is awesome…” I whispered to myself and I kept staring over the edge. After I had seen it all I said, ” Can we go now? I mean, back to the camper? ” Dad kept looking over the railing and Jean nodded and said, ” You can start heading back, but take your sisters with you. ” So I collected my sisters and I jogged back up the hill.

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A Difficult Ride with Ana and Ellie

Posted by Jean on Wednesday May 4, 2011

I road most of the Kodachrome Basin bike trail in the company of Ana and Ellie. As Greta wrote, it was a difficult ride. There was a nice path but it was very sandy and soft with lots of ups and downs. Often there were tight curves and sometimes big rocks (and sticks) to navigate around.

This photo typifies the bike trail: sand, obstacles, and hardship.

The trail was designed for those who had a range of gears on their bikes and knew how to use them. That was not our case. Ana’s bike doesn’t have any gears at all, nor even a handbreak. Elllie has a nice new bike with all the necessary features but it’s a bit big for her, and she hasn’t had much experience using it. Anyway, it was a very challenging ride for me, I could only watch and admire the girls as they did their best. I was amazed at how much of the trail that they were able navigate. They kept going, riding their bikes when they could and pushing them the rest of the time. They kept going even though they were so TIRED. The final stretch back to the RV was the last straw. It was on paved road, which everyone was very happy about, but it didn’t take long to realize we’d have to ride the last mile straight into the wind. At last we arrived at the campground exhausted. While the ride was miserable in many ways, it was great doing it with Ellie and Ana. They did all they could to keep going and to make the best of a the situation.

Ana zips along the trail

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The Bike Ride Of Death!

Posted by Greta on Wednesday May 4, 2011

On Tuesday, April 26th, we got up in the morning at a nice campground in Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah. I wasn’t very excited about the day to begin with, but every bit of positive energy I had in me melted away like dripping ice cream cone when I heard that Dad was making us go on a bike ride. Normally I would be somewhat happy about biking, but there were many reasons why I didn’t want to go on this one. For one, we had just been on a tough six-mile hike the day before, and my legs were still aching from it. Second, it was COLD. I mean like I’m-in-a-ton-of-layers-but-it’s-still-freezing kind of cold. I loved my warm bed and I would be perfectly happy to stay in it all day long. But I dragged myself up anyway and got ready despite all my contradicting feelings.

Then a crazy thing happened. It started to snow! Actually, it was a mix of rain, sleet, snow, and hail, and I tell you, it was GROSS. I was very unhappy when our bike-riding plans were not cancelled. Dad would not give up and he went outside to get the bikes down from the RV. After a lot of complaining, we were ready to go on this horrific bike ride.

Preparing the bikes in an unexpected snowfall.

By the time we were all outside the strange snow had abruptly stopped and the sun was shining although it was still cold. We left the campground and biked a little ways down the road to get to our trailhead. When we biked just a few feet on the sandy 6-mile trail, every single one of us realized that it was going to be a very hard bike-ride. The trail was sandy and hilly and just terrible. Even though the trail was awful, Dad was determined and he wouldn’t turn around. He wanted to complete the full six miles. After biking a bit on the difficult sand, Stella and Ellie were incredibly discouraged. I was actually starting to like the ride ’cause we all hated it together. I even went with Dad on a little off-trail that led to a place called Panorama Point. It was so steep that we had to get off our bikes and walk the rest of the way to the point.

Exhausted at the top of Panorama Point

We had to bike really fast to catch up to our family, and I tell you, biking this trail was hard work. We were in our lowest gears and it was still so tough to pedal through the thick sand. We sometimes had to get off our bikes and walk them in the middle of a hill because it was too steep to bike up. When we caught up we had to stop for a bit because Ana’s chain had fallen off her bike. Also, we had multiple wipeouts so we had to stop for those too.

Stella, Dad and I went on another turnoff called Cool Cave. We had to leave our bikes along the trail for that one also. It was a little slot canyon with a big circular room in the middle. It was really neat.

This cave was really a small slot canyon. The white in the walls is calcium carbonate.

We caught up to Jean, Ellie, and Ana and we biked for quite a bit until we finally came to the end of the trail! Haha I wish. We came to the place where we split off for Panorama Point, and this was a huge letdown. Everyone thought that we were getting close to the end, and then we find out we’ve still got a ways to go. We eventually made it to the end of the trail, and we all cheered for each other as we passed the “finish line.” You’d think we’d be done, but we still had a little further on the road before we got to the campground. My sisters hated this because the long stretch was uphill and we were biking straight into the wind. But we did make it, (YAY!!! :D) exhausted and hungry. Lunch sure tasted good after that!

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Calf Creek Falls

Posted by Ellie on Tuesday May 3, 2011

On April 25th, we went on a hike to Calf Creek Falls. It was in the Calf Creef Canyon in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. We put on warm clothes, filled our waterbottles, and started our six mile hike. When we got going, my dad took a wrong turn; it let to the wrong side of the creek. We got turned around, and my mom teased my dad about making a wrong turn.

Once we got on the real trail, we started our hike to the waterfall. We walked on sand. My dad spotted a mini-arch.

This may be the smallest arch we have seen so far

Stella spotted a small cave. We all ran to see what it looked like inside. There was a window in the side of the wall. It was sort of cold in there and we saw a wall inside. We thought maybe some people have stayed in there.

A small cave with a window. Can you see everyone inside?

We came to a sage forest–it smelled so good when we walked through. Greta spotted a fish in the creek as it swam under the bank. The rest of us couldn’t see it because it was hiding.

We saw a plant with little holly leaves. Stella says it is called a Datura. It made us miss our Aunt Holly.

Thinking of you, Aunt Holly!

We walked for a long time until we heard a huge sound of rushing water. We ran to see what was making so much noise. When we got there, we saw a huge waterfall in a big opening in the canyon. We also saw some plants clutching the rocks in the water on the cliffs. Dad says they were ferns.

The Calf Creek Falls, or at least the bottom of them. They fall from way high up.

Me and Ana got sticks and dropped them in the pool and let them flow downstream. We had a snack at the waterfall. We had sausages, almonds, apples, oranges, and crackers.

Then we headed back up the trail and out of the canyon. On the way back, we all saw a few fish. They were gray with orange fins. Dad says they were trout of some kind.

After the hike, we went to Escalante, Utah, where we got our first Junior Scientist badge at one of the Grand Staircase visitor centers. Greta says it was a Junior Scientist badge instead of a Junior Ranger badge because Grand Staircase is managed by the Bureau of Land Management instead of the National Park Service. We did the whole Junior Scientist booklet to get some extra stuff. It turns out the extra stuff was some plastic cards about canyoneering and hiking safety. I thought we should have gotten something better than plastic cards.

This is one big collared lizard at the Grand Staircase-Escalante visitor center

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