Joined January 2017
  • Day9

    Isn't it Grand?

    June 5, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    After our peaceful night at the cabin, we were off to spend the day wandering the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We started at the visitor's center and the little walks right along the canyon including the path to Bright Angel Point. After enjoying the introduction to the canyon, we got in the car to see as much as we could see in a day.

    We first drove toward Cape Royal. We found a nice overlook for a picnic, Vista Encantada, where we enjoyed the views and our sandwiches. The Colorado River is off in the distance with many side canyons and shapes made by smaller creeks coming off of the mesa.

    We continued on toward Cape Royal stopping at Roosevelt Point along the way. We enjoyed the view of Angel's Window and then walked the trail out to it. The last hike is Point Royal at the end of the mesa with a 270 degree view of the canyon. On the way back out, we stopped and hiked Cliff Spring Trail. It was a nice hike through scattered trees down a valley that led to an overhanging cliff and a seep spring. We walked past an indian grain storage site on the way. Back on the drive, we stopped at Walahalla Ruins, an Ancient Puebloans home site.

    The last section of road to drive led us to Point Imperial. It was another amazing view over canyons. It is hard to understand the size and scale of the place even as you are there in person. We ended the day at Hurricane, Utah getting us closer to Las Vegas and our flight home the next day.
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  • Day8

    Rafting the Colorado

    June 4, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    To give us a change of pace, we booked a rafting trip down the Colorado River for the day. We met at the Colorado River Discovery in Page where they loaded us on a bus. The bus took us down through the access tunnel to the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam. We had stopped at the dam last night after dinner (Mexican food) and enjoyed the views in the setting sun. Now we got to walk along at the base of the dam. We had to wear hard hats for the very short walk because of the bridge above; don't want a falling pebble to hit us. We hopped into the rafts and started down river.

    The water temperature is a constant 44F because it is released from the bottom of the lake where is never gets warmed. So, we were very warm in the sunshine (hot!) but the water was shockingly cold to the body. It was nice to sit on the pontoon with a foot dragging in the water. We all would take off shirts and hats and cool them in the river and then wear them again.

    Our guide was very knowledgeable as he had been guiding for many years. Good information and stories. We all had eaten our lunches near the start of our trip so it was nice when he brought out cold lemonade for us all. He had packed the cans in a bag and drug it in the water which made it nice and cold. We made one stop at some petroglyphs (and pit toilets). It was nice to stretch the legs and wade in the water (not very far, it was so cold).

    The boat was motored which made it easy for our guide to show us interesting rock features or wildlife. We saw bighorn sheep, herons and osprey, and wild horses. As for geology, there was a fault line and a vertical bridge along with the normal rock varnish to enjoy.

    Our trip took us through Horseshoe Bend, nice to see from the river level, and ended at Lees Ferry. It was interesting to see the walls of the canyon drop to river level at Lees Ferry. Looking downriver you can tell that the walls grow quickly again. This is the only natural river landing for miles. A bus took us back to Page.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent driving to the Grand Canyon. We followed along the Vermillion Cliffs to Jacob's Lake and then down the road toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed at Kaibab Lodge outside of the national park. We had a nice little cabin that bordered a meadow. It was filled with deer at sunset. We ate in the lodge restaurant and then enjoyed the local astronomy club as they brought out their telescopes. They love places like this because there is no light pollution and the viewing is spectacular. We saw galaxies, nebulae, and special stars; whatever the astronomers found interesting. They were fun to talk to and clearly enjoyed themselves.
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  • Day7

    Glen Canyon Dam

    June 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

    We ended the evening by finding a Mexican restaurant for dinner. The food was good but I think we were all overly tired and dehydrated. I wasn't the only one with a headache and little energy. The food revived us, somewhat, and the setting of the sun helped. I think the strong, direct sunshine actually wore us out.

    We drove out to the Glen Canyon Dam just before sunset. The visitor center was closed, but we walked around to the overlook and enjoyed the view. On seeing the dam from above, Scott and I realized that the tour we took 18 years ago was the Glen Canyon Dam and not the Hoover Dam.
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  • Day7

    Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

    June 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

    It was a long drive to Antelope Canyon; about 2.5 hours. Luckily the road was straight. We ran into one section of road construction which meant waiting for 15 minutes or more for the pilot car to drive us through. Other than that, easy drive and got there in plenty of time. As we were waiting for our tour at 1:40 they still had room on the 1:20 tour and they invited us to go earlier. So, of course, we did.

    The tour groups technically have around 10 people in them but they are basically one after another in a big long line. We walked down to the end of the Lower Antelope Canyon and took the stairs down into the canyon. The tour then walks back up through the canyon which is less than half a mile long. It takes nearly an hour because you walk so slowly and stop and take photos.

    Our guide was Trey and he grew up in the area. He did a nice job of narrating and helping set cameras for optimum photos. He often showed us where to shoot pictures and took a few for each of us. Sometimes they were photos of our family and a couple times they were just canyon photos. The walk through the canyon was wonderful and it was important to stop taking photos and just enjoy then scenery. It was amazing! I loved the curves and waves in the rock. And the narrowness of the walls. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been to get rid of the rest of the tourists - especially the Chinese group behind us. They were loud, rude, and extremely smelly. But the canyon was worth it. We even saw four dinosaur footprints in the sandstone at the top. Cool!

    Of course, we had ice cream at the tour office and then drove on to Horseshoe Bend just a few miles away. It is a sharp turn in the Colorado River in a deep canyon. The view of the river from the overlook is lovely. The blue water and green algae ribbons were a nice contrast to the red rocks. But the walk, although under 2 miles round trip, was punishing. Mostly uphill on the way back in the blistering hot sun. The thermometer on the car registered 102 degrees. I think that this bit of heat was more exhausting that the hikes in Capitol Reef.

    We found the Travelodge in Page and spent the late afternoon in the motel room. It was too hot and the sun too direct to even go to the pool. I did a load of laundry so they we would have more clean clothes than dirty in our bags and because we had plenty of time. I think we were all a little bored but yet I think we needed a little boredom. We laid around and wished that the air conditioning would get the room really cold. As it was, it was a challenge to keep it slightly cool. The sun was shining directly on our room (outdoor entrances, not central hallway) so that you would burn your hand on the door handle when you tried to open it. As pretty as the geology is, I am not a big fan of such direct, hot sun.
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  • Day7

    Photogenic Arizona

    June 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today was a day of photo opportunities. We woke to the morning sun on Monument Valley. It was hard to stay in bed because of the sunlight glowing through the closed curtains. So we got breakfast to go and hopped in the car to do the driving tour of the valley. It is a dirt road with a one way loop which gives very scenic views of the buttes. You are not allowed to hike the area without a Navajo guide but the views from the road are all you need.

    We drove the loop road and took too many pictures because the next view was always photo worthy. I remembered my cycloramic app on my phone and took some 360 degree panoramic movies. Not good for a photo book but neat for showing other people what Monument Valley is like. I even got my photo taken on a horse at John Ford Point. It was a real horse but he sat at still as a statue; didn't even move from leg to leg or turn its head. His name was Spirit and he is a mustang - really beautiful horse. I found my charm at another overlook - they allow people to set up tables at the various pullouts and sell stuff, mostly jewelry.
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  • Day6

    Valley View

    June 2, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    The drive to Monument Valley took just over an hour (just like Google maps had predicted). Along the way we went over the Moki Dugway. It is a switchback gravel road that leads over the edge of the mesa to the floor below. As you get to it, it looks like you are about to drive off the edge of the world. The road isn't the worst we have been on, and actually felt quite safe, but it is impressive.

    We are staying in the park itself at The View Motel. I'll put in a photo of the view from our hotel room, it is gorgeous. We ate at the restaurant which was decent food and spent the rest of the evening sitting on the balcony looking out over Monument Valley. Once the sun set, they projected the movie "Stagecoach" on the side of the building for our evening entertainment. We could see it from our balcony so we didn't go down to the patio. I saw two bats fly by in the darkening sky and watched the first stars appear. It is supposed to be very dark here - perfect for viewing stars. That is why every room has a balcony; to have a view over the valley and star gaze after dark. This place is a real treat on our trip.
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  • Day6

    Natural Bridges National Monument

    June 2, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    It was another day of driving. We drove from Capitol Reef to Natural Bridges. There were more exquisite views as we drove east and then south. I especially enjoyed looking over White Canyon as we drove along it. I can see how people we enjoy backcountry hiking into the canyon. In a curve of the road, we saw the lodge at Fry Canyon where we stayed 18 years ago with Scott's parents. I remember that it was out in the middle of nowhere. It sure is. It is closed now - not a handy location for most tourists as their aren't any other amenities or attractions nearby.

    We arrived at Natural Bridges National Monument just before noon. After a stop at the visitor's center to ask about hiking, we were off to the overlooks. Natural Bridges is a one-way loop road with overlooks giving a view of three rock bridges and one area of cave dwellings. We ate our lunch at a picnic area (sharing a table with some French visitors) while reading more about the hikes. The one we wanted to do was from the first bridge overlook, under the first bridge, down the canyon wall, along the stream at the bottom, past the cliff dwelling, under the second bridge, and up the canyon wall to the second bridge overlook. Only problem - 500 foot elevation loss going down to the bottom and 400 foot elevation gain coming back out. Ok, so going down wouldn't be bad but coming back out was going to be difficult and we have Scott's heart to consider.

    The other consideration is the fact that the car will be at the first overlook and we come out at the second one. It is a two mile hike back to the car. Ugh. So, we drove to the second bridge and thought about walking back to the first hoping that we could get a lift to our car. (Since it is a one-way loop, cars would only be going from first bridge to second and this way we would be going that direction, too.) When we got to the second bridge we looked around and talked to a lady who had just done the hike. She was waiting there while her husband was walking back to get the car. She told us how wonderful the hike was and how much the boys would enjoy it. There was some shade and some trees and you could scramble up to the cliff dwelling. Oh we wanted to go, but didn't know if we should. We walked around a bit and finally went back to our car having decided that we will go and I will be the one to walk back after getting out of the canyon. The husband had returned and was picking up the wife, Scott said we should ask them for a ride back around to the first bridge - that way we would have our car at the second bridge when we got out. So I did. They were very gracious and made room for the four of us in their minivan and drove around the loop back to the first bridge. (This meant that they drove the loop an extra time just to drop us off - how kind.) We had a nice chat with them in the car. They had a book of 77 hikes to do with your kids in Utah. They had started years ago (their kids were now in their upper 20s and early 30s) and this was one of three that they still had to accomplish. They checked them off and dated them as they did them. How neat! So glad that we met them. Kim and Kathy from Utah, we are blessed to have met you !!!!

    So, we did the hike. The trip down was great. Even a couple of ladders on the steep parts. At the bottom we were right under Sipapau bridge. Pretty neat. It was difficult to get a good picture because we were so close but it was great. Then we walked. It was a pretty good walk. There were patches of shade; sometime under the edge canyon walls and sometime cottonwood trees. We were walking in sand most of the time which slowly filled our shoes. It is amazing how the sand gets in and works its way down to your toes inside your socks.

    We almost missed the cliff dwellings even though we had been watching for them. It was a truly a scramble up the curvy sandstone and onto the platform where the ruins were. Luckily it wasn't all that far up and the platform was quite wide at one end. We gently looked around the buildings without walking in or disturbing anything. We thought we might have seen a small pottery shard but we weren't certain. It was nice to feel like a real explorer and extra nice that we were in the shade. Looking at the park information, we realized that we had missed the "horseshoe cliff dwelling" and had stopped at a different one - one they don't mention. Hmmm. We felt bummed that we missed the one named cliff dwelling and yet happy to have stop at a different one. It is easy to see why ancient people would live in the cliffs. The stream in the canyon would make the shore unsuitable (seasonal flooding) and the surface of the mesa is rocky, dry, and has little shelter. The cliff caves were natural shelter and halfway between water below and the hunting on the mesa.

    Back to walking the stream. The walk got longer and longer. It was nice that I have my Apple Watch tracking our distance. It helped us keep track of how far we had come and how far we had yet to go. We were rationing our water on this hike more that we had on any other hike. Even though we had more shade, we were thirstier. The canyon was quite lovely with curves and swirls in the sandstone grain of the rock and curves and twists in the shape of the canyon walls. I don't think our pictures will do the canyon justice.

    We were hot and tired by the time we got to Kachina bridge and the hike up and out. Before we started up, we laid down on a big flat rock in the shade of the bridge. It helped to cool us down. We also found the petroglyphs nearby. On the hike out we took it very slow stopping after every 10-15 steps up. We drank the last drop of water which made carrying the bag easier on the boys. This wall climb was mostly switchbacks along the face of the wall with handrails in a few places. We were all glad to be at the top and we poured the melting ice out of the cooler into our water bottle and drank it down. We did stop at the last bridge on our drive out of the loop and back to the visitor's center. We filled up with water when we got there and tried to fill ourselves back up, too.
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  • Day5

    Hot Afternoon Hikes

    June 1, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We then drove to the Grand Wash. It starts with a drive down a gravel road through a wide canyon. Then you walk 4.5 miles through the canyon to the parking lot a the other side. Or, you do like we did and walk as far as you like and turn around to get back to your own car. Our goal was to walk to the Narrows, in the very center of the canyon, where the walls are steep and the canyon narrow. We knew that is was the middle of the day and that the sun would be high but we expected to find some shade in the canyon. Turned out we were wrong. The canyon walk was very neat along the twisting and curving path as the walls came closer. We turned around somewhere near the middle knowing that by the time we got back to the parking lot we would be hot and tired.

    We relaxed by driving back to the old homestead site and getting a snack at the farmhouse. We found Henry Weinhardt root beer and were very happy. We sat at a picnic table and just relaxed for a while. But, you know Scott, he can't sit still for very long. So, we were off for another hike. This one would be shorter and our last of the afternoon.

    We hiked the Capitol Canyon at the very end of the scenic drive. Again, it starts with a gravel road down a canyon to a parking lot. We hiked on from there through the canyon. This used to be the road through the park used by early settlers. After every rain they would have to clear the rocks moved by the river waters. Sounds like work. But, they left their mark by carving their names in the canyon walls. We found old names in several places along the canyon.

    We were tired after all of this hiking in the hot sun. It seemed that no matter when and where we hiked we were in full sun. We were ready to be done. The boys basically crashed once we hit the car. We drove back to the hotel and took showers and did laundry giving us all a chance to relax. Dinner was burgers and shakes at Slackers Burger Joint in town. Then we drove back toward Capitol Reef and stopped at the overlook for Goosenecks and Sunset Point. We walked to the goosenecks first which was jaw dropping. We had no idea that such a deep canyon was just beyond the rocks. Then we hiked Sunset Point and sadly the sun set behind the hills as we were walking. So we missed the perfect photo shoot with the sun lighting up the rocks. It was a great overlook anyway.
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  • Day5

    Hickman Bridge and Fruita

    June 1, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Today was a day hiking canyons in the sun. We started with a stop in the Capitol Reef visitor's center to check on hikes and buy the boys hats to shade their faces. Both boys were suffering from dry, sensitive skin last night from the combined effect of the dry air, sun, and chlorine in the swimming pool. Ed had burnt the skin down his part and both had pink on the tops of their cheeks. So we got them baseball style hats from the gift shop. Neither looked too excited but as we were walking down our first hike Ed mentioned how much cooler it was on his head and how his eyes were more relaxed. Score one for mom.

    Our first hike was to Hickman Bridge - a natural bridge over a seasonal creek bed. It was considered a 'moderate' hike because it is not on level ground but the altitude change was not too tough. We started there because we thought it would be the toughest hike of the day; up and down and direct sun/no shade. It really wasn't all that tough. We really enjoyed the the scenery and the views. We enjoyed a great view of Capitol Dome as we walked up and through wonderful curving rocks. There was a boulder field of rounded black lava rocks which was didn't seem to fit with the geology, but we liked it. The natural bridge was huge; so huge that is was tough to fit in a picture. As we hiked back, we listened to the noise of some kind of insect in the grass. It sounded like a metallic buzz saw at a distance even though they were near the trail.

    Next stop was the short boardwalk along the road with a panel of petroglyphs. There were several stick figures in one area and then lots of bighorn sheep. There were easy to interpret because of the curved horns. There were also petroglyphs in another canyon which we saw later but these were the clearest in the park.

    We ate our lunch at the picnic area just inside the park. We sat under some very grand old cottonwood trees near a creek. It was very peaceful. We refilled our water bottles to get ready for a hot afternoon of walking.
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  • Day4

    Grand Staircase-Escalante to Torrey

    May 31, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    The drive to Torrey, the town near Capitol Reef, was just over 2 hours by Google maps. It took us around 4 hours. The road went through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and was windy, twisty, and beautiful. We took even more pictures of red, white, and yellow rocks. It really is amazing how many different shapes and textures of rock there are out here. We saw the curved sand dune shapes, flat walls of rock, rounded mud shapes, and porous lava rocks. At one point we were driving along a spine between two regions of rock - a red rock canyon and white slickrock hills. Then we were climbing up over a more fertile mountain of aspen at 9600 feet. So much diversity in one 100 mile drive!

    The pictures are highlights of the sights along Scenic Byway 12; The Blues Overlook (Utah's badlands - where dinosaur fossils are found), Upper Valley Granaries (cliff dweller's grain storage), following Calf Creek which makes an impressive canyon, the Hogback (driving the spine between two valleys), roadside flowers in the gravel, and the Dixie National Forest.

    Torrey is back in the red Navajo Sandstone with dark red cliffs. We found our room and then found some supper; nothing special but at least we got full. Back to the hotel for swimming (the boys) and laundry (mom). Time for another good night's sleep to get ready for more rocks and hikes tomorrow.
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