Friday, June 28, 2013

Still here.......SLC

The heat has found us !    The entire west is HOT but, I have to say, we were out yesterday in high temps and it was lovely in the shade.    And last night, walking back to our car about 9pm, it was still 92 and we thought it a perfect evening.     It's all in the humidity.    Not that I would want to do anything too vigorous in the bright sun (like someone else in this house who is out playing pickle ball..).  
 We've had enjoyable but rather quiet blog days.     We drove into the Wasach Mountains where it is significantly cooler at around 8,000 ft.   Park City is a vibrant Victorian mountain town and definitely impacted by the Olympics in 2002.   We were up there on Sunday and there was a street fair/farmers markets which brought out the families.    In contrast to Denver and the Rocky Mtns., it is only 30 min from PC to Salt Lake.    We drove up several scenic canyons and the hikers and campers are out in force.  

 On Tuesday, we went to the organ rehearsal at the Tabernacle.   It is a must do and see on any trip to SLC.    Temple Square is a lovely respite right in the heart of the city.    The flowers are in their full glory.    I would have liked to sit and sketch a few.    The rehearsal is only 30 min but the accoustically perfect building makes the music so majestic and spiritual.    The organ has over 11,000 pipes.

On Thursday, we met up with Joe and Gay, our new blogging, traveling friends that we met in Moab.    They are in Park City so we connected again at Temple Square, listened to the organ rehearsal and then walked across the street to the City Creek Mall for lunch and to catch up.    Go to their blog and get a much better telling of our get-together and her pictures of the Square.       We hope our paths cross again before we wander back to Florida in the fall.  

On Thursday evenings, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (all 360 volunteers) opens it's doors for its rehearsal.   Accompanied by a full orchestra and the massive organ in the 21,000 seat Conference Center, it was a real privilege to take in the magnificence of it all.    The summer rehearsals are in the Conference Ctr due to the tourist season, but the rest of the year, they are in the Tabernacle.    They do a 30 min radio show on Sunday morning, going on it's 85th year, and we may wander over for it.

As we left, dusk had set in and the Temple spires just glowed.    This is an iPhone shot and doesn't come close to the actual view

We're in this campground until Monday.   It's very comfortable here and close to most everything.    Paul is playing pickleball most mornings ..... he's finding it more laid back than the very organized program in TV but mixed ages also makes it interesting and sometimes a challenge.    I'm nursing an inflamed SI joint.   I've written about it in the past and I'm trying to keep it manageable and no, serious walking, hiking.    I did manage to just kind of wandered into a luscious yarn shop and came out with some Habu linen-paper yarn and pattern.   You knitters will know of what I talk.  

For those of you who have signed up for email blog notices, I've found that there is quite a delay ....about 36-48 hours from publishing to email.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013


We're back in civilization.   It feels good to be out of the dust and wind.    And back to an abundance of Mexican food.    Our first night in Salt Lake City, we ran errands to Costco and then stopped at Chipotle.   I remember when it was a restaurant in Boulder that served excellent fresh Mexican food.   Now it seems to have turned into a fast food , Qdoba- type with stainless steel tables and stark surroundings.    But still, the food was pretty good.    Tonight , we followed the recommendations of TripAdvisor and went to the top rated spot in the city .    Called the Red Iguana, home of Killer Mexican food, it is a non-descript place, painted bright yellow, inside and out.    It has won awards for years.     
 I found the chimachanga to be about perfect.   The are known for their mole sauces and I found the red sauce on this had great depth of flavor  and the rice was fresh.....and how can refried beans ever be bad (except for your arteries).
 Paul had the fish tacos, made with mahi mahi....also declared great.  
 We left our CG in Panguitch and head north on I-15 on Thurs. headed towards Yuba Lake SP.   Due to confusing signage , we ended up on a gravel, dusty road instead of a paved one farther on down.    When we arrived and got out of the MH, we looked in horror at the dust blanketing everything.   The shiny Jeep was now BEIGE, covered in a dense coating of fine dirt.    The back of the coach looked the same.    The camp host said that we could wash the dust off but that we had to dry the vehicles immediately as the water was so corrosive that it would leave permanent marks if allowed to dry.    The wind was strong so while he washed and I quickly dried a section, we managed to get the Jeep looking more brown than beige.   We didn't even try to clean the MH.     This is a view of the campground.    There were only 2 other campsites occupied.    This is obviously new and the reservoir is down the hill.  

 The wind blew hard all night and it was chilly in the morning.    The other two campers left early and we followed shortly after, despite having a 3 day reservation.    I'm not sure what we would have done ....maybe learn to fish ??   Plus, there were flying, biting things when the wind died down.  

And so, we came to Salt Lake City.    We are at the Pony Express RV Resort in North Salt Lake City.   It seems new and is very large and well kept.    We spent yesterday cleaning and dusting ......there was even dust on the clothes in the closet !    Today, we had the coach washed and now everything is shiny again......and we learned a good lesson about where NOT to drive.  

Today P played pickleball with a group in Ogden where they have 8 courts.    He said there were all ages.....he played with an 11 year old.       Then we headed downtown.    We wandered thru Temple Square, a very lovely area surrounding the Mormon Temple, the Tabernacle, Museum and information centers.    In the midst of it all, a dad was pointing to something and a young, but very loud voice  said  "Dad, is this where President Obama lives?"......... !!!!!!!!
The city sits up next to the Wasach Mountains and the Capitol makes an impressive site.
We plan to be here for a week or so and look forward to taking advantage of all the city has to offer.    Weather is perfect altho it is to heat up mid week.      Time to go check out the Super Moon.!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zion NP and Cedar Breaks National Monument

Knowing that the temperature in Zion reaches mid 90's during the day, we got an early start for the hour drive south.    The topography was much different than the area around Bryce Canyon, less than an hour in the other direction.    It was green and cool (51degrees) and looked like the mountains.   We saw mule deer and wild turkeys.  
Before long, we came to interesting geological formations, this one called the "checkerboard".   The road was windy and climbing and very pretty.   

The towering granite and sandstone cliffs were formidable and difficult to capture from any angle.  

I 'borrowed' this view from the Web and you can see the roads winding thru the canyon.   At one point is a mile long tunnel with windows to view the scene.   It was built in the 1920's and is a marvel of engineering.   
And here is an artist's view of the mighty walls of the canyon....early 1900's. 
 The only way thru the park is by shuttle.   It makes frequent stops for the hikers to begin their rambling.   The trails are either fairly easy and level, or very strenous and dangerous.   One climbs up 1500 ft and you can walk on a ridge over the canyon.   The warnings noted that the  most frequent cause of death in Zion was from falls.    Altho the shuttles allow tourists to see the park without massive traffic jams, it also prohibits decent photography as the views are all UP and even from the scenic stops, it is hard to capture it.   It was VERY busy, the shuttles were standing room only and the paths were crowded.   And, by the time we left a couple hours later, the heat was on and in the 90's.  
My guide chose a very scenic ride home.    We climbed steadily upward into the Cedar Breaks National Monument.    It is more like  

Bryce Canyon with views looking down into an amphitheater.   But at over 10,000 ft, it was chilly up there with strong winds.   

These bell shaped flowers were everywhere and I neglected to ask a ranger what they were and they are not in my Wildflower guide.    On the web, they are called bell shaped flowers but I'm sure they have a better name.   Flowers are less than an inch long. 

And the easily recognizable Indian paintbrush were plentiful.  

 Tomorrow, we pull up stakes and head a bit farther north to a State park.   Probably won't have connectivity for a couple of days.        Today, we stopped in Cedar City on the way is a real metropolis compared to anything we've seen since Grand Junction.    We even stopped in Walmart and marveled at the abundance.     Amazing how being out in the hinterland changes one's perspective.    Starbucks also got some of our business.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Take a hike........Navajo Loop

We are now among the connected and because I could download pictures quickly,  just be warned that this blog may cause picture overload.      We left the beautiful and tranquil Kodachrome Basin SP this morning for a short hour ride to Pangquitch, Utah, est in 1864.  (pronounced a bit like sandwich and means "big fish" in the language of the early tribes....Paiute I think.)
 Indian Paintbrush flower, about 2 inches.   Flowers are not abundant in this arid climate but this time of year they are more showy.
Bryce Canyon NP has a wonderful free shuttle system to all of the must-see areas.   It's a hop on and off and hikers and backpackers and tourists find it very helpful.   And the drivers know all the answers and point out the common wildlife (mostly pronghorn antelope, mule deer and prairie dogs).   On Saturday, we took a longer shuttle ride to the top of the Park, which is only 20 mi long.    The highlight was this natural bridge and the very helpful and informative tips by the driver "Spike".  
 Also, he pointed out the Bronze Evening Primrose which blooms at night and dies off in a red color in the morning....this one was in the shade so still photogenic.
 Later, we came back to the campground area and headed out to see the beautiful Grosvenor Arch.
 It was 10 miles down a dusty road.   Kodachrome Basin was named in honor of Kodak film in the 1940's and the arch, named for National Geographic's founder.
 On Sunday morning, with recommendations from Spike and Cay and Ron, who had done the hike two days before,  we headed out for a good workout on the Navajo Loop portion of a trail that connects Sunset Point with Sunrise Point.   There is a nice Rim Trail that connects the two, but what's the point ? can drive between them and see the same thing.
 Anyway, the distant signs don't really mean much as there are side trails and the elevation changes.   Looking down, we could see where we were headed......very steep dirt trail.
 If you look carefully, this picture is taken looking back up at the trail and you can see the people along the very tight switchbacks.....very narrow and steep.....but not intimidating going down.....
 The canyon narrows and becomes more shady....a welcome change from the brilliant sun.
 Another view looking up from whence we came....note the people again.....they reminded me of ants all in a row.    I'm sure that if we'd have done this on a weekday, the numbers would have been less.
 Mr Videographer, documenting the canyon.
 At the bottom, is this narrow canyon with a very large Douglas fir growing out of it.    It's even featured on postcards.
 It was so cool and peaceful at the bottom.
 Once out of the Wall Street area, we came to an open treed basin with numerous other trails veering off.

 We stayed in the  open for about a mile or so.....and stopped for a snack and to chat with other "older " hikers.    People of all ages were on the trail, many families with small children on shoulders and in carriers.....It sounded like a mini- United Nations down there with all the passing chatter in unknown languages.
I have never seen a ground squirrel in a tree ..... he was very quick so most of my shots were a blur.
 The dusty trail started a gradual climb......we knew we had to climb back up at some point as the elevation change was 350 ft and we had already come down.    I wasn't too concerned, thinking we were at about 5000 ft and I felt acclimated.

We took a short side trip to the Queen's Garden where you can see 
 Queen Victoria ....she is on the left.    See her small head, her crown and her arms across her chest and her large gown.   P never did figure it out.
 The climb became steeper and we passed thru an opening and then we really started climbing.

 The trail we had just come up.    By this time, it was hot and there were no clouds or shade.   We had plenty of water tho.
 We sat for a bit ...... our legs and shoes were covered in dust.  
 And then we came to the top......It took us a bit over 2 hours.   And I discovered that
it was well over 7000 ft , not the 5000 I had thought.    Note the warnings on the sign.    Spike told us that the #1 cause of injuries on the trail is lack of proper footwear.    I saw one lady in some very cute silver ballet flats......I can't imagine how she managed.   It can be very slippery with the dirt and gravel.  

We would have loved to do some hiking on the trails in the Campground but the gnats were unrelenting.   Even P gave in to them.     
Later that day, we had interesting neighbors pull into the CG.   It was an older RV pulling a black utility trailer with a door.    Out tumbled about 11 people, the women in their long dresses and long hair.    There was one man, one older very pregnant woman, two late teens or early 20 something girls who did all the work and about 5 younger girls and one small boy.   There may have been a baby or two in the RV as they were always going in and out.   So, in my mind, I figured it was a polygamist family.    The two girls being the other wives.   They all seemed very happy to be out running around and eating a large watermelon.    The older girls all slept in the trailer.   They left in the morning.    We are in the heart of Mormon country that was settled in the 1800's.   

Not sure how long we will stay in this area.   Now that we have internet and cell phone coverage, we can do some research and figure out our next destination.     We will drive down to Zion tomorrow.   I picked up a book by Wallace Stegner  on John Wesley Powell, who explored this area.   It's not an easy read but my brain needs more than pretty views once in awhile.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bryce Canyon

We are staying at Kodachrome SP, a stunningly beautiful hideaway amid the sandstone cliffs.    This is the view as you approach the park.   

And this is the view from our campsite....of course, the colors shift with the sun.   
    We have full hook-ups, we have a large site, we are the only Class A among the 31 sites, the ranger is very informative, the weather is perfect, we get satellite, we can have a wood fire and the beer is cold.     BUT....................there is no cell, no wifi, no 4G, no payphone.    We are 11 miles from Tropic, Utah which is the first blip on the cell connection and another 11 miles to Bryce Canyon and the restaurant we are sitting in, and eating the best fruit pie I have ever had !!  And the 2nd BUT......
 are miserable tiny black gnats that zip in your ears and nose and hair and make being outside mostly impossible.....the 40% Deet is worthless.   The ranger said its the only biting bug they have and only last a month.!!
 The weather is the 50's this morning and near 80 in afternoon.   There have been very strong winds.....probably related to the same winds  that are decimating Colorado with the fires.   Today we went to the highest point at 9100 ft.  

And surprise, surprise, we got an email from old friends Cay and Ron who wrote that they are currently at Bryce !!   We met up with them in Canada last summer.   We made plans to have dinner tonight and then ran into them in the parking lot here at the Park this morning.   They've given us some good hints.  We'll look forward to catching up........Dean and Diane, why aren't you here too???

We leave Kodachrome on Monday and as yet, have no idea where we are going.......  But will try and check in again when we can.........