Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

Happy Summer! We celebrated this solstice by once again visiting Zion National Park.  We left home about 8:30 this morning and actually found a good parking spot in the visitor center lot.  We rode the free shuttle up the canyon:

Jim 018There are about 9 stops along the route.  You can get off at any of the stops and catch another shuttle later one, they come along about every 7 to 10 minutes.

We got off at the Emerald Pool trail and took a short hike along the Virgin River:

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We experimented with some waterfall photography:

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This is one of several emerald pools:

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Ah, beautiful, cool shade:

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After our little hike we continued on to the end of the shuttle line, making a couple of additional stops along the way.

Once we got back to the visitor’s center, we switched shuttles and took the town shuttle into Springdale, the small village (tourist trap) just outside the main entrance to the park.  I asked the shuttle driver for a restaurant recommendation and without hesitation he said, “Oscar’s” – so that’s where we went and had a very good lunch. 

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I needed just a little retail therapy while walking off some of the lunch, so we visited a little shop where we each bought a shirt.

As I was going through our nearly 200 pictures from today, I continue to realize how impossible it is to convey the awesome beauty of this part of our amazing country with just words and pictures, but here are a few more examples of the scenery as we made our way back out of the park.

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A close-up of a very high water fall:

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I know it doesn’t look like much in this photo, but those trees along the edge of that rock are full-grown, tall trees, not little bushes!

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Our friends Jo and Fred Wishnie (The Wandering Wishnies) have been camp hosting at a nearby state park, Kodachrome Basin.  They posted a blog today with more descriptions and beautiful photos of this area.  But, I have to agree with their sentiment, if you haven’t already been here you really need to put it on your list of “must see” places!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It Could Happen to Anyone!

Our hearts go out to our friends Marilyn and Ed Dray, The Happy Wanderers.  We read on Facebook yesterday about their tragic fire while they were traveling from Missouri to their favorite summer haunt, Colorado Springs.  Thankfully they are ok and were able to save their truck, but they lost their beautiful Mobile Suites 5th wheel home and all the contents when a wheel locked up and caught fire.

Ed’s message to all of us RV’ers is to carry more than one small fire extinguisher.  He said he almost had the fire out when his one extinguisher went dry.  Once again we are sadly reminded that things like this can and do happen.  It’s important to be prepared, and even more important to cherish and treasure each day and each person in our lives!

The story of their loss is on their blog entry today.

And, if you’re so inclined, there is an opportunity to help them with a donation at this RV-Dreams page.

The picture below is from last June when we had lunch with them at one of our favorite downtown Colo. Spgs. restaurants, Jose Muldoon’s.

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Marilyn and Ed, there aren’t any words to express how sorry we are about your loss, but we’re grateful that you are both OK.  Please know we are keeping you in our prayers and hearts every day! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ahhhh….Those “Jell-o” Plans!

We did it again – after spending about 6 weeks in Amarillo, we decided at the last minute to go West instead of up to South Dakota as we’d talked about earlier.  I’ve been nagging Jim for awhile that our travels have mostly settled into revisiting places we’ve already been.  Oh, we love those places and the people we’ve met there, but there are still a lot of nooks and crannies of this country that we haven’t seen.  We decided that Southern Utah would be a great place to see while we have a few free weeks before the wedding.

So, last Thursday, we rolled up the carpet, hooked up the car and headed west on I-40.  That night we stopped at a small RV park just outside Albuquerque, the next night we stopped at the KOA in Flagstaff (won’t do that one again, sites and roads are much too tight for a rig our size), and Saturday we stopped at Wahweap Campground at Lake Powell.  That’s where the new header picture was taken.

This was our site:

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This was our view from near the camp site:

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From the road above the campground:

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Looking back at the lake from the dam:

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The lake is about 60% full right now.  With all of the snowfall in the Rockies this year, the level of the lake is currently rising nearly a foot a day.  We took a tour of the dam and got to go down to the power plant area, brought back some memories for both of us!

We will definitely need to make a return trip to this area, we’d love to rent a pontoon boat for a day (or more) and go exploring some of the canyons!

Sunday morning we went to breakfast in Page, then went to the local Walmart and stocked up on supplies for the next part of the journey – on to Zion and Bryce in Utah!

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We got settled in at a little RV park in Glendale, Utah early Sunday afternoon.  Bright and early Monday morning we loaded up our picnic lunch, the dogs and our cameras and headed out towards Zion National Park:

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I have to say right now that we were both left speechless and breathless more than once on our short drive through the part of the park still open to private car travel.  Yes, we took pictures, but there’s no way they can even begin to show the spectacular quality of this place.  We both agreed that this is one of the most impressive places we’ve visited yet.  The road, Utah Highway 9, winds it’s way across the very southeastern corner of the park.  It’s a through road, but everyone has to pay the park entrance fee.  It is a very twisty-turny road that goes up and down and features a small tunnel and one very narrow, very long tunnel.  The park’s website warns that large vehicles must make arrangements to be escorted (at an additional fee) through the tunnel.  They have a system to allow only one lane of traffic through at a time, so there is a wait going both directions.  But, both times through, we only had a couple of minutes to wait.

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This is Checkerboard Mesa:

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Some of the views:

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This is the one trail in the park where dogs are allowed:

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We will be going back to the park later this week and another time next week to take the shuttle to the areas where private vehicles can’t go this time of year.

This morning we got a few things done around the Castle, like debugging the front end and windshield – many, many bugs gave their lives in support of our trip West!  I washed the windows too, but then the day got warm and we decided what the heck, let’s go for a drive!

This time we decided to see what Utah Highway 14 is like – it runs from US 89 over the Cedar Breaks Monument area (which is still closed due to snow!) and in to Cedar City on I-15, about a 55 mile trip from here.  Another beautiful, but twisty-turny road!

This is Navajo Lake, formed from lava flow, and yes, that is snow on the far bank!

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More of those red rocks and snow:

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Vista from near the summit, looking South towards Zion:

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And more rock formations highlighted by late afternoon sun:

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And that’s just the first two days here, whew!  We don’t have a specific plan as to how long we’ll stay in this area, there are a lot of places to see!  I’d better go plug in my camera battery…