Thursday, March 31, 2011

Overdue Update Part 1

SPECIAL NOTE: I apologize in advance if this post does not view correctly on your screen. I am having issues with Blogger and pictures and text. I might see a blogging switch in my future!

Long overdue. Yes, long overdue. Up until the last 2 nights of our trip, the internet connection was yet again, lousy! Finally, on the last 2 evenings, the connection was fast and furious, but, so was our group. By the time we arrived back at our lovely lodgings, we were exhausted and just fell into the comforts of the bed. Before I knew it, the trip was over and we were headed back to Boulder City for rest and recuperation at Spa Nelson. And much needed rest I might add.

So, I will go back in time a bit and furnish a update. Hang one, it might be fast and furious!

Saturday, March 26

On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again....Thanks for that song Willie! Our special stop on this particular day was Hollow Mountain Gas & Grocery in Hanksville, Utah. Really? Yes. This guy built his business INTO a rock. Said it was easier to carve than blast. Go figure.

After a stop at the John Wesley Powell we reached our next destination at Dead Horse Point State Park. It was interesting. Looked kind of desolate and dry, which it was. So I guess it looked like it looked!

The last location we visited for the day was Mesa Arch which is located in Canyonlands National Park.

The picture below is of our group minus our driver and leaders. Someone had to take all the pictures.

Mesa Arch was pretty amazing and was the teaser of what was to be seen the next day.

Our resting point was in Moab, Utah. Moab is a meca for all kinds of outdoor activities, especially biking. We had a free night to find our own dinner and boy did we find a good one. Miguel's Baja Grill.  It was yummilicious! With our bellies full we walked back to our motel and retired for the evening.

Sunday, March 27
This day shall be known as THE HIKING DAY! We departed for Arches National Park early and planned to spend the entire day browsing around the area, having lunch and visiting several natural arches. First up as Balanced Rock followed by North and South Windows, Pine Needle Arch, Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch and Delicate Arch. There are over 2,000 arches in the park.


After an exhausting but thrilling day viewing all the many arches, we again dined at delicious Miguel's Baja Grill. Yummilicious once again! Early bedtime for this traveling birds!

Here are the links for more pictures from these two days:

Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands
Arches National Park

Up next, a visit to the Navajo Reservation and Monument Valley.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Windy in These Here Parts

Windy, windy, windy! As soon as I stepped foot outside the hotel, the wind hit with full force. The forecast stated wind gusts up to 40 mph. Yes, I believe it! After we loaded up the bus we headed west. That was not toward Capitol Reef though. Darryl, our in-resident geologist, had a little surprise for us. We drove through some backroads and stopped along side a couple of houses. Up ahead, in a tall cottonwood tree there sat a gigantic nest. This was the home to a breeding pair of Bald Eagles. Now, this was not in an isolated area. There were a few houses within 100-200 yards of the cottonwood tree. As we sat there, you could occasionally see the head of one of the adults popping up.

As I was looking out my window I saw a dark figure soaring from across the rocks. After circling the tree the other adult eagle landed on the nest and within minutes took off to the grassy area about 30 yards from the nest. We learned that there were probably 2 chicks in the nest and this was probably the 4th year the female had started her family at this location. The male was not her original mate. The male had been shot a couple of years ago, so the female enticed a new partner to her beautiful cottonwood tree. It is believed that a man living in the house across the street from the nest may have been the culprit in the shooting. Apparently he doesn't like tourists pulling over in front of his house, therefore he wanted to get rid of the eagles. So, we stayed clear of his house. The pictures aren't very good due to the fact I had to take them as we drove by.




The group made it's way to Capitol Reef National Park. At our first stop, the wind was whipping and biting! If you didn't have a good footing you could be knocked down. I can't believe that I am posting this picture.....oh well.....


DSC_4188.JPG DSC_4205.JPG  DSC_4200.JPG
We made our way to Grand Gulch. This is a dry river bed that sees several flash floods yearly. As a result of these flash floods, the bed was laden with beautiful rocks. Not just your average river rocks, but diverse rocks. Different hues, varying sizes, textures and shapes. Such diversity!
As we walked through this dry bed, the enormity of the rocks around us was breathtaking.
I really don't have words to express the complexity of the surroundings. I've never really seen anything of this magnitude.
After a return trip back to our hotel, Darryl gifted us with his keen observations on wildlife. His vast knowledge of critters is remarkable. He delighted us with visual aids such as pelts, skulls and a few funny props.

With a much needed nap, followed by dinner, we were again treated to a lecture by a local named Larry Davis. Wow! His knowledge of Native Americans is astounding. His passion and love for them is overwhelming. All of us learned a great deal. The most unique thing I learned is how to start a fire with steel wool and a battery. I will now be prepared!

Tomorrow we depart this area and continue on to Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park with a quick stop at the Mesa Arch. We will also be trying to stay ahead of projected rain. I hope we can! 

Due to further crappy internet, I can't upload my pictures. Guess that will have to wait until a new hotel.

On a happier note.....get a load of Mr. Tom. Our little group of folks just love him and he feels such a part of them.....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Snow and Bryce Canyon

Wednesday when I looked at the weather forecast for Bryce, Utah on Thursday it said "snow showers in am." It was cold when we arrived in the afternoon and then this morning, yes, snow. Lots of snow. Probably around 2-3 inches. In the hotel parking lot a gigantic bulldozer with a snow shovel attached started clearing out the snow.

We loaded up and to Bryce Canyon we went. During one of our little stops it started snowing. Really snowing. We weren't really sure how much of Bryce Canyon National Park we would see. Having never been to Bryce, I wasn't sure what to expect. At the first stop the surroundings looked like what I would term a snow fog. Just a little bit of Bryce Canyon peeked through.

Words cannot express what my first impression was. Astounding, breathtaking, magnificent! And I could only see a bit through the snow fog. It was cold. It was windy. It was wet. It was worth all of the uncomfortable elements! Bryce Canyon is truly a unique form of mother nature.

As we drove to our next stop, the snow stopped. The colors of Bryce began to emerge.
By the time we reached our last stop in Bryce, the sun appeared and performed it's magic on the striking red rock walls.
Speechless. Truly speechless.
After leaving Bryce and following lunch we drove to the visitors center at Escalante and drove through Grand Staircase Escalante  on Highway 12. This held some of the most spectacular scenery of Ponderosa Pines, Aspen Trees and Pinyon Trees. This is the stuff that make movies out of! We drove over Bolder Mountain and are resting for the next two days in Torrey. Tomorrow we will visit Capitol Reef National Park. Our geology guide, Darryl, promises a few surprises will be in store for us. As far as the weather, well, more snow is expected tonight after midnight with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon. If tomorrow is anything like will be amazing, regardless of the weather!

If you want to see a few more pictures from today, just click here