Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Long Way To Bryce

There was a shorter road from Zion to Bryce Canyon, but a switchback road and a tunnel that wasn't suitable for us forced us to take the longer road- 135 miles. It seemed as though that was too bad to run the extra miles but it turned out to be our good fortune as after entering the Dixie National Forest land we passed through  a five mile stretch called Red Canyon. THAT was a blessing. We pulled over where and when we had the opportunity with the coach, but once we landed and set up camp we beat feet back there in the van to get a few more pictures. It was that beautiful and different from anything we'd ever seen.

Base camp for our Bryce and area visit is Ruby's Inn and RV Park. It's a big campground, plenty roomy, not as polished as the Zion River Resort but cell phone and mifi works good here and that's a huge plus in this type of terrain. Ruby has a corner on everything here- Inn, campground, general store, tourist attractions, shuttle parking lot, state store, fuel (at reasonable prices) and more. You can rent both horses and ATV's very close to camp, take guided tours of the area, and there is also a small airport here in case you want to get up in the air while you are here. Pretty much everything you could want is right here- no need to head into town which is quite a ways off anyhow. As Kenny Rogers used to say, or was it just the guy in his song, "At Ruby's don't take your love to town...." or something like that!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wrapping Up Zion

As the holiday weekend crowd started to thin out, we headed back into Zion National to sample some more of this wonderful place. The first mission was to drive ourselves through the park on Utah Rt 9 which travels the high, higher, highest parts of the canyon wall and then ducks though a light-less tunnel of 1.25 miles. There are some "windows" in the tunnel but even with those, with the absence of any electrical lighting, it is very dark in there- headlights and all. The switchback route to it climbs very quickly and if you are a fan of guard rails, well, there are only a few and if you get careless they are not going to help all that much. Not my favorite road safety wise, but again the scenery was great. The tunnel itself permits traffic first on one direction, then shuts down while the other direction funnels through. We had the good fortune to stop before going through in a spot where we could watch a couple of kamikaze climbers defy gravity and shuffle up a rock cliff that looked unclimbable to the likes of me. I want you to know these pics were taken with my telephoto lens...and those guys still look way up there and tiny.

When you finally come out of the tunnel that tops the canyon, it is as though you have entered a completely different world. The hard sandstone of the canyon gives way to curvacious and soft sandstone that in many places seems like it would be moon-like landscape. The vegetation changes at this point as well. It is like two national parks for the price of one. And now that we claim "seniorhood" we get in all national parks for 10 bucks each- one pass covers ALL national parks. There are some captions on the slide show so that you will know where the shot was taken, but I think you'll figure it out on your own.

Then after out trip through the park on rt 9 we followed signs to Coral Pink Sands State Park only a short ride beyond Zion. It wasn't a large park but the sights were impressive and while I'm not sure I would have named it "pink" park, it is a shade of reddish rose and I guess that's close enough. Those pictures will be evident as well.

And then finally we used our last day to go back into the deep canyon to shoot a few images and mountains we had not had a chance to get. At Dripping Springs we happened upon a young buck mule deer grazing just below the spring on the side of the cliffs. We stopped and had our snack/lunch and watched as the deer munched on tender leaves. Nice.

Tomorrow it is off to Bryce Canyon for us- a week in that spot. Looking forward to what should be a very different experience there.

Oh heck, one more shot:


Monday, May 28, 2012

Trailriding Outside of Zion

While the holiday crowd packed the National Park, we packed up the ATV and headed out of camp in the opposite direction with the idea of getting far from the madding crowd. It worked. Only two miles down the road from camp, we turned off the main road and crossed the Virgin River and headed out onto the series of trails called the Hurricane Cliffs Trail System. Had a wonderful ride, took in the trail sites and venues that held some interest beyond the beautiful scenery and when we eventually came back out onto the highway we stopped for some buffalo burgers and some cactus flavored ice cream which we sat and ate under a grape arbor with a bunch of bikers. We had the only 4-wheeler in the lot!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Some time back on our 6 year trip back and forth North America I ran across a guy who told me he was just "sick to death of scenery." He wanted to go "home" and have an end to all the landscape he had to look at non- stop on all his travels. I don't appreciate his concept so much as I understand what he was saying. This country has non-stop scenery to offer and the second you think you have seen it all or even a fraction of it- it changes yet again. It's not terribly different from the guy who wrote a piece while traveling in Alaska that he was sick of "all the damn green;" he longed for the brown of Arizona, and had to go home. We get used to different things in this country. We forget how big, how vast, how expansive our geographical universe is and we tend to think we have a handle on what it is we really have in this country. We never do. Those who put down "roots" and stay attached to them have an in depth understanding of the soil they have grown attached to. But nothing more. The politics and the sentiment and the likes and dislikes of this country change as frequently as the geography does- every couple of miles. You can't know your own country until you fit yourself into it, drown yourself in what others deal with every day, see it for yourselves. The more I see of this, the harder it is to piece together the forces that try every day and every way to tear the country apart. The same force that erodes the mountains and the valleys and the rivers and the plains. We all think we know what is going on. We don't!

With that in mind we went to see Zion National Park in Utah. If you've had enough scenery- please- don't spend the dime to come here- it's everywhere. The way in. The way out. In town. Out of town. In the park. Out of the park. Nonstop. Bigger than you've ever scene unless you've been to Alaska. Bigger than you dreamed possible. Bigger than you have an understanding of. Bigger than your universe has previously been exposed to. Bigger than your mind has been able to comprehend before you've seen all this. I write. I photograph. But Ansel Adams I'm not. And so no way will I do this place justice unless I pair it with a few words or phrases that help you understand this is bigger than me, bigger than you, more of a gift than our petty contrivances can ever be. We all pale in comparison to what God has created here. Don't believe in God? Come here. Look up, then tell me that!

Here's some images from our first couple days here. Some stuff we never expected to see here. Some stuff we saw to a much greater extent than we expected to see here. Some stuff that's hard to believe when you're looking right at it. And a few things that are thrown into the mix just for fun- which for sure is what we are having here at Zion national park- Utah.

Before I ever got to the park, I ran across these guys. Didn't expect that!

My new tow vehicle I found at a gallery in town...

Scenery even before we reached the park ...

Rock everywhere...

He offered to pay the fine himself for a piece of granola energy bar...

as much beauty in the small stuff as there is in the grandiose....


The next show comes in three parts rolled together- what we saw on the way in, what we saw inside, what we saw in town and around town. Man, what a place!

Slide show- here it comes:

You're gonna see a few typos in the captions if you're paying attention. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. It took me hours and hours to get this post up at all what with the NEW blogger format and the camp wifi. Apologies in advance.  I've had enough fun for one day! Blogger, technology in general, changes almost daily. I do my level best to keep up but it's an ongoing battle. I shutter to think what would happen if I stopped writing this blog even for a short period of time. You can get lost in this universe if not engaged daily. That is too fast for us all. No time for digestion. No wonder we begin and end each day with an upset stomach of sorts!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Images From Vegas

Five hours we walked on hard concrete in 100 degree weather on "The Strip." I lugged my camera but wished I hadn't so I only took a few images this day. Couldn't see the sense to re-photographing the same buildings I'd shot the last time we were here, so only the things that caught my fancy on a really hot day made the mix.

But I'm (hopefully) using the new Blogger to link to the last Vegas post with a slide show for anyone that wants the usual pics.

 We had the good fortune (Vegas Talk Baby) to spend some time with my cousin Nan and her husband Barry. They came to see our digs and we went for a BBQ at theirs the following evening. It's been a loooonnng time and the visit was a whole lot of fun! Nan is a dealer in the poker room at Bally's Casino.


A look at the slide show and remarks from our last visit to Vegas:
Click the above link for a lot more images from Vegas!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not Your Typical Vegas

For our first Vegas adventure we headed out of town, not down towards the Strip. Just minutes and just miles outside of town is Red Rock Canyon. With over 2000 climbing routes, it is one of the top rock climbing destinations in the country. It seemed like the natural choice for us having been in Joshua Tree last destination. Lots of rocks. Cool rocks. Beautiful rocks. Physically, though, the park is considerably smaller than J Tree, so a loop of 13 miles give you an introduction to the park.We weren't lucky enough to see any of the wild horses that roam the park, nor did we see any desert tortoises.

My favorite picture from the park was this one of Marilyn (look hard- she's in the bottom right hand corner of the shot). Putting someone up against the big face of the rocks is really the only way to illustrate the scale of the place.

Our second stop of the day was at the Ethel M Chocolate factory, home of both fine chocolates and M&Ms. Being Saturday, the plant was not operating but we walked through and then walked through their world class cactus garden of about 2 acres out in front of the factory. I had samples. Not Sunday though, so Marilyn took a pass. Bummer!

Slide show from the day follows:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

After we parted ways with Dickie and Sarah, we spent a couple days exploring the rest of the Joshua Tree National Park. We drove some out of the way dirt paths to get off the beaten path and we did some hiking to some features like the Barker Dam and The Arches. We took in a lot and felt like we did a good job seeing as much as possible in the time allotted, but admittedly we missed the 9 bighorn sheep that some of the others saw when we got to the part of the park (the highest point) where you can look down on the San Andreas Fault- which was a pretty impressive thing to do.


The many images from our time in the park will be in our minds for a long long time. Here we share those images:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day at Joshua Tree

Well we packed everything up a few days early and headed off to Southern California to meet up with Dickie and Sarah who were on a climbing vacation at Joshua Tree National Park. It didn't seem possible we would find hotter temps here than the 100 - 103 we had back in Brenda, but guess what- 104 - 108 here so far. Goodie! Still, the place is beautiful and may not have ever made it onto out "to do" list if it hadn't been for their choosing it for a vacation so close to us that it was impossible to pass up a visit. Last night we joined them at their campsite in the park at the base of a boulder that, once it cooled off a bit, was scrambling with climbers. It was interesting to see and learn something about what, and how, they do what they do to get up and then down those rocks and cliffs safely. And of course it is always great to see family.

We'll join them again this evening in town for a get together dinner at a funky little dinner place and then they head home and we head further into the park to see what there is to see. Here's a couple of the pics so far...

campsite at Joshua Tree

mojitos before dinner

our traveling herb/mint pot

registered Maine guide tending taters

steak headed for the grill

How'd they get up there anyhow???

Joshua Tree

first one up

scrambling up the rocks

Super Moon Ends Super Season

The end of a marvelous winter in Brenda, Arizona at the Desert Gold RV Resort came with a bang- the super moon, so called, gave punctuation to what was certainly a super season in the desert. It was another year of sensational desert blooming, critter sightings, atv rides, landscaping jobs, and yes, re-paving the streets to the park which will go a lonnnnnnnng way to helping make the place less of a dust bowl than the desert already is. We saw lots of old friends while in the area, had some visitors, and got caught in a "haboob" a massive dust storm the makes you want to honker down behind your camel to get out of the sandblast zone. Our work around our own site and those of our immediate neighbors led to the park asking us to redesign and install a new cactus garden at the entrance to the park. That was a hoot! The season end came fast and furious as we moved up our departure by a few days so we could hook up with Marilyn's son and Sarah in Joshua Tree in Southern California before they ended their rock climbing expedition there. We worked on so many things this year that closing up shop, securing the area, and putting everything back in its travel space took more time than planned. In the relentless 100 plus degree heat of most of the last month, that was a bit draining. But fun. And we enjoyed every minute of this season, with the possible exception of the coughing spells from the bronchitis that we both had and held on to for too long. A lot of people had that particular problem this time a round, so keeping the dust out of the lungs as much as possible was worth whatever you had to do to accomplish that. Some of us looked like this....
Funny how you can see a big smile even behind all that mask!

Well, there were way too many photos and way to precious little time to tell the story of the last month well, so let's just let the pictures tell it like it was.

Here are some of the pants from our garden, White's garden, Pellitterr's garden, the common gardens we built this year and some from the desert.

Some of the critters:

A few birds:

A ride a round Alamo Lake:

Our landscaping job at the park entrance:

The re-paving of the park roads (hurray!):

And, of course, the super moon!

This year's posts have all been tagged "Arizona and Beyond." Well, here comes the Beyond!