Tag Archives: dogs

Western Adventure, Day XXIII – Utah at Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Another nice day in UT. We headed southwest to Zion National Park. If it wasn’t for our wonderful navigator for the day (me), we would have been in Zion much sooner. I sent us on a scenic drive through Dixie National Park on Highway 14 to Cedar City. We spent a lot of time on the road. Oops! All was not lost though. We did get to spend a bit of time at the top of the pass on Highway 14 in the snow at Navajo Lake. At this time, UT was still at 200% on snow totals for the year. Much of the pass was entrenched in deep snow. The dogs and kids loved it.

Interestingly, on this road there were numerous lava fields with no apparent volcano. Our curiosity was solved when we saw signage explaining that at numerous locations in the Dixie there have been recent (in the last 1500 years or so) lava fields formed from lava just coming out of the ground.

In Cedar City, we found a tasty Mexican food restaurant and a health food store that carried goat cheese. Yeah! We were so close to the north entrance of Zion called Kolob Canyon, we headed there first. The entrance is also the exit… a dead end. Not many people were at the this entrance. I imagine most wouldn’t take the time to come here for only a short 15 mile drive. But the views… wow! Most of the views didn’t look real. The roadway was paved neatly in the same color as the rock. Gorgeous.

The South entrance was significantly different from the North. Where you can drive yourself in the North, at the South you have to park and take a shuttle up the canyon. The shuttle is free with your park pass. There were steep cliffs on each side of the South Entrance with the Canyon floor having enough room for a road, the river and a bit of land here and there. Conveniently the bus stops almost everywhere along the way up to the final stop of Temple of Sinawava. At the Temple, there was a nice paved 1.5 mile walk up to the Narrows, which we walked. The trail was full of wildlife.

The Narrows is probably the most famous of trails here. It is the trail that leads into the canyon on the river. Since the river was flowing about 6500 cubic feet per second, the Narrows was closed. Normally it runs under 70. According to the bus driver, he said it flows at the rate of 15 to 50 in the summer. Did you know that last December they had the worst flooding on record? The Virgin River was flowing through the valley at over 60,000 cubic feet per second. It was the first time they had to close the park for flooding.

Returning to the bus stop, after walking the trail, we discovered tons of people. We didn’t feel like waiting for the bus, so we headed down the road on foot. Oddly the canyon got foggier as we walked, and then we came upon our empty bus stopped. The shuttle driver told us a large amount of rock fell right in front of him. He said it was the first time in his twelve years to happen. The boulders were the size of three man rock and there were white marks on the ledges above marking the path the rocks took as they fell.

The driver wouldn’t let us continue on foot, nor did we want to. So we got on the bus and headed back to the truck since it was getting dark. Our last goal of the day was to drive the one mile long tunnel. We managed to get back to the trailer by 11pm. Long day.

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Western Adventure, Day XX – Arizona at Navajo Bridge and North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Newest bridge is on the right

Newest bridge is on the right

A bright, lightly winded day in AZ today. We had planned on taking a tour through the lower Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation. Little did we know it would cost so darn much to enter the canyon to only have one hour to take photos and explore.

Since we didn’t have enough cash, we decided to change our plans and travel to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We never did plan on seeing the GC this trip, but Mike asked if we could find the time he would love to. So today, it is…

Our first stop on the way was the Navajo Bridge which extends over the Marble Canyon and Colorado River. There are two bridges there now. One is the original built in the 1920s and the other was just completed in the late 90s.

The old bridge is now just a foot bridge. I did make it mid span and turned back. As usual, my troublemaker, Nathan, was busy trying to freak me out.

This was a great place to stop. The gift shop was excellent: Lots of good books, art and helpful people. The architecture was beautiful. The staff recommended we stop by the Glen Canyon Park on this side of Marble Canyon.

Wow! We felt like we had stepped onto another world, like planet Mars. The terrain was nothing we have ever seen before. One rock was so huge, it remiinded us of the Jawas Transporter from Star Wars. It may be hard to tell in the photos, but some of the rocks were over 30 feet in diameter on little pedestals.

We did find access to the river. The dog got to get their feet wet only. The river was too fast for them to swim in.

Heading to GC, the most amazing thing happened to us… we found trees. Old, large pine trees… The kids and I had not realized how long it had been since we had been in the woods. Tears glistened in my eyes at the sight. As the Badlands was spiritual for Zachary, the trees were for Nathan.

The first thing Nathan did, getting out of the truck, was to lay on the ground… then he went and hugged a tree. So emotional for him. He spent a good amount of time off on his own, just enjoying the trees and such. When he was ready, he returned with a big, refreshed smile on his face. He also informed us he did not want to go back to the desert. Trees only for him.

I took over 500 photos. It was windy. It averaged 20 mph with gust over 40. So a lot of our photos have flying hair and wind filled coats. At times, we would have to stop and just hang on until the wind slowed, so we would not get blow off the the trail. Mike was a crazy guy in some of the photos… hanging off the edge and such.

We stopped at the Visitor Center for a bite to eat. Did you know there are cabins available right next to the canyon? What a vacation it would be to see the sun rise and set over the canyon right from your front porch.

We left the main visitor area and drove down a road that called us. We found a lookout that was fantastic called Point Imperial. As the sun started to set, we took off and drove to the Condor release site in the Vermillion Valley. We had hoped to catch sight of this bird with over an eight feet wind span. No such luck. But we did watch the sun set in the valley before we headed back to the trailer.

A high wind advisory for tomorrow?! Yikes! 40 to 70 mph. How much wind does it take to blow over a trailer? We discovered it would be best to stay put and hold tight for day before leaving AZ for Utah (UT).

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Western Adventure, Day XIX – Arizona at Monument Valley and Lake Powell

Monument Valley

Monument Valley… what can one say? It is hard to describe. It’s an experience. I read somewhere, the photos can’t capture the life enriching sight you see with your own eyes. So true. After the sun completely rose, we gained access to the valley and drove the sixteen mile trek. What a bumpy ride! The views were gripping and the colors rich. Majestic is a good word to describe Monument Valley.

The one part I thought was quite beautiful was the little trees. I called them burning bushes because they look like they are on fire… ambered… After a great drive through the valley and lots of pictures, we hooked up the trailer and headed to Glen Canyon. It was nice, uneventful drive.. for once. 🙂

To our surprise Lake Powell is azurite blue in color that only intensifies as the sun sets. We did go to the lake and played in the water for about two hours. The water was frigid. It was fun though. The dogs swam until they could do no more. The boys made sand castles. Briana and Mike ran up and down the beach. I hung out in the water. What a great way to cool down and relax.

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Western Adventure, Day XIII – Colorado at Canon City and Salida

The Gorge

The Gorge

Yeah! The sun came out today! And no fluke snow or rain storms either. Yes! Even though, the day turned out grand. The kids could not bring themselves to trust the weather and they all overdressed. Zachary was dragging at one point; complaining incessantly. I have no clue how he’s going to survive the 80’s in New Mexico. I hope the pool at the next park is up and ready for us. We headed out on Highway 115 south to Canon City. We stopped there and had breakfast at Denny’s. Briana was in French Toast heaven. Her most favorite good is French Toast. She always says breakfast is the best meal of the day.

Funny story happened to Briana at the Denny’s. The women’s bathroom is typically always on the right side. So she proceeded in the bathroom without looking to verify. Upon entry, she said there was a man with his pants around his ankles, leaning back and whizzing. Another man was peeing and he just gaped at her. She was so shocked, she said she couldn’t move fast enough. She did scamper off to the ladies room where she hung out an extra amount of time hoping the men would leave so she didn’t have to see them again. She later told me she spotted the pants around the ankle man and was mortified. Funny girl!

From there, we headed a few more miles south to the Gorge. It was kind of funny how CO tourist areas tout they’re something special. This place of course had the highest suspension bridge in the US. I think they even claim the world. All I can tell you is when I reached the middle, it was a mini Galloping Gerdy. Scary!! I was so freaked out I forgot to take pictures off the bridge. Then a car crossed over the bridge… oh my… get me off. I had to have the kids promise to pull me to one side if I passed out before I could make it across. There were a few times I did forget to breathe and got a bit lightheaded. But I made it across. Zachary had a heck of a time too; he hates heights as bad as I do. Nathan and Briana hung on the side, looked through the cracks on the deck, jumped up and down and made jokes about how we were going to fall through. Little Nikcompoos!

The first thing we did upon arrival at the park was to take the incline railroad down to the Arkansas River to look at the bridge from the bottom up. Rose Quartz was used to make all the walls as headed down to the RR cars. At the bottom, we could walk around and got within thirty feet of the River and watched several rafters go by. After we were done down below, we headed back up on the incline RR and went to the bridge. On the other side was the mountain man area… trading posts, animals, cowboys, and a literal “cow” girl. Yes, folks, she was riding a bull like one would ride a horse. Then we saw our first white buffalo. He was almost unbelievable. There was also a calf that was white. My question to the kids was I wondered how the Native Americans feel about them having two such animals contained in such a pathetically small area that has no open grazing Fields? I did manage to talk the kids into riding the carousel. Nathan specifically told me no pictures of him. How embarrassing! He told me.

My newly developed bookworm, Briana, was hard and heavy into her book. She had been a reading fool for the last five days. She had already gone through three books. We will need to stop in Pueblo tomorrow to find the next book in the series she is reading. She was very upset tonight when the Borders Book Store was out of the book she was looking for. Love her reading, so I will definitely stop.

We headed on 219 to 24 east to Colorado Springs. It was nice loop drive. CO was definitely not what we expected. We thought it was going to be lush and green, much like Western WA, but on a grander scale. Nope, it wasn’t. It was dry and desert. Lots of scrub brush and no green, except for the small pines tree bush thingies. We leave for New Mexico tomorrow.

After the Gorge, we drove up Highway 50 to Salida. I had heard from there you can see the Rockies. I heard right! My pictures are not so good because I was driving, but they were mammoth looking as they jettisoned right out the ground. On the way to Salida, we found a spot along the river to let the dogs out. They were in doggy heaven! I let them swim for about an half an hour while the boys and I rock hounded. Found a few good rose quartz pieces too. We also found our first flowering cactus in nature. Zachary tried his darnedest to catch a lizard. No luck. He did get bit by one at the Gorge.

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Western Adventure, Day V – South Dakota at Deadwood and Wyoming at Devil’s Tower

Devil's Tower

Devil’s Tower

The day was partly sunny and a nice 55 degrees. We headed north to Spearfish to hit I-90 to head west to Wyoming. On our way north, we drove through Deadwood in the daylight. What a cute town all tucked in a narrow canyon with only two streets getting you in and out of the canyon.

Mike and I jokingly were laughing as to why they would have a hospital, then we saw all the gambling retirees. Maybe the excitement of winning can put an unusual strain on the body… or the loss of their retirement to gambling?

We had planned on visiting the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. Can you believe it? It cost money to walk into the cemetery? Yikes! No thanks.

We ate a nice lunch at Sanford’s Grub in Spearfish — good food and a fun place to eat.

The drive to Devil’s Tower was just as magnificent as I remembered as a youth when I traveled this area with my Grandparents in ’92. The grass is so green and the soil is red with rolling hills. The contrast makes for landscapes I just love.

At the gate to the park, Zachary found a girlfriend. She was quite jealous of us and shot him since we were going to take him away. hee hee hee. Picking Zachary off the ground, we continued into the park and pulled off so we could explore with the dogs and enjoy the view of the Tower from a close distance. We played around for about an hour and then headed up to the main parking lot to park and took a walk on the 1.6 mile trails that circles with Tower. There was so much to see and do between watching the climbers, climbing rocks and exploring, it took us over 2 hours to get back to the truck.

The Tower was formed when the ground was significantly higher. The Tower is a volcanic plug that was once located deep within a volcano some 50 million years ago. Over time, the surrounding material has eroded away, leaving the Tower exposed.

We did finally make it back to the trailer. Most restaurants were closed an hour before their stated closing times. We did find s nice place to eat this night at The Alpine Inn. The food was delicious and very affordable. We had three meals to choose from a Hot Dog, 6ox Filet Steak for $9 or a 9oz for $11.

Tomorrow’s weather is predicted to be cold and snowy, so we’re heading to Hot Springs to do indoor activities.

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