Tag Archives: wildlife

Western Adventure, Day XXVII – Utah at Dixie National Park

We woke to an amazingly blue skied day. During the early morning hours, we found a place to camp in Dixie National Park. We are about 8500 feet above sea level and have found trees, we are on our own and a small stream nearby. Nathan is happy. We all are.

At our spot, we came across a bunch of hunters and dogs tracking a bear. The bear went right through our camp. We needed groceries, so Nathan and I headed into the city of Torrey to round up some food. Mike and the other kids made time to put bacon a a tree to lure the bear back. Later on, Mike and the boys went for a drive and found a small slot canyon off a dirt road. We tried to make it to Capitol Reef to take sunset photos. All we got were the entrance sign and it was too dark to do anything else. We plan on returning tomorrow.

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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 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 XII – Colorado at Wolf Sanctuary in Divide

Wolf Sanctuary in Divide, CO

Wolf Sanctuary in Divide, CO

The dogs and the bunny have been good sports on this trip. The dogs are always ready to go and get so agitated if they think they’re going to be left behind… and I haven’t even left them behind once yet. Mac and Schatzy were ready to go everywhere with us. Thank goodness for the last minute purchase of a used canopy for our truck. It has made it very comfortable for the dogs to travel in the bed of the truck, while Mr. Buttons rides in the trailer in his roomy home.

Not having an oatmeal cylinder for awhile now, Mr. Buttons was getting a bit cranky. So we stopped by the store and purchased one. He was very busy all night. So busy, he had a hard time staying awake on this morning. He had us in hysterics. Briana said he needed the stress relief. 12 hours later, I do believe he was a mellow dude. The container was a bit chewed up, but still usable.

This morning was the easiest to get the kids up. All I had to do was remind them about going to see Pirates and they were up and ready., especially the boys. They’ve been waiting a whole year since they found out a new movie was being made. We got there in plenty of time and the movie was cool, amazing and Jack was the best! (That was according to the boys.) They definitely left it open for another movie. The kids are ready for it.

After lunch, I wasn’t ready to go back to the trailer.. So we headed out on Highway 24 west towards Pikes Peak. We did try to go up and and found it closed at the gate; closed due to “Volatile Weather”. Still not ready to head back, we keep heading west. In little time, we were in Divide. I remembered seeing a 4pm walk in the wolf sanctuary in the Colorado Visitor Booklet. It was 3:45pm and we arrived just in time to be part of feeding time.

This sanctuary was started by Darlene, who rescued a wolf from the Humane Society some years ago. Now it has grown to over seventeen wolves, a good number of foxes, a few coyotes and a few other animals. We walked with Darlene as she fed the animals. It was a dream walk! We got to get within one foot of most of the wolves. I have to tell you I was speechless most of the time. What amazing animals! Up close… their eyes were striking and they were so tall at 36″ at the shoulders.

We had a great time with Darlene. She told us all kinds of stuff. Whatever questions she tossed our way, Briana answered as though she was a true wolf biologist. All those books she has read and videos she has watched showed through in her answers. Darlene was so impressed with her. Darlene mentioned she see thousands of people a year and rarely ever meets a person who impresses her. She wants Briana to come back when she is old enough to intern. You should have seen the smile on Briana’s face over the idea of a internship taking care of wolves.

Briana’s dream is to have a sanctuary for wolves. She plans on finding an occupation that will give her the funding to purchase the land and build the containing areas. So being at this place was fantastic for her. Briana loved Darlene’s passion for the wolves and how close she was able to get to them.

Tomorrow is to be the best weather day while our stay in CO, so we plan on heading to the Gorge to walk over (drag… as in my case) the Nation’s highest suspension bridge and drive to see the Rockies.

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