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Archive for May, 2012

Kodachrome Basin State Park was a little disappointing. It’s a beautiful park but we didn’t get many really nice images. Last time we were hiking the Sentinel Trail, we think we saw Condors, but not this time. Last time we hiked the Hat Shop (maybe 25 years ago?) I remember lots of rock formations with little “hats” perching on top, but there didn’t seem to be a trail into this area. We did enjoy Indian Rock, with all the hand prints engraved into the rock. Oh well, the weather is pleasant and sitting around is always fun.

We had a little detour on our trip to Cedar City on Thursday. After turning onto Route 14 west, we found the road closed 12 miles in. An avalanche had occurred last October and the road wasn’t being repaired till now. Luckily, we stopped at a local coffee shop and asked which was the best way to get to Cedar City from there. We probably saved ourselves 20 miles or so of very twisty road, although we still had to go 30 miles out of our way. Anyway, we rolled into Cedar City and I immediately went grocery shopping. I checked out Walmart for new sheets for the Lazy Daze (Our old sheets were purchased in 1982 for our big trip and have lasted pretty well, I’d say.) I wandered into the food section and saw ripe avocados for 58 cents each. I was hooked and did most of my shopping there. I had to go to Smith’s for the one item I had to have: Private Selection Cherry Amaretto Cordial ice cream. Yum!!!!

We discovered a new place to visit in the future. Usually, when we take off from Cedar City, we either head north to Great Basin National Park or east towards Tonopah and Lee Vining and Yosemite. Highway 120 through Yosemite isn’t open for the year yet so we can’t go home that way. We decided to drive a different route to Ely and went through Panaca, Nevada. Cathedral Gorge State Park is one mile north of Panaca, so we stopped in to take a look. It’s a neat-looking park with erosion in a form we’ve never seen before. We decided not to stay there, but it’s a possibility for the future. We ended up in Ely, as planned, and I found out that while grocery stores carry wine, it is mostly very cheap or very expensive. I only bought a few bottles; we’ll replenish when we get home. I still find it hard to believe, but California wine seems to be cheapest in California. Not like 58 cent avocados in Utah and $1.00 artichokes in Nevada.

Saturday was more driving through Nevada on US-50, the “loneliest road in America”. Actually, US-6 is lonelier, I think, but you advertise what you can. The road was fairly boring to me this time. Featureless sky and nothing interesting to distract me. We have seen 2 “over the top” roadside memorials, with plastic flowers, tinsel and all manner of gaudy items, but we go by too fast to stop. Our campsite was the parking area next to the former “shoe tree”, a large cottonwood covered with hundreds of pairs of shoes. On January 1, 2011, someone decided to chop down the tree. It must have taken them a long time; the base of the trunk was about 3 feet across. The surrounding area has also had a fire that makes it even more unattractive. People have tried to throw shoes into the other 2 cottonwoods nearby, but my attitude is to leave them alone. The shoes weight down the branches and it’s like “been there, done that”. It was a spontaneous creation, but now it’s just trying to recreate something that is gone.

Tonight is our last night out. It’s been a great trip for many reasons. We have met some old friends and made some new friends. We visited some of our favorite places and saw a few new ones. We made a few great images and had a lot of fun. I found Cherry Amaretto Cordial Ice Cream. What more in life can you ask for?

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We’ve had a great time for the last couple of days. Thursday night was an early birthday celebration at Café Diablo in Torrey, Utah. The restaurant was recommended by Don and Dorothy Malpas and what an experience. It’s a small place with lots of what looks to be aboriginal masks from many different countries. There are also many quirky prints involving coyotes and rabbits by Jerry Fuhriman. We ate a lot of wonderful food. They advertise Southwest Cuisine, but the flavors of everything we ate were subtle and unusual. After we ordered, we watched as plates with intricate constructions were delivered to nearby tables. We had no idea what anything was. I had fire roasted pork tenderloin: “Medallions of pork on a roasted sweet potato sauce with a cilantro waffle and mango salsa.” What a great dish. I can’t describe a predominant flavor but all together, it was wonderful. Dave has Beef Flank Steak Carbon: “Sliced maninated beef steak with slivered vegetables, parmesan crisp & garlic straw potato.” His dinner was also delicious and the meat was laid out around a 3-inch tower of the straw potatoes with a thin slab of parmesan crisp perching on top of it.

As we progressed through our dinner, we kept eyeing the dessert tray sitting next to us. Finally, it was time to select a dessert. We each selected a different chocolate dessert and both came out on a big plate with 2 scoops of the house-made ice cream and 2 chocolate cookies. It was huge! I had to bring part of my dinner and dessert home, but it just wasn’t as good the next day. I would recommend this place to anyone within 100 miles of Torrey.

The next morning, dazed and well fed, we headed over Boulder Mountain, one of the best areas for aspens we have ever found. In spring and fall, we’ve seen the aspens green, gold and bare. This time, most are bare but some have sprigs of green. We were lucky to be able to camp at Singletree Campground, in the mountains, that opened for the season that very day. The campground hosts are an interesting couple. ­­­­­Ralph has invented a frame that automatically rotates 2 solar panels so they suck up the optimal amount of sunshine. He can run his rig’s air conditioner off the batteries, which is unusual. He gave us an impressive demonstration, but he doesn’t currently have a manufacturer. Once he does, we will look into obtaining it.

Later in the afternoon, we performed our mandatory short hike to Singletree Falls, a pretty little waterfall that the sun hits in wonderful ways.

Saturday involved a lazy morning with bacon and eggs. We finally straggled off to drive over the mountain. As usual, we found lots that interested us. At one place, we pulled over next to a motorcyclist, Jean Roux, from British Columbia. Full of fun, he is on a 3-week tour that includes a lot of southern Utah. Previously a professional photographer, he now does it for love. Like us, he may take hours to go a couple of miles (on foot or bike) depending on how many pictures he is making. We advised him to go to Long Canyon, outside Boulder and how blown away he’d be at the Overlook east of Escalante.

After a chilly night, we moved the 24 miles to Boulder and then drove down to Long Canyon ourselves. We’ve been in this canyon many times. This trip wasn’t terribly exciting, but the afternoon light was nice.

We skipped the wine with dinner so we could drive the 15 miles to the Escalante Overlook and catch the moonrise. The moon is at it’s largest point in 17 years, so we thought it would be cool to photograph it rising over one of our favorite spots. On the way there, we stopped at another overlook and a motorcycle showed up – Jean Roux once again. He had been impressed by the white rock panoramas and was headed for a look at Long Canyon. We reached the Overlook around 7:30 and prepared for moonrise which was supposed to be at 8:22.  At 8:30, with no moon in sight, we decided maybe some mountains were between us and the moon. At 8:55, we folded up the tripods and headed home, figuring we would see the moon at another high spot, The Hogback. Nope, no moon. By the time we got back at 9:20, there was still no moon visible. The next time we looked out the window at 10:30, the moon was only a little way over the horizon. We were very disappointed.

It’s my birthday today and we went out for a nice birthday breakfast at Hell’s Backbone Grill. I didn’t have anything grilled, but Dave had buffalo sausage (Pretty good). The rest of the day is pretty peaceful, with little planned. Unfortunately, I have to do some grocery shopping in Escalante. It’s a pleasant little town with one of the worst grocery stores left in the U.S.  They didn’t even carry bananas. Oh well, only seven days left until we get home.

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We departed the Moab area on Friday, driving all of 50 miles north to the town of Green River. Having been warned by Don and Dorothy (with pictures of the bar and lunch special), we knew we had to have hamburgers at Ray’s Tavern. After settling in at the leafy Green River State Park, we headed downtown for our treat. We got seated quickly but had to wait a while for our burgers. It was worth the wait – they were very, very good.

We have not explored the San Rafael Swell very much on our visits. It is a 2,000 square-mile area with a lot of scenic canyons, awesome sandstone formations, pictographs and petroglyphs and abandoned uranium mining towns. On Saturday, we decided to check out a couple of areas, creating a 100-mile loop.

Our first stop was only 1 mile off of I-70, Black Dragon Wash. After picking out the correct track to get there, we began a short little hike up the wash and soon found the interesting pictographs. One looks so much like a dog. Another looks like a dragon at first glance, but as you study it more closely, it could include a human figure.

Back in the car and west on I-70 for another 10 miles or so. We turned off onto Cottonwood Wash road. It was gravel, but in much better shape than we expected. The scenery improved a good deal around the 15-mile mark, with huge monuments surrounding us. We stopped for lunch at Bottleneck Peak and while trying to find a good spot for an image, Dave found a geo-cache under a small pile of rocks. From what I know about geo-caching, people hide stuff in a small canister, conceal it somewhat, then record the GPS coordinates. Others try to find the cache and add notes and other stuff.

We continued north on the road until we were driving along the Buckhorn Wash Road. The highlight of that portion of our trip was definitely the Buckhorn Wash pictographs, 130 feet of Fremont-style rock art in reds and ochers. Preserved pretty well (damage has been repaired as much as possible) the pictographs are mysterious and wonderful. Every site is different in some way; it always is interesting.

Further up the road, we found another petroglyph where the location was described the following way: “It can be hard to spot, so look for a series of bullet holes where some fool shot his initials (T.K.G.) onto the cliff.” After that, we headed for home, but that involved another 25 miles of gravel and 15 miles of highway.

We headed further west to Capitol Reef on Sunday. We were once again lucky enough to catch one of the last campsites in the sylvan campground. Monday was our first hike: 5 miles along the flat Grand Wash. Walking below 1200-feet-high cliffs, it was a Grand Wash. The light on some of the rocks blew us away. We stopped for lunch at the Fremont River, but there was nowhere to sit near it, and honestly, it’s not a very attractive river. I told Dave a little more about the tent caterpillars, insects that build a communal “tent” on Cottonwood Trees and eat everything on their tent branch. Dave’s comment: “So they party till they pupate?” The hike back was a hot slog, but it was a good hike.

The next day, we planned to drive down Notom Road, a 30-mile trip on another gravel road, that goes down the back side of the Waterpocket Fold, a continuous line of spectacular mountains. We usually approach Notom Road from the south, having descended the amazing Burr Trail Road. Approaching from the north, the first 15 miles have some nice vistas, but farming mostly surrounds the road. When we hit the boundary of Capitol Reef, the farming stops, and the scenery just keeps getting better and better. It was warm and windy, which made us a little more comfortable than we otherwise would be. We just kept stopping the car, jumping out and ten or twenty minutes exploring that particular environment. Another good day.

Wednesday was our last full day at Capitol Reef. We selected the Old Wagon Trail, a 3.5-mile hike with an 1,100-foot rise and said to have good views. The trail immediately began to ascend and though the uphill was fairly gentle, the trail went relentlessly up for a mile or two before it leveled out. Although there was a variety of wildflowers, the greenery was mostly juniper, nothing outstanding. There were no large outcroppings until Mile 2.5, where a big mess of rocks provided some unimpeded views. After a celebratory cookie, we trudged back down to the car.

We drove down to Capitol Gorge Road, ate lunch and then drove down 2 more miles of unpaved road to the beginning of Capitol Gorge. This is another large wash, with impressive cliffs looming over it. There are names and initials of Mormons and other travelers carved into the walls. Our primary destination was the Tanks, pockets of rock where water collects during the rains. After a short climb, Dave fell to his knees and began to photograph a taffy-striped section of rock. It is amazing what wind and water do to the rock and how the rock layers get exposed in every variation.

 

After wearing ourselves out in that area, we headed home, but were delayed by two Big Horn sheep, mother and daughter, unconcernedly grazing by the side of the road. Dave got some great pictures. Finally, we made it home and greatly enjoyed our afternoon shower. It feels so good to be clean after a hot, sweaty day.

 

 

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