Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Worth braving a little rain for

Something told me to take my camera along this morning when we went to the Sky Mountain Golf Course. Good thing I did, because the scenery was some of the most attractive as any we've ever seen at a golf course. The golf course is in wonderful condition considering the heat they get all summer, greens are sloped and tricky and the surroundings are very distracting. There are very attractive homes along the course also, but most are far enough away that you don't worry about hitting them. Most are. Denny did try for a roof on one hole but fortunately the ball stopped a few yards short. Whew.

The photo to the side was taken from the blue tees on the 18th tee box. See what I mean about the distracting views?

So where are we? In Zion National Park? Driving through Kolob Canyon? Nope! We're on the first tee at Sky Mountain Golf Course in Hurricane, UT. Golf isn't always about chasing that little white ball! Posted by Picasa

View from the 16th tee, Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, UT Posted by Picasa

A natural water fall near the 18th tee at Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, UT Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 26, 2005

A short drive to Kolob Canyon

Kolob Canyon is part of the Zion National Park system, but is located off Interstate 15 at exit 40, about an hour's drive from the main section of Zion. There is a small visitor center at the entrance, after which you follow a 5-mile paved road which dead-ends at an overlook. There is a picnic area just about 50 yards up the 1-mile trail just off the parking area which is the only "authorized" picnic area. There are several pull-offs along the roadway for picture taking opportunities and there are three main hiking trails; the one mile, a five mile and a fourteen mile trail. The fourteen mile hike is a recommended two day trek, especially in the heat of summer and early fall. Apparently it is quite beautiful back along the 14 mile trail, but there are dangers to the park also.

I think the best time to visit Kolob would be early morning or dusk, as the sunlight at either period would bring out the color and texture of the red cliffs. The noon-time sun created too much glare today for great pictures, but I've included a couple below. Denny and I actually spent about an hour talking to another couple at the overlook, Debbie and her husband, Chuck. Debbie and Chuck are from San Antonio, TX (or TAY-ek-sus, as Debbie says) and Debbie was fascinated by our Rving lifestyle, asking a lot of questions and we did our best to answer them, ranging from the size of our rig, where we go, how we travel, what areas do we like best, where are we going next, and more. We finally exchanged e-mail addresses so they could continue their sightseeing, as they had flown into Salt Lake City and rented a car and were planning on seeing Zion, Bryce Canyon and possibly even the Grand Canyon. We gave them other ideas on places to go in Arizona at a future date and Debbie was very excited about the idea of exploring the Lost Dutchman's Mine area of Apache Junction. We love telling people about our lifestyle and how we got started with it and always hope to create a convert or two to the lifestyle.

We stopped at Molly's Restaurant in Leeds (don't blink or you'll miss the town at exit 22 NB or 23SB) for a great Philly cheesesteak and a BBQ bacon cheeseburger (there are benefits to the Atkins lifestyle!). Another one of those beautiful days in the neighborhoood!

As you enter Kolob Canyon, park of the Zion National Park system, the hills are tan rock with sage and cedar bushes until you round that first bend and see some of the red rock cliffs that are in store for you. Posted by Picasa

Interesting textures in rock, Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT Posted by Picasa

A canyon crevise, Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT Posted by Picasa

A view from one of several scenic pull-outs, Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Do you like cats?

Fun pix of the various ways cat owners torture their pets. Been there, done that.

Thanks to Soul knitting for this one. http://www.soulknitting.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cheap entertainment

We normally don't go out on weekends, leaving the roads and the shopping malls to the people who work during the week and who need to run their errands on their days off.

So while watching the President's Cup golf program was entertaining, it's nowhere near as fun as watching incoming RVers attempting to pull into their sites. If you're not an RVer or haven't camped, it's hard to explain to you why we RVers find this so entertaining, other than the fact it gives us a sick sense of superiority when we watch folks struggle to get into their site, especially when there's a lot of yelling and finger pointing going on between spouses/partners. And basically the reason we enjoy it is because we've all been through it ourselves and we like to see the shoe on the other foot, as it were.

If a couple has owned a RV for any length of time, they have (or should have)developed a method of communication for backing/pulling into a site. The basic methods of communication are hand-held radios, voice-activated headsets (nice), hand signals and finally, yelling. We have the voice-activated headsets, but after having the batteries die at inopportune times, we agreed upon a few set hand signals for maneuvering and they have worked well for us. Partners need to trust each other to guide the driver while allowing enough clearance for slide-outs, tree branches that may hang overhead and watching how far the electric/water/sewer connections will be from where they attach to the rig. It's the antics of the person doing the guiding, or the driver's expertise or lack thereof, that provides most of the fun as you watch them pull in and then out or attempt to move the rig six inches over closer to one side or the other. This applies whether the RV is a 45 foot monster or a small pop-up as they each have their own idiosyncrasies when it comes to being moved into a site.

Watching others maneuver into their site is something we all do, some more discretely than others. And the downside is, the next time it may be us providing the entertainment!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Do you suppose they ever find any to arrest? Posted by Picasa

The Pied Piper of the Weeping Wall leading his group back to the shuttle stop. Posted by Picasa

Okay, this will be hard to see, but there's a blue dot about 1/3 of the way up this photo just left of the long crack in the wall in the middle of the photo. That's the rock climber. There is another fellow below him that was standing on a small ledge just waiting and watching. Posted by Picasa

This is one of two rock-climbers scaling a cliff at the Big Bend area of Zion. The shuttle driver said it takes two days to scale this wall. Sleep in a hanging hammock? No thank you! Posted by Picasa

I'd call this a rock cairn garden, as it certainly couldn't be a marker to a trail head; which way would you go? Posted by Picasa

Take a child as bait, interesting concept. This sign is near the trail to Lower Emerald Pool in Zion. Posted by Picasa

The Pied Piper of the Weeping Wall

Serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

Yesterday's sightseeing trip was to Zion National Park. It seemed more crowded than Yellowstone, but of course their parking lot is smaller as is the area of the park so that changes your perception. The shuttle buses were nice and certainly saved a lot of traffic through the park as well as fuel and you didn't have to wait long for the next one if you got off and explored the various stops along the route. We passed on the tunnel route as we weren't interested in paying the $15 tariff for driving a duallie.

The serendipity? We bypassed the Weeping Wall stop on the way up canyon as we had been walking the Lower Emerald Pool route and wanted to cool off a bit before walking again in the 90+ degree heat. So we caught the stop on the down canyon route, walked the short but steep walkway to the weeping wall where there was a group of Japanese (or perhaps Chinese) tourists standing under the overhang watching the water fall over the edge of the rock. As I was taking a picture of one of the couples for them, the lovely delicate sound of a pipe began, playing of all things, "Amazing Grace". It was the tour guide of the group who was playing a wooden pipe such as Pan would. It was a wonderful moment. Then a few moment later as we trekked back down the path I was tickled to hear him playing Simon and Garfunkle's "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)".

So if we had gotten off the shuttle on the way up canyon we would have missed this lovely impromptu concert. Serendipity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

An exercise in futility

After braving the unheated waters of the campground's swimming pool for water aerobics this morning, I figured I might as well continue to be adventurous and try to pry a few diamond chips out of some scrap jewelry I had grabbed from Dad's jewelry bench when we were home at Christmas. And no, I'm not stealing from Dad, I inherited the jewelry bench after he passed away several years ago. I had an idea for a necklace I wanted to make for Mom and I needed some diamond chips to finish it.

So I got the Dremmel out of the truck, picked through the various bits trying to decide what to use to remove the tiny pave-set stones and decided on the emery wheel. Okay. Read the instructions on how to put the bit in, read that the emery wheel can "grab" and tear your hand off, sit back and reconsider for a while. You have to understand, I am one of the world's greatest klutzes, so I take warnings like that seriously.

Okay, gird the loins and go for it. Carefully drill away bits of antique sterling (a broken watch band) and finally pop out a decent sized stone only to see the tell-tale gilt backing of a rhinestone. Sigh. There goes an entire morning. I'm a little surprised that Dad was taken by someone, but perhaps he bought that after he was diagnosed with ALS and was no longer as interested in his antiques and scrap gold/jewelry purchases.

So I'll have to hit eBay for some diamond chips to complete my project, but at least I know I can handle the Dremmel for other projects. I guess the morning wasn't such a waste after all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where have I been, VISA?

Last night we drove into Hurricane as I had a taste for Chinese food for dinner, so we ended up at the Hunan City restaurant where we had a great meal for a very reasonable price. Afterwards we stopped at the grocery across the street and when it came time to pay I used my debit card, which was declined. Okay, there have been some stores that decline it as a debit card but accept it as a VISA credit card, so we tried that. No good. Hmm. I used Denny's card, which is the same account, with no problem.

Today at Wal*Mart I tried to use my card again. Declined. Okay, now I'm confused as once again, Denny's card went through without a problem. So I called our credit union only to discover that VISA blocked the card due to the fact there had been charges in several different cities over a span of days. Well, DUH! Where have they been the last eight years? Apparently the fact that we moved four times in a week threw them and to top if off they had transposed two digits in our phone number so they couldn't call us to confirm we had made the purchases. So they just locked the card. On one hand it's nice that they are looking out for us, but on the other hand, haven't they noticed that we seem to be moving around? A lot? For years? Sigh.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nothing exciting

Today was a travel day and tomorrow will be replenishing the larder so there won't be any big blog entries.

I must say, however, that after miles of sage brush, plains and mountains it was quite impressive to enter this area of red, rugged mountains and hillsides layered with color like Christmas ribbon candy. To say there will be plenty of "photo ops" will be an understatement, to say the least.

We did see a couple of gas stations along the highway with diesel at $2.99, but in the center of town here diesel was $3.28. Gas games-anyone understand the rules?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Modes of transportation in rural Utah

Since we arrived yesterday we have seen teenagers and children on the main roads and side roads with ATVs, bikes, scooters and go-carts (some carrying rifles). Adults have passed by on horseback and in a surrey-with-fringe-on-top pulled by two ponies, on tractors and front end loaders. It seems that whatever has an engine, wheels or hooves is road-worthy and street-legal here in mid-Utah. Strange but fun.

We had a couple pull in next to us this afternoon that had just come from Yellowstone N.P. They told Denny the eastern half of the north loop of the park that we explored this past Wednesday was closed due to heavy snowfall this weekend. I guess we picked a good time to go and an even better time to leave! Snow in September is just way too early for me, thank you very much.

Breakfast in Nephi, UT

Arriving for breakfast at the Family Tree restaurant at 8:09 in the morning there were two cars in the lot, which normally does not bode well. It turned out we were the only ones in the restaurant, which was even more cause for concern as we normally choose a restaurant with lots of cars, figuring the food has to be pretty good.

Well, according to the waitress, folks just don't get up too early in Nephi so business is slow in the early morning. I must say, our breakfast was great and when we asked for fruit instead of the de rigeur hash browns and toast we were served with sliced pineapple and fresh mango. Yum.

There is another restaurant, J. C. Mickelsons right across the street and they had a lot of cars in the lot but we were very pleased with our breakfast at the Family Tree and the waitress was super. Both restaurants are accessed off I-15 at exit 222, where there's a Flying J Travel Stop also.

Tomorrow we move on to Hurricane for a couple of weeks to allow some packages to catch up to us and to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I see the temperatures will be in the 90s, boy will that be different for us this summer!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

One of the benefits of awakening at 5 a.m. every morning is the gift of sunrise. This is the view from our rig while at Downata Hot Springs RV park in Idaho. Posted by Picasa

He thought he had me

Since I whined the other day about not getting the opportunity to practice backing into our campsite, Denny told me I could drive again today on our 226 mile jaunt into Utah. Okay, fine. Since it was raining, that meant he had to stand outside in the rain to raise the front of the rig and connect the brake cable while I sat in the dry truck and backed up to hitch up to the king pin. Hmm, this is working out pretty good already!

Got through the construction on US 91 with no problem, enjoyed the mountains north of Logan, UT as the trees were turning red on the slopes providing a bright contrast with the still green trees, and slid on through Salt Lake City traffic with nary a problem (it helps when you're driving slower than most of the traffic as it creates a little island of isolation). Whipped into the Flying J RV fuel pump area so we could fill both the diesel tanks and a propane tank ($3.00 here with the Flying J RV card) and had just another few miles to the campground. Where we discovered that the back in sites backed up to the roadway (probably noisy) and that they had pull-through sites. Well duh, guess where Linda pulled in? Heh. Momma didn't raise no dummy. So no back-in practice today but that's okay. Sooner or later we'll give it another try.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A compliment

This morning I wondered if I was crazy when I headed towards the pool at 8 a.m. for water aerobics. The thermometer said it was 39 out there-brr! But as I approached the pool there were about 20 ladies and 4 gentlemen waiting for the door to be unlocked, so I guess I wasn't the only fool. It turns out the hot spring-fed pool is kept very warm and it felt great. The folks there were all local residents who gather on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to do aerobics and use the pool but they were very gracious at welcoming me, the lone camper, into their group.

After breakfast we headed into town, population 636, to drop off a letter to our granddaughter at the post office. A young man with Downs Syndrome was just leaving the post office and I said "good morning" to him and walked on. He said "good morning" in return and then turned back and said "you look very pretty in your shorts this morning". I think that he was referring to the contrast between my tan and my white shorts, but regardless, it was sweet.

I used to compliment strangers myself, and after this morning I realized I had gotten out of the habit. How simple it is to say something nice about a striking necklace, a pretty sweater, a nicely detailed classic car of the 50s, a super-shiny hand-polished Airstream trailer to that person nearby.

Complimenting a stranger, opening your circle to a newcomer. Small things that make a person feel good. Paying it forward...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Okay, I lied

Not really, I just didn't expect Denny to put up the DirecWay dish for a two-night stay. But there were some bank items he wanted to check, so up it went and quite easily too, about ten minutes worth of work.

I drove our 190 mile jaunt today since Denny seemed to feel he had been driving enough lately-heh. That's not a problem as I like to drive occasionally to keep my skills fresh, although backing into a site needs work. Denny got impatient and wouldn't let me continue to try, so we had some words over that since I figured the entire campground was empty and it was the best time for me to practice. He agreed (after the fact) that I was right and that he should have allowed me to work at getting into the site (they are narrow sites just wide enough for the rig and lined with railroad ties, not the easiest sites to back into).

I think it's a good idea for the spouse or traveling companion to know how to drive your rig in case of an emergency, especially if you don't have any of the special insurance policies that provide drivers for your rig in an emergency (MASA, for instance). There are driving classes you can take, some provided by the manufacturer of your rig, others at rallies held by the various camping/RVing organizations.

We are out in the middle of nowhere, Idaho, with mountains to the side of us. The park is a resort type park with a hot spring fed pool, horses, pavilions, yurts and teepees, although the pool is apparently closed for the season. Our site rent has been slipped through a slot in the guard shack (honor system) and as I mentioned we are the only ones here except for the horses in the field beside us. I imagine I'm going to see a zillion stars out here tonight. And maybe some Indians.

Offline for a few days

We're going to start our move to southern Utah, spreading it out over four days to see if we can find a golf course to play before we arrive there Monday. So we'll probably not bother to set up the satellite system to get online. Unless, that is, we start to suffer withdrawal symptoms from lack of Internet access. Which is entirely possible in my case-Denny always has football, baseball, NASCAR, golf, and whatever other sport might be on the TV at any given moment. Heh.

Safe travels, all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The North Loop of Yellowstone

Today's pictures were all taken on the north loop of Yellowstone Park. When we were given the park map yesterday it showed that a section of Chittenden Road was closed, but we asked the gate keepers today if the road was open and they said it was. That meant we could drive it as a loop instead of heading up to Mammoth Hot Springs and then doubling back to go home. It also meant we got to see a lot of waterfalls and scenic overlooks and different cliffs and canyons that we would have missed otherwise.

The North Loop is considered the best area of sighting predators of the park; grizzlies, wolves, foxes, coyotes, etc. We would pull off the road and scan the hills and meadows with our binoculars but nothing was moving today other than elk and bison. We did see a few antelope, but they were almost hidden in a grove of trees on a stretch of roadway that had no shoulders so we couldn't pull off for pictures. These were different from the pronghorn antelopes we've seen in other states as their horns swept straight back.

While we were disappointed in the lack of bear sightings, we both enjoyed the north loop much more than the south loop simply because of the diversity in the geography; more varieties of trees, different types of rock, lots of water falls, meadows and mountains.

Instead of fighting the crowds over expensive food in a cafeteria today we opted for a picnic lunch off the tail gate of the truck at a quiet overlook. How much nicer to gaze at distant mountains and watch birds soar overhead instead of being surrounded by t-shirts and gimcracks for sale at a souvenir shop. It's a great life, isn't it?

While there is quite a diversity of folks at Yellowstone, I think creating special crosswalks for people using hula hoops is a bit much.  Posted by Picasa

The cow and calf elk enjoying the warm sunshine by the river. This is where they were yesterday also, so apparently it's a favored area. Posted by Picasa

Okay, this time I caught the bull elk lying down close to the river with a cow and calf.  Posted by Picasa

Orange Spring Mound. While I caught the strange coloration of the Mound I can't really show the layer of water that's continually running down the sides from the top of the mound, creating a glistening sherbet colored mass of rock. Posted by Picasa

I reversed the order with the next picture, but this is the top of New Terrace Hill. It looks like icicles, but it's stone. Posted by Picasa

One of several colorful, terraced hot springs in the Mammoth Hot Spring area. Posted by Picasa

White cliffs and the Yellowstone River. Small hot springs bubble from the cliffs near the edge of the river. Posted by Picasa

View from the overlook on Mt. Washburn. Mt.Washburn is 10,243 feet tall, but you can only drive to the 8900 feet level.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yellowstone National Park

Anyone can find information about Yellowstone online so I'm not going to go there. What we did find was that mid-September is a good time to see the park as the crowds are a manageable size, although the cold temperatures may contribute to the heavy cover of steam which hid many of the hot springs and geysers. That meant you had to hope for a brief gust of wind to clear the air long enough to get a picture of those beautiful blue hot springs and thick, bubbling mud pots.

Lunch was pricey, but we had a great bowl of Wisconsin cheese soup with an okay ham and cheese paninni (sp?) from the snack shop in the souvenir building. The thick, hot soup hit the spot after waiting on damp benches for Old Faithful to blow.

We enjoyed seeing all the different license plates from Maryland/New Jersey to Florida to the Yukon. There were almost as many languages being spoken and everyone at the park seemed to be enjoying themselves and chattered to friends and strangers alike.

Today we did the south loop which was a round trip of 148 miles, so tomorrow we'll do the north loop. We got a little snow today while in the higher elevations, so we're hoping that's the end of it. If it's going to start snowing, we're out of here! When everything you own is behind your truck, you don't like to take chances driving in bad weather. Utah's 90 degree temperatures look awfully good right now!

Anyone can take a picture of the gloriously gushing Old Faithful. This is the false start ten minutes before the actual eruption. We thought that this particular eruption might have been a dud and that we'd have to come back in 90 minutes to try again. Fooled us!  Posted by Picasa

Part of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Guess where they got the name Yellowstone? Really, really pretty, especially with the green Yellowstone River flowing through at the base of the canyon. Posted by Picasa
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