Take a Hike

Some places resonate with me much more than others. I’m not always sure why or what the deciding factor might be, but when I stumble upon a unique landscape that gives me goose bumps, I know I’m some place special.Kasha Katuwe

The blogosphere is one of my favorite venues to search and find exciting travel ideas. The moment I saw a hiking trailsphotograph of those cone-shaped tent rock formations on Anne’s blog, I knew this was a must see.  A visit was in the plans last year, but when our daughter decided to move from Denver to Phoenix, all those plans went out the window.

This year was different, and since we didn’t have any firm commitments after mid August, I knew the timing was perfect to lay eyes on this unusual landscape.

Normally I like to keep my blog posts in some sort of chronological order of our travels, but I was so moved by one of the best hikes I’ve ever taken that I couldn’t wait to share the trail with all of you. So where is this amazing place?

National Monuments35 miles south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a complex and unique geological landscape called Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This relatively new monument was designated as such in 2001.

The sculpted cliffs and peaked hoodoos were formed from volcanic eruptions that occurred more than six million years ago.

There is a somewhat uniform layering of volcanic material causing bands of white, grey, beige, and pink colored rock.  It’s a fascinating and perplexing sight.Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National MonumentOver time, wind and water sculpt these rocks creating canyons, scooping holes, and contouring hoodoos. Mother Nature’s artistic and creative hand had me awed and smiling during the entire two plus hour hike.  I found myself hiking this fun trail several times during our two-week stay in the Santa Fe area, and trust me when I say, once is not enough.  I already long to return. Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National MonumentWithout further adieu, let’s take a hike…..

As we approached the fee booth station, we were greeted by a ranger. There’s a $5.00 daily fee (as of Aug 2016) or free with your Annual National Park Pass (this is a Federal park after all).  From the fee station, we continued for five miles down a paved road that crosses private property owned by the Pueblo de Cochiti.  We are asked to respect the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monumenttraditions and privacy of the local Indians and thus, no stopping along the way, no photography/video, and no drawing/painting.  Also, no commercial photography within the park is allowed without a permit.

Once we neared the trailhead, there were three different gravel parking lots that can accommodate just about any size vehicle (including RV’s).  There’s a couple of vault toilets, but no water….. so be sure and bring plenty of drinking water.  You’ll need it.

Awed beyond words!

Awed beyond words!

Unlike most national parks and monuments, there are no scenic overlooks near a parking lot around here.  The only way to view the tent rocks and observe this stunning landscape is by foot; hiking via a dirt, sometimes sandy trail.  And by the way, no dogs allowed.  You won’t even be allowed through the fee station with a dog in the vehicle.Kasha-Katuwe

The 1.2 mile Cave Loop Trail is rated easy and partly handicap accessible.  There are some unique rock formations and a hand dug cave along this trail, but the real gem of the park is the Slot Canyon Trail …… definitely not to be missed.Kasha-Katuwe Cave TrailKasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

 

 

 

 

The Slot Canyon Trail is a 3 mile out and back hike with a 630 foot elevation gain and connects with the Cave Loop Trail.  We hiked the combination of both trails making for a wonderful 4.2 mile hike that, for my level of hiking ability, offered me the perfect amount of challenge and visual stimulation.

Cave Loop Trail as we hike toward the Slot Canyon trail

Cave Loop Trail as we hike toward the Slot Canyon trail

the beginning of the Slot Canyon Trail

the beginning of the Slot Canyon Trail

Although from Al’s point of view, there may have been way too much visual stimulation(if there is such a thing) which resulted in an excessive amount of photo-op stops, much to his chagrin.  Perhaps that’s why my subsequent hiking visits to Kasha-Katuwe were tackled as a solo hiker😉

Kasha KatuweKasha-Katuwe

The moment we connected with the Slot Canyon Trail, the cliff walls rose on both sides and I felt like I had entered a secret garden of sorts.

I believe, oh my gosh, was uttered by me around every bend.   As the canyon walls continued to narrow, we were greeted with obstacles along the trail.Slot canyon hiking

Nothing we couldn’t handle … however, those that are vertically challenged or suffer from short leg syndrome, like moi, may find themselves stretching out those leg muscles just a tad.

Easy peasy!

Easy pease!

At some points the slot canyon became very narrow, so narrow that there was only room for one foot at a time.

one foot at a time!

one foot at a time!

one hiker at a time!

one hiker at a time!

How cool is this?

How cool is this?

Fits like a glove!

Fits like a glove!

Loved it!

Awesome!

Once we exited the slot canyon, we were welcomed by those tee pee shaped hoodoos …. each uniquely sculpted by the elements and each equally as impressive.Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

cairns

hikingIt didn’t take long and we could feel the trail climbing and instead of looking up at the amazing tent rocks, we were now looking down upon them.Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National MonumentWe continued up the trail and stopped frequently to look back.New Mexico hikingKasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

 

 

 

 

 

As we reached the top of the trail, we had temporarily hiked away from the tent rocks. The trail continued out onto a narrow mesa which provided a bird’s eye view of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

trail - drop offs on both sides. Birds eye view in all directions. The lake in the background is where we camped to be near Kasha-Katuwe; Cochiti Lake

Trail drops off on both sides. Birds eye view in all directions. The lake in the background is where we camped to be as near as possible to Kasha-Katuwe; Cochiti Lake Campground

And of course, a few more “Oh…. my…. gosh”es were uttered as I stood on the edge gazing down.

Standing on the edge gazing in awe!

Standing on the edge gazing in awe!

Sitting on the edge as I admire the view below - hey look, there's the trail

Sitting on the edge as I admire the view below – hey look, there’s the trail

We can see hikers on the trail. Since this is a out and back hike, we'll be down there shortly!

We can see hikers on the trail. Since this is an out and back hike, we’ll be down there shortly!

Heading back down the trail.

Heading back down the trail.

Easy for someone 6'3".... entertaining watching the 5'4" short legged gal

Easy for someone 6’3″…. entertaining watching the 5’4″ short legged gal

I steady myself

I steady myself

Not an obstacle I couldn't handle on my own!

Not an obstacle I couldn’t handle on my own!

This is where being short works in my favor ;-)

This is where being short works in my favor😉

The return hike to the trailhead was every bit as amazing as it was entering.

We returned back to the trailhead via the Cave Loop Trail

We returned back to the trailhead via the Cave Loop Trail

The Pueblo de Cochiti people view Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks as a very special place and justifiably so.  After Al and I made this first hike, I returned three more times to tackle this perfect (in my book) hike.  Perfect – even when considering all the obstacles one might bump into.

Oh no, someone wasn't paying attention!

Oh no, someone wasn’t paying attention! At least I managed to stop the blood from running down my leg.  I did attract a little attention from fellow hikers…. You know, those “Are you ok?” looks and comments.

One morning, I hit the trail at 8:15 and encountered only one couple on the trail for that first hour.  It was awesome having this amazing place to myself and hiking in solitude.  All of my senses were alert.Kasha-Katuwe

The visual delight of the sun peaking from behind a rock was a reminder of a new day unfolding.   I listened to the light sound of a lizard moving, and the loud squawking of birds soaring overhead.  I breathed in the crisp clean air scented of pine.  There was the random sound of tiny rocks tumbling, acting as a reminder that this land is in a constant state of change.Kasha-KatuweThere was the occasional touch of admiration and respect for this special and sacred place.

sitting on the edge!

sitting on the edge!

Yes indeed, some places touch my soul more than others and Kasha-Katuwe touched mine more than I ever expected.  I know I’ll return!

My church!

My church!

Kasha-Katuwe

A Mirror of Reflections

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s September already.  Our summer flew by, and although our travels didn’t exactly go as planned, we are not complaining.  Actually, we couldn’t have planned our summer any better.  Sometimes winging it can turn into an amazing adventure.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

The travel God’s smiled on us regularly as we changed directions on a whim.  I mean literally from one second to another we were changing our minds on where we should go and pulling into campgrounds without reservations…. not ideal in the peak of tourist season.  One minute we were in crisis mode pointing the RV in an easterly direction, and the next, with the crisis averted, we found ourselves turning around and heading north; traveling with no real rhyme or reason other than some impending obligations.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

The flexibility and freedom of traveling in a RV can be liberating, exciting, stressful, wonderful, scary, perplexing, and of course, relaxing …… it’s kind of like a rollercoaster of emotions, but minus the word relaxing.  As much as I love a good rollercoaster ride, I’ve never found one to be relaxing – exhilarating yes, relaxing no!  And RVing can be an exhilarating journey.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Along with seeing spectacular scenery this summer, we met some wonderful people.  More than once we were referred to as “seasoned”.  On July 1st, we entered our fourth year of full-time RV living.  Our one to two year intention of living in the RV full-time has since turned into year four.  I’m not sure when we progressed from “newbie” RV’er to “seasoned” RV’er, but here we are,  still enjoying the journey, and willing to share our school of hard knocks knowledge with any “RV newbie” who asks.

Grand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

I’ll admit, three years ago as a relative ‘newbie’, I would never have handled the winging it style of travel we embarked on this summer.  I’ve always been a planner and usually have a game plan laid out weeks in advance, and most times, months in advance.  I think, over time, we’ve developed a level of RVing confidence. We have confidence in knowing we’ll always manage to find a place to overnight, even if it’s just a parking lot.

Loved visiting the ducks at Schbacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Loved visiting the ducks at Schwabacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

There are days I do miss a home base.  A place to go back to and regroup, but I still haven’t found that spot I’d like to call home.  So the search shall continue.  I do know it won’t be Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Although amazingly beautiful, and I look forward to returning, my blood is too thin to tackle that weather.  More than once we awoke to temperatures in the 30 degree Fahrenheit range along with a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks and this was in mid July …. beautiful BUT brrrr!

I don't think I'd ever tire of this view, but I couldn't live here - too cold...brrrr!

I don’t think I’d ever tire of this view, but I couldn’t live here – too cold…brrrr!

The moment I realized this weeks photo challenge was mirror, I knew I had to share some images from our summer excursion ….. photographs depicting reflections.  I’m still struggling with my computer issues, thus my lack of blogosphere presence may continue, but now that we’ve decided to slow our travels down a tad and spend the next two months hanging in Prescott, Arizona, I’m hoping to finally upgrade this dinosaur of a laptop.

Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho

Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho

Once I bring home that new laptop, I’ll start writing about our interesting travel stops.  Not only do these photographs depict reflections, as I review them, I reflect on our memories, on our journey, on the adventure.

Grand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

My biggest dilemma was narrowing down the photographs to just a few, which was not an easy task for me.  We managed to visit some stunningly beautiful places during the past few months.  We started in Arizona last April then ventured into Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and now, five months later, have returned to Arizona.

I was excited to see a Pelican fly by - Pelicans in Wyoming?

I was excited to see a Pelican fly by – Pelicans in Wyoming?

Lots of ducks

Lots of ducks

Mountains and Wildlife - love it!

Mountains and Wildlife – love it!

Yep, we had one heck of a rollercoaster ride this summer ….. wouldn’t change a moment….. not the highs, the lows, or the upside downs.  Stay tuned for all the stories!

My, Those are Big Ones

When Al and I set off in the RV full-time three years ago, we didn’t have a long bucket list of places we wanted to see.  We didn’t even have a list per se, but we did have a few places on our radar that, over the years, we had talked about wanting to visit.Grand Teton

One such place – Jackson, Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park.  Having lived in the neighboring state of Colorado for nearly twenty-five years,  I’d say this visit was long overdue.  And it did not disappoint.

I mean really…. how could anyone be disappointed with views like these?Grand TetonsAt 13,775 feet, Grand Teton is the tallest mountain peak in the Teton Range, which is a subrange of the Rocky Mountains.  Although I don’t speak French, it is common knowledge that Grand Teton means large breast.  Earlier settlers also referred to this range as Le Trois Tetons = the three breasts.   Regardless of the name, these large, pointy, granite rock mountains are big and beautiful and a sight to behold.Grand TetonsWe visited this stunning landscape the first week in June, just in time for a lovely showing of wildflowers.Grand Teton

The wildflowers were just beginning to bloom, and added a special touch to the already breathtaking landscape.

TetonWe camped at the popular Gros Ventre National Forest Campground (pronounced; gro vont).  This is a first come, first serve campground meaning no reservations accepted.

Although the campground does offer a loop with electric hook-up, we opted for a dry camping site.  After all, our intentions were to spend the majority of our time out exploring.  For me, that meant a lot of picture-taking.

A selfie - Me sitting on the bike trail with my other little camera on a tripod - two cameras and two Joby Gorilla tripods. I did attract a little attention with my antics.

A selfie – Me sitting on the bike trail with my other little camera on a tripod – two cameras and two Joby Gorilla tripods. I did attract a little attention with my antics.

More than once, Al remained back at camp so I could flit about with my cameras.  The Jackson Hole area is a photographers delight and so worth visiting.

The barns at Morman row are a popular location.

A popular photo-op location – the barns at Mormon row.

For information on photographing the Tetons, I found Nina’s blog post  extremely helpful.  I even dragged myself out of bed a half hour before sunrise one morning.  It didn’t take long for disappointment to set in by a thick layer of cloud cover which made for less than favorable light.Pronghorn

The alpenglow may have been elusive, but coming across a couple of pronghorn sparring  made the early morning rise well worth the effort.pronghorn

Pronghorn

With sunrise photos a bust, I was on my way back to camp when I spotted the pronghorn, aka antelope, a short distance from the road.  Excitedly I stopped the truck, rolled down the window, and turned off the diesel engine.  I felt privileged to watch and photograph these magnificent animals until they decided it was time to move on. Grand Tetons

Jackson Wyoming

Our visit was over way too soon.  And although we did manage to get in a great deal of explorations, Al and I both agree Jackson, Wyoming, is a place we look forward to revisiting time and again.Jackson, Wyoming

Update: We ended our work camping gig in Arco, Idaho on July 5th, a little sooner than planned.  Although the gig was going fine, Al and I did consider shortening our stay in SLEEPY Arco.  With oscillating plans, it was an unexpected phone call that catapulted our exit.  We love the flexibility of our home on wheels.  It allows us the ability to change direction easily.  Crisis averted, we have no complaints about our unanticipated summer detour.   All is well….. P1030431

that is with the exception of my on going computer saga.  I’m still dealing with an old laptop that my son gave me when my computer crashed last spring.  It sometimes takes me four tries just to log on to my blog.  Thus, my blogosphere habit has been temporarily curtailed, but do know I’m still here and reading posts when my computer allows.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll be spending more time with the camera.  I know, it’s a tough job!Jackson Hole

JOBY GorillaPod Hybrid Tripod for Mirrorless and 360 Cameras – A Flexible, Portable and Lightweight Tripod With a Ball Head and Bubble Level

Eerie yet Beautiful

Upon entering the park for the first time, I was met with a diverse flood of thoughts ranging from eerie to beautiful.  The land appears stark and foreboding, but if you look close, a vast array of life can be seen.Craters of the Moon

I was lucky to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve at the very beginning of wildflower season, and since arriving in Arco, Idaho, in early May, I’ve been dropping by the park regularly to keep an eye on the status of the craters of the moonwildflowers.   With each visit, more and more delicate beauties were popping up.

In early June, I was able to share this strange and scenic place with friends, Faye and Dave.

I believe the peak of wildflower season is suppose to be in mid June, but we thought our timing was darn good and were overjoyed with the abundance of blooms everywhere we looked during our early June visit.

Dave and I were going crazy with our cameras trying to capture the gorgeous periwinkle color of the Scorpionweed.

those wildflowers captivated our attention

Scorpionweed flowers captivated our attention

Since I’d had a few weeks to explore Craters of the Moon before Faye and Dave’s visit, I knew exactly where to find an abundance of wildflowers to photograph up close, but that would require a bit of a climb… a climb up the inferno cone.

it was hard to photograph 'inferno cone' and capture its size. Note the hikers on the trail - offers scale.

it was hard to photograph ‘inferno cone’ and capture its size. Note the hikers on the trail – offers scale.

me climbing the Inferno Cone at Craters of the Moon

me climbing the Inferno Cone at Craters of the Moon

With less than a half mile up and back, this large, black, barren hill is worth the 160 foot elevation gain.  Once at the top, there are views in all directions and a surprise bonus of wildflowers.  We were also able to observe the spatter cones from above.

At the top of inferno cone - views of spatter cones

At the top of inferno cone – views of spatter cones

What exactly are these cones?  A cinder cone, like the inferno cone, are formed when gas-rich volcanic froth erupts high into the air then falls back to earth forming a huge mounded pile of cinders.  Spatter cones are miniature volcanoes that form when thick, pasty globs of lava plop up to the surface, piling up in the shape of a cone.

Craters of the MoonThe volcanic nature of the park, creates a lunar like terrain.  So much so, that NASA routinely uses Craters of the Moon NM for research and development.  In 1969, Apollo Astronauts prepared for their moon mission here at Craters of the Moon.

Next week, the Mountain View RV Park (our work camping home this summer) will be hosting a large group of NASA scientists/engineers, which will keep all of us super busy for a two week period.  All hands on deck!

After Faye, Dave, and myself hiked the inferno cone, it was time to explore another interesting geological feature – a lava tube.  Lava or magma?  Hot, molten rock from deep within the earth is called magma. When magma erupts onto the earth’s surface, it’s called lava.  A lava flow that hardened on the outside while the lava still flowed within, creates a lava tube.

me inside Indian tunnel lava tube

me inside Indian tunnel lava tube

There are several lava tubes in Craters of the Moon that are accessible for exploring, but most are geared toward those familiar with caving.  Since we didn’t fall into that category, we opted to hike the Indian tunnel cave/tube which is clearly marked and offers enough daylight to explore without a flashlight.  There is one short section though where I thought the aid of a little artificial light was helpful.

There is a fair amount of rock scrambling involved in this hike, especially at the end of the tunnel where we exited out of a small hole.

The exit

The exit

Me exiting Indian tunnel lava tube

Me exiting Indian tunnel lava tube

Before embarking on any lava tube exploring, a permit is required.  The permit is free and is simply a matter of answering a few questions at the visitor center regarding any previous caving.  This is for the health of the bat population and to stop the spread of white nose syndrome.

Yes, we were hiking down in there!

Yes, we were hiking down in there!

I have to admit, the first time I hiked the lava tube, I was extremely uncomfortable.  This time around, I knew exactly what to expect and was familiar with the general area of the trail.  Thus, the second time around was much more enjoyable.  Oh, and entertaining company always helps😉

me, Dave, Faye inside Indian tunnel lava cave tube

Me, Dave, Faye inside Indian tunnel.  Dave enjoyed introducing us as “his wives” to fellow hikers.

Although the caving was a fun experience, those wildflowers were calling.  And several more stops were in order.  Over 600 different types of plants have been identified growing in Craters of the Moon.

Dave stalking wildflowers!

Dave stalking wildflowers!

We stayed on the road to photograph the stunning display of wildflowers.  These delicate plants have to overcome a lack of moisture, meager soil conditions, and surface temperatures that can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  The thought of accidently stepping on one of these beauties, was not an option.  Respect and admiration for these tough little things were at the forefront of our minds as we took in the amazing sight.

Cryptantha

Cryptantha

Scorpionweed and Dwarf Buckwheat

Scorpionweed and Dwarf Buckwheat

Equally as striking were the carpets of pink produced by the Dwarf Monkeyflower.  If there was any open space, the Monkeyflower was eager to fill it.

a pink carpet of Dwarf Monkeyflower

a pink carpet of Dwarf Monkeyflower

Monkeyflower

Dwarf Monkeyflower up close

Dwarf Monkeyflower up close

Thank goodness for digital photography or I fear Dave and I would’ve easily run out of film.  Eventually, we returned back to camp where Al was eagerly awaiting our return.  While we were having fun, he was busy building picnic tables and seems we all had worked up an appetite.

Al, Dave, Faye, and me at our place at in Arco, Idaho

Al, Dave, Faye, and me at our place in Arco, Idaho

We enjoyed a healthy meal of grilled chicken, baked potatos, steamed broccoli, followed by my somewhat healthy carrot cake cupcakes.  For my carrot cake cupcake recipe, click here.

I’m sure as the summer progresses, I’ll continue to visit Craters of the Moon, but up next, Al and I take a vacation!

Craters of the Moon

Syringa growing in a crevice

Live life to the fullest.  Don’t let the weeds smother out your flowers – unknownWildflowers

Here’s my latest addition to my arsenal of photography toys…. after having a camera topple from a fence post, I felt it was time to invest in a light, easy to carry, tripod.JOBY GorillaPod Hybrid Tripod for Mirrorless and 360 Cameras – A Flexible, Portable and Lightweight Tripod With a Ball Head and Bubble LevelJoby gorilla pod

Waterfalls and Jumping off a Bridge

Life has been anything but boring lately.  This summer, I find myself living in a small town with a population of less than 1,000.  Now keep in mind, I’ve been to plenty of small towns including the one my husband grew up in located in northern Illinois, but I’ve never spent this much time living in the hinterland. craters of the moon

I’m not complaining, but I grew up in the Chicago suburbs with excellent shopping mere minutes away and even our RV travels keep us somewhat near a major city (whether parked or driving by).  So now here I am in Arco, Idaho, with the nearest Walmart, Target, Kroger, Home Depot, etc. over an hours drive away which requires me to do a little better planning than I’m accustomed to.  I’m notorious for going to the store and coming home with everything but the one thing I went there for.  When we’re in Phoenix, Denver, Corpus Christi or any of our other favorite places, running back to the store is no big deal.  It’s a big deal around here, especially when my drive to the store looks like this…

My drive to Walmart

My drive to go shopping!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Just a little further!

Just a little further!

The little town of Arco does offer a mom and pop grocery store and in a pinch I’m grateful they usually have what I’m looking for.  I do most of my major shopping about every seven to tens days.   Since I have a six cubic foot refrigerator, stocking up has a whole new meaning when compared to having the luxury of a residential size refrigerator.  Some planning and adeptness with puzzles goes a long way when it comes to living in small spaces.

After ‘stocking up’, Al doesn’t even attempt to open the frig door for fear of one of those puzzle pieces falling out which usually leads to a domino effect with half the frig items on the floor.   “Watch those toes!”   Nope, no dull moments around here.

Since I’d already shopped a couple of times in the big city of Idaho Falls (population 60,000), I thought I’d head in another direction – Twin Falls (population 46,000).  Not only did I have my long list of shopping items with me, I had directions to two sites I just HAD TO SEE.

BASE jumpers - Perrine Bridge

BASE jumpers – Perrine Bridge

To get to Twin Falls, I had to drive over the Perrine Bridge – one of those must see sites on my list.  And oh, what a sight!  Yes, the bridge itself is a work of art, but the draw is the jumpers – BASE jumpers to be precise.

No, that is not me saying, "WEEEE!"

No, that is not me saying, “WEEEE!”

This landmark bridge spans the Snake River Canyon just north of the town of Twin Falls, Idaho.  It’s a four-lane truss arch span about 1,500 feet in length (457m) and sits 486 feet above the river (148m).  Folks from around the world (about 5,000 crazy people a year) visit the Perrine Bridge to literally jump off the bridge.  It’s legal, hassle free, and no permit required.

Two at a time!

Two at a time!

Everyone has their own style of jumping

Everyone has their own style of jumping

BASE jumping is similar to sky diving but instead of jumping out of a plane, a thrill seeker will jump off a fixed object like a bridge and deploy a parachute.  BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans, and Earth –  BASE jumpers practice their sport from any of these elevated places.

Note the jumper - black/green chute over the river.

Note the jumper – black/green chute over the river.

As I stood there watching, I wondered how does one go about practicing this sport?  It’s not as if you can jump right in (or rather off), go splat, and request a do over.  Yes, people do die doing this and I noticed at the landing point along the shore of the river that there does appear to be a memorial, although I didn’t confirm.

Looks like a memorial near the landing site

Looks like a memorial near the landing site

There’s a beautiful, new visitor center near the southwest end of the bridge with plenty of parking for any size vehicle.  The views of the bridge and canyon are spectacular and there’s easy access to the trail along the canyon rim.  The trail goes under the bridge and there’s a pedestrian walk-way on both sides of the bridge to take in the amazing scenery.  The visitor center is a year-round launching point for those interested in parachuting to the canyon floor.  So are you ready to jump off a bridge?  Schedule a jump with Tandem Base – I’ll watch😆

WildflowersSince I had a long list of shopping to do, I parked by the Best Buy on the southeast side of the bridge instead of the visitor center and stopped to watch the jumpers in between my stops into TJ Maxx, Best Buy, and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Soon I was off to my other “must see” site.

The weather was so, so with storms rolling in and out and I began to wonder if it would be worth the stop.  I rolled down my window in the pouring rain for the attendant to collect the $3.00 entrance fee.  I’m pretty sure it should’ve been free when I showed him my National Parks Pass, but he said no, it was only the senior park pass for free admittance.  With both of us getting drenched it wasn’t worth questioning any further and I handed over the three bucks and drove on.  The moment I had the truck parked, the storm clouds moved on and the falls presented its visitors with a beautiful rainbow.

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls is quite often referred to as the Niagara of the West, and tumbles 212 feet to the canyon floor – 50 feet further than the famous Niagara.  Spring is the best time to visit Shoshone Falls.  Later in the year, cliffs may be nearly dry, as most of the river’s flow is diverted to produce hydroelectric power and irrigate Idaho’s fertile farmlands.  Here’s a link to a live webcam to see just how much water is flowing at any given time.Shoshone Falls

Shoshone FallsThere’s plenty of hiking opportunities along the canyon rim including a hike to the famous Evel Knievel jump site.  Because of the weather, I personally didn’t see the Knievel jump site or hike any of the trails.  I understand the jump site is basically a dirt ramp remnant from Knievel’s failed attempt to jump over the Snake River.  I was a little disappointed the weather was so inclement.  Once the raindrops started falling again, accompanied by thunder, I knew that was my cue to  move on and run those errands.Shoshone FallsThis is when my day got real interesting.  Remember that long shopping list?  Well, I still needed to go to Walmart and Costco.  I had a general idea where they were located but for some reason I turned left when I should’ve turned right.  It was late afternoon on a Saturday.  The rain was pouring and traffic was congested.  I drove through the historic downtown area and immediately realized my faux pas.   “Hmm, where to turn, where to turn?”  There seemed to be a lot of traffic heading north on a particular road. Thus, I followed thinking it had to be a main road that would put me back in the right direction and help lead to the general area I was looking for.

MarmotOops, I was almost at the plant gate showing up for second shift.  I quickly did a U-turn and then another turn.  I knew I needed to go in a northeast direction but with the heavy rain and dark skies, I couldn’t find the sun to verify my direction.

I usually have a great sense of direction, and  I did feel I was traveling north, but the signs and poor visibility had me second guessing myself.  I kept thinking to myself…. I’ve successfully navigated cities two to three times larger than Twin Falls.  It can’t be that difficult to figure out where to go.

I soon found myself out in the country with the cows and critters and no place to stop and ask for directions (not that I’m quick to ask for directions – we definitely suffer from role reversal in this household).  I rarely admit to being lost.  I get turned around all the time, but not lost. In this instance I was truly uncomfortable and not sure where I was.  Yes, I was lost!  I pulled off on the side of the road to ask Siri for help only for her to respond with a “I’m sorry, I can’t connect.  Try again later”….  are you kidding me, no cell service!  And Hildi, our annoying GPS, was back at the RV getting updated.

Shoshone FallsI pulled out the Atlas, which wasn’t much help either.  It only confirmed I needed to go northeast.   I sure could’ve used an Idaho Benchmark Atlas which offers a lot more detail. (We have Benchmark’s for AZ and CO)

Finally, I turned around, retraced some steps, and pointed the truck east thinking I’d hit town eventually, which I did.  I finally made it to Walmart although frazzled and tired. I quickly filled the shopping cart with only the items on my list.  After all,  I still needed to go to Costco for the RV Park owner’s list.

Would you believe it took me over fifteen minutes to navigate the Costco parking lot?  Congestion was worse than I’ve ever seen in Phoenix.  I was so ready to head home and blow off this stop, but I made a commitment to pick up a list of items.  Don’t even get me started on the check out lines.  With all my errands and sightseeing complete, I hit the road for my nearly two hour drive home, and finally made it back to the RV shortly after 7:00 p.m.

Let’s see…. I didn’t jump off a bridge.  I didn’t slide down a waterfall.  I managed to get myself un-lost without any help.  I didn’t go postal in Costco.  And I made it home in one piece without any road rage.  All in all, I’d say it was a great day!

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson

Idaho Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas

I finally found some good hiking socks!Thorlos Womens Lite Hiking Thin Padded Ankle – Low Cut Socks | LTHMXW

Adventure Comes in Many Ways

Once I realized how much I like to use the word adventure, I began to wonder if I was using the word correctly, which lead to a little Googling.  Here’s a definition I came across that resonated with me.Lilacs

  1.  an undertaking usually involving unknown risks
  2.  an exciting or remarkable experience
  3.  engaging in an exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

After absorbing this information, I feel I am indeed using the word adventure correctly.  With that said, allow me to share part of this summers adventure – my exploration of unknown territory.Idaho

First we’ll need to backtrack…..  When Al and I sold the house and moved into the RV full-time three years ago, it wasn’t a dream or something we’d given much thought to.  There was no plan, no budget, and no bucket list of destinations.   From what I’ve gathered, most folks embark on this lifestyle via a well prepared plan including goals, budget, and destinations in mind.

Arco, IdahoWe on the other hand moved into the RV full-time on a whim.  You see, life had not only thrown us one curve ball, it had thrown us a bunch of curve balls.

We were faced with several losses and challenges which drained us emotionally.  Instead of sitting on the front porch feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to throw caution to the wind, jump in the RV, and wing it.

It’s been an interesting ride and definitely an adventure, but every now and then, I have felt lost….. certainly not physically (well, except for last week when I got ‘turned around’ so badly, I actually admitted to being lost.  Ah, but that’s a tale for another post).  I’m not sure if that lost feeling is part of the grieving process or just part of normal life.

wildflowersWith that said, I started talking to Al about temporary work otherwise known as Workamping in the RVing community.  There are all kinds of positions out there geared toward the RVer and temporary seasonal jobs.

The term “Workamping” is actually a blending of the words work and camping and is a registered trademark of Workamper News ;  a great website matching up RVer’s with work assignments.  Another popular website is CoolWorks, and then there’s word of mouth and forums.

Last winter when Al and I realized we had no summer travel plans in mind, we decided to look into Workamping opportunities.  Although we did get called for a few locations, we chose the Idaho job.  One – we’ve never been to south central Idaho and two – we were introduced to the RV Park owners at a social gathering in Phoenix.  After a three-hour luncheon with the owners, it was determined this could be a win-win situation for both couples.

our home for the summer

our home for the summer

We now have a month under our belts working at the Mountain View RV Park in Arco, Idaho, and I can honestly say that up to this point, this has been the perfect scenario easing us into the Workamping experience.  It has been a win-win for both couples.

Since Al and I ran our own business for fifteen years, we’re self-starters, and we’ve stayed at enough RV Parks to understand what needs to be taken care of.  We asked the owners for a quick list of priorities, then jumped right in and started taking care of things.

What things, you ask……….

There's always lawn mowing. Al was having fun riding a tractor again. Not sure how long he'll consider it 'fun'.

There’s always lawn mowing. Al was having fun riding a tractor again. Not sure how long he’ll consider it ‘fun’.

Getting out the tools, had Al doing a little Tim Allen male grunting

Getting out the tools had Al doing a little Tim Allen male grunting

With music playing in my ears, there was a little dancing while painting going on

With music playing in my ears, there was a little dancing while painting going on

We all know by now that I enjoy baking. This day, I made pies for the restaurant.

We all know by now that I enjoy baking. This day, I made pies for the restaurant.

On a daily basis, Al and I will ride around the park in the golf cart making sure garbage is picked up, the bathrooms are clean, and campers are enjoying their stay.  I’ve even waitressed in the restaurant a couple of times when they got short-handed.  Do you know it has been over thirty years since I last waited on tables?  I jumped right in and acted like I knew what I was doing and had so much fun that I volunteered to waitress regularly.  I know, is that crazy?  I enjoyed meeting and talking to the locals coming into the restaurant for a meal.  They are all eager to share the beauty their home state has to offer, giving Al and me plenty of ideas to explore on our down time.

Exploring the backcountry near Mackay Idaho.

Exploring the backcountry near Mackay Idaho.

And there has been plenty of down time allowing us to explore the area….  Craters of the Moon National Monument, drive the old mining roads near Mackay, take a trip to Twin Falls to watch Base jumpers at the Perrine bridge and see the stunning sight of Shoshone Falls.  With so much going on, where will I ever find the time to blog😉

I’m not sure why Al and I are so enjoying the Workcamping gig, but we think it has something to do in knowing the position is temporary.  We also realize we have the freedom to pack up and move on anytime we’re unhappy.  That sense of freedom is liberating.  After all, it’s not as if we’re trying to build our resumes😆

For a few days next week, we’ll pack up the RV and take a vacation from our Workamping duties.  Oh yes, this summer is definitely turning into a summer filled with exciting and new explorations….. adventure all around and in many different ways!Craters of the Moon

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences – Eleanor Roosevelt

 


Sisters on the Fly: Caravans, Campfires, and Tales from the Road

Beauty Abounds

Beauty comes in many forms.  Sometimes beauty is in your face obvious while other times it takes a little longer to seek out.  From my first scenic overlook sighting at Bryce Canyon National Park to each subsequent visit, wow was usually the first word I uttered.  The scenery was breathtaking, stunning, mesmerizing, and obviously beautiful.

beauty abounds when we open our eyes

beauty abounds when we open our eyes

After spending an incredible week exploring Bryce Canyon Country, it was time to move on.  Although I must admit, I could’ve easily spent another week staring at those mind-boggling hoodoos.Bryce Canyon

Willard Bay State Park, South Campground

Willard Bay State Park, South Campground

Our journey from Panguitch, Utah took us north through Salt Lake City, Utah.  We enjoyed a quick overnight stay at Willard Bay State Park camped near the shores of the Great Salt Lake.  We thought about spending a second night which would allow us to explore the main part of the state park, but the bugs were rather bad and the next day a severe storm was heading in our direction.

Note all the bugs in this photo. Traipsing through the tall grasses for photo-ops was probably not my smartest move. I left with more bug bites than photos :-(

Note all the spots in my photo in the sky, those are bugs. Traipsing through the tall grasses for photo-ops was probably not my smartest move. I left with more bug bites than photographs😦

Thus, with high wind warnings in the forecast, we hightailed it out of there early the next morning before the 66 mile per hour gusts of wind arrived.  A little over three hours later, we were setting up camp at our summer home at the Mountain View RV Park in Arco, Idaho.  Al and I decided to give “Workamping” a whirl this summer which is how we ended up here.  Once I get a chance, I’ll do a separate post on life as a Workamper.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

The biggest draw to this part of Idaho is Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.  Since arriving in Arco, Idaho, I’ve had the opportunity to visit this park a few times.  During my first visit, Al and I gathered information at the visitor center and drove the scenic loop while stopping at a few points of interest.  Knowing we had the entire summer to explore Craters of the Moon NM, we focused on a general overview.

entrance to a Lava tube

entrance to a Lava tube

On our next visit, we embarked on a hike that took me out of my comfort zone.  I’m not usually a fan of enclosed spaces like caves or crowded elevators.  So, I didn’t exactly jump at the  thought of hiking a Lava tube tunnel, but I am on an adventure after all, and the last thing I was going to do was allow a little phobia to hinder my explorations.

inside Indian Tunnel - Lava tube cave

inside Indian Tunnel – Lava tube cave

On my third visit, I focused on the beauty found around this harsh landscape.  Just like at Bryce Canyon National Park, I uttered the word “wow” routinely, but more in a strange and curious tone as opposed to wow that’s beautiful.

Sometimes it takes looking at the smaller details to see the beauty.

Sometimes it takes looking at the smaller details to see the beauty.

When I first laid eyes on Craters of the Moon, the word beautiful was not at the forefront.   I think my thoughts were more along the lines of …. stark, harsh, unforgiving, barren, mean, bewildering, and maybe even ugly.  With each subsequent visit my opinion seemed to change …. intriguing, fascinating, perplexing, and yes, beautiful.Craters of the MoonIn my attempt to find the beauty, I visited the morning after a heavy rainstorm.  As I meandered along a trail, I could hear water trickling between the rocks.  Birds were chirping.  Chipmunks were running around foraging for food, and the wildflowers were springing to life.  There seemed to be a bevy of activity.Craters of the Moon

I found myself surrounded by a strange beauty, and couldn’t help but feel a level of respect for all things surviving in this severe landscape.

I found beauty in the strangest place.  I assure you, there will be more posts about Craters of the Moon.  Stay tuned….

finding beauty in the smaller things

finding beauty in the smaller things

Moon Idaho (Moon Handbooks)

Hoodoo You See?

When it comes to traveling, one of my greatest joys is immersing myself in a new place.  It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a city or some remote wilderness that I’m visiting for the first time, setting off on foot allows me to discover things up close.

I see the face of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Do you?

I see the face of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. What face do you see?

Whether I’m hiking, walking, strolling, meandering, or whatever pace I’m keeping at the moment, I love allowing my legs to transport me to exciting new visual delights .

hiking Red Canyon was a delight

hiking Red Canyon

Years ago, my son and I visited my parents in the Chicago suburbs and took the train into the city for a day of sightseeing.  We walked, and walked, and walked some more…. no cab rides for us.  According to my dad (who knows the city of Chicago like the back of his hand), Logan and I must have walked at least ten miles.  By doing so, he and Bryce Canyon National ParkI observed so many unique details in this bustling city – from architecture, to art, to the beautiful parks and shops, to the sounds and smells. It was a memorial day spent with my son along with discovering the city’s special character.

My week spent in Bryce Canyon Country was equally memorable and just like that day in Chicago, I knew I had to get out on foot to immerse myself in this mesmerizing landscape.

Each overlook is breathtaking!

Each overlook is breathtaking!

I started off my Bryce Canyon National Park visit by stopping at every single overlook and getting a feel for the lay of the land.

I see you!

This hoodoo sees you!

Seeing Mother Nature’s work of art from the rim of the canyon is breathtaking, but hiking in the depths of her creation left me awe-struck and speechless.  Around every corner was another perplexing sculpture.  So many of the rocks seem to have faces and personalities.   Then there are rocks that resemble people, things, or even a queen – Queen Victoria to be exact.Bryce Canyon

And now we know why the trail is called the Queen’s Garden Trail.  It took me a moment to grasp the resemblance, and of course, the aid of a sign was helpful.

Can you spot the Queen?

Can you spot the Queen?  Can you also see the hiking trail? Yep, I was down in there!

The Queen’s Garden trail is a fantastic hike that put me in the center of some of the most bizarre and interesting terrain that I’ve ever seen.  It’s obvious why it’s the parks most popular trail.  We saw hikers of all ages and ability on the trail, although I will say the 600 foot elevation climb back out of the canyon seemed to be a challenge for some, especially for those not accustomed to the 8,000 plus foot altitude.  Note the pointy hoodoo in the photos below.  The trailhead is high above that hoodoo.

We had to climb out of the valley above the pointy hoodoo

We had to climb out of the valley above the pointy hoodoo seen on the left.

Bryce Canyon

Al and I enjoyed this hike so much so that we actually hiked it twice.  On our first day, we started the hike at the Navajo Loop trailhead which will eventually meet up with the Queens Garden trail.  The term “loop” is a bit of a misnomer because the return part of the Navajo trail loop has been damaged and eroded to the point it had to be closed off for safety reasons. Thus, no hiking loop at the time of this writing.Bryce Canyon

This land never rests due to weather and erosion.   These statuesque limestone rock formations called hoodoos are caused by the extreme weather changes… from snow and ice melt, to soaring heat.  The constant contraction and expansion causes cracks, collapses, and further sculpting. You won’t find any rock climbers around here considering the rock is soft, unstable, and ever-changing.  Because of this instability, its vital hikers stay on the trails and wear proper footwear for traction.

Evidence of instability are easily seen. I wonder how deep that crack is?

Evidence of instability are easily seen. I wonder how deep that crack is?

Starting off at Sunset Point, we headed down the Navajo trail into the canyon floor via a series of switchbacks, and found ourselves hiking in a pine forest.  The crisp fresh air scented with pine made for a very pleasurable hike.

hiking with pines

hiking with pines

 

Hikers will find several tunnels along the trail

Hikers will find several tunnels along the trail

Once we veered onto the Queens Garden trail, we exited the pine forest and the terrain became more stark and barren, but those hoodoos were up close and personal.

The next day, Al and I hiked the trail in reverse; starting at the Queens Garden trailhead and exiting at the Navajo trailhead.  Is one way better than the other?  No!  Regardless of the starting and ending point, the scenery is out of this world and I can’t recommend this hike enough.  The first day it took us a little over two hours to complete the hike because someone kept stopping to take photos ;-)  The second go around took us less than two hours to hike, even though an equal amount of photos were taken!

hikers can be seen on the Queens Garden Trail

hikers can be seen on the Queens Garden Trail

BUT, if you’d like to start out with a couple of super easy hikes that are still beautiful, but won’t have the elevation change……

hoodoo you see?

hoodoo you see?

On highway 12 just east of highway 89 is the Red Canyon Visitor Center.   There’s a series of short trails that interconnect allowing one to hike the short interpretative trail only or add a little more distance by continuing onto the Pink Ledges trail and/or the Birds Eye trail.

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

The scenery here is beautiful and worth the stop.  Since we were camped just a few miles down the road, I found myself meandering around here a couple of times.  It’s amazing the new sights I saw each time I hiked the same trail.  The more I looked at the rocks, the more faces I saw.

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

 

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

Continuing east on Highway 12 past the turn off to Bryce Canyon National Park are more hiking trails.  Year’s ago (I’m talking more than twenty plus), Al and I traveled Highway 12 through this part of Utah.  It’s a stretch of road I’ve longed to revisit, but alas the weather this day would not cooperate.

Mossy Cave and Waterfall trail

Mossy Cave and Waterfall trail

I stopped in at the great visitor center in the town of Cannonville and picked up some local information then returned to the truck in a steady stream of rain.  Feeling somewhat disappointed, I decided to head home.  My exploration of Highway 12 will need to wait for another visit.

Highway 12

Highway 12

Mossy Cave and Waterfall Trail

Mossy Cave and Waterfall Trail

However, on my way home, the weather cleared just long enough for me to take a quick one mile (out and back) hike.  Any disappointment I may have felt was quickly lifted after a brisk walk in this beautiful setting.  The Mossy Cave Waterfall Trail was definitely a worthwhile hike in between rain clouds.Bryce Canyon

So that about wraps up my fabulous week spent in Bryce Canyon Country.  Oh, we can’t forget the beautiful faces of wildlife……

Pronghorn aka antelope

Pronghorn aka antelope

Chipmunk

Bryce CanyonFYI… the trails around here can get slick, gooey, and dangerous.  Proper hiking shoes are a must.  The weather can fluctuate to extremes and change rapidly.  A 40 degree (Fahrenheit) change throughout the day is not unusual.  Dressing in layers is a good idea.  Bring plenty of water and expect high winds.  Being prepared, allowed us to have a fantastic and memorable visit.

Fairyland trail will need to wait for my next visit!

Fairyland trail will need to wait for my next visit – a more challenging trail that I can’t wait to tackle!

The many faces of Bryce Canyon

The many faces of Bryce Canyon

I’ll be back! 

In Love with Bryce

With the weather being fickle, we decided to pay for two nights at a RV Park giving us the flexibility to rearrange our plans on a whim.  When the weather improved, our two-night stop to visit Bryce Canyon Country quickly turned into six nights.  And oh my gosh…. amazing!Bryce Canyon

I assure you, six nights was not enough to savor this breathtaking scenery.  If it hadn’t been for our workamp obligation in Idaho, we would’ve stayed another week.  For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough of those perplexing hoodoos or the layers of texture and colors.  Simply mesmerizing!

Where to camp?
With snow and freezing overnight temps in the forecast, we knew we wanted a site with hook-ups and chose the Red Canyon Village RV Park. It was an ok place to stay and even offers cabins as well as campsites. (restroom shown in the photo below)

Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah

Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah

The park is located along highway 12 just east of highway 89 and road noise can be expected.  We paid $31 a night for a full hook-up site which included cable TV. The property is owned and managed by the same company that runs the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Forever Resorts.  The location worked fine for us.  It took a Bryce Canyon national parklittle less than thirty minutes to drive to the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center and about 10 minutes to get to the town of Panguitch, Utah.  Just a couple of minutes away was Red Canyon with some lovely hiking trails that shouldn’t be missed.

Red Canyon is also home to a national forest campground: Red Canyon Campground.  It’s basic dry camping in a wooded setting.  Although some of the sites would accommodate our size RV, we’re not fans of trees and low-lying branches, and thus this campground is not an option we personally would consider.

As we continue along highway 12 toward Bryce Canyon NP, you’ll find the Bryce Canyon Pines RV Park.  We didn’t stop in, but drove by several times.  From a distance the park looked ok nestled in the pines with dirt/gravel roads and sites.  We noticed RV’s of all sizes parked there.

Bryce CanyonRuby’s RV Park seems to be the most popular spot with its close proximity to the hoodoos, but definitely the most expensive.  This RV park is located just outside the national park boundaries which means it offers location, full amenities, and is big rig friendly.

Want to camp even closer to the hoodoos?  Bryce Canyon National Park offers two campgrounds, both with no hook-ups, dry camping only.  The majority of the sites look sloped and mounded.  There were one or two sites at the Northern Campground we liked that we would consider if available.  Sunset and Northern Campgrounds appear to be best for tents, small Class C motorhomes, pop-ups, and small travel trailers.Bryce Canyon

Boondocking – There are a bunch of places off highway 12 east of highway 63 to boondock (boondocking means dry camping on public lands – no campground or facilities).  The land is located within the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and a free permit is required for any overnight stay.  Along highway 12 from Red Canyon to the town of Torrey, there are six visitor centers to assist you, provide permits, maps, and answer any questions.

There is also a fair amount of national forest land in the area with boondocking options and no permit needed.  Here’s a helpful post on dispersed camping.Bryce Canyon National ParkDuring those times when Al and I do boondock, after about a week we like to refresh and find a RV park with full hook-ups.  From a budgetary point of view the Paradise RV Park might be the perfect place to refresh. This somewhat basic and rustic park offers full hook-ups for $15 a night.  It’s located a few miles north of the town of Panguitch and about 30 miles from the Bryce Canyon Visitor center,  We actually did our laundry there since the Red Canyon RV Park offered one staked washer/dryer on the outside of a building.  Not ideal, especially in 32 degree weather.

Joe's MarketGroceries?
Since we were staying in the Red Canyon area, the town of Panguitch was an easy ten minute drive away.  Joe’s Market in Panguitch, Utah, is a great place to resupply.  We were impressed with the quality of fresh meats, veggies, and eggs that were reasonably priced.  Other items were a tad pricy though.

sour dough breadAcross the street from Joe’s Market is a Chevron Gas Station with a fast food place inside.  We don’t eat deep-fried fast food so I can’t help you there, but with the oven availability, the owners of the gas station bake fresh bread and rolls daily.

Our first stop at the Chevron was late one afternoon.  We filled up with gas and when we stepped inside, we noticed the hand written sign on the window noting fresh-baked sour dough bread.  When we asked about the bread, we were informed they were all sold out, but the gal behind the counter was quick to suggest placing our name on a loaf of sour dough bread for the next morning.   Yes!  It was still warm when we picked it up and perfect for our picnic lunch.  I wouldn’t normally recommend buying bread at a gas station, but this is small town America and it’s similar to enjoying a loaf of bread your mom made.

bakeryAnother place we tried was a bakery on highway 12 just east of highway 63.  The groceries and baked goods seemed a little pricy in my opinion, but we still ended up buying some fresh-baked baguettes for our sandwiches which were delicious.  And of course, hubby had to sample a blueberry turnover which received a two thumbs up as well.

One of our favorite little stops after hiking amongst the hoodoos, was stopping in at the General Store located within the national park just around the corner from the Bryce Canyon Lodge (btw – the restaurant in the lodge had a menu that was tempting, but our sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread won out).  This General Store along with a lovely picnic area is within walking distance to the Sunrise overlook and trailhead to the Queens Stewart'sGarden Trail.  After a somewhat steep hike back out of the canyon, we managed to work up a thirst.

We try to keep our soft drink intact to a minimum, but when we discovered the General Store stocks Stewart’s….. well…. there was no resisting the cream soda and orange cream.

We enjoyed this little splurge so much that when we received an impromptu email from some fellow full-time RVer’s letting us know they were in the area, I knew exactly where to meet up.  We hadn’t seen this couple in nearly two years and certainly had plenty to talk about.

Enjoying a picnic with friends at the general store was perfect.  It was awesome reconnecting, catching up, and sharing some of our favorite Bryce Canyon sites with this delightful couple.

me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera ;-)

me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera😉

Cheers to friendships, breath-taking scenery, amazing hikes, and cold beverages.  It’s official, I’m in love with Bryce Canyon National Park and am already scheming my next visit.

Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?

Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?

 

The Many Moods of Hoodoos

As fickle as the spring weather has been, we’ve been equally fickle in regards to our travel itinerary.  The last few days, Al and I have changed our minds about as often as a teenage girl changes her outfit.Bryce Canyon

Last Friday morning, we were all loaded up and about ready to pull away from Lake Powell with a state park near Beaver, Utah, as our intended overnight destination.  Before Al could put the truck into drive I asked, “What kind of Coloradoans are we to let a little cold and snow keep us from exploring a National Park that’s at the top of our ‘must see’ list?”

Two seconds later, we were on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.Bryce Canyon National Park

It took us three hours to drive from Page, Arizona, to Panguitch, Utah.  With cold and snow in the forecast, we decided to forego dry camping in the National Park and opt for full hook-ups at the Red Canyon RV Park, about twenty miles from thet Park.   We no sooner had the RV set up and the truck unhooked when we set off to explore.

Yes, it's snowing. The flakes were big, the wind was blowing, but the view was breathtaking.

Yes, it’s snowing. The flakes were big, the wind was blowing, but the view was breathtaking.

Refusing to allow a little snow to keep me from seeing those hoodoos (bulbous rock columns). I bundled up in my winter gear to take in this amazing sight.  It was cold and blustery but OH MY GOSH ….. pictures do not do this place justice!  I was on sensory overload and couldn’t decide where to point the camera.Bryce Canyon National Park

Even Al was awed.  At each scenic overlook, we stood there speechless, admiring the view.  Words can’t begin to describe this perplexing oddity of wind-swept rock.

This morning (Sunday), the weather finally let up long enough for Al and me to enjoy a hike.  According to my darling husband, we spent ten minutes hiking and two hours taking photos, but in reality, we hiked for two hours and snapped photos for ten😉Bryce Canyon National Park

At 9:45 in the morning,  it was a cold 38 degrees Fahrenheit  (3.3 Celsius).  We started into the canyon via the Navajo Loop trail and eventually turned onto the Queens Garden trail.  The Queens/Navajo Combo trail is about 3 miles long starting at the Sunrise Point trailhead and ending at the Sunset Point trailhead with a 600 foot elevation change.  Although a relatively easy hike, the 600 foot climb back up to the rim can be challenging for some.  The trail can also be muddy and slick in spots.

'Thors Hammer' on the left

‘Thors Hammer’ on the left

beginning of the Navajo Trail

beginning of the Navajo Trail

Perfect hike!

Perfect hike!

The day started off with a beautiful blue sky and little to no wind.  Two hours later, the sky was blanketed in a threatening grey accompanied by swirling winds.   We were glad to be near the end of our hike as the weather started rolling in. hiking

Although the views of Bryce Canyon along the rim are spectacular, strolling among the hoodoos is a surreal experience.  The rocks never rest.  Stones tumbled as we slowly meandered along the trail.  The weather is quick to change causing light to alter hues and shadows.  There are many moods among the hoodoos, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the trees.hoodoos

There are pines of all kinds around here, but the Bristlecone pines are the most intriguing.  They are some of the longest-lived life forms on Earth.  Some of these trees are well over 1,000 years old and their trunks are a unique work of art.  Their ability to grow in such an unrelenting environment is fascinating. Bryce Canyon

The forces of weather continue to erode and sculpt this mesmerizing landscape daily.  We’ve already extended our stay once and may do so again.  Thus, you can plan on seeing more photos and posts on Bryce Canyon National Park.  Stay tuned!Bryce Canyon National Park

This weeks WordPress photo challenge word is admiration ….  after spending the last few days admiring Mother Nature’s creativity along with God’s handy work, it’s obvious who and what have captured my admiration.