Capitol Reef, Utah

My brother is planning a trip to Utah and Colorado which got me daydreaming about Southern Utah again. 

Capitol Reef National Park is a great park not nearly as busy as Arches, Zion, BryceNatural Bridges and other nearby locations. It’s a vast and impressive park for hikers and desert lovers. 

State Route 23 through Fremont River Canyon was actually a road at one time! Sandstone walls are riddled with fossils, petroglyphs, and very old graffiti. If you look closely you will see sharp shooters who managed to spell their names in gunfire. 

It seems one could spend months and months exploring the lovely nature Utah has to offer in its parks. 

What’s your favorite park? 

Cold Memories of Bryce Canyon

I was thinking recently of our camping trip through Utah and realized I never shared any photos of Bryce Canyon in a proper post.  Bryce was particularly memorable because we camped here in ten degree weather.  Ten degrees! Icicles on the inside of our trailer!  It is this very cold and icy weather, plus erosion, that helps form the interesting geology in the National Park.  The red, orange, and white hoodoo views were spectacular and the hikes warmed us up. There are too many vistas to share so I just picked some of my favorites to show you.

The park skirts along the Colorado Plateau and the Paunsaugunt Plateau.  Bryce is higher in elevation than Zion, @ 8-9000 feet, which makes it cooler.  (Not cool like a 16 year old but cool like a snowman.)  The park is humongous covering 35,835 acres.  There is an 18 mile loop drive that can take you around a good representation of the park providing drivers some spectacular vistas.  But, those who have the time and the legs for it should definitely choose a few of the hikes, short or long, so they can experience the canyon from below.

If you are lucky enough to stay nearby or camp in the park do yourself a favor and be up for sunrise and around for sunset.  The shadows play on the rocks in glorious fashion.

We didn’t have enough time to visit Zion sadly!  Has anyone been there?  Do you have a preference over Bryce?  Or are they both beautiful and you don’t choose one over the other?

To visit other locations in Utah like Arches National Park click here!

Road Trip Music

Did you ever make mixed tapes in the past?  Did you ever try and seduce someone with your idea of the perfect set of love songs?  Did you ever create a mixed tape masterpiece for a family member to bring them back to a time to your past together?  Does a song every bring you back to a particular location while on vacation?

Well, a little while back I posted about Road Trip Food.   It got me thinking about Road Trip music.

I vividly remember driving my German friend through California and Arizona choosing appropriate “Road Trip Music” all along the way.  We listened to the Gypsy Kings as we drove through Central California.  We listened to the Beach Boys while traveling through LA.  We listened to U2’s Joshua Tree Album while traveling through Joshua Tree National park in Southern California near Palm Springs.  We listened to Elvis in Las Vegas.  We listened to American Indian mystical music in Sedona.

On subsequent trips to Europe with her we listened to country specific music when traveling through France and Italy.  We also paid special attention to whatever was popular in the country at the time.  I vividly remember a song called “The ketchup song” which to this day I still do not understand.  Europe had to have a flaw and that song was it.  We listened to the Proclaimers in Scotland and Ah-Ha in Germany.  (I was actually fortunate enough to see them in concert while there!)

Traveling through Ireland with my brother I brought Irish CDs with me only to find out the car we rented didn’t have a CD player.  Nonetheless we listened in hotels to Van Morrison, U2, Sinead O’Conner, Thin Lizzy, The Chieftains, Clannad, The Corrs, and Christy Moore.

I was introduced to Ronan Keating who sang, among other songs, “Nothing at all.”  I was familiar with the song from when Alison Krauss sang it and remembered Keith Whitley sang it first.  I pointed this out to a bartender who was singing along to it and he nearly threw me out of the bar for lying to him.  I never did convince him that someone else could have sang it first.

On a road trip with my husband to Utah we knew we would be stuck in the car for two full day’s worth of driving just to get to our main destination.  We ended up getting Farenheit 52 as a book on tape.  It was terrible!  Don’t hate me.  Everyone else in the world seems to love that book…  We had better luck listening to the Serial Podcast about a journalists journey to find the truth behind a murder!  That was an absolutely wonderful way to spend a road trip up and back to visit in-laws in Oregon!

Now-a-days we have Pandora and iTunes and a billion other music options.  It seems mixed tapes are no longer necessary making room for digital “playlists.”  I can tell you I will never bring a physical CD on a flight ever again!  But, I do miss the days where I put a lot of thought in to what music would be played to enhance my trip no matter whether I was driving or flying.

What kind of music do you listen to on the airplane when traveling?  Or what kind of music do you listen to in the car on a road trip?  What songs transport you back in time to a vacation moment you had long ago?

Arches National Park – Utah – A Natural Wonder of the Western States

Arches National Park is one of the finest National Parks in the country.  It is also, quite frankly, one of the greatest places on earth.  Why it isn’t a Wonder of the World I will never know.  As previously mentioned my husband and I embarked on an epic Southern Utah Tour last year.  Arches National Park was premier on our list of spots to visit.  I had been told of stories of this place for years and was expecting a lot.  I was not in the slightest bit disappointed.  I only wish we had more time there and it was closer to where I live so I could spend more time there.

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Immediately upon entering the park one is dumbstruck by its beauty.  The first jaw dropper you come across is the Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers.  A commanding view of the valley is cut by three human like figures who appear to be talking to one another or talking about someone else.  Perhaps some time long ago there was another tower in front of them that gave them something to gossip about?  Courthouse Tower is a wonderful example of how these shapes are constructed.  It is evident that the different strata in the stone is of different widths, thicknesses, and densities.  This allows for bits to crumble and fall at different levels causing towers, arches, Hoodoos, standing rocks, fins, etc.

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As your mouth is just beginning to water one takes in Balanced Rock.  I can tell you I would have had my mind blown if this was all I ever saw in the park.  The gossips may be wondering when the rock will fall because surely it will be any moment now?  Balance Rock is a giant bolder precariously balanced on a very very small base.   As you walk on a path around it you realize it is quite possible it could fall while you are standing there and you start wondering how fast you can actually run.  It was also at this point of the park that you really start understanding the complexity of color in the park as well.  All of the rock is red and orange but it is a million different shades that come together in a glorious rainbow that would make Bob Ross proud and make Ansel Adams want to shoot in color.  (No I did not enhance the color in these photos!  The darker photos were taken in the morning and the more orange were taken at sunset.)

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I could sit and stare at this rock formation forever but there is more to see at the park and not nearly enough time to see it all in.  Skyline Arch is one of the first arches you come to when driving through the park.  It is a mere hop from the road up to the arch.  It certainly wets your whistle for what is to come.

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Sand Dune Arch was probably one of my favorite Arches despite the fact it is not the largest nor the most delicate or precarious.  It is a thicker stubbier arch surrounded by sand of the finest quality.  The sand, the arch, and the surroundings are all practically the same color.  In fact, if you stare at the arch at certain angles and in certain light it almost disappears.  It is an easy hike to get to and I would recommend it for anyone.

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Devil’s garden Trailhead is one of the greatest hikes I have ever taken.  That’s big talk Jenny.  Why?  Well it scared the heck out of me, that’s why.  I am no expert hiker by any means.  The map said easy to moderate.  I thought, “I got this.”  Well, I got it that’s for sure.  At times a fear of heights nearly crippled me.  There are no safety barriers on this walk.  It starts off slow walking you past Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch.  Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, and the glorious Landscape Arch is where most people turn around.  Well, how could I turn around having just seen Landscape arch?

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This is where the hike got really spicy.  I had to cross a rock barrier with a significant drop.  It was very windy and not at all safe.  So, I did what any self respecting woman would do.  I crawled.  There was no turning back at this point because I didn’t want to go back over this cross again.  Double O Arch is your reward for nearly losing your life and she is glorious.

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One continues on the primitive trail to view the Dark Angel, Private arch and glorious sets of Fins.    This hike manages to elevate you, scare you, and humble you all at the same time.  But, I really would not recomend it for the faint of heart.

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On day two after recovering from my previous anxiety causing hike we embarked on the 4×4 Trail going to Eye of the Whale Arch.  It seems that the trail is not passable in a Jeep Cherokee albeit we surely tried!  So we settled for Eye of the Whale Arch without making the entire loop.  It was no settlement at all.  It was glorious and private because the regular visitor would not brave the road and the day tripper would want to see the more popular features of the park and skip this.

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Later in the afternoon we embarked on the hike to Delicate Arch.  After staring at this arch on the license plates of nearly every Utah registered vehicle this arch was a must.  Well, it turns out my nerves were still shot from the previous day’s hike.  This walk was pretty easy most of the way albeit it was very much uphill the entire way.  But the final ascent to the arch makes the hiker hug the wall for fear of falling to their death.  Delicate arch likes her privacy.  Unlike some of the other arches she does not let you view her majesty until the very last second when hikers walk around a very tight and very tall walkway.  And then, miraculously there it is.  It was far larger than I expected it to be and far more glorious.  Even the landscape behind the arch just adds to its majesty.  It is no wonder Utah drivers desire its photo on their license plates.

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Please friends.  Visit this park.  Take care of this park.  Enjoy this park.  For it is surely a wonder of the world.  If not a wonder of the world it is undeniably a wonder of the Western United States.  I will forever consider this visit as one of the best places in the United States that I have ever visited even if it did scare me to death a time or two.

http://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

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Goblin Valley State park – Utah

Some time ago my husband and I embarked on an epic camping trip to Utah.  He had been camping to Utah a few times and spoke about it with high regard.  So, we finally set part for the two day journey to Eastern Utah from Northern California.  We visited Great Basin National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, surely to be blog posts for another day…

One of the more random and interesting locations we visited was called Goblin Valley State Park.  It turns out just getting there was a doozy.  The park is located in the San Rafael Desert off of Utah State Route 24 nearest to Hansville.  It was one of those locations that looks about an inch from where you are on a map but it felt like it took thirteen hours to get there.  Once there, though, we were not disappointed.  We were nearly the only visitors other than a few hard core folks taking in some 4×4 trails on the back part of the park.

For us, the most interesting part of the park was the Hoodoo Goblins at sunset.  We took a walk through the Hoodoos enjoying their personality and mysticism. Mother Nature has created strange and interesting shapes here proving she has a sense of humor.  When the light is right one can understand why they call them Goblins!  The rock formations were created 170 million years ago and still stand proudly today.  Hundreds of these mushroom shaped formations stand each one with its own personality.  Some are fifteen feet tall some or are two feet tall.  Some are narrow some are plump.  Some are solid and some are precariously levitating.   The rock creatures are set in front of gorgeous Utah cliffs slowly eroding away creating an ever changing piece of natural art.

Shortly after visiting and enjoying this glorious park I read on the news that Cub Scout Leaders, entrusted in the care and education of young impressionable young people, had recorded themselves vandalizing an amazing Hoodoo.  I watched the video and it shows The Cub Scout Leader goofing around and pushing one of the 170 million year old formations over in a show of muscle and might.  Thankfully, this person was convicted of crimes for his actions and I can only hope the young people learned to protect and respect nature as a result.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goblin_Valley_State_Park

http://stateparks.utah.gov/park/goblin-valley-state-park

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-scouts-leaders-who-knocked-over-ancient-rock-get-probation-n56596

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/18/goblin-valley-boy-scout-leaders-destroy-rock_n_4122488.html

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