Friday, September 01, 2017

Our trip "Out West"

(Above:  Steve and me hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I blogged once during the week we were traveling in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.  More blogging wasn't possible.  Steve and I hiked several miles every day.  By the time we had dinner, I was exhausted.  Yet, the one post I did write shared the fantastic Air BnB place in which we stayed.  It was WONDERFUL!  Here's more!

(Above:  Lyman's Cabin, an AirBnB remodeled original homesteader's cabin located in Cane Beds, Arizona)

This cozy cabin was once an original homesteader's residence in Cane Beds, Arizona.  Owners Laura and Wes have turned it into a dream-come-true.  The kitchen was stocked with staples.  There were fresh free-range eggs every day.

There were even three different kinds of coffee pots ... just in case one preferred pressed, Italian peculated, or drip!  There's a spring water dispenser and an outdoor grill.

 The bed was great ... and please notice the nice "welcome" written into the nap of the blanket!

 The property is very, very large ... and had cattle grazing.

The sunsets were amazing and every night we saw the Milky Way.

One of the best features of this place was the outdoor dining.  So romantic!  We highly recommend this place!

Plus, we were given great travel tips ... like "enter Zion National Park from the east instead of from the west where most tourists go!"  If we'd gone the normal route, we would have missed the High Canyon Trail which overlooked the winding switch backs we drove over later.

Please note the road in the background!  It was an awesome drive and also took us through a feat of 1930s engineering, a long tunnel with an occasional "window" to the mountainous backdrop on which we'd just hiked!

It was along this road that we stopped and spotted this mountain goat!  Traveling into Zion National Park from the eastern entrance was just the sort of build up we wanted ...

... before going to "The Narrows", an upstream trail literally on and in the Virgin River.


At the start of The Narrows, there were lots and lots of people sloshing around, laughing, and starting their trek.

When we entered the water, Steve said, "We'll just go a short distance".  But, that's not what happened.  The Narrows is intoxicating.  Around every bend, Steve said, "Well, we'll just go a little further."  We couldn't help ourselves.  The river drew us upstream until there were fewer and fewer others on the wet trail.

That's how I could get a shot of Steve without anyone else in the picture. By this time, I was totally soaked.  I had no intention of getting as wet as I did, but the rocks are slippery and we didn't have/rent walking sticks.  At one point, I ended up sitting in the water.  Thankfully, we kept our phones and my camera in a Zip-lock bag in Steve's knapsack.  Taking photos was an act of faith, careful planning and really good footing!

It was worth every step.  The canyon was amazing.  The views were breath-taking.  We had no idea that we were nearly at the end (where further hiking isn't allow) when we finally turned around.   By this point, we knew every other person around us.  Hilariously, one woman who was much shorter than me and even wetter said, "I think my son is trying to kill me!"  She added, "But this is a great place to die!"  Truly, The Narrows was GREAT!  (And going downstream was easier!)


All through the National Parks there are fat, hungry squirrels trying to use their innate cuteness to coax tourists out of a crumb.  They don't know it but they are often begging beside a warning sign posting a $100 fine for feeding wild animals.  This little guy was sitting beside me when I poured excess water from my hiking boots ... literally, beside me.  I didn't even have to zoom in to snap this picture!

(Above:  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.)

Speaking of animals, we saw several on our trip ... including two female pronghorns and dozens of deer that I didn't get a photo of.  We also spent time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary outside Kanab, Utah.  I'd heard of this place from my sister Wanda.

There are all sorts of tours, trails, volunteer opportunities, and animals being cared for or up for adoption.  We went, however, because Angels Rest, the amazing animal cemetery.

It is serenely peaceful and includes memorials like this one ... for all those animals lost during Hurricane Katrina.  Unfortunately, they will probably soon have another such spot for those currently struggling and dying in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Some of the epitaphs are just so touching.

We passed the entrance to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.  I have to admit something right now.  Until a couple of years ago, I'd never heard of Bryce Canyon (at least enough that it would sink into my mind as a "Bucket List" place to visit).

While I was enjoying a month art residency at the Studios of Key West in 2012, Steve was back in Columbia taking photos of all my Grandpa Baker's neatly organized and labeled slides.  (The Flicker album is HERE.)  This image actually looks like a shot from National Geographic Magazine when viewed in person.  With two suitcases of slide cartridges, Steve couldn't scan all of them ... risking the organization and requiring days and days more of work.  Instead, he used a camera-on-a-tripod and simply took a photo of every slide as it was projected onto a screen.  Trust me!  This photo and the other three from Bryce Canyon look AMAZING ... as if taken by a true professional.  Immediately, I wanted to go to Bryce Canyon.  Five years later, I was standing on the same rim my Grandpa stood in August of 1961.

The profound beauty and the emotional impact from my Grandpa was overwhelming.  I can't imagine saving film, shooting just four images.  I do, however, understand how National Geographic worthy images are possible for just about anyone.  One could hold a camera high above eye-level, snap aimlessly, and still get a good picture.  This place is beyond words, but it also seemed to remind me of many other places.  Don't these hoodoos (yes ... that's the technical name for these stone formations) look as if they inspired Gaudi's rooftop sculptures in Barcelona? 

(Above:  One of my photos from Gaudi's La Pedrera in Barcelona.)

Gaudi never came to America.  He died in 1926.  He designed La Pedrera in 1906 - 1912.  Bryce Canyon wasn't listed as a National Park until 1928. 

Yet, I saw Gaudi everywhere, in all the crimson-colored hoodoos, the ridges, and the ways water eroded the various hardnesses of limestone.  Time in nature is thought-provoking, inspirational, and often spiritual.

After hiking the three-mile loop nearest the visitor's center ... down and around the iconic canyon ... Steve and I drove to further overlooks.  At Ponderosa Pine we came upon this raven. 

He had been on the other side of this stone fence post but hopped up to sit beside me.  I took the raven's picture after Steve took this one of the two of us.  The raven felt like a kindred spirit and I talked quietly to this bird.  Later, a Facebook friend suggested this was the "new form" of a recently departed friend, an artist who often painted ravens.  Maybe it was.  I'd like to think so.  If so, it was wonderful seeing you again, Kim Lemaster.  Fly high!

(Above:  The northern rim of the Grand Canyon.)

On our third day, we drove to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.

The vastness of this landscape defies what one generally knows of the earth.  The Colorado River carved the land so low that it is rarely seen from the height of the rim.

Generally, I'm the one taking pictures.  Steve is in them.  This time, I posed.  We took a great trail with lots of markers for the various vegetation ... which despite my focus on wild animals in this blog post was equally part of our trip!

After our hike, we drove winding roads to Cape Royal overlook ...

... stopping by a place marked as Greenland Lake.  It is hard to imagine that this forested pond is within walking distance of the giant Grand Canyon!  There was a marker and information on a trail ... which really wasn't maintained at all but I decided to go down it. 

Reluctantly, Steve followed.  We came upon this log cabin that was once a storage shed for grazing cattle.  We seemed to arrive at a place in a long-gone era.  It was grand.

(Above:  Cedar Breaks National Monument.)

I'm generally up for an adventure.  Steve is generally more sensible but goes along.  So, the next day we returned to Zion National Park on a road traversing the western edge of the property.  It winded in and out of the park and eventually became a twenty-mile "unpaved" road (or, as Steve would call it, a DIRT road.)  We were miles from "civilization" but we were also on our way to Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Fewer tourists seem to end up at Cedars Break ... which was awesome.  The rim trail isn't like those in the bigger national parks.  There were few hand rails, even beside exposed cliff edges.  The canyon has been carved 2500+ feet from rim to bottom.  The views were outstanding.

The colors were intense.  I felt close to the cliff but safe.

Of course, I was definitely not as close to the edge as this yellow-bellied marmot!  We saw four of them playing on the flaky limestone rim!

We did not, however, see an endangered California Condor though we know approximately seventy of them live in the area.  How did we know this?  Well, on that dirt road we came upon this researcher and her fancy antenna for tracking them.  We heard the sounds she was monitoring ... so at least one California Condor was somewhere near us.  The researcher talked with passion about these opportunistic scavengers.  The largest flying land birds in North America, they can have a wingspan up to 9 1/2'.  They mate for life.  Typically only one egg is produced every other year and the parents share the incubation and feeding responsibilities. In 1982 there were only twenty-two left in the world.  Capture, recovery, and other protection efforts have increased the numbers.  There are over 400 now, half of which fly free.  Monitoring them is important.  (More can be learned HERE.)

(Above:  Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.)

Learning about endangered California Condors was an interesting way to remember "all God's creatures" ... great and small ... cute and not-so-cute ... even the scavengers ... and even the venomous.

On our way back to Canes Bed, we stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  Of course we went hiking despite the fact that there really wasn't a well marked trail where we parked.  Steve and I were about twenty yards apart when I saw a triangular head and long sinewy coil spring into a nearby sage bush.

I froze in my tracks.  So it the snake.  Slowly, I aimed my camera at the bush.  Slowly, the snake started slithering away from me.  I watched the rattle at the end.  Yes, this was definitely a rattlesnake.  I was only two feet away, easily within it's striking distance.  Thankfully, I meant it no harm and it meant me none either!

(Above:  Steve in Snow Canyon State Park)

On our final day, we packed up our belonging and headed back to Las Vegas to return the rental car and catch a red-eye flight back home.  On the way, we couldn't help but to take one more hike ... over petrified sand dunes in Snow Canyon State Park. 

We got home tired but happy.  As a visual artist, I feel inspired and spiritually filled. Steve and I are already talking about "next year" and our hopes to return to Utah.  After all, there are a few more National Parks in Utah ... like Capitol Reef and Arches. 

PS  I got good news when I got home. All three of my submitted pieces were among the 58 selected from a field of 194 to be shown in "Books Undone" at the Gallery at Penn College, January 11 – February 28, 2018.

(Above:  Bucket List, The Good Girl and Subject Closed.)

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Walls Friday", a site for sharing fiber artwork.


Sherrie Spangler said...

Thanks for the travelogue to one of my favorite parts of the country, the Southwest! I really enjoyed revisiting favorite parks through your photos. It's such an inspirational place.

Christine said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I only did a flying visit to the Grand Canyon and you have shown me what I missed. Thanks again.

Christine said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I only did a flying visit to the Grand Canyon and you have shown me what I missed. Thanks again.

Marianne said...

Magnifique récit de voyage merci

Vivien Zepf said...

An incredible part of the world. Thanks for sharing!

Shannon said...

I love Bryce and Zion! Seeing your pictures makes me want to go back! What a wonderful looking trip.