Monday, July 01, 2019

Western Adventure 2019

(Above:  Steve and me at the "stage two" of America Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I love to travel to national parks and until this trip had been to four of the five in Utah.  In order to get to the fifth, Capitol Reefs, we cashed in a two-for-one airline ticket to Las Vegas and rented a car.  The trip was carefully planned to coordinate with American Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Our first night found us watching most of "stage two".  It was SO EXCITING.

 (Above:  Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.)

We didn't go directly into Utah but spent the next two nights in a vintage 1952 trailer, a unique listing on AirBnB in Baker, Nevada.  We really loved the early morning, hour-and-a-half ranger led tour through Lehman Caves.  The formations, textures, and dizzying heights of millennium old creations is always so inspiring!

We drove as far as the park's road would take us up Wheeler's Peak.  At over 10,000 feet, there was so much snow that the furthest parking lot could only be reached on foot.  We could only hike on the pavement because the trail markings were all covered in snow!

We were able to take a nice, short loop at a lower elevation to see the cave's natural entrance.  It is covered in this unusual metal structure, a bat entry way!  We did see one, upside down, slumbering bat inside the cave!

 Steve had a great time with the propane grill ...

 ... and we were stunned by the colorful sunset.

 Driving from place to place was almost as beautiful as hiking in nature ...

 ... and even stopping for Sinclair gas was fun!

 On our first day at Capitol Reef National par, we took the scenic drive down miles of unpaved road to an area where inscriptions from long gone days appear.  (There are now hidden cameras to prevent visitors from continuing this once popular activity.) Elsewhere in the park are ancient petroglyphs but my photos didn't turn out with enough contrast to post.

 At the end of the road, trails begin, including one through a dry creek bed that leads to ...

 ... an area known as "The Tanks".  Pools of melted snow and spring rains are captured in the rock formations.

 Tadpoles were large enough that their hind legs were emerging.

Early on the second morning, we hiked up the most popular trail to Hickman Bridge.  Later in the day, this trail has dozens of hikers but we were quite alone under the natural bridge, walking as if the only people to see ...

 ... lizards on rocks ...

 ... early summer's blossoms ...

 ... and blooming cacti.  If we'd had known that hitchhiking was commonplace, we would have done the entire Frying Pan Trail.  But, the trek was three-miles in one direction.  We made it to the highest peak at the halfway point before turning back to the parking lot with our rental car.  Had we opted to stick our thumbs out for a passing vehicle, we would have done the distance and rode back to the car.

We visited the Mormon orchard's and school house before going to the Gifford House Museum and gift shop.

 Late in the afternoon, we tackled the three-and-a-half mile loop called "Chimney Rock".  It was a perfect ending to our time at Capitol Reefs.  We had views back to the lush area in the valley and to distant horizons.

 As the sun set, we had long shadows on the ground. We passed only one solitary hiker and felt like we were truly alone with nature. It was a glorious day!

 The next day, we drove into Ely and went to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  We took an hour-and-a-half ride on a historic, coal powered train ...

 ... up past the backside of the town and out into the country ...

 ... into a now abandoned copper mine.  Cinders flew from the engine.  The clanging bells sounded of yesteryear.  People on the nearby highways waved and took photos.  It was a blast!

Finally, we went to Zion National Park.  We'd been here before when the Narrows wasn't as deep or running quite as fast.  This time, we hiked to the lower Emerald Pools.  The path to the Middle and Upper pools was closed due to a landslide, but what we saw was amazing!

 On our last day, we ventured into St. George.  To be perfectly honest, I forgot that Things That Matter, an invitational art quilt show, was still on view.  The museum had already sent a check to cover the shipping expenses.  So, I sort of thought the exhibition had ended.  I hadn't looked at my own website or blog where the information was plain to see.  The show was still on view!  It was such a treat to see my piece, Nike's Advice: Just Do It!, about recycling still on the museum's walls!

Our last stop was back in Las Vegas where we visited the Neon Museum.  It was a colorful, outdoor display of vintage advertising lights.  Okay ... I admit it ... "vintage" generally doesn't mean the 1980s to me but I guess that illuminated signs with actual light bulbs qualify as "old"!  We had a great time and can't wait to return "out west" ... which is actually happening soon!  We are headed to Colorado at dawn on Wednesday.  I'm scheduled to teach my HOT workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters Guild next weekend.  Steve is driving our cargo van there and back.  We are extending the trip in order to enjoy nature and the Rocky Mountains.  Life is an adventure!  We we come!

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