Saturday, August 27, 2011

Road Trip--Bryce Canyon, Utah

Wow, what a day yesterday. I came into Moab, UT last night about 9:30 with complete sensory overload from the day. I got out and about slightly earlier than the previous day, yesterday I was on the shuttle to enter the park at about 9:15. I got off at the second stop where the bus driver suggested if you wanted to get on with your with hike for the day. The weather was a georgous 70 degrees. I started down the road to go about 2 blocks--what ever that meant in Utah terms--before hooking left to catch the trail. The people ahead of me stopped and looked at the map. When I got to them, the guy said that he thought we missed the turn off and if we just cut up about 15 feet through the brush we would get the trail. Normally I don't like to get off the trail because I don't want to mess with the ecosystem any more than I already am. But I could see what he meant and I follwed suite. Once up at the ridge line the Hoodoos came into view.

I read in the park newspaper that the Native Americans of the area considered the Hoodoos people that the cayotes turned into stone. I love this bit of lore and would love to find the entire story.
I hiked along the rim for a bit to the camp ground. I got to a scenic look out and noticed that people were headed down to the canyon floor. I wanted to do that and started looking around for way down. The sign suggested hiking boots--I had on trail shoes today so I though I would be OK. The newspaper suggested that the Navajo Loop was + Queen's Garden was one of the best trails and a must do if you have the ability. I started down. Amazing views down through Wall Street--each view more fanstatic that the next.

I turned around and looked up at and go this photo.

I continued on through the wall and made it around to a cross roads. I looked at the trail markers to the left indicated that I could go on down to Queen's Garden or I could go straight and hit the Peek-a-Boo Loop. The guide indicated that although quite scenic it was a strenuous trail with elevation changes and was rated as being difficult. I briefly pondered what the newspaper would consider a difficult trail. Maybe difficulty was like spicy--it really depended on who was rating it. Too spicy for me means something entirely different to someone else and then I considered what something was marked spicy for the average American, I generally think it is simply a notch above mild. I regularly walk 5 mile stretches which is about 4.9 miles further than the average American so I might be OK. At any rate I could always turn around. So I crossed the river bed and headed up the trail, there was a couple of guys ahead of me, I look around pondering the big rock over to the side--maybe I could duck around it and relieve my bladder. But being too shy, I though maybe there would be a place a bit further on a little less al' naturale . Up head, there was trail marker indicating that I could go either way on the loop. I met up with the two guys and we briefly discussed the trail. They also wanted to do the Queen's Garden, I pointed out since it was a loop it would bring us back to the other side of the marker. One of the guys asked in English which way--since they were not native English speakers, I considered that he was including me in the decision making. Since the guide was silent on which way to take on the loop, I suggested clockwise. I asked if I could join them, they agreed and we headed off. Gradually we go to know each other and about every five minutes we stopped to take photos.

I was fascinated by what I called Dragon Doors. This is one that I got to see from all different angles.

Eventually we came to another trail marker. This one pointed up to Bryce Point and down to complete the Peek-A-Boo Loop. We met a couple that was coming down from the Point and they raved that the mile and a half was beautiful but up. We would need good breath. We looked up--way up to see people at the look out. Nicki looked at me and Sven and said--we need to do that. We agreed and headed up.
Again each step shouted out that we needed to take another photo. We go up to another doorway in the trail and took a group photo.

A little further, I looked across and saw a formation that looked like a head. I wondered aloud if it was natural or if someone gave it a little nudge. But Nicky pointed out that it would have been really difficult to get out there--or at any rate now--maybe in an earlier time the way there was more accessible. But I had a feeling that this stone was standing guard over the Hoodoos below.

Once at the top, we were about done for. There was a shuttle stop there but we decided to walk along the rim for another mile or so to the next stop and then we would go our seperate ways--Nicky and Sven to their RV for lunch and me on into town for lunch and to get on my way. Along the rim we watched a Turkey Vulture sore and circle. At times he came very near us. It was a fantastic trail--well within my abilities--especially since we were stopping every 10 to 15 feet to enjoy the view.
Back into town, I grabbed lunch, topped off my gas tank, enjoyed a scoop of icecream and go on the road. I decided to take the scenic highways--SR 12 to SR 24 for about 170 miles before hooking up to I-70 for a short distance. And what a good idea this was. I saw deer, free range cows along the side of the road. Moved from the painted desert escarpments to Ponderosa Pine forests.
The road got scary for me in places but for the most part it was just a beautiful scenic drive. At one point I ran into a pretty serious thunder storm where the quarter size droplets bounced off the road like marbles. I slowed down and crept along knowing once again that I didn't want to find myself off the side of the road with no cell phone reception and sporadic traffic. In fact for long stretches I was the only car in sight. But disaster girl did not have to go into worse case scenario mode.
Eventually I ran into another National Forest. I can call forth the name at the moment but it ran along a river valley. I would like to return to this place on a bicycle and enjoy some of the trails. It is less popular than Bryce, Zion and Arches but not because it is less beautiful. It just seem to have a quieter beauty. Eventually, I came to a sign that said Petrogylphs so I pulled over to have a look. Wow, these were the best glyphs I have seen yet.

The long day was beginning to wear on me and I still had some miles to cover. I made one final stop to use the facilities and get a few snacks before getting on I-70 to Moab. The store I stopped at was actually a cave. Very cool.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Road Trip--Zion National Park

I didn't get to bed until about midnight last night. At about 6:00 this morning, I briefly considered getting up and getting to the park on the first shuttle at 6:45. But my relief from not having a pesky Siamese demanding breakfast and play made me roll over and go back to blissful sleep until 8:45. I roused myself up and went down the road to an organic apple orchard that also offered coffee. I got a couple of very tasty apples and coffee, sat down at the park bench outside and enjoyed breakfast. It was already getting hot so I knew I was in for a hot day. I went back to the hotel, checked out, got ice and water in my tea jar, and got myself together take the shuttle to the park. As I walked out of the hotel plaza, I noticed the flags and the incredible view ahead of me. I thought, this is what America is about, these broad paint strokes of nature that indicate the vast potential that each of us can harness the energy from.
Once at the park, I decided to go ahead and purchase the annual park pass. By the time I get back to California I would already have paid for the pass and it might, just might encourage me to go to a few more parks in the upcoming calendar year.
I made my way to the As park shuttle, got on and got off at the second stop which promised a river walk. But it seems that I went the wrong way because I found myself down at the river with not much of a trail.

I even went into the water thinking maybe if I rounded the bend in the water, I would find the trail. But after the bend, there wasn't a visible trail. I was game enough to continue in the water but decided that I didn't really want to go hiking in the water alone. As my mother's daughter I had pictures of me slipping on the rocks, banging my head and getting myself in a fix knowing that she would never forgive me for getting myself in such a fix. So I turned around and hiked out of the water. Up on the bank I had to tromp through sand, some of which hitchhiked in my socks and later rubbed my ankle raw a bit in the back. Grrrr.

I hopped back on the shuttle to the next stop which was the Patriarch's Plaza--Ok, so it wasn't Plaza but that's all that I can pull to mind at the moment. I hiked up about 50 feet to the view point which was amazing.
The next stop was the lodge and the Emerald Pool Trail. I headed across the lodge lawn to reach the trail head. The trail was well marked and fairly easy to hike. At 11:30 it was well over 100 and the brief shade along the way was extremely welcome.

Eventually I made it to the refreshingly cool Emerald Pool located about about 100 feet below, a misting waterfall poured down the overhanging rock above the trail and into the pool. Rather than turn around I decided to hike on down to the Grotto Trail head about another mile or so along the path. It continued to get hotter as I went along but I was enjoying the walk. I had time to ponder.

On my walk, I thought about the Camino to Santiago and I realized what I would hope to get from as I became aware that I believed that I was doing at the moment the reason we came down out of the trees and became upright--to locomote-to move across inhospitable terrain in search for the more hospitable. I felt a sense of oneness with myself and all that was around me, my body was doing what it had evolved over the millinia to do. I felt complete listening to the sloshing of my ice water in my back pack and the riotous bleating of the tree frogs. Yes, this is why I want to walk 500 miles and why I think the Camino has become increasingly popular in the last few decades. I think that people feel the need to reduce themselves to the essentials of movement, food, water and shelter--the things of the body and not the mind--to regain perspective. It is the mind that wants more and more often to the detriment of the body when the mind is allowed to run without check and society today isn't doing a lot of check the wants and desires of the mind these days. Yes, I was a bloody philosopher today. I reached the end of the trail with the next section called Scout's Look Out and then on up to Angel's Flight which was tagged with enough warnings of impending death that I knew that Scout's Lookout would be the end of my hiking for the day. I headed down the trail which began to climb in elevation. I realized I felt that the heat had wrapped me up as it it were the walls of a cocoon. I got up a steep section and had to stop to let my heart rate slow down. I began to realize that I would have to turn around soon because this body of mine in this heat was not up to much more. A breeze began to blow and I made it about 1/4 of a mile further along. I rounded a bend and realized that the next part of the trail was even steeper. I had to turn around. I didn't have enough water to go any further and if I tried I might actually get myself in distress. It was 1:30 and I needed more water and lunch. I headed back down, caught the shuttle back to the lodge where I had some much needed water and a salad before going back into Springdale to get my car.
I relaxed for a bit in Springdale but about 3:45 I went back into Zion to go on the Bryce Canyon an 86 mile, 3 hour trip.

I started up the road and quickly realized that it just the type of road I find terrifying. Steep drops, switch backs and no guard rails. Ok, I told myself, you can do this, slow and easy that's all you need to do.

I got out at a turn out, looked at the sheer cliff face, noticed the cut out above and the sound of cars. Ah, that's the tunnel up there, that is where I will be soon. At the tunnel we had to wait about 8 minutes for the oversized traffic in the opposite direction to get through. About 10 cars were lined up behind me and the one car ahead of me when a van comes barreling up on the wrong side of the road. The ranger stopped he and said "Hey buddy what do you think you are doing?" I didn't hear his answer but she said, "Well, you can't go any further unless you want a head on, pull in up there and stay there until I say you can go." Geez, there is always someone, right?
After the tunnel, the switchbacks and curves continued for about another 7 miles and then the road evened out into my favorite type of highway--rolling and scenic. What gorgeous verdant landscape. I also noticed that the temperature was also dropping the closer to Bryce that I got. By the time, I got to Bryce it was 65 degrees and sprinkling. What a relief. I checked into the Best Western, called Mom to let her know I hadn't done myself in and went across the street to have dinner. When I came out into the almost twilight I looked up to find a rainbow. Then on closer inspection I realized that it was actually a double rainbow. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Off Then

Today was the first day of my Road Trip 2011. Sasha got me up at 4:30 for his breakfast. I fed him and then went to sleep on the sofa until about 6:45. Then I finished packing and somewhat ordering the apartment. I started loading up the car at about 8:00, then I had to go to the bank, get coffee and gas. At 9:00 I got on the road.

First stop was Acton to the library so that I could drop off some library materials. They would have been seriously overdue by the time I got back.

Then I stopped off in Lake LA to see Mary. Then I got lost for a bit, I ran around on the back roads of San Bernadino County for a while before I pulled out the Iphone Map function to find myself. I got back on the right track, stopped for a late lunch at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. The lunch buffet was tasty--I stuffed myself on shrimp, salmon, and seafood paella. Yum.
Then back on the road for Utah. One more turn around before I made my way to Springdale which is at the mouth of Zion National Park. I didn't mind this turn around at all.

I went through the very quaint town of Toqueville and then when I turned around to come back, I stopped to take a photo of the view and watched a covey of quail cross into the wash below. One after another they followed each other down, chirping the entire way. These sort of things are why I don't really get upset for constantly getting turned around.

At about 8:00 Mountain Time, I checked into Zion Best Western. After I checked in, I went walked over to the Sports Bar for a Veggie Burger and a beer--I tried the Polygamy Stout local brew.
The drive was good. I listened to The Swan Thieves on audio book. It's an interesting story. A couple of weeks ago, I was going through the donation pile and this title caught my eye. I checked the catalog, it's one of those borderline cases where, I could add it but I would need to send in a item correction because I had the trade paperback but the catalog entry is only for the hard cover. So it has been sitting on my desk for the last week waiting for me to decide if I really will add it or put it back into the donation pile. I looked at a few reviews and was intrigued but it is pretty hefty and I already have about 20 books to read. Then on Saturday I saw that we had The Swan Thieves in audiobook format on the shelf. Then I noticed that Treat Williams is one of the readers. I had such a crush on Treat Williams in Hair when I in Jr. High School, I have a soft spot for him to this day. And at 17 discs it promised to hold me through a couple of states. And it has. And what serendipity, I am in the midst of all things art with our Season of Art library programming. Also I have recently read The Greater Journey: American in Paris by David McCullough and I Am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto about the subject of John Singer Sargent's controversial painting. The Swan Thieves is about a brilliant artist who has had a mental break because he seems to be obsessed with the subject of a French painting for the late 1870s. Part of the book is set in Paris in the 1870s. This book coalesces brilliantly with what have been reading and what my current professional interests are. I love it when things fall into place!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Challenge to Myself

Here is a dress I used to wear to work. Classic black dress. This was during my marathon-Nike Town--Hash--Diamond-Head-Friday-Night-Running days. I've come a long way since then.
Here is me wearing this dress today.

Hmmm...don't quite think it would fly at work. What do you think? Yes, I have come a long way. A long way through the drive-through lane of about every fast food joint that you can imagine.
Here is a dress I bought on uber sale.

It is several sizes up from the Classic Black. I will call it Platinum Pretty.
Here is me wearing the Platinum Pretty.

A little bit better in the front.
But here is the back.

Hmmm. Not quite ready to walk out the door with this one, either.
But I will be. I plan to wear this dress to the Holiday Tea I host in December.
I have 4 months to inch the zipper up about twelve inches. Wish me luck!! And what every you do, if we go out to eat, don't let me eat too much.