I've lived in Utah for almost two years now, and have barely crept beyond my county. As fine a county as it is, Utah is a gorgeous state with some mighty fine rocks and trees and lakes, and it's just a mite embarrassing that I haven't seen much of them before now! So two weeks ago we packed up the car and hit the road and headed south into some of the most amazing and beautiful country I have ever seen. We started out in Moab and Arches National Park. We then went to Zion and the nearby Bryce National Parks. Each were stunningly beautiful and even though within hundreds of miles of each other, drastically different in geology. The most amazing thing was traveling from Zion: we passed through a mile-long tunnel built right through the mountain during the depression. On one side of the mountain were the majestic cathedral like tower red sandstones of Zion. On the other side of the tunnel were massive white and pink swirling sand dunes that had solidified into solid rock. It was like we had landed on another planet. Completely overwhelmingly incredible. As many pictures as we took (more than 500!), we didn't get any of the dunes coming out of the tunnel because we had emerged right at sunset and the sun was blinding. However, go check out this site for this gorgeous picture to get a sense of how completely gorgeous and incredible the natural geology of the area is! I found it on the internets on someone's travel blog.
Now for some of my own photos. Now, no worries!! I'm not pulling out the film projector to bore you with all 500 images from my trip! Just a few beauties! Here's one from our first night in Moab at our campsite right on the Colorado River. This was taken after sunset:
It's dark, but that's what it looked like with only the moon shining overhead. It was so beautiful! Not bad for an $8 camping site! It was so nice to be able dip our feet in the Colorado River too!
The next day, we headed over to Arches National Park and did the sightseeing and hiking thing. How can you not?! This is the obligatory photo of Delicate Arch. We also got a funny shot of a man taking a photo of it with his iPad. We saw several folks taking photos with those, actually, during our treks. It was "only" a 1.5 mile hike up to the arch, but felt a bit more arduous to get there. It was a bit humbling that so many families with kids were just scrambling right up there! And it was a bit scary watching one little guy, Zander, almost tumble to his death several times trying to wrassle his way out his mother's grip and right over the ledge! Yikes!! Good save Mom!
After Arches, Karen ran the Thelma & Louise half marathon because what else is a gal to do in the desert?! I mean really! Go girl! The marathon began at almost 6,000 feet and descended about 1,000 feet in 13.1 miles although had some hills in between. I think I was the smart one as I did the cheering on of runners :-). Just about everyone crossing the finish line looked a bit in pain and quite happy to be finished. Who can blame them? I love that distance, but that's compared to a full marathon, and I did my half marathon in La Jolla, CA where it was 74 degrees with ocean breezes at my back! Who can't love that?! Anyway, Karen was a rock star and did great.
After Moab, we went on to dear friends' wedding in Southern Utah. It was very special. So great to reconnect with old friends, and so wonderful to meet Bill and Amy's special friends and family! Best wishes to a continued life together of love, laughter, happiness, joy, and much adventure! Thanks for including us in the celebration!
We left the wedding weekend and then decided to extend the national park adventures by seeing both Zion and Bryce. Both were so amazing and so utterly different from each other even though they're so close to each other! Zion is sort of like a cathedral, with high red walls towering high overhead. Bryce, in stark contrast, lies in the canyons below and is of a lighter sandstone. Where Zion has both towers and sheer walls, Bryce is known for its "hoodoos," narrow spindles that the wind has whittled down.
Not quite willing to pack it in just yet, after Bryce we went to Kodachrome Basin State Park where we saw Chimney Rock and the gorgeous paint-like striped sandstone rocks named for the Kodak company that did a 1949 photo shoot with its sadly now defunct Kodachrome film. We then went to Capitol Reef. We saw just a bit of this large national park, but were in awe of what little we did see, including this shot below--I forget whether this is the Egyptian Temple or the Golden Throne (great scribe I am, eh?!).
Having hit 4 national parks and one state park in one trip--not to mention attended a fabulous wedding--you might have thought we called it a trip, but wait! There's more! On our way home, we stopped at Fish Lake National Forest and camped at Fish Lake. Way up at 9,100 feet, Fish Lake is a glacial lake surrounded by aspens and deer. With cabins and campsites and even a fair-sized general store, I'm sure it bustles during the summer months, but in mid-May it was almost entirely deserted! Happily, there was a multi-generational family with the requisite yellow lab camping in their RV to make us feel safe and settled in our nearby campsite.
As I write this, we are embarked on our next camping trip . . . but this time, with pups in tow. Their very first camping trip ever! We are so proud of how well they are doing with all the new, strange experiences! Their first night in a tent, the strange creaks and groans of the wind through the tent, nearby campers, new potty spots (sorry for too much detail!), etc. Our intrepid travelers! Onward ho!