Archives for posts with tag: Utah

I’ve always loved seeing how the roads to/from destinations take on a different perspective much like how the Impressionists studied the same view in different light. Monet must have studied, drawn, painted Notre Dame 50 times for many hours to get the impact of the change in color and depth perception. That’s how I feel as I drive south on the I-15 to LA and back again. Wow! How the topography changes!

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North I-15 toward Vegas Baby

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North I-15 closer to Vegas Baby

The good news about my trip from LA back to Vegas Baby is that I, nor my car or TomTom, were abducted. It was smooth sailing out of town but I’ve left my heart. It’s okay, though, because it was never mine but belongs/belonged to others. JD has my heart and I’m so blessed to have his mama and daddy in my life for them to give me such a gift.

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JD – my beautiful, old soul, step-grandson (although I claim him as my grandson)

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JD & me. Wow. I miss him so much! And, yes, I’m very tired even after lots of sleep and relaxation. I guess I’ll get caught up when I’m home and that’s okay by me!

My beautiful, talented daughter, Ava, continues to bring new Chirrens to me. I’d met Kev in a Messenger long-distance way through Ava’s friend, Elisa Furr, who I visited recently in Branson doing her Celine Tribute performance at the Legends in Concert. Kev had a great deal to say to me that night from Ava. No great surprise to me, Elisa or anyone else who knows how vocal she’s been these last five years!

As Kev lives between LA and Vegas Baby, we’d planned a real visit. Boy oh boy! What a visit! He walked in with confirmation messages from Ava that only a very few of us know about…like the name I gave her at birth, that she and Mom called themselves the  “September Girls” because of their birthdays being in that month, that Edwin (my dad), Carl and others were all there in a great big family reunion!

Ava told him to ask about the rocks. I said I was a rock-aholic and Mom, Carl, Ava and I had always collected rocks. But Kev said she was now telling him about a stick or pole that stood upright in the rocks and it hit me! The Zen Memory Garden I built for Ava!

zenFocalPt

Focal Point is the Heart-of-Pine standing tall with the help of the rocks Carl brought back from his mine 45 years ago.

zenFocalPt

Kev said the “Pole” pointed toward a star. Yes it does! Sirius…the star which got my attention by tapping out morse code like signals to me each night that first year!

ZenLookDown

Kev asked about the “beach” and shells. Well to the left of the triangle are the shells Mom, Carl, Ava and I had collected over many years of going to our favorite Florida beach.

I hauled no less that 400 pounds of sand and 600 pounds of pebbles up the hill to create this in her memory. All the pebbles scattered in her garden represent the love she has for others and they have for her. The space in the sand triangle is the time she and I had…way too short but amazing and precious forever.

And when I thought it couldn’t get any more amazing, Kev says, “Carl says, ‘I’m there too!'” Yes! Carl has a memory garden as well. Kev says, “It’s below Ava’s…like down a hill.” Yep! Nailed it again! It sits just below her garden down a the hill to his left just like in the last picture taken of us three.

Carl Ava Me 1984

The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in the same month this was taken.

But it’s all good because Christ has told us that (paraphrased) “in my Father’s house, there are many rooms, if it were not so, I’d tell you.” We’re not to know everything because if we were, we’d know more than just 10% of the brains function or more than 3% about DNA or the miracles of two cells joining to form children or pets.

I believe Mother Earth is a living, breathing entity which must be respected. When she exhales, we get volcano;, when she inhales, we get earthquakes; when she gets hot flashes, we get rising temperatures (not to discount our own donations to this very real reality). How do I know? Because if you study geology, history (ancient and more recent), you can’t help but see the truth. Plus, God has told us so. Every thing is precious.

Next, you may ask? Canyons and cowboys, oh yeah! Yeehaw!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS! YOUR PICK!

This whole trip has been about getting back to Flaming Gorge National Recreational Park. I go there every time I head west. It’s my must go see place in this country…well, that only via backroads in northern New Mexico, southern Colorado and western Wyoming.

So, this post is going to be mostly photos that just can’t do it justice because my camera is about eight years old, it was raining all day except when I asked God for sun to be shining when I got to Red Canyon…and the sleet/rain combo stopped long enough for Montana and I to walk around, take pictures and get back in the car before it all started again. Yep. That’s true and you’ll see it in my photos.

Here we go! I started in Rawlins, Wyoming via I-80 to Green River to pick up 530 south to get to Utah where the juiciest parts are. These six photos are what it looked like getting to Green River in a capsule.

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From Green River, going south still in Wyoming, you reach the beginning of the Flaming Gorge Park.

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Once in Utah, the goal is to get to the Sheep Creek Geologic Turn out. This is what it looks like getting to that point.

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The road just seems to disappear as you drive at 15 MPH through Sheep Creek.2016-5-16UTFlameToSheep32016-5-16UTFlameToSheep5

Most of you don’t know that I fell in love with Geology and seriously considered changing my Major from Art to it but I had way too many credits in Art at that point to switch. So, to me, the BEST is the Sheep Creek Geologic Turn out once you get into Utah.

SHEEP CREEK it only took me FIVE years to get back to you, but here you are and here I am!

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And…Sheep Creek…

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But the BEST of the BEST is Red Canyon. Yeah, baby. It’s all that and some!

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I decided to go back to Wyoming the same way I came in which was going to be the first time I’d travelled south on that road. It’s wonderful how things look so differently going in a different direction like it’s a totally different road.

Having vertigo creates the strange sensation of being drawn to the edge of the precipice while fighting the steering wheel during fog, rain, sleet, hairpin turns, road disappearing and severe drop off edges (like dropping several thousand feet) with only a small guard rail to keep you from going over.

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I took a new back road to my next stop back in Wyoming. I was enjoying the lack of noise, traffic, 70 MPH drive, huge pasturelands full of Black Angus and savoring my day when I notice that the speed limit is reduced to 60 MPH. I check my speedometer and look back up to see a HUGE black blob in the middle of the road. I had no time at all to cipher what it was…only brake and pull to the right. It was during that process that I realized that three cowboys were HERDING Black Angus IN THE MIDDLE OF A HIGHWAY! They proceeded by us, smiled and tipped the bills of their baseball caps in “thanks.” I was so stunned that I totally forgot to grab my camera!

For some reason, I just LOVE to see long trains crossing open land. As I approached my randomly picked destination for the night on a back road to nowhere, a train is crossing a no-name abandoned whistle stop. It was just too cool not to capture.

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And my randomly picked destination for the night happens to be the Fossil Capital of the World and the Home of J. C. Penny! Who knew! I’m going to drive around town tomorrow to get a little feel for it before heading for the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone!

HAPPY TAILS!

What a change! NW Nevada looks like the craters on the moon with some scrub growing. And, as soon as you get going east on I-80 it changes and changes and changes as does Utah. I ran out of juice on my camera battery by the time I hit Wyoming because I’d taken 150 pictures which all boil down to these.

In this never-seen-by-me stretch of Nevada, I’m trying to show perspective of the same view as I pass by it or to show the perspective of a panaramic view and how it changes all within the same line of vision from stark and craggy to lush and green.

Check out the scrub grass on each side of the road as I approach this mountain range.

And now this grassy area next to the ever-changing mountains and hills.

Then, suddenly, this craggy Monument Valley look.

Then snow-covered mountains, which, btw, I’m heading right toward!

LOVE this perspective! Looks like everyone is driving INTO the mountain!

Up close and personal snow-covered mountain!

Doesn’t it look like I’m flying? LOL

Fell in LOVE with the pinkish peak in the middle of this picture. Now, watch it change!

Pink marble look?

Going East on I-80 about 4’ish…watch what happens to the light next…

What my pink rock sits next to…then

cool shadows appear on the neighboring mountain…

making stripes across it enhancing the vegetation color changes

THEN, I cross the UTAH state line and the whole terrain CHANGES instantly like I’ve gone to another part of the world! It was crazy how it went from this last photo to huge SALT beds. These next pictures were taken in sequence from 3:59 PM Ava Specific Time (a/k/a Pacific Mountain Time) until my camera ran outta’ juice at 7:04PM…just TWO short hours!

Last vestiges of Nevada in the foreground and Utah state line behind it!

Amazing blue sky and HUGE, ENDLESS salt beds on both sides of the road!

Salt in the front and then God threw in some purple mountains for a back drop.

and more salt

on both sides of the road as far as you can see…left and right!

and then some more purple mountains miles, mind you, from the last ones!

Then let’s paint in some water on each side of the road in this massive salt invested area…some really pretty turquoise water!

Then let’s screw with everyone’s head and bring back the salt beds and throw in some really pretty green vegetation covered mountains!

And, 5 minutes later, we’ll remove the salt beds and add some ground vegetation and greener mountains..

And then let’s turn the corrner and find this HUGE lake…could it be Salt Lake?

Then a totally different lake in a totally different environment just minutes down the road from the last one!]

And yet another minute passes and look what I find now!

Then we’re back to the craggy rocky mountain look just when you thought you were in vegi heaven!

And the last shot de jour of Utah looks like the spine of a huge dinosaur!

So, that’s it for today’s adventure! No hiking…only driving…but I hope I’ve shown you a side to Nevada and Utah you’ve never seen before, or, if you have seen it, I’ve given you a whole new perspective of what you saw. After all, as an artist, the first thing they teach you about drawing is to forget everything you think you know about what you see making you focus on seeing in a fresh light.

Tomorrow is my favorite place. This will be the fourth time I’ve gone there. Flaming Gorge, Utah/Wyoming. But, this time I’m dropping back down into Utah to travel through the area south to north as it will totally give me a new experience. I find that traveling west through Zion is so much more interesting than traveling east through it. Just saying.

Happy Trails!

 

 

This part of my trip is just too good to skip over so I’m dedicating this post just to the beauty and wonderment of Flaming Gorge, Utah located in Ashley National Forest. I was so excited that I took this 14 photo sequence of my journey into the park and going back out. These photos have not been published in this blog before. I hope these images sends to you what I felt as I drove into this wonderland… awe, respect, quiet, wonderment, excitement, joy and about a million other emotions. Enjoy the journey.

#7 of 14 in sequence

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

and, last but not least, #14:

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You can visit other photos taken that day of Sheep Creek, the cabin I stayed in and other great views in my earlier post named “From Wyoming into the arms of Utah” published 5/17/11.

Happy Memories!

It was cool hiking some small trails yesterday but today was the BOMB! I just  LOVE driving through the park. As a rock hound, I’m in total hog heaven. The  rock formations are remarkable combinations from billions of years ago with that  many years of rain, wind, sand and Lord only knows what else attacking the  surface to expose what we see today. There are layers and layers of frozen-in-time  waves of red mud thrown in several different directions all frozen in a moment in  time.

Zion from West entrance before climb

Zion's form of barrier to keep you from going over ... what... that 10,000 foot cliff?

The red is the same red of Georgia clay used for making old bricks for 200 years  ago. Add to that red, splashes of very white, chalky looking rock and lots of dark  green pion pine needles and reddish-brown bark, light green cacti with yellow  or sometimes bright pink blooms. Sprinkled across this landscape are tiny  lavender bell-shaped wild flowers along the side of the road or bright red flowers  creeping out of the rock formations. We drove about 15 MPH and took over two  hours driving about 40 miles. Normally, I’d do that in 30 minutes! Tells it all,  don’t it!

Great caves carved out of the rock from billions of years of nature's tantrums

Cactus flowers along side of road

After driving up the mountain you reach the part where you go through the mile long tunnel. It’s so cool but the jerk kid in front of us threw out a cherry bomb in the tunnel and scared the crap outta’ us. Needless to say, when we exited said tunnel, I reported it complete with truck description and license tag number to the Forest Ranger holding the oncoming traffic as only one lane is open at a time. Saw the truck pulled over with a Ranger looking for the culprits. Like that!

mile long tunnel

Now we’re on our way back out of the park exiting to the east so that we can end up at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, hopefully, before too late so we can get a place to stay.

Can you find Ava?

This is where we stopped because we saw a waterfall, such as it is. The only one during the whole trip.

Waterfall desert style

This next picture was so amazing because of the rock formations but if you look closely at the very top of the white mountain, there are rocks stacked on top of each other.

Can you see the rocks stacked on top of the white mountain?

Here’s a better picture of the stacked rocks on top of that white mountain with my zoom.

Now can you see them?

So, after all this excitement, we realized that we needed to hustle up to get a place  to stay. As Ava wanted to hike down into the Canyon and stay at Phantom  Ranch tomorrow and hike back out the South Rim the following day, we needed  a place near the North Rim. We were hoping against hope that there would be  room in the park. No such luck. They book a year out.

We found a place 43 miles from the North Rim. It is officially called Kaibab  Campgrounds at Jacob Lake (or a similar name) which we now call Rip Off  Campground. We’re so mad for so many reasons but first the cool part.

We set up camp around 5:30 PM and drove immediately to the North Rim so Ava  could find out specific details about her hike for the next day. We were confident  that the only challenge after returning to camp was to not be excited in  anticipation of her adventure… that apple don’t fall far from the tree. I walked a  different path (vertigo, ya’ know) while she headed toward the Lodge and  inquired as to availability for dinner. They had just had a cancellation so we could get a table on the RIM eating fine food, drinking fine wine while watching the sunset go down over the North Rim. Ava looked at me and said seriously, “Ya’ know this is the only place you can see the sunset over the Grand Canyon.” I believed her. And it was.

Now back to the rip off campground. First of all they charge me with my little pop-up $37.00 plus tax which is the same as they do for huge 40 foot RV’s! No discounts. This has been a thorn in my side for the last three trips but now that these places are going up every year, it’s really ticking me off. The worst part? They have the NERVE to charge me $2.25 (in quarters only) to take a FIVE minute shower in a 2’x2′ shower stall! My little pop-up uses almost no electricity  and we certainly don’t have toilets or running water like the RV’s.

When I get home, I’m writing every congressman and woman about the  problems with the cost of camping. How can it cost as much as a Motel 6 for crying out loud! There, at least I get a warm bed and a shower for about the same price! There’s some gouging going on and I’m either upgrading my pop-up to include toilet, shower and big screen TV or selling it and going back to Motel 6 like I had to do in 2009.

What’s wrong with this state of the union when camping use to be affordable? I worked 45 years to live this dream of camping my way across this country. It’s been my dream, darn-it.

Up early to take Ava back to the North Rim to hike while I tear down camp and drive to some new unknown campground at the South Rim Friday! The challenge is that neither of our cell phone service providers have great service here but I don’t doubt that she’ll find me!

Happy trails.

We stayed up so late last night trying to get ready to leave town that we couldn’t  get up. What do you do? You embrace it. I figured we’d get to a campground early  enough anyway to see some of Zion and I was right (Thanks God). You just  have to get in before 4:00 and we barely made it with time change and driving  but we did and that’s all that counts.

Zion at dusk

Unfortunately, Zion isn’t all that pet friendly. There’s only one trail where dogs are allowed so I hiked that with Montana while  my daughter took the shuttle up to the stop for hiking Emerald Pool. She says it’s gorgeous. I hope to find out tomorrow while she dog sits Montana. Right now, all I want to do tomorrow is take the Shuttle all the way to the top and back just for kicks and giggles.

More Zion

Our facilities are expensive at Zion Canyon Campground RV Resort at  $35.00/night seeing as how it’s we’re renting is the dirt and a little power. They  charge the pop-up campers the same as the huge RV’s. That ain’t right. I don’t  even have water hook-up here. The internet connection is lousy. To top it all off,  the overhead lights in the pop-up decided not to work tonight. The good news is  the Virgin River is roaring outside and will lull us to sleep.

Now this is what I call a room with a view!

The other good news is that there is an amazing view outside our pop-up. Wow.  I can’t wait to drive over the mountain to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon  tomorrow.

Zion at dusk

So, more installments tomorrow from the North Rim. I’m so excited. I’ve never  been there before and it’s all back scenic roads getting there. Oh boy!

Happy trails!

It’s been so much fun staying off the Interstates (when possible) and keeping to  the  back roads to get in touch with the towns like I remember doing when I’d  travel  Georgia with my father as a child in the 1950’s. He was the Public  Relations Photographer for the numerous Governors for the State of Georgia over 25 years. When  the current Governor told Dad to cover a specific  event, Dad went and, when possible, I went with him. I sat on the laps of  Governors and knew many important State Legislators; that’s how it was  being his daughter. But, the most   impressionable part of it all to me was traveling those  country roads. I’d sit quietly in his car, imagining what the life was like in the  house we’d just passed where the people were sitting on the porch next to the  old wringer washing machine; the lights inside  barely glowed and looked more like candlelight than like Edison’s invention.

It was  all mystical and alluring but unsettling all at the same time to this little  girl  who was as young as 5  on her first great adventure with her dad. Who were   these people? Where did they work so far away from civilization? Did they play  Checkers? What did those children do during those long, hot, South Georgia  summers? Did they have a swimming hole like we did or a lake?  A million and  one questions raced through my young mind formulating stories, lives yet all the while trying to keep a very low profile so my dad wouldn’t quiz me with words to spell  in rapid fire fashion. Not only was I supposed to know how to spell words at 5  like “kudzu” but also remember the history of it in our state, etc. Needless to say,  I wandered off into their world to avoid answering his questions wrong!

Yep, it was then that I fell in love with country roads and their stories. And, I  guess, it was the hope that the ambiance of the small town still existed almost  60 years later that sent me on the first Great Adventure in 2009. I’m happy to tell you all that it does exist. The rapid rate of technological advancement has NOT deleted this wonderful attribute of our country. Thank you, God!

It’s the back roads I take, the Mom and Pop places where I sleep at night, fill up my truck and buy my food that keep me feeling alive. No big chain stores for me… except for the Truck Stops  (aka Welcome Centers) when the Interstate can get me where I  really want to be mo’ faster so I can spend more time off ’em!

As the weather has been unpredictable with high winds, rain and snow, I really haven’t even been able to pop-up the pop-up as yet. You just can’t fold up a wet pop-up without ruining your bedding and probably the particle board underneath. So, it’s been motel-ville for me. Not what I wanted, but as a friend of mine reminded me, “It’s what’s NOT planned that’s the most fun!” Thanks Big Ed-2 (not to be confused with Big Ed-1, my bro).

So, it was the Mom and Pop in Chugwater, WY and the Mom and Pop near Bryce  Canyon that tell the stories of how families stick together for the greater good of  all. Nice stuff.

At Buffalo Lodge and Grill in Chugwater known to serve the famous “Chugwater  Chili” (307-422-3463), the owner of the facility had become too sick to run the  place so the family stepped up to the plate… not just immediate blood-type  family but in-laws and out-laws alike doing the cooking, cleaning, managing  and baby sitting for those working. There was the cutest little 4-year-old girl  chirping around the small lodge. She ran back and forth between her grandma  in the restaurant to her mom/or aunt behind the desk. I really liked seeing that  part of Americana that appears to be lost in the big cities like Atlanta.

At Harold’s Place (435-676-2350) near Bryce Canyon (at the junction of Hwy.   89 and 12), I met Christy (sp?/Kristi/Christie), the daughter of the Mom and Pop   establishment. She rattled off her duties in rapid fire succession… manager,   landscaper, gardener, security, cook, waitress, bottle washer and overall get ‘er   done lady. When a Brit came into the restaurant and asked her what they   served, she replied, “Food” in the driest of British humor that totally went over   the Brit’s head! It was all I could do to keep from throwing out one of my   spontaneous, turrets like guffaws at her wonderful, Utahns British dry humor.   Thanks, Christy/Kristi/Christie! And, also, a special shout out to  Marty/Mardi (again sp?)  who had recently been hired to help with the hotel part of Harold’s. She’s   following along with me on this Great Adventure. Christy/Kristi/Christie   doesn’t touch computers and doesn’t even want to because they lock up, freeze  up or just go crazy when she touches them. She leaves all that to her dad   (harold@color-country.net).

And, as in the past few days, I woke up to more snow! So, off I went from   Harold’s to explore Bryce Canyon. Boy, was I glad I’d gotten my Senior Lifetime   National Park Pass in Georgia for a whopping $10.o0! It saved me the $25.00   fee to see the small but impressive park.

It snowed all the way through yet another aptly named “Red Canyon” (this one  in Dixie National Forest) to get to an overcast, snowy Bryce. Here’s what it  looked like going through Red Canyon on the way to Bryce.

going through Red Canyon to Bryce

more Red Canyon

Now, finally, at the famous Bryce Canyon:

Bryce

Natural (?) Bridge

At Bryce Peak

coming back out of Bryce

coming out of Bryce 2

Now it was onto Zion National Park going west on Hwy. 9. I had no way of  knowing the magnificent views and white-knuckle driving waiting me around  the bend.

Entering Zion

no stopping for pix... this is on-the-go photo ops

right before the white knuckle driving started & battery in camera ran dry

Ava and I will be driving through Zion (going east this time) to camp there (if  space is available) on our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Four  Corners and other points east on our way back to Atlanta. Even with bad weather, I saw lots of tents and bicyclers in Zion. They must all be young!

As for now, I’m settled in at Ava’s home for the next couple of weeks in Vegas- Baby. I will keep you posted on our adventures here and photos when they can be  published! Just kidding. We’re not all that rowdy any more! Really. Why don’t  you believe me?

See you all soon and thanks, again, for joining me on this Great Adventure. I am  so truly blessed to have this opportunity of combining the three things I love  most in life: my daughter, writing and travel.

Happy trails!

Having fallen in love with Utah in 2009 during my first Great Adventure, I wasn’t   sure that I could fall any deeper in love with the state. I was wrong. Today has  proven that. When I woke up to 4-5 inches of snow after sleeping in a log cabin  (at Red Canyon Lodge – http://www.redcanyonlodge.com) in my favorite spot in Utah (Red Canyon in the Ashley National  Forest within the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area), I knew today would be  magical. Just how magical it could get was what made my trip all worth while.

what a view US 40 South toward Vernal

It was STILL snowing! How cool! ME driving in the snow in UTAH! Wow! I  get all silly remembering the feeling I had when I took this picture.

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

It was a bitter sweet departure… not wanting to leave but couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me, too.

leaving log cabin was so hard

What I’d forgotten about leaving Red Canyon via Vernal was the fabulous  panoramic view of Lucerne Valley before you arrive in Vernal. Right before.  Nothing prepares you for it as cameras only take a picture of what will remind  you (hopefully) of the magnificence you actually experienced. It fails in  comparison.

Lucerne Valley - it only got better

Lucerne Valley

more Lucerne Valley

and more Lucerne

almost done

Wasn't that worth it?

But, as my dear friend from high school, Bunnie, used to say, “God don’t make   no junk”. She was so right. She even made a needlepoint saying that and hung   it on the wall. Gosh, I miss her. God didn’t make no junk and I  was to see  more of His glory as the day went on with an amazing reminder at the end of  my day’s journey.

It was during this next stretch of Highway 191 that meandered through Ashley  National Forest again that caused me to, literally, hold my breath for most of  the drive in total awe and disbelief. I was transported into the most amazing  winter wonderland of pristine forest, snow, rock outcroppings and mountains  majesty. It was almost too much but just shy of it. Here. See if you can “feel” “it”.

Ashley Forest Hwy 191

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

Trees heavy with snow -Hwy 191

magnificent views Hwy 191

I know these pictures can’t really show you but it does my heart good to have something of that stretch of back road that touched my heart and showed me yet another place where God lives. I saw a little ranch for sale nestled at the base of these mountains with a nice stream running through it. Drool. The only problem is that you’d have a very long drive to the store!

What could possibly top this? I’d NEVER seen that much snow. EVER.

Well, Hwy. 10 wasn’t too far off the mark.

Hwy 10 South

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

Trees heavy with snow -Hwy 191

magnificent views Hwy 191

And, it was toward the end of this section of highway where the treat God had been  promising me all day long belonged.

Thank you, God, for a wonderful day.

And, when I was getting into my 7th hour of driving through fabulous  countryside on my way to Bryce Canyon for some hiking tomorrow, lo and  behold, I’m transported back into 1950. I gotta’ go back into this town on my  way to Vegas-Baby. Look a’ here.

the whole town looks like it never left the 1950's

Thanks for listening… and looking… and sharing this wonderful trip with me.   And, I promise I’ll get back to Wyoming when their weather is better! I guess  it was more important for me to be in Utah this trip.

Time to rest. Montana and I have a big day tomorrow in Bryce Canyon. Sleep well and happy trails.