Archives for posts with tag: Zion National Park

Got a little stir crazy from sitting too long trying to ignore screaming of electric tools from the guy next to me build the next Taj Mahal or totally refurbish his travel trailer so I hit the road. Why oh why are they allowing this? Guess I’ll have to ask but, in the meantime, I took the road less travelled to Zion, Kanab and Jacob’s Lake to revisit some memories.

Plus, I’d had an unrelenting desire to revisit a bit of my last camping trip with Ava from  June, 2011 this past weekend. We’d left Vegas and headed straight for Zion where she spent a couple of days hiking some marvelous trails while Montana and I explored the few paths which allow pets. Our next stop was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where Ava was determined to hike down the North Rim, spend the night at Phantom Ranch and hike back up the next day to the South Rim. Let’s just say it was one of our most eventful camping experiences. We spent that night in a cabin at Jacob’s Lake taking a much needed respite. Ava had hiked most of the way down the North Rim when her knees failed. They were going to helicopter her out of the canyon but she had other plans. She hiked back out escorted by Rangers.

I had just closed up the popup to head toward the South Rim when a stranger called me first saying Ava was fine and wanted him to tell me to stay at the North Rim. She was coming back up because of knee issues. Montana and I paced frantically for hours at the top of the trail asking anyone coming toward us if they’d seen her. Too scary to say what I was thinking that whole time but when I saw her, there wasn’t a happier mother around! We got the last available cabin at Jacob’s Lake and regrouped.

I felt compelled to go back. I think it was because we’d left part of us there and I needed to put it back into my soul before I could write again.

So, it was only natural for me to focus on rocks first. They help me get outta my own head. Plus, they’re strong but vulnerable and, I sure love me some rocks and how the Mothers create and scar them!

The force of the Mothers (Nature and Earth) are never more apparent than at Zion.  These mountains show signs of Mother Nature’s etchings on their surfaces as the winds carve their way through the sandstone mountains. She drops water into their crevices, then quickly freezes it over and over again to weaken that link to its parent in order to loosen huge boulders enough to cause them to crash below creating thunder throughout the canyon and land atop of the eroded soil at her feet.

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Approaching Zion from Hurricane

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Etchings from the Mother

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Amphitheater created by Mother’s determination to break free pieces of the mountain.

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Erosion at the base waiting for more from above

Mother Nature blows her seeds in the wind and sprinkles them like a condiment  into those same crevices. Some germinate and grip for the rest of their lives to the precipices of the rock fighting forever the changing wind, rain, snow, freezing and warming temperatures the Mother sends their way. The larger they grow, the larger the crevice becomes and encourages the huge boulder upon which they cling, along with the Mother’s help, to join the other large boulders below.

The light changes here as rapidly as the temperature and weather. I take a picture one minute and in the next, different hues appear. It’s this marvelous discovery by those artists of yesteryear who fell in love with that very dynamic…the effects sunlight which…Vermeer and Impressionists captured in their paintings and focused on by painting the same scene over and over again in varying light (i.e, Monet’s many paintings of Notre Dame). At some point, the word spread far and wide that Carmel, California held some magic light there. I believe that “magic” light is in the desert here in Utah.

See what you think about my drive to and from Jacob’s Lake.

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Trying to capture the Vermillion Cliffs and the White ones too

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Light changes rapidly especially on cloudy days like yesterday

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These three were literally taken only minutes minutes apart while sitting still.

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Money shot!

The other two parts of this adventure were to visit a place Ava and I had always wanted to visit but never found the time to do so…Best Friends Sanctuary (a non-profit) facility in Kanab, Utah of National Geographic’s “Dogtown” TV show notoriety (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/visit-our-utah-sanctuary/places-stay).

For those of you who knew Ava, she rescued cats…and dogs…but mostly cats. Ava rescued   a paraplegic cat, Murmur, from a Vet who was moving and who would no longer keep. Ava took Murmur and lovingly nurtured her until the little animal passed away. Ava  would have loved to have lived and worked at this place (if they could have incorporated opera), so I it was only fitting for me to take their tour while I was in the neighborhood and donate to their wonderful cause in her memory.

Yup. It was hard but it was what Ava wanted me to do yesterday so I did it.

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Best Friends Welcome Center

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Where “Dogtown” was filmed for National Geographic (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/series)

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New Veterinarian facilities

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Cat  World HQ

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One of many outdoor fun for their Sanctuary Cats looking for their fur-ever homes! 

Then, just for me, I had to go back to Rocking V Cafe (http://www.rockingvcafe.com)  for one of their amazing pork chops. I’d had one of their pork chops this past summer and couldn’t stop thinking about it…so I did what a girl had to do…go back and order it again!

Pork chop

YEAH, BABY! Pork chop at Rocking V Cafe! Way to end the day!

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Rocking V Cafe, Kanab, Utah

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Cozy Inside with nice art for sale on the walls!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Zion is one of my favorite national parks but I think that this time, after seeing it no less than 6 times, I’ve had my fix. It’s majestic, entertaining, whirlwind of rock-ology to satisfy any amateur or professional geologist with the whittled and whirled carvings wind and  water have done to the different sandstones in both checkerboard and dancing swirls across the sides of mountains. There’s also the Virgin River which flows through Zion with it’s flash flooding impact on vulnerable boulders, trees, river banks and visitors, adding different elements such as erosion, landslides and chaos.

Do’s & Don’ts: I highly recommend not coming in the heat of the summer. It was hotter than hot (107 may not sound so bad but add altitude and dehydration and you won’t like it). Don’t wear flip flops or open toed shoes if walking in the sand in this heat is what you plan to do because your feet will be burned like fire. Don’t forget food and water. Don’t bring children under 25. I saw way too many miserable babies with equally miserable parents with condo’s attached to their backs to carry the little ones. Don’t rely on cellphone service for communication with family members if you aren’t at a lodge, Visitors Center or a neighboring town.

Do bring comfortable walking clothes and shoes. Do take the Zion Shuttle from the Visiter’s Center. Get to the park early to get a parking space for under $20.00. Do take your time driving through and read up before going because this is really a cool place to visit but knowledge about the park will help you enjoy it even more.

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Driving into Zion from St. George, Utah

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The topography is constantly changing.

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When Jenni and I took the Shuttle, she decided to jump off to take on the mighty Angel Falls hike up (and I mean UP) a switchback trail to see what she could see. I, however, took the low road and opted for a casual stroll by the river, aptly named “Riverwalk.” Neither was easy in 107 degree heat with 6000 foot elevations. We came back exhausted, dirty and thirsty but very happy!

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Riverwalk by Virgin River

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Riverwalk trail has much to see and it’s easy hiking with right clothes and shoes…which I did not have on!

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more Riverwalk trail

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and more Riverwalk trail

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and more Riverwalk trail

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HUH? A herd of Mountain Goats? Really?

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Leaving Zion going toward Kanab, Utah

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And there it is! The money shot!

As we left Zion, we felt we must be in the middle of nowhere because cell service wasn’t great and neither was the internet but some people who live here think it’s in the middle of everywhere! I kinda think they might be right because Kanab, Utah is East of Zion, South of Bryce and North of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and I’d swear that when Ava and I came through here in 2011, it wasn’t this hot nor was it this as developed!

Kanab is a quaint town bursting at the seams. Big chain hotels are popping up everywhere here, but the coolest place to stay is The Parry Lodge (“where all the movie stars stay”). It’s clean, reasonable, comfortable and includes a breakfast buffet! Can’t beat that, now can ya’!

The other charming element of this town is “The Rocking V Cafe” owned, operated by a most engaging and entertaining proprietor by the name of Victor Cooper. He goes around from table-to-table making sure everybody is happy and full. Looks like he enjoys his work! (rockingvcafe.com)

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Tomorrow? Bryce Canyon drive-thru and haul a$$ to Vernal, Utah to see Dinosaur National Park and hit my very favorite Flaming Gorge, Wyoming the next day. Cowboy country coming up, y’all! Yeehaw!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

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!