"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Last Look at our Zion Home

Along the Canyon Overlook Trail
During this, our last week here, we hit a few places on our must do list, and took a few hikes. While I was away, Rick hiked to Angels Landing - a truly impressive feat that I'm glad he did without me.  I will send readers to Joe Braun, one of my favorite websites to get a view of that trail.

Together we hiked a few much less ambitious trails in Zion, and drove to Kolob Canyon. Here are a few pictures from those adventures, plus a few from Bryce, which I never got around to writing about earlier.

One of the more interesting corners on the Canyon Overlook Trail.

Rick at the top of the trail.

Roots across the trail.

A sweet last view of Zion, for now.

 These two are from Bryce National Park.

Cathedral windows 

From the Sunset-Sunrise Trail in Bryce.

 And finally...

This has been our view from our "backyard" in Virgin, UT.

Las Vegas and Minneapolis

I've been away for a week at the American Dance Therapy Association annual conference. This year it was in Minneapolis. To get to the airport I had a beautiful drive from Virgin to Las Vegas, through the Virgin River Gorge along Rt. 15, and into the desert. The climate and terrain change dramatically after you come through the gorge.  Then I hung out in Las Vegas for a couple of hours before my flight. (Plane delay, plus I didn't realize that Las Vegas is an hour earlier than Utah.) There are slot machines everywhere in the airport...Bling, crunch, buzz, beep beep, ding dong...bling, crunch, buzz, beep beep, ding dong... OVER and OVER AGAIN for hours! There's no getting away from it. Inane. Collapsed people sitting at the machines, looking like I do after 30 games of solitaire. And now they don't even have to move to put in coins. They put in a ticket for a certain amount and all they have to do is push a button. No coins fall out when they win either. What's up with that?

The weather was grand in Las Vegas and I drove around with no problem during the few hours I had.   I have always had bad feelings about Las Vegas because of the gambling, but this time it felt more like an adult playground. Now if there were some way to have that kind of place without the gambling and all its ill effects, I'd love it. We will be there around Thanksgiving and hope to see Ka by Cirque du Soleil.

The conference was wonderful. Seeing all my dance/movement therapy friends was heart warming and more fun than Vegas could ever be. I came away very happy.  I have had the very best career in the world. I presented my research to an appreciative group of colleagues, and got an award too! For excellence in education. Couldn't be better.

Minneapolis was not so beautiful, but it does have these cool skyways that connect all the blocks downtown. You can get to Starbucks and shopping without going outside. Perfect. Chicago should have them.

I had a window seat on the flight back to Las Vegas, which went over the Colorado Plateau. My face was up against the window the whole way. We flew right over Bryce, Zion, Kolob Canyon and Virgin. I could actually see our RV park, as well as more interesting places like Sand Hollow, Quail and Kolob Reservoirs, and Snow Canyon. It was a perfect overview of everywhere we've been down here, and a perfect way to say goodbye. This weekend we head on to Powell Lake.

On the drive back to Virgin in the dark, I passed an electric highway sign that read "Bee Swarm 4 Miles Ahead. Windows Up." That's a first. I guess there had been an accident and a truck carrying bees had rolled. When I passed the scene the bee hives were all over the road and people in bee suits (?) were walking around in spot lights doing I don't know what. Herding bees? I was expecting bee splats all over the windshield, but we were going too slow to test that out.

People have been asking where we are heading next, so that if we are in their neighborhood they can contact us. Here is the itinerary for the next four months:

10/ 29-11/13 – Lake Powell, AZ                                             
11/13-20 -- Cottonwood, AZ 
11/20-23 -- Needles, CA 
11/23-30 -- Las Vegas, NV 
11/30-12/1 -- Yermo, CA 
12/1-15 -- San Dimas, CA 
12/15-1/15 – Santee Lakes, CA
1/15-2/15 – Aguanga, CA

See ya!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grafton, Utah: Ghost Town

Kona and I drove out to Grafton, near the town of Rockville, to poke around and take some photos. Ghost towns are big out here in the West, but don't do much for me. I tried the method of getting in and down into the details as we walked around, and ranged a bit further into the surrounding area as well.  That helped, so the day turned into a really nice exploration of the countryside.

Grafton consists of about 6 or 7 buildings, from churches to sheds.  Some have been restored and are monitored by video surveillance, and others are just slipping into the landscape.

The surrounding area is an old farm along the Virgin River. It looks like it still may be in use by a local ranch for cattle grazing.

We walked along the river and the pastures. I let Kona off her leash to play in the river and follow her nose. She didn't see this guy though, until we were right on top of him.

We stood and looked at each other for awhile. I think we were in his path and he was hoping we would go away.  He eventually turned aside and so did we.

On another note, I found a great website by a photographer named Joe Braun. It has very thorough descriptions of the hikes around Zion as well as some remarkable photography. I hope you'll check it out.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On SEEing a National Park - Zion

Seeing a place of massive natural beauty and spectacular geography, like Zion, or Glacier, or Yellowstone National Park is not just a challenge in terms of time and miles covered, it's also perceptually demanding. I (and maybe others have had similar experiences) really can't SEE what I'm looking at when I first encounter a place like this. I mean yes, literally I can see, I'm not blind, but I can't take in what I'm seeing. In the case of Zion, I just begin to see big red rocks. OK, so what's the big deal here, big red rocks. I've seen big red rocks before, and by the end of the day I've seen enough to last a life time.

So the challenge is to create a situation in which I am able to perceive what I am encountering and appreciate it as fully as possible, without big red rock overload effect.  Instead of trying to see it all, to see the big vistas, the grand scenes...

I look down..

Or in...

and try to see the small, intimate places. To touch the hollows, cracks, crevices, and the breathing things that live there.

I find that I can relate to those things and places, and begin to see the landscape in relation to me, instead of "out there." Then it becomes meaningful space.

I begin to put those things in their context and to see the textures and shapes around them and how those create the landscape.

I can begin to expand my vision to the larger vistas, and SEE them better. I think this shows up in my photographs as well. The ones I like best are those that draw you in from the geography to the biology/botany, or that integrate elements of both perspectives, the micro and the macro.

Do you see it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Capitol Reef National Park

This is going to be a tough one. I'm going to try to let the pictures tell most of the story. We just drove through the park. We could have spent days. I know we'll be back.

Pinyon pine.

 There's no way to put words to the scenery in this park, and I took so many pictures...

I've tried to select some that show the range of formations and views, from BIG to more intimate.

The place is kind of mind-blowing. 

Holes in the cliffs formed by erosion - little stones get caught in riverside depressions and then just work away at the holes. Then the stream moves down the cliff side leaving these exposed.

Petroglyphs of the Fremont people. (Aliens, right?)

Now we're in Virgin, Utah, at the gates of Zion National Park, where we will be staying for almost a month. So I imagine we will be seeing more mind-blowing scenery. Today we are just settling in, grocery shopping, doing laundry and scoping out the community. We're staying at the Zion River Resort, which is a nice place. They have a pool. Rick is very happy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Antelope Island

Just seven miles across a causeway in the Great Salt Lake and you're a million miles away from Route 15 and hectic Salt Lake City and its suburbs.  We dry camped a couple of days there and would have stayed three but our generator is not charging our batteries for some reason. (A problem to solve during our next long lay over.) This is where we camped:

The campground is nestled right under that far hill, overlooking Bridger Bay.

Antelope Island is a beautiful Utah State Park. It is minimally developed, with just a visitor's center, a campground with no hookups, some trails, and a ranch. The causeway is a great place to bird watch for shore birds. We saw avocets, long-billed curlews, Wilson's phalarope, black-necked stilts, California gulls, and a couple of glossy ibis I think. Great fun.


The Great Salt Lake itself is better viewed from afar. The water level is low, and the shore line is pretty gunked up with dead brine shrimp, flies and algae. It's pretty stinky as well. Not inviting for swimming, though it was hot enough while we were there, so we stuck to the land.

The textures of Antelope Island
(clockwise from upper left:brine flies, broken salt pan, brine shrimp,
buffalo chip, grasses, sunflowers, buffalo hoof prints, avocet)

The old historic Fielding Garr Ranch was purchased by the state and is now home to over 700 bison, antelope, deer, long horn sheep, coyote, some smaller mammals and about 13 horses for hire through R&G Horse and Wagon. A guide will take you almost anywhere you want to go on the southern end of the island. Sounded good to me!

Here's my excellent guide,  Jessica.

Here' s my view of the lake 
           from up high on the island 
                                   (and the saddle):


Guess who, wrangling her horse out on the salt flats.