"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Friday, December 31, 2010

Yes Evelyn, they do exist....

A beautiful day at Red Rock Canyon

The kids are back in Iowa and John and I are relaxing from all the activity. It is New Years Eve in Las Vegas and we are spending it in the rig relaxing. Ah-h-h-h-h-h.
Big Horn Sheep at Valley of Fire
So today I am dedicating this post to Evelyn (of the Chronicles of Kevelyn). We had the privilege of meeting Evelyn and Kevin on our Thanksgiving visit to Vegas. In her blog she mentioned that she thinks maybe the bighorn sheep are really just imaginary creatures because everywhere they were told they would see them in their travels this fall, they never were there. The had no sitings in their travels. Well Evelyn, I found them, actually twice and I wasn’t really looking for them. The first time was leaving Valley of Fire and there it was just grazing bedside the road. Was able to get a nice photo. The second time was a couple days ago on our last jaunt with the kids to Red Rock Canyon. The park was so packed it was hard to find a place to stop and park but we finally found a spot at Willow Springs. On the trail that was heading to a seasonal waterfall, John looked up to see several of them on the rocks above us. So I am sharing these photos especially for Evelyn. Yes Evelyn, they do exist.
Big Horn Sheep at Red Rock Canyon
We really enjoyed Red Rock even though it was packed. If the weather improves before we leave here John and I would like to return and do some more hiking. The weather once again has taken a strange turn and the high for the last two days has been in the 40s. Unusual for Vegas. California was flooding again and they had snow and ice in areas of the southwest that are not use to the white stuff. We are suppose to be heading to Eastman Lake in California from here but we are going to check in with the ranger when she gets back. There has been so much flooding in those areas we want to check on how the park is doing and how safe the area is. We are having some real reservations about this situation so we will see what happens. The ranger is out of town until January 7th. We are going to move from here to somewhere next week but where is all dependent on the weather. Hope all our traveling friends are safe and warm somewhere out there. 
Big Horn Sheep at Red Rock Canyon
Oh and to Judy who asked whether the new bridge over Hoover Dam was open, the answer is yes, they actually completed it early.
Happy Trails.........

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Fun

Valley of Fire

Hoover Dam
It has been great having my kids around again. Being in Vegas didn’t seem very much like Christmas and we didn’t exchange gifts as their trip here is the gift for all of us. None the less, I wouldn’t trade a moment of this holiday for any other Christmas. So far we have checked out the strip, the boys learned to play craps (not sure how useful that skill is), went to a comedy show at the Improv, visited Hoover Dam, went to the movie Tron, went bowling here at Sam’s town,and hiked the Valley of Fire State Park. We still have 3 days left and more things to check out.

On Christmas Eve we drove to Hoover Dam. Both John and I have been there previously (separately though) and really wanted the boys to see it. What none of us had seen before was the new bridge that takes you from Arizona to Nevada without going over the dam. It is quite a site. My photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked because of where the sun was but it will give you an idea of its size, I took the photo from the top of the dam. Now three of the four of us (Gabe being the exception) have a slight fear of heights, not to the point of stopping us from doing too many things but it makes us uncomfortable. Looking down from the top of the dam is one of those uncomfortable moments. For Mitch and I what makes us even more uncomfortable is when we see people sitting on the ledge or kids stretched out the railing to look down. We both have to look somewhere else when that happens. No one fell off so our fears are probably a little unreasonable but that is the thing about phobias - they usually aren’t reasonable.

Lake Mead side of the dam

Yesterday we headed to Valley of Fire State Park north of LV. Many people had recommended this park to us for both camping and hiking. With all the recent rains we weren’t sure what to expect. The park was open but it is a long drive in from I-15, about 18 miles. I think there is a town at the east entrance that is a little closer and had services but from either direction it is pretty isolated so if you camp here bring all your provisions. The evidence of the recent flash flooding was visible all the way to and through the park. They had been removing sand and mud from many areas of the roadway.

First we checked out the campground. The RV area has water and electric and the sites are good sized. Mainly back ins and the pull off type pull throughs. The campground sits at the base of a huge rock formation. I would definitely like to stay here for a few days. It gets you away from the craziness of the city. It is going on my list for future visits.
Valley of Fire
The park itself is gorgeous; these red rocks just pop up and are amazing. We drove the scenic byway to White Domes and had lunch. There is a hike there the Ranger recommended. It is a nice hike but the recent rains put too much water in the Narrows of the trail so you couldn’t complete the loop. Next we stopped at Rainbow Vista and took that trail. It will take you back to an overlook of Fire canyon. It is about 2 miles round trip with nice views of the red rock everywhere. Our last short hike was in the Mouse Tank, an easier hike through a canyon. The rocks here had many petroglyphs. It is amazing to see the writing of the ancients in this land. A great day of hiking. :)
Valley of Fire

Here are some things we do like about staying at Sam’s Town for this visit. It is a stones throw to the Casino, so when the boys are board with us they have somewhere to go. The bowing alley is great and very reasonably priced, it has a movie theater in house and Jose and Wiley’s is a great Mexican restaurant. They also have a pool and hot tub for the RV park which we took advantage of Christmas Eve. Though I can tell the boys will be ready to head back to Iowa, so far it has been a wonderful time together. Today we may check out the Ethel M chocolate factory and do a little shopping. Tomorrow I think we will check out Red Rock Canyon. They had some serious flooding and were closed for a while so we will have to check with the park before we leave. Mother Nature left very little untouched in that last set of storms.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Happy Trails........
New Bridge over Hoover Dam

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flooded Out

The peaceful Virgin River a week ago

The raging river at Zion River Resort Monday December 20th
Water pouring over the cliffs
On Monday our plans were to get a morning start to Las Vegas to meet our sons for a couple days and then bring them up to Zion River Resort. It had been raining for 3 days and when I left the trailer to check in at the office and give them our emergency number the first thing I heard was the river. The Virgin river runs along the park and normally you could hear it if your rig was in the row next to it but now you could hear it everywhere in the park. In the office it was apparent that things were a little tense. This area flooded 5 years ago and that was when they had built the earthen berm to protect the campground. A USGS official was there explaining that the river was up and as a precaution they wanted the rigs along the river moved to the higher (only by a couple feet) part of the campground. Our rig was on the edge of that area and since we would be gone a couple days they suggested we move it. So in the rain we picked everything up, hitched up and moved to a different spot. We left everything pulled in since we wouldn’t be needing anything we could set up when we returned. The river was predicted to crest midday and then go down, we should be good so we left for Vegas to meet the boys but told Mason (the manager) to call if anything changed.
Raining all the way to Vegas
On to Vegas, got checked in at Bally’s and the boys called and said it was snowing in Cedar Rapids but it looked like they would get off on time. They did get out and arrived on time and got the shuttle to Bally’s and it looked like everything was going as planned. We had a nice dinner together and went up to our rooms to sit and chat. At 11 we got a call from Mason. Though the river had receded, the earthen berm was sprouting leaks from the continued pressure of the high water, a decision was made to move all the rigs out of the park. They suggested we come and get our rig, especially since the forecast was for more heavy rain and they expected the river to come up again. So John and I left the boys to discover Vegas on their own and headed back to Virgin. It rained all the way, sometimes hard, so we couldn’t travel as fast as we liked. Just south of St. George Mason called again to let us know that the staff was leaving but since we were on our way they would keep one emergency person there to let us in but there would be no power or light - things were looking worse and were really changing rapidly.  I had visions of our rig floating away down the Virgin river.
The river next to I-15
At about 2:30 am we reached the resort and the emergency person let us in. The lower portion of the park was beginning to flood, but our rig was still ok. Bob (the head maintenance guy) had stayed to help us get hitched up and we were thankful for his help. After about half an hour we were ready to pull out. We‘d already decided to head to Las Vegas with the rig as even if it stopped raining most of the things we had planned to do would be questionable at best. The road into Zion National Park was closed and it would take awhile for it to dry out. Knowing that we were too tired to drive all the way back that night we chose to drive to the Walmart at Hurricane, about 15 miles closer to I15. We slept about six hours and then got up and started back. The Virgin river was raging and it was still raining. I got the camera out as we got closer to Mesquite NV. Not only was the river very high but now you could see waterfalls coming off the canyon walls that weren’t there Monday afternoon on our drive. We crossed a bridge before we got to Mesquite where the water was getting dangerously close to the bottom of the bridge; it made us glad we had decided to move to Vegas with the rig. We set up at Sam’s Town and went back to be with the boys for one more night at Bally’s. 
More waterfalls
We had a nice night together on the strip, ate at Margaritaville and took in a show at the Improv at Harrah’s. It rained on and off all night. Now we are all back at the rig, catching up on our sleep. Guess what? It is still raining, and actually raining pretty hard. Luckily tomorrow it is finally suppose to stop. So our plans have changed a little and we are making a new list of things to do here in Vegas. I am just happy that we are all safe, our home is safe and we are all together. That is the best Christmas gift of all. 
The family together again
For all our friends and followers in the Southwest we wish for an end to the rain for all of us. We wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas.

Gabe & Mitch....Cheers!
Happy trails................

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rain, Rain go away...

It has been raining for 2 days and I am ready to go back to that nice desert weather. I am getting some things done inside but it would be nice to mix that in with a good walk and it is not good walking weather. Monday we head to Vegas and our son's should arrive Monday evening. I am so looking forward to seeing them. I am a little worried about the weather messing things up but I can't control that part so will just go with the flow. 

In advance of their visit I baked the one thing that I knew we needed for Christmas, Kringla. This is a tradition in our family and it is a cookie that is a little like bread but sweeter and made into a figure 8. My kids (and John and I) love them. My Norwegian Grandmother had them all the time when we visited but they are a pain to bake so I limited it to Christmas. Baking in my oven is interesting. Usually I used 2 racks moving them from the bottom to the top as they baked to get them just right. This oven only has one rack so it was a little different and I had to pay closer attention. I think some of them are a little underdone but most came out ok. I knew living in a trailer wasn't going to get me out of this duty.

Tomorrow we will get the rig clean and laundry done, even life on the road doesn't get you out of the daily chores, you just get to do them whenever you want not in between work and other commitments.

Happy trails!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mystery solved?

Ok, so I’ll tell you our theory on the footprints. Even though I like Dawn’s explanation of the little Bigfoot. I think Judy is close to the truth. We decided it was someone either hiking or running in the Five Finger shoes. She is right about the barefoot running really taking off. If you have never read the book Born to Run, John and I would highly recommend it. This book is what really gave the barefoot running a boost.
Five finger Shoes

When we first came across the footprint our first reaction is who in the world would be barefoot this time of year, did you notice the snow in the photo? Though the day was very mild, in the 60s, it is still winter and the creek temp is not that warm.Our next guess is a hiker wearing the Five Finger shoes. John has the five finger shoes, that many of the barefoot runners wear, and we came across a second print we looked closer and sure enough there were some markings that made us sure that someone was out here hiking in these shoes. I took some photos of John’s shoes so you could see what they look like.  He has worn these some but we really haven’t been trying to run lately so they have been mainly in the closet. Now that you’ve seen these shoes, what do you think? I hate to think someone was really barefoot in these conditions but I guess it’s possible, but I do think someone might have been hiking in these shoes. However you never know, it might have bee a young Bigfoot - I still like that idea. :)
Happy Trails............

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mystery Footprint and Spectacular Sunset

While at Kolob Canyon John and I found and interesting footprint in the mud. Here is the photo, sure looks like a bare foot to me.
We have a theory but I thought I’d put it out there and see if any of you have a good theory for our footprint. Now notice the snow, that is an interesting factor I think. Tomorrow I’ll let you know what we think. You can thank MidlifeCrusier for this little mystery to solve. She recently went on a trip and left us clues as to where she went. I was “clueless” in that mystery. :)
Last night we had a spectacular sunset here. We were inside by that time reading when you could tell the lighting outside had changed. I looked up and knew it was the golden light that every photographer loves to have. Grabbed the camera and out the door, sometimes that lighting only lasts a few minutes. I was lucky and had more than a few thanks to the clouds. Thought I’d share a sunset from our little piece of paradise here at Zion River Resort.

Happy Trails....................

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kolob Canyon

Kolob Canyon
From the Overlook

Such a beautiful day yesterday we knew we had to get out and hike. There is another entrance to Zion National Park called Kolob Canyon so we decided to head up there. It is about 15 miles from here. This is a much smaller area than the main entrance we were at before. We did the scenic drive to the end and the hike from there to the overlook about .5 miles out. This area is much higher elevation than the other part of the park, so there is more snow still on the ground. The warm weather has been melting it (they got the snow around Thanksgiving) and so it is pretty muddy out but with hiking boots you just slog through it. The Overlook is a photographers playground. The photo above is a panoramic I did on Photoshop Elements. I need to do more of these.
Notice all the mud on my pants.
Taylor Creek trail
Moon over the mountain
Next we went down to the Taylor Creek trail. We didn’t get started very early and the trail is 5 miles round trip (they estimate 4 hours) so after talking to the ranger we decided to just go to the first cabin which she told us was about a mile in.  The first part of the trail are steps down to the creek. These steps were very muddy and Ms. Coordinated managed to fall on the steps. Oops! Luckily I recovered and though I am a little sore today, yesterday I just dusted myself off and went on. John was ready to turn back but I convinced him to go a little further to the creek and we’d see how it was. So glad we did. A little muddy in places and a little snow in places but a fun trail. It follows the creek and you keep crossing back and forth over the creek as you go. Once it gets colder waterproof boots are a must, or you would have really wet feet if just in tennies. We didn’t quite make it to the cabin; my guess is it’s a little further than a mile but we were careful to make sure we were off the trail well ahead of sunset.
Another gorgeous day in southern Utah.
Happy Trails............

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane UT

Friday we took off to get my hair cut and to check out Sand Hollow state park near Hurricaine (oh yah, it is pronounced Her-kin, I’ve been corrected more than once.) Getting a hair cut is a bit of an anxious moment for me. I’ve always had stylist I knew and never had to worry about a bad hair cut. Now, I’ve kept my style a little longer and very simple with the hopes that no one would really screw it up. I know you are just waiting for me to say it was a disaster (you know who you are-lol) but so far so good and I have been going to the salons at Walmart. Had it cut at one back when we were overnight at a Walmart in Oklahoma and now in Hurricaine. Whew!!!
FHU campground at Sand Hollow
Up the hill to the dunes
So off to Sand Hollow. A few of the RVers here recommended it as an alternative. We definitely agree. They have one campground loop that is FHU at $28 a  night. They also have primitive no hook up sites. Also if you are into four wheeling (OHVs) this is the place for you. They have a large area of dunes that look like fun. There also is a beach for swimming though that would be a little cold right now. The  FHU campground only had 3 RVs and 2 looked like workcampers, and the primitive campground had 1. It is a beautiful setting.
You will see there also is an area that has lots of rocks to climb on but a big sign that says you climb at your own risk - well duh! (Even though some people will sue just about anyone) Well we climbed,at our own risk, and enjoyed the views.

The campground reminded us a little of Cave Creek near Phoenix and a little of Brantley Lake near Carlsbad. Definitely a desert campground, they do give each spot a cabana which is nice for shade out here in the desert. The sites are quite large and many of the are pull outs but I like the way they have done them. We could definitely see ourselves staying in this campground but at the cost it wouldn’t be for more than a week or so.
Yesterday was a hangin’ out day, we did go in to have breakfast as I needed to call my friend Nancy. We have a very weak cell signal here so making calls is difficult but if we go into Hurricaine or Springdale it works fine. Texts are fine but sometimes texting just doesn’t work well to communicate. Nancy and I were both so confused about what we were trying to arrange that it was worth the trip to make the phone call and get it right. Besides John’s favorite meal out is breakfast so he was on board. In the afternoon we walked to the coffee shop, the Red Coyote up the road in Virgin. Nice little shop with good coffee and a nice warm atmosphere, I think we will be walking up there more often.
Found a place to use the timer on the camera
This week I think we will check out Cedar City and Parawan. To all our friends and family back in the Midwest, hope you are safe and warm inside. That blizzard looks nasty. I am sure it is going to make my kids anxious to join us here.
Happy Trails!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The new lens and another great day of hiking

Weeping Rock
Went back to Zion National Park today to do some more hiking and to try out my new camera lens. Our intent was to hike to Weeping Rock and then to Hidden Canyon. Weeping Rock went well, easy hike and interesting to see this enormous rock face that is always went and constantly has water running down it. We started up the Hidden Canyon trail but it was vey icy so we changed courses and decided to take the Grotto trail to the Upper Emerald Pool trail. We knew we would see some of what we had hiked through on Tuesday but I didn’t have my camera and lens with me then (those photos were actually taken on my phone) so I was more than willing to repeat.

The last part of the trail to the Upper Emerald Pool gets a little steep, glad I had my hiking pole, these short legs sometimes need some help. At the pool we met a couple from Michigan that had brought along Santa hats. I took some photos of them with their hats nad they lent them to us for a photo. The photo didn’t turn out though. Dale has only ever used a point and shoot so he couldn’t quite figure out my camera and never seemed to get them in focus. Oh, well another time. The upper pool also has a waterfall into it and at the base has a huge pile of snow. We sat and enjoyed chatting with Dale and Laura from Michigan and ate our lunch. Now this is a great way to eat lunch, couldn’t ask for a better ambiance. Oh and the new lens is working great. It has such great range, I can take photos of people standing near me, I can go macro, and I can zoom in to get great shots (270mm). I am liking this lens!

Trail to the Emerald Pools
All together our hikes took about 3 hours but what a great day, it was overcast today but the temps were in the mid to high 50’s so perfect hiking weather. There are a few other hikes we would like to do here but we will see. If the weather continues to be warm and more of the snow and ice go we may go back and tackle Hidden Canyon and Angel’s Landing. They are more strenuous hikes so we’ll see if these old folks can handle it. 

We have several other places to go to. I think tomorrow we may check out Snow Canyon state park and next week we want to go up to the Kolob Canyon entrance to Zion and checkout the Parowan Petroglyphs. There is plenty to do here and of course we need to throw in  some days to do nothing, after all we are retired. 
View from the trail

Happy Trails......

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New lens

Today we headed to St George to do a little shopping, well, maybe more than just a little. I hit the outlet stores for a couple more long sleeved shirts and another quarter zip fleece. Jeans, t-shirt and a quarter zip fleece is my winter uniform of sorts.  Then I got my Christmas present, a new lens for my camera. My long lens is a Canon 2.8, 70-200mm and it is a great lens but a beast to carry around so I usually don't. For outdoor photography I don't necessarily need the 2.8 lens so I have been looking for a new longer focal length lens. Here is what I chose:
Tameron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 DiII VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro

I already have one Tameron lens that I love so I am excited about this one. Tomorrow we are headed back to hike in Zion if the weather cooperates and I will be trying out my new lens, can't wait.

We went to the pot luck tonight in the resort and had a great time. Mason, the manager and Becky who is next to us were at our table. We got laughing so hard at one point we were crying. Good food and good company, just can't beat that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Wanderer

Zion National Park

Today we headed into Zion National Park to hike. The day reminded me of a song I sang when I was little. Do you remember it? The Happy Wanderer. It goes like this:

I love to go a-wandering, 
Along the mountain track, 
And as I go, I love to sing, 
My knapsack on my back.
My knapsack on my back.
I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"
So anyone else sing that song?? 
John byt he lower Emerald Pool
The canyon follows along the Virgin River and the first hike we took was the Riverwalk trail at the end of the Scenic Byway. It is a paved very easy trail but the scenery is incredible. John and I walked along without even talking. The sites just leave you speechless. There were a few others on the trail but much of the time we were alone with Zion. Wow. I don’t know what else to say.
Our second trail was the middle and lower Emerald pools. Due to an earlier snow and the recent rain the waterfalls at the lower pools were amazing. I like hiking here. So where is that song when you need it.......Val-deri, Val-dra........
There are many more trails and if the weather holds out we will hike as many as we can fit in. I am truly hoping the weather will cooperate at Christmas so we can share these with our sons.
The Virgin River
Happy Trails......