Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vacation Time!

Long time, no see! I've been off the radar for a bit lately. I haven't been knitting much to none at all in an effort to preserve my poor wrists. They needed a vacation and so did I! As alluded to previously, B and I decided to take this years vacation in Southern Utah. Thanks again to those of you who left recommendations on places to stay and things to do! It came in very handy!

We left on Memorial Day and returned last Tuesday. It was an extremely stressful week before we left and it took me a couple days to unwind, but unwind we did. It wasn't a relaxing vacation per se, but we sure made the most of it. I'll try to highlight the, well, highlights with a few photos and even a little video! (We finally remembered that my camera actually takes video, so we put it to good use a few times).

We decided that instead of taking the time necessary to thoroughly schedule each day of our vacation (to much stress!), we would wing it a bit and simply rent a cabin. From there we would decide what each day would bring us and set out for a different location. We ended up renting this cabin in Duck Creek Village off highway 14. The cabin also allowed us to reduce our food expenses by fixing all of our meals 'at home'.

However, what we didn't know when we booked the cabin was that we were actually going to be in the mountains...which had recently been snowed on!

This made for a challenge dressing every day, especially earlier in the week when it was coldest. My brain never could reconcile dressing each morning for what seemed like inappropriate weather for our surroundings. We ended up dressing warmer and then bringing cooler clothes with us in the car. So where did we go?

Since we were so close to Cedar Breaks National Monument, we had to make it one of our stops. It was so pretty with the snow! We even tried to take a trail to see Alpine Pond, but because the trail was through the forest and snow drifts were aplenty, we never did find it - oops! But our time was not wasted, the hike through the snow was stunning.

We also spent three days in Zion National Park. I had been there before...20 years before in fact!..but it was B's first time. The scale is truly extraordinary. We made several of the smaller hikes, including the trail to the three Emerald Pools. We also saw Weeping Rock. You can *kind of* see the water dripping from above:

We also walked the paved Riverside Walk Trail on our first day in Zion. B was completely intrigued by the Narrows and with Crispy's recommendation, we made arrangements to rent the necessary equipment for our very own Narrows Hike! For those of you who don't know, the Narrows is a portion of the park along the Virgin River. The walls of the canyons encroach closely on the river, which make hiking in the river necessary about half the time. This is also what makes the Narrows dangerous as flash floods are always a possibility.

Since the water was a brisk 40 degrees, they recommended dry suits or dry pants to keep us warm that day. This was also helpful because we weren't concerned about getting wet and were able to make much safer river crosses by avoiding the slippery rapids. We hiked beyond Floating Rock through Wall Street to a point where the water was almost shoulder deep. That was about as risky as we were willing to go, so we turned around and then took the Orderville Canyon junction and walked to the falls. All in all, it was a great way to spend a day but boy were we tired! Here's a picture for scale:

And here's a little video B took of me crossing a deeper part of the Orderville Canyon portion of our hike. The water here was very calm so we had time to play with the camera. You can see me using my hiking stick to look for rocks and holes.

The next day, we decided we needed a break from the physical activity and made the longer drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This was an entirely different experience from the South Rim. Much more wooded, a lot more driving, and not as populous. Its nice to see the comparison, but if you can only go to one rim in your whole life, I highly recommend the South Rim. Here you can see us resting our feet on the sun porch of the lodge:

(BTW - I can't say enough great things about our Keen hiking shoes. Mine are more traditional and B's are more 'athletic' but neither of us had sore feet the entire trip! Mine were even great through the snow and slush around Cedar Breaks!)

One thing we weren't expecting was the fire damage from a couple years ago. It seemed like half the forest had burned, leaving skeleton's in place of the trees. You can tell that it is beginning to regenerate and fire is a natural process (in fact from what I read about the fire on the Internet, they had initially let the fire burn for its natural benefits, but the weather caused it to shift and they were forced to 'fight' the fire at that point). The photos don't do justice to the devastation:

We also spent a day in Bryce Canyon National Park to experience the views both from above:

and below:

The Hoodoos were spectacular and yet seem so fragile. Here it was readily apparent that we are lucky to be able to see such things today, because (quite a few) years into the future, these will be gone.

Another thing about this part of the country that captivated me was the aspens. Aspens were sprinkled throughout most of the forests in the area. Sometimes just a few, and other times entire groves.

All I wanted to do was walk though them, but in most cases, they were on private property so it was out of the question...until our last day and we finally walked out to see Aspen Mirror Lake just outside of Duck Creek Village. Not only were we surrounded by an aspen grove, the trees went right up to the creek. And if that wasn't enough! There was the cutest of bridges to cross.

It was the perfect way to end our time there. Now we just need to plan our trip to the East half of Southern Utah since we really only saw half of what there is to see! However that will have to wait for another time, since B will be starting summer school in a week and we were lucky to steal away the time we did take.

We had a great time, but it is always nice to be home and get settled into normal life again...which means catching up on my blog reading!


Margene said...

Happy to hear you visit to our state was enjoyable! Great pictures.

Octopus Knits said...

Wow! Sounds like a great trip - the Narrows hike sounds wild : )

mle said...

Glad you had a great trip! I went to Zion back in college and it was just gorgeous! We weren't there for very long, just a few days but I do remember doing the Emerald Pools hike! very cool!

Nasus said...

Ha! I love the video!

mary said...

The trip pics are awesome. We went there with my son 10 years ago when he was 18 mos. We didn't do much hiking but now I'm thinking it'd be great fun to go back. Thanks for the inspiration!

LizKnits said...

Wow that looks like a fantastic vacation! I went to Zion and Bryce about 10 years ago and absolutely loved it. It certainly looks like you got to see the best the area offers.

Anonymous said...

Yay- I'm so glad you had such a great vacay...and even more glad that you're back! ;) Loved the video!!

Miriam said...

I love the aspens too. When they start turning yellow in the fall, they go in splotches because they're all part of the same system under the ground... like mushrooms. They have a communal root system. So a splotch here and there will start to turn, but they're all part of the same system.... you just can't tell until they turn.

Melissa said...

Stunning photos--thanks for sharing your vacation! I've been wanting to go back to this area. It's one of my favorites in the contiguous U.S.

Cora said...

So glad you're home!! We missed you!

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

Your vacay looks awesome. I love Utah - so much natural beauty. I actually haven't been to the western part where you were, but I have hiked down the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and spent lots of time in Arches and Canyonlands, and I can vouch for the beauty of the east. When M and I get this baby thing under control next year we will definitely bug you for recs - the narrows look spectacular! (If a little scary!) Kind of like slot canyons with the water already in there!

Lolly said...

what a fabulous trip! I was in Utah when I was a kid, and I definitely have to get out there again to experience it with my adult eyes - I think I would appreciate it so much more! great photos! I too love my Keens. I have the hiking boots and they have weathered well through the rainforest and the tundra :)

Jennifer said...

*Sigh* Bryce Canyon is so gorgeous. I'd love to get back there soon.

Love the picture of you crossing the river. Eeks!

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