Bryce Canyon National Park

We left our cozy little KOA cabin about 10:00am heading for Bryce Canyon NP, which took us about two and half hours. We headed north on I-15 at 75 mph, with a speed limit of 80 mph, before turning east toward Bryce Canyon on a two-lane road that was excellent. As we approached Bryce we went through a couple of tunnels that were cut out of the red sandstone.

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We arrived at the Visitor Center about 12:30 and after viewing the informative video we headed out to find a picnic area for lunch. We found a nice spot with little birds hopping on and off the table, oblivious to our presence. The temperature turned chilly at about 55 degrees and the table was in the shade so we quickly ate lunch and after packing up went back to the Visitor Center to catch the shuttle that would take us to several amazing overlooks. We had checked the weather app on our iPhones earlier in the day  so we knew it would be chilly and therefore wore long sleeves and pants so we were relatively comfortable with a jacket.

The shuttle buses are a very efficient and no stress way to get to the overlooks. We never had to wait more than a few minutes each time. Again, photos cannot do justice to the amazing scenes of God’s handiwork that took millions of years to evolve to their present state.

In Bryce Canyon your view is from above the scene, whereas in Zion your view is from the floor of the canyon and everything is above you. This gives you two distinctively different perspectives on the overwhelming displays of nature’s creative expression.

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Our motel for the night is in Cedar City so we returned from Bryce by different route than the one we took getting there. This drive was beautiful. The Aspen and Birch trees had already turned to their beautiful fall, golden colors.

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We are back in a hotel room for the first time in twelve days and we miss our cozy KOA cottages. Tomorrow night we will be in Ely, Nevada, and then Sunday night we will be in Reno, with our return to Livermore on Monday.

Thanks much for following along with us as we journey across the west.

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Zion National Park

We awoke to a beautiful day with clear skies and temperature in the low 80’s. Our cabin is very small, but it has everything we need. We had breakfast out of our stash in the cooler and a box of dry goods. The view from our porch is awesome. Then, we were off to explore Zion NP.

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It took us about 40 minutes to get to the park entrance where there were many cars and vans ahead of us waiting to pass through the gate. When we got close a ranger saw that we had the Golden Eagle pass and a handicap placard so he just waved us through. There were signs advising everyone that the parking lots were full at the Visitor Center and to turn around to find parking in Springdale, the town outside the entrance. We decided to try our luck and were very fortunate to find a handicap space adjacent to the Visitor Center with a picnic table nearby.

After going to the Visitor Center we boarded a shuttle bus that took us to nine stops into Zion Canyon. The views of the towering cliffs/mountains are awe inspiring and there is no way to capture the beauty in one or even a hundred photographs. The few you will see here will be a small sample of what we witnessed.

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After visiting the museum and viewing a well done 20 minute interpretive video we took the shuttle to several more stops and then decided to return to the Visitor Center to get the cool chest from the car and take a break for lunch. It was a wonderful setting to share our meal.

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After lunch we returned to the shuttle and road it to the end of the route where we walked to the Virgin River to a neat spot where we were able to get a good view of the river as well as further up the canyon to the area they refer to as The Narrows. If one is adventurous you can walk the river trail to the end and then you have to either put on shoes for walking in the water or walk barefoot further into the canyon where the walls close in to a very narrow passage. Needless to say, we were not that adventurous. It is amazing to imagine the millions of years it took for the Virgin River to erode the sandstone and cut the passage that is today the Zion Canyon.

Since the first explorers were Mormons it is not surprising that the park is named Zion, a biblical word referring to the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem connoting that the Holy One is present amongst God’s people. Even though we only spent a few hours in Zion NP those hours did feel as if we were in a holy place that reveals the awesome power and creativity of our Creator God.

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On the Road to Zion NP

After a busy Tuesday getting prepped to leave Durango we had one last meal with Scott, Veronica, and Lassen at the Mongolian Grill featuring a BBQ buffet. We went back to their home for some visiting and watching a couple of innings of the Giants vs. Rockies game at AT&T Park. It was fun watching Lassen play with Carmen who is suffering the pains of old age.

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We set the alarm for Wednesday morning so that we could get all of the last minutes chores done (get ice, pack ice chest, pack last minute items, and get it all in the Outback) and then meet Scott and Veronica at Durango Joes for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate and last hugs goodbye. We were on the road by 9:30 for a long day of driving/riding made easier by listening to a book on CDs followed by listening to an afternoon Giants vs. Rockies game. It was good to see the Giants sweep the Rockies for a change. As we drove Pat was shooting photos out the window. The continually changing landscape is fascinating. We love driving through this high desert country.

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We stopped for lunch in Kayenta, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. We found a picnic table adjacent to the Navajo Shadehouse Museum across the parking lot from a Burger King. It was a good place to stop for lunch.

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We drove through Page, Arizona, and across the Colorado River with a view of a portion of Lake Powell.

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I took the wrong turn on US highway 89 out of Kanab, Utah, so instead of taking the easier route south then west I turned north because I saw a sign to Zion National Park. This added about 20 miles to the journey and at least a half hour or more. We finally found Utah highway 9 west that took us through the heart of Zion NP. It was a beautiful drive with a lot of tight switchback curves. This did whet our appetite for returning to the park tomorrow for a more leisurely tour via the park shuttle bus. We even encountered a couple of Bighorn Sheep to the side of the road.

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We arrived at the KOA in Hurricane, Utah, at about 6:30 after a long day of driving (430 miles) where we are staying in a cute little cabin for two days. (Photos tomorrow)

 

 

Last Days in Durango

We are beginning to wind things up in Durango as we do laundry, pack up, get gas, and wash the car in preparation for our departure on Wednesday morning.

We had to set the alarm on Sunday in order to wake up in time to meet Scott, Veronica, and Lassen for worship at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 9:00. The sanctuary was quite full and the service was the traditional Catholic mass. Two of the hymns were familiar to us as was the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer. We have missed being at worship in Livermore, but it was good to be with our family in their church. Veronica was commissioned to be a teacher of middle school students in their religious education program.

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We returned to KOA after church to change clothes and prepare for Veronica and Lassen to come for lunch. Scott needed to stay home to work on a photo job that needed to be sent to the client on Monday. He has had a pretty busy month and was shooting for realtor clients every day that we have been here. We had a nice lunch in our cabin and after lunch played a round of miniature golf here at KOA (again, I forgot to take photos), but you can probably picture the scene.

After lunch and miniature golf we went back to their house where Lassen and I played another game of John Madden’s NFL Football on his Xbox. I did a little better this game with two touchdowns, but not well enough to match Lassen’s seven touchdowns. After another good meal Veronica  and I played another game of Scrabble. She is a challenging opponent and we always have a good game.

On Monday, Pat went to the small Durango Mall in order to get some exercise walking and doing a lot of window shopping. She did come home with a sweater that will probably come in handy as we move on to southwestern Utah. I probably should have gone to get in some steps as well, but I had a lot of work to do to get all our accommodations lined up from here to home in Livermore.

After lunch we met up with Veronica to drive about 15 miles north to James Ranch. Scott and Veronica are friends with several James family members. James Ranch was established in 1961 and is now run by the second generation. It is in a beautiful setting where the have a small market and an equally small grill where both feature products raised or grown on the ranch; beef from the cattle, cheese from the milk cows, and veggies from the garden. There are picnic tables scattered on several levels and a self-guided tour. We learned a lot about life and working on a ranch.

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The grill on the left, where you place your order in the middle,                                          and condiments on the right

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On the way home we drove to a bluff overlooking downtown Durango on the campus of Fort Lewis College. I wanted a couple photos as a farewell to our good visit to Durango and time with our family.

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Downtown. If you closely you can see the Animas River and the narrow gauge tracks of the Durango – Silverton Railroad. If you are ever in the area be sure to take the trip.

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The north end of town with the high school where Lassen                                                      will attend next year, in the center, right.

Thanks much for checking in. I’ll try to add a post tomorrow or Thursday sharing our adventure to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

 

Gallery Walk, Art Fair, and Birthday

Well, it appears that fall has arrived. It was in the high 40’s in the morning but did warm up to the 70’s in the afternoon. Pat and I went downtown for a walk and to do a little shopping. We love the drive from KOA into town with the beautiful view of the mountains. Durango’s elevation is about 6,500′ and KOA’s is closer to 7,000 so we coast downhill into town.

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Durango is a classic western town with Main Avenue the centerpiece and a great street for strolling and window shopping. There are two hotels built in the late 1800’s: Strater Hotel built in 1887 and the General Palmer hotel built in 1898. Both hotels enjoy a celebrated history and have been remodeled recently.

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One of our errands was to go to the AT&T office to see about upgrading our plan to unlimited cellular data, which was accomplished fairly quickly and it turned out that the monthly cost is just about the same as our old plan. So, now I don’t have to worry about how much time I spend on the computer linked to the Internet via my cell phone hot spot.

After lunch we connected with Scott and Veronica to go to a spot on the Animas River to meet up with Lassen and his class for a cardboard regatta. The class was organized into teams of four and their assignment was to use cardboard and duct tape to build a vessel that would float across the river and back, guided by a teacher assigned to their team. We were looking forward to this event. However, it was completed before we arrived. Turns out the students walked to the site more quickly than expected so they finished before we arrived. Many other parents and grandparents showed up at the time they were given and were as disappointed as we were that we didn’t get to watch the cardboard regatta. Lassen’s vessel was voted “Most Attractive.”

We went back to their home where Veronica and I played a game of Scrabble, Pat did some knitting, and Scott did some work on a photo project. After dinner we went downtown again for the Friday night Gallery Walk. It was fun walking Main Avenue in the evening and observing how many people Scott, Veronica, and Lassen knew and spent some time visiting along the way.

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On Saturday we went to the grocery store to get some supplies needed for dinner that Pat, Scott, and Lassen were preparing to celebrate Veronica’s birthday. In the afternoon we went to the Second Street Annual Art Fair. It was a very festive event with many artists and vendors. As on Friday night, Scott, Veronica, and Lassen met a lot of folks they know and spent time visiting along the way.

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Veronica’s birthday is next Saturday after we have departed so we decided to celebrate a week early. It was wonderful meal of Pat’s Chicken Cacciatore, Scott’s Cauliflower Casserole, and Lassen’s delicious chocolate cupcakes. He also set up a sparkler instead of using candles. Our gift to Veronica was a crock pot to replace an old one she has been using with a missing handle. Lassen and I finished a Madden NFL football game, which I lost by a score I won’t reveal. Then, Scott, Veronica, Pat and I played a game of Chicken Foot dominos.

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It was another wonderful day in Durango.

Eighth Grade Football

On Thursday we took a walk around the KOA property to get some exercise. We encountered several of the work campers who are full-time RVers and work in various places. One couple came to Durango in April to help open the park and will leave in October for San Padre Island in Texas. They scaled down and hit the road a year ago and while here in Durango their house sold. Another couple owns a home in South Carolina where their daughter lives. They have lined up a winter job in Arizona. Both couples are enjoying their current lifestyle.

I spent the afternoon reading, working on yesterday’s blog, reading the news on the Internet, and snoozing. I finished the book on Jackie Robinson’s life and highly recommend it. Pat spent her time reading, doing needlepoint, and dealing with email. We had to move inside because it started raining.

Scott  picked me up at 3:30 to go to Bayfield (a town 12 miles east) where Lassen’s eighth grade football team was to play. Lassen broke his collarbone in June and has not received clearance from the orthopedist for contact sports. Even though he has been unable to play he has attended all practices and other team activities. He feels ready to play as soon as he is cleared.

There were two games, B team at 4:00 and A team (Lassen’s) at 5:30. Scott wanted to be there for the B team game in order to shoot photos. It was fun being close to the game and watching the boys play so hard. After a rain and lightening delay of a half hour the game resumed and the Durango team won. The A teams started their game but because of heavy rain and lightening the game was suspended in early in the third quarter with the Durango team losing. It will be resumed next Tuesday, picking up from where the game was suspended.

Our drive back to Durango included a beautiful display of lightening in the western skies. Needless to say we had a late dinner because of all the delay.

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As I type this Pat and I are at a McDonald’s in downtown Durango. We are using the McDonald’s wifi because the wifi at KOA is terribly slow and unreliable. We have used up the cellular data on our plan because I have been using my hotspot to access the Internet. From here we will walk downtown and then go to the AT&T store to see about increasing our cellular data. It looks like we are going to get more rain this afternoon.

First Three Days in Durango

During the days while Scott and Veronica are working and Lassen is in school we have settled into a routine. It has felt good to wake up without an alarm after a week of setting the alarm in order to be on the road or to be ready for breakfast with our hosts. Pat does Tai Chi, reads, does needlepoint or knitting, and a few chores. I work on my computer doing email, checking the news, working on the blog, checking on several blogs I follow and read a book I am enjoying, “Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Biography.” One morning we took a walk in downtown Durango to get some exercise and wander in and out of many interesting shops. (I forgot to take any photos so I’ll add a few in a later post.)

One afternoon we joined Scott and Veronica for a round of Disc Golf on the campus of Fort Lewis College. (Again I forgot to take photos.) We are not very good at this sport, but we got a lot of exercise and had a lot of fun. We join them at their townhouse for dinner most nights. One night Pat cooked chili for Scott and Lassen when Veronica was off to a dinner meeting with folks from their church. She will be teaching in their education program this year.

Last night we celebrated Scott and Veronica’s 18th wedding anniversary. We treated them to dinner at the East By Southwest, a Japanese restaurant. We had a great meal in a lovely setting and enjoyed remembering their wedding and other shared events. After dinner we walked a couple of blocks to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a treat. Then back to their home where Veronica and I finished a game of Scrabble that we started before dinner and then watched a little bit of the Giants vs. Dodgers game. Veronica is a Dodgers fan so there was a lot of good natured banter. All in all it has been a relaxing few days in Durango.

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