Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Celebration Road Trip - Cassidy Arch

We squeezed in all that we could during our short stay at Capitol Reef.  Besides a little relaxing, enjoying the orchards and Fruita Historic District, and our day trip to Goblin Valley, we fit in a day of hiking to Cassidy Arch.  It's named after Butch Cassidy because he lived in this area for a while.  The remains of his cabin can be seen on the nearby "Robber's Roost Trail".

We started our adventure by loading up our packs and driving up the Scenic Drive to a dirt road turn out that was well marked.  There was a turn out on the dirt road where the arch can be seen from below.  It's not easy to spot at first but it's in the center of this photo near the top of the sandstone mountain...a dark, shadowed arch...

We drove a bit further up into the canyon to park.  These striped walls are amazing!

On the opposite side of the canyon was a holey rock wall...

After a short hike up the wash, there was a sign marking the trail up to Cassidy Arch.
Here's what the beginning of the trail looked like...

It soon turned into the sun.  And, yes, it's right on the edge!

Here's that striped that we parked by but from up above...

There's the arch from about half way up...it's the dark spot near the top, right...

Getting closer...

 The trail became wide and smooth on top of that sandstone mountain...

We still had some ups and downs to hike as we made our way over to the arch...

There it is!  We made it!  That's hubby walking on top.
At that point I wasn't going to go across it.  Too scary!

However, as I hiked around on the top of the mountain, I came up to the arch from the other end and found out that it was quite wide.  So, I did it!  That's me on top!...

Thank goodness for these rock cairns that guide us and keep us on the trail.  Whenever we were unsure which way the trail went, we'd just stop and look around for the next cairn.  They were sometimes hard to spot and we'd have to stop and really look hard to find the next one.

Poor hubby, instead of just hiking up to the arch, I make lots and lots of stops to take pictures.  I'm trying to hike more and take photos less because it is a lot more fun and photos are a lot of work (fun work) but when we go places like this it's hard to resist!  So, I try to take most of the photos going up and enjoy the trip back down.  Hubby is starting to take more photos now with his IPhone.  But, he still sees and waits for a lot of this...

What was I taking a photo of in that hole?  This...So pretty!...

Here are a few other photos I took on that hike...

Juniper berries...

I always find flowers like this fascinating.  These start out white (above) and slowly turn pink.
As it shrivels up, it's totally pink.  So cool!

Ahhh....a bit of shade!

Uh oh!  I've been photo bombed!  lol

That hike was a lot of fun!  I love hikes that have something really cool to hike to and see.

I'm SO excited about the next post of our anniversary/celebration road trip!
You won't want to miss it!  :-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Celebration Road Trip - Goblin Valley

During our recent stay at Capitol Reef National Park, we found out that we weren't very far from Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.  It was in the news about a year ago when someone was caught (via a video he posted and bragged about) causing damage in the park.  The rangers said it was a huge deal around there and everyone was quite upset (as we were) when that happened.  They think that the man was given a hefty fine.  I'm glad to hear that.  It's very upsetting when people cause damage to our precious, natural places that we know, love and want to have around forever.

The drive took about an hour and a half and took us through ever changing and incredible terrain and scenery.  But, like wildflowers on the side of the road, it's not always possible to pull over for pictures.  And, the things we saw were so immense that it would be impossible to capture the awesomeness of it all in a camera.  So, we decided not to worry about photos but to just ooh, aaah and enjoy every mile of it and every new thing we saw.

Goblin Valley was quite hard to capture in photographs as well.  Not only because it's so big but it was very bright and hazy that day and my good camera isn't doing well these days.  That became very evident on this trip.  

My camera has been taken on miles and miles of trails, to mountain tops, up and down rivers, canyoneering trips, deserts, the beach and so many places.  I've gotten TONS of use out of it.  I'm very careful with it and try to keep it clean but bits of dirt have somehow creeped into places that can't be cleaned (I've tried).  We don't have any camera shops around to have it worked on.  The last one I know of closed it's doors.  And, I remember talking to a camera shop years ago about that and they said it's pretty hard to fix and best to get a new camera.  

With technology constantly changing and improving, I think it's time to replace my almost 10 year old Canon Rebel.  It's been great but a new one will take even better quality photos and have even more features (that I may never figure out...lol).  I've been putting it off but I don't think I can anymore.

Anyway,  here are my photos from Goblin Valley...some from my camera and some from my cell phone.  I tried to edit out the dirt spots as best I could.

Goblin Valley State Park is literally in the middle of nowhere.  In fact, it looks like flat, empty desert until you get almost right up to it and then, voila....a dip in the ground with this...

Thousands of sandstone "goblins" created over time by wind, water and erosion.

They might look small but they're actually quite large.
That's my hubby climbing that white mound near the center of this photo...

Smooth, sandstone rocks sit atop mounds of hardened sand/mud.

It was often like looking at clouds and seeing fun shapes.  I kept seeing little creature shapes in these interesting formations.  This looks like a cute little critter with a long pointy nose and a big eye...

This one made us think of a seal or a polar bear...

This one reminded us of those coffee tables that look like
 a bear laying on it's back, holding the table up with its feet...

A shark?...

A big froggy...

It looks like a giant, chocolate Easter bunny in the center of this photo...
Oh...and it's probably 10 feet high or taller.

It's amazing how these huge rocks have balanced and stayed on top of these mounds of mud.
You guessed it...this one is really tall too.

We had a lot of fun wandering through!

We even found small slot canyon type areas out there.
And, I found this teenie, tiny thing formed in the sand...

It had recently rained and we found some water left over out there.
I'm sure the plants appreciated the rain.

And, so did the wildlife.
Such a pretty lizard.

It was pretty hot out there that day in the full sun.
But, we had fun exploring.  I even tried a few creative and silly photos.

We found "windows" in a few of the big formations...

I had to get a shot of hubby peeking through one of the "windows"...

It was interesting how the "goblins" were concentrated in one area. These were some of the only other ones we saw and they were nearby in the park.  Looks like a row of three characters...

As we headed out and back toward camp, I took a photo from a distance of a mound of rocks that we think is near the "goblins".  It's fascinating how flat it is all around except for those few huge mounds/mountains of rock and that those goblins are all next to just one of them.

Here's a view of the road ahead of us (through the dirty windshield)
and how desolate it is for part of the drive.

On the way back, we stopped at a little restaurant we'd seen on the way out, in the tiny town of Hanksville.  It's called, Duke's Slickrock Grill.  It turned out to be really good!  The restaurant was cute and very nice, the service was great and the food was fantastic!  We raved about it to our waitress and we heard others doing the same thing.  That lunch really hit the spot!

Much of that amazing terrain I'd mentioned earlier that we saw on the way was between Capitol Reef and Hanksville.  We tried to get a few photos on the way back but they just didn't turn out.  This one is interesting though.  As I'd mentioned, it had rained earlier in the week...a lot!  Rivers were flowing again and others flowing larger.  This was in a deep ravine beside the road.  Even though it may look small, that water fall is probably at least 15 feet tall or bigger.  It was pretty far down there and sounded powerful.  The rocks around it are interesting with how they've been sculpted by water.

The parking area normally used to hike down there was blocked off and there were warning signs of the danger.  I took a photo of the wood stands used to block it off.  They're pretty cool!  They're much nicer looking than plastic cones or plastic tape.

I have one more post of something we did and saw while in Capitol Reef.
Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday - Artful Flower Cowl

Whew!  I finished a project for FO Friday just in the nick of time!

I started this project at the beginning of our trip and completed the cowl part pretty quickly.  I made the flower part yesterday and got it all sewn together and finished up this afternoon.

I used the "Artfully Simple Infinity Cowl" pattern for the cowl part.  It's a free pattern on Ravelry and the second one I've made.  It's simple, quick, fun and I love the results.  This one is made with a skein of Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton in the Buff colorway (#3719).  I used a size G hook to make it.

I made the flowers with an E hook and patterns from the "100 Lace Flowers to Crochet" book by Caitlin Sainio.  I love that book!  I sewed white buttons to the center of each flower and stitched the flowers together.  Then, I made a chain of about 125, tucked in the ends, and laced it through the back of the flower corsage.  Then, I tied it around the cowl with a bow.  It'll work this way or with the cowl doubled for more warmth.

I love how it makes a diagonal and open grid.  It has great texture, looks interesting, and makes it look a bit more complicated than it actually is.

I was surprised to find that I only needed one skein/220 yards.  Any more and it would have been too bulky for this cowl.  I had planned on two skeins and used a bit of the second one for the flowers.  I now have slightly less than a full skein to figure out what to do with.  So, if I were to do this again, I'd make the flowers first and then use the rest for the cowl.  I think it would work out just fine that way.  
I was a bit hesitant when I started on it because I was worried that this color looked a bit like a fishing net.  But, from the reaction I got when I posted a photo on Instagram last week, it seems to be great.  And, I like it.  It's not just a standard "natural".  The color is a bit richer and I think the sheen adds a lot to it.  I think the color and yarn are a perfect match for this open, summery cowl and it's a lot like what I had in mind when I bought it.  I'm not quite sure what I'd wear it with though.  Hmmm?

Oh...and, this makes one more skein that's been de-stashed!  Yay!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebration Road Trip - Capitol Reef

The second major stop that we'd planned for our 25th anniversary road trip was Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.  We've been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  We fell so in love with Zion that we kept going back there...sometimes a couple times a year.  We decided it was time to start visiting Utah's other National Parks.  Capitol Reef was going to be our third of the five parks.

Our drive from the North Rim of Grand Canyon went through gorgeous scenery and lots of rain.  We pulled into the very small town of Torrey, Utah in the afternoon.  It's the closest town to Capitol Reef and has three RV parks.  We hadn't made reservations at any of them and all three were full.  The campground in the National Park was first come/first serve only.  We headed over there next.  We were hopeful but I was in a mind set that we'd find a place somewhere and was excited to see where.  Sense of adventure!  Luckily, there were a few spots left that day in the National Park and we got one of them.

We really had no idea what to expect at Capitol Reef but we were in for so many surprises and a wonderful, relaxing, delightful, beautiful, delicious, informative, adventurous, amazing week!

In case you might be wondering, Capitol Reef is in the center of the southern part of Utah.  It's about a two and a half hour drive from Bryce and a three and a half hour drive from Zion.  It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

It has a visitor center with rangers that are happy and willing to answer all our questions, a little shop, lost and found, and a tiny theatre with a film that plays regularly, telling about Capitol Reef.

Even though the park is so far out of the way and uncrowded the visitor center seemed to always be bustling with people.  So, a photo of just the building was out of the question.  But, with views like this, no one could resist taking photos!  This was a rare moment that I was able to get a photo with just a couple of people.  Pretty cute how she's taking a photo of him and how he's posing.

The huge, red, sandstone rocks were very much like Zion.
We loved that!

We could see them from the campground in two different directions.  Here's are some views of the road going into the campground and some of those huge rocks...

The campground was beautiful!  It was grassy and green with big shady trees and the spaces were far apart.  There aren't any hookups but there's water in the park, a dump station, very clean and nice restrooms and each site has a parking area that's paved and level.  It's only $10 per night!

The deer roamed through the park every day and we could hear the nearby river flowing.
It was peaceful and beautiful and we couldn't have had better weather!  It was sunny, in the 70's to 80's each day and night time temps were in the 50's.  Gorgeous!

I loved the view looking up from my folding lounge chair!
Beautiful trees and such an amazing blue sky!

We had absolutely no phone signal when we were in the park.  However, the rangers told us that we likely could get a signal at Panorama Point, just a few minutes west of the visitor center.  They were right.  Here's the amazing view we had whenever we went to call and check in with our daughter...

On the first full day of our stay, we drove up into the park.
This is the view looking back down...

Up at the end of the drive and in the parking and rest areas were some painters.

I'm not sure but it seemed like there was a class going on here...

There was a painter further out on the dirt road.  I love this photo and how the easel in the bottom right looks so tiny next to those massive rocks.

We saw SO many wildflowers on this trip and SO many of them couldn't be photographed as they were along the roadsides.  We literally drove through hundreds of miles of golden, flower lined, highways.  It was spectacular!  This drive into the park, however, allowed me to pull over often and take pictures.

Here are just a few of the wildflowers at Capitol Reef National Park...


This is a close up of the teenie tiny flowers in the photo above.  Amazing!

These crazy looking pods popped open a few days later and cottony, fluffy seeds came flowing out.

This is Rabbitbrush is such a tiny sample of the millions of golden bushes of it that we saw on our trip.  We realized that Monsoon season is really Spring for this part of the country.  Utah and Arizona were exploding with brilliant, beautiful flowers, lush green grasses that carpeted the desert floor, very happy and green trees, and flowing creeks and rivers.  It added so much more WOW to our trip!

These look like tiny roses and I think they're so beautiful!

I've never seen this plant.  It had very few leaves and grew long strands of these tiny flowers.

I only saw this once.  It was growing by the river.  Looks like tiny beans.

The visitor center and campground are set right in the middle of the Fruita Historic District.  It's an old settlement with orchards and a few historical buildings.  One of those buildings is the Gifford House.  They've turned it into a museum and store.

In the front yard is the old smoke house.

 They open early every morning with fresh baked pies.

They sell many different canned jams, jellies, pickles, etc.

They also sell handcrafted items like embroidered pillows, candles
quilted pot holders,these rolling pins, and more.

They had about half a dozen flavors of pie.  We enjoyed the apple pie a couple of times.  It was so good!  Probably the best apple pie I've ever had.  It was perfectly seasoned and not too sweet, the texture of the apples was perfect, the crust was great (I'm not usually a crust fan), and it had a sprinkling of sweet crumbs on top like a Dutch apple pie.  They also sold several kinds of Scottish Scones that were baked locally.  We tried the cranberry and pumpkin flavors.  Both were good but I think the pumpkin was my favorite.  They're very different than scones I'm used to.  They're much more dense, bread like, heavy, and not quite as sweet.  We enjoyed them!

There was a crab apple tree out in the front of Gifford house that was loaded with fruit.
There were so many that, from a distance, I thought it was cherries!

There is a path that runs from the campground, along the river, to the Gifford House, through the park, past the blacksmith barn and orchards and to the visitor center.  Here it is going through the park...

We saw the biggest Cottonwood trees there that we'd ever seen in our lives!

The deer were always roaming through...

One afternoon we caught a glimpse of some turkeys...

From the park, there's a bridge over a river that leads to one of the orchards...

They grow apples and pears there.  I think they grow peaches too but we didn't see any.  The fruit is free to eat while you're in the orchard and only $1.25 per pound (self-serve) for whatever you take out.  The fruit was SO delicious!  Especially the pears.  They were better than any pears we've ever eaten!  So, sweet, juicy and flavorful!

There were deer in the orchards almost every time we visited or drove by.  They didn't seem to be eating the fruit, just the grasses.  And, they seemed to really enjoy being there.  Here's one lounging under an apple tree...

We enjoyed the orchards so much that we made sure to visit every day during our stay.
They were so beautiful and peaceful that I could have stayed all day.  

Across the highway but still in the park and the Fruita Historic District is the old Fruita schoolhouse.

It's tiny and very well preserved.

Here are some photos I took through the windows...

Whenever we walked back to camp from the orchards or drove back from a day trip, this is the scenery we saw in the heart of the historic area and near the campground.  It's so pretty!  And, I love the old barn!

Not only did we have no phone signal but there were no real grocery stores or much of anything else.  That didn't prevent me from having my vanilla lattes!  I got really good at making them over this trip by using my Moka pot in the trailer with hot almond milk and vanilla simple syrup I'd made at home.  Yum!

I posted this one day on Instagram...

Those Scottish scones were delicious with my coffee!

On one of the nights that we were there, we walked over to a star talk lead by a park volunteer.  He had a telescope with him and we got to see Saturn, various constellations, and the moon.  We learned so much and it was amazing what we saw through the telescope!

This stop truly was a surprise and a treat!  We absolutely loved visiting Capitol Reef and enjoyed our stay so much that we look forward to going back there again someday.  This post, however, is only one part of our visit to Capitol Reef.  We saw a couple more things there that deserve a post all their own.  So, stay tuned for more!  I'll keep sorting through photos and getting these posts up as soon as I can.  :-D