June 20, 2022
Mom finished her trip to Southern Utah this past week and I went back to my routine of working. We had a really nice time despite the heat wave and were able to do so many things. It helped me to explore my new area a bit more as I tried to find new activities for us each day. In the course of her visit, we saw two state parks, two national parks, parts of the national monument, went out to dinner twice and grabbed take-out from two other very good local eateries, saw a drive in movie, some live music, went to a quilt show, and moreover got to enjoy each other’s company. She was happy with her trip and I was happy we had the time we had together.
As always, I am here to share some of the highlights of the week along with photos. I’ll start with the Petrified Forest state park which is just about a half mile from our campground. I had been to the property a few times to visit the reservoir next door, but had not yet paid the entrance fee to hike the trails and see the petrified wood. It was definitely worth the small entrance fee and we saw tons of petrified wood and beautiful views from the top of the mesa. The park attendant told us about the main trail which she said was easy and the Sleeping Rainbows trail which she said was challenging and had 10% more petrified wood on it. We thought we would just do the easy trail, but once we got up there, we just kept going. We did the Sleeping Rainbows trail and another unmarked trail as well. The reservoir when seen from above was a remarkable turquoise blue and the town below looked so peaceful and quaint. We also saw lots of colorful petrified wood and several small geckos. We also enjoyed seeing the prickly pear cactus in full bloom. I had encouraged my mom to get a national parks passport book so we stopped at the visitor center in town and were able to get four different passport stamps which feels like a major score to dorks like us! That evening we took the rental car down the forbidden dirt road to Devil’s Garden. Apparently, this is the spot I show off to everyone out here now. We walked around a bit, but the wind and sand that night caused more exfoliation than we cared for so she went back to explore it more while I was working later in the week.
Bryce canyon National Park was the second national park we visited together. Luke and I had been here once before a few years ago. We went for sunrise and it was still nippy out. It was the perfect place to be during the heat wave as it’s at least 10 degrees cooler at the elevation there. Bryce is a fascinating place with hundreds (maybe thousands) of stone columns called hoodoos surrounding a lush green forest valley. This place was formed from sediment from volcanic activity that was brought in when the area flooded. Shifting tectonic plates raised the whole area of the Colorado plateau up to higher altitudes. Rain and freezing water then eroded and shaped the hoodoo columns that are left there today. We stopped at almost all of the viewpoints and walked a short while on some of the trails there. It’s a very vivid and lively looking place. We hoped to spot a yellow bellied marmot (otherwise known as a whistle pig), but only saw a bunch of squirrels and chipmunks. Though to be honest, I’m not sure if I would really be able to tell the difference between these and a fat chipmunk so maybe we did see some after all. The mormons sent Ebenezer Bryce to this area to build a road so they could settle here. After arriving and having a good look around, he famously said, “It’s a helluva place to lose a cow”.
The last big adventure with Mom was hiking the Escalante River. We figured this was a perfect activity for a hot day so away we went. We arrived at the trailhead and discovered that there was a natural bridge after a two mile hike so we set out for that. After hiking for perhaps a quarter of a mile in the hot sand we eyed the river gently running alongside our trail and decided we would enjoy hiking through the water more. I found us some sticks along the bank that made for perfect hiking poles to help us stay on our feet when rocks were slippery. We tried to go back out to the sandy trail at one point, but were attacked by horseflies so decided we were better off in the water. There were beautiful cliffs on both sides of the river for most of the hike. We never found the natural bridge, but we thought the hike was spectacular without it. I’m very lucky to be here.
On her last night here we drove down highway 12 headed towards Boulder to watch the sunset. This stretch of road may be the most beautiful road I have ever seen. It is very remote and rugged with so many colorful rocky cliffs and canyons for miles. This road was built was the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940’s. It is incredible to imagine how difficult building this road must have been for them back then, but I am so grateful that they did it. I will admit that I didn’t take these photos in HDR so the one with Mom and the first one got a sky swap as the sky was too blown out as I wanted to capture the color and details in the landscape. However, the last photo is not a composite and shows just what we saw that evening. I could drive down this road every day and be amazed by the views each and every time.
Lastly, I don’t know if I have mentioned that I am participating in a contest called the Lust for Gold Treasure Hunt. It ends at the end of this month so I completed a few of the tasks I have left. I actually think I have a shot at winning it too! Most of the challenges involved taking photos of things related to searching for lost treasure, but there were also trivia questions and some photo or video challenges that were loosely related. I completed four photo challenges this week. These all involved selfies. For one I had to demonstrate gold fever. In another I had to show a return to childhood. I had to show a picture of my treasure hunting team and lastly me researching local folklore and myths to find treasure. I did not find gold in these challenges unless you consider any of these photos pure gold.