May 082013
 

Our bucket list includes a quest to visit all 59 National Parks.  The Capitol Reef National Park is in an isolated area of Utah, which allows for a peaceful hiking experience.

It’s located on the Scenic Byway 12 route which travels through 3 national parks, 3 state parks, a national recreation area, and a national monument.  Yes, I will be linking these areas for your enjoyment in future story’s about our travels through the 124 miles of the Scenic Byway 12 route.

Capitol Reef natl park

The trails in the Capitol Reefs National Park took us up and around some cliffs for a panoramic view of the many spires, ridges and domes.  The park was named Capitol Reef, because the whitish sandstone domes resemble the Washington D.C. “Capitol” Building.  The “Reef” refers to the high uplifted ridge, which presented a considerable barrier to early settlers.

Capitol Reef red flower

I’m always amazed at how flowers manage to bloom in such inhospitable environments.

Capitol Reef white cactus flower

Capitol Reef purple flower

I would appreciate your helping me identify these cactus beauties for me.

I believe the red flower is the Crimson Hedgehog cactus, but the white cactus and the bluish lavender flowers are a mystery to me yet.

Apr 222013
 

Paraglide 1Paragliding is one of the easiest ways to “share the air” with our feathered friends.  To soar with the eagles has been one of my on-going, bucket list wishes.

We arrived at sunrise on top of the Point of the Mountain launch area for a “Tandemonium Paragliding” lesson and enjoyed watching gliders sail off the cliff.

Paraglide 2

A non-motorized, foot-launched paraglider is designed with an inflatable wing to keep you aloft for extended flights and soaring, while riding with the currents in the air.

Paraglide 3We made lazy circles in the sky just like a large hawk, with me as his linked prey.  This is considered the simplest form of human flight and my tandem master made it seem effortless.

Using air currents and shifting our body weight from side to side, we searched for thermals that would lift and extend our flight.

Paraglide 4The landing area is smooth and noticeably clear of any rocks.  We  just lifted our feet and glided to a stop on a pad that’s built into the bottom of the paragliding apparatus.

If you are also an adrenalin junkie, go to the website: www.tandemoniumparagliding.com and sign up for a fun experience in Salt Lake City or a flight center closest to your area.

Apr 172013
 

­If you need to get somewhere fast, a hot air balloon is not the way to travel.   That’s why our bucket list included the experience of floating through the air like, or in this case with, a balloon.

Balloon 1Our children decided to fulfill this wish and surprised us with an anniversary gift of a hot air balloon ride.

They told us we would be picked up at 6 a.m. and to wear wind breakers.  We weren’t allowed to ask where, what or why!  Although having to get up that early in the morning, helped narrow down the bucket list of possible surprises.

Balloon 2

Balloon 3

 

Our certificate said it so well.  “We broke the bonds of gravity and ascended towards the heavens over the historic mountain town of Park City, Utah.”

Balloon 4I’ve read that you can’t really steer it, ­and it only travels as fast as the wind blows.  But we landed as planned, and on time, in a field with the chase vehicle waiting to pick us up.

After completing our ride in the “Dreams Aloft” balloon, we celebrated our safe journey with the traditional champagne toast.  We then received certificates that are proudly displayed on an office wall.

We can only describe flying in a hot air balloon as one of the most serene, enjoyable activities we’ve ever experienced.   If you are an adrenalin junkie like us, check out this high flying experience at the website: www.pcballoonadventures.com and then let us know about your balloon flight.

Apr 082013
 

Utah has many unique and unusual sites worth visiting.  The Spiral Jetty, near Rozel Point definitely fits in this category.

2-Spiral JettyIn 1970, Robert Smithson built the 1,500-foot long, 15 foot-wide counter clockwise coil out of mud, salt crystals and basalt rocks.

He hired a contractor with two dump trucks, a tractor and a front-loader to move 6,650 tons of rock and earth from the shore into the water.

The sculpture juts out into an isolated area of the Great Salt Lake known as Gunnison Bay and is large enough to be seen in photographs taken from space.  IMGP1078The Spiral Jetty is located about 16 miles from the Promontory Golden Spike National Historic Site.

Our jeep easily took us over the unpaved, rock strewn roads.  We would not recommend visiting this area in anything but a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle.

We visited the area when Utah was experiencing a drought and the basalt rocks and salt crystals were very visible.  Although the Jetty is usually below the water line, the best time to visit is in fall when the water level is at it’s lowest.

Mar 272013
 

When we are looking for a weekend trip to one of our favorite vacation spots, our first choice is always Moab, Utah.  The camping and rafting trips, surrounded by scenic red rock landscapes, are so peaceful and relaxing for this city livin’ grandmom.

The Arches National Park has the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches, fins and spires and are worth visiting often.

Three GossipsThe park’s eighteen mile drive takes you through amazing natural sites, such as the Three Graces.

These spires are also wrongly called The Three Gossips.   This conjures up an image of yakking women, which doesn’t reflect a very peaceful image of this view.

Balancing Rock 1The balancing rock is the size of three school busses.  The small pile of rocks to the right was named “the Chip off the Old Block, but fell during the winter of 1975/1976.

On the far right of Balanced Rock is an Entrada Sandstone fin.  It doesn’t resemble anything to get a special name other than it’s description, “fin.”

Windo Area double arch

The windows area of the Double Arch and Archaeologist Cave were used in the beginning of the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

The hike is a gentle, half mile climb from the Window’s parking area.  It’s massiveness really sinks in when you climb up right under the arches.

Delicate Arch_bThe Delicate arch is a symbol of the state of Utah.  It was originally known as the “Cowboy chaps,” which really does look like the leather leg covers used by ranchers.

This view of the Delicate Arch shows the La Sal Mountains in the background.   The 1.5 mile hike from the Wolfe Ranch parking area to the arch is marked with cairns (small stacked rocks)  to show the way.  The walk is without much shade, so be sure to bring plenty of water.

Taking this picture without tourists, means extraordinary patience is required.  A perfect “photo op” is well worth the wait, since this is a view that is unbelievably breathtaking.

If your knees don’t like long hikes anymore, an easier 10 to 15 minute walk from The Delicate Arch viewpoint parking area, gives a more distant but beautiful view of the arch.

The Moab area has so much to offer and is also a short distance from the Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.  I would recommend viewing this website: www.discovermoab.com  for helpful information on hiking, camping, photographing, or just touring by car before you visit these natural treasures.

Visit this travel site for more places to visit.

Mar 182013
 

Lee played with model trains when he was his grandson’s age.  It instilled a love for trains that he still has today.HAYDEN & GRANDPA

We purchased a home for retirement that fits our empty nester life style, which only allowed room for an N Scale size train set.  We found this 2’ by 3’ layout and a rolling table that fits perfectly in a corner of Lee’s office.

0107 copy
After learning about the techniques of remodeling a train layout, Lee changed the scenes to reflect our travels through the Moab, Utah area.  The new mountain has red rock spires with trees, rock climbers and campers, surrounded by city life in miniature.

BEACH SCENE copy

The beach scene has all its available camping sites filled with trailers and tents, boaters, picnickers and swimmers.  This is the kind of camping that we are looking for when we venture into the outdoors.

picnic table 1How small is an N Scale layout? One of the picnic tables that Lee assembled fits on a dime and he made them all without a magnifying glass.  Basically, N scale is half the size of the HO scale.  The HO scale is half the size of the O scale model trains.  All our grandsons begin their love of trains by playing with Thomas the Tank Engine, which is just the perfect scaled down size to fit their precious little hands.

GRANDPAThe youngest of our grandsons are now learning how to become expert train engineers.

Lee has been sharing his love of trains with all seven grandsons and may need to be careful as to how many train sets he promises to build with the grandboys.

 
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