June 21, 2004

Manila, UT – Flaming Gorge

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:36 pm by diandy2004

Continuing north, we stopped at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area for two nights. Our original plan was to stay at Sheep Creek Bay Campground because we wanted to do some kayaking in the area by Sheep Creek Bay.  But the campground was full – not surprising since there were only five sites – so we stayed in Manila at the KOA.  Unfortunately we didn’t find out that the campground was full til we drove down the steep road to check it out.  This was one of the first times we caused our brakes to burn and get stinky.  We detached part of the way down the Gorge road and let them cool off.

Unfortunately our plans didn’t quite work out.  It rained both days here…with wind gusts of 25-40mph.  So, no kayaking; no kayak-camping; no hiking.

To explore the area we decided to drive around the Sheep Creek Geological Loop (detailed brochure). We saw beautiful changing formations and tried to correlate the different geological periods.  We also saw some mountain goats, including a baby.  We even detoured to the historic Ute Fire Tower (in Ashley National Forest). While we were in the tower talking with the volunteer, a lightning storm occurred, which is a scary place to be when you are the tallest structure in a forest.

Ute Fire Tower

Storm Over Ute Fire Tower

Inside Ute Fire Tower

Inside Ute Fire Tower

We then drove to the Dowd Mountain Overlook via 4 1/2 miles of unpaved road with large cows blocking our way.

The Locals

The Locals

View from the Dowd Overlook:

View of Flaming Gorge

View of Flaming Gorge

We had made camping reservations at Grand Teton and Yellowstone, so we couldn’t wait out the bad weather. We’ll put Flaming Gorge on our list again for a future trip. I think kayak-camping in here would be beautiful, especially near Red Canyon where the red-rock walls are several hundred feet high on both sides of the waterway.

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June 19, 2004

Jenson, UT – Dinosaur National Monument

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:35 pm by diandy2004

We’re off to see the Dinosaurs! Andy had one mountain pass to cross on our drive.  The summit was 8,300′ at Douglas Pass.  Good thing the speed limit was 25mph because that was about as fast as we could go uphill anyway.

We spent one night at Dinosaur National Monument. The Quarry is where they found a large number of bones. They stopped the dig at one point and preserved many fossils in the rock for all to see. You could see two skulls, but mostly vertebrae and femurs, etc. It’s very interesting if you slow down and read all of the information. I can’t imagine having the patience of a paleontologist.

The Quarry

The Quarry

The Work Area

The Work Area

The National Monument isn’t just about bones, though.  Here’s a view of the Green River Campground which sits along the Green River, of course.

Green River Campground

Green River Campground

We took the Auto Tour through the park looking at petroglyghs, an old homestead, and then took a short hike to Josie’s Box Canyon.

Diane in Box Canyon

Diane in Box Canyon

We later hiked a trail called the Sounds of Silence. Unfortunately a storm started to come close so we were a little anxious about lightning and hiking on wet slickrock. But the trail was interesting because it took you through several geological layers and it was *truly* silent. Not a sound was heard except an occasional bird. It was almost eerie.

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm

Park Scenery

Park Scenery

Since our plan was to look for dinosaur bones on this visit, we only stopped in the Quarry area.  If you look at the National Monument Park Map, you’ll see that we saw only a small segment of the park.  We’ll save the rest for another drive through this region.

An exciting note: we saw our first bald eagle on the drive to Dinosaur – it flew over the road near us being chased by four other smaller birds. First bald eagle I’ve ever seen in the wild.

May 19, 2004

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:56 am by diandy2004

After returning from our 10-day long side trip to Boca Raton & Philly, we flew back into Las Vegas. How weird was this? It was very odd to be flying to our car and “home” in Vegas. Don’t ask how, but Andy got into a conversation with the taxi driver about how our car was parked at the Tropicana Casino, we were staying at the San Remo Casino, our “home” was in the shop getting repairs done, we were flying in from Philly, but we lived in Florida. Needless to say she was willing to drive us all around town to learn the details of our situation – and to increase the fare. Vegas is crazy – all loudness and lights, crowds and chaos – but it is fun. We lost more of our “nest egg” gambling. We saw a great magic show at the Sahara. Eventhough we were in the second row, we couldn’t figure out HOW they did what they did. Andy wanted me to be picked to go onstage to learn some of their secrets – thankfully that didn’t happen.

We drove to my favorite park on May 13th – Zion National Park. We were here in 2001 and loved it. I wasn’t disappointed with our 2nd trip either…well, actually one major disappointment. Due to some large blisters on my toes, our hiking was very limited here. Ironically enough, the blisters were from wearing real shoes and walking around in Vegas! So we saw and did things differently here this time. We rode our bikes along the park road. We did some shorter hikes such as Hidden Canyon Trail.

Hiking Hidden Canyon Trail

Hiking Hidden Canyon Trail

We drove up through a different section of the park along Kolob Terrace Road to Lava Point lookout and saw volcanic debris, a crater, hoodoos, and cliffs that looked like the Painted Desert along the way.

Overlooking Zion Canyon

Overlooking Zion Canyon

Hiking Zion

Hiking Zion

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

Exploring Kolob Terrace Road

We also hiked in The Narrows again. Due to hiking in cold, wet conditions my blisters actually were pain-free for the 7-hour hike. The water was about 55 degrees and was generally knee-high, occasionally thigh-high, periodically hip-high, and once for Diane too deep. Let’s just say, we were at the end of the trip (200 yards away from end), I was tired, cold, not paying attention, and I out-walked my stick. This means my foot went past my walking stick (which is your support and water-level gauge) and, of course, I went into a deep pool. Yep, the drop-offs are quick in the Narrows. My feet were no longer touching bottom, I was now floating downstream, and once that cold water surrounded my chest, my breathe was sucked out of me. Where was Andy are you asking? Where he usually is…way ahead of me. But now he turned towards me (he heard me cry out), yelling “What ARE you doing down there?” (remember, at this point he can only see my head!). Too much excitement for me at the end of a long hike!

Diane in The Narrows

Diane in The Narrows

Andy in Orderville Canyon

Andy in Orderville Canyon

One of the most peaceful spots on the planet has to be right under this tree…

My Tree

My Cottonwood Tree

…After a long day of hiking, this is where you’ll find me. Perhaps there’s a vortex here?

We’ll be moving on to the Grand Canyon – North Rim on the 20th. We are hoping to get another permit to hike down in – so cross your fingers for us! We may not be so lucky this time since the campground is full and we have to camp outside the park – not a good sign. After that, Page, AZ and Lake Powell. We’re looking to kayak some of the fingers and canyons, so if anyone has any helpful information on doing that please let us know.