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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Last week we took off for a road trip to Port Townsend and Lake Quinault on the Olympic Pensinsula.  We were celebrating our 40th anniversary, and visiting family & friends.  We stayed the first night at my Dad’s house in Anacortes, and my brother and sister-in-law came up from Camano Island and we all cooked a meal together.  Nice relaxing evening and a good start to the trip.

We stayed 2 nights in Port Townsend in a little cottage down on Discovery Bay.  No TV, beach right below for walking.  Very quiet and I read an entire Martha Grimes mystery (found on the shelf in the cottage) in 2 days.  We had some wonderful meals in Port Townsend.  Being somewhat Asian-food deprived over here in the valley, we really enjoyed Hanazono Asian Noodle, one of my favorite finds from being out there at knitting retreat in the fall.  For our actual anniversary on March 17th, we went to The Fountain Cafe (they don’t have their own website).  Since they don’t really “do” St. Patrick’s Day, it was a quiet and intimate setting for our dinner together.

40 years! think of that

40 years! think of that

...and we still like each other!

…and we still like each other!

On Monday we headed out to Lake Quinault, where our longtime friends own and operate a small cabin resort on the north shore of the lake – actually inside the national park boundaries:  Lochaerie Resort.  They moved out there a couple of years ago and tore down and completely rebuilt the main house for their new home.  Rick had built bathroom vanities for their 2 upstairs bathrooms, so we had a full truck and he had work to do installing once we got there.  I’ll wait for photos until the countertops and sinks are installed (we will be back out there in June), but the cabinets are clear fir and looked great.

A major storm system moved through Washington this week, and by the second day there were strong winds and lashing sheets of rain coming down – this is the rainforest, after all.  Not a good day for walking but a good day for knitting (me), conversation, reading, after dinner card games and movies.  And hanging a bear skin rug in the Lochaerie office:

bear rug 1

bear rug 2

When we left Wednesday morning, it was actually snowing (a wet snow) at the lake and there was plenty of snow up in the mountains all around.  Beautiful!

Dropped off my new tool, an older Wolf Clipper round-knife cutter, at C.H. Holderby’s in Seattle on the way over, and picked it up all tuned up on the way home.

Wolf Clipper

I bought it on eBay about a month ago, for a fraction of what a new one costs, and it ran fine – but, as pictured above, it had no safety guard.  Rick was sure, probably with good reason, that I was in danger of cutting off one or more fingers!  So we called Wolf Machine Co. and ordered the safety guard and Rick installed it.  But it still needed some adjustments to both the guard and the honing stones.  When we picked it up on Thursday, one of the tech guys told me it would outlive me, and since it is probably already at least 30-40 years old, I think that sounds like one fine machine.

I will use it to cut through multiple layers of fabric to produce strips for weaving rugs and other things.

 

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Where We Were a Month Ago!

I’m not sure what happened to October – it’s almost over!  It took me forever just to get the pictures off my camera, but here is a belated look back at our 2-week whirlwind trip to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas for a wedding, and up along the eastern Sierra Nevada and through central Oregon via Hwy 395 – the last 2 weeks of September.

We took only 3 days to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Not all that bad with 2 of us to drive.  We had lots of smoke from forest fires all the way down through SE Washington and into Idaho.  But we had beautiful clear weather once we arrived at our destination, although it did get cold at night, which had as much to do with the elevation (6000′ – 8000′) as anything.

We camped at Jacob Lake in a commercial campground, which turned out to be almost an hour’s drive each day to the scenery and trails at the rim.  Next time (if there is a next time) we will probably go for the park service North Rim Campground.  No water or electric hookups there, but it looked quite nice and has showers, laundry and a basic grocery store.

Camping at Jacob Lake near the Grand Canyon North Rim

The obligatory pose at the rim

We were there for 4 nights, and got in several short to moderate hikes.  The scenery is spectacular, but almost a little overwhelming.  The light was often flat so it was a challenge to get really good pictures (not that it held us back!)

From the Grand Canyon we drove to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of the daughter of some long-time friends (I have known the bride’s mother since the 7th grade).  We parked our little trailer at an inexpensive RV park in Las Vegas where we felt it would be safe – and we could hook up to electricity to run the refrigerator and the fan.  We stayed 3 nights at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino so we could be with our friends and the rest of the wedding party.  About 55 people actually came down for the wedding, which was held about an hour’s drive east of Las Vegas, at Valley of Fire State Park.

They got everyone there in 3 limousines:

Our friends, the mother and father of the bride

A spectacular setting for the wedding ceremony

Afterwards we returned to Las Vegas for a lovely dinner at The Venetian.  This hotel/casino has an artificial “sky” over the “canal” with real water and gondolas.  It was both over-the-top and kind of cool!  Our dinner party was on the second floor overlooking the “canal” and you could almost believe you were in Venice.  Sorry – no pictures.

We had never been to Las Vegas before.  I was expecting the casinos and gambling, but had NO IDEA how much of a theme park the whole place is.  We did enjoy some things, though, like the Fountains at The Bellagio:

Fountains at the Bellagio during the day

Fountains at night (they play music when the fountains are on – this time it was Elvis singing “Viva Las Vegas”!

By Monday we were ready to pick up the trailer and hit the road.  The rest of the trip was more or less a whirlwind tour of places we want to go back to, and spend more time.

Death Valley – more beautiful than we expected.  What a fabulous landscape!  but too hot even at the end of September.  Best to go back in March or April and do some camping and hiking.

Death Valley

We spent one night up in Yosemite National Park at the Tuolomne Meadows Campground (where we camped many times when I was a child).  Did a drive through the park and remembered how much we love Yosemite, especially the high country.  We will definitely be going back there for at least a week in the next year or two!

camping at Tuolomne Meadows

Rick in Yosemite Valley

We spent a couple of nights on the way home at the south end of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in SE Oregon.  This was our third visit there, but we have always gone in the spring to enjoy the bird migrations.  This time we took a day to drive the scenic 50-mile loop on Steens Mountain.  This is an uplifted tableland (escarpment) which lifts from west to east.  There are numerous deep U-shaped gorges that were formed by glaciation.  It is a somewhat austere landscape, but quite beautiful.  We saw antelope but not the wild horses that also roam there.

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Arizona Bound

We’re off on a 2-week road trip tomorrow, with our Aliner camping trailer.  We will be attending a wedding in Las Vegas in a little over a week, and decided to make a camping trip out of it rather than fly down.  By next Monday we will be at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for 4 nights.  I was there once before about 40 years ago, and Rick has never been, so we are excited!  After that comes 3 nights with the wedding party at a hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas (can you say…. “and now for something completely different”?)  Then we will work our way home via the east side of northern California and central Oregon.

I finished another of my Mosaic Mojo hats, this time in a handpainted Blue Face Leicester yarn from Chameleon Colorworks, plus some lovely plum-colored Elsbeth Lavold “Baby Llama”.

It is interesting how the fairly regular color repeat in the yarn played off against the number of stitches in the mosaic band, causing a “swirl” of colors through the band.  This was completely unplanned and uncontrolled on my part, but I sure do like it!

 

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Thelma & Louise

I found out a week ago that I am leaving on an Adventure with one of my best friends. She just bought a pre-owned 2004 Porsche Carrera S but it is located in Lancaster, PA and she wants me to fly back with her to drive it cross-country to Seattle.  So I am leaving this evening from the Wenatchee airport to join her in Seattle. We will fly out of Seatac to Philadelphia the next morning, and will be gone for about a week. The plan is to come back via I-90 and she will bring me home to the Methow on her way through to Seattle.

This is the Porsche, a pretty midnight blue with soft grey interior:

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!  A number of people have remarked it sounds kind of like the movie “Thelma & Louise” – but hopefully without the driving-off-the-cliff part at the end.

I finished up 3 more of the collapse weave scarves – the warp had soft blues, greens and pinks for the cottons with a dark hot pink (“Chanel”) for the wool grid that shrinks more than the cotton and causes the puckering.  The weft colors were lavender, turquoise, and a soft blue-green.

One of my neighbors wants to learn something about weaving, so to get her started (and to have something new to do myself) we wound and tied a cotton towel warp onto the existing setup I have for the scarves on Kingston.  So now she will weave a couple of towels and I will finish up the rest when I get back from the road trip:

I also finished spinning and plying some dyed New Zealand Corriedale that I bought at least 10 years ago from a place in Victoria BC.  The preparation was interesting – it looked like a roving in the bag, but was actually a narrow batt with stripes of about 6 colors running side by side the whole length of it.  I didn’t want to spin it from the end and risk having the colors get all muddied, and I also wanted a more woolen, rather than worsted, prep.  So I tore off about 1-ft sections of the narrow batt, spread it out, then rolled it from the end to something like a rolag (warning … spinning terminology).  Then spun it from the end of the “rolag”, after attenuating the fibers a bit.  So for each of these “rolags” I was spinning across the colors, so they came and went in the singles in a more or less regular pattern.  Clear as mud?  Then I made a 3-ply yarn and just let the colors from the singles work against each other as they came without trying to plan that part out very much.  I am quite pleased with the result!

I have about 650 yards which should be enough to knit a vest:

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Hawaii travelogue

We have been home from Hawaii for about 10 days, but work and life events have been more pressing than blogging.  However, I am determined to catch up a little, so for today, here are some images and impressions from our vacation.  We were on the Big Island of Hawaii (the island is called Hawaii, as is the state, so it gets a little confusing).   The weather was perfect – high 70’s to low 80’s, sometimes overcast, even a few showers – but so warm and comfortable and lush.  The water was incredibly warm and we swam and/or snorkeled almost every day.

The first week we spent on the Kona side (drier side), mostly at a house rental south of Kailua-Kona.  Specifically, it was down Napo’opo’o Road below the town of Captain Cook, at the south end of Kaleakekua Bay.  This is the bay which has the Captain Cook monument at the north end.  The north end of the bay is accessible only by boat, or by a long and very steep trail from the top of the cliff – but it is home to spinner dolphins, and has some of the best snorkeling in the state (clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, and lots and lots of fabulous fish to look at).

The house was right on the bay, and near the old pier where we could get in and out easily at high tide to swim or snorkel.  People also rented kayaks there every morning to explore the bay.

Our house near Napo’opo’o pier

First night’s sunset

Morning view of the pier with kayaks

There was an outdoor barbeque, so Rick grilled fish or chicken almost every night for dinner.

From there, we explored south along the coast.  Found some great beaches, and visited our friend Jennifer Schwarz, who we know from the old days of Northwest Fine Woodworking in Seattle.  She has moved to Hawaii, with all of her woodworking machinery and everything, and is doing some beautiful work.

On my birthday, we went to South Point, the aptly-named most southern point of the island.  It is also the most southerly place in the entire United States, farther south even than the Florida Keys.  From there, we did a 4-mile round trip hike along the coast to a green sand beach.  The sand washes down from a “littoral cone” which contains a lot of olivine.  We decided not to scramble down to the beach, although many people were doing it without problems, but just sat and ate our lunch and enjoyed the beauty of the place before heading back.

Here we are at windy South Point, Hawaii

Approaching the green sand beach

Looking down on green sand beach

Twice we rented kayaks and paddled to the north end of the bay.  The spinner dolphins would swim and surface around us as we neared the monument, and even jump straight up out of the water, spinning around and then flopping onto their bellies.  It was really magical to hear them breathing and see them so near.  Near the monument, we pulled our kayak up onto the lava rocks and then explored up and down the coral reefs with our snorkeling gear, enjoying the wonderful sights and fish.

I tried to take pictures of the dolphins, but because of all the bobbing up and down, got mostly pictures of the sky, or the cliffs, or my paddle – or else dolphins doing something not very interesting.

Looks kind of like Batman coming up from a swim.

After we left the house, we drove across the Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, to the Hilo (wet) side of the island, and then up to Hawaii Volcanoes Nat’l Park.  There we stayed one night at Kilauea Lodge, which also has a pretty decent restaurant.  Part of the road around Kilauea crater is closed due to sulpher dioxide fumes from the current eruption (Pu’u O’o vent).  But we did some exploring and short walks the first afternoon, and the next morning went for a short hike to a hill in the midst of a 1980’s lava flow.

On the way to Pu’u Huluhulu

We saw a flock of nene’s (pron. nay-nays), the wild Hawaiin geese.  Why they live up there at the  volcano, I do not know, but there are “nene crossing” signs everywhere!

We also dropped in at the Volcano Art Center Gallery near the visitor center – well worth the visit.  Really wonderful, high quality art.  We saw some beautiful woodworking in particular, and our friend Jennifer has some of her small tables there.  Here is a koa bench that we particularly admired:

The last 3 nights we spent at the Kona Tiki Hotel in Kailua-Kona.  Built in 1953, it isn’t fancy, but it was clean and friendly and all rooms faced the water.  We had a kitchenette unit so we could still cook our own food, and they had some barbeques down by the pool area so we could grill yet more wonderful fish!   From there, we explored the northern tip of the island and found some nice art galleries along the way.  Also searched out some wonderful small beaches where we could go for a swim and hang out and relax.

Kohala north coast on an overcast (but warm!) day

A small Kohala beach, only 10 cars let in at a time

The view from our balcony at the Kona Tiki

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ANWG 2011

Sort of dropped the ball on chronicling the rest of our meander through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and onward to home in the Methow.  Suffice it to say that we encountered a lot of wind, some heavy rain, but also some partly sunny days and lots of beautiful vistas of the Rockies and other mountain ranges of Montana (which was incredibly GREEN – a lush, verdant spring green).  We particularly enjoyed the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.  It is a beautifully done (and obviously well funded) complex of 5 museums.  We only had time to visit the Plains Indian and Western Art museums, but they were well worth it.

Our last night was spent outside of Spokane, and we spent the evening with our friend Austin who has relocated there from Seattle.  Check out the band he is playing (guitar) with: the Angela Marie Project.  This is just a sideline for all of them, they have actual jobs….

Then we had 5 whole days at home!  Teasel was so glad to see us, although she wasn’t really frantic – obviously she has bonded with our trusted housesitter.  It rained like crazy from time to time.  This is May in the Methow?  But it does make it so green on the hills, and the wildflowers are loving it.  We washed everything in sight…clothes, the trailer, both cars,etc.  Then packed up the truck with miscellaneous furniture and household belongings (since we have finally consolidated into one domicile only) – this for Rick to take down to the kid & grandkids in Medford/Ashland.

So last Tuesday we set out again for Oregon, without trailer this time.  We stayed with our good friends who own the Real Mother Goose Gallery in Portland, then on Wednesday Rick dropped me off at Willamette University in Salem, OR for the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds (ANWG) biannual conference.  He kept going and is down in Medford/Ashland visiting with the family until tomorrow, when he comes back to pick me up.  Meanwhile I am staying at a somewhat tatty dorm on campus (my friend Holly is in a much nicer and newer one – jealous!) but having a great time at the conference.  At least the food is better, MUCH better than 2 years ago at Gonzaga U. in Spokane.

The first day Holly and I set up the guild booth display for the Seattle Weavers’ Guild:

Seattle Weavers' Guild booth at ANWG 2011

Our theme was “Use Your Weaving Every Day” and we had 3 “rooms” in the display.  Left-guest bedroom, Center-family room, Right-kitchen.

On Thursday I had an all-day class on using Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) to produce a free-form weaving pattern design and then import it into your weaving software that will generate threading, tie-up and draw-downs.  I have Weave-It Pro to do this but it works with a lot of them.  It was pretty interesting but it became clear, for reasons I won’t try to explain, that you have to have a computer-driven dobby loom with at  least 16 shafts to make use of this idea.  Won’t really fly with an 8 or 12 shaft floor loom like I have.  Well you could do it with a 16-shaft table loom (the thing is you need to be able to raise any combination of 16 or more shafts – can you say 16 factorial?) but that would be tedious IMHO.  Not having the spare $10,000 or so to buy an AVL or Louet Megado loom at the moment – not doing this!

The next day I had a great class in the morning on “Polychrome Crackle” with Susan Wilson.  Very organized teacher, good handout and Powerpoint presentation.  In 2-1/2 hours I got a lot of information on a technique that I am very interested in pursuing.  Crackle is a weave structure – polychrome is what happens when you start introducing a lot of colors.

Sue Wilson with polychrome crackle blanket

My Friday afternoon seminar was on “Analyzing and Reproducing Commercial Cloth” with Teresa Ruch, who worked at Pendleton Woolen Mills for 18 years first as a sample weaver and later as a fabric designer.  Since then she has taught fabric design at the college level and has a thriving dye studio and art-to-wear business.  A little disorganized as a teacher but I still got some useful information.

Today I had the morning off, which was wonderful since the weather has turned warm and sunny and the campus is quite beautiful with a steam meandering through it and gorgeous landscaping – lots of rhododendrons in bloom right now.  I lazed around and went to look at the garments from the previous night’s fashion show.  Just showing a few things here, I have more pictures but these were kind of favorites:

This dress with peacock feather train was the Grand Finale of fashion show!

Really liked this sleeveless dress with side pockets

OK, this is a needle-felted "hat"

Looked amazing on a Young-Thing Model in a black leotard!

Awarded "Best of Show" - cloth and garment both fabulous

This afternoon I had another half-day class with Teresa Ruch on “Dyeing Hand-Painted Skeins and Warps”.  Got some great handouts and took a lot of pictures, but more of the sort to remind me of what she was doing, not for the blog.

So here I am in my down-at-heel dorm room on a Saturday night, which fortunately also has great internet access so I can catch up on the blog, as I fear it may get by me when I finally get home.  It has been a great experience (both the trip to the Southwest and the time in Oregon) but now I am ready to be at home after an extended absence of almost a month!

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Stormy Weather

After leaving Pueblo, Colorado our plan was to stay near Boulder for a few days, visit the Rocky Mountain National Park and then work our way up through Yellowstone on the way home.  Well, it is snowing/raining in both national parks so that is just not an option.  We drove up to Golden Gate State Park in the mountains west of Boulder on Friday, which was a beautiful drive, only to find 4-6″ of snow on the ground at the park- so not camping there!

Drove back down to Boulder and fulfilled my mission of visiting Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, a fabulous yarn store.  My mentor, Judith MacKenzie, told me about it years ago – they have a lot of mill ends for weaving.  But they don’t show these on their website, as it is a constantly revolving and unpredictable selection.  The place is huge and staff very friendly and helpful.

The mill-ends area in the back room

weaving classroom and more weaving yarns (not mill-end)

classroom area in back including dye kitchen

the main store (retail knitting yarn etc)

From Boulder we drove north and stayed at Boyd Lake State Park just south of Fort Collins.  Although we drove in through essentially a suburb, the park itself was very nice and we were able to go for a bike ride on their extensive trail system before leaving the next morning.  We also went up to Fort Collins Friday afternoon and visited the New Belgium Brewing Co. (think “Fat Tire” and others).  Quite the scene, being late Friday in a college town!  But they give out 4 free tasters per person so between us we were able to try 8 different beers, including seasonal specials.  Kind of fun!

Yesterday we started working our way north into Wyoming, where it was (is) extremely windy, with some pelting rain mixed in last night.  We are staying east of the Rockies for now, and visited Guernsey State Park to see the historic CCC buildings there, and also Fort Laramie.  Thought we would stay at the state park, but due to the nasty weather of late they were not really set up and open yet.  So we holed up in a KOA at Douglas, WY last night and rode out the storm.

Beautifully crafted museum built by the CCC in 1930's

Today it is still very windy, but at least the sun is out!

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Seniora

Yesterday I turned 62, which in the eyes of the U.S. Government (Dept of Interior in particular) makes me eligible for my very own ten-dollar, good-for-my-lifetime Senior Pass to our nation’s public lands.  Entry to national parks, half-price camping fees in certain areas, and most usefully to me, trailhead pass for hiking trails at home in the Methow Valley.  I plan to buy mine either at Rocky Mountain National Park, or Jellystone National Park on the way home.

Here was the scene when we crossed the Continental Divide on Colorado State Hwy 50 on Tuesday:

Monarch Pass

Those peaks are over 14000′ high (the pass about 11000′).  Lots of snow up there still.

Tomorrow we head north towards Boulder.  The state park where we plan to stay showed 44 degrees and snowing yesterday!  But it is supposed to warm up to the mid-60’s and be partly sunny by the weekend.  May not have good internet access after this so blogging may be over after tonight.

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Island in the Sky

On our third day here we moved the trailer to the new spot, did laundry, and just kind of took it easy.  In the afternoon we took off in the truck to explore the mesa top country.  The access road to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP takes off just a quarter mile down the highway from where we are staying, and it also leads to Dead Horse Point State Park.  We decided to make that our destination for the afternoon.

Dead Horse Point is a small mesa separated from the “mainland” by only a 30-ft wide neck of land.  The main vista is to the east over the canyonlands and the Colorado River.  Quite spectacular, but so vast it is hard to take in, much less photograph.  There were a lot of high clouds that day and the light was flat, colors washed, but after a bit the sun broke through and we were able to make out more relief in the rock formations.

Dead Horse Point State Park

That’s a potash evaporation pond in the far distance.  They pump water from the river into the layer that contains the potash, then dry the liquid in lined evaporation ponds.  Then they “mine” it with bulldozers and take it to a refining plant nearby.  The blue color is from something they add to speed up the evaporation process.

landscape from Dead Horse Point

A woman we met from Australia had told us the bike trail at this park was really great and quite civilized compared to what she was used to at home.  So we got our folding bikes out of the truck and set off from the visitor center parking  lot only to discover that neither bikes nor riders were up to the challenge.  It was a mix of red dirt and slick rock and way too bumpy and uneven for the little tires on our folding bikes!  Oh well, worth a try.

Sunday we went back up the same road to explore the Island in the Sky district of the national park.  Much of it is also an isolated mesa, separated from the adjoining land by a 40-ft wide neck called “The Neck”, strangely enough.  This mesa is quite convoluted in shape but fairly large, 43 square miles.  We hiked a total of about 7 miles this day, but not all in the same place.  The shortest one was a half-mile nature walk to see Mesa Arch, through which you look down on the canyonlands below:

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

The longest one was a 3.6 mile round trip to Murphy Point, which looks out to the southwest over the Green River as it flows down to join the Colorado, and also an area of the park called The Maze, which is accessible only by jeep trail and hiking trails.

the view from Murphy Point at Canyonlands

It was another gorgeous sunny day, temps in the 80’s, but extremely windy.  When we got back to camp, we discovered our Kelty awning had imploded and some of the edge binding had torn loose, so we had to take it down.  I should be able to repair it once I get back home to my sewing machine, but no more vestibule/shelter for the side of the trailer for the rest of this trip.

Yesterday was our last full day here, and we went back to Arches NP to explore the Devils Garden area trails.  It was a high overcast day, windy, temps in the mid-70’s – very comfortable for hiking, but the light and colors were very flat for photography.  This trail starts off very groomed and civilized and there were many people.  There are a number of arches to visit on spur trails along the way.

Partition Arch in the Devils Garden

After about a mile you have to climb up a steep rock fin, and that is where the wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak.  There are many visitors from Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada (we heard a lot of French, which could mean people from France – or from Quebec) and they all seemed to make the distance to the end of the trail.  But some of this trail is not for the agoraphobic!

check out the signpost

Rick on a rock fin at Devils Garden

Last night we had dinner in Moab at a nice place called the Desert Bistro.  It was really windy with strong gusts during the night, and began raining this morning.  We feel lucky to have had such beautiful weather during our 5 days here exploring the 2 parks.  I felt so sorry for the people here camped in tents, it must have been a miserable night and a muddy red morning.  But we are packing up and heading off to Colorado, where hopefully the weather will improve!

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Utah, that is….

Here we are near Moab, Utah for 6 days, well-positioned to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.  We headed south with our Aliner camping trailer on May 9, after a weekend in Seattle for various errands, visits and Mothers’ Day dinner with Rick’s mom and sister.  The first night we stayed at Farewell Bend State Park, a very nice Oregon SP on the Snake River, almost into Idaho.  The second day we daudled a bit, so didn’t get to a campground until quite late, and landed up at Willard Bay State Park just south of Brigham City, UT.  Not so nice, just off the highway and they were doing work at night so lots of jack-hammering amidst the truck traffic noise.  Thank goodness for earplugs!

Arrived here on Wednesday May 11.  We had made a reservation for 6 nights, and had a spot at the end of a row so we weren’t sandwiched between other people.  The place is quiet and very clean, and well out of town ( Moab appears to be a bit hectic).   But it turned out we were near the highway with lots of truck traffic at night, so the next morning we arranged to move to a new spot as soon as possible, which turned out to be Saturday.  It’s on the other side,over a slight rise which blocks off the highway.  So for our last 3 nights here we will have peace and quiet, and an unimpeded view across the desert towards the Windows section of Arches National Park:

Moab itself is a mecca for bicyclists (both road and mountain variety). There is an extensive trail system, plus all the surrounding public lands.  It appears to also draw rafters, rock climbers, hikers, and ATV and motorcycle types.  The town has a lot of RV parks and motels, restaurants, tourist shops, and “adventure tour” places.  Red rock T-shirt, anyone?  Kokopelli?  No?  Well it also has a couple of good grocery stores etc. so we have ventured into town a couple of times to stock up.

Thursday we explored Arches National Park.  What an amazing place!  We stopped at several spots along the road and did short to medium hikes, probably about 6 miles all told.  Still getting used to the altitude here, which has been between 5000′ and 6000′ where we have been hiking.  Rick is having a lot of fun with his big camera but I took a few with my little point-and-shoot so I can post a sampling of the scenery on the blog.  These are thumbnails, click on the image to see it full-sized:

Turret Arch in The Windows area of Arches NP

Double Arch in The Windows area of Arches NP

Delicate Arch at Wolfe Ranch area of Arches NP

Winter Wash below the Delicate Arch

Yesterday  we drove down to The Needles section of Canyonlands National Park.  This park is huge and divided by the Colorado and Green Rivers, so you can’t drive through the park and no roads connect the different sections.  The road to The Needles section is 40 miles south of Moab, then a 35 mile drive to the park boundary, but it is a lovely drive with towering red rock cliffs, mesas, a creek valley with a working ranch, etc.  Once we reached the park and got more information at the visitor center, we did the short drive to the end of the road and explored a couple of the “short walks”.  Then we parked at the Elephant Hill parking lot and did a 6-mile hike to Cresler Park, which is a high shrub and grassland surrounded by the Needles formations for which this section of the park is named.  Didn’t start until about 3 pm and got out a little after 7 pm, tired and weary and sweaty but basically happy to have been really up into such an amazing landscape.  A lot of the hike was across slickrock with rock cairns to guide the way.

The Needles area landscape

We got to a sign that said “Chesler Park 0.2 miles” and yours truly went the wrong way, so after about a half mile we realized this couldn’t be right, and re-traced our steps.  Pretty tired, we debated whether to make the effort to go up to the overlook, which involved some climbing.  But wow, we are glad we did!

Chesler Park from overlook

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