Saturday, April 29, 2017

What a Wonderful World: Our Second Anni-RVersary

This week we made a mad dash north. 1550 miles in seven days is quite a bit faster and further than we typically travel, but we were trying to stay ahead of the rain and ... dare I say ... snow! But, there was no avoiding the cold ... bring out the down jackets!

Day 1 - no stopping in Salt Lake City ...
got to get over that mountain pass!

The Wildebeest seemed to appreciate her recent tune-up and made it up the climbs without breaking a sweat! 365 miles later we rested for the night in "semi row" at the Walmart in Evanston, Wyoming.

A church ... a brewery ... everything within walking distance
from the Walmart in the small town of Evanston, Wyoming

Cheyenne, Wyoming ... 360 miles down the Interstate ... was our next stop. Sierra Trading Post offered quiet overnight parking as well as great outlet shopping.

Doug found a new pair of hiking boots ... as well as a "pour your own beer" bar at Accomplice Beer Company,

... and I checked another state capitol off my list!

Doug decided to go for his world record on day three ... 439 miles down the road to Lincoln, Nebraska. A strong west wind also gave the Wildebeest a world record for gas mileage ... 8.2 MPG! We pulled into Camp-A-Way RV Park for a two night recovery period. A walk around downtown revealed a lot of red ...

... as well as another State Capitol building! Like how I tried to fit into the Nebraska scene with my red shirt??!!

We were doing well at staying ahead of the rain and snow, and also making record travel time to Rochester ... well ahead of when we could get into the campground there, so we enjoyed a three day stay at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa that included ...

trees budding along the lake,
a brisk walk into town,
and a field trip to the Wildebeest's birthplace
at Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa! 

Our journey this past week has been amazing as we went from magnificent mountains rising up in the desert

 ... to vibrant colors of spring rising up from its long winter's nap.

This week also marks our second Anni-RVersary!

I love how the "Sold" sign matched the Wildebeest

It's been two years since we sold our "sticks and bricks" house and moved into the Wildebeest. 

I can make just as good food
and just as big messes
in my RV kitchen!

During this second year, we got out of our comfort zone and explored a new part of the country ... the southwest. We experienced new climates and cultures. We made new friends and reconnected with dear old friends. We saw mountains rise above the plains. We discovered deserts bursting forth with flowers.

We realized what a wonderful world we live in!

We see trees of green

Red blossoms too,

We see them bloom for me and you

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

We see skies of blue and clouds of white

A bright blessed day

A dark sacred night

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

And also on the faces of the people going by

We see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

They're really saying I love you

We hear babies crying, we watch them grow

They'll learn much more than we'll ever know

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world

Yes, we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

We will soon complete our journey north and settle into Rochester for a month. I will be going back to work for a while. Doug will keep busy with his "RV repairs" list. And most importantly, we will be able to spend time with the family and friends who truly make this a wonderful world for us!

Sing it for us, Louis!

Until next time ... embrace the wonderful world around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zion, Bryce ... and More!

We rolled into St George, Utah for what we thought would be a four day visit. Our site at Sand Hollow State Park gave us welcome peace and quiet compared to what we had just left in Las Vegas.

Since Doug had noticed some overheating issues on our way out of the Mojave Desert, he made an appointment to have the Wildebeest evaluated at a local shop, Kristi Diesel. The benefit of towing a car meant that we could still explore the area while the RV was being worked on.

And explore we did! Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks were on our radar. So when the repair job took a couple days longer than expected, we were fortunate to be able to explore even "more" beauty in the area.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park was located two and a half hours away from us ... road trip time! We took the longer but more scenic route going there and the faster I-15 route back home. The longer route involves slow driving through a portion of Zion National Park,

... but the beautiful cliffs towering above the road

... and the unique mountain tunnels definitely had made up for the extra road time.

Bryce Canyon National Park consists of one main road that leads from the Visitor Center and along the ridge overlooking the canyon. Along the 18 mile stretch, there are a number of turn-offs that provide spectacular canyon views and access to hiking trails.

Natural Bridge

So, while it is possible to "see" Bryce via the car, we found the true essence of the park was found by taking one of those hiking trails down into the canyon.

We decided to hike the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop that we accessed from Sunset Point.

It took us through some "keyholes" and got us up close and personal with the "hoodoos". Hoodoos, the odd-shaped rocks left standing by the forces of erosion, make Bryce Canyon so unique.

Of course, what goes down, must go up again ... but we felt that this three mile hike was the best way to really experience Bryce's beauty.

Some more Bryce beauty ...

Doug works his "HDR" photoshop magic on this
Bryce Canyon view.

I'm naming this "Kitty" HooDoo ...
What would your name for it be?

Upper view of the "Amphitheater" that we hiked down into.

Zion National Park

Located 45 minutes to an hour away from us were the three entrances that lead into different parts of Zion National Park.

The Kolob Canyon entrance is right off I-15 and is much less busy than the main entrance to Zion. Because of the easier access, we visited and hiked this area a couple of times. Driving up Kolob Canyon Road took us to Timber Creek Overlook Trail and a beautiful view of the valley below.

Hikes along Taylor Creek Trail and La Verkin Creek Trail lead us

... along and through picturesque creek beds that helped form the area.

A few days later we took the Kolob Terrace Road which is another quiet access point to Zion hiking and scenery. Although twisty and steep at times, it was a great way to see ...

shy Zion inhabitants,

eagles "fishing" in the Kolob Reservoir,
... and panoramic views!
"I'll take the picture, Doug. You just keep your eyes on the road!"

On the way down, we stopped off at Left Fork Trailhead and took a short hike that produced more amazing views of ...

blooming cacti,

California Fuchsia,
... and a serene canyon and creek bed below.

The main entrance of Zion begins near just past the town of Springdale, Utah. This area tends to be the most popular with visitors. Great numbers of tourists descend upon the one narrow road leading into Zion Canyon.

For safety reasons, this road is closed to private cars from March through November and accessible only via the Zion Shuttle Bus. So we parked our car by the Visitor Center and took the narrated trip to the end of the canyon road. A short hike along the paved Riverside Walk brought us to the Narrows.

Usually one can hike along the river further back into the canyon area known as the Narrows, but Doug is out of luck this spring as the massive amount of melting snow is swelling the riverbank making the trail impassable.

Unique rock sculptures
left behind by park visitors.

During our shuttle ride back, we got off at The Grotto to access one of the many hiking trails along the canyon. We not only escaped the throngs of people, but we also got much better views of the rock formations then is possible when riding the shuttle bus.

On our way out of Zion, we happened upon Zion Canyon Brew Pub. Operating under the stricter liquor laws of Utah, the brewers' creative juices are a bit limited. 

But even Doug could enjoy a mediocre beer on a deck with this kind of view!

Meanwhile, back at the RV repair shop one thing was leading to another ... forcing us to "cool our jets" for a few "more" days. We are so grateful that we were in such a beautiful area that we could mellow out and enjoy!

We took time to explore Snow Canyon State Park with its petrified sand dunes,

... lava caves,

... and narrow canyons.

On Thursday we found ourselves "homeless" as they had the Wildebeest a bit torn apart in order to work on its exhaust manifold. So, after finding a hotel room that was larger than our current "home", Doug treated me to a little local "culture".

It was opening night for "Annie Get Your Gun" at Brigham's Playhouse. We both agreed that the musical and acting talent was ...

... right on target!

Friday afternoon we were starting to make tentative plans if we have to be in this area over the weekend ... Maybe a quick Grand Canyon visit??!! But the dedicated and skillful mechanics at Kristi Diesel had the Wildebeest all shaped up by closing time on Friday.

So it was time to pack up our gear,

... break out of jail,

... do "last call" at the saloon,

... and hit the road running (get it ... road-runner??!!)

Good-bye, southwestern United States, it has been a "more" delightful winter than we ever imagined it could be!

Until next time ... delight in how much "more" surrounds you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!