First Lake Trip

We had a day off during the week so we thought we would take the boat to the lake and make sure everything was in working order for the summer.  We went up to Pineview, as usual, and had a really nice morning driving around the lake.  The weather was perfect when the sun was out, but a little chilly when it hid behind the clouds.

There were only a couple other boats on the lake, full of fishermen.  The water was as calm and smooth as could be.  It made me wish I had brought my wetsuit so I could hop on my wakeboard.  We did get a nice tour of the whole lake, which is much bigger than it usually seems when full of people.  There was also plenty of wildlife around.  Mostly birds, but we did see a red fox run by without stopping to let me get a photo.

Renaissance Festival & Fantasy Faire

A few weekends ago we got the chance to go to our local renaissance festival.  We had never been to one before.  We didn't dress up, but next time we definitely will because it looked like so much fun!  We saw all kinds of costumes: lords & ladies, gypsies, pirates, peasants, faeries, elves, even a geisha.  No, I don't know how that fit in either... and I didn't even think to take a picture of any of them!

There were many booths full of amazing artists.  My favorite was 2nd Skin Leather, made by a couple of local Ogdenites.  Their craftmanship was amazing!  I would love to own one of their masks, but sadly they were all way out of my price range.  Here are a couple of my favorites from their website:

I did get a couple of things: a stained glass flower, and a couple of flower hair clips.

We did meet a few interesting characters, like the guy that challenged us to a game of Ye Olde Block Tower:

And the one that threw Pat in the stocks until he sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" loud enough for the ladies across the way to hear him:

There was also lots of yummy food to eat, almost like the county fair. We had some authentic brewed beverages (choice of Sarsparilla, Honey Root Beer, Birch Beer, or Cream Soda), and some shish kebob skewers for lunch. Sadly, they were sold out of turkey legs. For dessert was handmade chocolates, made by a pair of ladies who looked like they really enjoyed eating what they made.  My favorite was the maple flavored, but Pat liked the peanut butter cups.

We were there on the last day the fair was open, and things seemed to be winding down a bit.  Next year we will have to go a little earlier so we can get the full experience!

Grandma's 80th Birthday

For the grand occasion, my aunt Tara rented a condo in Park City Thursday-Sunday and invited all the girls in the family up.  We had a fantastic time shopping, eating lots of good food, and playing games into the wee hours.  We decided we needed to have a girls' weekend more often!

We bought her a princess crown to wear:

And sang happy birthday at Loco Lizard:

And here's everyone who came:

L to R: Aunt Tara, Aunt Gwen, Cousin Crista, Cousin Melissa, Mom Gayle, Grandma Moana, Me, Cousin Kelli, and Aunt Cathy

I hope I look as good as my grandma when I turn 80!

Capitol Reef - Day 3

Today we FINALLY got to go to Cathedral Valley.  Most of the road there was in BLM land still.  It looked like we were in similar country as the San Rafael Swell.  We stopped in the BLM land so Pat could walk for a bit, and investingate the hills that were shimmering in the light.  the sand was interspersed with ribbons of rock that we thought were crystal, but later found out were gypsum, a type of salt.  I gathered up a couple of pieces of gypsum, and one of the a pitted black lava rocks that sprinkled the landscape, and brought them home with me.  I've collected rocks from quite a few places we've gone to put in my flower bed.

Then we entered the park again - no more collecting rocks!  Our first stop was the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon.  They are the largest cathedrals in the valley, though slightly separate from the rest.  They were huge!  And so far away from anything besides flat ground.  Very beautiful.

Temple of the Moon - look how tiny I am in the photo:

I loved this little spire on the side:

Temple of the Sun - way bigger than Temple of the Moon, but you can't tell since I'm further back:

Also in that area was Glass Mountain, an entire hill formed almost solely of gypsum.  The different pieces were put together every which way, and they caught the sun a lot:

Next stop on the list was the Gypsum Sinkhole.  It was much bigger than we were expecting:

Then we got to drive through the main part of Cathedral Valley.  It was absolutely stunning.  Then we climbed up out of the valley and found the campground that we planned on staying at the entire time, and of course it was deserted.  We sat there and ate lunch.  Then we drove out to the Cathedral Valley overlook:

While in this area, looking at how beautiful the surroundings were, I decided that it would be awesome if I could turn my yard at home into a desert.  Just plant some Utah Junipers, Pinyon Pines, Sagebrush, and a few cacti, add some sand & rocks, and I'd be set!  No watering and minimal yardwork.  The neighbors might hate me, but it's got to be better that the backyard full of weeds that I currently have.

It was getting pretty late in the day, and we still needed to get home, so we hit the trail again and tried to avoid too many stops.  We could probably spend a week in that one small area and still not have time to see everything we wanted to.  I did have to stop to take a picture of this balancing rock though:

And then we stopped at the lower desert overlook.  We were really glad we did!  It was beautiful again:

Also, there was a stripe of white in the rock around the area.  In that white section by us the rocks had formed to look like the goblins in Goblin Valley.  So cool!

One more quick stop was made at the Bentonite hills.  The landscape was just too eerie.  And so colorful too!

That was our last stop before we hit the highway again.  On out way back through the park we did stop at one turnoff to look at a waterfall.  We had driven past it a couple of times but we were always in a hurry or it was too dark to stop.  The Fremont river that flows through the canyon goes through a section of slickrock, and has carved out a very narrow channel up above, before plummeting down the hill.  Very pretty!

I would have to say we had more setbacks than usual on this trip, but we remained in good spirits for the most part.  I am so grateful we live where we do, so that we are able to see this gorgeous country only few hours away.  I would love to move down south one day so that I can be closer to it all.  I am also grateful that my parents took me camping to these kinds of places when I was growing up, and helped instill my spirit of adventure.  I hope that the next time we go on an adventure that we can have some friends and family join us.  You are always welcome!

Capitol Reef - Day 2

When we woke up that morning, it was pretty late.  By the time we had some breakfast, cleaned up, and reorganized all our camp stuff, it was almost 11:00.  There was a scenic drive heading south from the campground that I wanted to explore.  I didn't really plan on taking the trailer with us, but 11:00 was checkout time and we weren't planning on coming back.  Then I found that there was a dirt road that kept heading southwest where the scenic drive ended, so we decided to take that and make a loop from there south to Boulder, east over the Burr trail and back north through the park.

The scenic drive was almost completely paved, and very easy to travel so that tourists can take their motorhomes and compact cars.  Still very pretty.  There are some abandoned uranium mines that are now home to bats:

I really liked this little tree by the side of the road:

We ate lunch at at pavilion up a canyon that was the start of a hike.  It was busy!  There were a ton of foreigners driving around in their rented RVs:

After lunch we hit the trail.  We stopped a little way out to let the dogs play since we finally weren't surrounded by a ton of people:

We could just see the distant snowy mountains peeking through:

The trail got a bit rougher than expected, but Oliver (the trailer) was a champ and didn't have any problems:

As we started to climb out of the valley we were in, there was a fantastic view:

Then we climbed to the other side of the ridge and there was another fantastic view.  Notice the little arch in the cliff.  I really loved that ridge of rocks that looks like the plates on a stegasaurus:

The trail was much easier from here on.  At one point we drove through a wash that was just a beautiful green grassy spot in the middle of the desert:

The road kept climbing as it went on, the desert turned into pine forest, and we started to get back into some snow.  Pat was getting a little worried that we were headed the wrong direction.  I'm always the navigator and I knew we were going the right way.  Plus, I was driving at the time so I just kept going.  The roads here were obviously well used, and were even plowed a bit even though they were dirt.  We finally hit the highway and headed south. 

Down in the valley it was a balmy 62 degrees and the had the tops off the Jeep.  It got a little cooler as we climbed the mountain, and eventually we hit the road's summit at 9600 feet.  There was a 4 foot high wall of snow at the side of the road.  It was a bit chilly by this point, probably in the low 50s, but we knew we were headed back down again so we just toughed it out.  We stopped at a viewpoint that looked out over where we were headed.  Gorgeous!  The air was a little hazy though:

We finally got down to Boulder - not much there, so we headed on up the Burr Trail.  That was very pretty red rock cliffs and since it was nice and warm again it had us wishing for Lake Powell. 

A little way after the road went back into the park, there was a section of switchbacks to get us back down to the valley floor.  Whoever first looked at that mountainside and decided to put a road there was insane! It was SO steep.  I didn't get a very good shot, but this is looking down from the top:

This whole day had taken quite a bit longer than we had anticipated, so we decided to camp at the other primitive campspot in the park, which was on our road.  We got there and found out it was full.  The road left the park and entered BLM land, so we thought that maybe we could find somewhere to camp there.  There was a small section of privatley owned land too.  As we drove through their fields were full of deer:

There was a turkey running around too!

We got to the BLM land and it was empty, flat, desolate and really windy.  The main campground wasn't too far away, so we decided we would stay the night there again.  We finally arrived only to find that it was full too!  We didn't have time or gas to make it all the way into Cathedral Valley, so we decided to head to town, get gas, and see if we could find a campground up there to stay at. 

Most of the campgrounds were specifically for RVs and wanted to charge us an arm and a leg.  We finally found one that had tent sites that were fairly reasonable and decided to stay there .  The office was closed for the night so the manager told us to just settle up in the morning.  We got out to use the restroom before setting up camp, and it was so cold and windy there I changed my mind and we left.  I decided I'd rather spend the night in the back of the Jeep again down in the valley where it was warm.

It was pretty late at this point, so we stopped and the only open restaurant in town to eat some dinner.  It was actually really tasty! (Of course, that might also have been because we were really hungry.)

We drove all the way though the park again and entered the BLM land on the other side.  We finally found a specified parking pullout the went a little way away from the road and parked to camp there, just sleeping in the Jeep again.  In the morning we could read the sign that was in the parking lot, telling us that if we had followed the nearby dirt road for 1/4 mile, there was a camping spot.  Oh, well.

Capitol Reef - Day 1

We both had a Friday off the other weekend and decided to get out of town.  The weather had been teasing us with spring days for a while now, but only a few every week.  We decided to head somewhere warm and get the camping season started.  It just so happened to be free national parks week, so we decided to go to Capitol Reef because neither of us ever remember going there (although I have been assured that I have). 

The weather was supposed to be cold Thursday night so we waited until Friday morning to leave.  Besides, we were too busy Thursday night finishing up the camping trailer we had purchased the week before to follow the Jeep around:

I wanted to camp at the primitive campground in Cathedral Valley, at the north end of the park.  I researched the area as well as I could online, and we headed down.  There were several roads leading into the valley, but only one coming in from the west. Since that's the direction we would be coming from, that's the way we headed. 

As we started onto the dirt road it started heading up into the mountains.  There started to be a bit of snow in the road where it was always in the shade.  We crested a hill and looked out on a small valley, with quite a bit more snow in it.  Pat was a little bit concerned about the road continuing up in altitude, but we'd been through snow before without any problems, and I urged him to keep going.  After all, it's all just part of the adventure!

We got halfway through the valley when the left side of the Jeep suddenly fell into a ditch that was hidden under the snow.  We were stuck.  Snow was up to both axels on the Jeep.  There were plently of rocks around, so we tried wedging some under the tires to get some traction.  No luck.  Pat realized that in packing the camp trailer for the first time he had forgetten the shovel.  Out high lift is also slightly broken and not completely safe, so we didn't have that either. 

We broke out the stock scissor lift jack that came with the Jeep, placed it on some 2x4s we had brought for firewood, and lifted the front end.  We got it to lift the tires enough that we were able to get more wood and rocks underneath so we could get more height and traction.  We lowered the Jeep, tried to go, and... nothing.  Still stuck.  We decided that we needed to try and get more traction under the rear wheels too, so we started jacking up the Jeep again on the left side.  Then the jack broke. 

At just about that time, I happened to look over and saw a truck at the top of the road leading into the valley.  Pat hiked over to talk to them.  They weren't so sure about driving though the snow to get to us, but they decided to go ahead and try.  They got about 30 feet down the road and then they got stuck too.

At this point we pretty much gave up.  I hiked up the closest mountain and found a spot where I could see a bit of the town below.  I got two bars on my cell phone, so I called for help.  When the tow company got there, they were able to get the truck out within a half hour or so, but there was no way their wrecker would make it though the snow to get to the Jeep.  They went back to town, loaded up some four wheelers, and came back up. 

When they got back to us, they and Pat shoveled out the Jeep as much as they could.  One of them hooked up to the trailer and got it out of the way. Then they got their four wheelers stuck in the snow so that their winches could pull us out instead of pulling them to us.  We finally got free of the snow!  Now all that was left was making it back out of the valley.  The tow guys were pretty worried about us making it back up the hill.  They told Pat to gun it and make it as far as he could so that if he got stuck the wrecker's tow cable would hopefully reach.  They didn't need to worry... Jezebel (that's the Jeep's name) was a champ and just drove right out with no problems! 

We hooked back up to the trailer (which we have named Oliver) and followed them back to town.  By that time it was midnight, and we had spent a total of eight hours stuck. Our bill came to a whopping $450.  We are still hoping that insurance will pay for it because I certainly don't have that kind of money laying around.

Pat was pretty tired by this point and he just wanted to give up and go home.  However, I hadn't spent five hours in the car for nothing.  I was going to stick it out and see what we came to see.  We continued on down the road and pulled into the main campground in the park.  There were three spots open so we settled in for the night.  We were so tired that there was no way we were putting up the tent.  We grabbed sleeping bags, folded the back seats down, and cuddled up with the pups for the night.

April 2010 Book List

There have been new books being released in a lot of the series I have been reading.  It's been really nice to get to catch back up with their worlds!

Silver Bourne by Patricia Briggs (342 pages)
Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green (230 pages)
Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton (158 pages)
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison (487 pages)
Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong (369 pages)
Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong (387 pages)

Graphic Novels:
The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher

6 novels - 1973 pages
1 graphic novel