Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Birthday Vacay: Heading Home

Our birthday vacation came to an end with a flight home over Bryce Canyon National Park and Lake Powell. Even from the air Bryce is spectacular.

If you look close, you can see the "bathtub ring" around Lake Powell.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Birthday Vacay: Zion NP

On day two of our birthday expedition, we made the 80 mile trek to Zion National Park. This is another park that I didn't get to explore much on the train tours, and John had never been. It started out as a pretty dreary day, but by the end, it was absolutely gorgeous.

I really like that Bryce and Zion are so close because they give two completely different perspectives. At Bryce you're at the rim of the canyon looking down on these gorgeous orange hoodoos and at Zion, you're in a valley looking up at these towering monoliths. All of it is quite spectacular.

Weeping walls during our first hike. The sandstone is so porous, it is constantly "weeping". They say that the water that comes out of these stones is thousands/millions of years old ... I'm not sure about that one, but when you have a continuously wet wall in the middle of the dessert, the water has to come from somewhere.

These flowers were everywhere. I'm not sure what they are, but they're beautiful.

Looking down through Zion's Valley.

At the end of our first hike was this view. You can hike across the river into the "Narrows" which is where the canyon becomes even more narrow - imagine that - and it was carved by the river. I don't think I would do it that day since they were calling for flash floods.

John at the end of the trail.

Me striking a pose circa 1997 senior photo shoot.

The park's shuttle system. There is no place for the cars to park in Zion, so they have everyone park at the visitor's center, and then the shuttles come by every 10 minutes or so and pick you up, drop you off at the next stop, etc. It's a great system, but when we got there in the morning, I thought John was going to turn the car around to go home. The crowd was monstrous! He ended up having more fun when the crowds thinned out toward the afternoon. During our first hike to the river, it seemed as if people were hiking on a mission and not enjoying what was around them as they went, so you felt like you were slowing traffic if you stopped to enjoy or take a photo. But it is good to see that so many are enjoying our national parks.

A taste of Zion's monoliths

Monday, September 06, 2010

Birthday Vacay: Bryce Canyon NP

A month late in updating you on our birthday trip, but here's the first day. John and I flew - John flew, and I rode along - to Bryce Canyon National Park the weekend before our birthdays. We landed at the airport, which is nothing more than a paved runway a barn and the "terminal."

We made our way to Ruby's Inn, which is near the airport and run by the same family for generations. There's a few hotels, couple gas stations, rentals, etc. Basically it's a tourist trap, but it's the only thing available near the park. We rented the last car available and made our way into the park.

I had been to the park before with the train tours, but I never got to do any of the hiking. I didn't even know there were so many great trails! I guess when you're touring with a more mature audience, you don't realize such things.

On a hike at Sunrise Point.

The hoodoos at Bryce Canyon. The hoodoos are caused by the natural erosion process of water flowing through the rocks, freezing, thawing, etc.

Toward the end of the day we were getting pooped from our hikes. I decided to take a breather after a monsoonal downpour.

John being his handsome, jovial self near the Natural Bridge.

Ending our day at the Natural Bridge.

That evening we went to the Western show that Ruby's Inn put on, which came with dinner. The food was good and the singing was great.