May 19, 2010

Introduction to SW Utah

All along I was looking forward to get to this state. The stories, the amount of parks and the reputation of this state raised the expectation to a very high level. With this high level of expectation it is easy to get disappointed, and very hard to meet them. But since we got here – I am amazed every day, it is way above and beyond my expectation. Heaven on earth, and by far the most beautiful state I have seen so far. So here is our first impression


Trying to catch up with all that we have seen and everything that has happened got me 3 weeks behind on this blog, and still there is so much happening. I will try to cover all three weeks in this and the next blog, but there are thousands (literally) of pictures we took, and they are so nice. So instead of filling this blog with pictures, I will upload some of them to Picasa and embed some slide show in the blog. This way – if you like the photos, you can watch the slide show, and if you don’t – you can stick to the stories behind.

First Rainy week

GlendaleUT 026Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 – We arrived here at the park on Saturday, 5 days ago, and still did not go out exploring. The weather here in UT is not quiet summer yet, and we are waiting for some nice weather to come. it is in the upper 20’s and lower 30’s at night, and rainy 40’s during the days. Looks like tomorrow is going to be nice and we are very excited. We will start with Zion Park, about 45 minutes south of us.
In the meantime we are catching up with errands, rearranging the house, and still trying to get rid of the smell. We got so many suggestions and ideas from you, and they are all great. We used them and the smell is much better now. We also added some Glade candles to the formula.
Chuck wagon and orchard at the campground

Starting the exploration

Zion National Park

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 – So today we woke up, and drove south to Zion. We took Diva with us, hoping that they will allow pets on the trails. We drove south on 89 and took hwy 9 westbound to the park entrance. At the gate they charged us $15 for “Escort” and gave us direction to the visitor center. This fee is besides the entrance fee - We have a National Park Pass (it cost $80 and we have already saved more than twice its cost).
The drive in the park is breathtaking. The shapes colors and carving in the mountains are spectacular, but I will let the picture speak. We stopped every 20 seconds to look around and take picture, it was so nice.
ZionNP 063There are two tunnels on the way to the visitor center. The first one is big enough for bigger cars, but the second one requires bigger or wider cars to drive in the middle. Since there are so many of those (any van, dually truck, bus, etc.) they are not waiting for a big car but actually operating it like a single lane road with a flagger, so no escort is really necessary, and the fee is just a way to get more money.
When we got to the visitor park we found out that there is only one trail that allows dogs, so we were limited to a very short trail in the south part of the park. It was a good introduction for us and a way to get more prepared for next time.
Diva had a blast, and we enjoyed the easy walk by the river, surrounded by the huge mountains around.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Since there was not much else we could do today in Zion NP, it was still early on our way back, so we decided to stop by a smaller state park – Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The park is pretty small and caters primarily ATVs and OHVs. It was much nicer and cheaper to see the dunes outside the park, and we could have saved the $6 entrance. we didn’t stay in the park more than 5 minutes before we figured that out, and headed back, stopping on the way exploring the area.
Friday, May 14th, 2010 – Errands day. We drove to the closest city to this campground – Cedar City, about an hour away, but this was not so bad. The way to Cedar city is through Hwy 14, one of most beautiful scenic byways of UT. The way climbs up over 8,000 feet and goes through forests and lakes. It is much colder up in the mountain, and practically it is still winter there. It is white and snow is all around. The trees are still bare and it’s unbelievable it is already mid May. On the top of the mountain there are some scenic views where you can see all the way south to Zion NP. Amazing views. When the decent towards Cedar City starts, the roads winds in a narrow and tall canyon where stream of melted snow is forming a river just by the road, and carving its way in the rocks. It even goes through a natural tunnel and you can find great water features like waterfalls around every corner. It took us half a day to make this 45 miles road, as we stopped countless number of times along the way.
We found our Wal-Mart got some shopping done, and drove back to the campground. We didn’t even plan on site seeing today, but Utah is so pretty, so that the whole state  should be declared as a national park.
Saturday, May 15th, 2010 – Zion once again. We had to come back here, this time without Diva. We parked by the campground area not so far from the visitor center, and walked to the shuttle bus station. In this park, most of the areas are accessed by shuttle only. At least in the busy season. After quick review of the trails and the options in each stop, we chose to got off at the Grotto
The trail we chose was not so easy but promised breathtaking views and stronger heart.
imageSo we started. The trail winds up the mountain and it is very steep. There are two parts that are steeper than climbing stairs but they were long and windy (marked with circle on the map.
ZionNP 029
When we got to the top we were exhausted, but the views, oh the views…
ZionNP 099That was not the end of the story. The trail continued, but this time there was no path. You had to climb rocks and hold to chains that were connected to the rocks. Don’t slip – no second chances here!
We did not go too long (The red mark on the map) until Patti decided it’s a little too much. We slowly came down to the trail top, rested some more and started our descent.
So here is the first album for you to enjoy. This has some pictures from Zion Park from both days.
Oh – and today we used for the first time the new Sony Cyberspace Camera we got Patti yesterday at Wal-Mart. So the pictures here are from both cameras.

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 – Woke up a little later this morning, and took care of some ongoing errands. In the afternoon we decided to do something (perfect day outside). It was too late to go to Bryce, and Cedar Breaks is still closed, so we decided to explore the north western end of Zion Park. This part is not connected with the main area of the park, and the entrance to it is through I-15 just south of Cedar City. The drive from the highway is not too long, and once you enter the park you can climb the mountain to an overlook and take a short trail (about 1-2 miles) to an overlook over Konob Canyon.
A little break from the story
For us – this travelling and exploring the most beautiful places of America – is living a dream. If you ever imagined how fun it is to travel, work and enjoy the most amazing places – this dream is true and we are so happy living it. True – we can’t do it every day, and we do have errands and work and other little things like most of us do, but lately – since we got into this amazing state – this style of living is emphasized and glorified.
Back to the story
Monday, May 17th 2010 – The Internet was down today at the campground. We heard that all the area was down, so without Internet, and no phone service we are pretty much isolated.
My Nikon needs some cleaning so we decided to try our luck at Kanab. There is a camera repair shop on the main street. We also wanted to stop at the Library and check emails and other online tasks we had to do. Kanab is not so far – probably 25 miles south on 89 – small quiet town.
The Photo shop was closed. There was a sign on the door that says – if you need me call this number, I will be right there. We didn’t. It didn’t look so nice from the window.
Stopped at the library for couple hours and drove back. On the way, we saw a sign to an animal sanctuary, and decided to take a look. Turn the truck into the mountain trails, and drove up some gravel road, through the beauty that only UT knows to provide.
The thing about this state is that behind every corner there is a surprise. In many nice places, after a while you got the idea and understood the concept. Here in UT – every place is completely different. A new feature, shape color terrain flora, climate – and all within an hour or two drive.
Anyways – they had some pasture land and animal pensions, but the most impressive part was the animal cemetery. Real grave yards and stones, with wind bells that sings and plays surround music – a corner for dogs, and cats, and birds and rabbits…

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 – Got a message this morning that tied us does to some tasks we had to finish urgently. so – no sight seeing today. Later in the evening I remembered – It is Shavuot Eve. A Jewish holiday, and it is customary to eat dairy foods. Today is the day that the Torah (the 10 commandments) were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. But we have no cheese…
So I run to the store in Orderville, the town south of us but the parking lot is empty. Ouch – here goes my holiday, I think. I step out in the car, and look through the window and see the owner closing up the cash registers. I knock on the window, and the lady comes and opens the door. “We are Closed” she says. I know, I mumbled, but to day is a holiday, and I forgot, and I need cheese. Now I am sure that sounds weird by the way she looked at me, but she was curious enough to listen. So I explained.
Go get your cheese – she opened the door. How luck I am!
Got some cheese and even found a cheese cake sampler. go the the register to pay, but wait – where is my wallet? Oh no… I didn’t bring it. And I can’t even call (No reception on the campground). But I do remember my credit card by heart. What are the chances that the cashier will let you pay with a credit card number you just tell her?
As odd as it was – she let me pay – and it went through – first time!
Drove happy to the RV. I had my holiday miracle today. prepared some great crackers and cheese and vegetables, and a good bottle of wine.

Happy Holiday!

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