Monday, October 5, 2015


Bryce Canyon National Park


We visited the land of the hoo doos, Bryce Canyon, enjoyed a cool oasis along the Virgin River in Zion National Park, and got completely gob smacked by the Grand Canyon! It is safe to say, they left us speechless. Each canyon has its own unique and diverse beauty, and really must be experienced to fully appreciate them. I hope the pictures inspire you to see them for yourselves someday!  
 Bryce Canyon

You’d think we were a bunch of kids planning to go to Disneyland instead of a group of adults going to see hoo doos! Truthfully, the land of the hoo doos, Bryce Canyon, is nature’s Disneyland on a grand scale. Deep inside canyons painted in the shades of sunset, millions of hoo doos stand like sentinels; sculpted and carved out of sandstone by eons of  blowing wind and rushing water.

Bryce Amphitheater

Canyon Lands!

Bunched together in lower Utah and upper Arizona are three of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the US. Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are in lower Utah, and across the border in Arizona is the Grand Canyon. Ancient seas, rivers and shifting tectonic plates all came together to carve the sandstone into wondrous shapes. Layers of stone now exposed seem painted in shades of rust, pink, gray, white and chocolate. Each has its own unique trademarks: arches, hoo doos, weeping waters, and impossibly deep canyons.

Zion National Park 

 Checkerboard Mesa, carved out of Navajo sandstone. Zion consists almost entirely
of desert sand dunes with thicknesses up to 2,200 feet.

Deepening Canyon

The next stop on our tour was Zion National Park and boy, was it hot! Fortunately, we had a welcoming respite from the heat in Zion’s Deepening Canyon, an unexpected oasis in the desert. The Virgin River cuts deep into the Navajo sandstone leaving a small paradise where animals and plants alike thrive in the cool, moist air. Water seeping from the canyon walls, cools the air even more.

 Weeping Rock

 A cool oasis in the desert.
The trail along the river winds down the steep walled canyon to a lovely spot that is a
perfect place to kick off your shoes and relax awhile.
Only in Utah!

After a hot day of sightseeing in Utah, what could be better than a cold bottle of Polygamy Beer with your harem? Nothin’, if you ask the guys on the trip. Dianne, my new buddy in crime, bought a six pack which we all downed with pleasure. It cooled us off, provided some great photo ops and a lot of laughs!
  Polygamy Beer and the Harem 
 From right to left: Gerda, bride #1, Virginia, bride #2, Ken, our good-natured driver,
 Dianne, #3, and me, #4

Grand Canyon

The next morning, we headed for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I am so thankful that the haze lifted enough to take some decent pictures. I visited the South Rim a few years ago and I could barely see anything because of the dense haze. This time, it did not disappoint! The views are magnificent, especially when you can see them!

Gorgeous weather, vibrant colors, blue skies and a good camera! What more 
could you want?

Grand Canyon Lodge 
 Bottom right: Dodie and Linda Villajoaquin relax in front of the Lodge.
Bottom left, Diane graciously let me pose her enjoying the view from one of the log cabins.

The Grand Canyon Lodge offers everything you need for the perfect Grand Canyon experience. The Lodge, built right on the edge of the north rim of the canyon, provides breathtaking views while you eat or stroll along their scenic paths. Self contained with its own post office, gift shop, restaurants and comfortable rooms, they also offer individual log cabins. The log cabins, some with full views overlooking the canyon, are ideal. Tucked into a quiet grove of fragrant pine trees, you won't want to leave. I know I didn't! I could have definitely stayed a couple of more nights. But, there's many more miles to go and much more to see. Stay tuned because the best is yet to come!!

Next Time:  Arizona--Home of the Western Movie!

**Some of the pictures provided by Larry Miner. Thanks, Larry!

Remember to double click on any picture and see a full screen slide show of all the pictures!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


"I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere..."

Feeling like Johnny Cash singing "I've Been Everywhere", I ticked off the names of several small towns as we drove across parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah on our way to Salt Lake City. We stopped in Afton, WY, Bear Valley, ID, and Logan, UT, just long enough to eat and take bathroom breaks. Come to think about it, that means we ate our way across three states! 

Afton, Wyoming

Our first stop in Afton added at least a couple of pounds to our waistlines when we visited the Star Valley Chocolate Factory. Met at the door by the owner with a plate of mouth watering chocolate samples, we instantly turned into chocolate zombies and loaded up. Then, with our faces stuffed with truffles, we wandered out onto the streets of Afton to check it out before moving on.  

Afton, a charming western town, sports an elk antler arch across main street.

Passing Through Paris. Paris, Idaho, That is.

Paris Tabernacle, built in 1889. We could only take pictures of Paris through the bus 
windows. It looked like a quiet, family kind of town and probably would be a nice
place to sit a spell.

Scenes of Bear Valley and Bear Lake. Idaho and Utah each share a portion of the Lake.

Bear Valley and the lake beyond. Notice the mist rising from the lake.

A wonderful moment in nature, thanks to Larry Miner's photographic skills

Logan, Utah

Downtown Logan, Utah

We stopped in Logan for lunch and just like a homing pigeon, I headed straight for the downtown park and the Saturday crafts fair. Brimming with handmade items, I scored a beautiful natural stone pendant and a chicken and mushroom crepe that I will dream about for a long time!

Next Stop, Salt Lake City, Utah

All too soon, we climbed back on board the bus and headed for Salt Lake City. We settled down in our cushy seats while Timothy, our tour director, announced a surprise. Since we would be in Salt Lake City on a Sunday, he had arranged for us to attend a dress rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! He then played one of the Choir's albums while most of us quietly listened. But not our zany friend, Karol! Moved to conduct the choir and chair dance all at the same time, she entertained us once again by just being her delightful self!

Karol, conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

Salt Lake City Tabernacle

Mormon Tabernacle Grounds and Choir. The music is as beautiful as I've ever
heard. Like so many things, the voices and orchestra have to be experienced
 in person to fully appreciate their talent and professionalism. What a treat!

After leaving our baggage at the hotel, we visited the iconic Mormon Tabernacle grounds.We actually ate at Brigham Young's home (bottom left) cafeteria style. Although we had to wait in a long line to get our food, it was worth it. The entries are delicious and the pies are out of this world! No kidding. I'll remember that coconut cream forever!

Downtown Salt Lake City

The next morning after enjoying the Choir, we drove through the streets and neighborhoods of downtown Salt Lake City. Appropriately, the weather was "divine" and I noticed that the town's air smelled fresh and clean and scented with flowers. I mean, what city smells good? I'm very impressed by how clean, quiet and orderly it is. It's a beautiful city!

We said goodbye to Salt Lake City and hello to the Canyon Lands, home of the "hoodoos" and deep canyons colored in the hues of a desert sunset. I could feel the excitement of everyone as we looked forward to the best part of the trip, the magnificent natural wonders of our continent.

****A special thanks to Larry Miner who supplied all the photos in this blog. Thank you, Larry!

Next time: Canyon Lands: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon. Don't miss it!

Remember to double click on any picture to get a full screen view.