Saturday, June 28, 2014

Salt Lake City, Utah and a drive into the Wasatch Mts…

SLC Temple and Park City Utah 009The next day the forecast was 94 degrees so we decided to take a morning drive over to Salt Lake City and then up into the mountains for the afternoon. Our first stop on our 127 loop drive was a visit to Temple Square, home of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I read that up to 5 million visitors a year visit Temple Square making it the most popular tourist attraction in Utah with more visitors than the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Parks…. amazing! We enjoyed touring the LDS facilities and enlightened ourselves a bit as to their teachings and beliefs. The choir was not in the tabernacle but we were invited inside to listen to a recital of the massive pipe organ inside.Wonderful acoustics and glad the recital was taking place. SLC Temple and Park City Utah 021_thumbSLC Temple and Park City Utah 001SLC Temple and Park City Utah 002

After touring the Temple Square we walked up the hill several blocks away and visited the state capitol. A very neat building perched up on top of Capitol Hill overlooking the city below. Lots of cool murals in this naturally lit building. Built built between 1912 and 1916 the capitol is decorated with many paintings and sculptures depicting Utah's history and heritage. The center rotunda has exquisite art work detailing many Utah events and it is flanked to the east and west sides by two very photogenic atria.

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From Salt Lake City we drove up into the mountains to our next stop at Park City, Utah. I always heard about the great skiing  in the mountains near Park City but was surprised to find that there were no real tall mountains as trees grew atop all the skiable peaks nearby. We did stop by and stroll around the town (it reminded me a lot of Breckenridge Colorado) and even had a cold beverage at the Wasatch Brewery. Sharon tried the Polygamy Porter… you have yo love the name of this one! Park City is nice but a bit too touristy for us…

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Leaving Park City we drove through Heber City and we finally saw the mountains we were expecting to see as there was still a bit of snow on top of the craggy peaks just west of Heber City, Utah. We stopped just outside Provo to take in the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls. One can never tire of watching water falling down a mountainous slope… As we got back to Utah Lakes State Park we began to pack up as we were heading north about 80 miles to Ogden, Utah the next morning…

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Hiking the “Y” in Provo, Utah…

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We left Moab, Utah with the sense that we accomplished all the main things we wanted to do. However, this is a place we will hopefully return as  the scenery is spectacular and there is so much to do in the area. Our next destination was Utah Lake State Park in Provo, Utah. With a view over Utah Lake and a backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains this is a nice park to be in. Our first order of business was to restock our groceries since we were about out of everything. We were happy to find a WinCo in Orem, Utah where we found great produce, meats and their bins we enjoy scooping rye flour, yeast and other goodies.…

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Next on our list was to check out Brigham Young University. We love to  visit campuses across the USA so we enjoyed our stroll around BYU. We also wanted to do the “Y” Trail near the BYU campus. The Y is a concrete whitewashed letter on the side of the mountain and is said to be said to be the largest collegiate symbol in the United States at 380 feet tall and 180 feet wide.

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The fairly easy trail runs from the east side of Provo up to the block Y on the mountain. I say easy only in the sense that the trail is easy to hike but the trail is very steep so we took several pit stops to catch our breaths and take in the great views of the Provo, BYU and Utah Lake below. The trail has 12 switchbacks that assist in the climb up the side of the mountain.  Each are numbered and marked with signs along the way.  Hikers gain nearly a 1000 feet elevation in just over a mile on this trail. A great workout and a great hike…

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dead Horse Point State Park and Driving the Gemini Bridges 4WD Road Back…

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Dead Horse Point State Park is said to be one of Utah's most spectacular state parks as well as having one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world at Dead Horse Point. After visiting this gem of a state park we can only agree with this assessment. Dead Horse point is over 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and looking out over the canyon and all the geologic features we could only be in awe…

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What took millions of years of geologic activity to create can be enjoyed by visiting this scenic park. The legend of Dead Horse Point centers around a corral for wild mustangs either being abandoned or simply not wanting to leave the point. As a result the horses left out on this narrow neck of land apparently died of thirst all within view of the water in the Colorado River some 2,000 feet below them. 

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Dead Horse Point is is at an elevation of around 6,000 feet making it much cooler than Moab, Utah. There are some trails that we took in order to not miss one single angle of the panorama below. There are also many miles of biking trails used heavily by mountain bikers. We brought our lunch and ate on the patio of the elevated deck at the visitors center. What a great venue for lunch as we looked over the majestic canyons below with the peaks of the 12.000 foot high La Sal Mountains in the distance.


An “off the wall” reason we wanted to see Dead Horse Point is that a part of the movie Thelma and Louise was filmed here in 1991. The final scene where they drive their car off a cliff was filmed right here! We had this joke when we started talking about early retirement and full timing in an RV. The joke was that if we run out of money before we die we can always do a Thelma and Louise… and now we know where it all took place. Fortunately we have not run out of money yet…

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After lunch we took a chance and headed down the 4 Wheel Drive road called Gemini Bridges. Our CRV is 4 wheel drive but we have highway tires so we were especially cautious as we drove down the road. There was a lot of beautiful scenery on the way to Gemini Bridges. The two bridges were not obvious until we were closer and looked down… Wow! What’s really cool is that we were able to walk across them all the while being extremely careful since it was a long way down to the bottom

Dead Horse Point State Park UT 042We continued on down the rocky road which has been tempered with some rock-grinding equipment. In one spot we passed what is called Gooney Bird Rock which looked more like Foghorn Leghorn to me…This 9.6 miles was not much of a 4 wheel drive road until we got to the end where we climbed up several 100’s of feet on a very rough road only to drive on a one-lane road perched on the edge of a steep mountain. Sharon was a bit nervous and couldn’t look over the edge .  If she had she would have seen the highway hundreds of feet below. If we had encountered this rough stretch of road in the beginning we likely would have never have continued… but what an adventure we would have missed!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah…

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With the temperatures approaching 100 degrees in Moab we decided it best to head to the mountains. Fortunately 20 miles south of Moab is the La Sal Mountain range where mountains soar out of the red rock canyons up to nearly 13,000 feet. With Moab barely over 4,000 feet in elevation the La Sals offer a temperature break since they have a dozen peaks over 12,000 feet with the highest peak being Mount Peale at 12,721 feet at its summit.

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A popular route is the La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Byway which features spectacular scenery from the red rock lowlands below to the spruce fir forested peaks of the La Sal Mountains. We have done bits and pieces of the loop but decided to do the part we haven't explored yet.

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So we headed south on US 191 about six miles south of Moab and then drove north on the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. There are several hairpin turns but eventually we entered the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The Pinyon Pines and Juniper trees gave way to the oaks and ultimately to Ponderosa Pine and Aspen. As we approached the top we took a detour on the Glacier Pass Road where the pines and aspen gave way to spruce and fir trees as well as occasional patches of snow.

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We also took a side detour on a road to Oowah Lake a very scenic little high mountain lake where we watched a few folks catch a small rainbow trout or two. We took a trail from the Oowah Lake toward Haystack Mountain. About 3/4 of a mile on the trail we were in a beautiful meadow just below tree line and discovered spring once again. The field was covered in wildflowers from Iris’s to Composites with an assortment of colors and textures… very pleasing to the eye…

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The route back took us into the town of Moab where we stopped at the local Microbrewery called Moab Brewery. We like this little beer oasis in the desert… We are now in Provo, Utah but I have one Moab blog left to pen….  so today will be a double header as I posted an early one about our Corona Arch Hike and of course this one.

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Corona Arch Hike near Moab, Utah…

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There are so many great hikes in the Moab Utah area it is hard to choose which one to go on. We decided to continue our Moab adventure by hiking one I had read a lot about, the Corona Arch Hike. This is a 3 miles round trip hike with lots of climbing. Corona Arch is another popular hiking destination especially after a widely viewed viral video on YouTube was published where a rock climber created his version of a rope swing on the arch. It was only popular until another individual tried the same stunt and died.

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As you can imagine this extreme activity has been banned (and in my opinion it should have not been allowed in the first place). Nonetheless this is a wonderful hike with lots of climbing and lots of thrills. Not only does the trail end at the stunning Corona Arch there is another smaller arch called Bowtie Arch, or as I call it “hole in the sky,” just before arriving at the bigger Corona Arch. I was a bit worried about some of the elements of this hike with Sharon’s discomfort with heights. However, Sharon was able to overcome much of her anxiety as we tackled some climbs using cables which I think she would have never tried in earlier times… She even went up a small ladder in order for us to get over the top of a ledge to continue our hike to the arch. I am happy she was able to come outside of her box a bit during this hike…

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Again I want to share lots of pictures of this enjoyable hike…

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I will post two blogs today to try and catch up to where we are now…