Sunday, October 11, 2009

Home, sweet, home!

Yes, we are home. We stopped in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the National Park. The Park is in the city-we went to the museum which is housed in one of the bathhouses that was open from the last 1890's in to the 1950's. It was interesting to see the "spa" with some of the treatments people underwent looking more like torture chambers. We saw some of the physical therapy machines invented by a man named Zander which resemble many of the modern gym exercise machines you see in use today. Made our way through Arkansas and into Tennessee-stopping in Norris Tennessee which is the first planned town by the Tennessee Valley Authority. They built their first hydroelectric dam there and the town housed their workers. When we got into Virginia we started seeing names for several of the towns we rode through on the bike trip. Sort of nostalgic. We got off of 81 for awhile to get away from highway driving and entered the
Shenandoah National Park and drove the Skyline Highway for about 50 of its 105 miles. The leaves have just started to change and it was a pretty drive. Back on the highway and getting close to home. We were just amazed that if you take 81North you go from Va, into WVA, then MD, then PA in under an hour. 4 states in that short period of time-incredible! Got to NY in the morning and had breakfast with mom and Mike. Spent the day visiting and were back on the road Friday night. We hit the worst traffic (only traffic) of the trip when we got to the CT border and got onto 84-Welcome Home! There were 2 accidents on 84-about 15 miles apart-but once we got through those it was smooth sailing. Glad to be home and in our own bed-lots of work to get back into the swing of things-unpacking, filling the fridge etc. It was a great adventure and a wonderful trip-we had a fantastic time-we hope all of you enjoyed sharing it with us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Drive-drive-drive...New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma!

We said: Left New Mexico fairly early and headed for the Texas border. Got off the highway to try and cross the border off the highway-never saw a Welcome to Texas sign so thought we'd find one on the way into OK. Made our way across Texas (the skinny part) and into OK and saw the Texas sign on the opposite side of the highway-the exits are too far apart for us to try and go back for the photo-never saw the Welcome to OK sign either. Oh well-we will be missing a few for our collection-maybe we'll have to do some photo shop work. When we left New Mexico there was not a cloud in the sky-as we made our way through Texas it got cloudy and we realized it had been a long time since we had seen rain. The sky changed dramatically and we began to ride through fog and mist. We saw a sign for a rest area on the highway that not only had restrooms and vending machines but a Tornado Shelter. It was windy, but not that windy than goodness. We are in Henryetta, OK tonite and will make our way to Hot Springs, Arkansas-one of the last planned stops on the trip. As we are not real good car travelers the 550+ miles today was terrific.

In TX it was back to big open farmlands and these huge grain processing plants.

The fog got THICK-you could see the blades of the wind turbine when they got to the bottom of the spin.

Enjoy the spin!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday morning we headed from Grants to Albuquerque, NM. Walked around Old Town in Albuquerque in and out of shops and stopped in the square to listen to two fellows playing a Marimba-they were very good. When they were finished a Mariachi band played-it was alot of fun. Got our tickets for Balloon Fiesta and took a ride to the lot where we will get a bus to the Fiesta-we heard the traffic is horrible and the organizers of the fiesta encourage the park and ride to cut down on traffic into the Balloon Fiesta Park. Tried to get to sleep early as we are getting the bus at 4:30 am. Took the bus into the park and walked around checking out all the arts, crafts, business and food vendors....we had over 2 hours until the balloons would start going up. When the sun started to rise so did the balloons. Hundreds of them. It didn't get old either, every time one would get upright or take off the crowd would cheer. We saw balloons of all colors, shapes and sizes... bumblebees, pepsi can, a beer mug, and Pepe LaPeu to name a few. It was a beautiful sight. After the last balloon had taken off and disappeared into the north we headed for Santa Fe. Explored Santa Fe in the afternoon and drove about 2 hours to Santa Rosa-we are pretty pooped from the early morning so here we are for the night. The next few days will be driving, driving, driving.

This was the 1st balloon to take off-all the others started to fill after this one was up.

The skies started to fill.

Isn't it cute?

Fill-er-up. They start cold filling with a fan-then turn on the burners to finish filling them and stand them up.

Pretty aren't they?

Say Pepsi please!

Anyone for a cold one?

The guy in the striped shirt is a zebra-they tell the drivers when they can launch.

Pretty awesome sight-what a colorful sky!

When the sun came up-the temperatures warmed and the wind picked up, so many of the balloons that were filled didn't get to take off-the bees were grounded.

No, we're not back in Kansas, the terrain definitely changed at the end of day-we are out of the mountains of New Mexico.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Paved roads-what a dream!

We took the morning to work, clean out the car, and just get ourselves back together after our long day and night yesterday. Left Page, AZ (a city founded in 1957 when the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam was started) and started our ride toward Albuquerque, NM. We found a route which took us along the Vermillion Cliffs and through the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations...we made sure they were actual paved roads before we took off. It was a scenic drive as we passed mesas, canyons, cliffs and then into the high desert, then forest, then desert again. We are staying in a fairly large town (Grant NM) tonite. Checked into our motel in time to get to Homecoming at the local high school and the Friday Night Lights football game. Paul has wanted to catch a game since the season started (loves Friday night games) so off we went. The home team won! We hope to get to see some of the Balloon Fest tomorrow in Albuquerque.

It was dark when we got to AZ last night, so had to get this photo on the way out.

Saw this canyon on the way out of Page-pretty cool.

Welcome to New Mexico-yeah!

Pretty awesome sunset on the way to Grant, NM

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When the road on the map isn't numbered.....

We said: Headed for Bryce-it was sort of chilly-not like the weather we have been traveling through. The high was supposed to be in the low 50's, but it was sunny, so we donned our jackets and made our way to the Visitor's Center. We passed the Red Canyon on the way, and got a small sampling of what we would see for the day. Saw an informative film about the park (we saw one in Zion, too) which was very good and set the tone for us for the day. Started hiking from the Sunrise Point-went on the Queen's Garden Trail-Navajo Loop-Rim Trail-to Sunset Point. It is advertised as the "Best 3 mile hike anywhere"-it was pretty terrific. Started above the canyon walls looking down on Hoodoos and Spires and walked down into the canyon-then came to the slot canyon-walked through the canyon and up the switchback trail at the other side of the slot-quite a beautiful sight. After the hike we rode to the South end of the park road and headed north, stopping at the overlooks. We checked out our Atlas and found what we thought was the best route to head Southeast and on to New Mexico via Arizona. Well-when a road on your Atlas is just a small line with no number or might not be such a great short cut. It could end up to be a dirt road only suitable for 4 wheel drive vehicles! We left Bryce around 6 under sunny skies and got to Route 89-a paved road under a full moon about 8:45. Total distance on the dirt road 45 miles. There were a few places we weren't sure the Mini would be able to traverse, but Paul was an ace driver and got us through. At the end of the road, Paul saw a sandwich board sign with orange cones for people coming from the other direction, it said "High Clearance Roadway-4 wheel drive vehicles only-highly recommended". Now they tell us-thanks-we could have used a sign like that at the other end. Hopefully the undercarriage of the Mini didn't sustain too much damage. It was dark when we got to Page and Lake Powell-I guess we'll see it tomorrow.

Red Canyon

Hoodoos on the Queen's Garden Trail

A spire on the Trail

Pretty backdrop-it was a terrific hiking trail

The spires and hoodoos were amazing

Walked through many of these tunnels on the trail

Trees grow throught the slot canyon

At the bottom of the slot canyon

Near the top-looking down on other hikers doing the switchbacks up the canyon

Some spires that looked like they were ready to topple

This was named the Natural Bridge, but it really an arch

The view from Inspiration Point

This was a good spot on the dirt road

The sun went down and the moon came up-we still had about 20 miles to go. Paul said this was lesson 425 on our trip, but it really wasn't that bad. We only had to worry about wrecking the car or getting stuck out there. We would have been OK though-had 2 bottles of water, some breakfast bars, a granola bar, some stale bread and peanut butter and jelly. We did see other cars on the path so someone would have found us when the sun came up.


We said: Drove into the park and boarded the shuttle that rides through the parkand stops at many of the trailheads, lodge, and museum. Took a hike into one of the canyons that narrows as you walk in-didn't bring shoes to change into, so we had to stop when the path ended and river took over. Went on to the Hidden Canyon hike which warned of "not for those with fear of heights", but Sharon decided to be brave and hike on. Well, a little over halfway Sharon stopped at one of the switchbacks (where she was dizzy and there happened to be a bench) and Paul went to the end and picked her up on the way back. We hike on a few more trails and then drove the park road which takes you through a mile long tunnel-did the Canyon Overlook Trail on the other side of the tunnel and then drove off towards Bryce. We stayed in Panguitch Oregon, which is about 10 miles outside of Bryce.
The river at the end of the 1st hike we took.

From the Hidden Canyon trail.

At the top of the Hidden Canyon Trail.

Paul took a picture of the guy who accompanied him on his bike journey-he also went to the top of the trail Sharon couldn't make it to the top of.

There's Sharon waiting for Paul to accompany her back down the hill.

On the Emerald Pools Trail

Just before the mile long tunnel.

There are overlooks cut into the tunnel-pretty cool.
At the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail....Sharon went all the way to the end....making progress.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kolob-Cougars and Spiders and Stairs-oh my!

We said: Flew into Salt Lake City Monday night and were off to Zion National Park this morning. It was a 4+ hour drive down I-15 on a very windy day. While we were driving you could see the dust blowing-it looked like smoke rising and there were a few times when you could see it across the road up ahead. We both thought it was a good thing Paul wasn't riding his bike in that wind. Got to the Kolob Canyon (which is the North end of Zion) about 4:30 and took the 5 mile drive up the canyon road. It was a beautiful drive-the red rocks and canyons were gorgeous-took some pictures and drove down to the Taylor Creek trail. The trailhead information said it was a 5 mile trip (back and forth) which should take 4 hours. It was 5:30 and we knew it would be getting dark by around 7:30 so we decided to hike in an hour and then head back. The trail followed the Taylor Creek, crossing back and forth across it (there wasn't much water flowing in it) and for the most part the path was like red beach sand. We will head to the main entrance of the park tomorrow for some more beautiful sites and hikes.

That's sand blowing in the field.

At the top of the Kolob Canyon road.

From the Canyon road.

One of the views from our hike.

Pretty isn't it?

On the trail.

The rock formations and patterns were beautiful.

More scenes from the trail.

Yes, they said there were tarantulas in the park-we saw one!

We cut it a little close-the sun was setting and it was getting dark as we were finishing the last of the hike-up 90 some steps-thank goodness it wasn't too dark.....they said there were cougars to watch out for too (and gave instructions on how to scare them off)!