Monthly Archives: November 2018

Hoodoos, Hikes and Petrified Wood

After leaving China, we arrived in Salt Lake City and settled back into RV life pretty easily. It was really nice to be able to cook our own meals after being away for a month.  However, the weather was cold, especially after being in Xiamen where the temperatures were in the 70s.

IMG_4976Snow – an added incentive to leave Salt Lake City.

We spent several days trying to resolve the question of what really happened to our dog, Captain, but we were unsuccessful.  After visiting the vet, animal control and the pet sitter, we had to accept that we will never know the truth.  We shed many tears as we left Salt Lake City without our sweet Cappy.   We were very happy to leave SLC as it is the place we will always remember with sadness, anger and regret.

Parks-16This photo gives you a glimpse into the size of Bryce Canyon.

 Our destination was Bryce Canyon and it was beautiful! We still felt the chill of late fall, but there wasn’t any snow and the cold weather brought beautiful clear skies.

Parks-13Layers of color are revealed as the mudstone and sandstone erode.

Bryce is known for its’ “Hoodoos” which are formed through a weathering process primarily of  freezing and melting of water within the walls plus the erosion of rain.  Bryce experiences around 200 freezing and melting cycles each year and these cycles create cracks that rainwater seeps into and begins to erode.

Parks-15Off season and cool weather meant very few hikers.

Walking the trails in Bryce and driving around the Canyon, we found the colors and light-play beautiful. Initially we thought the cold temperatures would deter us from hiking, but actually down in the canyon we were protected from the wind and were quite comfortable.

Parks-7That’s I walking down to the gateway in a hoodoo.

One benefit of the cooler weather was a lack of crowds.  Being delayed in arriving at Bryce allowed us to see it with fewer people around.  We enjoyed the quiet we could find without crowds and often had minutes at a time without running into other hikers.

Parks-17The canyon floor felt more lush.

Parks-19This bright orange area seemed to have formed in a spiral.

Parks-14The switchbacks coming out of the canyon were the most crowded area we saw.

Parks-6Sunset was coming as we were driving the rim road.

Bryce Canyon was absolutely beautiful and interesting.  Visiting on such a quiet day with a slight bite in the air and a crisp clear sky as well as having the opportunity to hike through the canyon for a couple of hours made this a truly delightful day.

The next focal point on our tour was the Petrified Forest. I wasn’t sure what I would think of this but Frank was charged to see these old fossils.  Turns out he was right – the Petrified Forest was amazing!

ParksDon’t be fooled…. that log is a rock.

 

We stopped in the town of Tropic, UT at the town center to see the museum. Although the museum was only one room, it had a good amount of information and seeing the samples of petrified trees alone was worth the stop.

Parks-5Reflections on the polished surface aside, this is pretty amazing.

 

Three rings of petrified trees are on display and each has been polished to a high gloss so the colors are bright and clear. I had no idea these fossils were so colorful and pretty.

From the museum, we headed to the actual Petrified Forest for a two mile hike that would thread us through the remains.  The Forest has over 5.2 million tons of exposed   tree-rocks that are strewn about the Petrified Forest.  We were in awe of these trees-cum-stones.

Parks-1Fourteen pieces of “wood” lining this path are stones.

 

Looking at many of the stones, you could imagine they were really pieces of a tree that a child had left crayons on and the crayons had melted leaving a rainbow of colors.

Parks-4Love this array of color!

 

However, once you touched the tree, you realized it was indeed stone and a much more dense and solid one than the rocks around it. Petrified wood measures 7.8 on the Mohs hardness scale…. diamonds are a 10 on the same scale. One cubic foot of  lava rock weighs about 50 pounds.  One cubic foot of petrified wood weighs between 160-200 pounds. Yep, that is solid!

Parks-2Frank agrees; these fossils are solid!

Also, these trees are over 200 million years old! That is dinosaur time frame…. so chances are, these stone-trees were once living trees munched upon by brontosauri! That’s pretty crazy to think about.

 

Parks-3   It looks like bark but it feels like stone.

 

Once again, the Petrified Forest was empty. We saw only three people on our hike and they were in a big hurry. Pretty quickly we were the only people walking the paths and we explored a very long time.  I wasn’t sure I would get Frank away before sunset!

Parks-27The sun was setting as we descended the last hill to the parking lot.

Our final park visit was Zion National Park. Zion is as pretty as Bryce Canyon is but in a different way. Capturing Zion’s beauty was more difficult because it is difficult to portray the sheer magnitude of the walls.

Parks-18Silly observation ~ I love the color coordinated red of the pavement.

Plus lighting is bright and shadowed in the same frame. Our eyes can adjust for this, but I don’t have sophisticated photo software that will adjust separate areas of a photograph.  My pictures are minimally adjusted, so the photos of Zion do not do it justice.

Parks-4This ravine is deeper and taller than it seems in this photo.

We only had one day in Zion, but we used our time well. We hiked the Overlook Trail for the grand scheme of the park and here are some of the sights from that trail. 

Parks-21Desert Bighorn Sheep.  Pretty cute!

Parks-5The swirls were very interesting.

Parks-22Yep, soon I heard, “Oh it bit me!”  Hope she is ok.

Parks-3Frank enjoying the summit.

ParksOur view at the top of the Overlook.

 

 

Parks-8This looks like Frank might be having an amazing moment!

Next we walked the River Walk, which although touted as “easy” (so something we would usually skip) was well worth the walk since the scenery is different from other parts of the park. 

Parks-25This is prettier in person where your eyes adjust for the shadows and light.

Parks-1You can certainly understand this artist’s inspiration.

Parks-23This heron was slowly stalking something in the water.

Parks-2How is that for camouflage?

ParksDid you see them before the zoom in?

Finally we walked as much of Angel’s Landing as we could, but the sun was setting and we weren’t about to get caught in the dark! 

Parks-26This walk was a bit strenuous but the sights were great.

Parks-24The squiggly walk….look how plants grow everywhere.

We only made it as far as The Wiggles, but it was good exercise and there were more great views.

I am sure we will catch flack for this, but we have decided to wait and visit the Grand Canyon on another trip.  We want to make some family visits before TTR is delivered to California and we don’t want to rush through the Grand Canyon.  Our thought is that another year we will make reservations to stay in the Park and spend several days there.  We think optimal visiting time at the Grand Canyon would be late September when the crowds have thinned a bit and the temps have cooled but are not cold.

Additionally, there is only so much sightseeing we can do in a limited amount of time before it feels like we are just checking off boxes instead of really enjoying the destinations.  I would rather delay seeing the Grand Canyon to a time when I will not feel rushed and we will have time to appreciate its splendor.

 

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

IMG_0872Ticket to Ride at the HH facility in Xiamen

We impatiently await the delivery of TTR to Long Beach, California. She should arrive early in January.  Once Ticket to Ride is unloaded from the cargo ship, the mast will be re-stepped, rigging will be tensioned and TTR will be put through her paces to make sure all is well.  To say we an excited about our new home is an understatement.  

!!!!!!Five or six weeks until delivery!!!!!!

 

 

Our Final Visit to HH in Xiamen, China

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We anxiously await the delivery of our new home.

Frank and I have just returned from three weeks in China and what is probably our last visit to that country.  When our oldest son decided to study in China, I was apprehensive about his being so far away in a country where I could not communicate if he had trouble and whose government is so different from ours in the U.S. But having now visited China several times, I admit I feel very safe there.  I have never felt I was in danger of anything other than getting lost.

Our visits to China have been very positive. The people are nice and willing to help, though we have to play charades to ask a question, order food or generally get around.  Sometimes the charades, combined with the small amount of English a local might speak will allow us to communicate. But often, our communication doesn’t really work.  If you have any interest in visiting China, I strongly recommend a guide if you don’t speak Mandarin.

On the whole, I find the Chinese to be a happy population. I see a lot of laughter and I enjoy how playful and unsophisticated some of their interactions appear. I also enjoy their love of cartoon-like characters.  Somehow these things make me feel that the people here are young at heart and it makes me wish I could communicate with them more.

HH has taken excellent care of us during each of our visits, making sure we have transportation and are very well fed! We sincerely appreciate the service and care HH has provided and we will miss seeing the staff who has always been welcoming and accommodating.

This trip, Frank and I spent most of our time in Xiamen at the HH factory. If we weren’t there, we did not venture very far from our hotel but instead spent our down time studying for our next level of captains licensing or working out in the gym or enjoying the scenery from high in the hotel.

I wish I could capture the flavor of China to share with you, but the variety of experiences is broad. Instead, I will share a few photos I took while walking or being driven by the HH driver. (Please excuse the less than excellent quality of the photos.)

 

Doors are an important feature of buildings.

Although Feng Shui is a concept I learned about only 15 years ago, it is entrenched in Chinese society and beliefs.  According to this belief, direction and appearance of the front doorway is especially important because it allows energy to flow freely into the home and throughout the interior. Even on relatively modest homes or places of business, the doorways were often elaborate.  I could only catch a couple as we were driving.

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Landscape is lush and well maintained.

I don’t know if the soil is exceptionally good or if the Chinese have a special talent for gardening, but so much of the surroundings are beautifully tended and sculptured. The sides of highways were often tiered with a variety of plants, parks are sprinkled among high rises and flowers are often in planters outside of homes or businesses.

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Although Xiamen has a ton of tall apartment buildings and buildings in general with the definite feel of a large population, there are also green spaces to relieve the density of the buildings.  Admittedly, there are also many buildings with laundry drying from balconies, or tall, new buildings near shorter, older ones that look near collapse, so the city doesn’t feel pristine, but instead feels very much “lived in.”

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Older buildings in foreground, newer buildings past the highway and green space mixed in.

But as I’ve said before, China is defined by both the old and new, the modern and the traditional.  Daily life is a juxtaposition of repurposing old things and embracing new ones.

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A belt driven engine of some kind.

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A young woman was pedaling these wooden crates.

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I’m not sure how this is steered.

In addition to these unique vehicles, there are plenty of new cars including some extremely expensive ones, but I would not like to navigate any of the roads myself. Lanes seems to be simply suggestions and not a hard and fast rule in China. I have never seen people drive cars SO close together, on purpose, without a bunch of horn honking. I have complete respect for the folks who drive in Xiamen!

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More cranes than Dallas!

For a while, when we lived in Texas, we used to say the state bird was the crane because there were so many building cranes being used for construction.  But I am certain there were more building cranes in use in Xiamen than I ever saw in Dallas!

Xiamen University is large complex of buildings and they are still adding facilities. I read that there are over 40,000 full time students at Xiamen University, though with such a large campus I never saw it look at all crowded although we passed it ever day on our way to the HH facility.

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Xiamen University is huge and brand new.

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All of the red roofs in the background are part of Xiamen University.

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Interesting architecture on newer buildings.

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Zoom in on the necklace, earrings and hat!

I just had to throw in this photo session we saw while visiting Piano Island.  I have no idea what the purpose of the ‘shoot’ was, but I found this woman’s whole outfit intriguing. Now I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to assume that my fashion taste was anything like that of most advertisements I see, so I am not assuming that this is representative of the average Chinese consumer. But I did love the mixture of elements in this outfit!  The bustier top combined with the socks and high heels, along with the power fist necklace and the giant earrings?! Pretty interesting.

To me, this speaks of the combination of sophistication yet playfulness I tried to allude to concerning the Chinese.

Please do NOT think I am being derogatory of the Chinese.  That is not my intention. I am simply trying to show what I observed and interpreted as a childlike quality retained by the people that I found heartwarming and likable.

One last photo…. what do you notice is missing from our hotel?

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Do you see a pattern here?

I had no idea why these floors were missing. Turns out the Chinese believe in avoiding what they consider unlucky. In this case, it is the number 4. Therefore there was not a 4th, 14th or 24th floor in our hotel.  I’m not sure how they managed to eliminate three whole floors, but it was very tricky!

In conclusion, my initial concern for my son’s safety while he lived in China changed completely after I visited him there in 2013. Today, after several additional visits to China, I have become quite fond of many aspects of it, although I do not really know much about China because when language and reading are not understood, a culture cannot truly be absorbed. The only judgement I have is based on my interaction with those who could speak to me and my general impressions and intuition, both of which were favorable.

However, even if I could speak Mandarin, I would never trade the U.S. for China. Frank and I thoroughly missed our home country.  We prefer the culture and manners of our native land and were happy to return.

Now that our last visit to the HH factory is completed, we are counting the days until Ticket to Ride will be delivered to the U.S. via container ship!

Thank you HH and Morrelli and Melvin for creating our awesome future home!

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