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.
Snow – 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.
This 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.
Layers 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.
Off 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.
That’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.
The canyon floor felt more lush.
This bright orange area seemed to have formed in a spiral.
The switchbacks coming out of the canyon were the most crowded area we saw.
Sunset 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!
Don’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.
Reflections 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.
Fourteen 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.
Love 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!
Frank 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.
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!
The 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.
Silly 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.
This 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.
Desert Bighorn Sheep. Pretty cute!
The swirls were very interesting.
Yep, soon I heard, “Oh it bit me!” Hope she is ok.
Frank enjoying the summit.
Our view at the top of the Overlook.
This 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.
This is prettier in person where your eyes adjust for the shadows and light.
You can certainly understand this artist’s inspiration.
This heron was slowly stalking something in the water.
How is that for camouflage?
Did 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!
This walk was a bit strenuous but the sights were great.
The 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~
Ticket 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!!!!!!