Friday, May 22, 2015

Homeward Bound

Slept like a rock, took a bath in a giant soaker tub and had coffee.
Went to the Aria hotel had a lovely breakfast and now we're waiting for the bellman to come get our bags. This is the life. 
I can't wait to get home and see our kitties. 
Just stopped at the Barstow Carl's Jr. for lunch. Gourmet fare at its finest!

Back on the road to Bakersfield. 
The sky is so beautiful out here on hwy 58. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Leaving Williams, AZ headed for Vegas

Got up this morning, took a shower and washed my hair. Decided to leave the bandana and bandage off when we went to breakfast at Old Smoky's, a family owned and run cafe a couple of blocks from our motel, The Lodge on Route 66

I could tell the waitress was trying not to look at my long row of stitches starting above my eyebrow and into my hairline so I told her what happened. That began a conversation with her mom, the owner, about where they had moved to Arizona from, San Diego; and places we should come back and visit. I found out she had never been to Petrified Forest National Park so I showed her some of my photos. She's going now!
After a totally uneventful 2 hours on the road we decide to look for lunch. We found a place in Henderson called Great Harvest Bread Co. Freshly baked bread, cheery service, free samples  and delicious, reasonably priced sandwiches. We had hit the jackpot!
We're now in our room at the Vdara in Las Vegas, no smoking or gambling, yes!
Our room at the Vdara
Had dinner at Joseph Serrano in the Aria and as usual (we've been here 3 or 4 times) the food and service were wonderful, I don't know how they do it. 
White Anchovies with Piquillo pepper and parsley oil

Spanish Tortilla
Fried Crispy Gambas
Black Rice
OMG yum!!!
Then we came back to our room to this beautiful view. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drive to Williams, AZ and the Petrified Forest National Park

We headed out this morning thinking it would be a fairly long day in the car so we wouldn't have time to visit anything. Well...we hadn't realized that The Petrified Forest National Park was along our route. We couldn't pass that up!
Have you ever been there, if you haven't you need to go, it's amazing! 
There is the Painted Desert which is unbelievably beautiful.
The Painted Desert
The petrified logs are over 200,000,000 years old! They are almost pure Quartz at this point and just gorgeous. 
Petrified wood
Petrified wood
Then there is Blue Mesa which is a breathtaking 1 mile hike down to the valley and back from the top of the Mesa. 
Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa
The above photos weren't edited in any way. I took them with my iPhone and posted them. The scenery and day were so beautiful I don't think I could have taken a bad photo if I'd tried. 
We finally had to say goodbye to The Petrified Forest National Park and continue on to Williams. 
On the way I called the Red Raven restaurant in Williams and made reservations for dinner. We ate there in October 2013 when we stayed in Williams and were thrilled to eat there again. The food and service are top of the heap and the prices are quite reasonable. My salmon with cilantro pesto, mashed potato and grilled asparagus was $20 dollars. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mesa Verde and Durango

Today we went to Mesa Verde National Park and Durango, Colorado.
Downtown Durango
We stopped in Durango for lunch and a little shopping. I wanted a small day pack with a water bladder because my hip belt was so heavy with 2 full bottles and other things it was pulling me off balance when scrambling over rocks. There's a very nice shop in Durango that carries women specific hiking accessories. I was able to find the perfect pack there. I can't wait to try it out.  
After that we wandered around town for awhile, it's a really nice little town. We found a great place to have lunch called Three Peaks Deli & Grill.
3 Peaks Deli and Grill
After lunch we headed to Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde has many well preserved or reconstructed cliff dwellings. You can visit and walk through some of them and others are just tucked into crevices on shear rock faces. 
Spruce Tree House
Cliff Palace
Long House
Balcony House

Monday, May 18, 2015

Canyon de Chelly

Sunday was a rest from my injury and travel day so I didn't write a post. Anna and Vic of Desert Hills B&B were wonderful and even gave me the beautiful red bandana I've been wearing to cover up my bandages.

Today we drove 2.5 hours to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona from Farmington, New Mexico to see the ancient cliff dwellings there. There  are no services whatsoever once you turn onto 191 until you get to Chinle and no cell service at all anywhere on the reservation, which is pretty much the whole drive. 
There is no fee to get in as far as we could tell and it's totally run by the Navajo. 
We went to the visitor center first and while Chris got information at the front desk I listened to an old Navajo jeweler tell wonderful stories about the time Ansel Adams came to Canyon de Chelly. According to him the famous native woman with child was his mother and little brother and the young Navajo girl is his sister. His jewelry was beautiful but the piece I wanted depicting his mother with his little brother on one side in silver, and turquoise and coral on the other was snapped up by a woman from Virginia who beat me to it. 
Canyon de Chelly overlook into the valley where The White House is

We drove to many Overlooks to view the old Navajo cliff dwellings most of which are far across a canyon. 
The White House is named for the long wall in the upper dwelling that is covered with white plaster. It is not a Navajo structure but an ancient ancestral Puebloan structure built and occupied centuries ago.
The White House

Face Rock
A storm started moving in as we were leaving in fact lightening hit our van and the thunder boomed at the same time. That was exciting. 
We headed back to the 3 Rivers Brew Pub for dinner then to our B&B. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chesler Park Trail Hike

Another rainy morning in Moab, birds are singing outside our window and the air is fresh.
Driving along 191 on the way to The Needles, 40 degrees and it's pouring rain. I don't think we'll be doing any hiking today. 
I was wrong, the rain stopped and the sun came out so we decided to hike the Chesler Park trail out of Elephant Hill in The Needles. 
Chesler Park trail

The trail starts out steep with stairs formed into the rock but that doesn't last very long and soon you're walking on dirt and slick rock.

Chesler Park trail
After about 1.5 miles we came to what they call the Joint Trail which is like walking through a slot between the rocks. Pretty cool!
Joint Trail

We hiked for awhile and came to some steeper portions and a little more challenging terrain but nothing too hard. We got to the end of the trail and took a bunch of photos then started back.
The Needles
The Needles
Cactus Flower
On the way back as I was scrambling up a fairly steep rocky section I managed to injure myself on a protruding tree limb. It cut a large gash in my head. We managed to stop the bleeding enough to begin the hike back down to the car, two miles away. 
Three hours later I was in emergency at Monticello Hospital being treated by the very competent staff in the ER there. 
I can't wait to go back sometime and do more hiking in the area. Next time I'll try to avoid the hazards.

I found this blog page about the area and thought I'd share it. It's a nice write up of this beautiful trail.

Friday, May 15, 2015

From Arch to Arch in Arches National Park

Got up this morning to the fresh smell of rain so we will do short hikes as weather permits and see some sites from the van.
We managed to do quite a bit of hiking in Arches. 
We hiked out to north and south Windows, Turret and Double Arch in our first hike.
North and South Windows
Turret Arch

Double Arch

Then we drove up the road and hiked out to Sand Dune, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch.
Sand Dune Arch

Broken Arch

Tapestry Arch

We had cloudy skies but except for a few drips we lucked out. It was beautiful weather for hiking except for the strong winds and they were only unpleasant in the exposed areas. 
Our wonderful innkeepers Vic and Anna who own and run Desert Inn B&B did our laundry for us while we were out hiking so we came back to freshly washed and dried clothes, that was truly a treat. 
By the time we got cleaned up it was 6:00 pm and we were ready for dinner. We ate in Moab at a place called "Twisted Sista's". If you are ever in Moab you have got to eat there, the food and service is amazing and the prices are totally reasonable. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Dead Horse State Park

Mountain Biking Group on Shafer trail

Shafer Trail, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Today was a rainy, unsettled day so we decided to spend it driving through Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park.

Mesa Arch

We did a few short hikes out to overlooks and an arch in Canyonlands. 
We then decided to drive out to Dead Horse State Park to see the point. 
Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point
I'll post more photos later, they're on my camera. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Birthday to me

The view from our bedroom window. 

Today we went to Arches National Park. Our first hike was out to Delicate Arch which is an easy 3.3 mile round trip over rocky trails, gentle slick rock and finally a ledge which takes you up to Delicate Arch. It's beautiful and very worth the hike.
Delicate Arch

On the return trip we took a little side trip over to view the petroglyphs, I'd left my camera back at the B&B so I couldn't get a great shot but I did the best I could with the iPhone. 
Petroglyphs on a side path on the way to Delicate Arch

Next we thought we'd drive up to Devil's Garden and hike out for a bit then have our sandwiches. We had lunch on a branch in front of Pine Tree Arch. 
Pine tree Arch

After lunch we thought we'd do the Primitive Trail (difficult hiking) a side trail off of the Devils Garden main trail that connects back into the main trail, the entire loop is 7.2 miles. Anna had told us about it at breakfast. It was really nice and there were very few people on it. We discovered later why that was. The path itself was deep desert sand so the going was pretty slow. Not a big deal. About halfway through the trail we came to a pool of water covering the entire trail with semi vertical slickrock on either side. There were a few spots where it looked possible to traverse the rock to avoid the water and a few people including Chris did that. I tried but was just too short to reach the footholds. I finally decided to take off my shoes and socks and wade across. That was fine and felt really good on my feet, the only problem was finding a place where I could pull myself up the slickrock and get out of the water. I finally found a small crevice I could get my foot into and pulled myself out of the water. After that I thought the hardest part was over; nope. 
The trail is on the top of the wall

Leopard Lizard posing for me

The trail was marked with cairns and a little bit up the trail the cairns went up the side of a slickrock wall. There was no way I could get my foot up to where I needed to and be able to pull myself up onto the wall. Chris had to lock his fingers so I could use his hands to boost me up since there was a crevice between the two portions of the trail. Made it, how much worse could it get? The next obstacle was a slickrock so steep I had to scoot myself up on my butt using my feet to grip the wall and push until I could maneuver myself over to a slight indentation in the rock. The trail then got a bit easier for a little while until we realized the next cairn was on top of a very tall slickrock and the trail actually went along the spine. The spines are about 4–6 feet wide with a rather long drop into rocks on either side. At that point we met a couple who seemed to know the way so we fell in with them. We scrambled up the rock and walked along the spine until the trail went down the other side and back onto dirt. We climbed over boulders and over more slickrock until we came to another very tall rock wall we had to scramble up to walk along the spine for about 200 feet until the trail dropped off on the other side and became dirt again. We continued on scrambling over and down rocks and onto and off of more slickrock until we were finally on the trail back to the parking lot. 
I think we were both exhausted at that point. 
Since it's my birthday we had dinner reservations at a nice restaurant here in Moab called Desert Bistro. What a wonderful way to end a very challenging but fun day. Wonderful food and service.