Monday, October 5, 2015

Nevada-Utah Vacation, Going Home on the ET Highway: October 4-5, 2015

Finally whole again, but still wary of my 1991 BMW's fitness and stamina, we turned westward to California. In Nevada we left I-15 to take the "scenic" 93 up to 375 west. Nevada 375 is now called the Extraterrestrial Highway. Along the ET highway we made a fun stop at a shop capitalizing on the highway's reputation for UFOs.

Then it was back on the road with some rain along the way. We had planned to stay in Tonopah for the night but it looked so dreary that we pushed on to Lee Vining in California.

When we arrived in Lee Vining, 120 and the Tioga Pass into Yosemite were closed due to snow. We were lucky to get a room because visitors were piling up while they hoped the road would open. It was still closed in the morning and there was a dusting of snow on the surrounding peaks. A thick layer of clouds floated above Mono Lake. The drive home was easy and we made it by noon.

One of us needs a more dependable car and since Dan has an old Saab and the company no longer exists, it will be him.

Despite the car breakdown, we had such good luck on this driving vacation. For one thing, the car broke down in front of a restaurant in the town of Escalante where I could use my cell phone and where we were staying that night. Even though I had pre-trip maintenance performed, just two days before we departed, I bought GEICO's roadside assistance program. We had GEICO insurance and their employees went the extra mile on our behalf. We arrived at Great Basin National Park in Nevada at the peak of fall color. We saw an eclipse of the super moon. I will be 84 when the next one happens so I'm glad I got to see this one in such a special location.  We had amazing weather often with beautiful clouds. We were able to hike as much as we wanted and take lots of photographs of remarkable places. We made it home!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Nevada-Utah Vacation, Zion National Park: September 30-October 4, 2015

On the way to Zion, we detoured to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We've been here before, and I wanted to see if see if the sand color was as I remembered it. It was. It is coral pink. The Navajo Sandstone layer erodes into this beautiful, fine grained sand that then forms tall dunes that are backstopped by the surrounding mesas.

Even though it was a little hot, we decided to walk the 1/2 mile nature trail with a detour to climb the sand dune. It was a short hike so we didn't take any water. Near the end of our walk it was obvious that Dan was suffering from dehydration. He was becoming incoherent. I could see our car (the rental car) not too far away so I left the trail, cut through snake country, and retrieved our water and a diet coke for Dan. Before I left him, I told him to stay where he was and I'd be back. When I returned, he was no where to be found. I spun around in every direction searching for him and screaming his name (think crazy woman). Then I saw him staggering along the trail like a zombi as he went over the next hill. I ran as fast as I could in the deep sand and with my heart beating out of my chest. He was headed the long way to the parking lot. I made him drink water and put his head under the water faucet. There might have been some scolding on my part like "Did you think I was abandoning you?"

Another near-death experience avoided, it was on to Zion. In Zion, actually Springdale, we were lucky and were able to stay in one place for four nights. From Springdale we could take the park shuttle up canyon to the lodge or with our lucky red pass, we could drive to the lodge.  From the lodge, we took the Emerald Pools trailhead and made a loop to the less crowded upper Emerald Pool trail and down.

While the landscape of Bryce seems busy, Zion is majestic.

We headed out to The Canyon Overlook Trail on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway 9 but missed the turn out for the trailhead which is located just east of the longest tunnel. We had to drive a bit before we could turn back. On the way back, a group of big-horned sheep were gathered on some large rocks next to the road--a very lucky photo break.

Finally, on the Canyon Overlook Trail we hiked the almost one mile to trail's end and the canyon view.

On Friday, October 2, we decided to make the drive south to Washington, UT, to pick up my car. Chris had made the repairs, put gas in the tank, had it washed and she, the car, looked beautiful again. If it wasn't such a long commute, I'd always take my car to Chris at Bavarian Werkstatte in Washington, UT.  

The next day, our last one in Zion, we hiked Watchman's Trail in the morning. The clouds formed patches in the sky that mirrored the patches of shrubs on the slopes. It was a lovely pastel, spotted landscape.

We took the shuttle back up canyon and walked along Riverside Walk. The Riverside trail leads to the more difficult trail through the river into the Narrows. For the Narrows you should have hiking sticks, water shoes, and a jacket--we didn't.

At another up canyon shuttle stop we climbed the Weeping Rock trail. It is only 1/4 mile one way, but it feels like it is almost straight up. When the sun is out, the "weeping"oozing out of the overhead rock wall is backlit.

We hung out in Zion to watch the sunset light up The Watchman (6545 ft/1995m).

We moved to the bridge at Canyon Junction joining a line of other photographers and waited for more color. It was stunning.

Tomorrow, we begin our journey back home.