Friday, March 27, 2015

Fisher Towers

We left Moab on Monday morning, following the Utah Scenic Byway 128 out of town.  The road hugs the Colorado river and offers great views of the dramatic canyon walls which line the river in this area.  Near the end the road passes Fisher Towers, where we stopped to hike.


The trail through these fantastically shaped sandstone towers is fun but rugged with steep drop-offs, scrambling over slick rock, and even a ladder to to assist hikers in getting across a rock ravine.  Rock climbers enjoy climbing the towers; can you spot them in the photo below?
 

 To give you an idea of the scale of the place, note the hikers in this photo.


I found the two mile uphill climb quite relentless but beautiful.  During our short but frequent pauses to catch our breath we admired the many flowering dessert plants. 


At the top we were rewarded with wonderful views and a great photo opportunity using the "Trail End" sign which was kindly provided.  


We are back home now.  The wonderful weather we had on our trip is continuing and with clear skies and highs in the 70's projected for the coming weekend.  While the perennials and bulbs are popping up out of the ground, gardeners are cautioned that we will almost surely have more winter weather in the next two months.   On Wednesday we had periods of bright warm sunshine followed by periods of blizzard-like snow.  It's never a dull moment around here, weather-wise! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Canyonlands

On Sunday we did two hikes in Canyonlands National Park.  The first was the Aztec Butte trail.  You can see the butte behind Ben in this photo.  It doesn't look too tall, does it?


 As you go up the trail, however, you get a better sense of its height.  Do you see the person in the red t-shirt in the middle of the photo?  He is about half way up.


The hike went up over lots of slick rock.   There were a couple of vertical spots that were pretty scary to me but I was determined not to be left behind and managed to scramble up without falling off.


From the top we had amazing views of the surrounding area.  


Then we hiked down and over and up the smaller nearby butte which featured some ancient granaries which were interesting to see.  


Our second hike was out Murphy Point which offered excellent views of the three layers that make up the "Island in the Sky" section of Canyonlands.  As you look at this photo, imagine that you are at the top layer of the park looking down into the canyon.  The white rimmed middle flat area is the "island" between the top and bottom layer.  Down below it is the bottom layer where the Colorado River and the Green River flows.     


The "White Rim" jeep and bike trail runs along the middle layer.  It's a one hundred and three mile loop which takes about three days to bike, assuming you manage to get one of the few permits to camp at the two camp sites along the way.  

Twenty years ago Ben and I accepted an invitation to join a small group which had a coveted permit and it was an amazing experience to be in this remote and austerely beautiful area.   Ben biked most of the way while I mostly drove one of the support jeeps.  Traveling the rough and sometimes very steep and rocky road, sleeping under the incredible night sky, and listening to the unusual silence was something that we will always remember.   It was fun to look down into the canyon and think about that time.

When I got home I hunted up the photos from that time and scanned some of the best ones.  



Can you believe I actually walked out onto Musselman Arch?  


I love this photo of Ben. 


I borrowed this NPS photo to give you an idea of how far down the middle section is.  This is Shafer Trail, which leads down to the White Rim Trail.  



It was a long time ago that we did the White Rim trail, but we feel good that we've managed to move out here where it's easier to explore some of the wonders of the west.  Who knows what the next twenty years will bring?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arches, Dead Horse Point, and Newspaper Rock

We arrived in Moab on Friday afternoon and immediately drove to Arches National Park where we spent a couple of hours exploring the Devils Garden Area, the location of eight amazing arches.

This one is Landscape Arch, which is more than a football field in length.  


I had hoped to hike the "Primitive Loop" trail out to the Dark Angel, which is not an arch but a giant pillar.  I have a photograph of me at the base of this pillar taken when I hiked it with Ben in 1990.  


 I thought it would be cool to take a photo in a similar pose, but alas, it was not to be.  While I had the stamina for the hike, I no longer had the nerve required to navigate the "narrow ledges" and "rock scrambling" found on the hike.  


 Oh, well.  I told Ben to go on and finish the climb while I turned back to take a closer look at the other features of the area and take more photographs.



We spent the next morning at Dead Horse Point State Park.  This park is located across from Canyonlands and basically you stand at the edge of the canyon and look down on a point where the  Colorado River makes a turn at the bottom of the canyon.  The canyon walls are quite beautiful, as are the LaSal Mountains in the distance.  


There are ten miles of trails around the rim and we did about half of it, hiking over slick rock which was fun.  Several plants were flowering and the Juniper bushes were especially full of berries.
 




























In the afternoon we made a three-hour round trip drive south to Newspaper Rock, petroglyph which features rock art "from cultures dealing 1500 years ago to this century."

The ride was beautiful, a nonstop feast for the eyes of gorgeous Southwestern scenery.




The rock was huge and the art was fascinating.  Apparently not much is known about who made which images and what they symbolize, but it was intriguing to try and read meaning into the pictures.  



Sunday, March 22, 2015

In the Land of Red Rocks

While Paul is in Disney World with the high school concert band Ben and I are in southern Utah doing some hiking in Arches and Canyonlands national parks and at the Dead Horse Point state park.



We have four different cameras with us but left the laptops behind so most photo selection and editing will have to wait.  This was a deliberate decision since we wanted to hike and relax, and not spend our time focusing on photo management!  But here's a few images to give the flavor of where we are.







Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Coming and Going


The sunny warm weather we all --including Fetcher and Spikey-- enjoyed yesterday has come and gone, and today promises grey skies and much cooler temperatures.  

Paul leaves for the school band trip to Disney World early Thursday morning and is getting himself ready for that adventure by finishing up schoolwork and organizing and packing his bags.  Ben and I have our own adventures planned for when he is away and are working to get the taxes turned in so we can have fun without that chore hanging over us.  

Little black-capped Chickadees have suddenly appeared flitting about the Sumac outside my studio window and I wonder where they've been all winter.  Did they migrate and come back already, or have I just not been noticing them the past few months?

It's St. Patrick's Day which to me is a time to remember my father, who died thirteen years ago today. The world keeps turning, the seasons keep flowing by, people are born and people die, and I'm glad that I'm still here to be a player and an observer. 

Today I'm going with a friend to Ft. Collins, the fourth largest city in Colorado and about a forty-five minute drive north of here.  It's my first visit there and I'm looking forward to seeing its historic downtown which was the inspiration for Disney Land's "Main Street," and the Poudre River and the beautiful canyon which it formed.        

Monday, March 16, 2015

Back Home and Quilt Talk

I came back home from the quilting retreat yesterday in time to enjoy a beautiful afternoon of eighty degrees and sunny skies.  

It was so nice that we decided to grill dinner and eat out on the deck.  Today will also be warm but by tomorrow we'll have a twenty degree drop in the temperature.  Everyone is enjoying the warmth while it is here.  Sandals, shorts, and sports bras have suddenly reappeared and the streets and trails are full of people hiking and biking.   When Ben wasn't grilling he snapped this photo of me and our friend, Lotus. 


I've gotten myself unpacked and am pleased with what I accomplished over the weekend.

I made the top for a kid's charity quilt kit that I picked up at the quilt guild meeting last week and got it basted together....


....and put together the top of the Christmas quilt kit I bought in December.   I loved working with these festive colors.



I also worked on some original designs I've had underway.  

This little circle piece grew out of a  Stitch and Slash workshop by Carol Ann Waugh which I took last month.  During the retreat I added the lines of ribbons and the peach and green wooden discs.  That doesn't sound like much but took forever to place, especially since everyone who walked by the design wall gave me their opinion about what would look good!  Gotta love that about a retreat, though in the end it's you who make the design decisions.   


And I brought along this work which I starting piecing ages ago and finished the top up recently.  


After seeing Carol Ann Waugh's "Stupendous Stitching" work I decide to use it as a background for a lot of couching and decorative machine stitching and got that underway at the retreat.  I'm pretty excited about working on this one now and hope to add a line or two of stitching this week.  


It's a lot harder to get this kind of work done at home since there are so many distractions.  Walking, hiking, cooking, visiting with friends, reading, taking photos -- so many fun things to do along with making things from fabric. 

Ben (who is slaving over the taxes)  just called out that the color is being added to the stucco work that our neighbor is having done to his house.  We've been looking at the grey undercoat for a week or so now, wondering what the final color will be.   It appears that the walls will be a terra cotta color with a rough finish and the window frames a brick red.  I think we'll like it, which is good since this side of the house is right next to our deck! 



Saturday, March 14, 2015

On Retreat





This is the view from my window this morning.  Makes waking up and getting going an enticing proposition!  I'm at the Highlands Presbyterian Retreat Center way up in the mountains at 8500 feet where I'm spending three days quilting in a big sunny room with this view of Mt. Meeker.

This may not sound like fun to everyone but I'm loving it. Hey, it's National Quilting Day! What better way for a quilter to celebrate it?


I'm meeting a lot of fun and interesting quilters from the local quilt guild, making great progress on my projects, and even saw a bobcat outside yesterday.

Well, I'm going to get to work.  I'm looking forward to getting the borders on the Christmas quilt I'm making.