Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Anniversary Trip

Monday, June 4, 2012
Today DarDar and I awoke in Torrey, Utah, in the cutest little rustic motel. Torrey is charming as the gateway town to Boulder Mountain and to Capitol Reef National Park.

We ate breakfast at the log cabin general store...I had southwestern fritatta, and Darwin had scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sausage.  Before you start drooling, let me tell you: his food was wretched...even to me.  Mine, however, was muy delicioso, and I mean that sincerely.  Wow.  

I was charmed by our motel and the picturesque market.  It had a deer horn for the handle on the screen door.

Torrey reminded me of growing up in LaVerkin.  They had open irrigation ditches gurgling with tempting water...and lined with grasses, weeds, etc.  
Capitol Reef National Park is right next door to Torrey.

We had a fun Sunday evening exploring the park at our leisure.  It’s filled with fruit orchards that were started by the original settlers.  I’m proud of the park service for keeping the orchards up.  The green of the fields and orchards against the red rock cliffs in gorgeous.

We were happily surprised to find some Gifford history at this park.

They sell fruit pies from the Gifford home every day but we missed it.  The ranger at the park said they were home baked by someone in Torrey and delivered fresh each day.
This is the view from the Gifford home's front lawn.  How would it be to wake up to that each day?
Since we paid our respects to the park last evening, we cruised on towards scenic Hanksville today.  I say scenic with tongue in cheek.  Hanksville is not so beautiful.  It’s like Mother Nature dropped a huge vat of bleach on the mesas and hills right outside the park...they become drab so quickly.  First there is an eerie blue-grey color like you are on a strange planet...then it fades to lunar landscape beige. I do NOT want a home in Hanksville, thank you very much.  The town looks as depressed as the surrounding hills.  We gassed up there at $4.20ish or so a gallon.  Some tourist in Torrey said he was  told that  gas was 50 cents a gallon cheaper in Hanksville.  Ha! Someone was laughing up his/her sleeve, I’ll bet.  Harrpumph!  We DID gas up at a real hole in the rock place...hole in the mountain is more like it.  The whole place was dug out of the hillside.  I felt rather like a hobbit! 

Things prettied up fast as we left Hanksville to motor southward towards Lake Powell...highway 95, I think.  Our goal was to end up in Cortez, Colorado (where I’m writing this as DarDar snores gently), but we wanted to see Bluff, where the Hole-in-the-rock pioneers settled.  So we chose what we figured was the best route, and it WAS!!!  Oh, my.  The canyon we went down was amazing...rock so deep red it was almost purple...with more hoodoos and fanciful shapes than you can imagine.  We felt like we were being guided to the prettiest places...well...before and after You-Know-Where!  (Poor Hank, to have such a ghetto ville!)

Taken from car at high speed...not the most fanciful formations...just the ones I happened to catch!
We saw the beginning of part of Lake Powell down our canyon...suddenly the dry stream bed  wasn’t was muddy water, which quickly turned to green...and there was one arm of the lake.  My cameras (yes, both digital and cell phone!) were clicking away.  I could NOT stop myself.  Everywhere I looked there was another vision for the eyes.

 We crossed the mighty Colorado River on a bridge...(don't you love taking pics out of the window?  I call it a drive-by-shooting!)

then started to ascend back up onto a high-desert plateau which reminded me a lot of Cedar hills dotted with pinon and juniper trees, and slickrock stream beds and canyons...oh, such rugged beauty. 

We decided to go on highway 261 to Mexican Hat, then on to Bluff.  We climbed into thick trees...couldn’t see anything but trees for many miles.  I thought, “Oh, they’ve lied to us about how dry and desolate southeastern Utah is!”  Then, all of a sudden we emerged from the trees to find we had come to land’s end.  I mean, the trees were just gone, the ground was just gone...and we were at the edge of a precipice where we could look straight down at the ground below, and gasp at how many thousand feet it was.  We had been traveling on  top of one of those massive buttes, and the mountain decided it was time for us to disembark.  It was almost like you had to slam on your brakes or you’d go over like one of those crash test dummies on the Hurricane Mesa.  (Aaron later told me it’s the Moqui Dugway)

Darwin slammed on the brakes at a little turn out at the tippy-top and said, “I’m glad there is a cement retaining wall and a chain link fence!”  Both our legs (All of our legs???) were rubbery.  The land below was as treeless as a baby’s rump, and stretched out as far as the eye could see...into Monument Valley, because there were impressive edifices (could you say, “edify?”) jutting up from the desert floor way off in the shimmering distance.  I just cannot begin to tell you how dramatic this was.  

There was a sign that said to drive 5 miles an hour down the switchbacks, and we could immediately see why.  The road turned to a gravel/dirt road, whereas it had been a state highway before, and it clung precariously to the edge of the vast mountainside.  Whoever engineered this road was either a genius or a madman!  We inched our way along with both of us getting rubbery legs at the mere thought of diving over the edge.  We stopped at every turnout, and I snapped away.  The road turned back to asphalt the minute we got the the bottom.  Weird, huh.  

I took pictures all the way to Bluff.  All of the formations were so unexpected.  Some were hilarious.  I think God had fun designing this whole wild and wooly area.  

Bluff had buff-colored sandstone cliffs that looked like someone had frosted them with caramel frosting.  We immediately found a historic site for the Hole in the Rock pioneers who founded Bluff.  It not only had interesting history, it had clean restrooms, and by then I was in dire need!  We checked out the historic sites, then snuck away.  There were some site guides who would have monopolized our whole day...but we had other plans.  On and on we went.

Almost as soon as we left Bluff, we were immediately plunged into the world of the Navajo nation.  It depressed me a lot to see their homes and towns.  Montezuma Creek ?
ghetto...hopeless...dry...drab...grafitti, bars on windows of service stations, homes willy nilly all over, no water and even no power in some.  Sad.

We entered Colorado on that sad note...still in the Indian nation.  Four Corners was our next destination.  It is run by the Navajos...still on the rez...and we HAD to go there and get our pictures taken with body parts in each of the four contiguous states,  I DID it, and so did the Darster.  Four states at cool is that?  

The Indians (I can still call them that, right? It IS the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is it not? ) had set up booths all along the perimeter of the Four Corners monument.  You could buy all sorts of jewelry, souvenir t-shirts, etc.  There was even a couple of trailers that were serving Navajo fry bread and tacos.  Dang.  I wasn’t hungry!

All the rest of the way into Cortez we were lamenting for the poor Indians, who had been given such harsh land for their settlement.  My heart aches for people who are raised a certain way, and have almost zero chances of getting out of the culture when it’s dysfunctional.  I want the Lamanites to blossom as the rose...and these folks have a hard time.  We noticed that the sides of the highways were literally covered the broken glass booze bottles...for miles and endless miles.  I wonder if they are trying to make a statement here.  The road signs were all shot up, too...and there were bars of every window of the place we stopped for gas. There is just a pervading sense of hopelessness.  

After Four Corners, we skedaddled for Cortez.  It didn’t look much different from the reservation as you entered from the southwest.  But there were fields and fields of hay growing, and that was pretty.  The town got prettier the farther east we went.  

We stopped at one upscale looking motel, and they wanted $125 a night.  NO WAY.  This trip isn’t about luxuriating in a destination-type hotel.  It’s about dawdling along and seeing things.  So we headed to this EconoLodge...and it was clean and decent...AND we could back up right to the door.  We both loved that!

I used an app Julianne recommended I install...Urban Spoon.  I wanted to see what eating emporiums this town boasted.  Here’s the answer:  not many that look like you would even set foot in them.  The only place that was rated 100% in customer satisfaction was a burger we went there and tried it.  It was fun because they had bonafide carhops.  Huzzah.  I loved that.  Oh, shades of Larsen’s Frostop!  And the hamburgers WERE good.  Hooray for Urban Spoon, because it wasn’t a place I would have even tried if not for the reviews.  

And so to bed.  I’m sleepy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Irish Fetish

Ever since my bookclub had a theme dedicated to Ireland...Irish literature, books about Ireland, Irish could pick whatever interested you as long as it had strong Irish connections...I have been absolutely fascinated by Ireland. I chose to read about Ireland's long and troubled history. I read about the huge impact of the potato famine. I read about the on-going and current troubles (as they call it...The TROUBLES) between the Catholics and Protestants. OH, it is gripping stuff.

I read novels set in Ireland. I read novels by Irish authors. I literally wallowed in all things Irish. I loved it.

That's been almost a year ago...I think we did that theme in honor of St. Paddy's day 2011.

Here's what brought my Irish ramble on today:
I bought an 18-month mid-year calendar last year, IRELAND, when I spied it on sale in some local emporium...and I was about to toss it out today because we somehow acquired calendars galore (I adore calendars...good ones with cool art by the likes of Edward Hopper, or interesting photos...Greece was good, Ireland is awesome!), and we simply didn't need this gem anymore. BUT...I made the fatal mistake of sitting at the kitchen table and perusing the whole thing anew. I looked at the photos in detail, I read the captions, and I got fascinated all over again. ARRRGGGHHHH. It was ever thus.

Have you ever wondered why Ireland has no trees to speak of? The Emerald Isle is emerald green, but not because of trees. I decided to find out WHY today. Thus began an internet tour. I found out about Sitka spruce (fascinating) trees,

Did you know that they usually only grow in certain coastal regions and can get moisture from summer fogs? I now know where their native habitats are on Mother Earth! (Thanks for the pirated photos, Google images. Am I going to get sued for using these?)

I found out about a couple from Minnesota who have dedicated themselves to reforesting their 20 acres (another fascinating read)follow this LINK

The cover of my alluring calendar had these fabulous stones on a beach that looked like purchased pavers. I wondered if they were man-made for a moment. The magic of the internet told me that they were a natural wonder--or made by the giant Finn McCool--part of an amazing place called the Giant's Causeway. Who knew? I even know how it was formed, now. Ha!

My tour rambled from one interesting tidbit to another. (And believe me, I totally realized that I would NOT have the luxury of an internet knowledge cruise, which is the only type of cruise I am likely to go on, without me being disabled and not working right now!) I LOVE KNOWLEDGE CRUISES!!!!!!!!!!

How can I possibly toss this calendar into the trash now? Oh, shades of a hoarder! Grit your teeth, Lols. In it goes. Hence the blog to preserve the moment.

If I won a grand vacation in Ireland, I would not complain.