Arches National Park – Day 1 – Part

 

We arrived at Arches between 4:30 and 5:00 pm and for some reason we thought that sunset was going to be around 6:30. Because of that we felt a bit rushed trying to get thru as much of the park as possible before it got too dark to see anything.

Needless to say, we rushed around to see all the sights but didn’t take time to hike to any of the arches or follow many of the trails except the one that got us a little closer to Delicate Arch. When it got to be around 6:30 we realized that it wasn’t anywhere close to sunset. It turned out that the sun didn’t set until about 8 pm. That was good news! We still had more time.

 

As I look at these photos I realize that we ran the gamut of weather during the short time we were there. Blue skies, then a bit of clouds, darker sky, black sky, rain, rainbows, then it all cleared up again. This last photo below was taken near the end of the day, just before sunset.

This is definitely a place where we would like to return again, since we didn’t have time to really investigate the heart and soul of the park.

So, not much narration on this one. I think the photos speak for themselves in revealing the amazing beauty of Gods’ creation! I hope you enjoy them.

Glimpses of the Southwest…Day 1 (part 1)

I can’t believe it’s already Day 3 of our vacation and I haven’t posted anything yet. I guess when you see what we’ve been doing, you’ll forgive the delay. We’ve been busy! Since we covered so much ground on day 1, I’ll split it into two posts so as not to overwhelm you.

As mentioned in my previous post, we left the house on Friday morning. I mentioned that we were aiming for 8 am, but later Terry said he’d like to leave earlier, so we were actually targeting 6 am. No problem for me since he usually drives and I can sleep as soon as I get in the car if I need to. In reality after picking up our Starbucks treat for the road and topping off the gas tank, we crossed out of the city limits probably more like 7 am. Not a bad start to the day…it was a long day.

Since I’m sure you don’t want a blow by blow account of our 560+ mile drive (on day 1), I’ll just give you some glimpses into the highlights of the trip. As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge.

Tuba City, AZ – Have you ever heard of Tuba City? I’m guessing that most people haven’t. It’s part of the Navajo Nation in northeastern AZ. A small town of about 8000 people, and for our household, their biggest claim to fame is the fact that their High School Cross Country Team “kicked the butts” or more acurately “totally dominated” Terry’s little Bourgade Catholic High School Team (and many others for that matter) at the Arizona State Cross Country meets. If you look at the high school link above, you’ll see just how many times the boys’ team has won the State Championship. 19 times since 1970! Quite impressive, I must say! I guess there’s not much more to do in Tuba City.

After driving thru the town that brought back so many unfortunate memories for Terry, we were once again in the open desert. Unfortunately, there were road crews working on the highway and we ended up stuck in the middle of a traffic stop for at least half an hour! Yuch! So what did I do? Opened up the sun roof, stood on the seat and took pictures, of course. I didn’t want to get out of the car in case traffic started up and I would be stranded in the desert forever.

When we were finally back in motion, we had the privilege of witnessing a summer storm cross right in front of us in the distance. The haze on the right side of this photo is rain. Note the blue sky on the left. Very cool! Lovin’ the raindrops kissing the windshield with the blue sky in the background.

Whenever we drive thru the southwest, I’m always in awe of the wide open spaces that are virtually unchanged after hundreds of years. Can you imagine real estate prices around here? I’m not sure I could live in some of these areas, but others are quite gorgeous and welcoming. Talk about a slower pace than the big city…do you think you could handle it?

At 2:30 or so, we came upon a tiny little place called Mexican Hat, Utah – kind of a fun name for a funky town of less than 100 people right on the San Juan river. Here’s the town’s namesake – THE Mexican Hat rock formation. Can’t you just see the little guy peeking out from under the sombrero? Pretty sweet, huh!

And even though we didn’t have time to drive thru Monument Valley, we saw some beautiful rock formations all along the drive. In fact, just around the next curve we saw a little known, but equally interesting formation called “Charlie Brown’s Shirt” Mountain. Click to enlarge and see the zigzag striations in the rock. (Actually Terry named this formation so you might not find it when you look it up.)

About two and a half hours later we were almost to Arches National Park and came upon this awesome site called Wilson Arch right beside the highway. If you enlarge the photo you’ll see the people standing inside the arch. Unfortunately, we were running out of daylight (we thought) so didn’t have time to climb up there ourselves. We wanted to get to Arches NP, so just snapped a few pics and moved on.

We’ll call this the end to part one, since we covered a lot more ground pictorially in the park. Check back for those tomorrow…still Day 1 – wow!

Our Vacation Itinerary

So it’s decided. Friday morning we’ll be leaving for our Colorado vacation. Here’s the plan at the moment.

We’ll aim to leave our home (knowing it’s in the capable hands of our house-sitter) around 8 am. We’ll drive our fully loaded Honda CRV thru the neighborhood Starbucks to grab a treat for the road, (which has become a traveling tradition) and head north on Arizona 51, then west on AZ 101 Loop to Interstate 17.

Once on the 17, we’ll be on our way north thru Flagstaff, AZ where we’ll probably grab a tank of gas and a quick bite to eat. Then on thru the somewhat desolate, but often beautiful Hopi and Navajo Nations covering northeastern Arizona, continuing into southeastern Utah, all the way to Arches National Park. It’s about 8 hours from home and promises to be our most scenic stop and detour along that stretch of the trip.

We recently discovered that next weekend is a “fee free” weekend for all national parks, which is good and bad news. Good that we don’t have to pay…bad that it may mean more people than would normally be expected. Hopefully since schools are starting in the southwest, most families will already be home preparing for the new school year.

We were considering going to Monument Valley as well, but we’re learning after all these years of traveling that it’s just not wise to cram too much sightseeing (and picture taking) into one day, so we’ll save MV for another time. It’s only about 5 hours from home and could be done in a long weekend.

After spending a few hours exploring and capturing the beauty of “Arches“, we’ll drive on to Grand Junction, Colorado for the night, where we’ll apparently be crossing paths with President Obama and his family. It wasn’t planned that way. I don’t think they’re expecting us…just coincidence. I hope we don’t have any traffic issues. Do you think he might be staying at the Courtyard Marriott where we’ll be? Of course not. I’m sure he’d choose the Residence Inn instead.

Anyway, if there’s not too much hubbub with the Presidential family in town, we’ll get a good night’s sleep at our favorite hotel chain.

On Saturday we’ll take our time driving the rest of the way (only about 4 hours) to our home base in Steamboat Springs. We probably can’t check in until early afternoon, so we’ll have plenty of time to get there.

I’m looking forward to settling in and getting the lay of the land. We’ll pick up a few groceries, (stop at the Farmer’s Market if we get there early enough), check out what’s around town, maybe post a few pics if we can find web access and relax for the night.

On Sunday we hope that our dear friends Randy & Linda will arrive to join us for a few days. This won’t be the first time that we’ve shared vacation time, but will be the first time without our kids. I take that back. I forgot about the time that we hiked down Havasupai Canyon as couples together. Of course, I was pregnant with Amy at the time, but didn’t know it, so it doesn’t really count as having kids there.

I’m so looking forward to some sweet fellowship, laughing, relaxing, and enjoying the great outdoors and beauty of Colorado with a couple of our favorite people. We might even get in a few games of Nertz so the girls can finally avenge our humiliating loss in the campground at the base of Havasu Falls in 1981 (but that’s a story for another time).

So, before I get too far off track, if any of you have been to Steamboat Springs or nearby and have tips on dining, hiking, shopping, sight-seeing, photo ops, etc., please let me know soon so we can add them to our list. We’re not looking for anything too crazy, just simple and fun.

Be sure to check back for vacation pics next week!