Saturday, August 19, 2017

scenic byways

We set off early from Zion. First stop: Checkerboard Mesa, which Chris proceeded to climb. After an hour we turned right onto Scenic Byway 12, and drove it start to finish. This is a road.

My memories of Red Canyon from last year did not disappoint. Real Thelma and Louise territory. Adam: Why did you make me watch that film?

Next was a quick visit to Inspiration Point at Bryce, the first time for Chris and Adam.

Afterward we took a short hike to the mossy cave and waterfall. Did I take the same arch pictures last year?

Continuing east on 12 took us to through the Grand Staircase of the Escalante. Is there a more beautiful road in America with its twists and turns and canyons of every color?

We made it to the Anasazi Museum in Boulder just before closing. This state park houses thousands of artifacts of early native Americans in the region. This is a recreated fire pit.

We drove through rain (rain!) at 9600 feet on Boulder Mountain, and then descended to lovely Capital Reef in time to chase the sunset. Highway 12, end to end.

Adam drove us deep into Capital Gorge, as the steep sheer rock faces rose above us. How, we wondered, did the Mormon wagon trains cross these enormous mountains?

Waterpocket fold continues for nearly 100 miles. The only cuts across it are washes, which can be full of water in dangerous flash floods.

Fruita, the oasis of Capital Reef, is green with water from the Fremont River. Settlers—no more than 10 families at a time—planted apples and peaches and pears. You can still taste the fruit of their labors today in the orchards.

Also along the river are giant sandstones with 13th-century petroglyphs. So wonderful that they've survived this long.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


The sun rose over the canyon walls.

We took a short stroll by a weeping mountain. Denise spotted a black-headed blue jay.

I loved this yellow flower, growing in what looked like hay.

The mountain does appear to weep, with ferns and lichens lapping up the moisture. 

Why yes, that is a tarantula.

Later Denise and I walked to the emerald pools.

These are cactus flowers: tuna.

The rain falls down from the upper pool.

I liked this bridge across the Virgin River.

All in all, not a bad day's work. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the land of milk and honey

We met up yesterday in Salt Lake City for our eclipse road trip. I managed to catch drinks with Joyce and Nate after a show and then today, we headed south to Zion. 
Chris and I were last here ten years ago. For Denise it was longer, on a bike tour. Adam was still little, so he's getting to experience it for the first time as an adult. 
The slot canyons are jaw dropping. 

We went on a short but challenging walk to an overlook. You can see the natural arch forming. The sandstone erosion is caused by rivers, winding their way through the desert canyons. 

We dubbed these stacks the beehives. (Utah is the beehive state. To Mormons, beehives represent cooperation and industry of honeybees.)
After dinner we listened to a talk by Ranger Brian on endangered species: tiny desert tortoises and Mexican spotted owls and bighorn sheep, which are on the rebound and which we saw. He ended by talking about conservation especially the national monuments under attack thanks to a Department of Interior review. These include Vermillion Cliffs, Grand Escalante Staircase, and Bears Ears. 

We could see the Milky Way walking back to the car. Unfortunately all the pie shops were closed. Looking forward to a lot of great hiking tomorrow.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

community health centres

Cross posting from my design blog: a visit to a community health centre of a different era, the hospital turned hostel where I stayed in Gros Morne.

I've also just finished listening to Sweetland, a novel by Michael Crummey about Newfoundland resettlement. Highly recommended.

Next adventure is coming soon: a road trip for the solar eclipse!

Monday, July 10, 2017


The Skerwink hostel where I stayed on the Bonavista peninsula is feet from the famous Skerwink trail.
It was quite foggy, though the sun burned through in parts. 
The seastacks don't appear to have names. What a missed opportunity in a part of the world that's not shy about language and naming.
 Kind of magical.
 These pinecones are purple.

The seastacks and turquoise water reminded me of Port Orford in southern Oregon. Or hiking in New Zealand.
The total loop is 5.3K, under 4 miles. It's not especially hard, but there are a few sets of steep steps plus mud.

But then you get to the top and it's all worth it.

Spanish moss, making an appearance.

And finally a clear view of historic Trinity and Fort Point lighthouse, whose foghorn I listened to all night. You can see why.
The end winds up in a meadow that could be Pt Reyes (an hour from my house). I earned my brownie.

For more information on the Skerwink trail: from Robinhood bay to Trinity harbor:

Sadly, my adventures end here. I'm back in St. John's headed for one last lobster dinner before I fly west. Until the next time.