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A Ridiculous Road Trip Part 5: UT to AZ

October 11, 2018

Ah Utah. It's good to be here. I love your mountains and the feeling you give me of being home.

This time I came in through nighttime thunderstorms, driving from Rexburg to Logan.

The view from the park down the street from Corinne's new place. 
 The days in Logan meant seeing Corinne's new life in her beautiful home, tucked right into the side of a mountain. There were hugs from people I love, and chances to have yet another adventure with her. I saw my lovely friend Charlotte (why didn't we get a pic??) and caught a before-and-after movie glimpse of Deb and Julia!
I love seeing this guy and his brothers in their new
natural habitat

Our adventure day was spent in at Golden Spike National Historic Site and the Spiral Jetty. We had an absolutely perfect day, so perfect in fact, the skies and landscapes looked surreal. We learned about the transcontinental railroad and about the process of building a railroad across the land. We hiked along the line; going past and through cuts, fills, and other remnants of this historic work. Later we explored a huge public art installation called the Spiral Jetty that juts out from the shore of the Great Salt Lake. It used to appear and disappear based on water levels, but now, as the lake has shrunk, the jetty is visible pretty much all the time. You can even see it in the satellite view on your navigation app.
The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific came together here! Or hereabouts. 

Park Sign Selfie! I love adventures with this one. 

This was such a good visit. I would definitely go back for more hiking under these amazing skies. 


Did you know there's an arch in Northern Utah? I sure didn't. It's called Chinese Arch, and has become a natural monument to the many workers who came from China to work on the railroad. 

Trail Selfie!

After a drive along a 17-mile long gravel road, we made it to the Spiral Jetty. It's huge. There are teeny tiny people standing near the jetty to give some scale. There in the distance, probably a quarter of a mile away, is the lake. 

A Salty Lakeside Selfie!

The light and reflections were so beautiful and surreal. 

We saw white salt, pink salt, brine shrimp, and more. It was an otherworldly place with so much space to walk around and dream. I would go back here in a heartbeat. 

And really, at the end of a day like this, where else could we possibly have dinner but here? 

After dinner, we stopped for ice cream in Brigham City and I got a driveby glimpse of the temple there. I love how it is an homage to older temples, but has a clean, modern look. 

Back in Logan, I got a few drive-by glimpses of the beautiful, old temple there. It's so unique and lovely. 
The weekend happened to be our twice-yearly church conference, which originates in Salt Lake City, but is broadcast all around the world by television and internet. There are five 2-hour sessions throughout the weekend, each with talks and music intended to strengthen faith, instruct the church, announce policies, and feel all the feelings of hearing and seeing leaders we respect and revere.

Saturday evening, Corinne and I made a plan to go to Salt Lake City to try and attend the women's session in person at the Conference Center. I had a ticket, but we were going to try and get Sheely and Corinne in through the standby line. No deal. There were actual thousands of people in the standby line. I gave my ticket away to someone else, we picked up Sheely and had a quiet viewing in a building on campus at the UofU. Afterward we feasted at Red Robin and then headed home. Sunday morning was our traditional Conference Brunch, which had developed into a much-looked-forward-to tradition in Maryland. It was pretty epic.

And this is before the frosting. I do love a good cinnamon roll. I may not be a master baker, but I can come up with a reliable pan of cinnamon rolls. 

That is a happy Brunch Face. 

Part of the magic of this week in Logan was just being part of the usual things. There weren't a ton of super-special moments, but it was special to me to be present for the sacred ordinary times of life. I love that. 

Conference Bingo? Oh yes. 

I kinda hated leaving this crew, but I know that I will be back and that we don't have to live a half mile apart to still be important in each other's lives. 
When I arrived at Jeff's house, there was a big, happy gathering of my kids and Ashlyn's sisters plus friends. I loved seeing everyone together. My favorite memory is of my oldest granddaughter running out the door of her house to greet me as I pulled up to park. That was sweet.

My brief days in Utah County included some painting, some shopping, some good eating, and lots of snuggles and playtime with the grandgirls.
At Sun River Gardens with Ashlyn and the girls. Their decorations were awesome!


I love taking this one to the park. 

My clever boy bagged his first duck. He was excited about it, and I was proud of him. He cooked up the breast and wings and it was delicious. Rich and unique. I liked hearing how he honors the animals he takes with a prayer of gratitude He respects them and does not take them for granted. 


On Thursday, Oct. 11th I packed up the Mini and headed down to another familiar place I love, Arizona. On the way down I drove through pine-filled valleys, rain, snow and desert. These drives just fill my soul. Me, the sky and the road, listening to books or music, or maybe a podcast, and nothing in my way--ahh. Here are some views of the road in Utah as I approach the border.






I stopped at the visitor's center for the Glen Canyon Dam Recreational Area to stamp my NPS Passport, then headed down the road a couple miles to Horseshoe Bend, the iconic 270 degree curve in the Colorado River that is glorious prelude to the Grand Canyon. The red rocks, 1000 foot cliffs and the river reflecting the sky create an image so strikingly beautiful. I always think about what it must have been like for ancient people to come upon such a scene for the first time.

I heart Horseshoe Bend

It's very crowded there, nearly Grand Canyon or Yellowstone-level crowded, but there was still plenty of room to get to that crazy edge for the famous photo. I did not much like being at that edge, but hey, a photographer's gotta do what a photographer's gotta do.

For scale, there are humans camping there on the riverbank. One feels the full 1000 foot drop when standing on the edge. 
I made it in good time to our rental house in Mesa, and had a night to myself to get ready for the wedding weekend of my nephew.
And the Mini and I are in Arizona. 



A Ridiculous Road Trip Part 4: CO, WY and ID

October 10, 2018

Picking up from this post, we arrived in Erie, Colorado on Saturday afternoon. It was rainy and cloudy pretty much the entire way. My brother was there to welcome us and it was instant good times. He and I are very alike in temperament, and it was great to be with him. The rest of the family--my nephews and sister-in-law, arrived home from various activities a little bit later.

My nephews were wondering why I was using their dad's computer. Apparently we have the same taste in stickering.
They pulled out all the stops and made us a yummy dinner along with a homemade carrot cake for Eric's birthday. It was delicious, and it was just so good to be with family.


Eric was actually turning 56, but we were improvising with the candles. No matter, the cake was delicious. 

We spent a pleasant evening chatting and cleaning up, slept well, and enjoyed church the next day. We had the bonus of meeting the brother and sister-in-law of Evan's girlfriend. They live in Erie and attend the same congregation as my brother. That was fun--I really liked them!

Sunday afternoon we went up to Estes Park and on a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. I'd never been to either place and thought we might get to see some fall leaves and maybe a critter or two. Both dreams came true in abundance. The foliage was at peak and was just stunning. The mountainsides were a rich tapestry of all the colors of autumn, and the roadsides were ablaze with aspen, cottonwood, and more, all contrasting against the dark pines. It was exactly as I hoped.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, location of The Shining. 

Yep. I saw this with my own eyeballs. 

Me and the neffy-poos




More car window pics because I just could not stop trying to record these amazing views. 


As for critters, Estes Park was crowded because it was the Elk Fest. Not only do the humans come to see the Elk, but the Elk come to town as well, but probably not to see the humans. There were groups of them hanging out in the golf courses and on lawns and in parking lots. There were harems walking through the trees, being bugled along by the males. I've never seen so many Elk. It was the Rut, which means it's time for the males to fight and for all of them to mate. You can read more about it here.


I love this family of mine. 



Seriously?

Everywhere. This beauty was everywhere. 

Heyyyy Mr. Moose!


He was actually about 20 feet from me in this one. No zooming necessary. 
 The drive through the park took us to a lovely walk around Sprague Lake. We saw perfect views of the mountains, lots of brook trout, some fat geese, and two astonishingly large bull moose who came out of the woods and wandered along the trail, had a tense standoff, and were generally not noticing the humans at all. We sure noticed them though, and all the people grabbed their cameras and tried to get all the photos. It's my first time ever seeing a moose in nature, and they were impressive. Some of the people really didn't seem to realize these animals could actually cause harm, and my brother cleared a few groups away from them. He's such a good guy--careful and thoughtful, and I appreciated his willingness to get involved.



                                              

We took the long way home, and saw more elk and finally heard the famous bugling. I'd never heard it before, and it's very interesting. If you listen closely to the video you might be able to hear it, but of course it's nothing like hearing it in person. Same with the photos. I tried, but these just pale in comparison to my memories of the day.

That evening, Amy made an absolutely delicious beef shawarma in the Instant Pot and we had a fabulous late dinner together. Late dinners always feel indulgent and fun to me. They mean we were too busy having good times to bother with eating. I'm glad we spent as much time as possible up in the mountains. There was warmth and laughter around that table, and I was glad to be there. I love this family and the spirit in their home.

Monday morning I took Eric to the airport at 5:20 am, then immediately headed off to Idaho.

I watched the sun rise as I drove north through Colorado, then had another total win of a drive through western Wyoming. Perfect autumn foliage, mountains, rivers, interesting cloudy skies...all the things I love to see. I made it to Sara's house in Rexburg around 5pm. I would have made it earlier, but I was so entranced by the scenes rushing by me that I must have stopped at pull-outs 20 times to take short walks and try to get some photos.
Sunrise over CO

All the autumnal glory in Western WY
Hoback River



All the autumnal glory in Eastern ID 

I had a nice 24 hours in Rexburg. We had dinner in Idaho Falls, did a little shopping, and enjoyed the time together. In the morning I took my granddog for a walk in the crisp mountain air under those gigantic western skies I love so much. He's a funny dog and spent a full 15 minutes watching a soccer player practicing on the BYU-I fields. I couldn't get him to move. Eventually we did get going again and I loved being out in the wind and sun.




Sara had the afternoon off work. I always like seeing her doing her thing in her world. She's got a cute student apartment, a good job and is continuing to make progress in her education. I'm really proud of her. And of course her cute husband Andy is amazing. We love him so much.

We had delicious Brazilian-style rice and beans (again in the Instant Pot--what was life like before those?), then I headed out for Utah. This signals the end of the first phase of the trip--the getting out to the West. There will be much less that is exciting or newsworthy in the next few weeks because I'll be settled in Utah/Arizona for most of October. This first part of the trip has been really great. I'm glad Eric was with me for the first 10 days. I'm grateful the car is doing well, my back is doing well, and I'm doing pretty well keeping up with work along the way, which was my plan all along. I kept telling people this isn't a vacation, I'm just taking my life on the road.


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