Our Spring Journey Continues

Allow me to depart from the journey for just a few lines. As anyone who follows the news is aware, Central Texas as well as the Dallas and Houston areas have been inundated with rain causing considerable flooding, property damage and worst of all, loss of life. Between Southern Oklahoma and Texas there were over twenty deaths associated with the flooding. Closer to our home in Kyle, Texas the Wimberley area was positively devastated by the flooding of the Blanco River when it rose to 40 feet above flood stage. Connie and I kept track of the storms, the flooding, and the devastation as we traveled through the west. Were it not for our wonderful neighbor, Dawn Hesalroad, I am sure fear for our home would have overcome our ability to enjoy our traveling experience. Dawn not only kept us informed of the mostly lack of direct impact to our immediate neighborhood, but also the greater needs around the county. Her balanced information allowed us to make informed decisions on how we could help from afar with properly targeted donations. Thank you, Dawn. To all those around the country affected by these historic storms we want you to know that you were never out of our thoughts and hopes. You all remain very much on our minds as well as all those on the east coast who seem to have inherited the same dramatic system that did so much damage in Oklahoma and Texas. Stay safe out there.

Our spring journey continues from the greater Phoenix area northward into Nevada where we spent one night in Boulder City. We had several reasons for going into Nevada. In no particular order here are a few of those reasons. We had never had this motorhome in Nevada or Utah. Therefore our map of states visited had a huge hole in the west. We wanted to fill that hole. By the way, there is still a hole in the east, so maybe someday… We also wanted to try to get together with a former shipmate of mine who now lives with his wife in Henderson, Nevada just a few miles from Boulder City.

We accomplished both of those goals and more. Meeting up with Glenn and Deborah Robillard was a real treat. We met them at their home which has a great view of the Las Vegas strip. After getting the tour of the house and catching up on some history while enjoying a glass of wine we all went to the most authentic Italian Pizza place we have been to outside of Italy. Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Henderson, Nevada is a remarkable find. The Robillards were in Italy the same time we were in the early 1990s. Glenn was, as far as I am concerned, the most important member of the Supply Department on USS Simon Lake. I was the production manager on the ship and relied on Glenn to get me the parts and materials my department needed to complete maintenance on submarines and surface ships visiting the Mediterranean. My tough job was made a lot easier by Glenn’s abilities to make things appear nearly overnight. The Navy rewarded Glenn for his hard work, not only on Simon Lake, but everywhere else he served by eventually making him an admiral.

But, I digress. This evening wasn’t about ship repair, we were here to visit wonderful friends and share in an evening of remembering the wonderful pizza we thought was only available in Italy. Glenn has made himself a sort of authority on Italian style pizza in America, at least in those parts of America where he has lived or visited. Settebello was a true find. This establishment holds a certification for the authenticity of their pizza. The certification which I am sorry I don’t remember the title of, is akin to the certification that French and Italian wines have when produced in the more famous regions of the respective countries. We thoroughly enjoyed the pizza, but renewing this friendship was far more important. What a special evening it was.

The next morning we viewed the Las Vegas Strip from the interstate as we made our way north. This is certainly the cheapest and least dramatic way to see the strip. I was sort of surprised that Connie didn’t suggest at least one more day and night in Nevada so we could visit a casino or two. My wallet was happy for the way things worked out.

The National Parks in Utah span a large area. We were not necessarily interested in camping in any of the parks, but we did want to try to visit as many as we felt we had time for. That said, we decided to camp in commercial RV Parks which gave us relatively easy driving distances to two or more locations on our list of places to visit. This strategy worked well in that we were not packing up the motorhome every morning for what would be relatively short drives to the next location followed by rather rushed visits of the area. So, our first stopping place was the Hitch N Post RV Park in Panguitch, Utah. We spent four nights there. Panguitch is no metropolis. However, its location is good for seeing a number of the more popular sites in Utah. For those who like us enjoy sampling the local cuisine Panguitch offers a challenge. We found one place that was pretty good albeit very busy. We ate at another place two times because the one mentioned above was either booked solid (bus tour) or closed (Sunday). We survived.

The first park on our agenda was Bryce Canyon National Park. The geology of this area is just fascinating. A thorough explanation of the formation of the various geologic features is really long and full of technical geologic terms. Therefore, I will provide the super condensed Reader’s Digest version and include a link to more detailed information. Some 90 million years ago the continent was divided east to west by an inland sea. That sea resulted in the deposition of sediments which are now the oldest rocks in the park. Those rocks lie unseen now below the Claron Formation that formed from 55 to 35 million years ago by sedimentation in large lakes that waxed and waned in the region. Massive tectonic plate activity from 20 to 15 million years ago began to push up a tremendous swath of Earth’s crust. This eventually raised the region nearly two miles to form the 130,000 square mile Colorado Plateau. Millions of years of erosion sculpted the landscape to form the dramatic geologic features we see today. There is much more detailed information at: http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/upload/bryce_geology-2.pdfFor even more information on the park go to: http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/brochures.htm

The road system in the park is essentially an out and back with nearly all the pullouts on the left side of the road as you drive into the park. That being the case, the park encourages visitors to drive to the very end before stopping, then most of the sites will be on the right side of the road as you return towards the entrance. That is exactly what we did. We were a bit compromised during our visit as the skies were none too cooperative. I did the best I could with the conditions I had.

Okay, you have suffered enough from reading this, so enjoy the images that follow. The image was taken as we ventured through Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest on the way to the park. The last few images were also made in Red Canyon was we made our way back to Panguitch.

Red Canyon Dixie National Forest Backlit 2
Red Canyon Dixie National Forest

We arrived at Red Canyon just as the sun was coming up.  I walked back to get this shot with the sun below the formation.  Not to worry, I got a few good ones later in the day when we returned.

Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon NP 4
Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon

As suggested by the park newspaper, we started our viewing at the south end of the park and worked our way north.

Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon NP 3
Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon

One of the things we noticed at most of the stops is that the trails seemed to be pretty good.  In fact from some locations the trails were so well defined looking through binoculars I was worried about how the photos would look.  Rainbow Point didn’t pose such a challenge.

Black Birch Canyon Bryce Canyon NP 5
Black Birch Canyon Bryce Canyon

Black Birch Canyon was the next stop.  The sun was out a bit better giving us a better appreciation for depth and texture.

Ponderosa Canyon Bryce Canyon NP 6
Ponderosa Canyon Bryce Canyon

Our third stop, Ponderosa Canyon gave us a good look at the shapes of the spires.  It seemed as though each new location was more detailed than the previous.

Ponderosa Canyon Bryce Canyon NP 7
Ponderosa Canyon Bryce Canyon

The sharp pointed spires caught my eye and camera lens.

Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon NP 8
Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon

The tones at Agua Canyon were a little subdued due to the overcast skies which were now starting to cause me some concern.  I had to wait for the sun to emerge from behind a cloud and then get off as many images as I could to try to illustrate the natural beauty of this wonderful place.

Natural Bridge Bryce Canyon NP 9
Natural Bridge Bryce Canyon

Natural Bridge was absolutely stunning.  I was lucky to get good light and the result was a near three dimensional look through the arch.  This is one of my favorite images from the park.

Natural Bridge Bryce Canyon NP 10
Natural Bridge Bryce Canyon

There were other wonderful features in the Natural Bridge area.  I am always attracted to the features that seem to defy most of the laws of nature.  Does it not look like some giant placed a prehistoric golf ball on a tee and then went away without hitting it?

Paria View Bryce Canyon NP 11
Paria View Bryce Canyon

This photo is one of at least two reasons why I will go back to Bryce Canyon National Park.  The sun was not going to come out from the clouds so I had to settle for this rather dull image.  I can just imagine the depth and tonal distribution that exists under full sun.  I will go back to see this in great light.

Bryce Point Bryce Canyon NP 12
Bryce Point Bryce Canyon

Bryce Point is one of the more iconic stops along the canyon.  It seems that you look forever at seemingly never ending repeating formations.  Here is a question, where did Bryce Canyon get its name?

Bryce Point Bryce Canyon NP 13
Bryce Point Bryce Canyon

Up close you can see the layers of sediment in this large rock.

Bryce Point Bryce Canyon NP 14
Bryce Point Bryce Canyon
Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon NP 15
Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon

Inspiration Point was another stop where I just could not get my arms around the symmetry left behind by millions of years of erosion.  It looks so unnatural in what is the most natural of places.

Ispiration Point Bryce Canyon NP 16
Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon

Many of the spires have names.  I have chosen to leave the names off and allow you to use your imagination.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, (Kinnikinnick) Bearberry Ispiration Point Bryce Canyon NP 17
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, (Kinnikinnick) Bearberry Ispiration Point Bryce Canyon

I decided to give your eyes a break from all the rocks.  Yes, there are flowers in Bryce Canyon National Park.  These Bearberry I found to quite interesting.  The leaves on this plant are the thickest and stiffest leaves I have ever seen. They feel quite waxy and are not very pliable.  After the flowering season ends the plant produces bright red berries.

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon NP 18
Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon

I couldn’t get enough of Inspiration Point.

Sunrise Point Bryce Canyon NP 19
Sunrise Point Bryce Canyon

Sunrise Point is one of those places you are supposed to see at sunrise.  Fat chance of that happening for us being some 40 miles away and on vacation so to speak.  It looked pretty good in the early afternoon.  There are some great looking trails down to the canyon floor that we will explore on our next visit to the park.

Sunrise Point Bryce Canyon NP 20
Sunrise Point Bryce Canyon

I threw this photograph in just to let you know I am practicing on my in-flight bird images.  I am getting better at panning thereby keeping the raven more or less in focus.  I only wish I would have had my long lens on for this shot. It may have been really good.

Red Canyon PM Dixie National Forest 21
Red Canyon PM Dixie National Forest

On our return to Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest Connie spotted this hole in the formation that looked like a star.  I thought it was pretty neat myself.

Unknown flower Red Canyon PM Dixie National Forest 22
Unknown flower Red Canyon PM Dixie National Forest

Finally, we saw these beautiful little flowers growing among the shattered rocks in Red Canyon.  I searched high and low and have not been able to identify them.  I put them out here as I know someone will come to my aid.

With that I will leave you for now.  However, there is one more administrative item to discuss.  In my last post I had several images of cacti that I either wasn’t sure of the names or flat didn’t know what they were.  My cousin, Karen Madia, came to my rescue after reading the post and identified them all.  I have edited the post to include the proper names.  Thank you Karen.



7 thoughts on “Our Spring Journey Continues”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your blogs and photographs. Those are the best picctures of Inspiration Point I have ever seen, and also of Natural Bridge. I had never seen a picture from that angle before.
    I love your empathy and how well you write.
    I look forward to your future posts.
    Thank you for including me!

  2. That is always the park I have most wanted to visit! Ah well, maybe next life! Thanks for the wonderful views. Marilyn

  3. Wow Frank, worth the wait! My favorite is the one looking through the arch. I like the wildflower one too. What size lens were you using?

  4. Sorry you drove right through our town without saying hello? Life is great in St George and we have Zion, Bryce, etc in our backyard. Maybe next time you can park in our driveway! Travel safe. Lauren and Rich.

  5. Great pictures of Bryce. Those white flowers look like the ones blooming at Indian Creek now.

  6. Frank, most amazing pictures !!! Thank you and Connie for sharing your explorations. Continue to enjoy and be careful. Missing you guys!!!

    Wanda from Kyle, TX

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