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7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more.  Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.

So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.

We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken.  So beware.

Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.

Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.

Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!

 

We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.

It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!

Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.

Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.

Buckskin Gulch

The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.

The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End,  and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.

Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.

I slept most of the way home to Boise.  So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.

 

Catchin’ Up & Road Trips

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I’m still wearing a jacket going outside … it’s supposed to be spring, isn’t it? It’s rained so much in Boise I haven’t gotten my peas in the ground, and I’ve given up on the whole lettuce thing. I haven’t pruned my grape vines and they are running amok already, just like the blackberry bush. I guess you could say I’m being a lazy gardener … or rather, I’m a blue sky gardener just like I’m a blue sky skier.  Then I remember my grade school rhymes: April showers bring May flowers. There must be a reason it’s in a rhyme, rain in spring isn’t a punishment, it’s anticipation of reward later. Patience Keri patience.

With no patience,  I am going into avoidance mode … no gardens, lawns, or dirty windows and so I’m tweaking the little campbox on wheels. The designers of the campbox table didn’t really think it through very well. When you decide the mitigation to a lousy design is to add a tie down strap over the table to keep it from falling over don’t you think someone would say, let’s not put that idea into production? Well, someone didn’t make that decision … duh.   First there is a 1 inch gap between the table and the wall, and the table wobbles on 2 aluminum pipe legs. When you place a plate on the table, or lean on it, it tips your food onto your lap.   So last week Sweetie & I took on the table stability issue, building a frame that is screwed onto the floor plate, and is built with a lip the table sits on.

Hey Winnebago … rethink your table design in the Micro Minnie Winnie. Something like this will work! 🙂

A bit of formica, a couple of screws, a few pieces of industrial strength hook tape and the table doesn’t wobble like a Weeble.  Score One for us!

Always one for a party, daughter #2 and I did a down and dirty trip to Utah for Girl’s Night at the Community Theater with the mom, the sisters, Aunts and cousins … and blasted back the following morning.  We did take a quick side trip off of exit 182 on I-84 to oooh and aaaahh over Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. With snow pack melt and lots of rain the falls were booming.  It was worth the detour. 

Tomorrow I’m hitching up and heading south to Boise for final preparation for the 10# in a 1# sack trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Shopping for, preparing & freezing dinners for those easy to thaw, heat & eat at the end of exploration day meals.  Wouldn’t you like to come back to Creamy Chicken Enchiladas? How about Red Rice & Beans? Of course, one night will be grilled steak … you can’t camp if you don’t have great steak at least once while you’re on the road. Or at least, I can’t.

Just catchin’ ya up on Wanderingkeri … May is already booked out and you CANNOT imagine how EXCITED I am to connect with friends and family from all over the country.  Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, & PA … and it’s ONLY MAY!!

 

 

The 2017 Great Greenhouse Apocalypse

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Survivors of the 2017 Great Greenhouse Apocalypse

Well, aren’t I glad I didn’t stay home yesterday and work in the yard when the weather was beautiful and the sun was shining because today it is gray and rainy and my yard chores will not be done, and the lawn won’t be mowed, nor the garden beds roto-tilled.

I guess it’ll be time in the greenhouse adjusting watering for the survivor plantlings and I’ll be feeling badly that most of my greenlings are dead. That’s right. Dead.  Dead. Dead. I gave them their first fertilization, mixed it too strong, and now … sad, withered, wilted , shriveled, dead or on life support mixed peppers, tomatoes, and basil plants  must be interred in the compost bin.

It’s far too late in the season to begin again so I’ll be planting garden center veggies … which if you add in the cost of running the greenhouse, seeds, planting medium, the new mist watering system and buying 5$ plants to grow a veg … well, off the top of my head I’m estimating that each tomato or pepper I harvest this fall will cost me 10-15$ (well, maybe not ‘that’ much). But, hey, I can’t worry about that now, can I?

Because, it’s not the money, or the harvest itself (well, maybe a little), but it is digging in dirt, waging war against weeds, and against the hordes of fruit loving, voracious beaks the crazy bird lady next door entices to the neighborhood, and my horrible assigned pressurized irrigation time (middle of the night). Those things keep my heart pumping and mind focused, but it’s truly the wonder in my spirit when I watch a minuscule seed burst open seeking sunlight,then mature into God’s gift of life … fresh, bountiful food for our table, bounty in the freezer and  jars on shelves.

I’m fearful the sight of shriveled, dead plantlings might burn your eyes out, so here’s a photo of The Survivors of the Wanderingkeri 2017 great greenhouse apocalypse …. Chimayo Chili Peppers.

Joy in the Morning

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It’s a blue sky day! The sun is finally out after a days and weeks of gray-ny days. Last week I was sitting on the cusp … that place between then and now, but it’s official … ski gear is relegated to the back of the closet.  We’re no long on the cusp but headed to daffodils, tulips, and greening of grass … can flip-flops be too far away she asks excitedly.

What a great season its been. I had big plans to ski some of the major resorts, some that I’ve not been to before, but sometimes plans just don’t come together (life happens). However, our local resort Brundage had some killer good snow days, and mucho powder days … however I look at it great days on the mountain.

I was perusing my “Get Off My Butt & Get Something Done” list … yes, that’s the title of my list. As of Sunday afternoon it was about 2 pages long, and there are gaps that need to be filled in. I’m a list person, if only to capture all of the ideas swirling around my brain. Once I have them on paper, well, actually it’s in Evernote … that way I can see it from my phone, my Kindle, and from my laptop whenever I need to add or check off an item and it’s one less sheet of paper stuck to my boot on the floor of the Escape.

At the top of the list today is to “organize my list”, prepare for the Reno & Yosemite trip this weekend, write this blog and take a walk, stretch my legs, breath rain cleared air, and feel the joy in the morning. Time for Sweetie’s buttermilk pancakes and fresh bacon breakfast . (I am sooooo spoiled!)

Check one off today’s list … I took that walk after breakfast … I found what I was seeking. There was joy in the morning and a lightness in my heart as the air wafted with damp earth and springy tops of new grasses (and weeds); the only sound beside my crunchy steps on the gravel was the harmony of trickling, rushing and gurgling water …

Now it’s time to take that smile in my heart and get movin’ on that list! We’re burnin’ daylight!

 

 

On the Cusp

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On the Cusp … has an adventurous sound to it, doesn’t it? It portends, it anticipates, it leans forward, a balancing act one day at a time. It feels like holding my breath before I tip off the edge of the ski run, point upward toward the peak at the end of the vertical trail, open a new book, or start a plan. Anything can happen.

Today’s footwear … in Cusp Mode

Breathing, in this moment, the fire is glowing in the stove, but the window is open and I can smell the rain of spring. Here, in Council, the ground is only beginning to shed its snow coat while in Boise the greenhouse is busy protecting the baby greenlings, the piles of last falls debris are anticipating a burning and the bird-caller-finder-feeder neighbor lady’s trees are full of veracious beaks on recon while our garden beds and fruit trees are coming out of hibernation.

A MUST Read!

Today I’m cusping like this…taking a few more days in front of the fire, reading books, and thinking I need to finish the quilt laying quietly under the sewing machine needle waiting for phase 2. I finally finished with the “Beast” … my yearly January puzzle that took me like 8 weeks to complete … I did a happy dance when that last stupid pink,pinky,whitish-pink, green, greenish, greenish-black, black flower patterned piece actually fit in place.

I am cusping and planning a hiking trip in Yosemite National Park in a couple of weeks. Sweetie was a wildland firefighter, at one time he was the first Superintendent of the Union Hotshots, out of La Grande Oregon. In a few weeks we’re headed south to Reno for a Hotshot Superintendent Reunion & National Hotshot Association meeting.  Sweetie, knowing that Yosemite is on my “want to see it myself list”, suggested we spend a few days in Yosemite before heading north again.  Bless his heart!

Anticipation

In cusp mode, I’m not ready for spring yet, I’m not so secretly praying for another monster snow fall on the ski hill before I hang up the Pearls for the season. Though I did buy those new Asolo trekking shoes  and this afternoon Sweetie and I are planning on cleaning, organizing, and replenishing our fly fishing packs …

Anticipation

On the Cusp … Yeah! an adventure all in itself!

 

 

 

New Trekkers, New Trails, New Adventures

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Current Relationship

The other night I looked down at my shoes … I love my shoes, Asolo Trekkers … they looked a bit sad. They’ve been down rivers, across mountains, through desert sand and on many streets U.S.A. & abroad. I wear them almost everyday hence the worn tread, dusty suede, and lining formed to my foot.

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Meeting someone for the first time

Online I went, since they are hard to find around Boise, or at least the style I love. Which of course, every 2 years when I need another pair, they’ve changed them up in some form or other and I have an inner hissy fit complaining about  messing with a good, nay great thing. After the hissy fit, I ordered ‘the new style’. When UPS dropped them at my door, I immediately ripped open the box, ordering online is a little like Christmas, don’t you think?  … and … what did I see? a ‘gore-tex’ lined tag. (I don’t know why I didn’t see that little addition in the description).

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First Love & Best Friends

When I first discovered this particular shoe I was looking for a great hiker, that wasn’t a boot, and weren’t tennis/trainer/running shoes and didn’t have some splash of neon.  I love that the laces go clear to the toes which gives a great fit and the moderate tread is excellent on the mountain, but not so heavy that I trip walking across the floor. No break in time … ever … and though I buy a new pair every couple of years, the old ones have yet to be turned out to pasture.

I did say I wear them almost every day? It’s a good thing too. One day on the spur of the moment I decided I’d do an overnighter on the river for an evening and a morning of flyfishing.  I tossed my gear, tent, and cooler of food into the Escape and headed out.  Pulling in just in time for the evening hatch I setup my fly rod, pulled on my waders, and DANG! I left my boots 1 1/2 hours away, in the garage, next to the recycle box. There was no way I was turning around and heading home.  So what did I do? I opened the laces of my trekkers as wide as possible, slid them over my wading socks, tied them up and stepped into the river.  Excellent traction and they dried out the next day with no damage at all.  From then on we were friends for life.

Buying new shoes gives me angst … Will I love them as I’ve loved each pair I’ve owned? Will the addition of the gore-tex end my love affair? These are serious questions … well, I won’t know until I take the leap every new shoe buyer must take.  Slide them on, tie them up and hit the road, or rather I’ll spin them around the house, down the street and around the corner. The trails here are snow covered and my ski boots are still my best friends.

Cheers to new trekkers, new trails, and new adventures!

 

Where will Your Shoes Take You this Year?

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Every day my barefoot loving self digs into our magic closets to find the perfect footwear to take us on amazing adventures, escapades, and shenanigans. 

When I first walked the roads of Middle Earth with Bilbo Baggins’ this quote has stayed with me… and fueled my love of the unknown. 

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to…”

Well there are 365 days of adventures hidden just around the next dawn … 365 days of shoes (or no shoes).  Today my shoes took me on a shussh … me, and Sweetie, and Mala our Pudelpointer. 

Happy New Year friends! Where will your shoes take you?