Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Utah Road Trip, Part 2

Here is a picture looking out the "front yard" of our campsite near Moab.

We headed south from Moab towards the southern entrance of Canyonlands National Park. I was thinking Canyonlands would be a step down from Arches, but the scenery began its buildup soon after entering the park.

We then got recommendations at the visitor's center for hikes and chose one from Elephant Hill Trailhead, which we reached after driving a while on a gravel road. The hike was through varied terrain in the Needles area, and about 4 or 5 miles in length. Temperature was about 80 with a little wind, so very pleasant. In fact, the combination of outstanding scenery and interesting trail made me think this hike was about as good as it gets. It inspired a blog post I will write soon on my top ten hikes (this one makes the list, and ranks right up with Yosemite hikes).

Here is a photo of a very narrow canyon we hiked through.

More photos of needles and canyons.

We continued on driving through Monticello (pleasant, high altitude town in a green setting) and Blanding before turning east and driving through Natural Bridges National Monument. I have to say the outstanding scenery was unrelenting the entire drive today. Even outside the parks on the normal highway the views and colors were interesting and remarkable.

This picture is after crossing the Colorado River/Lake Powell at the end of the day.

We drove on to Hanksville to get some elevation and cooler temperatures for our camp (it was 90's near Lake Powell), arriving before dark around 8:00 or 8:30. We quickly set up our tent, checked the internet, read for a while, and then early to bed.

Next stop Capitol Reef National Park, some hiking trail misadventures, and scenic Highway 12.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Utah Road Trip

For many years now I have been looking forward to a vacation to scenic southern Utah. Last week we dropped Steven off at BYU, then Suzanne and I headed southeast from Provo, through Price and Green River, to Arches National Park. We arrived late afternoon but still had time to drive the length of the park (stopping at scenic points a few times), and do a couple of hikes to view various arches and scenic formations. The first hike was about four miles, and the second only a couple of miles, which we finished at sunset. The scenery was so dramatic and otherworldly I felt like we were in a cartoon! Here are just a few pictures.

We had a tent and sleeping bags, so just stayed in campgrounds each night, with the first one a few miles outside Moab.

Next stop, Canyonlands National Park!

Monday, June 7, 2010

bike crash

Well, I have been very fortunate to have logged tens of thousands of miles riding my bicycle, and never had a real accident. Until last Saturday.

The weather was perfect. No wind, cool temperatures, and sunny. So I joined a group of fellow cyclists to ride the Pioneer Century--100 miles through the scenic and historic Willamette Valley. I have done this ride in years past, but not for the several recent years.

Three of us were clipping along at a good pace on an open, low traffic road at about mile 35. I was second in the line and without warning the rider in front of me braked and swerved to avoid a dog that ran out at us. I did the same, wildly trying to avoid crashing into the dog or rider, and just about made it through okay when the rider behind crashed into me. We both went down on the pavement and gravel.

I ended up with some scrapes on my knee and a chest injury, which I thought might be cracked ribs (it hurt to breath deeply). And my rear wheel was wobbly. The other rider also had scrapes and a ruined front wheel. We had to call a sag wagon to pick up the other rider, but I was able to open my rear brakes enough to continue riding. At the next rest stop a mechanic was able to true my wheel somewhat and the bike rode fine.

At 55 miles I was back at the start/finish and could have gone home, but, since I had paid my money and the day was beautiful, I continued on the 45 mile second loop and completed the full century.

Interestingly, about mile 80 a bee flew into my helmet and sunglasses and started stinging me multiple times. I stopped quickly and flung it out. Man, that hurt like the dickens. But there was nothing to do but keep riding, and the pain subsided after a few minutes. That's another thing I don't recall ever happening to me on a bike ride.

Coincidentally, I had my annual physical exam scheduled for today, so the doctor checked out my chest (which is already much improved from Saturday) and diagnosed just some strained muscles.

So, with the double misfortunes was the ride worth it? Of course! And what memories it created! And a feeling of accomplishment!