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Cape Final, GCNP, 7/27/12

The North Rim marked the beginning of our taking walks (or hikes, depending upon your definition). Our first night at the lodge, Patti crashed early as a result of taking seasickness pills earlier in the day for our tour of Lake Powell. Never one to miss an opportunity, I walked out to Bright Angel Point in order to shoot the sunset. The pictures were completely worth the effort, but what I hadn’t taken into account was that we were at about 8300 feet, which is about 8290 more than I’m used to. The walk back up to the lodge was an eye opener for me. Surprisingly, that was the only time I was significantly out of breath during this trip. Which is not to say the only time I was out of breath.

The next day we got in the car and checked out, in order, Point Imperial, Cape Royal (which includes Angel’s Window) and a nice hike to Cape Final, followed by some cold beers on the lodge veranda. Since our priorities on this road trip were, in no particular order, to see cool stuff, do some walking/hiking, take beautiful pictures, and relax/not knock ourselves out, this day can be marked as a complete success. This was also the first real test of my recently upgraded cardiovascular system which seemed to pass admirably.

When we got home and I started scrubbing the photos we took, I realized that many of them lend themselves to being cropped into panoramas. Here are some from our time at the North Rim. I’m already looking forward to returning to explore more. We only touched the surface on this trip!

Near the North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/26/12

Sunset at the North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/26/12

View from Cape Final, GCNP, 7/27/12

Sunset at the North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/27/12

Sunset at the North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/27/12

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The North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/26/12

After our (eventful) boat ride on Lake Powell, we hopped in the car and headed towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon for two nights in the lodge. It was my first visit to the canyon; Patti had been to the south rim briefly many years earlier. I was pretty excited. I’d been looking forward to seeing this for many years and I knew that there were going to be lots of opportunities for some excellent photos. I was not disappointed!

Our North Rim Cabin, GCNP, 7/26/12

After driving down one hell of a mountain, we went through Lee’s Ferry which consisted pretty much of a couple of bridges, a visitor’s center, and extremely high temperatures. Once we started climbing the plateau to the park, the temperature moderated quite a bit. The drive into the park was simply gorgeous, a nice winding road through forest and meadow. Sweet. I have since confirmed that along much of this road you can pull off onto one of the many unpaved roads and simply find a nice isolated spot to camp. That is on the list for next time!

The North Rim Lodge Veranda, GCNP, 7/26/12

The lodge itself is everything I expected it to be: rustic, comfortable and set among world-class views. From the porch of our cabin you could see the canyon, from the veranda of the lodge were tremendous views. We never had a problem grabbing a chair, enjoying an adult beverage, soaking in the sights and listening to people from all over the world. It rocked. I want to go back. Now.

Next time I’ll talk about what we did while we were there. It’s time to look at some pictures.

The Sitting Room in the North Rim Lodge, GCNP, 7/27/12

An Odd Sign at Lee’s Ferry, Az, 7/26/12

Angel’s Window, GCNP, 7/27/12

View From Angel’s Window, GCNP, 7/27/12

Cape Final, GCNP, 7/27/12

View From Point Imperial, GCNP, 7/27/12

Kennedy Space Center, 8/16/12

Allow me to divert from our trip report for a few moments to show y’all some photos from yet another in a long (too long) series of “lasts” that have been taking place here on the Space Coast over the past few years. On August 16th, two Orbiters came nose to nose for the last time. Endeavour was wheeled into the VAB to wait for her ride to her final resting place (Los Angeles) and Atlantis, which is staying here at the KSC Visitor Center, took her place in the OPF for final processing.

Just over a year ago, these kinds of photo ops would have drawn a few thousand workers away from their desks so that they could snap some pictures and just be near these insanely cool, and even more insanely complicated, vehicles. Now, as the local paper reported, there were only a few dozen people. I see this phenomenon every day as I drive around the base, easily finding parking in empty lots that used to be a real pain in the ass to drive to. I wish it was still a pain in the ass.

Sidenote: I was told the other day that it has been reported that 75% of the folks laid off have found work again either here or elsewhere in the country. That’s the good news. I also read about another ex-worker that committed suicide. That’s the bad.

Enjoy the pictures.

Kennedy Space Center, 8/16/12

Kennedy Space Center, 8/16/12

Kennedy Space Center, 8/16/12

Goulding’s Lodge, Monument Valley, UT, 7/25/12

Next up we drove from Moab to Page, AZ, via Monument Valley. Monument Valley was exactly what we expected with buttes and mesas popping up all over the place. We kept expecting to see scenes out of a John Ford western with covered wagons or tasseled indians or, above all else, John Wayne riding tall in the saddle. They loves them some John Wayne out there in that part of the world.

Lunchtime view, Goulding’s Lodge, Monument Valley, UT, 7/25/12

That morning, before leaving Moab, we had bought a couple of sandwiches to throw into the cooler, being sure to apply the lessons learned from the previous evening’s picnic (ie: sandwiches & water don’t mix too well). We got to Goulding’s Lodge where, according to Patti’s research, The Duke and John Ford used to hang their spurs while filming in the area. We enjoyed our sandwiches in a nice shady spot overlooking the beautiful valley and had what turned out to be my favorite lunch of the trip. Beautiful breeze, beautiful view. I’d throw in beautiful company, but Patti would probably dope slap me for getting mushy.

From there to the Lake Powell Resort where we splurged for a night and lived the high life. Had a nice dinner with a lovely view of the houseboats on the lake. Next morning we were up early so we could check out and take a tour boat for a 2.5 hour jaunt around the lake and up a couple of slot canyons. Another time expenditure that was totally worth it. We saw the Glen Canyon Dam, then headed up Antelope Canyon for some gorgeous scenery. As we cruised by the refueling dock at the new marina we heard a big “whump!” that didn’t sound good. A boat had blown up! Of course I took photos. It burned to the waterline and eventually sank (after being towed away from the dock).

Up Navajo Canyon for more beauty, then back to the resort, the rental car, and the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our 6 nights in National Park lodges was about to begin. We hadn’t seen anything yet.

Gooseneck SP, Monument Valley, UT, 7/25/12

Monument Valley, UT, 7/25/12

View From Lake Powell Resort, Page, AZ, 7/25/12

Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, AZ, 7/26/12

A Bad Day, Lake Powell, AZ, 7/26/12

Navajo Canyon, Lake Powell, AZ, 7/26/12

Dead Horse Point SP, 7/24/12

Standing in front of the Monitor & Merrimac at our first photo stop of the trip. Canyonlands NP, 7/24/12

We kicked this trip off by making the half-day trip from Salt Lake to Moab with Patti’s brother & sister-in-law. They had just finished a big weekend celebrating their 40th anniversary and joined us for this segment of the trip. After we checked into our hotels (they were at a very swanky place outside of town), we hooked up and went for a drive. We checked out Canyonlands NP and I got the first of many, many photos. Next morning, Patti and I hit Arches NP early and ran into a ranger about to start a guided walk at our second stop. He took us about the Windows area and gave us a nice flora/fauna talk. We also took a short hike up a hill (our first challenge) to see Delicate Arch from a distance. The altitude made itself known.

We joined the family at their fancy digs for lunch. Afterwards we took a drive up Rt 128, which is just beautiful, and checked out Fisher Towers and Dewey Bridge, which, as we all know, was the second longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi. Back in the day. That night we checked out Canyonlands more thoroughly which was pretty damn impressive. Lots of stunning views of canyons. This was also about the time that the phrase “Holy crap!” came to mean “Look at that!” It was said a lot over the next two weeks. Then we went to Dead Horse Point State Park for sunset and a picnic dinner.

There are a couple of things that I really looked forward to on this trip. Photographing Sunrise at Bryce Canyon (which was great, btw). Enjoying a cocktail on the veranda at Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge (which was great too). Also on that list was shooting sunset at Dead Horse Point SP. From reading about it I knew it was impressive, but the actuality of it was a new experience for me. I got lots of very nice shots there. And learned lessons concerning wrapped sandwiches and coolers.

Looking down “Park Avenue”, Arches NP, 7/24/12

One of “The Windows”, Arches NP, 7/24/12

Off, way off, Rt 128 near Moab, UT, 7/24/12

Dewey Bridge, Rt 128 near Moab, UT, 7/24/12

Canyonlands NP, 7/24/12

Canyonlands NP, 7/24/12

Dead Horse Point SP, 7/24/12

Capitol Reef NP, 7/2/12

So our 11 day tour through Southern Utah/Northern Arizona has come to a close. It seemed like every road we drove and trail we hiked generated yet another exclamation over the beauty and majesty of this area of the world. We finished in Capitol Reef NP on their 75th anniversary and I must say that this may be one of the best kept secrets in the National Park system. Just beautiful with towering bluffs and beautiful fruit orchards (where the fruit is free if you eat it there and a dollar a pound if you take it to go).
We feel as if we have barely scratched the surface of this vast area, and you can be sure that we’ll be back. Despite Utah’s bizarre and counter-productive liquor laws.

Hickman’s Bridge, Capitol Reef NP, 7/2/12

Capitol Reef NP, 7/2/12

Escalante Petrified Forest SP, 8/1/12

When we went to Ireland a few years ago, we kept running across these brown signs that pointed out sites of interest. We got into the habit of hanging a last minute turn to go off and see something unplanned. This habit, which we have embraced, came in handy today during our drive up Rt. 12 from Bryce Canyon to Torrey. We found ourselves looking at piles of petrified wood after hiking up a plateau at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (after an unplanned sharp left). While there we had a nice chat with the girl at the gate and she highly recommended a drive down the Burr Trail, which we took. This led us down a nice road winding, climbing and falling through canyons until we came to a tiny slot canyon, which we explored. None of which we would have seen had we had a plan (we didn’t) and had we stuck to it (we wouldn’t have).

Anyway, we’re now in Torrey after a quick stop into Capitol Reef NP. Tomorrow is the park’s 75th anniversary, so we’ll help them celebrate before heading off to Salt Lake City and the end of this great road trip. We’ll be posting a more detailed account of these travels in the coming week or two, so stay tuned.

Slot Canyon 11.5 miles SE of Boulder UT, 8/1/12

View from Rt 12 about 15 miles South of Torrey, UT., 8/1/12

Capitol Reef NP, 8/1/12