2017 – Colorado -Telluride and the way home to Utah

After our stay in Ouray we drove back to Ridgeway which is not in the mountains. but by the mountains. Then turned towards Telluride. Our B&B hosts told us to park by the edge of Telluride on the right. There is a free parking lot. Then you just walk into downtown, which seemed a little bigger that the towns we saw before. Restaurants, shops, as usual in a tourist and skiing town. But the biggest attraction is its free gondola! Nowhere else there is a free gondola as far as I have heard. Not one-  even two of them.  The first lift is very steep and a little scary. Then the gondola stops on the top of the mountain ridge: From there the mountain bikers are riding down. There is a restaurant there with good views. Then the gondola goes down to the other side of the ridge, to the Mountain Village, which is not a village in its classical sense, but a concoction of rich condos. On the way you see the ski tracks for the winter and the surrounding mountains: And once you get out of that gondola and you are not the one who stays in one of the condos  you do not have much to do there. So you go to another gondola, which takes people just over the tops of the condos to a food store-  what a way to go shopping! 🙂 You see the lavish life style in full swing under you and that is the attraction. I guess. Also – you can hike down from the food store-  the hike is not steep. So here you go – taking gondolas was our fun in Telluride. Once there -we drove to the very deep end of it and saw a peculiar thing-  a big house built very close to a waterfall on a steep cliff, with no roads leading to it-  I wonder?!I guess you have to stay in a town to fall in love with it.  But it would be hard to love so many towns :-).  So we drove out of Telluride and towards Cortez. Rt. 145 on the map is shown as a scenic road and it was. Very very scenic. But there we heavy clouds and we were tired, so we didn’t stop for every good view. However, we stopped in Rico – it has an authentic house turned into a hostel or a hotel – it was pleasant to walk in its empty corridors and hear the ghosts. It has a wild hot spring close by:But once we came – there was a company of 5 soaking in it. so the math didn’t work for us…So we drove to Cortez where hotels on its North side are much more expensive than the ones on the South side :-). We picked American Holiday Mesa Verde Inn – it was in front of the restaurant Mi Mexico – that we remembered from long ago – and it was a good choice! The hotel was very quiet and the restaurant served very good Mexican food! We wanted to go to Mesa Verde – but after some analysis figured out that we had no time for it-  it takes at least a day or two to see it well, the drives are long there and you have to take excursions if you want to see at least one of the ancient houses or towns, whatever they were. So we chose to visit Howenweep NM instead. Therefore the next morning we drove on a small road through the Canyons of the Ancients  NM and stopped and walked in one stop. Didn’t walk much –  had no time. But walking on this sandstone was pleasant and it would be a good idea to stay somewhere close by there and hike and hike:Because all this area is full of signs of Ancient Indians living there! Here is the Howenweep NM – it is a canyon where life flourished ages ago. They have a few structures still standing, as those Twin Towers, and a few mysteries still lingering:Then  the drive was long…We listened to a book about Albert Einstein, a really good one, but still. We saw Mexican Hat on the way and the the Monument Valley with the place on the highway where everyone stops and takes pictures. Why – because Forest Gump stopped his long run through the US exactly there! THen we noticed that the glorious Mittens of the Monument Valley are eroding, they have lost their ‘thumbs’ and do not look like mittens any more…But the rock that looks like a mountain from a fairy tale –  still looks inspiring:Then a little stop by this monstrosity of the Hydro power station of Lake Powel:And we returned home to our super hot summer, to our permanent irrigation and tending our peaches and tomatoes!

 

2017 -Colorado, from Utah to Paonia

Here in Southern Utah this summer is super hot. Being a temperature freak I register the top and bottom temperatures every day for 7 years. And they are rising… So to get some relief from this heat we did our usual once a week big irrigation, arranged some friends to irrigate sensitive areas and tomatoes in between the week and left for a 6 day trip towards the Colorado mountains. It is not a short trip. It took us a day and a half to get to the first views of them. As we left after 4pm  – we reached Calf Creek campground just a little East from Escalante town close to the sunset. On the way we checked if there are vacancies in Escalante motels, there were. Because usually the Calf Creek campground is full. This time it wasn’t, plenty of beautiful places with the creek making its soothing sound all through the quiet night. Yes, it was a hot day, a hot night, but bearably hot. So funny  -I am taking out our sleeping bags and all from the tent-  and the bottom of it where the mattresses were is hot! Here is our campground: The next day the driving was beautiful – again on Rt 12 -the very scenic Utah route, we passed through Boulder with its bird paradise lake, walked by it for a little rest:and then through Capitol Reef NP to Green River where everybody refuels and has lunch and further to Grand Junction. All the time temperatures outside were soaring  -up to 107F. So we didn’t even stop in any store , anywhere on our way except when we got to a cute town Hotchkiss. A book store with sculptures in front of it caught my attention:Because we were already tired, we stopped at the first motel that was on our way, Hotchkiss Lodge: It was a motel with breakfast, all clean, welcoming and owned by a Polish couple. There I looked that they are already have views of lower mountains. And the night there was already not hot at all, alas! The next day we drove towards Crested Butte via a small town Paonia and were stunned to see that some new Gaudi is living there:  There are creative people all over, not only in clusters, and that made me happy! There were also different kind of collections of transportation or agriculture devices: And so we proceeded towards Crested Butte, where the Wild flower festival was expected.

The end of 2013 in Zion

November was nice and warm. We used the sunny days to see some places close by,but that we never had time or chance to visit.?? The volcano in the nature reserve in Hurricane was one of them. Here is a mushroom – podaxis pistiliaris-?? I picked them after big rains at the end of August, in that same place, literally in the desert. Very tasty. This specimen came out very late, nobody could expect it to show up, therefore still there, almost dried up:

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The edge of the volcano and the?? caldera:_DSC0219

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Our next small walk was in Santa Clara, past St. George – at the very end of the town you get to the edge of the rising desert and see Santa Clara river way down:

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Then you walk along that edge and look into the?? rocks -and you are amazed – every other of them have ancient?? Indian?? petroglyphs of different varieties!

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DSC_0137This bank of the river is eroding and poor Indian petroglyphs, they are falling down into obscurity…or maybe poor us, who will not see them and appreciate them…

Our next trip was in Zion – Emerald pools. It is a very main stream trail, but Andrei bought a new camera and wanted to try it. First?? – The Middle pool, then the upper and the view of Zion canyon from the trail:

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So it seemed such a warm and nice late fall and the beginning of December, even butterflies enjoying our still blooming flowers outside:

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while a winter storm was just behind the corner! Oh December 8th a record amount of snow fell onto Zion and for a while it looked like never before!

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The magnificent Watchman!

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We came back form a trip and found our house like that?? -had to dig a path to the door! Never had in our 13 years of living here:

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Rockville street – they even had to invite a snow plough:_DSC0762

WP_20131211_006Here is Rockville community center during one of the coldest days ever.

 

Skiing in Brian Head, Utah

This winter?? we worked in our garden, orchard really hard to find at least one day of time and go skiing. The other thing we have to figure out before going – is the right weather. Because so many days here?? may be fine and sunny. Whereas over there, only 1.5 hours north from Zion – it may snow, the winds may be unbearable, etc.?? And it may also be very cold. The mountains in Brian Head are?? 9000 Ft height. Some even higher. So we figured only one day that suited us and it was February 7th, a day after Andrei’s Birthday, that is how he wanted to celebrate:

Even after finding one of the warmest days in February, it wasn’t very warm and the winds were fierce, especially closer to later afternoon.?? it takes us 10 min to sit on the chair lift until we get to the top of the mountain and boy those 10 min are cold and boring…One time I took the camera to take the pics from the whole trip up and down. Here are the views going up Navajo mountain (there is also Giants Steps mountain- another lift system):

The summit of Navajo Mountain:

The view from the summit. Red slopes of some lower mountains can be vaguely seen in the far distance, by them you know you are in Utah :

This is the beginning of the slope once you get from the lift:

Then you can take different trails, different directions, I prefer in the middle of the forest:

There are houses here and there, I bed real big lovers of skiing own them, and one of the owners was not lazy or had enough time to build this cottage on a hens leg from fairy tails like it belongs to a witch :

Then you dive under a bridge in the far end and the last part is really fun – steeper and also even, no bumps or pits, fantastic ski slopes I should say.

Not to walk to the bottom of the big ski lift we first take the small lift -?? for starters and kids, called Pioneer lift and from there we proceed down toward the start of the big Navajo lif. The Pioneer slope looks like this:

And the turn towards big lift is here:

And here a I am coming to the finish of the day:

The best time to ski in Brian Head to my mind is March and April until they stay open. But then during the day the snow can get wet. In February the slopes are wonderful, but you have to be very careful choosing the weather. Two years ago I remember going there from our sunny and warm Zion, buying tickets and managing to do only one landing…The snow storm and winds were unbearable…

P.S. I haven’t posted this till now, April 1st. And it is not April Fools :-). We were skiing in Brian Head yesterday, it was rather warm because we are havign a warm spell here in Utah, but the winds on the top of the mountain were still very strong, they even stopped us at certain parts of the trails and certainly didn’t let you go down fast. As my goal on a mountain is to train myself into better movements, more gracious and all, and Andrei’s goal is to get the excitement of going down fast – I was satisfied enough and he was not that much. And yes, the snow was already wet, but closer to the evening it got dry again.

It is nice to be there in Brian Head -you can leave your skis, nobody will take them, eat, have some rest by the central building on cozy benches, but one thing…Americans consider themselves clean people.?? They wash their hair every day.?? And here in Brian Head – every time I sit to eat by the table outside – some families especially with babies -?? they put their shoes, boots on the tables!!! and one of them goes skiing, the other takes care of a baby, but the boots stay the whole time on the table. As if someone will kick their boots from the floor, as if the boots don’t belong to a floor…or at least – a bench, which I also am doubtful if they do…but on the same table where we put food, where we put a book to read…The same boots with which they go through the dirty pavements – snow melted, so roads are really dirty with all the remnants of salt and black dirt; boots?? with which they go to the bathroom.?? I am really shocked at that and even if I tell them about it-?? they don’t care, never take their boots off the table as if they are some precious sculpture. This is not one case already, makes me sad. But maybe there is something in some of their culture (not to offend the clean and neat ones that I also met in bigger numbers, thanks God)- I remember my roommates in Maine were keeping their shoes on their beds…The only positive part – they usually collect after their dogs, unlike in Europe, but I am wondering-?? why some people are super scared of bacterias, of contamination, while others are supplying them on eating surfaces without any reason at all.

(This was an interruption of my writings about Spain. Expect them to be continued in my next Blog.)

 

 

How we met the New 2011 Year

It is so late to talk about it, but because I got some good pictures from a professional photographer Nathan Wotkins, who happened to be in the dancing hall in St. George the last hours of 2010 and saw us there dancing, I am posting the pics.

But first of all I have to say that the new year celebration in St.George, Utah, just 45 min away from our Rockville, is the best i ever participated at.?? Well, not counting some two celebrations with my wonderful creative full humor friends I had in Lithuania long ago…They used to call the celebration The First Night – which is not right, because it is the last night in reality. This year they changed the name into From Twilight to Midnight. Whatever the name – this can happen only in a Mormon country – where else can there be so many volunteers willing to work, stand by the event doors, organize, sell tickets – from 7 pm to 12 am of December 31st. All in order for the families, kids, teenagers, loners to have a good and safe time. No alcohol, of course! But nobody checks the breath :-). It is a street celebration, held in the very heart of St. George – the Main street. The Art gallery in the North is one end of events and the Art center in the south is the other. between them there are other commercial galleries, all open late till the owners feel that nobody is coming, there is a city square with several stages fro rock concerts. comedy shows, drumming pavilion, magic shows, etc. We started this year from?? the Art Gallery – a pianist playing created a pleasant atmosphere to observe our friends’ Ann Weiler Brown’s, Pearle Meadows and just acquaintance’s Royden Card’s abstract colorful arts. Wonderful! Then we drove (though it is very close 🙂 to the Arts center and there we?? were very busy running from the first floor to the second floor up and down – to watch shot festival movies and to dance in the big dancing hall, with an orchestra playing and very few dancers dancing. Where else can one have such a luxury? And all that for only $5 per person! No crowds to park the car or leave the celebration – no traffic, no hazard. The short movies we saw were very good as creative pieces and also as good breaks from dancing. We are not that young or have that much permanent training to dance non stop :-). So here we were, dancing…

To keep matters straight, the first two pics we did ourselves with our camera. the last ones are taken by Nathan, who has a beautiful photo gallery on the Main street , quite close, he got tired of staying in the gallery and therefore came to have some fun, which for him, I guess, is taking more pictures :-). You can see his nature pics on his web site: www.wideangleart.com . He also has a print shop right there where anyone can get ones photo art printed in professional manner and in big formats (www.print-it-shop.com).

So if you want some “not-a -wild” but cozy fun with contents for your next New year celebration – come to St. George!

The end of 2010

After enjoying the best colors of our November in Utah I visited Lithuania, my home country, had a lot of tasty meals (especially the ones my mom cooked), nice talks with friends and relatives, enjoyed the snow and the whiteness of the surroundings there, which is not so pleasant for drivers. Got used to cold, which never left the country after it gripped on the last days of November. And here I returned back to Utah on the night of 21st of December, luckily with no major delays, right into the clouds reaching the ground in Las Vegas! Never before have I seen such a phenomenon. My husband, while meeting me there, took this picture from the Flamingo hotel towards the City Center (Aria, etc.):

Never before…

The next morning we drove to Bellagio (the best way to go around Las Vegas, even if it is a short distance – is to drive, then you don’t get annoyed by poor Mexicans handing the pictures and phone numbers of naked women “with low social responsibility” as one of our friends calls them; and parking in Vegas is free and it is easy to get from them to casinos).?? The Christmas?? flower and tree exposition in the Atrium was beautiful as usual – one can argue about the beauty of the whole concept, but the abundance of flowers, some cute decors make it really worth seeing (and they change it 7 times a year):

There were Polar bears made from carnations…so many flowers were beheaded and kept being beheaded for they wilt and the workers there fix the wilted parts every day.?? How to get such a job?:

As if it is not enough of the abundance of poinsettias there were amaryllis buds coming out to bloom soon.

By the reception area of Bellagio there are always big flower arrangements like this one (I always try not to miss them):

And then we drove home to Southern Utah with the Virgin River roaring on the side of our road -RT 15:

It had unusual amounts of water and the mountains in the Gorge were “crying” with bridal veil waterfalls. Here is what we saw once we got to Rockville:

Our friends’ Browns’ (Alan is the Mayor of our town) property was so flooded that they had people help them take the chickens out of water , they lost their pasture and a big part of their grape-yard. After this ordeal the river just changed its course and now their property turned into a riverside front?? property…I don’t know whether it is better or worse for the value of the property, but certainly it got very bad for their three lamas:

So they had to stay on their porch for a while and then were taken for vacation in Escalante.

Here is how the river changed its course. it used to be behind?? the sandy beach and that line of bushes, no one could see it from this bank:

And this is how it looked a day before when all the residents form the river side properties were told to evacuate:

The pink color is not some exotic flowers, it is the failing of our old camera to do its job well, maybe it also got tired of the 5 day lasting rains. Here is how the flood looked just before one enters Rockville at our neighbors’ property:

And this is what it did to their road:

So the New Year’s Party at their house was canceled.

Then we had a very nice Christmas Eve with all 12 dishes in Lithuanian tradition and Christmas Carols in American tradition:

I expect our friends form here would be glad to see Ruth smiling and with her naked shoulder 🙂

Alison introduced a new tradition – to lit candles for everyone we would like to be here with us:

and we liked it a lot, but we didn’t prepare a tripod for taking the picture with this little light:

then some normal days passed and again a rainy one which ended in big frosts and snow. So the morning of the 29th of December was marvelous, we never get this much white in our area:

Mount Kinesava. Lower: a view from the Rockville cemetery hill towards our Main street:

From our garden towards Lyon’s pasture:

Our friends came to see Zion and I felt bad?? – one day they had rain, the others – terrible frost with all the trails in Zion NP closed. So at least we very carefully drove to Grafton (the first time during our stay here the roads were covered with ice ), where “Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid” (classical western) was filmed long ago:

And I’ll finish this Blog with the funniest Christmas Picture I got this year:

This is our Lithuanian friend Stephen Burzgulis who used to live in Springdale and now lives in San Diego, has done a lot of research about Afghanistan, has created a very good song about it and even learned how to make a Pashtun head cover (my guess – from his curtain :-)) and sent his best regards from “high mountains”.

Our Autumn in Rockville

It was a busy season since August started.?? Besides the boring and never ending irrigation, lots of good guests (which was wonderful!) -?? peaches were brutal this year.?? So many…to thin them, to support branches, to pick, to freeze, to give away, to try to sell. Our kitchen was permanently overstuffed with boxes of peaches… And me making jams…

The two apple trees that we planted some 6 years ago were also loaded, but because we never spray them with neither chemicals, nor organic stuff – they were very much inhabited by worms, so we got a reasonable number of apples for our consumption:

We also had figs, pomegranates, pears and right now before the frosts I picked persimmons. Quite a lot, I would say.

Here they are before the frosts:

And after the frosts:

They are very decorative and very sweet, it is the best fruit to my taste. The figs also had lots of baby figs but the frosts got them. here is the inside of the fig bush just before the leaves were crinkled and down:

You can see a little fig on the right upper corner. The leaves are very sharp, harsh, I can’t imagine how Adam and Eve wore them as they were.?? I would have looked for a softer leaf for that purpose.

My garden also produced, but far from being abundant:

I used a lot of lama manure in winter and spring for the garden, but it didn’t seem to work well. From the 40 tomatoes I planted – we had enough only for the two of us -is it a lot? The cherry yellow ones were the best producers, with one individual expanding to a record size by late autumn, so that I felt sorry to leave him for the frosts to kill and was covering with blankets and jackets during nights for a while. But once the frost hit minus 4-8C?? -I gave up. So now we have a lot of green tomatoes :-). And here is a sweet Italian pepper which was more decorative than useful:

On the 24th of November we woke to such a magnificent morning:

Our street:

Our pear turned red only that night.

Most of our trees didn’t change colors, their leaves dried on the branches and are falling off now in big quantities. We can hardly catch up with raking and burning them. Thanks God there are those cottonwoods by Virgin river and around town – at least they turned yellow and we had some autumn colors. But they are fading fast… the unusually early frosts…

A Trip to Glacier NP-1.Ely

They say it is not safe to write about your trip while you are on it, so here we go – we managed to get out of our home , garden, irrigation, cats and fish two weeks ago – and travel for 6.5 days North. To cool off. So we headed towards St. George in order to start the cooling process – to dip into the emerald Quail Creek lake as it is shown in my previous Blog. Then we drove towards Nevada border, towards Enterprice.?? And on the way – here was the Mountain Meadows Massacre site…A very sad place.?? Though?? the valley is beautiful:

Here in 1857 a group of some 150 people from Arkansas stopped for a rest on their tiresome way to California, at that time – a land of opportunity. They met the Mormons who lived close by and asked for their permission to rest for a couple of weeks. Even gave them a good horse for that.?? There are several books written about the case but they all have the same conclusion – the Mormons killed those innocent people, except for several kids who were not of 8 years or up. There is something in their religion that forbids killing young kids…I wish there was something that forbid killing, period…Why? I guess even the nowadays Mormons are not quite sure, they explain it in fear, but isn’t fear the main cause of all the killing in the world??? Not to expand on the subject – this is the darkest spot in Mormon history. they built a monument on the grave sites, but…On that monument they as if praise themselves – the Church built and dedicated the monument, preserves it…but the fact that they killed and even the number of people killed – is not reflected on it. Also – a note: the killings were very brutal, happened at night and the killers pretended they are Indians. dressed like them and painted their faces like them…

It sais that it happened on September 11, 1857!?? Another 9/11… And like Alcaida – the Mormon Church never said: “Sorry”…

Then we drove and drove for some 4 hours over a mountain range, then through Nevada and reached Ely, the first city on the Loneliest Highway in America, that goes through Nevada West-East. It is an interesting city as all of the very few on that road. It has a grandeur in its past, the grandeur of a mining town. But the mining is almost gone, the gambling is also not very big there, far from metropolitan areas, it is depressed. We stayed in its biggest hotel – wow – 6 story high!, called Hotel Nevada. The hotel was the first such a tall building built in Nevada in 1929.?? Before all the hotels were built in Las Vegas.?? In its time it had prominent visitors such as Lyndon Johnson, the president of the USA, Ingrid Bergman, the actress and many more celebrities from the entertainment business. Including Stephen King who came here in search of the three ghosts who live in the hotel. I wonder if he met them, we didn’t.

A view from our window and our room:

Rooms are not big, but cozy, furnished in old style, but the facilities are modern and clean. It was funny to see this flat screen TV in our room. The lobby and corridors have a lot of character created by Wild West artifacts:

Though I am very much against killing animals those chandeliers looked very impressive:

I hope they are made from shed horns…

There used to be a bigger collection of miniature scenes of various activities people were doing here, but at least there are still some 4 left:

I guess this is a jail guard working hard.

A farmer.

A bar.

I am not sure if we went to this or another bar for beer…But here is the Woman’s bathroom door in that bar:

I specifically checked the door on men’s bathroom – there was nobody peeking…:-)

And in the morning I walked the meditation labyrinth with all those abstract statues or constructions around:

While two crows were kissing endlessly on the opposite roof:

From there we drove up towards Idaho, Twin Falls.