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.

Our June in Rockville

I decided to post the main events of each month once. At the end of the month.?? Unless we go onto some exciting trip…

So here we go – we went for an overnight stay in Vegas, the beginning of June. It was so hot…like in an oven. But we wanted to have a little break between guests, gardening, irrigation and sitting by computer (the last one is obviously not applied to me). Besides swimming in the pool at ours now liked Tuscany Suites we visited Bellagio with its excess of flowers, as always:

Had a curious glimpse at the chocolate bar there (we don’t indulge – it is unhealthy…) – the eagle is made of chocolates:

And the rest of the evening we spent walking and admiring or just wondering under this super modern architecture in the newly built City Center:

We almost bumped into this construction once we entered The Crystals – the shopping area over there… At first it was hard to understand what it was. Then we saw a restaurant in the middle wider part of it and a reception desk in the bottom part:

Because it looked so bizarre, we took one more picture from another angle-?? maybe that will reveal its beauty better..:

And here are shapes of their ceilings – wherever you look at – it is intriguing:

And the floors:

And the decors on the floors:

there was an island of glass tubes with colorful hurricanes in them:

You could walk around them, touch them and get the feeling of the humid air they were emanating.

On a different note – when the weather cooled off for several days we went on a Coal Pits trail which has a positive feature to be not popular among tourists. There some rather exotic plants were blooming:

Also we had a lot of blooming around our house:

Which leads us to another adventure – the King snake:

Here she is trying to climb a tree and find birds’ nest…She didn’t find on this tree but found on a bush by our door and that was really sad…I noticed finches flying desperately around the bush, we both came out to see what is going on and until we noticed her in the bush – it was too late… So all Andrei did was heroically catch the snake with a stick and place it into a bucket, cover it,?? we then relocated it to its natural habitat called desert. For God’s sake, why are they coming to peoples’ gardens, is it safe enough for them? I don’t think so. There are worse ways of getting rid of those pretty but not very friendly creatures.

And finally – while on the way to St. George for once a week shopping we picked cherries in M&I Farm in Hurricane. This is the main fun of June! Their cherry orchard is huge:

This year the crop was big?? -when I saw how many cherries were hanging on the branches – I thought they could feed all Utah citizens and still have more left.?? They have ladders, buckets prepared for picking. It was a pleasure to see such abundance and to pick them:

To tell the truth lots of them went to waste…left for the birds to feast on. Not enough demand for them…

Here is the Quail Creek lake at the end of Hurricane – it is a reservoir, but of very beautiful green color amidst the red mountains and a very good place to swim and cool off before diving into the shopping frenzy in St. George:

the end.

Thailand 2010 – its old capital Sukhothai

Sukhothai means “the dawn of happiness” and holds a unique place in Thailand’s history. Until the 13th century most of Thailand consisted of many small vassal states under the thumb of the Khmer Empire based in Angkor Wat. But the princes of two Thai states combined forces and in 1238 marched on Sukhothai where one of them defeated the Khmer garrison commander in an elephant duel. Installed as the new king of the region he founded a dynasty that ruled Sukhotai for nearly 150 years. Through military and diplomatic victories they expanded their kingdom to include most of the present-day Thailand and the Malay peninsula.

By the?? mid -14th century Sukhotai’s power and influence had waned, and Ayutthaya, once a vasal state, became the capital of Thai kingdom. Sukhotai was gradually abandoned to the jungle. If it wasn’t for a 10-year restoration project, started in 1978 and costing more than $10 mln., there wouldn’t have been the Sukhothai Historical Park:

We took a regular bus from Chang Mai city Arcade Bus station and it took us about 6 h to reach destination. If Bangkok is 700 km from Chang Mai, Sukhotai is 427 km north of Bangkok, almost in the middle of our return way to BKK. Which means that it takes 6h in a bus to cover 270 km…Pretty slow drive…Though the roads are not bad but sitting there on the second floor of that double bus you feel like you are hardly moving. The tickets cost around 300bt each. It is two times more than the price of the tickets you buy in Khao-San road. But in that case you can buy only for certain destinations and keep contact with them in order to know where are their buses leaving from. The prices for transportation there don’t bite at all, wherever you buy them. And you get better rides for more expensive tickets. lets say – the trip from BKK to Chang Mai was in a bus without shocks…12 hours of bumping…

This particular bus entered the area just through the Old town Sukhothai – where the history was. Once of a sudden the old stupas appeared here and there close to the road side. That was it, we left the bus and went to look for the hotel tat our Canadian friend recommended: Old City Guest house. It was worth staying there. The guest house rooms were built around a cozy square:

with the little altar in the middle – in case someone wants to please the Gods, the room was big, clean, comfortable bathroom and shower. After spending a week with a shower poring directly onto you toilet and having the floors wet for a while there – it was wonderful to have a spacious bathroom with a separate shower place. It was like a little center – with several hotels, restaurants, shops and bike rental places (the main city is 9 mi away):

Bicycles are especially popular there while trying to see all parts of the Historical capital. It is a pity we didn’t experience them and left it for the next time. It was a very pleasant stay, very good meals in the nearby restaurant Coffee Cup, nice people, good atmosphere. The park entrance was close by that little town center. Although the sun was setting I still eagerly went to see the ruins that were spread wide in the vast parks – I wouldn’t call them jungle, would you?:

Maybe that is what the restoration?? effort turned the jungle into -a spacious park.

The weather there was clearly more humid than in Chang Mai and it was hard to breathe or move fast even in the very late evening. But there were almost no people, one miserable pregnant and very hungry cat – she had only one eye…, lots of hungry but peaceful dogs and the darkness setting onto the trees and temple ruins:

It is hard to imagine the grandeur of the city in its golden age…Harder to understand why people abandon so many already built buildings and go somewhere else to strive for survival and build again…Still they don’t quite abandon those temples here – there are fresh candles and offerings.

A new temple surrounding an old stupa in the town center – there is a Buddha’s foot print under?? glass in it:

The hardest part in Sukhothai was to find a bus stop to go to BKK…Funny, isn’t it? I asked everyone, then checked a little map of the town on a building that looked like a bus station?? -we waited there because the map said that this is the bus stop. it never stopped. It was evidently a block down – by some shop – no logical reason to understand – why was it in such a place??? So we missed our bus, had to take their songthaew – that crazy “animal wagon” to get to the New City Sukhothai to a real and big bus station and from there we tried to reach Ayutthaya, but the bus stopped some 6 km from the city and it was our last evening, so we decided to stay on the bus and reach BKK, our belloved Khao San road and feel a little more of its atmosphere. Actually it is not the Khao San Road that we liked, but other roads in that area, that I even don’t remember their names. There is like a cirkle of them behind a temple, that faces Khao San road, towards Phra Artit road – a very lively, cozy, backpackers’ area:

You don’t have the big city feel there. So the next morning I walked a little towards the Kings palace in the streets I already know buying still some presents and nice things and off we left to the BKK airport which is very modern:

but also has Thai decors:

beautiful modern spaces:

And flew back home via Taipey in Taiwan:

Los Angeles, and believe it or not – Salt Lake city…:

Once we reached LA – the plane was late by half hour, then we had to take our bags. check through customs and run like crazy to another terminal. So we ran…like crazy…Over there after going through their security we found out that our seats to Las Vegas were sold…Big disappointment after 3 hours flight to Taipey and 12?? hours to LA…Luckily they gave a a hotel room, so we rested and early morning rushed for a flight to SLC, then another flight to Las Vegas. which was also delayed…A very long and not easy trip home…But in a week I recovered and already wanted to go back :-).