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”.

Spring around Rockville

This is the time now when red cacti bloom in our area:

They are most prolific on the bench or mesa on top of Rockville, a “secret place” where Rockvillians go for their walks. And who can say they are not worth visiting and seeing?

The other positive thing about those trails on top – they are prepared for mountain bikes and very few bikes ride there. So it is nice to walk in nature by yourself, with no crowds or noises around. This time I walked with a second time guest from Chicago – Daniel Pyne. And here is what we reached:

It is on the very edge of the mesa over our house, over Rockville, over the winding Virgin river:

Up here it is Rockville, down?? here it is our house:

And here is our parking lot?? – a closer look?? -Andrei is filming me on the top :-):

This view is from another edge which is on top of Dan McGuire’s house, our house can’t be seen here, it is behind the mountain edge on the right. But someone’s pasture all under water is seen in this picture – that is how we irrigate:

It was scary to stand on the edge…Going back we walked through some?? rocks where mountain lions may well reside:

And also lots of petrified wood pieces, but one piece was especially big, entangled in sandstone:

And this is already my yard with tomatoes and peppers?? in pots and boxes – this spring is so unusually cold, it is still dangerous to plant them in the garden:

Tulips and hyacinths bloom so late this year:

And this is how I dress at home and meet my guests :-):

Easter hike – April 12th

I know I am late with my blogging about this hike, but the views were good, the trail was even better – so I still decided to share. It all started as usual?? – Adrian sent a message about the coming hike and several individuals as well as their dogs decided to celebrate Easter by challenging their muscles and getting more in touch with nature.

We drove Kolob Terrace Road to the first top valley and parked the cars by a sandy path on the right, leading through the fields towards very pretty looking rocks:

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Upon reaching the rocks we climbed up on a path done at some point by Mr. Lee who owns the land and lots of lands around. He has done it for his cows to lead them from one valley to another. As if someone mentioned that he had to blast the path in the rocks:

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I wonder if the poor cows see the beauty around them or they just are sad of the lack of food in this desert…

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Then we descended down to the valley downstairs and walked along a stream:

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The dogs had a blast in that stream , especially in the bath tubs which were supposed for the cows to drink…

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Not long after this dam we had to climb up – literally, on a steep slope on a slick rock:

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The view on my stop to catch a breath:

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There on the top there was a surprise – I love surprises and who doesn’t. It was a pond with water and swamp plants in it:

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We had our lunch here and the dogs had their fun. the view to the other side, the one we started from:

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That is it, we went down with no adventures. The celebration was over, life is simple.

A trip through Pastel canyon to East Rim Trail

Adrian led us, a bunch of locals, again to some interesting hike. It was the beginning of June, wonderful weather!?? By wonderful I mean – not hot, light cloudy skies, best for hiking. One could never wish for more in this desert…

We started in the upper part of our park and went up the Pastel canyon:

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Crows saw us off:

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And desert flowers met us on the way:

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The canyon got thinner and narrower:

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We needed to use ropes twice:

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We had to sneak through thick bushes and climb slippery sandy slopes:

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But we reached the top where the canyon joins East Rim Trail:

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Some of the last hard climb on the top:

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And there we had lunch. From that point there was no climbing any more, mostly descending, very lightly, very nicely, at first on a nice forest path:

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With abundance of flowers here and there:

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Then the forest opened up and disappeared in the back… but the flowers were still there:

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Doesn’t it look like a path to Eden?

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From there we could see our end point in the distance in the bottom of this canyon. But to reach that point – oh, it was a rather long walk – around and around the edges of canyons of which there is no lack in this country:

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Thanks God there were different interesting flowers on the way:

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Adrian says we walked totally 5 miles, but to me it seems we walked very long miles. Here is the finish line, with a cold bottle of beer (thanks to one of our fellow hikers):

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…………the end……….

May flowers by Amber Inn B&B

If you want to see our flowers at their best?? -May is the time to come. After that everything?? more or less fades till October, though there is always some plant in bloom. But not in abundance. What else can you expect in a desert…So here are our roses:

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Evenings are saturated with Honeysuckle smells…

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Here are the flowers that come from seeds every spring by themselves, I guess they are called volunteers. But we don’t know their more particular name:

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Finally – my husband’s favorites, the dragons as he calls them, they sit in front of our windows, catching insects:

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Slot Canyons in Zion’s East

If you enter Zion National Park from the West entrance, after crossing the Virgin river you find yourself doing switchbacks, back and forth until you reach a much higher level and can really enjoy the big picture of Zion mountains. There are some pockets by the road there for you not to slow the other traffic. And then you reach a tunnel which was exploded and created around 1928. Before that people would send mail or logs for houses on a cable connecting the top part of the area to the bottom of the canyon. Therefore one of the mountains here is called Cable mountain. So this tunnel was of great help for locals as well as travelers. Its length is 1.1 mi and it is pretty narrow. It has two lanes for sedan cars, but once those houses on wheels try to get through – they stop the traffic on one side. So sometimes when lots of people who can’t part with their houses travel here, there is a wait period before you can enter the tunnel. It is not so bad if you don’t rush because the views are magnificent. And then the tunnel has three holes-windows in the rock that are supposed to ventilate and give some light. But don’t plan to stop your car and look around through them. Once you get from the tunnel – there is a parking for a really cute trail – Canyon Overlook. I highly recommend it to everyone, it is only 1 mi round trip and is very diverse. But this time we decided to drive further from the tunnel and check the slot canyon on the right from the road. When it rains that canyon becomes a force of nature full of water. But as it is a desert here and it rarely rains, it is mostly a dry exotic path on the bottom of imaginary river with real fantastic walls:

The passage is sometime very narrow and those types of formations are called slot canyons.

At some places the canyon is so dark, gloomy and still have some water in deeper pools, that you have to find your way out to the top top and walk around those unpleasant places:

But then they open up again and there you can see trees growing and turning into fall colors:

It is usually much cooler in those slots than in the area around. Here and there you can notice the signs of the force of water when it rains:

Water and wind have created different forms in slots, arches being one of them.

There is a feeling of being a dust in the vastness of our Mother Nature:

Meanwhile on the high up walls winds are sculpting another arch. I am not sure how many millions of years it takes them to finish their job:

Those little maples are not the regular ones we are used to. And I am sure they are not the sugar maples, ether. They grow in the bottom of the canyon by this imaginary stream and have the form more like bushes, than trees. But nothing can beat their redness in autumn:

Once you get enough of slot canyons you can look for a less vertical slope towards the road and climb you way to there, to your car parked in one of the pockets. The other side of the road has also several interesting trails, which are not designated and are left wild for various wanderers to improvise their walks. It is usually by following the bed of a dry stream, tracking the waterways. One of such walks is called Many Pools trail. We didn’t have time to do it that day, just a little portion of it. It is late autumn and the sun is setting pretty early. Just two images of Many Pools:

For the end – a little pine that grows in a sandstone rock as seen from the road on this same Eastern part of Zion NP:

Zion Narrows

Summers are deadly hot here. Or so I perceive them. The only thing one can do in the park, to my opinion, is hiking the Narrows. Well, there are people who enjoy the heat after spending long and cold winters in the Midwest e.g., so I don’t argue with them. I am happy they can do some other trails in addition to the Narrows. But not me. In the temperatures of human body my body refuses to move… Zion Narrows is the only place you can expect to get some relief from summer’s sweltering heat. Not as much for the reason they are narrow, as the name says, and the sun is not baking the bottom all day long, but because first – you have to walk in the water, and also – there are plenty of places where ancient water that was rained long long ago is soaking through the sandstone walls and creating a natural swamp cooler. But before you get into the Virgin stream you have to suffer a little. You have to get onto the shuttle which is not air conditioned and though the drivers are very interesting in telling their stories about Zion NP, at the end of 45 min ride you start feeling sorry for them – to work all day in this heat…Good they manage not to turn into dried prunes.
Then you get out in the last stop which is called Temple of Sinawawa because there is a natural rock pulpit and an altar in the middle of the square surrounded by tall walls. Good thing there is a toilet there. After that – no water, no toilets, you have to think and organize your life around it. So you start walking from that point towards the depths of the canyon on a paved path – quite a comfortable one. It is 1 mile to the end of the path called Riverside Walk which ends with some stone steps landing to the rocky shore of the river. This is where crowds gather. The ones who prepare themselves for the hike, change their shoes if they have the better ones for river walk, or take off their shoes they are sorry to get wet, and the ones who don’t plan to hike into the river, just watch the hikers or sit on the bigger rocks and have their lunch:

Having that in mind and being already hungry we had our lunch before the very end of the path:
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Lunch in Zion

As you may see we were using our ski sticks for support in the water as well as gaining more speed on the even path.

Squirrels are spread out all over that path. They are not afraid of people and some are pretty fat. Which leads to a thought that maybe not all visitors sustain from feeding them which is forbidden…

Here is the beginning of the trail in the water. Yes, very crowded even on a regular weekday. I guess main reasons being school holidays and kids like water. But nevertheless there was enough space for everyone. No accidents, peaceful strolling up and down the river, with some kids swimming in deeper places. We tried to find shallow passages so that our butts don’t get wet, though the water wasn’t cold at all.

This is a very popular place for taking pictures – the stream rolling down the slope is very cute and refreshing. Sometimes you can even see the canyoneering people landing down the stream in zigzags while attached to ropes. This is also the place where the barefooted hikers finish their hike into the canyon.

But on that particular day the crowds proceeded further. And it was beautiful, but not as beautiful as getting far more deeper into the narrows of the canyon as you will see.

As seen in the pictures the sun was especially bright, which is usual here, but because it was July, not September, there was practically very little shade, it was beating us or caressing us (depending on perception), and a hot wind was blowing all through the canyon. So at that point I gave up, as never before, my body refused to walk further…way too hot even in the water. Thanks God my husband proceeded and he took those beautiful pictures of the narrows:

Isn’t it like in a fairy tale? And yes, there are no crowds any more, only the strongest can get a glimpse of the best views -fair like in fairy tales…

The view on the way back:

My sole advice for travelers in summer – try to start you day as early as you can. There is some though very little morning coolness, freshness. Try to capture and use it.

The end.

A trip to the Big Hole, Zion NP

This was on one of the first days of May. The spring here was wonderful, the main factor being the temperature- it was not too hot. Well, except some 4 days in the middle of May which caused some people heat rashes. But the beginning of May was fantastic and a group of locals as well as some visitors collected for a trip on the upper part of Zion NP. We parked the cars on the right hand side of the road approximately half way from the tunnel to the East entrance and proceeded down to the dry wash. And then up and towards a pass in between two red typical Zion peaks. Here is how it all looked:

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Lines of Zion…

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Towards the pass…

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Our group on the pass:

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A small stream on the way down to the other side of the pass towards the Big Hole:

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Still not the Big Hole, but a small one…

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At last – here is she!

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On top of the Hole we had our lunch:

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The leaders of the group – Adrian and Delores. Adrian’s way of getting his water during the trip…

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Spring in Rockville

Spring in Rockville is very beautiful. Especially this one, because we didn’t get the late frosts as usual which kill the tree blossoms. But i was a little cooler than usual, so everything started blooming later that usual. Anyway – from March to May it is a very good time to come the Zion NP and hike a lot! The temperatures almost never get to hot, they are in a comfortable range for hiking or working outside. And a spring breeze is cooling you constantly. However, there can be some rather windy parts of days. Also – there may even happen to snow once, as it was two years ago: March 15 th morning looked like this:

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This year it snowed on March 16th, but it wasn’t as impressive. But have in mind – those are the only one or second times during winter season that we see snow!

So if you are more into blooms and flowers – come no earlier than the end of March. The same pear tree you just saw under snow looks like this:

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And we have sunsets like that:

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Closer to the summer those sunsets get less red and impressive, because the sun sets in a different location in regards to the canyon direction. But we still have beautiful views around while evenings set down:

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WE have a fairy tale in Lithuania by Biliunas about “Cursed monks” who were punished and turned into stone figures because while going up and reaching for the torch of happines on the top of a mountain – they couldn’t sustain from doubts, fear and curiosity and looked back… The author definitely never visited this area, but I have never seen a mountain which would illustrate the tale better:

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And here are some blooms:

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Those are peach trees blooming:

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The irises come out later, only by the end of May:

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And please, don’t miss our sign almost all buried in flowers…

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Come and see for yourselves…

The end.