Saturday, October 27, 2012

September 26, 2012 15 hours, 340 miles, 3 scenic byways, 2 state parks,1 national park,1 national monument

"Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
and when I lose my direction I'll look up to the sky
and when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I'll be ready to surrender, and remember
well we're all in this together
If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die"
- 'The Once And Future Carpenter' by The Avett Brothers

 "So saddle up your horses and keep your powder dry, because the truth is you won’t be here long, soon you’re going to die. So to the heart, to the heart, there’s no time for you to waste, and you won’t find your precious answers by staying in one place, by giving up the chase. I face the horizon, everywhere I go. I face the horizon, the horizon is my home." - 'The Road' by Frank Turner

We started long before sunrise today because we have a long drive across and down the state of Utah. Sure we could have driven along the interstate highways but what fun would that be. There are way too many cool places to visit along our chosen route...three scenic byways, seven state parks, five national parks, a national monument and two national forests. Read on to see where we stopped along the way.
 First stop the highly recommended Goblin Valley State Park. Besides my cousin Patty, a chef I met at Lollapalooza also told me that I must stop here when in Utah. Later on this trip the park rangers at Cedar Breaks NM were very impressed that we stopped here. Like most of what we've seen on this trip, it is worth the visit because this place looks so different than anywhere else I've been.

 After a quick stop along the road past the park's entrance...
...we stopped at Valley 1 to walk among the "goblins".


 I lost Mike among the goblins... I headed down the Entrada Canyon Trail.

 Still no Mike at the end of the trail, so I took it back to the parking lot.

 While shooting pictures at the parking lot...
 ...I found Mike coming back from the Carmel Canyon Trail..
 ...when he hiked through the Entrada Canyon Trail, he took the Curtis Bench Trail to the end, then cut across his own trail to the parking lot...
 ...when he didn't see me...he hiked the Carmel Canyon Trail...
...where he ran across this local, who just hissed at him. Mike thinks it was a badger and a quick check on the Internet proves him right.
Playing with the fish eye lens before heading to our next adventure.
 A quick stop along Hwy 24 for the scenery...
...and to stretch our legs.
Our next stop...a National Park I had never even heard of before planning this trip.
An Historic Landmark...pull this car over right now!
While I relaxed at street level reading about the Behunin Family, Mike climbed up to a cave in the mountain side.
Easily the most scenic backyard I've seen in a long time.
 A family of ten lived in this makes the tenements on New York's Lower East Side seem luxurious.

 We decided to hike to the Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park.
 The hike started uphill from the Fremont River...

 ...across a lava field...
 ...then into a wide canyon...
 ...where Mike hid here and laughed at me when I walked by...
 ...finally to Hickman's Bridge.

 Finally got some blue skies... least in one direction.

 Capital Dome

 After Capitol Reef , we drove across the Awapa Plateau in the Dixie National Forest on Route 12.
 At the higher elevations, the fall colors were abundant.
 Then a quick stop at the Anasazi Village State Park...
 ...where the ruins of one of the largest Ancestral Puebloan communities west of the Colorado River, known as the Coombs Site, is believed to have been occupied from AD 1160 to 1235 and may have housed as many as 200 people.

This building is a replica of the ruins surrounding it.
 Next up was the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument...
 ...and a very scenic drive along Route 12... the Calf Creek Recreation Area.
We hiked to the Lower Calf Creek Falls.

 There is something about waterfalls, it might be the beautiful location, the effort it takes to get to most of them...whatever it is...I always seem so relaxed at a waterfall... was no exception. After taking some pictures, I sat on the sand and enjoyed the relaxing sounds of falling water.

 Scenes from the hike back to the car...
 ...which included a very interesting conversation about America with a German guy that has spent two weeks hiking in America's southwest by himself.

We got back to the car as the sun began setting. After dinner at a cowboy bar in Escalante where a local guitar player entertained us with a selection of songs that fit perfectly with our day, we drove the last 120 miles to Kanab. On the drive I was thinking how incredible this trip has been so might be impossible for the rest of the trip to live up to the first half. That thought was proved wrong by the end of the next of the most unforgettable days of my life.