The Natural State

Everyone has those times in their lives when everything is so chaotic they can’t remember what day it is.  When you’re getting ready one morning and realize the entire week has passed and the last memory you had was from two weeks ago because everything since then is one gigantic blur.  So you neglect things.  Important things, like eating for example.  Or sleeping.  Or your blog.  Well, for me, this isn’t one of those times.  I’m eating plenty thank you.  I haven’t missed a meal, snack, semi-snack, or satisfied munchies in quite a while.

Anything less than 9 hours of sleep is unacceptable and don’t forget naps during the day.  I’m turning into a cat.  Well, except for bathing myself with my tongue and coughing up hairballs.  So why is it again that I’m negleting this blog?  I dunno.

I’m going to copy off myself and post pictures from my photoblog on here.  I took these over the Thanksgiving weekend when I went hiking at Petit Jean National Park.  It’s crazy that I love nature photography and Arkansas is the natural state.  But in all my years of growing up here this was my first time to ever go hiking here in Arkansas.  Go figure.

Over the Weekend

Last Friday my oldest sister and my nephew flew down for a quick visit before heading on to visit my other sister in LA.  It’s been a little over a year since I had seen either of them and I have to say I was more than a little excited.  They got here Friday afternoon and on Saturday we went to an Aloha Festival that’s held every year here in the valley.  If you’ve ever been to Hawaii this is pretty much like going to the swap meet at the stadium (except here the prices for things were out of control) and then going over to the PCC in the afternoon to watch the outdoor shows.  The performances were phenominal:

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but in addition to seeing the dancing we unfortunately also saw this:

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I’m pretty much speechless in regards to the mullett and as for the bride, there were tons of men dressed up in wedding dresses all over downtown Tempe.  Something to do with the Brides of March.  I have no clue what that is but…well, there you go.

Since my sister and nephew were coming from Illinoise they wanted to spend as much time as  possible in the sun so one day we decided to go on a “hike”.  I write it like that because I think round trip the whole thing was a grand total of a mile…maybe.  But we hiked up to the “A” they have on the side of some giant hill that stands for ASU:

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We also went to downtown Phoenix to the Science Museum and watched a laser light show that was done to the music of U2.  I’m not an overly big U2 fan but it was still pretty cool – even though it did make me a little dizzy at one point.  Good thing I don’t get motion sick easily.

We also did a little bit of shopping, visited with some friends of my sister, played tennis, went swimming (no, I still don’t have a new swimsuit), and did a little more sightseeing around Mesa.  Yesterday we drove to Blythe, CA to meet Pammy-Girl so my oldest sister and nephew could be on their way to LA.  Blythe is sort of the half way point between Mesa and Santa Monica and the town was pretty much made up of one street.  I wish the visit could have been longer – especially the one with all of us in Blythe but it was getting late and we each had a few hours drive back.  But I have to say I had a great time and to my sister and nephew, thanks for coming and I hope you come to visit me again soon!

Thanksgiving in Moab

Ok I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about this past weekend but without further ado here it is:

Wednesday:

Instead of leaving at three in the afternoon like we had originally planned, we were on the road by 12:30.  I guess we were both anxious to just get going and I know that I at least, did not want to be at work anymore.  It’s only a three hour drive down and the ride went pretty fast.  No need for any of the books on tape and I was very happy that she drove her car.  Usually I end up being the driver which I don’t mind most of the time.  But her car gets better gas mileage and I didn’t want to put the miles on mine.  Anyway, we got to Moab about 3:30 and checked into our motel.  If you ever make your way down to Moab I do recommend The Inca Inn.  It was a simple, basic room that was clean and they provided a simple breakfast every morning that among other things, consisted of homemade bread, muffins, and sweet rolls.  Yum!

There really wasn’t much we could go do at this point.  The sun was going to be setting soon so hiking was out of the question.  We decided to walk around the great town of Moab (ha! It’s pretty much only one street long) but unfortunately we discovered that everything shuts down at 5:00.  We were feeling kind of hungry so we decided to stop at a bakery that we had passed when we had first parked.  I have to say my mouth was already drooling at the idea of fresh bread and hot chocolate.  Only when we got to the store, we noticed through the windows there wasn’t any bread.  That’s when I looked up and noticed the sign didn’t say bakery it said barkery.  Yep, it was a dog store.  Lovely.  So instead we ate at a place called Eddie McStiff’s.  I just got a burger and fries which were pretty good.  We headed back to our room and watched TV.

Thursday:

We woke up to rain and fog but decided to go up to the parks anyway.  We bypassed Arches National Park and headed up to Canyon Lands.  The fog was pretty thick and you could only see about 100 feet or so in front of you.  We got to the entrance toll booth and no one was there but there was a sign saying to pay at the visitor’s center.  But when we got to the visitor’s center it was closed and wouldn’t open for another hour.  So I said we should just go through anyway and pay on the way back.  No big deal.  So we went on to Mesa Arch and were taking pictures when a ranger shows up about a half hour later.  My friend asks him if the visitor’s center was going to open at all that day because it was Thanksgiving and that we still needed to pay.  I realize she was trying to be honest and do the right thing but why she volunteered that information I don’t know.  The ranger had no idea we hadn’t paid until she told him.  It was at that point when the guy turned into quite a douche.  Apparently there was some machine at the toll booth we should have used blah, blah.  We didn’t see it.  So he gets her name and info and tells her to make sure we stop at the visitor’s center on the way out and that he’ll check to make sure we did and if we didn’t he would send her a citation.  We kind of joked about that which I don’t think he appreciated very much.  I guess wounded his ego a little because he puffed up his feathers and said that by not paying it was a misdemeanor which is a felony punishable by up to 6 months in jail.  Um, yeah ok bub.  Pretty sure they only incarcerate when you have a fine of $5,000 or more.  Doubt the $10 entrance fee qualifies.  My friend was asking him about the weather and I’m not sure if it was because she was generally curious or was trying to soften him a little but I had long since turned away and continued with my picture taken.  As far as I was concerned he was dismissed.

We left Mesa Arch and the Canyon Lands (yes we did stop to pay our fee) and went on to Arches.  We stopped at a few little hikes (walks from the car) to look at stuff and take pictures.  Then we decided to go ahead and hike Devil’s Garden.  We started out and for the first mile or so you’re on an open trail and the hike up to this point isn’t very strenuous at all.  Then the dirt trail ends and you walk up this

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Only it was rainy and very slick.  As we watched a couple attempting to come back down we decided we would wait and tackle it the next day.  So we turned around and headed back out which was a good thing because the rain picked up and by the time we made it to the car we were pretty wet and cold.  Since the fog was still pretty thick we just headed back to town.  It was only 2:00 in the afternoon and for the rest of the day/night we just watched TV or read.  We did venture out for dinner and ended up with Chinese.  It was so so.

Friday:

It was still overcast and had been raining all night but again, we headed out anyway.  We decided to go back to Devil’s Garden and attempt the hike again.  Luckily the rocks weren’t really wet so we went for it.  It’s a pretty cool view once you get up there and walk out on a fin.  There are actually a few different arches to see once you get up the rock wall and there weren’t a lot of people out there which was nice.  On the way back, however, throngs of people were making their way up.  One group had three guys that looked to be about our age.  I guess they didn’t want to stay at the arch too long with all the other people (when we were there only moments before, we had the place to ourselves) so before we knew it they had doubled back and had almost caught up to where we were.  There are a handful of areas on the hike where you have to wait for people to pass before you can.  Before I knew it, she was going as fast as she could down because she didn’t want to be at any area when these guys showed up because she didn’t want their help getting down (assuming they would bother to offer).  I’m all for doing things on my own and not being overly needy on a guy to get things done but for heavens sake, I also didn’t want to slide down the rocks and break my leg.  We made it back to the above picture and going down was looking like it was going to be worse than going up.  So instead of trying to hustle our way down before the guys showed up, I said we would just wait for them to pass.  Besides there were now other people coming up and we were going to have to wait anyway.  The guys made their decent down and when they were about half way we started ours.  Funny thing watching them.  They were sliding down on their butts and as my friend and I made our way down we almost caught up with them.  It wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated and maybe we should have offered them our assistance instead.

We kept hiking at different spots and now they all run together into one big hike.  I do know that we started hiking around 8:30 that morning and didn’t get back to the hotel until around 6 that night.  The clouds had begun clearing and the sunset that night was phenomenal.  In town we ate dinner at a place called The Broken Oars.  I got a BBQ burger and I must have been hungry because I ate the whole thing before my friend finished half her wrap and before the girl next to us finished half of her burger. And she got hers before I got mine.  It was pretty tasty.

Saturday:

This was the day we had set aside to climb delicate arch.  The clouds had parted more and you could see the blue sky.  The sky was a beautiful blue until, you guessed it, we got just outside of the Delicate Arch turnoff.  The clouds were so thick again you couldn’t see out very far.  So we turned around and decided to hike a few of the little ones we had done the day before, kind of to waste some time.  Amazingly the sky was perfect at these other arches and it was great for pictures.  After about an hour and a half we went back up to Delicate.  It was still foggy but we decided to hike it anyway rather than keep waiting.  The first part was no biggie.  Then you climb solid rock for what felt like a mile but it was probably only half a mile or less

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Somehow the pictures don’t make it as daunting as it felt.  These were taken on the way down because on the way up, it was so cloudy you could only see a few feet in front of you.  Once you got to the top it was open and flat for a little bit and then you had to walk along a ledge that reminded me of a cartoon

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But once you come around the corner the view is totally worth it

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Up that high, the clouds were awesome.  And we timed it just right because about a half hour after we reached the top the clouds had disappeared and it was a perfectly clear, sunny day.  We sat up there for a little while before making our way back.  We had wanted to go up there at sunset but because of the fog the day before and the fact that it was only noon we decided we would just have to do it another time.  So we headed back to the car and back home.

I ended up taking about 750 pictures and editing around 90.  I posted a handful of those here so feel free to take a look.

A Little Scenic Nudity and Some Cows

This past weekend I went to a few different spots to go hiking.  The weather was wonderful and with winter quickly approaching I have to take advantage as much as possible before it’s too late.  One of my friends had read about some natural hot springs about 15 minutes from where she lives so we thought we would check it out.  I had no clue there were hot springs in the Utah valley but apparently there are.  Anyway, we make our way to the trail and are ready to start our trek upward when I notice this sign at the foot of the trail:

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In the first paragraph is says that we may have to yield to cattle.  Really are you serious?  Cattle up here hiking?  Uh…that’s weird.  And would be scary because the trail isn’t that wide and has drop offs so I’m not sure how you would yield and/or maneuver to get out of their way.  And scary because I’m not a country girl and am not sure how I would do being so close to apparent wild cattle.  I don’t even like milk for heaven’s sake.

But it was the last paragraph that really caught my attention.  Nudity is NOT prohibited on Forest Service Trails.  Again I ask, really are you serious?  So theoretically I could strip down and hike the 5 miles round trip nude?  Isn’t there some law about indecent exposure in public?  Are the Forest Service Trails not out in public?  So I realize that we were hiking to some hot springs and there may be people that would prefer to swim in their birthday suit but honestly people, just don’t.

We begin the hike and about a mile into it we start seeing a lot of boyscout groups coming down and I was glad they were going in the opposite direction as we were.  I wasn’t in the mood to follow 10-12 year old boys on  5 mile hike.  As we are nearing the end, we pass one of the boy scout leaders that informs us that yes, we are almost there and that at the very top it opens up to meadow/field area that’s pretty cool.  This was a surprise to us because nowhere in our reading mentioned an open area.  Sweet.  We pass the last group of scouts that are still playing in the water and head for the final spring and open field.  Only thing is that a couple had beat us there.  And they were enjoying the springs naked.  Whoa! Whoa!  My eyes…my eyes!  I have to say that even though there was a sign that indicated the possibility of nudity I was surprised.  Mid-afternoon, on a public trail, with boyscouts about 50 feet away, and they were without a care in the world.  The whole point of the hike was to take pictures up in the canyons but that wasn’t exactly the subject I had in mind.  So rather than continuing we turned and headed back down.  Regardless, I did manage to get some great pics so click here to view.

As we drove down the road a few miles away from the mouth of the trail we saw our wild cattle roaming freely across the street.  Not quite ferocious beasts but I still wouldn’t want to see them on the trail.

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Saturday Hike

How’s that for a fancy title?  Saturday morning I got up and went with a friend to a local trail in hopes to capture the beginnings of fall in the trees.  I can hardly remember the last time it was cloudy and rained here but wouldn’t you know that as we drove towards our destination the mountains were almost hidden beneath black clouds.  We decided to go anyway and it ended up being the perfect hiking experience.  We got out of the car and I began my love/hate relationship with the idea of a jacket.  Not thinking I would need one, I didn’t bring one.  It was pretty chilly when we got there but of course as we started hiking it became hot and I was glad I didn’t have one.  Then it would get chilly again.  And back and forth it went between being cold and hot.

We quickly realized the clouds were a godsend because full sun would have been sticky and unbearable.  But the clouds would part on occasion allowing for some great pictures.  It did rain a couple of times and even hailed.  Yes, you read that right I said it hailed.  Little BB sized pellets came down at one point.  But none of these episodes lasted for more that 15 or 20 seconds and they all seemed to come at a point of the hike when we were starting to get a bit heated so it was a nice refreshing break.  I think one of the best parts of the whole thing was that even though there were tons of people hiking as well, none of them were going in the same direction we were at the time we were going.  On the way to the falls it seemed like everyone was leaving and as we were leaving throngs of people were coming.  So we would go for long stretches without anyone around and that was heavenly.

Ever notice when you’re out in nature like that people are usually happier?  I don’t think we passed one group without someone saying at least hello.  Even the kids we passed were friendly and polite.  I realize the area I live in is dubbed “happy valley” (seriously, it really is referred to as happy valley) but I think it has more to do with nature itself and leaving all your stresses and worries in the parking lot and enjoying the view at the top.

The hike took a little over two hours to complete and was better than going to the gym.  It wasn’t so extreme  you thought you were going to die but it wasn’t a flat sidewalk either.  We definitely had to exert energy at different parts along the trail but then it would level a bit for us to catch our breath.  Even still I’ve been running a couple of miles regularly the past few weeks so I wasn’t completely out of shape.  At least that’s what I thought.  Sunday morning I went to get out of bed and just about fell flat on my face.  Man, I wish I had that on video!  My right calf muscle is so incredibly tight you would think I just started using my legs for the first time that morning.  As I walked around it loosened up and was fine but two days later it still hurts when I stand up after sitting for an hour or more.  No clue what that’s all about.  I’d like to think my muscles are bulking up at such an alarming rate the rest of my body can’t keep up (as I sit here shoveling M&M’s in my mouth).

Overall the morning could not have gone better and it was the highlight of my entire week.  As usual here’s a teaser picture but others are posted here: