Moab – April 18

So long Salt Lake City, you seemed nice, but we’re not here for the city, we’re here for the better stuff.

While planning this trip, all I kept hearing and reading was that it was going to be near impossible to get into Arches National Park….it was high season, it was Spring Break, it was the week leading up to Easter. So basically, don’t make any plans that hinged on getting into Arches. So we didn’t. But we did figure that since we’d be passing right by the entrance on the way into Moab, we’d take a look. And if the line wasn’t too bad, we’d go for it.

THERE WAS NO LINE!

In fact, people were streaming out of the park!

Neither of us really had any idea what to expect beyond arches in general. So we thought we’d wet our feet with a 2 mile out and back hike on the Park Avenue trail; and what a introduction to Arches! It was gorgeous, and lovely and so unlike any other place we’d ever been. Huge slabs of red rock and off in the distance snow-capped mountains.

Next Up: Balanced Rock. Yes I know you’ve seen billions of photos, big deal it’s a rock balanced on another rock. But A. it’s right off the road B. there’s a virtual geocache and really C. it is cool. I will say that even this early in the tour of National Parks, I ready to do some full body tackling of the jackasses who blatantly ignored the signs to stay off the damn rocks and stay on the trail.

Onward to Delicate Arch viewing area. It was HOT. And we weren’t sure how much else we’d be able to see – all those warnings about no place to park! – so we thought we’d check it out from afar first. But before that, a parking lot snack, on the sidewalk in front of the car while ravens eyeballed us and waited for us to spill. Also, time to switch to shorts.

After checking out Delicate Arch from afar, Chad suggested we head out to Landscape Arch instead of hiking out to Delicate Arch, since we had technically seen it. And you couldn’t see Landscape Arch unless you walked out to it.

So, just to let you know, walking on sand is terrible. And there is a lot of sand in Utah. A LOT. Anyway.

You wouldn’t think anything quite so large as Landscape Arch could visually sneak up on a person. You would be wrong! Or at least in my case, it snuck up on me. Behind the arch is a rock wall, so as we approached there wasn’t the telltale bit of sky or light coming through the arch, it was visually deceptive. Until it was extremely obviously just there!

What is even more crazy, is that until 1991 you could just pretty as you please walk right up to it and hang out under it. Which is what was going on when some folks thought they heard thunder…until they noticed some small rocks falling and then a huge slab broke free! Needless to say, you have to keep your distance a little bit now.

Because it was so long, it was really difficult to get a good photo, which is pretty much why we go see these things for ourselves. This was clearly a trip where the photos we took were going to be used to jog our memory, more than memorialize what we were seeing.

It was starting to approach dusk and honestly the last thing I wanted to do was to try to set up our ultra light tent, that was had not used since our trip to Colorado several years prior, at civil twilight. We’d booked a little campground in downtown Moab – yes, downtown by a creek – called Up The Creek Campground. It was quite nice and the price was right!

What we discovered as we unfurled the tent and set up camp, was that we’d clearly never cleaned the tent properly cleaned the tent post-Colorado. As if we needed a head start on the sand collection!

I see that I failed to mention one important thing about Moab and our timing. It was Easter Jeep Safari Week (not to be confused with Discount Lion Safari). Which for some reason had escaped my noticed when I went into vacation triage mode and arranged the logistics of this trip. It certainly makes sense about the accommodations being difficult to find and insanely expensive – please see our decision to camp in Moab.

There were literally Jeeps EVERYWHERE. All shapes, makes, models, sizes. Sock. Lifted. Modified. Crazy modified that you couldn’t really tell it had been a Jeep. Falling apart (pretty sure that Willys was a legit WWII relic and it looked in about the same condition as the one we saw in Cambodia). Brand New.

As if I wasn’t overstimulated enough having gotten into Arches at first go and now here I was surrounded by Jeeps. Be still my heart. 

Clickity click on the thumbnails to see more photos in big form!

chris on April 18th 2019 in Family, Geocaching, Travel

Salt Lake City – April 17

It’s weird starting vacation on Wednesday.

The 3:30am alarm, which thankfully Chad turned off before it made that terrible noise, was as usual, FAR TOO EARLY.

WE did manage to leave the house by 4am. Which got us to the car place with plenty of time to spare.

Hooray for airport bars that recognize sometimes you need at drink at 6am.

The flight was uneventful and short enough that I was awake when we passed over some spectacular mountains. Obviously this trip is to the desert, but a good mountain range always makes me happy. This one was quite lovely. 

We arrived into Salt Lake City, as did all our luggages thankfully, since we had crammed all our camping gear into checked bags. Headed to get the rental car and I was immediately, “Uh no. THAT is not what I reserved.” A Hyundai Kona? What in the world is that tiny little car? I specifically rented a small AWD vehicle because we were going to the middle of nowhere Utah. This thing has about zero clearance and only slightly more luggage space.

Chad turned to me and asked, “Do you want me to go back and get the minivan they tried to upgrade us to?”

No. I did not. And car rental agencies, stop trying to sell a minivan as an upgrade. No one wants your stupid minivan unless they have 401 babies, which we certainly do not. That’s why there are always extra minivans available.  At any rate, so much for doing any baby jeep trails in Moab in this thing.

We stopped at Red Iguana (from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives fame) for lunch. Looked SUPER sketchy on the outside. Totally yum and totally packed. Thank you, Google!

As we were leaving the restaurant, we caught sight of this….

Since it was far too early to check in to our hotel, we headed downtown Salt Lake City. The mountains were majestic. Rising up and ringing the City. Clearly my memory of here during the cross-country drive in a Ryder truck with Dad and Uncle Dan did not imprint on me that it was in a basin.

We took in the capitol – quite lovely – which left me wheezing and I was more than a little confused until Chad pointed out that we may be in a basic, but we were still quite a bit higher in elevation than at home. Ah.

It was lovely to see everything in bloom and nice and green. We walked around the giant block of Mormon, reading the historical markers which were everywhere. At least we now know what’s up with the beehive image all over the place.

Finally headed to the hotel for some much needed down time and an amazing sunset. Good job, Utah. We like you already! 

The rest of the photos here…..clickity click to embiggen! 

 

chris on April 17th 2019 in Family, Geocaching, Travel

Farewell, Kimi cat….you were a good girl

It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our smug, (mostly) silent, ever patient, loving, Siamese kitty Kimi.

It was ten years ago that Mom called me and asked if I could go get Kimi and take her home…temporarily. Nun-Nun, Kimi’s human, had just gone into a nursing home and poor spoiled, only pet Kimi needed someone to pay attention to her. I knew full well that temporarily meant permanently because that’s how these things tend to go.

Down to Fairmont I went only a few days before Christmas, gathered up Kimi the Silent and put her into the cat carrier. She started wailing like a banshee.

I called Mom from the car, “Hey, I have Kimi.”

Mom “What’s that noise?”

Me “The cat. The one that never makes any noise.”

It was a long drive home.

Kimi wasn’t too sure about our house, since until two days prior, she’d been the pet of a house-bound, elderly person who doted on her and only her. Our house was slightly more chaotic, as she was plunged into the middle of three cats and two ferrets and people who didn’t sit down quite so much.

Still, it didn’t take her long to claim Chad as her human, although she obviously had some stiff competition from the entrenched cats who had also lay claim to him as #1. 

When it was warm, Kimi demanded to go outside, spending her time meeting and charming our neighbors. She had quite the little fan club in the neighborhood. We received more than one call that she was trying to get into other folk’s homes! More than once as Chad was collecting her, he would have a neighbor stop and ask, more or less, if Kimi really had to go home now.

Possibly my favorite Kimi story started off with a simple idea. Since life with cats means life with litter pans, we decided that it would be best to put the litter pans in the basement and install a cat door for access. We went with a door that had a release triggered by magnets on the cats’ collars.

Unfortunately:  1. Our cats did not understand the cat door and 2. No amount of cramming the cats through the cat door was helping to make them understand.  

We still harbored hopes that the cats would figure the system out we left the magnets on their collars, even after the flap was removed. Since Kimi would go outside on nice days, we had a delightful new game of guessing what she would bring attached to her magnet – a nail, screws, washers, usually small items. The day she came strolling awkwardly home with a tuna can lid dangling between her front legs, we took the magnet off!

Kimi patiently outlived all her siblings and was finally, in 2015, the sole kitty of our house, much to her relief. She had waited 7 long years to once again be the only cat in her house. Queen of the Castle! No feline competition! And then a little stray tortie kitten found Chad.

Poor stoic Kimi dealt with this intrusion as she had with all the other new siblings she’d endured during her life with us. She patently ignored her, despite the kitten’s overtures to make friends. Eventually they came to an understanding which appeared to be sometimes Kimi wanted to chase kitten, other times she pretended kitten did not exist. It seemed to work out for both of them pretty well.

Kimi was a simple and loving cat who only wanted a nice lap and someone to love her. We hope we passed muster. Godspeed smug one, we miss you! Your sister Nyx misses you, too.

 

chris on November 21st 2018 in Animals, Family

Trossachs and Farewell – July 12

On Thursday morning, I hit the wall. I was tired of packing, unpacking, shuffling, repacking. I was cranky (maybe a little bit unhappy as our trip was coming to an end). It didn’t help that the room had been a million degrees and the shower kept randomly dripping through the night. You know what Scotland doesn’t have a lot of? Air conditioning!

Anyway, there I was cramming stuff into the suitcase for the next to the last time (Hooray!) so we could head back towards Edinburgh.

Chad thought that it would be nice to take a meandering drive through The Trossachs since the weather was iffy, instead of planning something that could be spoiled by rain. The carrot he dangled to captain grumpy here, was that we could get some geocaches along the way. There was one problem with that carrot – I didn’t have data on this trip. While I could download the caches, once we were in the car I didn’t have maps to help me to figure out where the caches actually were, all I could see was that they seemed to be right off the road.  Only there was no access point – turns out there was a long trail that we couldn’t see. So much for that idea!

The Trossachs were lovely. Although by this time I was tired and anxious to just be done with the driving portion of our day.

We did stop at Loch Cho for a geocache. At which time I was attached by midges.

It was awful! Loch Cho was quite nice, though.

Not long thereafter we found ourselves back in Edinburgh strolling along the Royal Mile to the Jolly Judge, which greatly improved my mood! Also, it was Cider Fest/Tap Take Over!

My mood was further improved by having some fancy gin drinks and dinner at Holyrood 9A before heading to our hotel to re-pack for the last time.

So long Scotland, you were lovely as always. We’ll be back. And next time we won’t move every night. For real this time. For real.

chris on July 12th 2018 in Travel