Sunday, 29 April 2012

Liberty Auto

Readers will realize that we spent a few days in Page, AZ.  One place we did get to know was Liberty Auto, which we spied on our arrival and it was recommended to us by a guy Dave talked to on the street.  It sort of surprised me that we had to wait over 24 hours for a "new" (rebuilt) transmission to arrive from Phoenix (this is the USA after all) but the problem was quickly diagnosed and we were able to use our vehicle.  We would crawl from Page out to Wawheep to camp and didn't have to travel on major roads except to cross Glen Canyon Dam where the speed limit was 25 mph.  We could drive that fast and use reverse.  On Wednesday, the part arrived and our vehicle was out of use.  Unfortunately, part of the "new" transmission didn't work and they had told us we'd be on our way on Wed. p.m.  That didn't happen.  I can't think of many garages that would put you up in a motel for the night, but Liberty Auto did that.  It wasn't the greatest motel (right next door to the garage), but it was handy and we did have a chance to have a shower and watch TV (ugh!).  They'd come up with a plan for the van and said they'd try to have us moving by noon on Thursday and that deadline was met.  I have to say Thanks, Liberty Auto - you served us well.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Page Public Library

 We spent quite a bit of time using the internet and reading while we had time in Page.  This is the library and it's a gorgeous building and location.  It has a grand view of some of the Vermilion Cliffs and is situated close to a "ring trail" around the town of Page.  We walked (and I even ran) about half of this trail.  The library was a busy place - sometimes it was difficult to find a place to plug in for a long session on the computer.  And people are trying to say that libraries are becoming obsolete?!
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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lake Powell

 I've always had a difficult time even thinking of Lake Powell, but after spending nearly a week in Page, AZ, I got used to it and enjoyed looking at the remaining visible rock formations.  This is "Castle Rock" near Wahweep.  We stayed out at Wahweep campground, about 5 km from Page, for 3 nights and I loved watching the light on the lake and the rock.  It's an okay place to visit in March when it's not busy.  It's impossible to take a picture without all the houseboats in the photo, but I only ever saw ONE active boat on the water during our 4 days there.  I guess I'd have to say I'm somewhat resigned to Lake Powell, partly through the help of one Gary Ladd who wrote a book called Lake Powell Unchained  that I discovered in the Page Library.  As he states, there would have been infrastructure built without the dam, although it's obvious the dam changed the environment more than a few roads and trails.  It does have a kind of beauty but that "bathtub ring" is always visible.  The things humans have done to the Colorado!
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Monday, 23 April 2012

Glen Canyon

 We got to see more of Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon than we had planned during our March/April visit.  We had to limp into Page from Lee's Ferry because of transmission problems and spent the better part of a week in the area.  Our first visit was to the Glen Canyon Dam (top of it is visible in this photo) and we walked over the bridge which does give one a good view of a bit of the canyon.  Because of all the time we had, we did decide to do the smooth river raft down the Colorado from Page to Lee's Ferry.  It takes about 5 hours and it was  a fairly good river trip, although I was definitely ready for a little more action by the time is was over.  Our guide didn't have a really good understanding of the natural history in the area (her first official trip), but the sun was shining, the views impressive and we did manage to see a couple of golden eagles.
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Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Sunsets

 One disappointing thing about my US travels is that no really good sunsets appeared.  We had one at Grand Canyon, but I had way too many high wires in the way to take a picture and one thing about the bottom of the canyon - the sunset is pretty much invisible.  Most of the time the skies were clear in the Southwest with no interesting clouds to produce any colour.  This was the best one I saw when I had a camera with me - taken at the Lava Beds in Idaho, the rest area on the I-15.  It's about the only "non commercial" rest area left on the I-15 in ID and UT is heading the same way.  MT still provides a few - when they can get the snow out of them.   The sun seems to be setting on rest areas provided by state governments. 
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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Highline in NYC

 Scott and I headed into NYC on March 14th for a Broadway play and had enough time to visit the Highline for about a 20 minute walk.  This picture gives a bit of an idea what it looks like.  It's a park elevated about 20 m above street level with some lovely plantings and seating areas.  I think the actual park runs for over 10 km through Manhattan and it isn't wider than 15 m that I know.  You can see it was a perfect weather day.  We then headed over to the main branch of NYC Public Library and then onto the Gershwin Theatre for Wicked.  Taking the train from Bernardsville to Penn Station was fun, too, although being wished a "safe day" by the electronic voiceovers didn't make me feel totally comfortable. NYC - gotta love it!
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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Red Rock Canyon

 After we left NJ we spent our first night camping at Bryce Canyon.  Dave had a pretty bad cold at this point and wasn't feeling up to doing much hiking.  We did drive to a couple of the lookoffs in Bryce, but really didn't feel like seeing it all again.  He went to sleep while I had a hike up Butch Cassidy Draw in the Red Rock Canyon.  It was typical Southwest hiking - blue, blue skies, stark dead trees, tons of red rock, interesting rock features and dry wash walking.  I walked for an hour and then came back.  We really enjoyed the drive down highway 89 following the Sevier River which was in full-scale runoff mode.
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Friday, 13 April 2012

Getting to the Top

  We left Bright Angel Campground at a fairly early hour (6:45 a.m)
and the wind, which had started a couple of hours after our arrival at the bottom of the canyon, continued to blow.  It was cool and I found the trip out very easy.  The trails are so well travelled that finding footing is never an issue, although we did get to cross a couple of small creeks on rocks (always a challenge to me).  We made good time getting to the top.  The lower part of the walk is simply perfect - the first 30 minutes follows the Colorado and then the hike up into Indian Garden is so interesting - it's basically Indian Garden all the way.  I didn't expect to be following a stream (perhaps this only happens in spring) but the redbud (pictured at right) was in bloom, the sound of the creek, small waterfalls, birds and insects all combined to make this hike a highlight of days with a pack on my back (which was pretty light on the way up).  Even the hordes of day hikers weren't that bad until the last 1.5 miles. 
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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Boat Beach

 This is a photo of Boat Beach, near the confluence of the Colorado and Bright Angel Creek.  From a high point on the Clear Creek Trail we saw a "rafter's camp" on a beach just east of us.  I watched the commercial rafters getting things ready at Lee's Ferry the week before.  Still not sure if I ever want to do this trip.  I don't like being in large groups of people and life is pretty intimate on this sort of trip.  There's always someone who would be annoying (to me) on a trip and undoubtedley I'd be annoying to lots of people too.  The river at this time of year is so muddy and I'd like to do the trip during a "cleaner" time of year.  However, in late March/early April it's not all that crowded.  I'd hate the heat of high summer but it is one way to stay cool - apparently a trip through the Granite Gorge is definitely a wet one!
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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hikes at the Bottom

 This picture hardly looks like the bottom of Grand Canyon.  It isn't.  We hiked about 2 miles up the Clear Creek Trail and were given some great views of the very muddy Colorado River, the South Kaibab Trail and the canyon in general.  Usually, the river isn't as dirty looking as it was at the end of March, but there's been a lot of runoff and the river can often be a dirty mix - that's why the Spanish called it "coloured".  We also hiked 2  - 3 miles up the North Kaibab Trail along Bright Angel Creek - a flat walk in a narrow canyon for the first mile or two - simply gorgeous hiking and ever so easy. 
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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Nine Minute Mile!

I went to my first coaching session at running this a.m. and discovered that I'm doing about a mile in nearly 9 minutes!! That's pretty bad, but if I can maintain that rate I should be able to do the Spokane run in less than an hour. What are the chances of that, I ask??

Life at the Bottom

 I loved these old buildings near the confluence of the Colorado River and Bright Angel Creek.  I'm sure they'd been used for stabling mules but were inactive on the days we visited.  A great short trail that we did was the river loop from the campground across the two bridges which span the Colorado River.  One of the bridges is only suitable for hikers; the other is good for both mules and hikers.  On a personal note, I really wouldn't want to be 5 or 6 feet higher off the ground on some of the trails in Grand Canyon, particularly the river loop.  There are some perilous drops into the Colorado!
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Monday, 9 April 2012

Getting to the Bottom of A Big Thing

We finally hiked down to the bottom of Grand Canyon! This was our third visit to the National Park and each time we didn't have the right equipment with us. It was a super hot day, the day we hiked down the South Kaibab Trail, but the desert flowers were beginning to bloom and it is a marvelous trail. It's not even all that hard on the knees. We spent two nights at Bright Angel Campground, saw the famous Phantom Ranch, had a couple of nice hikes while down at the bottom and hiked out via the Bright Angel Trail on a day that was mercifully cool. Hurrah!
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