This trip began as a reunion among high school girlfriends who get together each decade. Jeannie is the first to turn 60 and Janet, Linda and Kathy follow. The last 3 celebrations have been in Florida so it was time to travel farther, and since Jan lives in Arizona we decided on Sedona. Unfortunately, Kathy can’t join us so Jan’s sister Diane will share the time with us.
The girls will have 3 nights at the Vista Ridge condo, for shopping, dining and spa pampering. The condo is at the head of Marg’s Trail which leads to the famous “Snoopy” rock formation. This should make it easy to get a bit of exercise and walk off the extra calories.
Afterwards, on 26 September, my friends departed to resume their busy lives, then Chris arrived in Phoenix. We first travel to visit long-time friends Ann & Mike in Clarkdale, and after a short visit we begin our 3 week adventure through the Utah National Parks – The Mighty Five.
Sunday travel to Sedona
Jeannie and her girlfriends met at phoenix airport and drove to the Vista Ridge condo in Sedona. Diane and Jan prepared a wonderful dinner of grilled fish, asparagus, and saffron risotto. With a beautiful sunset and glasses of chardonnay, we toasted our friendship and Jan’s birthday.
Monday -Snoopy and bocce ball
We woke early to watch the sun lighten the red rock hills around the condo. Jeannie’ Linda and Diane walked a short distance to the Marg’s Draw trail. The beginning of the trail provided an early challenge, due to the incline and loose rock. After walking in one direction to the end of the trail, we turned around to continue our search to spot the snoopy rock formation. Finally there he was, laying on his back watching the clouds drift by. We then quickened our pace on the return to the condo as Jan was preparing omelets for breakfast. It is wonderful to travel with friends who are excellent cooks!
Our afternoon consisted of planning Tuesday’s outings, shopping, lunch and more shopping. my new retirement status is teaching me to be less impulsive so I rewarded myself with an inexpensive silver pendant crafted by the Navaho, in their symbol for water.
We stopped at the grocery store after deciding to cook and eat at the condo. After mango margaritas and appetizers, we played our first game of bocce ball. In teams of two, we each had a time in the lead but Jeannie and Jan scored for the final win.
The backdrop of the sunset lightening the red rock provided the perfect end to a fun match.
Jan grilled chicken, Linda prepped the salad, and Diane made dressing while Jeannie sat on her butt typing this entry.
From before dawn to after sunset, we have been on the trails on and around the rim of the Grand Canyon. The internet connections are slo-o-o-ow, so enjoy these images, more will come when we can. Oh, and yes that is snow in the first two images from a light overnight dusting in an area we drove through on the way to the Grand Canyon. Lowest temp yet … 21°
Zion National Park – Just a little
We had only one day to hike in Zion (Kolob Canyons – Taylor Creek Trail) before the government shutdown. The remainder of time has been everywhere else BUT the NP. Still the area is beautiful, and we have been hiking in many varied terrains.
Bryce Canyon National Park – NOT
Bryce Canyon is the next National Park we didn’t see, but Red Canyon was open and spectacular. We hiked some pretty difficult trails – narrow with lots of loose rocks, many switchbacks and death and destruction just inches away.
Today we were in Kodachrome State Park (we purchased a Utah state park pass – whoo hoo, Senior discounts!)and again hiked our butts off.
At this point I’ll let the photos tell the story. Tomorrow we don’t go to to Capital Reef NP.
Capitol Reef National Park – CLOSED
While we did get to drive through Capital Reef NP, but we couldn’t stop. However, our hikes near the Burr Trail Road, along the Fremont River near Torrey, and the fantastic Gobblins state park were great. Again, enjoy the images!
Arches and Canyonlands National Park – Say what?
After Gobblin State Park, we made our way to Moab, mountain bike Mecca and home to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. For the first time during our trip, rain entered the picture. Luckily, the bad weather was brief and had the benefit of wetting down the abundant dust.
However, the best news was that the governor of Utah was working out a deal with the federal government to use state funds to reopen the five national parks (NPs) in Utah. The result was that we finally got to visit two more NPs, Arches and Canyonlands.
The Moab Area
The Moab area has so much to offer, that even with the time allocated we wouldn’t be able to do all that we wanted. After Utah’s governor reopened the state’s national parks, we added three more days to our trip to be able to see Arches National Park better. In addition, we added a great state park, Dead Horse Point and Fisher Towers Trail both of which provided exceptional hikes in very different terrain. Fisher Towers Trail, our last hike, was relatively challenging (especially for flatlanders). The next we drove to Denver for the flight home. The drive itself was delightful in itself as we drove through Colorado encountering the Rocky Mountains, many capped in some early snows. Vail and Loveland were heavily coated with new snow combined with blowing flurries freezing temperatures.
Links to Utah’s Official National Park websites: