Wood Thrush

One of my favorite birds is the Wood Thrush. Not much to look at and easily confused at a glance with other brown birds, but boy oh boy can this one sing!! Here is a tiny clip. There are times I think it sounds like corillion bells.

Recently after the torrential spring rains, we saw one rolling on the sidewalk a bit aways from our front porch. My husband asked, “What in the world is that bird doing?” I looked and said, “Likely he is rolling in dust to clean his feathers. With all the rain it is probably hard to find dust in the woods!” Thrush must have sensed us watching him because he soon took off for the woods. In fact, we rarely see this fellow. Secretive, but a lovely minstrel!

Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country and the gates of Heaven are not shut against him.

American Naturalist Henry David Thoreau writing about the Wood Thrush

Often in the brutal heat of this summer weather on my way to the garbage can or getting out of the car I will hear this bird and then I SO agree with Thoreau. It has been way too hot and too many allergy triggers out there to have the windows open. Maybe it will cool off soon so I can hear it from inside, too!

Acceptance with Joy

Bob had a much, much better photo!

This is the flower we found in Death Valley. It is so much better than the first one I posted. Especially poignant this morning as my body spent most of the night in an arthritis fit that would not let me sleep until the wee hours of the morning. It rained almost four inches overnight. Likely the weather effected me as well.

But there you have it. Acceptance with joy even when it is impossible to sleep.

The Big Trip – Las Vegas Area

Las Vegas. Oy. I do not have much good to say about the downtown gambling areas. We went during the week for cheaper room rates. Used it as our base location to visit both the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest area and Death Valley.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in “Old Vegas.” Bob took his quarters hoping to use them up with the slot machines. Disappointed that the machines all take paper money now and issue a paper voucher for your winnings. No rattling coins when there was a winner, but plenty of lights and noise! We were easy walking distance to the Fremont Avenue canopy that formed a pedestrian-only gambling mall. At night we saw zip line riders overhead, so many flashing neon lights coordinated with music for six minutes on the hour. Too many weird people. Women in scanty clothes and men too aroused for public display (in my opinion). We were amazed that tourists were there with their children. I never would have exposed my daugher to such behavior as a child or even as a teenager! Yes, I am old and fond of my values.

The “Strip” with the mega-hotels was also not to our liking. Bob was driving and the traffic was awful. Then a truck with a huge advertisement made with led lights pulled in front of us. It literally hurt our eyes. The sidewalks were crammed as bad or worse as the Avenues in New York. People shoulder to shoulder with shopping bags and jaws agape. We did not go into any of the huge hotels as parking was at a premium and we decided we were just not THAT interested.

The drive to the west of Las Vegas was so interesting. We were looking for Red Rock Canyon and did not manage to find it. But we found the scenic road into the National Forest and Charleston Peak Ski area. The cactus were blooming and very fragrant.

Notice one on the hilltop, too!

We noticed the cactus stopped growing at about 7000 feet in elevation, at least in this area. We drove to an elevation of 8,437 feet.

More new sights!

Weekend Readers?

There seem to be increased readers on weekends, so likely I will begin planning my posts for the weekend, or Thursday through Monday or who knows where my mind goes? Oh, the lyrics were actually “Who knows where the time goes?”

Looking back through my collected vacation literature I was delighted to see the National Park Service called Bryce Canyon “Poetry in Stone.” No, I did not write poetry about it, just tried to capture the grandeur in photos!

From Bryce we did make it that night to our motel in Cedar City. I want to back track to Capitol Reef, where we so enjoyed the scenic drive through the many geological features. One thing I did not emphasis was the black rocks.

The Park Service describes these as coming from 20 to 25 million year old lava flows. “Pieces of lava rock were transported many miles from their source, and were smoothed and rounded by their violent journeys within gritty floodwaters. When floods receded, black boulders were left scattered across the floodplains. The black boulders are black on the inside too! The white coating on the surface of many of the boulders is a mineral crust known as caliche, which is mainly a thin film of calcite and gypsum crystals. Caliche forms when mineral-laden groundwater seeps upward, coats the underside of the boulders, and evaporates from the surface, leaving its dissolved minerals behind.” I found the white frosting on the rocks as interesting as the rocks themselves.

I just find this stuff so interesting! Reading National Park literature I can learn a bunch without having to study geology to discover the facts. Nice they teach me as they publish!

I kept thinking of my baseball friend, Levi, and wanting to pick up the baseball sized black rocks. But alas, I am too honest, and could not do it. Besides the Park Service asked us to “not disturb or collect rocks or other park resources.”

I did pick up a smaller black rock along the side of the road after we left the park. Alas, neither one of us took a photo of the large black boulders 😦 So you will have to imagine!

Bryce National Park #2

Yep, by far my favorite. Would love to go back some day and stay in a lodge or nearby accommodations!

Look for the animal tracks in the snow!

Goats? Mountain cats? Bear? I will never know but I delighted to see the tracks 😉

When we traveled in Alaska in early spring we learned that willows are one of the things that bud out first. Well, that makes sense as that is true at home in Ohio, too. See the willow buds in this vista foreground?

A rugged place to grow. Did it burn?
Who lives in there? Goblins? Mountain folk?
See the hoodoo face on the top right?

I called these cantaloupe rocks. Sandia Mountain in Albuquerque means watermelon. These are just lovely ripe cantaloupe!

5:45 PM and still almost 2 hours to the motel. Time to get a move on, amazed tourists!

God created such amazing things and we felt privileged to have seen them with our own eyes. What a day!

“We acclaim you, holy Lord, glorious in power. Your mighty
works reveal your wisdom and love. You formed us in your
own image, giving the whole world into our care, so that, in
obedience to you, our Creator, we might rule and serve all
your creatures. When our disobedience took us far from you,
you did not abandon us to the power of death. In your mercy
you came to our help, so that in seeking you we might find
you. Again and again you called us into covenant with you,
and through the prophets you taught us to hope for salvation.

Book of Common Prayer

Noon Trying to Make it to Cedar City Before Dark!

12:22 Same Day! Aspen trees, pines and snow 😉 What’s not to like?!

Hard to believe we had left Green River just a few hours ago! Now snow and elevation and more of Utah than I ever knew existed. The aspen were just beginning to turn green with buds. I kept seeing these lovely mountain sides with aspens shadows between the aspen groves. I could never capture them with my camera. Perhaps if we were not just passing through but actually staying a few days I might have gotten the photo my heart wanted. I think we were at about 8,000 feet in elevation?

Weren’t we just amidst colored slabs of rock and sand and oh gosh. Can hardly keep track of the splendor!

I love icicles that are curved. Exactly how did they get curved?

At about 12:45 we were chiding each other that we would never arrive if we kept stopping for photos! There was a family of four traveling just about our speed. Dad kept making them all pose together at lovely photo opportunities. We saw them at the next pull off and Bob decided he would just take a look. He came back to the car to get me. I was not thrilled to walk to the edge of a crevasse to see what had him fascinated. Oh my! I am not a fan of heights, but way below was likely the Escalante River.

No, I do not want to hike down there! Ever.

But I did see a hiker resting. A gargantuan hiker that is! If you cannot pick him out in the first photo below, I tried to outline him a bit in the photo the next one.

He even has a sweat stain on the front of his shirt!

Our next stop was Bryce Canyon. After Arches, I kept saying that all I wanted to see was red rocks with snow. I was not disappointed! Since it was one of my most favorite places on our journey I think I will devote tomorrow to just photos of Bryce. (By the way we made it to Cedar City, just barely before dark. Sadly, there was no elevator and they put us on the second floor! Getting too old to haul stuff up the stairs like that. Decided next time we would ask for a different room or help getting luggage in and out of the room.)

After Grand Junction until about Noon

We awoke tired from our extra-long day, but happy from our travels. Seems we had landed in another era. The motel hallways the night before were full of what seemed like sister-wives, girls who looked like teenagers in long dresses of various colors roaming the halls with younger children, doing laundry, in and out of rooms together. We honestly could not tell who was in charge of them. If they were one family or married into one family. And more strange, the next morning it was as if they had never been there. Not a one showed at breakfast. Yes, we were in Utah, but all those kids? It seemed as if they would have fed them before departing? Do not think it was a residential situation as they were doing things like purchasing laundry soap at the front desk the night before. Just weird.

There are animals in the US that never appear when the daytime traveler is driving: elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, cougar or mountain cats. We saw the warning signs and never saw the animals!

This was Day Ten of our travels.We were almost on stimulation overload from the scenery changes. Little did we know there were more dramatic changes before us. I had absolutely no idea how beautiful Utah was! I had only been to the Salt Lake area airport and north areas. Most of the comments below are from Bob, photos are from Molly.

“Quoting from my husband’s travel journal: “This was another day of endless surprises and unexpected panoramas. I did not anticipate the majestic beauty before us. And I had no idea that there would be so much snow. It was a beautiful and nealy cloudless day as wdrove from Green River. We were to drive the scenic route from there to Cedar City via routes 24, 12, 89, and 14. It was an all-day drive of some 320 miles.

Barren scrub and striated rocks at one glance and then (below)
Turn your head and an irrigated area pops up all lush and green. And then the fights over access to water become clear again!

Quoting Bob again: “We started with typical high desert. Sage and sand and range land with grazing cattle. Very few other cars, few houses, fewer towns, the occasional butte or other sandstone formation that was seemingly dropped in its current location. These alien structures became more numerous and more varied in shape and color. It was like Legoland met the Mad Potter! Sometimes it seemed as if a draftsman had designed perfectly straight lines and other times it was a modern abstractionist messing with my mind.

“The colors changed with some regularity: reds and yellows, blacks and grays, white Navajo sandstone and a whole crayon box full of other colors. Some were pure, others striated.”

“The Capitol Reef area is where it began to get bizzare; tall thin tablets, honeycombed faces, piles of perfectly symmetrical slabs of stone, smooth faced cliffs and groves of pillars. Some of the formations were hundreds of feet tall; others simple hoodoos. There were even petroglyphs.”

Molly: I have friends who had recently put down a new floor for an Aunt in Washington State. It took them several weeks to accomplish. When I saw the photo below I thought of them with piles and piles of flooring to be installed!

Flooring? And it was only 11:30 in the morning!

Bob was really good about watching how much time we spent in amazement in each area. This was all before noon