A feast for the eyes – part one

I had great intentions to blog thru our Utah vacation. I carried a small notebook with me at all times. I got off my last post from the airport and thought I had found some better ipad writing tools/strategies. Once arriving in Utah, however, my writing muse was just as taken with the sites as the rest of me. I didn’t even know where to begin taking pictures, so I pretty much left my phone in my backpack and let the family photographers snap the pics. They shared some of them with me and if you follow any of my family on facebook or instagram you can see more there (I presume.)

I’m not sure if I even had a preconceived notion of what Utah would look like. I knew it has the Great Salt Lake, I knew it has mountain ski resorts, I knew it has canyons and arches in National Parks, I knew it has Mormons and a tabernacle. But seeing the whole variety of the state in one week was truly a feast for the eyes.

We started in Salt Lake City. Although I didn’t get over to stick my fingers in and taste the Great Salt Lake, even from the air you can see that this isn’t your ordinary, midwestern, Great Lake. We toured Temple Square, mostly so the acoustical engineer could see the Tabernacle. It was interesting and impressive, even if we couldn’t time our visit to be able to hear any musical performance. Fortunately, we all were able to resist their conversion spiel.

On our way south to Moab, we hiked up to the cave in Timpanogos Cave National Monument, near Provo. It is a series of three caves that were all discovered independently and then linked with man-made tunnels so you can walk thru them all. The first was discovered by a man who was tracking a mountain lion. At least when he got to the entrance he was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t see the mountain lion in the dark cave, but the mountain lion could clearly see him at the entrance. Not sure when he decided it was safe to return, but apparently no humans were eaten in the exploration of this cave.

Almost up to the cave entrance.

The cave-iest picture of the bunch.

The green color, which is much more vibrant when lit, is due to nickel.

When traveling with nerds…this is a gauge that allows them to measure movement across the fault line that provided the right conditions for the cave to form.

On the way down with D#1

Someone told us that if we weren’t rafting and rock climbing out of Moab, then we weren’t doing Moab right. But we’re all hikers at heart and I am really glad that we didn’t try to squeeze in any more. We spent parts of three days in Arches National Park. Stunning. I don’t really know any other word that describes it better. There are approximately 2,000 arches in the park and although arches are found all over the world, nowhere else has them in this concentration.

A formation named the Gossips.

Husband and D#1 (with a cameo by s-i-l) posing with the Spectacles. On the front side, you can’t see both arches at once and they are known as North and South Arch.

Double Arch

Of course we spent plenty of time naming otherwise unmarked formations. Clearly, this is the Sloth.

Delicate Arch, the iconic picture of Arches National Park.

The ranger-led hike thru the Fiery Furnace was an incredible experience. It led me into places I never would have dared venture on my own, seeing arches and water-filled potholes and views that the average tourist would miss. The ranger was so matter-of-fact, “now we will all squeeze thru this crevice…just follow me along this ledge…you’ll need to wall-walk a bit thru here.” He also talked at length about both sides of the great debate between public use and conservation of our National Parks and other natural treasures. And of course he gave us great info on the geology, biology, climatology and any other -ologies we could think to ask him about the park.

 

The fiery furnace area from the overlook.

In the midst of the fiery furnace.

Arches everywhere!

Me stumbling out of one of the crevices.

The vista on the way out of the fiery furnace.

The vistas around the park were amazing, in every direction. From the visitor center, you drive up onto a flat, desert mesa. As in the picture above, you see incredible rock formations jutting up, and in the distance are the La Sal Mountains. I don’t have a picture of one of my favorite features in the park, the petrified sand dunes. From some vantage points, with the help of a map, you could see the canyon where the Colorado River flows just outside the park.

Arches National Park isn’t the only great hiking spot near Moab. I’ll continue with a feast for the eyes in my next post.

 

 

 

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