Monday, May 16, 2016

Buckskin Gulch - White House - Toadstools

Last April we had three weeks of rain, and I wanted so badly to get out of town and into some sun. This April we finally realized a decade long dream of going to the Grand Canyon. We tacked on a few side trips along the way.

We flew to Phoenix and then hit the road to Vermilion cliffs and Paria Canyon. Driving all day, we arrived in Page, AZ after dark, and then couldn't find our campground. Fortunately, I had gotten a good deal on an SUV so (after driving back and forth in the dark) we just pulled off of the highway and slept in the car.

In the morning we drove along a muddy, rutted road to the trailhead for Buckskin gulch. Mr. X negotiated the muddy road well, but we were both glad to have four-wheel drive. We were a little surprised when a Canadian couple bounced into parking lot in a little rented sedan. We hiked with Amanda and her husband for much of the gulch.

We hiked to progressively narrow canyon walls. Traversing cold water puddles, enjoying the sun reflecting on the ribbon-ed rocks. We spotted a mouse and marveled at the remains of flood debris more than 40 feet above our heads.

Knowing that thunderstorms were in the forecast, we hustled out of the canyon after hitting a dead end in the form of a boulder the size of school bus. On the way back we spotted some pictographs on the wall. 

The road had dried significantly, so we had little trouble getting back to highway 89. We stopped at the Whitehouse Campground for dinner and the host told us about the white conch shell formation up the second wash. The thunderstorm rolled through right above Buckskin Gulch.

We were also guided to the Toadstools. The weather followed us and we did not wish to be out in the open  with lightning.

We headed into Page loving the views of the Glen Canyon area, including the Glen Canyon dam.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fantastic 4

I'll be the first person to tell you not to run up a credit card bill or carry a balance...but I do like it when Visa sends us tickets to a special pre-screening of a (B)movie complete with drink and popcorn.

I don't really have a good record staying awake in superhero movies, but we headed over to the theater on a Wednesday evening last August. After getting our tickets and going through security - no recording devices - we found some great seats. The theater was rocking, so many people excited about their free show. Mr. X turned in one of our tickets for a box of popcorn to share.

The movie wasn't award winning, but it was a fantastic free night out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bibliophile Dream Service Project

We're getting a new library location. On Saturday, when we went looking for a movie or two, I overheard the librarians filling everyone in on the what's going to happen. The mall location is closing August 31st, they're not sure when the new library will open, but all books and DVDs will be checked out for 8 weeks instead of the normal three.

When I approached the counter I noticed a sign that encouraged everyone to use all of the check-outs on their card - 40 - and then visit the new library when it opens to drop off your books. This will save the library on time and money in the relocation. Awesome idea. Mr. X and I were immediately game.

For our Family Night activity we took a field trip back to the library to start loading up on our allocated 80 books. Mr. X is aiming to clean out all fantasy/sci fi from the audio book section, and I'm having fun perusing the stacks for treasures.

The librarian gave us a knowing look and then laughed with us at our monstrous book piles.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Herbert Glacier bike ride

Mr. X and I had been taking Fridays off work to enjoy the spring weather. We'd been spoiled for choice.

There was one final thing I wanted...and Mr. X just didn't. So I borrowed a bike and took a solo cycle to Herbert Glacier. This is a trail designed for riding and I was thrilled to check it's true that you never forget how to ride a bike. The last time I'd ridden was years ago in Washington DC of all places.

I quickly ate up the trail passing several families on foot and finally ditched the bike for the last half mile of the trail. I was rewarded with the blue glacier, mountain peaks and Herbert river. And a few wildflowers.

A great, easy ride, and I still had a whole day left for important things like a movie.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Eagle Glacier

A few years ago, we tried this trail on a hot, hot day in June. About two miles in, Mr. X broke his toe and there went our summer. This time, we made sure Mr. X had proper footwear and we were off.

Actually, we didn't start until about 2 pm and since we knew we had at least 10 miles round trip, we were in a bit of a hurry. We quickly passed the wide flat trail near the highway and headed into the rooty, rocky, windfall laden trail on the edge of the Eagle glacier river.

We spotted woodpeckers and just the tips of devil's club.

We crossed the river and many streams and were amazed to find elaborate planking covered with roofing material about three miles in. We thrilled at the sight of a beaver dam, which was flooding portions of the trail. We loved the blueberry bushes on the edge of a muskeg. And got yelled at by a few Stellar's Jays.

We made to the Eagle Glacier Cabin, but it was occupied so we backtracked down the trail to eat our dinner - pbJ with raisins and bananas - at the lake.

On the hike out we managed to walk right up on a black bear. He totally played it cool and even let me take his picture after we got some distance from him. He stood completely still chewing his cud, pretending he hadn't seen us. When we got completely around him, he turned and crouched in a defensive position. It had to be the day that I forgot to pack the bear spray. Mr. X reached for a couple stones that he carried for the next three miles in case the bear followed us. Once we had to scramble our neanderthal tools were abandoned.

We were treated to sights of a porcupine, kingfishers, swans and the calls of an owl.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Benjamin Island

In Mid-May we paddled out to Benjamin Island to see the sea lions. We hiked through the woods, surprised at how many wind falls there were and also surprised that someone had left a campfire smoldering. The breeze likely whipped it back up. I got a good chuckle at the new signs posted. It's never my intention to get close enough to a 500 lb animal to feed it. No thank you.

It was a Friday afternoon and so we had the island all to ourselves. A little creepy. A little satisfying. There was no one to make us feel guilty about how much time we spent watching the sea lions. I enjoyed seeing the little pups nursing and the teenagers harassing each other. Mr. X liked the lion with what appeared to be an entire salmon stuck to the side of his face...err looks like you got a little something right there.

There was enough of a cold breeze that we hiked back to east side of the island to eat our sandwiches. Mr. X was impressed with the new benches someone has made. On our paddle back to boulder beach we managed to scare both ourselves and a solitary sea lion. He was minding his own business, diving and playing. Unfortunately our timing was poor because he surfaced about 10 feet from us. We were glad he chose to re-dive immediately. Crossing back to the mainland we had to navigate through some fairly deep waters that also happen to go from protected to less protected. I'll admit the rolling waves made me a little sea-sick and I couldn't enjoy watching the water birds until we got out of the wind tunnel. Then I was pleased to see bonaparte gulls, scoters, and grebes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mining ruins

The spring whether has bit me like a bug. I can't get enough walking or hiking or relaxing on the beach. One evening I convinced Mr. X to follow some off the beaten path instructions I had found on the internet. There are some old prospector relics north of the West Glacier Trail and I wanted to find them.

Since Mr. X loves bushwhacking, this really wasn't a sacrifice for him and lucky for me, while it wasn't a beaten path, there definitely was a path the whole way. No windfalls to climb over, no trail tape or other markers necessary.

We found the broken glass, tin plates and cast iron pots.

We found the foundation of an old building -- maybe a prospector's cabin. I was delighted to find the trench and heavily veined rock.
A nice walk in a nice forest.