Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Fun

Carynn and I ventured out to our neighboring National Park, Bryce Canyon. Having never been to it before we only had pictured ideas in our heads as well as other peoples input on what it was like. The general statement was "it is very different from Zion" and today we can attest to that same statement. We enjoyed our time there and enjoyed the scenery that was provided. However, we felt that once you saw one group of "hoodoos" you could pretty much say you have seen them all. One thing I will say, because of the varieties and different shapes that are constantly changing in Bryce Canyon, it would be a great place for any type of photographer.

We did three hikes in the park: The Queens Garden, The Navajo Loop, and Wall Street. Each hike connected into the next and we were able to walk right down into the hoodoos and see them very up close. It was a fun hike and provided an enjoyable view around each corner but I think we both agree that we both enjoy Zion more.

One of the original plans was to bike through some of the park but upon arriving we found out that in order to do that we have to stay on the main road - Boring. Instead, we got some advice from one of the rangers who instructed us to head over to Red Canyon. We did a great ride called Thunder Mountain Trail. It gave me a very distinct feeling that I was on Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. It had some really fun ups and downs and really twisty roads. It became pretty difficult towards the end when we were descending 1000 feet within about one and a half miles. In other words, it was really steep. Carynn walked most of those hills while I attempted them and eventually walked occaisionally.

There was some great scenery up on some of the ridges we rode across and the trail definatley offered a challenge. I think I may have enoyed it a little more than Carynn since this was her first experience ever trail riding, but she did a great job and finished up. It was a twenty mile round trip ride that helped us be a little sore the morning after but it is always worth it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Narrows

Carynn and I had the opportunity to have two days off in a row this last week; we decided to take full advantage of that.

Not long ago we decided that we wanted to hike the Narrows. After some planning, packing, and scrambling last minute, we were off to our two day adventure. Several people may be familiar with the Narrows hike in Zion. Most people that know of it however, have probablly not even seen half of it.

The full hike of the Narrows is a 16-mile hike that is one way. It starts at a place called Chamberlains Ranch that is 13-miles up the road from where we live which made accessing it very convenient. You hike along in through the virgin river the entire time. The water temperature when we hiked was about 52 degrees. If you are in the sun the entire time and only crossing the river occaisionally, the water would have been quite tolerable. When you are in the water for 75% of the time and see the sunlight for 15 minutes total throughout your day however, you need something a little more. We rented some dry pants, neoprine socks and some specially designed water hiking shoes.

Our hike started out as I mentioned at Chamberlains Ranch. We crossed beautiful meadows, thick forests and leaves that were so incredibly vibrant it would blow your mind! Taking short breaks here and there to take pictures and adjust our packs, we were able to really soak in the beauty of the area before the canyon.

Right before entering into Zion and exiting Chamberlains ranch, Carynn needed to staop to make a couple of adjustments to her pack. As we were adjusting it, we heard a gun shot way off in the woods (it was during hunting season) and no soon we heard a extremly loud crack no more than fifteen feet away from us. The bullet had escaped the woods and hit a large rock right by us. Had Carynn not stopped to adjust her pack, we would have been right in the line of fire. Thank goodness we said a prayer before left, someone had to have been watching out for us! That was our only heart racing part of our trip.

We stopped for lunch and dressed ourselves in our dry pant outfits. Not the easiest things to put on since it is a lot of rubber gaskets that squeeze your ankles but the proved to be very effective. We trudged on, walking stick in hand mile after mile. Time kept ticking and the light started to fade. Looking at our map we realized we were about two miles from our campsite, and if we kept with the pace we were going we were going to be setting up our camp in some pretty dark blackness of night. We decided to step it up and just bust through the next two miles. We covered that ground in fourty minutes, pretty good good for carrying 30 - 50 pound packs through rocky rivers with fast flowing water.

We arrived at campsite nine after covering 10 miles in 7 hours and 43 minutes. It was a welcome treat to get out of the dry pants and into some warm wool socks and eat some warm chili and soup. The night was a lot warmer than we were anticipating which made sleeping very easy; the morning however was a little more chilly than we would have liked.

We held off putting our wet dry-pants back on as long as we could as we packed up our camp. Once we got them on and got back in the cold river though, we warmed right up. We hiked for another 2 miles to the point where people that want to do just a day hike can go. This is where we saw the first person we had seen on the hike. We had been the only two that day to hike all the way through the Narrows and everyone wanted to talk to us asking us how it was and if it is any different on the upper portion. We felt like our own little hiking celebrities. We saw a lot of neat waterfalls, of course the cool narrow part of the Narrows amongst other things. Unfortunatley, the walls are so high that it doesn't let a lot of light in making it very difficult for our pictures to turn out. We didn't take many of the canyon because it just turned out to look like a rock wall. My advice, get a permit, pack your bag and take the adventure of doing all 16-miles of the Narrows.

By the time we got out of the canyon after hiking about 6-miles in 5 hours and 5 minutes, we accomplished all 16-miles in 12 hours and 49 minutes. That is of course excluding the overnight part and is just reffering to hiking specifically. All in all, a LOT of fun.

Our hike started at the top right of the map where the upper red line begins. Follow it all the way to the end of the red line and that is what we did. Ignore the second red line, that is a different canyon that connects to the Narrows.

Family time

This last weekend, October 16th through the 19th, we had most of Carynns family come up and visit us. We were excited to see everyone and get a chance to host them and show them around what we call home. After everyone had arrived very late, or early depending on how you look at 2:30 in the morning, they had a nice liesurly morning. I had to work all day but Carynn got to go down into the park with her family and granparents and do a little hiking, go to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants here and do a little shopping with everyone.

Thursday night I had arranged a big paintball game between our family and my friend Bryce and his brothers who were also up here visiting. We triumphed the first game which was great considering the majority of our team had never played before. The second game was not so lucky, it was what some call being "skunked" "wiped out" "annialated." Our whole team was demolished by Bryces team and I don't think we got one of their players out. The third game was a little more balanced but we still lost. I think everyone on both sides really had a great time.

Saturday was kind of the big day. We started off early in the morning on an ATV ride with our orange vests and all due to hunting season. We had rock wall climbing challenges, ping pong competitions and skeet shooting. We all headed back down into the park after all that and hiked Angels Landing. Carynn really wanted to take everyone on that, and I think it provided a challenge and surprise for all of them.

Sunday morning we went on one more ATV ride to some different trails. Afterword, we all said our goodbyes and I went back to work. It was a lot of fun having them all up here being able to do everything. For those of you who haven't come up, well time is running out!

1. When city kids get thrown into the country they want to get their hands on anything they can.

2. The paintball crew

3. The fam at the top of Angels Landing

Catching up

So some time has gone by and we haven't been able to share our little adventures because of how busy the resort has been the last couple of weeks. We just wanted to post a couple of pictures of some of the hikes we have done.

Emerald Pools:

This is one of the more popular hikes in Zion, and for good reason. It is something that any hiker, regardless of skill, can do. We hiked to all three pools, however they were more like little ponds or just water flowing over rocks since the water was so low. The pictures of the waterfalls didn't exactly turn out and only the upper pool was something worth taking a picture of. Instead, we decided to screw around a little and take fun pictures of us. I don't remember why but I was hiking in flip flops. This soon turned out to be hiking in my bare feet and made it very interesting climbing on rocks, especially when I would set the camera timer and have to run back to Carynn to make it in time.

It was a fun hike that was short but enjoyable. Once we got back to the Zion Lodge, right at the end of the hike, we saw the entire grassy field in front of the lodge covered with deer. They were very comfortable with all the people around taking pictures which made it nice to watch. One Doe and its Fawn snuck right up behind us about three feet away. That was a pretty neat little experience.

This is actually a hike that is kind of off the radar as far as public hikes go. Though it is easily accessible from the canyon road, not many people know about it. It is a pretty easy hike down in to a river bed then under the road. The reason it is so elusive is because of the petroglyphs you hike to. There is also one small red triangle that is painted on, known as a pictograph. So to clarify, petroglyph means etched or carved into stone and pictograph means painted on. We decided to hike up the canyon a little and take some other pictures and look around. It was an enjoyable hike to just get out for about an hour. It was neat to see these carvings and just wonder what they mean and what caused the Indians (Freemont I believe) to pack up and move out

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water." Carl Reiner

For the last couple days, the weather forecast has been for a wet weekend up here at Zion Ponderosa. As we entered into Friday, nothing but blue sky and a slight chill in the autumn air. As I relaxed in our trailer while Carynn was hard at work at the front desk dealing with drunk women and freezing campers, I noticed a slight breeze coming from our vents. This struck me as odd since I had the thermostat cranked to eighty degrees and yet, was wearing my coat. Turns out our propane tank had gone dry and I didn't know how to turn our reserve on. I spent a good majority of my evening outside trying to figure it out with no luck. I gave in and gave our maintenance man a call. Turns out it is pretty easy to turn on the reserve but that is beside the point. We got our heat back around eleven at night, just in time for Carynn to get home. We were lucky since we woke up to a frigid air outside that once you breath it in it seems to wake up every ounce of sleepiness in your body. I spent most of my morning working outside in the cold to the point where I couldn't feel my fingers... and then it started. The air became cold enough, the clouds became dark enough, and sooner than I would have liked, I became wet enough. I am not talking of rain however; snow started to fall lightly at first, then before we knew it we were involved in what seemed a white out. Add wind to the situation and it made for a tough day to be outside. Turns out fall came and went pretty quick and winter wasted no time at all.

Pictures of the first snow fall. Of course it didn't all stick but it was a pretty white day here at the resort.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

365 days and counting...

This last weekend we surpassed the one year mark in our marriage! We decided to take advantage of the opportunity and spend it in glamour. We ran off out of the resort on sunday the fifth (our actual anniversary) and headed down to Las Vegas! Some may find that a little odd beings that it was conference weekend but it turned out very enjoyable. We were able to listen to the first session of conference on our way down by radio. By the time we arrived at our hotel we were able to catch the second session, however I think Carynn enjoyed most of it as I passed out on the bed being exhausted from working earlier that morning and driving.
We stayed at the Stratosphere hotel in a "Garden Spa" room. Sometimes I wonder where hotels come up with their names. Not only was there not a garden in the room, let alone a single plant, the "spa" portion of the room consisted of a jetted tub. We went there knowing the room was going to be pretty basic though, and don't get me wrong, the jetted tub was superbley AWESOME! It was like a mini hot tub with the jets and all. That was the main pull for us in getting that room. Not to mention that it only cost around $53.00 a night so you can't argue with that.
We headed out onto the Las Vegas Strip that night and quickly realized that we should have taken the car. Between our hotel and the Wynn (the next major hotel on the strip worth seeing) was empty lots making way for new large hotels. Carynn was having a lot of pain in her shoulder and neck that made her walk even longer. On the plus side for her, she got a lot of shoulder rubs whenever we had stopped to look at something.
After walking for an hour and finally making it to the Wynn, we were starving! Our original plans were to eat at our hotel but an hour walk back didn't sound appealing. We started our search for a concierge and found everything but. We found a woman (a dealer) that didn't speak english and still tried to understand and give directions. The other find that is worthy of note was the lady that basically told us that we weren't dressed nice enough to eat at the Wynn (Shoulder Shrugs). She did direct us to a great sushi restaurant called RA and that is where we spent our anniversary dinner.
After over stuffing ourselves with raw fish we were moving on. We stopped at Circus Circus on our way back and watched some acts then headed back to the hotel.
Our next day was very exciting, I learned how to play craps while carynn got ready. I won some money then broke even. We had some shows planned for that evening so to fill the time until then we went to the top of the stratosphere, the tallest point west of the mississippi. We took some pictures and had some laughs and some hot dogs for lunch.
We drove down to the other end of the strip and filled the rest of our time by walking through the super expensive and posh clothing and retail stores. We had fun leading the sales associates on by showing a lot of interest in the most expensive clothing. I had to stop myself from letting the clerk undress a manikin so I could try on a cashmere jacket. We also had a guy trying to sell us a phone that cost upwards around $7,000.00, and that was the CHEAP one!!
The time came for us to start our evening of entertainment, the way it was supposed to be. We ate dinner with Kings and our fellow Russians at the "Tournament of Kings." For those of you who have not done that, you recieve an entire cornish game hen, a role, some vegetables and no silverware. We ate and watched some great jousting amongst other competitions on horseback as well as some great sword fighting. Carynn even got to experience dirt being kicked into her face and food when the horse rode right by us. We had great seats on the front row.
Once we were well fed, we ended our night with passion, romance, deciet and horror... the theatrical way. We bought tickets to "The Phantom of the Opera" and it was INCREDIBLE. For anyone that loves that story, this is a must see. There is no intermission and all of the song dialogue that can get a little repetitious has been removed. Our seats were upgraded for free upon arrival which gave us a direct center view of the stage from the balcony. The theater itself was un-real! It was constructed specifically for this show and designed to replicate the actual paris opera house where the story takes place. The special effects were absolutley fabulous and is a definite must see in Vegas! I won't ruin any surprises the show has, but the chandelier is like none other created for the Phantom!
Our final day was spent with my sister Katie and her husband Tyler. We went over to there house and played with Maycee until Tyler got home from some police training. Tyler let me check out his police gear which was pretty cool, then we headed off to get some pizza for dinner.
We had a lot of fun spending time together and with Katie and Tyler. We spent the night at their house and headed back to the resort early the next morning. Top of the World, West of the Mississippi, overlooking the Las Vegas Strip
The cool round escalator that I just had to get a picture of!Our hands agains Shaquille O' Neils Hands...Freaky!

Us at our "Tournament of Kings" dinnerAmazing Show!Playing with our cute little niece Maycee!
This is a ride at the top of the Stratosphere. The Japanese man that you hear was providing a lot of entertainment for enveryone watching.