kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Arches National Park

This is the second in a seven-part series on the national parks of southern Utah.

We left Mesa Verde and came to Arches National Park. We arrived late in the day, checked into our accommodations for the next four days (a tiny one-room cabin at Archview RV Resort, not far from the park), and ventured into nearby Moab to find some dinner. Moab is an interesting small town, very touristy. We were so busy exploring Arches and Canyonlands, we didn't have time to enjoy the town, but there were lots of restaurants to choose from and they were all delightful.

Andrew, Eric, and Bob at Pasta Jay's Italian Restaurant, Moab, UT

The next morning, we awoke bright and early and headed to the park. Our first hike was to the popular Delicate Arch. Upfront disclaimer -- photographs greatly diminish the majesty of a place like Arches National Park. The only way to truly grasp the grandeur is to see the place in person. Highly recommended!

Delicate Arch

We saw many fascinating rock formations like this (below), massive monoliths of sandstone rock, weathered by water and wind and eons of time . . . 

 . . . and unbelievable structures like this Balanced Rock . . . 

 . . . but at this park, the arch formations steal the show. One of my favorites was this Double Arch.

Look closely at the people scrambling over the rocks in the foreground, like ants. Gives you a perspective on the humongous size of these rocks.

They call these arches The Spectacles. They look like eyes.

The next morning, the guys hiked a strenuous 10-mile trail called Devil's Garden. (I enjoyed a quiet morning at the campground.) Andrew took these photos. They had a great time and were exhausted when they got back.

A high narrow ridge, with steep drop-offs on either side.

Like a window to the heavens.

One evening, we hiked through this dry creek bed. The setting sun adds drama to the beauty.

The sun setting through a small arch.

We were just getting started, so we didn't know it at the time, but Arches was high on all our lists of favorite parks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mesa Verde National Park

I've been home from our family vacation for a week and a half, and have been wanting to blog and share our adventure with you, but the two-week trip was so remarkable, so many incredible places and sights and experiences, I've been at a loss to know how to begin. But I DO want to tell you about our trip. So I'll start at the beginning of our enchanting journey through the National Parks of Southern Utah.

After picking up Eric in Dallas, we drove through northwest Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we spent the night. In Albuquerque, we wanted to ride the Sandia Peak Tramway -- we had a wonderful dinner at Sandiago's Mexican Grill (the cozy cafe at the bottom of the mountain), bought our tram tickets, waited in a long line . . .

And then right before it was our turn, this happened . . .

Disappointing, but we were fortunate. They shut the thing down; we'd have been stuck at the top of the mountain. Instead, we got our money back and found a hotel for the night in the pouring rain.

The next day, we headed north, cut northwest through a corner of Colorado, and into eastern Utah.

Passing the hours in the car.

First stop, Mesa Verde National Park. In addition to breathtaking sweeping landscapes (I could use that phrase for each park we visited), Mesa Verde is best known for these ancient puebloan cliff dwellings.

There are several scattered along the valley walls. This is likely one of the largest. Can you imagine what life might have been like living there?

Here are some examples of those sweeping vistas I told you about.

Next stop . . . Arches National Park.