Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Right now-October recap

I'm listening to:   the soundtrack from a Star is Born. It's been years since I've purchased any downloads for myself (disclaimer:   I'm really more of a "listen to whatever is on the radio" type of music person). 

 But, I so enjoyed this movie and thought I've got to have the soundtrack so that I can revisit the story line through the songs.    If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.   The movie has that classic Hollywood theme of "damsel in distress, saved by the knight in shining armor" (or in this case, slightly damaged/flawed knight).   But it also has a strong message of the need to remain true to yourself.   Paired with great casting and excellent music that supports the story line, it is indeed one of those movies that has hung around in my mind a bit longer than most.

I'm loving that  I finally made it to the national parks in UT!

 You see, back in 1999, I suggested to Hubby that with the anticipated birth of our second Thing, we should go explore the various national parks in UT, while we still just had one kid to chase after.   A week long adventure was planned, when just 3 days into the trip, I felt my ankle-foot pop and lo and behold, I'd broken my foot.   There went that trip!   And while I was wanting to make it back that way for a few years, timing never lined up such that we could get out that way during a time that the weather and crowd levels would make for an enjoyable visit.

As I started to contemplate plans for Fall Break 2018, I became determined that this would be the year we make it back to UT!

I'd also heard that the north rim of the Grand Canyon was considerably less crowded.   Curious to see the canyon from the other side, we decided to make this our first stop.

While one could certainly make the trip from our house to the Jacob Lake area in one day, with an RV covering more than 300 miles or so in a day is not "best practices".

So we took our time getting there, stopping along the way to enjoy the beauty that is SW Colorado.   I was pleasantly surprised to see some Fall colors still around Wolf Creek Pass and Pagosa Springs.   With snow in the forecast, it was likely we caught the last glimpse of color for this year.
First stop:   Friday, 10.12.18, Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO
Our morning view as we left the campground
The Spanish Peaks...back in the day this was an important landmark along the Santa Fe Trail..when this area of the state belonged to Mexico.
The view soon after crossing Wolf Creek Pass, heading into Pagosa Springs.  
2nd stop:   Navajo National Monument on Navajo Native Land in Northern AZ
Bonus points for scoring free camping!

Once we got to Grand Canyon, we hurried through the major sites.    The crowds were indeed lighter, there were a couple trails that were totally within my skill set and the views were incredible. 

Post visit Impression:   This is no place to bring an RV with a tow vehicle.   Parking is extremely limited and some of the turns are very tight.   There is a campground within the park, but in speaking to the ranger, very few of the sites can accommodate a moderated sized RV such as ours.   Instead, I'd suggest leaving the RV on the free BLM land near the park entrance and explore in just the side car.   Another lesson to remember for October visits, you lose the sun, you lose the heat in mid-October.   At over 8k elevation, the ride back to the campsite was indeed very brisk.

 Many of the park services would be closing that week as the park itself is not open through the winter months.  Cell phone coverage is spotty throughout the park and all but non-existent as one travels from Jacob's Lake south into the park boundary area.

 In all honesty, I can't really say that this side offered better or even different views.   But, I did appreciate that the sights/trails/crowd level made it all possible to see given the limited amount of time that we'd allocated for this portion of our trip.  No need to plan a return trip as I feel like we've been there-done that when it comes to all things Grand Canyon.  (although seeing it with some snow might still be worth a drive by if ever in the area)
The view leaving the BLM land where we camped outside of the park entrance.
More free camping on BLM land at Sheep Bridge Road, just outside of Laverkin, UT

From there, we headed over to Zion for what  amounted to not much more than a drive-through exploration. In order to visit the bulk of the park, visitors are required to use the park provided shuttle service. 

 Crowds were very light but even still we agreed to skip spending time on this, and instead, push on to what I was really looking forward to:  Bryce Canyon. 

I take that back on the "crowd" comment. 
While waiting for hubby to snap some pictures, a large gaggle of Harley riders pulled up alongside of Scarlett.  It provided me with an interesting opportunity to people watch, as one rider fluffed her hair, put on her shades all in preparation for her partner to snap some pictures.  I'm not sure of the ethnicity of this group, but they were clearly international visitors and seemed amused to see Scarlett perched on the side of the road.   In general, we found that this section of UT was very popular with folks visiting from Las Vegas and CA, renting cars and/or motorcycles and heading to the area for a short side excursion.

Post visit Impression:  I would like to return to Zion and spend more time exploring the trails and the inner reaches of the canyon.   October offered good weather and fewer crowds so I'm hopeful we can return to this area again.

Next stop was Bryce. 

We knew before getting there that snow was forecasted for the following day.   

With that in mind, we did the full drive while the sun was shining.  
A bit brisk at some of the view points...a sure sign that weather changes were on their way!

 Day 2 turned out to be my favorite day of our entire adventure.  
We took a morning stroll in the snow, took a brief ride in the side car and finished up with a second hike that led us down to the Queens Garden.   In addition to the exploring, I also found myself curled up with a cup of tea, a good book and a super soft blanket.   You can easily see why this became my "perfect day"!  

Post visit impressions:   Just shy of 2 full days in the park, we were able to see all the major highlights of the park.   While nicer weather would have allowed us to hike a bit further at a faster pace, I suspect it would have also led to more people on the trails.   I enjoyed having the trails pretty much to ourselves, and I could go as slow as I felt necessary and didn't worry about being in the way of others.  

This park appeared pretty popular with the tourist crowd.  On our 2nd evening in the park, I believe I counted 7 parked tour buses with more international tourists doing the selfie poses.   

That alone brought back some flashbacks to our own travels in Alaska this summer and I thought to myself, "Thanks, but I'll pass" in terms of traveling by way of bus. 

Cell phone coverage was limited within the actual campground.   However, by staying at Sunset View campground, we were centrally located to walking paths that I could explore while hubby stayed behind and tinkered on our smaller generator that was being difficult.   The park service runs the campgrounds and while there were no hook ups, the location was perfect, the site was ample in size and I believe we were one of only about 5 other units in the campground on the 2nd evening.  $30/night.   A fair trade off for the "convenience" of being within the park boundaries.

We had a tad bit of excitement on the return trip home:   After a day of navigating through a twisted path that the GPS insisted was the most direct route, where we battled heavy fog, wandering cows and icy summits, we heard a thunk-thunk-thunk sound just 40 minutes from our planned stopping point for the day.   Seems we'd blown out a tire. 

When the caution signs warn of "open range"...believe them!
Yikes:   Imagine what this road was like the day before somewhere along UT-72
After a few hours while we waited for roadside assistance, our wallet just a tad lighter after replacing 2 tires, we found ourselves arriving just as the sun set, back in the home state of CO. 

Post Trip Impressions:  All in all, an excellent adventure into the beauty of Northern AZ and UT. 

I'm feeling at a loss for words as I pause to reflect on all the loss that has occurred this past month.   The horrific tragedy in Pittsburgh this past weekend, an online friend's husband sudden death earlier in the month and another friend learning that her employer has filed for bankruptcy and she must find another job after 20+ years with the same company.  It's hard to see so many people hurting and worried.

I pride myself on knowing what to say, and almost as important, knowing when to say something.  But right now, nothing comes to mind.  And that's an unsettling feeling for me.  So instead, I will reflect on this sentiment.
I am needing:  to act-show-prove.   Act on those thoughts and plans.  Show my family and friends how much they mean to me.   And well, prove to my boss that I am critical to the success of the team, which I suppose means I should wrap up this post and get back to work.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Right now-September

I'm listening to:   the last bit of an audio book called Sing, Unburied Sing.   I tried to read it when it first came out and just couldn't get into the cadence of the author's writing style.  However, the book keeps popping up on various lists of highly recommended reads so I thought I'd give it a 2nd try. 

 Sure enough, in audio book format, I can listen to the words and follow the story.  It's still a challenging read, as the author incorporates some supernatural features such as seeing ghosts and hearing voices which is something I'm not used to in the books I typically read.   But, it's always good to push myself to reading genres of books that are outside of my usual comfort zone. 

In a broader sense, I'm listening to the thoughts in my head that say "even if it was a quiet month, update your blog" so here I am...updating the blog because the voices in my head are telling me to do that.   On the surface, I think we didn't do anything big, but as I reflect on this past month, I realize we did a few little things that are worth remembering...so here it is...the September 2018 summary. 

I'm loving that...we are all settling into the school year groove.   It took  longer than I expected for all of us to find our way.   For me, I think I had just way too much fun this summer.   Much as I enjoy my job, it's still a job and at this stage in my life, with thoughts of retirement dancing in my head, I'm finding it hard to adjust to the routine of Monday-through-Friday.   But, I think I'm there;   I'm back to waking up before my alarm (the best way to start my day), I'm back to reading a bit in the evening and hope to find myself doing more reading and less mindless surfing as a way to unwind from work. 

Thing 2 took off to the Windy City for a music festival with friends.  I'm happy to report that he came home in one piece, and had a great time.  While I don't have any pictures to share, he tells stories of hearing some great bands, enjoying some classic Chicago treats and even shared a store of some homeless dudes duking it out.   Lovely, just what mama didn't want to hear...

Both Things are doing well with their respective college pursuits.   I'm not gonna lie:  paying two tuition bills was a bit of a sticker shock, but I am loving that through planning and saving, it really was just a matter of requesting funds from an established college savings account. 

Hubby is also settling into a routine of work.   He had a business meeting in FL that we expected would include news of change, but alas, it all remains status quo.  So, status quo we shall be...taking the RV out for remote work assignments as often as possible seems to be a huge sanity saver for all. 

 This month I joined him on two of his  adventures...one to the plains of Colorado...to a little spot outside of Hugo...

While there, we took a day trip down to Bent's Old Fort...a trading post along the Santa Fe trail that the National Park service has re-built and offers a great glimpse of life along the trails in the mid 1880s..back when that part of CO was actual the border to Mexico.

We enjoyed some fabulous street tacos...courtesy of Lucy...
And then a 2nd quick over-night trip Summit county...outside of Frisco...
 As we approach the 2nd anniversary of owning Uma our RV, I realize just how much I love having this RV as part of our arsenal of fun for exploring the local area. 

I'm feeling refreshed

 This past weekend, I met with my ladies group for some fresh air in the mountains.   The weather was perfect, and while the colors were slightly past their prime, they still offered enough of a pop of color to please us.

 I'm so grateful to not only live somewhere that offers as much natural beauty as Colorado, but that I have such a great solid supportive group of friends to hang out with. 

I'm needing to stay the course.    I continue to have good success with WW...because it works...when I account for my food and activity, I see results.  I've set some goals for the 4th quarter and hopefully will be able to report by year's end that I'm closer to my target goal. 

Until next time...I'll be here...perfecting my "When I win the lottery" look...