Welcome back to Life As Ty Sees It! It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, and we’ve been doing a lot of driving. Distances out West are a lot longer than back East. We’ve been catching up with friends, hiking, fishing, and of course Suzanne, also known as My Lovely Bride (MLB) has been working long hours doing her spiritual work. We’re glad you’re back with us and keeping up with our journey, both the earthly and metaphysical sides.
From Flagstaff, we drove to Las Vegas for a brief stop to visit friends. Jill Chambers is a retired Army colonel, and her husband Michael Peterson,a Grammy-winning country singer, had us over for dinner, and of course Michael treated us to a private concert!
We also got together for dinner with Jerry and Karen Facciani at two fabulous restaurants, Lotus of Siam and Table 34. The former is one of the 10 best Thai restaurants in the US, and the latter has great New American cuisine. We are always impressed by Jerry and Karen’s choices of dining opportunities (and of course his impeccable taste in wine!).
Our travels next took us to Zion National Park, one of the most stunning places on the planet, and one of my favorites. This photo was taken on the drive to Zion; we are still miles from the National Park, where semis aren’t allowed!
About 75% of the visitors staying in our campground were from overseas, bearing witness to the awesome scenery here in southern Utah.
This was moonrise over the escarpment near our campground…
During our visit, we got out for a couple of hikes – the Hidden Canyon trail had a couple of areas with significant “exposure” – this means that if you’re looking at your smart phone instead of the trail, you might fall a hundred feet or more, usually to very hard rocks far below… this is NOT the place to take a “close to the edge selfie”.
In another section, park rangers had rigged steel chains to hold onto as you make your way over a very narrow trail; after awhile it got to be unremarkable… well, almost. Some hikers were acting frivolously…
… while others were more focused on the trail, rather than skylarking! By the way, did you know that “skylarking” is a nautical term, meaning to play or frolic about the masts and rigging of a sailing ship? The skysails were the topmost sails on a square rigged ship, and youngsters would run up the rigging and slide down on backstays from the tops of the masts to the deck far below. (Your Faithful Correspondent has judged that he a bit old for skylarking, at least here…)
We were also able to do a bike ride up the Virgin River canyon close to sunset, when there was almost no one around. Private cars are verboten, unless you are staying at the park lodge way up the canyon. The ride upstream (AKA “uphill”) was a tad slower than the exhilarating 25-30 mph ride downhill.
Zion is also known for many “slot canyons”, which are very narrow canyons formed by rushing water. They are usually much deeper than they are wide. You would not want to be here during a flash flood, which can occur even on sunny days, if the water source is many miles away where a thunderstorm might be dropping several inches of water. The water piles up in the slot and can hit with incredible force and speed. Nine hikers died in 2017 in a slot canyon flash flood in the Tonto National Forest in northern Arizona. Eleven hikers were killed in 1997 in Lower Antelope Canyon when a 40 foot high wall of water hit them.
Road trips out west can leave a motor home pretty dirty and dusty. Campgrounds don’t allow car washing, much less coach washes, so we took advantage of a Blue Beacon truck and RV wash facility. This of course is the semi in front of us; the six kids working there did a decent job, but minus the detailed waxing I would do myself. (But then it only took them 15 minutes to my 3 hours…)
Next stop: Provo, Utah. Suzanne flew out from nearby Salt Lake City to Manchester, United Kingdom, to meet with her colleague, Mavis Pittilla, in preparation for her next book, Mavis’ biography. While Suzanne was packing, Rudy recognized that she was leaving, and decided that he was going along with her… “Sorry, Rudy, you can’t go to England; they have a six month quarantine!”
While MLB was on travel, I had a week in Utah to hike and take a fly fishing class. Hard to say which was more fun, but after taking the class, buying some waders, boots, fish-friendly wooden hand net with sampling seine net, dry and wet flies, leader material, tippets, locking hemostat, etc., etc., I set up my six-piece backpacking fly rod which MLB had given me for my birthday last year and went fishing.
I found a nice-looking spot on the Provo River and started studying the bugs suspended in the current. I picked out a tiny caddis nymph, and on my second cast, caught a brown trout, which I released. He wasn’t huge, but he was pretty, and it certainly was a decent start to my new (and very expensive, compared to traditional spin casting) hobby of dry and wet fly trout fishing. Unfortunately, the sun was setting, and I had to be satisfied with that one trout and the joy of being on a beautiful white water river in a forested canyon. (To My Good Friend Bob: “Eat your heart out, Bud!”)
We had a couple of dog problems in the campground – two loose dogs burst from a trailer and attacked Rudy and Gretchen. Before I could kick them, one had bitten Rudy, but fortunately Gretchen was unhurt. A trip to the vet was required, and of course the people responsible left town as soon as possible, before I could give them the bill. The very next day, a loose Chihuahua ran up to me, jumped up and bit me on the hand – fortunately he didn’t break the skin. Now I’m carrying my hiking stick for self-defense.
On Suzanne’s return flight from the UK, she had a three hour layover in Orlando, close to our home in The Villages. Bev Garlipp was kind enough to drive Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie to the airport so that they could spend some time with Suzanne. Needless to say, Suzanne and Ruthie were very grateful for Bev’s generosity.
When Suzanne returned to Salt Lake City, she brought a Very Special Prezzie to me from Jean Else, Mavis’ partner. I was stunned – out of a very carefully wrapped package came… My Hero… Winston Churchill… well, at least a porcelain facsimile thereof, which pleased me to no end. This original Royal Doulton figurine had been Jean’s treasure for 20 years; she and Winston share the same birthday, November 30 (1874 for Winston, a lot later for Jean!), and Winston was a Member of Parliament for Oldham, Jean’s home town. I had mentioned to Jean when we met that I was a Churchill fan, and had been to the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. (Historical trivia note: this is where, in 1946, former Prime Minister Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, stating that “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” He also advised that with the Soviets there was nothing they admired more than strength, and nothing for which they have less respect for than military weakness. (Things haven’t changed much, have they??? Hopefully, we have remembered some of the lessons from Winston Churchill’s era.) Thank you, Jean, from the bottom of my heart!!!
When Suzanne returned, we went for a hike up to a waterfall near Mount Timpanagos (11,752 ft), along the Alpine Loop in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. The exposed rock here is primarily limestone and dolomite from the Pennsylvanian Period, about 300 million years old.
The mountain and surrounding valleys are heavily glaciated, and are very reminiscent of the Alps in France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
Along the waterfall trail we encountered this impressive rockslide/avalanche chute. You wouldn’t want to be here when the rocks are moving downhill!
Finally, during our stop at Hill AFB, this advertisement on the side of a mobile kitchen truck serving authentic Korean BBQ and rice (AKA “bop”) caught Suzanne’s eye… but not her appetite, for some reason. Come on, really? “Poop gold”??? Actually, it means good luck – in Korea, people eat this meal and go out and buy lottery tickets. (Sorry, but I don’t think the slogan will do well here in the USA, although these Air Force guys seem to be quite ready to enjoy this traditional Korean food.)