Thursday, June 30, 2011

UTAH - MAY 2011

We decided to make our way to Salt Lake City to check out that capitol. Our first stop was actually in a small corner of Arizona in the Virgin River Gorge between Nevada and Utah at the Cedar Pocket campground. In 1973, that section of Interstate 15 which runs through the winding and scenic gorge was the most expensive to build at a cost of $100 an inch.

A reason we like Cedar Patch Campground

Another reason we like Cedar Pocket Campground

Ray, the camp host, attracted tiny squirrels that looked like chipmunks and All Kinds of birds to his site. He showed us the morning dove in the tree below. He thought he was fooling us until we noticed the bar code on the bird's tail.

Ray told us to take the dirt road across the bridge if we wanted to see a Joshua Tree forest, a gypsum mine, cattle and perhaps some campers. We did.

Driving Cedar Patch Road

Joshua Trees and a lone camper

Cattle on an open range

Desert Color

As we followed Hwy 91 which was once the main road into St. George, this tree caught our eye.

In Santa Clara this fine building caught our eye.

This was once the home of Jacob Hamblin, an explorer, pioneer and peacemaker with Indians. The slanting front porch was used to dry fruit and herbs. Jacob grew apricot and peaches to supply the cotton-producing families who had been sent South to this area by Brigham Young. This area thus got the nickname Dixie. We had passed remains of homes and a fort that had been deserted due to drought or ravaged by torrential floods from the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers.

Another day we toured St. George’s Historic District with its well-preserved brick buildings. Several were open with free tours available.

Brigham Young’s Winter Home

Another day trip was to Zion National Park. We had a picnic lunch under a tree that must have been the home for the several caterpillars that were attracted to Mike’s jacket. The shuttle was a relaxing way to see and hear about the sights in the canyon. We walked as far as the Riverside Trail was open seeing falls, squirrels and water-loving plants hugging the rocks.

On the Riverside Trail

These delicate blooms were hanging from the wet rocks

The high water made going into The Narrows impossible

Squirrels, tadpoles and throwing rocks into the stream made the trail fun for kids

The tunnel on road to the upper canyon

The sliprock of the upper canyon

Coming down we tried to spot the windows cut out of the rocks for the tunnel

The look of spring in Springdale -- bright new leaves glowing against the dark

Continuing our way north, we drove across Hwy 14 from Cedar City into Long Valley Junction. This was the first of many reminders that Spring had not yet decided to stay or come in parts of the country. We passed dripping icicles, deep snow banks, downed trees, and overflowing streams along the climb up to 10,000 foot elevation.

The wildlife made the 2-mile dirt road into Camp Lutherwood worth while.
Cotton-tail deer?

We do not know the names of these yellow and black birds that liked our mirror.

We made our way along the meandering Sevier River and Hwy 89 to beautiful Red Canyon. The Forest Service campground and the weather were ideal.

Hiking along a trail in Red Canyon

Having been to Bryce Canyon twice, we just looked at the hoodos from above at a few overlooks and did not hike down any trails as we did in the past.

A great description of the sights in Bryce

Bryce Amphitheater from Sunset Point

Some hikers seen going off the Queens Garden trail

An arch or bridge? Arches are carved by rain and frost erosion;

bridges by water erosion

What name would you give this?

The story of the 10-mile ditch that was hand dug across the plateau to bring water from the Sevier river down to Bryce Canyon and the town of Tropic again impressed us.

Part of the Ditch at Water Canyon

The Kissing Rocks

We drove out to Tropic and then to Kodachrome Basin. In Tropic we had lunch and Mike got on the Internet. The ranches beyond Tropic appeared so desolate as they stood, small and insignificant, below the huge rock plateau looming beyond them.

Getting on the Web at the city park

Kodachrome Basin has towering sandstone spires or chimneys jutting up from the desert floor that change in color and shadow as the day progresses. Because of the colors and contrasts the park got its name in 1949 with permission from the Kodak Film Company. What would its name be today if named for today’s photo technology? Because of the heat we only walked the short nature trail, enough to get a feeling for the place.

We passed this sign enough times to get this photo. Unusual signs, which we see a lot, are just too hard to stop for in the RV.

We visited Panguitch (Big Fish) as we remembered its vitality and its odd name from our last visit. There were fewer shops open than last visit but we enjoyed the cowboy memorabilia in and outside Cowboy Collectibles. As the shop owner said, “Panguitch is on its way back.” She sells lots of her “vintage” cowboy boots to European visitors. We learned of the Quilt Walk story and why there are so many large brick houses. During the first brutal winter here back in 1864, settlers were starving. Men laid one quilt then another over the deep snow to walk the 40 miles to the nearest other settlement to get food. Later, people who worked in the brick factory were paid in bricks not money; thus enabling them to build such large homes.

Downtown Panguitch

Mike and Friends

Donna and Friend

Quilt Story Memorial

Our next stop was in Utah Lake State Park, five miles west of downtown Provo. The sunny days while in Red Canyon turned dark and gloomy all the time we were here. However the fruit trees and spring flowers in bloom made it brighter.

Lake Utah

This tree was in FULL bloom

We visited the campus of Brigham Young University and chose the Art Museum. to visit out of several other notable museums open to the public. The sculpture dominating the central spot in one gallery was especially intriguing as it was made from 80,000 lbs. of books stacked like bricks, held together only by the compression of their weight. Its shape and size were such it would fit precisely into one of the alcoves of the gallery. The facades, some straight and some slanted, resembled rock strata of different colors and textures. When the exhibit is over the books will be returned to Worldwide Book Drive to be distributed all over the world. The artist, Alan Bateman had volunteers help him create the sculpture. No photos were allowed.
In town we spotted the burnt ruins of what was the Provo Tabernacle. Its old wooden interior fueled a Christmas-time fire.

Only the walls are left standing

Many of the scenic drives were still closed due to snow but we did manage to see the Bridal Veil Falls, a double cataract falling 607 feet. We drove up the narrow road to Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, which at this time looked deserted, cold, and unattractive.

Bridal Veil Falls

On another rainy day we drove to Salt Lake City to visit the Capitol. In 2004 the reconstruction and renovation involved lifting the millions of pounds of concrete onto new foundations and devises called base isolators which will help protect the 1916 building from extreme earthquake damage. Seagulls, the State bird, adorn the ceiling on the Rotunda dome as they, according to lore, appeared to eat the crickets that were devouring the crops of the new settlement. This was taken as a sign that this was a special place.

Rotunda was finished in 1936 with WPA murals

One of 4 allegorical sculptures illustrating important values and ideals fundamental to Utah’s culture: Arts and Education, Immigration and Settlement, Science and Technology, Land and Community

Unique mirror-like patterns in granite

At the Temple Square we were greeted by two Temple guides that were eager to show us around and answer our many questions. One was from San Bernadino, the other from Brazil. Only young women are selected to be guides at the Temple.

The Temple (no visitors allowed inside)

A model of the interior of the Temple

Statue of Christ - A very awesome sight!

Some children were so excited when they spotted the statue, just like they do when they see Santa.

One of the many tulip beds in and around the Square

The organ inside the Tabernacle

Inscription along walkway expressing Morman beliefs

We never made another trip to Salt Lake City so we did not get to see some of the many more attractions of this interesting city. Since many of the campgrounds further north were still closed, we decided to go south. We passed by a huge power plant near a narrow rock outcropping and then a sign for a town called Helper.

Castle Gate and steam from the Carbon Power Plant

Parking for the night at Walmart, we drove back to see the little town of Helper.
In the 1880's the railroad saw the potential of coal in eastern Utah so they purchased the land that became Helper. The coal trains were so heavy there always was a need for a helper engine, thus the name. Many people immigrated from other countries to work in the mines and on the railroad. We learned about the many mining camps that once existed in the area and the life and work of the miners at the Western Mining and Railroad Museum which was in the process of being reorganized. The museum had 3 floors of exhibits including Large Model Trains, Butch Cassidy and Outlaw History, Artifacts and Photos of Italian Immigrants, Mining Disasters and a Simulated Coal Mine.


Main Street - Helper