Category Archives: NAT’L PARKS & OTHER TRAVELS

Hole N’ The Rock, an unusual Utah home

Almost 100 years ago, Albert Christensen began carving a home for his family out of this rock near Moab, Utah.  No, that’s not our Jeep in the upper left hand corner.  Just above the “C” is a 65 foot chimney for the fireplace.  The only natural light coming into the home, is from the windows in the three front rock openings.
Front view, Hole in the Rock
We had driven past this place many times and thought it was just a tourist trap.  Well it is, but we were also impressed to see how people actually lived in this big rock.

view of rooms, Hole in the RockWhat’s described as an “engineering marvel”, took 20 years to make this 5,000 square foot home.  Albert excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone with his hand tools.

Fourteen rooms are arranged around these huge pillars.  The summer temperature never varies from a comfortable 72 degrees.

view of the artist's work, Hole in the Rock When Albert wasn’t carving rooms out of this sandstone rock, he painted religious and historic pictures.  He also taught himself taxidermy, when he found animals that didn’t survive the harsh winters.  We considered Albert to be very talented, but his mounted animals were weird.  His wife must’ve really loved him a lot, to allow these grotesque looking animals in her home.   view of the wife's doll collection, Hole in the Rock

After raising two boys, Gladys indulged in her feminine side by collecting dolls.  She displayed them in her pink carpeted bedroom.  At least her dolls could enjoy the elegant dresses she couldn’t wear in this desert environment.

To supplement their income, a large kitchen was carved out of the sandstone to serve dinners to travelers.  To make a deep fryer, Albert carved that out of sandstone too.

view of two rooms, Hole in the RockWe enjoyed our walking tour through the furnishings and tool displays of their life, as it would have been in the early 1900’s.

The Hole N’ The Rock was named by the National Geographic Traveler’s Magazine as one of the top 10 roadside attractions in the USA.  To encourage people to stop, the new owners added a gift shop and small zoo.  If you have ever wondered what living in a rock would be like, this is the place.  Also, visit this website: http://www.theholeintherock.com for more information.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Our bucket list includes a quest to visit all 59 National Parks.  The Capitol Reef National Park is in an isolated area of Utah, which allows for a peaceful hiking experience.

It’s located on the Scenic Byway 12 route which travels through 3 national parks, 3 state parks, a national recreation area, and a national monument.  Yes, I will be linking these areas for your enjoyment in future story’s about our travels through the 124 miles of the Scenic Byway 12 route.

Capitol Reef natl park

The trails in the Capitol Reefs National Park took us up and around some cliffs for a panoramic view of the many spires, ridges and domes.  The park was named Capitol Reef, because the whitish sandstone domes resemble the Washington D.C. “Capitol” Building.  The “Reef” refers to the high uplifted ridge, which presented a considerable barrier to early settlers.

Capitol Reef red flower

I’m always amazed at how flowers manage to bloom in such inhospitable environments.

Capitol Reef white cactus flower

Capitol Reef purple flower

I would appreciate your helping me identify these cactus beauties for me.

I believe the red flower is the Crimson Hedgehog cactus, but the white cactus and the bluish lavender flowers are a mystery to me yet.

On our bucket list, Gliding in a Sailplane

My husband and I took our first ride in a Sailplane over 15 years ago at Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix, Arizona.  We enjoyed it so much that instead of crossing it off, we’ve kept this on our bucket list.

On a recent trip through Arizona, we returned to the Turf Soaring School at Lake Pleasant for what is now my fourth sailplane ride.Getting strapped in Glider

It was like stepping back in time, when we were greeted again with hello’s from Bebop, their white parrot mascot.  The owner claimed that this (blankety, blank) parrot can live for 100 years.  Well, Bebop must be almost as old as I am.

Release Glider tow rope

Part of the pre-flight check list is making sure the release handle will detach the 200 foot rope from the tow plane.  As you can see, I got to practice this important task of tugging the yellow, ball shaped release handle.  The training includes all aspects of gliding, but I wanted to relax(?) and enjoy the flight.

Glider LiftoffCarl Baxter, the aerobatic instructor, asked what kind of G-force ride I wanted.  Since he would be seated behind me, I would have to verbally let him know if and/or when I needed to stop the aerobatic ride.

Glider under tow over Lake ParadiseI’m a confirmed adrenalin junkie and like to get my money’s worth.  Well, I certainly did!

He performed some loops, rolls, wing overs, a cloverleaf (90 degree turn), and my favorite, a hammerhead stall.  Buzzing the airport

I have to admit that a few times while my mouth was saying “oh wow, this is fantastic”, my brain was thinking “oh crap, this is scary.”  Then he flipped the plane to an inverted flight and watched the ground zoom by, as we hung upside down.  Glider returned to earth

Since there weren’t too many thermals to keep us airborne, we did a low (dive bombing type) pass.   This then took us up and over the airport buildings, so Lee could get our photo.

We then turned back towards the runway and came in for a smooth landing in front of the airport.

I found this video on-line of a flight that was taken last year at the Turf Soaring School.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WtEpVE5_aE   This will give you an idea of what we saw and some of the aerobatics we enjoyed.  Note: the creaking sounds are the plane’s wings, not my body.

On my bucket list, a Paraglide Flight

Paraglide 1Paragliding is one of the easiest ways to “share the air” with our feathered friends.  To soar with the eagles has been one of my on-going, bucket list wishes.

We arrived at sunrise on top of the Point of the Mountain launch area for a “Tandemonium Paragliding” lesson and enjoyed watching gliders sail off the cliff.

Paraglide 2

A non-motorized, foot-launched paraglider is designed with an inflatable wing to keep you aloft for extended flights and soaring, while riding with the currents in the air.

Paraglide 3We made lazy circles in the sky just like a large hawk, with me as his linked prey.  This is considered the simplest form of human flight and my tandem master made it seem effortless.

Using air currents and shifting our body weight from side to side, we searched for thermals that would lift and extend our flight.

Paraglide 4The landing area is smooth and noticeably clear of any rocks.  We  just lifted our feet and glided to a stop on a pad that’s built into the bottom of the paragliding apparatus.

If you are also an adrenalin junkie, go to the website: www.tandemoniumparagliding.com and sign up for a fun experience in Salt Lake City or a flight center closest to your area.

On our bucket list, a Hot Air Balloon Ride

­If you need to get somewhere fast, a hot air balloon is not the way to travel.   That’s why our bucket list included the experience of floating through the air like, or in this case with, a balloon.

Balloon 1Our children decided to fulfill this wish and surprised us with an anniversary gift of a hot air balloon ride.

They told us we would be picked up at 6 a.m. and to wear wind breakers.  We weren’t allowed to ask where, what or why!  Although having to get up that early in the morning, helped narrow down the bucket list of possible surprises.

Balloon 2

Balloon 3

 

Our certificate said it so well.  “We broke the bonds of gravity and ascended towards the heavens over the historic mountain town of Park City, Utah.”

Balloon 4I’ve read that you can’t really steer it, ­and it only travels as fast as the wind blows.  But we landed as planned, and on time, in a field with the chase vehicle waiting to pick us up.

After completing our ride in the “Dreams Aloft” balloon, we celebrated our safe journey with the traditional champagne toast.  We then received certificates that are proudly displayed on an office wall.

We can only describe flying in a hot air balloon as one of the most serene, enjoyable activities we’ve ever experienced.   If you are an adrenalin junkie like us, check out this high flying experience at the website: www.pcballoonadventures.com and then let us know about your balloon flight.

Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake, Utah

Utah has many unique and unusual sites worth visiting.  The Spiral Jetty, near Rozel Point definitely fits in this category.

2-Spiral JettyIn 1970, Robert Smithson built the 1,500-foot long, 15 foot-wide counter clockwise coil out of mud, salt crystals and basalt rocks.

He hired a contractor with two dump trucks, a tractor and a front-loader to move 6,650 tons of rock and earth from the shore into the water.

The sculpture juts out into an isolated area of the Great Salt Lake known as Gunnison Bay and is large enough to be seen in photographs taken from space.  IMGP1078The Spiral Jetty is located about 16 miles from the Promontory Golden Spike National Historic Site.

Our jeep easily took us over the unpaved, rock strewn roads.  We would not recommend visiting this area in anything but a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle.

We visited the area when Utah was experiencing a drought and the basalt rocks and salt crystals were very visible.  Although the Jetty is usually below the water line, the best time to visit is in fall when the water level is at it’s lowest.

Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah

The legacy of the Golden Spike Ceremony lives on at Promontory’s National Historic Site, even though both engines were scrapped and sold for $1,000 each by the early 1900’s.

Jupiter 3 crop119 copy cropped 2

A four year labor of love completed the accurate replicas of the Central Pacific (CP) Jupiter and Union Pacific (UP) No. 119, in time for the 110th anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony.  Disney employees did the painting and lettering of the gas burners, and the wood in the tender served only to hide the natural gas tank.  In 1991, the engines were converted to burn their original fuels, wood for the Jupiter and coal for No. 119.

two enginesWatching the trains rolling along the tracks and viewing the exhibits and pictures in the Visitor’s Center took us back to that time when the 1st Intercontinental Railroad was completed.  What really gave us a deeper historical perspective,  was the 1.5 mile walking trail.  We viewed evidence of construction methods used by simple tools, sweat and an amazing amount of endurance.  We walked on the original track railbed and saw drill marks where workers blasted the rock away, which brought to life the pictures displayed in the visitor’s center.

The 14 mile auto drive on the railbed allowed us a closer view of the dirt fills, a stair-step cut, rock and wood culverts, and a distant glimpse of the Great Salt Lake.  The self-guided drive includes the spot where the CP workers completed 10 miles of track in one day and the Union and Central Pacific’s parallel grades. 20-Engine & Sign copy

Interestingly, the parallel grades continued for 250 miles without any track being laid down.  Congress forced the two companies to agree on a meeting place.  They finally chose the midway point at the end of the track for each railroad company, which was at Promontory Summit.

Golden Spike National Historic Site is located near the ATK Aerospace Center where you can walk among the rockets on display.  Also, another unique site is the Spiral Jetty which is 16 miles to the southwest.