Monday, October 31, 2011

On to the the next National Park...

"Our National Parks do not belong to one state or one section....they are national properties, in which every citizen has a vested interest. A visit inspires a love of country, begets contentment, and contains the antidote for national restlessness....He is a better citizen, with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the National Parks."  Stephen Mather  NPS Director 1917-1929

 The next park we visited on our NP loop was Zion canyon.

It is incredibly amazing how much each canyon is completely different from the others. Zion Canyon has the Virgin River running through the bottom, and carving out the massive stones. The colors here are so very strong, vibrant and beautiful.

The entrance into the canyon runs through an amazing mile-long tunnel, that was carved out of this huge mountain of rock. The builders thoughtfully included small openings in the tunnel wall for 'viewpoints' out on the incredible scenery. In the photo above, look above the parked car and you will see one of those openings in the tunnel. Imagine the tunnel at that level running through those rocks, and what a feat that was. The sheer size in overwhelming and awe-inspiring.
This canyon is in Utah, and so the formations have very biblical names, thanks to our Mormon neighbors, including the name of the canyon itself. The above photo shows the '3 Patriarchs', and the one below the 'Great White Throne'. Appropriate, wouldn't you say? 
In this canyon we did a lot of walking at the bottom, instead of along the rim like at the Grand Canyon. We took a 2 mile hike along the Virgin River to the spot below. At this point the trail crosses the river and keeps on going. You can see people doing just that, however it was at this point that we stopped for a rest and turned and headed back. Each canyon boasts that it has the most beautiful hike in the world, and while you are on it I think you agree with each one. This was so very beautiful, and I'm so glad I live in an era of cameras, so that we could bring home our photos to remember this place.
 This is some of what it looked like on our way back up the trail. It was the perfect time of day, for shadows and light (late afternoon) and for pure enjoyment. (Do click on the bottom photo, for the beauty of what we saw, and you can see the train we were walking on.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welcome to the Grand Canyon

 I was more than a little intimidated to post on this most auspicious National Monument. It is so wonderful and magnificent, that no photos of ours could ever, ever communicate it adequately. However, it was the reason for this particular vacation...and we enjoyed our two days there immensely. In the photos below, be sure and click on them to enlarge. They are worth seeing much bigger!

 We enjoyed the best weather and therefore light for viewing the Canyon. We drove from Flagstaff, and entered the south rim park from the east on our first day. We managed to get the the center of the south rim by evening. We walked a lot between view points, and enjoyed the relative quiet this provided.

 What amazing colors and formations.

 Our next visit, we arrived at daybreak and parked in the large parking lot in the center of the south rim, and headed west walking and using the park shuttle. We got the two photos of the canyon in early light with a canyon raven included, surveying the majestic scene. There are two posted scriptures along the south rim, with psalms inscribed. It just added to the wonder. When we got home I looked them up and found that the original brass scripture plaques were removed in 2003, but thankfully two have been posted again in wood.

 Here is one of the most famous of spots along the south rim...the Bright Angel Trail. This is where the infamous mule rides go down to the bottom of the canyon. We walked down the trail about 1/4 of a mile until we passed through a stone arch (along with hundreds of other tourists).

 We eventually reached the western-most point of the south rim at Hermit's Rest, and did just We each got an ice cream bar and sat and drank in the beauty as we ate.

The Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon doesn't look big enough to have have carved out all this, does it? From the bottom though, the river looks a lot bigger.
What a great experience it was, and will long be remembered.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

 A friend of mine shared some of her bumper crop of green peppers with me.  It inspired me to make another try at stuffed peppers.  I made them a few times when we were first married, but never found a way to make them that we really liked. 
 This time I tried a Mediterranean-style recipe.

 It included a Bechamel sauce and a slice of tomato on top.

All done.  They were good.  Certainly better than what we have tried in the past.  But I'd say the best part was just putting them together.  I enjoyed the process a lot.  The flavor was interesting due to some unusual spice additions, including cinnamon and allspice.  Cooking is such an adventure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy 90th!

 Larry Charles Asmussen
Born October 17, 1921
90 Years Old Today

Larry & Bethel Asmussen
Married 67 Years

We are so privileged to call this man Father. A life well lived and a man who is finishing his race well.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Death Valley National Park

Actually, Death Valley is a relative newcomer to our National Park System. It has been a National Monument since the 1920's, but was designated a National Park in 1994. I had been there before as my Dad loved it, and would take us on our summer vacations on the way to Los Angeles. But the insurance man had never been, so it was on our list of things to do.

Although this looks like desert terrain, and could be what the valley would look like, there is really very few sand dunes. This was taken on our way down to the valley floor from the west.

This is more like what you typically see for 'landscape'. When we reached the valley, we turned north and drove this road to the infamous 'Scotty's Castle'. It was a beautiful morning, and we enjoyed the strangely beautiful drive.

And this is Scotty's Castle. Not Scotty's at all. Isn't that interesting? He lived in a small house within walking distance of this one, but this belonged to his friends and partners, a couple from Chicago. Such an interesting place to live, and quite a remarkable dream to make this happen in this particular place.

After we drove back the way we had come, we continued south and took a short drive to a scenic vista called the Devil's garden. (Everything is called the Devil's something there...Devil's cornfield etc. Must be because it reminds people of the heat of the place they are sure doesn't exist??)

Isn't that amazing beauty? People with eyes to look can see beauty anywhere.

After we lunched at the only tourist stop...Furnace Creek Inn... we continued south to the salt flat basin. I already posted about that, when it was 112 degrees with a hot wind. Doesn't that remind you of Yellowstone? It did me. Such interesting diversity, even in Death Valley. We did not continue on south from here, but turned back instead to go east and find the main road to Hoover Dam. A very interesting and enjoyable day in this park.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today is a good day for remembering some of the beautiful places we have seen in Sept. We are so blessed as a country to have our National Parks, and our natural wonders set aside to enjoy. I am planning to share a few of my favorite photos from each Park we visited, starting with Yosemite. I am amazed that we have never visited this park before. We quickly found out that we could not see everything in one day, not even by driving. It is a big piece of land with really huge rocks! We are already planning to go back, especially as it's only a day's drive from home.

A land of granite slabs, mountains and cliffs with waterfalls.

' El Capitan', one of the most famous pieces of granite (slab, hill, mountain, cliff?) in the park. Later the insurance man said this was his most favorite and awe-inspiring sight of the whole trip. I will show you mine later. This photo (or indeed any other) cannot display the magnitude of this wall of rock. It is truly amazing. We found that the village (or main tourist area) is in the bottom of the canyon, at the base of these walls. We didn't get to go south from there, but instead headed up and then out going east along the rims.

This is looking back over the rim at just a few of the granite cliffs. What magnificent beauty.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Very Best of Harvests

 This morning our newspaper said the gardening season was over for the winter. But I wondered if
they knew how many flowers were still left? I had enough for these
two wonderful bouquets, made from late dahlias, glads, phlox and butterfly bush blooms,
with a little fall color thrown in.

These are my favorite things to harvest...and it's been a bumper crop.

We are home, we had a WONDERFUL vacation, and I will be posting
a few favorite photos from the 5 National Parks we visited. Summer was extended, and now it's right into autumn. A great way to see summer depart!

Peach Shortcakes

A treat at the end of the growing season.  My husband is strongly fond of strawberry shortcake, and peaches are his favorite fruit.  Naturally, it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor to try mixing the two together.  :)  At least in West Virginia, this was the end of the peaches for the year. 
Until next year...