Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Well, my weekend was wonderful. (That sentence has four out of five words that begin with the letter W.) May I just say that southern Utah landscapes can be beautiful?! Many times, I gazed out over (or stood below) magnificent red rock formations, pointing my camera in their direction, only t0 realize, as Brian pointed out, you just can't seem to capture the majesty of these views in a camera lens. The colors aren't as brilliant, the 360 degree view just doesn't fit. But I did my best. And thanks to Brian, who took a couple of these pictures).

We took lots of pictures along the way. Thanks to Mom for letting me borrow her camera! I really need to get a new one! My mom had also asked me if I would take some photos for her to use in her marketing materials for work, so I was looking for good shots of red rocks and sky with no people. So, I took nearly 300. I'm not sure how I'm going to choose which photos to share with you.

So here is the weekend in a nutshell:

Who: 6 of us... eclaires ('tis I), M, Brian, Dennis, Sarah, and Andrew.
What: road trip in a mighty Nissan Quest
Where: to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
When: departed Friday, 10 July at 230pm; returned home Sunday, 12 July at 4pm
Why: see previous post

We began our trip by turning back twice to get things we forgot. :) That seemed to become somewhat of a theme for our trip. But, who cares, right? We were on vacation! Once you're on vacation, it doesn't really matter where you go or how long it takes to get there. Plus turning back for your camera is MUST. Right D & S?

We stopped once for gas along the way. Though the sign said, "Please stay off the animals," Andrew and I couldn't resist. Actually, I'm not touching it at all. Andrew, on the other hand... such a rebel.

We started noticing a lot of smoke and realized that there was a controlled burn happening closeby. The sun peeking through the smoke was really quite beautiful.

Now, one might ask, "Why southern Utah?" Well, this is why:

Upon arrival at our friend's home in Escalante, we were greeted by the neighborhood steer and his posse. Okay, so "greeted" may not be the right word, but they kept running toward us. Isn't that what friends do when they meet? But then they ran away. We're not sure if they were upset we were there or if they were just curious. Either way, we certainly got them excited.

Dayna was gone for the weekend (on vacation up in our neck of the woods), but she kindly let us have free reign of her digs. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms. Perfect place for the six of us to spend the weekend! Friday night, after we arrived, we played a game of Settlers of Catan, talked, and then fell asleep.

Saturday morning we got up and ready for our hike to Calf Creek Falls. We saw some beautiful views along the way. The entrance to the trail is about 20 minutes from where we were staying.

We were ready to go!

Can't you tell?

The trail was beautiful.

The hike is about six miles roundtrip. Unfortunately, we didn't get started until about 10:30am, so it was a little hot.

Who could resist this photo opportunity?!

Going around the bend, about halfway there, we saw this beautiful view!

This monster mouth is trying to tell us... "just a few more minutes, and you're there!"

And there they are. Aren't the falls beautiful. No, not me... the falls!

Absolutely magnificent! The temperature right there was about 15 degrees cooler than it had been on the trail. The mist flying off the falls was so refreshing. I stood in the water for quite some time, even though the water was freezing, almost numbing. I wanted to indulge in this cool reward for having made it there! I decided dipping my feet was enough and that I might get total body and brain freeze if I put my bathing suit on and jumped in.

We ate lunch at the foot of the falls, and relaxed for about an hour before we headed back. This delicious trail mix was a hit! (Thank you Farmer's Market for providing the ingredients!)

Dennis and Andrew made it back to the start of the trail first, but came back with water for Sarah and me, after M had run ahead to tell them we (read: I) were (was) suffering from heat exhaustion. My water supply had gotten way ahead of me on the trail (Brian was carrying my backpack) and I had none. Sarah had about a 1/4 of a bottle left that she shared with me. (Note to self: start hike at 7am next time. No more hiking after 10am in the summer, for me.)

Andrew got to us first. We watered up and then rounded the bend to find Dennis like this:

I thought he looked like "the thinker", but he said, "More like the sweat-er." Yeah, it was a hot, but beautiful hike!

The sky is just so big out in the middle of nowhere. I think that's one reason I like going to small towns. You know how I love the sky, especially when it's full of beautiful clouds. Whoever first said, "It's such a beautiful day; not a cloud in sight," had a screw loose, in my opinion.

After coming home, showering, and relaxing for a bit, we drove to Boulder. (No, not Boulder, Colorado -- that's where Andrew thought we were going until we actually arrived in the Escalante/Boulder area.) Boulder, Utah: Home to Hell's Backbone Grill, where the food is heavenly.
"At Hell's Backbone Grill we serve food and drink that reflect our deep commitment to sustainability and intention to be of benefit in the world. Our ingredients are simple and honest: sustainably grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from the restaurant's own no-harm organic farm and on-site gardens, and Boulder-raised grass fed and finished local lamb and beef. We keep bees for honey and pollination and lovingly tend over 50 heritage-breed laying hens who provide the eggs for the breakfast plates."

They have beautiful grounds and we had about fifteen minutes to kill before our reservation, so we took pictures, of course!

And M relaxed a bit from the long day of hiking.

Then he rolled over and posed. :) Haha. Actually, I don't think he even knew I was taking this picture; he's always smiling like that.

Our 90210 pose:

Jen Castle and Blake Spalding, the owners and chefs operate their restaurant following Buddhist principles. At the entrance to the restaurant, they have hung Tibetan prayer flags.

We had a great evening, following a great day of hiking. This was the beautiful scene as we headed back "home" to Escalante. Sunsets make me think of home. After all, home is "out west, where the sun goes down."

Sunday morning, we went to Sacrament Meeting at a ward in Boulder and then continued on our way toward home. We drove the Scenic Byway 12. Absolutely amazing views!

A wonderful trip, with wonderful friends. I'm so glad I went.

All photos a la moi

with the exception of:

three or four courtesy of Brian,

one courtesy of Andrew,

and one courtesy of Dennis.


Dennis said...

We're so glad you came, too! And yes, bringing cameras is a must. Just think how sad it would be not to have these beautiful pictures of the trip. Glad we remembered to get ours while we were still on 33rd. (Now will you trade me some grain for ore??)

Giles Family said...

Why wasn't I invited!!! That looks like it was a blast and what beautiful pictures. I need a road trip somewhere! :) Or maybe a flight to Hawaii. Wanna??

Camille said...

Emery you are livin the high life! Is there anywhere you HAVEN'T been?? Looks like fun! :)