Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buddy update

Hi everyone ... thought I'd drop by and let you know that Buddy is recuperating well !!! :-)

This morning Buddy had a follow-up exam by the surgeon, and he's progressing wonderfully! The only issue, which has the surgeon only mildly concerned, is a slight irregularity in Buddy's heartbeat. So, in a month he'll have a follow-up EKG. Otherwise, he's fine and is relieved to have the itchy bandage off and the sutures out. I can tell that he's more comfortable now. And his fur is already starting to grow back. We'll give him a warm bath with some soothing oatmeal shampoo, and he'll feel even better.

And Buddy has gained a little weight too ... a pound and change. Doesn't sound like much, but since he lost 3 pounds, that means he has already gained back 30% of what he lost! He'll no doubt put on the other 2 pounds soon, especially if he keeps being his mischievous self ... last night, he snuck an Oreo cookie away from Sal! Ah, we've missed you, Buddy, our rascal!

So what's next for Buddy? He'll get follow-up lung X-rays in the late summer/early fall, but in the short-term, we're meeting with a veterinary oncologist (cancer specialist) next week. We'll discuss Buddy's prognosis, and whether she thinks Buddy should undergo chemotherapy. We're hoping not; poor Buddy has already endured so much!

Thanks everyone,

Monday, April 27, 2009

it's Paul's special day!

Happy birthday today to my brother-in-law, Paul, in Philadelphia!

We wish you a FUN and memorable day, Paul! :-)

Susan, Sal, Buddy & Aruba

Saturday, April 25, 2009

what's new in Susan's scrapbook studio?

Lately, I've been focused on Buddy's recovery, both in blogging and in real life, but wanted to post about a few exciting things that are happening in my world of scrapbooking.

I was kind of out of the loop, but as Buddy continues to recover (he's doing well !!), I've been joining back in some sb'ing activities, little-by-little. And it cheers me up, too.

Recently, one of my local sb stores, Cherry Blossom Studio (formerly Scrapbook Central), moved to a new (& fancy!) location and had a day of grand-reopening festivities. It was great fun to catch up with some of my sb'ing pals, plus the store had make 'n takes, raffles, etc. (nope, I didn't win anything). It's still in Coconut Creek, but is closer to me now.

And the store owner announced some great news! For some time, I've been requesting that she invite Donna Downey, a super-creative sb'ing designer and celebrity, to come and teach workshops at the store. AND SHE DID IT! Donna will be at the store in July, woo hoo! I can't wait to meet her and take both of her fabulous workshops, "Gotta Love The Everday" (fabric scrapbooking, all featuring Donna's new canvas album and embellishments) and "Bloom" (a mixed-media album).

That's the same weekend that another sb'ing celeb, Debby Schuh, will be teaching 3 workshops at the store. What a great lineup, huh?
(Aren't they gorgeous albums??? )

I forgot to mention during my Utah blogging that I noticed that one of the sb stores I visited would be teaching a really neat class in late April. Since I obviously wouldn't be in Utah at that time, I inquired if they'd be willing to package up a class kit and ship it to me? Well, it pays to ask because, sure enough, they readily agreed to do it! It already arrived. It's a set of wood letters that spell the word "WISH", and you decorate them with festive papers and embellishments. I plan to display them on a shelf when it's one of our birthdays. I just love the cupcake as the "i" ... how cute is that?

While in Salt Lake City, we spent one evening browsing in Barnes & Noble ... I love to look at books of "local interest" when we travel (you learn lots about a place!). Plus I picked up a couple of magazines with the intention of reading them on the long plane ride home (however, I was so exhausted that I slept for the entire flight, and read nothing!). Anyway ... they are both excellent special issues, I strongly recommend them (and not just because I'm a sb magazine junkie!). One is Scrapbook Play With Photos and the other is Studios (by Cloth Paper Scissors), featuring the studio of The Man himself, Tim Holtz. Good reads, chock full of inspiration!

P.S. ~ Next Saturday, May 2, is National Scrapbooking Day. Can't wait to see what fun my local sb stores have planned!

Have a creative day,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

my moose ... in print!

I'm just now getting around to sharing some fun news. That's because it all happened while we were in the midst of Buddy's health crisis.

It was Easter Sunday morning. I opened my e-mail and noticed a message from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, one of our local newspapers. It was about an Alaska photo that I submitted last December for their "Your Best Shot" feature, where locals submit a favorite photo from a recent trip ... and the best ones get published in the paper's Travel section, only one per week! A few months had passed, so I had given up that mine would be chosen. But the e-mail was from the Features Photo Editor, and she said "...Thank you for submitting. This is a great photograph. It is running in the paper [on] Easter Sunday...". Sal bolted out to the driveway to grab our copy!

So I excitedly opened the Travel section, and there it was ... smack in the middle of the page, in living color ... and BIG too! My favorite photo from Alaska! Here's the shot; you may recall it from when I was blogging during our trip in June 08:

And a bonus: the Photos Editor even blogged about it on the Sentinel's photography blog!!! I was totally stunned. And flattered.

I even received e-mail from other local paper readers, they had looked me up! They complimented me on the shot and wanted to chat about Alaska. I
t was all great fun.

It was a real boost to my spirit, and came at a time when I really needed it. Things were not looking good for Buddy then, and I was so down.

Buddy's doing well today tho! Last night, we took him back to the clinic because his bandage was slipping off ... now he's sporting a brand-new, better-fitting, bright purple bandage! So stylin' !!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

celebrating good things today

There are a couple of great things to celebrate today!

First, it's my parents' 42nd wedding anniversary! Congratulations, Mom & Dad! Enjoy your special day. :-)

Second, it's Earth Day 2009. A day to celebrate our planet (and to consider our impact on it), the environment, and the amazing creatures that inhabit it.

Sal and I plan to see the movie Earth soon; it's opening today in theaters in honor of Earth Day. I've read that the cinematography is stunning! It's a documentary that follows the life of 3 animal families ... polar bears, whales, and elephants. Sounds awesome to me!

We're also still celebrating Buddy's arrival home. He's doing well, although still not eating as voraciously as usual. But that could be because of the meds, sometimes they suppress appetite. He seems happy to be home!

Have a green day,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

welcome home, Buddy!

So we went to visit Buddy last night, fully expecting that he'd be released from the hospital later this week. But we got a sweet surprise when the nurse walked in with him and said that " ... the surgeon feels that Buddy is ready to go home tonight ..." !!! We were elated! And I think Buddy is so glad to be back home, to his favorite spot in the bed, snuggled in Egyptian cotton sheets, *wink*. Comfy.

It was so wonderful to have him back home with us last night! And Aruba was filled with delight to see him!

As luck would have it, we're having thunderstorms this morning, which scare the wits out of both Buddy & Aruba, so I've had my hands full keeping him calm. He can't have any excitement or activity, not even jumping up on furniture, for a while. And he of course had to go "out" this morning, but it was pouring rain, and his bandage needs to be kept 100% dry. So I fashioned a raincoat out of a plastic Target bag ... talk about recycling!

We're still waiting on the biopsy results, they should be in later this week. {pins and needles}

So, until he goes back for a bandage change and suture removal on April 30, we're watching him and giving him lots of meds. And love!

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts, concern, and prayers.

Welcome home, Buddy! :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Buddy's progress continues

We had another terrific visit with Buddy at the hospital on Sunday! He's doing well, making noticeable progress. :-)

Again, he came in wagging his tail, glad to see us. And he gave kisses galore!
The nurse said that he's now "eating well", which is a HUGE relief to us. Buddy had totally lost his appetite, not to mention 10% of his body weight, before the surgery. He was excited by the "junk food" that we brought him, 2 of his favorites, yogurt and peanut butter:

"Choosy (dog) Moms choose Jif!":
He was a little more tired on Sunday than on Saturday, so our visit was shorter. I snapped this photo right before we left, with Buddy seeming to ask can I go home now? with those big beautiful beagle eyes! Pretty soon Buddy, pretty soon!

Today, they'll be starting him on a couple of additional medicines. We'll see you later on Buddy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Buddy's improving

Buddy is really starting to perk up this weekend! We visited him on Saturday night, and this time he walked into the room instead of being rolled in inside the oxygen box. Actually, he has been taken off oxygen entirely and is breathing on his own now!

As soon as he saw us last night, his tail was wagging! And he gave us LOTS of kisses! He was so cute, walking in with his catheter in tow (understandably, he doesn't enjoy having it, and since he kept yanking it out, they had to put the protective "cone" around his neck, poor Buddy). He's definitely making progress, since before his surgery he was too weak and sick to do anything, even wag his tail. We're glad to see that he has the ENERGY to yank out his catheter! He's also starting to eat ... we brought him a cup of plain yogurt (one of his fave snacks) and he ate it gleefully.

I think he was genuinely glad to see us; he seemed to be "smiling".

This morning, his surgeon gave us an update: they were changing his bandage, and the chest tube and catheter have now both been removed (yay!). I'm sure that alone will make Buddy feel better!

We're hoping that Buddy can come home soon, although we realize that he needs time to heal at the hospital, with medical supervision. Maybe he'll be discharged on Tuesday??? Aruba misses him so much, she hasn't been herself, mopey and depressed. No doubt she senses our sadness too.

We'll be visiting Buddy later today, and I'll be back with another update. Wait until he sees what we're surprising him with this time ... peanut butter! ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Buddy's first post-operative visit

This afternoon we were finally allowed to visit our little Buddy.

I'll admit, I was nervous, not sure what to expect. And I don't have much stamina for being around medical "stuff" (example: when Sal had an accident in his chemistry lab back in grad school, I was the one who needed an oxygen mask in the emergency room). I get "woosy" easily.

I anticipated that Buddy would slowly walk into the room to visit, but instead they wheeled him into the room in an "oxygen box". In addition to oxygen being administered through tubes into his nose, he's in this special box for now ... it has pure oxygen pumped into it to assist his breathing and increase the oxygen level in his blood.

When we first saw him, he was sitting up, alert, and seemed to recognize us! And he gave us kisses! Always a sweetheart! He has a giant bandage wrapped around his entire midsection. We brought some of his favorite food, but he wasn't too interested in eating yet. After a while he got tired, so we bid farewell until tomorrow when we'll visit him again.

We also spoke with the surgeon, who said that Buddy is recuperating well, and that his blood oxygen levels have steadily improved. He assured us that they're managing his pain carefully, and in 4 different ways ... an epidural, through his chest tube, with a patch, and via an I.V. drip.

Although it was difficult to see Buddy full of tubes and everything, it was so great to visit our sweet angel. Sleep well, Buddy, we'll see you tomorrow! I hope he isn't scared and knows how much he's loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Buddy's in recovery

Buddy's surgeon called to tell us that he came through the surgery just fine this afternoon! We are SO thankful and relieved! Wow, it has been a big day for Buddy.

He's recovering in the ICU now, with oxygen tubes in his nose (snout), and he's on I.V.s for antibiotics, pain meds, and fluids. We can call to check on him tonight, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow before he's ready for a visit. On Friday morning, we'll find out how soon we can see him. They plan to get him up and walking around tomorrow too.

Samples of the tumor and of his lung will be biopsied, and we're hoping that they don't indicate that the cancer is aggressive and spreading. So far, though, the surgeon believes that it is not.

Buddy is such a trooper, isn't he?!? I'll keep you posted on his recovery and his return home. In the meantime, though, Sal and I thank you SO much for your calls and e-mails of concern and support. This has been a very difficult week for us, but we're hoping that Buddy can now begin a new, healthy life. :-)

surgery today

Early this morning, Sal and I met with Buddy's surgeon. Around 12 noon today, he will be prepped for surgery to remove the nasty cancer tumor from his lung, as well as a portion of his lung.

The surgeon was fairly optimistic, although cautioned of course that it's not until the surgery is underway that he'll know the full extent of the tumor. And as the surgeon entered the room, Buddy went over to greet him, wagging his tail a little bit. What a sweetheart! Buddy loves people. And he seemed more energetic and curious this morning than he has in several days, which we were so glad to see. He hasn't been eating, and has lost about 3 pounds, which concerns us all as he goes into surgery, but time is critical now to get the tumor removed.

So, after lots of hugs and kisses, a surgical nurse took him to get a fluids I.V.

We won't be able to visit Buddy today or tonight. I was really disappointed, but the surgeon said that he'll be on strong pain medication, oxygen, etc. and will need some initial undisturbed recovery time in the ICU. So, we can't have our first visit until tomorrow (Fri). The surgeon predicts that Buddy will need to be in the hospital for 3 to 5 days after the surgery.

We can't wait to have you home again, Buddy, to love and pamper you! We're thinking of you every minute ... you're our friend. Our pal. Our Buddy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

not the news we were hoping for

Tonight the critical-care veterinarian called us with the cytology results for Buddy. Unfortunately, the mass in Buddy's lung is a malignant cancer tumor. {tears and sadness}

We weren't totally shocked, the specialists had warned us that they were 80% sure of that already. But we are, of course, completely devastated by this news. Our little beagle, Buddy? The one who was just last week playing, and being his adorable, mischievous self? He has lung cancer? We're so heartbroken.

However ... one bright spot, perhaps quite bright, is that the pathologist characterized the cancer as "low-grade"; that is, it's less aggressive. We're told that this is more operable, and we plan to meet with a veterinary surgeon ASAP, hopefully as soon as Wednesday. Buddy will have to undergo major surgery (a pulmonary lobectomy) and that terrifies us! They will remove the tumor and the affected lobes of the lung. But it is his only chance of survival and recovery.

We are hopeful and positive for Buddy. We love him, he's a treasured member of our family, and we'll give him whatever care he needs.

Your continued prayers and thoughts for Buddy will be so appreciated ... I'll be back with an update after we talk with his surgeon.

P.S. ~ Thanks for thinking of me regarding my toothache ... I went to the dentist and it turns out that it's probably not my teeth, but instead is some problem with my jaw, that's causing all the pain. I'm on pain meds while I get it sorted out. But first, I'm tending to Buddy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buddy's home!

This morning we got word from the vet that Buddy was stable enough to be discharged from the hospital. It's so wonderful to have him back home with us! :-)

We're still in the difficult waiting period until Tuesday, when the lab results come back. Seems like forever from now. The internal medicine specialist seems convinced already that it's cancer, and we're hoping he's wrong! Only with the lab results will we know what course of treatment we should pursue for Buddy. It'll most likely be surgery to remove whatever is in his lung, along with the affected portion of the lung. What a big operation for such a little beagle, oh my gosh !!!

We are so sad to see him so weak, and not his normal playful self. But he's home with us again and we can pamper and love him. Aruba's excited too! Last night, we took her to the clinic with us to visit Buddy and they both loved seeing each other again. Aruba's a bit clumsy, so when we told her that we were going, she got all excited and started running around on the tile floor, and then slipped and banged her shoulder/paw on the floor, oh no! She was limping a little, but seems better now. One pup in the hospital at a time, please!

Thanks to everyone for your phone calls and e-mails of concern for Buddy. They're sure appreciated.

I'll post more about Buddy's condition as we find out...

P.S. ~ Gosh, it has been a rough few days. On top of our sadness over Buddy, now I have a toothache too! Can you believe the timing??? (when it rains, it pours, right?) I've been popping Advils like crazy. So, I'll probably be in the dentist's chair tomorrow. Yuck.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Today has been a difficult day for us.

Yesterday, Buddy developed sudden symptoms ... lethargy, labored breathing, watery eyes, no appetite. It was alarming given the mass that was found in his lung a few months ago.

We took him to the vet first thing this morning. And follow-up X-rays indicated that the mass has grown substantially in size, and very quickly. We were shocked. And devastated. :-(

Our vet referred us to a critical care facility for animals, and Buddy is in their ICU right now, and will stay there overnight. We talked at-length with a critical-care vet, and we've concluded that it would be best for Buddy to undergo more tests, including a fine-needle aspiration on Saturday. During that procedure, a surgeon will use an ultrasound to guide a needle into Buddy's lung to retrieve samples of the cells, fluid, or whatever is inside that mass. They'll be tested and we'll know better what treatment Buddy needs. The results probably won't be available until Tuesday or so, wow that's a long wait! We pray that the growth is an easy-to-treat fungal infection, which the vet warns is possible although not probable, rather than a cancerous tumor.

We so wanted to take our angel Buddy home with us overnight, to pamper him with love and attention, but realized that it's best that he stay in the ICU where he'll get round-the-clock medical care, including any I.V.'s, oxygen mask, etc. that he may need.

Aruba is looking around for Buddy, and I can see confusion and worry on her sweet little face. We hope that Buddy is strong enough to come back home with us on Saturday night.

I'll post updates on Buddy's condition as we get news ...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

back to reality

Hello from Florida! We're back home now ... flew into Tampa on Monday morning, visited with my parents for a day (even though I was a bit drowsy!), then drove to Delray Beach on Tuesday. And it was so great to see Buddy & Aruba, I missed them! They were (and still are) exhausted from all the fun they had with "Grandma & Grandpa".

Wednesday was catch-up day, lots of back-to-reality stuff ... paying bills, running errands, doing laundry, getting groceries ... you know the drill after a trip. For me, one of the best parts of coming home, though, is sorting through the big pile of held mail! Weird, I know. But I love seeing all that mail waiting for me! Our letter carrier delivered a BIG container of mail yesterday, nearly 3 weeks worth, whew! (by the way, we have a new letter carrier, and she's a really sweet person ... our previous letter carrier (what a jerk!), who I had told you was giving me so much grief, is no longer on our route ... hurrah!)

I have to admit that I'm glad to be back to the heat & humidity of Florida! Whoa, it was SO DRY in Utah! Between the cold temps, the desert air, and the 30% humidity, Sal and I were constantly applying lotion and lip balm. My skin is getting a much-needed "drink" of moist tropical air now.

But anyway, back to the real reason for this post, to wrap-up the details and pics of our Utah journey ... our last day there was spent exploring Arches National Park.

It was the final of 5 national parks that we visited, and it was just as spectacular as the others. We found that each park had its own "personality", not to mention unique geology. Arches had a fun twist because, although there are a reported 2,000 or so arches within the park, they aren't just "out there", readily visible. They're not "here, there & everywhere" for you to see. You need to look, search, and/or hike to see them. It reminded me a little of finding the "hidden Mickeys" at Walt Disney World, *wink*.

(BTW, in order to be considered an arch, an opening must measure at least three feet, in any direction.)

Of course, perhaps the most famous arch in the world, Delicate Arch, is THE arch to find. It is possible to see it from a viewpoint, but that's a whopping mile away from the arch. Instead, we opted to hike the 3-mile roundtrip trail to see it up-close and personal. That was the highlight of our visit to the park. The hike was a bit strenuous, uphill across slickrock formations at times (see below), but it was oh so worth it! The final 200 yards of the hike are along a narrow trail on the face of a steep cliff, but as you round the bend, there it is! When Delicate Arch comes into view, it's an absolutely breathtaking moment! And if you hike a few hundred more yards across some sloping slickrock, you can go right up and touch it (or HUG it ... yep, like I did!):

That "speck" underneath the arch is ME, raising my arms in victory like "Rocky" ... I made it!:
In my attempt to put what I learned in my travel photography seminar to use, I tried to capture some unique shots while in Utah, including this one of the arch ... and its full shadow: That will be a pretty unforgettable hike! So glad we did it. And we were so thankful to have gorgeous, perfect weather ... sunshine, clear blue skies, mild temps in the 50s.

Delicate Arch was a must-see; after all, it is the unofficial symbol of Utah, gracing their license plates and even featured on the cover of my Utah guidebook.

We did a variety of other hikes in Arches NP, and saw some of its famous features, including Balanced Rock. And it's just that! Looks like it could fall at any second! Sal just couldn't resist giving it a little "push", being silly, ha ha:
A few other scenes from the park:
I happened on a big 'ol hunk of Utah Agate along one of the hiking trails:
This is a feature that I call "Inverted Arch", ha ha!
As we drove back to Salt Lake City to catch our overnight flight, Sal and I chatted about our time in Utah and recalled some favorite memories (I'm a reflective traveler) ... overall, my favorite park was Bryce Canyon National Park. And Sal liked Zion NP the best. But we both agreed that the best hike among all the trails that we did was the combined Navajo/Queen's Garden/Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon NP (see my April 2 post for details and pics). Oh, and wouldn't you know it? As we passed through a small town during our drive, I spotted a scrapbook store (!!!). But, alas, it was closed, as many things are on Sundays in Utah. Bummer, that would've been store visit # 10 (tee hee)!

I wore a special shirt on the plane ride home, "Utah Rocks!". Because it does (and I love the pun)! Seems like it was made especially for me, I was so excited when I found it in a park gift shop! Sal got a matching one in blue.
And I wanted to share some general details about US national parks ... before we went to Utah, I ordered a National Park Service Annual Pass. Doing the math, I found that all of the entrance fees for the Utah parks equalled the cost of the pass ($80), so I bought it to have for any other parks we might visit in '09 (it's valid for a year). And it's a nice way to support the NPS.

Also ... have you ever wondered about the famous NPS logo, that inverted arrowhead with the various nature scenes on it? It has a cool story. It became the park service's official emblem in 1951. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water symbolize scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead represents historical and archeological values.

Thanks again for coming along with us to Utah. For me, it was a dream destination filled with 2 of my favorite things, scrapbooking & geology! I look forward to sharing our next trip, which will be more of a "staycation" right here in Florida ... we've got some fun planned in Orlando, next month.

Have a great holiday weekend ... Happy Passover! Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

just one more day in Utah

Hello from Moab, Utah!

We arrived here after spending a day exploring Capitol Reef National Park earlier this week. Funny name, great park! It's not visited nearly as much as the other parks in Utah, it's kind of remote and out-of-the-way. But worth it!

It's a hidden gem, with a geology all its own. Kind of a combination of what we saw at Zion, Bryce Canyon and at The Painted Desert in Arizona (when we visited back in 1997) all in one. One of the most distinctive geologic features at CRNP was green sand ... yes, green! The iron in some of the sand that has eroded from the giant rock formations has undergone various stages of oxidation, and one of those stages imparts a unique green color to the soil, check it out:

When I asked about a Ranger geology talk at CRNP, I was disappointed to hear that they didn't have one scheduled for that day. But, it was my lucky day after all because one of the Rangers overheard me inquiring about it, and he just happened to be a geologist! So, I got my own personal Ranger talk, we chatted one-on-one for a while about the geology of the park, WOW! He was so enthusiastic about the subject ... I think he was as excited to chat as I was! A great memory for me.
As we continued east on our way to Moab, we took the long route so that we could visit Natural Bridges National Monument. Like CRNP, it's off the beaten path, so it doesn't get tons of visitors, but it was worth the effort. It literally has "natural bridges", that is, spans of rock that have been carved out by streams flowing underneath over geologic time. They're some of the world's largest natural land bridges, and are pretty spectacular! We took a hike to stand directly underneath Owachomo Bridge, the oldest one in the Monument:

And now we're here in the quaint town of Moab, our home base while visiting Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. We spent Saturday exploring Canyonlands which, as the name implies, is a land of canyons! The weather wasn't the best, it had snowed about 4 inches overnight (the park is at a high elevation, ~ 7000 feet), and it was overcast and COLD (yes, I'm wearing a parka!, and check out the cute snowman that the park employees built, complete with a Ranger's hat!). But I'm glad that we went despite the weather, because we saw some unique canyon views (it was like a winter wonderland):
I also stopped at Moab's post office today to mail some of my scrapbooking "loot" home! Some of the delicate papers that I bought (you may recall that I visited NINE stores in SLC & Provo!) won't fit in my carry-on bag, nor do I want them (possibly) lost in our luggage. So, I'll have a package of goodies arriving at my doorstep after I get back! :-)

And I just HAD to stop at a rock shop that I saw down the road from our hotel. I found 3 specimens to add to my collection; one of them is Bixbyite, a unique black metallic cubic mineral found here in Utah. A great new treasure! Sal patiently waited while I browsed, thanks sweetheart!

We were too tired to begin exploring Arches today, plus the weather is supposed to be better (sunny and in the 50s) on Sunday, so instead we went back to our hotel room and took a nap! Ahh, we needed it! Although we've been pacing ourselves, it was a welcome break after doing lots of driving and hiking all week.

We'll spend all of Sunday exploring Arches NP before taking an overnight (red-eye) flight back to Florida out of SLC on Sunday night, and we'll arrive Monday morning. Hopefully, we'll be able to catch some zzz's on the plane! I'll post the details and pics of our time in Arches NP after we get home, I promise!

Thanks again for joining me for our journey around Utah. It has been so much fun to share it with you, and to hear that you've enjoyed it! As you can tell, we've really loved our visit to Utah. It was a whirlwind 2.5 weeks here in Utah, and it was great ... spending some time in Salt Lake City, learning more about the Mormon culture here, visiting one scrapbook store after another {picture me grinning}, trying snow skiing for the first time, being surrounded by magnificent geology in 5 national parks, finally visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and taking in all of the natural and pristine beauty of this place.

Hope you'll stop by again soon to see Where In The World? I'm going next. (OK, I can't wait to tell you ... it's Orlando in May!)

Now, time for bed. We have a LONG (but great) day ahead tomorrow! :-) Can't wait to see Buddy & Aruba soon!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

meeting more of Utah's "rock stars"

Hello from Torrey, a teeny-tiny town (population 171 !!!) in south-central Utah. It feels like we're in the middle of nowhere, it's SO remote. But this is where the next destination happens to be located on our tour of the national parks in Utah.

But before I continue with the details of our journey, I forgot to include something in my last post. Yesterday, I didn't mention that the National Geographic Channel airs a weekly show called DogTown that features dogs (and staff) from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary! It's on Fridays at 10:00 pm (ET/PT) and highlights wonderful stories of new beginnings for precious canines. Hope you can tune in for (or TiVo or DVR) tomorrow night's episode called "Starting Over"!

And now back to my regularly-scheduled blog post ...

We spent all of Tuesday exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. Like Zion, it's almost as if there aren't enough superlatives to describe it! The geology there is so unique, in fact, that there's none like it anywhere else in the world. And the scenery is such a departure from what we had just seen at Zion, the geology in the 2 parks is totally different! Taking center stage at Bryce are the famous hoodoos, which are columns of rock that have been shaped by erosional forces. And when I saw them up-close for the first time, we're talking complete SHOCK and AWE! They are so textured and colorful ... shades of pink and orange and purple and tan ... all perfectly blended by Mother Nature on what look like painted sculptures.

And I'm now "2 for 2" with Ranger geology talks! First, a Ranger was giving a geology talk while we were in Zion, and then I was so fortunate that a Ranger gave a geology talk at Bryce Canyon too! We were in an outdoor "classroom", standing on the rim overlooking the hoodoos, discussing the geologic features and formation of the park. It was thrilling for me!

My favorite hike at Bryce (my favorite so far in Utah, actually!) was the combined 3-mile-long Navajo Trail/Queen's Garden Trail/Rim Trail that forms a loop joining Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. The trail took us down into the base of the "amphitheater", where you're standing among the hoodoos ... it's surreal ... and was such a great experience, seeing them from above and below the canyon rim. And the contrast of colors ... the green of the trees (Bryce is SO forested!) against the pinks/oranges of the rock against the crisp white of the snow ... it was mesmerizing (I'm running out of adjectives)!
Here are more of my favorite memories of our visit to Bryce Canyon:
Along the Navajo Trail, there's a deep & narrow slot-type canyon called "Wall Street" (that speck at the base of it is me, no bailout required! *wink*):
an aerial view of the upper portion of the Navajo Trail (those dark "spots" are hikers heading down to the base of the hoodoos):
Sal hiking the Navajo Trail:
we saw lots more adorable mule deer, right up-close! ... here's a baby:
more scenery from our hike:
(love the colors and texture of the rock!)

We bid farewell to Bryce Canyon on Wednesday and spent the day continuing our drive east on the ridiculously scenic Highway 12. This 120-mile stretch of Scenic Byway winds its way through the huge, 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that contains incredible untouched landscapes, varying from desert filled with red-rock canyons to snow-capped mountains to dense forests of tall Aspens and Evergreens. It's a road trip that Sal and I will never forget! Interesting factoid: the GS-ENM was only recently named a monument, by presidential proclamation (Clinton in 1996). Because this area is so undeveloped and pristine, this new protected status was welcomed by environmentalists. And I heartily agree, it was a victory for nature!
Highway 12 ends in Torrey, which is just outside the 3rd nat'l park on our tour, Capitol Reef National Park. We'll spend Thursday exploring its unique geological wonders. There aren't many hotels in Torrey, but we're happy to be staying at the Best Western Capitol Reef Resort. And with this as the view from our room, what could be better?
And I'm a happy girl because I've got a great WiFi connection at this hotel too. So I'll catch you back here soon! :-)