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!


Denise said...

AWESOME photos, Susan! I'll catch up on the rest of your posts later, but I just had to comment on your gorgeous photography skills. "Inverted arch," ROFL!!

Momofboys said...

Great job on capturing the beauty of Utah Susan!! And thanks so much for posting your journey. It was fun to check and see where you were and the beautiful structures of nature that you found. Love the last park and the "U" formation in that cool! Funny it seemed smaller than it really was but once you took the pic of you hugging that huge thing I could see how BIG it was...hahaha! So glad you and Sal had a wonderful time and got home safe to your dogs =) Until the next journey!

perilloparodies said...

Wow, what amazingly rustic beauty... love the picture of Sal and the rock formation... Hah-hah.. fun! great pictures!