Tag Archives: National Parks

Now where were we?

Right – just leaving the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and heading to Page, AZ for our next National Park visit.
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And what a beautiful drive it was!! Most of it was a very scenic drive along the Vermillion Cliffs,
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across the Colorado River
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up a couple of ‘hills’
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and then down into Page, AZ.
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Page is a fairly new city, having been founded and then developed only during the building of the Glen Canyon Dam.
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And of course, the dam created Lake Powell, which is a huge recreation (boating, camping, hiking, etc.) area.
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Now we didn’t take in ALL there was to do the area, but we gave it our best (scratching the surface style) shot!
There was the Dam Tour –
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which was made all the more interesting by our tour guide, who was a Page ‘native’ and had lots of stories from ‘back in the day’. Like when he and his buddies would cut school and explore the inner tunnels of the dam, before security shut that down. (He was also a retired policeman, so that added a bit of interest too!)
We took in one fairly long hike to find some “slot canyons”.
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It was not only a beautiful drive to GET to the hike –
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(more of those beautiful Vermillion Cliffs)
but since the hike was through a “wash’, there wasn’t much of an elevation change to deal with (our nemesis!).
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Although the slot canyons at the end of our Wire Pass hike were probably not as impressive as perhaps the more well known Antelope Canyon (Wire Pass – Free. Antelope – almost $100 for the two of us), we certainly were impressed!
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We absolutely love the sculpture of these rock walls

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A wonderful reminder of the creative beauty of our God! (And the power of moving water!!!)
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We checked out a bit of lake shore camping,
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(maybe next time!)
enjoyed another short hike
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and just generally enjoyed the beauty of the day.
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As the sun was beginning to sink and hoping to catch the sunset, we checked out another highly recommended (and short) hike – Horseshoe Bend.
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We were not alone in our thought process!
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(I confess – this picture really cracks me up!! And – they are ALL too close to the edge!!!)
I guess I’ve seen more beautiful sunsets –
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but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more people hoping it would be (more beautiful)!
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So that about wraps up our time at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There was so much to see and do here (not to mention that it might have been nice just to sit on the beach and stare at that lake) that it might warrant a trip back! But for now – it was pack ‘er up and move on down the road.  Still to come – Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, and the Petrified Forest.

Next time, okay?

As always, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for your patience as I work on getting this ol’ blog up-to-date between lovin’ on these cutie pies!
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I’m sure you can understand my distractions!

Steph

Oh – and if you’d like to see some additional photos from our time in and around Page, Arizona, you can check them out HERE!

The North Rim

Back in late April of 2010, Gary and I did what we affectionately called the Grand Rock Tour. We took two weeks and visited the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capital Reef, and any number of lesser known National Monuments, Navajo sites and other POI’s along the way. But since it was, after all, late April, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was not open yet for the season. So as we made the trek to Waco from California, it was one of our very first stops. Now you might think that seeing the North Rim is just like looking into the Grand Canyon from the “other side” but it really is quite different. Well, we thought it was, anyway!
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The South Rim is certainly the more developed area, while the North Rim is definitely the “road less traveled”. We were there during the last month of the season, and some hospitality areas were closing the next weekend. We were thrilled with the beautiful yellow Ash that lined the roads as we made our way to the canyon, not at all disappointed with the lack of crowds and traffic!
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Our day started cloudy and gray, and we were worried about how the ‘viewing’ would be, but all was well! We took in a couple of hikes, followed all the roads we could and were just.plain.amazed at the beauty and majesty that was before us! Here is just a sampling of those amazing views –
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(Just for the record, we did hike to “Angels Window” – that big hole in the rock!) Can you see the Colorado River peeking through the window?
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It really was a spectacular day and to remind us that the season was just about over, what started out as a late afternoon shower
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ended up as this –
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One last picture – not so much of the canyon but of the view from the other side of the plateau –
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Ahhhh…..
So you know I took a bazillion pictures and I did my best to whittle them down to a manageable number, and then only shared a couple in this post. But if you’d like to see more of the beautiful ‘less traveled’ North Rim, you can check them out HERE!

And if you’d like a little refresher of that Grand Rock Tour of 2010 – here is a link to one of the first posts in that series. Feel free to check it (and others in the same time frame) out!

Kings Canyon and Giant Trees

One of our other goals (along with getting to Yosemite) while we were at Sugar Pine Camp was to get back to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park which was only about 100 miles away (which in the overall scheme of our life is pretty darn close!). We had visited the “Sequoia” part of the park back in February of 2009, but since it was, after all February, the Kings Canyon part was closed. Too. Much. Snow. Here’s the Sequoia Visitor Center on the day we visited in 2009-
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so you can see why snow might have been an issue. So this time, while there was a bit of overlap, we were focused on Kings Canyon (northern and higher altitude) section of the park.
Once we started east from Fresno, the drive started to climb.
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and the views became expansive.
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Our first stop in the park was the Grant Grove area – home to the General Grant Tree and a beautiful walk through some giant sequoias.
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The General Grant Tree is also known as America’s Christmas Tree (designated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926).
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(It looked a little more “Christmas-y where we were here last time -)
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Those giant sequoias are amazing
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but we really wanted to make our way to Kings Canyon. So on we went!
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We did check out a couple of stops along the way – one was a short hike into Grizzly Falls, which unlike Yosemite Falls, actually had some water falling.
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And such beautiful clear water it was!
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Once we made it to the bottom of the canyon, we followed the path of the Kings River.
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We also took a hike through Zumwalt Meadow, which was part meadow
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and part not-so-much-meadow.
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It was a beautiful hike and after we continued on to the end of the road, we turned around and just un-wound the trip down. I confess that somehow, the trip back seemed much more dramatic. Might have been because now we were in the outside lane!

From the steep canyon walls
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to the realization of just how far down DOWN was once we started to climb out of the canyon.
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(Still not sure you can get the real feel for how steep it was – but it was pretty impressive, believe me!)
One last stop on the way home was to drive by Hume Lake –
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Sure would’ve liked to set a spell in those chairs!

Soon we were headed back to Sugar Pines –
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and a nap!

Thanks for coming along on our Kings Canyon excursion. If you’d like to see some additional photos (you knew that was coming, right?), you can check them out (in reasonable order of the day) HERE!

[Since this is also a Monday (as in Mondays are for Memories), if you’d like to check out the photos from our 2009 trip to the Sequoias, just click HERE!]

Yosemite

There are lots of things we look at when we ask to serve at different ministries. We usually try to go to a project where we’ve never worked before. We sometimes look for specific needs (though we’ve also learned that the needs that are published are often different by the time we get there). We try to choose a ‘less-served’ ministry – one that doesn’t get many SOWERS. But I must confess that the reason we chose Sugar Pine Christian Camp had a little less to do with a specific need, but more to do with this little notation in our listing. “6 miles from the S entrance to Yosemite Park”. It did meet all of the other criteria, but that Yosemite thing was really what tipped the scale. This is only our second swing out to the West Coast (the first one before and after we did our Alaska Adventure), and since we never know what tomorrow will bring, I really wanted to make sure we made it to Yosemite.
So it was pretty much a win-win all around! We were blessed to serve at Sugar Pine Camp – and we were certainly WOWED at Yosemite.
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We spent two beautiful days exploring Yosemite, and although we barely scratched the surface of hiking and back country activities, I do think we covered most anything you could get to by car – plus a couple spots that required our feet!
Here are some highlights –
Glacier Point
This is pretty much everyone’s first recommendation. They even recommended seeing it at sunrise. That did not happen. But we did get there early-ish, so we missed some of the crowds while we enjoyed the magnificent views.
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Sentinel Dome
Since we knew that Half Dome was way beyond our hiking capabilities, we decided to give Sentinel Dome a shot. The Yosemite experts back at the camp felt it would be a good hike for us – a little challenging, but certainly do-able. For us out of shape oldsters.
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We were a bit intimidated by the fact that we were headed to the top of that dome
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but still, we pressed on!
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OK – if young couple wearing a toddler can do it,

so can we.
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Just a little bit slower. And with a slightly faster heart rate!
But Oh.The.Views.
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As we were headed back down, Gary’s sharp eyes spotted a bit of wildlife.
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Can you see it? Up in the tree….
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Happy hunting, big guy!
This was a great hike – good cardio workout on the way up, and a bit hard on the joints on the way back, but we did it!

El Capitan
We caught a couple of glimpses of El Capitan as we headed up to Tioga Road (in the northern section of the park)
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but it pretty much dominated the horizon once we ventured into Yosemite Valley the next day!
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But first – Tioga Road, Omsted Point, and other views from that road! (There is lots more park to the north of Tioga Road, but it’s all ‘back country’.) Here are just a few of the our stops –
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Olmstead Point
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Olmstead Point (the other way!)
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Tenaya Lake
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We stopped at a little cafe near the north entrance (Tioga Pass) for a bite to eat and struck up a conversation with a couple of back-country hikers who were sharing our table. Now mind you, we were feeling pretty smug having hiked the Sentinel Dome (all 2.2 miles of it), so we asked one fellow how his hike was going. It turns out he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and he shared his good news that he only had 1000 miles to go. A Thousand Miles. So much for the our Sentinel Dome experience! He was very interesting and since he was looking quite longingly at Gary’s fish and chips, we funded him for a couple of meals. (I wonder if he made it to Mexico yet?)

We finished that first day with a stop at the “Tunnel View Overlook” which offers spectacular views of the park.
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And just as we were getting ready to leave, we ran into some friends from Trinity, TX!!! How crazy was that????
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Now that was a ‘God Wink’ to be sure!!!!
We returned the next day and took one more shot of the “Tunnel View”.
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Love the morning light!

But we were headed to explore Yosemite Valley, which is a much busier area. Kinda like the ‘downtown’ of Yosemite.
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We took a little meadow hike
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and checked out the historic Ahwahnee hotel.
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Lunch was a bit pricey, but oh, so elegant and yummy. It was a fun treat!
The famous Yosemite Falls (Upper and Lower) were dry this late in the season
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but you can certainly see how magnificent they must be in the spring with the snow run-off!
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Once again we were very glad we started early in the day –
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because this is how it looked when we were ready to leave!
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Yikes!

From start to finish – Yosemite was magnificent!
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We are so thankful to be able to mark that off our ‘bucket list’
If you’d like to see more of the beauty of Yosemite, there are more pictures HERE! (I did my best to whittle down the number, but it’s still just shy of 100! Just wanted to give you a warning!)

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam…..

We got a super early start on Friday as we headed to the National Bison Refuge about 30 miles away.
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OK, it wasn’t pre-dawn or anything, but for what normally is a no-alarm day, I think we did pretty good. The plan was to get to the refuge early enough that the critters wouldn’t all be taking their mid-day nap! And while we weren’t overwhelmed with the amount of wildlife we saw, we still counted it a good day!
Even without the wildlife sightings, the views were spectacular –
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The drive through the refuge was also delightful!
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To say it was a bit windy might be an understatement!
And as for wildlife sightings, we really did just fine –
There were Mule Deer –
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Pronghorn
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Bison (of course!)
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Some Pronghorn and Bison –
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Some Bison rolling in the dirt
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And then some up close and personal Bison –
Pretty good morning at the bison refuge! #reachoutandtouchme #idareyou #bison #buffalo
And a Bison or two who just seemed to want to pose for the camera –
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So it was a pretty good day for the Bison sightings!
We also saw some Bighorn Sheep, though they were doing their best to hide in the tall grass –
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Can you see them where the grass meets the trees?
Here it is with a bit of zoom –
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and then a bit more –
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Can you sense just how excited they were to have company?
It was a delight when a large family of Ruffled Grouse crossed the road in front of us –
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and even the White Tailed Deer managed to come into our range –
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Or maybe we came into their range. Or maybe they’re mule deer. But they were there, and we got a picture!
We also saw, but did not document a Coyote (with a Pronghorn watching him very carefully) and a Golden Eagle looking for lunch.
And of course, I had to stop and take a couple pictures the beautiful late summer thistles and grasses.
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We finished off our excursion with a run into Missoula (and a Costco stop, or course) and then back to camp. As you can see, it was a beautiful day to be out and about. And we were glad to be able to take it all in! There are some additional pictures of the Bison Refuge HERE if you’re so inclined!

Hope you had a good weekend! We had a couple more adventures, but I figured I’d better get this one ‘on the books’ before too much time went by!
Thanks for stopping by-
Steph