Tag Archives: Utah

April Back-Track – Part II

My Utah Adventure

It’s been just over a year since we lost my precious sister, Elna. (Our loss, her gain to be sure!). Five of us – my sister Joie and I, Joie’s daughter, Christiana (she lives near Elna), and Elna’s daughters Heather (home is Maine) and Bethany (home is Utah)- were with her during those last days and they were beautiful and hard days. A bond was created during those days, one that I continue to marvel over, and treasure. So…
Last November I sent the following email to two of my nieces (Christiana and Heather) –
This year the holidays will be different for all of us. And even as we continue to be thankful for Elna’s complete healing, this will still be a hard different. This time last year we sisters were cooking up plans for our winter getaway, not knowing what so soon would draw us all back together again. Our lives have continued on, but with a big hole – hard to define, but still an ache (a steal-your-breath-away ache sometimes!). Please know we are praying for you both (and Bethany and Tim and Henry also), that our Lord will continue to hold you close and you will feel his comfort.
But – we are feeling a bit hug-deprived these days.
So we’re cooking up a plan. A plan to get to Utah. A plan to get some hugs!
Here is what we’re thinking – A Utah Weekend – April 13-17, 2023
I know it’s a fair bit away – and I’m only sending this to you two because Joie and I couldn’t decide if it would be better to surprise Bethany (we would let Mike know, of course), or let her enjoy the anticipation of the visit. What are your thoughts?

We’d find an Air BNB or other rental, grab a puzzle or two, or just sit around and drink coffee (and eat chocolate). Maybe make some sushi. Elna loved sushi.

I think you two will be together over T-giving so maybe you could give it some thought over the weekend. I’d love for it to be sooner, but then again, maybe April will be a good time for us all to be together!

Sending big loads of Oklahoma love your way! Miss you ladies mightily!
Steph (4Joie2)

And so the planning began! We did indeed find a great rental (thank you, Chris!), got the go-ahead from Bethany’s hubby Mike (he liked the surprise plan), and started booking our flights! Utah, here we come!

April 13-17, 2023
Joie, Chris, and I converged at the SLC airport on Thursday morning, picked-up our rental car, and scoped out our housing. Everything looked perfect! Although Heather wouldn’t be arriving until later that evening, once we were sure that Beth would be home from work, we three headed her way. I wish we’d had a camera crew to document the big surprise but trust me – it was great. There was that look on her face – “Why are these people on my front porch?” that then turned into “THESE PEOPLE ARE ON MY FRONT PORCH!!!”. Ok, the dog escaping out the front door might’ve interrupted the hug-fest, but there was no denying all of the excitement. It was the start of a fabulous weekend! We hung around the house until Mike (the super dad who was in on the surprise for months and joyfully loaned us Bethany the entire weekend) came home and then we headed back to our rental. Heather arrived later that evening, and once Bethany was finished with work on Friday (yes, we had to send her home that first night), the real party began! We had dinner at a fancy restaurant (you know – where the food is so fancy you have to take its picture!),
and watched the sunset over the state capital.
We stayed up late talking, slept in in the morning, and yes – did puzzles, drank coffee, and ate chocolate!
On Saturday we drove to Idaho (!!!) to the Lava Hot Springs and soaked away the afternoon.
(Please note – we do not know anyone in this picture. Before we could go to the hot springs we had to stop at a local thrift shop to get some type of bathing attire. There are no pictures of those outfits (but it was pretty hilarious all around!). We will never see those people again, right?)
We ate too much and did a lot of this –
But we also cherished those quiet moments of sweet reflection as we shared precious memories of Elna. And yes, there were tears.

We came from Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Missouri and gathered in Bountiful, Utah – all for some lovely (and well-needed) hugs! And we left with each other more deeply embedded in our hearts.
L-R – Me, Bethany, Heather, Chris, Joie

Thank you, Lord, for such a wonderful time with these dear ladies!

Catching Up – Installment 1

Long, long ago (well, last October at least) we drove from California to Waco, TX. And we took 10 days to get there! The reason it took so long was that we made stops at any number of National Parks along the way. I just checked where I had left off with our travel stories, and it seems we had just left Page, AZ and Lake Powell. Then I went to Gary’s journal to refresh my memory about what came next –

Tuesday, Oct 11 –
Left Walmart & drove east along rt. 98 & 160. Stopped at 4 Corners (Navajo land) & also Hovenweek NP – Pueblo Village-buildings. Continued on to campground. Set up RV. Relaxed. Went to Dinner. Pizza – Stopped at Walmart – ordered drugs. Went through many back roads to get to Hovenweep.
Wednesday, Oct 12-
Went to Mesa Verde NP. Toured Balcony House and drove around to all other lookouts. Stopped @ museum & watched movie. Also went to Anasazi Village for more movies and museum. Dinner @ small restaurant. Picked up scrips @Walmart and did laundry @ campground.

Yes – we do lead an exciting life, filled with Walmart trips and laundromats. But there were a couple of POI’s in those paragraphs too!

Four Corners –
Truth here – it was a little disappointing. Although, it was what it said it was – a marker of where the four states come together. Several folks were waiting in line to get a picture of someone in their group standing in all four states at once, but that didn’t seem all that important to us. In looking back over my pictures, the one above is really, truly the only one I took. Oh well.
Hovenweep National Monument
I’d never even heard of the  Hovenweep National Monument. How about you? Here’s a little bit about it from the website –

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

We enjoyed a bit of a hike
and were impressed with these remains perched on the canyon rim.
Here’s a little panorama of the canyon –
See the mountains in the distance? It was quite the landmark in this neck of the woods!
After we did a bit of exploring in the Hovenweep ruins, we continued on our way to our next campground. Remember the mention of lots of back roads?
Oh, yeah, baby!
We settled nicely into our campground (and worked in that exciting stop at Walmart). The next day we set out for Mesa Verde – a true highlight of our ‘long road to Waco”.
Mesa Verde-2

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde, as you probably know, is all about cliff dwellings. It was absolutely amazing to see these masterpieces of engineering from centuries ago.
Mesa Verde-38
While most of these cliff communities were viewed from overlooks, there was one that you could actually tour. The Balcony House
Mesa Verde-11
And it was a real hands-on tour!
Mesa Verde-12
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Mesa Verde-16
We had an excellent Native American guide, who, as we stood silent in one of the rooms, serenaded us with a melody from his handmade flute.
Mesa Verde-20
It was goose-bump beautiful!
These cliff dwellings were truly amazing.
Mesa Verde-30
And the view on the way back to the campground was pretty striking too!
Mesa Verde-52
It was a great day – from the guided tour to the many cliff dwellings to the beautiful views to those handy movies!
I’d highly recommend it as an addition to your bucket list!

Well, that gets us a little farther down the road, but there are still more adventures to share. But enough for tonight! HERE‘s a link to more pictures of the Hovenweep National Monument, and HERE‘s a link to more photos from Mesa Verde National Park.
I’ll save the rest of the trip for another day!

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.
Drive to PageAZ-2
And what a beautiful drive it was!! Most of it was a very scenic drive along the Vermillion Cliffs,
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Drive to PageAZ-6
across the Colorado River
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up a couple of ‘hills’
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and then down into Page, AZ.
Drive to PageAZ-14
Page is a fairly new city, having been founded and then developed only during the building of the Glen Canyon Dam.
And of course, the dam created Lake Powell, which is a huge recreation (boating, camping, hiking, etc.) area.
Lake PowellPlus-15
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 –
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”.
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-4
It was not only a beautiful drive to GET to the hike –
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-6
(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!).
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-8
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-7
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!
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-14
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We absolutely love the sculpture of these rock walls

Wire Pass Slot Canyon-24 Wire Pass Slot Canyon-25
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-26 Wire Pass Slot Canyon-27
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A wonderful reminder of the creative beauty of our God! (And the power of moving water!!!)
Wire Pass Slot Canyon-23
We checked out a bit of lake shore camping,
Lake PowellPlus-14
(maybe next time!)
enjoyed another short hike
and just generally enjoyed the beauty of the day.
Lake PowellPlus-12
As the sun was beginning to sink and hoping to catch the sunset, we checked out another highly recommended (and short) hike – Horseshoe Bend.
Horseshoe Bend-14
Horseshoe Bend-15
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 –
Horseshoe Bend-17
but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more people hoping it would be (more beautiful)!
Horseshoe Bend-12

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!

I’m sure you can understand my distractions!


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!


Today was our very first venture into Wyoming! And while we never traveled farther off the interstate than to stop at a rest area, we thoroughly enjoyed the drive! And since I KNEW you would like to come along, I’ve tried my hand at making a “movie” of some of the highlights (ok, so it’s really just a slideshow, but let’s pretend, OK?). Fair warning – I’ve put some music to it, so if that annoys you, feel free to hit the mute button!
Here goes –

I think it’s a little fuzzy, so if you’d like to see the pictures individually (and without the music!), you can do so HERE!

It was a good travel day – full of all new road and some interesting sights along the way! Thanks for coming along! Tomorrow we break away from the interstate as we head north for a stretch. As much as we like “making time” on the big roads, I think we’re ready for the change – it’s always interesting to actually drive through some of these small towns. The memory card is empty and the batteries are charged!
Just sayin!

Another bite of the elephant

Today isn’t going to be counted as one of our longest travel days, but it will certainly rate right up there with one of the best! We were blessed again with beautiful weather as we continued toward Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City Drive Day-1
Salt Lake City Drive Day-2
Although we had driven through SLC before, we had never approached it from the west. Sometimes I am surprised at how surprised I am by the geography around cities. I mean the Winter Olympics were here several years ago, so just why did the fact that the road looked like this after we left “downtown” seem so unexpected?
Salt Lake City Drive Day-3
Salt Lake City Drive Day-4

We were joined by my niece, Bethany, for the afternoon (the reason this was such a lovely day), and we took a little drive to check out nearby Rockport State Park.
Salt Lake City Drive Day-5
And then we joined Bethany as she led worship around a campfire at a small camp near where we were parked for the night.
Salt Lake City Drive Day-6
A very special time.
And to top it off – God gave us this on the ride home –
Salt Lake City Drive Day-7

The next couple of days look to be pure driving days. Well, at least that’s how it looks now. And you know what that means – more windshield shots!!!!
I’ve been told that cell and internet connectivity will reduce to zero once we get outside of SLC. So you may not hear from me for a couple of days, but beware – when I come back there will lots of shots of the (new to me) road ahead!