FARTHER AFIELD: Utah

In the fall of 2000, I journeyed to south-central Utah twice, each time for less than a week. I went to support my teenage son, who was in a wilderness program. The second visit included a cold night spent with him and other families high on Boulder Mountain with nothing but a sleeping bag and a rough lean-to for protection from the elements. It snowed that night, causing the tarp over our heads to fall on top of us. Brrr. Warming ourselves next to a campfire amid the vast, open skies of the high desert that morning was definitely a memorable experience. The jaw-dropping drive down from Salt Lake City, the dramatically changing views, the crisp air, and the spareness of life in the high desert moved me. As awed as I was by the power of nature in this place, I was also charmed by the atmosphere of the small town where I stayed after that night on the mountain. Capitol Reef country and Torrey, Utah dug into my soul and worked their magic. I vowed to go back and returned three years later. And yes, it was memorable again.

That trip nineteen years ago was intensely pleasurable because my experiences were so different from everything I’d known as an east coast native. I explored, I hiked to a waterfall, I rode a horse, and I sat down under a juniper tree and painted the towering red-orange cliffs. In subsequent years I often thought about that wild country and the little town at the heart of it – I wasn’t done with Utah’s extraordinary landscape. With the easing of pandemic restrictions, it seemed like travel could feel good again and Utah was the perfect place to go. This time I’d share it with my partner, Joe, who is a wonderful travel companion.

On April 2nd we flew to Las Vegas and picked up a rental SUV at the airport. We stayed in town overnight and set off for Utah the next morning.

Four photos from the plane: low tide ripples off the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham Airport, a view of Lopez Island as we climbed to cruising altitude, Oregon’s beautiful Mt. Hood, and the sere, dun-colored desert outside Las Vegas.

1. Slicing through the northwest corner of Arizona via Interstate 15, we climbed through the Virgin River Gorge toward Utah.

2. In a short time we reached St. George, the city Utahns visit when they’re desperate for a dose of warm weather. By midafternoon we were enjoying a pretty trail through the red rock at Snow Canyon State Park.
3. Storm clouds over Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, seen from the car on the way to Cedar City.

With dramatic clouds threatening rain but not producing it (as so often happens in the desert), we continued north to Cedar City, our base for the next 3 days. The biggest draw for tourists in that area is Zion National Park, which neither of us had ever seen. But we knew the park would be a mob scene – even on a weekday in April. Not only does the park require you to leave your car in a crowded lot and take their shuttle bus to get to the major hikes and observation points, now they even require reservations for the popular hike up Angel’s Landing. It was spring break and families were everywhere. I was torn but Joe was adamant: after some discussion, we decided to forgo the main entrance to the park altogether. We would explore the less-frequented north end the next day, taking a scenic drive to a short trail that leads to a magnificent overlook. Even that proved daunting for us lowlanders when the altitude challenged our lungs. Plopping down on the rocks as often as we needed to turned out to be as entertaining as the views, thanks to the lizards scampering about.

4. Zion NP, Kolob Canyon section, Timber Creek Overlook.
5.

We live at sea level in a place where the humidity often approaches 100%. We were now over 6,000 feet higher than that, all day and night, with humidity as low as 20%. We hadn’t realized how hard it would be to acclimate to the high desert! The following day we chose an easier itinerary: explore the petroglyphs at Parowan Gap and drive a big loop over mountain passes in the Dixie National Forest. The petroglyphs were some of the best and most accessible we’ve seen but the wind was fierce through the Parowan Gap. I couldn’t resist tossing tumbleweed in the air and watching it bounce down the road like a cartoon character. Maybe I’ll figure out how to get that phone video I made into another post.

We had one more day in Cedar City, a day that for me, began with feeling absolutely wretched. Mornings were getting slower and slower as the thin air made the simplest task a struggle. We weren’t sleeping well, either. Ah, the joys of hotel pillows – they’re never like one’s own! And the air in hotel rooms, don’t get me started on that. So that day we drove south to a lower elevation and by the afternoon we were both having a great time clambering around petrified sand dunes at Snow Canyon State Park. A long, relaxing lunch at an out-of-the-way spot that took us a while to find capped the day.

*

The next day we had a long drive ahead of us; we’d be visiting Torrey, the small town in south-central Utah that I fell in love with over 20 years ago. But I’ll save that for later. Needless to say, there are way too many photos to go through and trip impressions fade too quickly. It was an intense two weeks of sensory overload. There was rock above all, in countless guises – smooth, rough, grainy, pock-marked, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, lavender, white, black, warm, cold, shaped into hoodoos, perfect rectangles, and domes, wrinkled like elephant skin, balanced and poised to topple any minute, and solid as the ages underfoot. There were wonderful plants, some rare, some cultivated, all tough as nails. There were scintillating conversations with native Utahans, especially Martha, a 76-year-old native of Teasdale (population 219) who showed us the old tea house ruin. And Curtis and Tristan, proprietors of Dark Sky Coffee in Torrey, whose warm, relaxed hospitality and excellent espresso brought a gleam to my eyes. There were fierce, sandy winds, icy winds out of the north, and calm, sunlit afternoons under Cottonwood trees. There were good meals, especially a memorable breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries, and grits at the Black and Blue Diner in Las Vegas. There were long, dusty, unpaved roads, miles and miles of them, with horizons that peeled back the story of the earth for us to read. And there were ravens. Everywhere we went we saw single pairs of ravens flying together through the blue skies, slicing them up into then and now, backs shining silver in the sun, feathers dark as night.

Here’s a group of photographs from random moments over the course of the trip. More soon!

6. Capitol Reef National Park.

7.

8. The car’s GPS says it’s 21 degrees outside one morning as we cross a high pass…many places haven’t opened for the season yet…and a sign in Cedar City announces 29 degrees on another morning. But the sun was warm and most of the afternoons were comfortable.

9.

10.
11.

12. Joe and our SUV in Capitol Reef Nation Park’s north end.
13. Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef NP.
14. We awakened to snow one morning.

15. Snow in the morning, wildflowers in the afternoon – amazing.
16. Ancient petroglyphs at Parowan Gap.
17.
18. Bryce Canyon National Park.

19.
20. Going from small-town Utah to Las Vegas in one day was a jolt to the spirit.
20. Standing outside and looking up at the waxing moon helped ease the transition.
21. I hope canyon country will be in my rear-view mirror again before too long.

***

“…it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in sparseness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

***


107 comments

  1. Gorgeous photos as always and engaging commentary, especially this passage you wrote: “wrinkled like elephant skin, balanced and poised to topple any minute, and solid as the ages underfoot.” Plus the Abbey quote is perfect. I lived and worked in Utah for a year. My drive there passed through part of the route you describe, but my timing was abysmal – I passed through at NIGHT! And so only saw what my headlights illuminated! Thanks for sharing your vision in words and photo!

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    • Were you in SLC? It’s a pretty big state and I can understand working there for a year and not seeing it all. Maybe you’ll get back there someday. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Babsje, thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

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      • Yes, good guess – SLC. I had been living in Denver and took a job in SLC and commuted back to Denver every weekend because I didn’t want to make a final move to Utah. Northern Utah is gorgeous, but I never made it to the southern part of the state, which is its own flavor of gorgeous, too. Really enjoyed your photos and observations!

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  2. My main exposure to Utah was back in ’77, when I came to the conclusion that their canyons were even more impressive than the Grand Canyon. (Mostly because the Grand Canyon is so big it’s hard to see the details.) I’ve only been back once, in 2000 for a rafting trip on the Green/Colorado rivers. It’s quite the different experience from the Pacific NW, isn’t it? I look forward to seeing more of your pictures.

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    • I think that between the accessibility and the lack of crowds, Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante are the better choices. At Bryce we were in a herd of people, gaping at a distant scene. It was gorgeous and I’m glad I saw it but spending days in Capitol Reef country was far more satisfying. Yes, it’s pretty much the opposite of home ground! Thanks Dave!

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  3. Really enjoyed seeing these photos – – #7 brought back that feeling you often get around wind- and sand-carved rock, where you almost question if you’ve encountered the eroded ruins of an ancient civilization, like that Ozymandias poem, it could almost be remnants of a temple like Abu Simbel in Egypt, or worn buttresses or caryatids. And you’ve got to love the curves in 10 and 13, all those masses of rock having some fun and looking graceful at the same time. I’ve driven and camped a bit in that part of the world, and boy escaping from humidity, pollen, and yeah, the NY hyperdrive can really feel great sometimes, and enjoying the warm glow of those beautiful sandstones. Nice album!

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    • Nice comment about #7, one of those scenes that was so much more striking when I saw it than the photo shows. Then gently mounded, striped formations were some of my favorites. As for escaping from humidity? We’re grateful to be back in it – we can finally breathe! But it’s never a clammy, warm humidity here, just cool and damp. Good for mold. πŸ˜‰ But leaving the hyperdrive behind or even leaving our own little island behind and settling into that spare landscape is really a treat, it’s good for the soul. Thanks, Robert, I hope all’s well with you these days.

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    • Thank you, Jane, what a change from up here! We knew that but we didn’t anticipate the power of it all. Honestly I’m not that happy with the photos but I processed them quickly because I wanted to get this out. Maybe if I let them sit a while I can do something a little more subtle. Have a good week!

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    • Thanks so much, John. As I just said to Jane above, I’m not that satisfied with the photos but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do more with some of them after I settle down a bit. #10 – oh, those curves! You can just picture me saying over and over again, “can we slow down a little?” πŸ˜‰ Not that we were going fast, but those dirt roads can be rough and the views constantly change. Sensory overload! (So glad you had a good trip – that’s familiar territory to Joe, who used to live in the Shawangunks and drove all over that region for work).

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  4. Southern Utah is one of my favorite places to visit…your photographs tug at me. Looking forward to seeing lots more as you get them assembled into posts… Sounds like it was a wonderful trip.

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  5. Well, first off…… great photos, Lynn! I won’t bother trying to point out my favorites, because there are four or five that I think I’d have to really think hard between. #7 did distinctly catch my eye, though, I’ll grant you that. So you flew out of the Bellingham airport all the way down, for a direct flight down to Utah? Sounds like it because you reference cruising altitude from there. I didn’t realize there were such direct flights from there! That’s pretty nice, it’d be a real hassle having to to do a layover from Bellingham, in Seattle.

    The second frame in your essay is really cool.

    Our last trip to Zion was three or four years ago in April and it was a fabulous family trip, my oldest and I did a really memorable hike, but I worried then more globally, about what is becoming of the national parks, how some of the most special ones like Zion seem to hardly have anything resembling a shoulder season, anymore, in terms of avoiding crowds. I do have an antidote for enjoying the shuttle ride into the canyon, more. Get sprayed by a skunk for the ride into the canyon. I guarantee you, you’ll have extra room. Then, go on a long hike and come back at the end of the day smelling horrible, putrid even. That will buy one some extra seats. I’ve done the latter but I can’t say I recommend the former.

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    • Our flight was actually to Las Vegas. The SW corner of UT isn’t far from there and fares were reasonable – and yes, no stop in Seattle, yea! What a joy to just drive up there, park the car in a lot and walk over to the terminal. You mention the 2nd frame and my numbering was a little funky this time – do you mean the desaturated canton view of the road? Anyway, thank you. It’s really good to hear that you made Zion work for you and your family. That was a challenge I’m sure, but well worth the effort. Very good idea for avoiding the crowds but I’m not sure I’m going to try it…
      πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for your comment!

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  6. Well, I guess we just missed you in Capitol Reef. Eli and I were there week before last. Kind of a stressful trip for me, for various reasons, but Eli had a great time and we took some fantastic hikes. I used to spend a lot of time in southern Utah, but hadn’t really been there for twenty years or so. Torrey sure seemed a lot more cosmopolitan than I remembered.

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    • Oh, I’m sorry I missed you! Please connect with me if you’re ever coming this way (i.e. anywhere near the San Juans). We had lots of stress as well, primarily from lack of sleep, difficulty adjusting to the altitude, and the low humidity. It wasn’t until the tail end of the trip that I began to feel more settled.
      It’s great that Eli had a good time. You’ve given him so many important memories over the years…I’m convinced that those experiences are more foundational than any schooling and I admire your devotion to his “outdoor education.” Yes, Torrey’s grown but not as much as I feared. It seemed to retain the essential character it had before, at least in my more urbanized eyes. We wandered over to Teasdale and had an interesting conversation with a long-time native and were struck by the rural quality of life there even more. Thanks for stopping by, Jackson, it’s good to hear from you.

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    • That’s good to hear, Gary, thank you. If you ever do get to the area I highly recommend skipping those parks and heading for Capitol Reef, or at least researching all three before making a decision. The crowds are intense!

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  7. Wow, this is a great trip and I am looking forward to more. Torrey, huh? I’m familiar with someone who resides there as I am sure you are and hope you had a chance to visit with him.
    I imagine the experience of Capitol Reef and Utah in general is about as different for you from the northwest as it would be for me from the northeast. I can’t imagine however 20% humidity at a high elevation. I get winded walking Bentley here at just above sea level.
    Glad that you and Joe were able to do this trip after missing out on Costa Rica.

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    • I don’t know who you mean, Steve, and I’m very curious! Obviously, we did not visit with him. But we enjoyed the area so much, especially after the more crowded southwestern corner of the state. You’re right, southern UT is radically different from the northeast. It’s such an open, big, raw country. But the elevation and humidity! We’d both like to go back but we’d need to figure something out to counteract those issues. I get winded easily here, like you do, so you can imagine my pace at 6500 ft. πŸ˜‰
      Actually, we didn’t miss Costa Rica – we had a Vietnam trip planned at the beginning of 2020 so that’s what we missed. But we’re OK with that now. And in fact, CR is high up on our list so we hope to make that happen.
      Thanks for stopping by – I hope to catch up on your blog soon…am wondering if you’re seeing wildflowers yet – probably not much?

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      • Oh! I forgot that it was Viet Nam. I do remember our talking about that but must be showing my age. πŸ™‚ Some wildflowers are just beginning to show up. When you visit my blog you’ll see my trailing arbutus that grows under one of our hemlocks. Bloodroot is flowering and probably red trillium but that was only budded up this weekend.

        Guy Tal lives in Torrey.

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  8. Exquisite! That top shot is so inviting… Also love the aerial views.

    β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺ
    β–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«

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    • The top photo reflects the intense blue and clarity of the sky there and the wide-open spaces. I’m a sucker for looking out plane windows and Joe graciously lets me take the window seat every time. I just love gazing at the patterns far below, and out at the clouds…

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  9. The photos are fabulous, as always, and I love your reminiscences about your first trip. I’m sorry you had to deal with the altitude sickness. I don’t know why I didn’t really feel the effects of that; maybe I just don’t pay enough attention! I don’t live at sea level but only 417′ above, so you would think I would have felt it. I remember well Hickman Bridge, and I love the petroglyphs, which we never saw. I also never saw the painted dunes I see in your photo #9. Where was that? Thanks for sharing some of your adventures, Lynn. πŸ™‚

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    • It’s good to hear that you enjoyed the narrative, Cathy, I’m glad. I think we both have an interest in memoir writing, right?
      I have a lung condition and have lived at sea level most of my life. My pulmonologist suggested that I get a little oximeter to bring with me… I found one that communicates with my phone so data is stored. I’m usually in the 90’s – no, I always am – but the readings were very low at high elevations. Even the 50’s once. You’d notice if that was happening! πŸ˜‰ Oh well, the distractions certainly piled up and kept me busy in spite of how I felt!
      I hope to do a post with more petroglyphs in the future. Those dunes were on Cathedral Road, a dirt road on the north side of the park that isn’t traveled much. Another place we went that’s off the beaten path is the Burr Trail Rd to Notom Rd and back up to Rt. 24 – that’s epic! Thanks for stopping by!

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      • Thanks for letting me know about those places. I’m so sorry you had so much trouble with the altitude, but it’s not surprising if you have a lung condition. Your oximeter reading would certainly have worried me!

        Maybe we’ll get back to Utah one day. I have so many places on my list though. We still haven’t really done the Grand Canyon yet; maybe in a few years we can do a dory trip, if there is any more water left in the Colorado!

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        • I understand the feeling of having lots of places on the list of “Want to see” and I haven’t traveled nearly as much as you. Good luck on the memoir project. That you’ve begun is a major accomplishment. πŸ˜‰

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  10. Wow I knew it would be πŸ˜‰ but what a fabulous post Lynne. So many photographic treasures here and I’m sure of course just the tip of the iceberg Lol in terms of the images you must be poring over now you’re home .
    The contrast in environment immense ! Your personal descriptions and narrative capture this geological wonderland beautifully . I can’t wait to see more ! As I mentioned before having visited several of these places your post has me wanting to look through my archives and relive our road trip. I’m glad found the altitude sickness abated . Resting and observing lizards would be a good distraction πŸ˜‰
    The sheer saturation of colour and variety of landscape formations seem impossible en masse coupled then with the timescales involved really does make as you’ve said for ‘sensory overload’ !! My thoughts now are whether you’ll have words about the night skies in future posts … a brief stay in the middle of the Kodachrome Basin was a truly unforgettable experience πŸŽ‡βœ¨

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    • Yes, tip of the iceberg…aarghh!!! I need to take more time processing, I kind of hurried through these.
      And you’re right again, the contrast between home and that part of Utah could hardly be greater. It’s like whiplash, coming back. I went out and photographed some little orchids in the woods yesterday and I loved it, but I loved where we were, too. Like I said, whiplash! I like the idea that you might go back and look at your photos from long ago. It’s such a sculptural landscape, isn’t it? So basic.
      I hate to say it but we did not see the famous night skies. I saw Venus one night, and the Big Dipper…but when we were in the right place the temperature was way below freezing, we were tired, and we had no energy after the day’s explorations. Then the clouds moved in and it snowed.
      I’d hoped to see Kodachrome Basin but that didn’t work out. Glad you made it there and had a powerful experience. Thanks for writing, Poppy, and again, it’s so good to have you here again.

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  11. In 2020 I wanted to go to Utah, Nevada and California, but everything was cancelled because of Corona. It goes through me when I see your beautiful pictures of rocks, rocks, rocks. Great that you had a good time!

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    • We had a trip planned for early 2020, too. You will get there! I’m glad you planned it and I have faith that you will do it one day, before too long. It’s truly extraordinary. Thanks for stopping by, Simone, and Happy Spring!

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  12. Oh, I’ve been waiting for these shots!

    Being from Kansas, your tumbleweed comment is so funny. My aunt in Boulder gets excited when she sees one, because it reminds her of home. The wind blows so frequently (and frequently fiercely) in Kansas that tumbleweeds get blown apart by fenders as we drive the roads and sometimes they are ginormous, and you almost feel a need to avoid them as if they are a large animal or something that will damage the underside of the car….or come through the windshield! There’s that old image of the tumbleweed in a western song I can’t just now recall as a lonely cowboy…I don’t know. I think I’m jealous because you live in the Northwest, which is so spectacular.

    I do love the desert (and your quote from Abbey is spectacular).

    I loved where you say this (it is so image-y and poetic): “…with horizons that peeled back the story of the earth for us to read.”

    Incidentally, there is a town in southern France named Roussillon that specializes in ochre, because nearby is a site named ‘The Colorado ProvenΓ§al’ (and as my French friend informed me, it’s just a cheesy name referencing Colorado [I was trying to argue that it was named for the colors of its rock…in Spanish] Whatever. :))

    Anyway, I was reminded of Roussillon and the surrounding area where you observe the colors and the textures.

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    • Those are great stories about tumbleweed – we loved seeing it and often felt like we should swerve to avoid hitting it, mainly because we didn’t want to “hurt” it! πŸ˜‰ The line about horizons just came to me but after reading brochures about the geology of these places, it kind of figures.
      That’s really interesting about Roussillon. How surprising that a place in Europe would be named after a place in North America, right? So often it’s the other way around. I looked it up – Catalonia! I always thought that would be an interesting area to visit. This link is fascinating – thanks!
      https://www.avignon-et-provence.com/en/natural-sites/ochre-roussillon

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    • It’s a different kind of park, isn’t it? I enjoyed it in spite of the crowds but Capitol Reef is far, far more interesting. It has a huge variety of rock formations that you can get very close to or on top of, and it’s not hard to find places with fewer people, or even no one at all.

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  13. Between the past and the present it is easy to see that it was an extraordinary journey.
    I love this sculptor-nature alive and capable of such beautiful forms. And I’m sure nature is always happy when someone captures its beauty so well. Magnificent set of photos!
    I wish you a good return to “more equal” days!πŸ˜‰

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    • Nore equal days are becoming a possibility – it’s always – I don’t want to say difficult – but it’s always challenging to return home after a real vacation. Not needing to go back to work helps ease the transition – I can take things at my own speed.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos – hopefully I will compose more posts. So many photos! And now spring wildflowers are calling me! I know you understand…

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  14. Hi Lynn and Joe! Good to see you on the road. Dry, rough, amazing landscapes. One of my wishes is to visit Zion, but time is slipping away. And money also.. Great set of photo’s, of course. Hope to see more. Thanks for sharing! Adios.

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    • Hi Harrie, Joe says Hi too. Capitol Reef is even better than Zion, I think, because you can explore it on your own, without crowds. It’s less well known and more remote from any large city so there are far fewer people. But money is a big challenge for such a long trip, I know. If you can get the airfare together, maybe you could rent a small camper van in Salt Lake City and drive down from there. Dream!

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  15. What fun to go on your trip with you, Lynn. I like walking down the trail with you in #2. All the scenery that you bring us is fascinating, perhaps especially to a Midwesterner like me. Number seven is just wonderful. I can’t tell you how much I love itβ€”the rock faces, the small rocks. the tree, the lake, the small plants, the colors, the detail at all distances. The composition is terrific. The look of #9 is unreal! It’s as if you made up the parts that are off-white, reddish and purplish. Very interesting. I see that the hills or mountains shown in some of the other photos have a similar appearance, but they look more integrated into the whole scene. Thanks for everything.

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    • It’s pretty different than the midwest, right? And the northeast, and here. I gotta tell you, Linda, I struggled with #7 – the light just doesn’t look right to me. It was a striking scene, that ghostly tree, probably a cottonwood, against the red rock. Joe saw it first and he even got his camera out, a rare occurrence. Maybe I’ll tweak it some more and feel better about it. (I’m not sure there was a lake back there, that might be an illusion). There were many wonderful scenes like #9, with vastly different rock formations abutting one another. Layers and layers of formations. Maybe some of the strange flatness of that image has to do with compression from the lens. Glad you enjoyed!

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      • Oh, dear. I must really want that to be a lake between the tree and the foothills (or whatever they’re called). I hope you’re able to tweak to your satisfaction. If you can do it, I’d love to see it againβ€”bigger. Yes, I think the unreality of #9 is due to the flatness. I hadn’t considered that.

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  16. Oh what a feast this was! Such beautiful intriguing landscapes. I love the desert. I suppose because I lived in Australia’s northwest for several years. It was not high there, but I do know both the enervation from altitude, and extreme dryness and how that can take a toll.
    Your quote from Edward Abbey had me thinking of the Amazon where the opposite is true – so many life forms it’s impossible to wrap your head around it.
    Alison

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    • I’d forgotten that you spent time in Australia, one of the places I most want to see. It’s interesting to contrast places that have few life forms with places that are bursting with different species – I’m glad you mentioned that. Food for thought. Have a good day, Alison, and thanks for stopping by.

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      • I am actually Australian, so yeah, I guess I spent time there πŸ˜‚ I emigrated to Canada in my early 30’s.
        Forgot to mention in my earlier comment I didn’t get your point about the temps – 21 and 29. Nothing wrong with those temps, but then I realized you’re talking Fahrenheit not Centigrade πŸ˜‚ So yeah brrrrrrr πŸ₯Ά
        A.

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  17. A fantastic landscape and such stunning photos! Numbers one and two are a great, surprising beginning !
    Yes, we usually enjoy our comfortable lives, but such trips offer new challenges and extraordinary experiences.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thank you, Petra, I’m sorry for this late reply. A surprise at the beginning is good, right? πŸ˜‰ This trip was challenging but very rewarding. Hopefully, there will be more posts from Utah soon.

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  18. Impressive landscapes with a lot of extremes! Wow, that was adventurous I would suppose. Even snow and these temperatures ups and downs. Crazy. I love the flowers. Like in your place these desert flowers are so special. The blue parts remind me of Myosotis. Or is it a kind of Lavender Lavandula? Do you know, what it is? The high mountains in the beginning are impressive, as well as the variety of colors and shapes is fascinating. I hadn’t the slightest idea that this area lies so high. And I read in another comment, that your temperatures are Fahrenheit. So it was about 0 Celsius? Happy holidays πŸ˜‰ Have a nice sunday!

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    • As you can see, I’m behind again, very behind. Wildflowers and the elephant seal are keeping me busy, and I’m trying to process the Utah photos, too. Ups and downs for sure – it was kind of a roller coaster but we’re both very glad we went. Desert plants are fascinating – it was too early for many flowers but the rocks are always in season. πŸ˜‰ The purple wildflower is Purple sage, Salvia dorii. I sat down next to it and clicked away – so much fun! Yes, I was rushing and didn’t convert the temperatures to C this time, sorry. It was way below freezing – about -8C one morning. Then it could be in the 10s C in the afternoons, depending on where we were. I checked the weather carefully before leaving, in several different locations, so we had warm and cold weather clothing with us. I hope all is well with you – I’ll visit your blog soon! Enjoy the leaves and flowers outside!!

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  19. Sea level to higher altitudes; an abundance of images and then wondering when you’ll have time to scroll through each one – so many worthy of the time it will take – but when?! That tree in #7 puts the rest of the landscape in perspective.
    Yikes – snow in the morning – buenos dias! Your senses must have been tuned in to the surroundings every waking hour!

    Thank you for letting us look through your eyes and soul!

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    • Thank you, Lisa, I feel guilty for not getting to your blog but spring is wildflower time so as soon as I got back, it was time to run outside and see what’s happening. It’s a good year for flowers here, just beautiful. And I’ve been busy volunteering to protect the elephant seal, who’s still there.
      The snow made me feel frustrated like we wouldn’t be able to get out (there was ice under it) but by mid-day, the roads were OK so we bundled up and had a good afternoon that day. πŸ™‚ Always an adventure, right? We both suffered from sensory overload, for sure. But it was so worth it.

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  20. Pingback: FARTHER AFIELD: Utah – Gaun gram, shahar

  21. All glorious, and I appreciate the comment above making comparisons to outback in Australia — very Red Centre indeed. Of the whole visual feast, I most love # 7 (frost-rimmed tree against all that ochre) and # 19 (real stick, pretending to be a stick insect — wonderful reversal of the usual roles)

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  22. I’ve visited this post at least twice already, but keep returning to enjoy this vicarious visit to places I love and adore… all the more delightful as seen through your lens. I have to admit that next to my beloved coast, the SW desert comes in a close second. If it weren’t for the extreme heat of summers, the desert might even come out on top.

    I can remember traveling across the desert stretches of the country when sticking to the freeways (a necessity when going coast to coast in little over a week) and hating it. It wasn’t until we actually had a chance to camp out in the desert to really get a feel for it. The years in Utah sold me on the stark beauty that is there to be enjoyed once you get up close and personal.

    Your shots from the air were a delight… especially Mt Hood in all its cloudy glory. It’s good to see it with some snow cover in these drought stricken days.

    Each one of your images brought back some delightful memories… except for the one park I missed during my Utah daze… (Capitol Reef – I had many opportunities to visit it when my late husband drove a busload of Archaeology students there for field trips. I never took the opportunity, I kick myself these days for missing it!)
    ​ Then again… I love the virga you caught in #3… ​​(https://www.weatherbug.com/news/What-is-Virga). That’s a stunning example.
    #7 A delightful composition with such a variety of shapes and colors and textures… that tree nails it (and for some reason reminds me of Canyon de Chelly). More fond memories! πŸ’ž
    #15 “Snow in the morning, wildflowers in the afternoon – amazing.”
    I can’t help but wonder if the extremes aren’t what is so enticing about the desert scene. Then again Edward Abbey may have described yet another reason to love that beautiful landscape.

    Thanks for the delightful memories you brought back through your images. I truly enjoyed tagging along.

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    • How nice to hear that this brought back those memories. I think you know that we love that area, too, not least because it’s such a big change from green and wet and lush and overcast. Stark beauty is exactly what Utah offers. (Glad you liked seeing Mt. Hood, too!).
      Capitol Reef is/was a vastly better experience for us than the other national parks, and better than the state parks, too. The remoteness of it still keeps the crowds away, to a degree.
      Oh, a new word, thank you! Virga, cool! A typical SW sight, right? #7 also reminds me of Canyon de Chelly. That was near Capitol Reef. Several scenes there were like C de C. So glad you enjoyed this, Gunta, and be assured, I’m plugging away at the photos! I think the next post will be all about rock. Appropriate, no? πŸ˜‰

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  23. It’s all almost too overwhelming, dear Lynn. This incredible landscape, archaic, powerful, extreme not only to look at but also to endure, as you describe it.

    You know that the difference in altitude makes it difficult to breathe, but you don’t really know until you experience it.Β  It won’t have been any different 20 years ago, but you were just younger, and the experiences in the wilderness at night with your son probably left a more lasting impression.

    Despite some limitations, this excursion seems to have been a success, in any case photographically, if I judge by this selection. Hopefully you’ve recovered from most of the episodes of the trip by now – except for the processing of the photo masses, you’re probably still right in the middle of it. We, your guests here, can gratefully enjoy the harvest.Β  Wonderful

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    • Primitive, yes, in (mostly) the best sense of the word. We recovered in less than a week. The altitude was only a problem while we were high up (which was most of the trip). Our noses began working well about 5 days after returning home to high humidity. We have trouble with low humidity every time we go to the desert but this time, coupled with the elevation, it was really hard. Still, the beauty is overpowering and it distracts you. Yes, there are lots of photos to choose from – I’m working hard to narrow down a selection now. Oh, it takes days and days!! Photo masses, that’s good!
      I bounced from the desert to gorgeous, new lime-green leaves and precious wildflower jewels. What a treat! So I hit the ground running and for a few days, it felt schizophrenic, the parched, red rock desert of Utah still on my mind but the delicate, fresh, moist springtime of the Pacific northwest all around me. But it’s OK, who can complain? I didn’t read or listen to the news for at least a week, that was really good. I’m busy volunteering to protect our elephant seal, which should leave in a week or two. Busy times!

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  24. Ah yes, southern Utah is quite seductive, so we say in my house. You photos are fantastic but more than that, I love that you didn’t just share what you saw and did, and instead shared your impressions of your trip.

    I think Capital Reef is one of the most underrated parks in the country. We also feel in love with it.

    Very nice…Donna Oh..and I love that your summed up with Edward Abbey.

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    • Order? What order? πŸ˜‰ No problem!! It was fun to do the narrative here. Sometimes I kick myself for not keeping a trip diary and I tried writing a few times while we were on this trip but then I don’t think I even referred to that. Discipline is not my strong suit. πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much, Sheri!!

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      • When I travel I cue from the rhythm of the road and don’t force writing or photo capturing or whatever at any certain moment. I find it important and useful to absorb rather than demand output, and I rarely post photos or write about experiences until I’m back and gel with the trip’s impressions for a while on my own. There are so many things to notice while traveling, I just want to stay in sponge mode. I suppose for me traveling is always a getaway from responsibility and discipline for a moment, so perhaps that’s part of why I don’t set demands too. But I like the experience told by what I remember and understand or feel about it later rather than a report as I go. It feels more relevant and story-like somehow.

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        • That sounds like what works for me, too, sponge mode. That’s interesting about preferring the story told by the memories – yes, more like a story than if you were to try to report as you go, definitely. It’s nice to have a travel companion who’s bound to remember things differently, too, for comparing notes and reminding one of experiences or sights that passed by without sticking. πŸ˜‰

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  25. Wonderful captures and post! I really like #7 … the formations at the top look (almost) man-made. Interesting that you felt the elevation change … I didn’t realize it would be 6,000 ft. (We live at 8,000.) #2 and #3 are other favorites in this set.

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    • As I said to a few other people, I wasn’t happy with the light in that photo (#7) but the subject is so strong that it works anyway. Joe saw that one first! πŸ™‚ Some passes are over 10,000 ft., which you probably are used to. It was so, so hard to deal with the altitude since I’ve lived at sea level almost my whole life. I have a lung condition and that didn’t help. We have to figure out a strategy next time. Wow, I knew you lived in a rarified place but 8,000′! πŸ˜‰

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