It’s A Beautiful Day: Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest

After a good night of rest, it is time to get back out in the forest and see some of the things that we don’t often see in Arizona. Our plan was to do a shorter hike along the Tumalo Creek and see some waterfalls. The day starts out with some clouds and some smoke that has settled in around Bend. The temperature is great and off we go.

I think there are quite a few vehicles around the trailhead but nothing compared to what we will see when we return from our hike. The hike starts with a less then a mile hike up the trail to a viewpoint to see what most people come to see; Tumalo Falls, the highest one in Central Oregon. It is evident that many stop here and turn around but we also want to see what is known as double falls on Tumalo Creek. This area seems like the second most popular place to turn around.

I’m feeling pretty well so Carolyn and I agree to continue on the trail, and there are few hikers out today. We only encounter a couple of mountain bikers, and maybe 4 or 5 hikers on the trek towards Happy Valley. I was so glad we ventured onward as we encountered multiple falls along the trail. Now these falls weren’t small ones but actually each one had long water drops and were amazing to see.

Once again, we had the good fortune of being by ourselves and able to enjoy this beautiful out and back hike with hardly another person to be found. It was another beautiful day to spend with each other in the great outdoors enjoying each other’s company. The series of trails in the area can get one on all the way to Mount Bachelor. We stop in the Happy Valley area where another creek runs through and the grassy area is a great place to relax and just enjoy life.

According to All Trails Hiking App, we hiked a total of 8.1 miles with an elevation gain of 1224 feet at a pace of 23:52. Not bad for this old guy. The trail is really smooth and is not rocky so it was easy on the body. Walking down, I told Carolyn that we were going to try 10 Barrel and see if we would get better service this time around. I felt it was something that I needed to show a bit of grace and make the attempt to forgive and move forward.

Carolyn and I returned to cell service around 12:30 and I immediately received texts from my daughter Caitlin and my sister Kathryn informing me that my father had passed while in Hospice care in Phoenix. It wasn’t a surprise but yet it sort of caught me by surprise. Our topic of discussion rapidly changed and we called Caitlin knowing that she would be very upset since she was probably closer to my father then almost anybody. They had had a very special relationship during her elementary school years in Payson and she spent a large amount of time with her grandfather. We talked on our way back into Bend and lunch at 10 Barrel Brewing Co.

I had just visited my father the day before we left on our Oregon trip and he was not in a good place with his dementia related symptoms but all of his vitals were good per the Hospice person. It was the worst that I had seen him and all the other times he was able to discuss special things and remember who we were and so on. The last time, he had thought that he was lying on the floor, and he referred to me as the young, strong guy who should be picking him up off the floor. In reality he was lying in his bed and upset and wanted to go “home” to be with his wife. My mother was in a rehab facility for a shoulder replacement and they were not allowed to leave or receive visitors due to Covid.

Carolyn and I stopped at 10 Barrel and had us a beer and sat outdoors discussing all things Darel. It was a totally different experience and we were able to enjoy, relax, and reminisce. We ordered the STEAK & GORGONZOLA NACHOS and it was a home run. I couldn’t even tell you what beers we had but they were good and the service was completely different from the previous evening. It all seemed right.

Not your ordinary nachos

Done with hiking for the day, we headed back to Bend and went to Costco. Yes, Costco. I love visiting Costco around the country. Each one is a bit different so for me it is part of my adventure. Carolyn thinks I’m a bit off for wanting to visit Costco but she tolerates that obsession. After our stops, we head to the hotel to freshen up and continue our brewery journey with dinner and craft beers at the original Deschutes Brewery. Deschutes is always busy and we had made a reservation for this evening knowing that we wouldn’t be able to eat without one. Fun times sitting in one of my favorite breweries since it was the one that I most wanted to visit.

Prior to dinner, we stopped in Crater Lake Spirits Tasting Room. Great place to try some of their products and their special was something like six samples for $5. So I got to try different whiskeys that they produced. Don’t get to do that very often but it was a cool venue next door to Deschutes.

Our day comes to end and we have decided that we are going to stay around Bend and hike along the river and just hang out with little driving tomorrow.

The sounds of water

It was a most interesting day for us, with my father passing but yet being able to find peace in the outdoors and able to discuss life and the uncertainty of our tomorrows. Spending time with Carolyn and having that special person to unburden your thoughts is part of finding an internal peace. I’m most thankful.

It’s a beautiful day
The sun is shining
I feel good
And no-one’s gonna stop me now, oh yeah

It’s a beautiful day
I feel good, I feel right
And no-one, no-one’s gonna stop me now
MamaSometimes I feel so sad, so sad, so bad
But no-one’s gonna stop me now, no-one
It’s hopeless, so hopeless to even try

By Queen, et al

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It’s A Beautiful Day: Part 3 Smoke On The Water

After a fun evening in Bend, Carolyn and I had decided we would take a day trip down to Crater Lake National Park. It is cloudy, a few drops of moisture, and smoke is in the air from as far away as California added to some local fires in the Mount Jefferson area.

The trip to Crater Lake is a beautiful drive on US Route 97, aka the Dalles-California Highway and the World War II Veterans Historic Highway through some small towns, (Chemult, La Pine, etc) and the traffic flows with no delays whatsoever. Amazing drive past state parks, river areas, the possibilities never end. The road continues on to Klamath Falls another area that has unlimited opportunity for outdoors activities.

We arrive at the northern entrance to the National Park and the Park Ranger informs us that you can barely see Crater Lake due to the smoke that has settled in area from the Northern California fires. We came to see so we were not going to be deterred from visiting.

Due to the smokey conditions, we only hiked along the rim with no peak hikes since the views had completely dissipated. We still had fun viewing another National Park that we had never been to and another one knocked off our list. It is beautiful and most interesting to read about the history of the area. The visitor center was open and the number of visitors was low.

On our return to Bend, we took our time and headed back to our craft beer tour. Our first stop was Silver Moon Brewing. This one is a hidden gem located next to the Bend Parkway and a short walk from our hotel. Great outdoor patio and the Mango Daze (Mango Pale Ale) was excellent. It was hopping and everybody was socially distanced and of course face masks. We walk about a mile and a half , down to the Mirror Pond and the Drake Park area, across the bridge and over to 10 Barrel. 10 Barrel is one that was on my to do list but long story short, that did not work out as the customer service was awful. Let’s just say I got a bit heated and left. What’s a fellow to do? Ok, the Boss Rambler Beer Club, got us right in and we sat outdoors and enjoyed ourselves.

We decide to walk next door to the Sunriver Brewing Co. Once again, we sit outdoors in the cool of the evening. We eat dinner and I can honestly say it was the best fish and chips I ever had. The fish was cod but lightly battered in some special way that was incredible. I haven’t not mentioned this but, I have eaten fish and chips almost every day in Oregon because they are really good. But this, in my opinion, is the best. Great dinner to end the evening and a nice walk back to the Doubletree.

Next stop on our Central Oregon adventure will be a Tumalo Falls hike.

It was another Beautiful Day, no words needed just some fine mellow music.

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It’s A Beautiful Day: Part II Metolius River, Oregon

I’m gonna sing a brand new song, Yeah I’m about to get my worship on
Take me away on this beautiful day by Jamie Grace

Sunday morning sunshine after a Cannon Beach day, Carolyn and I jump in the car and head out for another new adventure in Oregon as we travel towards Bend. God, I’m just loving this.

On the highway towards Bend, the drive is beautiful, and I mean beautiful. Traffic is heavy heading in the opposite direction but we are cruising along just taking in the sights. Spectacular. We decide on the southern route down I-5 on to Route 22 to Route 20. We pass lakes, rivers, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, the Three Sisters and it is beautiful. What a drive.

We stop in the Camp Sherman area for a river hike along the Metolius River. What a great time. The joy of walking along a river that flows and flows and nobody around. We end up hiking about 9 total miles just enjoying life and each other. Something about water that just energizes the soul. It’s a beautiful day, sunshine, warm, and great company. Leaving the troubles behind. On our journey we gain about 500 feet but most importantly we gain peace in troubled times.

We get back in the car and head towards Bend. As we drive into Sisters and as I have said, every good hike deserves a good beer, so we head to the Three Creeks Brewing Company. Good service and good beer. Our bartender was full on information and ideas.

Saison

Onward we head to Bend, arriving in the late afternoon and get checked into the Doubletree. What a great location. We are right in the old historic downtown with most places within walking distance. Tonight’s stop is the Bend Brewing Company. Outdoor seating along the Deschutes River, masked up, clean, peaceful, and once again friendly service. We’ve only been in Bend for a few hours and we are loving it. Just walking hand in hand down the streets enjoying the newness of adventure.

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It’s A Beautiful Day

Hey hey hey
It’s a beautiful day and I can’t stop myself from smilin’
If we’re drinkin’, then I’m buyin’
And I know there’s no denyin’
It’s a beautiful day, the sun is up, the music’s playin’
And even if it started rainin’
You won’t hear this boy complainin’
‘Cause I’m glad that you’re the one who got away
It’s a beautiful day
by Michael Buble

After landing in Portland, we left the city for Hillsboro, and the Embassy Suites and a stop at the local Costco for some Tim’s Potato Chips from Cascade Snacks. It’s cloudy and some light sprinkles. We meet up with some ole Payson friends, Dan and Bernadette Dillon. We got to eat dinner and have a couple cold ones at the McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Max Stern and his wife Brooke also showed up. What a great time catching up. The venue is spectacular with lots of outdoor seating for eating and drinking.

We stayed at the local Embassy Suites, got up early and headed to Cannon Beach. The west coast of Oregon is spectacular. After coffee, we head on down to Haystack Rock. Beautiful day for a walk along the Oregon Coast. We make a big loop and walk around the town and even stop in the quaint local library. 

Ecola State Park. This had been closed for awhile but some of the trails had reopened and we took advantage. The trail we hiked was the Clatsop Loop Trail from Indian Beach for a three mile round trip gaining about 800 feet in elevation. There is a great overlook for a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the Tillamook Lighthouse. Some great history in the area and of the lighthouse. Very beautiful area and fabulous state park.

We head back into Cannon Beach and head to Public Coast Brewing Co. Every good hike deserves a good beer and this place might not have the name recognition that Pelican Brewery does, but it rocks. We grabbed a ’67 Blonde Ale and it was a fantastic light, summer brew. Sitting outdoors, eating humongous fresh picked blueberries and sipping a Blonde Ale, well it just doesn’t get much better.

Beer and Blueberries

The day is still young, so off we go to the next state park hike on our list: Oswald West. Since it is a Saturday and sunny, the number of people escaping outdoors is growing. We finally find a place to park and head to Cape Falcon Trailhead. On this hike, we travel about five miles, 650+ elevation gains, and once again spectacular view of the coastline and beaches. Not overcrowded at all. Another beautiful day for a fantastic hike. On our arrival back to our car, we headed to Pelican Brewing Company in Cannon Beach. This is the best known brewery in the area but we were disappointed. They were out of the brews we wanted to try and it was too crowded to be fun. We skipped dinner there and grabbed some fish and chips to go from Tom’s Fish and Chips. Good eats.

We head back to Hillsboro after a very successful and fun day in the Cannon Beach area. I just know I could probably spend at least a week in that area and never get bored. It was a beautiful day.

Got get up and head east towards Bend.

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The Sedona Experience: A Trek to the Birthing Cave and Mescal Mountain

The end of June arrived quickly and Carolyn’s last of her time off is ending so we decide to head on over to Sedona for a last hurrah. Not only that, my hiking days are numbered for awhile as well due to a scheduled back procedure in July with a long rest period of no bouncing around allowed.

Our first stop from Payson to Sedona is a dud. We wanted to hike a short trail V Bar V Heritage Site Trail that has petroglyphs. We arrive only to find out the access is only open on weekends. So back in the car and over to Sedona we go. Today’s hike starts at the Long Canyon Trailhead. This is a beautiful area that is located close to the Enchantment Resort and the Seven Canyons golf course area. We have hiked in this area multiple times in the past but we never made it to the Birthing Cave. The hike is about a mile each direction with a climb into a cave like area that has the sandstone overhanging. The view is spectacular and since it is a Tuesday, not many people out and about during the heat of the day. To get the best photos, you would need a wide-angled lens and of course I’m still stuck with an older iPhone.

The Birthing Cave has some interesting history. You can read about it on this person’s blog: Hormones Matter. What I do know is that the birthing cave is magical and has a sensual feel to it in a very tranquil setting. It is worth the time to stop and relax in the moment. It captures the Sedona Experience.

IMG_3991On our way back to our hotel we stop at Oak Creek Brewing Company for a couple crafts on the patio with some of their fresh peanuts in the shell. Great spot for relaxing. From there we travel to Oak Creek Village and a stop at PJ’s Village Pub for some quick bites of food. We were able to sit on the front patio where we enjoyed talking with other guests. Very friendly and another fun place to relax. Both places seemed to have some COVID restrictions in place. Little did we know that PJ’s would close down overnight to comply with the new orders in place from the Governor’s office.

Our two day stay at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock is a good one. The pool is open and we had decided to just hang out and enjoy some of the amenities by lounging around. Their COVID-19 responses included times where they close the pool to disinfect tables, chairs, and gather up all towels. We were ok with the inconvenience and ate lunch at the outdoor grill using my food discount to eat some Ahi tuna and quinoa. The staff is very friendly and accommodating and added to our enjoyment. It was also nice to do nothing but read and relax for a day in a beautiful setting.

After breakfast on Thursday morning, we head back to the Long Canyon Trailhead for another new to us hike that would be longer and a loop trail: Mescal Mountain: Long Canyon, Deadman’s Pass, Mescal Loop. Once again, we encountered very few out on the trail. The area looks to have many mountain bikers but today we only encountered a handful. Once again a nice, quiet, and fully exposed trail that was very warm. We ended up hiking around 4.5 miles with elevation gains of 400 feet. No shots of Mescal for me.

Today’s after hike experiences would take us to one of our favorite small breweries, Sedona Beer Company. Located off of Jordan Road, the brewery seems to do quite well with good food and many different taps. Kali is always quick to welcome us back. We sit out on the patio contemplating what is next since Carolyn has to head back to work and I’m still on furlough with no end in sight.

We head back to Payson, thankful for the moments we had in the great outdoors being socially distanced from others and having another wonderful time in the Sedona area. Great road trip with some different hikes, craft beers, good conversations, rest and relaxation, and staying healthy.

Next stop in this adventure? Who knows what tomorrow might bring.

 

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Social Distancing: Petrified In Arizona

Carolyn took the month of June off from work in what Southwest refers to as Emergency Time Off. What that amounts to is that you receive a small portion of pay for helping the company reduce labor cost during the COVID-19 pandemic. The best news is we get the whole month together to do things we might not normally get to do. (I’ve been furloughed since March) So lots of reading, organizing, some cleaning (not much), and of course some hikes.

Fathers’ Day weekend consisted of us holding our big yard sale in Payson. It might be a pain but still lots of fun and Jordyn came up and helped us out. For Fathers’ Day we hiked along the Arizona Trail on a section south of Pine for about a nine mile roundtrip. The reward after was a stop at the Pinewood Tavern for some pork nachos and a craft beer. Good stuff.

Since we were staying at our old home in Payson and Carolyn’s mom is there for the summer to get out from the heat and do some social distancing away from the city. It was decided that we would take a road trip to Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, and stop at an Arizona State Park, Lyman Lake. We packed up the cooler with lunch and waters, took our dog Roxy, and off we headed on a Sunday morning. Our drive took us up through Heber and towards Holbrook. We entered at the south entrance and proceeded into the park for some hiking and exploration of areas that I’ve never been to. Due to COVID-19, there were very few visitors so social distancing was a breeze. We ended up hiking three shorter hikes to give us a taste of the area and it did not disappoint. Our hikes included Giant Logs, Long Longs, Agate House, and Puerco Pueblo. These hikes are fairly flat and easy so all of us, including Roxy, were able to get out and enjoy.

To see so many petrified trees, interesting rock formations, petroglyphs and ruins, and all of the history in the area was exhilarating. Our drive took us to the north entrance by the Painted Desert area where we stopped for our picnic lunch.

After our stop, we got back in the car and headed over to Lyman Lake. This was another stop that we had never been to before. The lake is formed from a dam along the Little Colorado River and it has nice campgrounds, boating, swimming, and some hiking. We took another couple mile hike to some more petroglyphs before having our celebratory Arizona State Park craft beer brewed by Arizona Wilderness. They are a brewery that has that outdoor Arizona theme and they teamed up to brew a pale ale where some of the proceeds go the state park system. So it was appropriate to have one at Lyman.

We got back on the road in time to head home and watch the second episode of the new HBO series, Perry Mason and the premier of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. Both of these shows are really good and it was a great way to end a great day road trip.

I’m not sure why I have never been to the Petrified Forest, but Carolyn and I want to go back. There are many beautiful trails and things to see so we plan on revisiting where we can spend some time down off the beaten path. The park is clean and unspoiled, has few travelers (think social distancing), lots of history, and the petrified trees are something else. The Painted Desert area has some decent hikes as well so it might take several trips. The entrance is about 120 miles from our front door in Payson. I’m thinking that Fall might be a good time to get petrified again. But in the meantime, our next stop is Sedona.

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Social Distancing: Back to Arizona

The day has come come to start heading back to Arizona from our social distanced times in Southern Utah. But first coffee at a lively upbeat coffee shop that isn’t too far from our hotel–Feel Love Coffee. The Riverside location has a yoga/pilates type of studio as part of the shop and it is hopping with music and pounding of those working out. Fun eclectic place with good breakfast food and coffee plus outdoor seating. I was feeling the love and if you are ever up that way, make sure to check it out.

As we head out of St. George and on to Hurricane, we have decided to take the long way home going back to Kanab and on to Page, AZ so we can stop by Horseshoe Bend since I had never been. South of Kanab, we drive into AZ by Colorado City, a town with an infamous past built on polygamy. We wanted to check out the local brewery, Edge of World Brewery, but they are closed on Wednesdays. Who would have every thought that Colorado City would have a brewery? The times they are a changing. We continue through Fredonia, AZ and head towards Kanab.

Big Al’s Burgers is on my mind with a big buffalo burger just waiting to be devoured. We have arrived around the end of lunch time and once again the place is jumping. We grab the buffalo burgers to go and head towards Horseshoe bend. By the time we arrive, I have developed some nice stains on the front of my shirt. Trust me, well worth the stains.

Due to COVID-19 very few tourists are at Horseshoe Bend. Per Carolyn, the trail has been changed and is wheelchair accessible–a mile in and a mile out. The view is beautiful but in my opinion, but it is not something that overwhelmed me.

I guess I have become accustomed to having strenuous hikes to beautiful views so I was it was a bit of a let down for me. I am still glad to have visited and to have seen the view so I’m glad we visited. I did learn a new toilet technique by using the restroom at the Bend. I was so thankful to obtain new knowledge to day while using the Horseshoe Bend facilities. The things I learn while traveling.

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How to use a toilet in the USA.

Back on Rt 89A, we head towards Flagstaff with a new change in our plans; we are using the Hilton Team Member rate to stay at the Doubletree by Hilton Flagstaff so we can relax and visit a couple of our favorite breweries. First stop is Mother Road Brewing Company.

Mother Road is always an interesting stop. They have a great outdoor patio seating area, good food, and good beer. While hanging out enjoying our time, we are told that Flagstaff is participating in the statewide curfew that has been put into place due to rioting and protesting the George Floyd death, and not COVID. The Conserve and Protect Kolsch is easily a favorite of ours. We have an appetizer with our beer and walk on over to Lumberyard Brewing Company in an attempt to beat the clock for curfew.

We arrive to total chaos as Lumberyard has not figured out how they are going to do things in a social distanced manner. We have to leave our number as the bartender describes a 30 minute wait even though there is not many there. He recommends a place across the street for beers while we wait. As soon as we order a beer at the new place, we get a text that lets us know that our table is ready. That 30 minutes turned into 10 minutes. We get back to Lumberyard to stand in line with 15 others (non social distanced) as we rotate one by one past the bar to order drinks and then be delivered to a table. The Hazy Angel is very tasty and a favorite of ours. Im hoping they have figured out a better system because what they were doing did not work well at all.

Out we go, racing the clock in our walk back to the hotel to beat curfew.  Our journey back to Phoenix has taken an intentional detour and delay as the coolness of the mountain town is a nice respite from the heat of the Desert. It has been a great start to Carolyn’s emergency time off month from Southwest with our six day road trip. Many miles were hiked and many new eating and drinking places discovered and in some cases rediscovered.

Carolyn and I head into sleepy land with talks of what lies ahead and where we are headed for our next adventures but first some rest.

 

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Social Distancing: Snow Canyon State Park

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Our free breakfast at the Garden Inn wasn’t too exciting. With the COVID restrictions, no options but it came with the room. Our destination today is Snow Canyon State Park. The entrance is about 12 miles from our hotel and we have ambitions of hiking several trails today. The expected high is 97.

Upon arriving, as we are driving to our first destination, we see a desert tortoise crossing the road. That was a first for me. Many had stopped to take photos so we avoided the crowd and drove on. Carolyn has found and created a loop route for us that will take us on the Lava Flow Trail to West Canyon Road to Petrified Dunes to Butterfly and back on a section of Lava Flow. It is a very ambitious start to our morning. Sunny, hot, sandy trails, over the petrified dunes makes for a spectacular loop. The lava field is interesting and includes some lava caves that some climb down and explore.

The petrified dunes are amazing. I have no idea how they were formed but it is a beautiful trek across the sandstone that includes some slippery areas.

Our hike is approximately 4.25 miles with elevation gains of 520 feet. We only see a couple other people on 2.5 hour adventure hike. Just beautiful. When finished, we decide to take a break and drive around ending up for a beer and a couple snacks at the Xetava Gardens Cafe located in Kayenta Art Village. The whole area is a high end residential area with sustainable types of building projects. It is something else to see, how many of the houses are built close to the ground and hard to see. The Brussel Sprouts are amazing and I honestly say that I have never, ever had a better iced tea. Sitting out social distanced on the patio with great service and great food is hard to beat. It was also our first taste of Rogue Ales Honey Kolsch. Carolyn has now found her favorite. It is refreshing and one can taste the honey.

Next stop is Costco, why because I love Costco and I always try to stop in different ones on my trips. Big and I mean big. Clean and well kept and we end up with nothing just walking around with our face mask on. People in Utah seem to honor the request without complaint. We head to the state liquor since they sell the Rogue Honey Kolsch and I just happen to find a bottle of bourbon that was a bit hard to find this year in Phoenix–Henry McKenna Single Barrel. This will become my souvenir for the trip. We head back to the hotel to quickly refresh and figure out where we are going to grab some local grub before returning to Snow Canyon State Park.

The local stop for our togo dinner is Larsen’s Frostop Old Fashioned Drive in. Larsen’s has been around in St. George since the mid 1960’s and it is a genuine throwback to the way folks used to dine at a drive in. It is a real small chain that started somewhere back east in the 1950’s. We grab a couple burgers, fries, and onion rings and head back to the park for an impromptu picnic. Beautiful setting at a great campground with picnic tables, clean restrooms, and beautiful scenery. We enjoy dinner and a Rogue Honey Kolsch and decide to go do several more hikes to work off those calories.

First stop, White Rocks Amphitheater trail. It is about a 2 mile roundtrip with few around.  We get 200 feet of elevation since we climbed up some of the amphitheater for some scenic views.

Very different color of the rocks. At the amphitheater, you feel like you are at some Caribbean beach as there is plenty of deep white sand to roll around it. Nothing spectacular but worth the visit. Back at the car we head to the north exit of the park and drive down State Route 18 to the Paradise Canyon area. We embark on our last hike of the day The Chuckwalla Trail. Once again, we hike a total of a couple miles out and back at dusk. Not many hikers as we enjoyed the solitude as the sun went down. The trail leads to many other options but of course we have run out of time and are heading back home on Wednesday.

I am so impressed with the Utah State Park system. All the facilities we have seen are clean, well maintained, and plentiful. I am already thinking of return trips to tackle more hikes in more parks. We drive back to the Garden Inn with Carolyn telling me that we are going to eat breakfast somewhere different in the morning. We have a long drive ahead so while the news displays unrest throughout the country, we rest in St. George.

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From Zion to St. George: Socially Distanced and Socially Shamed (I’m A Pepper)

June 1, 2020

Out of bed, get some coffee from our favorite coffee place in Kanab, Jakey Leigh’s Coffee Shop and Bakery. Ready to get out on the road and head to Zion National Park via the Mount Carmel Junction traveling east to west. The toll booth has no workers since Zion is technically closed but roads are open. It is always disappointing when I don’t get to use my lifetime senior parks pass. I like to show it off but not today as entrance is free no matter where you enter. This route is quite impressive and beautiful. Traffic isn’t too bad and our trip into Springdale only takes a little over an hour. As we approach the road to Angel’s Landing, cars are parked everywhere due to closures. The visitor parking lots are, for the most part, vacant. The COVID 19 closures in someways has been helpful for us. Most trails are closed but you could do the Narrows with a guide. No buses are running due to social distancing requirements. What a difference then last summer.

The Watchman Trail from the Visitor’s Center is open and off we go. This trail is heavy trafficked but still less traffic then a normal summer day. Fairly strenuous with a healthy elevation gain of 650 feet over the 1.5 miles (3 mile RT) to the end of the trail. We have gotten a late start and it is hot. The views are magnificent and it is fairly easy to be social distanced the further we go since most people are done for the day due to the heat.

I’m less spry to day after the hiking workouts from yesterday so our time is about 1:20. We took our time enjoying the scenery. This trail is overlooked by the adventurers but I liked it. You are over Springdale and have great views out towards the Angel’s Landing areas. There is little shade so sunscreen is essential. Once again we see some that have no water, hiking in their flip flops. It is always amazes me that many do not understand the rigors of hiking in the heat and footwear is often overlooked.

The end of the hike leads us back into the parking lot out the entrance and into one of my favorite breweries, Zion Brewery. Probably one of the most scenic locations for a brewery in the US. We split the Elevated Elk Burger and some fries. Good stuff. If it had been dinner time, there is no doubt I would have eaten the Buffalo Meatloaf that I enjoyed last summer on several occasions. No lunch would be complete with out us having a brew. Their Juicy, a New England Style Hazy IPA, is delicious. We were social distanced on the patio.

Next stop is St. George. The road to St. George from Springdale is very scenic and you travel through Hurricane, a nice small town. Many scenic places on the road so our travel is enjoyable. Once arriving in St. George, we check into the Hilton Garden Inn, shower up, and head to St. George’s first brewery, Silver Reef Brewing Company. They are located in a warehouse area and unbeknownst to us, they didn’t have a tap room and only sell beer by the can. The owner was there, so we got an impromptu tour of the facility and all the plans he had to turn it into a full service brewery and tap room with a restaurant. COVID 19 had done a number on his business since many of his kegs get delivered to Las Vegas casinos. Very interesting gentleman and we were happy to enjoy his stories and some of his rootbeer that they brew as well. They also do wine and liquor. He was proud of being the only place in Utah that has a winery, distillery, and a brewery. He gave us some suggestions on St. George, we bought a variety six pack and back to the hotel.

We take a Lyft from the hotel to Historic Downtown St. George. Very well kept, and we arrive and get dropped off in front of a protest that has probably 40 individuals with signs of all types referencing Black Lives Matter. They were very peaceful and stayed on the corner in front of a Zion’s Bank.

Our first stop is the Station II Bar, but they weren’t currently serving food so he sends us across the street to George’s Corner Restaurant. He raves about the lamb burger and that sounds right up my alley. They have just opened and seating is limited but we get social distanced seating at the bar and had a great meal and our server/bartender was fantastic. Lots of history in this old building that has maintained its character but renovated to have a good experience. The lamb burger is fantastic. I still have dreams of eating that burger. It really connects with the senses.

Upon finishing our meal, we note that the protestors are no longer around and we head back to the Station II Bar. This is really new and was opened by the Zion Brewery. A former fire station converted into a taproom that has some game room areas and some awesome places to hangout. We decide to sit at the upstairs outdoor patio and sip on a cold one. Great concept and should be a winner once this COVID-19 fades.

It’s after 9:00, and Carolyn believes that we should just walk back to the hotel since it is only 2.3 miles, comfortable outside, and we are in St. George so it should be ok and uneventful. We walk by some old homes on Main St and it’s nice, quiet, and a nice time to reflect on life. We are about halfway into our walk when we cross at a stoplight and as we reach the other corner, a passenger in a pickup truck stick their head out the window and yells, “Dr. Pepper is for pussies, bitch!

I’m shaking my head thinking did I really hear that? Carolyn is as stunned as me and can only go “oh, I see, it’s the shirt“. Yup, I was wearing my free Dr. Pepper shirt this evening in my casual mode not realizing that it would set some local guy off. Welcome to St. George–not. In some ways it was funny, but it sure was a strange welcome to St. George.  I suppose not all people like Dr. Pepper, but I own the shirt because it was free from a promotion. I’ve been socially shamed for being a “pepper”. Continuing on, we were more cautious as we finally arrived at the Garden Inn around 10:00 ready to go to sleep and prepare for another hiking adventure on Tuesday.

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The Offending Shirt

So I guess I’m a pepper, are you a pepper too?

 

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Social Distancing: Hoodoo You Love–Part 2

May 31, 2020

Today’s journey will take Carolyn and I to Kodachrome Basin State Park a drive of close to 100 miles up Route 89 and across Scenic Route 12 to Cannonville. Our first stop is in Hatch for some breakfast where the vacation races had an ultra marathon and other trail running events on Saturday. We watched some of the competitors hobble around after yesterday’s event. They were beat up but it must have been a scenic run. We ate breakfast at the Hatch Station and it was interesting to talk to the older lady running the place who stays and works there every summer and lives in Sun City area but once lived in Pine, AZ. Just some small world stuff and fun to hear the stories.

Back on the road we head to Tropic to grab some coffee from the Bryce Canyon Coffee Co. Great little place along the way. Really beautiful little town along Route 12. We turn south in Cannonville and head to the Kodachrome Basin. It is bright and beautiful. Lots of red rock and some fascinating spires to view. It is like an old western and we are right in it.

We hiked the Panorama Trail Loop (Long) that’s about 6.5 miles and around 650 feet in elevation gains and our total time was around 2.75 hours with plenty of stops to take in the scenery. It was hot and we saw very few people on the trail. We hiked some of the side trails including Cool Cave where we chat with an older couple from Texas who travel and hike frequently. They travel pulling a camper during the spring and summer and park in some nice areas. Most interesting conversation sitting in a cave (rock overhang) about all the unrest and COVID 19. It was a nice social distanced hike.

Kodachrome is fabulous with very nice camping areas and the facilities and office are in top shape. The rangers were friendly and helpful. We were genuinely impressed and I could see myself doing some camping in that area. The rock formations are interesting and the terrain is ever-changing. The red dirt reminds me of Sedona.

Getting back in the car, we start heading towards Kanab. As we approach the Red Canyon area we just make a rash decision to head out on another hike. We have passed the Red Canyon area of the Dixie National Forest on Route 12 several times and it is so beautiful that this time we stop and look for a hike. I’m feeling a bit of an adrenaline rush so we decide on another strenuous hike that takes you past some Red hoodoos that are beautiful. The Golden Wall/Buckhorn Loop with Castle Bridge added on. We ended up hiking 5+ miles with over 1000 feet in elevation gain. This hike was magical and we never once encountered anybody out on the trails. This was not only social distanced but it was social isolated. Trails are well maintained and the scenery is incredible. Our journey took us about 2:20 with plenty of stops to take in the views. There are even points that become very narrow on the trail so we had to be careful as the surface can be slippery.

There is so much to see and so little time but I wouldn’t mind coming back here and exploring some more. This area also has some nice campgrounds that were actually full. It was a great hike to end our day before getting on to Kanab.

Tonight’s dinner is another walk in Kanab to Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant. Big Al’s is closed on Sunday. With the COVID 19 concerns the number of workers is limited. We get to sit out on a patio social distanced from most. It wasn’t the best night for food but I understand it is a tough environment to be in the restaurant industry. Service was off and the food wasn’t quite up to the standards that we expected. But no complaints, I just glad to be hanging out with Carolyn, discussing what tomorrow will bring since our time in Kanab is ending. Our plan is to drive to Zion National Park before heading to St. George and a two night stay to explore an area we have never been.

Last year we were fortunate to spend some time in Zion with a stay at Springdale, a beautiful small town. Marching to Zion (Experiencing life in Zion and Bryce National Parks)

So I must ask, “hoodoo you love”?

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