Utah Scenery

A Beautiful Beginning to an Adventurous Day!

Day 2 in Capital Reef National Park brought about an amazing hike early in the morning on the Chimney Rock Trail.  This trail is challenging at the beginning because of the climb but stick with it because you end up on top of the world.  After hiking in washes with loose, sandy soil and on miles and miles of rock, I was thrilled to note that the surface of this trail is hard-packed dirt. Much easier to walk on. I would put out there that Chimney Rock itself is not the most spectacular feature of this hike. You can see it from the road. Once on the trail, if you bear to the right instead of first heading to Spring Canyon the trail takes you higher than Chimney Rock and you literally and truly have a birdseye view of the park. Continue on and you loop around and drop down into the canyon with its spectacular cliffs and vistas. Breathtaking. Don't let the steep beginning hold you back. Stop. Catch your breath. Look around. Then continue. You'll be so glad you did. Capitalreef2

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Once we finished up the Chimney Rock Trail, it was time to start heading north back towards Park City.  However, on the way we had two awesome discoveries.  The first one was just in time for lunch.  We came upon Duke's Slickrock Grill (www.dukesslickrock.com)  in Hanksville, Utah.  Let me explain what Hanksville is all about.  If you blink once you will find yourself on the other end of town. We gathered up our courage and headed into the restaurant that had probably 20 motorcycles parked out front.  Now, I am not opposed to motorcycles, but doesn't that just conjure up a vision in your head of walking into a dark bar and every head turns and looks at you when you walk in?  This restaurant was a big surprise.  It pays homage to John Wayne, aka The Duke. There are cardboard cut-outs of him all around.  The best part of this restaurant though is it's cheeseburgers. Yes, cheeseburgers.  It tasted like it was straight from field to table.  The Conqueror is a 1/2 pound of seriously tasty, pure ground beef patty with cheddar cheese, served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle.  It did not disappoint.  Along with the great food was the great staff.  They really were attentive and truly friendly.

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Once we filled our tummies again (noticing a theme on this trip?), we stopped off in Goblin Valley State Park.  Goblin Valley is out in the middle of nowhere just south of I-70 near Green River, UT.  What a cool, funky little place complete with hiking trails and a campground.  It's really hard to describe just what this place looks like but for lack of better words, you feel like you are on Mars surrounded by giant aliens.  Perhaps the pictures can explain better than I.  My kid had a blast running all around the rock formations, playing hide and seek.  One thing is for sure, I completely have to come back and camp here on Halloween.  Just the name itself promises a good time during that time of year.

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Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  - Lao Tzu

Until My Next Adventure,

P. A. Walker

A Love Affair with Capital Reef National Park

One issue with being a travel blogger is that you might be on the road for days at a time, thus preventing some timely blog posts.  I hope that you will agree that this trip was worth the wait. I cannot believe that I have never ventured South to the incredible area of Capitol Reef National Park.  In my quest for doing new things this year, I added a trip to this beautiful area on to my list of things to do.  I am so glad that I did.  Capitol Reef certainly delivered in the beauty and natural surroundings department.  It's hard to put into words the beautiful scenery.  How does one describe an area of the country that God spent extra time on?

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Driving into Capitol Reef (which is about 3.5 hours from Park City, by the way) was the beginning of the scenery slide show.  Beautiful red rocks are at every turn in the road.  This particular National Park is one of the least visited in the country.  I am not sure of the reason, perhaps because of it's close proximity to the "bigger" parks such as Bryce Canyon and Zion.  However, it would be a shame for folks to miss this park.  It's an area that is so different from say, Zion National Park. The geography and rock formations will blow you away.

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Since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided that the first day in the park would be more of a driving tour.  The Visitor Center is a great starting off point to lead you into which direction and activity that you want to embark on.  We decided that for the first time we would take the scenic drive.  This drive is approximately 20 miles round trip.  Stay on it until the end as this is by far the best scenery of all.  You may see some signs along the way that deter you, but all you have to do is look up into nature.  If the skies are clear, proceed on your way.

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Around every bend in the road was a surprise and elicited another ohh and ahh.  It was amazing to see so much nature and variations in the view all tucked into one park.  We wrapped up this day by checking into the Capital Reef Resort (www.capitolreefresort.com).  Overlooking the red cliffs and 1 mile from Capitol Reef National Park, this casual resort is 3 miles from the quaint town of Torrey.  The rooms were comfortable, spacious and the resort itself had an awesome hot tub which will be quite the treat after hiking in the red rocks all day.  After unpacking our bags, we headed into the town of Torrey to check out a great restaurant for dinner called Cafe Diablo (http://cafediablo.net).  This little gem is completely unexpected when you look at what surrounds it.  It's got amazing gourmet food.  Everything from Rattlesnake Cakes to Pumpkin Seed Trout.  Every bite of my Watermelon and Feta Salad to start was amazing.  This was followed up by Pomegranate Ribs and some Butternut Squash Raviolis which were the special that day.  Each bite was embedding such fond memories in my taste buds that I can still cherish it to this day.  It's making me want to jump in the car and head back down. Diable1

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Until tommorow's hike & adventure,

P.A. Walker

A Mother's Day Spent in a New Way!

This week's new adventure had me on the road to Moab, UT, a beautiful area in Southern Utah that encompasses several National Parks including Arches and Canyonlands.  The first in this adventure came about when we decided to "glamp" at Moab Under Canvas (www.moabundercanvas.com).  What is glamping you ask?  It is a new word for a new kind of travel.  When you are glamping, there's no need to pitch a tent or bring a sleeping bag.  These items are provided to you as you sleep in a yurt, airstream, villa or in our case a spacious canvas tent.  I love to sleep outdoors, but sometimes you just don't have the time or energy to drag your own equipment.  When you glamp, it is all provided for you. MoabUndercanvas

When we arrived at Moab Under Canvas, we were warmly greeted by Ben at the reception tent. Ben went out of his way to make sure we were properly settled in our tent.  He helped with our duffel bags, pointed out a lot of the area information and even suggested that we order our breakfast for the next morning so we didn't have to drive down into Moab (about 10 miles away) the next morning.  Ben gave us some great tips for hiking and made sure we knew that he was available if anything should arise.

After getting settled in, we headed into Arches National Park.  I have hiked here several times. However, every time I go into Arches, it makes me feel like it is my first time there.  The red rocks look different every time.  Around each bend of the road there is another stunning vista.  It truly takes my breathe away. The hike of the day was into the area with the arches called North and South Window.  An easy hike to do, especially with the young one.  Lots of fun rocks to climb up and over, and not too long of hike so there were no complaints.

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After dining in downtown Moab, we headed back to our campsite.  The weather this particular weekend was a bit iffy.  The clouds kept rolling in and rain threatened.  Rumor has it that the night before we arrived, a spectacular lighting show and heavy rain had hit the area.  That would have been amazing to see from our campground.  The scenery just from our tent was one that changed on a minute by minute basis.  You can see the edge of Arches from the campground.  As the sun was setting, the rocks kept changing colors.  Truly a sight to see.

The next morning, which happened to be Mother's Day, I was greeted by an amazing sight while up at sunrise.  I hiked down to the reception tent to get a warm cup of tea [The tent is always flowing with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and plenty of great conversation with whomever happens to be at the front desk.].  As I walked out of the tent, I was greeted with an awe-inspiring view. It had rained pretty heavily the night before, which made for some wonderful sleeping.  As the rain cleared out in the wee hours of the morning, I was amazed to see not one, but two full rainbows up in the sky.  As words cannot describe this sight, here is a picture that just might:

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It was one of the best Mother's Day presents I have ever received.  My son even told me that he had ordered those special.

We had originally planned to get up early and do the 2-3 hour roundtrip hike to Delicate Arch Trail in Arches.  However, since we woke to gray and cold, we snuggled in our extremely warm and comfortable beds and fell back asleep for a few more hours.

We ended the weekend by doing the Lower Delicate Arch Overlook Trail.  This is literally a 100 yards long trail that leaves right from the parking lot.  You are treated to a great view of Delicate Arch, but not as up close and personal as the other hike.  Next time, we will do the longer of the hikes.

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Moab is one of those places where the weather can turn on a dime, one minute sunny and the next raining and thunderstorms.  We waited a bit, but alas, the weather did not break.  TIme to head back to Park City and do the dirty laundry.  How did we mess up our tent so much in just one weekend?

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I am truly grateful to Ben and the rest of the staff at Moab Under Canvas for such as special weekend.  The company has other locations in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.  Hmmm, which one to try next?

Until my next adventure,

P.A. Walker

As always, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter under my page Kiva Wellness.

An Adventure That Went South (West)!

Mountain biking on Antelope Island, Utah.  That sounded like a good item to check off my 50 for 50 list.  I had been to Antelope Island before but never mountain biked there.  Sounds fun, right? Let me give a little history on Antelope Island.  The island has an area of 42 square miles.  It is the largest of 10 islands that lie within the Great Salt Lake.  Antelope Island has natural scenic beauty and holds populations of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, American bison, porcupine, badger, coyote, bobcat, and millions of waterfowl. The bison were introduced to the island in 1893, and Antelope Island Bison Herd has proven to be a valuable genetic pool for bison breeding and conservation purposes. The bison do well because much of the island is covered by dry, native grassland. [Excerpt taken from Wikipedia.  Lots more history there is you desire a deeper understanding.]

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Bikes on car, helmets and water packed.  Let's go.  It's about an hour and half ride from Park City.  Before I knew it, we were there and ready for some adventure.  I suggested that we stop at the Visitor's Center which is one of the first stops when you get off the Causeway onto the Island.  The center is a cement building perched on top of one of the highest points on the island.  As I exited the car, I realized that there were swarms of gnats.  Little tiny, annoying bugs that fly right into your ears and nose.  Okay, this should be interesting.  Perhaps the plan might have to be modified.

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Pushing forward onto the island, we decided that Buffalo Point would be a great trail to do.  It's about a mile round trip and is overlooking the Great Salt Lake.  I suggested we hike in a bit to see what the terrain looked like since I had my son with me.  He is a great mountain biker on flat trails, but this one looked a little challenging.

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Once we exited the car, it became very apparent that the gnat issue was not going to get better.  Undaunted, I suggested that we abandon the bikes, but still hike to the topmost section of the  hill.  Bad idea!  Anytime we stopped, we were absolutely swarmed.  If ever a person were to go completely insane, it might be in this instance.  They were everywhere, moving with us as we ran faster and faster back towards the car.  My son was screaming, I was screaming….

After finally getting back to the car, and getting whatever gnats were inside the car out, my kid declared that he never, ever wanted to come back to this island again.  Can't say as I blame him.

As we started driving again, I realized we still had not seen any bison or antelope.  One cannot come to the island and not see one of these animals.  When I promised to not stop the car at all, my son agreed to continue down the road to see what wildlife we could see.  We were rewarded with a herd of bison lounging on the beach and antelope prancing through the tall grass.

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Antelope Island is very scenic and beautiful.  I am sure there are times of the year when the gnats don't swarm.  I, for one, am not ready to venture back there again.  However, the day was not lost.  We soaked in some beautiful scenery, turned the mishap into a funny story and ended up giggling the whole way home.  My kid was re-naming it Gnatelope Island and kept saying we got "Gnatomic Bombed".  It turned out to be a great bonding adventure.  We were met with adversity and turned it into a great day!

"When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on." - LL Cool J

Until the next adventure,

P.A. Walker

As always, you can follow me on Twitter or my Facebook page, Kiva Wellness.

A Four Day Adventure [To the tune of a 3 hour tour!]

[Part One] Continuing on with my 50.4.50 adventures, I found myself being called to the beautiful Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ.  I have been here before, so the first for this particular adventure is the fact that I have never driven there from my home base of Park City, UT.  People told me I was crazy to be driving ten hours by myself, but I was actually looking forward to slowing down and having more than a few hours alone in a car with nothing to do but pay attention to the road and listen to books on tape. The first day out had me driving six hours and spending the night in Kanab, UT.  I have never been in this part of Utah and was looking forward to seeing just what it had to offer. All the way from Park City to Kanab, I listened to the Audio CD of "The Secret".  This story was a documentary by Rhonda Byrne that teaches us that we create our lives, with every thought every minute of every day.  The Secret offers tools and ideas to help you live The Secret and create the life of your dreams.  I have seen the documentary but for some reason, this day the audiobooks were really speaking to me.  I enjoyed it so much that I listened to it on the way back from Sedona as well.

The first night of my trip in Kanab was a mixed blessing.  It was nice to stop after being in the car for that long.  I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.  If you have ever been in Kanab, you will know that this is the hottest place to stay in town.  Case in point, the mixed blessing.  The walls were way thin and the "residents, aka screaming babies and barking dogs" kept me up almost all night long.

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The blessing for me in Kanab was the Rocking V Cafe (www.rockingvcafe.com) Amazing food and amazing service.  I had the SXSW Salad for dinner which was a wonderful blend of black beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, jalapeño marinated chicken topped with a cilantro lime dressing.  I topped it off with a piece of key lime pie to go! My night in Kanab proved to be both satisfying food wise and restless in the sleep department.  However, the road trip the next morning, from Kanab to Sedona was both beautiful and awe-inspiring in terms of scenery.

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Stay tuned for the next installment in this first ever journey on the road from here to there!

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Until the next adventure,

P.A. Walker