Friday, May 20, 2016

Girls' Getaway Extraordinaire

I'm back here in the lovely, cold and rainy Pacific Northwest.  We arrived shortly after the middle of April in order to welcome our first grandson.  You might remember seeing some baby knitting that I did over the last few months.  That will have to suffice because, following parents' orders, we aren't allowed to post photos of the little guy on social media.  He's well, growing fast, and I've seen him wearing a hat or two that I made.

Now to the adventure part of the story.  I don't remember if I've blogged about all the trips my sister and I have taken to our favorite spa in St. George, UT, but I think I wrote about our last trip three years ago.  We go on major birthdays, and this time it was one of hers.  To make this time even more special, The Princess came with us for the first three nights.  The spa is great; we always stay a week and get the package that includes hiking, exercise classes, meals, and one spa treatment a day.  I'm not a true outdoorsy person; I like to go on a hike if I have a massage and feather bed waiting for me at the end of the trail.  Definitely not a tent.

We had awesome hiking guides, as always, and met some other nice people.  The scenery in the high desert of Utah is spectacular and I never tire of it.

The first night we arrived was cool and rainy so we dug out the long pants for the next morning's hike.  Luckily the sun came out and it was beautiful.  As always click on a photo to enlarge it.

 We went into a slot canyon and took a glamour shot of The Princess (not difficult to do at anytime) before it got too narrow and claustrophobic.

The second day involved some waterfalls and a little bit of rock climbing.  Real rock climbing isn't on my bucket list.

The next day we climbed up to a cave and actually did climb up the side of the hill to it, due to a slightly unorthodox route taken by the guide in the lead.  That was the day I learned what would happen if I gave my phone to one of the guides (Hi, Kim!) and asked him to take photos.

 Sadly, The Princess had to head home and we carried on without her.

It had been rainy in the desert and the flowers were extra beautiful.

My sister's birthday was a beautiful day.  We saw some lava caves on our hike that day and also a location where a scene from Butch Cassidy had been filmed.  We thank Kim for his wealth of cultural knowledge!

This was a hike we hadn't been on before.  We walked through lots of loose sand in a pine forest and then came out at this spectacular overlook.  The guides like to do some shenanigans up here.

We had time to hike before leaving for the airport on our last day.  The weather looked threatening but rain held off until we were safely back and on our way to Vegas for the flight.  This is head trail guide Mark illustrating why they call this the surfboard rock.

We tried a couple of different classes this time.  Mark gave us a quick intro to slacklining.  He set up a line just a couple of feet off the ground with ropes for us to hold.  It was fun trying to be calm enough to balance and move around.

We also gave TRX a try.  Interesting, that's all I'll say.

Never fear, I had some knitting with me.  I finished this handspun sock and the colors matched one of the rose bushes pretty well.

And, since I'm allowed to post granddog photos, here's our girl Olive with her new little brother, Yoda.  We had a nice visit with them before we drove to the spa.  

Back to knitting and spinning here, so there will be more to post shortly.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Further Adventures in the Wild

As I documented last time, we've been going on hikes about every week this winter.  This week we added a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park to our weekly outdoor activities and it was a lot of fun.

I had read in the paper last Sunday that the Joshua Trees were in bloom and were very abundant this year.  Not having been to the park in about 20 years, and never having seen a tree in bloom, we asked some friends to go and drove up there last Monday morning.  We drove east to the far entrance to the park, entered there, and then drove diagonally across the whole thing, stopping when we saw something interesting.

This garden of Cholla cacti was impressive.

They were in various stages of bloom and were really pretty.  The color of the flower is not as eye catching as the Beaver tail pink blossom but I loved the pale green, delicate blossoms.

We passed some amazing rock formations and stopped to take photos of this one that looks like a skull.

 It was getting pretty windy but it was still nice, so we stopped for a picnic lunch and happened on some blooming Joshua Trees.  The blossom is the white thing on the end of the branch just off my left shoulder.  Sometimes you really have to look for them to find them.

We took a short hike near Barker Dam, a structure constructed by early cattlemen in 1900.  Now it collects whatever water is available to be enjoyed by the desert wildlife.

Walking through there, we came upon more trees and were able to study the blooms, which look almost like pineapples  from a distance.  The individual blossoms look like they don't really open in a showy manner, but grow a seed pod inside each one, which then falls.  In any case, it was interesting to see them up close.

This morning we decided to hike to the cross which sits atop a mountain trail here in Palm Desert.

 There were a lot of people and dogs out this morning, but we made it and then went down a back way, avoiding the crowds but coming out in a swanky neighborhood that's being developed.  They didn't seem to mind us walking down their road to get back to the trail along the canal that led us back to the car.  We found an oasis of green along the way and some flowers.

Very up and down today; my phone told me I'd gone 11,150 steps, 4.5 miles and climbed 63 floors.  I don't know how exact those numbers are, but it was definitely a climb!

And just for some more pretty, here's a photo I took on my walk through the park last Thursday.  I sent it in to the local TV station and they aired it on their evening news as one of the viewers' weather photos.  Cool!

Happy Sunday and Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Today's Hike

We try to go on a hike on Sunday mornings and today was a good one.  Here in Palm Desert the mountains seem to come right down to the road, so it's not hard to find a hiking trail near home.  The trails nearest us are very popular this time of year and get pretty crowded, so we usually go a little farther afield.  This morning we drove about 20 minutes away to the place I call my favorite hike.  You just park and pretty much start walking uphill, then decide whether to continue on a road to the top, or veer off in another direction onto a smaller trail.

Today we decided to go check out a new dam that was being built during the last couple of years and is finished now.  It was quite a project and now protects the main highway between all of the little cities here (Hwy 111) from washing out every time there's significant rain.

We struck out to the left and went around the side of the hill until we arrived at a vantage point above the dam.  Then we decided to see if we could get down into the riverbed itself and walk back that way, climbing back up eventually.  The dam is in the center behind me.

It was a bit of an adventure.  First, the desert was in bloom such that I've never seen before in this area.  I've hiked in Utah in the red rock desert and there are always flowers and plants along the trails.  Here, all you see usually is rocks and sand.  Not the most picturesque landscape.  We've had some rain this winter, and it was wonderful to see all the  green and other colors.


We walked quite awhile over the rocks (large and small) in the riverbed, looking for an oasis of palm trees that DH had seen previously.  All the way, we looked up at the high ridges overhead and the lack of obvious trails.  We're not rock climbers and it's been quite awhile since we've seen our 20s (or even 40s), so I was getting a little worried.  Just when we were about to turn back and retrace our steps, we found a little rock pile marking a trail up.  It was fairly steep but had enough switchbacks that it wasn't impossible to ascend.

I was annoyed to see this beautiful fountain grass blooming just beautifully out here in the middle of nowhere. :)  I've been trying to grow it in a pot for about three years, and my version is sadly lacking.

It's probably about time for me to give up and move on to something else!

All in all, it was a fun morning.  My phone app said that I'd gone 8217 steps, 3.4 miles, and climbed 29 floors.  It felt like we had earned our brunch of cinnamon french toast, bacon, and cantaloupe.