OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

Golden Gates

Golden Gates

Morning on top of mark

Morning on top of mark

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lake Powell

August 13, Lake Powell

Today we took a boat trip to the Rainbow Bridge. We boarded a small, but steady ocean yaht manned by two rather large men - Captain mark and crewman Tito, an obvious Navajo. Should I mention that the lake as well as 25 thousand sq. miles around belong to Navajo nation? Navajo are dark-skinned people with plain broad faces and flat noses;their eyes have a Mongolian shape Their English is impeccable and their manner is aloof at first, but if you manage a small talk, their faces light up with most beautiful genuine smiles.

Our destination was The Rainbow Bridge. According to navajo beliefs, this is a sacred place where their ancestors - two brothers
who were half-human and half deities - came down the rainbow to teach their people wisdom and how to protect themselves.
Navajo would never walk under the bridge - and we are kindly asked not to walk close to it in respect. Tito would not even approach the observation spot for tourists. He remained behind, perched on a large orange boulder, watching the fiery arch from afar, visibly in awe.

The beauty of the place can transfix anyone: the green crystal-clear water teeming with bass, bright reddish and ocher walls, tine gnarly cedars, willows, ferns in every crack and nook, the noise of the boisterous crickets and the buzz of large blue dragon-flies.

In the Anasazi canyon the walls were so close hat I could have touched them. The captain was just laughing - he told us that sometimes he navigates his ships in places where there are just four inches to the wall of the canyon, and just couple days ago they knocked off a loudspeaker from the deck...

Lake Powell is a beautiful, magical place - I highly recommend the boat trip. Be prepared though: hotels are bad, filed to the brim, and their breakfasts meager. Who cares!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bryce Canyon

August 12 To Page!

The weather has changed: the sky is overcast... There was a quick shower in Zion... You could see it in the colors of the photos.
We drove past Vermillion Cliffs to Page. An uneventful road, just 116 miles from Springdale. Page sits on top of a giant hill, and its main drag - Lake Powell boulevard cuts the town in half and then circles its north-eastern part. There are a few restaurants and many churches, a couple schools and plenty of desert around.
The Mexican Family restaurant is to be commended on the quality, prices and sizes of their dishes.

August 11 Bryce canyon

Today we traveled to the Bryce Canyon. If you need a comparison – think about grandiose fires … Think about Chinese clay army, a hundred times bigger… Think about Palmira of cyclopic proportions… Worth a visit… My favorite so far…
The park is well organized. There are paved paths and railings, bathrooms and parking lots, lodges and souvenier shops, horse rides and walking tours… They also offer a free shuttle – Zion does, too. If you are strong and healthy – take hikes!!!
In the evening we dined at “The Spotted Dog” restaurant. If you are a vegetarian – flee it! Do not be deceived by a sculpture of Buddha(? Spotted Dog?)! They do not know how to make a vegetarian meal edible! But if you are a carnivor – you are in luck! They offer 2 kinds of fish, lamb, beef, chicken, turkey… We tried thir lamb shanks – delicious!!!! Served with potatos a la farm and steamed baby vegetables, it is a treat for a connoseur! The portion sizes are gigantic, and if you are budget conscious, share a meal!

August 10, 2009 From Moab to Springdale

No breakfast at the Inn – no problem! Lots of places to eat in Moab. This tiny little place is a gem that I would encourage every tourist to visit and spend at least 2 nights in! Absolutely charming, easy-going, relaxed…
Next – to the Arches national park. The loop is about 18 miles. You stop a lot. Every turn brings new astonishing vistas. The most impressive were the red cliffs at the very entrance – the Courthouse Rock… Everywhere you see images of fantastic beasts and people… Arches are O.K., but they do not inspire awe the way those giants do…
We did do a short (1,5 mile) hike up to see the Delicate arch. And again – just walking on the blood-red sandstone, cut and criss-crossed by raised vein-like marks of former cracks in the pre-historic mud… it is amazing!
The road to Springdale was a torture. It is 346 miles long. My shoulders and thumbs burned… My eyes were closing… We stopped several times, because I was too tired… On one stop we watched chipmunks scurrying among the dry but fragrant pine forest… The next stop brought us to Cove Fort! It was a total surprise. We were looking for a gas station. We followed the sign – and suddenly drove into an immaculate green lawn with charming white houses emitting some kind of soothing music. To say it was eery is to say nothing.
An old gentleman in a spotless white shirt approached us and offered to use restrooms, and wondered if we are in need of assistance. We inquired about gas – he explained where we should be going. Then he offered us to see the fort – and we decided we wanted to! Unknowingly, we arrived at the family seat of Hinkleys – Ira Hinkley, who was one of the closest people to Brigham Young, built this fort in 1867.
Much later the Cove Fort was purchased by the Hinkley family and donated to the church- and considering that the grandson of Ira was the Head of the Church of the Latter Days Saints till his death in 2007 – the place is of unique historical value! The museum boasts a post station, a telegraph room with batteries made of glass jars- kitchen, dining room, living quarters and a semblance of an inn where for 35 cents one could buy a place on a bed…
The most interesting detail: Ira had to homeschool his childen, as they lived in the middle of a desert – and so, when it was time to study, he told them to “step aside”… from work, from everyday little things…
We all arrived to Springdale dead-beat. Luckily, we can rest here – for 2 nights.

August 9, 2009 From Salt Lake to Moab

We have arrived to Salt Lake City around 2 o’clock. Our hotel – Crystal Inn – offers rather large rooms with love seat sofas, two tables, two chairs, spacious bathroom, good breakfast and a smallish pool that we did not dare to use – a kid threw up in the pool!!!! Oh, how I missed the pristine pool in Yellowstone Best Western – I swam there in proud solitude… no kids… no chlorine…
As we have arrived early enough, we could unload, take a shower, change – and hit the city streets. We walked first to the Gateway shopping mall (the closest thing on earth to Disneyland)– which also contains the Olympic heritage plaza. The air was a joy to breath – warm, clean, and dry! The sun was bright – an unusual feeling to any Seattlite!
From Gateway we walked past the Convention Center with its glass towers of Babel towards Temple Square. The Tabernacle is an impressive building. Constructed in the end of the 19th century (it took 40 years to raise this edifice) it stands on almost 10 acres of flower gardens. The tallest spire is crowned by the angel Moroni that is holding the pipe proclaiming the end of days… The façade is facing an oval endless pool and a cascade of small fontains that lead to the doorstep of the Church’s headquarters. On a small plaza there stands a bronze sculpture of Joseph Smith and a sister that gives him her last penny. I loved the sculpture – it stands on a very small pedestal and is of almost human proportions. It does not instill awe or fear like the Brigham Young monument at the entrance to the park – the faces are soft and kind and somehow lit from the inside.
Next morning we listened to the Tabernacle choir at 9:30. 380 singers plus an orchestra – a sight to see (and listen to). We also rode the light rail – which is free in downtown Salt Lake City. They have a developed system of light rail that runs to the University District and other parts of the city.
Around 11 we left the friendly Salt Lake City and headed south east to Moab and the Arches National Park.
The road to Moab is not a very easy one – you drive endless serpentine turns between hills and mountain slopes… We arrived to our hotel around 5 in the evening.
My father was out of sorts because his supply of film was running low. So we decided to explore our new “campsite”. We drove ( a mistake!) and parked our ar in the heart of the downtown Moab (5 blocks from the hotel) . We got the film in a drugstore 2 blocks away and walked through some tiny shops. We ended up at an ice-cream shop – where they made sorbet for us – using real frozen fruit!!! Their coffee was excellent, too!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Salt Lake City

The trip from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City took us about 5 hours including a short stop on the way. At first we were trying to find our way out of the woods - we were following I-20 through Caribu Targee National Forest, which starts on the border of Montana and goes down south for miles and miles... It felt like we will never emerge from this stubby suffocating thicket... Well, an hour and a half later we did. Then the road led us among emerald mountains and rather boring farms with the same dull horses and cows chewing under the drizzling rain. The bird flocks criss-crossed the skies - geese, even herons, eagles... What? Were they fleeing the horrors of this so-called summer weather? Snake river followed us down south - we ran into it at least 5 times at different altitudes...
My father entertained us by descriptions of land formation in this area and showed us the marks that prehistoric sea left of the sides of the mountains. He also entertained grandma - calling her attention to the next herd of cows - "Look! Buffalo! Hmm.. rather smallish, don't you think?"

We were in Salt Lake at around 2, and eagerly went to explore the city. We admired the Gateway mall and the Olympic plaza,
The Tabernacle, the historic buildings... crafts fair... The weather is lovely, the air dry and fragrant. Tomorrow - to the Temple!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yellowstone

Whoever labeled Yellowstone "a park" made a grave error: the size of it is mind-boggling and exceeds two or three european states put together. Just to make the recommended one-day tour took us 10 hours - we climbed steep mountains, crossed The Continental Divide twice at more than 6000 feet, crossed vast valleys churning with geisers and watched elk, bison and moose.
The most impressive was the Norris valley of geisers. There one can walk past the Porcelain Lake, admire multicolored hot holes...
I dipped my hand into a warm stream and smelled a slight odor of sulfur. Dead trees stood on the whitened ground...
The Yellowstone lake was equally impressive - seemingly endless, it is also fed by geisers - some of the holes are under the water and look like tiny volcanos...
We also watched the eruption of The Old Faithful!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Missoula via Butte to West Yellowstone

Wow! What a day!
It all begun peacefully: the rain that poured all night subsided by 9 o'clock. The air was crisp and fragrant. The really good breakfast served at our Best Western Grant Creek Hotel also helped to put us in a pleasant mood. So, we decided to detour
and see the sights of Missoula.
We found it charming, provincial and warm. There were a few historical buildings, rather well preserved. The most interesting, however, was the railroad station.
We enjoyed the scenic road to Butte, and had a very nice lunch 30 miles before Butte, on Clark's Fork, of course.
After lunch our luck has changed: the roiling clouds far east turned a nasty color of dark grey, and it began to rain. In Butte, we missed I-90 and turned into I-15 by mistake... that took us extra 10 miles, which was a blessing in disguise. By the time we came back to Butte, darkness descended and all hell broke loose: it began to hail!!! The size of hail freaked me out: some pieces were as big as a hazelnut! I could see absolutely nothing - and stopped the car in a side street, which soon turned into a picture of white Christmas, with hail 6 inches deep on the grass. It kept banging on the car with such vigor, that I was expecting windows to pop out! After 10 minutes of this the hail turned into pouring rain; streams of muddy water flooded streets. Now i know what sewer does in a flood: it turns into geisers! Water was gushing 2 feet high from the lids of manholes...
It took us some time to get going again...
We passed the Continental divide at Pipestone, soon after Butte... Rags of white clouds drifted on the road... An hour later the car began to skid a little under the powerful gusts of wind. I slowed down, and smart girl I! Rain and a bit of hail caught with us again!!!
Soon after Whitehall we took state 359, then 287 - those were narrow, often just one lane one way roads.. Cows and hay in big rolls abounded on both sides. Strange skeletal abandoned farmhouses... And quiant little villages in mountain glens... The cutest of all was Ennis, almost at the doorstep of the Yellowstone. Well, we had to stop there!!!
It is dark outside now. We are all safely at the hotel in West Yellowstone. I am dead beat... Maybe should go for a swim...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Onwards East! Day 1

Today we - myself, my parents and my friend Larisa loaded a really big Ford 4-wheeler with our numerous luggage pieces. I could not but think Jerome K. Jerome... I believe we did look rather like we are going to search for Stanley... The only thing that saved us from gathering a large crowd was that we packed our car around 6 in the morning... But, as it usually is, we left only by 8, as I kept loosing one thing after another.
I do have a navigation system, so driving was not really a problem. We crossed the Cascades and entered their rain shadow areas- dry, yellow, barren, almost a moonscape. And yet - there was something majestic about the dusty baked gorges and passes... something untamed, defiant, powerful beyond imagination. Then the I-90 crossed the Eastern Washington almost straight as if drawn by a cyclopic ruler... There were some fast drivers out there... By 2 we crossed the state line into Idaho. It was quite different - more moist, lots of conifers, especially pines, narrow lakes, small rivers. The names Clark and Fork and their combinations - prevailed. Montana welcomed us by even more rugged rocky slopes, mostly covered by dark conifers, and sometimes scarred by long shale tongues. Here and there one could see marks of past forest fires.
Missoula appeared through a haze of mock rain at 6:30. We landed for today!

I love these movies!

  • The Fall, directed by Tarsem
  • Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jennet
  • Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson
  • Moulan Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Moonsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair
  • Australia, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Despereately seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman
  • Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, directed by Bharat Nalluri

Favorite books and authors

  • Boris Vassiliev, historical novels
  • C.Cherryh, Morgaine Sagas
  • Ch.Dickens, The Bleak House
  • George Martin, The Chronicles of Ice and Fire
  • Gregory Frost, Shadow Bridge novels
  • Heinrich Mann, Henry the IV
  • J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
  • Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma
  • Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time
  • Sir Thomas Mallory, Le Mort D'Artur
  • Ted Williams, Green Angel Tower
  • Terry Goodkind, Magician's First Rule and the following books in this saga
  • Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers