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Utah Again, Day 6: This is...Wow...

sunny 102 °F

Today had a bit of chaotic start. Due to the weather and the tiredness of the new arrivals yesterday, we had planned that we would reserve the Angel's Landing hike for Friday or skip it altogether. We were sleeping in when we got a call that several people were planning on going to Angel's Landing. Daniel wanted to do the hike but Catherine did not, so for today we will have separate entries that detail the day we each had.
Daniel
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I drove with Fr. Michael and Justin to Zion National Park. The other group, consisting of Joe, Jason, Nicole, and Sean, had gone the "scenic route" to the east entrance of the park, which involved driving through the famous tunnel. We decided to go the same way, and stop at Apple Annie's first to get some water.
Angel's Landing is a large rock formation that is one of the most famous and difficult hikes in Zion National Park. Anthony and I hiked part of it last year, although the estimate that we were twenty minute from the top was not exactly accurate. Today we intended to go all the way to the top, which involves some hiking with chains to prevent falling from the drop-offs.
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Some pictures as we went up the mountain. One advantage that we had is that the elevation where we were staying at Brian Head was about 9,600 feet, while the elevation at the top of Angel's Landing is only 5,800 feet. Thus, we were already acclimated to a higher elevation, and the hike was not as grueling as it would have been were we staying at a lower elevation. However, the weather was hot (about 102 degrees) and the hike up is almost entirely uphill, which is difficult.
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We went up very fast, and reached the Owl Canyon/ Refrigerator Canyon area in about twenty minutes, as opposed to the hour and a half it took last year. We had to stop for water breaks fairly regularly.
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This pictures shows the way up the West Rim trail, on the way to Refrigerator Canyon.
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After Refrigerator Canyon we came to the famous Walter's Wiggles. These were named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. They are 21 switchbacks that rapidly go up the side of Angel's Landing. Because they start when you are almost two miles into the hike already, they are very grueling and slow.
Once we reached the top of Walter's Wiggles, there is a place called Scout's Lookout. It has bathrooms and a lot of room to sit and rest. We regrouped there and planned the rest of our journey. After Scout's Lookout the chain system begins: it is not much of a system, really: it is just chains that you can hold on to so you don't fall off the mountain. Although it looks dangerous in pictures it didn't feel all that dangerous.
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These pictures show some of the steepness of the chain section, and how narrow the path is. The one nice thing is that once you get to this section, it is easier in many ways than the areas before: it is more likely to be flat or stair-like than it is to be an uphill walk. However, the drop-offs are psychologically difficult: Fr. Michael provided the title of today's entry when he said "this is...wow..." as he looked down while taking a step (he also suggested "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" but that was too long for Travellerspoint to use).
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This picture shows the drop-off on both sides at one point during the chain section.
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Taking a step.
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Hiking along the edge.
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Some pictures as we got closer to the end of the section section.
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Fr. Michael, Joe, Jason, me, and Justin near the top. Nicole and Sean had stayed back a bit, but they did reach the top later on.
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We had some snacks at the top of the mountain and rested for a bit.
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Condors! We could see a California Condor drifting from the mountaintop. The pictures don't really do it justice: it was hard to get a decent picture of a moving bird.
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Steep drop-offs along the path on the way down. Fr. Michael and I decided to go down, while the other group waited for Nicole and Sean so that they could take a group picture at the top.
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To me, the way down felt a lot easier.
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The green and red contrast is beautiful.
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These pictures, which highlight the darkness in Refrigerator Canyon against the light shining on the other mountains, seem like they could be an advertisement for the National Parks.
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The lower part of the trail in the afternoon, which was much cooler and more pleasant than the way up. I wore my St. Michael's shirt because of the name of the hike.
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There were a lot of chipmunks on the trail on the way down. They seemed to be showing off how fast and capable they were of rushing down the mountain. They had little fear of humans and would stay about two feet ahead of us, keeping just that distance before skittering off between the switchbacks.
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Some of the pictures I took near the bottom of the hike.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?

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We waited for a while at the bottom of the trail, at the shuttle stop. Once the rest of the group came down, we got on the shuttle to the visitor's center. Once we were all together, we decided to try going to the brewery, which is right outside the park in easy walking distance. It was crowded, so we tried the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company. That also had a long wait, so we went all the way to Cedar City before having dinner. We went to Centro Woodfired Pizza, which had Rogue Hazelnut beer, a delicious arugula salad, and some delicious pizzas, including a fennel sausage pizza and a pizza margherita. It was a wonderful dinner after the long day of hiking. It started raining heavily during dinner, which made us glad that we weren't caught in the rain on the hike. We then drove back to Brian Head to rest for tomorrow, when we go on our mountain bike expedition.

Catherine
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I went on a hike with my parents, Nick, Crystalynne, Calista, Cecilia, and Gabriel at the Sunset trail at Cedar Breaks, even though we did it during the day. It was a beautiful trail, but very windy. It was the kids' first time getting out on the trail and seeing Cedar Breaks, and they were very enthusiastic about it. They loved the wildflowers.

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After that we went back to the resort. We got in our swimsuits to go swimming, but stopped at the Activity Center to make some slime. After the slime activity we went swimming with Ryan, Kristina, Evelyn, and Noah. It was very fun. After that we all went to dinner at the resort restaurant, which was fun. We had a wonderful day around the resort and at Cedar Breaks!

Both
It was late when Daniel got back from the Angel's Landing hike, and he had a bike ride to do the next day. We were both very tired and went to bed fairly early.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:01 Archived in USA Tagged beer utah hike pizza zion chain condors chipmunks owls angels_landing refrigerator_canyon walter's_wiggles switchback Comments (1)

Utah Again, Day 5: Sunrise is Just a Word

rain 71 °F

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The weather was somewhat rainy today. It made it difficult to plan for hikes or other activities. However, we had lunch with Catherine's parents and decided that the weather would allow for a drive and possibly would clear enough for a hike. We drove to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is a beautiful route through a prairie/ high desert landscape.
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We arrived in Bryce Canyon National Park, which is a very interesting location. It is similar in some ways to Cedar Breaks, and somewhat different from Zion. It feels more temperate and less desert-like than Zion, and is much cooler. They also appear to have bat boxes.
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We decided to go to Sunrise Point, which caused a bit of a discussion. Anthony pointed out that "sunrise is just a word" when someone suggested that we might go to Sunset Peak instead. He was trying to point out that Sunrise Peak was beautiful even in the afternoon, and was not only suitable for viewing at sunrise. However, this lead to a lot of other statements, like "a hike is just a state of mind" and "Brian Head is just in your head." Eventually we got to the parking area but had a bit of trouble finding the trailhead. Catherine was actually the one who found it: she is apparently now an expert in geography and navigation.
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Some of the trails have interesting, fairytale-like names.
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We went to Sunrise Point and found that it is in fact a very real place and not merely a word. It would be beautiful at sunrise, but it was beautiful in the afternoon as well.
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Catherine suggested that Anthony and Daniel could do the Queen's Garden trail, which involved a hike down into the amphitheater and then back up. She and Katie waited at the point.
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There were amazing views from the hike down into Queen's Garden. It seems almost prehistoric, like a setting where you would expect to see dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
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Daniel and Anthony during the Queen's Garden hike.

We left Bryce in time to get back to Brian Head and get on the road to St. George. Catherine's brother, Fr. Michael, had been at a conference in Kansas City and was flying in to St. George to join the group. Since we tend to stay up a bit later and his plane was coming in at 9:00PM, we were the ones who went over to get him. We got back to Brian Head and then left in time to have dinner and pick Fr. Michael up at the airport.

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We had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant called Viva Chicken. Catherine got a chicken sandwich and Daniel got a rice bowl, and we also had some plantains. We seem to have eaten a surprising amount of South American food on this trip, which isn't exactly what we expected in Utah. We also tried Inca Kola, which we had heard of before and seen people drinking but never tried. It isn't really much like cola at all: it tastes more like a cream soda.

We then drove to the Saint George Airport, which was very small. Fr. Michael's plane landed and he was at our car within fifteen minutes. We then drove all the way back to Brian Head. When we turned to go up the mountain he felt like we were going to the middle of nowhere, which is somewhat accurate. Catherine's parents came over to visit for a bit. We will probably have a restful day tomorrow, especially because it might be rainy and stormy again. There are a lot of beautiful drives and fun things to do indoors as well, however, so if hikes or mountain biking aren't options we will find something else to do!

Posted by danielcatherine 05:20 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Utah Again, Day 4: Vote for Pedro

Pronounced "Peedro"

overcast 72 °F

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Today was a somewhat less eventful day. We slept in a bit and then decided to drive to Parowan to buy some groceries. Catherine texted everyone to see what they were doing, but no one really responded. It seems that most of them were outside of phone service at the time. Luckily, Kristina messaged back after a bit, so she came with us. We decided first to go see the Parowan Petroglyphs. We've written about them before: they are fascinating images and well worth seeing. Inside the Parowan Gap it is easy to imagine how it would have looked in ancient times when people stopped here and carved art into the walls for whatever reason they had.
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(This picture was added in an edit on 6/23/21. Catherine and Kristina had insisted on Daniel posing like the guy on the Hamburger Patty's sign).
After that we went to Hamburger Patty's, a restaurant we had visited last year. Daniel got the "Indian Taco," which is served on frybread and was very good. We also had frybread with honey butter for dessert. We enjoyed it and Kristina did too. After that we went to the Parowan Market to get some supplies for our dinner tonight. It was really nice to catch up with Kristina after not having seen her in person for over a year.

Catherine's parents came over for dinner, and so did Nick and Crystalynne and their kids. We had the bierocks that we had picked up in Tehachapi on our way here: the kids had pepperoni pizza bierocks and the adults had the traditional beef, onion, and cabbage. They were very good. We also had a cherry pie that we had bought at the Parowan Market for dessert. Side note: the cherry pie was difficult to slice so Catherine served it as a cherry compote. Cecilia gobbled it up and said "thank you for the cherry compost, Auntie."

After dinner we went over to Catherine's Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary's condo to play games for a little. We played "Just One," a game where you try to give one-word clues to get someone to guess another word. As always, we had a lot of laughs.

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Daniel brought his telescope on this trip so that we could have an astronomy night. Cedar Breaks National Monument is a dark sky site. Unfortunately, it was somewhat cloudy. We set up the telescope at the resort instead of going into the National Monument for the dark skies, since it was unlikely that we would have been able to see much anyway. We were able to look at the moon as well as a few stars. It might be possible to look at some other things later on during the trip. Catherine's parents, her Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary and Justin, and Ryan and Kristina came down to look through the telescope. After that, we asked Ryan and Kristina if they would teach us to play Pedro.
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Pedro is a card game, and it is pronounced Peedro. It is very popular in San Benito County, California, where Catherine's dad's family is from. It is a trick-taking game, which Catherine (having tried to learn it as a young child) described as "the most bizarre game in the world." When we learned it, it wasn't actually all that bizarre. Catherine has sometimes referred to some of her family members as having a "Pedro Brain," and tonight she began to suspect she might just have a Pedro brain after all. It was similar in some ways to 500, the game we play with Daniel's family. We are hoping to teach 500 to Ryan and Kristina later on during the trip.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:17 Archived in USA Tagged market dinner games pedro petroglyphs astronomy parowan hamburger_patty's bierocks frybread indian_taco just_one Comments (1)

Utah Again, Day 3: The Emerald Pools

sunny 103 °F

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Today we went to Zion National Park with Nick and Crystalynne, Joe and Mary, Ryan, and Justin. Above you can see another picture of the Ringtail Cat sculptured that reminded Catherine of Flora so much last year. For comparison, we have included a picture of Flora. They do have somewhat similar tails.
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The rest of the group wanted to hike The Narrows, which follows the Virgin River back past the paved trail. You walk in the river, and most people rent equipment to do it. We decided to do the Kayenta Trail, which starts at a place called The Grotto and ascends to the three Emerald Pools: Upper, Middle, and Lower.
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There weren't very many people on the trail as we were hiking up. We encountered a few people on their way down, but the information they gave us about the top of the trail was somewhat vague. Our hope was to reach the pools and then hike down the other way, on the Emerald Pools Trail back to Zion Lodge.
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We kept going towards the pools.
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Eventually we reached the Middle Pool. There was a short secondary trail to the Upper Pool, but we wanted to figure out our path to make sure we were on track to get to the Lodge and to meet up with the group on time, so we headed down to the lower pool. The lower pool is, understandably, below the upper pool. There is a waterfall that you walk behind, and there is the interesting phenomenon of small plants growing on the well-watered ledge behind the waterfall.
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The path from the lower pool to the Lodge was much easier than the Kayenta Trail from the Grotto. We were able to finish it much more quickly than the trail up. It also provided some beautiful views, but the way up was unmatched for quiet serenity.
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We arrived at the Lodge, where we were able to see deer and wild turkeys. Most of it had been closed last year, but this year the gift shop in the lodge was open so we looked around there a bit before taking the shuttle back to the visitors' center.
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At the visitors' center we were able to get some nice pictures of the moon as it came up over the rocks. We waited there for the rest of our group: phone service wasn't good, so we waited for some time and got a text that the rest of our group was getting on the shuttle at about the same time they arrived. They had had fun on the Narrows trail, but we still felt happy with our choice of hiking Kayenta Trail.
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We went to a cafe in Springdale called Oscar's, which mostly serves Mexican food but also has burgers and other sandwiches. Catherine got chili verde tamales and Daniel got enchiladas. It was a very good meal (note, the building in the picture is not Oscar's, but a building across the street. The picture was taken from Oscar's and shows the moon over the rocks).

Posted by danielcatherine 06:25 Archived in USA Tagged lodge hike quiet flora grotto zion narrows emerald_pool ringtail oscar's kayenta Comments (1)

Utah Again, Day 2: Dead Duck

semi-overcast 76 °F

Note: No ducks die nor are any found dead in the course of this entry.
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We went with Catherine's parents, her Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe, and her cousin Justin on a hike at Cedar Breaks National Monument. This was one we didn't do last year, which went to a place called Spectra Point.
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Some pictures along our hike. The contrast between the forest and the amphitheaters is really incredible.
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A historical building, and some more views.
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We got to Spectra Point which was incredibly beautiful. It was amazing for the people who hadn't yet been to Brian Head to see how close this is to our resort.
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After the hike, Joe and Mary hosted a barbecue at the barbecue area at the resort. After dinner we made s'mores, and Ryan and Kristina's son Noah wanted to play "Dead Duck." When we agreed to play Dead Duck, dead duck had a great deal in common with Duck Duck Goose. In fact, it was indistinguishable, except for having fewer and less consistent rules. It quickly devolved into chasing, similar to a game that Daniel's sister Hilary created as a child called "Roll Hot Potato."

We then went to the bar at the resort and talked about going to Zion National Park tomorrow!

Posted by danielcatherine 05:15 Archived in USA Tagged bar duck zion barbecue spectra cedar_breaks historical_house dead_duck roll_hot_potato Comments (0)

Utah Again, Day 1: Venezuela

sunny 120 °F

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Flora was, as always, very helpful in our packing process.

This year, we are going to Brian Head, Utah again with more of Catherine's family: her parents, her brother Nick and his wife Crystalynne and their kids, and her Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary's family. Her brother Fr. Michael will also be joining us for part of the trip. It is exciting to be back with a larger group!

We picked up some pastries in Tehachapi at a German bakery, and also got some bierocks to have as our group dinner.

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In Las Vegas it was extremely hot and extremely crowded. We tried for some time to find parking, which was difficult. We wanted to go to Cornish Pasty Co., but there was no parking to be found anywhere nearby. Instead, we found a place called Viva Las Arepas, which is Venezuelan food. They had empanadas (which are of course very similar to pasties) and arepas, which seem more like a sandwich. It was very good, and we will probably go back another time when we are on our way through Las Vegas.

By the time we finished dinner it was dark, and we journeyed through Nevada, the northwestern-most tip of Arizona, and southern Utah in the darkness, reaching our destination at 12:30. We had to check in with the security guard, and we were exhausted. We're very excited about the upcoming trip!

Posted by danielcatherine 19:33 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas arizona cat utah flora venezuela nevada empanadas selma arepas pasties bierocks tehachapi Comments (1)

A Note to Our Readers/ Utah Day 6, 7, and 8

We apologize for not having finished our blog last year. We had a poor internet connection, and then when we got home various responsibilities made it hard to finish the blog and it kind of slipped our minds. However, we are now starting another trip and would like to blog about it, so we felt we should recap the last three days of last year's trip.

Utah Day 6: July 10th, 2020
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We went for a hike at Cedar Breaks, which was relaxing after the heat and intensity of Zion the day before.
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The short hike provided some amazing views.
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We went for a drive and saw the nearby lakes.
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Then we tried Sasquatch Donuts. It is the strangest doughnut place we've seen, but one of the best. It seems that there is constantly a DJ and dancing going on, and that the doughnuts are delicious.

Utah Day 7: July 11th, 2020
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We went on a drive around the area, past Cedar Breaks and the lakes. It was interesting exploring the overall area.
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We ate at a Chinese restaurant in Parowan...
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That had images from old books on the table. Apparently they're concerned about witches...
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We also tried Cheerwine, one of the sodas we bought at the grocery store. It was delicious!

Utah Day 8: July 12th, 2020
This was the day we left. Anthony and Katie's car began to make awful brake noises as we approached Las Vegas, so we ended up stuck in Las Vegas for about four hours. What would you do with four hours in Vegas? Apparently go to a small Mexican restaurant and then sit in a tire shop.
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We will be updating the blog for our trip this year, where we seem to have much better internet access.

Posted by danielcatherine 19:32 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas utah chinese tires doughnuts sasquatch parowan brian_head cheerwine Comments (0)

Utah Day 5: Zion

sunny 102 °F

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Zion National Park had been closed for a while, and now requires that guests register for a spot on a tram. It is relatively crowded compared to the other places we have visited, which is a bit scary with the virus still out there. However, it seemed that almost everyone was wearing masks (including us) and that the hikes took us to less populated areas.
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The danger of flash flooding in slot canyons was low, so we felt that it was safe to hike (we actually avoided the real slot canyon of The Narrows, and only went to the river walk).
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The tram (modified to carry fewer people and require social distancing, and with all windows open) carried us into the canyon. The park is not designed for a lot of cars, and there are few places to park within the canyon, so we had to do all of our hiking from the bus stops.
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The river walk was an easier hike, but it leads to the Narrows, which are as the name describes a narrow slot canyon. We walked along the easy section of the river. The canyon feels similar to Sedona: we felt like Sedona is what would happen if someone built a city in the middle of Zion National Park.
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There is actually a lot of swampy land alongside the river. Catherine hoped it wouldn't be porous like bogs and sinkholes tend to be.
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A couple pictures of us during the hike. There were a lot of very bold and interested squirrels who kept trying to get to our bags and showed great interest in any water bottles or food that we had out. Though they reminded Catherine of Flora, we successfully avoided them and got them to go away.
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We finished our hike and then took the tram to one of the stops, with the intention of hiking from that stop to the lodge along the grotto trail. Anthony was interested in hiking more than that, but Catherine and Katie were not. Daniel and Anthony went across the street to a trail that crossed a bridge, and then just followed the trail...
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...which began to climb.
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In fact, it climbed quite a bit until we were high above the canyon. The trail was beautiful and the view of the canyon below was amazing. There were only a few other groups along this trail.
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We referred to this canyon as Owl Canyon because of this sign, but looking online we found that it is actually called Refrigerator Canyon because of the cold winds that blow through it. We met a group of hikers coming down who explained that it was the hike to Angel's Landing, one of the most famous hikes in Zion National Park. Apparently it was formerly called the Temple of Aeolus, after the god who kept the winds in Greek mythology. They said we were about twenty minutes from the top, but we had promised Catherine and Katie that we would be down by 6:30, so we didn't have the time to continue up the mountain, so we turned around.
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The way down. We met with Catherine and Katie back at the bus stop and decided to continue the hike to the lodge.
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The "grotto hike" to the lodge mostly followed the road. It was easy and beautiful.
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This statue of a ringtail cat reminded us of Flora.
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There was one loop that was open to drive, and so we drove around the park to the degree we were allowed and saw a lot of interesting sights, including the famous tunnel.
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Right outside the park is a brewery called Zion Brewpub. We had a dinner there, which was delicious. We had a very full day at the park, and it was an amazing thing to see on this trip.

Posted by danielcatherine 16:04 Archived in USA Tagged river wind mask tram zion refrigerator owl angel's_landing ringtail aeolus social_distance Comments (1)

Utah Day 4: Fry Bread Adventures

sunny 76 °F

Having done a lot of hiking and driving, we decided to have a slightly more relaxing day today. We went on a short drive around the area, and stopped at a few lookouts.
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Some views over the side of the amphitheater at Cedar Breaks.
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There are a lot of old lava flows and cinder cones around the area. It's a very interesting landscape.
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Our last and most delicious adventure for the day was going to a restaurant in Parowan called Hamburger Patty's. They serve fry bread, which is a Native American bread. It can be served as a savory dish, such as a "Navajo taco," or as a sweet dessert-like food, with sugar and cinnamon or honey butter. We had it this time with honey butter, and it was delicious.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:59 Archived in USA Tagged lava drive amphitheater cedar_breaks cinder_cones fry_bread hamburger_patty's Comments (1)

Utah Day 3: A Tropical Vacation

sunny 76 °F

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We slept in a bit, and then went on a short hike nearby in Cedar Breaks National Monument. This one was called "Alpine Pond" and involved hiking first to a small pond and then to the Chessmen overlook where we went yesterday.
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There were a lot of fir and spruce trees, as well as pines and a ton of wildflowers.
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There were a lot of fallen trees, mostly due to the bark beetle infestation that seems to have mostly passed by now. We arrived at the pond, which was beautiful but very full of bugs. We saw water bugs walking across the water and bees pollinating the wildflowers nearby.
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Most of the trail felt like we were walking through a forest, and didn't feel at all like we were on the edge of a plateau. But occasionally we would get glimpses through the trees of the majestic canyon/ amphitheater to our right.
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Some beautiful wildflowers that looked like something a fairy would live in.
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A meadow at the turnaround point for our hike.
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Along the way back.
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This yurt at the trail head is used as a kind of ranger station. It has a wood stove and looks kind of cozy inside.
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We then drove to Bryce National Park. There is a town just outside the park called Tropic, apparently because the early settlers were planning to grow "tropical" fruits like peaches and grapes there. In Tropic there is a small restaurant/ food truck called IDK Barbecue. We stopped there for lunch before going into the park.
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Bryce Canyon is really more of an amphitheater than a canyon. It is an amazingly beautiful location, although being there for sunset was a bit less impressive than it probably is at sunrise given that the amphitheater faces east.
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There were a lot of areas where guests could hike down into the amphitheater. Anthony and Daniel decided to climb down into one of them.
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The one we hiked in was called "Wall Street" and was part of the Navajo Trail loop. We didn't do the whole loop, we only walked down into the canyon and got to an area where there were trees growing up through the narrow cracks.
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We drove deeper into the park and stopped at various lookouts, which allowed us to see the sunset over the ridge, which was very impressive and beautiful. It was a wonderful day at Bryce Canyon, which is an incredible place.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:34 Archived in USA Tagged sunset wall_street hike tropic national_park bryce_canyon barbecue alpine_pond Comments (0)

Utah Day 2: Peaks and Petroglyphs

sunny 100 °F

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Our first stop was lunch at a highly recommended Mexican/ Salvadoran restaurant in the town of Parowan, which is just down the hill from where we are staying. The food was delicious. Their chile rellenos are especially different from what they are normally like, but in a very good way.
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We then drove to the Parowan Gap.
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Which is the location of the famous Parowan Petroglyphs. These were carved into the stone by various Native American tribes over the years. It seems as though the area was a common stopping point during migrations or hunting expeditions, and that various groups over the years added to these glyphs. There are various possible explanations for the different images, with different tribes and archaeologists sometimes having very divergent ideas of what they might have meant. It is interesting that the local tribes were generally agricultural: we had a bit of a discussion about the relationship between agriculture and religion, and how ceremonial images might become more important to a culture that farms rather than hunts for their living.
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There are petroglyphs in most of these images, especially on the darker parts of the rock. Some of them seem to depict astronomical events, such as meteors falling to earth. A modern observer is likely to see some of the figures as aliens (some of the human figures have what look like antennae) but it is important not to read too much into your own interpretation (these figures could simply be, for instance, a shaman wearing antlers). It is hard to imagine what caused people to carve these things into the rock. You wish that you could understand what they were thinking and why they organized the images the way they did.
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We also stopped briefly at the Dinosaur tracks site, also in the Parowan Gap. Since it was very hot we didn't do much of a hike there.
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Next we went to Cedar Breaks National Monument, where we could see the "Chessmen," supposedly formations that look like chessmen but in fact formations that just look like rocks. Nevertheless, it was beautiful.
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These "amphitheaters" in the sides of mountains seem very common here. They are all like miniature Grand Canyons.
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You are able to drive to the top of Brian Head peak, which we did.
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It is over 11,000 feet high.
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There is a small shelter at the top which was nice to shield us from the wind.
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We watched the sunset from the peak and then headed back down to our resort.

Posted by danielcatherine 15:06 Archived in USA Tagged mountains food petroglyphs dinosaurs amphitheater peaks parowan brian_head cedar_breaks chessmen Comments (1)

Utah Day 1: Mountain Meadows

sunny 113 °F

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Flora was a lot of help with our packing!
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We stopped in Las Vegas at Cornish Pasty Co.. We have gone there before, to the location in Flagstaff, but this was our first time visiting the Las Vegas location. Usually we go to Flagstaff in the winter, when the weather is between 0 and 15 Fahrenheit. In Las Vegas today it was 113, so not usual "pasty weather" for us. The pasties were wonderful as they always are in Flagstaff. We will stop by on our way back to pick up some half-baked pasties to freeze and have at home.
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We diverged from the path to visit the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It was a very sad event in history and it was amazing to see where it actually happened. It was a beautiful location and it's sad to think that such awful things happened in such a peaceful seeming location.
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The memorial, sadly, seemed a bit sanitized and doesn't go into much detail about what happened. The original memorial had a cross, which reflected the Christian faith of the victims of the massacre, and the current memorial does not. We both thought that the cross should be replaced. Nevertheless, it is good that there is a memorial there at all. The flags are the United States and the flag of Arkansas, which was the point of origin for the people killed in the massacre.
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This is supposed to be the old wagon road, and the ruts are still visible in how the grass grows. It makes it easy to imagine wagon trains coming through this location.

We arrived in Brian Head, where we are staying, late. Our room is very nice, and we are staying at a very high elevation which will help us get acclimated for our hikes.

Posted by danielcatherine 14:59 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas utah flora arkansas massacre pasties mountain_meadows Comments (0)

Oahu Day 2: Go West!

sunny 76 °F

We slept in today as we were pretty tired from our previous day of travel. Dad got up first and went out to explore while I got ready. He had a nice walk along Waikiki Beach but got a bit lost on his way back to the hotel. Thankfully he asked a helpful stranger for directions and made his way back to our hotel.

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Our cousin/great nephew West Andrade is a freshman here in Honolulu at the University of Hawaii. We were thrilled to be able to meet up with him while on our trip. Our friend Fr. EJ had suggested a restaurant for lunch. We took him up on the suggestion and were so glad we did! We picked West up and drove to the pier and to a place called Nico's at Pier 38. It was a really cool spot. We had interesting views of the port and saw cargo ships being loaded and unloaded. The restaurant itself has both a fish market and dining area. The weather was very nice, not muggy and pleasantly sunny with a nice breeze. We chose a spot on the patio and ordered our lunch.

I had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. There was delicious chunks of fresh fish in the chowder and the bread was yummy. My Dad had seafood pasta and West chose the chicken katsu.

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We had a leisurely lunch and greatly enjoyed hearing all about West's time here on Oahu so far. He told us all about student life and his classes as well as how it has been getting around the city. All of the freshmen are given bus passes when they arrive so he and his friends are now very familiar with public transportation. He said it is a good system and can easily get around the city. We were so happy to be able to catch up with West and to hear he is all settled in at the university. One of the best parts of being in a big family is being able to spend time with each other both near and far.

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We dropped West back at his dorm and decided to explore a spot that was recommended to us ahead of our trip.

Waiola Shave Ice is a well known spot. It started as a mom-and-pop grocery store in the 1940's and in the 1970's they opened up a window to sell shave ice out of. We shared a jumbo shave ice with three flavors: guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), and lime.

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Afterwards we decided to drive north for a bit to get out of the city. We drove for about half an hour enjoying the sunset and stopped at park for a view before full darkness.

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When we got back to our hotel we decided to go for a walk before dinner. We walked along a paved path around a lagoon and to Waikiki Beach. It was very beautiful to see the water even at night and all of the resorts lit up. The path was lined with tiki torches and we stopped at a bench to enjoy some Koloa rum punch we had purchased at the Foodland grocery store yesterday.

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After our drink we walked a bit more to a restaurant at the Hilton called Tropics Bar & Grill. We sat on the patio and shared a sampler of shrimp, spicy Korean glazed chicken wings, and bbq ribs. It was delicious!

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We had a very friendly waitress who surprised us with the house speciality dessert of Ube cheesecake. Ube is a purple yam. When she brought out the cheesecake she started singing Happy Birthday to us and an Australian couple at the next table joined in her serenade. They all clapped when done singing as we made a wish and blew out the candles. We were happy to see our birthday luck continuing!

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We had a nice visit with the Australian couple, it turns out they were on their honeymoon. We wished them well and walked back to our hotel.

We enjoyed our first full day on Oahu. We are having so many laughs and I feel so lucky to be able to be sharing this special time with my dad.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:03 Archived in USA Tagged west seafood rum cheesecake shave_ice birthday_freebies Comments (1)

Oahu Day 1: A Day of Hustling

sunny 75 °F

Today my Dad and I set out on a belated birthday adventure. We travelled to Oahu!

When we set off from Fresno we were quite the happy travelers, my mom and Daniel who had to stay behind tried their best to not seem too bummed out they weren't joining us.

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After spending Sunday night at a hotel near the airport we set off from Oakland at 5am Monday morning.

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We made it through security in no time at all so we treated ourselves to some breakfast to pass the time until boarding.

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I was able to get us a free upgrade to premium economy when I mentioned we were on a father/daughter birthday trip at the check in at the airport. This was the first freebie of our trip, little did we know we were starting a trend that would continue throughout our trip. The upgrade included early boarding, extra legroom, and free drinks!

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We started our flight with a Prosecco toast and some snacks.

We decided to watch a movie together which left us laughing. We had many fails to get it going, several times one or both of us couldn't hear through the headphones and so adjustments were made. Two different times we discovered the failure was not plugging our headphones into the headphone splitter in the first place!

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Once that was settled my iPad wouldn't connect to the inflight wifi. When I mentioned this to the flight attendant she gave us one of the airline tablets to use for free! Second freebie!

We ended up watching a movie called "The Hustle" and soon both realized we were inadvertently running our own hustle, flight upgrades and a free tablet rental just by mentioning our father/daughter birthday trip.

I insisted that we make full use of our free drinks. We also enjoyed a glass of Baileys Irish Cream to end our flight.

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We landed in Honolulu and picked up our rental car. My dad has not visited Oahu since 1980 and this is my first time. It was very interesting to be in such a big city versus Maui and Kauai where I had previously visited.

We arrived at our hotel, The Modern Honolulu, 4 hours ahead of our check-in time. Once again, our birthday luck continued and were told our room was actually ready and we could go ahead and check-in.

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I loved finding hotel slippers in our room. I wear slippers all the time at home as I don't like being barefoot but often don't have room to pack them when traveling. It was such a simple pleasure to have these waiting for me on our arrival.

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We got settled in and enjoyed a light snack poolside at our hotel.

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After we ate we decided to visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater.

My dad's uncle Frank Andrade is buried there. He was killed in action in World War II in the Pacific in 1944. Frank was my Grandpa Tony's younger brother. They both served in the Pacific and had been able to meet while temporarily stationed on the same island. They spent time together including attending Mass which they knew would make their mother happy. Shortly after they parted ways Frank was killed while out on a mission. According to the information listed at the cemetery Frank was buried at the Punchbowl cemetery in 1949.

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It was a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. We placed a lei at Uncle Frank's graveside and offered a decade of the rosary. It was sobering to see so many graves and to think of all of the lives that were lost and sacrificed. I was so glad to be able to visit and I know my Grandpa would be proud and happy to know his brother has not been forgotten.

We returned to our hotel and rested briefly before heading to dinner. Fr. Michael's good friend from seminary is a priest here in Oahu. Over the years we were lucky enough to get to know him at various seminary functions so we were thrilled to be able to reconnect with Fr. EJ here in Honolulu! He picked a fabulous restaurant called 12th Avenue Grill. I got the steak with potatoes and a maui pineapple bbq sauce and my dad enjoyed salmon and pasta. Cardamom rice pudding for dessert for me and a peanut butter gelato with espresso for Dad. This restaurant is known for their gin and tonic so we all enjoyed those as well!

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We had so much fun reminiscing and shared so many laughs with Fr. EJ. It was such a great way to kick off our trip in Oahu and he also recommended a lunch spot for us and some other tips for our time in Oahu.

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We are tired from a day of travel and adventures but so happy to be together and making memories.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:59 Archived in USA Tagged birthday oahu honolulu freebies hustle punchbowl Comments (2)

Maui and Kaua’i Day 17: Beyond the Horizon

sunny 86 °F

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We started off our day by finishing our packing (we had done most of it yesterday.) Once it was all packed we set off on our last Kaua’i adventure of this trip. We had to get our lunch for a last “car picnic” at Sueoka’s. On our way there we noticed this lizard skittering around on the hood of the car. When we stopped Daniel was able to get the lizard off our car with a piece of paper and we saw it run off.
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Our last stop at Sueoka’s for our favorite Hawaiian treats: Spam musubi and Hawaiian coffees and juices.
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Daniel in the car with the coffee.
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We stopped at Hanalima Bakery for some malasadas. We added them to have for dessert. Catherine said “our lunch just keeps getting better and better!”
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Said lunch.
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We stopped at a place called The Pineapple Store, which had boxes of pineapples which supposedly didn’t need to be inspected. The inspectors thought otherwise and opened them up during their search. It was an interesting little place with chickens and pigs wandering around, and our Maui Golds were packed in Dole boxes. They seemed to be knowledgeable about pineapples and we were glad we stopped there.
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In the airport, Aubrey wanted Catherine to tell her a story. Aubrey and Dalton piled on Auntie’s lap to hear the story.
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Us on the plane. Once we got to Daniel’s parents’ house we found a restaurant that was open (The Garrett) and got some pizza to go. We had a nice late dinner. It has been wonderful being in Hawaii all this time, and we are so happy to have shared this wonderful experience with our family.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:02 Archived in USA Tagged airport family plane coffee san_jose aubrey musubi dalton sueoka’s the_garrett Comments (1)

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