Category Archives: Utah

Utah Part IV: Park City

We didn’t have a definite agenda when it was time to leave Provo. We paid for eleven nights and we would have to leave after 14 nights, so we watched the weather forecast and planned to travel east along I-80 on a good day. The big picture included Wyoming as our next state, but it didn’t matter when we got there. After we had such a fun daytrip to Park City, we decided to stop there for a week before we left the Beehive State.

We departed Lake Utah State Park on a Tuesday morning around 9:30. Mike drove us for about 30 minutes north along I-15 through the SLC Metro, then we took a loop around downtown and merged onto I-80 on the east side of town. Park City was just down the road about 15 miles, so it was a super easy trip. We were set up by noon, and went to dinner that night at a place called Sammy’s Bistro, which is also a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives establishment.

The weather wasn’t great the week we were in Park City, but it didn’t interfere with our fun. We still managed to get downtown and enjoy the restaurants and bars during our visit. We also went to a concert at one of the historic theaters on Main Street, and that was a real hoot. Park City is a cute little town with lots to offer the outdoor enthusiast or the city slicker. There are all kinds of activities available to take in the natural surroundings, as well as tons of shops and galleries to stroll through in Old Town. I’m glad we decided to make a fourth stop in Utah!

Mike asked me to make ceviche with some frozen large mouth black bass he had caught in Sand Hollow Reservoir, back in Hurricane, Utah. I was skeptical, but it turned out great.

Mike asked me to make ceviche with some frozen large mouth black bass he had caught in Sand Hollow Reservoir, back in Hurricane, Utah. I was skeptical, but it turned out great.

We had a couple of snow days while we were at Park City, but the temperature never dropped below freezing, so the roads were clear, just wet.

We had a couple of snow days while we were at Park City, but the temperature never dropped below freezing, so the roads were clear, just wet.

We had a bit of cabin fever after two solid days of grey snow rain, so we went downtown on a Friday afternoon to eat smoked wings and watch golf at Collie's Sports Bar.

We had a bit of cabin fever after two solid days of grey snow rain, so we went downtown on a Friday afternoon to eat smoked wings and watch golf at Collie’s Sports Bar.

Park City is such a cute historic mining town. I love how the ski runs come straight into downtown!

Park City is such a cute historic mining town. I love how the ski runs come straight into downtown!

We stayed at Park City RV Resort, which was neither a Resort or in Park City. It was directly on I-80 at the Kimball Junction interchange. We were about 20 minutes from historic downtown Park City. Our spot, A3, was a little tight.

We stayed at Park City RV Resort, which was neither a Resort nor in Park City. It was directly on I-80 at the Kimball Junction interchange. We were about 20 minutes from historic downtown Park City. Our spot, A3, was a little tight.

Park City Main Street with its springtime street banners flying on the light poles.

Park City Main Street with its springtime street banners flying on the light poles.

Inside St. Mary's Catholic Church. It sits out on a meadow and the windows take in the glory of the mountain vista to the southwest.

Inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church. It sits out on a meadow and the windows take in the glory of the mountain vista to the southwest.

The Altar at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Park City. I went to mass on a Saturday evening and just happened to sit behind a couple from The Woodlands! I didn't know them until we made introductions, but it was so much fun to talk to someone from "home".

The Altar at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Park City. I went to mass on a Saturday evening and just happened to sit behind a couple from The Woodlands! I didn’t know them until we made introductions, but it was so much fun to talk to someone from “home”.

Two of our friends told us we had to try to the Shoshito Peppers at High West Distillery, so we happily followed instructions. We also ordered the Pork Wings and twice fried potatoes. Yummy Sunday dinner.

Two of our friends told us we had to try to the Shoshito Peppers at High West Distillery, so we happily followed instructions. We also ordered the Pork Wings and twice fried potatoes. Yummy Sunday dinner.

We had one night out on the town while we were in Park City, and we spent it at the historic Egyptian Theater seeing Booker T. Jones perform.

We had one night out on the town while we were in Park City, and we spent it at the historic Egyptian Theater seeing Booker T. Jones perform.

The stage inside the Egyptian Theater. Mr. Jones is best known as the front man for the band Booker T & the MG's.

The stage inside the Egyptian Theater. Mr. Jones is best known as the front man for the band Booker T & the MG’s.

When I bought the tickets the for the show, the gentleman was quick to point out that there would be no dancing during the show. At least Park City isn't like New Hampshire, where they won't let you get away with it!

When I bought the tickets the for the show, the gentleman was quick to point out that there would be no dancing during the show. At least Park City isn’t like New Hampshire, where they won’t let you get away with it!

Who knew the organ could be so sexy and hip.

Who knew the organ could be so sexy and hip.

Booker T. Jones played lots of his own stuff, and also offered up tributes to Jimmy Hendrix, Otis Reading, Prince , The Beatles and other legends.

Booker T. Jones played lots of his own stuff, and also offered up tributes to Jimmy Hendrix, Otis Reading, Prince , The Beatles and other legends.

Post concert selfie at No Name Saloon.

Post concert selfie at No Name Saloon.

Park City Main Street Sunset.

Park City Main Street Sunset.

This antler chandelier caught Mike's eye. His dad has a smaller version hanging over the dining room at this folk's house, which he made himself!

This antler chandelier caught Mike’s eye. His dad has a smaller version hanging over the dining room at this folk’s house, which W.D. made himself!

Mikey fishing.

Mikey fishing.

The dogs and I explored the trails of Jordanelle State Park while Mike caught our dinner.

The dogs and I explored the trails of Jordanelle State Park while Mike caught our dinner.

We had Jordanelle State Park to ourselves on the day we visited.

We had Jordanelle State Park to ourselves on the day we visited.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Utah Part III: Provo

When it came time to finding somewhere to stay in the Salt Lake City Area, the options were slim and the reviews were poor on every account. Our best chance for a pleasant environment was Utah Lake State Park. It was located in Provo, near I-15, 45 minutes south of downtown SLC, and on a lake with roomy spots. Since it was a state park, each site only had water and 30-amp electrical hookups. Our plan was to stay a few days at the state park, and when it came time to dump our tanks, we could move to a private park down the road… and trade the spacious surroundings for 50 amps of power and a sewer connection. As you will see in the pictures below, we got lucky and never had to move to the more cramped private RV park.

We spent a total of 11 nights in Provo and it was a pleasant spot. Provo is a clean and active college town. We were happy to take advantage of the city’s park trail system. Piper and Cessna got lots of good walks on this stop. We went to downtown SLC once together, and I went back twice by myself – once to attend Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and once to see Theresa Caputo, The Long Island Medium, at the events center where the Jazz play basketball. We drove north to see The Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island State Park. We took daytrips to Sundance Mountain Resort and Park City. Mike was able to catch some fish from the Lake, and he was also able to do some cleaning on the outside of the coach. Two things that make him happy. I should clarify that cleaning the coach does not actually make him happy, he just enjoys the results when it is over. He keeps us looking very presentable. Some campgrounds do not allow cleaning of the coaches, so one must take advantage when possible.

The drive north on I-15 was pretty with snow capped mountains always ahead in the distance. The route was mostly flat with a few sections of climbing and descending. We went up about 1,000 feet and came down about 2,000 feet during out three hour drive. A semi-truck only came into our lane once during a descending curve as it blew past us in the left lane.

The drive north on I-15 was pretty with snow capped mountains always ahead in the distance. The route was mostly flat with a few sections of climbing and descending. We went up about 1,000 feet and came down about 2,000 feet during our three hour drive. A semi-truck only came into our lane once during a descending curve as it blew past us in the left lane.

We got to Utah Lake State Park on opening day of the camping season. Other campers had already arrived, but there were still plenty of spaces available. I was slightly worried because the park did not accept reservations until May 1st. The entire month of April was operated on a first-come-first-served basis. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry, we had plenty of options on campsites when we arrived.

We got to Utah Lake State Park on opening day of the camping season. Other campers had already arrived, but there were still plenty of spaces available. I was slightly worried because the park did not accept reservations until May 1st. The entire month of April was operated on a first-come-first-served basis. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry, we had plenty of options on campsites when we arrived.

Provo airport was situated at the edge of the park, so Mike had fun watching all sorts of planes and helicopters fly past us on their final descent to the runway.

Provo Municipal Airport was situated at the edge of the park, so Mike had fun watching all sorts of planes and helicopters fly past us on their final approach to the runway.

 

Quail at our campground.

Quail at our campground.

Upon checking into the park, we settled on two other spots before we finally got ourselves situated in A23. After we got through the front gate, we pulled into a large parking lot and disconnected the Honda. We then drove it through both A and B camping loops to see which spot we thought would be the best. We picked a spot in the B Loop, and Mike went back to drive the Monaco over. As he approached the entrance to the B Loop, he realized a tree with low hanging branches was in the way. He didn't want to scratch our paint, so he abandoned that plan and drove to an alternate location in the A Loop. As he was setting up, I went to figure out the self-pay station. That is when I discovered there was one spot in the A Loop with full hook-ups (we had planned on only staying a few days because the camping spots only had 30 amps of power and water connections - no sewer). It was actually a camp host spot, but there was no camp host yet. It was $35 per night ($5 more than the other spots). I checked with the camp host in the B Loop to make sure it was okay if we took that spot instead. When she said yes, Mike unhooked the power, put the slides back in, and moved us to the full hook-up spot. This was great! We had a sewer connection AND 50 amps of power. We wouldn't have to move now. We could stay there for up to 14 days before we had to leave the park! We paid for one night at first, just to buy some time and review our travel plans. The next morning we paid for 10 more nights.

Upon checking into the park, we settled on two other spots before we finally got ourselves situated in A23. After we got through the front gate, we pulled into a large parking lot and disconnected the Honda. We then drove it through both A and B camping loops to see which spot we thought would be the best. We picked a spot in the B Loop, and Mike went back to drive the Monaco over. As he approached the entrance to the B Loop, he realized a tree with low hanging branches was in the way. He didn’t want to scratch our paint, so he abandoned that plan and drove to an alternate location in the A Loop. As he was setting up, I went to figure out the self-pay station. That is when I discovered there was one spot in the A Loop with full hook-ups (we had planned on only staying a few days because the camping spots only had 30 amps of power and water connections – no sewer). It was actually a camp host spot, but there was no camp host yet. It was $35 per night ($5 more than the other spots). I checked with the camp host in the B Loop to make sure it was okay if we took that spot instead. When she said yes, Mike unhooked the power, put the slides back in, and moved us to the full hook-up spot. This was great! We had a sewer connection AND 50 amps of power. We wouldn’t have to move now. We could stay there for up to 14 days before we had to leave the park! We paid for one night at first, just to buy some time and review our travel plans. The next morning we paid for 10 more nights.

The only problem with being in a camp host spot was that everyone kept stopping by to ask us questions. I didn't think it would be too big of an inconvenience until after we had gone to bed on our first night. All the lights were off - outside and inside. We were sound asleep when someone knocked on our door. I got out of bed and held the dogs at bay while I opened the door. The guy wanted to know if we were camp hosts. After he left I made a sign with magic markers and taped it to our door before I went back to bed. The next morning we re-located it to a sign in front of our spot.

The only problem with being in a camp host spot was that everyone kept stopping by to ask us questions. I didn’t think it would be too big of an inconvenience until after we had gone to bed on our first night. All the lights were off – outside and inside. We were sound asleep when someone knocked on our door. I got out of bed and held the dogs at bay while I opened the door. The guy wanted to know if we were camp hosts. After he left I made a sign with magic markers and taped it to our door before I went back to bed. The next morning we re-located it to a sign in front of our spot.

A bi-plane coming into Provo Municipal Airport.

A bi-plane coming into Provo Municipal Airport.

Utah Lake was pretty big, but very shallow.

Utah Lake was pretty big, but very shallow.

We had nice views from our campground, and yet it was so convenient. We were only 3 miles from downtown Provo, and even closer to the Interstate.

We had nice views from our campground, and yet it was so convenient. We were only 3 miles from downtown Provo, and even closer to the Interstate.

A view from one of Mike's fishing spots.

A view from one of Mike’s fishing spots.

After we left the Mormons we walked UP HILL to The Capitol Building. It was about to rain and we wanted to explore more parts of downtown in a hurry, so we didn't go inside.

After we left the Mormon complex we walked UP HILL to The Capitol Building. It was about to rain and we wanted to explore more parts of downtown in a hurry, so we didn’t go inside.

We spent one afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, so of course we had to check out the Mormon Tabernacle. It was an interesting experience. The Church of Latter Day Saints has about a 10-acre complex in the center of downtown. "Greeters" are stationed all across the complex to approach people like us. They wanted us to spend time in the visitor's center and would hardly take no for an answer when we said we were just looking around downtown - in general. I also learned that hardly anyone is allowed inside the Tabernacle. The doors were locked. Only the most worthy of the congregation are allowed inside the doors. The lady said it was the most sacred place on earth. Hmmm. Never really encountered a religion that didn't let its own followers inside its primary building of worship. The Mormons that we saw visiting the building were gleefully taking pictures of their families outside the locked doors. I will say they were pretty doors. I will leave my comments right there... I've met many people who take issue with how Catholics handle their own affairs, so live and let live.

We spent one afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, so of course we had to check out the Mormon Tabernacle. It was an interesting experience. The Church of Latter Day Saints has about a 10-acre complex in the center of downtown. “Greeters” are stationed all across the complex to approach people like us. They wanted us to spend time in the visitor’s center and would hardly take no for an answer when we said we were just looking around downtown – in general. I also learned that hardly anyone is allowed inside the Tabernacle. The doors were locked. Only the most worthy of the congregation are allowed inside the doors. The lady said it was the most sacred place on earth. Never really encountered a religion that didn’t let its own followers inside its primary building of worship. The Mormons that we saw visiting the building were gleefully taking pictures of their families outside the locked doors. I will say they were pretty doors. I’ve met many people who take issue with how Catholics handle their own affairs, so live and let live.

The mountains to the east of our campground turned pink every evening at sunset.

The mountains to the east of our campground turned pink every evening at sunset.

We drove over to Sundance Resort to look around one afternoon. I found out the Sundance Film Festival is actually in Park City. The resort was very nice, and the people who were skiing had Mount Timpanogos practically all to themselves.

We drove over to Sundance Resort to look around one afternoon. I found out the Sundance Film Festival is actually in Park City. The resort was very nice, and the people who were skiing had Mount Timpanogos practically all to themselves.

The view from Aspen Grove Trailhead near Robert Redford's Sundance Resort.

The view from Aspen Grove Trailhead near Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.

We saw this old sick skunk wobbling down the road of the campground one evening as we were sitting outside and enjoying the sunset. Poor thing was literally on his last leg. It was sad to see, but I was glad we knew he was there so we could be on the lookout when we walked the dogs after dark. That would be a bad surprise to stumble upon!

We saw this old sick skunk wobbling down the road of the campground one evening as we were sitting outside and enjoying the sunset. Poor thing was literally on his last leg. It was sad to see, but I was glad we knew he was there so we could be on the lookout when we walked the dogs after dark. That would be a bad surprise to stumble upon!

Our next stop on our walking tour was the Cathedral of the Madeline. I had to stop my mumbling about the locked doors when we arrived at this stop because the Catholics had locked their doors too!

Our next stop on our walking tour was the Cathedral of the Madeline. I had to stop my mumbling about the locked doors when we arrived at this stop because the Catholics had locked their doors too!

I had read about how beautiful the Cathedral was, so I went back on Sunday to attend Mass. I figured the doors would be unlocked then!

I had read about how beautiful the Cathedral was, so I went back on Sunday to attend Mass. I figured the doors would be unlocked then!

The organ and the choir during mass were unbelievable!

The organ and the choir during mass were unbelievable!

After our walking tour of downtown, we drove to the "cultural section" of town to have a late lunch at a place Mike found online. It was the only place in town that served crawfish, and we were having a craving. They were pretty good. The sauce was called Cajun and it was better than nothing!

After our walking tour of downtown, we drove to the “cultural section” of town to have a late lunch at a place Mike found online. It was the only place in town that served crawfish, and we were having a craving. They were pretty good. The sauce was called Cajun and it was better than nothing!

There was a hill off of I-15 on the way to Salt Lake City that was always busy with hang gliders.

There was a hill off of I-15 on the way to Salt Lake City that was always busy with hang gliders.

We spent another day looking around Park City. We had so much fun, we decided that we would stay there for a week when it was time to leave Provo.

We spent another day looking around Park City. We had so much fun, we decided that we would stay there for a week when it was time to leave Provo.

A selfie from the roof top patio of No Name Saloon.

A selfie from the roof top patio of No Name Saloon.

We could not leave Utah without seeing the Great Salt Lake, so we made the 1.5 hour road trip north to Antelope Island State Park on another day trip.

We could not leave Utah without seeing the Great Salt Lake, so we made the 1.5 hour road trip north to Antelope Island State Park on another day trip.

The lake was pretty low. There were many yards of sand all around the edges of the water.

The lake was pretty low. There were many yards of sand all around the edges of the water.

A view from the beginning of our hike with the dogs on Antelope Island. The no-see-ums were horrible, and they had teamed up with the gnats to try and make us leave. The dogs really needed a walk, so we made it about 23 minutes before we hit our breaking point and turned back for the car. It is hard to walk on a skinny path holding a leash while swatting yourself in the face constantly.

A view from the beginning of our hike with the dogs on Antelope Island. The no-see-ums were horrible, and they had teamed up with the gnats to try and make us leave. The dogs really needed a walk, so we made it about 23 minutes before we hit our breaking point and turned back for the car. It is hard to walk on a skinny path holding a leash while swatting yourself in the face constantly.

We didn't see any antelope on Antelope Island, but we did see buffalo. Actually, I didn't snap a photo... but as we were parking near a camping area to go on our hike, there was a large buffalo that had situated himself beside a camper's tent. Didn't see any humans, so not sure if they were hiding inside or out and about in the park. That would have been a bit unnerving to me!

We didn’t see any antelope on Antelope Island, but we did see buffalo. Actually, I didn’t snap a photo… but as we were parking near a camping area to go on our hike, there was a large buffalo that had situated himself beside a camper’s tent. Didn’t see any humans, so not sure if they were hiding inside or out and about in the park. That would have been a bit unnerving to me!

 

The dogs inspecting their human's fresh catch of white bass. They approved.

The dogs inspecting their human’s fresh catch of white bass. They approved.

Mike had so many fish to clean, he had to set up a station where he could sit down and relax during the chore.

Mike had so many fish to clean, he had to set up a station where he could sit down and relax during the chore.

Hruska's Kolaches, a taste of Texas!

Hruska’s Kolaches, a taste of Texas in downtown Provo!

We haven't seen too many rainbows lately.

We haven’t seen too many rainbows lately.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

A view from the trail near Bridal Veil Falls, looking toward the Timpanogos.

A view from the trail near Bridal Veil Falls, looking toward the Timpanogos.

Shiny river along the Provo Jordan Parkway Trail. We had a nice walk on this trail during our last full day in Provo.

Shiny river along the Provo Jordan Parkway Trail. We had a nice walk on this trail during our last full day in Provo.

This brave robin joined us at our campfire each evening. He insisted on being part of the conversation.

This brave robin joined us at our campfire each evening. He insisted on being part of the conversation.

A flock of yellow breasted blackbirds appeared at our campground about three days before our departure.

A flock of yellow breasted blackbirds appeared at our campground about three days before our departure.

Last sunset in Provo.

Last sunset in Provo.

Utah Part II: Cedar City

The weather remained our biggest consideration as we selected our second location in Utah. When the terrain is near mountain ranges, the general rule is: don’t count out snow until after Mother’s Day. It was only the middle of March at this time, so we had a while to go before we could expect constant warm weather. Our DirecTV satellite was tuned to Salt Lake City stations while we were in Hurricane/St. George, and they were still getting snow showers regularly. We did plan to make a stop near Salt Lake City before we crossed Utah off of our list, but it wasn’t time yet. We also wanted to stay close to I-15, though, so we selected Cedar City as our next destination. It was only 45 minutes north on the interstate, but the town was about 3,000 feet higher in elevation. Even though the distance between the two locations was pretty short, it was still going to be about 20 degrees cooler than the temperatures at Sand Hollow State Park.

We stayed at a KOA which was nice enough. It was small but clean and in a good location right on Main Street. We were within walking distance of downtown, so running errands was very convenient. We had planned to be there for 11 nights, but the weather turned nasty toward the end of our stay, so we extended our reservation to two weeks before it was all said and done. Cedar City was a cute little town and close to lots of natural attractions like Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head Ski Resort, Bryce Canyon, Zion Kolob, and Dixie National Forest. The Utah Shakespeare Festival takes place each year from the end of June to the end of October at Southern Utah University, so we missed that. The festival is a huge draw for the community though, and I would have loved to have been there during the time that the plays were running.

We arrived at the Cedar City KOA on March 18th, and they were still operating under their winter season hours. That means the office was closed between 11AM and 3PM. We pulled into the lot smack in the middle of that window, at around 12:30. They had left our paperwork for us on an outside clipboard so we could get situated before the office opened again. The only problem was that we were assigned a "buddy" spot. This type of spot allows two rigs to pull up from opposite directions and share the green space between them... a great idea if you know the people you are camping beside. However, we were originally scheduled to be there for 11 days, and we didn't want to deal with new neighbors coming and going every couple of days. Piper and Cessna are NOT GOOD with other animals, and Piper doesn't particularly like humans unknown to him either. All I could envision was embarrassing chaos for our immediate future. We decided to wait to hook up or get situated, and ask the office if we could switch spots as soon as the staff returned. While we waited we scoped out the park for better options so we could ask for a specific location when the time came. Mike watched tennis, I made a grilled cheese and heated some soup for lunch. When the office opened again, we asked them if we could move to B11. It was a back-in spot instead of a pull-through, so the nightly rate was less expensive in addition to it having a larger private "yard". They said no problem and we quickly got ourselves situated.

We arrived at the Cedar City KOA on March 18th, and they were still operating under their winter season hours. That means the office was closed between 11AM and 3PM. We pulled into the lot smack in the middle of that window, at around 12:30. They had left our paperwork for us on an outside clipboard so we could get situated before the office opened again. The only problem was that we were assigned a “buddy” spot. This type of spot allows two rigs to pull up from opposite directions and share the green space between them… a great idea if you know the people you are camping beside. However, we were originally scheduled to be there for 11 days, and we didn’t want to deal with rotating neighbors. Piper and Cessna are NOT GOOD with other animals, and Piper doesn’t particularly like humans unknown to him either. All I could envision was embarrassing chaos for our immediate future. We decided to wait to hook up or get situated, and ask the office if we could switch spots as soon as the staff returned. While we waited we scoped out the park for better options so we could ask for a specific location when the time came. Mike watched tennis, I made a grilled cheese and heated some soup for lunch. When the office opened again, we asked them if we could move to B11. It was a back-in spot instead of a pull-through, so the nightly rate was less expensive in addition to it having a larger private “yard”. They said no problem and we quickly got ourselves situated.

March Madness in Cedar City.

March Madness in Cedar City.

When Mike returns home with his bucket and fishing poles, the dogs immediately want to look inside. They've learned there will be strange creatures swimming in water under the lid.

When Mike returns home with his bucket and fishing poles, the dogs immediately want to look inside. They’ve learned there will be strange creatures swimming in water under the lid.

Palm Sunday sunset from my kitchen window.

Palm Sunday sunset from my kitchen window.

Zion Kolob was about 20 miles south of Cedar City on I-15. We put our National Parks Pass to good use again and spent one morning driving through the area. We had the dogs so we were not allowed to hike on the trails.

Zion Kolob was about 20 miles south of Cedar City on I-15. We put our National Parks Pass to good use again and spent one morning driving through the area. We had the dogs so we were not allowed to hike on the trails.

More dramatic landscapes in Zion Kolob.

More dramatic landscapes in Zion Kolob.

The view from one of the trailheads in Kolob.

The view from one of the trailheads in Kolob.

An eagle over the town lake where Mike fished for trout.

An eagle over the town lake where Mike fished for trout.

The limit for trout was two per day, and it didn't take Mike long at all to snag a fresh catch each time he went to the public lake.

The limit for trout was two per day, and it didn’t take Mike long at all to snag a fresh catch each time he went to the public lake.

We had been trying to avoid snow, but it caught up to us in Cedar City. Luckily is was never heavy, just pretty.

We had been trying to avoid snow, but it caught up to us in Cedar City. Luckily is was never heavy, just pretty.

The locals called our town "Cedar", and there was a pretty view of snow capped mountains in every direction we looked.

The locals called our town “Cedar”, and there was a pretty view of snow capped mountains in every direction we looked.

Another view of the landscape around Cedar (City).

Another view of the landscape around Cedar (City).

My 48th birthday happened from this stop, so we celebrated by taking a daytrip to Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove along Scenic Byway 14 through the Dixie National Forest to get there. As we reached a summit on the drive, we stumbled upon a few sheep that must have escaped their pens.

My 48th birthday happened from this stop, so we celebrated by taking a daytrip to Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove along Scenic Byway 14 through the Dixie National Forest to get there. As we reached a summit on the drive, we stumbled upon a few sheep that must have escaped their pens.

Bryce Canyon selfie.

Bryce Canyon selfie.

The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon.

The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon.

These hoodoos looked paper think.

These hoodoos looked paper thin.

Google says: A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.

Google says: A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.

Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Me and my dog. There was one paved trail in the park where dogs were allowed, so Cessna and Piper were happy they got to see the hoodoos too.

Me and my dog. There was one paved trail in the park where dogs were allowed, so Cessna and Piper were happy they got to see the hoodoos too.

The Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon.

The Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon.

The thing that surprised me most about Bryce Canyon was that there were pine trees along the edges of the Canyon. I expected the colorful arid rocks, but didn't realize there would be fragrant green pines too.

The thing that surprised me most about Bryce Canyon was that there were pine trees along the edges of the Canyon. I expected the colorful arid rocks, but didn’t realize there would be fragrant green pines too.

Rainbow Point selfie.

Rainbow Point selfie.

Bryce Canyon vista.

Bryce Canyon vista.

Mike figured out how to take panoramic photos from his phone!

Mike figured out how to take panoramic photos from his phone!

Hoodoos in the snow.

Hoodoos in the snow.

Some parts of the canyon were very steep!

Some parts of the canyon were very steep!

I would definitely call this a fairy chimney.

I would definitely call this a fairy chimney.

A panorama from Rainbow Point.

A panorama from Rainbow Point.

Grottos at Bryce Canyon.

Grottos at Bryce Canyon.

Looks like stalagmites inside a cave!

Looks like stalagmites inside a cave!

This was the perfect place to learn about the panorama option on the camera!

This was the perfect place to learn about the panorama option on the camera!

Desolate and romantic all at once. If I were a poet, I could write an entire poem about this tree!

Desolate and romantic all at once. If I were a poet, I could write an entire poem about this tree!

Panorama from Bryce Point.

Panorama from Bryce Point.

The last panorama shot from Bryce Canyon.

The last panorama shot from Bryce Canyon.

We drove home from Bryce on Hwy 143 and passed by Panguitch Lake. The edges were starting to thaw, but the middle of the lake was still frozen.

We drove home from Bryce on Hwy 143 and passed by Panguitch Lake. The edges were starting to thaw, but the middle of the lake was still frozen.

As we approached Brian Head Peak the elevation was so high that snow was still everywhere.

As we approached Brian Head Peak the elevation was so high that snow was still everywhere.

We climbed over 5,000 feet on our road trip that day. This was taken near Cedar Breaks National Monument. I really wanted to get out and take a look, but the snow was so deep that there was no way to make it to the overlook - which was only about 10 yards from the road. We would have had to have snow shoes and weather proof clothing.

We climbed over 5,000 feet on our road trip that day. This was taken near Cedar Breaks National Monument. I really wanted to get out and take a look, but the snow was so deep that there was no way to make it to the overlook – which was only about 10 yards from the road. We would have needed snow shoes and weather proof clothing.

A snowy mountain on the outskirts of Brian Head ski resort, which was only about 30 miles from Cedar City. However, the elevation differences made the two locations seem worlds apart.

A snowy mountain on the outskirts of Brian Head ski resort, which was only about 30 miles from Cedar City. However, the elevation differences made the two locations seem worlds apart.

The St. George Art Festival was happening over the weekend of March 25th and 26th. It was only about 45-minutes back down I-15, so we drove over one day to check it out. It was a very high quality juried art show. I was surprised and impressed with the caliber of art offered at each tent. Most of the prices were out of my league, but I did manage to find a small print for a wall in our future home and a tiny birthday gift for my step-sister. No dogs were allowed with the tent aisles, so Mike got stuck waiting with Piper and Cessna on the outskirts while I browsed.

The St. George Art Festival was happening over the weekend of March 25th and 26th. It was only about 45-minutes back down I-15, so we drove over one day to check it out. It was a very high quality juried art show. I was surprised and impressed with the caliber of art offered at each tent. Most of the prices were out of my league, but I did manage to find a small print for a wall in our future home and a tiny birthday gift for my step-sister. No dogs were allowed within the tent aisles, so Mike got stuck waiting with Piper and Cessna on the outskirts while I browsed.

A man-made water fall along a walking trail on the outskirts of Cedar Creek.

A man-made water fall along a walking trail on the outskirts of Cedar Creek.

I guess this black rock was from a pre-historic volcano in the area...

I guess this black rock was from a pre-historic volcano in the area…

There was a sidewalk along Main Street right by our campground, but it was pretty LOUD. After we found this trail in the canyon out side of Cedar City, we opted to drive the dogs over and park in a lot to get our daily walk accomplished in a more peaceful and natural setting.

There was a sidewalk along Main Street right by our campground, but it was pretty LOUD with all the traffic. After we found this trail in the canyon outside of Cedar City, we opted to drive the dogs over and park in a lot to get our daily walk accomplished in a more peaceful and natural setting.

Two locals on a leisurely Saturday afternoon rock climb.

Two locals on a leisurely Saturday afternoon rock climb.

We attended Christ the King Catholic Church on Palm Sunday and Easter morning. The church had its own dog! He was a black and white medium sized short haired mutt names Pilate. He greeted members of the congregation as they entered the church and escorted them to where they might like to sit in the sanctuary. After mass, he mingled with everyone in the vestibule as they made their way back to the parking lot.

We attended Christ the King Catholic Church on Palm Sunday and Easter morning. The church had its own dog! He was a black and white medium sized short haired mutt named Pilate. He greeted members of the congregation as they entered the church and escorted them to where they might like to sit in the sanctuary. After mass, he mingled with everyone in the vestibule as they made their way back to the parking lot.

You can bet Mike is going to take pictures of two big fat dove if he sees them.

You can bet Mike is going to take pictures of two big fat dove if he sees them.

We stepped outside to take the dogs to pee on our last night at the KOA and had no idea it had been snowing for a couple of inches... I mean hours.

We stepped outside to take the dogs to pee on our last night at the KOA and had no idea it had been snowing for a couple of inches… I mean hours.

Utah Part I: Hurricane

Springtime in Utah did not necessarily ensure warm weather, but the chances of enjoying pleasant temperatures were much greater on the southern edge of the state. The terrain is also mountainous, so we wanted to be traveling along a big route like I-15 as we move from the south end of The Beehive State until we reach the north side around Salt Lake City. When we get to Salt Lake City, we plan to hop onto I-80 east and make our way into Wyoming. That is as much as we had decided about our upcoming route on the Lower 48 in 48 Tour.

We located St. George on the map (mainly because it was in the right location and I had heard good things about the city), and started our search for RV Parks from there. As far as attractions in Utah were concerned, the National Parks were front and center on our radar. I didn’t find any campgrounds that were too enticing within the city limits of St. George. A friend of a friend had recommended a place called Zion River Resort in Virgin, but when we researched the details we learned that the rate was $60 per night and we didn’t really want to spend that much if we didn’t have to. I finally found a state park with full hookups and a rate of $28 per night in Hurricane, which was just to the northeast of St. George. We were able to reserve a spot for eight consecutive nights, so we booked a stay at Sand Hollow State Park and started planning our travel route from Page, Arizona.

There were two ways to get to Hurricane, but we really only had one option in the Monaco. We followed Highway 89 to Kanab, at which point we had to go north or south to make it to our destination in the west. If we followed Highway 89 north we would have to go through Zion National Park, and that road was too narrow and winding for a 45-foot motor coach towing a Honda CRV. Our only choice was to take a route that extended our travel time by 45 minutes, and dipped back down into Arizona on Highway 389 to Colorado City, and then back into Utah on Highway 59 into Hurricane. Colorado City had been in the news while we were in Arizona, so we were both interested to see what all the hoopla was about. This remote community at the state line is an enclave of the polygamist sect of the FLDS church. About 4,800 people live there. Its remote location is no accident. It didn’t take long to drive through the small town, if you could call it that. What I saw was a poverty stricken collection of cookie-cutter houses that looked more like dormitories than homes. I guess each “wife” gets their own room. Some sections of the structures were boarded up, as if the construction was put on hold until someone was designated to inhabit that space. The houses were not painted. There were no yards with grass. There was no pride in ownership. Sad looking livestock lived in small pens with wooden fences in between the dorm-homes. Women dressed in solid colors of long skirts, long sleeves and bonnets were walking along the street. Overall, it was a depressing environment. Hopeless in a way. Nothing from that town infused me with an iota of American pride.

Luckily, we were through Colorado City in the blink of an eye and the outlook became much more inspiring. The main theme of this blog post will be the geological kaleidoscope that is Zion National Park. Our campground was only about 25 miles away, which translated into a picturesque 45-minute drive from our coach to the south entrance gate. If I had to use one word to describe Zion National Park, I would start with grandiose. I felt like a dwarf standing at the base of majestic mountains that shot out of the ground like enormous globs of rock that were half chiseled by a sculptor’s rasp. The colors of red, pink and white changed to orange, purple and silver as the sun’s reflection moved across the earth. When you stood still and looked up (everything is up), the views would take your breath away. The diverse terrain was never predictable. Canyons, waterfalls, and a rushing river divided jagged cliffs and mountains that were so velvety smooth, they looked like someone had been sanding them down since the beginning of time. While everything was vertical (park elevations range from 3,600 to 8,700 feed), the horizontal layers of rocks told an entirely different story. It was like the history of the planet as it evolved from oceans to sand dunes to mountains over the course of millions of years was illustrated as simply as if it had been explained in a children’s book. I could easily imagine myself standing in the same place but under thousands of feet of water, or beside a dinosaur who’s head reached hundreds of feet into the air. Zion means “the heavenly city”, and that is exactly what it seemed like… a place that was extravagantly perfect in a multitude of contrasting manners.

When we weren’t at Zion, we were running errands in St. George or relaxing at our campground. The weather was nice with warm temperatures during the day and chilly temps overnight. I spent many hours with my kindle in my hammock, and Mike had good luck fishing. We were at Sand Hollow State Park for a total of eight nights, and it was a good way to start our time in Utah.

The reservoir at Sand Hollow State Park didn't look that big, but it was 1,322 acres. The water was only in the 50's, so I didn't swim. However, the reviews said you could get swimmer's itch, so I wouldn't have gone in anyway.

The reservoir at Sand Hollow State Park didn’t look that big, but it was 1,322 acres. The water was only in the 50’s, so I didn’t swim. However, the reviews said you could get swimmer’s itch, so I wouldn’t have gone in anyway.

The water was very clear and there were lot of boats of every size in the water - from fishing boats to ski boats to kayaks.

The water was very clear and there were lots of boats of every size in the water – from fishing boats to ski boats to kayaks.

There were no trees at the campground, but every spot had its own shade structure over the picnic tables. We used ours to hang the hammock!

There were no trees at the campground, but every spot had its own shade structure over the picnic tables. We used ours to hang the hammock!

One night it rained while we slept and we got to see this pretty view of snow on the mountain to our north. All the white was gone by the next day.

One night it rained while we slept and we got to see this pretty view of snow on the mountain to our north. All the white was gone by the next day.

My Piper boy likes to sit in the hammock with me.

My Piper boy likes to sit in the hammock with me.

A wall in Zion.

A wall in Zion.

The beginning of the Riverside Walk Trail that leads to The Narrows in Zion Canyon.

The beginning of the Riverside Walk Trail that leads to The Narrows in Zion Canyon.

This arch in the rock and the pond below it looked like a natural stage all set for a performance of some kind.

This arch in the rock and the pond below it looked like a natural stage all set for a performance of some kind.

The North Fork of the Virgin River runs through Zion Canyon.

The North Fork of the Virgin River runs through Zion Canyon.

The Narrows is a gorge in the upper part of Zion Canyon that is 16-miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. We stopped where these people were starting (while we were still dry). At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking or swimming in water.

The Narrows is a gorge in the upper part of Zion Canyon that is 16-miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. We stopped where these people were starting (while we were still dry). At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking or swimming in water.

Zion Selfie.

Zion Selfie in an alcove of weeping rock behind a veil of water droplets.

A view from Weeping Rock.

A view from Weeping Rock.

The Lower Emerald Pool did not have too much water yet, and it was still brown. You might be able to see the waterfall at the bottom left of the photo.

The Lower Emerald Pool did not have too much water yet, and it was still brown. You might be able to see the waterfall at the bottom left of the photo.

An example of all the different colors in Zion National Park.

An example of all the different colors in Zion National Park.

A view from our campground when the mountains did not have snow on them.

A view from our campground when the mountains did not have snow on them.

A view from one of our morning dog walks.

A view from one of our morning dog walks.

Towers of the Virgin and West Temple near the south entrance of Zion National Park.

Towers of the Virgin and West Temple near the south entrance of Zion National Park.

A view from our scenic drive on Zion - Mount Carmel Highway.

A view from our scenic drive on Zion – Mount Carmel Highway.

As you drive east through Zion, you can just see enormous ancient sand dunes that have turned to stone.

As you drive east through Zion, you can just see enormous ancient sand dunes that have turned to stone.

Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway is a 12-mile road that connects the south and east entrances into the park. Much of the sights look like this.

Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway is a 12-mile road that connects the south and east entrances into the park. Much of the sights look like this.

A view from the first pull-out after the east entrance into Zion National Park. Checkerboard Mesa was to my left, but the sun was in a bad spot for me to get that photo. This is the consolation photo!

A view from the first pull-out after the east entrance into Zion National Park. Checkerboard Mesa was to my left, but the sun was in a bad spot for me to get that photo. This is the consolation photo!

A big hole in the rock that was once a sand dune millions of years ago.

A big hole in the rock that was once a sand dune millions of years ago.

The mountain goat was monitoring traffic at the tunnel on Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway.

The mountain goat was monitoring traffic at the tunnel on Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway.

We went without the dogs to Zion on our first visit because pets are not typically allowed on the trails in National Parks. They heard how pretty it was when we got home that evening. When they learned there was one paved trail that did allow dogs, and a scenic drive that would be fun to see, they lobbied for us to take them along when we returned.

We went without the dogs to Zion on our first visit because pets are not typically allowed on the trails in National Parks. They heard how pretty it was when we got home that evening. When they learned there was one paved trail that did allow dogs, and a scenic drive that would be fun to see, they lobbied for us to take them along when we returned.

The famous Arch in Zion.

The famous Arch in Zion.

Checking out their human's catch from an afternoon on the banks of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Checking out their human’s catch from an afternoon on the banks of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Mike has kept me well fed on Fridays during lent this year.

Mike has kept me well fed on Fridays during lent this year.