Zion NP after St. Patrick’s 2018

Maybe that was the first beautiful snow this winter, on the 18th of March! Nice. But having in mind that the East Coast already got 4 big snow storms this March – we were in a much safer position. Just a little powder in Rockville, but some more in Zion. So we drove to Zion to take some pictures of this rare occasion. Here I am inviting you to dive into the not so often happening views of Zion NP, mainly close to the Court of Patriarchs:

As you can see the snow was already wet and not much of it. So we rushed: Wild turkeys-ᅡᅠ it has special feathers hanging from his breast, so it is a male, but still not fully grown up one: And some more with the Angel’s Landing in the distance:

2017 – Colorado -Telluride and the way home to Utah

After our stay in Ouray we drove back to Ridgeway which is not in the mountains. but by the mountains. Then turned towards Telluride. Our B&B hosts told us to park by the edge of Telluride on the right. There is a free parking lot. Then you just walk into downtown, which seemed a little bigger that the towns we saw before. Restaurants, shops, as usual in a tourist and skiing town. But the biggest attraction is its free gondola! Nowhere else there is a free gondola as far as I have heard. Not one-ᅡᅠ even two of them.ᅡᅠ The first lift is very steep and a little scary. Then the gondola stops on the top of the mountain ridge: From there the mountain bikers are riding down. There is a restaurant there with good views. Then the gondola goes down to the other side of the ridge, to the Mountain Village, which is not a village in its classical sense, but a concoction of rich condos. On the way you see the ski tracks for the winter and the surrounding mountains: And once you get out of that gondola and you are not the one who stays in one of the condosᅡᅠ you do not have much to do there. So you go to another gondola, which takes people just over the tops of the condos to a food store-ᅡᅠ what a way to go shopping! 🙂 You see the lavish life style in full swing under you and that is the attraction. I guess. Also – you can hike down from the food store-ᅡᅠ the hike is not steep. So here you go – taking gondolas was our fun in Telluride. Once there -we drove to the very deep end of it and saw a peculiar thing-ᅡᅠ a big house built very close to a waterfall on a steep cliff, with no roads leading to it-ᅡᅠ I wonder?!I guess you have to stay in a town to fall in love with it.ᅡᅠ But it would be hard to love so many towns :-).ᅡᅠ So we drove out of Telluride and towards Cortez. Rt. 145 on the map is shown as a scenic road and it was. Very very scenic. But there we heavy clouds and we were tired, so we didn’t stop for every good view. However, we stopped in Rico – it has an authentic house turned into a hostel or a hotel – it was pleasant to walk in its empty corridors and hear the ghosts. It has a wild hot spring close by:But once we came – there was a company of 5 soaking in it. so the math didn’t work for us…So we drove to Cortez where hotels on its North side are much more expensive than the ones on the South side :-). We picked American Holiday Mesa Verde Inn – it was in front of the restaurant Mi Mexico – that we remembered from long ago – and it was a good choice! The hotel was very quiet and the restaurant served very good Mexican food! We wanted to go to Mesa Verde – but after some analysis figured out that we had no time for it-ᅡᅠ it takes at least a day or two to see it well, the drives are long there and you have to take excursions if you want to see at least one of the ancient houses or towns, whatever they were. So we chose to visit Howenweep NM instead. Therefore the next morning we drove on a small road through the Canyons of the Ancientsᅡᅠ NM and stopped and walked in one stop. Didn’t walk much -ᅡᅠ had no time. But walking on this sandstone was pleasant and it would be a good idea to stay somewhere close by there and hike and hike:Because all this area is full of signs of Ancient Indians living there! Here is the Howenweep NM – it is a canyon where life flourished ages ago. They have a few structures still standing, as those Twin Towers, and a few mysteries still lingering:Thenᅡᅠ the drive was long…We listened to a book about Albert Einstein, a really good one, but still. We saw Mexican Hat on the way and the the Monument Valley with the place on the highway where everyone stops and takes pictures. Why – because Forest Gump stopped his long run through the US exactly there! THen we noticed that the glorious Mittens of the Monument Valley are eroding, they have lost their ‘thumbs’ and do not look like mittens any more…But the rock that looks like a mountain from a fairy tale -ᅡᅠ still looks inspiring:Then a little stop by this monstrosity of the Hydro power station of Lake Powel:And we returned home to our super hot summer, to our permanent irrigation and tending our peaches and tomatoes!


2017 – Colorado – Silverton

Our best and most efficient day was Sundayᅡᅠᅡᅠ -we hiked the Perimeter trail in Ouray till we reached the waterfall, then swam in the Hot springs pool, before that we saved a turtle who climbed up from his pond and almost got on a busy road. The turtle expressed his gratitude by peeing on me profoundly…:-)Then we jumped into our car and drove to Silverton on a Million Dollar highway. It was impressive! There are some very orange mountains on top of Ouray, they look like in Utah, but with a lot of rain, and from those mountains an orange stream is flowing: There were mines along he road and descriptions of them that they mine all the possible metals here and the underground tunnels are 100 mi long… This was a beautiful landing from a pass, with Silverton already very close:It is also like in a goblet – all surrounded by mountains. But its ‘goblet’ is much wider that the one of Ouray’s. And so I felt much moreᅡᅠ spacious there. Those instruments set up in a little town park had a soothing and healing sound! Here we ate a funnel cake! But they also have other foods, too. This green cross meansᅡᅠ “healing with the help of weed” :-): The is the train station – it is a famous train that goes from Durango to Silverton through the mountains and Canyons. I guessᅡᅠ -it is a lot of fun! But it was not in our plans this time. On the way out of Silverton we drove a little towards Durango for the views:You can see Silverton down below far away.ᅡᅠ But the road was being fixed, there were some waits there and also it looked scarier for me that the Million Dollar road to Ouray, so we turned back to Ouray. All in all – Silverton is well worth of a visit whether by train or a car, and to my taste-ᅡᅠ it seemed the most beautiful of all the towns we visited. But beauty is not the only reason we visit places…

2017-Colorado – Ouray

From Irvin Lake campground we noticed that there is a more straight road towards Gunnison, but we had to give it up after a short try – it was too narrow and bumpy. So we returned to Crested Butte, which is about 12mi from the campground and were pleased that the road leading to Gunnison was wide and paved. In Gunnison, we walked a little, had a very rich in caloriesᅡᅠ and cheeses cowboy lunch and headed towards Montrose. The drive was beautiful, partially by artificial lakes: and there was a road to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but we didn’t turn towards there. And then we again found ourselves on the plains. Colorado is in our imagination a state of mountains, but it seems that mountains occupy just a little part of it in patches. Montrose is also a western cowboy town. very similar as was Gunnison. But it has a Nepalese buffet! Wow, what a loss. We were so full after our cowboy lunch. And after the drive to Ridgeway is on plains, only there you start seeing mountains. You head towards them and here you are – in a goblet called Ouray: The main attractions of Ouray are hiking, of course, and also the hot springs! They bring the warm water from hot springs somewhere further and up the mountains and fill the new pools with it. For my joy there was a lap pool. But for soaking – there are several extensive pools of creative shapes. In Ouray we stayed at this Bridal Veil B&B, the left side of the duplex:It was one of the best B&Bs we ever stayed at! WE had the whole first floor, meaning a bedroom and a bathroom and the entrance hall – how much more can we need. It was quiet, we were fed upstairs with super fancy breakfasts, which were spoiling us tremendously and kicking us out of our healthy eating habits. The owners Connie and Greg were very pleasant and informative. Connie tended for 36 orchids in their home! And Greg is a big hiker and a canioneering specialist. Here are their orchids and Connie’s breakfasts. Each day we had a different orchid on the table matched with the foods and plates served: The pictures of Ouray are from he Primeter trail. Yes, there is a trail on the edges of the mountains surrounding Ouray. but we had no time to do the whole thing, we did only a part of it (but a scary one) till we reached the falls: The first evening Andrei went to a hotel with a complicated German name and spent half an hour in their peculiar hot springsᅡᅠᅡᅠ -they have a cave under the hotel and you can enter it only if you haven’t smoked for 3 months and also if you buy a ticket :-). Smoking was not the reason I didn’t go. I just felt tired. Saved my energy for tomorrow’s swimming in the main hot sprigs pool!Here are some pictures of Ouray town: The building on the right is an opera house! Here is the interior of the hotel we see on the left: We did some more hiking on the last morning, but very little, so much more is left for another time! Very big crevices in Colorado, I would say – they are scary to those who have sensitivity to it. We also drove to Silverton for a short visit, but that is in another post!


2017- Colorado – Crested Butte

Very soon after you pass Peonia laying in its beautiful valley, you enter the mining area of Colorado. After you pass a big coal mine you turn right onto a dirt road. But a well maintained road, recently spread with oil. Ane here you are-ᅡᅠ Colorado mountains:

It is 30 miles to Crested Butte on that road. But at first we turned towards Irvin Lake Campground to secure a place to sleep. Our camp place #20 had this view:What can be more beautiful?So we took pictures of this small lake in the evening, in the morning and sat by it consuming its beauty! But as always in life-ᅡᅠ nothing is for free. That campground had smelly toilets and a lot of mosquitoes! And no running drinking water or any water except the lake. The price – $18 per night. So we didn’t waste our time and drove down to Crested Butte to see the town and the Wildflower festival. This is what our car was showing on the way down, we never saw it before:I will point- almost 200 miles per gallon of gas! Our little Prius-ᅡᅠ we love it! WE saw the town, but we didn’t see the festival :-).ᅡᅠ As there was an abundance of non-wild flowers in town – we didn’t miss it.: As you can see – there was no lack of flowersᅡᅠ and lots of them reminded me of my garden in Lithuania, especially this pink old fashioned flower that my Grandma loved: All in all Crested Butte seemed to me one of the most attractive towns in Colorado. Funny as it s-ᅡᅠ there is a distillery of Rum – the bring sugar canes from somewhere South to this little town crested amid mountains and peaks – and make alcohol, an interesting business venture. And you can sample the rum for free! The other reason I liked Crested Butte most of all -there was a number of peculiar shops, especially this one where Asian antiques were mingling with SteamPunk art: Again – flowers and flowers.ᅡᅠ Also – this town attracted several families form Nepalᅡᅠ -therefore two-or three Nepaleseᅡᅠ restaurants! Here is the Nepalese waitress we liked so much:Whatever was left of the day we wanted to hike a little. So we drove towards where the hikes are. Andrei prepared to find them form the internet.ᅡᅠ CRested Butte is considered a wild flower capital of Colorado, but from our small experience – nothing beats Alta area in Utah in that sense: They likeᅡᅠ signs like this. It sais No Parking Waiting, picking up From Now and Forever…It makes hiking long 🙂 Doesn’t this lake look like is is bending? And the flowers are wilting, for it was a big droughtᅡᅠ then: I love this picture:Then we returned to our campground and started the fire to bake potatoes and Andrei’s sausages:As I couldn’t pick the nicest picture of ‘our” lake-ᅡᅠ I several of them for your judgement-ᅡᅠ in the evening, in the morning:ᅡᅠ ᅡᅠ They looked like little tulips by the lake… And the last pic of CB:


2017 -Colorado, from Utah to Paonia

Here in Southern Utah this summer is super hot. Being a temperature freak I register the top and bottom temperatures every day for 7 years. And they are rising… So to get some relief from this heat we did our usual once a week big irrigation, arranged some friends to irrigate sensitive areas and tomatoes in between the week and left for a 6 day trip towards the Colorado mountains. It is not a short trip. It took us a day and a half to get to the first views of them. As we left after 4pmᅡᅠ – we reached Calf Creek campground just a little East from Escalante town close to the sunset. On the way we checked if there are vacancies in Escalante motels, there were. Because usually the Calf Creek campground is full. This time it wasn’t, plenty of beautiful places with the creek making its soothing sound all through the quiet night. Yes, it was a hot day, a hot night, but bearably hot. So funnyᅡᅠ -I am taking out our sleeping bags and all from the tent-ᅡᅠ and the bottom of it where the mattresses were is hot! Here is our campground: The next day the driving was beautiful – again on Rt 12 -the very scenic Utah route, we passed through Boulder with its bird paradise lake, walked by it for a little rest:and then through Capitol Reef NP to Green River where everybody refuels and has lunch and further to Grand Junction. All the time temperatures outside were soaringᅡᅠ -up to 107F. So we didn’t even stop in any store , anywhere on our way except when we got to a cute town Hotchkiss. A book store with sculptures in front of it caught my attention:Because we were already tired, we stopped at the first motel that was on our way, Hotchkiss Lodge: It was a motel with breakfast, all clean, welcoming and owned by a Polish couple. There I looked that they are already have views of lower mountains. And the night there was already not hot at all, alas! The next day we drove towards Crested Butte via a small town Paonia and were stunned to see that some new Gaudi is living there:ᅡᅠ There are creative people all over, not only in clusters, and that made me happy! There were also different kind of collections of transportation or agriculture devices: And so we proceeded towards Crested Butte, where the Wild flower festival was expected.

2016-Death Valley National Park

El Ninjo came to California, not to us. So we looked on the internet – here, Death Valley, the driest place in the US got some rain in autumn! Not some. In fact three roads were damaged by flash floods. So on the 26th of January we drove there to see the blooming, and it was worth it. You can still go – the peak is going to be around mid February. The weather was very pleasant, pretty warm and no wind! We slept one night in a tent, it was cold but not too cold. The best partᅡᅠ -Furnace Creek Lodge has a swimming pool with the water form a natural spring! A warm one – 82F – 28C. So we swam there 3 times! it was perfect. Here is what we saw and enjoyed:DSCN3970Zabriskei Point. DSCN3975On the way to the pool – two impressively old tamarisks. DSCN4038 DSCN4036Or camping place – under this tamarisk. DSCN3979Artist’s point with us photographing it.DSCN3982 DSCN3988

The lowest part of the continent – Bad Waters. Lots of salt and what a pleasure to walk that spacious walk…DSCN4007 DSCN3994And here are the blooms – Desert Gold, with luscious leaves coming from a soil that looks like asphalt-ᅡᅠ isn’t it a miracle? DSCN3999 DSCN4005 DSCN4026

Brown eyed primroses:DSCN4034And some purple flowers: DSCN4035The next morning we swam again. There is their mining history museum right by the pool: DSCN4042Then we hiked in sandy dunes: DSCN4046 DSCN4050 DSCN4060Some more flower son the way back:DSCN4066 DSCN4070 DSCN4075Some of them fill up or follow dry river beds: DSCN4081 DSCN4098WE left Death Valley through the road that leads through Beatty. On the way there is a ghost town with hints to its previous majesty:DSCN4099This house is built from bottles! Their bottoms facing us: DSCN4114 DSCN4125Part of ghost town is decorated by some artists: DSCN4126 DSCN4129 DSCN4132 DSCN4134 DSCN4137 DSCN4144Yeh, it was good!

Mono Lake

Before driving to Mono Lake directly from Lee Vining, we made a small Juno lake loop in order to enjoy the Sierras some more. The mountains there are amazing!

Or so it seemed to us coming from very hot weathers in Southern Utah, Nevada and major parts of California. The air was crisp and refreshing, it was wonderful!

And then we reached Mono Lake which is a State park now, but may loose its funding from the feds because of the budget cuts and then the access to its unique formations and shores will be forbidden:

Mono Lake is the saltiest lake in the US and also the largest of this type of a lake. It used to be as high as those formations we see. They formed around on the springs that come from the bottom with lots of Ca salts and combine with other minerals in the lake water to become nature’s sculptures of different shapes:

The lake doesn’t have inlets or outlets, therefore its water is saltier that sea water many times…it is so salty. that only one type of flies live there, that lay their eggs in the shallow waters and then only one type of tiny shrimp feed on the larvae. Therefore Mano lake is Eden for birds. Lots of California seagulls and other birds come here to nest and spend winters.

And that was it – a long way through Nevada deserts towards home…the whole day of driving…on Rt. 120, then Rt. 6 and then the Extraterrestrial Highway 375, and then on Rt. 93, Rt. 319 to Utah.. But on the way still in California we saw a cute B&B by the town Benton – they had their own hot springs and some bath tubs or other kind of tubs for the guests to soak – they were not seen from the main area. Then we stopped at Tonopah, which had similarities with other Nevada mining towns and finally stopped at a place which was even not a town – just a small restaurant Little AleInn in the desert and some wagons with people living in them:

Yes, the theme was poor extraterrestrials who as if have landed here in their flying soccer in secret circumtances years ago…

I don’t envy those several people who live there…But maybe they enjoy the greatest possibility of solitude…And they don’t look like monks or nuns…

That is all about this trip. Till next trips.

Point Reyes National Seashore

The next day we again drove towards the ocean and drove north on Shoreline Hwy Rt 1 till we reached Point Reyes National Seashore, which is on a peninsular. From the visitor’s center we drove only to Limantour beach:

It very much reminded me our seashore in Lithuania. Except for those lines of thick clouds encasing certain parts of the shore in a mist:

It was a wonderful walk – almost no people, waves, sky, sand and some flocks of pelicans…

This is a walk from the parking to the shore – with a little winding stream and lots of bird songs. There are very many hikes and trails in this park and one can spend a week there, easy, having different places to see each day…But we had no time, as usual. So we drove up notyj still on the same Rt 1 and at some points we dived into the mist:

Then again out of it:

And even saw a colony of seals or sea lions taking a nap:

That same day the fun was basically over, for we drove inland from Jenner through Calistoga (a very cute hot spring town) and the rest of Napa valley, seeing the wineries only from our car, there was no time to stop…Till we reached Lodi for sleep.


Kings Canyon National Park

As I am writing this blog already in autumn – two giant 1000 year old sequoias fell down literally on a trail in Giant Forest – the popular hiking part of Sequoia N.P. Just fell down in all their 100 m (App 300 feet) length for no particular reason…A ranger was saying – maybe the soil got too wet?.. Well, it wasn’t wet enough for such a fall for 1000 years. Interesting. Must be trees like people have their fates.

So as I mentioned in my previous blog – we slept a night at the foothills and again drove all the way up to the Western Sierras to Kings Canyon which is connected to Sequoia NP. For a long time I was curious to see it for Europeans used to mention it as a very spectacular hidden secret off the beaten path. It was not disappointing at all:

But first of all we walked around some giant sequoias in General Grant Grove close to Kings canyon Visitor Center:

And I thought that I am tall…:-)

Yes, sequoias usually die by falling down because their root system is very shallow, and because their red wood is so resistant to elements – they lie their for everyone’s curiosity and enjoyment:

The trunk of this particular sequoia at different times was used as a shelter, as a bar and a souvenir shop. Right now it is just an empty hollow trunk to pass through:

This following view is taken from Convict’s flat – convicts used to do lots of the works in the canyon while the road was being built:

The water in Kings river enchanted me – so fast, so clean, green and transparant:

Andrei even cooled his feet:

THere were enough waterfalls. This particular one is called Grizzly Falls:

Then we drove to the very end where the road ends and the river is even more amazing -the waters are calmer and deep and green with some signs of its not so calm character:

This picture is my favorite of Kings canyon…From there on – lots of long trails start and lots of backpackers are off to meet their adventures and be more intimate with nature. Not us. We visited Boyden Cave on the way back, which is by that same Kings Canyon scenic byway:

For our guide there most of the formations looked like food – hamburgers, bacon, chicken leg. But this particular one as if looked like a Christmas tree or a wedding cake.

With our eyes full with beauty – we called it a day/ Still had to drive around 2 hours till we reached Fresno, the orchard capital of CA, for a night. Fresno has too many motels- hotels, not enough travelers to fill them. So to find a place to stay – no problem.