A Trip to Glacier NP-1.Ely

They say it is not safe to write about your trip while you are on it, so here we go – we managed to get out of our home , garden, irrigation, cats and fish two weeks ago – and travel for 6.5 days North. To cool off. So we headed towards St. George in order to start the cooling process – to dip into the emerald Quail Creek lake as it is shown in my previous Blog. Then we drove towards Nevada border, towards Enterprice. And on the way – here was the Mountain Meadows Massacre site…A very sad place. Though the valley is beautiful:

Here in 1857 a group of some 150 people from Arkansas stopped for a rest on their tiresome way to California, at that time – a land of opportunity. They met the Mormons who lived close by and asked for their permission to rest for a couple of weeks. Even gave them a good horse for that. There are several books written about the case but they all have the same conclusion – the Mormons killed those innocent people, except for several kids who were not of 8 years or up. There is something in their religion that forbids killing young kids…I wish there was something that forbid killing, period…Why? I guess even the nowadays Mormons are not quite sure, they explain it in fear, but isn’t fear the main cause of all the killing in the world ? Not to expand on the subject – this is the darkest spot in Mormon history. they built a monument on the grave sites, but…On that monument they as if praise themselves – the Church built and dedicated the monument, preserves it…but the fact that they killed and even the number of people killed – is not reflected on it. Also – a note: the killings were very brutal, happened at night and the killers pretended they are Indians. dressed like them and painted their faces like them…

It sais that it happened on September 11, 1857! Another 9/11… And like Alcaida – the Mormon Church never said: “Sorry”…

Then we drove and drove for some 4 hours over a mountain range, then through Nevada and reached Ely, the first city on the Loneliest Highway in America, that goes through Nevada West-East. It is an interesting city as all of the very few on that road. It has a grandeur in its past, the grandeur of a mining town. But the mining is almost gone, the gambling is also not very big there, far from metropolitan areas, it is depressed. We stayed in its biggest hotel – wow – 6 story high!, called Hotel Nevada. The hotel was the first such a tall building built in Nevada in 1929. Before all the hotels were built in Las Vegas. In its time it had prominent visitors such as Lyndon Johnson, the president of the USA, Ingrid Bergman, the actress and many more celebrities from the entertainment business. Including Stephen King who came here in search of the three ghosts who live in the hotel. I wonder if he met them, we didn’t.

A view from our window and our room:

Rooms are not big, but cozy, furnished in old style, but the facilities are modern and clean. It was funny to see this flat screen TV in our room. The lobby and corridors have a lot of character created by Wild West artifacts:

Though I am very much against killing animals those chandeliers looked very impressive:

I hope they are made from shed horns…

There used to be a bigger collection of miniature scenes of various activities people were doing here, but at least there are still some 4 left:

I guess this is a jail guard working hard.

A farmer.

A bar.

I am not sure if we went to this or another bar for beer…But here is the Woman’s bathroom door in that bar:

I specifically checked the door on men’s bathroom – there was nobody peeking…:-)

And in the morning I walked the meditation labyrinth with all those abstract statues or constructions around:

While two crows were kissing endlessly on the opposite roof:

From there we drove up towards Idaho, Twin Falls.

Our June in Rockville

I decided to post the main events of each month once. At the end of the month. Unless we go onto some exciting trip…

So here we go – we went for an overnight stay in Vegas, the beginning of June. It was so hot…like in an oven. But we wanted to have a little break between guests, gardening, irrigation and sitting by computer (the last one is obviously not applied to me). Besides swimming in the pool at ours now liked Tuscany Suites we visited Bellagio with its excess of flowers, as always:

Had a curious glimpse at the chocolate bar there (we don’t indulge – it is unhealthy…) – the eagle is made of chocolates:

And the rest of the evening we spent walking and admiring or just wondering under this super modern architecture in the newly built City Center:

We almost bumped into this construction once we entered The Crystals – the shopping area over there… At first it was hard to understand what it was. Then we saw a restaurant in the middle wider part of it and a reception desk in the bottom part:

Because it looked so bizarre, we took one more picture from another angle- maybe that will reveal its beauty better..:

And here are shapes of their ceilings – wherever you look at – it is intriguing:

And the floors:

And the decors on the floors:

there was an island of glass tubes with colorful hurricanes in them:

You could walk around them, touch them and get the feeling of the humid air they were emanating.

On a different note – when the weather cooled off for several days we went on a Coal Pits trail which has a positive feature to be not popular among tourists. There some rather exotic plants were blooming:

Also we had a lot of blooming around our house:

Which leads us to another adventure – the King snake:

Here she is trying to climb a tree and find birds’ nest…She didn’t find on this tree but found on a bush by our door and that was really sad…I noticed finches flying desperately around the bush, we both came out to see what is going on and until we noticed her in the bush – it was too late… So all Andrei did was heroically catch the snake with a stick and place it into a bucket, cover it, we then relocated it to its natural habitat called desert. For God’s sake, why are they coming to peoples’ gardens, is it safe enough for them? I don’t think so. There are worse ways of getting rid of those pretty but not very friendly creatures.

And finally – while on the way to St. George for once a week shopping we picked cherries in M&I Farm in Hurricane. This is the main fun of June! Their cherry orchard is huge:

This year the crop was big -when I saw how many cherries were hanging on the branches – I thought they could feed all Utah citizens and still have more left. They have ladders, buckets prepared for picking. It was a pleasure to see such abundance and to pick them:

To tell the truth lots of them went to waste…left for the birds to feast on. Not enough demand for them…

Here is the Quail Creek lake at the end of Hurricane – it is a reservoir, but of very beautiful green color amidst the red mountains and a very good place to swim and cool off before diving into the shopping frenzy in St. George:

the end.

Thailand 2010 – its old capital Sukhothai

Sukhothai means “the dawn of happiness” and holds a unique place in Thailand’s history. Until the 13th century most of Thailand consisted of many small vassal states under the thumb of the Khmer Empire based in Angkor Wat. But the princes of two Thai states combined forces and in 1238 marched on Sukhothai where one of them defeated the Khmer garrison commander in an elephant duel. Installed as the new king of the region he founded a dynasty that ruled Sukhotai for nearly 150 years. Through military and diplomatic victories they expanded their kingdom to include most of the present-day Thailand and the Malay peninsula.

By the mid -14th century Sukhotai’s power and influence had waned, and Ayutthaya, once a vasal state, became the capital of Thai kingdom. Sukhotai was gradually abandoned to the jungle. If it wasn’t for a 10-year restoration project, started in 1978 and costing more than $10 mln., there wouldn’t have been the Sukhothai Historical Park:

We took a regular bus from Chang Mai city Arcade Bus station and it took us about 6 h to reach destination. If Bangkok is 700 km from Chang Mai, Sukhotai is 427 km north of Bangkok, almost in the middle of our return way to BKK. Which means that it takes 6h in a bus to cover 270 km…Pretty slow drive…Though the roads are not bad but sitting there on the second floor of that double bus you feel like you are hardly moving. The tickets cost around 300bt each. It is two times more than the price of the tickets you buy in Khao-San road. But in that case you can buy only for certain destinations and keep contact with them in order to know where are their buses leaving from. The prices for transportation there don’t bite at all, wherever you buy them. And you get better rides for more expensive tickets. lets say – the trip from BKK to Chang Mai was in a bus without shocks…12 hours of bumping…

This particular bus entered the area just through the Old town Sukhothai – where the history was. Once of a sudden the old stupas appeared here and there close to the road side. That was it, we left the bus and went to look for the hotel tat our Canadian friend recommended: Old City Guest house. It was worth staying there. The guest house rooms were built around a cozy square:

with the little altar in the middle – in case someone wants to please the Gods, the room was big, clean, comfortable bathroom and shower. After spending a week with a shower poring directly onto you toilet and having the floors wet for a while there – it was wonderful to have a spacious bathroom with a separate shower place. It was like a little center – with several hotels, restaurants, shops and bike rental places (the main city is 9 mi away):

Bicycles are especially popular there while trying to see all parts of the Historical capital. It is a pity we didn’t experience them and left it for the next time. It was a very pleasant stay, very good meals in the nearby restaurant Coffee Cup, nice people, good atmosphere. The park entrance was close by that little town center. Although the sun was setting I still eagerly went to see the ruins that were spread wide in the vast parks – I wouldn’t call them jungle, would you?:

Maybe that is what the restoration effort turned the jungle into -a spacious park.

The weather there was clearly more humid than in Chang Mai and it was hard to breathe or move fast even in the very late evening. But there were almost no people, one miserable pregnant and very hungry cat – she had only one eye…, lots of hungry but peaceful dogs and the darkness setting onto the trees and temple ruins:

It is hard to imagine the grandeur of the city in its golden age…Harder to understand why people abandon so many already built buildings and go somewhere else to strive for survival and build again…Still they don’t quite abandon those temples here – there are fresh candles and offerings.

A new temple surrounding an old stupa in the town center – there is a Buddha’s foot print under glass in it:

The hardest part in Sukhothai was to find a bus stop to go to BKK…Funny, isn’t it? I asked everyone, then checked a little map of the town on a building that looked like a bus station -we waited there because the map said that this is the bus stop. it never stopped. It was evidently a block down – by some shop – no logical reason to understand – why was it in such a place ? So we missed our bus, had to take their songthaew – that crazy “animal wagon” to get to the New City Sukhothai to a real and big bus station and from there we tried to reach Ayutthaya, but the bus stopped some 6 km from the city and it was our last evening, so we decided to stay on the bus and reach BKK, our belloved Khao San road and feel a little more of its atmosphere. Actually it is not the Khao San Road that we liked, but other roads in that area, that I even don’t remember their names. There is like a cirkle of them behind a temple, that faces Khao San road, towards Phra Artit road – a very lively, cozy, backpackers’ area:

You don’t have the big city feel there. So the next morning I walked a little towards the Kings palace in the streets I already know buying still some presents and nice things and off we left to the BKK airport which is very modern:

but also has Thai decors:

beautiful modern spaces:

And flew back home via Taipey in Taiwan:

Los Angeles, and believe it or not – Salt Lake city…:

Once we reached LA – the plane was late by half hour, then we had to take our bags. check through customs and run like crazy to another terminal. So we ran…like crazy…Over there after going through their security we found out that our seats to Las Vegas were sold…Big disappointment after 3 hours flight to Taipey and 12 hours to LA…Luckily they gave a a hotel room, so we rested and early morning rushed for a flight to SLC, then another flight to Las Vegas. which was also delayed…A very long and not easy trip home…But in a week I recovered and already wanted to go back :-).

Spring around Rockville

This is the time now when red cacti bloom in our area:

They are most prolific on the bench or mesa on top of Rockville, a “secret place” where Rockvillians go for their walks. And who can say they are not worth visiting and seeing?

The other positive thing about those trails on top – they are prepared for mountain bikes and very few bikes ride there. So it is nice to walk in nature by yourself, with no crowds or noises around. This time I walked with a second time guest from Chicago – Daniel Pyne. And here is what we reached:

It is on the very edge of the mesa over our house, over Rockville, over the winding Virgin river:

Up here it is Rockville, down here it is our house:

And here is our parking lot – a closer look -Andrei is filming me on the top :-):

This view is from another edge which is on top of Dan McGuire’s house, our house can’t be seen here, it is behind the mountain edge on the right. But someone’s pasture all under water is seen in this picture – that is how we irrigate:

It was scary to stand on the edge…Going back we walked through some rocks where mountain lions may well reside:

And also lots of petrified wood pieces, but one piece was especially big, entangled in sandstone:

And this is already my yard with tomatoes and peppers in pots and boxes – this spring is so unusually cold, it is still dangerous to plant them in the garden:

Tulips and hyacinths bloom so late this year:

And this is how I dress at home and meet my guests :-):

How I celebrated April 15th!

I have to make a break in Thailand blogs and describe the events here and now, in Utah. it was almost a historical event – at last we managed to find the right day, the right weather and only light winds and go to Brian Head – to ski. The first and last time in two years. The fact is that either we have to wait for guests when the weather forecast for the ski resort is good, so we can’t go, or the weather is really bad, which happened there most often. I can’t imagine how they make money, so many bad days they even have to close the lifts, the winds there are usually unbearably high. So here we managed at last to get there on April 14th! Almost no cars…they extended their operation for a week because of the amount of snow we all got in this spring. And the student holidays are now over – maybe that was the reason there were almost no people. Rather strange but I should say -comfortable. Like the mountain belongs only to you and all those guys on both ends of the chair lift are here to help only you:

Andrei couldn’t ski, his knee is still not very strong after he twisted it in Thailand, but he took me there and took also his PC so that he would not waste his time, in a cafeteria in this building:

And I also tried not to waste my time, up and down almost non stop. I land from the mountain and just “swish” into the chair again, getting the rest while going up.

To tell the truth it was funny after two years break to get on skis. I felt as if preparing to go into cosmos. Digging out my ski suit, putting on those heavy boots, gloves, cap glasses – here we are almost in summer clothes and over there it is still winter:

One can see how desolate the slopes are – but how nice! The trails are well prepared with that special car, some of them had still their virginity. So comfortable, I never remember such a good skiing there…

The temperature was around 12C and in the sun some parts of snow were a little wet, but didn’t cause problems because there are still frosts at nights over there. And here is the view from the top of the lift – and of that mountain:

You can’t put a price on it!..

And here is the view from Toquerville -the town that we have to pass on our way from Rockville to Rt. 15, toBrian Head:

And yesterday, which was April 15th, we went on a trail from the town Virgin. It took us 8 years of living here to figure out such a nice trail only 10 min drive from home…

We crossed the river on a bridge there and walked along the rather steep and high edge that Virgin river has created during many years:

And there are also inlets with scarce water, some slim waterfalls, but you can’t cross them, too steep, just follow the mountain bike road:

Then we drove to the La Verkin overlook – it has even a sign on highway but we never had a chance to drive those couple of miles and see for ourselves how amazing the view is:

You don’t need to hike up or down – you are here on top of a mountain -where can you find such a comfort?

To the right is Toquerville, to the left – Hurricane and St. George.

And here is our pear tree two weeks ago:

and the peach blossoms…

Easter hike – April 12th

I know I am late with my blogging about this hike, but the views were good, the trail was even better – so I still decided to share. It all started as usual – Adrian sent a message about the coming hike and several individuals as well as their dogs decided to celebrate Easter by challenging their muscles and getting more in touch with nature.

We drove Kolob Terrace Road to the first top valley and parked the cars by a sandy path on the right, leading through the fields towards very pretty looking rocks:


Upon reaching the rocks we climbed up on a path done at some point by Mr. Lee who owns the land and lots of lands around. He has done it for his cows to lead them from one valley to another. As if someone mentioned that he had to blast the path in the rocks:


I wonder if the poor cows see the beauty around them or they just are sad of the lack of food in this desert…



Then we descended down to the valley downstairs and walked along a stream:



The dogs had a blast in that stream , especially in the bath tubs which were supposed for the cows to drink…


Not long after this dam we had to climb up – literally, on a steep slope on a slick rock:


The view on my stop to catch a breath:


There on the top there was a surprise – I love surprises and who doesn’t. It was a pond with water and swamp plants in it:


We had our lunch here and the dogs had their fun. the view to the other side, the one we started from:


That is it, we went down with no adventures. The celebration was over, life is simple.

A trip through Pastel canyon to East Rim Trail

Adrian led us, a bunch of locals, again to some interesting hike. It was the beginning of June, wonderful weather! By wonderful I mean – not hot, light cloudy skies, best for hiking. One could never wish for more in this desert…

We started in the upper part of our park and went up the Pastel canyon:


Crows saw us off:


And desert flowers met us on the way:




The canyon got thinner and narrower:


We needed to use ropes twice:


We had to sneak through thick bushes and climb slippery sandy slopes:



But we reached the top where the canyon joins East Rim Trail:


Some of the last hard climb on the top:


And there we had lunch. From that point there was no climbing any more, mostly descending, very lightly, very nicely, at first on a nice forest path:


With abundance of flowers here and there:



Then the forest opened up and disappeared in the back… but the flowers were still there:


Doesn’t it look like a path to Eden?


From there we could see our end point in the distance in the bottom of this canyon. But to reach that point – oh, it was a rather long walk – around and around the edges of canyons of which there is no lack in this country:


Thanks God there were different interesting flowers on the way:




Adrian says we walked totally 5 miles, but to me it seems we walked very long miles. Here is the finish line, with a cold bottle of beer (thanks to one of our fellow hikers):


…………the end……….

May flowers by Amber Inn B&B

If you want to see our flowers at their best -May is the time to come. After that everything more or less fades till October, though there is always some plant in bloom. But not in abundance. What else can you expect in a desert…So here are our roses:







Evenings are saturated with Honeysuckle smells…


Here are the flowers that come from seeds every spring by themselves, I guess they are called volunteers. But we don’t know their more particular name:





Finally – my husband’s favorites, the dragons as he calls them, they sit in front of our windows, catching insects:



Belated New Year celebrations

I am sorry, I guess my mind was somewhere else, that I didn’t describe our New Year’s celebration in St. George. First of all – we do it every year. Since we figured out that it is so much fun. Maybe it was the fourth year we participated in the First Night – that’s how they call it. I consider it to be an incorrect name – because the celebrations go from 7 pm on the 31st of December till 12 am. Which makes it the Last Night. But maybe it would sound too gloomy, like “the last night of your life” :-), almost reminds Halloween, so they named it optimistically.

No pictures from St. George, sorry. It was dark already, lots of trees diligently wrapped with red and blue lights and several very tall pine trees all decorated with colorful lights to the very tops. I bet they did a lot of work there. The celebrations were held in the Ancestor square – newly arranged square in the place where old library was demolished. There were stages with rock music going, vintage car show, painted kokopellies and food booths, but the main thing for us was in the Arts center – they were showing short movies non-stop from 7 pm till 11:45 pm. The movies that had won prizes in Red Rock Film festival. On the top floor of that building there is a fantastic newly remodeled hall for dancing. With a small orchestra playing swings and foxtrots. So our evening looked like this: first figuring out what where the movies worth watching and then running up and down the building – to see some movies, to dance, then again to watch, etc. The only time we sneaked out of the building during the evening – was when we literally ran to a school on the other side of the square to watch a magic show by Max the local Magician. Which was entertaining and good. The room was over packed, everyone laughed and happy so that that the good mood spread around. I think people who live around could even feel it. Why not to be happy – no traffic jams, no problems to park the car, all the events going on close around, just relax, consume and enjoy.

At 12 am people gathered from dances, movies and shows and saw a 15 min firework show which was fantastic! I mean fantastic for a small city like St. George, because maybe a good 10 years ago I happened to see the Independence Day fireworks in Washington DC – they were similarly good. And that is it – no more activities, you just find your car and head home. Oh, one more detail – no alcohol in this celebration, it is run by Mormons. Who else would desire to sacrifice their New Year’s night and volunteer…except for the saints. Therefore I doubt other cities with non Mormon population can have such a First Night. And the last detail – all this costs $5 a person, totally, food not included. Except for some cookies with hot chocolate in the dance hall. They were included :-).

Meanwhile we managed to visit Bellagio in Las Vegas and here is what they had for Christmas and for the Chinese New Year which started on January 24th:

Those snowmen are all made of white carnations. They smelled good!

Based on the Chinese calendar this is the Brown Cow year. Some call it Ox year. Whatever – but this bull is standing on a platform covered with real mandarin oranges…

My mom came to visit us, so here we are after we picked her from the airport.

With another version of cow in the background…

This is how she enjoyed the fountain show by Bellagio. They start at 3 pm, so we had to wait for some time and then they start it with American Anthem. Another song follows after – it means we were lucky – we got two shows! for the price of one (the price was our waiting time).

And that is it from Las Vegas.

Happy New Year, Happy Brown Cow year!

Hummingbird Nest

This spring guests showed me a nest that the lady hummingbird has built on the right edge of our B&B sign right in front of the main doors. It was the beginning of May. Soon she lay two tiny eggs and sat on them for three weeks:

How did we know that there were two eggs – I climbed a stool and put a mirror on top of the nest to peek into, while the hummingbird mom was gone to eat some. While she sat – her nest and the surroundings were clean. Not so after when the super tiny chicks appeared :-):

Actually it took again three weeks for them to grow to this size seen in the picture, train their wings and fly away. For the first ten days you could see nothing in the nest, just the mother coming and feeding them now and then. When I looked with the mirror – I saw two breathing featherless bodies with three downs each, without distinguishing where their beaks or butts were. Then the vertical beaks started to appear:

And then one day we notice that there is only one bird still in the nest, the other is gone. The second one was hesitant to fly out, he still sat on the edge of his nest and trained his wings which to my eyes seemed too small for flying…the first fly ended in a bush close by:

And then another bush:

and then the tiny bird disappeared in the big pine tree. You could only wish them the best. So may have them are killed by predators. But the ones who make it – they live up to 18 years, a real record for such a small creature which has his heart beat at times he flies with an enormous speed.

Interesting as it is we had two families this summer in that same nest. The other one was a different mom for she was much more intimidated by passers by. The fathers don’t play any role in sitting on eggs or raising the family – that fact I read in the internet and i never saw a brighter bird there (males are usually more colorful).