Oregon Landscapes

We drove back to Portland via the Santiam Pass. It was yet another beautiful day and we loved the views.

We got a good look at Mt. Washington:

Next, we walked along Detroit Dam to enjoy the lake.

Can’t wait for the next adventure with Melissa! Thank you to Sami and Sue for being the perfect hosts.

Quilts Under the Trees

On Sunday, we attended an annual event: a lecture by a “quilt/fabric celebrity” then a tour of their works hung in a beautiful area beneath tall trees. This year, Rob Appell entertained us with his stories. He says he gets his energy from his mom and I’d like to meet her! It was a beautiful day and cool in the shade, thank goodness!

Appell has created patterns that highlight endangered species to raise funds. Our friend, Sue, has completed the tiger wallhanging! It is striking.

That afternoon, we went to the Old Mill area to see quilts hanging in the shops and restaurants. There was a concert going on in the amphitheater and I got a big kick out of the geese hanging out with the paddlers and floaters while the snow-capped peaks looked on.

What a fun Sunday in Central Oregon!

Sisters Quilt Show 2017

After a lovely visit in Portland with a dear friend, we headed to Central Oregon. Mt. Hood was showing off for us.

We were so excited to see our “quilty” friends and catch up! We spent a fun day crafting outdoors…

…then on Saturday, we hit the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Although it was a blistering hot day, the crowds were there to enjoy the quilts hanging all over the “Wild West” downtown.

I am partial to embellishments and embroidery and had plenty of examples to inspire me.

           

The showstopper exhibit was a collection of wall hangings inspired by the Lion King. This is a traveling exhibition and we were so excited to see it. These works of art are amazing!

Thank you, Sisters, Oregon, and all the volunteers who make this event happen!

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park, our newest national park, has three distinct areas in its 1.7 million acres: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.

The Grand Staircase is a series of massive geological steps that descend toward the Grand Canyon. The five different cliff formations (pink, gray, white, vermillion, and chocolate) are different chapters of geologic history, descending from 11,000 to 4000 feet. This is the main area we explored.

First up was Kodachrome Basin, a state park that sits in the Grand Staircase, not far from Bryce Canyon. It features colorful cliffs and “sand pipes”– sedimentary towers in the canyon.

We hiked the Panorama Trail. We really enjoyed the views and getting up close to the sedimentary spires. The wind helped cool us down, but then the red dirt really started blowing.

Next we hiked the Angel Parade Trail, a narrow trail with loose gravel and no rails, so we had to be careful. We loved the expansive views.

We also visited the Petrified Forest State Park. This little-known park has some fantastic specimens of petrified wood in situ. The hike up to the rim, down into the canyon, and back up is rigorous, but not long, and takes you close to many fabulous specimens.

      

We drove the Hell’s Backbone Road to see more views of the area. The lanes are very narrow, not much more than one lane, with numerous switchbacks and no rails. We were relieved that we passed only one other car the whole time.

The birches were starting to leaf out and looked magnificent against the bright blue sky.

As we descended, the town of Boulder was spread beautifully before us.

We stayed at the lovely Slot Canyons Inn outside the town of Escalante. It is perched over a working ranch and backs up to cliffs that are beautiful at sunset. It was heavenly.

   

Bryce Canyon National Park Main Area

Bryce Canyon National Park Main Area

Bryce Canyon park is enormous! We spent all day exploring the main part of the park and didn’t get to all we wanted to do.

We drove to Sunset Point and gaped at the main amphitheater.  The scale is immense, but this photo tries to give you an idea. Because the altitude in the park is 6600 to 9100 feet, there are sub-alpine trees and cool breezes.

We hiked the Navajo Loop Trail down into the canyon. It was a steep descent, but we really started to get an idea of how tall the formations and the canyon walls are. The colors changed with every angle of the sun and as each cloud passed by. You could really spend hours in one spot watching the changes.

     

Loved the hoodoos! It was fun to guess what each one looked like, and then check with the official names. The one on the left below is Thor’s Hammer.

This one is “Queen Victoria” and does indeed look like the statue of her we saw in front of Kensington Palace.

     

We took the Queen’s Garden trail back up to the rim. This was an easier ascent than going up the Navajo Loop would have been, and it takes you close to many fascinating formations.

We learned that the best way to do these parks is to drive or take the shuttle to the farthest point and work your way back to the entrance or visitors center. You avoid some of the crowds and can gauge your progress and how much daylight is left. So, after a remarkably good lunch at the park lodge, we drove to the far south end of the park  to Rainbow Point and hiked the short Bristlecone Pine Loop and a spur to Yovimpa Point.

The bristlecone pines are the oldest living organisms on earth, some up to 1000 years old.

We worked our way north through the park and stopped at the Natural Bridge and Farview Point.

    

Fairyland Point was magnificent! We must return and do the hikes in this canyon.

Wow! And this was only in the main part of Bryce Canyon NP! More to come…

 

 

Cedar Breaks and Cedar City, Utah

Cedar Breaks and Cedar City, Utah

The drive from Vegas to Utah was stunning as we drove through the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona. A taste of views to come!

Imagine our surprise when we set out on May 18th for Cedar Breaks National Monument, only to find that the entrance road and all trails were closed due to snow! From a nearby scenic point, we saw the breathtaking canyons with snow-topped peaks. The formations are similar to Bryce Canyon, but Cedar Breaks is reportedly much less crowded during high season. We’d love to come back in warmer weather and do a lot of hiking.

      

Consoling ourselves, we investigated Scenic Byways 14 and 143. I highly recommend driving this loop and enjoying amazing views of the Markagunt Plateau/canyons and Dixie National Forest (Yankee Meadow and Navajo Lake). Streams were gushing with the snow thaws and the birches were starting to leaf out at lower elevations.

Byway-2

Cedar City seems to be the most vibrant spot in this part of the state, probably due to the presence of Southern Utah University. We think it’d be the best place to stay when going to Cedar Breaks and Zion (especially the Kolob Canyons area)–that is, if you’re not agile enough to book the Zion Lodge in the park a year in advance!

We ate (twice!) at Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. We really enjoyed the pizza, draft beer selection, and salads. They won me over with their homemade gelato and the fact that they are open until 10 in an area that often closes up early. We wanted to visit the winery across the street, but it was never open when we were there. Presumably, they are getting ready to open for summer.

 

Vegas, Baby!

Vegas, Baby!

We started and ended our hiking trip with nights in Vegas–definitely a culture shock!

Our first night was at the original pyramid at the Luxor, just because we had never stayed there. It is certainly not as neat as when it had the floating disco, but it was fine for a low-to-mid level stay. The best part was that it was next to the Cosmopolitan and Mandalay Bay.

We ascended to the Skyfall Lounge at the Delano tower of Mandalay Bay and enjoyed drinks and appetizers with a fabulous view of the Strip.

Next, we went to the Bellagio to see the Chihuly ceiling. This Chihuly fan isn’t going to miss that! I wish I could have afforded something from the Chihuly store. Maybe next time, when we win big!

  

We also enjoyed the flower show depicting Japanese spring (we think).

  

Finally, we checked out The Cosmopolitan. I think I’d like to stay here next time! The Chandelier Bar was something else!

We had dinner at China Poblano, Jose Andres’ Mexican-Chinese fusion concept. The shrimp tacos were very good and their specialty Siu Mai (tiny dumplings) were good, but not great. The best part of the meal for me was the Salt Air Margarita with a salty foam on top instead of a salted rim. I don’t think we’d eat here again, but would probably enjoy Social Hour (Sun-Thurs 3:30 to 6) for margaritas and snacks.

Then we were off the next morning to Utah. (Upcoming posts!)

Our last night of the trip, we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It is much larger than in past years. The room was fabulous, but the casino and lobby were really smoky. I loved the directions to our room in the Paradise Tower, “…then take a left at the tattoo parlor.”

As you can imagine, the piped-in music is very loud. The demographic target is definitely younger people, but the music is almost exclusively from our time.

We ate at Nobu in the Hard Rock. This pricey restaurant serves delicious tastes and reminded us of Qui in Austin. We had their signature yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, which was delicious. Steve’s ceviche “taco” and my tuna one were very small, but the crispy rice “taco shell” gave a wonderful crunchiness to the delicious fish fillings. We finished with skewers of salmon with teriyaki sauce (excellent) and scallops with Peruvian anticuho sauce (the sauce completely overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the scallops). And Steve’s success in the casino paid for the meal!

Hasta la vista, Vegas!