Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Arches National Park

April 18th, 2010

Last week was my Spring Break.  WHEE!!  Spring Break is such a magical time.  This year, Tom and I decided to head wherever was cheapest, and fun…est.  We also wanted to try to include some National Parks, as we are still on our quest to visit all of the NPs in the country.  We ended up deciding on Utah, and specifically visiting Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks.  We started off in Arches, which is just outside Moab, Utah.  We arrived late on Sunday night and camped at a DNR campground just outside the park, next to the Colorado River.  The forecast called for a cold, windy night, but it was windy beyond belief.  Like, I thought the tent might collapse kind of windy.  Sweet.

So after not too much sleep, we headed into the park the next morning. Many areas of middle to southern Utah are made up of these gorgeous red-rock mesas, gorges, and arches, and this park is no different.  Soaring walls of stark reddish orange towered over us as we snaked through the park to arrive at Balanced Rock. Basically, the “rock” is there because it is made up of a more durable (less susceptible to erosion) type of rock, while the rock underneath is much softer, making it erode more quickly, giving it the “balancing” look.  Eventually the base will wear away completely, and the “Balanced Rock” will collapse to the ground.  The light was a bit tricky early in the day, so our photos here aren’t super fabulous, but the feature was really interesting.


Next we traveled deeper into the park to an area called Devil’s Garden.  By this point, it was afternoon, and we still hadn’t seen any of the park’s namesakes!  I wanted to see some arches!  We found them here though. The first one we visited was Landscape Arch, a delicate, impressive span that looks almost impossibly long.  We were unable to venture under it, as I believe the park service is worried about parts breaking off and landing on tourists!

After that we ventured up the “primitive trail” to Partition Arch, which is visible in some of our photos of Landscape Arch.  Up here the wind started kicking up, as in gusting probably 30ish mph.  With sand.  Right.  Partition Arch was amazing, as it overlooked the entire valley; we could see for probably a hundred miles. Amazing.

Leaving this area of Devil’s Garden, the wind started blowing in earnest.  We kept having to stop and turn our backs to the gusts and hide our eyes.  The sand stung our skin and was burning our faces.  This was when I realized I am not really cut out for desert travel.  Clearly something I needed to learn the hard way.  We did stop by Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch on the way out, but spent very little time there due to sandblasting.

We decided to risk one other area of the park to visit Double Arch, which, as the name implies, is where to arches were formed from the same part of rock, but span in two different directions.  Yay erosion!  I have a feeling the wind had something to do with this as well.  After taking about a gazillion more photos, we retreated back to the car.  It took very little work to “convince”  Tom that we needed to spend the night in a hotel that night rather than camping in the 40+ mph winds again.  And there was a shower. Whee!  The Super 8 cost 55.00 with our AAA membership, which meant we got a room and a tub.  No closet or, strangely, trash can, but hey, I wasn’t complaining.  There was no wind.

The next morning, before we headed over to Canyonlands, we went back into the park to check out Delicate Arch.  This is THE arch.  Like, the one Utah deemed worthy of putting on it’s license plate.  In the morning light with some spectacular clouds, the scene was striking indeed.  It was quite cold, and guess what, windy!  The arch was exquisite though, and quite fun to photograph.   Arches was a wonderful way to start out our trip to this very unique part of the country.

Vancouver!

January 30th, 2010

Tom, with the Vancouver skyline in the background.

I’ve been feeling the strain of winter recently.  The rain, the gray, the cold.  Normally, we would just go snowboarding or snowshoeing to get some endorphins going, but this year has been BAD for snow.  As in we haven’t hardly had any.  We have had plenty of rain though; not a combination for a happy Amy.  So, Tom and I go to talking, and we decided to head up to Vancouver, BC to shake some of the winter blues.  As many of you may know, the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver in just a few weeks, so we wanted to check out as many Olympic-related things as we could.  We were especially interested in the Olympic mascots, which are all cute, furry and small.  More on these later.

On Saturday morning, we grabbed our passports and headed for the boarder.  There was little traffic, and we had an easy boarder crossing, so we arrived in Vancouver around noon, and set out exploring and hunting for the Olympics.  Our hotel was on Robson Street, one of the main shopping areas downtown, and after some help from the concierge at the hotel, we had a plan.  We were going to try and visit the Olympic Village, go to Chinatown and see the “official” Olympic Store.  Right away, we found many stores selling Olympic goods, and many of the local stores were showing their Canadian pride.

After walking through many of the shopping districts on Robson and Granville Streets, we had made our way to a large bridge where, on the other side rested the Olympic Village.  Most unfortunately, the Village is closed to tourists.  As in, large fences and road barricades kind of closed.  Hm.  So we had to settle for taking pictures from the bridge.  It looks cool, and the high rises that were built to house the athletes will apparently sold as condos after the Olympics are over.  Next to the village, there was a HUGE parking lot filled with identical looking SUVs, which we theorized were for athlete transportation.


After the Olympic Village fail, we headed off to Chinatown.  We’ve been there before on previous visits, and it never fails to impress. There are so many unfamiliar and exotic sights and smells which assault your senses as soon as you cross under the large, ornate gate.  We stopped and got some yummy Jasmine tea, and were constantly taking pictures of the strange and wonderful meat and produce vendors which were spilling out of their shops and onto the sidewalk.  There are many different types of vegetables and dried fish on display, but since many of the prices are in different Asian languages, (mostly Mandarin I assume), we were unable to read the bright signs.

Leaving Chinatown, we were starting to get really hungry and decided to head down to Gastown, which, according to the Wikipedia, gets it’s name from, “named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Geordie seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon“.  We found the Steamworks Brewing Company, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and beer selection.  As we like both good food and good beer, this place was a hit.  Thoroughly exhausted by this point, we headed back to our hotel room to crash. But on the way, we stopped by the “official” Olympics Store at the Hudson’s Bay Company.  The place is massive, and filled with all things Olympic, with a heavy emphasis on the children’s themed mascots.  Unfortunately for them, many of the other “unofficial” stores had a wider variety of products, and we ended up buying more from other places.  Oh well, we still had fun playing with the toys!

The next day, after sleeping in, (yay!), we headed back to Gastown for brunch at the Alibi Room.  Tom, ofcourse, made friends with the bartender, and came back to the table with a “beer for breakfast” sampler.  He was in heaven. I was equally in heaven with a bacon (Canadian) and cheese sandwich and yummy salad!

After brunch, we headed down to Granville Island to check out their AWESOME farmer’s market.  Sadly, it’s illegal to transport produce across the boarder, but we were able to take some fun photos, and ended up coming home with some delicious handmade fudge!  We also stopped at the Granville Island Brewery to pick up some delicious chocolate stout.  We had a wonderful trip to Vancouver and can’t wait to go back!

For all of my photos from the trip, visit:  my photo page