Sunday, June 22, 2008

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

This weekend is the famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the 35th and my first. We lived here during the festival last year, but I didn't go in at all. This year I bought a one day pass for Sunday since I'm off work. It's hard to have fun at the festivals because Jay doesn't get a day off and the last thing he wants to do is go back to the festival after he gets home, but I made him go back in this time. :)

The girls and I were in the kids' parade and marched around the bluegrass crowd. It was a great chance to take pictures.

The girls made masks in the family tent to wear in the parade. They really enjoyed painting and using glitter, making a huge mess.

I always wondered what it would be like for 12,000 people to be in the park. Now I know. Most of the time there might be around 100 people in the park when we take Maralee to the playground on Sunday afternoons.

The food is great! I had a corndog and a funnel cake. It felt like we were at the fair, just no rides. Don't ask me who I heard sing because I have no idea. It was bluegrass. :)

For a second I thought maybe we were at Mardi Gras from the looks of the costumes in the family area. If Maralee had been any younger, I think she would have been scared.

I mentioned to a woman next to me that this guy looked creepy. She said, "I hope we aren't traumatized!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canyonlands National Park--Moab, UT

A short two-day getaway to Moab was probably what Jay needed before he works several days in a row this week for the Bluegrass Festival. Little did we know the days we picked to camp would be Moab's first 100 degree day of the year. People joke about sayings like, "Oh but it's a dry heat," but there really is a lot of truth to that!! I will not stay outside in 100 degree weather when there is humidity involved. Besides that, the desert cooled down into the 60's during the night.

There are two major entrances to Canyonlands National Park, and we entered through Moab to the Island in the Sky district. We camped inside Canyonlands at the Willow Flat Campground for just $10. It was about 95 degrees when we set up our tents. Garrett slept in the little green tent. We were so fortunate to get a space because this campground only has 12 campsites and they filled up shortly after we paid and started setting up.

The next three photos were taken at the Green River Overlook near our campground, but at different times of day. I wanted to show you how different the same view can be with different lighting.

Early evening.

Just after sunset. Jay says this picture doesn't even look like it could be earth.

Morning. The sky was so hazy that you can't even see the La Sal Mountains in this one!

We drove a very short way on the White Rim Road to see a couple of sites. White Rim Road is just over 90 miles and is rated moderate for 4-wheel driving. It would be great to get a backcountry camping permit and spend 2 to 3 days on this road.
This is the Colorado River Overlook from the White Rim Road. Jay pulled the Jeep up to within a few feet of the edge here. It was hard to capture that affect in a photo.

It's hard to see here, but this is the Musselman Arch. There are so many rocks behind it that you have to look closely to see the stretch of rock that looks more like a bridge than an arch here.

You can take the LONG way to Moab from here, 105 miles on the White Rim Road.

Too many clouds moved in so that we couldn't do any stargazing at all. The information board at our campground even listed what constellations would be visible at this time. The moon did peek through the clouds some, though.

I took very few pictures of us on this trip, but here is one of the kids. They had so much fun and they hardly fought at all for the whole two days!

We saw lots of these little guys. This one accidentally got on Garrett's foot for a second.

Even though it was 100 degrees, we did a couple of very short hikes. It was 1/4 mile to the Upheaval Dome. This place is a mystery and scientists don't even agree on how the dome was formed. Some believe it was an impact crater and others believe it is a salt dome.

This guy was harrassing everyone in the Mesa Arch parking lot. He only got scared away as Jay approached him with Maralee on his shoulders. He must have thought Jay was a 7 feet tall person.

Prickly pear cactus on the Mesa Arch trail.

The Mesa Arch is relatively easy to get to, about a 1/2 mile hike round-trip. There are arches scattered everywhere in the Moab area, not just in Arches National Park.

My favorite Mesa Arch photo, the view through it.
I realize this is a fairly long blog post, but I took 146 pictures in two days and it was very hard to narrow them down! Thanks for reading!

Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park

During our first trip to Canyonlands, we decided to exit the park via the Shafer Trail on June 17, 2008, a 4-wheel drive only road that we read about in our Moab trail book. The trail is rated easy and much of it was very wide. The trail begins at the top of the canyon. In the photo below you can see the Shafer Trail leading out of the canyon just left of center. It was just 18.2 miles back to the highway, but the drive took a couple of hours.
The switchbacks look terrifying, but they are actually very wide and not scary to drive on at all. The switchbacks do make for some awesome pictures, though!!

I know this looks scary, but I promise it's an easy road and nothing compared to the switchbacks on Black Bear Pass here in Telluride.

The trail becomes easier and easier, and eventually exits the park and onto a county service road.

The view of the Colorado River along Shafer Trail.

A mirage in the Moab Desert. These are actually the evaporation pools for the Moab Salt Plant, but the water is tinted such a bright blue that it doesn't look real, especially in these surroundings.

After finishing the Shafer Trail, we exited on Potash Road. These are petroglyphs that are right along the road and well-marked with a sign pointing them out.

As we drove along Potash Road we came upon the area of the Dinosaur tracks, which I unfortunately didn't get a picture of. We were surprised to find that this area is also the trailhead for one of the difficult Jeep trails in Moab called Poison Spider Mesa. Jay is really wanting to drive on this trail and I have no desire to!! For one thing, I've seen what the "easy" rated trails are like in the Moab area and I can't imagine what a difficult trail would be like. I also don't like poison spiders. HAHAHA!! Maybe sometime Jay will splurge on gas money and drive the CJ-7 to Moab and drive it in his Jeep. We have become spoiled to the new Rubicon because it does everything so effortlessly.

It was 103 degrees by the time we got back to Moab, which seemed really bizarre considering the Jeep trails around Telluride are still not open due to the large amounts of snow we had over the winter that still hasn't melted. Ophir Pass did open last week and hopefully we can make a trip to Silverton on it soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Day in Ouray and Ridgway

Tuesday, June 10, was a beautiful day to get outside. It had been awhile since we had visited Ouray and the kids were wanting to go to the Ouray town park, so we drove on 58P and Last Dollar Road (a 4-wheel drive "shortcut" that takes longer to get to highway 62). The only complaint we had was the wind. It was as windy as the Oklahoma panhandle.

For a drastic change of scenery, we decided to see how far we could get into Yankee Boy Basin. I had read that they hadn't made much progress plowing because of getting over 20 feet of snow this winter. The snow is so high that the road crews have been plowing by memory in many areas.

An avalanche has wiped out the Atlas Mill Campground. This is where we camped last August when Jay hiked Mt. Sneffels. We saw a lot of debris from avalanches along the road and in one area they had to do a major cleanup with big trees piled on both sides of the road.

This is Twin Falls in Yankee Boy Basin. This is one of my favorite places. The first time I was in Yankee Boy Basin I was 14 years old. My dad wanted to take a Jeep tour with one of the places in Ouray. I remember our driver telling us interesting facts that we didn't know, like the pink snow that looks like watermelon even tastes like watermelon, but you'd better not eat because it would cause a severe case of dysentry. I also remember my brother and I picking a handful of wildflowers right before the tour guide said to be sure not to pick any wildflowers as there could be a $500 fine and he went on to explain how long it takes for plants to recover in the alpine tundra. Ryan and I quickly ditched those flowers to the side! After that trip, my dad decided he could drive the Jeep trails so we started renting Jeeps while on vacation. Now that Jay and I have a Rubicon and an old CJ-7, we're ready for all of this snow to melt so we can enjoy the Jeep trails.

This is crazy! The road was plowed up to the public outdoor toilet. The snow is melting fast, but I think it's going to take a little bit longer before it's all gone. Yankee Boy is one of the best places to see Colorado wildflowers and I'm wondering how long it will be before they can bloom this year. Signs of fall usually start in mid to late August up there, so summer is going to be very short above 10,000 feet this year.

We drove back to Ridgway for dinner. Maralee wanted to play at the Ridgway town park, and I took this picture of Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain. This is the park where they did the hangings in the movie True Grit.

We were starving and had a good dinner at the True Grit Cafe. Our waitress forgot to bring us our soup and salad before our meal came, so she gave us free dessert.

I took these videos at the Ouray town park. This is the first time Garrett and Savanna have ever "dropped in" which apparently is a big deal in skateboarding. The skatepark in Ouray is a little easier to try something new like this than the Telluride skatepark.

Maralee was also brave in sliding down the pole at the playground by herself for the first time.