Tuesday, July 11, 2017

11 July 2017 - Utah's Early Summer Wildflowers

In my never-ending quest for birds, I have been doing quite a bit of hiking in the Cottonwood Canyons as well as up in the Uintahs.  The larger snowpack we had this winter has contributed to some spectacular wildflower displays. It has been a treat to see so many old friends in the flower world. 

My mother was both a hiker and botanist and spent many hours collecting and drying specimens for the Garrett Herbarium at the University of Utah. She was often accompanied by Dr. Walter Cottam, professor of botany and ecology at the U.  You could not go hiking with one or both and not learn more than your brain could hold about plants. 

These flowers bring back so many memories. The high country meadows are lush in color and it is beautiful to behold. 

Some of the tiny plants are easily overlooked but they are worth watching for, such as the Steer's Head and our state flower, the Sego Lily.

Friday, June 23, 2017

22 June 2017 - Fantasy Canyon and other adventures

Several years ago I ran across an article about Fantasy Canyon and it has been on my must-go-there list ever since. The route I took was 207 miles and should have been just under 4 hours.  I could have shaved some time off of that but I not only wanted to go through Vernal, but I added quite a few stops along the way following my habitual mode of traveling which involves I wonder where that road goes--and taking it. 

Since I had no time-table, no obligations, I could wander at will and stop for photos of anything that caught my fancy. Those of you that have been following along already know that just about everything catches my fancy. Whether it's 50s motel signs, yard art, figural signs, ranch signs--you name it--I'll want to stop for a photograph. This was a perfect day for self-indulgence.

It h as been hot here in the Salt Lake Valley, and hotter still in the south and east of Utah. I decided to go today because: 1) it was the day after the solstice so I had a very long day and 2) a cold front had come through and the high was supposed to be in the low 80s instead of the high 90s.  It seemed like a good plan at the time. Ha. I will say it was 101 degrees when I arrived at Fantasy Canyon. 

Yet another reason to pick this as a travel day was because it was the dark of the moon. Out in the wilderness with no hint of city lights I saw stars! The Milky Way stretched across the sky. You could see the Andromeda Nebula with your naked eye. And the stars were magnificent. Constellations glowed against the twinkling backdrop. It was magical. I lay on the ground gazing up until I couldn't focus anymore. Truly, is there anything more spectactular than a clear night and a dark sky? 

But back to the road trip. We'll start with the I Brake for Everything category and signage is near the top of the list.  I was thinking that on my return trip home I could catch many of these neon signs all lit up!  Foiled. I ended up taking a different route back. 

Here are some of my favorites. In addition to old motel signs, I am always on the lookout for vintage theater and bowling alley signs. These are classics. I liked that the Lazy K Ranch boasts free TV and air conditioning. You have to wonder how many years ago that was added to the sign. The cycle shop sign used to belong to a long gone trading post, but thankfully they only changed the name and left the sign intact. 

Figural signs are another brake stomper. Vernal was full of them. What could make you feel more welcome than a pink dinosaur? 

I think the big girl says it all, but if you are looking for a motel with a swimming pool, could you pass this one up?                                                                                              This next big guy is pretty famous for being decorated for every holiday and seasonal event. In this case the rodeo is coming up.    
Maybe lassoing a T-Rex is one of the main events. You never know. Look at the car in the background. It makes you realize just how big that straw hat is and wonder who wove that? 

I also enjoyed the larger than life Indians. 
The last part of the journey found the road winding through high plateaus and flat dusty oil fields. The landscape was fascinating with its layers of colored rock. Fantasy Canyon is very small, but definitely worth the trip. The formations are intricate, beautiful and stunning.  

Other fun stuff on this trip?  Prairie dogs! Probably saw close to 100 in about three miles. 

Wild horses!  By now it was getting very close to dusk so the photos aren't as clear as I would like, but the colors on these horses are not anything like you normally see.  I am enamored with the gray colt with the brown mane and the one with the gray and white mane. So interesting!

Seriously!  What is better than a road trip?  So much to see. Now if the day was only longer . . .