S: 2011 National Park Adventure
1: Academy High School Class of 1966 | The timing of our adventure out West was based on the timing of Marilyn's high school reunion in 2011. Because the reunion was to include several Academy High School classes, Marilyn's class decided to have a brunch earlier in the day where only their class could get together and renew their friendships, trade stories of the past, and get caught up on how everyone was doing now. We all had a great time (and great food)!
3: I love going to air shows and this was the first time I've ever scheduled a visit to Temple at the same time they put on an air show at Draughn-Miller Airport. All of the restored warbirds were beautiful, but the B-2 Stealth Bomber was definitely the highlight of the show.
4: I also love Longhorn cattle and was able to see several while in Temple. Marilyn and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with our families during our short four day stay in Temple. We will have to stay longer next time, OR, we'll just have to get our families to come with us.
5: Following our visit with family and friends in Temple, we headed West through the Hill Country of Texas towards Las Cruces, New Mexico. Along the way, I took a photo of the beautiful Longhorn steer shown above. We also came across a rather unique sculpture of a Longhorn by someone who appreciates these magnificent animals as much as I do.
7: White Sands National Monument | White Sands National Monument
8: Although we had driven over 600 miles from Temple to get to Las Cruces, we still had enough energy to go visit White Sands National Monument and we were not disappointed when we got there!
9: White Sands National Monument is located about 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, NM and is completely surrounded by military installations (White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base ... Would have been neat if we had been able to see a missile test!). We were fortunate enough to arrive just in time to take the sunset tour of White Sands and learned much about the beautiful dunes and plants that somehow manage to co-exist with the constantly changing dunes. | One interesting fact is that because this sand is gypsum- based rather than quartz-based like most of us are familiar with, the gypsum does not readily convert the sun's energy to heat and thus can be comfortably walked on even in the heat of the summer.
11: Sedona, Arizona
12: Sedona was the next stop in our epic adventure out West. The drive from Las Cruces to Sedona had been very interesting and pretty all the way, but when we came around a bend and saw the beautiful sandstone cliffs and mountains of Sedona we were absolutely stunned by the beauty ahead of us!
13: We had always heard of Sedona's beauty, but this was the first time we had seen it for ourselves. Sedona deserves every bit of the hype it gets from everyone that's ever been there!
15: One of our first stops in Sedona was to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross (to the left and above). This church is nestled beautifully into the red sandstone cliffs and offers magnificent views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock, and much of the eastern rim of Sedona. We also had the pleasure of attending a service in this church. The service was beautiful and the acoustics made the music sound heavenly!
16: The next morning, following an early morning mountain hike, we were speaking (in English) to a young man from France while having breakfast at our hotel. He told us about Montezuma's Castle which is just a short drive from Sedona. So off we went. What an interesting place to visit!
17: Montezuma's Castle | Cave of bee hives. | Montezuma's Well Note cliff dwellings around rim. | Ancient canal.
18: Our next adventure was to hike a creekside trail below Cathedral Rock (above). While hiking, we ran across thousands of cairns. Apparently, a lot of people who hike through here feel the need to build their own cairn (yes, Marilyn & I each built a cairn).
19: It was really amusing how many cairns had been built along the trail! Bottom right hand photo is of a waterwheel built by early settlers to pump water to their crops and to generate electricity.
20: We ended our adventure in Sedona by hiking the Courthouse Butte trail. | Sunset over Sedona
21: Sunset Over Sedona
22: The Grand Canyon
24: Just when we were getting almost accustomed to the beauty of Sedona, then we go to the Grand Canyon. What a spectacular sight to behold! Although we've been here a couple of times before, it still takes our breath away at first glance! If there is one place in this world everyone MUST SEE, it would be the Grand Canyon.
26: The highlight of our visit to the Grand Canyon was our one and a half mile hike down into the canyon. The purpose of the hike was to see if we could handle the hike all the way down and back. Yes! Our goal is to do it in 2012!
27: Enjoying picnic on edge of the canyon. | Saw many deer on the trail along canyon rim. | Photos do not do this place justice! | The canyon looks different with every change in lighting.
28: Couldn't pass up an opportunity for a photo-op with Smokey the Bear as we left the Grand Canyon to go to Zion National Park. Note the spiffy hat I'm wearing..just like Smokey's! | Stopped at this beautiful rest stop on our way to Zion because of its unique beauty and because of the beautiful bridge spanning the Colorado River.
29: While at the rest area we struck up a conversation with a very nice couple from England.
31: Zion National Park
32: Just when we got our breath back from seeing the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park takes it away again!
33: Zion offers up many spectacular trails to hike. We started our second day in the park by hiking the Emerald Pool trail. While there was a little climbing involved, the views along this trail made it well worth the effort.
35: Our second hike of the day was the Watchman Trail. This trail also involved some climbing, but again we were rewarded with spectacular views (see photos on preceding page) of Zion Canyon and the surrounding mountains. We finished the day by hiking the easiest of Zion's trails, the Riverside Trail, into The Narrows. The photo to the right should provide some insight as to where they came up with the name of "The Narrows".
36: Bryce Canyon
38: After three hikes the previous day in Zion, our feet were ready for some rest. We spent most of this day taking a very relaxing and scenic drive over to Bryce Canyon National Park. Along the way to Bryce Canyon we had our first (but not last) encounter with snow. Fortunately, the roads were great and the scenery was better! We couldn't help but think of our friends and family in Texas and Georgia enjoying ninety degree heat!
39: After a good nights sleep, we began our first hike of the day at Bryce Canyon going from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. This involved a steep descent from the canyon rim to the canyon floor (see photos above if you don't believe me!), a 1.5 mile hike, and then an ascent back to the canyon rim. We broke in our new boots with this hike! The boots were the best purchases of the trip! By the way, Bryce Canyon also amazed us with its beauty!
41: As evidenced by the photos on these two pages, the hike involved many narrow passage ways, steep narrow paths, and very scenic views.
42: Following our hike to Sunrise Point, we had a lite lunch and then began our hike to Inspiration Point. This hike begins at Sunset Point (Altitude of over 8,000 ft) and ends at Inspiration Point 0.75 miles away. There is also a rise in elevation of over 100 feet. Considering you're at high altitude to begin with, the climb provides a nice workout. | That's Marilyn seen between the fork in the trees above to the right.
43: Spectacular view from Inspiration Point! By the way, those spire looking things are call Hoodoos and were caused by erosion. This park has thousands of hoodoos! | Yes, I made it to Inspiration Point! I had Marilyn take my photo just to prove I was on this trip. I also did not want my only photo to be the one with Smokey the Bear.
44: Arches National Park
47: Title page is a photo of Marilyn and me standing at the beginning of the spectacular Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park. Photo on opposite page is of me standing beneath Delicate Arch, the most notable arch in the park. Photo above is shot from behind Delicate Arch to give you an idea of the drop-off behind this arch. Note people under arch.
48: Above - Lower and Mid part of trail to Delicate Arch | Upper part of trail to Delicate Arch
49: Photo above is the wall you climb over to get access to the arch. Note the lady in red glued to the wall. She was extremely nervous due to the steep slant of the rock toward Delicate Arch. | Final part of trail circles the large rock above.
50: Balanced Rock is another of the famous structures in this amazing park.
51: The rock formations along the Park Avenue trail were just awesome! I think we enjoyed this part of the park as much as we did visiting the arches.
52: Here's Marilyn hiking up to Turret Arch.
53: Marilyn and me standing under Turret Arch. The climb up to this arch was more difficult than it looks in this photo!
54: Above are photos of a VERY fit young lady climbing to the smaller of the two arches in Turret Arch (See bottom photo of previous page). We could not believe our eyes when we saw her climbing to the arch. Believe me, the climb was much more difficult than it looks in the photo. By the way, she made it down safely. Whew! This still makes me nervous!
55: Photo to the left is of Double Arch | Photo to the right is a closer up view of the arch on the right side of the above photo. Can you see the people inside the arch? Pretty large arch isn't it?
57: Canyonlands National Park | Canyonlands National Park
59: The photo on the Title Page is of Marilyn and me sitting in front of Mesa Arch with the canyon behind us. Photo to the left is of us on an outcropping of rock at Shafer Canyon Overlook. Above photo shows us at a more distant view. I would say this photo, as well as many others in this book, are evidence Marilyn has come a long way in facing and overcoming one of her greatest fears...great heights! It should be noted that we were told by someone at the Grand Canyon that if you had seen the Grand Canyon you would be disappointed in Canyonlands. That person was terribly wrong! We loved Canyonlands!
60: In top photo Marilyn is starting out on her hike to Upheaval Dome. In center photo Marilyn is climbing the steep portion of the trail seen in the top left portion of the top photo. In photo to the left, Marilyn is climbing one of the narrowest and steepest parts of the trail to Upheaval Dome.
61: Upheaval Dome as seen from the rim of the crater. There are two theories as to the origin of the upheaval dome. One theory is the upheaval is a salt dome which rose due to the weight of the overlying rocks. The other theory (the one I like best) is this is an impact crater similar to Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. That's the one I'm believing.
62: Marilyn standing on Green River Overlook. It wasn't long ago that she would have been afraid to watch someone else stand this close to a cliff, much less to do it herself (kind of makes my knees weak seeing her standing so close to the edge!)
63: To the left is Marilyn starting hike to Grand View Overlook. Middle photo is of Green River flowing through the Canyon. | Photo on right - I'm on giant rock pile at Grand View Point Overlook waving & showing off! (Too little oxygen in my brain due to the altitude I suppose).
64: Above, Marilyn and I are sitting on a boulder that is right on the edge of the Grand View Point Overlook. I took this photo by using a tripod and timer to take the photo. I'm laughing in the photo because after pushing the button on the camera I raced back to sit beside her on the rock and stumbled a little on the way. It about gave us both heart attacks! Fortunately, my guardian angel was watching over me and you're able to read this story here rather than in my obituary.
65: Examples of some of the beautiful plants we saw growing in this very harsh environment. I wonder if these plants could put up with the treatment Marilyn and I would give them at our house. The plants probably have a better chance of making it in the desert!
67: Yellowstone National Park
68: We found Yellowstone to be so beautiful and so incredibly different from the other national parks we visited on this trip. It is so full of hydrothermal systems, streams, waterfalls, and wildlife that we were left feeling we had seen only a small part of what this majestic park has to offer. To really see and understand Yellowstone would take a long, long time.
69: Because it was early spring when we visited Yellowstone, we saw several bison with their newborn close by their side.
70: We saw elk, bald eagles, geese, and even a weasel. Almost ran over the weasel when he darted in front of the car just minutes after entering the park. Wouldn't that be great, be in the park for less than five minutes and already have killed one of the animals that makes its home in Yellowstone? Do you think that would be a record?
71: Of course we saw Old Faithful (above...now you've seen it also!). We were very lucky because it erupted just minutes after we arrived at the viewing area. By the way, the photo does not do justice to Old Faithful's eruption as it really is quite impressive.
72: Grand Geyser is larger and lasts longer than Old Faithful. It is quite pretty and really spectacular. Unfortunately, Grand is not as predictable as Old Faithful, but it is well worth the wait! We saw this geyser erupt both days. The second day it erupted, died down, and restarted twice more. The second of the three eruptions was the largest and reached almost 200 feet high! It lasted over 15 minutes! | Grand Geyser is the largest predictable geyser in the world. Unfortunately, it erupts only every 9 to 12 hours.
73: Just minutes after we saw Grand Geyser erupt 3 consecutive times, we witnessed a spectacular eruption of nearby Castle Geyser (above). This geyser is the largest cone geyser in Yellowstone and its eruptions go from 60 to 90 feet in the air. What a day!
74: What really amazed me was the number of hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, and geysers steaming away throughout the park. All of this activity kind of gave me the feeling I was on another planet.
75: Just a few examples of the many hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, and geysers we saw. Be thankful you can't smell the gases being ejected by these things. Whew!
76: A drive around the southern road loop of Yellowstone National Park revealed a lot of pretty scenery like the stream and waterfall above, and lots and lots of snow.
77: The photo above shows a frozen Yellowstone Lake. This is a very large lake so you can imagine what kind of winter they had this year. It seemed to us they were still in the middle of winter, at least by Georgia winter standards! Note the hot springs along the shoreline of the lake. What a contrast!
78: Yellowstone National Park visitor center. | The Yellowstone Inn
79: A Final Word What a great adventure this was! Marilyn and I have been so blessed to have been able to take this great trip out West. We saw so many spectacular, beautiful, and memorable things. We met so many nice people along the way. We saw first hand how huge and spectacular this great country is. Finally, and most importantly we shared so many experiences and made so many memories during this trip. I thank the Lord for allowing us to share this most memorable experience together. I hope this photo book gives our family (and anyone else that may read this book) a feel for the excitement, fun, and adventure we shared on this trip. I hope it will inspire everyone to get out and explore the world as well. Life is not about things, it is about experiences, relationships, and memories. So get out there and explore the world and share your memories and photos with us!