January Favourites

January has been fun, we had a lot of snow and Kiwi has been enjoying lots of snowboarding at the numerous resorts close by. So far as soon as it warms up and the snow starts to melt within a few days we have another snow storm. It’s been nice to watch out the window and enjoy wintery walks.

Whilst we had some time we visited Capitol Reef, one of the smaller national parks and admired the rocks and went petroglyph hunting. There’s been a fair old amount of baking in the house, mostly as I am still adjusting recipes to work at high altitude – this is a real thing and really annoying! I think though I’ve got my favourite brownie recipe to work. Now I’m waiting for mini eggs to start hitting the ships to add these in!

We have been seeing a fair few sporting events, first basketball and then a gymnastics meet. I really enjoyed the gymnastics, I’m always so impressed at the athletes physicality, this was a great weekend. We have also been invaded for Sundance film festival, this takes place just up the road in Park City, and you can even Uber a helicopter to take you around! Craziness! We attended a few screenings which was very exciting.

At the end of January I went on a trip to LA for a long weekend, it was great to walk along the numerous beaches, eat many ice creams and enjoy the warmer weather. So that’s life lately, and snuggling with the kitties of course.

 

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LA Weekend – Part 2

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Having spent a fabulous day exploring Santa Monica and Malibu and soaking up the sunshine, it was a little different to wake up to storm and flash flood warnings. I guess it doesn’t often rain in LA. It was fairly windy but armed with a waterproof jacket we set off to walk around the main downtown area. We stumbled upon the end of the world bookstore, selling new and used books and spent ages browsing. It felt a bit Harry Potter-esque. Afterwards we walked around the market and found a lovely coffee shop before heading onto Hollywood.

I’m not sure what I expected, Hollywood I guess is a very diluted version of Gatlinburg, only with less neon, but a similar feel. It was fun to see the walk of fame, and some well known buildings. LA traffic is fairly busy and most the drivers are crazy so that was interesting. It was a bit like being in London again, only instead of narrow twisty roads there were 6+ lane highways! And lots of palm trees.

Afterwards we drove up to the Griffith observatory, admiring the view and catching a star show. This was great and despite being a bit cold after the sun goes down, the view of LA lit up was really something. It was also fun to see the ‘Hollywood’ sign, although I didn’t manage to get a decent picture.

For our final day before heading home we drove around Mulholland drive admiring big mansions and houses on stilts that looked impossible. Although there were other areas in the valley that looked fun to explore we ended up going to Venice beach, as beach and ice cream! Here there is a pretty wooden fishing pier and crazy ‘muscle’ beach paraphernalia. I enjoyed walking around the small canal walkway that is tucked just behind the beach front. Someone decided they wanted to recreate a mini Venice, it wasn’t quite the same, but the little bridges were adorable and it felt miles away from the crazieness of muscle beach just minutes away.

This was really a whistle stop tour of LA, but great fun to see some interesting places. It already feels like a long time ago now as I sit watching the snow out the window. The kitties were very pleased to have their family all complete again mind. And I do enjoy kitty snuggles.

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Not so pink Sand dunes

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A little while back when we were road tripping south to all the national parks, we camped in a quiet little spot that happened to be next to the Coral pink sand dunes. After a great nights sleep we thought we were go visit as we had some spare time and they were right on our doorstep. The sand dunes are a state park, over here there are national parks, state parks, national monuments, and some others categorised differently to confuse us. I believe its all to do with the relative need to preserve a place and central funding.

In any case we weren’t too sure what to expect from a park of sand dunes, let alone pink ones. We ventured in to find the place to ourselves, and wondered over the sand to a lookout point. Form here you can walk over a small section of sand dunes. They were large and sandy, and with more rocky mountains in the background looked impressive. However they weren’t very pink. Admittedly they were a different orange hue from the usual yellow hue of sand, but pink is still a stretch.

Slightly ruining the air of peace we spotted several golf buggies driving around, as well as some larger buggies in the distance. This seemed to be the main activity, that and mountain lion spotting. Sadly we didn’t see any of those. They must have been in the pink part.

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National Parks – Canyon Lands

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One of the other less known national park is Canyon Lands, South East to Salt Lake City, Canyon Lands sits towards Moab and another more recognisable national park – Arches. We have only visited Canyon Lands briefly and are looking forward to going back and exploring again soon. We visited in the summer when it was still pretty toasty and the days were long.

When we did visit we camped near by – there’s a few BLM campgrounds near the entrance, which are very pretty and reasonably quiet. Having sent up camp we went for a short drive around the upper rim of the park, otherwise known as the island in the sky. Canyon Lands as you may have guessed by its name consists of lots of deep canyons, with the same red rock that is so easy to distinguish in this area. It’s very pretty, the canyons have been carved out by the Green river and Colorado river – the very same responsible for the Grand Canyon further South.

The island in the sky is a large ‘island’ or mesa surrounded by deep canyons. There are some incredible views and rock formations. We stopped at a few view points and small trails and enjoyed watching the sunset over this amazing landscape.

We are looking forward to visiting again once the weather warms up, and exploring the needles area, the false kiva and visiting upheaval dome  a huge crater that nobody quite knows how it was made but most likely by a meteorite.

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Bryce Canyon

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We recently had a visitor from the UK and keen to make the most of the last of summer/fall we set about visiting all the places. One of our favourite stops was one that we hadn’t really researched much and just planned to stop in as we were driving past. It turned out to be amazing.

Bryce canyon is another one of Utah’s magnificent natural landscapes. When we arrived we had had a chilly night camping, sadly the visitor centre doesn’t have any hot drinks but lots of information about rocks.

Not to be deterred we set about on the scenic route and stopped at a couple of viewpoints. these were stunning. The rocks were very red with pink and orange hues throughout. Most of the canyon is made up of natural needles – pointy stacks that are huge and together look incredible.

We also saw some information stating there had bee some recent mountain lion activity. this as exiting we kept our eyes peeled, but spotting one is unlikely. Bryce canyon however is a popular site for star gazing, a combination of wide open space, elevation, and lack of light pollution make it an ideal spot for gazing into the night sky.

We stopped at a couple of other viewpoints and enjoyed a walk into a small slot canyon we were surprised to find some large trees growing in it. We are planing on going back again when there is a bit more snow as it has some popular cross country ski routes, and to see the sparkly stars. We also will be heading back to a cafe we did find in the local town that did the BEST grilled cheese sandwich. It was AMAZING! I now truly appreciate what Americans are talking about when it comes to grilled sandwiches.

 

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