National Parks of Utah – Capitol Reef

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Utah has 5 national parks, which is the third most in the USA, with Alaska and California having a few more. I thought I’d give a run down of Utah’s as we have now had chance to visit them.

Most recently we visited Capitol Reef, one of the smaller parks, Capitol reef sits near Arches and Canyonlands – which I’ll write about soon. The drive there is fairly straight forward and you also pass through some small rural communities and old towns that look like you could have stepped into the wild west. the park itself is one of the smaller national parks but it has gorgeous red rocks, some of the deepest reds I’ve seen so far, and several petroglyphs.

Capitol reef was settle by a Mormon community and one point and still has some old houses and a historic orchard. There is also aspects of Fremont culture. We spent some time in the visitor centre and went onto the scenic drive. This had lots of rock formations and stunning landscape. And the end of the drive – it’s along a one way road we went along to the tanks and walked for a while, finding some frozen pools and enjoying the near silence.

One of the most exiting part of Capitol Reef, aside from the many back country walks and places out of reach by car is the ‘wrinkle on the earth’ its a geological feature and is known as the water pocket fold. Unfortunately the scenic drive doesn’t offer any views of this, but there are several walks to overlooks, or a drive in the north in summer. In winter you can see it if you drive off road and have a bit of a walk towards the end.

The main canyon areas flood easily so check the weather before venturing out! we had beautiful clear blue skies, although a storm rolled in after we left and driving back in the snow wasn’t a great deal of fun! Fortunately the mid-west prepared us well for this.

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The greatest bits

So, seeing as a whole year has gone by, I’ve continued rambling on this blog and sharing some of my favourite photos and our adventures. We’ve visited a lot of places and enjoyed some unique experiences. So if you fancy seeing a snapshot of the last year, here are all the #thegoodbits posts as well as a small montage!

 

The good bits #1     The good bits #2    The good bits #3     The good bits #4

The good bits #5     The good bits #6    The good bits #7     The good bits #8

The good bits #9     The good bits #10  The good bits #11   The good bits #12

The bean

After a recent trip to Chicago the bean deserved a post all to itself. It’s a sculpture in millennium park and is horribly busy. But it looks great, you can see the clouds and the surrounding skyline reflected in it. I took a lot of photos as there were so many good shots that I couldn’t resist! It’s actually not called the bean, although it looks like one but the cloud gate. It reminded me of the big shiny ball in Bristol, UK, and the Atomium in Brussels.

We wondered how many bean polishers they must be who come over at night and polish the sides as its soooo shiny! Millennium park is filled with several other great sculptures too, lots of heads and fountain.

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Material possessions, trinkets and memories

I like having ‘things’, just stuff that reminds you of great trips, a thoughtful gift from a friend, silly things that make you smile, moving to the other side of the world required a considerable amount of downsizing of such possessions. But a few of them made if over here. So what managed to survive the streamlining and why.

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1. My grandmothers tin. I remember this tin from my childhood, it always contained some kind of cheesy biscuit or cracker. Often little cheesy snacks that were in the shape of hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds. I remember this tin or a similar one that stored flour, and spending many happy hours baking cakes and biscuits. it’s now looking a little worse for wear having been bashed about on its way over here. It used to contain coins, odd 1’s and 2’s that got emptied into a coin machine, turns out this adds up quite quickly. Now it has coins, laundry cards and random things that end up lying around.

2. My scales, I work in ounces when I get my bake on, these scales also used to belong to my nanny, they way a tonne and are pretty much solid. The original dish is long gone but I like to swap around different pretty bowls instead.

3. Kiwis penguin, Kiwi doesn’t have many ‘trinkets’ and pointless junk, this is one of them I think I brought it for him for a Christmas or birthday, the cat’s like to knock it over so he lives on the floor in Kiwi’s study.

4. Gingerbread candles. These are adorable and were found when we visited the German Christmas Markets in Cologne. In a lovely little Christmas shop filled with every Christmas decoration you could think of – some of these came too! These two were so cute I had to have them. They live on the bookcase and have never actually been lit.

5. Ok so bringing electronics to another country is almost pointless. But I couldn’t survive without my Lumie. Kiwi hates it. But its awesome. An alarm clock that slowly lights up in the morning before the radio comes on. Its perfect on cold winter mornings. I couldn’t live without it so it had to come with us.

6. The lego man. Ok so he’s not even really lego, I think he’s duplo. A friend gave him to me many many years ago, he used to have a dog and a treasure chest that are possibly in the bottom of a box in my parents attic. He’s fun and reminds me of growing up.

I wish I had the foresight to bring some sloe gin, obviously some board games travelled with us and the cat! Aside from photos, books, clothes, and games these were the random trinkets we brought with us. They remind us of travels and other exiting adventures, and of other people, and that sometimes you need to be silly and have fun.

The Good bits #2

wpid-eg_20150323125026927.jpgWhoa, time really does fly by! Sometimes its frustrating when you aren’t sure you’ve used your time wisely. I’ve already been state side for 2 months now! Bizarre, as it still feels like only a week or too ago I was working in London and busy planning things. Life has changed a lot, this is the favourites from the last month.

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1. Exploring Indiana, and visiting, Chicago, Cincinnati, Bloomington, Columbus, state parks and Michigan Lake. Planning more day trips and thinking about some of our past favourite trips

2. Settling into a different lifestyle, slowing down, taking time to think and re-evaluating, and enjoying getting outside

3. Catching up on Downton Abbey with a cup of peppermint tea

4. Eating lots of waffles and baked goods, and playing games.

5. Welcoming and playing with our newest fur baby

And what will November bring? Hopefully more walks snuggled up in cosy woollies, some fun trips, sports and activities, more baked goods, and some surprises, just no snow yet. *does little sunshine dance*

A day in Chicago

A recent trip into Chicago down town led to exploring some of the quieter streets, parks and local attractions. First up we walked around ‘the loop’. this is the main district with building and skyscrapers, so called because the main subway loops around, its suspended above the main road. The French market along Clinton street is delightful and full of amazing foods, worth a stop. We then wandered along the river walkway which is lovely. Its almost underneath the main city and is scattered with sculptures and place to sit and watch life go by, along the way you get to see lots of the main buildings, river barges and suspension bridges. If you have time there are plenty of river cruises and kayaks available to see Chicago from the water way. walking all the way along to Lake shore drive takes you to the Navy pier, much more lively in summer this pier has some random entertainment options, and an awesome ballroom. It has a great view of the cityscape. It also showcases the lake pretty well too, you’d almost never know it was a lake its so vast! From here you can either wander north to Lincoln park Zoo -which is free and worth a visit, its nestled in the main intersection and is a little haven away from the bustle of the city, the walk up along the lake front is pretty and the beach really feels like a beach. I tried Divvy – having used lots of Boris bikes in London, these are basically the same system and are good for getting around. They are a bit of a faff and its not obvious where the stations are located but it means you can see more. There are also lots of segway tours – but I cant take them seriously. South from Navy pier are a collection of parks which have great cycle and walk ways, from here you can see the planetarium. This also leads to millennium park which was a favourite, it is touristy but its really pretty, the bean makes a great photo opp, the walkway and The Art Institute Chicago are fantastic. You are spoilt for choice on food options on the main street or magnificent mile.

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