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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House Tour – Salt Lake City

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Lately we have had a few leisurely Sundays to do what Sundays are best for, make a roast dinner, play board games, watch sport on TV and just laze around the house. It’s been excellent! When we first moved over to Utah in June, we didn’t know much about the place, and spent a few weeks obsessing over houses on Craigs list and sussing out where we wanted to live. We then visited a few apartments and instantly settled on this one.

It’s close to work, its on a fault line, it has big sunny windows and quaint original features. For example the bathroom is mint green. Sounds hideous but it kind of works. the neighbourhood is pretty quiet and now and again we get visited by a herd of deer. there are multiple birds nesting outside which the cats love!

We have nested somewhat and made lots of cosy corners to settle down with a book, plus the kitchen is bigger which means plenty more room for baking delicious cake creations! Here’s a few more snaps of the place we currently call home.

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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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Crater Hot pools

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One of the places that I’d been lookign forward to visiting for a while was the Homestead crater resort. This little place past some of the nearby ski fields has a large natural hot pool. And hot pools are one of my favourite things. We visited some at the end of summer when it was still scorching hot, so it was nice to go when it had cooled down slightly – winter will still be the best time.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the crater hot pool, it is essentially a large dome, with a crater in it that has a large pool of warm water. Even looking online at pictures and the website the place looked bizarre.

Still we went to see what it was like. When we first arrived it took us a while to locate, the crater is on a larger golf resort and is tucked away at the back. You can see the large mound that contains the crater, with a small hole at the top, and walk up and over it. Peering down its pretty dark so you can’t see a great deal. We ventured in. Now the entrance is kind of like a tunnel that has been bored out of the rock, more accurately it has been blasted, its narrow and dark and barely enough space to walk through. Once inside there are a few small wooden lean-to’s that serve as changing rooms, some life jackets and then a wider entrance to the pool.

On first glance the hot pool looked slightly terrifying. There is a small wooden deck with steps into the water and two areas to sort of sit in. It’s dark. It’s in a cave with damp walls, it’s steamy and the pool is so deep you can’t see the bottom. Its 65 feet deep, and they actually do a lot of scuba diving lessons here as well. I’m not sure there is much to see though. Donning life jackets – these are required we ventured to the edge. Peering down into the depths of the pool was a little daunting but dipping my toe in the water revealed it to be nice and warm. We had the while cave to ourselves and slowly got in. It was still a little disconcerting and a bit surreal, but we floated around quite happily for an hour. The water is pleasantly warm but not too hot, its really deep and the cave is fascinating if some what scary. I’d go back though, and if you need a large bath inside a cave this is the place you should visit!

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State capital building

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On of the impressive buildings that you can see almost anywhere en the skyline in Salt Lake City is the capital building. Every state has a capital building, some are quite similar other resemble more the various town halls. The capital building here sits very proud on the hillside slightly above the other buildings and commands a good view of the city and the valley.

I went and had a little tour around it as I wanted to see what the dome looked like from the inside. You will notice the building is a slightly smaller replica of another famous building over in Washington. I wasn’t disappointed, its all marble and columns and glass and looks very impressive. I was lucky enough to sing in here at Christmas and the acoustics were pretty awesome.

The main building houses a huge glass dome, and across two levels ha little snippets of Utah history. I had a tour and the guide wasn’t very impressed with my accent but told me I would enjoy the display case which housed some memorabilia Tom Hanks wore to film parts of Forrest Gump. I quite enjoyed some of the old maps and flags, and the stately room – not quite on the same scale as say Buckingham palace, but where the major does all his official meet and greets.

Whilst I was there it was a little dusty as they are currently revamping the foundations to make the building earthquake proof. I enjoyed admiring the dome, the great views and the peace and quite in the building.

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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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