Archive for March, 2009


Black Canyon – Colorado River

March 13, 2009

We drove to and across Hoover Dam to Willow Beach Marina about 14 miles downriver on the Colorado.  We rented a 17’ Campion boat with a 60 hp motor to cruise upriver to the dam.  It was cold and picturesque as we moved up Black Canyon against the current to the dam.  They are building a new road over the canyon near the dam.








On the way back we beached the boat just downstream from the Ringbolt Rapids and took the short hike up a slot canyon to the Arizona Hot Springs.  There were three pools and a 20 foot ladder to reach the best one.  We enjoyed a good soak in the 104o mineral waters. 












After returning to LV, we got cleaned up and went to the Bally’s Paris casino for their famous buffet and then to the Tropicana to see the Folies Bergere.  It is the longest running show in LV (almost 50 years) but will be ending in 2009.  Helen didn’t care for the show or the bare breasted women.


Sales Pitch and Slots

March 12, 2009

We got picked up at 8:45 for the tour of Tahiti Village Family Resort and condos.  As expected, the pressure was high to buy into the vacation condo experience but the three free nights at the Stratosphere, $50 in slot play (Helen won $28!), 2 buffet tickets, and two tickets to the top of the Stratosphere made it all worthwhile.  After lunch at the NASCAR Café, Helen, Irmi and I drove to and parked at the MGM, saw the lions there, walked through NY NY, the Excaliber and the Mandalay Bay casinos before returning to the Stratosphere for the buffet and the elevator ride to the top.  There is a great view of LV and the three rides on top are “screamers.”









To Vegas and Cher

March 11, 2009

We left Kanab about 8am, made a brief stop at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and then returned to Pipe Springs NM for a short hike and to tour the visitors center.  We stopped in St George for a much needed car wash and arrived at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas at 2pm.  Harold and Irmi arrived about 5pm and we had dinner at Lucky’s Café in the Stratosphere before Helen and I left for Caesar’s Palace and Cher’s show at the Colosseum.












“The Wave”

March 10, 2009

We were at the Wire Pass Trailhead (same place as yesterday) for our hike through the North Coyote Buttes to “The Wave” at 8am.  It was 30o with a little snow on the ground when we started.  The trail followed Coyote Wash for the first half mile and then went up over a rise onto the slickrock of a sandstone ridge as you entered the restricted area.  As the sun rose, we followed the map and pictures provided by the BLM toward the distance crack in the ridge that indicated the location of “The Wave.”  The scenery was absolutely spectacular as we passed through and among the sandstone buttes.  I did GPS readings on the way out which made it easy to trace our track on the way back. 














A Swiss couple had arrived at the Wave about 20 minutes before us but left after half an hour. So, we had the place to ourselves for another hour before the arrival of four Russian photographers.  It was amazing – colorful, swirling strata in many shades of pink, red, yellow, brown, black and white.  I took a bunch of pictures as the movement of the sun changed the lighting and shades of color on the rocks.  We also did the short hike to the “Wave 2” and then returned for more photos.  We stayed over two hours at the Wave and then returned to the SUV about noon, having covered about 6 miles.






















We ate the second half of our subs from the previous day and then drove south on the dirt road following Coyote Wash.  We turned west on to another dirt track and followed it for about an hour before intersecting 89A about 6 miles east of Fredonia AZ.  I checked on the dirt roads going to the Grand Canyon at the National Forestry office and then drove to Pipe Springs NM for a tour of the ranch house/fort.  After the guided tour we decided to drive to the Toroweap Overlook in the Grand Canyon.


The sixty one mile dirt road passed through a section of Grand Canyon Parashant NM near Mt Trumbull and it took us two hours to reach the Grand Canyon.  The last five miles were very bad and I couldn’t go much over 3 mph.  The Toroweap Overlook is 3,000 feet above the Lava Flow Rapids of the Colorado at one of the narrowest and deepest segments of the inner canyon.  After taking the typical tourist photos we returned to the main road. 










We had a total of four hours driving on that dirt road and both the outside and inside of the SUV were covered with dirt and dust.  We did see a spectacular full moon rise over the desert as we drove back to Kanab. 




Toadstools and Wire Pass

March 9, 2009

We were up and out by 6:30am and stopped in Mount Carmel Junction for breakfast.  We arrived at the BLM office in Kanab UT at 8:15 and filled out our application for a permit to hike to “The Wave” in Vermilion Cliffs NM the next day.  By the time they did the lottery drawing at 9am there were 23 people who had applied for the 10 permits for the following day.  Only 20 people per day are permitted to go into the North Coyote Buttes area where the Wave is located, ten via internet lottery four months in advance and 10 on site (BLM office).  We were numbers 8 and 9 to be selected!  When I was outside, a retired geologist asked me if I wanted to sell our permits – I said NO.


It was Helen’s morning so we stopped at a thrift shop and then a pawn shop where she bought a pretty turquoise silver ring.  We bought two foot long Subway sandwiches and then drove about an hour to the Paria Rimrocks in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM.  We each ate half a sub and then did the 1.5 mile trail among the “Toadstools, Hoodoos and Mushrooms” off of US 89.  There were numerous colorful boulders perched on rock columns along the trail.






Afterward, we drove to the trailhead for Coyote Wash and Wire Pass in Vermilion Cliffs NM.  We followed the wash into the slot canyon where Wire Pass is less than 3 feet wide in places and you have to turn sideways to “pass through.”  We followed the canyon to where it meets Buckskin Gulch and then hiked a further 0.25 mile down Buckskin until we reached some water we would have had to hike through.  So we turned around and hiked the other way up the Gulch for about 1.5 miles until it started to open up.  We then retraced our path and returned to the car.  We hiked about 6 miles. 






















Zion NP Hikes/Climb

March 8, 2009

We adjusted our watches to the jump ahead for daylight saving time, had breakfast and then drove back into the park and took the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway to the east entrance.  We stopped to do the Canyon Overlook trail (1mile) on the east side of the tunnel and again at Checkerboard Mesa. 






We then returned to Zion Canyon to do the hike to Angel’s Landing (in center of next pic).  The trail is rated strenuous with long drop-offs.  “Not for anyone fearful of heights.  Last 0.5 mile follows steep, narrow ridge; chains have been added.  May be snow covered and icy.”  We did have some snow on this section.  It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to do the 5 mile (round trip) climb which ascends about 1500 feet.  There is a great view up and down Zion Canyon from the top.














After hiking back down, we checked into the Zion Lodge and relaxed on the balcony of our room, while the sun set and reflected light off the canyon walls.




Zion NP – Snow!

March 7, 2009

We flew into Las Vegas and then drove to southern UT.  Today we drove to Kolob Canyons Visitors Center in the northern part of Zion NP and found ourselves in a snow storm – great way to start spring break!  The roads in Kolob Canyons were snowed-in so we drove to the south entrance to Zion, entered free of charge with our Golden Age Passports, and went to the visitors center to finalize our plans for our two days. 








It was a clear day and Zion was especially beautiful with a fresh light cover of snow.  We drove the scenic drive into the canyon stopping to hike to the Weeping Rock (0.5 mile round trip) and take pictures.  We continued to the Temple of Sinawava and did the 2 mile Riverside Walk to the Narrows.  We had hoped to hike in the Virgin River into the narrows but the water was too cold. 










After lunch, we hiked from the Lodge to The Grotto and then took the Kayenta trail to the Upper Emerald Pool.  The waterfall was ending in an ice formation at the edge of the upper pool.  We then descended past the Middle and Lower Emerald Pools back to the Lodge.  We covered about 4 miles and there were great views of the river and the east side of the canyon from the trail.