So, my intention was to bore you all silly with my enthusing about the holiday I just returned from last week. You know, in that annoying way that recently-returned happy holidayers have – whilst their audience’s eyes glaze over in a haze of endless photos. But I am rapidly running out of time and the holiday glow is fast disappearing as real life resumes. Instead I thought I would spare you all and just post a few of my favourite pictures and moments from our 2 week adventure in the Western USA (mainly Utah and a bit of Arizona) for anyone who is interested…
I wasn’t too sure what to expect before we went on this holiday. Sure, I’d seen images of the Grand Canyon and I vaguely thought that the rest might be a bit, well, desert-y. But as it turns out, I was totally blown away by the landscape out there. It was so varied, vast and awesome. We saw (in my view) the most amazing scenery that I have ever seen on one road trip. It was a trip that reminded me of the beauty and power of time and nature and how insignificant we really are in the grander scheme of things.
A gentle easing into the holiday - nosing into delightful private gardens on our first afternoon in San Fran as we climbed up Filbert Steps to Coit Tower
First stop on our road trip proper - Zion National Park. I love this photo taken using Hipstamatic on my iPhone. It really brings out the contrast of the cottonwood (Populus fremontii?) against the sandstone rock. A contrast which was a real feature of the landscape in most of the places we visited.
A view down the Calf Creek Falls trail off the amazing Highway 12. I loved this walk. It was peaceful and the views were expansive. I was captivated. We walked in the canyon between Navajo sandstone cliffs. The colours were indescribably beautiful. You couldn't plan a garden this beautiful.
Great contrast of colours, textures and patterns. Taken on our drive past Capitol Reef.
This photo is of Owachomo Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument. We had a wonderful afternoon in this park. We practically had the place to ourselves – aside from a ranger we only saw four other people here all day. This was my favourite bridge of the three there. We walked right under the enormous, natural structure and the sun decided to come out to say hello.
When we left Natural Bridges we trundled along state route 261 until we hit the edge of the Cedar Mesa plateau. Here the road turns into a steep, unpaved, gravel track called the Moki Dugway, which hairpins down the side of the drop. From the top, despite the gathering moody rain clouds, we could see for miles over to Monument Valley in the distance where we were headed. The road drops 1100 feet in just under 3 miles. You can see the road continue below the mesa, streaking out across the plain.
Some of you may recognise this photo from my Twitter feed. Believe it or not it was taken using my iPhone camera and it has turned out to be one of my favourite photos from the whole trip. We had just driven over a hill and through the rain on arriving at Monument Valley. When we emerged into the sun on the other side we stopped so I could take a photo of the amazing light and my husband saw this huge, entire, double rainbow arching behind us in his rear-view mirror. The clouds, light and sky put on a magical display for us that afternoon.
The drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon was long and dull - broken only by this stop to see dinosaur footprints in what, millions of years ago, used to be a swamp but is now a large expanse of flat, desert land. As well as prints, we followed Morris – a local native American – around as he showed us skeletal remains, a nail embedded in the ground and fossilised dino dung!
The culmination of our road trip around some amazing National Parks ended with the big one – The Grand Canyon. It was hard to get my head around its scale – even when it was right in front of me. It is vast. It’s a bit surreal. The canyon is around 8-10 miles wide on average and about 5000ft deep from rim to floor. This was taken using Hipstamatic on my iPhone again from Lipan Point towards Hance Rapids on the Colorado River.
That’s it folks. If you’re not bored and would like to see more photos I’ve posted a couple of albums on the GirlAboutGarden Facebook page. Just one final note – if you do head out to Utah anytime soon make sure you fit in scenic Highway 12. I promise you won’t regret or forget it.