Tuesday, June 14, 2011

then along came sierra

we officially worked out the details to have sierra, a nearly 5-year-old girl, move in with us at the end of the month. we've been meeting with her and spending time with her for the past couple months. nothing is clear yet about whether we would be able to ultimately adopt her, but it seems that things are moving in that direction. nothing happens too quickly, though. so even if we are able to adopt her, that wouldn't happen until about a year from now.

we are excited to have her join our family--even if it's not for forever. the picture shows the room we've set up for her. it used to be our office/storage room. i can't post any pictures of sierra, but trust me that she's very cute, and she has a wonderful smile!

a dutch oven experience

we had our first dutch oven cooking experience last weekend. we opted to go with something easy...just a little peach cobbler. actually it turned out to be a whole lot of peach cobbler (i think we tripled the batch), but we wanted to have enough. it turned out really well, and was very tasty. this weekend, we're going to try our hand at teriyaki chicken. i'm excited about that one!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

escalante memorial day weekend take 3

We left town around 4 and headed south. The drive seemed quicker than I remembered it being, but it also might have helped that we stopped in Torrey for dinner. We found an affordable burger place, which isn’t easy to find around those parts. They even had 99 cent ice cream cones. So, after eating our burgers and fries, we each had an ice cream cone. Then we each had a second ice cream cone!
We found out about a cowboy poetry event going on in town, but it wasn’t really happening by the time we moseyed over there. We opted to keep going on down the road.

We stayed the night at our trusty off-the-side-of-the-road place right inside Escalante. We pulled in after dark and got things set up in the dark, which is trickier, but not too difficult. The stars were bright and beautiful. We got to bed around 10:30.

We woke up around 6:30 and got things packed up. W ran up the nearby slick rock mountain for awhile while we got the tent put away. He’s quite a mountain goat. We drove in to Escalante town to enjoy the community flag-raising ceremony, but mostly the Sons of the Pioneers pancake breakfast. The flag raising was actually pretty interesting. Apparently, when the pioneers first settled Escalante they didn’t have a US flag, but they wanted to celebrate the 4th of July properly. They were at a loss until one of them decided they could raise an Indian blanket as their flag.
The pancake breakfast was good (although there were a lot of people there this year—so no seconds). We chatted with some of the locals for awhile, including the couple who let us stay in their basement two years ago.

Once breakfast was over, we drove over through the monument again with the hope we’d be able to (finally) score a campsite at the Calf Creek Campground. Shortly before we arrived, B felt positive we’d get a site…and he was right. We’ve never been able to get a site there, and it’s such a beautiful campground. We happily set up our tent and then headed out again.

This time, it was time for fishing. B had figured out a fairly unmarked shortcut down to Boulder Creek. We heard there was good trout fishing down there, but were a bit nervous about the shortcut. The alternative was hiking 6.5 miles along sandy trails to arrive at Boulder Creek. So we parked alongside the highway and just started off. On the way, we did see some cairns, but we set up others to help us get back. The hike was a little tricky since a lot of it was on slick rock, but it was only about a mile and surprisingly easy. I can’t believe anyone hikes the 6.5 miles to get to where we went when this was so easy.

The spot was nice: the creek running through sandstone rock walls with trees and shrubbery alongside the creek. B and W had good fishing luck pretty much from the beginning; I, on the other hand, did not. We fished for probably 2 hours before I had any luck. I really enjoy fishing, but I really enjoy it when I’m catching something. When everyone is catching fish, and I’m not, it’s not as fun. But, on our way back, I found a spot with some big rocks in the creek. I positioned myself on the rocks and cast. Not surprisingly, I didn’t have a bite. Then I decided to walk out in to the creek and fish from there into a turbulent pool. I did that, and almost immediately caught three fish—and two of them were pretty big! Oh it felt good, and the water felt amazing—not too cold, just calming and fresh.

the tadpoles that b and w caught in one of the bathtubs (see above picture).

So were able to head back with 8 fish, and with all of us having caught enough to feel good. We went back to the campsite and had a lovely fish fry (we cooked the fish in foil actually). And the fish were good. We also decided to but some bananas in foil and cook them, and that was delicious too. We put nutella on top of the cooked bananas.

That night, we drove back in to Escalante the town to attend their annual community play. This one was about the Hole in the Rock—how it came to pass and the group who made it down that crazy passageway. The play was not done especially well, and the sound system often didn’t work, but that’s all part of the charm of their plays. We had a good time and enjoyed the community spirit of it all. One of our favorite lines from the play was “Stick-i-titoody, that’s our duty!”If you can imagine, too, they sang a song with that as the main line in it. So good.

We got up and went to an hour of church in Escalante town, and then drove off to see the other part of the monument (the whole part past Escalante town). It was good to explore that area, and good to realize that we always go to the best parts of the monument. We drove all the way to Bryce NP, but opted not to go in since we didn’t have much time and it was $25. We did see some amazing red stone hoodoos though. We opted, instead, to go to Kodachrome State Park and do some poking around there. We went into a couple box canyons, hiked around some, William looked for lizards to catch, etc. We also walked out to an arch—Shakespeare Arch, and I’m still not sure why it’s called that. It did make me wonder.

On our way back to the campsite, B and W looked for rocks while I regained vision in my eyes (the sand blowing in the air can do a number on your vision), and then I took a nap or a rest. I didn’t sleep so much as have a nice relaxing rest. B and W found a geocaching box on their adventures, which they thought was cool.

That evening W ran around the campground (he loved doing that). We also went for a late evening walk and found ourselves surrounded by bats. They were swirling all around us, which was a little disconcerting, but also pretty cool. W also found a scorpion and caught his first lizard of the trip. Oh boy was he excited about the lizard. After spending hours trying to catch them, it was nice to finally have his efforts pay off.

W and B got up and fished around in Calf Creek. I got up shortly thereafter (after my hips couldn’t handle the hard ground anymore) and took down the tent and looked at birds. Oh the Calf Creek Campground is so nice. It’s wonderful to just sit and observe the natural environment there—the rocks, the creek, the birds, etc.

Once the fishing was over, we headed out to hike the Upper Calf Creek Falls trail. It started off very unassuming—parking along the side of the road at an unmarked trail head, slick rock with shrubbery growing in the cracks at the beginning of the trail, but it was a great hike. The falls were amazing—so lush and surprising in the middle of that desert environment. Then above the falls were two pools of water. The second one was so inviting that W and B decided to get in. Of course the water wasn’t warm and the air wasn’t all that warm either, but they got in. Once B got his full body in, he wanted to make sure I took a quick picture of him. He was quite insistent that I be quick!

We stayed alongside the pool for awhile—B drying off, me feeling warm and dry, and W running after lizards. On the hike back, W caught his second lizard—this one bigger than the first one. We carried it back to the trail head and said sayonara to it and the monument.

It’s always sad to finish a vacation, but it was a good time. There are always so many unexpected surprises when we go down there, and this year was no exception. Case in point, on the way home we stopped in Torrey to go to a rock shop for William (and maybe grab some lunch), only to find out that the power was out and basically nothing was open. So we couldn’t get the rattlesnake menu item we’d seen on our way down, and we couldn’t get W any arrowheads. We’ll have to try again next year.