Thursday, June 11, 2015

Torrey, Grand Canyon, Escalante ... and Grandview

Late spring can mean only one thing around these parts: a pilgrimage to Torrey, which J and John and Sarah and Isaac and Jonas and I caught in the middle of a rare two-week wet period. 

The first morning brought blissful snow (not bad for Memorial Day in southern Utah) 

and intermittent rains throughout the hike on some lesser-known BLM lands outside of Capitol Reef National Park, where Isaac and Jonas found a horse.

As you know from past entries, Torrey is also a prime beer porn shooting location, and it was so especially this time because Evan had picked up a bucket of Funkwerks in Fort Collins (yes, I'm a partial owner of a brewery now, but hey, there's room for more than one).

Let's approach this from a postmodern perspective for a moment, shall we?

 Nice way to end the day (along with the fantastic Dutch rye I brought back from Amsterdam).

Day 2 brought a sweet drive over Boulder Mountain

and down toward Escalante National Monument.

Say what you want about the Clintons, but protecting Escalante was absolutely brilliant. It's an incredibly massive, and simply incredible, area.

The whole time I was there I wanted to give Clinton a big man hug for saving it, like this one, the ultimate man hug.

These guys rarely hug.

The top of this mesa was literally filled with discarded arrowhead-making stones, but we didn't find any actual arrowheads this time around.

After leaving our incredibly sweet house in Torrey

we took the spectacular drive by the back side of Zion and through the southern part of Escalante, which included a stop at this place. Why should we be surprised that a Dutch guy retired to remote canyon country and opened a bakery? And that he pretends to be German? Still searching for the real thing ...

And while we're on the subject of German desserts, the other night our friend Roma made us some spaghetti and meatballs cupcakes (the meatball is a Ferrero Rocher chocolate) 

that bore an uncanny resemblance to the spaghetti ice we miss so much from Germany.

Did I mention we liked Escalante?

Then we arrived here

and met Dad and Laura 30 miles south of GCNP. We stayed in an off-grid "eco-cabin" powered (in theory) by solar power, but that rainy spell didn't help much, and neither did the likely energy hogs who were there before us, so we spent a lot of time firing up the gasoline generator to power the eco-cabin. I'm also not sure how ecologically sound a cabin is in the middle of water- and taxpayer-sucking cattle lands. Look, I really don't mind losing power that much, but when it happens just before literally the most important pitch in the movie Million Dollar Arm, that's a problem. And if you're 30 minutes from food, a microwave really comes in handy. The place did have nice views of the peaks near Flagstaff, though.

Is the Grand Canyon worth it? Absolutely. Is it true that pictures don't do it justice? Yes, especially pictures from a point and shoot. Is it depressingly over-run and shuttle-bus-dependent, and reminiscent of crowded Croatian National Parks? Also, true.

It was good to see Dad relax and not always look so agitated.

The views from the east side of the park, starting with the watchtower, are probably even better than from the west side.

Two notable things happened our second night (the meal at the El Tovar Hotel was, predictably, not one of them, though I love a classic shrimp cocktail as much as the next guy). First, we saw a condor.

And, completely randomly, we ran into our good friends Ben and Jess (and Jed) from New York. And you thought this entry would be devoid of excruciatingly cute toddlers.

Our last day we went to Sedona, which is a pretty cool town if you like red rock and hunting for energy vortexes. I didn't feel much vortex after a Mexican lunch and a few beers from the Grand Canyon Brewing Company.

Some people get into Williams, Arizona and Route 66/Americana nostalgia, but I found these destinations much more exciting.

We didn't have  a chance to hike down into the canyon (alas, in the Golden Era I might have been up for running rim to rim to rim), so it's a good thing Grandview, pictured in the second shot, is basically behind our house up City Creek Canyon. Brian and John and I got our long-hike fix here a couple days ago.

The bushwack home down this gulley started out open enough

 but, this being a hike with John, it turned into a jungle-y bushwhack.

The old mine ruins were cool.

I think it's going to be a good summer.

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