Still Life

There is no way to blog today without some talk of The Virus, but I don’t really want to talk about it in any appreciable way. I have nothing to tell you that you don’t already know or aren’t hearing and seeing in about a thousand other places a million times a day. I have been wrestling with whether or not to continue to blog right now at all, not because I don’t have anything to share, but because I don’t want to seem callous or naive about the current state of our world by sharing anything else. I have, obviously, decided to keep writing about what I’ve always written about here. The Virus will make an appearance only because it is directly relevant to part of our story. I know I have come to rely on my favorite things for mental relaxation, escapism, and a few good laughs, now more than ever, and writing this blog brings me all of those comforts. My hope, Faithful Readers, is that reading it brings you the same.



After departing DEVA, we had to spend a few days in North Las Vegas to take care of some more business and stock up on supplies for a couple planned dry camping excursions. As soon as we could, we hightailed it out of there and headed toward Valley of Fire S.P. NV where we had originally planned to stay. Instead, and almost last-minute, we pulled into a large BLM site just north of the park.

Breathing in the freedom.

Guess who’s back, back again?

Who needs TV? A massive thunderstorm put on a fabulous show.

The weather finally broke again on the last of our three days there, and we headed into the park.

I don’t think we did this right.

If you’ve never heard of it, Valley of Fire State Park is renowned for its extraordinarily colorful and swirly rocks.

Like strawberries and cream!

Fortunately for us, it’s not a very large park, and if you begin early in the day, you can combine a drive around the main loop road with stops at most of the formal trailheads with their relatively short hikes.

Or you can explore off-trail on the vast swathes of slickrock.

It looks just as fake up-close.

When we got about halfway around the White Domes loop, we encountered a little slot canyon, where the recent storm had left its calling card. Some folks were coming through the opposite way and reported the water was thigh-high. “Whose thighs?” we asked in unison, his being much higher than mine. Somewhere in between, we were told. When TBG asked what I wanted to do, I immediately began rolling up my pant legs. Heck, it wasn’t rushing water with sharks, and I figured if it got too deep, we’d just turn around.

No regrets!!!

It was unquestionably awesome, and I was so glad we went through. It was not a very long stretch at all, and though the water did reach over the edges of my rolled pants, it ended soon after that bend in the above photo.

How much is TBG in the window?

Mouse's Tank

The beginning of the last short hike.

The canyon walls were chock-full of petroglyphs.

The trail seemed to end at a 30-foot drop where water was still making its way through, but we scrambled up and around and down to extend the hike a bit. On our drive out, we encountered a traffic jam. I told TBG to quit “helping” me drive and instead try to figure out why everyone was stopped “because it could be the bighorn sheep!”

I knew it!

Leapin’ lambs, so adorable!

With our expected time to explore the park shortened, we felt fortunate to have seen so many of the unique features when we did.

By this time, The Virus situation was accelerating by the day, but it still looked as though we could hold steady with our travel plans, especially being self-contained and with our destinations being relatively remote. We rolled into Snow Canyon State Park in southern Utah still optimistic.

I knew when I booked that the hookup sites were very tight, but with TBG’s measuring, and me getting my wish of an Airstream neighbor, we were able to utilize all but one of our slides.

The first half of our stay was a stark contrast to the second half.

On the West Canyon Road.

The weather alternated sunny days with chilly rain for one thing, but mostly it was because all the dominoes started to fall. As we kept abreast of the unfolding pandemic, it became clear, as parks and campgrounds began closing across the country, that we would have to make a definitive decision about where we were going to be “stuck” before life made that decision for us. Our ultimate decision was to stay pretty much where we were in southern Utah. We spent most of our final three days at Snow Canyon making phone calls and driving to look at myriad housing options. We made it a priority to get in our daily walks, but we stopped taking our cameras. I sat and cried over the package of pretty brochures we’d received from the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center for our summer jobs that were, most assuredly, not going to happen. I allowed myself a little self pity each time I cancelled and drew a line through another reservation in our route plan, especially the ones that included friends or family.

The walls were closing in, but there was light at the end of the tunnel.

On our last full day at Snow Canyon, with beautiful weather predicted, we’d planned to try for one last big hike. Then our first-choice RV park called to say they had a monthly space for us, but we had to take it now. So, we scrapped the hike, buttoned up Essie, forfeited our last paid night, and took off a short distance to the northeast.

Home Sweet Home

We now live in Hurricane (HUR-uh-kin) UT for the foreseeable future. We are safe. We have everything we need. We have a plethora of hiking and biking opportunties surrounding us. We have a yard. We have much for which to be thankful.

As my Brotherman wisely said, “You could do a lot worse than southern Utah!”

As Mama Hummingbird says, “If it’s good enough for my family, it’s good enough for you!”

As changed and uncertain as it may be, there is still life.

 

 

33 thoughts on “Still Life

  1. My nurse sister-in-law works for the Sawyer County Health Dept (Hayward, WI) and is on top of this whole thing. So, when she says it’s safe for us to travel, we’ll hit the road. First, we’ll wait until all the “Shelter-in-place / Stay at home” orders have been lifted. Currently, we’re comfortable where we’re at but come June the weather will really heat up around here and we’ll be antsy to head north. Safety first!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Our Wisconsin job was officially suspended (i.e. cancelled) a few days ago, so even when we can move again, we won’t be headed quite that far this year. I hope you can still keep as much of your plan as possible. I sure was looking forward to some time east of the Mississippi this year, but maybe it’ll be a spring adventure rather than autumn. We’re not looking forward to the heat that will be upon us soon, either, but at least we’re all somewhere safe with a/c 😀 Stay well!

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      • Bummer … sorry to hear! I wonder what their thinking is? Guess you guys need to figure out a new plan for the summer. Our plans look much the same considering the only plan was to stay with family in WI and then decide on any/if any sojourns from there. With that said, we still won’t risk traveling until these orders are lifted. And yes, thank goodness for a good A/C unit!

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  2. We love Valley of Fire!! Our very first visit was several years ago and our daughter was visiting us. John pulled his back and couldn’t go any where. So being very sorry (we left him on the floor with water and ibuprofen…haha) off the two of went. Jessica and I hiked all the main trails in one day. My favorite part of the park is that you can hike anywhere. There aren’t any Stay on the Trails there. It’s great living only an hour away so we visit often and take everyone there. Your photos are spectacular. I don’t believe there is a bad photo. This is one place you can find sheep always.

    Snow Canyon is another hike anywhere place full of color. Nice easy, pretty hikes with cool features.

    Glad you got a spot where you can be safe and very comfortable with this virus crisis. Looks like a lovely park. Love the green lawn. It sure is a tough time to be fulltimers. Hopefully things will pass soon. I see ML mentioned our blog for Zion ideas. When the main park is crowded, the east side is full of hikes that aren’t published in the park info. Here is one of our favorite outside the park hikes that is full of cool choose your own adventures. https://ohtheplacestheygo.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/wildcat-canyon-trail-zion-np/ I got a lot of our hiking ideas from the following website. Joe separates the park into parts and has the best descriptions/photos of each hike. https://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/recommend.php We lucked out on our first visit to Zion. It was before it became overcrowded. We spent the month of March hiking there. We’ve been back for hikes in areas outside when staying near by.

    Have fun hiking. Hope that too many trails don’t close. Stay safe!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were definitely not able to give enough attention to either VoF or Snow Canyon, so repeat visits someday are in order!
      It is a very weird time to be full-time travelers. We are so thankful to have a safe, friendly place to be. I am worried about full-time travelers becoming ostracized for potentially being seen as a burden on local communities.
      Thank you so, so much for the great trail ideas!! I can’t wait to explore a bit more around here. I am so glad we were able to have a great family vacation in Zion in 2009. It’s such a beautiful place. I hope you are getting much nimble hiking done as well! You’re both in our thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • John brings this up often. Hey, our daughter was visiting. We had places to go. We did leave him with the ibuprofen bottle and water!! When we walked The Strip later that week, we left him sitting in a Starbucks. Weren’t we sweet!! Haha!!

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  3. I hear ya on the blogging thing. I keep thinking about the places we went before and how I should write about them but now it all just seems so disconnected from reality and weirdly inappropriate. But, I do think it’s worthwhile writing about them – both because it’s a good project for us bloggers and because people need to read about something other than this all-encompassing nightmare. I’m working on a post right now about all of it and then promising myself I’ll go back to the travelogue stuff.

    Valley of Fire and Snow Canyon never cease to amaze me. I have seen so many pictures of both of them and they are just stunning. Your photos are fantastic as always – the colors, the vastness, the textures. All of it – awesome. I’m glad you got to see a bit before things went in a different direction. More importantly, I’m glad you were able to score a good spot in a nice park in a decent place.

    I haven’t given up hope on our summer plans and neither should you. Perhaps we’ll all be lucky and this thing will find the exit as quickly as it found the entrance. Fingers crossed, anyway.

    Stay well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You understand exactly, especially the weird feeling of disconnection! During those last two stays near VoF and Snow Canyon, when we were out getting fresh air and exercise, trying to relax and let go, it felt just odd and it was hard to concentrate on the splendor. It felt irreverent somehow. It’s NOT, but it’s hard to keep a steady head during such stressful times.

      I look forward to each and every one of your posts, and because I do, it played a big part in my determination to keep posting myself. I think with all our limited traveling and potentially stagnate experiences once everyone is caught up, our creativity will be tapped like never before, and we’re all in for some of our best work yet!

      We haven’t completely given up on our summer plans, either. Hope is a powerful and necessary thing! TBG said almost the same thing you did just this morning: What if this thing just sort of dies out as fast as it appeared? We’ll add our crossed fingers, toes, legs, and eyes to yours! Big, virtual squeezes to all three of you ❤

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  4. Glad you are safe and found a good landing spot, obviously. Please keep blogging! I have important questions, like how to get over the anxiety associated with the first haircut one receives from one’s (non-hairstylist) husband. I mean, we usually go to Supercuts, which can be a crap shoot, but the home cut is a new level of rolling the dice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, we’re glad you’re in a good and safe place, too, although I am having severe pangs of envy knowing you get to spend kayak time with those other Florida rascals.

      I will keep blogging, though material might run thin. I was, coincidentally, going to mention cutting our own hair next time, though! Having to remain socially distant is the PERFECT time for your first spousal salon visit since no one can get close enough to see any potential damage. You also have to be really committed to the belief that “it’s just hair.” 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your photos of Valley of Fire and Snow Canyon are stunning! How fun that you got to hike in the slot canyon with water in it. If the water had been thigh deep on Mark it would have been up to your armpits, haha! I’m so glad you got to enjoy both parks before hunkering down in a private park. And I’m really glad you found a good place to be hunkered down, with a hummingbird nearby to keep you entertained. One good thing about staying put for a while is that you’ll get to see the babies hatch and fledge! I’m hoping you’ll share that with us. 🙂

    I’m glad you’re going to continue blogging. It’s good for all of us to focus on something other than the pandemic. Apparently, this isn’t going away anytime soon, but life goes on and I’m aware that I need to make the most of this time instead of just fretting. Now that we’ve laid in a month’s supply of food maybe I can get around to doing something else, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, my dear friend. I was surprised when I started going through pictures that we had as many as we did because we really were without our cameras much of the time. The slot canyon was really fun, and you’re right, TBG’s waistline is roughly at my collar, so when someone uses a body part to indicate the depth of anything, we are skeptical!

      I will *definitely* share the baby hummingbirds! I wish the nest wasn’t quite so high because I’d love to be able to see the little jellybeans — as you so cutely refer to them. I hope you will keep blogging as well. There are so many beautiful adventures you still have to share, and all of us out here need to see them. Just think, by the time you can start traveling again, you will be all caught up. All caught up!!! It’s a silver lining if ever there was one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As per usual, well said Joodie! I am glad you are making the most of your altered plans – love the yard! We enjoyed nearly similar hikes in the Valley of Fire; I do believe that we have a selfie of K & R in the same picture window as TBG 🙂 It is good to know that you are safe and settled while this storm rages across the country.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Kim! Isn’t our little yard cute? I can’t even remember the last time we had actual grass — it smells sooooo good and the robins are busy pulling up worms. I want to see your picture-window selfie! I’ve been looking through our pics of all of us in Zion. We were thinking of a return visit while we’re here, but as we mentioned below, the park is being overrun right now, and they likely will close altogether. So thankful we had an epic family trip there!

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  7. I believe you are in the best spot to be “in place” until whenever 🙂 Is Zion NP open? As I mentioned before, Lowestravels and OHthePlacesthey go will have a wealth of hiking trails to follow in that area. So far here in Tucson, there is still no rumor of private park closing, although I think some state parks are simply closing the VC and no events.
    Your photos of Valley of Fire is so alive and enticing and makes me want to go back there again. TBG is so cute with his trail peeping 🙂
    But we missed Snow Canyon, glad you had time there and enjoyed the red rocks.
    Stay well and healthy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi ML!

      What, I’m cute?

      Glad you two are in a place to ride this out. No Zion for us seeing as they opened the park free of charge so as to not have to have direct contact with the public. We’re hearing it’s a zoo there and they’re now talking about a full closure. Oh well, still plenty to do.

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    • We really like it here in Hurricane so far, and we feel very fortunate that this is where we were when we needed to halt. As TBG says, Zion is open but being overrun. Fortunately, we were there in 2009 and hiked something like 50 miles in 5-7 days. I will be looking at yours and their blogs (I always do!) for good hiking suggestions. I hope your park stays open with no troubles, too.

      I wish we’d had at least a little more time at VoF. We got a nice bite of it, but the overall mood was pressing in on us, and I’d love to see it again someday with a clearer mind. You’ll have to take a trip to Snow Canyon someday. We also didn’t get to take full advantage of that gorgeous park, either.

      Take care of yourselves! You are in our extra-special thoughts ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always look forward to your posts. They are a refreshing and sometimes educational distraction. I absolutely love Valley of Fire. Did you go to Red Rocks State Park outside of Vegas? Good rock scrambling there. Stay safe, wash and gel. Be happy your not at the hospital now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Peggy! Valley of Fire was as great as everyone says for sure. We didn’t get to Red Rocks S.P., but will sure keep that one on our radar for when we travel that way again. We’ll be careful, but YOU stay safe. Thank you for fighting on the front lines!

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