Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flowers in the Desert

I decided to leave my camera behind since we were doing a long trad route and I seldom take any photos while we're climbing. Of course, then I kept seeing things I wanted to take photos of on the hike in and out. Shelley let me use her camera and was patient while I took endless pictures of cactus and flowers. I like the desert. It's a bit like the prairies, bleak at first glance, but with surprising life when you look closer. The flowers on the cactus are always a delicious contrast - such pretty flowers on such a prickly plant! Shelley's camera, a Panasonic DMC-TS2, does a darn good job, although its main features are that it's shock proof and water proof - good for climbing and paddling.

click to view photos

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Valley of Fire

On our rest day from climbing we drove out to Valley of Fire State Park. It's worth a visit if you're in the area - great scenery.

click to view photos

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rise and Shine

Here's yesterday's schedule to avoid the heat. Up at 4:30am, to get to the coffee shop when they open at 5am, to get to the park when they open the gates at 6am. Climbing by 7am, eight bolted sport routes (both of us leading each) finished by 10:30. Back drinking coffee in town by 11am. Getting up that early - painful, missing the heat - priceless.

Sometimes I wonder where Shelley gets her energy. She doesn't even drink coffee! We made another early start this morning, and got in a good morning on some (for us) harder climbs. And we'd just lost our shade. So I started packing up. Shelley came down off her last climb (which she had insisted on leading, even though I'd only top-roped it) and asked why I'd changed into my hiking shoes. I said I was done for the day. "Oh" :-( was all she said. We find some shade to have a snack before heading down. "Which big route should we climb tomorrow?" she asks cheerily. I inform her that I'm not climbing 5 days in a row. "Oh" :-( I tell her she has to make allowances for my lack of endurance.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Side of Vegas

We took a rest day from climbing today. For us, not being interested in casinos or shopping, there's not a lot to do in Vegas. A little searching on the internet turned up the Springs Preserve. We spent a good part of the day there, and might have spent longer in the gardens and trails if the temperature wasn't pushing 40c. Definitely recommended. They even had solar panels over the parking lot.

See Shelley's blog also: Spirit and Adventure: Springs Preserve

Friday, April 20, 2012

Red Rocks 2

Some more photos from Red Rocks, some from a multi-pitch route called Tunnel Vision. The tortoises are the ones at the visitor center. One of them was attacking another (in slow motion of course). Possibly a territorial dispute? Getting sore from all the climbing, but having fun. Originally, Shelley was going to let us take the weekend off, but I should have known that was too good to be true - more climbing tomorrow. We can rest when we get home :-)

(click to view photos)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Day at Red Rocks

We had our morning coffee at our usual stop just off Charleston, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It's not anything special, but the location is right, and it's a decent enough coffee place (and they have tea for Shelley).

We went to buy our annual pass for Red Rocks and found that the USA national parks pass we had just purchased at Yellowstone also covers Red Rocks. If you're touring around visiting national parks, the $80 pass is well worth it.

We stopped at the visitors center and were delighted to find the desert tortoises were out and about. Every other time we've been here it's been winter and they've been sleeping. It was even feeding day. Of course, I hadn't brought my camera, so no photos. The tortoises are in a couple of (low) walled areas adjacent to the visitors center.

We had a good day at a couple of the bolted sport climbing areas at the first pullout. We were just warming up, but considering it was our first time outside this year, we felt pretty good. We were certainly climbing quicker than the other groups around us. We did 5 routes at one wall in the same time that other people did two or three. We were also the only couple where both of us led every route. Good to know we're not totally washed up yet :-)

We plan to follow our usual routine and alternate sport climbing and multi-pitch trad routes. So the plan for tomorrow is to do Tunnel Vision - a fun route we've done before that isn't too long or hard. Given the temperatures today (up to about +30c) we're figuring on an early start.

Of course, it won't be a surprise to people who know me that the one thing I took photos of was a lizard. The wrinkled skin makes me think she lost a little weight over the winter. I also saw a small snake - the first one I've seen here. I only got a quick look as it slithered into the undergrowth. It was about 15" long and about as thick as a pencil. No idea what kind it was. Not sure what kind of lizard it is either.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Avoiding Salt Lake City

It was with great joy that I turned the car away from the interstate and back into the mountains. Shelley would have been ok with just getting on the freeway and getting to where we were going. She doesn't have quite the same revulsion for the hellishness of the interstates.

Of course, around a big city like Salt Lake, the roads tend to be like spokes on a wheel, leading to the center. Going anywhere else is cutting across the grain. On top of that, the mountains themselves restrict where the roads can go. So it was a convoluted route that I plotted to go around the worst of it.

Unfortunately, one of the key legs of my route was closed, probably still too much snow from the winter. So we were forced towards "civilization". Shelley did a good job of navigating us through Provo and keeping me off the I15. (Shelley: Yes, but he still complained about having to drive thru a city for 10 minutes!) (Andrew: it was at least 15)

We had supper at Mom's Cafe in Salinas (open since 1926), camped at the Butch Cassidy Campground, and had breakfast at the Little Wonder Cafe in Richfield. Rustic, but better than Motel 6 and Denny's. (IMHO)

I have another roundabout route planned for today :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012


We had planned to drive through Yellowstone and Teton parks, but we didn't think to check if the roads were open yet. They aren't, so we could only go as far as Mammoth Springs. But we went for a good hike, which was a welcome change from sitting in the car. We drove through a serious blizzard between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, but it improved after that. We're now in Rexburg, which being within 50 km of an interstate, is a desolate wasteland of fast food joints, chain hotels, and strip malls. Please let me go back to the mountains!

Road Trip


Much as I love the prairies, my heart still thrills to see snowy peaks rising in the distance.

Had a good drive so far. Huge flocks of snow geese rising in swirls of birds. Ducks in every patch of water. Hawks on fence posts and telephone poles. A coyote dashing across the road in a hurry to get somewhere. Beautiful prong horn antelope. Lots of deer, thankfully mostly in the fields and not on the roads! Colorful ring necked pheasants in the ditches.

We took Highway 4 down from Rosetown, stopped at Urban Ground Coffee House in Swift Current. Stopped to check out the museum in Val Marie, but it was closed. Nice to see a big array of solar panels at the border crossing. Had supper at the Main Street Bistro in Lewistown. As the sun went down, the clouds were swirling around the mountains and the light was breaking through spotlighting the scenery.

Posted from Coffee Crossing in Livingston.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Bunnies

Spotted these cuties near Innovation Place while I was walking to work Easter Monday. Only had the G12 with me, which doesn't have much of a zoom, so these are cropped considerably.

Easter Bunny and shy friend

Easter Bunny