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Understanding )

My day was mostly taken up with pre-trip chores -- picking up prescriptions, getting Adam's braces adjusted, taking the kids to California Tortilla for lunch, shopping for necessities, packing, writing a review of "Sins of the Father". Reading in disgust about John Edwards and being so very grateful that he was out of the race before doing any damage. Watching the Olympic opening ceremonies (absolutely no comment on US outfits) while organizing toiletries. Nearly everyone I know fannishly is either at the Harry Potter convention in Chicago or the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas this weekend, so I assume few people are reading this anyway!


Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo )


[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive: Memories )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5: Together )

We are leaving Saturday morning for the beach in Delaware, stopping at several places on Maryland's Eastern Shore! [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan has another date with my cats!
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Confusion )

I was stuck in the house with no minivan for most of the day, so [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan took pity on me and came to visit so I wouldn't get jealous that my cats have seen more of her this summer than I have! Rosie promptly took over her lap and Daisy showed off her tail-chasing skills, though as soon as [livejournal.com profile] apaulled came home, they snuck off feigning indifference. We watched 3:10 To Yuma which I think remains an extremely underrated film -- despite all the shooting, it's not really an action western but a philosophical one, and having recently watched American Gangster together, it was fun watching Russell Crowe on the other side of the law in a film which, like the newer one, assumes that corrupt people with legitimate power are much more villainous than outlaws. The IMDb says that 3:10 To Yuma was filmed entirely in New Mexico and Arizona, but I'd swear that bits of it were filmed in Utah, because I was sure I saw this formation:


Capitol Reef National Park )


Cool meme snicked from [livejournal.com profile] thistlerose:
Go over to Wikipedia and enter your birth date and then pick 3 events, 2 births and 1 holiday that occurred on the day of your birthday.
Mine's December 11th.

Three Events:
1792 - King Louis XVI of France is put on trial for treason by the National Convention.
1917 - British troops take Jerusalem from the troops of the Ottoman Empire.
1972 - Apollo 17 becomes the sixth mission to land on the Moon.
Two Births:
1725 - George Mason, American statesman
1803 - Hector Berlioz, French composer
One Holiday:
Argentina - Tango Day, Buenos Aires

I had a really hard time narrowing events to three. The only thing I knew happened on my birth date was that Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. in 1941; I did not know that Llywelyn, the last native Prince of Wales, was killed on the date in 1282, that Indiana became the 19th U.S. state on the date in 1816, that the British Parliament enacted the Statute of Westminster on the date in 1931, that Edward VIII's abdication became effective on the date in 1936, nor that UNICEF was established on the date in 1946. And though I knew I shared a birthday with Rita Moreno, I did not know that I also shared it with Alfred de Musset, Fiorello La Guardia, Naguib Mahfouz, Grace Paley, John Kerry, Teri Garr, Mos Def, Ben Browder, and Gary Dourdan who was born on precisely the same day that I was.
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Trouble )

Not an eventful Wednesday here, as I spent much of the day doing laundry so everything will be clean for our trip to the beach next week. Also, we had to drop the minivan off at the Toyota place to get it thoroughly checked out and make sure we won't have a repeat of any of the problems we had at the end of the last trip! I wanted to stop in the mall behind the car place at Lush, which was having a summer sampler party, and because we were already in the mall, we ended up having dinner there (cheap Thai food, mmmmm).

This article about tourists who got lost in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument while driving south from Bryce Canyon National Park made me nostalgic for Utah (though I am very glad we were using maps rather than GPS). Here are some more photos of Goblin Valley State Park, called Mushroom Valley by the first entrepreneur to explore it in depth:


Goblin Valley )


Seen all over the place, swiped directly from [livejournal.com profile] celandineb with whom I will be sharing...because let's face it, as much as I love Snape, I wouldn't want to be married to him: My Harry Potter husband. )And Olympics rant. )
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The Slap )

I spent the whole awesome day with [livejournal.com profile] dementordelta, who brought me a big snakey! We went to Minerva with my family for Indian food, then sent the kids to the pool and watched Dead Again (because we were in a Branagh/Thompson mood and neither of us had seen since it was new nearly 20 years ago) and Hairspray (the 1988 John Waters original with Divine, Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry). Then after [livejournal.com profile] apaulled came home we had pizza and contemplated going to see We're About 9 at the Columbia waterfront, but the weather report was iffy and it can be an hour drive from here at rush hour, so instead we went out and rented Vantage Point (the vote-winner with my kids) and watched that too. Spoilers. )


Zoo Boise )


While I'm talking about animals, I was thrilled to read that over 100,000 lowland gorillas have been found living in the Congo, nearly doubling the number estimated to survive in the wild. Let's hope they stay protected! Also, much to my surprise, Paris Hilton has delighted me!
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The Idea of Ancestry )

Adam has braces back on his upper teeth. Needless to say, he is not pleased about this development (and has a headache). I took the kids out to lunch since he was required to have mushy food and voted for sushi and udon noodles, then sent them to the pool for a couple of hours while I fought off my monthly migraine and tried to figure out what Facebook had done to its organization. I had ordered a book of Josephine Wall art, and studying fantasy goddesses is always relaxing for me.


H.M.S. Surprise )


You get Master and Commander-related photos tonight because the kids made me watch Robot Chicken and one of the skits was about a woman who won Russell Crowe's trash in a contest and was wearing his unwashed underwear on her head. (The episode was "Atta Toy" since I am sure someone will ask!) Our other evening TV was The X-Files' "Little Green Men" and "The Host" -- we have a box set with those episodes through "One Breath" on VHS, and since we have none on DVD, we figured the second season was as good a place to watch as any. I didn't even realize how much I was missing the show till the movie...
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Chair (A Dream) )

Not a very eventful Lughnasadh, though I did spend some time reading about the descent of the Goddess. Took the kids to the pool, kicked around some numbers for Adam's Bar Mitzvah next spring and stressed out about it, finally finished putting away my jewelry and little things from the trip (silly, since I have to pack a week from tonight for the trip to the beach), wrote a review of "The Offspring" (and speaking of Star Trek, [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan sent me reasons to be worried about Abrams' upcoming reboot, which made me smile as I completely agree).

Watched Doctor Who's "Journey's End" on the widescreen TV -- the things I loathed about it the first time around still make me very unhappy, but I still adore Catherine Tate's performance and David Tennant is compulsively watchable too, and really, how many shows are there where there are five female characters I adore, even if I'm aggravated with things about how they're written in any given episode? Then watched Stargate Atlantis and realized I really must see the first few episodes of the season to follow what's been going on, though it was worth seeing just for this tiny spoiler. ) And we received in the mail today something that I first saw when we were in a market across the country, then wrote when we got home to the woman who ran the stall to ask if she still had it and if she would ship it to me. It's a present for both Adam and the cats:


Penguin Fishie Cat Bed )


Friday Fiver Catch-up:
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive August 1: Name One )
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive July 25: Hair! )
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive July 17: Philosophical Stuff )
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive July 11: Charity )
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive July 4: Drinks )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5 July 25: Plot Points )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5 July 11: Best Pilots )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5 July 4: Crossover Relationships )
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Lament Fragment )

My children were not happy about getting up this morning to go to the orthodontist, but they recovered when we walked through the mall in which the dental office is located and learned that the GameStop had just received a new shipment of the Wii Fit. More than $100 poorer (because I'm told you have to get the balance board cover, the battery charger, etc.), we came home with it and two happy kids, though I insisted that they eat lunch and go to the pool before playing it because a thunderstorm was forecast for the afternoon and swimming counts more to me as "real exercise" than Wii Fit, though now that I have tried the aerobics for two minutes I may revise that opinion. The good news is that I have a Wii age of 33; the bad news is that the Wii says I need to lose 30 pounds to get my BMI to where it should be. Not that this is news to me.

While the kids were at the pool, I stopped at CVS to get a DVD case, then came home and recorded a whole bunch of movies to send with my parents to my uncle who is going to be in rehab for several months. Most of them I burned without watching beyond the first few seconds, but I sat down and watched Eastern Promises and then 'Becoming Jane,' no real spoilers for either but cut for people who aren't interested in criticism of either. ) Any bad news for Karl Rove tends to make me happy, so although it's largely token at this point, thank you, House Judiciary Committee, for finding him contemptible...that is, in contempt. I also wave a fond *cough* farewell to Ted Stevens -- another pro-life politician down on corruption charges, darn. As for Ehud Olmert, I don't know enough about the charges against him to have an opinion on their validity but I hope his successor intends to put a stop to new settlements in the West Bank.


Camping at Devil's Tower )
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Tales of Odysseus )

After being rudely dragged out of bed by the gas company, which decided it needed to check our meter TODAY even though we had an appointment for a couple of weeks from now, I mostly spent my day taking things out of bags, cleaning, sorting, putting things back into different bags, and transferring things between one computer and the other, with breaks to take the kids places. We went to Bagel City for lunch because we had neither bagels nor lox spread and were missing both. Then I took the kids to the pool, along with younger son's best friend, and went to work updating Picasa and burning photos to disc (and burning Doctor Who's "The Invasion" arc, while I was feeling industrious, since we all liked "The Mind Robber" so much). Also, I spent a lot of time with a cat kneading my thighs and demanding attention. I suppose I will get back into her good graces just in time to leave for the beach!


Sea World Shows )


Paul made bacon cheeseburgers for dinner while I was out chatting with Adam's best friend's mother, then Paul made cookies because apparently he's missed baking or something that never happens to me. *g* After the kids' showers, we all watched Robot Chicken which makes me laugh far more than it should, even though they say "douchebag" far more often than I can forgive. I mean, the mythical animals missing Noah's Ark! And the CHiPs guys getting beheaded in a race! ...yes, I am twelve. Our other evening excitement was a little tiny adorable mouse on the deck that got Daisy very distressed, which alerted us!
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The Piano Player Explains Himself )

We are home! Somewhat blearily, as we had to drive more than 500 miles on this last leg, which required getting up very early this morning in case we hit traffic, which for the most part we did not -- we were incredibly lucky this trip both in terms of the driving conditions and in terms of the weather -- we're now seeing news about both the fires near Yosemite and the flooding in Missouri where we were earlier in the month. We had thought about stopping in Columbus for lunch, but we got such an early start and made such good time that we were long past it by the time we found a Quizno's further on in Ohio. We took I-70 to I-79 to I-68, which took us through a bit of Pennsylvania and a longer stretch of West Virginia. Once we got into Maryland, we made two stops: Noah's Ark in Frostburg, which is very obviously the inspiration for the ark in Evan Almighty, and Sideling Hill, a vertical cut to make way for a road that reveals the geological history of the Appalachian Mountains.


Creation and Maryland )


We got home around 5 p.m., took half an hour to unload the van and I immediately started the first of what will probably end up being eight laundries. [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan took excellent care of our house and pets! The cats appear to have taken our absence in stride, as they tried to get us to feed them, then promptly decided that our plastic bags were more exciting than we were, We took a break to go out for deli with my parents, then came back to sort and hang clean clothes, go through piles of souvenirs bought for ourselves and others, shift files from the laptops to the desktops, and start going through a month's worth of mail. Rosie is helpfully lying on top of the pile of bills, while Cinnamon is upstairs trying to get someone to turn on a sink so she can drink from it and Daisy is getting into every plastic bag, pillowcase or clothes pile she can find. Life as usual!
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In Italy )

Saturday morning we got up early to go to the St Louis Zoo when it opened at 8. On a nearly 100-degree day, this was the perfect time to arrive, before it got beastly hot and the animals started drooping -- we had the bird house and flight cage pretty much to ourselves and many of the birds were singing, and in the herpetarium, the snakes and lizards were wriggling in their enclosures. We had been told that this was a must-visit zoo for the penguin habitat, and it did not disappoint: Humboldts outside in a rocky enclosure with stone tunnels for nesting, where they swam and brayed and paraded around for us, plus Kings, Gentoos, and Rockhoppers inside in 45-degree air conditioning with an open enclosure above the waterline, meaning there was no condensation-heavy glass between us and the birds!

The St. Louis Zoo is free and large enough that it's impossible to cover in half a day, but we managed to see a lot: the amphibians and insects (including a butterfly garden); the big African mammals like elephants, hippos, giraffes (who had a baby), and zebras (who were expecting); the bears and great cats; the sea lions, prairie dogs and warthogs; and the 1904 World's Fair flight cage, as well as the puffins and polar bear housed near the penguins. We had lunch at one of the zoo's air conditioned sandwich shops and left around 2 p.m. when it was getting beastly hot!


St. Louis Zoo )


After several hours of driving and an hour lost crossing the timeline, we had dinner in Terre Haute, Indiana with [livejournal.com profile] mamadracula at an Applebee's where we all got the three-course meal deals so we could have dessert. Then we drove another few hours to Richmond, Indiana so the final leg of our trip would be less than ten hours. There's a Model T 100th anniversary festival going on at the fairgrounds here this week, so the hotel parking lot is full of magnificent old cars. Hopefully I'll be home by this time Sunday night!
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Home to Roost )

Friday morning our car decided it did not like our plans for the rest of the trip. First it turned on the "maintenance required" light, which as it turns out means that it had been more than 500 miles since we had the oil changed; we had it changed two days before we left on this trip, but apparently Toyota has the onboard computer programmed to instill fear into the hearts of drivers nonetheless. So we stopped to check that out, then got back on the road, only to get a flat tire while driving through terrible traffic around Columbia, Missouri. By the time AAA arrived, helped put the spare onto our very heavy van with all our traveling stuff, and directed us to the next town where the first tire place we came to was out of business and the downtown looked like it had been in a recession for several years, we knew there was no way we would get to both the St. Louis Zoo and the City Museum that day.

So we went to Dairy Queen for lunch while our ripped tire was being replaced, called to change our hotel reservations for the night, and finally drove to St. Louis's awesome City Museum, which is both brilliant and somewhat indescribable -- the museum doesn't have a map, just sets people loose on its massive climbing structures that go several stories up both inside and outside the museum, leading to caves, a hall of mirrors, a collection of architectural decorations, an arcade, a pair of small airplanes, an aquarium with more than a dozen touch tanks and open cages to allow petting of rabbits, parrots and tortoises, a model train display of the city with tunnels that people can climb in, an artistic seascape with ship ropes and live fish and turtles, and a nice little sandwich shop where we had dinner before finally heading to the hotel to let the kids swim a bit before bedtime. I cannot recommend this museum highly enough, especially if you have kids.


City Museum )


We will go to the St. Louis zoo early in the morning since we skipped it today, meaning that we won't go to the Indianapolis zoo this trip, though we have been told by our friends from Indianapolis that this is definitely the right choice (and I am still planning to meet [livejournal.com profile] mamadracula for dinner somewhere in Indiana, whoo!). I am just hoping for slightly less chaos!
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Patience )

We spent all of Thursday not devoted to travel at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, a terrific facility with an aquarium, a desert dome, an indoor jungle, a great cat complex, and the most amazing area of all of which I don't even have photos: Kingdoms of the Night, the world's largest nocturnal habitat, with a canyon region, an Africa region, an Australia region, a cave combining bats from around the world, and a massive underground swamp with alligators, beavers, nutria and other animals swimming and roaming free under the boardwalks.

We were at the zoo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and didn't cover the whole thing -- we skipped the petting zoo, parts of the great ape enclosure, the new butterfly exhibit, and the elephants, plus the Wild Kingdom pavilion. Nor did we take the tram or steam train ride. We did see the bears, monkeys, and aviary, plus the giraffes and ostriches who share an exhibit with the African penguins. The zoo also has Little Blue penguins in an outdoor exhibit near the seating area where we ate lunch, plus Gentoo, King, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins in the refrigerated section of the aquarium indoors. It's a much bigger zoo than we had guessed from the map and absolutely terrific for kids -- I highly recommend it.


Henry Doorly Zoo )


The rest of our day was spent driving past Kansas City -- which is currently under a tornado watch -- to Blue Springs, Missouri, from which we will head tomorrow to St. Louis for the zoo and city museum. We had an unexciting dinner of sandwiches in the hotel room and the kids went swimming in the hotel's indoor pool. Now I must go collapse!
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Nothing Ventured )

Most of Wednesday was a driving day through flat Eastern Colorado and nearly all of Nebraska -- not that I am complaining, given the weather reports I have heard both from home and from Texas -- hope everyone is safely out of the way of the storms. And gas prices are way down, at least out here! After leaving Colorado, we stopped for lunch at Fort Cody in North Platte, Nebraska, which has a Museum of the Old West and a massive miniature diorama of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, complete with music and action. The museum and store are a bizarre mix of every painful cowboy and Indian stereotype ever perpetrated in popular culture and lovely locally-made Sioux crafts -- think Wall Drug on a much smaller and somewhat less tacky scale.


Fort Cody )


We spent the rest of the day driving to Omaha, where we stopped at Next Millennium which was as enjoyable as I expected -- a massive Wiccan/New Age bookstore with statues, jewelry, hundreds of Tarot decks and lots of oils, potions and crystals. Because I was with my family I had to restrain myself and did not buy any goddesses or clothing but did buy a Wheel of the Year pendant at a substantial discount from web prices. We had a minor accomodation disaster -- apparently the Quality Inn in Council Bluffs thinks "non-smoking room" means "we'll spray some hairspray to try to cover the fact that there were lit cigarettes in this room a few hours ago" -- but we were able to switch to a nicer Travelodge that's actually in Omaha, where we will go to the zoo in the morning!
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Turtle )

We spent most of Tuesday driving through beautiful country -- first the scenic highway out of Moab that borders Arches National Park, through beautiful Entrata and Navajo sandstone structures, then along I-70 through Colorado, which follows the river into the mountains and provides stunning views for dozens of miles. We also stopped at Colorado National Monument, where huge red canyons filled with columns of rock alternate with high plateau desert and pine forest. The Rocky Mountains are visible in much of the park, and our route took us right through the heart of winter vacation country, through the hot spring resort of Glenwood Springs and the beautiful ski town of Vail, where we saw many ski lifts through none of them were in use in the 90+ degree heat of July. There were plenty of people in the Colorado River, though -- rafting in the white water, canoeing and swimming in the calm -- and until we hit Denver, the state was as scenic as Utah. Then, once we were through the Rockies, the land went flat.


Rocky Mountain High, Colorado )


We're spending the night in Fort Morgan, which smells like cattle, before another long driving day to Omaha, during the course of which we will lose an hour off the clock as we cross the timeline. But if we time things right, I will get to go to Next Millennium, from which I have done a great deal of mail order shopping.
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Driving Home )

We visited our last two parks in Utah on Monday -- Canyonlands and Arches, each of which is best know for precisely what its name suggests, though both also contain many other amazing features -- a meteor crater, a salt valley, an "island in the sky" accessible only via a narrow strip of land called The Neck. We woke up to see rabbits and lizards right behind our cabin, ate breakfast and drove to Canyonlands, which in addition to its Upheaval Dome and enormous canyons boasts both a view of the Rocky Mountains and some wonderful rock formations with names like Whale Rock and the Monitor & Merrimac (all of which really do look like their namesakes).

We had a picnic in Canyonlands, then drove to Arches, which has even more amazing rock structures (the Three Penguins, the Sheep, Balanced Rock) has lots of caves, including the ones from the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as Fragile Arch, Pothole Arch, Double Arch, Broken Arch, Sand Dune Arch, Skyline Arch and many more. It wasn't nearly as hot as the day before -- at least, there was a nice breeze blowing on the hilltops -- and it was much more pleasant to take little hikes to see various features.


Canyonlands and Arches )


Before heading back to the campground, we stopped in Moab at two fossil and crystal stores, where younger son acquired an ancient extinct shark's tooth. Then, while Paul took the kids for ice cream, I went into Lost River Trading Company and bought a salt-dyed dress and a silver snake ring. Back at the campground, Paul made salmon cakes for dinner and the kids toasted marshmallows. We could see Jupiter in the sky before the gorgeous pink-and-orange sunset over the mountains. Tuesday we head across the Rockies past Denver -- a long driving day again!
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St. Thomas Aquinas )

We spent younger son's birthday at Anasazi and Navajo sites, exploring Capitol Reef National Park and visiting Goblin Valley State Park, all of which are stunning. In between, we drove up and down mountains, past dry rivers and around cows in the road. We started at Anasazi State Park, which has a recreation of parts of the village that once stood on the site as well as excavations and some of the artifacts found there. Then we went to Capitol Reef, where we had lunch near the orchard, where visitors can pick as much fruit as they can eat while in the park and where we saw such formations as the Twin Rocks, the Castle, and the Capitol Dome for which the park is named. The roads follow old stream beds and flood when it rains, which fortunately it did not do.

Unfortunately, the lack of rain until late in the day meant that it was almost 100 degrees when we got to Goblin Valley State Park, where Galaxy Quest's cast went looking for a beryllium sphere and where the rock monster attacked them. The formations are amazing and the trails go right down among them, but we only walked maybe a quarter mile before the heat got to us. Then we drove on to Moab to the campground where we are staying tonight and tomorrow, where the kids went swimming. Before dinner we drove into town for groceries and to take a look at the landscape around Canyonlands and Arches, which we will visit on Monday; there was a big thunderstorm over the snow-covered mountains in the distance, but we only got sprinkled in Moab. Adam wanted cheesecake for his birthday cake, so that's what we had!


Canyons and Indians )


I finally, belatedly saw the Emmy nominations and just want to say that I am delighted for Boston Legal, Shatner, Spader and Bergman, and equally delighted for Pushing Daisies, Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth. Well, and I am happy John Adams did so well too, but given HBO's track record of late, I was less worried about that!
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On the Grasshopper and the Cricket )

Hello from Escalante, Utah, where we are currently watching Galaxy Quest in anticipation of visiting Goblin Valley State Park on Sunday, where Jason Nesmith ripped his shirt fighting the rock monster. (Any evening involving Alan Rickman is generally a good one, even though I don't expect that he will actually be in Goblin Valley when we get there.) We spent the morning in Bryce Canyon, first visiting Rainbow Point and hiking the Bristlecone Loop, then driving to Agua Canyon, Fairyland Point and other spectacular spots in the park, where we also saw wild turkeys, deer and lots of rodents.

From there we went to Kodachrome Basin State Park, where we hiked about a mile in a very hot desert to see the Shakespeare Arch, then drove to Chimney Rock and some of the other stone formations. After that we visited Petrified Forest State Park, whose name is pretty descriptive -- not a lot of tall current trees, but petrified wood samples both large and small, the former on display, the latter scattered in the dirt and grass. There's a reservoir at the park but the water levels were low, so we didn't swim, though we saw quail by the water. Because it was so hot, we went out for ice cream in Escalante before checking into the hotel.


Utah National and State Parks )


Will be in a campground for the next two nights which is supposed to have wi-fi, but if I'm not able to get online, that's why!
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Mary at the Tattoo Shop )

This morning we took the shuttle bus -- the only way to get around Zion National Park (cars are not permitted past the lodge, or even to the lodge without a permit) -- into the Virgin River canyon to the Temple of Sinawava, where the river narrows until it can easily be walked across in good weather. We didn't wade into the water, but we saw several weeping rocks and small waterfalls coming down the tall rocks of the canyon beyond Angels Landing. There were bushy-tailed squirrels and little lizards scampering across the dirt path in front of us. After we hiked back, we went to the park visitor's center and drove around some of the other scenic points before stopping for lunch at the nature center (which sadly was closed). Then we drove to the Kolob Canyons in a different section of the park, where thicker pine forests cover the "finger canyons" of the Colorado Plateau. On the way out of Zion we stopped at some crystal shops and at a little Utah Department of Agriculture ranch with elk, bison, and horned cattle.

Then we drove to Cedar Breaks, an enormous stone amphitheater filled with spires and arches of many colors -- black volcanic rock, gray ash, reddish iron bands, yellow sandstone, and dozens of wildflowers and trees among the flats. The Indian paintbrush, cinquefoil, blue columbine and daisy-type flowers were all in bloom in the grasslands of the plateau. After a quick stop for groceries, we then headed on to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is even more spectacular than the other two. We hiked up to Sunrise Point and down to Bryce Point to see the enormous arches and towers of colored rock and the hoodoos -- spectacular eroded columns of stone where the top is often wider than the bottom. Within a few minutes of driving into the park, we began to see deer eating the grass, though we have not yet seen the endangered Utah prairie dogs that live only here. We are staying in the lodge, though, so hopefully we will see some on Saturday!


Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Bryce )


Saturday after spending the day in Bryce we will drive to Kodachrome State Park and maybe Petrified Forest State Park and the Anasazi ruins, though those might wait till Sunday on the way to Arches and Canyonlands.
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The Timber )

We spent time in four states today -- from extremely hot, dry eastern California to hilly Nevada to glorious northern Arizona to the lush canyons of Utah. San Bernardino County was nearly 100 degrees; we had lunch in Baker, the nearest city to Death Valley, and drove from there to Las Vegas, where we looked at the wonderful hotel architecture. From there the highway dipped briefly into Arizona through incredible canyons -- they looked partly like the Badlands, partly like the Painted Desert and partly like the Grand Canyon -- before looping up into Utah where for the first time in many, many days, we witnessed a thunderstorm.

And then we drove into gorgeous Zion National Park with a rainbow arching over the cliffs. We checked into the park lodge and took a walk to the Emerald Pools Trails, where we hiked up a paved path to stand beneath waterfalls that drop 100 feet from colorful striated red rock cliffs, spraying the path below. Along the way we saw a elk, lizards, huge black beetles and deer walking within five feet of people. We ate at the lodge and visited the shop, where the kids played chess on the big wooden tables. It drizzled a bit more in the evening as the deer walked right through the grass around the lodge eating.


Driving to Utah )


Friday we'll take several hikes in Zion before heading on to Bryce Canyon and its arches and spires.
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Song for All Seas, All Ships )

I have been on board the HMS Surprise! That was, of course, the first place we went at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where I sadly could not touch the wheel which had just been revarnished, but I did walk around Jack Aubrey's cabin and sit where Stephen Maturin sat sulking in the stern and touched the masts and ropes and guns and took photos of everything, even the postcard Russell Crowe had autographed for the staff in the gift shop. *g* The bell on the ship still says HMS Rose, her original name before the refit for the film, and the exhibits from the film have been moved aside in favor of pirate stuff, but I still cannot overstate what a thrill it was to be on the ship.

When we disembarked from the Surprise, we visited the claustrophobic Soviet submarine B-39, after which the kids were hungry so we walked to a sandwich place near the ferry launch. Then we walked further along the water to the aircraft carrier USS Midway, which is a truly extraordinary experience: it's like a small city, or at least a medium-sized college, and even though we only saw a small portion of the vessel, we walked more than a mile while aboard (the flight deck alone is bigger than four acres). The audio tour includes various quarters from the enlisted men's berths through the admiral's cabin, two galleys, the laundry, the engine room, the sickbay, machine shops, the anchor chains on the forecastle, and two dozen planes and helicopters on the flight and hangar decks.

We stopped for ice cream, then returned to the maritime museum which was open much later than the Midway, visiting the historic merchant sailing ship Star of India, the yacht Medea, and the ferry Berkeley which houses the museum collections and gift shop. When we got tired of walking, we sat and watched film clips about the Age of Steam (Steamboat Willie, The African Queen, Titanic) and went up to the ferry's beautiful restored passenger deck with stained glass panels all around. The sun was beginning to set by the time we left, walking past dozens of sailboats and circling pelicans. I took dozens of photos and promise to post an entire night's worth of nothing but the Surprise when I get home, but for now...


Maritime San Diego )


On Thursday we have a long drive to Zion National Park in Utah. I have no idea what our internet options will be like, so here's hoping I can connect!

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