Photo Essay: Capitol Reef National Park

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Capitol Reef National Park can be described by its vibrant palette of red hues that are on display everywhere across the landscape in this part of Utah. This park consists of folded geological shapes, lifted rugged earth that was created millions of years ago.

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The geological feature that defines Capitol Reef is a wrinkle in the earth’s crust that extends nearly 100 miles from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell. The Waterpocket Fold was created as a result of deposition, uplifting, and erosion of the rock layers. (Source: Capitol Reef info brochure)

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It was a last minute decision to take a road trip to visit another national park while on business travel and wow; were we glad we did! The drive from Salt Lake City was over 400 miles round trip, but it did make for a bit of a stressful experience that being we were on a time limit, due to a flight scheduled to return home from Salt Lake City.

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This national park did not disappoint with its towering cliffs, massive domes, arches and bridges; this bedrock of beauty was spectacular!
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As you peruse through the park, you might think there is no life here. But if you look closely, this place is home to over 100 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish; 239 species of birds; over 900 species of plants; and 33 ecological systems. (Source: Capitol Reef Park brochure)

Take a preview of these captions; they include some highlights and points of interest and of the surrounding landscapes.

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Chimney Rock
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The Fluted Wall

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Path to the Petroglyphs area

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…the light seems to flow or shine out of the rock rather than to be reflected from it. 
-Clarence Dutton, geologist and early explorer of Capitol Reef, 1880s.

This is only a small portion of what our visit was, there is still much more to explore in this beautiful national park. Here are some must see points of interest:

Hiking:
Chimney Rock
Grand Wash
Cassidy Arch
Cohab Canyon

Scenic Drive
Hickman Bridge

More info below for your next visit:
Capitol Reef National Park
HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775
435-425-3791
nps.gov/care

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California Dreaming Series |Palm Springs

When you hear the words ‘Desert Oasis’ what comes to mind? The first thing that comes to my mind is Palm Springs. The quaint, quiet little desert town nestled in the middle of the Sonoran desert.

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It’s a place known for its hot springs, golf courses, and spas. Many Hollywood stars also made it their getaway place and built additional homes in a particular area east of Palm Canyon Drive, calling it “The Movie Colony.” (Source: Wikipedia.com)

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The walkway decor at the info center for Marriott at Shadow Ridge Golf Course

The Palm Springs area has been the filming location for numerous films and TV shows but this is not the reason of which it draws my sweetheart and I to frequently visit. It’s a place great for a weekend getaway or simply a perfect one day road trip. We have done both and here are a few of our experiences.

We love the tranquility, the peaceful feel, and the enjoyable hiking trails.


We’ve been lucky enough to live only a short distance from the beautiful desert oasis.
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This makes for a perfect one day road trip getaway with usually only a 2 and half hour drive one way.

Hiking: Art Smith Trail

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This hiking trail will leave you with feelings of wow and awe as it is rated as difficult and the complete trail distance is 12.2 miles and is 2641 feet high.


However, the first couple miles are a gradual climb and mostly easy trail paths. We hiked about 2 miles the day we explored this trail and enjoyed the quiet, serene landscape, and the scenic views overlooking Palm Springs area.


Art Smith trail is located in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. There is a visitor center located directly across highway 74, which has a vast array of information and another hiking trail. This is at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center

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Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center

Shadow Ridge Golf Club

The Shadow Ridge Golf Club formerly was associated with former PGA Golf Pro Nick Faldo, and is the home of Marriott villas and resort club.


We’ve spent time using the golf practice facility and would hit and chip balls for the entire day for fee of about $20. We’ve also stayed in one of the villas and thought they were quite exceptional.

La Quinta Resort and SpaLearn more

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From a rejuvenating massage to lingering in the pool, this place will have you saying wow. I felt renewed, relaxed, and rejuvenated after the day I spent here.


The grounds at La Quinta Spa are just as enticing as the services! The relaxing patio and lounge area used for those who are awaiting their treatment, or the adult swimming pool area to take a dip and cool down on a steamy afternoon.


Then you can slip into the jacuzzi spa to unwind at your maximum potential to top off your day.

The spa hot tub area.
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All the while I am at the spa relaxing and indulging myself, my husband is enjoying a round of golf.  Located in LaQuinta, California near Palm Springs, the PGA West by Greg Norman is located a short distance away from the resort and spa. Golf learn more.

Art Galleries in Nature: Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
This beautiful garden is full of scenic colorful settings together with sculpture art displays. With an easy lighted pathway that leads to various areas where you can sit on a bench and relish the moment, this is a perfect place to appreciate some culture, art and history. Take a look:


Tranquil waterfall and sculpture.

Beautifully colored designed pathways.


Dining: Maracas

Although we are not really what you would call foodies, we do enjoy our favorite dining place. Maracas offers delicious entrees as well as drinks, free chips and salsa, and a very friendly atmosphere. The staff are extremely attentive and friendly! This is where we dine every time we visit Palm Springs area. I do have food sensitivities and Maracas has never caused a problem for me, I do order my food dish without cheese, and the food appears to be fresh and quality.

So if you are in the mood for a weekend getaway or just a one day road trip, depending on where you live; then you should visit Palm Springs area. You might consider an experience to Palm Springs at least once. Directions to Palm Springs

*The comments mentioned within this piece are solely based on my opinion and experiences only.

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A Journey Through Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
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This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.

Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:

Big Horn Sheep
Chuckwalla
Cactus wren
Beavertail cactus
Greater roadrunner
Desert tortoise
Desert iguana

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Vegetation includes:
Joshua trees
Prickly pear cactus
Hedgehog cactus
Juniper
Scrub oak
Mojave yucca
Cholla cactus
and many more.

Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.

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Big Horn Sheep
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Barker Dam Hiking Trail

We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.

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Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:

⭐️Quail Springs
⭐️Keys Ranch
⭐️Barker Dam
⭐️Hidden Valley
⭐️Keys View
⭐️Ryan Mountain
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
⭐️Cottonwood Spring
⭐️Indian Cove

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Joshua Tree   fitlifeandtravel.com

Barker Dam Trail

Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!


Skull Rock Trail


Hidden Valley

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Hidden Valley Camping area

Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.

Views throughout the park:

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Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.


Silver Bell Mine

Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.

The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.

The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.

Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
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Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.

Joshua Tree National Park directions.
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
760-367-5500
www.nps.gov/jotr

The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.

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Umpteen Reasons Why You Will Love North Dakota

The beautiful state of North Dakota might be more known for its friendly people and open hearts. And you might be expecting to read another blog article about beautiful big buildings and structures, exquisite eateries and foodies, or glimmering art galleries. But this article is about more than that; it’s not of something tangible or aesthetically beautiful, but more of extraordinary experiences, places that touch your soul, and discovering a gratitude for life that is magical!

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I am born and raised in a very small town in North Dakota, and do try to return and visit as often as possible, because most of my family still live here. On my recent visit, I explored new areas I have not yet explored and discovered incredible rich beauty and culture.

Since I am one of 5 kids in my family, we were a family that lived on a budget while growing up. My parents worked hard and did the very best they could to give all of us kids a good life while growing up. So there was no such thing as a vacation, no high tech gifts, and no name brand or fancy clothing in our house. But one thing there was plenty of… Love! There are, however, a few cool places I do remember visiting as an adolescent, this is closest to a vacation that I can recall. They include the following:

  1. Attending a circus event in Jamestown, N.D.
  2. Medora, N.D. Musical and driving around the South Unit in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (My memory is very vague)
  3. Visiting the giant Buffalo in Jamestown, N.D.
  4. Road trip to Montana to visit relatives. (This one’s a big one, it seemed it was a day’s long drive)

Since my adventure and exploration was a bit limited as a kid, I made it a point to seek and explore more of my home state on my recent visit to see my family this summer. There are a handful of unique things that make North Dakota not your average ordinary vacation destination. Nope, in fact it is an all around, peaceful, wide open spaces, beautiful and wonderful place to experience! Here is why:

Bismarck

North Dakota Heritage Center
Mostly, the people who live here are just common folks who work hard, care about others, and enjoy time with family. Speaking of spending time with family, I recently had the opportunity to visit the North Dakota Heritage Center along with my mother and her friend. We enjoyed learning about the Native Americans that populated the area many years ago, as well as the prehistoric creatures that lived across the plain states and nearby areas.

 

 

 


Some of the fossils displayed at the museum are actual findings as the one below with the attempt to preserve it and the dirt it was discovered in.

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ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com
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ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com

This exhibit is very interesting as the fossil still has some of the outer layer of skin preserved. The center offers static and rotating exhibits as well as a café inside; The James River Cafe. Check out more information here: www.statemuseum.nd.gov

 

 

 

Let’s not forget about street art and other beautiful art pieces around town.

 

 

The beautiful Missouri River, downtown Bismarck, open spaces and farmland.

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This national preserve is packed with rugged beautiful bluffs infused with red and sand colored landscape where you can get up close and personal with roaming wildlife.
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The North Unit is a 14-mile scenic drive through badlands where you might encounter bighorn sheep, elk, and even wild buffalo. This is the perfect destination for those looking for a unique kind of adventure, history, and bison!

 

 

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According to the Medora 2018 Adventure Guide; Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Medora for a buffalo hunt in September 1883 and fell in love with the land. After his experience in this area, he became alarmed by the damage that was being done to the land and wildlife.

*Although you can get quite close to the wild animals, there are warning signs posted stating the buffalo are dangerous, so enjoy them at a distance.

 

 


Roosevelt later pursued interests in conservation when he established five national parks, 51 federal bird reservations, four national game reserves and 150 national forests. “I have always said I would not have been president had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Says Roosevelt. (Source: Medora 2018 Adventure Guide) There is so much more to see and explore, learn about this gorgeous national park here www.nps.gov/thro.

 

 

 

 

Medora

Medora, North Dakota is a town located at the far Western part of the state and is home to the infamous Medora Musical, and gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I visited this place with my parents many years ago in 1983 and I remember I did not appreciate it then because I was so young. My parents have attended this several times over the years. This musical is performed live outdoors on a stage setting surrounded by a 2900 seat Burning Hills Amphitheater under the beautiful Badlands sky! The performance usually is dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelts’ time in the Badlands and to the Spirit of the West. Talented performers come from all over the world along with live horses make this high-energy musical show to be like no other. I look forward to my next visit and seeing this show again in the near the future. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also located near Medora as well.

There are tons of other things to do in Medora as well, such as golfing at Bully Pullpit golf course, hiking, biking trails, camping and cabins, horseback riding, and a cowboy cookout. Find your own adventure at Medora.com.

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Photo by Thomas on Pexels.com

Jamestown

Home to the world’s largest buffalo and the city where I was born. A quaint historical city where historical author writer Louis La’Mour walked the streets and gained inspiration for one of his novels called ‘A Walking Trail’. The Stutsman County Fair has made Jamestown home over the 4th of July for many years and one event I’ve enjoyed as I was growing up. Jamestown is also known for their Stock Car Races, which always makes for intense excitement and family fun! Jamestown is also known for the World’s largest buffalo monument.

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World’s Largest Buffalo Monument, Jamestown, ND

Elks Camp Grassick

One of the best summer jobs anyone could ever have! I worked here for three summers along with my sister and we experienced some of the most magical times of our lives. As you drive into the entrance off the gravel dirt road leading to the camp there is an exterior sign that states; “Elk’s Camp Grassick, A Very Special Camping Experience.” This is exactly what it is.

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Elk’s Camp Grassick is owned and operated by the Elk’s of North Dakota and is a camp that serves children and adults with various special needs and disabilities. My experience working at Camp Grassick was extraordinary. My sister and I worked as Kitchen Staff, but we were still able to participate and be engaged with the camp participants. Here are some of the unique memorable things we experienced while working here:

  1. Enjoying time with special needs children, witnessing their improvements and making new friends. Learning to smile, laugh, and believe in themselves!
  2. Participate in Recreation events such as a costume party, seeing the campers dancing, laughing, and having fun.
  3. Attending the Stutsman County Fair where each staff member was assigned to tend to a camper and assist them so they can too enjoy the fair and feel like a regular kid.
  4. A peaceful canoe ride on Lake Isabel in the evening with other kitchen staff members, who have become lifelong friends.
  5. Making new friends with counselors, campers, and creating a special friendship with Camp Directors, Dan M. and others.

Learn more about his extraordinary camp and its quest to continue to helping those with special needs improve their lives. http://www.elkscampgrassick.com/

Here is a great article recently published about Dan, the Camp Director, and his remarkable dedication to this camp.

https://inspiredwomanonline.com/2018/08/24/oh-man-dan-mimnaugh-the-dearest-camp-he-knows/

Hometown Fun: The Tappen Derby

The small town of Tappen, North Dakota is so small that if you blink as you drive on Interstate 94, you will miss the exit ramp. This town with a population of 250 give or take a few; is the town where I lived, attended school, and played piano for the small white church on the corner street located across from the school (there is only one school). There were not very many events or activities happening in this small quiet little town, but the one event the entire town looks forward to is the Tappen Demolition Derby.

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This event is action packed and full of hot rods and junkers that crash into each other to compete for the trophy and other prizes. There are only a few vendor stands; there might be T-shirts and food sold. However, this event was free to attend in the past, but recent years, there is a fee now. Many folks from all over North Dakota attend this event, and this year’s show did not disappoint. Attendees bring their campers, lawn chairs, or large pick up trucks backed in as they sit and watch the crashing and demolition derby action. This is a great event for affordable, family fun. Here are a few captions.

 

 

 

A great event for family fun. Tappen, N.D. had celebrated its 125th Year Quasquicentennial Anniversary in 2003, and it was quite a celebration. The entire town was looking like something in a picture book of green manicured lawns, gardens and flowers, and tidy as far as I could see. I remember the 100th year Centennial Anniversary and found some old photos in my parents photo albums.

 

 

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According to the centennial book, Tappen was a hopping, busy little town. Today, however, it has remained its quiet slow pace, farmers are abundant, and several of the old time buildings have been either torn down, dilapidated, or removed from Tappen and taken to Bismarck. A replica of a small midwest town called Buckstop Junction, has been re-created in Bismarck, using original old building and structures from various small towns. Learn more about this historical place:   https://website.buckstopjunction.org:89/

Tappen may be small, but there are a few businesses that help make Tappen a great place to live or stop in and visit this small town USA.

  1. Roadhouse Bar and Grill: Offering a hometown fun and friendly place to enjoy cocktails and food. Occasionally, they will feature a live band.                      Roadhouse Facebook page.
  2. Marlins Standard: Gas and Auto. (We used to buy candy bars from the station as kids).
  3. Several Organic Farm businesses
  4. Tanning N’ More
  5. Tiff’s Hair Garage

Of course, some of these businesses are somewhat new and were not around when I lived there. I didn’t appreciate the simple good living I had growing up in North Dakota at the time. I do now, however realize how much I miss those wide open spaces, quiet lazy days, and forever sunsets. Everyone knew everyone; my classmates were like my brothers and sisters.

But I was a small town girl with big time dreams, I had goals to achieve, and it was difficult to leave home. I had the drive and curiosity to go out and experience the world that I was so shielded from as an adolescent. I am happy with the choices I’ve made in my life, I gained lifetime of experience and wisdom that is priceless. And although I miss my family tremendously, I do visit them and see North Dakota a couple times a year, which gives me a break from the busyness of life.

So if you have an opportunity to travel or planning on traveling in the future, you might consider adding North Dakota to your list. Read more here: www.NDtourism.com.

Thank you for reading! Do you miss your home town or state? Comment and let me know where you are from, I would love to hear from you!

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My Detour To The Valley Of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park is located about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. We passed this sign while on our road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. The sign definitely drew our curiosity and peaked our interest. It is a Nevada State Park, and there are two ways to get to the park. The fiery looking red sandstone cliffs were formed as a result of shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age. The earth moving, uplifting and erosion has now created this present landscape.

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This park happens to be an unexpected detour for us and we consider this a hidden gem and enjoyed exploring this interesting park thoroughly. It was a warm and beautiful day on our return from an adventure in Zion National Park, so this was a great place to top off the end of our weekend road trip. We arrived to the park using the east entrance.

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Take a look at some of these interesting and beautiful sandstone rock formations as well as the stories behind them.

Mouse’s Tank:
This area is named after an outlaw who used this area as a hideout during the 1890s. This area is a natural basin and can hold rain water collections for many months.

 

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Entrance to Mouse’s Tank
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Mouse’s Tank

On the hiking trail to arrive at Mouse’s Tank, you will find large boulder/rock areas that have prehistoric petroglyphs. The prehistoric wanderers were the Pueblo peoples. Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 BC to 1150 AD.

 

Seven Sisters area:
Several beautiful rock formations easily seen from the road as you journey through the valley.
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Other cool rock formation areas to explore and visit in the park. A must see include:
Beehives
Arch Rock areas
Firewave
Petrified Logs
Rainbow Vista
White Domes

 

The Valley of Fire State Park also allows camping at first come first serve. There are two campgrounds and a combined total of 72 units. There are also RV Camping sites as well.

 

Rock climbing is allowed but is limited to designated areas within the park.

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