November 28, 2008
We don’t go to Las Vegas very often (it is 2.5h from us). Maybe twice a year. And only once to see some shows and wander around. But either that or on the way to the airport we always visit the Bellagio Floral exposition. I agree, Bellagio has the most beautiful singing fountain show every 15 minutes. But for me – nothing beats the Flower show. I read in their flyer that they change the flowers and themes 7 times a year but never had a chance to check it for myself. We somehow happen to see the fall decorations almost every year and I have to say that they are very different each time. They may have some big pumpkins and mums and watermill, but there are always different creatures covered with natural things like moss or flower petals, and they also have some featured trees, which are usually exotic in one sense or another. This time they were singing and raining trees:
And some trees-faces, as if they were taken from fairy tales. One of them even moved his eyes and opened his mouth to say something. If only have I had an opportunity to see such a live tree when I was a child – that would have been a huge impression…
The other tree-face was not moving but still very cute:
And as usual some humongous pumpkins:
And here are some “creatures” as I call them -maybe some grasshopper or other kind of bugs:
To get to that expo you just follow through the big entrance hall to the very end. The hall has the outstanding Chihulli glass flower ceilings:
It is a matter of taste, I prefer live flowers…
And then there is Las Vegas, with its Blue Man Group and other decorations:
This time we visited Dr. Scott’s hypnosis show in Riviera – it was really fun I didn’t expect. Those several people (not all of all the volunteers) were so well hypnotized that they talked and behaved rather funny, we laughed out bellies off! The other show was a show I never heard before: Raw Talent Live -Fuego. I liked the word Fuego, but the first part of the name is not enticing therefore not good in my opinion. If it wasn’t for pre-shows on the TV screens by ticket offices – I wouldn’t have chosen it. It was kind of a musical with some contents about a laptop how it gets into the hands of Evil then Good forces and how they learn about the world cultures and problems from the laptop and realize what happiness truly is. The singers were good, the dancers were especially good, and the clothes were fantastic. Lots of Latino rhythms. The decorations were mainly projected with lights onto transparent screens, very creatively, and on the whole it was quite a show in big speed. I liked it a lot with the exception of the last dance. The last dance was about becoming regular again and dancing the dance of happiness, which didn’t feel. The clothes were too simple, the music too loud and noisy… But everything else was really worth seeing and I highly recommend to everyone. They don’t let you take pictures on the show, so no illustrations, sorry .
November 26, 2008
This spring guests showed me a nest that the lady hummingbird has built on the right edge of our B&B sign right in front of the main doors. It was the beginning of May. Soon she lay two tiny eggs and sat on them for three weeks:
How did we know that there were two eggs – I climbed a stool and put a mirror on top of the nest to peek into, while the hummingbird mom was gone to eat some. While she sat – her nest and the surroundings were clean. Not so after when the super tiny chicks appeared :
Actually it took again three weeks for them to grow to this size seen in the picture, train their wings and fly away. For the first ten days you could see nothing in the nest, just the mother coming and feeding them now and then. When I looked with the mirror – I saw two breathing featherless bodies with three downs each, without distinguishing where their beaks or butts were. Then the vertical beaks started to appear:
And then one day we notice that there is only one bird still in the nest, the other is gone. The second one was hesitant to fly out, he still sat on the edge of his nest and trained his wings which to my eyes seemed too small for flying…the first fly ended in a bush close by:
And then another bush:
and then the tiny bird disappeared in the big pine tree. You could only wish them the best. So may have them are killed by predators. But the ones who make it – they live up to 18 years, a real record for such a small creature which has his heart beat at times he flies with an enormous speed.
Interesting as it is we had two families this summer in that same nest. The other one was a different mom for she was much more intimidated by passers by. The fathers don’t play any role in sitting on eggs or raising the family – that fact I read in the internet and i never saw a brighter bird there (males are usually more colorful).
November 23, 2008
If you enter Zion National Park from the West entrance, after crossing the Virgin river you find yourself doing switchbacks, back and forth until you reach a much higher level and can really enjoy the big picture of Zion mountains. There are some pockets by the road there for you not to slow the other traffic. And then you reach a tunnel which was exploded and created around 1928. Before that people would send mail or logs for houses on a cable connecting the top part of the area to the bottom of the canyon. Therefore one of the mountains here is called Cable mountain. So this tunnel was of great help for locals as well as travelers. Its length is 1.1 mi and it is pretty narrow. It has two lanes for sedan cars, but once those houses on wheels try to get through – they stop the traffic on one side. So sometimes when lots of people who can’t part with their houses travel here, there is a wait period before you can enter the tunnel. It is not so bad if you don’t rush because the views are magnificent. And then the tunnel has three holes-windows in the rock that are supposed to ventilate and give some light. But don’t plan to stop your car and look around through them. Once you get from the tunnel – there is a parking for a really cute trail – Canyon Overlook. I highly recommend it to everyone, it is only 1 mi round trip and is very diverse. But this time we decided to drive further from the tunnel and check the slot canyon on the right from the road. When it rains that canyon becomes a force of nature full of water. But as it is a desert here and it rarely rains, it is mostly a dry exotic path on the bottom of imaginary river with real fantastic walls:
The passage is sometime very narrow and those types of formations are called slot canyons.
At some places the canyon is so dark, gloomy and still have some water in deeper pools, that you have to find your way out to the top top and walk around those unpleasant places:
But then they open up again and there you can see trees growing and turning into fall colors:
It is usually much cooler in those slots than in the area around. Here and there you can notice the signs of the force of water when it rains:
Water and wind have created different forms in slots, arches being one of them.
There is a feeling of being a dust in the vastness of our Mother Nature:
Meanwhile on the high up walls winds are sculpting another arch. I am not sure how many millions of years it takes them to finish their job:
Those little maples are not the regular ones we are used to. And I am sure they are not the sugar maples, ether. They grow in the bottom of the canyon by this imaginary stream and have the form more like bushes, than trees. But nothing can beat their redness in autumn:
Once you get enough of slot canyons you can look for a less vertical slope towards the road and climb you way to there, to your car parked in one of the pockets. The other side of the road has also several interesting trails, which are not designated and are left wild for various wanderers to improvise their walks. It is usually by following the bed of a dry stream, tracking the waterways. One of such walks is called Many Pools trail. We didn’t have time to do it that day, just a little portion of it. It is late autumn and the sun is setting pretty early. Just two images of Many Pools:
For the end – a little pine that grows in a sandstone rock as seen from the road on this same Eastern part of Zion NP:
November 21, 2008
We read about this canyon in our local newspaper three years ago. It is about 50 min drive from us – to Rt 15 and then a little North, one exit after the Kolob Canyons of Zion NP. Once you get off the highway on the Frontage rd. – head North for 4 miles till you see a red nicely painted barn where you turn Right and head towards the canyon. There is a parking there, but nothing else. It is on public lands so no WCs or information is provided. Therefore it is more wild, and you can experience more solitude. The only time we met several groups of people there was the time after the article was published about it. All of them were locals and all of them came because of the article. But the next year we met only a couple of photographers or romantics. This is the most spectacular of all the canyons I have seen, but that doesn’t mean in absolute sense. I still haven’t seen a lot. We visit it each October, closer to the 20th-24th, when the trees are turning into red and yellow hues. Here is the entrance to the canyon:
Though it is not in a National Park, but the path is pretty good, evidently – still popular among locals. It goes by a stream, we don’t even know its name. The stream has an interesting feature – sometimes it looks like a normal stream and sometimes it disappears and leaves a dry bed. It completely disappears very soon after you enter the narrow part of the canyon which makes it easier to walk.
At this time of the year the Rabbit brushes are finishing their yellow blooming. Behind my back there is an entrance to the Narrows. It takes 40 min to walk there:
The pictures are taken in three different trips this year and last year. So some trees are still green and others are already in their full autumn colors. Some are already naked…
Sun or cloudy – those colors were so divine that I can’t resist to share more and more with you:
At some point the canyon becomes very narrow and sun never gets to its bottom, so it is cold there.
Then again it widens and lightens until you get to a place I called “meatgrinder” – an analog from Tarkovskyj’s movie “The Stalker” which at some point was very popular in previous Soviet Union where I grew up and learned to understand the world:
HOw long does it take to go deeper into the canyon – as long as you want. We walked for a hour once the Narrows started and there was no end to be seen. The walk becomes harder, more boulders and trunks to climb in order to proceed, but at the same time it becomes more dramatic. You can feel the force of flash floods that happen when it rains – huge trunks of trees are brought and stuck in the middle of the canyon. Going out is also nice for you see the walls of the canyon in a different angle and it seems it is a different path. You start noticing smaller things:
And once you get into the sun again – it seems so warm and nice…
Out walks usually last around 3-3.5 h. But it is your choice.
When we returned home I took a picture of our Mexican sunflower by the kitchen window together with Chrizantemums:
November 18, 2008
As it is our tradition already, we drove North of Zion to admire the aspens of October 3rd. You get out of Zion NP through the East entrance, then reach Carmel Junction ant turn left on Rt 89 till you reach Rt. 14. The road winds up the mountain with the views of smaller hills on the right and nice summer houses built on almost each of them. Very soon you start seeing aspens, the yellow beauties of autumn. And then lava fields start to appear. The strange thing is that you can’t really see a volcano but the black chunks of lava are there as if they have just erupted from the Earth’s depths:
Far in the distance of this picture you can see a lake – it is Navajo Lake, almost in the midway of Rt 14 to Cedar City. If you drive further, you would reach a junction which directs you to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It is worth visiting and it looks a little like Bryce Canyon’s erosions, only we have seen it earlier several times and this time Navajo Lake was our destination. Here is how it looks from the road:
Then we turned around and drove back a little till we saw a parking pocket on the right of the road with a wooden closed gate to a bike or service road. Here we walked towards the lake and found ourselves enclosed like in some fancy yellow decorations:
At some point we saw a board telling that this is the path that circles around the whole lake. It is a pity we didn’t have time to walk all of it, but it would be fun for anybody to do it on foot or on a bike. Because it was all horizontal, no climbing involved. And the aspens were just bursting in color:
Some bushes looked as if they were one of those who was talking to Moses years ago…
The creature we saw by the path:
And other little fall decorations:
We reached the edge of Navajo Lake and found ourselves much higher than its shores but lower than Rt. 14. It was a warm day, exactly the right one for hiking but the clouds were covering the sun here and there and at some points we had to wait for it to come out and lit the scene or take it as it was:
Here is Andrei, our main photographer:
After this short walk we drove back to Duck Creek Lake:
and the forest near by:
We finished the trip with a short drive to Aspen Mirror Lake on the left of the road which appeared to be a fishing destination. We caught some good images there, too:
While on Rt 14 – there were plenty of places to stop ant take pictures, so beautiful all the way, but as always – no time to do everything you would like to. The whole trip took us about 5 hours, with 1.5 h one way. Another place of interest there are the Navajo Falls that come from a hole in the rocks bordering Navajo Lake. Those falls are the birthplace of the Virgin river that is responsible for carving Zion canyon and then is rushing all the way through Springdale, Rockville, St. George, crossing Arizona and Nevada to Lake Mead. It It is the river that gives us our irrigation water for gardens and orchards so that Southern Utah towns look green as if they are not in a desert. But it was another trip to those falls and I will describe it later.