Monday, November 30, 2009

Nehalem Bay State Park, Manzanita, Oregon

One of our favorite Oregon coastal campgrounds is Nehalem Bay State Park near Manzanita (a very quaint town in and of itself). The activities at Nehalem Bay State Park are numerous ~ walking the incredible Oregon beaches (for miles), walking the trails, biking the trails, evening programs (in the summer) boating – either in the ocean or the more serene Nehalem Bay………….and more. If want to explore the surrounding area, the nearby towns of Manzanita, Nehalem and Wheeler have small shops, and you can travel further north to Cannon Beach or Seaside of go south to Tillamook. Basically, there’s a lot to do with Nehalem Bay State Park as a central location.

This visit we tried two new restaurants this time ~ Left Coast Siesta (Mexican) and Big Wave Café (American). Left Coast Siesta was very good, and we actually went to Big Wave Café twice – once or breakfast and one for dinner – breakfast was better and the service was very slow both times.


We’ve camped here many times in the past years, and it’s always a favorite of ours. In the summer, be sure you make reservations, but in the winter, it’s not necessary, although you can if you’d like. If you want to make reservations, know that only Loop A is reservable, with Loops B & C as first come-first served. If (and we’ve experienced this before), Loops B & C fill, then the campground host will open Loops D, E, and F. A unique part of the camping experience here are the horse camps – you can bring your horses here and ride them on the beach!


Oh, and one thing we love about Oregon State Parks – they make great efforts to recycle, so there’s no need to toss your cans, bottles, newspapers, cardboard, etc… into the trash!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We Went to Oprah!!! Chicago, Illinois, Part 4


Guess what! The first Oprah show we saw taped last September will be on this Tuesday, November 10th ~ Death Row Exclusive: Confronting the Killer. To read more about our Oprah experience and this show, click here. We're looking forward to watching it!

Enjoy the show!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, Jewell, Oregon

On your way to/from the Oregon Coast from Portland, and if the weather is cooperating, you might want to take a detour (about 20 minutes) to Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area in Jewell. Jewell Meadows is home to about 200 Roosevelt Elk, as well as other wildlife, and has three turn-outs where you (hopefully) can see the elk grazing, resting, cavorting, and doing basically whatever elk do.

The best time to see the elk is in the cooler weather and either early in the morning or dusk - at other times during the day they tend to hang-out at the tree line. When we were there this time, we saw many mother elk and their adolescents, as well as quite a few male elk. The middle turn-out has restrooms, an interpretive display, as well as picnic tables.

Be sure to bring your binoculars, a camera with a good zoom lens (we only had our "baby" camera), and listen closely.....we heard some males bugling this time! Oh yeah, it's FREE! :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cranky Sue's of Cannon Beach. Oregon


Well, you know we like to eat, and one of the places we always go to when we're in Cannon Beach is to go to Cranky Sue's for some great crab cakes! We happened upon Cranky Sue's a few years ago, and now many more people have found it (not difficult to do since you pass it driving into town). There is small restaurant with both inside-seating and outside (dog-friendly) seating. Now, just like most coastal restaurants, it's not an inexpensive place, but if you like crab cakes, then this is the place for you ~ enjoy!

(Remember ~ if you like crab and are a bit further down (south) the coast, go to the Riverhouse Restaurant)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Visit to Cannon Beach, Oregon

The Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful in the world, and that includes Cannon Beach, easy access from Portland along a scenic 1 - 1 1/2 drive. We spent Saturday there enjoying the sun and warm weather, which was a nice break in the rain that began last week and continues throughout this week as well.

Cannon Beach is a very popular destination - there are many art galleries, craft shops, restaurants (more on where we ate in our next post), clothes stores, and more. If you have a dog, it is a very dog-friendly town, with water bowls and many merchants welcoming dogs in either their store or their patio.

Cannon Beach is also beautiful - incredible flowers bloom along the sidewalks, and it has easy access to the beach - just a short beach walk to the famous Haystack Rock - the third largest coastal monolith in the world, and home to incredible tide pools (when the tide is out) and shorebirds. If you're in the mood, continue walking for miles along the beautiful Oregon Coast......

Cannon Beach is a definite "must do" when on the north Oregon Coast ~ have fun!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We Went to Oprah!!! Chicago, Illinois, Part 3


Guess what! The second Oprah show we saw taped last month will be on this Tuesday, October 20th ~ Sex As a Deadly Weapon: Five Victims Speak Out. To read more about our Oprah experience and this show, click here. We're looking forward to watching it!

We'll let you know when the other show airs........


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We Went to Oprah!!! Chicago, Illinois, Part 2



Well, unfortunately this is our last post for a while, but we will post again, so do check back. Thought we’d end with some insights and tips into our Oprah experience…….and how you can see a show (or two) as well.


  1. If you’re in the Chicago area, be sure to check the Oprah audience reservation website – there are often last-minute shows that need audience members.

  2. Again, if you’re in the Chicago area, you can go to Harpo Studios and get in the stand-by line ~ often times, and we were told in especially cold weather, people do not show-up for their seats, and seats open. Be sure you get there early, by 6:30 am for the first show, and by 9am fort he second.

  3. If you won’t be in Chicago anytime soon, but still want to get tickets and go, check our post about how to get reservations – if you’ve tried before, it was much easier with their new online system then how we had to call, just a year ago.

  4. There is an Oprah Store (of course)! You do not need to have gone to a show to go to the store, and all proceeds benefit charity. Suzanne, not the most enthusiastic shopper, bought two pairs of socks with an “O” on them. Brad stood with the other 4 men trying to hold their ground.

  5. Have fun! Even though we didn’t love the topics – it was still amazing to see Oprah work in person – it’s a much different experience than watching her on television.

  6. Diet before you go to Chicago ~ the food was incredible and we both fit a bit more snuggly in our clothes when we got home! :-)





Sunday, October 4, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Presidential LIbrary & Museum ~ and~ Lincoln Tomb SHS, Springfield, Illinois

One of the extra benefits of heading to Chicago for a few days, to catch an Oprah Winfrey show taping (or two), was the opportunity to visit Brad’s brother Brian, who lives outside of Springfield, Illinois, about 4 hours south of Chicago. While visiting Brian and his family, we went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and to the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum contained a changing gallery of Illinois history (currently agriculture in Illinois over the last couple of centuries), a replica of the Kentucky home where President Lincoln grew-up, a replica of the White House during Lincoln’s time, and some original artifacts from President Lincoln himself. In the White House replica, there is a fascinating 4-minute video showing how the lines of “free” vs. “slave” states changed over the civil war, as well as dioramas of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and his assassination.






In addition, there were some artifacts from The President himself – including one of the three hats he wore, as well as gloves he had on him the day he was assassinated ~









The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site was unfortunately closed when we were there (Monday), but was nonetheless a fascinating place to wander around, and had we the time, we would have gone back to go inside – Brad’s brother Brian said it was fascinating.





One thing we did do when we were at the tomb – rubbed President Lincoln nose – seems as if it brings luck to those that do so. As you can see by the picture, it’s a popular superstition!






Friday, October 2, 2009

A Tour of Chicago, Illinois

While staying in Chicago for a couple days to take in a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show, we took some time to walk the city and enjoy the culture of Chicago.

Our first place, Magnificent Mile ~ the shopping area of some very high-end stores – perhaps the place for an Oprah sighting! We didn’t do any shopping, but it was fun to see the high fashion and incredibly jewelry adorning the windows – especially Cartier! Perhaps Oprah herself has shopped there…..

We continued down to Lake Michigan where there is a decent sized beach with palm trees (how do they survive the Chicago winters?), a bike/running path, and lots of very expensive condos with great views (perhaps Oprah lives around here).

Walking back the other way is the Chicago River, which separates the Magnificent Mile shopping area from the business area of banking, commerce, press and the like.


The business section of Chicago is expansive, with ease of access via the “L” and subway ~ the “L” is an elevated rail system which can be seen in movies such as The Fugitive with Harrison Ford. As we meandered around the business district, we happened upon a farmer’s market that occurs weekly on Thursday mornings throughout the summer.

We really enjoyed Chicago – of course, it is September – not January during the frigid cold, nor July during the heat and humidity, but we’ll definitely come back again – perhaps for another Oprah show!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Restaurants of Chicago, Illinois





Well, if you’ve been following our camping and travels much, you know we love to eat – and we found out that Chicago is a great place for good food! We went to three places of note while in Chicago:

Wolfgang Puck Express in O’Hare Airport ~ We were starving after flying into Chicago, and happened upon this restaurant in the O’Hare International Airport. Suzanne had actually heard of it and heard it was good, and we were hungry, so off we went. We both ordered individual pizzas and both were very good. Now, they weren’t the greatest pizza we would have in Chicago (that’s coming up), but it was good.

Giordano’s on Rush Street ~ We wanted to get some of that famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, and this was the place recommended by Brad’s brother Brian (say that 3 times fast) and it happened to be a few blocks from our hotel in Chicago (The Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown). It was “Oprah Eve,” and we luckily got there a bit early, since each deep dish pizza takes 35 minutes to make, and this is a very crowded place. We ordered a salad to hold us over and ordered a fabulous pizza (pictured above) that we could barely finish and ate for breakfast the following morning and still left some uneaten! Now one fun thing that happened was that we were carded when we ordered some wine (the waitress told us that it’s a rule in Illinois, to card everyone) – Brad had his wallet, but Suzanne, who is notorious for never bringing a purse or her wallet, did not have hers. Suzanne was feeling pretty good, you know, about still looking 21 (yeah, right!), but still begged the waitress to bring her the wine. After “checking with the manager”, Suzanne got her drink! Tip: check out their website – when we were looking for directions, we noticed coupons – we printed one and saved $5 on our dinner!

Rosebud on Rush ~ As we walked back to our hotel after stuffing ourselves with the deep-fish pizza from Giordano’s, we passed by some very happy people enjoying some great looking Italian food – and we knew this was where we would eat dinner the next day, also known as “Oprah Day!” Now, not inexpensive by any means, but we sat outside on the corner watching people drive/walk/bike by, enjoyed a leisurely drink before dinner (where, come to think of it, we were not carded…..hmmm….must have aged a bit in the past 24 hours), accompanied by some incredible bread with olive oil and parmesan cheese, ate a great meal (Chicken Bracciola for Brad, Cheese Ravioli for Suzanne) and shared a huge dessert which stuffed us even more. All the while, we chatted with the women seated next to us who had also gone to Oprah that day, enjoyed not being rushed to leave our table (we were there for a couple hours – very unusual for us), and had a great last evening in Chicago (and again lamenting how full we were as we ambled back to the hotel).

One word: YUMMY!



Monday, September 28, 2009

We Went to Oprah!!! Chicago, Illinois





So what was Oprah like? Well, it was quite the experience ~ and we actually saw two shows! Here’s the scoop………..

So when Oprah tapes, she usually takes two shows, A and B. The A show requires you to be at Harpo Studios between 7 and 7:30 am (however when we showed up at 7am, there was already quite the line – lesson learned – go early!) and the B show starts processing people between 11 and 11:30am. So after showing ID (and realizing that Brad was maybe one of 5 men in that audience), we sat upstairs for about an hour watching Oprah show moments and chatting with other audience members. Finally, we were let in and give seats in the studio. What to say about the studio – well, there’s her light yellow couch, and as in the other studios we’ve been in, it’s much smaller than it seems on television. We listened to a women chat about what to do when talking, how to act, etc…, then out of nowhere, Oprah appeared (carrying her shoes). There was no, “Heeeerrrrreeeee’s Oprah!” announcement – just Oprah, her shoes, and a bunch of people fussing about her hair, clothes and make-up. Pretty quickly she put on her very high-heeled shows and did the monologue into the camera as you see on television. Then during the commercial break, she walked the 10’ to her couch, the guests sat as well, as the show began, with commercial interruptions planned, and all that.

The first show we saw (actually both shows) wasn’t a happy – it was about a man on Indiana death row for the mid-1990’s killing of his wife, her brother and brother’s wife while the children slept in the bedrooms. The children of the brother and his wife, as well as a niece who lived in the house at the time, were on the show, and the killer (their uncle) was shown from prison in Indiana, with his son by his side. Since the man was on death row and slated for execution in a few weeks, the family (those mentioned, along with other aunts, uncles and grandmothers) were torn with whether or not he should be executed. To be honest – it was very “Jerry Springer-like” – not really to our liking, and not a show we would watch if we were flipping channels in the comfort of our own home (or RV, whatever the case may be).

One thing that was very interesting to watch was Oprah watching the family members for reactions (off camera) and asking questions/following-up with the convicted killer, in response to those reactions. It was interesting to see her mind working, and to see the interviews progress.

The BEST part was that after the show (maybe because Oprah was in the mood, or knew the show wasn’t going great – no one could answer a question with more than 5 words) she took off her shows, kicked up her feet, and chatted with the audience for a good 30 minutes! People asked her about her recent interview with Whitney Houston, her season premier with the flash mob dance, and more. She was very chatty, sharing stories of her own life, asked us questions – it was all very cool to see her in this light.

As said, we saw two shows. As the audience was being dismissed from this show, there was an announcement that there were stand-by seats for the second show of the day, so Brad ran and got our names on the list – out of 4 seats available, we were numbers 3 and 4! The second show was more interesting, but not any more light-hearted or fun, and was about a group of 5 women (ages ranging from early 40’s to early 60’s) who were among a group of nine women who unknowingly dated the same man for years who infected all of them with HIV. Since he knew he was HIV positive and with reckless abandon infected these women (and maybe more), the women took him to court on the grounds of endangerment with a deadly weapon and won! He is now in prison and serving a 20+ year sentence. As said, this was much more interesting, especially the legal aspects of the case, and the stories were hear-breaking, but it really would have been nice to see Oprah on a day where the topics were a bit more casual and fun, and not so serious.

When done with all the Oprah watching, we went to the Oprah Store! More on that in the next few days (as well as the GREAT food we ate, tip for getting tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and our trip 4 hours south to Springfield, Illinois).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We're Going to Oprah!!!! Chicago, Illinois Part 2

So how do you get tickets to Oprah?

First, you have to be a member of her website at http://www.oprah.com/.

Then you need to go to the audience reservation page: http://www.oprah.com/audience where about half-way down the page is information about current availability. Most of the time, the reservation window is closed, but for about 48 hours each month during the taping schedule (September - May), the window opens and you need to go in and request tickets for the show(s) you can attend. Oprah generally tapes two shows per day Tuesday - Thursday, and Suzanne requested about a dozen shows. About 24 hours after the window closes, you'll get an email stating either "Sorry, not this time." (which we've gotten) or "Great News!" (which we've also gotten) with information about confirming your reservation. You have a limited time to confirm, and once you do that, you are a ticket holder to an Oprah show! (You don't actually get a ticket, but your name, and any guests, will be on a list when you arrive at Harpo Studios.) Also, you do not know who/what you'll be seeing until you get to the studio, and there's always the chance of a cancellation (which would be a major bummer).

So we never expected to actually get tickets, and this was a great surprise...............we'll share more as the experience unfolds ~ check back soon ~ and keep your fingers crossed for David Beckham - or - Matt Damon - or - Brad Pitt!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're Going to Oprah!!!! Chicago, Illinois

Guess where we’re going next week????? (Of course, the title should be a big clue.........)

To see Oprah in Chicago!

On a whim, Suzanne tried for tickets online and got them!



Suzanne’s hoping for Matt Damon………..or David Beckham……………or Brad Pitt………….or all three!

Brad’s hoping for Haley Barry………….or Salma Hayak…………..or Charlize Theron……………..or all three!


We’ll write more about how we got the tickets in the next day or so, then will be sure to write about our experience.

Oh, and if you have forgotten - we did check out Oprah's house when we were in Santa Barbara last November ~ here's the synopsis and a picture of her gate!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riverhouse Restaurant, Pacific City, Oregon

One of our favorite places to eat when we’re staying at Neskowin Creek RV Resort is the Riverhouse in Pacific City, about a 10-15 minute drive up the coast. The Riverhouse doesn’t look like much on the outside, in fact, it doesn’t look like much on the inside either, but the food – fabulous!! Our favorite is their Dungeness Crab Open-Faced Sandwich – YUMMY! This is definitely our go-to meal when we’re here, and the few others things we’ve tried on their menu – such as their clam chowder – is equally fantastic! Oh, their desserts – great again! When we were here last weekend, we split their cheese blintz - a crepe with a sweet cream cheese filling topped with strawberries and whipped cream – can we say FABULOUS again without sounding too corny? Now, it’s not your least expensive place to go, but on the coast, that’s to be expected. If you’re around the Pacific City area, definitely treat yourself to a meal at the Riverhouse.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Neskowin Creek RV Resort, Neskowin Oregon

Hello Again!

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve posted. As you may know, we arrived home and decided to stay for a while……….and after a loooong time, we finally had the opportunity to take the ‘ole rig out again, and we headed to our “home resort” ~ Neskowin Creek RV Resort in Neskowin, Oregon on the beautiful Oregon coast. We’ve been here a few times before – it’s very big rig friendly with lots of pull-through sites and is very accessible to the ocean – either by a short walk (~1/2 mile) through the nearby neighborhood, or you can take a short drive to the public access just one mile north of the campground.

Neskowin Creek RV Resort offers an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, club house with some activities and meals, wifi ($1/day) a decent bathroom with showers, laundry, tennis courts, shuffleboard, basketball, volleyball and horseshoes. Every time we’ve been here, the staff has been incredible friendly – it’s the same workkamping couple that’s been here over a year and a half now (since we started coming).

One thing about the RV Resort which some may find charming – and others many not – is the abundance of rabbits roaming the campground – there were probably 200+ (more than last year, and you know what they say about rabbits……). They’re cute and all, but their droppings are everywhere……….

This is a great place to come if you want to spend some time along the Oregon coast – it is RPI and Coast-to-Coast, and there’s a great restaurant nearby ~ more on that in a day or two!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good-bye for now...........


Hello!
We want to thank everyone for their patience as we were off-line for a bit. So what happened was that Brad was offered, and subsequently accepted, a job that was too good to pass up in our hometown of Portland, so we headed home! A bit earlier than expected, yes. It is good to be back in our brick-and-mortar home, although we do miss much about being on the road.

But do not fret! This is not the end of our travel blog ~ we will continue to travel in our rig ~ often to the Oregon Coast (which is absolutely beautiful) ~ and other places as well, and will continue to update this site with photos and information for when you visit the area. We also plan to take advantage of Brad working downtown, and will try different restaurants on a weekly basis, and will share our reviews on this site, in the event you visit Portland some day.

Thanks to everyone who followed our adventure ~ we appreciate your kind words, comments, emails – all of it. It was quite an adventure ~ which we have dubbed “Chapter 1” in our book of adventures. :-)

Happy & Safe Travels!
Suzanne & Brad

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Photos of Arches National Park, Utah


We've uploaded our Arches National Park Photos ~ enjoy!!!!!

PS ~ We'll be off-line a few days ~ stay tuned..............................................

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Courthouse Wash Rock Art, Arches National Park, Utah

Outside of Arches National Park is an amazing assortment of petroglyphs and pictographs created hundreds of years ago. One such area is actually inside the boundary of Arches National Park, but to get to it, you need to go out of the park. Just outside of the park is a small parking area, and from here, walk south, over the bridge. To your left you’ll see a sign that leads to a once-spectacular display of pictographs. Carefully following cairns, you’ll walk up a rocky area to the panel, where the best remaining pictographs can be seen on the top left.

What is unfortunate about this panel of pictographs was that in 1980, someone vandalized this panel with acid, thus destroying this incredible piece of history. Although the National Park Service tried to restore what was once there, the acid did damage beyond repair.

We visited this panel 15 years ago when we were in Arches the first time, and were surprised to see now that it is even more faded – from the sun we suppose, as the one area with the best remaining pictographs seems to get more shade.

If you enjoy looking at pictographs or petroglyphs, this is a nice quick stop to enjoy some history of the area.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Park Avenue, Arches National Park & The Moab Brewery, Utah

There are no arches here, but Park Avenue at Arches National Park is well worth a quick stop. Park Avenue is comprised of tall, "thin" rock formations which resemble skyscrapers ~ these were striking and unusual. There is a short, one mile trail that takes you to Courthouse Towers, where you can either turn-around and walk back, or get someone to pick you up there and take you back to your car.

After a long day of hiking and exploring Arches National Park, we went to Moab Brewery for dinner. The surprisingly thing was that although the parking lot looked jammed-packed, there was actually plenty of seating. The food was pretty good for brewery good, as the menu was more than burgers and grilled sandwiches, but included salads, soups, pastas, and vegetarian entrées as well. Brad’s the beer drinker here, and must admit that he wasn’t too impressed with Moab’s brew. OH, there are coupons at the Moab Visitor's Center for a free appetizer with the purchase of three entrées. Enjoy!!



Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Windows Loop Drive, Arches National Park, Utah

A nice way to see a number of arches within close proximity of one another is to take the drive to The Windows area in Arches National Park. With short easy walks, this area provides views of 4 plus unique and spectacular arches. On the way, first be sure to stop and enjoy Balanced Rock, where a short path circumnavigates around the base of the free standing rock, so you can enjoy the variety of views. Although this path is not fully accessible, there is a small portion that is boardwalk that offers great perspectives as well.


The drive to the Windows first takes you past the Garden of Eden section that features some beautiful rock formations including several large rock fins and free standing rock spires. There is a parking lot where you can get our and meander and enjoy these wonderful views. At the end of The Windows drive, there are two parking lots – one that you first come to, and another one just a little further around the loop, so do not be dismayed if you cannot find parking at the first lot. The Windows area features four main arches; North and South Window arches, and Turret Arch which are closet to the first parking lot, and Double Arch accessible from the second parking area.
To explore the three arches up close, you can take an easy gravel path that offers great views and provides access to walk under North Window and Turret Arches with a little more effort. This path has steps built-in so it’s not accessible to wheel chairs. Along this walk is another arch that is just starting, so maybe someday there will be a “more northern” window arch recognized. To add a little adventure to your walk and to change your viewing perspective, there is a primitive loop trail starting at South Window arch that takes you behind both Window arches and leads you back to the parking area.

Double Arch is located near the second parking lot. It’s literally a huge double arch where two arches beginning at the same point yet end in different places. This arch is very unique and quite spectacular. To get there from the first parking lot (you might loose your spot is you try and move your car to the second parking lot) you can either walk the road or cross via a small path that cuts through the center field that separates the parking lots. There is a short dirt trail (not wheel chair accessible) to this arch that eventually takes you under the arch. You don’t have to walk the entire path to get great views of this arch.
As you drive out of the Windows Section there is another area called the Cove of Caves. This is section of caves that have formed in the base of a red rock wall. Very interesting to see and who knows maybe your witnessing the formation of future featured arches.

The Windows area and drive are a must if you visit the park. There are great views and “don’t miss” scenery even if you don’t leave your vehicle. It would be fun to travel this road and see the sights with different lighting at different times of the day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Famous Delicate Arch Hike, Arches National Park, Utah

This is the arch that you see on many Utah license plates – it is the quintessential arch that defines and is the symbol for Arches National Park. There are a few ways to enjoy viewing this arch:

  1. Go to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, which is wheelchair accessible and is about 100 yards in length
  2. Go to the same Delicate Arch Viewpoint and take the short, moderately strenuous trail to a viewpoint that is across a canyon from Delicate Arch – and enjoy a unique view
  3. Go to the Delicate Arch trailhead by Wolf Ranch and hike the 1.5 miles to the arch and touch it, which is what we elected to do.

This is a very popular hike, so definitely start it as early in the day as possible (we got there at 9:30am). The trail begins as a flat dirt path and passes by the Wolfe Ranch homestead house. The Wolfe’s lived and raised enough animals to survive in this harsh place. The single room house has been preserved and offers a glimpse into how difficult their life must have been.

Just past the house and the small creek is a short spur trail that leads to some petroglyphs (which we took at the end of the hike). Here you can see animal and human-like carvings in a few large rocks that are believed to be created by Ute Indians.

Continuing on the main the trail after about ¼ of a mile, the hike begins its steady ascent on a bed rock face where no plants grow. Following the trail takes locating the series of cairns and the well worn path in the rock from years of hikers. Eventually the trail levels out a bit, but always with an uphill ascent, to an area with some scrub juniper trees, bushes, and plants. There are no views of Delicate Arch at all these sections of the trail, so the prize still waits.


As you approach the end of the trail, which is the top of the peak, Delicate Arch is still hidden from view by a large rock wall. The trail skirts around the backside of this wall where a path/ledge has been cut into the side of the cliff. After about 25 yards look up to the right and you’ll see a small arch in this wall. It’s worth the effort to scale the rock to go up and look through it for there Delicate Arch can be seen for the first time on this hike. This unique vantage point provides a magnificent perspective of this one of a kind arch!

Continuing on the ledge trail a bit longer, an open stadium like bowl appears and off on the far side lies Delicate Arch in all it’s glory…truly an awe-inspiring setting and viewpoint. You can hike around the bowl so you are under or inside the actual arch. There are amazing views on the other side of the arch. This is a great place for that one of kind photo of the arch up-close and with the snow capped LaSal Mountains in the background. A huge Wow!

The walk to Delicate Arch took us 45 minutes, and after spending about 30 minutes at the arch hanging out and chatting with people, it took 30 minutes to return to the trailhead.

Remember the petroglyphs? On the way back we took the very short spur trail to take a look at them as well.

We also saw this cool bullfrog as we were just at the tail-end of the hike ~ of course, we named him Jeremiah.......

This is a definite must-do hike when in Arches National Park. The trail is open enough and smooth enough to also hike it at night during a full moon. We have already pledge to ourselves that we’ll definitely do the hike during full moon upon our next visit to the park.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hike to Tower Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

If you’re looking for a quieter hike in a remote part of Arches National Park and still want to see a few interesting arches, then this is the hike for you. To get to this hike, you first need to drive 8.2 miles down a dirt road. This road is the first dirt road off the left hand side of the road after the Sand Dune Arch parking area going towards the campground. It is maintained well enough to be passable for both trucks and cars, but there were places we wouldn’t have minded a bit more grading, as there were some serious washboard grooves. This dirt road takes you right down the middle of Salt Valley. This valley is wide open, full of desert brush and offers distant views of the Devils Garden area and Klondike Bluffs (home of Tower Arch).

The trailhead is located at a small parking area that also has a pit toilet. Once to the trailhead, the hike begins with a steep ascent over rocks, yet after 100 yards or so when you are on top the ridge, the trail levels out and it actually quiet level in most places. There were a lot of interesting rock formations along the way, and the trail eventually descends into a valley where you spend some time walking over rocks to the next level section. This valley is bordered by a wall of spires and large rock formations on each side. At the bottom of this valley, you cross the wash and begin to climb up the other side over a large sand dune that is the color of the surrounding rocks. Once on top, the trail leads you over more sand dune (at least it’s not uphill) and into narrow passage ways formed by rock fins. The trail is well marked by rock cairns which after about ¼ of a mile lead you to Tower Arch.

Tower Arch is a large arch with a very thick cap. You can climb through and up the backside for amazing views using the arch as your window. At the base of the arch is a carved inscription by Al Ringhoffer and his wife ~ Ringhoffer who was instrumental in establishing Arches National Park. As you are facing Tower Arch, there is another smaller nice arch to the right.

The total mileage for this hike was 3 miles round trip, and it took us about 2 hours. If you’re not up for such a long hike, there is a 4-wheel drive high clearance road that you can take to within 0.3 miles of Tower Arch.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Fiery Furnace Hike, Arches National Park, Utah

There are two ways to hike the labyrinth area known as Fiery Furnace; either via a permit or a Ranger-led hike ($10 per adult). We chose the ranger led hike, and had a variety of thoughts on whether we made the right decision during our hike.

Fiery Furnace is a section of Arches National Park that has no trails or markings, such as cairns to follow, so it is important that you be able to navigate on your own, or go with someone who knows the area well, such as a ranger. When we first entered Fiery Furnace, it was actually an easy trail to follow – there were quite a few tracks in the sand and we thought, “Hmmmm….perhaps we should have just gotten a permit and walked here ourselves.”

We did enjoy the scenery and there were striking rock formations and very interesting narrow canyons, but for the next hour/hour-and-a-half we continually stopped to hear some history, a story, and the same bad jokes by the ranger. Now usually we enjoy ranger-led hikes and enjoy learning about the area, but we just didn’t get the best orator of the rangers here in Arches, and time seemed to go by very, very slow…………..and we were still thinking, “Hmmmm….perhaps we should have just gotten a permit and walked here ourselves.” (and we weren’t the only ones with this thought!)

Around this time, the hike started getting very interesting. On many occasions we had to squeeze through narrow passages ways that required us to place our feet on one wall while leaning forward putting our weight on our hands against the opposite wall walking sideways through the crack. In other spots we had to slide down rocks surfaces and then jump across cracks in the canyon floor. All these fun obstacles were without the aid of cables or chains. In addition to the increasing technical nature of the hike, the canyons got much narrower and very deep. We soon realized that if you took a left instead of a right you would easily get lost so now we were glad we were following a ranger.

In addition to leading us through the labyrinth of trails, the ranger took us to some dead-end canyons that were awesome. One such chamber contained an arch called Surprise Arch that partially covered the sky.

We were lucky on a lot of accounts ~ we had a great group of people (who ranged in ages from 5 to 70+). We enjoyed helping each other in tight spots (literally & figuratively), chatted while we waited for people to get through areas that forced us to be slower, and shared a sincere interest in this unique setting. So in the end, we do recommend the ranger-led hike, since we were able to explore areas we wouldn’t have otherwise known about, and we do enjoy learning about areas we explore, just cross your fingers that you get a more fun and a better orator in your ranger.

Tips~

1. The Fiery Furnace ranger hikes fill-up quickly – be sure to get your reservation as soon as you get to Arches National Park. Go to the Visitor’s Center to purchase your tickets.

2. Groups of 10 or more can get a private hike (with 4 weeks notice). We think this would be a great experience for a group of people, such as a family gathering.

3. Bathroom tip! When Suzanne asked the ranger where there would be a place to stop to step-off and take care of business, his reply was, “You should have gone before we left.” Well, she did, and it was only 45 minutes into the trip, and 2 ¼ hours of “holding it” was not an option. Here’s the tip – hang back in the group – there is always enough time to step-out, take care of business, and jump back into the group without ever being seen by the ranger, who is always first in line. Those at the back definitely bonded over these side trips.

4. Like to take photos? If you hang in the back of the group, since it slows down as people have to maneuver over obstacles, it will give you lots of time to take pictures, and not feel rushed or that you’re holding up the group. 5. Wear sturdy soled shoes or boots for climbing the almost vertical rock surfaces. Wear ankle-high shoes or boots if you have weak ankles and need the extra support.


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