Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: Final (for this Summer) Empty Nest Edition


As of last night, we no longer have an empty nest.  The last five weeks have flown by, because we were having fun.  Not to worry, though, fun will continue; and besides,  it is good to see youngest daughter again!

We've spent the past week meandering up to Utah, our pre-determined rendezvous point to retrieve our daughter.  (As always, don't think we've left our house unattended.)  Usually, the trip from our house to the Provo area takes about 9-10 hours or so.  This time, we took 5 days.  We stopped and played tourist as often as we wanted to. 

1.  We visited the Hoover Dam.  The water level was low, due to the years of drought, but the dam itself was impressive.  I'm thankful for such an example of great engineering and craftsmanship.


 
Photo taken by putting camera out the window (in photo above) and shooting up.



Look at the craftsmanship apparent inside the tunnels used for tourists! (The service tunnels, also on the tour nowadays, are strictly utilitarian.)

2.  I'm thankful for air conditioning.

Hoover Dam--but don't worry, it felt like only 112°!





3.  I'm thankful that happiness isn't dependent on temperature.  After Hoover Dam's heat, the Valley of Fire was no problem.  We saw petroglyphs, lizards, and a wedding.  We inadvertently crashed the wedding, when we pulled into a parking lot.  Bride and groom and the entire wedding party had come all the way from Scotland to be married--in the parking lot at the Valley of Fire! Then the happy couple--she in her wedding gown, and he in his tuxedo--hiked up a steep rock for a photo shoot.  Besides "Congratulations," all I could think of was how hot they must be!







(No photos of the wedding: I felt bad enough that we interrupted their ceremony with our arrival; I didn't dare take photos to document the occasion.)

4.  I'm thankful for the comfortable give-and-take that defines the relationship John and I enjoy.  For example, on the day we went to Valley of Fire, we also visited the National Atomic Testing Museum and the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory.  I know John wouldn't have stopped at a chocolate factory if he had been traveling by himself, but he was more than willing to tour the factory with me--and he even gave me his free sample piece (which he probably would have done even if chocolate didn't give him migraines.)  Likewise, I was happy to go look at rocks and learn about explosions.  We have fun together.

5.  I'm thankful also for the fun we have driving together.  We spent more time than one might expect coming up with advertising slogans for a mortuary in Hurricane (HUR-u-cun), Utah.  The winning slogan:  "That, and so much more."  The name of the company:  Spilsbury Mortuary.

(Disclaimer:  I appreciate the services that those in the mortuary business offer to grieving friends and family members, and I'm sure the Spilsbury Mortuary is a positive influence in the community of Hurricane.) 

6.  I'm thankful for the musical and acting talents we witnessed at a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  The mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to the Tuacahn Ampitheatre, but unfortunately, photos were not allowed.  If you ever find yourself in St. George, Utah, go see a play!

7.  I'm thankful for the beauty of Zion National Park.  




8.  Not only is Zion National Park beautiful, it presented me with one of the most unique hikes I've ever done:  Zion Narrows.  I'm thankful for the experience.


Can you see me in the photo?
We hiked the Narrows from the bottom up, and made it about 4-1/2 miles upstream before turning around.  (We later learned that we were only about 30 minutes from the mandated turn-around spot.  We'll have to go again sometime and hike just a little bit further!) The majority of the hike is actually in the water.  We got into the water at about 7 a.m.  Due to our early start, we saw very few people on the upstream hike.  (The downstream portion was another matter.) We enjoyed the solitude in the gorgeous setting.  Portions of the hike were easy-going, thanks to the specialized shoes and neoprene socks we rented.  Other parts took more time, as we struggled to maintain our footing on the slippery, ubiquitous rocks.  The entire hike was so much fun! 





9.  I'm also thankful for early morning hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park.  (And fun with [untouched] selfies!)







10.  Finally, and primarily, I am thankful for my family: John for the great guy that he is; my brother and his wife for hosting youngest daughter in their home these past 5 weeks; my children, who bring me joy; and my in-laws, who are celebrating their anniversary today with a houseful of kids and grandkids. (And of course I am thankful for my parents, my sister, my granddaughters, my grandma, and aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews. . . )

Some of the bunch, and the best of the photos.  I love these--and all of my--silly kids!
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Thanks for a wonderful summer!  Please link up your post below, and/or leave a comment sharing what you are thankful for this week!

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38 comments:

  1. I'm practically speechless. These photos are gorgeous! I recently read a book about some folks who spent the summer camping, and they spent a good amount of time at Zion National Park. Your pictures have certainly given me a different perspective of the book! (One of the main characters was a rock climber.) I am absolutely putting this on my must see places! That hike alone! Through the water?!?! Awesome. You and John are our kind of travelers.
    Aaaaand I can't believe it's been 5 weeks already. Would have sworn your daughter just left.

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    1. If we had spent another day at Zion, we might have attempted the Angel's Landing hike. I think the key to any of the more popular hikes is to go early in the morning, so it isn't as crowded (or hot.) We were planning on hiking the Narrows a day earlier, but did not, due to flash flood warnings. While I enjoyed hiking through the water, I'm not foolish enough to attempt it if there is any real risk of getting caught in a flash flood!

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  2. Kristi, what absolutely stunning photos! I have heard of the beauties of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon but never visited. Your pictures of Hoover Dam just make me plain nervous. So enormous! But you're right that the work is a marvel.
    You got me laughing along with you and John with you slogan. I like your sense of humor!

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    1. Now that we finally visited those parks, it's going to be hard not to stop every time we travel between California and Utah. We definitely want to hike the Narrows again!

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  3. What a wonderful trip! I've never been to that part of the country. I don't think I could go inside Hoover Dam, and the picture that you took by holding the camera outside the window makes my insides get all squiggly. Love the pic of your kids. Oh, and the videos of you and John walking in the stream. I would probably slip and go splat in the water.

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    1. Amazingly, we both managed to stay dry from mid-thighs up. However, my arm is still sore from my death grip on my hiking stick!

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  4. Your photos are magnificent. The views are amazing. I wish I could see them with my own eyes.

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  5. Kristi!! This is absolutely gorgeous! What a trip...the sights you saw and the photos. I am astounded. The photo out the window at the Hoover Dam literally made me woozy. But the national park photos...simply stunning. What a fantastic trip for you and John. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    You've had a lovely time together and now I'm glad your youngest is home safe and sound!

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    1. It's been a great 5 weeks, but it will be nice to have three of us in the house again, too.

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  6. Your photographs are breathtaking :) What a wonderful trip you made of your journey to meet up with your daughter again :) Wow!

    I LOVE that pic upwards of the dam. Incredible :D

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    1. We heard so many different languages spoken by other visitors to the parks. It made us realize how fortunate we are to have such places not-that-far from where we live, and reminded us that we should continue to look for opportunities to play tourist in our own backyard.

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  7. I have never been that far west - how beautiful those photos are!
    Can't believe your empty nest weeks are over already! Glad you had that time together and also that your daughter is back home again! All good things!

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    1. The time really flew by for us, too!

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  8. What a wonderful adventure and gorgeous photos to remind you of it in the future. The hike through the Narrows must have been awesome. Thanks for sharing your trip.

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    1. One thing I like about blogging is the record I am making. While I took many more photos than I posted, at least I have some highlights of the trip documented! Yes, the Narrows hike was definitely awesome, and I'd really like to do it again.

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  9. all your pics are stunning - what a wonderful hike you both did, the views must have been breathtaking - have a wonderful day and week !

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    1. It seemed like every few minutes I was stopping to take another photo. It really is a spectacular park!

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  10. The Zion National Park and the Hoover Dam are beautiful!! And you're an amazing photographer!

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    1. They really are beautiful. My secret to photography is to start with spectacular scenery, then just take LOTS of photos and hope for the best! :-)

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing everything here today, but especially the hike pictures and film through Zion. We really really wanted to do that hike when we were there, but Henk thought it would be far too hard for my and my bad knees and hips. I was a bit cross with him for denying me from seeing all that beauty there, but now that I have seen how hard John has to struggle walking through the water, I'm glad we didn't do this. I wouldn't have come out in one piece I think.... That's my biggest grief I have; not seeing all the really gorgeous things in the many parks we've visited, because of my physical problems... So, thank you for sharing your adventures through Utah. We can see you had a great time together. Roadtrips are the best!! Especially with a great guy like we have!

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    1. There's one particular section through the Narrows that is really challenging. That's the part where I was thinking, "How much farther?" On the return trip, as we were going downstream, everyone we met who was traveling upstream through that section would stop and ask us, "How much farther?" Henk was wise to discourage you from attempting that hike. The day after we hiked the Narrows, we did a hike in Bryce Canyon, and I had to stop and take some ibuprofen because my knee was hurting. The Narrows is a gorgeous hike, and a lot of fun, but it wouldn't be fun to attempt in pain. And there is so much beauty that can be seen just driving through Zion; you got the flavor of the place for sure. I thought of you when we were driving over those windy roads with their wonderful vistas.

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  12. I'm going along with everyone on this one… totally knocked me out with the photos. (As a devotee of the 'video de selfee' compliments to both of you for excellent camera work. Since I know you as a real person, these photos are so much more…. real, or sense of them (the photos) being of a real place.
    very nice work!

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    1. John has the longer arms, so he gets the credit for the selfie. He was having a lot of fun getting the sunburst to appear on my head. :-) I understand what you mean about the photos being real. Some places are just so spectacular, photos look alien--unless you've seen the place yourself, or can take the word of someone you know who has been there.

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  13. I dont think I need to say it again but that never stopped me before.... the photos!!! You take the best photos!!!! and could you two be any cuter together????

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    1. Awww, thanks. You're making me blush. :-)

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  14. Kristi,
    I have wanted to visit Zion and Bryce National Parks ever since I saw my sister's pictures from her trip several years ago. Your pictures are gorgeous. You & John sound like a fun couple. So glad that you had an enjoyable trip on your way to see your family and collect your youngest.

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    1. Thank you. After finally stopping and visiting Zion and Bryce, I'm a bit embarrassed about the number of years we have traveled from CA to UT without taking more time for the journey. We'll definitely be visiting those parks again!

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  15. Wow seeing pictures of Utah was great! I so agree with you about give and take in marriage. It really makes things wonderful. We do it all the time in my marriage without even really thinking too much about it. :)

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    1. We're like you; the give and take in our marriage isn't really something we think about too much.

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  16. You got some very cool photos! I don't think I'd travel JUST to see the Hoover Dam but I'd like to do what you did and combine it with another reason!

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    1. I enjoyed having a variety of sites to see along the way. Someday we would love to just travel across the country that way, stopping whenever we wanted to.

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  17. Beautiful photos!!! I see that I have missed out AGAIN for this weeks TToT. Oh well.

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  18. Beautiful, beautiful pictures! I am thankful that you did not drop your camera out of that window!

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    1. I had the strap securely around my neck so I wouldn't drop it. I was worried about it falling, too!

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  19. Gosh your photos are amazing. I was in awe at the Hoover Dam, and then there was the Valley of Fire and the Zion park. What amazing scenery. Wow.
    And if you ever come to Scotland Kristi, you'll understand why those people went all the way to the Valley of Fire for their wedding. My sister went to a wedding in July that was supposed to be up a mountain (serious hill-walkers) but with wind and rain and cold they couldn't go up and had it inside a cafe instead.

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    1. I'd love to visit Scotland someday. My g-g-g-grandfather, Alexander Telfer, came to the U.S. from Scotland in the early 1800s. I'd love to go see his country of birth.
      I can understand the disappointment of having weather change wedding plans, though.

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!