Travel Journal, Day 3 (Part I): Zion ~ The Hidden Gem of Utah’s National Parks

June 18, 2018

Zion National Park is only a stone’s throw away from the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Coming down from Twin Knoll Road and making a right turn on Highway 9, we could see the East Entrance of the park already. Once we entered Zion National Park, we all were in awe. I said to Kevin: “Bryce Canyon N.P. and Arches N.P. might be the famous Utah parks. But Zion N.P. is a hidden gem.” I wish, we would have taken the shuttle bus, since it is free of charge. But we didn’t know that. And of course, we didn’t go to the Visitor Center to ask, if there was a fee to ride on the bus. Now, it’s one of many excuses to come back again. 😉

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 1: From Texas To New Mexico

June 16, 2018

Man, I was in a crappy mood when we packed the car and left for Utah on Saturday morning. I slept only four hours the night prior. And I didn’t feel good. But this was not stopping us from going on vacation. I took a two-hour nap in the car, while Kevin was driving towards Amarillo. Several miles after Wichita Falls, I woke up and felt refreshed. I’ve noticed, Sara was taking a nap as well. It’s not usual for her. But she must have been pooped as well. At the Quanah County Safety Rest Area, we took a break to have lunch. Walking along the pond was a nice break from sitting in the car, before we were moving on.

In Amarillo, Kevin said something about the Cadillac Ranch. I did a little research, and found out that the ranch is west of Amarillo. Usually, we drive through Amarillo at night. So, we’ve never seen it from the Interstate. This time, we decided to make a stop. After Kevin refilled the van tank, we parked on the side of the service road. It took a short walk and we were standing in front of ten half sunken in Cadillacs. I handed Katelynn and Sara each a spray can, which were just laying around on the ground. The girls left their marks at the cars. Sara was not happy, she had spray paint on her fingers. I said: “Girl, it’s a vacation trophy along the way. I’ve got spray paint on my fingers, too.” Katelynn showed her fingers and agreed: “See, we all got trophies from our first sight along the road.” Sara lightened up and smiled: “Yeah, I guess I’ve got a trophy.”

Getting to the Texas/New Mexico border, we got into some rain. The temperatures dropped from 89ºF (31ºC) to 65ºF (18ºC) while the thunderstorm came through. It was very refreshing, after the heat and humidity in Dallas.

At the Pajarito Rest Area in New Mexico, we ate dinner. We always bring food on the road to save some $$. The girls enjoy a good old “Road Sandwich made by Momma with L-O-V-E”, some fruits and apple juice. Snacks are important, too. That keeps our girls happy and Kevin’s wallet gets a break. The sun was out, and the kids could walk around  for a little bit. Our goal was to make it to Farmington in New Mexico that night.

When we approached Albuquerque, it looked like we are driving into another storm. And sure enough, as soon as we got over that hill it looked as we are driving towards a raging volcano. Driving through the city, the sky unleashed it’s “beast”. Getting down the hill, the wind was so gusty, it shook the whole van, while we dried to make it to the get to the other side of town. Once we were on the west side of Albuquerque, the sun came out and we saw a beautiful double rainbow. We were surprised, how vivid the colors came out and how long it lasted. It looked stunning.

On Highway 550, we were on our last stretch for the day. There was another, much lighter rain storm, before we arrived in Farmington. I could not wait getting out of the car and rest for the night. It was a long day. But we’ve reached our goal. And we weren’t to far from the Four Corners Monument, which we would see the following day.

… to be continued …

The Tiger Lily & The “Autumn Beauty”

I’m not physically feeling well, today. But I couldn’t stay in bed and in the house all day either. So I walked around my raised beds to see what’s growing and in bloom. Sitting in the house is uncomfortable and depressing. Even when I couldn’t stay outside for long, at least the fresh blooming Tiger Lily and the “Autumn Beauty” Sunflower put a smile in my face. 🙂

The Colony Shoreline Trail In June

This morning, the weather was so beautiful and the temperatures were 77ºF (25ºC). After Katelynn and Sara were on their way to school, I got dressed and packed my backpack for a small hike at the Shoreline Trail. When I arrived, a Painted Bunting welcomed me at the trail head. It sang a beautiful song to its mate. It was humid. But taking a short break in the shade and the wind blowing, helped a lot. The Prairie looked so beautiful. Butterflies and other insects got attracted by the thistles, prairie coneflower, bee balm, and many more blooms. I watched many more wildlife along the trail, before I hiked back to the car. It felt good visiting the Shoreline Trail. I have to do this more often, again.

Sunflowers In The Colony Community Garden

Summer is coming early to North Texas this year. Since a couple of months, there are several big sunflower plants growing in my first raised bed. I’m still not sure, if these are self-seeders from the previous season, or a critter left some seeds of the Common Sunflowers from a nearby field in my bed. The chances are great, that some of the seeds I’ve been sowing haven’t produced last year. And now, we have some big shading plants standing tall in the Community Garden. They produce a lot of smaller heads. But they look very pretty and are very nice pollinator attractors (honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds). The birds will be happy to have fresh sunflower seeds in late Summer, again.

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Summer comes early, and so do the sunflowers this year.

Our Garden In Mid-May 2018

Our peppers and tomatoes love the warm May weather. And the other vegetables, fruits herbs and flowers (to attract pollinators) like it as well. Yesterday I’ve noticed, we are raising Cabbage White Butterflies inside the greenhouse. I found a couple of empty chrysalis on the Ornamental Kale leaves. No wonder, we have so many flying Cabbage Whites flying around in our garden. Well, I can’t blame them. There is a lot of cabbage to feast on for the caterpillars. And Family Cardinal is happy to get fresh caterpillars for their young. Here are several photos of what’s growing in our raised bed garden in mid-May.