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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Desert oasis

After a few days in western Colorado, we migrated further west, still following the Colorado River. We pulled off the main road to "explore" and found a quiet oasis surrounded by red and tan sandstone sculptures.

Near our new campsite, we hiked across the rock-bound landscape in the evening. To give you an idea of the awesome scale of the rocky desert world, I took a photo of the boys hiking about a 100 yards away from me. We are specks in the grand scheme of nature.
As the sun set over our camp, I took photos of the rosy hue it cast on our world.
In the photo that I took of K at sunset, she tilted her head so that I couldn't see her left eye. A few minutes later, I discovered that her left eyelid had swelled so much that her eye was barely open. A quick dose of Benadryl seemed to help (we have a well-practiced "allergic reaction drill" because K is so prone to allergies). Her eye had returned to normal by the next morning. To our surprise, the whole sequence repeated itself, but in the other eye, the following evening. Our best guess is that she had allergic reactions to a bug bites - this girl has more allergies than anyone else I know!
The following morning, our foursome ran/biked to the "Top of the World" following a jeep trail that tilts straight up to the edge of a sweaty-paw inducing cliff. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the "vicious" climb was for me, given that my comeback to cycling has barely begun. It fits with one of my beliefs that I never know what I'm capable of unless I test the limits.

In the photo below taken from the top of the trail, the desert valley yawns more than a thousand feet below us and snowy mountains float on the cloud-enshrouded horizon. The valley comprised contrasting deep red rocks and lush green pastures.
Red needle-like pinnacles punctuated the valley's edges.
I had to fight my panicky fear of heights to get the photo shown below. Red sandstone towers stood close to the cliff's bottom. From our view, it appeared that boulders had come to rest balanced atop the towers.
As we ogled the view downward, R's attention was riveted upward. He looked toward the heavens.
K sported her serious photo look (and she's much further from the edge than it appears).
Finally, after enjoying the view for a long time, we started to get chilled in the thinner air 2500' higher than our camp. We began the rumbling descent over a jumble of sandstone boulders and rocks. I noticed many flowers as I navigated the rough trail downward. Red paintbrush surrounded an ancient tree skeleton.
Stunning bugle-like red flowers lined the small cliffs next to the trail.
A brilliant evergreen with delicate yellow flowers stood out against a blue sky. I think that it's called Fremont's Mahonia.
After a hard physical effort, we wiled away the afternoon, reading and snoozing in camp. A lizard joined us to bask on a rock. This lizard had blue flecks and a blue spot on his side. I believe that he was a "Side-blotched Lizard".
The dogs weren't concerned with lizards, but they were concerned with unidentified noises emanating from behind rocks. Who would ever think that such sweet labs could look so scary?
We ended another chapter in our trip with a sweet evening hike. My body was tired and aching so K and I parked ourselves on a sunny rock while the boys explored.
As we rested in complete silence, a rainbow shined from behind a mesa. In moments of peace and beauty in nature, I remember our past pack members who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. I also thought of friends whose dogs are sick or have passed away recently and wished them peace and solace.


  1. What a pawesome post!

    AND how fitting to have a rainbow since Maguire was allowed to cross The Bridge earlier today -

    Thanks for sharing the incredible pictures!

  2. Somehow, KB, I had never picked up a fear of heights from you. But I love the attitude - never let a fear get in the way of accomplishing what you want.

    P.S. - Rainbows always seem to make me think of those who have gone before us. Maybe it is there way of letting us know they are ok.

  3. I am with D.K., I wouldn't have thought you'd have a fear of heights. You always seem to soar above adversity, I suppose that why it seems incongrous to me.

    Yet again, I am in envy of your photography skills! It looks like an absolutely beautiful trip!

    Rainbows make me think of the same thing! :)

  4. Great spot! The red bugle-y flowers are penstemmons, maybe Firecracker Penstemmon, Penstemmon eatonii.

  5. The view down onto those red sandstone pillars is quite awesome. Amazing how they've eroded like that.

  6. Great post and pictures. I really got a sense of that balance between challenge and rest. I'm glad you got to push yourself in the morning, and enjoy that rainbow in the evening.

    So strange to see K with her hackles raised like that! Good protection work.

  7. Another winner of a post - they all are!!! We think you should turn your photos into a postcard/greeting card business - that last photo is incredible.

  8. What fabulous trip photos, KB! Why don't I ever see a lizard? (Well - I do see little ones but...). The rocks and skies and buttes and mesas were a great spring escape for you.

  9. I love the lizard... of course, you knew that, right? :) The rainbow shot is soothing, too.


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