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Monday, April 8, 2013

Desert finale

Finishing our desert trip...

We wanted to spend our last weekend of the trip in an area that we know well. The problem was that it was only about 40 miles from Moab - which made us nervous about "crowds". But, we've visited there at this time of year before, and it's been very quiet. The world there is dominated by pink and white striped cliffs and deep blue skies.
Our first sign that it might not be so quiet was that our favorite campsite was occupied, which threw all our plans into a tizzy. It was early evening when we arrived so we just found a nearby 4WD road, went up it a little ways, and stopped the van for the night. Despite my bad mood over the change in plans, I have to admit that our impromptu campsite had pretty nice views.

The next day, I made it my mission on my bike ride to find a nice campsite for our last night, and I did! I searched an area that is very lightly traveled, following every spur 4WD road that headed to the base of the cliffs. After riding for what felt like forever, I found an ideal spot, in a semicircle of cliffs with a slickrock spot for watching the sunset.
I quickly rode back to the pack, and we took the Labmobile there. The Duo thought that it smelled divine. R looked very interested but Shyla's eyes looked ready to pop out of her head.
The campsite included our own little slickrock playground where I played with the Duo.
R barked with enthusiasm for the spot.
The spot was also ideal for viewing the sunset and soaking up the incredible colors of a good sunset. I captured my favorite photos of Shyla in that spot. A chocolate lab in sunrise or sunset light is my favorite photographic subject!
Fortunately, Shyla loves our photo sessions. As she sniffed the wind in this photo, she looked at me out of the corner of her eye.
Then, she gazed at the setting sun...
The sunset was a beauty.
The star-viewing from our campsite was stupendous. Our campsite was so secluded that it was very dark, and it felt as if we could see a zillion stars that we'd never seen before. The North Star (Polaris) shined through a dip in the cliffs that loomed on the north and east sides of our camp, and I made photos of the world spinning around it.

Early in the evening...
Each exposure was about 30 minutes so I got only two tries before my eyelids were too heavy for any more photography. Later in the evening...
In the middle of one of those very long exposures of the star trails, a fireball shot across the sky but somehow didn't show up in my photo (unless it was the faint red line in the first star photo). It was the second fireball (a close meteor burning up in the Earth's atmosphere) that we'd seen on this trip. I'd never seen one before this trip. It made a hissing noise, which caught my attention. I looked up to see a flaming object, with a long tail of flames, hurtling across the sky. In seconds, it burned out, leaving a lingering glow where it had traveled for just a moment. It was an incredible sight. I've found that others reported the same fireball in Utah... very cool.

The next morning, we agreed that we'd discovered a new favorite campsite, even though it doesn't get morning sun (making getting out of the sleeping bag very tough). Someone we know sat atop a slickrock hill early in the morning.
Having our "old faithful" campsite not be available had forced us to explore and find another wonderful place on this planet. My friends often shake their heads with confusion when I tell them about the spontaneity of our trips - they're used to a more conventional travel style, including reservations in campgrounds or hotels, and planning the itinerary for each day. We find that, by following our spirits rather than a schedule, we discover more out-of-the-way and gorgeous places than we ever would if we planned every detail. Of course, we have occasional "duds" due to our lack of planning but the great days more than make up for it.

The next morning, we arose early and headed out for a pack run/mountain bike up a steep route to the "Top of the World". It truly feels like the highest place around when I peek over the edge at the desert floor thousands of feet below me. It was Shyla's first visit to a spot that our pack has visited many times.
We held the Duo well back from the edge so I have no photos of them up on the cliff. But, it was a stupendous view, and all of us returned to the Labmobile safely!
It was a warm, sunny, and restful trip. I am wistful for Utah as I gaze out the window at snow pelting out of the sky! Yes, I know that Mother Earth badly needs it but I am yearning for warm and sunny weather! I can't wait to visit the desert again.


  1. What incredible photos!! I would love to frame any one and put it up in the family room. I love Shyla looking at you out of the corner of her eye. I also love the close up of R. I look forward to visiting you, I always feel better after seeing the beauty through your eyes. Thank you.

    Anne and Sasha

  2. Each evening I know that I'll find another amazing post from your pack.
    Looking at Shyla and R always makes me smile. Tonight seeing Shyla's eyes popping out of her head was funny. Glad to know you had a relaxing mini vacation.

    xo Cinnamon and Linda

  3. Thanks for sharing your amazing vacation. I love the star pictures.


  4. MOM and I are much like you and your pack. We really don't plan our trips. We just head off and let the wind and spirit take us. I really can't think of a time we really have ever been disappointed. Beautiful photos KB.

  5. OH MIss Shlya and that cute photo of her looking out the side of her face at you. Again you have given us a ton of beautiful photos. YOur night shots are so fun and your pictures of our desert country are incredible. I can just imagine you sitting back at home with snow falling down around you and thinking of the warmth of the afternoon sun in the red lands.

  6. Just breathtaking. I have never been to the desert so thank you. Maybe a silly question but are there snakes around when you are camping? I think I would be paranoid of them out there lol

  7. Your campsite had pretty nice views alright. After seeing such beauty daily we think we would react like Shyla when we went into the city
    Benny & Lily

  8. Magic...just magic.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy


  9. Wonderful post,KB! From the scenics to the stars to that lovely R boy I never see enough of, and the beautiful Shyla, it was a most enjoyable read.

    It stays cold and wintery here, although today I noticed some snow had left us. So patient is what we will be!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  10. Looking at R and Shyla, face held up high, eyes almost shut, breathing in the spirit of that wonderful area, superb night pics. Yes, a great place to visit again. Greetings from Jean

  11. You clearly don't suffer fom vertigo !

  12. The red rocks are cool. Coming from the Northeast, it is hard to believe they are real. Odd that the shooting star didn't show up, but it must have been wonderful to see.

    I love the photo of R caught mid woof.

    Mango Momma

  13. What fabulous photos! We don't have a favorite. We love them all!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  14. I know I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again. Your photos are just amazing. It's hard to imagine such a peaceful spot on this planet.

  15. I feel like I took a trip to Utah! Thanks for sharing your wonderful photographs!

  16. Love the photos. And that you discovered a new favorite place. The adventures abound!

  17. So beautiful! It's wonderful that the desert is close enough that you are able to escape winter from time-to-time. All the photos are gorgeous, but the one of the person atop the slickrock hill is truly special.

    Susan and Wrigs

  18. Wonderful photos! What a great way to travel - just being ready for anything! I have to admit - I have to at least plan some of it (like where to stay), but I agree that some spontaneity thrown in about how to spend the day is a nice addition and makes for great memories!

  19. What a beautiful country we live in! Your pictures (and descriptions) and amazing.

    We love some of Shyla's silly looks. In on picture it looks like she is about to tip over.

    Thanks for taking us with you on your weekend get-away!

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  20. I'm so envious you were able to spend time in red rock country once again. What a magnificent spot you found!

    We often will plan everything out on our trips, but we get sidetracked as we find new things and new places. My friends think we're crazy because we'd rather hike or ride in the wilderness than sunbathe on a beach...

  21. What a great trip! Thanks for the gorgeous photographs.

  22. I'm wistful, too, as I view your fabulous photos! Love the sunset on the red rocks. Can't wait for our trip.

  23. We totally agree with being spontaneous on a trip! I've never ever made a camping reservation, maybe because we tend to go to the less popular places at less popular times of year.

    Beautiful photos of the desert. Hopefully someday we can explore that beauty.

  24. Great photos! Love the time exposures of the night sky.

  25. The sniffing shot is the shot of the day! R and Shyla are both looking very cute. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

  26. That one picture, where she is looking at you from the corner of her eye, made me laugh. It looked like she was making sure you were capturing her pretty pose!


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