Friday, June 24, 2011

Gooseberry Mesa - On and Off the Bike

That poor rental car.  There was a "graded road" that we had to drive to get to the top of the mesa.  I'll assume that when one grades a road, one doesn't grade the parts that seem straight up over rocks.  After finding the road that would get us up on top of Gooseberry Mesa at a non-descript turn off in Rockville, UT.  (pop 247), the dirt road climbs 1,000 feet in a few miles on some pitches where we were questioning the ability of the little red Corolla loaded with 3 huge mountain bikes hanging from the trunk to make it. We were creeping like one of those rock crawling jeeps to keep from bottoming out the car and tearing parts off. 

* Note: Not us -- this is just an example of what people do with their off road vehicles in Utah.  Interesting passtime.  I like the idea but wish they wouldn't tear the whole place up.  It's a free country though, so go for it.

A couple of times people would come down the road past us in their huge pickups with lift packages and they would hang out the windows cheering our progress.  It was slow.  Really slow.  Picking our way over rocks in a car that really only was designed to putter along on properly paved roads in suburbia.

The little car scraped and banged and bounced it's way up and up and up and eventually arrived at a parking lot where we gave it a rest as the sickly-sweet stink of an overworked motor wafted around.

We unloaded the bikes and decided to ride to the "practice loop".  Brenna was going to try her hand at riding the petrified sand dunes, but this was a big mesa and she wisely decided she shouldn't ride some of the trails.

The practice loop, it turns out, wasn't easy.

I keep telling Brenna that guys dig chicks with bike related scrapes and bruises! Well...with those battle scars, she is Ms. USA!
After a few swoops up and down the sandstone, crashing and generally feeling like she was over her skill level, Brenna decided to let us go on and we would meet up later.  There was enough to explore using some of the easier trails and the rutted dirt road down the middle of the mesa that she would be happily occupied without being terrified the whole time. Plus, up on the mesa top, our phones had service, so we weren't out of touch if something should happen!  Having functioning phones was pretty unusual since we spent the week having to drive to Hurricane or Springdale to get a cell signal.

We did meet up again out on the North Rim trail at an overlook, after our own crashing entertainment. Oddly, women don't think guys with bike related scrapes and bruises are quite as cool as we think they are.  They just think we are 8 year old idiots...  Oh least I married the attractively bruised Ms. USA.  She is legally bound to hang out with me, even if I act like I'm 8 and ride bikes around all day.

Successfully avoiding the #1 reason why people fall off cliffs.  Posing for pictures...  The other reasons are listed in this post here.

Group photo - smile everyone!

The bands and layers in the mesa's edges would give you a weird vertigo sensation when you looked at them from a high point.  At varying times this area has been an ocean (and at one point part of the gulf of Mexico...sort of). Layers of sediment that were put down with different chemical compositions create the colors in the rock. 

Glad that Nathan joined me in getting more video than we can possibly watch.  I know the cameras are goofy, but it allows me to waste time and share our rides with people from our point of view.  Besides, we look goofy anyway, so the cameras on our heads don't impact a thing.

The elevation changes were dramatic, and worked us over pretty well.  Especially with the distinctly thinner air than we are used to at home.  I took this picture from the trail so you can see how much the trail would climb, descend, and twist around.

Riding home.

Nathan kept trying to bunny hop the cattle grate, and I kept missing the shot.  The camera wouldn't fire fast enough when he jumped, but I figured I would show this great picture of the grate.  Nathan cleared it and was just out of the shot to the right.  It would certainly be more interesting with him in the picture, but after making him do wind sprints 2-3 times to try to capture him mid jump, I guess we need to show something for his efforts.  Just imagine him there doing something X-games-awesome-super-cool in mid air in the middle of the photo...

A thunderstorm started popping lighting around us at the end of our ride, so we re-grouped and headed for home after spending about 6 hours riding.  On the way down, Nathan decided to descend the "road" we came in on by bicycle vs praying the brakes wouldn't catch fire in the Toyota.  He had more fun I'm sure, and even driving with the car in 1st gear the whole way down the road, the brakes smelled like they were hot enough to roast marshmallows over them.  Very nasty tasting marshmallows, but roasted nonetheless.

I'll save you any more of my long winded descriptions of bike riding among the rocks and ancient sand dunes, and let the video give you an idea of how cool it is to ride in places like this.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!  I'm heading to the beach and then to the lake!  It's a tough life...I know...

Gooseberry Mesa from Brad on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Angel's Landing

As the prophets of old would go to high places to confer with their various gods, they would have done well to climb up to this place.  

Angels Landing.  

The name extends from a story of a minister that said that the outcropping at the end of a fin of rock high above the canyon floor was so inaccessible that “only angels could land there.”  

Fortunately for those of us who as yet are without wings and halos, the park service in Zion National Park found a path, and over years, built a path to get us - mere mortals - to this rocky outcrop.

We stopped for some early evening pictures at one of the lower outlooks of the trail not knowing if we would really have time to get to the top before the light faded.

We had been riding bikes all morning and into the afternoon, so we were somewhat tired, but didn’t want to waste a moment of time since we had only a finite number of days with which to enjoy the beauty of Zion.  

The guide books called the hike “strenuous”, and that it would take us 4-5 hours to complete.  We gauged that the sun would set around 7:30pm and that we would just have enough time to make the ascent before sunset.  

We could then watch sunset, but would have to make our way back across the treacherous fin and onto the relative safety of the switchbacks before it became too dark to see.  I threw a headlamp into my pack, just in case things went poorly and we didn’t make it down before it was pitch black.  
Normally, guide books are very conservative in their assessments of how difficult or how long a hike can take.  By a factor of 2 usually, but in this case they were right on.  The switchbacks were steep and a good hard effort, but certainly not complicated.  Nathan eschewed them and decided to climb straight up the retaining walls for the last 10 or so switchbacks.  It looked like fun, but to keep from smashing my camera, I declined to follow suit.  

Your Safety is Your Responsibility
At the top of the switchbacks we had gained about 1,000 feet of altitude and then the trail began to work its way out across the rocky fin.  Some sections were pretty wide, 30-40 feet, but in many areas we found ourselves on sand covered stone with drops on either side of hundreds of feet if not sheer cliff faces to the canyon floor.  

Falling from that height would give you a good 8-10 seconds of free-fall to think about things before impact.  In light of the chance to make that plunge, I am strangely pleased to note that there were not guard rails and fences everywhere.  There were only minimal chains mounted to the rock in some of the more exposed areas for you to hold onto if you needed.  

The bus ride out to the trail head featured one of the best lines I have ever heard in our overprotective, anti-self-reliance, and pathetically litigious society.  What amazed me was that it was coming from the government run park service.  The narrative stated that this hike was dangerous, fatalities had occurred on the hike, and that “Your Safety is Your Responsibility.”  

It was satisfying and shocking.

I was sure those words had been outlawed in the U.S.  
Finally, A place where it is encouraged that you make your own decision.  

For example: If the last part of a hike is too scary or you are un-fit, make your decision and don’t do it.  There is more than enough to enjoy at anyone's particular skill level.  Do what you can to enjoy the world, but be smart!  The park service didn’t do the normal pseudo-parental thing and shut down the activity, or put fencing , an escalator and elevator access to these high places.  

They gave good advice and let you, the visitor, make the right decision based on your ability.  By the way, I am in favor of the bus system since the tens of thousands of cars that used to jam the single out and back road in Zion would ruin the experience.  Now you can catch a bus every 7 minutes either direction and not have every moron’s stereo blaring, fight for parking and listen to engines revving during your exploration of the Park.
We reached the saddle of the fin before the final climb up to the landing and found a young lady sitting and enjoying the view.  

You can see the young lady that I referred to...just above Brenna...who is just to the right of my thinning hair. @^$%^;*(*&;^%$#!!!!!!!!

After talking for a moment or two, she said she was scared even where she was and had declined to follow her companions to the top.  She was content to enjoy the heights from right where she was and would wait for them to return.  

Ah, an example of good decisions not determined by lawyers.  
Up we went.  And up it was.  Over rocks and sand dusted stone where you had to really think about where to put your hands and feet.  It was one notch off of really needing to know how to climb.  What an experience!

Nathan ascending -- The blur is caused by moisture on the lens.  The temperature change was dramatic as the sun was setting.  Very cool effect on the shot.

Brenna working her way across the fin of rock.

Only a little exposure to her right.  I see her enjoying things like this...

I am so in love.

Looking back from where the switchbacks end and we started to make our way through the rocks on the fin out to Angel's Landing.

When we reached the top we were rewarded with a view that was fitting with the name of the place.  We stayed at the peak until the sandstone had turned from a red tinged tan to deep reds in the setting sun.  

The view as the sun set and the shadows crept up the eastern cliffs...the silence of the space...the wind gently blowing...nothing else.

Heaven simply heaven...

The Utah crew!


Finally the shadows on the canyon wall crept high enough to signal that we needed to get going lest we end up clambering down over the exposed sections of rock in the dark.  I didn’t mind the idea of coming down the established trail of switchbacks in the dark, but I had no intention of using our lamp to guide us down the more narrow sections.

We were completely gassed after the hike.  We made our way slowly down the switchbacks as the bug chasing bats flew disturbingly close to my headlamp, and subsequently my face, we drew up plans for the coming days.  

Next: I’ll figure out how much time I can allocate to video editing.  I may do the Goosebery Mesa story and video or a short post on climbing to the rim of Zion.  i.e. The never ending trail to observation point.

I know that this series of posts has taken forever and I hope you are enjoying the stories as much as I am enjoying writing about the memories of visiting these places.  There is more to my writing than Utah tourism for sure, and the 4th of July lake stories will be coming soon, but for now.  You guys are stuck in the desert with me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brenna and the Church Rocks

I had planned on a big lyrical post about the joy of bikes and how wonderful it is to do something you love to do and introduce others to it as well.  But...sometimes ideas and events don't quite present themselves in a good form to write like that.  Instead, I'll limit my rambling prose to at least say that I was really proud of Brenna for coming with us on the ride.  I could tell she was nervous.  Mostly because she told me as much.  "Brad, I'm nervous about this ride."  It's kinda hard to miss that.  I did my best to tell her that this ride was really "mellow" and that she would have no problems with it.  Everyone said it was pretty laid back and just a fun cruising through the desert with a little fun on slickrock.

We packed the 3 bikes on the back of the Corolla and rolled out into the "industrial section" of St. George.  It seemed an odd place to find a cool trail, but after driving off the main road behind several warehouses, and then driving through a narrow tunnel under I-15, we did in fact find the trailhead.  A few minutes later Monte and his lovely bride, Bonnie, drove up and we took off into the red sands and tumbleweeds.

Nathan and the rest of the group rode on ahead and I rode with Brenna giving her calming advice that she probably didn't want, hear, or even comprehend as the trail soon took a very steep and loose descent into a wash.  She rode it perfectly, and I thought she would be happy, even though I was a little worried that she (and I) were realizing that this trail might have some obstacles that were a bit above her skill level.

This concern of mine was confirmed soon thereafter when she stated in no uncertain terms, "I'm almost too scared to enjoy this."  Woops...In my defense, I did try to come up with a good ride for her, and it was good for the most part.  There were just some scary sections for her to navigate.  Go's Utah mountain biking.

She did ride well and the trail had a few surprises but generally these surprises were items that even the most experienced among us hiked down.  There's nothing like a "mellow" Utah trail to make you think...what the heck is "intense"???

We rode through the sandy desert and along rock ledges until we reached what I'll guess was Church rocks.  Large rounded red sandstone features reached up out of the tumbleweeds a fine tribute to the power of water and erosion at work on and around them.  The formations were the size of a city block and probably a 100 feet high in places. It could have been bigger and higher, but we didn't explore the whole area of course.  You could see holes and pockets where weaker sandstone was eroding faster than the rocks around it.  There were some really steep sections that were great fun to ride down.  One of the nice things about slickrock is that you have almost infinite traction on a bike.  You ride at impossible angles and just stick...until, of course, you don't.  Then sandstone really extracts some tolls on ones knees and elbows as you slide to the bottom of things.  We got through the ride without an incident like last Nathan's slickrock incident last year in Moab.  He looked like he had taken on a belt sander and lost.

Now that I think about that last sentence...honestly, when does one "take on" a belt sander and win?  Secondly, would a ninja be able to win against an angry belt sander?  A question for the ages there folks.  You know you come to this blog for deep insights and questions like that...

We rode around lumps and ledges, steadily climbing up the rocks through a winding trail and found a slickrock playground with some drops and jumps to play on.

We hung out there until the storm we were watching develop over Zion looked like it was creeping our way.  We bolted back for the safety of the cars with blurry gray columns of rain drenching the desert in the distance.  Being up high on slickrock with bicycles isn't a good thing to do with lightning in the area.

A great afternoon was had, and I hope that Brenna will continue riding with me even though she knows the rule that even "mellow" sometimes is terrifying in Utah.

The video.  It is becoming apparent that my YouTube and Vimeo channels are becoming somewhat one sided in video selections.  It's not like I don't have a bunch of other stuff going on in life to share.  I guess  riding motorcycles and mountain bikes lend themselves to recording somewhat better.

Next: Angels Landing -- the hike we managed to do after riding all morning and into the afternoon.  Why stay home and relax?  We were on vacation and climbing to the top of sheer cliffs was right around the corner!  What else do you do on vacation?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Soggy Soggy Zion

Brenna spent the morning hiking around Emerald Pools in Zion National Park, a hike that I regret to have missed, but riding bikes took precedent and when on these trips to big places, you quickly realize that one cannot do it all without staying a month or more.  I will make a point of getting Brenna to elaborate on her solo hike around the pools. Which, by the way, has the distinction of being the most dangerous hike in all of Zion (based on number of deaths).  
Perhaps because it's less treacherous and thusly has more people...apparently drunk people...that drown trying to swim in the pools.  As opposed to the insane heights of Observation point or Angel's landing, I find this "most dangerous" label hard to believe, but in a way...more people, means more morons, means more deaths.  
Ah...the plight of humanity.
Nathan and I had been riding in dry sunny conditions to the west with Monte in the last post, but the nature of the mountains just to the north of us, ensconced with heavy ominous looking clouds, was calling.  We all still decided that getting into Zion for some kind of a hike would be worth getting wet as long as there wasn’t lighting striking around us, so off we went in the Corolla.

Ok, so it wasn't THAT Toyota Corolla.  It was the normal crappy underpowered rental version, but as I know cars and teenagers, the fancy one pictured here is probably just 50 pounds heavier than the stock version after all the aftermarket faring was installed and not any more powerful. 
(Note to people who do this: You spent good money making your car heavier and slower.  I hope the time spent dreaming of the Fast and Furious movies at the fry vat at McDonalds was worth it...)  It's all image and not all much in the way of substance in the street car market most of the time.  Like putting a fat spoiler on the back of a front wheel drive car.  
*slaps forehead*
Ok, enough ranting, I drove my Pontiac Grand AM like a moron, so I have very little room to talk about boorish behavior in my teenage years.  Back to the trip, which was vastly better than my delving into the memories of my high-school driving habits.
You can thank me later...
The clouds were trapped by the canyons and stuck there the whole day.  You could see them gathering in my sunrise time lapse segment of the first mountain biking video here.  The camera is pointed at the peaks of Zion Canyon and the thick clouds were just caught there and didn't make it out to the mesas where we rode the bikes.

You will have to imagine these two images stitched together since I lost my Photoshop abilities when I moved over to the Mac.  I spent that money on riding bicycles and race entries, so it went for a good cause this year.

One thing I really noted in trying to photograph this area of the world.  A wide angle lens is required most of the time.  What I thought was wide angle wasn't even close to being able to capture the grand scale of places like this.  It's honestly amazing.
We drove into the park and really couldn’t see the tops of the canyon walls around us as the clouds rolled and tumbled over the peaks a thousand feet above us.  In the effort to delay getting out of the car and stumbling into the wet and cold, we opted to drive through an historic tunnel that was carved into the mountain side to get out of the canyon and head to higher altitudes.  The Mount Carmel Tunnel was mined out of the rock starting in 1927 and allowed us to get to higher ground where there was a short hike to an overlook.  
The tunnel had some holdups at either end because RV’s coming through have to drive right down the middle to avoid hitting the walls and ceiling of the tunnel.  I guess that’s what you get when you design roads and tunnel projects before the invention of the monstrous vehicles that roam the western states during the vacation months.  I may make fun of them, but I expect to enjoy being a bleary eyed parent hauling the kids around in one to some of these fantastic places in the not too distant future.  

The other side of the tunnel provided an entirely different looking set of cliffs and geology than the interior of Zion.  The ribbed sandstone domes of petrified sand dunes were everywhere dotted with twisted Juniper and Pines.  This is a preserved part of the largest sand dune desert that the planet has probably ever seen, and some of the dunes were hundreds if not a thousand feet high to give you an idea of the scale.  

We tired quickly of the car ride because looking out windows doesn’t give the connection to the natural scenery and open views that walking does, so we braved the rain and headed out to an overlook.  There are normally a few waterfalls in the park, but today the entire place was teaming with them.  We had to find ways off trail to get around several.  The weather was in the low 50’s and we had to keep moving to stay warm since rain gear was something we had not counted on when coming to the desert.  

The rainclouds were remarkable and the solitude of the place, since the less committed tourists were all cowering in their hotels watching TV or something, was an unusual experience.  All you could hear was water falling and the wind.  The scene when we reached the end of the trail was something that I would expect from a trip to Washington State or Oregon.  Very unusual weather according to the locals I talked with.  Especially for late May.  It had even snowed the day before we got into Utah and the high ridge of Pine mountain (which is a massive Laccolith by the way) was completely covered.  Yes, geology is cool...pfft if you don't like it.  It's my blog.

Nathan looking up at the falls that would last only a brief time.  One of the cool shots of the day.

 Here we are trying to look warm and not get our feet soaked!

We were wet and getting cold at the overlook into the canyon, and to end the first and a quite successful day, we headed into Springdale to grab some food and plot out the next day’s activities.
Next: The Corolla goes rock crawling, we ride Gooseberry Mesa, and Brenna finds out that “mellow trails” in Utah are flippin’ hard on the shins.  Yeeeooowwwch!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Riding the Sidewinder

We have so much video.  Perhaps too much?  Nah!  Thanks to Nathan joining me in looking really foolish with a helmet camera during all of our rides, we have hours of footage to pour through.  But for you, my tens of loyal readers, I will get through it all and put together poorly filmed, shaky, and over produced videos for you to enjoy along with my witty prose.

The OTE - Hurricane

We headed with Monte over to the shop to pick up the bikes for the first day, and as we sorted out the shock pressures on these bikes the “Over the Edge Sports Mascot Pooch” flopped on our feet repeatedly looking to be scratched.  That was a really cool dog and it almost makes me wish I had a pet.  Almost…until I think of all the other responsibilities I have going and the urge passes…
The bikes were great and the staff at OTE got us set up and ready to go quickly.  I’ll shamelessly plug them for any of your trips out to Fruita, CO or Hurricane, UT.
The rain clouds were roiling over the mesas and canyons in Zion, so we headed the other (much dryer) direction to go ride the bikes and ended up at the Santa Clara River Preserve trail system near St. George.  The Sidewinder trail actually is part of a pretty large network of trails that run all over the area, and from what I could tell, we covered almost all of them including illusion and the precipice trails.  
The Sidewinder trail is an out-and-back that snakes around the hills and has a turn-around loop at the end before you descend back down at high speed giving it a look of a snake with a head when seen from above, hence the name.  It’s a pretty mellow trail and was a great warm-up for the week.  There were some technical sections with some rocks and a brief bit of cliff exposure, but not too much complicated stuff which was good since we were getting used to our bikes and what they would do.
The views were great and we learned an essential bit of trivia as we were riding around and yakking about everything from geology, to politics, to the merits of bicycles and not crashing.  Heady stuff folks…
That riveting piece of trivia?
The top three reasons tourists and hikers fall off high cliffs:
  1. Posing for Pictures on the cliff edge
  2. Acting like they are about to fall off the cliff
  3. Urinating off cliffs – in the dark.  (I think I’m close enough to the edge…maybe one more step…)
(I’m going to guess that intoxication is also commonly involved in both #2 and #3)
I have no idea if this list is truly accurate because I’m lazy and don’t want to Google it, but they sound pretty dang plausible, so there you have it.  It’s gospel now.  
My advice on this pressing matter you ask?  Sure, I’ll be happy to tell you as I know some of you really wanted to read my words of wisdom.  

First, look at where the edge is, gauge how windy it is and where good footing would be among other conditions, before posing for photographs.  

Second, don’t be a drunken idiot (or just a plain old normal one for that matter) near cliff edges by wildly flailing your arms around and yelling “AAAAaaaaaaahhhhh!”  to try to get a giggle out of your fellow hikers or that cute blond Park Ranger with braids you just saw.  (It's not like the Sasquatch or the chupacabra, she does really exist...  No, of course I don't have pictures...)  
Oh, I digressed a little there.  To the point of acting like you are falling, your friends won’t be impressed, and she really doesn’t care.  Plus, being all mangled and dead at the bottom of the cliff isn’t a good look for a first date anyway.

Finally, if you feel the urge after an evening of imbibing around the campfire…well…whatever…do what you want in that case…Darwin’s theories do have some validity.

We would yell out the appropriate number whenever we saw someone near a precipice throughout the rest of the week, and quite fortunately, I don’t recall yelling #3 at anyone.  Mainly I because I wasn’t looking for people urinating in the dark.  That would be really weird, and I was tired from all the riding.

Some fine examples of posing on high rock outcrops without dying.  A cool set of surroundings to ride bikes if I do say so myself.  We had a ball. 

To close this knowledge packed post, I present you with the first of several videos from the trip.  Riding the Sidewinder, enjoy.  

Filmed entirely with GoPro cameras including the time lapse shots at the opening.

Next post, Zion National Park does its best impression of the Pacific Northwest rain forests. Albeit with Desert Juniper and Pinyon Pine Trees and really big rocks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Atlanta to Vegas to Utah & Parts Beyond...

Brenna and I parted ways with the kids and headed for our second trip to the canyons of Utah.  I must express my sincere gratitude to the family members that helped watch the kids and allowed us to escape for the week.  It is great to have family that is willing to help out like that.  Nathan, our compatriot for the second time on these trips, was already in Vegas trying his best not to lose all his bicycle rental money.  We were going to get the rental car and pick him up on the strip and head north from there.

Last year’s Moab trip had stuck with me as some of the best fun I have had, but we didn’t want to go and do the same things again even though we couldn’t have possibly covered all the trails there even with another week of mountain biking.  

Instead, we decided to head to the southern part of Utah where the Virgin River has carved an awe inspiring canyon through the sandstone creating Zion National Park, and there is also mesa-top mountain biking everywhere you look.   The trip would be less focused on riding the bikes than the Moab trip, but riding mountain bikes would still be a major part of the activities.  (I know, that’s a big surprise…)  Hiking the Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon would make up for the rest of the adventures.
The brown line is the path of the tornado from Tuscaloosa in the distance
to Birmingham hidden by the engine.
After flying over the awful scar that a tornado left on the land between Tuscaloosa and home, I forced Brenna to watch mountain bike videos on the plane until we began the bumpy descent into Vegas and the flight attendant gave me a sour look for still having my iPhone out.  

(Perhaps she was really just trying to save Brenna from having to watch one more teenage guy all hopped up on Red Bull jump over some impossible ledge on a zillion dollar mountain bike.)  

As a side note, the Red Bull Rampage was filmed across the street from the house where we stayed.

Either way, we landed in Vegas shortly.

I was noting the mountains around the city since I had never been there before, and Brenna was noting that most people on the plane would probably never even see the mountains once they were in the clutches of the glittering wallet vacuum that is the Vegas strip.  To wit, she remarked that I was pretty weird, and well, she would know.  We’ve been married for 13 years and hanging out together constantly for 16 years now.  I know she absolutely loves me since, for the second year in a row, she has spent our anniversary not in some cushy vacation spot with fruity drinks, but out in the dirt and grit of the deserts scaring herself on a bicycle and climbing steep winding trails.
30 second timed exposure and a camping headlamp...

We rented a Jeep last year and never really used it as an off road vehicle, so we rented a bright red Toyota Corolla this time and planned on putting a bike rack on it.  We ended up really using it as an off-road vehicle and put it through some spots that it was never designed to go.  As weak as the engine was with 85 octane gas, and a 35 mph headwind heading through the Great Basin, we could have used some of Toyota’s unfortunate trademark “Unintended Acceleration”.    

Storms over the Great Basin as we head north to Utah.

We entered AZ and were almost immediately out of it again.
Unlike most illegal aliens...

I had planned on stopping a couple of hours into the drive from Vegas to Hurricane, Utah to look for “The Crack”.  

Ok, That's enough now...  Quit giggling...  Yes you...  You know who you are...

It is a split in a large rock expanse that you can squeeze and contort your body through, and once we found it, it was loads of fun.  Brenna looked a little uncertain, as we descended into this narrow slot, but she put on her happy face and did it anyway.  For someone who looked pensive at the outset, she looked like she was having some good fun by the end of it.  

Nathan on the other hand, was quite at home, and immediately bounded up the walls and clamored over everything he could find.  

Nathan and his impression of a flag.
--Note this is hard to do--
I wasn’t too far off that level of behavior…except I’m old now.

I don't act all that old most of the time though... Just ask Brenna...

The house in Hurricane was a cool little apartment that we stocked with food to save some cash.  Below is a panorama that you can scroll around to see the house and the mesa’s surrounding the house.  

The mesa top behind the house was restricted since it is one of the two supersonic sled test facilities in the world.  It’s used for ejection seat tests.  I was told that the sled can achieve Mach 3, and I’m positive I would never want to eject at faster than the speed of sound much less 3 times that.  A test would certainly be neat to see – from a safe distance.  
Heavenly I tell you, simply heavenly.  Which is good, since the world was Raptured while we were out there and unfortunately, we were all left behind…along with everyone else.  

Oh…nevermind then.  Perhaps Rev. Harold had read his version of the King James incorrectly.
We got settled in and chatted with Monte, the owner of the place, and got some good ideas of what and where to go while we were out there.  If you are ever inclined to go out to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, give a thought to staying with Monte and Bonnie.  They are great people and have a great place to make home base.

Next up – Riding the sidewinder and we discover that Zion has actually been transported to the Pacific Northwest for the day.