Road trip – to St. George, UT via Bryce Canyon NP. 4/26/21

We travel along UT 12, probably the scariest road ever. At several points the land drops into canyons on either side of the road with just us and the car on a tiny spine of land. I do not take pictures because first of all, I do not want to look and second, because I have tried to take pictures before and there is no way for the camera to capture the depth of the canyons.

The rock along much of UT 12 is white and honey colored

We finally make it to Escalante, UT and find a place to eat some breakfast. The Escalante Outfitters is part serious hiking place and part eco-driven and hippie snack bar. We opt for a crustless egg and vegetable soufflé which turns out to be quite delicious.

Egg soufflé breakfast

As we get nearer to Bryce Canyon we can see the Aquarius Plateau in the distance.

Aquarius Plateau

It is our plan to just make one stop in Bryce, at Fairyland Point. We figure with it being the weekend the park will be overrun with tourists. Plus the sky is looking pretty ominous.

Hoodoos and bad weather impending
Fairyland Point
Fairyland point with Aquarius Plateau in the background
John at Bryce Canyon
Mary looking wind blown and cold
After departing Bryce we head through Red Canyon

We change drivers when we get to I-15 and I end up driving through some of the worst rain I have ever experienced. It is coming down in sheets and the road is hard to see with all the spray from the other cars and trucks. Plus the speed limit is 80 mph!!  When we reach St. George the weather miraculously clears up and we stop at a favorite of ours for lunch, Mad Pita Express.

Great lunch at Mad Pita Express.

We check into the Inn at Entrada, get ourselves settled, and go shopping at Harmon’s for sushi and lentils for dinner.

Our one bedroom suite has a very attractive living room
A small but well-laid out kitchen (but poorly equipped)
An big round table for all our guests (no guests)
A king size bedroom
Nice bathroom with two sinks and separate potty room

After having our sushi hors d’oeuvres we make a lentil stew with mushrooms, carrots, and chicken sausage.

Lentil stew

 

Slickrock hiking near Gunlock, UT. 3/2/21

I found some interesting looking hikes not too far from our base in St. George. The Bowl and the Vortex are mostly in a slickrock area in the Red Mountain Wilderness near Gunlock and Veyo, UT. Veyo is famous for its cinder cones and there is still a lot of volcanic rubble around. To reach the slickrock area we had to hike a very difficult downslope full of sharp basalt rocks. I needed help from John and Jon’s steadying hands.

The trail was not well marked and the hiking guide just said to follow the cairns. What cairns!? We would come across two or three close together and then nothing. So although we hiked around the area for almost 3 hours we never did find the Vortex. Luckily the area was beautiful and there were very few people about so our hike was pretty nice regardless of whether we found our goal!

Pictures from the hike-

As it turns out our goal was between the two big piles of rocks. We were told this by other hikers after we gave up and were going back to the car.
Jon did a lot of reconnoitering but did not find the right spot.
Here he is searching in another spot.
Hiking on the slickrock
Arches
Taking a breather
Enjoying our hike
Jon took this picture from quite a ways in front of us. I am a hiking slowpoke.
Basalt outcropping
Jon leading the way

Our reward for all the hiking was a delicious steak dinner with tater tots and collards and corn. Cooking together has been a highlight of our vacation.

Rib-eye steak, tater tots, and collards and corn

After dinner we took a walk over to our old house. It appeared that someone was home this time!

Our former house in SG

 

Visiting St. George with Jonathan. 2/26/21

We decided to take a week’s trip to St. George to enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful scenery, and to celebrate our vaccines. We invited Jon to come along since he is a great lover of the St. George area. He can play tennis, golf, and hike as well as accompany me to the grocery store and cook while he is here.

We have rented accommodations at the Villas at Entrada where we know the units are fastidiously cleaned and the tennis courts are a short walk away. We have stayed here before and are always interested in how one unit varies from the other. In this one, 2502, there is a separate potty room in the master suite bathroom and a powder room for communal use. We are up pretty high in the development so the views are spectacular. The kitchen is equipped rather poorly but we have brought along things that we felt we would need and can manage quite well.

Living/dining area
Kitchen

On our first day here we take a trip to Harmon’s to get our groceries for the night’s dinner. Shopping is a special mom and Jon activity. In the afternoon we play tennis. It is pretty chilly here but out in the sun even temperatures in the 50s are okay when we are running around.

Jon about to hit backhand
Jon set up for forehand
John about to hit forehand

After we are cleaned up we take some pictures from the little table and chairs in front of our villa. It has a great view of Snow Canyon.

Jon enjoying a Negroni Sbagliato
Mary and John
John and Jon

Our welcome dinner is the always fabulous Kenwood shrimp. It is a group effort with Jon and me cutting the veg, me cleaning the shrimp, and John doing the cooking. I think it turned out the best we have ever made it. Could it be that adding all the cream makes a difference!?

Kenwood shrimp – shrimp in a Pernod/white wine sauce with brunoise vegetables served over rice
Close up

Trip to St. George, UT 11/8/20

Braving the pandemic, John, Jonathan, and I took a trip to St. George and stayed at the villas at Entrada. We stayed here in August when we were escaping the smoke and felt confident that we could enjoy ourselves here without taking undue risks.  The captioned pictures narrate our visit.

View out of our “villa” towards Snow Canyon
Jonathan loves being in St. George
Going to the grocery store and cooking are a couple of our fun events. Here we make a fancy dinner of scallops.

We have managed to pick a very cold week to be in St. George which limits the amount of tennis playing we are doing. But we can go hiking and we have a great time exploring Gold Butte National Monument.

Entering Gold Butte National Monument
John and Jon on a hiking trail at Gold Butte
Mary hiking in Gold Butte
Jon at Whitney Pocket
John peeking out a window
Devil’s Throat is kind of a sink hole and really not much of an interesting sight
This is a new fence that they have put up since we were here last. I guess the land has become more unstable.
One of the sections we had not been able to find in our last trip to Gold Butte was Little Finland, so named due to rock fins. Luckily Jonathan found it for us by climbing up a steep trail which we had not noticed. I could not see all of it because I was afraid of falling but Jon saw the whole thing which he said was quite amazing. This is a picture of John on the way up.
A dragon formation in Little Finland
Going to Harmon’s almost everyday is a special Mom and Jon activity. Here are some meals we made while we were in St. George
Kenwood shrimp – in a Pernod cream sauce
Lamb chops, roasted potatoes, and Brussels sprouts

.

We did get to play some tennis too as it warmed up as the week progressed. Here is a shot of John.
Jonathan
Finally we had to take a look at our old house. We peeked in the windows this time since there seemed to be no one home. It looks exactly the same like the new people have done nothing in almost two years to personalize it. Here is a picture of Jon near the Indian sculpture by our old house.

We had such a good time! Hopefully we will make another trip with Jon in February or March. Maybe we will be vaccinated by then!!

Evacuating ourselves to St. George. August 24-31, 2020

After a weekend of thunderstorms which included a lot of lightning hits, California is ablaze with wildfires. The town next to ours is under an evacuation warning and we decide to get out of the fouled air and scary circumstances for a week in St. George, Utah. We rent a two bedroom “villa” in the complex where we used to have our vacation home.

Since Sarah is coming with us we have three drivers for the long trip. This is the first time we are on the road since the pandemic started and it is a little scary to be finding bathrooms and take-out food on the road. But it all goes smoothly and we reach St. George around 6 PM after a very early start.

We have had to make two reservations – one for the first night and then move into our digs for the the other six nights. The first one seems nice but we are so tired that we hardly notice it. The second one is unfortunately less nice and has many corners cut which seem like false savings for the owners. Polished concrete floors, terrible paper products, bad noise insulation, and no non-stick cookware are nits that really effect the quality of our stay. We even go out and buy a non-stick frying pan so we can cook eggs!

Living room in our villa
Dining area that we never used except to put our tennis bags on the table
Ill-equipped kitchen

Sarah spends her time moseying around, taking some pictures, accompanying me to the grocery store, and reading. John and I get up really early several days to play tennis. We walk over to the courts in the semi-darkness at 6:45 AM. St. George is really far west in the Mountain Time Zone. Although we can use the tennis courts, we cannot reserve one which makes me quite nervous as to whether our getting up before dawn will come to naught. However, although some other people use one of the courts there is always one open for us. It is warm early in the morning, usually in the low 70s but the sun does not emerge from behind the cliff until about 7:45 so the weather is tolerable. Later in the day it will be over 100F.

John ready to play
Mary on the court

Our other major activity is figuring what to make for dinner without our usual pantry to help out. A trip to our local grocery store, Harmon’s, is a daily activity. It is a beautiful, well-stocked store. Even Sarah is impressed.

Harmon’s

We also take a trip down memory lane and take a walk over to our old house. The landscaping has really grown. It definitely needs to be cut back. We look from the front and the back. We are afraid to get too close. While we are in St. George I am nostalgic for our old house and even look at real estate listings but everything is too expensive! Plus taking that 10+ hour drive is beyond what our old bones want to do.

Our old house from the front
The house from the back across the pond

Fortunately the fire does not reach our town and the fire teams do a great job getting it under control. By the time we get back the danger is passed and even the air has improved. I think we will consider taking another vacation to St. George, though.

Quick trip to St. George – November 5-17, 2017

Since the weather looks pretty fabulous in St. George and we will not be able to sneak in a trip in December, John and I decide on the spur of the moment to make our way to St. George.

I think the biggest difference in this trip is that I am trying Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before Six, a new way of thinking about how you eat and the impact you can have on the environment. So most of this post will be about new dishes I am trying out. In addition to shopping and eating John and I manage to get in some tennis every other day until my back just says, Enough!

First, finding decent vegan food on the road is not an easy task. Using YELP! We stop at Hummus Express in Bakersfield. The food is pretty oily but tasty.

Looking out at the golden hills and aqueduct along I-5. We are eager for rain.
Stopping at Hummus Express in Bakersfield, I order hummus with pita and tabbouleh

Mostly my days in St. George are vegan for breakfast and lunch and whatever for dinner but occasionally I manage to construct an entire vegan day. Some dishes I made –

Lunch – Spaghetti with vegetgables
Lunch – Root vegetable soup with tofu cubes dusted with flaxseed
Dinner – chickpea stew with ditalini and greens
Time for an white egret break!
Cauliflower soup for lunch
The unattractive parsley soup that I tried to make more palatable with the addition of carrots

The days pass by quickly and we need to get home for Thanksgiving so face the challenge of finding better food on the road. Eureka! We find an excellent Mediterrean restaurant, Mr. Kabob, in Barstow. It is kind of a hole in the wall but has some excellent dishes.

At Mr. Kabob’s in Barstow I have excellent eggplant with peppers and onions, roasted tomato, and green rice.