Monday, October 12, 2009

The Glories of Heading Home

We got up, got ready, got packed, said our goodbyes (thank you Julie for your wonderful hospitality!), and started to head out.  Yeah, started.  But, we didn't get very far.  We had an "almost" flat tire.  What?  I have practically brand new tires on my truck!  So, Brian got out his compressor and starts to inflate it and sure enough, there is a nail.  Where and WHEN on earth did we get that?  Did we have it when we left Arizona? Had we gotten it in California?  Melon Man had said that our tire pressure light had been on for a long time so I just chalked it up to the cooler air and the mountain altitudes, for that is what the dealership often tells us.  But, thinking back now, I think we got it sometime in California.  The Lord must have really been watching out for us, because all those miles, and all that high speed...we could have been killed had it blown!  But, we were protected because we were going to Utah to be part of something righteous and good.

We filled up the tire with air and headed over to Discount Tire about a mile or two away.  No lines.  What?  No lines at a Discount Tire?  Unheard of.  They got us right in and right out.  Soon we were on our way.

I felt a little off kilter the whole day though.  We stopped for gas and potty breaks in places that were not our usual places to eat or go potty.  It just threw me off.  Stop and go, stop and go.

We did get to stop in Beaver though at the Cheese Factory.  Got a few little things, used the potty, and were soon on our way.  We quickly arrived at the exit for Highway 20 where we cross over from I-15 to Highway 89 and go the backroads back to Arizona.  We love going this way because it's different.  This is the first time we've gotten to see it in the fall though and it was so worth it.

I wish I would have put my telephoto lens on to take these pictures, but I didn't.  That's okay.  These give a broader scope of the scenery anyway.  Now, mind you, Melon Man WOULD NOT STOP AT ALL to let me take any of these pictures, so they were ALL taken out of the window while the vehicle was moving.  These first pictures are along Highway 20 from just south of Beaver, to where it connects to Highway 89, just north of Panguitch.

Now, only in Utah do you take the backroads to avoid construction and you still get hit with it.  That's because the state of Utah is ALWAYS under construction!  I think this guy totally wondered why I was taking a picture of him.

And, only in Utah do they lay down a pile of blacktop stuff on the side of the road just before winter when they're going to scrape it all away in a month with the snow plows.  Good use of taxpayer money, eh?  Hey babe...maybe this is what those folks in those small towns do to make a livin'.

Soon we started seeing some REAL color - "color country," that is.  This is a small portion of the eastern side of Zion or Bryce Canyon (I think) peaking out from behind the hills just north of Glendale, Utah.  Gorgeous.

Melon Man kept saying, "Get your camera ready, get your camera ready."  I was kind of perturbed he wouldn't stop and let me take any pictures.  But, soon, we came around a bend and there it all it's splendor!  I snapped away, hoping to get at least one good shot.  Well, these are my favorites....

What is up with this?  A fake, blow-up policeman in his SUV - EVERY time we come into town.  I think this is in Orderville, but I don't recall for sure.  I did LOVE how everyone had their flags out on the curbs to celebrate Columbus Day.

I LOVE this swimming hole.  I ALWAYS want to stop and take a picture.  Of course, we didn't.  But, I still snapped a picture, capturing about half of it.

Lately, I have this obsession with the letter K. I see it and have to capture it - one way or another. This trip was no different. Kanab.  That's what the K is for here.

A few years back, I was doing some genealogy and discovered the rich church heritage of my ancestors.  I had always known my great-great-great-grandmother's name of Esther Maleta Johnson, but really didn't know much more about her other than the name through whom I descended, etc.  I mean, I had names and such for her, her family, and their ancestors, but they didn't mean anything to me.  I used to see her picture on the wall in my grandfather's house, along with a lot of others that my aunt Katherine had found.  I had no idea of just how truly rich my heritage was....

One day, I found a journal record that had some fabulous information in it and it changed my life forever.  I learned that Esther Maleta was the sister to Joel Hills Johnson (author of High on the Mountain Top) and sister of Benjamin Franklin Johnson (personal secretary to the Prophet Joseph Smith).  I later found out that this family was one of more prominent families in the church.  Wow.  I had no idea!  Anyway, every time I have driven up to Utah, I have seen this sign just outside of Kanab.  I had read that my Johnson family had settled there by way of instruction from Brigham Young.  I've always wanted to take that road and see where it goes....

...but, Melon Man would not stop this time either.  Next time, he says.  And so, I will again wait until next time.  But here is some information I found about the history of the canyon....

The area was settled by brothers Joel H., Joseph E., Benjamin F., and William D. Johnson (Esther Maleta's brothers), along with their families.  Joel H. actually built a saw mill there with George Wilson.
Johnson Canyon has been the spot where many western movies have been filmed. The canyon now holds the retired movie set from "Gunsmoke."
Maybe next time we go to Utah, we can drive out and see what it's all, as usual, we continued to motor on out toward Lake Powell.  As we got closer and closer, we could see just how low the lake is.  Rocks were sticking up out of the water that I'd never seen before.  Now, because my family has never been one to frequent Lake Powell during the summer on a houseboat or jet skis or any boat for that matter, I may not know that this is the normal depth of the lake and may be exaggerating the dramatic decrease in the water levels, but since I can see rings and rings of white on the rocks where the water has been in years past, it kind of leads me to believe that the water truly is much lower than before.  I wish I could have gotten pictures that were closer up...but again...we couldn't stop.

This picture is of a tiny part of the dam and the bridge that we would soon be crossing to go over the canyon in front of the dam.  Luckily, it's a pretty short bridge...but it's a LONG way down.

As we drove away from Lake Powell and Page, Arizona, we started to head to what I call "The Big Valley."  Along the way, as you climb to the top of the bluff, you begin to see these rock formations.  They look like stacks and stacks of pancakes.  They are beautiful and colorful.  This part of Arizona is one that I really love.  It truly makes my heart flutter at the beauty.

A big, huge rock that leads to the beginning of the top of the bluff.

This is looking out the front window toward the Big Valley.  It's just a tiny little slot of view.  This part of the drive always freaks me out because it's very steep and winds (wine-ds) down the side of a mountain.  It is also VERY windy (win-dy).  There are a bunch of Navajo "street" vendors that sit along the side of the road on the way down, selling their wares.  I don't know how they do it.  The wind is constantly a battle.  I would have liked to have caught a picture of them, but I think it would have just been a blur.

Coming down the mountain off the top of the bluff.  Yes, we were just on the top of this mountain.  The Big Valley is, of course, to the right of our lovely antenna.

Here is the Big Valley, looking out the window from the truck.  It's just big and flat and expanisive and seems to go on FOREVER.  I could not imagine being a pioneer and traveling across all that flat terrain and then finding out I now had to climb back up another huge mountain like the one we'd just come down.

This picture is looking toward the northwest as we are still coming down the mountain.  This is another set of mountains - a very famous set.  The Mormon Pioneers, when coming to Arizona, had to lower their wagons down those mountains by rope to the ground below.  At the bottom, at the far right side of the picture, is where Lee's Ferry is.  The Ferry was owned by some of Mr. Spock's ancestors.  It is no longer in operation, but is now an historical site.  The rocks on the way to the site are something to behold.  Absolutely beautiful and unlike anything one would see near a city.  Well worth the little 3-5 mile jaunt off the main road (but still on blacktop road).

Ah...Chief Yellowhorse's trading post.  I've been driving past this place for 16 years on all the trips back and forth to Utah.  I've only ever stopped twice.  I don't know why.  After all, according to his signs...they're "friendly indians."

We continued on our way through the dry desert lands of northern Arizona - Gap, Cameron, and more.  We FINALLY came into Flagstaff, but Melon Man missed the turn to get onto the I-40 freeway and we were both a little irritated that now we'd have to drive all the way through town, adding on a whole whopping extra 15-20 minutes to our drive - at least.  We thought it a jackpot when we found another road leading to an onramp for I-40 so we took it.  We soon wished we'd just driven all the way through town - those extra 15-20 minutes would have been nothing compared to what we were about to experience.  We turned a corner to see the I-40 completely backed up for miles...miles in front of us and miles in back of us...and NOWHERE in front of us to get off and try something different.  I started calling 5-1-1 to find out what was going on.  Does ANYONE ever call 5-1-1?  I will from now on!  It was fantastic!  It knows where you're calling from and tells you what the road conditions are like where you are.  We found out that 3 miles down the road, the transition ramp from I-40 to the I-17 north AND southbound was CLOSED due to an accident.  Great.  How were we supposed to get on the 17 southbound to head for Phoenix?  How many hundred miles was it to another exit after the closure to where we could turn around?  Well, one HOUR after we got on the freeway - to go a whole whopping 6 miles - we were finally able to get off, turn around, and drive back another two mile and get on I-17.   The accident ended up being this semi-truck that had flipped over on its side on the ramp.  Not a great picture, I know...but proof.

I think that by this time, Melon Man was SO ready to be home because he was whipping down the canyon at lightning speed. I had to just close my eyes and hold on because I was scared to death. We finally made it to Happy Valley to pick up Dog.

I couldn't wait to see my dog! We headed in to the Petshotel to get him.  He was so excited to see me! It was like a little kid excited to see their mom. We headed out the Petshotel doors and Melon Man was coming down an aisle and Dog saw him and took off running to him. He yanked me really hard (I still had a hold of his leash) and I about flew about 8 feet. I bet that was hilarious to see on their surveillance cameras! We got into the truck and headed for home.

We got home and unloaded the truck.  We brought home some food storage again this time...not a lot, just some.  I think we're stocked up for a while now.  I just will need to put a bunch of it in the buckets and finally get ALL of it put away.  Yes, the stack is STILL in the bathroom waiting to go in the cupboard.

It didn't take long before we headed for bed.  Home...glad to be there again.  Such a quick, but fun trip.  Action packed and such great memories.  Five days, four states, three days driving, two special occasions, and a soft, cushy bed at the very end.  Ah...our own bed. Nothing like it. Nighty night.


Julie said...

I miss you. Come back!

Jennifer said...

Love all your fall pictures. Makes me want to go for a drive. I haven't seen much of the outdoors lately.

We are so glad you made the trip and and literally went the extra miles for Kolby. It would be awesome if things ever worked out to bring you back to Utah. And I'm with Julie, quit calling yourself fatty girl! Funny Girl, Awesome Auntie, Good time Gal - knock it off!

Tamara Jansen said...

What amazing fall photos! I love Autumn and all it's glory :)