Monday, August 27, 2007

Baby stuff is speedy!

Saartje's Booties
Originally uploaded by
Emily E.M.

Now that I'm talking about knitting again I can show off my most recent FO, Saartje's Bootees. I made these for a coworker whose wife just had a baby. Aren't they precious?

Project Stats: Saartje's Bootees
: Saartje's Bootees
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, purchased at Weaving Works
Needles: Size 2 Clover bamboo straights
Time on the needles: About 1 hour each, plus finishing.
Impressions: So cute! So fast! I love these, and I'll certainly make more of them for other babies I know or will be meeting soon! These are also a good Project Spectrum FO, since this months colors include purple...

Utah Day 6 - Zion

This will be the last of the Utah posts, so all of you who are wondering when I'm going to talk about knitting again can breathe a sigh of relief. I've enjoyed making these posts, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them, or at least that they didn't bore you to tears. I'll admit off the top that I'm disappointed in my Zion pictures, and they really don't do the park justice. I ran into a camera problem, wherein the dark rocks + bright sky didn't work together well and the sky turned white, as witnessed below: This is one of the views from Angel's Landing, which is quite a place. It's a hike that might give you vertigo, even if you aren't scared of heights. Me I'm good with heights but it was still a bit dodgy. More on that later.
Zion was the last day of our vacation, and Dave and I decided to go our own way so we could do some more vigorous hiking than we had done with our parents in tow. I really wanted to hike The Narrows, and although Dave had to be convinced of the wisdom of this plan, in the end he was really glad we did it. The Narrows, and other assorted narrow slot canyons, are what Zion is really famous for, and we were not disappointed. A few years back Zion instituted a park shuttle system to cut down on the traffic in the narrow canyon. Thus there are no passenger vehicles allowed, and everyone must ride the shuttle. I was down on this initially because I thought it would be slow and inconvenient, but in reality it was very efficient. The shuttles are comfy and run very frequently, plus on two of our trips we had great drivers who gave excellent background information on the park. The Narrows hike starts all the way at the end of the park, so we got to listen to our first driver the whole way there - we actually hoped to have him on the way back but had no such luck. To get to The Narrows, we hiked the Riverside Walk, where we saw this adorable fawn: I think he/she is used to posing for the camera, don't you? At the end of the Riverside Walk you get wet. When you hike The Narrows, you do it in the Virgin River itself, at varying depths ranging from ankles to midthigh. And deeper, when you lose your balance. The water was very cloudy (usually it's crystal clear, but run-off from recent forest fires made it quite silty and opaque) so it was really tough to find good footing. But we managed by holding on to each other, and we were so close to being back when I finally slipped and got my shorts wet. This is the view from our lunch spot, about 45 minutes up The Narrows. We didn't get to the narrowest part of the canyon, but what we saw was really quite impressive. The water was a perfect temperature for wading, and our soaked shoes and socks dried quickly in the desert heat. Here is my mom at the end of the Riverside Walk - I don't think she's actually standing in the water:We also hiked to Weeping Rock. This is a short hike that ends at an overhanging rock that is currently dripping water that is 1200 years old. Our shuttle guide told us that this water is from rain that fell on the rocks above some 1200 years ago and has taken that long to seep through the rocks, which is really quite amazing when you think about it. Later on the shuttle we saw even older water! Our strenous hike of the day was to Angel's Landing. It wasn't exceedingly long, but quite steep. There are warnings in all the guides and the park newsletter suggesting that if you have any fear of heights whatsoever this is not the hike for you. It was fine most of the way, until we got to the part near the top where they have installed vital helpful chains to aid in the ascent. The rock was slippery and a bit sandy, so I was definitely holding on to the chains for dear life. In the interest of full disclosure, and because I doubt you're the type to judge, we didn't go all the way to the top. We stopped at a flat bit just before final ascension, which looked almost vertical. We convinced ourselves that the scenery couldn't be that much better from up there, and ate almonds while contemplating this view:That, my friends, is what they call 'a long way down.' The skinny grey line is the road, almost 1500 ft down. The first photo in this post was taken from the same spot, looking the opposite direction. I was there. Please ignore the hat and the sweatiness - it was hot. On this hike we also saw a giant cactus:Dave is 5'9" - that is a big cactus. We hiked back via the Middle Emerald Pool, which was disappointing enough that we didn't take any photos of it, and I take pictures of everything. Drives Dave crazy but I figure since they're digital and I have a huge hard drive, what is the harm? Here's a parting shot from Zion - I'm pretty sure this has a name but I've lost it.Zion really is beautiful, and if you ever get a chance you should go there. As I said, my photos really don't do it justice. In fact, all of Southern Utah is quite nice. Too hot though, and if I go back I want to do it when the weather is significantly cooler. Dave and I are entertaining the idea of going to Bryce sometime in the winter or early spring, as the photos of snow on the hoodoos are spectacular. Overall I think the trip was a success - my parents and Dave's parents got along well, and we had no major mishaps. Come to think of it I don't believe we got lost even once, which is pretty impressive for the amount of driving we did. Then again, there aren't that many roads!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Panic Mode

You know how sometimes you have a great gift idea, only it would really have been better if you'd thought of it sooner? Enter the linen handtowels from Mason-Dixon Knitting, which I decided yesterday I'd knit two of for a gift that needs to be finished next Saturday. 10 days from now. Two of them. At least. In linen, which is tough on the hands. Help me...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Utah Day 5 - Bryce Canyon

This entry is a day late in coming, but yesterday was really busy. There was a bit of a snafu with my training grant funding, so I spent much of yesterday putting together data to discuss with she-who-is-powerful-and-in-charge-of-doling-out-the-grant-money. We met this morning and it went well, my funding was renewed and all is right with the world. Plus Dave was out of town and he came back yesterday, so we went out for Indian (and he came to three yarn shops - the boy is a trooper!). He took the camera away with him, but now that he's back I can take photos of what I've been knitting as well as the yarn that was acquired yesterday. Some of it is for a secret project, but I'll post it in my Ravelry stash page because it's pretty. Might I say, before I get to talking about Bryce Canyon, that Ravelry is a plague upon my life. And I mean that in the best possible way. I love it. But, it's a curse for me, because I keep seeing more and more things I want to knit! And more and more yarns I want to try! And that was enough, really, but then I discovered the forums, and now I'm spending loads of time reading those! It's tragic really. And perfect, all at the same time!

Thursday found us at Bryce Canyon National Park, which is truly spectacular. Of all the parks we visited I think it is the most awe-inspiring, which is really saying something. I have so many nice Bryce photos, but I'll try to pick the best few to post so this doesn't get overly long. The rim of Bryce Canyon is at a relatively high elevation (8000-9100 ft), so it was a bit cooler there, which was such a relief after the constant heat we had been dealing with the previous few days. We only did one real hike, and it was the Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop. The Queen's Garden Trail leads to a hoodoo with a likeness to Queen Victoria: Do you see her there, standing up and facing to the left? It's clear in the photo, but there are a lot of other rock formations around so when you're there it's difficult to tell what you're supposed to be looking for.

I discovered that if you pose with orange rocks you turn orange yourself:

We had lunch at Rainbow Point, which is the end of the road, and then stopped at all the overlooks on the way back. Most of them were quite lovely. The thing about Bryce is that the canyon itself, and all the hoodoos, is really overwhelming, so it's difficult to get photos that really represent how pretty it is. And it was cloudy, which didn't help from a photography perspective (but was nice for us!). One of the nicest viewpoints is Bryce Point, where you can get a lovely canyon view (long-sleeve shirt!!!), complete with more hoodoos than you would ever want to count:And you can also see the grottos:Inspiration Point is also lovely, and where you get the best views of Bryce Amphitheatre: My parents were inspired to have a bit of a rest:

We left Bryce relatively early for our drive to Zion. Zion is completely different from anwhere else we had been, and not just because they have trees there (there are also trees at Bryce, but they have more sizable trees at Zion). The geology is different and there is no more red rock. Which was a relief really, since I think I had seen enough red rock for quite some time. Plus, at Zion you're in the bottom of the canyon, instead of being on top, as we had been at all the other parks. This was the view from our campsite: Lovely, eh?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Utah Day 4 - Westward Transition

Wednesday was a long day. It was very hot in the tent Tuesday night and I had a tough time falling asleep, and then I had insomnia and woke up at 5:30. One of the things one is meant to do when staying at Dead Horse Point State Park is see the sunrise/sunset. We missed the sunset due to the storms Tuesday evening, but I was awake to appreciate the sunrise. Since I was already up I walked over to the edge of the canyon and waited for the sun to come up, along with two mule deer who chomped away on their breakfast like I wasn’t even there. You know how sunsets happen pretty quickly once they get going? Sunrises are slower. Sadly I didn’t have the camera, but the sunrise was quite nice. After breakfast we broke camp and went to see the views from Dead Horse Point itself. Here is the story of the park, from the park website. "Before the turn of the century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was through a narrow, 30-yard neck of land controlled by fencing. Mustangs were then roped and broken, with the better ones being kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls of "broomtails" were left behind to find their way off the Point. According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. For some unknown reason, the mustangs remained on the Point. There they died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below." The views were quite nice, so perhaps that's why the horses stayed? I think the vistas rival anything we saw at Canyonlands. Our plan today was to take the scenic route to Bryce Canyon National Park, with a lunch stop at Capital Reef National Park. We saw many interesting rock formations on the way, but I don’t have any photos because at some point you have to stop pulling off the road every time you see something interesting, and we had reached that point the previous afternoon. One of the interesting things we saw was a tiny cabin from the 1800s, which I swear couldn’t have been more than 10x10’ but in which 10 people had lived. I can’t figure out how they could have fit on the floor to sleep! Incredible how different things are today, at least in most places. We didn’t really see much of Capital Reef, but we did see some petroglyphs, and there were some impressive rock formations. Fruita is an old Mormon settlement along the river that runs through the park, and the early settlers planted hundreds of fruit trees, which are still there and available for public picking. My mother picked some peaches, and perhaps the best part of the park was eating lunch in a shaded grove of huge cottonwood trees. On our way out of the park we stopped at the Goosenecks Overlook, which looks down on Sulphur Creek. We then drove over a 9000+ foot pass and descended into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If you click on that link, you can see the part we saw, which was the stretch of Highway 12 from Boulder to Tropic. My recollection of this is a bit hazy because I kept falling asleep in the car (having gotten hardly any sleep the night before), but what I saw of it was quite beautiful. It stormed off and on, including while we were driving across a knife-edge ridge that was really only wide enough for the 2-lane road. I would not want to be piloting a giant RV through there, I tell you. We drove to Bryce hoping to get rooms at Ruby’s Inn, just outside the park, but they were all full and we ended up driving back to Tropic and staying at the Pioneer Village Motel, which was serviceable though by no means luxurious. So, today was a transitional day and I’m sorry if it wasn’t as interesting as the others, but tomorrow Bryce Canyon will knock your socks off!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Utah Day 3 - Canyonlands

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny, and again we got moving early. We stopped at our campsite at Dead Horse Point State Park so that we could leave our camping supplies behind, which enabled us to travel in one car. Dave’s parents rented a giant SUV and all seven of us fit in there comfortably. As much as I’m down on large SUVs, I have to admit this car was pretty cushy. Tuesday was devoted to Canyonlands National Park. This is a huge park, and it’s largely undeveloped. We only went to the Island in the Sky District in the northeastern corner of the park, which is the most developed (not saying much – it’s still pretty wild). We had our picnic lunch at the White Rim Overlook, and then did the Grand View Point Drive and trail. And a grand view it is, everywhere you look. The roads at Canyonlands are on top of a large mesa surrounded by deep canyons (1000 ft. to the next level down) on both sides, which were carved by the Colorado River (on the east side) and the Green River (on the west). If one is ambitious one can drive a 4WD vehicle along the White Rim Road along the edge of the first step of the canyon. You can see the road in some of the photos if you look closely. We did not do that, of course. All of the above photos were taken on the Grand View Point Trail, which is an easy jaunt I would highly recommend. From this hike you can see a lot of complicated canyons, but no water. It’s presumably down there somewhere, but it’s so far down that you can't see it around the edges of the rocks. We finally saw some at the Green River Overlook. That’s the Green River there in the bottom, surrounded by actual green trees. We were impressed by this, having not seen water for days...
We also drove out to Upheaval Dome, which is a curiousity. How it formed is a mystery – whether it was an upheaval of salt (hence the white color) or the remnant of a meteor strike (which threw up the white salt) is still up for debate. Myself I prefer the latter hypothesis, it's more romantic.
The last thing we did at Canyonlands was the short hike to Mesa Arch. One can never have too many arches, and this is quite a nice one. You can look through the arch right down into the canyon. Along this hike there was a lot of cryptobiotic soil, which is unique to this region of Utah. The ground there is very rocky and sandy, so there isn’t much for plants to root into when their seeds land. Enter the cryptobiotic soil, which is a combination of cyanobacteria, algae, mosses, and lichens. Essentially it is living soil, and there are many signs warning people not to disturb it as it grows very slowly (go figure). It's the brown stuff that looks like burnt hamburger.
We then returned to our campsite and had dinner. Clouds gathered all around us and we watched some spectacular lightning shows. I love thunderstorms, and the lack of such weather excitement is one of the only faults I’ve found with living in Seattle. That and the price of real-estate. Anyway, we saw our fill of electricity on this trip! Tomorrow we’ll go on a long drive across Southern Utah, calling briefly at Capitol Reef National Park.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hey, Hey, We're the Monkeys!

Brief pause in the Utah footage - to be resumed tomorrow...
My Sockapalooza socks arrived yesterday, and I got Monkey socks! They came from Angela in Edmonton (no blog?), and they're great! They fit perfectly, and the yarn colors are perfect for me. And she sent Smarties, which I love and which are very hard to find in the US.

My favorite thing about my socks is how well they match my living room rug - isn't that great? I couldn't get a photo that really showed off the Monkey pattern, especially because the yarn is fairly complicated. I'm not sure what kind of yarn it is - perhaps Angela will chime in and let me know if I should wash my socks when the time comes. This was my first Sockapalooza and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Thanks again Angela, I love my socks!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Utah Day 2 - Arches National Park

Monday morning we woke up early, with the hypothesis that if we got moving early we could beat some of the heat. Ha! There is no beating the heat when it's going to be 107F! But we did try, so that's something. We spent all day Monday at Arches National Park, which is just three miles from Moab. Arches was one of the places I was most excited to see, and I was not disappointed (Aside from being too damn hot. That was the refrain of the day.). Our first hike was to Delicate Arch, where we saw our first lizard:
Here is Delicate Arch, which is the most famous of the arches, and the one on the Utah license plates: You can get right up close and personal with Delicate Arch, which we did:It's quite large when you get some people inside for scale (Can you see us in there?): However, it's not really that delicate, at least not compared to Landscape Arch (below) which is likely to collapse relatively soon.
It's hard to tell from this photo, but that arch is over 100m wide, making it by far the largest in the park. It's also considered the longest natural arch in the world. About 10 years ago a fairly sizable (ie many tons) piece of rock fell out from the bottom of Landscape Arch. Thus, you can no longer picnic underneath. Wise decision. It was very hot, and always nice to see the end of a trail looming: We also saw some rocks with very strong elephant characteristics (use your imagination):

Do you see them? How about here? These rock formations were right near what turned out to be my favorite arch, Double Arch: We also saw Balanced Rock: In fact we saw many rocks that appeared to be balancing quite precariously, but this is the famous one and apparently the only one that warrants a name.

All in all I really enjoyed Arches, but I think I would have had an even better time if it hadn't been as hot as it was. It was also very sunny, and there really isn't much shade, so it was hard to escape the heat. It's a small park that you can certainly see most of in a day unless you want to do some serious long hikes. Most of the arches are at the end of short trails that are reasonably flat, although the Delicate Arch Trail was 3 miles roundtrip with enough elevation gain that we noticed it, especially in the oppressive heat.

Tomorrow we leave the air-conditioned condo behind as we journey to Canyonlands, where we develop a new appreciation for wide-open spaces, and learn that my parents aren't keen on their only daughter leaning over cliff edges...won't you please join us? By which I mean, please come back tomorrow, not that you should join me in leaning over cliff edges, especially if you're scared of heights.