Archive | June, 2018

Adventure around the Corner – Never a Dull Moment

20 Jun

This morning I was doing some computer work and kept hearing weird noises…like a loud flame thrower or maybe a low hot air balloon. They drift over us frequently in our hot valley. Curiosity got the best of me and I went outside to investigate. Yup. There was a balloon very close to my house…in fact it had just landed on the cul de sac one block over from me.

One of guys hollered at me to come on over and take more pictures. What he really wanted was some help to dismantle the thing and pack it away.  Zoe, the owner, is turning on the gas to give a spectacular background.

Hot air balloons are huge up close and personal. This is a view looking up into the interior before it’s deflated.

The beginning of the deflation process. The gondola (basket) was tipped on its side at this point.

It’s been deflated and some of the neighbors, the crew and I were gathering it together.

I’m using a velcro strap to help bundle it together.

That huge balloon is now stuffed inside  into that blue bag.

Learning about the buns-in process.

This is buns-in. We all turned around and sat down on the big bag to help take the air out of the bag to make it more manageable. You can tell that was a fun part.

The neighbors and I went home after the buns-in part and Zoe was left to have her crew help her with the gondola.

This just goes to show you that sometimes adventure and new experiences are literally around the corner.  You just have to listen, look and jump at opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Journey through Time – Grand Canyon Rafting Trip May, 2018

5 Jun

In 2011, my niece, Jolee, went with me on a rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That trip has wonderful memories. So I was thrilled when she and her husband, Jason, asked me if I would like to go with them on another Grand Canyon rafting trip to celebrate their 40th birthdays. Jason’s sister, Kristi, and her husband, Mark, were on board to take the trip also. Please double click if you wish to enlarge a photo.

Jolee booked us for an eight-day trip that was primarily focused on the geology of the Canyon. Dr. Paul Knauth, geology professor emeritus at Arizona State University, was our esteemed leader who kept us well informed about all things in the Canyon. Paul is an amazing man about whom I’ll tell you more later. We had a wide variety of people and occupations on the trip and they were all interesting.

Just a few miles into the trip we went under the Navajo Bridge, 470’ above the River. This is the last car crossing of the River until Hoover Dam, 342 miles downstream.

As we descended into the Canyon, Paul told us what to look for and what geological unit we were seeing.

Fossilized paw prints of some ancient creature

Lots of plants/cacti were in bloom:
Grizzly-bear prickly pear

Cholla cactus blossom

Jimsonweed, a strong hallucinogenic

Whiptail lizard found at our first lunch site. A biologist who specialized in reptiles was on the trip. Dave was a great guy. We had a lot of fun with him and his main squeeze, Merry.

We saw more than 30 bighorn sheep on the trip.

But the baby on a giant boulder was the cutest of all.

The first night’s loo with a view. We took this photo for Scott (Jolee’s youngest brother) using his patented pose.

Our first night’s campsite at Lots of boulders in the way if one had to get up in the middle of the night, which of course, I did. One has to pee in the river for several ecological reasons.

The view looking back up-stream on our second morning on the River. I love how the sun lights up canyon walls a bit at a time.

Ravens waiting for us to leave the campsite. This photo is weird because my lens cover wasn’t retracting correctly. Must have been due to the fact I got sand in it. Eventually, it died because it got wet. Luckily I had my underwater camera to finish the journey.

Jason doing some beard grooming. He took a lot of ribbing about sand and food in his beard.

The 5 of us posing in the Redwall Cavern.

Jolee and Kristi are posing this time. Redwall is so big that about 3 other boat tours were there as well as us and there was no crowding. People were throwing footballs and Frisbees while others were reading, eating or exploring.

Kristi and a view of the Canyon

Bridge of Sighs. Many of those holes that look like caves were formed by ancient aquifers. Often, one can see a matching hole on the other side of the canyon.

There was no campfire but we had a nightly circle where we’d eat dinner, converse and find out what we would be doing the next day.

One of our night visitors. This scorpion was found and kept in a pan until we left the next morning. Two of our people were stung by a scorpion during our last night in camp. Luckily, they didn’t suffer any lasting effects.

Another nightly visitor was ringtail cats. It seemed like we saw their prints every morning going very close to our cots. They eat berries and prickly pears but also like to raid campsites to get whatever they can find.

I never saw a ringtail but here is an image from the internet

At every campsite, we had to help unload and load the rafts. This was called the fireline. An orange bag contained our sleeping bag and our duffle that was not supposed to weigh over 25 pounds. Some did.

During one lunch stop, we saw this desert spiny lizard. His blue throat told us he was looking for a mate. We did see him go to another tree and try to meet another lizard. But she rejected him for another. Too bad.

One of the bighorn rams that we saw.

The Little Colorado is a tributary to the regular Colorado River. High alkaline content and minerals give it a distinctive turquoise hue. It is great fun to play in as it’s quite a bit warmer than the 48º River. This is Kristi enjoying a tube ride.

There aren’t enough toys for everyone, so we were instructed to use our lifejackets. Jason and Jolee are showing us the proper attire for the Little Colorado.

At 84, Austin was in on every activity. He and his wife were great to talk to.

Jason and Jolee at the Little Colorado

One of our treats was to hike a creek bed and see a waterfall. It was pretty, cool and refreshing. We all took sort of showers in it.

There were other falls to shower, but I liked this one best.

Paul telling us about some fossilized bacteria…”the same green stuff you find in your dog dish.” He had so many fascinating things to tell us.

Diamonds in the bottom of the Grand Canyon! They were huge mineral deposits that looked like diamonds.

Cockeyed spires

Mark on the pontoon

After one particular hot, dry day on the River, Kristi, our new friend, Merry, and Jolee used moisturizing masks and wine to rehydrate. It was fun!

The narrowest part of the River is 76’. Tanner and JP, our boat drivers pulled our rafts together so that we almost spanned the River, too.

Elves’ Chasm is a delightful place to take a dip and jump off the ledge above the water fall. This is the one thing I wanted to do on this trip. My fear of heights got to me as I froze when it was my turn to leap. Consequently, I didn’t jump out far enough and hit a rock in the pool. Yes, it hurt and I was embarrassed.

I had to be helped back to the raft and my activities were curtailed for a time. Luckily, it was toward the end of the trip and I missed only one hike. It was not broken and the best thing was that I got a pee can and didn’t have to trundle to the river on my nightly excursions.

Deer Creek Falls is 180’ tall and creates a wind when it hits the pond below. There is a beautiful area above the falls and back toward the mountain. Most of our crew went there but I stayed below and soaked in the pond.

Havasu Creek is another tributary that is mineral laden and shows off a pretty turquoise color. Here are dories moored at the mouth of the creek.

Jolee and Jason helped me hike up to the area where people can swim and sun. It is a great place for photographers(of which there was an entire tour there with their tripods and cameras)

The rapids in the Grand Canyon are rated from 1 to 10, unlike other rivers that are fro 1 to 5. We had some pretty good rides on several rapids and our last 10 was Lava Falls. It’s a lot of fun but dangerous and the drivers must be very careful traversing the Upper and Lower Falls.  We were excited to go through the Lower Lava Rapid three times.  Hoorah!

We stayed to watch a tour of small oar driven rafts go through Lava and also to make sure they all got through without mishap. You can see that they can get turned around and seemingly become engulfed with the waves. Everyone cheered when each small raft went through successfully. It was a good day.

This truly was a journey through time. We traveled through many geologic ages beginning with the Kaibab formation (about 250 million years old) down to the Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite (1700 to 2000 million years old).

I can understand the above diagram, but when I see the real deal, it becomes a puzzle to me. However, when we got into the Vishnu Schist, it’s rather distinctive and everybody remembers it because of all the puns that are made.

Then we got to the Great Unconformity. This non-layer indicates an age in which no sediments can be found. It is indicative of a time when an advancing sea eroded away the sediments that should be here. The lady in the bluish shirt is actually touching the Unconformity

This is where we had some good laughs. Paul was explaining all this to us when another boat tour walked through our group on their way to the end of the slot canyon we were in. Paul told us, “You are now at a revival.” He began quoting many scriptures and we were hollering “Amen, Brother” while the people walked through in a timid way As soon as the folks passed by, Paul immediately went back to his talk and never missed a beat. He is an amazing man who is world renown in geology circles and can quote Shakespeare at length as well as the Bible and other literary masterpieces at will.

Some out takes

Tanner

Duct tape works for banged up feet

Mark and Kristi

Cots make a nice temporary shade

We survived!

It was a great trip and I’d go again in a heartbeat!

                                THE ENDS!