Sunday, July 6, 2014

St. George, Utah with Sue Ann and Jim

Got into St. George Friday afternoon and it was still hot, hot, hot!!  Got hooked up and did a little laundry before heading to Sue Ann and Jim's house for dinner.  They have moved from the house where they were last year when we were here, but in the same development.  Their new house is just spectacular, with incredible views overlooking the city and  the Pine Valley Mountains in the distance.  It's always great to be with these wonderful folks--longtime readers may remember that Sue Ann and Trisha grew up together in Tennessee, and have been fast friends since the second grade.  Jim and Sue Ann were high school sweethearts and Trisha's father married them the year before Trisha and I got married.  We've enjoyed visiting together through the years, watching children grow up, get married and have children of their own.  They've also been a valuable resource for us as we've gotten into RVing, as they full-timed for 8 years, all around the country.  Last year they guided us all around the Zion National Park area, taking us on hikes that don't appear on any published maps, and we had a ball.  So it was great to see them again and get to see their beautiful new home.  Sue Ann had fixed a scrumptious dinner of mixed beans, corn on the cob, squash and onion casserole and white sweet potatoes--so sweet to accommodate our veganism!  And wonderfully delicious--yum, yum!  After dinner another couple who've just moved into their neighborhood and are hiking/biking/pickleball buddies of theirs came over for dessert and to watch the fireworks from their back patio.  It was such a show, to be able to sit outside on the patio, as it had cooled off quite a bit by that time, and to watch multiple fireworks shows over the mountains.  Apparently several different groups were doing fireworks, so we had a panoply of colors and patterns, stretching all across the sky for well over half an hour.  The big show was put on by the city of St George, and it was really neat--they had basically two sites going, some distance apart, pretty much identical but coordinated to go off together.  Not sure exactly how far apart the sites were, but from our perspective there was some distance between them--really neat to see the same patterns going up at the same time.  My guess is that they were likely hooked up via computer to do this, but it was a  great show and a great way to end the 4th of July!

Saturday they picked us up early to head to Snow Canyon State Park for a little hiking before the heat picked up so much.  This is a great place to hike, with spectacular views of Navajo Sandstone, with all its variations in colors and textures--lots of pinks, reds and brilliant whites.  We had hiked in this park with them last year--some of our favorite slick rock hiking memories--learning how to hike on these smooth red rocks, which are really petrified sand dunes formed nearly 200 million years ago.  We learned about Moqui marbles, spherical concretions, formed by iron ore deposits, hermatite and geothite coatings--sometimes they are attached to rock outcroppings, giving the appearance of soap bubbles, and sometimes they have separated and are lying loose on the rocks.  You have to be very careful where you step, though--envision thousands of marbles scattered on a slick tile floor, then tilt the floor to some steep and uneven planes--but very interesting to see!  Last year we were here in May, before the heat of the summer started, so we had much more flexibility with hiking.  Being here in July this year means we're right in some of the hottest parts of the summer, so you have to be much more thoughtful about when and how long you hike.  Fortunately Jim and Sue Ann are every experienced hikers and know the area well, so they planned an early hike of about 5 miles, and we could tell a big difference in the heat by the end.

So we came back to town to shower and clean up before heading off to a wonderful brunch at a place called Breakfast at Tiffany's, a neat little cafe inside a kitchen/cooking supplies store.  We were seated up in this balcony area, overlooking the main floor where they have all the kitchen gadgets displayed.  They are known for their breakfast crepes, and we had wonderful veggie delights, topped with a sweet/tart balsamic glaze--yum!  I just love kitchen stores, and always enjoy looking at the latest in cookware and all the gadgetry; never ceases to amaze me at the things they can think up to make kitchen tasks more manageable.  While Trisha sometimes rightly says I get a little overboard in this department, some of my finds have turned out to be wonderful additions, like the veggie spiralizer I had learned about on Facebook and which we got before we left--in just a few seconds it can turn a zucchini into thin strips, which we now often use in the place of pasta.  Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

After lunch they dropped us off back at the RV park and we spent the afternoon running some errands, getting some supplies at the local Costco (see Bill, there are Costcos everywhere!) some Sophie goodies at the pet store, and dropped her off at the local kennel.  For the next couple of days we're going to be heading up to some higher elevations to do some hiking where it's cooler, and since we'll be leaving early and will be out longer, we needed to have her boarded.  I had found this wonderful place online, with great reviews about how wonderful the staff is, and how hands on the owner is--the place is a cage free environment and they have swimming for the doggies!  Anyway, we met Marilyn, the owner, and all the staff were very friendly.  Since most of the places we've boarded her typically say don't bring bedding as it can get mixed up with others, Trisha noticed some other owners bringing bedding in with their pets.  So she mentioned this to the woman who came out to pick up Sophie and she said, don't worry, I'll find some nice blankets for her--well what do you know, she came back out in a few minutes to show us a blanket she'd found that has Santas all over it!!  How cute is that??

Saturday evening we went to their Episcopal church for a delightful, contemplative, casual worship service.  The sanctuary is really pretty, and the service was really great.  While the Sunday morning service is more traditional, the Saturday evening is less so, with sort of a dialogue approach, lots of interaction between the minister and congregants, and we really enjoyed it.  The rector is a woman who, in the five years since she came from California, has grown the congregation from 50 members to well over 300.  She is so full of joy, excitement and energy, and it was so refreshing to be in a worship service with such happiness and joy.  Sue Ann and Jim are stalwarts in this parish, having taken over leadership of the soup kitchen a few years ago and transforming it into a vibrantly and wildly successful mission, serving the community's needy and drawing so much excitement among volunteers that they have a waiting list of folks wanting to help.  And one of the coolest things is that they set up the tables where folks eat right in the back of the sanctuary--what a wonderfully appropriate statement.  Some years ago one of our most favorite ministers--Joe Harvard--at North Decatur Presbyterian in Georgia had a poster in his office that said:  "To one who is hungry, God dare not appear in any form other than food."  I've always found this to be quite profound, and the way they do this ministry exemplifies this so well.  Anyway Jim and Sue Ann introduced us to Catherine, the rector, and her husband, who happens to be a retired Presbyterian minister, and we had a good visit with them.  After church we had dinner at a very nice Thai restaurant, great way to end the day.  As we left the restaurant, we drove up to a higher point for some great views of the setting sun painting a beautiful mural on the mountains at the west end of Zion National Park in the distance.  Just stunning!

As we were driving back down to the RV park it started to rain, an event of some moment for Jim and Sue Ann, as they said this was the first rain in St. George in 75 days!  Anyway it was raining rather hard as they dropped us off, but in less than an hour the rain had stopped and all the roads in the campground were completely dry!  Amazing what this heat can do.  At any rate, here are a few pics from the first couple of days here.

Beautiful drive along Lake Mead en route to St.George; Jim had given us the tip to take this road off the beaten path and it was a great tip--saw some lovely sights and avoided most of the heavy traffic due to construction work on I-15

 This whole area is subject to sudden and vicious flash floods, so in low spots on the road, there are these big gauges painted on boards by the side of the road to let motorists know the depth of the water when it floods the road, so a driver can decide whether to try to traverse the water or just wait until the flood waters recede

 Seeing more red rocks!
 Love driving through these cuts in the rocks, but you realize just how much work and effort it took to build the road

 Back on I-15 with some construction  coming up
 Interesting cactus

 Welcome to Utah!
 Heading into Snow Canyon State Park Saturday morning

 Love the juxtaposition of the red rocks and white rocks
 Trisha and Sue Ann as we hiked along the gravel road

 Breakfast at Tiffany's after the morning hike--veggie crepe with balsamic glaze--yum!
 Happy faces of friends since childhood!  Sue Ann, Trisha and Jim

1 comment:

  1. Keeping up with your post and pictures. We are packing for our trip to Denver to visit my sister Dwala for a week. She has a tour of the State planned, however, do not know how much we can see in a week.

    It is wonderful that you have family and friends to visit on your travels. So Blessed!

    Next time I comment I will be a world traveler in Colorado.