Camping & Taking Photos in E. California and the SouthWest

Utah

Heading “home”, Day 2

After a very long day driving (most of the time with no A/C), I finally made it to Salt Lake City. My motel was about 8 blocks from Temple Square, so it was an easy walk.

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Temple Square is quite impressive. There are many buildings including the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Joseph Smith Memorial Building,  the Beehive House and the Lion House. The 35 acre garden is full of blooming flowers. I enjoyed watching  couples having wedding photos taken, and lots of people enjoying the sunshine. The temple itself is so tall I could barely get far enough away to photograph the whole structure. A reflecting pool in front of it adds to the feeling of serenity. There are several historic buildings, including  the Beehive House where Brigham Young lived between 1850 and 1856 when he was Territorial Governor of Utah and President of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and the Lion House next door where he moved his family in 1856.

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Assembly Hall
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Salt Lake Tabernacle
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The Lion House

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The Bee-Hive House

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Home Buying Experience

I work in real estate…I handle contract management and marketing for real estate agents. I know that no matter how qualified a buyer is, how great a house is, how professional an agent is and how thorough a loan broker is, things can go wrong. There are so many people involved and so many details, it’s amazing how many transactions close – on time.

Doug and I just went through our own closing…and it was tough. We bought a home in Kanab, Utah, a small town in SW Utah. We spent time here over the last 3 years and rented a home here for 3 months this winter. While we were renting, we decided that Kanab is a great place for our base. The vacation rental market here is robust and we plan to rent the home so we can still spend time in Seattle visiting friends, family and clients, and continue to explore and camp. Kanab is located in a premier spot – only 40 miles to Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP; 80 miles to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. Loads of trails, buttes, slot canyons close to town.

Our first glitch came with the appraisal report. We expected it come in low, and it did. Almost nothing had sold in the area, particularly at our size and price. As we were about to attempt to re-negotiate our agreement, we found out that an all-cash Buyer had submitted a back-up offer. Yikes! We waited until that offer was in place, and then sent an addendum to the seller to lower the price. Our response was NO and NO (no change in price and no extensions.) Then, a week before closing we were informed that the lender was requiring a review appraisal (we thought the one we got was too low and missed an important comp)! Our broker ordered one on rush and it was done over the weekend. Our financing contingency deadline was Tuesday at 5pm. The lender got the appraisal report on Monday and  didn’t give us an answer until 4:58 pm on Tuesday. Talk about stress! But that’s not all…when we got to signing, I noticed that the social security number on my documents was wrong!!!  Thankfully, it was just on the loan docs and they hadn’t used the wrong one to qualify us. Two days later we were supposed to close. We got a call from the mortgage broker letting us know that the lender would not fund our loan until they had my IRS transcript, which they had been trying to get. OMG, I couldn’t believe they waited until the last minute to mention that…and immediately realized that they were probably using the wrong SSN, again. Next morning I got on the phone to the IRS and got them to fax the transcript to the title company. Title faxed it to the lender and it closed. I believe that the moral of this story is that 1) buyers need to immediately respond and send everything requested and then some, 2) buyers need to be proactive, 3) shit happens, 4) expect a glitch or two, and 5) it’s worth it.

We are thrilled to be in our new home. It’s small (1100 sq ft) and perfect for us. It has an incredible backyard. Since we moved in, the trees have gotten their leaves and the flowers have started to come out. Every day we have more and more…Mexican primrose, day lily, columbine, vinca, honeysuckle, Japanese bamboo, mallow, butterfly bushes and more that haven’t made their appearance yet. We love it. We have views of the mesas from the front and back. It was definitely worth it!

Here are some photos:

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This is the view from our front deck

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We love our backyard! We now have lots of birds eating from our feeders and bathing in the birdbath. I love waking to the sound of them chirping (and occasionally the crowing of the rooster down the street).


Wave Again

Doug applied for another permit to visit the Wave and was the first one picked! We could not have asked for a better day…it was perfect. The 2-hour hike is so beautiful…and The Wave is beyond description.

This first photo was taken along the way…

This large camera was formerly owned by Edward Weston, a famous photographer in the early 20th century. The current owner lovingly restored the camera, which was painted in battleship grey during the war years. I would love to see the photos.


White Pocket, second day

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Arizona/Utah

After it warmed up a bit, we had breakfast and started taking photos. We missed the really good light – it was just too cold to get out of bed! We wandered around for a while and discovered an area of White Pocket we hadn’t seen. It was surreal…I felt like I was looking into the vortex! The swirls, colors and textures were mixed together and came up from a deep hole. While we were there, a guide and his party came over and I heard him say “These folks have obviously been here before…they know where the ‘sweet spot’ is!” Well, it was dumb luck on our part.

We’ll return when it warms up a bit (that might be a while – the weather report shows 100% chance of snow tonight and tomorrow). The road has to dry out before we can drive on it; it’s truly impassable when it’s wet.

Into the Vortex…


The Wave

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Arizona/Utah

Ever since I first saw photos of The Wave, I’ve been wanting to see it. We’ve tried to get a permit for over 3 years. Only 20 people per day are allowed in, which is great because it’s quite a small area and everyone wants to take photos. There are two lotteries – one online and one in person at the Kanab BLM office. Finally we got a permit! It took about 2 hours to drive to the trailhead from Kanab, and then another 2+ hours to hike to The Wave. The hike itself was quite spectacular…past lots of beautifully colored rock formations. We spent 3-4 hours there before we headed back to the car. We got back just as it got dark. What a day and what a wonderful experience! The Wave is enchanting – with waves of textures and colors, plus lots of other interesting formations. We’re ready to go again!


White Pocket

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Arizona/Utah

White Pocket is one of the most amazing places I’ve been to. To get there from Kanab, we had to drive about 40 miles to the House Rock Valley Road, another 20 miles down that dirt road, and then through deep sand another 20 miles to the trailhead. After all that driving, we like to take advantage of as much light as possible, so we plan to arrive in the afternoon, take photos, and then take more photos in the morning before we leave.

After taking photos until dark, we had dinner and got in the back of the truck to read and then sleep. It got so cold that the moisture on the windows inside the truck froze, but we stayed warm under our comforter and sleeping bags. It was too cold to get up for the sunrise though. As we were falling asleep, we heard coyotes howling nearby…I’ve missed that sound!

These photos are from our afternoon:


Pahreah Townsite

Pahreah Canyon
E. of Kanab, UT

After a few days of dry weather, we returned to the canyon and made it all the way to the end of the road! We crossed the wash and passed the old cemetery. Unfortunately there are no other reminders of the old townsite or movie set. The scenery is still breath-taking:


Gunsmoke

Johnson Canyon
E. of Kanab, UT

In 1951, Hollywood director William E. Wellman made a film for MGM called “Westward the Women,” about 140 mail-order brides making their way to ranchers in California.

Wellman had an entire Main Street built in Johnson Canyon outside of Kanab. The set had a saloon, a blacksmith shop, a doctor’s office, a general store and, of course, a hanging gallows.

The set was used in several more movies and then it was used for “Gunsmoke”.

Not all of the Gunsmoke episodes were filmed in Johnson Canyon, but a lot of them were.

Here are some photos of what’s left of “Dodge City”:
while I was taking photographs, I was visited by a half dozen horses who roam around Dodge City these days. They were very curious and friendly – let me pat them and looked hopefully at me…for an apple or treat?!


Johnson Canyon revisited

Johnson Canyon
E. of Kanab, UT

Johnson Canyon, a few miles east of Kanab, offers breathtaking scenery as it passes the Vermillion, White, and Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase region. We drove to the Skutumpah Road intersection, then turned back to catch the light.


Yellow Rock

We drove about 20 miles along the Cottonwood (dirt) Road to get to the trail head. The roads and trails have been quite muddy after recent snow, so we took it slow but had no problems. We crossed the still icy stream, hiked past the entrance to Hackberry Canyon and then up a very steep slope to the Yellow Rock overlook. I was very tired and wanted to make sure I could get back down the steep trail, so I relaxed while Doug hiked up Yellow Rock. When we crossed the stream to return to our truck we got wet! A lot of the ice had melted since we crossed the first time…there weren’t as many places to step!

Above: Entrance to Hackberry Canyon

Yellow Rock (Doug is climbing the rock – he’s the small dark dot on the left, about 1/3 down
from the top)

Beautiful lichen…