Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The wonders of the natural world never stop amazing me!

This year we made a goal as a family to try to visit all the National Parks and major State Parks in our home state of Utah. Last week the family and I had the opportunity to camp at Cedar Breaks National Monument and take some wonderful hikes to better appreciate this wonder. Cedar Breaks is located in Southern Utah, about 20 miles from Cedar City. It is pretty small as National Monuments go, and only offers two hiking trails, but it was really nice. The NPS website describes Cedar Breaks this way, "Resting on top of the Colorado plateau, at over 10,000 feet in elevation, this breathtaking view awaits. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift, and erosion are carving out this giant amphitheater, that spans some three miles, and is more than 2000 feet deep. Due to minerals that have been deposited over time, the cliffs of Cedar Breaks National Monument display an amazing rainbow of warm hues." I would described it as "Amazing". We have been to Arches and Canyonlands and they are spectacular too, but something really touch me about Cedar Breaks. The thing that amazed me most was the fact that the colorful rock formations appear to just "appear" out of the Dixie National Forest. While viewing the amphitheater, I was amazed to find full grown pine trees dispersed amongst the rock formations and erosion of colors. The amphitheater is surrounded by national forest land so the monument is really a "diamond in the rough". In looking down on the formations, as you looked around, it was almost as if the entire monument "pushed up" out of the forest floor. It was almost as if our Heavenly Father said to himself, "this spot needs a little color" and made it so! As I said, it was amazing. We stayed at the Point Supreme Campground at the park and it was very nice. Nice level spots for the trailer and it was EMPTY. In talking to the ranger, she indicated they are very rarely full, even on the weekends. Several of the sites were pull thru's (as was ours) and several spots offered good shade. We stayed in site 26. There was no shade at our site, but that was OK as the HIGH temperature during our stay was 58 degrees! Cedar Breaks and the campground sit at about 10,000 feet above sea level, so even during August (which is our hottest month) it rarely gets above 60. It was a nice break from the 100 degree weather we have been having in Salt Lake. I think the NPS is doing themselves a disservice by not allowing people to make reservations for the campground. All sites are first come first serve and I think this discourages people from making the trek up to the park. But, as I mentioned, we had the place to ourselves. It was dry camping, but it was not a problem as our trailer is fully self contained. We arrived on Wednesday and left on Friday to go to a family reunion in Cedar City. Here's a quick breakdown of the trip:

Wednesday- rained like crazy on the way down. We caught a nice gap in the storm to get the trailer set up once we arrived and then it POURED. Glad the trailer is water-proof! We slept good that night as the sound of rain is very soothing.

Thursday- hiked the Alpine Pond trail. This is one of my new favorite hiking trails. It was about 3 miles round trip and really not strenuous at all, but it was really cool. The trail was a loop- 1/2 went right next to the amphitheater and offered spectacular views of the colorful formations and 1/2 went through the National Forest with unprecedented, up close views of the local flora and fauna. One of the highlights was seeing a male hummingbird up close, sitting on a branch grooming himself. This hike really highlighted the diversity of the park. The picture to the left is the Alpine Pond mid way through the hike. This is right next to the amphitheater. This is where we saw all the hummingbirds. You will notice a lot of dead trees. This is from a bark beetle infestation the park had in the late 80's. It is a long way from recovery. The ranger said about 100 years is what it takes to get back to the way it was before the infestation. It offered a stark contrast and was beautiful in its own way, but sad to see too. Thursday night, Grandma and Grandpa came up to camp with us. It was fun to have them with us. A good preparation for our Tetons trip later this month!

Friday- Got up and had a pancake and egg breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa then went to the visitors center. It is small but has some interesting information on the formation of Cedar Breaks. The Ranger's were very knowledgeable and we had an enjoyable visit with them. Grandma and Grandpa went down to Cedar City in preparation for the family reunion. Our family stayed and hiked the Spectra Point Trail. This trail took you up close and personal with the formations. It skirts the rim of the amphitheater and offers excellent views of everything. You hike to Spectra Point, which is home to a 1,600 year old Bristlecone Pine tree. It was really neat. We wanted to hike further, but rain was threatening again so we headed back to the trailer and packed up to go.

All in all, this was one of my favorite camping trips this year so far. The scenery was awesome and the cool weather made it a joy to hike in. I would highly recommend a visit! Make sure you break warm clothes and be prepared for rain. Both hikes could easily be done in one day if you didn't have much time. The kids really enjoyed the trip too. Too often kids today are stuck in front of the TV and video games. Your kids won't remember the video games they played when they are adults, but they will remember things like this. Exposing your children to nature will offer them benefits in life that can't be duplicated on TV! Get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer! I think this picture sums it up and really captures what it is all about. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Right to Bear Arms

As the spouse of a former law enforcement officer, I am a firm believer in the rights guaranteed by Second Amendment. My wife and I both own guns for home protection and plan to get our Concealed Weapons permit soon. I have been researching the possibility of taking an intensive, hands on training course and after much research have found the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. I looked both in and out of state and Front Sight seems to be the best of all worlds- highly trained instructors, on-site, non-boot camp mentality training, and fantastic testimonials. They have received accolades from multiple publications and have been feature in both print and television. Below are links to some of their mentions:
I have signed up to receive their free "15 Gun Training Reports" and will be sending for the DVD soon. I am hoping to attend one of their on site courses in the next 6 months. I will post an update after I review the DVD and Training reports. Stay safe!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recent family vacation

We recently took a lovely camping trip to Colorado, just east of Montrose, CO. Montrose is about 60 miles south of Grand Junction. We went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, It was spectacular! We were there for 5 days. We left on Sunday June 24th and came home on June 29th. We pulled our camper trailer and met my Mom, Dad and my Nephew Kai at the South Rim Campground. We stayed at site 16B. It was a nice campground, very quiet. Mostly small oak trees, but pretty nice shade. We had to pull in the wrong way on the one way loop because of how our site was laid out. At first we were kind of iffy on the site because it was literally right on the loop of the road, but it turned out to be very nice. It was a primitive site with no water or sewer hookups, but it did have electricity, which was nice because it was 90+ each day so we ran the A/C. They had vault toilets, so we used those for #2, and the trailer for #1 :-). We hiked everyday and it was gorgeous! The gorge is 2,000 ft. deep. An interesting fact is that the Gunnison River through Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park drops at an average of 95 feet per mile. By comparison, the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile. There is a South side and a North side. It take 1.5 hours to drive to the North side because you have to go around. There is no bridge. On Thursday we did just that. It was very pretty on the North side. I would recommend the drive. In the end we spent some quality time with Mom and Dad and Kai. Kai rode home to Salt Lake with us. It was a great trip!

New blogging

As blogging seems to be the key way to keep people apprised of our lives, I decided to start a the Kess Family blog. I will try to keep it updated as regularly as possible.