Archive for January, 2013

End of Dry Spell and Final Round for January?

I played this morning at Druid’s Glen, again fighting tough winter conditions: rock hard bunkers, frozen greens with mushy surfaces and icy spots on the fairways.  Still, I managed a respectable 91 after starting with three straight double bogeys.  I see in the weather report this was the second longest January dry-spell on record, 12 consecutive days.  The bizarre weather continues.

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Chilly Round

I rendezvoused with my golf partner Ron Hillis this morning at Mt. Si.  We braved the first tee temperature of 29 degrees, heavy frost and frozen greens.  With all that, it turned out to be a beautiful day with no wind and abundant sunshine.  I shot an acceptable 87, not bad given the difficulty of judging approach shots off frozen fairways to rock hard greens.

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777 miles – Home at Last

Walking out into the 1 degree temperature in Ogden certainly got us moving this morning.  Once we cleared a dense, freezing fog around Brigham City we had clean sailing the rest of the way.  Listening to the Seahawks exciting, but disappointing, 30-28 loss to Atlanta provided a few hours of diversion along the way. The topography along this route isn’t all that interesting but we were treated to a stunning and long sunset that I photographed at the Selah rest stop just north of Yakima.

Mt. Rainier in the sunset

Mt. Rainier in the sunset

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Phoenix to Ogden, UT – 698 miles

Today was the first of our two-day journey home following the same route we took returning from Sedona in 2011. Except this time it’s the middle of winter.  The first 400 miles to Long Valley Junction were uneventful with clear skies, dry roads and little traffic.  Once again in northern Utah we got a glimpse of the incredible Vermilion Cliffs escarpments off Route 89 south of Page, UT.  This little niche of the U.S. is just so fascinating.  Looking to the west from the highway you know the eastern end of the Grand Canyon is just 70 or so miles away, Bryce and Zion lie just about 100 miles north, and the road passes right between the Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. It’s a geologic wonderland of every imaginable shape. As I had done for the outgoing trip, I checked the weather forecast for cities along the way and everything looked great.  I forgot that that little 40-mile section of Route 14 between Long Valley Junction and Cedar City is a major mountain pass with elevations around 9,000 feet just south of Cedar Breaks National Monument.  So we did have to navigate about half an hour of snow but the road surface was mostly well-cleared or sanded.  Once through the snow squall, we began the descent toward Cedar City with absolutely stupendous views of the surrounding rock formations and valleys shrouded in fresh snow.  It was breathtaking. Photos (19)…

Route 14, just outside Cedar City, UT

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Desert Botanical Garden

Road Runner

Road Runner

From Taliesin, we drove to the Desert Botanical Garden where our afternoon began with a salad at the Patio Café where we were entertained by a road runner.  A couple of hours flew by as be wandered the many park paths marvelling at the endless variety of desert plants and occasional whimsical garden artwork.

Photos (33)

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Today began chilly and clear as we wrestled with the GPS and sub-optimal signage to find Frank Lloyd Wright‘s famous Taliesin West complex in the foothills north-east of Phoenix.  Mr. Wright’s designs are always fascinating and in this desert setting the Taliesin West structure is majestic in a subtle way, less visually compelling than Falling Water in Pennsylvania but somehow captivating in its tranquility.  We were in a small tour group of six people and the morning light added a lot to the wonderful angles of the buildings.  Additionally, there were scores of  elegant sculptures, many by Heloise Crista, adorning nooks, table, and ledges both inside and out.  All in all it was a lovely 90-minute stroll.

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Apache Trail

A beautiful morning greeted us and somewhat recovered from our long sojourn to Texas and back, we set out to the famous Apache Trail scenic drive, in the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix. The terrain here is desert-like for sure but also features rugged mountains, buttes, cliffs and lakes formed by the Roosevelt Dam.  Mild temperatures and very little traffic (save the FedEx truck that sped by at 50 mph on the incredibly rough gravel road) allowed for numerous stops to admire the vistas and take photos.  Along the way we had a picnic lunch at the stunning Fish Creek overlook and sampled prickly pear ice cream at the little town of Tortilla Flat.  We completed the day with a scrumptious dinner at Del Frisco’s GrillePhotos…

Sampling Prickly Pear Cactus ice cream at Tortilla Flat

Sampling Prickly Pear Cactus ice cream at Tortilla Flat

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