Saturday, April 19, 2014

Road Trip, West to East: Lee's Ferry and Kanab

The Colorado River at Lee's Ferry

As many of you know, we travel cross-country twice a year.  Each May and October, we spend days making lists, carefully packing and cleaning house before we lock the door and say goodbye.  In order to make this trip successfully, we need to be organized and thorough - and even more so, since the trip isn't a vacation but a long drive to teach workshops.  All this preparation comes, of course, with stress, but it is sweetened with eager anticipation.  We really do look forward to seeing some new country along the way.

We left Sedona on Friday, stopping at the car dealership in Flagstaff to have a wheel balance problem addressed.  (Who wants to worry about that for 3200 miles?)  Then, we worked our way up Route 89 to the Vermilion Cliffs and the Arizona Strip.  As you may recall, I'd spent several days painting in that area with my friend M.L. Coleman last fall, and I wanted to pass through again and share some of my discoveries with Trina.  This is a beautiful part of the state.  Lee's Ferry, especially, is such a nice spot that we decided to go camping there next year.  There's also lots of BLM land just outside it where we might camp and explore.

Saba Takes a Dip in the Colorado

From Lee's Ferry, we headed west toward Jacob Lake with the high walls of the Vermilion Clifffs on our right for many miles and then switchbacked up the hill to over 8,000 feet.  Here, among the ponderosa pines, we took a short break for lunch and a walk.  I'd forgotten what it's like to be that high - it was a cool 67, compared to 80 or more at Lee's Ferry, and the air was noticeably thinner.  It was tempting to think about heading over to Grand Canyon's North Rim for a visit, but Route 67 is still closed at this time of year.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves over the state line and in Kanab, Utah.  I'd passed through Kanab several times and considered it just a crossroads.  But we arranged to spend three nights here at Flagstone Studios on the north side of town.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Not only is Kanab the gateway to the most spectacular National Parks - the North Rim of Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and also Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - it has an impressive series of town trails that are open to hikers.  Each morning, we've picked a different trail to explore in one canyon or another.

Hiking on the Bunting Trail

Hiking on the Tom's Canyon Trail
Some of these trails are even on private land.  After my encounter with the Red Rock Ranger District in Sedona last week, it's nice to see a sign like this one:

Hopefully, "hiking" includes "painting."  (You can also read Trina's take on the matter here, which I completely agree with.)

That's all for now.  Tomorrow morning, we head west to Springdale.  I'm looking forward to pulling out my painting gear and painting in and around Zion National Park with friends.  I promise to post some plein air paintings soon!

Tom's Canyon

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