Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 138 - Utah Rocks - The Stone Canyon Inn - For the Birds

One of the Twin Tunnels in Red Canyon back to Tropic UT

Stone Canyon Inn Sign

Western Meadowlark atop a Cedar tree

Western Tanager
Breathless and satisfied with our four-wheeling experience, we followed our first innkeeper's suggestion to check out the Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant that we had passed on the way that had the HUGE GREEN signs outside that said "Homemade Pies and Soups."  Since it was four o-clock and we were starved, we asked for the dinner menu.  We were told they don't serve dinner until five o-clock and we had to order from the lunch menu.  The biggest thing we saw we ordered; Open-faced turkey breast and roast beef sandwiches with a side of mashed potatoes.  As we eagerly drove our first shovel of a spoon into the mashed potatoes with the respective gravies, we looked at each other simultaneously and played ink-a-dink-a-bottle-of-ink for the salt.  That was the most bland food EVER.  No taste.  I tried my "homemade soup" of tomato and noodles.  I had envisioned Campbells soup but what I got was beanless chili.  I ate it but it was just "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah."  After emptying the salt shaker, we tried their "homemade pies."  I ordered the strawberry banana pie as the waitress told us the locals come there just for this pie.  Steve ordered the Coconut Cream pie.  We each took our first bite and agreed to switch.  The edge of the pies were hard like they had been in the refrigerator for a long time.  Fresh my @ss.  Cork-fell-out-and-you-stink. 

What they did have were reasonably priced postcards and wonderful books on the local wildlife which you don't see anywhere else in the world.  As we drove up to our next Bed and Breakfast, we saw Pronghorn Antelopes.  A local shop owner told us that they are now called Pronghorns as they aren't really antelopes.  As we kept driving we saw birds we have never seen before.  Black-billed Magpies that look like penguins flying when they flap their wings.  The flashes of black and white are awesome.  They loved the water sprinklers.  We saw blue mountain birds flying for cover in the cedar trees on the dirt road up to the Stone Canyon Inn.  When we arrived we first noticed a backhoe doing construction work driven by a woman!  I think I said something like "Rock On Girl!" The right thing to do is to support anyone who does something non-traditionally as they are the pioneers of our day.  People in the future will look back and eventually think, what was the big deal if we do this.

The Stone Canyon Inn was built by Dixie and Mike in 2000 after selling their home and buying 80 acres in Tropic Utah and building this Inn and a few other smaller cabins for your comfort.  They had traveled to the area and wanted to build a place to stay for others fall in love with the views they had seen when visiting there.  When you enter the Inn, you see their Stone Canyon Inn Logo on the floor built with different color marble encompassed by the stone from the area.  It is absolutely stunning.

Our room was grand and our hosts helpful and friendly.  They have  a bird feeder out front so that you can enjoy the local birds.  As we checked in we were greeted also by the female driver of the construction equipment who apologized for the noise outside.  Steve told her it was no problem and it usually takes longer than two minutes to piss us off.  She jokingly asked, "What you need more time, maybe fifteen minutes?"  This was Dana and we later met Amy who also was out there building a pool for the guests to look at from the balcony made of the huge rocks native to the area.  They became our "rocks" during this visit and we have made life long friends. Birds of a feather, truly flock together even if they may be thousand miles apart at times.  Enjoy this view, it speaks for itself.

Black-Billed Magpie (Photo by Bryant Olsen Fool on the Hill Flicker)

Mountain Bluebird (Bryant Olsen)

Stone Canyon Inn

The view from one of the cabins

The view from the Balcony


House, Purple and Cassin Finches (16 of them eat at the feeders in front)

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~ Mae West

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 137 - Utah Rocks - Holy Moses The Clouds Parted

White Birch

Northern Flicker (type of woodpecker -Regal looking!)
We ate breakfast at Amid Summers Inn the next day and met two honeymooners who were leaving to go back to Salt Lake City.  Ethan and Sarah were their names.  After checking out the house two doors down which had been turned into The Garden House restaurant the previous night, we compared notes. The mahi mahi and steak were great.  Although I love Creme Brulee, I hadn't gotten it but Ethan did.  He said it was awesome.  Ethan offered to show us around SLC when we got back before we left to go to the airport.  We gave him our card and told him to call us and we'd LOVE to take him up on his offer for our own personal tour from a local mocal.

We heard that although it was raining in Cedar City and there would be snow on the mountain, we should have pretty good weather by the time we got to Tropic UT, home of Bryce Canyon.  We had only packed shorts and t-shirts with one pair of pants.  So pants it was for the trek up the mountainside.  The weather started at 47 degrees and varied between 32 and 37 as we climbed to 10,000 feet at the summit which had a sign that said Strawberry Point.  I guarantee you nobody was growing strawberries up there.  It was surreal to leave rain, go up in the mountains and see snow everywhere, driving in the snow and stopping to catch a photo of a groundhog and the white birch trees.  It reminded me of Pennsylvania, not Utah.  We saw the biggest Osprey you have ever seen swoop into the lake at the top of the mountain.  When he flew over me, his wingspan was as wide as mine almost 60 inches!  He was gorgeous.

As we drove to our scheduled ATV resort, the wind gusts were at least 30 miles per hour, the rain cold and we realized we didn't have gloves or the coats needed for our reservations to ride four-wheel ATVs.  The owner, Mark let us use his gloves, helmets and coats and we were very appreciative and very warm.  As we loaded the ATVs into the trailer and drove down Red Canyon to Costo Canyon, our tour guide Dave told us that we were going to be in for a treat that day because Mark, the owner, was the only one who had permits to ride in this particular Canyon called Costo Canyon.  We had chosen the three hour tour (like Gilligans Island!).  The first thing that hit me was the smell of the sage brush.  I broke off a sage twig and put it in my pocket.  It ended up in my suitcase and has made it back to Florida with me.  The smell is intoxicating and pleasant.  The whole canyon and ride smelled like Sage and Cedar from the trees. Fresh.

As Dave gave us the ATV for Dummies lesson, the rain stopped and the clouds moved to let the sunshine in.  We drove and drove and drove mesmerized by the view combined with the heavenly smell of sage.  It was our tour to do what we wanted with it so we stopped and took photos as often as we liked.  I quickly learned how to shift my ATV into fifth gear and away we went.  When we started into the Canyon, the terrain was rough, so we were told to go up the Canyon in second and we would come back in third.  The water was pretty high: about eighteen inches in some parts and if we went through it in second gear, we didn't get wet.

As if symbolizing the whole biblical experience of being one with God in his majestic painting of Costo Canyon, as soon as we reloaded the ATVs, the clouds covered the sun and it started to rain.  God was good to us that day in way of the weather but I still would have praised God if had rained. The smells and scenery we took in were majestic with or without the good weather.  God had parted the clouds for us as we went through the Red Canyon as he had parted the water of the Red Sea for Moses. Moses may have had a similar experience but he didn't have the smell of fresh sage and he wasn't riding a Red ATV. In both experiences, our Lord was present and we knew it was special.

Exodus 14:21-31
       Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind.  It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land.  The water was divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 136 - Utah Rocks - Cedar City - See What You See

I have a saying, See what you see so you can say what you saw.  We were seeing alot!

On the way from Salt Lake City (SLC) through Mona we headed toward Cedar City.  It rained the entire way and a three and a half hour trip took five hours.  The roads near SLC were in the middle of construction and weaved back and forth across old lines so for a four lane highway it was hard to tell which lane to stay in so as to not run into the other cars. But what was ahead was my pleasure.  Speed Limit signs that started at 70mph, then further south they were 75mph and about an hour south they were 80mph!!!  I can't drive 55 and I was loving Utah already.  80mph is about what I drive anyway.  Actually it is always been 7mph above the posted speed limit.  (Remember the advice from the Maryland State Trooper Official?) I was happier than a pig in mud. The right thing to do was to go the speed limit Woohoo! Did I mention I love Utah already?

As we drove to Mona, we stopped to take photos of birds on the fences.  We thought it was one kind of bird but when we looked at the photos of the birds and they were many different kinds of birds we had never seen before.  One lady at the convenience store said they sing a song like this: "Suuuuuuuchhhh aaaaaaaa [now sing the last words really fast] pretty little bird."  That was exactly how they sang. After much research we discovered it was a Western Meadowlark which sounds different than an Eastern Meadowlark.  We also saw Western Bluebirds.  (Can you tell we were in the west?)

Western Meadowlark

Western Bluebird

We also saw Horned Larks and it was like being a kid in the candy store.  We had never seen so many different birds before. Utah has 291 birds, more than Florida's 286 birds so we knew this was going to be quite a treat.

Horned Lark

House Finch
We finally arrived to our destination and found out that Cedar City is the home of the Utah's Famous Shakespeare Festival.  It is what literally keeps the town afloat.  They make so much money during the week of the festival that it allows them to stay in business throughout the rest of the year.  We checked into Amid Summers Inn where we were greeted with lemon bars. Mmmmmmm  The Inn is going through a transformation from the Victorian to the Renaissance to align itself with the Shakespearean theme.  And of course we stayed in the room for all birders...the Peacock room.  It was a bird filled day and I was chirping with delight. I leave you with some photos of the Inn...saying what I saw.
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~William Shakespeare
Peacock Room - our room

Beautiful Victorian Furniture

Dining Room
Peacock Room Bed

Teacups on the Wall (reminds me of Grandma)
It's better to die doing good than to live doing evil. ~ Brigham Young

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 135 - Utah Rocks - Lavender Fields For INRI

You've heard of that Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever.  Well imagine a field of lavender.  The fresh smell of lavender is said to calm the mind before bed.  On the way from Salt Lake City to our first stop in Cedar City, we stopped on Mona, Utah to visit the Young Living Lavender fields.  I had read about this farm in my Martha Stewart Living Magazine and was surprised that within two weeks of reading the article, I was standing in the same place over 2000 miles from my home.

In 1871, Howard and Martha Jane Corey staked a small homestead in central Utah. While Howard raised livestock, Martha gained a reputation by selling liniments and medicines made from herbs that she gathered and grew on the land. One hundred and twenty-five years later, in 1996, Gary and Mary Young purchased 1,400 acres of this rural land in Mona, Utah. The land, where Martha Corey once grew her own herbs, is now home to the largest herb farm and distillery in the world.

 We were told that the fields were not ready yet due to the abnormal cold weather that was still in Utah.  It was snowing still in some places one week before the first week of June!  But when it is in bloom, the fields are tested three times a day and although people ask when will it be harvested, the answer is they don't know.  This is why it is tested each day.  At any given time, it can be ready and it is harvested on the spot.

Here is the time line of the history of Gary Young and how he came to understand the importance of oils to healing.  The right thing to do is try one of these oils and see if it helps you in the areas of mental health, healing or overall good feeling.

The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash." Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.

We were told to rub the oils on the tops and bottoms of our feet and the body knows exactly where to take them to the other parts of ones body in order to heal  itself.  The pores are biggest on the feet and that is why they can be absorbed better. We were told that if you smell an oil, how your body reacts to the aroma will tell  you if you need it. If you think it just smells awful or if you love it due to a trigger of a memory it creates you should use it.  If it is of no degree and your body has no response then it probably isn't for you.  I don't know about the smelling awful that you really  need it.  That doesn't sound logical to me.  It smelled divine inside the gift shop with all the lavender aroma in the air.  We bought sachets to put in the underwear/sock drawer for $2.

You can sprinkle oil on your sheets to freshen them up for guests.  I'm told that you can also add to water and spritz it on a sunburn and the soreness will go away.  All and all it was a truly heavenly and heavily sensual experience.  You felt alive when you were in there and the people were helpful and happy to share their information.  I now have a greater understanding of the event marked in the book of Luke and John in the bible of Mary, sister of Lazarus washing the feet of Jesus with anointed oil after he had raised her brother from the dead.  This was such a honorable yet humbling experience reserved for royalty...and in this case, the King of the Jews.  I can only guess that Pontius Pilate would have needed to smell the lavender to calm his mind before bed after sentencing Jesus to death by crucifixion.

Over the cross a sign is nailed bearing the inscription INRI: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Latin for: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Before he dies, he speaks: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:24).

I leave you with the medicinal purposes of lavender: Enjoy!

In aromatherapy, lavender is used for treating depression, amenorrhea, burns, acne, rashes, arthritis, athlete's foot, carpal tunnel syndrome, psoriasis, vaginitis, insomnia, pain, palpitations, anxiety and nervousness. As massage oil, lavender relaxes muscles and eases tension. Lavender oil is used in diffusers, salves, bath products, and undiluted as a topical essential oil. Lavender oil should not be taken internally.

Lavender's Active Ingredients
Lavender oil contains the natural alcohol linalool; ketones; esters; and aldehydes. Linalol provides lavender's antiseptic properties by effectively killing bacteria and viruses. Linalol also helps healing skin irritations including burns, wounds, acne and sores. The aldehydes in lavender are responsible for its distinct aroma and soothing properties. The ketones in lavender effectively reduce pain and inflammation and help induce sleep. The esters in lavender reduce soreness and swelling, prevent muscle spasms, fight fungal infections and prevent scarring. The esters in lavender also help relieve tension, depression and hysteria, and they help regulate moods.

Using lavender

Lavender is primarily used as an essential oil, which can be purchased in most stores that sell health products, or as the dried herb. As an oil, lavender can be diffused, sprinkled or applied directly to irritated skin. As massage oil, lavender oil should first be diluted with grapeseed or almond oil, using 10 drops of lavender oil to 30 ml of carrier oil. Lavender oil can also be found added to perfumes, flower essences, shampoos, soaps, bath products, herbal salves, and massage oils. Dried lavender herb can be found in sachets, dream pillows, satin-covered herbal eye masks. Lavender herb is also found in herbal cough and cold preparations.

Used in skin products, lavender helps reduce inflammation and promotes healing of rashes, bruises, minor cuts and sores. In one Los Angeles clinic, lavender oil is used for skin cancer, osteomalacia, facial ulcers and insect bites. Lavender also helps balance oil production and prevent scarring. In shampoos, lavender helps prevent dandruff, and as a final hair rinse lavender combined with lemon oil and diluted in mineral water, helps restore sheen in dry, damaged hair. The oils should be added to the water at least 30 minutes before using to ensure proper solubility.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 134 - Utah Rocks! - Full Circle

I know times are hard but road trips are a necessity for nothing more than realizing that our world is really just a "tiny little world."  When we step outside this daily hustle and bustle we begin to see how big the world is and how the connections of the human race keep it in close contact.  The next couple of blogs will be to tell you about a recent vacation we took to Utah.  A state I had never been to before and sometimes the right thing to do is to step out of our "comfort zone" and do something or go somewhere that is different than us.  After vacationing in Utah I have to say that it is America's Best Kept Secret.  I'll share some hints and tips along the way and hope that you will visit one day too. 

Tower King Room Little America Hotel
We started in Salt Lake City.  The only thing I knew before I came about this city was that people go there to ski and the Mormon faith is centered here.  We had gotten a deal to stay the first night for a whopping eight hours as our plane didn't arrive until 11 PM at night. When we arrived the receptionist said they were going to give us a free upgrade to a "tower room."  Without knowing anything other than "free upgrade" we were fine with this.  It felt like we were getting something for nothing basically.  The Little America Hotel is across the street from the Grand America Hotel we were told by one of the people we met on the plane.  I feared the worst.  Nothing good can come from being "little" across the street from "grand."  I was pleasantly surprised.  I later researched and found they gave us a room valued at $189/night for $80.

The room was a 600 square foot room with the French Richelieu furniture and brocade furnishings on the windows.  The bathroom was a room within a room made of Italian marble.  The second dressing room sported a dresser, a second sink made with old fashioned wooden legs.  And the biggest pleasant surprise, they still offered free stationery!  You could write a letter or send a postcard.  Boy the good old days.  The hotel was built by the founder Admiral Byrd. When he was a was a young man herding sheep in a dreary section of Wyoming, he became lost in a raging northeast blizzard and was forced to camp out all night. He thought what a blessing it would be if someone would build a house of shelter at that desolate spot. Many times he dreamed of a haven for travelers with a crackling fire, warm bed, delicious food.

The first hotel was built in Wyoming and this was his second.  The Steakhouse Restaurant serves a wonderful buffet breakfast and the decor is like a fancy cabin in the deep woods.  Red leather round booths and dark wood holding Oriental vases and old leather books add to the old west flavor.  The chandeliers are made of antlers of deer or antelope and give you the outdoor feel in the warm indoors.  We had breakfast here and as I say, "Everything is bigger and better in the West." Coming from San Francisco, I know that the strawberries are bigger and sweeter, the blueberries are the size of pennies and the east coast sports the same blueberries but the size of peas. 

The atmosphere reminded me of a ski lodge.  At a young age, I vowed never to ski as in this mindset already I told this to my roommates in college at the age of twenty.  I said that every time I thought about skiing I heard somebody else had broken a leg on a ski trip.  I felt that this was Gods way of telling me that it wasn't for me. They laughed as they went off to ski.  I had to keep from laughing when one roommate didn't come home for several days as she broke her leg that weekend and was in the hospital.  It wasn't funny but the irony of it all still supports my mindset of respecting the sport and knowing it is too risky for me.

We noticed one crazy thing in Salt Lake City that makes you feel like you are going the wrong way on a one way street.  They back into the 45 degree parking spaces. Everyone does this and thinks its normal.  I didn't but what I do think is completely logical is the grid that the city is built on.  Making any direction easy to follow.

The city is built on a grid that centers around the Temple Square which is the center of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ Mormon Faith. Salt Lake’s unique street numbering system is almost identical in concept to that of longitude and latitude. Think of the point at which the Equator intersects the Greenwich Meridian – in other words, 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude. On the globe, that zero-point is just south of Ghana off the West African Coast. In Salt Lake City, it’s at Temple Square. Salt Lake is laid out on a simple grid system. Virtually every address in the city has a set of two coordinates telling how far east or west and how far north or south it is from Temple Square (or the corner of Main and South Temple Streets to be exact).

The Temple

Noon Concerts by Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Temple Square hosts the Temple, the visitors center, the Assembly Hall and the Church where the Tabernacle choir sings everyday at noon.  A free concert for anyone who wants to hear them. The organ is monstrous and the ambiance beautiful.   The square also has maintained the house that Brigham Young lived in at the time with his wife and seven children.  All the original furniture and china are yours to see.  We're told he actually had 17 wives but that wasn't mentioned on our tour.  The majority of worship buildings are Mormon in the area. Being Catholic it was different not to see any other kind of religion establishment other than the Latter Day Saints Churches so one could understand being Mormon and wanting to live here.

We visited the Temple on the way back before our flight.  It was just beautiful. So we came full circle on our trip and ended at a square.  Its never been so easy to fit a round peg into a square hole.

(I'll blog more about the Mormon faith later but for the mean time, enjoy the view of Brigham Young's Bee Hive House)

The Entertainment Room

The Dining Room

The Sitting Room

The flowers of Temple Square - Spring Tulips

A good man, is a good man, whether in this church, or out of it.  ~Brigham Young