Tues the 17th:
We got up early and did Arches NP. I had been there before so there wasn't a lot to see but it was fun. Saw a few Golden Eagles on the way back to the interstate. Then we headed west and then south to Capitol Reef National Park where I picked up Juniper Titmouse, Canyon Wren, Mountain Bluebird and Gambel's Quail. Then we drove down through the Grand Staircase in Escalante National Park and out to "The point." "The point" is a section of road that runs out to a point and then down the front of it. The interesting part of the road though is that the farther out you are on the point, the narrower the road is. Near the tip, the road has practically no shoulder since the shoulders drop about 300 ft straight down on either side of the road. The views from the point are pretty nice though.
We ended at Bryce Canyon rather late that night.
Wed, Feb 18th:
We got up before sunrise and drove down to the canyon to see the first light of the winter morning shining on the red pinnacles of the canyon. Bryce Canyon really doesn't qualify as a true canyon since there really is only one side to it but the rock pinnacles are pretty cool nonetheless. After watching the sunrise, we headed for St George. We arrived at my Uncle's house a little after noon and had quite a time meeting, re-meeting and catching up with old friends and relatives. I had not seen most of them for nearly 10 years so it was nice to see them once more. It was especially nice to see my cousins Reegan, Marley and Mason once again. The last time I saw Mason, he was still learning to walk, talk and chew gum. :D
Mason is now 9 years old and Reegan and Marley are now 14 and 13 respectively. How time flies!
I was also very happy to meet to new cousins for the first time. The twins Drew and Drake who are now 8 years old and I'm told get into more mischief in one week than the rest of us have been in in 5 years! lol
As we settled in, I quickly discovered that the subdivision was excellent habitat for Gambel's Quail and that my Uncle had a pair of Crissal Thrashers coming to his feeder. Naturally, with such awesome birds around and someone who knew them, my cousins quickly became interested in what feathered friends lived in the area. Reegan and Mason especially so.
So we went for a walk through the desert down to the nearby reservoir. Along the way we saw a Roadrunner, Lesser Goldfinches, many many Quail, several species of ducks, many White-crowned Sparrows and a Northern Harrier.
I spent both days and both nights at my uncle's house along with my cousins. We hiked down to the reservoir both days and saw more cool birds and many Black-tailed Jackrabbits.
Sat, the 21st:
Mason, Uncle Doug, my family and I spent the morning at Zion National Park.
The best birds of the day were easily 3 Dippers and a Townsend's Solitaire that posed just perfectly for photos. We also saw several Western Bluebirds and we saw a lone Prairie Falcon on the way in.
The reason for everyone being there was not a happy one though. My Aunt Vicki had had cancer for some time but within the last couple weeks suddenly went downhill very quickly.
On Fri evening, her heart rate had jumped. On Sat, as we were about to leave Zion NP, we got a call that her breathing rate had jumped as well. We ran back as fast as we could. Little did we know just how short a time was left to her. She passed away at about 8:30 that night. It was a rather sad ending to a few happy days.
Unfortunately, we could not stay longer as I had to be back by this Fri. We struck out for Durango where we stayed last night. We awoke this morning to cloudy, rainy skies and decided to head for home ahead of the next winter storm. I am now in Ogallala, NE. A very long 581 miles from Durango. Tomorrow, we will cover the remaining 743 miles to our house in RC.
I'll post my photos when I get home. Then, on Mon, you get to hear about my upcoming weekend trip this coming weekend!