Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The End of a Generation, Finding Peace in Nature, Changing Our Route

 August 30 - September 2, 2021
Vernal, Utah

When Bill's mother passed in June we also lost her sister Nancy the same week. It was a hard time for a very close family. The youngest sister Kathy was naturally devastated, but in good spirits when we saw her for the memorial in Fresno, California. 

Kathy had major surgery two weeks ago, and Monday lost her battle to recover. We all suspect she just missed her dear sisters too much to continue any longer without them. Bill adored her and this second loss so soon after Mom is pretty rough. 

The older generation is all gone now - twins Kathy and George, Nancy and Bill's mom Anne.

I'm especially glad we're in Vernal because it has some of the most beautiful places to lose ourselves in nature - and dinosaurs!

We spend a wonderful day in Dinosaur National Monument, stopping to enjoy the bone quarry and then a few hours among the rocks and valleys. 

The bone quarry is incredible with 500+ bones discovered and remaining in situ inside a lovely two-story building. The dinosaur stories told here are wonderful, answering many questions, raising others.

I take a lot of photos under slightly muted skies.

And when I get home I accidently delete every one of them! Noooooo! I suppose it was just a matter of time that I'd make that mistake, but I'm sick with the loss. 

We're here a couple more days - we'll have to go back!

Tuesday starts with windshield repair on site, and a quick grocery run at the very nice Smith's across the street. Last time we were here we needed a quick repair as well (computer update done at the Cummins shop), and while we never want to need it, knowing we can get fast and friendly service makes this little town even more appealing! 

Thanks Paul - no more chips and a clean windshield!

With the memorial service scheduled for the 25th in Fresno, California, we have a few options. I opt to reroute us back to SoCal after our next stop which means we won't need to return there in November as planned. It saves us making an extra drive from Tombstone to Valencia and back (my least favorite route in the country).

Reservations are cancelled and new ones made. Appointments are rescheduled. We'll return to Tombstone four days later than planned.

A storm is expected Wednesday, so Tuesday we spend a few hours exploring Red Cloud Loop, Taylor Mountain Road, and Dry Fork Canyon. The blue skies help to lift our spirits - just in time for the clouds to roll in :-)

I wish every place had these wonderful maps and information on day trips in the area. 

Red Cloud Loop

A few meadows break up the miles of pine and aspen forest.

Taylor Mountain Road is a surprise with lots of wide open space.

The Aspen forest glows green.

Down Taylor Mountain Road we find more color.

The cliffs at Dry Fork Canyon are stunning.

Don't know when it fell, or what stopped it, but I get out from under it quickly!

Our final day we're happy to see the anticipated rain. It's forecast to end mid-day, but hangs around until after 5:00. We still spend the afternoon back at Dinosaur National Monument. Sadly the section of the park with the petroglyphs and Josie's Ranch is closed this time. We also don't return to the bone quarry. Now I'm really bummed I deleted those photos :-(

The rain enhances some colors while muting others.

Slow moving clouds change the landscape.

Rock varnish on the cliffs over Green River.

Green layers above the dark purple and red.

Turtle Rock

Red dirt road to Blue Mountain - we're in four-wheel-drive low to get through the slippery mud.

This visit to Vernal confirms what we thought last time - it's a special place with lots to do and see. The people are especially friendly and helpful. Every service we need is here although it could use better eateries. Next time we'll come for a few weeks!!

Gotta love a place with a pink dinosaur!

Although we'll change our route to return south next week, we have one more stop we want to make to catch up with one of my best friends from high school (no, we still haven't seen all of them yet!).


  1. Sorry to hear about Bill's aunt. I am also of the oldest generation age in my family. Glad you can be absorbed by such beautiful nature.

    I have retrieved pics from a deleted mem card. Google it.

  2. Our condolences to you both on the loss of a dear family member.
    I'm sure we've all lost photos, I deleted all our Arches pictures just a few weeks ago.
    Safe Travels as you catchup with friends and return south.

    1. Maybe we can both retrieve our lost pics - see Gaelyn's comment above. We're looking forward to seeing the grands, always a silver lining in our lives.

  3. It's so hard to lose our older family and friends--our condolences to you both. Michael is a paper map person--he struggles with the GPS!

    1. I haven't used a paper map in so long I don't know if I could find my way with one - and they're so small!! I read Google maps before we leave so I know what the route is supposed to look like, and which way to turn at most intersections. I still get in trouble sometimes though.

  4. So sorry about Bill’s Aunt Kathy. We lost the last of our parent’s generation this summer too. They truly were the Greatest Generation, weren’t they? Amazing people, all of them.

    1. Oh yes! I'm looking forward to tracking some of my dad's family history in Kalamazoo next summer. It is still weird being the older generation :-)

  5. Such a difficult time to lose the older generation. Glad you will be able to return for the memorial. We almost didn't make the trip to Dinosaur NM. Neither of us are big dino fans but I do love fossils. Boy are we so glad we went. What an amazing NM. The bone quarry was spectacular. We hiked back down and loved finding all the fossils still embedded. The drive through the park following the guide was such fun. So sorry to hear about losing your photos. Now a reason to return!! The silver lining:) Safe travels to CA.

    1. The are of the park in Colorado is even more beautiful but with the light smoke we opted to stay near Vernal this time - it's definitely worth a return visit!

  6. The end of an era.....Dave and I are the "old ones" in our family sucks on many levels. Vernal is a wonderful spot to explore and immerse oneself, glad you're there now.
    Safe travels on the next section of your trip....and some little ones waiting will make the trip better....

    1. We loved Fantasy Canyon last time at your recommendation! Yes, we're excited to see the grands earlier than planned :-)

  7. It seems like these challenges/ trials/broken hearts always come in batches. So sorry for all you are having to go through. I am the oldest living person left in my family…my brother was killed in a car wreck when he was only 16 years old leaving me an only child. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all gone. Joe is one of 5 children…there are 4 of them left. Everyday is a gift. I only lost photos once…I had taken pictures of two Paliated Woodpeckers in our backyard in GA. In my excitement to see those pictures on the computer, I accidentally deleted them. Safe travels to Ca. And enjoy all the hugs and kisses and time spent with those precious grand babies!

    1. Wow, you're the matriarch! Sadly I've lost track of my cousins on my mom's side so I don't know where I am in the lineage now. Your bird pics are so amazing I can't imagine losing any of them :-(

  8. You have definitely had a rough summer with the loss of that generation. Give Bill a hug from me. I guess this makes us all next in line. Not a pretty thought.

    There is nothing better than nature’s healing and your photographs show just how beautiful the healing was. Thank you so much for my red rock fix. It's been way too long since I was there.

    I am so impressed with your ability to get reservations and reroute on dime. I feel like I spend half my life on reservations. Sounds like I'd better put that cute pink dinosaur and the park on my list. Thanks for the heads up. SO SORRY you lost those pictures I now don't get to see.

    1. It is definitely humbling to be the elders. It was wonderful being back in the red rock so we're glad we have found a bit more in Colorado.
      I had to give up on reservations on the coast for our original November plan, but amazingly found one for the same area in September with our route change. I think it was weekend versus weekday, but in either case I was delighted! Also couldn't get ten days in Valencia, had to settle for five - so I also have my challenges. I wish there was a magic formula but I'm still on wind and a prayer mode :-)

  9. We send our hugs and condolences in this tender time. Losing our elders is so painful, and then there's the shock of realizing that we are now the elders! I still often think, "Oh, I want to call Mom and Dad..." It hurts.

    So glad that you are finding solace in nature. What a beautiful place Vernal is...we haven't been there, but your photos and high praise put it on our map. Safe travels, and keep finding joy in the moment, as you do so well.

    1. Thank you Laurel. I know you and Eric will love Vernal - there is a wonderful feeling of finding something few others get to enjoy. Unlike all the other amazing parks in Utah, this one lacks the bluster of things you have to see. And there are plenty of hiking options that I'm sure take in even more wonders!