Tag Archives: vacation

Girls Utah Vacation

Kathryn played volleyball in the Huntsman Senior Olympics accompanied by BillieJo and Dakota. After the volleyball games they took a tour of the nearby National Parks: Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reefs. They took horses to Bryce Canyon and rode a challenging zip line ride.

Venice FL

The 13th – 20th we traveled to Venice Fl to celebrate Tom and Debby’s birthdays – Tom turned 70. Tom & Debby met our incoming plane at Tampa and the four of us rode to the Beachcomber vacation rental on 720 Golden Beach Blvd., Venice, FL 34285. We had a great apartment with a small galley kitchen, bath, 1 bedroom, a living room and balcony looking west to the gulf.

We enjoyed walking the beach, watching the sunsets, reading, walks through town, too many restaurants, and a 2 hour kayaking trip through mangrove swamps.


Kathryn took Stone and Eric to Pacific NorthWest for an 8 day vacation.    They spent 2 days in Seattle (indoor rock climbing, Seattle Center, Science Museum/Planetarium, Seattle Aquarium,  the waterfront and oversized Ferris Wheel, Pike’s Place Market, and up the Space Needle.

They spent 3 days in a beautiful condo (with an outstanding ocean view) on the coast.  Several of Tom’s friends had condos there as well, so it was like a big party, complete with cards and games and wine.  The condo building had a pool table, so the boys played a lot of billiards.   The highlight of the trip  was razor clamming which we absolutely loved (and the weather cooperated).  It was an absolute blast.  With help, we cleaned, cooked and ate the clams too.Kathryn had a lovely birthday Debbie bought a 90 minute massage, then she got to do some laps in their community pool while Tom took the boys to the Museum of Flight.  We all then had a lovely dinner (Kathryn had trout).

We were all amazed at the traffic.  Everywhere.  All day and all night. Expressways just packed with cars.  Strip malls and congestion.  It was such a relief to get back to the New York State Thruway!  And so much development.  Tom just moved back to the general area in which he lived during the 70’s. It was “country” but it is no longer….the outskirts of Seattle is literally one city (suburb) after another with no space in between.

The boys got a long very well.  Stone was a little overwhelmed and maybe a tad homesick at times, but overall did well.  Debbie went above and beyond making sure we were happy, busy and well-fed.   The red-eye flight home was tough.  Re-entry into the real-world is tough.

Fort Ticonderoga

We met our friends Kent & Kathi in Lake George and toured Fort William Henry on Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champagne.  Named Carillon by the French in 1755 and known to the soldiers in the American Revolution as “the old French Fort,” Fort Ticonderoga stood at the center of 2 wars and 5 battles. By 1820, “the old French Fort” had fallen into ruins when William Ferris Pell purchased the land and began one of America’s earliest preservation efforts.   The weather worked out fine as it was clear and warm on Monday and the showers held off until late on Tuesday.  We were at the pavilion marking Fort Defiance overlooking Fort Ticonderoga when a violent thunderstorm came through, but we stayed dry and talked a little longer with the resident re-enactor.  I managed this picture of the fort between rain events.

Oregon Vacation

After months of planning, research and discussion we took a two week vacation in Oregon to include 2 days along the coast, a 4 day white water rafting trip (you can look here for other rafting trips) on the Rogue River, a trip to Crater Lake, spending three days with our friends in Eugene, staying at SunRiver Resort in central Oregon, trekking to the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Bed Monument then riding the ski lift up Mount Hood.

We started off by getting picked up at the Portland airport by our friend, Skip, who had flown to Oregon a week earlier to do some exploration.  We stayed in Newport and played tourist going North the 1st day to Depoe Bay.  There is a resident pod of grey whales which makes its home off Depoe Bay from March through December.  We were fortunate enough to have good views of three whales feeding extremely close to short.  We also took a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  Kathryn was happy as she picked up her National Park Service Senior Lifetime Pass for $10.

On Friday evening we met for orientation prior to our 4 day rafting trip.  We met Kate, the head guide, and the other members: Keith & Kate; Jos, Heli, Jack, Freddy, Bea, Billie for a total party of 12.  We saw wildlife ; otters, bears, eagles and a constant presence of turkey vultures.  We stopped at least three different locations that offered good ‘jumping rocks’.  We stayed alert for the shape-shifting poison oak that appeared as plants, vines, or bushes.

The weather was perfect and one of Kathryn’s and Eric’s expressed joys was sleeping out under the stars sans tent.

We had 1 large raft piloted by Scott that only carried gear.  Alyssa was usually in sweep position.  Kate directed the paddle boat and Ian raft varied position in the middle.  In addition to the three rafts and the paddle boat there were 3 inflatable kayaks or Duckys.  Everyone took turns depending on their sense of adventure and the expectations for upcoming rapids.  No one dumped until the very last day when two of the duckys were overcome by rapids.

There were several excursions for side hikes to see waterfalls, slot canyons and slides.  One such “hike-from-hell’ left Kathryn with scrapes and bruises from her ‘I’ll slide down’ approach.  Eric was grabbed and hauled to safety by Guide Ian as he nearly fell off a steep trail.

With the warm weather there were lots of opportunities to swim alongside the boats; ride the bull (sit on the very front of the paddle boat and have water gun wars. We even made our own obstacle course out of random inflatables we had with us.

There were several excursions for side hikes to see waterfalls, slot canyons and slides.  One such “hike-from-hell’ left Kathryn with scrapes and bruises from her ‘I’ll slide down’ approach.  Eric was grabbed and hauled to safety by Guide Ian as he nearly fell off a steep trail. With the warm weather there were lots of opportunities to swim alongside the boats; ride the bull (sit on the very front of the paddle boat and have water gun wars.

At the conclusion of our rafting trip we stayed in Grant’s Pass to do our laundry, eat Chinese food and pack for the remainder of our vacation.  Early Wednesday we packed up to drive north east to Crater Lake.  We encountered a lot of smoke from the High Cascades wild fires and were concerned about our ability to see Crater Lake, but Crater Lake was unaffected by smoke. We had hoped to take the guided boat tour around the lake, but found out that 6 of the 10 available boats were being repaired.  After watching a short video on the creation of the lake and soaking in the views we headed to Eugene.

Our long time friends, Kent and Kathi, were kind enough to house us for three nights.  We visited the raptor preserve.  We shopped at REI.  Eric bought a skate board and practiced on the sidewalks.  Kathryn hiked Spencer’s Butte and saw spotted squirrels. All too quickly we left to meet up with Tom & Debby and Jim & Pam at the SunRiver resort.

We got up at 2:30am to drive to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Painted Hills unit.  We were concerned about traffic and crowding, but saw no traffic until on the access road.  There were cars and trucks parked everywhere camping out and waiting for the Painted Hills unit to open their gates at 6:30am.  The Painted Hills unit admitted 350 vehicles, of which we were car #342.  The vehicles that couldn’t enter parked along the road and individuals walked in to utilize the porta-potties and water.  Tom cooked breakfast burritos for everyone and then we set up in an adjoining field to watch the eclipse.  Using the special glasses we watched the eclipse proceed.  The temperature dropped about 10-15 degrees, but there was enough light to see clearly even with 99% obfuscation.  A spontaneous cheer went up when the eclipse reached totality and a 2nd cheer was emitted when the sun re-appeared 2 1/2 minutes later.  A special event.  We encountered some delays returning due the 35,000 people leaving the Symbiosis Gathering in Prineville.

Our last day in Oregon was spent at Mount Hood where we took the ski lift up for a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains.

And, of course, no trip would be complete without some doggerel involving our friend Skip.

Navigating with Skip’s Tom-Tom GPS unit is an adventure. Sometimes Ms. Tom-Tom provides general guidance, not specific directions. Other times she requests a turn off an embankment or immediate U-turns for no particular reason. It called to mind Lesley Gore’s defiant song “You Don’t Own Me”.

Skip’s Tom-Tom

You don’t own me, I am your GPS.
You don’t own me, I’ll put you under stress.

And don’t’ tell me what to do. Don’t tell me what to say.
I am in control. I will tell you the way.

I will re-calculate. I want to use the interstate.
I will turn you around. You will be lost, not found.

You don’t own me, I’ll take your street address.
You don’t own me, but your route you will have to guess.

And don’t’ tell me what to do. Don’t tell me what to say.
I am in control. I will tell you the way.

I am not alone, there’s Wayz and Google on your phone.
They will confirm my choice, although they speak with a different voice.

So make an immediate U-turn. You will certainly learn.
With all the power that I yield, you’’ end up in an alfalfa field.

You don’t own me.

Orlando: Universal Studios and Rope Course

Kathryn, Eric, went to Orlando for a 4 day vacation 3/11 through 3/15, with friends Margaret and Harrisen.  We had a 3 day pass to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure.  We took one day off in between and went to do a ropes course in Kissimmee, which gave us a good break from the theme-park stuff.  The parks were not very crowded on Friday and we found that by going in the “single rider” line (your group gets split up to fill in empty seats) we were able to avoid having any wait at all, although Harrisen objected somewhat as he is fussy about sitting next to strangers.  The boys got along and Margaret and I got along so it was good.  Saturday we got the express pass, which again made it so we had no waiting.  Monday was busier but even then we had 15 minutes or less of a wait in the “single rider” line.  So we did the rides a lot.  We got really good at the “Men in Black”  ride which involves shooting aliens (the boys each had a high score of over 300,000).  We did the Simpsons ride so many times we could say the script with the characters (Maggie: “Dad, I’m scared” Homer: “Don’t worry honey, it’s an amusement park; they aren’t going to kill you as long as you have a dime left in your pocket”  Psychopath Bob “You’re going to die!”  Homer: “You sound just like my doctor!”)  Our hotel was quite nice and within walking distance of the park, so we were able to be on our own time schedule and not have to wait for a shuttle.  All in all, a very good trip.  Limited pictures to share, as you can’t take pictures on the ride, and no one wanted to pay $25 for the picture taken by the park on each ride.


Spanish River

2015-07-31 Spanish River

During our 5 day trip down the Spanish River Skip had several ‘songs’ composed in his honor.  It gave Jim something to do while paddling and proved mildly entertaining to the rest of the group.  There were variations of Canoeing in the Rain, and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (became 30km to Paddle Today) and this summary of the trip.

Spanish River 2015 (with apologies to New Riders “Henry”)

Every year about this time we plan a canoeing trip,
bringing all our canoeing buddies the group is led by Skip.
Heading north to Spanish River, there are sights to see,
paddling down those Spanish rapids, classes II and III.

The Spanish landscape is beautiful and a wondrous sight,
we saw ducks, ospreys, moose and the full moon at night.
But the lure of the river was running down those waves,
we ran all the rapids except those named as graves.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Paddling down Spanish River for all of five days
Skip consulted all the maps we thought he knew the way.
Lakes and swifts and rapids, the water ran downstream
We paddled 30 kilometers every day ‘cause Skip was mean.

Bouncing off the rocks and boulders paddle Steve and Ski,
Following right behind them paddle Tim and me.
Jack is ruddering, Skip is prying, trying to keep them straight.
At the bottom of the rapids we will quietly wait.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Now it’s looking dire for our boys and their sideways canoe,
They are floating towards the rocks and we don’t know what they’ll do.
Watching beers and chocolates floating down the waves.
Leaving Jack and Skip alone, it’s snacks and beers we’ll save.

Friday before departure Eric and I assembled the Yakima racks for my truck; a vex some process, but it enabled us to carry most of the gear, two canoes (Wenonah Cascade & Old Town Camper) and three passengers.  Tim drove his Jeep with his gear, Steve’s Mad River canoe and three passengers.


We met at my house at 7am and were on the road by 7:30am – headed to Buffalo, Toronto and NW to Agnew Lake Lodge.  Toronto was hosting the Pan American games and traffic was unbelievable.  We lost 1 hour in heavy stop and go traffic and almost got rear ended.  We stopped in Perry Sound (home of Bobby Hull) due to a traffic accident. We overheard the accident lawyer, who was a famous florida accident attorney,  say that the accident had killed 2 and left 4 others injured. It seems this location is no stranger to local injury attorneys.

To the other side, another personal injury lawyer was assimilating the grim scene on the accident spot. We call Agnew Lake Lodge and informed them we would arrive the next morning instead.  We rented a campsite and turned in at 9pm.  We arose Sunday at 5:30am, packed up and drove to Agnew Lake Lodge.

Google Directions to Lake Agnew

At Agnew Lake Lodge we got our shuttle drivers, fishing licenses, camping and parking permits and headed to Duke Lake – a three hour drive.  We were on the water at 1:30pm and headed out looking for an early campsite.

2015-07-31 Spanish River

We camped on a sandy point after paddling on 9th Lake for a little over 2 hours.  We were hopeful the exposure on the sand spit would provide a breeze and keep the bugs away.  It did, occasionally.  We had some mosquitoes, but mainly biting flies – stable flies / ankle biters.  We all took a quick swim to clean up but didn’t stay in long due to the leeches.  We agreed that each of us would be responsible for our own breakfast and lunch but we took turns making dinner.  For the 1st night Steve made turkey meat burritos for dinner.

I slept OK – not great.  I overfilled my NEOS air Eva King Size and it was hard, but my charcoal pillow gave relief, though. We had mosquitoes in the tent and I had to get up to pee.  We got up at 6pm.  Skip made coffee and eggs.  We packed up our tents, damp with condensation and were paddling by 8am.

2015-07-31 Spanish River1

Our routine was to paddle for 60-90 minutes and then stop for a drink and snack.  Skip’s plan was to get us to the head of Agnew Lake on Thursday night so the paddle across the lake could be done early Friday morning while the lake was calm.  To achieve this he set paddling goals of 10km on Sunday and 30km every day thereafter.  We paddled from 8am – 3pm – all lake paddling with a couple of little swifts in between. Leaving 1st Lake we followed a series of swifts and easy rapids.  Tim and I put our canoe cover on as we left our lunch site anticipating rapids.  Tim and I went 1st through the first rapids we encountered.  Skip and Jack went next; followed by Steve and Ski.  There was a large rock towards the bottom of the rapids.  Skip and Jack tried to cross to the right side of the stream and broadsided the rock and dumped.  They used the home made bailer I issued to each canoe to empty the water from their boat – it would be used again.  Tim and I saved the beer and chocolate which escaped their canoe.  We took pictures at one of our break points that coincided with a campsite that Skip, Steve, Bob and I had used as our day 1 campsite on our trip 12 years prior.  It was more overgrown by bushes.   We fell just short of Skip’s goal for the day when we decided to stay on a point in Expansia Lake.  Skip and Jack made dinner: steaks, potatoes and fried squash.

2015-07-31 Spanish River2

Our water filter got clogged despite our pre-filtering of the lake water.  We back flushed multiple times and got minimal improvement.  Tim declared out Expansia Lake campsite to be ‘Squatchy” and claimed to hear several Sasquatch noises.

Our 3rd day was a marathon day of paddling from 8:30am – 6:30 pm with a one hour break to portage around Upper Albion Rapids.  We ran the Lower Albion Rapids, Railroad Rapids, Bridge Rapids and Cliff Rapids.  We were going to stay at Cliff Rapids but the 1st site was too muddy and dark.  We ran the rapids (past the nude sunbather) and found the lower two sites were taken.  About 3pm we stopped at an old campsite and Jack, Tim and I went for a swim to cool off.  I felt like I was overheating and needed to cool down.  About 4km below Cliff Rapids we found an island campsite where we stayed for the night. It was buggy, but home for the night. Tim and I made carrot sticks and celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter or cheese spread as our snack and cooked hot dogs and beans for our dinner.  Jack & I took a swim off a nearby sand bar after dinner but the hordes of large horse flies were a menace and kept us from being out long.

2015-07-31 Spanish River3

We were on the water at 7:30am and paddled Zig Zag and Little Graveyard rapids.  We emptied the boats and carried around Graveyard Rapids.  At Agnes Rapids, Skip & Jack carried, Tim & I lined and Steve and Ski ran.  We played leap frog with a family group who stopped to swim at the Elbow.  One of the swimmers lost their Croc while swimming.  Tim and I managed to retrieve it from the fast moving water and toss it up on shore for them to retrieve.  We saw two moose swimming across the river and they stood on the shore and watched us approach for a long time.  We stopped to camp for the night on top of a very large rock with an outstanding view although it was a pain to haul our gear from the canoes up the slope.

Our water filter has failed.  It has gradually slowed down to the past few days we have had to back flush every 16-32 oz.  We finally got enough water by letting it drip all night long into the big collapsible water bucket and by using the water from the 1/2 gallon ice blocks which melted.  I also had 2 dromedary bags filled with water from melted ice.  It was nice drinking clean water that we didn’t have to add Crystal Light flavoring.

Wednesday night I made Spanish rice  using Kathryn’s recipe and preparations.  It came out great and everyone had 2nds and 3rds.

2015-07-31 Spanish River4

Thursday morning we were on the water at 8:15am, ran a couple of swifts and then ran the Cascade Rapids.  Cascade Rapids were a series of ‘cascades’ with the last of the rapids being large standing waves.  Tim got a chestful of water, but little made it’s way into the canoe.  The canoe cover worked well.  It was easy to access the snaps stayed on and it shaded our lower legs and feet.  It saved us on at least two occasions from getting serious water in the canoe. We paddled until 2pm and camped at the head of Agnew Lake.  There was a lot of wind and white caps as we set up camp.  We staked our tents down securely and enjoyed some camp time.  Skip and Jack made dinner from freeze dried vegetables and rice.  Bored by 6pm we turned in early at night. We were once again blessed with a full moon at night.  We got up early, had coffee and granola bars and packed up for our paddle across Agnew Lake.  The lake was dead calm to start, but we ended up paddling into waves on our return.

Spanish River Last Day Collage

On our return ride home (13 hours !!) we had plenty of time for trip assessment discussions.

  • The Spanish River was a good choice for our skill levels.  The Class II & III rapids were challenging but not threatening.  Both Tim and Jack, as well as the rest of the group, gained more confidence in running rapids and maneuvering the canoes around obstacles as the trip progressed.
  • Traveling with 6 people / 3 canoes was ideal.  The group fit the available campsites and we all traveled at a similar pace.
  • The truck and Jeep were ideal for transporting 3 canoes, gear for six people and six passengers.
  • The Mad River and Wenonah Cascade canoes were well suited for the trip.  The canoe cover was a nice feature.  The 16′ Old Town Camper canoe lacked a little freeboard in the middle and that’s where Skip & Jack shipped most of their water.  Bailers for each canoe were useful.
  • Despite planning a 6 day trip the group decided to try and return on Saturday.  We spent 1/2 day on the water Sunday; Monday-Thursday as full days on the water and 1/2 day out on Friday.  While a little more “down time” would have been appreciated on a couple of the long days paddling when given the extra time on the last day we got bored.
  • Despite planning to fish the group didn’t invest as much time in fishing as perhaps planned.  Even with a license and bringing fishing equipment Jim never fished at all.  Steve and Ski did the most fishing, but much of that was trolling while paddling.
  • The next trip should have a ‘transportation officer’ responsible for road maps and alternative routing to/from our destination.  We relied too heavily on our GPS which routed us through Toronto and heavy traffic.    The drive to/from Agnew Lake Lodge was excessive.
  • Our water filter issues were troublesome.  We had another Basecamp filter and a small emergency Sawyer water filter if needed.  We did multi-layered pre-filtering of our water, but probably should have let our water settle in the camp bucket for 10-15 minutes before pre-filtering.
  • Our meals worked out great and we had an abundance of food and snacks. The two burner propane stove worked out well.  We agreed next time that the cooks shouldn’t also be responsible for washing dishes.  We should have squeezed our food supplies to reduce  from 4 to just 3 coolers.

Plans for a summer 2016 trip are being considered.

St John

Friday 3/13/2015

I didn’t sleep prior to our departure. We had planned to play volleyball at Stittville on Thursday night, but a fan had dislodged from the ceiling and they wouldn’t let us play. So Kathryn and I went home for an early bedtime. We awoke at 2:15am, got dressed and Cindy/Bonnie picked us up a2:45 for our 6am Syracuse flight. We left on time for JFK. Eric was apprehensive about going through security and had divided the trip into stages:

  1. NYS Thruway to Syracuse
  2. Flight to JFK – especially getting through security
  3. JFK to St Thomas (where we picked up our rental SUV)
  4. St Thomas to St John via Red Hook ferry
  5. Drive to the house

Prior to the car ferry we stopped and picked up $353 of groceries. We met Fuscos at the Red Hook ferry ($50 roundtrip).  The house consisted of a main kitchen dining room, living room with several connected bedrooms/bathrooms with outside showers. There was a salt water pool that Harrison and Eric used every day during the start of vacation.

2015-03-23 St John1

The view from our bedroom was spectacular.


The house had two driveways; the first was a rugged up and down with switchbacks. The second driveway, Ironwood Drive was off of Upper Carolina. It was all paved and much smoother.

Friday night we went to Skinny Legs for burgers. It was late, crowded, buggy and the food took forever. The waitress insisted on an 18% tip.

We went back to the house using driveway #2 and went to bed. We had a few mosquitos, but Eric, sleeping in the loft, had tons of bites. Harrison got up during the night and went to sleep with his parents. Eric slept through the night but paid the price in being bitten by mosquitoes. He looked like measles boy.

P1060077   P1060076-001

Saturday 3/14

I got up at 7am. Most everyone was up early. We were packed and out of the house by 10am. We went to Salt Pond for Day 1. Everyone got two snorkels in. Although I wished we’d reached out to Wahine Charters for a premium snorkeling experience, this trip wasn’t that bad. It was a 1st for Dan, Margaret and Harrison. We got back to the house by 4:30.

Sunday 3/15

Dan made eggs, sausage and potatoes for a hearty breakfast. It took longer and we left the house at 10:45am to go to Francis Bay. We saw turtles and the boys played in the waves all afternoon; running and jumping in the waves. Kathryn, Bonnie and Margaret went into Cruz Bay to pick up skip coming in the Red Hook ferry at 6:15pm. We had a late roast pork dinner and turned in after one game of pitch.

P1060082    P1060084

Monday 3/16

I got up at 5am to use the bathroom and saw Skip up and making coffee. I slept in until7am. We had problems with the gas stove which were solved by turning on the third tank in the series. We made sandwiches and headed out to Maho Bay; another sandy beach and grassy areas for turtles. We saw 6-8 turtles and one large sting ray.


We had burgers for dinner and used the outside brick oven to cook a 20lb turkey for Tuesday night. I have evolved into the dishwasher loader person.

P1060168 P1060166

Tuesday 3/17. St Patrick’s Day

We awoke early – 6am. Actually Eric was the 1st one up stating that his feet itched.  Fuscos stayed at the house while the rest of us (Skip, Bonnie, Cindy, Eric, Kathryn and I) went to Leinster / Water Lemon Cay. It was a walk of ¾ of a mile, but the trail was good (much improved since I remember it last (2011)). We had an early start and departure from the house and were at the beach by 10am.  The water was very clear and we saw many turtles and a couple of rays. Eric snorkeled all the way out to the island, but he and I returned while Kathryn and Skip continued on around the island. Eric spotted a ray and nurse shark in the deep water between the point and the island. In a place where we have seen spectacular groups of starfish we saw none.

Wednesday 3/18

We were up early and were at the dock by 8:30am to board the Kiote Sail boat (www.kiotesails.com) for a day of sailing and snorkeling. Eric got sea sick on the ride out but recovered enough to swim and enjoy the day at Flanigan Island. Captain Jimmy let Dan and me steer the sail boat during our trip.


Thursday 3/19

Eric slept past 7am. Kathryn and I were up by 6:30 to enjoy the sunrise. We made a bit pot of oatmeal for breakfast. We left early for a snorkel that was recommended by Captain Jimmy’s crew help, Holly. We never found anyone at the campground to permit access. So we left for the bay – one of my favorites from our previous trips here. The road in is now paved whereas once it was a 4WD / Jeep Wrangler type trail. They were still doing the beach tour, which is nice because it was one of the cooler things to do here. All the vehicles are still parked and ready by the bay. All in all, the beach was nice, and one of the more pleasant days of the trip.


We snorkeled the whole bay clock-wise. We were back to the house by 3pm and most of the crew went shopping in Cruz Bay. Eric got a t-shirt and headband while Kathryn got earrings. I cooked a roast beef in the outside oven. During the night I awoke and looked at the stars and clear skies.


Friday 3/20

We arose at 6:30am and watched the sunrise. Dan made eggs, sausage for breakfast. We had roast beef sandwiches and went to Vie’s beach – $2.50 entry fee – but worth it. White sandy beach and lots of coral. Skip and I snorkeled way out where Holly said there were lots of turtles, but we saw nothing.  We camped under a large shade tree with iguanas in the branches; fighting and mating. I finished reading The Emerald Mile (about the Colorado River and Grand Canyon) and began reading Gone Girl. The boys found several coconuts and enjoyed smashing them open.

P1060203  P1060205

Saturday 3/21

Kathryn and Skip ran to Love City market early to get ingredients for coconut crème pie. I opened a couple of coconuts; Skip shredded them and Kathryn made a pie.  It was delicious.

P1060232  P1060234

We loaded up for the north shore / Jumbie Bay. It was rough with big rollers when we got there – too rough to snorkel – so we backtracked to Francis Bay. It was murky with sand. I didn’t go snorkeling but finished reading Gone Girl.   The group went out for dinner at Oasis after determining that Miss Lucy’s was too expensive and didn’t serve fresh fish. I wasn’t that hungry and stayed at the house and read.

Sunday 3/22

We spent the day at Salt Pond. Skip and I snorkeled the right side and saw lots of coral and a school of ~500 small fish accompanied by a large Barracuda. Later Kathryn and I snorkeled the left side and saw a snake/eel, founder, rock fish and a large Jack fish. We ate dinner at Skinny Legs.

Monday 3/23

We made the return trip: drive, ferry ride, turn in the rental car, fly to JFK, wait, flight to Syracuse, drive home, and crash (luckily before midnight).  Tuesday was back to work and trying to be positive about the about of snow that had melted away.

Utah Vacation

The week before our trip to Utah we spent organizing and packing our gear.  Each of us had a daypack and a suitcase with our clothes.  Clothes were organized into ‘camping’ and ‘town’  stuff sacks. In addition, I carried an extra duffel bag with my  backpack, three sleeping bags, three sleeping pads, our 3 person tent, Nalegene bottles, water bladders and headlamps.  Fortunately SouthWest Airlines allows two checked bags per passenger.

Saturday 6/15 we awoke at 2am and were on the road by 2am for our 6:30 flight from Albany.  We parked in long term parking and took the shuttle to the airport where we met Skip.  Our flight was on time and uneventful.  We had a brief exchange in Chicago and all our luggage made the transfer.  We arrived in Salt Lake City at 11:30am.  Rather than an early check-in at the hotel we opted to visit the REI store, but first we hit a family owned Mexican Restaurant.  It was one of my goals to eat as much Mom & Pop Mexican as possible (an unachieved objective).  On this trip Kathryn and I resolved to share as many restaurant meals as possible – buying two full dinners to feed the three of us.  We didn’t need the extra food and wouldn’t have ‘doggie’ bags for leftovers.  It was Eric’s 1st time eating authentic Mexican food and he told the waitress that his cheese covered burrito was “Darned Good!”.

Eric and Kathryn walked over to the REI where we browsed the store and checked out the bargain racks.  Kathryn got two synthetic shirts (blue and pink (later lost doing hotel laundry). Eric got the most gear: gym shorts, a blue NorthFace warm up pullover jacket, a blue synthetic three season jacket and a 20 degree rated REI Lumen sleeping bag.

We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport, crashed for a blink and then met Skip and went out to see the Great Salt Lake.  We walked to the shoreline and passed many, many dead sea birds.  Eric counted four dead fish as well, although we were not aware the lake held fish.


We joined Tom and Debby and their friends Jerry and Anne at the hotel for dinner.  Eric and I crashed early (8:15 MST) and slept until 6:30am.

 Sunday June 16.  We met Skip at 8am and drove to a nearby Perkins for breakfast.  We returned to our hotel, packed everything into our little red Ford Focus and drove to the University of Utah’s Museum of Utah.  The Museum opened at 10am and we were the 1st ones through the doors.  There were four floors:

  • Sky and Native Voices
  • Life, Cells and various animal displays
  • First People, Land, The Great Salt Lake and a Weather Unleashed special exhibit.
  • Dinosaurs


We stayed a little less than two hours and then headed to Vernal – the point of departure for our rafting trip.  It was a three hour ride through the Uinta Mtns and high, dry plateau/desert.  We stopped in Dushesne for BLTs and a break from car travel.  We made it to the Best Western Antlers in Vernal about 3pm.  We changed into swimsuits and enjoyed the outdoor pool; playing games (throwing the football, monkey in middle and ‘leech’) with Eric for 90 minutes.

We walked to ‘The Quarry’ tavern for dinner.  In Utah there is a difference in alcohol licenses in that a bar can serve alcohol without food, but a restaurant requires it’s patrons to order food with their drinks.  It was a LONG wait for our food where Eric made it three straight meals with bacon by ordering a club sandwich.  After the long wait and eating his meal, Eric was burned out with waiting so he & I walked back to the hotel where he skipped using the pool because there were already some teenagers swimming.  Eric chose the hot tub as an alternative.  We watched Game 5 of the NBA finals which San Antonio won to lead the series 3-2 and return to Miami for the final two games.  We went to sleep at 9pm.

Monday 6/17 We awoke at 7am and headed to the breakfast buffet at the adjoining JP’s.  I challenged Eric to tell me the last meal he had without bacon as he had bacon with breakfast, a club sandwich, BLT, and rainbow pancakes with bacon.  We thrashed around as a group in the morning waiting for Helmers to drive from SLC, walking to a sports store, getting sandwiches and watching Eric in the pool.  Finally at 11am we left for Dinosaur National Monument.  The Wall of Bones was an outstanding exhibit! 1,500 bones of 100 different species in a large rock formation all contained within the exhibit hall.   We took the short hike back to the visitor’s center in the 102 degree heat and made a note that we should schedule all our hikes in the early (and hopefully cooler) morning.


We met at 7:00 pm at the Hatch / O.A.R.S. Warehouse in Vernal, Utah, for a pre-trip meeting. This gave us an opportunity to meet fellow travelers and get a trip orientation. OARS passed out two waterproof river bags: a large Bill’s bag for camp items (sleeping bags, tent, camp clothes) and a small day dry bag for sunscreen, long sleeve shirts, extra hats, rain gear, etc.  After the short meeting we returned to the hotel to pack.

Tuesday 6/18.  We arose at 5:30am and went to breakfast at 6am.  Eric and I rode with Helmers to the OARS warehouse where the tour bus left at 7:30am for a three hour ride to the launch point at the Gates of Ladore. At the launch we were issued PFDs, helmets (for the paddle boat and inflatable kayak participants) and given a water safety briefing.  Skip and I decided to volunteer for the paddleboat with guide Stephanie and get the paddling over.  the paddle boat held six passengers who paddled in brief sessions and the guide at rear who steered.  We were on the water about 11 and the beginning – until lunch – was flat quiet.



At lunch we switched paddling partners and as the kids left Kathryn, Jerry and Anne joined in.  We had lunch at Winnie’s Grotto named by John Wesley Powell.  Winnie’s Grotto and Rapids were explored by Major John Wesley Powell during his second expedition in 1871. Supposedly named for Powell’s daughter Winnie the sandy beach made a great spot for riverside lunch.

After lunch Russell described the origin of naming the Gates of Ladore and read the poem. “The Cataract of Lodore” is a poem written in 1820 by the English poet Robert Southey which describes the Lodore Falls on the Watendlath Beck above Derwent Water in Cumbria, England. The poem is a masterpiece of onomatopoeia, employing some of the most clever and evocative language ever used to describe a natural feature. When seen in its entire form, the body of the poem does look like a waterfall. The Powell Expedition named the a canyon on the Green River in the U.S. state of Colorado the Gates of Lodore after this poem.

‘The Cataract of Lodore’ by Robert Southey
” How does the Water
Come down at Lodore?”
My little boy ask’d me
Thus, once on a time;
And moreover he task’d me
To tell him in rhyme.
Anon at the word
There came first one daughter
And then came another,
To second and third
The request of their brother
And to hear how the water
Comes down at Lodore
With its rush and its roar,
As many a time
They had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme,
For of rhymes I had store:
And ’twas in my vocation
For their recreation
That so should I sing
Because I was Laureate
To them and the King.
From its sources which well
In the Tarn on the fell;
From its fountains
In the mountains,
Its rills and its gills;
Through moss and through brake,
It runs and it creeps
For awhile till it sleeps
In its own little Lake.
And thence at departing,
Awakening and starting,
It runs through the reeds
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood-shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Now smoking and frothing
Its tumult and wrath in,
Till in this rapid race
On which it is bent,
It reaches the place
Of its steep descent.

The Cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war waging
Its caverns and rocks among:
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound!
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.
Collecting, projecting,
Receding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting,
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,
And pouring and roaring,
And waving and raving,
And tossing and crossing,
And flowing and going,
And running and stunning,
And foaming and roaming,
And dinning and spinning,
And dropping and hopping,
And working and jerking,
And guggling and struggling,
And heaving and cleaving,
And moaning and groaning;
And glittering and frittering,
And gathering and feathering,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hurrying and scurrying,
And thundering and floundering,
Dividing and gliding and sliding,
And falling and brawling and sprawling,
And diving and riving and striving,
And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,
And sounding and bounding and rounding,
And bubbling and troubling and doubling,
And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And clattering and battering and shattering;
Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending,
All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar,
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.

Winnie’s Rapid holds a huge boulder, splitting the river in half. l Below are photos of Winnie’s Rapid and Upper Disaster Falls. At Upper and Lower Disaster Falls Major Powell lost one of his boats and innumerable provisions during his 1869 journey – hence the rapids’ ominous name.  Rumor has it the Powell crew worked tirelessly to retrieve a keg of whiskey smuggled onto the trip unbeknownst to the Major. It has been told that the Major allowed the men to drink the whiskey after the disaster.


Running this section at the end of June and with the water levels to be around 950 cfs  many of the rapids were technical though not horribly difficult.  Eric knelled in the front of  the large raft guided by Matt House.  He grabbed onto the straps and hung his head and shoulders over the front of the the raft.  As they approached rapids Eric would turn to House and declare “Get me wet!”  and House would oblige by steering into the big waves.

We saw turkey vultures, big horn sheep and cliff swallows along the canyon.  After we pulled in to our campsite for the night we would locate a tent spot and then form a fire line, with people facing in alternate directions, to unload the gear from the rafts.


After we set up camp we opened our beer growler.  The plastic growler burst a hole while being stored in Helmer’s hotel refrigerator and the dromedary bag had a lot of gas and tasted a little flat.  We did our best finish the beer that night.  Dinner consisted of Dutch Oven lasagna, salad and toasted Italian bread.  Desert was strawberry shortcake.  Dinner was ready about 7:30-8pm with dessert around 9pm.  Everyone disappeared after dessert and went to sleep.  It was still warm and we went to sleep on top of our sleeping bags.

 Day 2 was an excellent whitewater day with thrills delivered by Harp Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hells Half Mile rapids in a short 4 mile run.  Triplet Falls Rapid  made two large turns in the canyon. Three large boulders (hence the name Triplet Falls) were towards the end.  Hell’s Half Mile Rapid is one of the nation’s top-ten “Big Drops”. Large boulders, including Lucifer Rock, create many hazards for river runners. This rapid spans a half-mile and has significant difficulty at all water levels. The rapid splits into three channels at the bottom.

Eric again rode in House’s boat with Tom & Debbie and I joined in.  We were at our campsite for lunchtime (make your own sandwich).

While one group hiked up Rippling Brook’s side canyon and gained a good view of the Green River and the canyon the kids took advantage of a paddle boat slip and slide made by the guides. Eric run and slide until the guides gave up.


DSCN0122 DSCN0123

After the slip and slide the kids, Stephanie and Peter made a river system and continually threatened “Madaline’s camp”.


Eric and I tried paddling the duckie upstream, to no avail.  We played horseshoes, swam and washed up.  Dinner was make your own burrito. After dinner House entertained everyone by trying to juggle flaming torches.


Once again after dessert was served everyone went to sleep.  It was windy and during the night Eric slid into Kathryn who pressed into me.  We planned on moving Eric the next night.

Day 3.  Everyone seemed to arise early and get packed for our 12 mile day.  Breakfast was scrambled eggs and English muffins with peanut butter.  Kathryn, Eric and I decided to ride in Hunter’s boat.  Eric had jammed both his little fingers the previous day on the slip and slide and his knuckles were swollen so I taped his little finger to his ring finger on each hand using Vetrap.


Today Eric wasn’t as keen on getting wet and rode in the back of the raft with David in the morning and Jeremy in the afternoon. This section of rafting was the most visually spectacular as we passed the confluence with the Yampa River, winding around gigantic Steamboat Rock and into Echo Park and our river speed picked up with the added water from the Yampa. Steamboat Rock was an impressive structure spanning almost a mile, and loosely resembling a large steamboat. The river eventually makes a 180 degree turn around this formation.


Upon reaching Whirlpool Canyon, Eric, Kathryn and others hiked Jones Hole Creek to amazingly well preserved panels of prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs.


Cold and clear, the Jones Creek rushes down to meet the Green River passing through the famous “Butt Plug Falls” where one can sit in the creek, stop the water and then release it by standing up.

DSCN0213  DSCN0214

After our meal we gather around our only campfire for songs by Stephanie and Nick : Poor Girl Blues, Folsom Prison Blues.

Day 4.  The plan was to arise early, load up and complete the last leg of our trip – 18 miles with a couple of significant stretches of rapids.  I paddled along with Mike, Pam Kathryn, Jim and Patina.  In the rapids Stephanie purposefully aimed for the waves to soak Mike and/or I in the front of the paddle boat.


Eric rode in the oar boat with Nick and David.  We had buckets  and there was a lot of splashing and soaking of victims in other boats.


In Island Park the river opens up into a large valley, meandering around a large group of islands with views of the Uinta Mountains and Split Mountain.  We passed the Rainbow Park boat ramp  and stopped for lunch at the Echo Park Dam site.  After a morning of flat water, we pick up speed as we enter Split Mountain Canyon and the river’s gradient becomes considerably steeper. As we got into more white water the bucket wars stopped. Four or five major rapids delivered plenty of whitewater excitement during our last day on the river: Moonshine Rapid, S.O.B. Rapid, Schoolboy Rapid. At the takeout was a cave where reportedly Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch hid saddles and guns.  We hit the takeout exactly at 3pm as Russell had predicted.  The guide crew posed for a final picture: Hunter, Nick, Russell, Matt House, Mattie and Stephanie.


At the Split Mountain boat ramp we  reached our take-out point and took a short ride back to Vernal, arriving at 4pm. We unloaded our gear, checked into the Best Western Antlers and hit the showers and pool.  Dave Skinner and the twins joined us for dinner.  Eric and the twins shared a pizza and we all had a good time.

Saturday 6/22.  We met several others from our party at JP’s Breakfast before heading out to Nine Mile Canyon with Helmers following us.  Skip and I led in the Ford Focus while Jim, Pam, Eric and Kathryn followed.  Our northern approach from Myton was initially denied with a “Road Closed” sign that Skip and I chose to ignore.  Following the Garmin left us jumping irrigation ditches in an alfalfa field so we back tracked and got route confirmation from a passing oil field worker.  The drive through the upper section traversed oil rigs and we didn’t see as many petroglyphs in the lower canyon as previously expected.

DSCN0231   DSCN0234

DSCN0232  DSCN0224

At the end we split up with Helmers driving on to Moab and we set up camp in Price for three nights as we explored the upper portion of San Rafael Swell. The San Rafael Swell is a unique kidney shaped uplift in the center of Utah that has been eroded down  and cut with interesting canyons. The “Swell” is about 50 miles in length and 30 miles in width. Only one paved road crosses through the approximately 600,000 acres, Interstate 70. The East and West oriented freeway carries traffic directly through the center of the Swell, bisecting it into the Northern and Southern halves.  We visited  Buckhorn Draw, hiked Pine Canyon and had lunch the Wedge Overlook.

Monday 6/24.  We drove the Buckhorn Draw to the San Rafael Swell. Once the scene of outlaw chases, Buckhorn Draw (a long, steep-walled canyon), is the main northern gate-way to the Swell. A highlight is the Buckhorn Draw Native American rock art site. The Barrier Canyon people lived in this area 2,000-10,000 years ago. As they passed through Buckhorn Wash, they painted colorful images on a large cliff face. Other native groups added other images. Painted over a 160-foot-wide rock canvas is the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel. The panel is thought to be about 2,000-6,000 years old and created by the Western Archaic Culture. The Buckhorn Wash Rock Art Panel has been restored and they have virtually eliminated the vandalism. They even have sign with photos of before and after. The panel is worth a visit.



Pine Canyon.  Skip and Beth hiked out with the Pine Canyon Overlook as their destination while Kathyrn, Eric and I trailed along behind.  It wasn’t long before Eric had a major meltdown; it was too hot, too far, and he didn’t feel well.  It was too hot….temperatures were in the 90s; so we proceeded to hike shady spot to shady spot and cruise along at a comfortable pace.

P1000652  P1000654

Pine Canyon was rough and rugged.  We returned to the car for cold sodas and sat in the shade until Skip and Beth returned.


The Wedge Overlook provided a striking view of the Little Grand Canyon, the San Rafael River, and the Sid’s Mountain Wilderness Study Area.  There are picnic tables, restrooms, and camping areas available at this facility, but like elsewhere in San Rafael Swell, no water. To the South, across the canyon, is the remote Sid’s Mountain Wilderness Study Area, while the view down canyon towards the Southeast takes in Window Blind Peak and the Southern Buckhorn Wash area.



Tuesday 6/25.  The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike are spectacular slot canyons just outside of Goblin Valley State Park.  This is the most popular hike in the San Rafael Swell  as the canyons are two of the best slot canyons in Utah with twisting high walls on either side, sometimes only a few feet apart in the amazing narrows.  The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is 8 miles round trip.  Kathryn, Skip and Beth did the entire loop while Eric and I hiked up and back in the slot canyon pausing frequently in shady spots for games of pitch.  Our favorite stop got overtaken by a large church group that gave several testimonials to the background noise of shuffling cards.  The timing to return to the car worked out nearly ideal.



 Wednesday 6/26.  Skip and Beth planned to hike Wild Horse Canyon as an up & back, but got lost, didn’t have a watch and didn’t return to the car until much later than expected.  We were creative about wasting our time; climbing rocks and making echos. It was a long, hot, uncomfortable wait back at the car.


Thursday 6/27.  We left Green River for Hanksville were we stopped by the BLM office at 9am to validate our planned traverse across the Henry Mtns. Eric was surprised to see a snow bank on the hillside by the road.


We drove up the dirt roads of the Henry Mtns stopping at Bull Creek Pass for lunch.


Kathryn, Skip and Beth hiked part-way up Mt Ellen.  Everyone enjoyed spectacular views.  We could see smoke from forest fires in Colorado and had an outstanding view of the WaterPocket Fold in Capitol Reef.

Panoramic I


Friday 6/28.  We stayed in Torrey just outside of Capitol Reef National Park.  Capitol Reef is named for capitol for the white domes of Navajo Sandstone that resemble capitol building domes, and reef for the rocky cliffs which are a barrier to travel, like a coral reef.

Capitol Reef Map

Kathryn arranged for a 1/2 day trail ride from Hondoo.  (Jim|Ben, Kathryn|Willy,  Skip|Dante,  Beth|Oscar and Eric|Wailing); plus co-owner Pat and guides Colin and Rachael.  The horses were great; well behaved and responsive to leg yields.  Eric did great and asked to buy his horse. Below Kathryn and Eric head up hill.


Pat, Skip, Beth, Rachael, Kathryn and Eric traverse a bank.


 Saturday 6/29. We departed at 7am and drive to Upper Muley Twist.  Kathryn, Eric and I hiked to the Strike Valley Overlook while Beth and Skip hiked Upper Muley Twist, but they were unsuccessful in finding the trail to the overlook ridge.

Utah’s WaterPocket Fold is one of my favorite places.  The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal layers. A monocline is a “step-up” in the rock layers. The rock layers on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold have been lifted more than 7,000 feet higher than the layers on the east.  The Waterpocket Fold formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America reactivated an ancient buried fault. When the fault moved, the overlying rock layers were draped above the fault and formed a monocline. More recent uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface only within the last 15 to 20 million years. The name Waterpocket Fold reflects this ongoing erosion of the rock layers. “Waterpockets” are basins that form in many of the sandstone layers as they are eroded by water.




We returned to our hotel via Scenic Byway 12 through the Dixie National Forest and along the east flanks of Boulder Mountain. Scenic Byway 12 climbs to an altitude of more than 9,000 feet.

Sunday 6/30. Sunday morning we again departed at 7am to avoid the heat and climbed Cassidy Arch.  Named after the famous Butch Cassidy, the arch is located just within the western walls of Grand Wash, beside the Scenic Drive. The arch is large and spectacular and photogenic at almost any angle. The first part of the trail gains elevation very rapidly and has several switch-backs. The trail is in good condition; rock stairs have been constructed at steep portions, and rock cairns mark the way when the trail is not visible. The trail ends on top of the Arch, situated about 500 feet above the  trail head below.

Cassidy Arch Panoramic I


Monday 7/1.  We visited Calabas and some other outlet stores on our drive to the airport.  We had a late flight home.