Thursday, May 3, 2018

Neopolitan M&Ms

We got these in at Target in Chicago while we were there.  They were at a deep discount, in fact, we found the last stray bag misplaced somewhere in the Candy aisle, and then at the cash desk it didn't exist any more when they scanned it, so the manager was called and he made up a super low price:



They are good!  Recommended, but it seems like they have already been discontinued.  There are some special limited-time flavours that make it to market in the United States, but never make it to Canada before they are never seen again.  I wonder what others we have missed now that we are not US residents but only occasional visitors.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Caramel M&Ms

We first tried these sometime before Christmas:


These are really good!  A semi-firm but not sticky caramel centre, surrounded by a tasty chocolate and the usual M&M shell.  Definitely recommended.  You can even get them at Bulk Barn.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chicago: All Saints Cemetery Mausoleum

I'm not done with my posts about Utah, but last weekend we were in Chicago, and one of the interesting places we visited was the Mausoleum at All Saints Cemetery, where Ed's parents and grandparents are interred.

I loved the stained glass windows in the mausoleum, which is huge, beautiful and impressive, as well as a quiet and soothing space.  I took photos of a few, every window is different.






Most of the crypts are in marble, although some are in inlaid wood in other parts of the building.



I liked the little lamb in this one, it is across the corridor from Ed's grandparents' crypt:


Monday, April 2, 2018

Canyonlands National Park: Mesa Arch Trail

A lot of Canyonlands National Park is backcountry, mostly accessible by backpackers on multi-day trips, or 4-wheel drive vehicles.  The Island in the Sky district is accessible to regular cars and day hikers though, and it's right near Dead Horse Point State Park, so it made sense to combine the two into one day.

After the visitor center, we stopped at the lookout for the Shafer trail, a dirt road that travels from the rim into the canyon.  Our car couldn't have safely handled it, but it was neat to look down at the switchbacks.





We then hiked the Mesa Arch trail, a fairly short trail, but with spectacular views at the arch:






Just some interesting rock formations on the way back after seeing the arch:


A view to the southwest on the trail back to the parking lot:


In Utah, often even the parking lots are breathtaking:


Next stop, Grand View Point.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Dead Horse Point State Park

On Dec. 6 we drove to check out Dead Horse Point State Park.  The first couple of photos are just along highway 191 as we head northwest out of Moab:



This is along route 313, after we turned southwest to head to the park:


Here I think we have turned left again off the main road (but it's still called 313) and we are heading towards the park:


I won't post a million photos here, because this is the reason you go, the spectacular view of the Colorado River from Dead Horse Point overlook:


We did a little hike on the rim trail, most of the views are pretty much the same, but here is a close up of the steps of cliffs under the rim to the west:


This is looking southeast from another point on the rim trail:


Here is a close up of some rocks down in the canyon that are said to look like a horse.  The Point is named after real dead horses though.  In the 1800's the peninsula was used to corral wild mustangs as it has a narrow neck and didn't need much fencing to keep them in.  One time the cowboys didn't come back for the horses, and they died of thirst.


We spent a couple of hours here, but then headed back down the road as we have another park to see.  Next up, Canyonlands National Park.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Arches National Park: The Fiery Furnace

When I researched our trip to Arches, one of the iconic, not-to-be-missed trails was the Fiery Furnace.  Every source cautioned earnestly, however, that this is not a hike to be made on your own unless you had been there many, many times before.  The risk of getting lost is just too great, and one must, must, must go with a guide.

I took note, and we dropped in to the Visitor Center on our first day to reserve our spots on a ranger-led tour.  However, we found out we had missed the last tour of the season by about a week, but we could just buy a permit.  The ranger pulled them out like this was no big deal and just the normal way that one does it in the off-season, so we watched the required video, got some tips and instruction from him, and booked our hike.  I did find it reassuring that the rangers sweep the parking lot at the end of the day and go looking for any missing hikers who have not returned to their vehicles.

So the morning of December 5, off we went, bright and early-ish, to hopefully not get dangerously lost among the fins.  Here we are approaching the entry point from the trail down from the parking lot:


It's pretty cool once you enter ...


Even in the fins, you still get glimpses of open areas as you wind into the labyrinth ...






I'm still a sucker for eroded rock patterns:



Down one of the side trails (the main trail actually is marked by some tiny, hard-to-find arrows glued to the rock), we came across Skull Arch:



Here's the dead end further up from Skull Arch.  We knew we wouldn't be able to get through here, but we were curious about the side trails and took several of them during the hike (not always intentionally!):


I found the light patterns on this crack cool:


We passed by this natural tank on the way in and out of the side trail.  It's pretty big as these things go, Ed pretends to drink from it (because actually doing so is forbidden) to give scale:




More intriguing erosion patterns:





We pop out of the fins at one point in the trail and catch the view:


Some of the passages were a little tricky.  The ranger had warned us though that none of the passages are dangerous, so if we are doing anything risky, we are off the trail.  I'm pretty sure we were still on it here though:



I am off the trail here, but haven't yet arrived at the deadly drop-off to be convinced:




I think we were off the trail in the two photos below, too.  We got pretty thoroughly lost at one point and went probably a mile north without finding the trail.  Luckily the guide had warned us, "you cant get out at the north end", so after about a half hour of heading north and not finding the trail we went back and hunted again for the tiny arrows, and eventually did find another route.  It was a pleasant, interesting and easy detour though (which is why it felt so trail-like), except for the constant worry of getting lost and needing a search party to come for us.



Back on the trail, we came to another spot where it looked like there might be something interesting if we went exploring to the north.  We found Surprise Arch:




Eventually we found the little staircase that is near the end of the trail, so we knew we'd live and find our way out:





At the end of the trail, there are some nice views to the south on the way back to the parking lot:




Here's my hiking buddy, none the worse for wear:


We didn't see any other hikers while we were in there.  It was a great hike!  We were in there for around 3 hours amongst the fins.   Not to be missed, and not as deadly without a ranger as the internet would have you believe.