Tag Archives: sunset

RAINSTORMS, SUNSETS, AND A CANYONLANDS TRIP

After a beautiful sunrise at Arches, the day deteriorated into a rainstorm. Busily writing a blog in the Moab Library, we missed the fact that it was raining outside. Exiting the library, seeing the storm raging around Arches, another spontaneous decision was made to go and see the cloudburst in Arches,  (which normally gets very little rain). We were on the hunt for waterfalls on high….so up we went again. Just as we had chased the sunrise earlier that day, we now chased the cloudbursts.

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We waited for the sunset and were rewarded with some beautifully highlighted formations: rock and cloud formations.

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That night we had a very late supper ….in the rain….well, we were nice and dry inside. During the night, the wind came up so hard, it shook the camper.…think hurricane thoughts! Our thoughts?? We were supposed to be on the river kayaking at 9am….but….we are fair weather kayakers….the weather was not even close to fair. What to do? The only thing possible. Drive into Moab, have breakfast and wait to see what developed. The weather continued to be windy and rainy so we rescheduled our paddle for the next day. Searching for an alternative activity, we decided to go and investigate Canyonlands National Park. It was only a 37 km drive to the visitor center. It turned out to be a spectacular day…the sun came out and we were off exploring again…..what we love to do.

Our first stop: Monitor and Merrimac, two rock formations..

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Arriving at the Visitor Center, we spent some time watching a short video and chatting to one of the rangers there about hikes. Then headed out for a walk about and encountered another ranger giving a talk about the history and geology of the area, so we stopped to listen.

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We liked Canyonlands. Mike’s cousin Margaret and husband Dave had told us they wanted to investigate Canyonlands. They had spent a bit of time there and were interested in spending more. The same thing happened to us. The energy of the place was less frenetic than that of Arches. At Arches, there were cars everywhere, zooming here and there like bees on the hunt for nectar. At Canyonlands, there were fewer people and fewer cars. It was also much more open….lots of wide-open spaces amid the mesa tops…..a much more relaxed pace.

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We spent the day driving, stopping at overlooks, walking and finally, at Upheaval Dome, we did a hike of a few miles, walking up and down solid rock faces…..a good workout which we needed after all that sitting.

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We also discovered a 100 km road called “White Rim” which is a track for 4 wheel drives and bicycles which piqued our interest.

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Coming home late afternoon, we were dazzled by the new snow on the distant mountains.

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Sunrise at Arches!

EARLY this morning – GROAN… “what time is it”

Reply – “05:46”

“Should we get up?”

Reply – “I suppose… what do you think?”

“It’s cloudy… maybe rain…”

Reply – ‘as someone’s mother once said-”you can’t be a FAIR-WEATHER skier” ‘

“We aren’t GOING skiing

Reply- “Right- up we get then!”

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And so it started – shakily but after a cup of coffee we were out the door and on the way to sunrise at Arches National Park. Arriving at the entrance we could see the lights of a half dozen cars ahead of us. Guess we weren’t the only ‘brilliant’ ones.

Yesterday, we scouted out the most likely place to get excellect sunrise photos. Problem was, neither of us was quite sure where it was, exactly. LESSON: When you have a GPS, mark where you want to go AND then you can follow it back! Much more reliable than 60+ old memories. However, we found a suitable spot with 25 minutes to spare; allowing us each to pick vantage point.

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We don’t know what the official NPS name was/is but I wanted to focus my efforts on a formation that we named “ Three Maidens” (I wanted to name it ‘the 3 wenches’ but was outvoted 2 to 0 – unanimously).

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As the sun slowly began its rise, temptation to shift focus was intense.

p1010968I managed to stay focused on the Three Maidens as we reaped a wealth of beauty. And the pictures are a poor approximation of the intensity of visual stimulation. Our hearts, soared with the power of the morning.2wallsnrise4blog

Then the 3 Maidens blessed us for our patience with a mini-rainbow…

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The rest of the valley glowed.

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And then it was morning.

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Spitzkoppe Bush Camp 100 km

Day 10 Dec. 22 Monday
Much as we loved camping and were happy and content in our tent, we certainly appreciated ‘real beds’. We woke up early, washed and hung the rest of our clothes and went for the breakfast included in our guesthouse stay. We both had a continental breakfast and coffee. Knowing that shopping was on our agenda and that we only had until noon, we packed up as much as possible and headed towards the shopping area a few blocks away.

The previous day, we had decided we would celebrate Christmas Eve by doing the ‘Secret Santa’ game that some of us had done so many times in Christmases past. When consulted as to the best day to do this, either the 24th or the 25th, Dumi, Richard and Mandhla  enthusiastically agreed to participate and that in terms of our travel plans, campsites, and mileages, the 24th would be the best day. That meant we had to find some secret Santa gifts. Of course, we were looking for grand baby gifts too – you never know if the grand baby might turn out to be as much of a gypsy as Mike and I. The Bush Babies were still slumbering after their night on the town so Rhea decided to join us on our shopping spree.

We discovered to our delight, that Swakopmund is a really ‘tourist friendly’  little town with lots of great shopping. I bought a travel mug and a fly swatter for my secret Santa gift; Mike bought a set of plastic wine glasses for his gift and we found a small present for the ‘baby’. Some mosquito repellent cream, sunscreen and Advil cold and flu meds completed the shopping list. We returned  to the guesthouse to pack and put things away, buy water for 2 days and have lunch. Lunch was a Greek salad, bread and melon.

From Swakopmund we made our way north along the coast. The ocean was in view the whole way , miles and miles of sand, surf, and sea.

We even dipped our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped to see a ship wreck and just had to test the waters.

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The Zeila, a fishing trawler, being towed as scrap metal to India in 2008, came loose from its towing cable, becoming one of the many ships which, over the years, have become stranded on ‘the Skeleton Coast’.

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We all were fascinated not only by the ship but also by the waves crashing onto the shore, and the fishermen further up the coast. The Atlantic at its best!

 

 

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We were making our way to the one and only remote ‘bush camp’ of the trip, a place called ‘Spitzkoppe’, translated as “sharp head”, nicknamed “The Matterhorn of Africa”. It’s one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks and as you will see from the pictures, absolutely stunning. This was by far our favorite part of the trip.

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This is what it looked like from afar.

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As we got closer and closer, we started to get an idea of the grandeur and size of these Spitkoppe Mountains.

 

 

 

 

We arrived at our remote, “only place with a long-drop toilet” campsite. Our crew got busy organizing our camp; we got busy exploring. First, the camp.

bcd1This is Richard setting up the first of our tents, always checking for shade and comfort. In the foreground you can see the acacia tree with its many weaver bird nests.

Below – the long-drop toilet! In the shade, no less!bcd2  bcd3

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Our bush camp with the mountains as the backdrop. Absolutely spectacular!

 

 

After exploring the camp and getting things ready for the evening routine, we set off to scramble around on the mountains.

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These big huge boulders were easy to climb up but higher than they appeared and very steep coming down.

Below left, Mike & Jan “getting to the top”, right, the ‘Bush-babies’.

 

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Next, we had a 2 hour walking tour scheduled with a local Damara guide who showed us the bushman paintings done with blood and ‘something something’, a bottle tree and finally ‘the bridge’.

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We made it to the top, right into the arch from where took a picture down, at Jan’s suggestion, of our shadows!

 

 

We continued our walk through the boulders and surrounding grasslands.

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The sun was starting to set so up the mountain for sunset we went, each of us with a bottle of red or white in our arms. What a sunset and what a party! We all made it back down safely, believe it or not!!

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This is what our camp looked like in the evening. By the time we got down it was quite dark and our dinner was waiting for us.

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We had a dinner of fish (Snooke I think it was called, cooked in foil over the fire), an African version of scalloped potatoes, a rice dish, wine, all accompanied with lots of laughs and good conversation. In this remote area without the reflection of lights, the display of stars overhead was brilliant. Mike stayed sitting outside for a long time, fascinated by stars, satellites, and shooting stars.