The stark monoliths rising out of the expansive desert vista have often been a backdrop in Western films. I love the rugged mountainous views offered in such movies. It is not the majestic beauty of Norway’s fiords or Montana’s Glacier Park, but it has an awesome, that is awe inspiring beauty. I have visited the pretty mountains of New Mexico and Colorado, as well as the rugged mountains of West Texas not far from where I live. Most people do not realize there are mountains in West Texas, but there are. The expansive landscapes are also present, but not the distinct monoliths. One has to travel to either Arizona or Utah to see such stark beauty. That is just what I did.
I spent a number of weeks researching my game plan: that is my trip itinerary. The planning was fun with anticipation as I had always wanted to venture on a journey to see Monument Valley in northeastern Arizona. My wife left the planning to me and although she was a bit uneasy with the remoteness of our destination, she was open to the upcoming experience.
We flew to Vegas, rented a car, and immediately set out on our trek. First stop was the Grand Canyon. It had snowed a few days previously so the park was not crowded at all. The wind was chilly but the view was compelling in sheer size of the natural gorge. Next, we headed for Monument Valley. We stayed on the Navajo reservation in the View Motel. It overlooked Monument Valley. An awesome sunset and sunrise awaits all who stay at this very affordable hotel. Many of John Ford’s Westerns were filmed in the very vicinity of the View Motel. A room in the motel highlights these films as well as John Wayne’s many visits to the Navajo lands. He called the area, “God’s Treasure.” I do not argue with that opinion.
The next morning we drove through a remote rugged area in southeastern Utah called the “Valley of the Gods.” The isolated 17 mile dirt road traverses among steep red sandstone monoliths and buttes. Not as stark as Monument Valley but very quiet. We saw three other cars in two hours. That afternoon shortly up the road we visited Natural Bridges National Monument. The short hikes, just right in length, to view a half dozen of nature’s stone bridges created by an ancient river offered distinct beautiful scenery. The park is also very isolated and therefore not crowded. It was my wife’s favorite park on the trip, and many more were to follow. Next, we headed for eastern Utah and visited Arches National Park just outside Moab. Arches look like bridges but are formed differently than bridges. They are both rare and both beautiful in my opinion.
An interesting park we visited one afternoon in south central Utah was called Goblin State Park. The unique rock red formations ranging in height from 8 to 40 feet were shaped liked either
mushrooms or goblins. This park off the beaten path was very worth the time. That night we stayed in a lodge nestled among the red hills of Utah. We were the only ones in the lodge and were
warmly treated. The following day we drove through forestry snow covered mountains with desert expanse from the scenic overlooks. The views could allow one to see for hundreds of miles. My
wife loves forests. We ended the day at the spectacular beauty of Bryce National Canyon.
The following day we leisurely enjoyed Zion National Park before heading back to Vegas to fly out the next morning. All in all, an excellent trip: good weather, beautiful scenery with open roads. My
wife is an excellent traveling companion, and I was glad she had a good time. I always enjoy her company, especially when we experience God’s Treasure together. I look forward to our next excursion.
“Let’s just drink it in, enjoy it while it lasts,” she stated as she exhaled. “I love it. I think the blue is probably my favorite. I like the light blue, as well as the shades of indigo blue. The blue really compliments the green and both are soothing colors. What is your favorite color?” my wife asks. She adds, “Do you like the yellow?”
“No, I also kind of like the blue, but blue has always been my favorite color.” Then I added, “As a kid I remember my brother saying he liked red and I remember myself saying I liked blue. Sometimes I would wonder if a deep purple was my favorite.”
This was one of those years when Texas had been blessed with a lot of winter moisture. It had snowed four times this year which was highly unusual. There had also been a higher than normal number of spring showers. The wildflowers would be out in full force. We obviously have our share of dry years so anytime we get a wet year we really enjoy it, and one way to do so is to drive the Texas roads enjoying the plethora of colored flowers. I don’t know the types of flowers as well as my wife but I do know what a bluebonnet is. I also know it is the official flower of Texas. I think it is just as much a part of Texas culture as is the Longhorn or a bowl of chili.
We had spent the night at the Walden Plantation Bed and Breakfast on the Llano River, basically a creek most of the time, but it can easily turn into a river within a short period if you get a “gully washer” as they say. There had been a slight rain the evening before as we checked in. When the heavy drizzle slowed that night we hopped into the hot tub next to the pool. About 50 yards away was a wide granite rocked creek bed with a small stream traversing through. There was a narrow rocky cement roadway that an occasional car, mostly trucks, would slowly creep over to the other side which was about 100 yards wide.
We enjoyed the hot tub with the open skies but there were no stars deep in the heart of Texas this night; only rain clouds. We had not been in the warm water more than 30 minutes when the rain started again. Rather than sing in the rain we acted as old folks would and dashed back to our room. About seven the next morning I stepped out on the balcony to catch the morning being ushered in. There before me was a river. One big wide fast flowing river. I had not heard it rain hard during the night, so I assumed there must have been a downpour upstream. This baby was over 100 yards wide and gushing. The cement road and granite shoals were three to six feet underwater. No one was going to cross that creek anytime today. I asked the manager if this happened often, and this was only the second time he recalled the river being so high. “Must have rained pretty hard west of here.” he said.
The breakfast was delightful on the restaurant patio. It began with fresh fruit followed by blueberry pancakes and sausage as we enjoyed the clean morning air. We spent a couple of hours reading and conversing on a swing down by the river prior to exiting for our wildflower journey. Fortunately, we did not have to cross the raging current to leave for our adventure.
We had enjoyed the flowers the day before as we drove through the western boundaries of the Texas hill country. We also anticipated seeing more as we would drive through the heart of Texas. The day remained overcast with an occasional light rain but nothing to diminish our wonderment. We caught a couple of less traveled roads trying to avoid the major highways. The off roads we selected traversed around lakes and streams.
At the visitor center in Llano we picked up a nice handout on Texas flowers. My wife continues to try and help me learn the names of other flowers. I knew the red ones were called Indian paint brushes but I was not sure what the lavender, white,and yellow flowers were specifically called. Later in the afternoon we stopped in a small town famous for its pecans and we purchased some pecan goodies (pecan praline popcorn, pecan log rolls, pecan divinity, fruit jams with pecans). The lady working the store encouraged us not to miss the coreopsis just past the bluebonnets on the right of the railroad tracks directly next to the pecan orchard beside the store. “What is a coreopsis?” I asked her. “The yellow flowers,” she answered, a little bit dismayed as she looked to my wife for help.
We indeed did walk the 50 yards to see the coreopsis beyond the bluebonnets beside the railroad tracks. I might add clicking our camera “all the live long day.” For days I kept asking my wife, “What were those yellow flowers called?” “Coreopsis,” she patiently responds. I hope to impress her next year when I have actually incorporated that term into my vocabulary. Don’t be surprised if someday I write a blog on coreopsis.
For your own colorful trek visit: www.treasuretrovegame.com
“I would like to visit the arboretum in the metroplex at some point,” my wife stated, “it is just something I would like to do.” We live in West Texas.
“What is an arboretum?” I asked.
“I think it is like a botanical garden,” she said.
“You mean like a Japanese tea garden?” I asked.
She replied, “No, not exactly, yes flowers, but a bigger area and I think more trees. More like Keukenhof, the big flower garden tulip place in Holland that we visited years ago when we were stationed in Europe. I think it may have some nice walking trails nestled among trees. I don’t know for sure, that’s why we need to check it out.”
“Are you sure that a flower garden place in Dallas, Texas could be anywhere near as nice as one in Europe?” I asked rather flippantly.
“I’m not implying that,” she said,” just that it does have flowers, trees and maybe some nice walking.”
“Let’s give it a try,” I replied trying to be gracious although with much reservation. I could sense this flower thing was getting to be more important in her life. The kids were getting older with the youngest in junior high. We still had lots of parenting to do, but were finally moving beyond little league ball games and PTA meetings. My wife was growing more flowers around the yard and I was noticing more magazines such English Cottage and Southern Living next to her bed. She had had flower gardens for a number of years and yes we were beginning to slow down a bit so to speak. Not as many theme park vacations if you know what I mean, and we would soon have even more cherished time with just the two of us.
We were obviously transitioning as we were fast approaching 50. I would remain quite busy with my work but my wife was sensing she needed to nourish something. Maybe it was a midlife thing, maybe she just needed to do something she had always wanted to do but had not had the time. Kind of like a man nearing retirement deciding to take on a hobby such as woodworking. Something was deeper here, and something that I thought would be good for her and probably both of us. However, I would need to allow it to flourish. Do you hear the word flourish? I could not resist using the word flourish given the context of this writing. Flourish sounds like a combination of flower and nourish: the very two words that were on my heart regarding my wife as I wrote this.
Since that time and over the years we have visited the Dallas Arboretum a number of times. I suspect we will continue to do so. As we have aged and the kids are gone we fell more drawn to places such as this. It makes us really appreciate the foresight and efforts of those who have built and maintain places such as these for public enjoyment. The beauty of the flowers and trees refreshes us and if a person allows, helps nourish our souls. The beauty of God’s nature can do just that. I love to see the joy it brings my wife. I think she also enjoys sharing that joy with me.
At the time I was still curious as to what is the difference between an arboretum and a botanical garden. Here’s how our friend Webster defines them:
Arboretum: A place where, trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes: a botanic garden of trees.
Botanical garden: a garden often with greenhouses that is used for the culture and study of plants collected and grown for scientific and display purposes.
Not much difference to me except the arboretum implies it has more trees. Webster’s is missing something though as it attempts to define either. If you could see the smile on my wife’s face, hear her comments of appreciation about the beauty, and sense her enjoyment of sharing it with others, then Webster’s might need to add this at the end of their definitions.
If you question me on this…….well………..I’ll just refer you to my wife.
For a colorful board game trek visit: www.treasuretrovegame.com