Getting Locked into or out of a cabin in Capitol Reef

Dearest blog readers (you know who you are),

Last summer Louie and I took a 3 week road trip. Then I got home and tried to blog about it, but as you know, life got in the way. And then I started blogging about other stuff, and doing other stuff, and leaving things behind. And here, I’m looking at a 4 day home vacation, and I thought to myself, can I still recap this trip from last August? I have notes, pictures, itinerary, some memories…so I’m going to try.

And so it begins…to Aspen

Bear Necessities

Leaving Aspen…Good Riddance

Moving Along

No Such Thing as a Dead Horse

Feeling at home in Arches National Park

Entering the Fiery Furnace

So we left off in Moab, Utah, where Louie and I had visited both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. This whole trip plan came about because I got this crazy (yes, actually maybe a little crazy) idea of seeing all 5 parks in Utah. Maybe that wasn’t actually crazy, but then adding in a few more things and making the whole trip only 3 weeks, and camping…it turned out to be pretty crazy, especially because it started with a bear attack on our car.

It seems so long ago. Last August. Pre-election nightmare. But here we are. Leaving Moab, Utah, heading the 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef was one of those places that I researched a bit but really couldn’t figure it out. It had history, natural beauty, and we would come to find out, pie.

We drove through very desolate land on our way to the park. This part of Utah (like many parts of Utah) is really desolate.

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We got to Capitol Reef Park in the early afternoon. There was a welcome sign and some vault toilets at a small parking area. And nothing else. This would be a smaller, less visited park than many, and though at first we were a little confused and not sure what to do, we grew to love it.

Louie and I have a default traveling method (which I doubt is unique) where we simply try to dive into what is in front of us. So we started taking pictures, looking around, and of course doing all the pull-offs. The first pull off was a cabin that a Mormon family who lived in the area lived. It was a small cabin for a family of like, 15-20, and honestly, I don’t know how people did it back then.

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The scenery was interesting. It wasn’t beautiful in a conventional sense, but it was different than anything really had been, and it was awe-inspiring.

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You can faintly see some petroglyphs in this picture. The area was a mixture of Mormon pioneer and Native American history.

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And strange but amazing natural features. What a weird place to live, and a weird National park, but of course it has to be a National park (for now, right? until the current administration destroys it…)

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A one room schoolhouse.

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We finally got to the heart of the park where there was a visitor’s center. And then drove down another road, the “Scenic Drive” which charged admission (our pass got us through of course).

I was worried about the storm though. And what I’d forgotten until this moment is that I was really, truly afraid of it. I was going through these really strong emotions about storms, after the storm at Dead Horse that looked like it could have washed us away, the crazy wind and rain at Arches that could have done the same and actually made us move our tent…I was stressed about the idea of getting washed away for real, either in our car, tent, or while hiking. So we didn’t go down a trail or anything and I kept a good eye on it all.

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We passed by a place called the Gifford House and noticed it advertised pie. We went in and indeed they were selling small homemade pies. We bought a strawberry rhubarb one to have later.

I’d made a reservation at a tiny cabin for the night—it was $45 and just outside the Park in the town of Torrey, Utah. We also needed to do laundry and that was advertised as on sight.

The town of Torrey was cute and tiny and seemed only for visitors to the Park. We found our location and checked in. A little girl was working the shop when we showed up—it was a family business for sure. The place was a little bit weird but very cute. The original reason I’d made the reservation was that the Park campground was walk-in only, no reservations, and I wanted a guaranteed sleeping place. It turned out the campground had room, but I’m glad we decided to be inside for a night—the cabin was tiny and the bathrooms were across a parking lot, but it had a bed, electricity, lights, and a television which was insane! We ended up having to go across the street to another motel/store area to do laundry, but we did our laundry, used the internet, watched tv (the Olympics!) and generally relaxed. Oh, and SHOWERED. It had been awhile and the showers were great.

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After awhile, we decided to have dinner in Torrey and went to a place called Diablo Café that I’d read about both on Trip Advisor and in the guidebook.

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We did of course get the rattlesnake cakes. The restaurant was enjoyable and very good for the middle of practically nowhere! The chef seemed to be a creative type with a good sense of humor and the presentation of everything was over-the-top. I had tuna as well.

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After dinner we went back and ate the pie outside of our cabin by a picnic table, which was maybe a little weird because the family who owned the cabins was doing work, the kids were running around, and one of the men was trying to get them to help and also kinda yelling at them…while we sat there eating pie and trying to watch the sunset.

Early the next morning, Louie got up and went to the bathroom. I suppose we had noticed that the door handle was a little funny but hadn’t given it too much thought. Until then he couldn’t get back into the cabin! It was maybe 6:30 or so, and there was a small window and we were trying to decide what to do–Louie wanted to crawl in the window and worry about it a little later, but I thought we should wake somebody up to help since they’d said to let them know of any problems—I guess we were making a bit of noise, because the man from the night before stuck his head out the window of the house and asked if we needed help. We did, so he was out a few minutes later. He jiggled the door and tried a few things, but he realized the handle was just totally messed up, so eventually Louie crawled in the window with a screwdriver and the two of them took the handle off entirely. We were leaving that morning anyway so the guy said just leave it for now and they’d deal with it later. So the door didn’t totally shut, but that was okay. Since we were pretty much up at this point, we decided to just pack up and leave.

We had plans to go hiking, but first we got breakfast at a nearby restaurant called the Capitol Reef Inn and Grill. It was very cute and also advertised places to stay for $45—that seemed to be the rate in town!.

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After a filling breakfast, it was hiking time. I had two short hikes planned for the day. The first was called the Chimney Rock Trail and was about 3.6 miles and then I wanted to hike at least part of the Grand Wash Trail.

We were among the first to get to the Chimney Rock Trailhead, though oddly it seemed several cars arrived at once.  The hike started with a nice big climb and had some great views, but took awhile to get out of sight of the road.

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This is the “chimney rock” that the trail is named after.IMG_5885IMG_5894IMG_5898

There were a few places along the trail that we could have taken a much longer hike, but that wasn’t in the cards for us. The hike was very nice and after we got apart from the other hikers we didn’t see anybody else until we were nearly back. We saw some petrified wood along the trail as well, which was pretty neat.IMG_5911

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After that hike we drove back towards the Visitor’s Center and down the Scenic Drive to the Grand Wash. The sun was rising and the day was heating up, but we wanted to keep going, as usual! We planned to hike in a couple of miles and then back. This trail was a point to point, but we didn’t have a shuttle or a second car, so we just wanted to get an idea of it. The whole trail was in a “wash” which is basically where water goes when it floods, but otherwise is pretty flat.

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After awhile, we weren’t sure how far we’d gone. We’d planned to go to the “narrows” and then turn around, but we didn’t realize at first that we had definitely already gone that far. The sun was getting pretty hot and I probably wasn’t drinking enough water so it was hard. I think we estimated we hiked 4 miles RT and then…we went to go eat lunch, and get coffee, pie (mixed berry) and ice cream.

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The Gifford House is in what seems like an oasis! I don’t believe I mentioned that the reason there is pie is that there is a fruit orchard, which was (I think) started by the Mormon pioneers and now kept up by the park service. The campground we didn’t stay at is called the Fruita campground and evidently you can pick and eat the fruit from the trees around, if you like.

Overall, Capitol Reef was really unique and fascinating. Our next stop would be Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, after a short but continually scenic drive—basically on Highway 12, which is an amazing drive! Along the way we got coffee at an adorable place in Boulder. The thing about Utah is also: we passed by so many trailheads. We were now in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—amazing stuff, really. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true.

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Next Stop: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (then Bryce and Zion)

Nights Camping: 8

Miles Hiked (estimate): 54

Tired

Ooh boy, this has been a week. Winter Opera is in full swing with Carmen (rehearsals are finally DONE) and I’ll tell, opera is physically taxing. I find I am unable to do any other real practicing during opera weeks, so that I’m both busier and oddly less busy.

The weather got chilly again, even though today it is quite clear and sunny. Very nice day for a run! I don’t know how to feel about the weather. The warmer winter has been really nice, but then I worry about what it means for the world, and I also worry about the summer and the bugs. Sigh. No way to win, right?

New thing for me: I went with a group to meet with a member of my Senator’s staff yesterday to express our concerns about various things. It was really interesting. I didn’t feel I had a whole lot to offer, but I felt I learned quite a bit, both about how the Senator’s office works, but also just generally about how meetings work and how other people do things. Music can be such a lonely and insulating world and it’s good to get out of it sometimes and see how other people function. That’s an obvious statement, I think, but it’s important. Very often musicians want to live in their own world and pretend that how things are done there is how everything is done, and the fact is: sometimes it’s nice to not worry about music or who’s hiring who or who’s got what thing going on, and worry about the state of our democracy and meet some other people who are also worried. So it’s really all the same, but it’s different.

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That probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense…but I don’t know how to clarify! Just that basically, I’m glad I’m doing what I’m doing, both with music and with being politically active.  And that those worlds are separate, but I guess people are all the same.

There’s a lot going on this month. There aren’t too many performances after the opera, but April is FULL of stuff and that means this is the month to learn and rehearse. I’ve got several quartet performances, ranging from a Good Friday service to a day working with student composers…a solo performance to prepare for, several other Holy Week performances, Metro Orchestra of St Louis concert and Music Club Federation Festival (same weekend!)…there’s a lot going on. I’m taking a short spring break for myself—Louie and I talked about traveling, but it worked out that he is going to visit his day on his own because I didn’t want to miss too much teaching. Basically between now and mid-May, things are in full swing other than that short break, and so far it’s all under control. I need to get a bow rehair and change my strings after this weekend though!

So there you have it, a very boring blog entry.

I’m daydreaming about more fun activities…do you ever feel like work just overshadows everything else? Sure, I love playing the violin but doing it for a living is a lot of work! Yes, I do work. It’s work, even when I enjoy it Smile

Saturday

Ah…a day off! To be fair, I’ve had at least two other days off this month, so it’s not so super rare. But it’s still nice. I am not even getting paid to protest Winking smile 

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I could have done things today, but I’m doing my part, and I must rest. Today I went for a run, I did call my congresspersons (left messages, if you are phone shy, leave messages out of office hours!), and now I’m about to make lunch and then practice. I have a lot to practice and this week I didn’t do as much as I should have.

I tell my students not to say “should” in regards to practicing, that you must do what you can, and generally every week will be full of thing to do and practicing is one of them, and that there isn’t going to be a time that you have all this free time. At least I tell my older (high school/college) students that. As blog readers know, my schedule fluctuates from having just enough time left over to feel like I should be doing more, to being slightly overwhelmed…to having so much going on life is just a blind panic. Luckily that third one is just at the ends of semesters and near Christmas, mostly!

My point here is that when I say should, I really mean…didn’t. I could have practiced more during the week but I chose to spend the time on other activities. Which means that I have some work to do, but that’s okay. The truth is, nobody really notices how well I play Winking smile

(Except me. And probably a few.)

Last night I did one of those unpaid violin teacher things and went to see some of my students perform at their school concert. It was a lot of fun! I had three playing for the annual Solo and Ensemble concert at Grand Center Arts Academy, and really enjoyed seeing them perform. I learned a little bit more about HOW they perform and got to experience it without the stress of being in charge. (Spoiler alert, they were super stressed and nervous but did well anyway). And I was very proud, and very glad I went. I don’t often get the opportunity to see my students outside of studio events simply because my schedule doesn’t allow it, but I know those sorts of things are good to do when possible.

So there’s a few random Saturday thoughts from me. Here’s an interesting article about end-of-life pet care. We aren’t there right now but I feel like all my friends have had a pet die in the last year. I’m sure that’s not actually true but since I’ve had two die, I notice these things more.

Leftovers or soup? Or both? Lunch time for me!

Unseasonably warm and support the Arts

It feels like spring is already here. I suspect (hope) it isn’t, for no other reason than I worry the mosquitoes will be unbearable this summer. I don’t know if that’s scientific or rational, but it feels right, and that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The spring semester is in full swing. I’m 5 weeks into my college teaching (out of 14 total weeks), I’m near spring break, I’m overwhelmed and stressed yet this week I’ve found more time than I really needed to get things done, which is great. I haven’t done as much exercising as I would like as the time has been awkward and perhaps, just perhaps, the lack of planning and wanting to get up earlier falls on me. I must do better!

I’ve got some fun performances coming up: Carmen with Winter Opera, and then the Ravel String Quartet. Solo wise I’m playing a piece or two on a recital at the end of April (Prokofiev Sonata, I believe, and maybe one short piece too, I’m only one performer on the concert.) And I’m learning Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons to play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis in the fall, and I’m totally psyched and excited (and honored!). It’s going to be a blast.

I find myself fretting quite a bit over the news. I wrote a half dozen postcards yesterday and mailed them (the ones listed on this activism checklist) and I’ve been writing and faxing letters to my congresspersons. The news is stressful and worrisome, and while I’d love to hide my head in the sand and hope for the best, the fact is: I can’t afford to do that because others can’t afford to do that. I must stand up for those who cannot, and for those who need me to.  You may disagree, but that’s your right. My right is to call, write, protest, fax, and blog Smile

All the while playing music. Come see Carmen! Go see your local symphony or opera company. Support local artists: don’t JUST go to the big symphony or big opera company, go see a small group, a chamber group, a start-up troupe. Just like going to a mom and pop owned restaurant puts more money directly into their pocket, going to a concert by a small organization supports them more than going to the concert by the well established organization does! Don’t assume you won’t like it as much. Of course, I also attend the symphony here and go to Jazz at the Bistro, but I also try to see smaller groups (well, when my friends play, and when I’m not playing!) as those are important too. Don’t just attend Opera Theatre St Louis, go to Winter Opera and Union Avenue and more. Don’t just see the St Louis Symphony, go to the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, the Arianna String Quartet, the Perseid (hah, that’s me). Go see local productions of musicals. Support artists, and support your heart and soul.

There’s my sales pitch. Maybe the federal government sees no need for the arts, but I think they are incredibly important on so many levels, ranging from emotional levels to economic levels. The arts boost the economy.

Oh, and I mention classical music mostly, but pick what you love best: visual art, musicals, plays, etc. It’s all great!

Apologies for the random post. I had a lot of ideas and typed them quickly. Publish now and off I go!

Do you hate classical music?

I’ve played a few concerts at various retirement homes recently. I’ll tell you what, the elderly don’t hold back punches. At least some of them.

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The Perseid Quartet played a great program of Beethoven and Brahms at Ladue Chapel, and then we repeated the program for a concert at a retirement home. After the third movement of the C minor Brahms quartets, one of the audience members piped up “are you going to play anything we know?” and then when we said, well, I guess not, one of her friends said “well, you tried.”

It made me sad on so many levels. One because if I were in a home this is the concert I would love to hear. We worked our butts off and played them a really good concert, instead of sight reading some schlock. But then it also made me sad for this woman, that was stuck in a place with concerts she didn’t enjoy and probably doesn’t have too much going on to look forward to.

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Another time I was playing with a flute/violin/piano trio. I’d gotten there first and was setting up and an elderly woman asked what we were playing. As I was telling her, her face fell, and she said “I don’t like Classical Music.” I suggested it was a fun program and she might enjoy it anyway, but she told me she must have gotten her nights mixed up and then left in a huff…well, as much of a huff as she could.

I know you can’t please everybody all the time. And that night several audiences members came up to us afterwards and said how much they enjoyed it. The negative comments are kind of funny, but they also reflect how we classical musicians feel in society sometimes. The thing is, I absolutely love the music I play. It means the world to me, and I try to show my audiences that, and my biggest hope and dream would be that everybody finds music that moves them in the same way. My music covers every detail and depth of human emotion and the human experience. I suppose it’s easy to hate on that! FEELINGS. Plus, then when I say that, some people hear “I think I’m superior”. Winking smile

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This is a nice weekend. Tonight we are going to see a show at Jazz at the Bistro. Tomorrow we are either going to the Pet Parade or just for a hike, and then tomorrow night I have the first opera performance of Carmen with Winter Opera. I spent the morning sleeping in, sending faxes to my Senators and Congressman (I use an online service called Faxzero, which is free for up to 5 faxes a day– I hope they are getting my thoughtfully written letters), and taking the dogs for a walk (dog-sitting for Banjo.). The week was hectic and busy, and the next one will be too, but for once I get a fairly relaxing weekend. My to do list isn’t getting shorter, but it’s not getting much longer right now either, so that’s good. Life, for right now, is manageable and interesting, so that’s good enough!

Working too hard

Does anybody else feel like they work practically all the time? And then they keep finding new things that interest them and stuff to do and it all just starts cramming together into a blob of being busy all the time?

I know we need to find time to do things like get outside and run, but it’s either the only day in two weeks to relax, or there’s bad weather (not lately!) or there’s some pressing political rally to attend and I feel like I need to do that instead.

Life is mostly good though. I’m having a great time teaching college students in addition to my private students. I’m playing some fun music (today, Perseid Quartet concert!) and meeting new people all the time. I’m still getting better at the violin, even though I should have gotten a bow rehair and new strings for today’s concert. I’m taking strides to put myself first sometimes and other people first the rest of the time. And I realized the other day that I felt differently than I had in perhaps a decade, that I can do this, that I am in charge of my life, and that I feel more strong and confident than I have in a long time.

Honestly, moving to St Louis was one of the worst life moves I’ve made, but through it all I’ve made the best of it. I still feel sad occasionally about all the great opportunities I left behind in Cleveland, and then I get angry remembering how my ex used to disparage my career and life there. Good times! But now, I have a decently thriving private studio, two adjunct teaching positions, a somewhat successful string quartet (we have a GREAT time and that is probably what matters most, but we also do some good work), a few good friends…and a boyfriend who is supportive of my long hours and aspirations, and attends most performances too Smile So it’s all pretty good, and the other things I’m doing here is working hard to make my life the way I want. Sure, the house needs work (lots of work) and I don’t make as much money as I should for the hours, but I mostly work for myself and I’m in charge…mostly.

I’m rambling again. Well, as usual. It’s been a busy few weeks, and though I feel like I’ve spent most of it dealing with email issues and other computer issues creating by the very people I work for (unintentionally I’m sure) at least some of it has been fun, and some of it worthy. Or something.

I’ve spent several meals at restaurants run by immigrants. Since immigrants are on the attack here in our country, I feel one of the things I can do is support businesses run by immigrants. Luckily I live in a city where there is no shortage of these businesses, and I’ve done my best to support them. This is the least I can do, while getting delicious, usually fairly inexpensive meals. After all, ethnic foods are cheap until white people start making them fancy, right? (That’s a whole thing to think about…)

Yesterday morning we attended a march in support of Planned Parenthood. Evidently some protests against Planned Parenthood were planned and people wanted to counter protest. However, the folks at PP didn’t want counter protestors protesting on site because that would still upset the people coming for care, so the March met elsewhere and then marched BY Planned Parenthood. We were instructed to not speak while going past the clinic, and not to engage with the counter protestors. We started marching, and were chanting and stuff, and then once we passed by people with signs that said “silence” we all fell quiet. It got really emotional and intense as there were people holding anti-choice signs, signs with pictures of fetuses, and more. One man kept yelling “why do you hate babies” at us. There was a line of policeman on bikes in between us and the majority of protestors, and we kept marching. I cried.

There was an article from NPR that said there were 4000 of us and that we walked by the clinic for 30 minutes. I hope that was a powerful statement of support for women’s health.

I feel a little nervous writing about this, because I know people get so worked up and angry…But that’s okay. I can’t worry all the time. I’m a strong, confident, woman, who is standing up for people who need support. I will use facts and statistics.

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And then while walking the dog later…

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Last thought for today: I see the argument, well, if you care about <insert cause> why don’t you do something about it yourself? I give money to various organizations that support my causes. And like I’d said before, my music, my purpose in teaching violin, is to make the world better through music. Let’s keep at it!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.