My memory does not tell me why I got side-tracked last summer with presenting my summer vacation, but I did. Now is the time to finish it. (And who is going to complain about some warmer-weather pictures?)

I left you at Red Canyon, outside of Bryce Canyon. From there we went to Cedar Breaks National Monument.

We go to this place every single summer. I have a convention every summer in Salt Lake City which is why we take these family vacations to western National Parks. The very first year we passed through Cedar Breaks, and we always return because it is so beautiful. The wildflower meadows are a place that we must get a picture of our kids each year. The times of year we have gone have varied which means the flowers have varied at lot when we have been there. But it is always a wonderful sight, and perfect for pictures of little girls.

(I must warn you that friends and a fellow blogger have been there as well and have not had the spectacular weather we seem to be blessed with. The elevation is over 10,000 feet, so weather can be unpredictable, but it has always been spectacular for us. There is a big ski resort in the area for winter visits, but leaving toward Salt Lake would scare me to death if the roads were bad.)

This is the big attraction--the "breaks." It reminds me a lot of Bryce Canyon, but not so many hoodoos. This is looking right into the area.

This is looking left in the same area.

Thankfully they had a quick Junior Ranger program here because we are always passing through. The Junior Ranger program is really a good one. It not only teaches children about the area and nature, but about being responsible with nature.

A week earlier or later and one would see completely different colors in a field like this.

I am sure these are not uncommon, but Cedar Breaks is one of the few places I have personally seen white thistle.

The wildflowers alone would be reason enough to detour here every year, but the "breaks" in the background make it absolutely spectacular. This is one of my favorite places I have ever been.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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This post is a meme hosted by  Sonia at Leaves of Grass. This is not the first time she has hosted Ecological Day (I have been aware of it at least twice before), but it’s my first time. Pop on over and see what everyone else is posting this month! I think it will be fun. Most pictures in this post will enlarge when clicked (and likely worth it.)

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Our mountain on the way to school

Our mountain on the way to school

Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.

Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.

My shadow while riding

My shadow while riding to school

Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.

Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)

The mesa with golden morning sun.

The mesa with golden morning sun.

These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

"Russian Olive" with copper fruit. I've never seen that before.

Russian olive with copper fruit. (I've never seen these in copper before.)

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

I have to be honest and tell you I never thought I would post a rainbow picture for Sky Watch Friday. Rainbows are spectacular, but from my perspective really difficult to capture in a way that shows anything about how wonderful they were. And I am not saying these pictures captured what it was really like, but I like them anyway.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

During “monsoon season” here in the desert southwestern United States, we have lots of rainbows, and this year there were even more because the season (which is still going for some crazy reason) has been much longer than usual and the frequency of clouds and light rain more than usual.  But although there are a lot, they are fleeting. The rain is so isolated and sparse, that rainbows seem to last not long at all. Often I do not even get a picture, let alone have time for it to be a good one.

But this rainbow was unusual. It was a “full rainbow” covering 180 degrees. Those have been rare in my life. And it lasted a long time. I decided to drive for a better view, and got one somewhat better, but my lens wouldn’t even capture the entire thing. But the EXPERIENCE was the wonderful part. I watched it change for a good thirty minutes. I was just getting ready to pack up and head home when I realized how low the sun was in the sky. So I stayed for a spectacular sunset as well. (I am not showing you the sunset because I do not like to put too many pictures up for SWF, and I will be needing archives when this monsoon seaon ever ends!)

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

May your weekend be as brilliant as my rainbow!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Before the canyons and wildflower part, a little bit about the Convention I attended:

My upline with St*mpin’ Up! was at Convention. She is one of my dearest (that’s really not an appropriate word for our relationship, but it helps with what I am trying to say. Neither of us are the “dear” type, but “best” does not convey the appropriate meeting) friends. When I became a demonstrator for stamping, I had never met her; we met over a year later at a stamping convention. We have never lived near one another (which seems to be criteria for my close friends), but keep in touch through e-mail and seeing one another a few times a year at stamping events.

Anyway, I cannot remember if I plugged her blog here yet. I was going to, but think that in the frenzy of getting ready before my trip I did not. She just started blogging recently and has an interesting life living in the sticks of Tennesee. She did a couple of posts about the convention we attended, so I thought I would send you to look there instead of repeating similar information. Check out this post and this one to see what I was up to for part of my vacation. Then if you have a minute, check out the rest of her blog. She has a humorous view of life on the farm.

Between Zion and Salt Lake City we made a small detour to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This is one of our favorite spots ON THE PLANET. (OK, I’ve traveled very little of the planet as a whole, but it is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.) We love it because there is a rocky canyon on one side of the road and alpine-like wildflower meadows on the other. The first time we visited we were breathless. We have been back twice, and try to go every year possible when we have to go to Salt Lake for Convention. I am building a collection of pictures of Chic and Chicklet in the wildflowers.

Every time we have been to Cedar Breaks has been about a week later than the previous time, and the flowers have been different every time. We will be even later next year, so I have no idea what will be there, but hopefully it will still be beautiful.

The last trip to this place (two years ago) is what made me decide I wanted a digital SLR. I had been using a very old 35 mm that I was hooked on from almost childhood (Konica TC), but it was old with a dead battery, and the light meter did not work. (Sue me for needing a light meter.) Many of my pictures from that trip were overexposed. This time most of the canyon shots were overexposed as well. We were there only a few minutes, leaving me no time for experimentation, but there must be something about the lighting and reflections of the place that creates overexposed pictures. Maybe it is just the photographer.

None of these photos are fantastic, but I hope they give you a tiny flavor as to why this is a wonderful place to visit. Again and again.

By Louise Cannon