Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for June, 2011

Anne of Green Gables – Prince Edward Island

“I know I chatter on way too much…but if you only know how many things I want to say and don’t,” exclaimed Anne, the  fictional, red-haired orphan from Cavendish on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Green Gables is the house where author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, drew her inspiration for writing the famous children’s story, Anne of Green Gables, way back in 1903.  Since the book has sold over 50 million copies, it is understandable that the area has been developed as a tourist attraction with Anne at its center.

According to this old tale, Anne was an orphan adopted by a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island.  She was always an imaginative, redheaded girl and quite the chatterbox.  This is the story of her growing up in Avonlea and eventually teaching at the Avonlea School.

Inside Green Gables, there was a beautiful cake designed to image the house with all edible decorations. Hopefully, it was flavored with vanilla, and not liniment that Anne accidentally once used in her cake.  Within walking distance are Balsam Hollow and the forest that inspired Haunted Woods. Sometimes it is very relaxing to get away from the excitement of the day and stroll through the woods where Nature’s peace will surround you.

The nearby town of Avonlea is the place that Anne went to church and school. Throughout the village, bits of the story were being performed along the street and had pretty much stopped traffic, at least the walking kind. In one small shop, a woodcarver was cutting a five foot wood sculpture of Anne.

In the evening watched a local Variety Show which included everything from ballads to step dancing to fiddling. There was even a surprise performance by a local legend, who just happened to be in the audience that night.  Surprises always make these road trips more exciting.

Drove on to Charlottetown, the big city on the island, with 32,500 people. Visited a beautiful Art Gallery as well as Confederation Shopping Center, which covered three levels over a city block.   Then on to a very interesting and well done performance of “Anne of Green Gables“, the musical version, at the Confederation Centre Theater.

Beaches naturally abound on the island and one of the most intriguing is The Singing Sands Beach at Basin Head.  Here the waves don’t actually break in close to the beach, they just hum in. It is a mystical place to slip off your shoes and take a long walk.

On down the road, red sandstone cliffs make for a scenic Cavendish Beach walk along the beautiful Gulf of St Lawrence.  Great place to read a good book, or go for a sunset stroll to relax from all the cares of the day, and think peaceful thoughts…or maybe plan your next road trip.

Be certain you reread the book, Anne of Green Gables, before heading for a visit to Prince Edward Island. Anne had a very inquisitive mind and leaves you with this thought:

  • “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
    – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Rachel, Nevada “UFO Capital of the World”

Rachel, Nevada –  Population: Humans YES…Aliens ?   Those words are seen on a sign as you enter the town of Rachel, which has been named the “UFO Capital of the World” due to its closeness to the top secret Air Force test facility Area 51, and claims of numerous UFO sightings.

Route 375, The Extraterrestrial Highway, meanders across the desert of Nevada and North of  Area 51.  Visitors must be cautious as this is open range and cattle frequently cross the highway, or might just be standing in the middle of the road.  This is another lonesome highway where strange lights often appear in the night sky, and you have the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.

After the nearly hundred mile drive across the desert from Las Vegas, the Restaurant called Little A’Le’Inn is a welcome sight.  This is the friendliest group of people and all  are willing to discuss the various sightings and events in their area. While waiting for my  World Famous Alien Burger, took time to look around inside at their Mini Museum.  No surprise that there would be a gift shop with many Alien and Extraterrestrial Highway items available as well as a wall covered with UFO photos from all over the world.

Directions were freely given to the border of Area 51, but was warned to stay back from the fence, or a guard would appear very quickly as the area is securely monitored.  Did drive back through the desert roads about nine miles, until a couple signs said: Warning Restricted Area and Warning Military Installation, which seemed an appropriate place to halt that journey. Could see the dust of an approaching vehicle so headed back toward Rachel.

One last stop at the Inn to view the unique tow trunk with an alien space ship in tow.  In front of the restaurant on the right side, you can see the ID4 Monument  placed there by the producers of the movie, Independence Day. Enclosed is a time capsule to be opened in 2050  “by which time interplanetary travelers shall be regular guests of our planet Earth.”

Headed out as darkness was starting to fall and certainly hated to see the day come to an end. The friendly locals suggested I watch for a mailbox along the road as I was leaving. Just down the road was the famous  “Black Mail Box”, now painted white, where people sign their names at the spot where UFO watching is a frequent activity.

Leaves many questions to be answered to those skeptical about UFOs.  Why do so many people come to the Black Box area?  Is there life on other planets?  Do aliens from other galaxies dwell among us?

These are all questions still pondered while drinking my morning tea from a Little A’Le’Inn mug.

Land of the Dinosaurs

If these bones could talk, what stories we would hear! Take a trip back in time and explore the  Dinosaur Gardens in Vernal, Utah to see life size replicas of dinosaurs as they used to roam this region; then head to the quarry to see some fossilized dinosaur bones.  These unusual gardens and a wonderful museum are part of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park. Inside you will find real fossil skeletons, a Fossil Lab plus an interesting film, while outside the beautiful dinosaur replicas along the garden path give you a great size comparison. It is like visiting a prehistoric zoo!

One of my favorites was the Brontosaurus, now also called Apatosaurus due to a scientific battle.  This long necked, plant eater just seemed a peaceful animal in spite of its size. Often 70 foot long, “Thunder Lizard” weighed up to 30 tons. Being the symbol of Sinclair Oil, it is one of the most familiar dinosaur images.

Triceratops was the most famous horned dinosaur as its fossils are found in greater numbers than any of the others.  Even though they looked quite fierce and were very successful in battle, Triceratops were plant eaters. Their strong jaws made it possible to grind up vegetation, probably including small flowering shrubs. Triceratops was about twice the size of a rhinoceros, with four short legs and three horns on its face.  People often find it difficult to fathom that this creature lived approximately 65 million years ago.

As we head North from Vernal, we pass movable sprinkler irrigation systems as we glimpse our first view of Dinosaur National Monument in the distance. Early settlers developed an irrigation system, which is assisted by Flaming Gorge Dam today, to provide water to the developed farming area. Before irrigation and the building of dams, this area was a barren cactus flat and not considered a desirable place for settlement.

Upon arrival at Dinosaur National Monument, you find a large quarry of dinosaur remains in an exposed sandstone wall. The actual Quarry Visitor Center is in Utah, while most of the Dinosaur National Monument extends into bordering Colorado.

Discovered in 1909 while searching for fossils for Carnegie Museum, this area is thought to be the best in the world for obtaining information concerning late-Jurassic-period dinosaurs. It would appear the dinosaur carcasses were washed down the Green and Yampa Rivers, then caught on the sandbars, which eventually turned to rock. After all these years, there still seems to be no end to what can be found buried in this rock face.

At the present time, The Quarry Visitor Center is being rebuilt due to structural problems with the original building, and expected to reopen in the Fall of 2011. In the meantime, you can walk the Fossil Discovery Hiking Trail to see dinosaur fossils in the cliff face – as long as the temperature is below 95.  The trail is actually closed for safety from heat related problems when it exceeds that temperature.

When there several years ago, it was amazing to see the vast amount of fossils naturally exposed in such a small area. Enjoyed watching the paleontologists at work on the sandstone surface, carefully chiseling away the sandstone from the fossilized bones.

Stop back after October, 2011 to see the new Quarry Visitor Center. An interesting place to visit, but would be more exciting to be part of the dig, and chisel bones from the wall…very carefully.  Maybe you could discover something yet unknown!

Under the Arches in Utah

Arches National Park is unique at every turn.  No matter how many times you drive or walk through this giant rock collection, you usually notice something different. Located near Moab, in Southeastern Utah, this beautiful red rock country is overflowing with unusual rock formations. This is called the High Desert as it is located between 4,000 and 5,600 feet above sea level and receives very little precipitation.

There are 36 miles of paved road going through Arches National Park, and you can see many of the formations at a distance.  But there seems to be a desire within to take a hike, and actually touch some of these famous landmarks. Over the years many arches have collapsed due to erosion of wind and water, but there is still a plentiful feast for your eyes here.

Delicate Arch was used in 1996 as a symbol in Utah’s centennial celebration and is the park’s most famous feature.  While it is a beautiful tribute to the National Park, it is not easily accessible. The opening close up view is spectacular, but you can see from the arrow in this photo how high and far it actually is located from the main road. Spring and Fall are definitely the coolest times to take the hike for an up close and personal view of Delicate Arch. You really can’t appreciate its beauty from afar.

The Windows is another popular photo spot.  Here you can see how vast the opening really is when compared to the size of the visitors.  At a double arch in The Windows area, filming of the beginning of  “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” took place back in 1988.

With all this rock, it might seem animals would be few and far between. However, there are many nocturnal creatures living in this desert region, including many different varieties of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Perhaps there are some snakes and rats left over from Indiana Jones!  Water is their biggest problem, and while the Colorado River runs on the park’s southern boundary, it is too far away for most of these creatures.  So they have developed various ways to adapt.

This group of rocks got its name, Garden of Eden, because early park visitors let their imaginations loose and  thought the rocks resembled Adam and Eve, holding the tempting apple.  There is even a small ten foot Serpentine Arch here to complete the Garden of Eden scenario.  This Estrada sandstone gives a special color to the area.  The view frequently changes as the sun moves in the sky casting shadows and glows in different directions.

With over 2000  natural sandstone arches and unusual rock formations, Arches National Park  gives you a new appreciation of the beauties of nature.  You’ll find nothing man-made here.   “Only God can make a tree”…or a beautiful rock formation!

Crystal Geyser Bubbles in Green River

Crystal Geyser is a pleasant surprise in this Utah territory, one of my favorite places to explore.  While staying in Green River, Utah, residents there suggested a nine mile trip down a rough, off-trail road, which led to an unexpected geyser.

Here we have a rare example of a cold water carbon dioxide geyser, which is completely different from the geothermal geysers seen in Yellowstone Park. Man actually drilled for oil on this spot in 1935, and got an unexpected result. There were said to be several of these bore holes in the region, but Crystal Geyser seems to produce the most spectacular results…if you are patient.

People at the local coffee shop encouraged me to be certain I had reading material, sun protection and plenty of water as you never know when this geyser is going to erupt.  Sometimes is it every eight hours and could be up to twenty two hours between eruptions. Many people camp here all night to catch the next eruption.   So patience is definitely the name of the game.

Carefully following directions, finally arrived at a point that had a small sign indicating Crystal Geyser.  My curiosity was piqued so got out a blanket, put on a straw hat, and took my book to a nearby orange rock among the colorful mineral deposits. Decided to wait it out! Here people came and went for several hours arriving on dirt bikes, kayaks and four wheelers as well as SUVs, trucks and cars. Had to get up and take some walks around the area while waiting.  Too long to sit in one spot!

Finally there seems to be some action near the pipe marking the geyser. Just watching its approach is quite interesting. First, water surfaces and creates a small pool in the area.  The area begins to bubble off and on for several minutes. Even the mud begins to bubble. Next you could see water spouting out the holes in the pipe.  Then, the eruption gave off a cooling spray enjoyed by adults and children alike. Several children got as close as they could to splash in the geyser pool and feel the cool spray.

When it finally erupts, the water may be anywhere from a height of eight feet to a hundred feet, and could last from ten minutes to two hours. It’s always a surprise even to those who live in the area.  Once it is finished there is a whooshing sound as most of the water is sucked back into the ground, and the rest flows away over the yellow-orange rock surface into the Green River. Felt quite lucky to have it erupt on my first visit and within about six hours.

Back in Green River, stopped to get a couple of their delicious melons to take back home.  Today my slice of life included a big slice of watermelon to end this adventure on a sweet note.

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