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11 December 2018 / leggypeggy

Trekking amongst the Arches in Utah

Windows Section of Arches National Park

A vista of the Windows Section of Arches National Park

Good grief, it’s been almost three weeks since I posted. Sorry about that, but life has been surprisingly hectic. We’ve enjoyed houseguests, a couple of road trips, some holiday celebrations and, thankfully, some rain. Some sadness and medical issues have been mixed in, but everything is on track now.

So it’s back to the amazing American West.

I’ve already shared a glimpse of Arches National Park in Utah with a stroll down the stylish, sandstone Park Avenue. But now it’s on to the Windows Section of the park.

The Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

The Balanced Rock

A climber on the rock beside the Balanced Rock

A climber on the rock beside the Balanced Rock

Some people consider this area to be the beating heart of Arches. The area contains a large concentration of arches and is one of the most scenic locations in the park. North Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch are just a few of the awe-inspiring expanses situated in just over two square miles. Other named features in this area include Garden of Eden, Elephant Butte and Parade of Elephants. Balanced Rock is near the entrance to the Windows Section.

I can’t confidently identify everything we saw on this stretch, but the captions include as much as I know, or as much as I can guess.

Double Arch, Arches National Park

Approaching the Double Arch

Our major visits were to the Balanced Rock and Double Arch. We walked around all of Balanced Rock and I got quite a few shots from different angles, including a pic of a fellow who scaled the nearby, more bulbous rock. There were a couple folks up there, but only one was visible by the time I got the camera out.

We also did the hike to Double Arch and back. It is the tallest (112 feet/34 metres) and second-longest (144 feet/44 metres) arch in the park. In the past, it has also been called Double Windows, Twinbow Bridges and the Jug Handles (remind me to tell you a funny story about jugs).

Arches National Park

The Double Arch

Thanks to Mother Nature, the landscape is always changing. Erosion and weathering work slowly but relentlessly. In 1991, a huge rock slab (60 feet long, 11 feet wide and 4 feet thick) fell from the underside of Landscape Arch. It left a very thin ribbon of rock.

Arches National Park

General view of Arches. Probably includes Elephant Butte and Parade of Elephants

One aspect of the walk really annoyed me. It was another one of those times when people think the rules or advice don’t apply to them.

Plenty of signs make it clear that the knobbly, black biological soil crust is a living groundcover and should not be walked on. It’s the foundation of high desert plant life in Arches and the surrounding area. It’s composed of cyanobacteria, and also includes lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria.

The soil crust binds together sand and rock particles, which allows plants to establish their roots. They also provide desert plants with moisture and nutrients in an otherwise inhospitable environment. As one sign says, ‘The crust is so fragile that one footstep can wipe out years of growth’. It goes on to ask people to stay on the path to protect ‘the living soil’.

Arches National Park

A little of what grows in the park

Which is why I was furious to see a family with a dog and a fellow with a camera as long as his arm trudging across the soil crust. I wanted to scream at them, but it’s not a challenge you’d risk in the USA these days.

As an aside, back then my hip was still bothering me (all good now). But it kept me from joining the rest of the group on the trek to the most famous arch of all—the Delicate Arch. Maybe next time.

Arches National Park, Utah

These have two names—The Three Gossips and The Three Wise Men. Thanks to Sy and Curt for identifying

 

19 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Music, birthdays and food—what a night!

John Farnham, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

John Farnham

Anyone who knows Poor John will be totally amazed that Saturday night he managed to stay awake until almost midnight.

The occasion was the ‘Anthems’ concert in Canberra that featured Jack Biilman, Lucy Sugerman, The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda Bull, Kate Ceberano, Daryl Braithwaite and John Farnham.

Australians will recognise all the names, but others might not. Click on the links above to find out more about each performer.

Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

The arboretum’s natural amphitheatre with groves of trees and Canberra in the background

This amazing shindig was staged at our National Arboretum, which was created after Canberra’s devastating bush fires in 2003. Part of the arboretum is a large natural amphitheatre, which is perfect for concerts.

The venue opened at 4pm and we arrived at the gate about that time. But let me explain our arrival and exit plans. I tried to organise the shuttle bus service for drop-off and pick-up, but it was booked out. So I leaned on Vicky, our friend and neighbour. ‘Would you take us to the event, if we can get our own way home?’ She said, ‘Sure.’

So much earlier in the day (about noon), Poor John drove our car to a convenient (but little known) parking place near the arboretum, and rode home on my bike (the lighter of our two bikes).

Kate Ceberano, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Kare Ceberano

Bless Vicky for driving us to the event. It’s an hour of her life that she’ll never get back. It shouldn’t have been like that.

Let me explain. There was a lane for cars and a lane for shuttle buses. But suddenly about 50 cars decided to shift to the ‘shuttle bus’ lane. Geez, these are the people who think rules never apply to them. It screwed up everything, and caused a huge traffic jam and no access for the shuttle buses.

I wasn’t devastated to have missed the first performance and most of the second, but I was super irked by the thoughtlessness shown by some people. Luckily, their bad behaviour was soon forgotten.

Lucy Sugerman, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Lucy Sugerman

Now I should explain how we happened to have tickets. My birthday was in September. For a present, our daughters gave me two reserved tickets—so Poor John and I had seats instead of having to sit on the grass—and a cheese and charcuterie platter.

After we chose our seats, Poor John went to collect the platter. It was a great combination with four or five each of various cheeses and meats, as well as sultanas, fresh bread and crackers. It was more than enough to serve as dinner.

The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda

So what were the highlights. For starters, the setting was brilliant. The arboretum overlooks the city and the lake in the middle. The stage blocked a lot of the view, but it was still a perfect location.

We arrived just in time to hear Lucy Sugerman’s last song. She’s a Canberra girl and was a finalist in the most recent showing of The Voice. She graduated from Year 12 the day before the concert.

Daryl Braithwaite, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Daryl Braithwaite

My favourite performances of the night were Kate Ceberano’s Love don’t live here anymore, Daryl Braithwaite’s As the days go by and John Farnham’s Age of reason.

Was great to see sisters, Vika and Linda. I’ve always loved their music and have seen them live before. I had not realised their career got its start with The Black Sorrows in 1988. Also loved Kate Ceberano’s rendition of the late Chrissy Amphlett’s I touch myself, which has become an anthem for breast cancer awareness.

I was there as a birthday present, and there was another special birthday on the night. The audience sang Happy Birthday to Kate Ceberano. I won’t mention her age or mine.

But did I mention the sunset?

Sunset with Black Mountain Tower, Canberra

The sunset cast a golden glow on the arboretum hills in front of Black Mountain Tower

10 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Poppies remember war losses

 

Poppies at Australian War Memorial

Poppies at War Memorial with Lone Pine on the right (see notes at bottom)

Poppies at Aussie War Memorial

Yellow honours Aborigines, white honours nurses and purple honours animals

World War I—also referred to as The Great War—ended 100 years ago tomorrow. In the lead-up to that sobering anniversary, our Australian War Memorial has hosted a display of 62,000 wool poppies that honour the Aussie soldiers who never came home.

The display had its start five years ago when fibre artists and sisters-in-law, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, set out to create 120 poppies to be laid at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. These were to serve as a tribute to their fathers—Wal Beasley and Stan Knight—who fought in World War II.

Poppy display

I’ve taken many knitting classes and still can’t cast on. Could I make these?

Their gesture sparked an outpouring of interest. From across the world, people knitted and contributed their own hand-made flowers. One day, 4000 poppies arrived from an anonymous contributor. Canberra volunteers knitted about 5000.

Many of the flowers have included personal notes and items, such as buttons from soldiers’ tunics. Some are entwined with yellow stitching as a tribute Aboriginal soldiers, while others include swathes of white, for nurses, and purple, in honour of animals involved in the war.

A field of poppies in Australia

Poppies with the tall Lone Pine on the right

Poppies with buttons

Poppies with buttons

This poppy field, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is part of a wider series of public events known as the 5000 Poppies project.

An estimated 1 million poppies have been crafted by people from around the world, for displays not only in Australia, but also England and France. Prior to coming to Canberra, many of the poppies have been displayed at London’s Chelsea Flower Show and at Cobbers Memorial in Fromelle, France.

Another 270,000 poppies have been spread out in front of our Australian Parliament House. They’ll be on display for another week and I’ll try to get up there for another pic.

Fellow blogger—boomingon—also did a great post on this display. You can see it here.

Sir John Monash statue

Keeping things tidy around the statue of Sir General John Monash

P.S. My heart goes out to you if you lost a family member in that ‘great’ or any other war. When will we learn?

P.P.S. A brief comment about the Lone Pine (mentioned in captions). In 1915, there was a huge battle over Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli. An Aussie soldier found a cone on one of the branches used by the Turks as overhead cover for their trenches. He sent the cone to his mother. She planted it and raised a tree that she presented to the War Memorial in honour of her son and others who fell at Lone Pine.

P.P.P.S. Another comment about Sir General John Monash (the statue shown above). He is often considered to be one of Australia’s most outstanding military and civilian leaders, and one of the greatest commanders of the Great War.

Field of poppies

More than 62,000 knitted poppies honour Australias fallen soldiers

3 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Love old wheels? Check out Yass

1937 Packard 120 Business Coupe

1937 Packard 120 Business Coupe

1939 Buick Business Coupe

1939 Buick Business Coupe

1924 Ford Model T Speedster

1924 Ford Model T Speedster

If you’re quick and anywhere near Yass in New South Wales, you still have time to check out Classic Yass, the annual vintage motor show. It’s on today, 3 November, with almost 350 entrants spread across Banjo Patterson and Riverside Parks.

My friend, Maggie, and I stopped by this morning. We went early and got the second-best parking place in town.

Hundreds of people (and quite a few dogs) were there to enjoy the cars and billy cart (go cart) races. Maggie said there had been a plan to cancel the races, but there had been a public outcry. Race organiser, the Rotary Club, said they needed more volunteers for the races to go ahead. That worked because most of Yass offered to help.

The day has plenty of other activities. There are plenty of food stalls, a vintage fashion parade, various music and dance performances, an art display, a book sale (on Sunday too), Devonshire teas and a dance to finish off the evening.

1934 Chevrolet Standard Roadster

1934 Chevrolet Standard Roadster

1936 Armstrong Siddeley 12 Plus TT Sports

1936 Armstrong Siddeley 12 Plus TT Sports

1951 Riley RMB

1951 Riley RMB

But getting back to cars. I don’t care much about vehicles in general. Mine gets me from A to B. But I love looking at vintage ones. It’s especially fun to see those I remember from my childhood.

We lived on a busy street and the next-door neighbour’s son, David, and I used to sit on the front porch and name the car makes as they cruised by.

1958 Wolseley 1500 MK I

1958 Wolseley 1500 MK I

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire

1954 Swallow Doretti Roadster

1954 Swallow Doretti Roadster

The neighbours behind us collected Packards. I think they had five—with three up on blocks in the backyard. David’s dad had a Studebaker and sometimes he gave us a lift to school. My dad had an ancient blue Dodge van and a pale green 1953 Chrysler.

One of our friends in Burma collected cars. I rode in his Lagonda and Edsel. Another time, I had rides in a Daimler, a Rolls Royce and a Jaguar. And in the early 1970s, I owned a Cougar, the one that was named Car of the Year in 1967.

1958 Lambretta

1958 Lambretta with sidecar

By the way, see the motorbike and sidecar just above. I drove out to Yass yesterday in a downpour. I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but on the way I saw a rider with his bright red motorbike and sidecar sheltering under a tree.

Have a look at some of the other gems that were on display in Yass today. Do you have a favourite vintage car?

1954 Daimler Conquest

1954 Daimler Conquest

1959 Jaguar XK150 FHC

1959 Jaguar XK150 FHC

28 October 2018 / leggypeggy

Now for a stroll in my garden

Orchid

The only orchid I’ve managed to keep

Hellebores (winter rose)

Hellebores also known as winter roses

Mock orange

Mock orange

We’ve been traipsing around the wonderful national parks of western USA, but we’re home now. I promise to share many more posts about the parks, but it’s spring in Australia and I have to share what’s going on in my backyard.

Actually this post covers three backyards.

Most pics are from my backyard in Canberra. Another is from our bush garden at the coast in Rosedale. A few others are from a front garden in Yass. Once a week, I drive to Yass to stay with my friend, Maggie.

Male fairy blue wren

Male fairy blue wren at Maggie’s

Maggie's irises

Maggie’s irises

Maggie's banksia rose

Maggie’s banksia rose

There’s not much by way of explanation. Just pics and captions (where possible) for you to enjoy.

As an aside, these last few days have been Australia’s annual bird survey. People are asked to watch (in blocks of 20 minutes) to see what birds visit their garden, local park, neighbourhood or any other address they choose.

You can count birds you hear (but can’t see) if you know their calls. You can count birds that fly overhead if you can recognise them.

I watched for a total of 100 minutes over five days and saw more than 25 different birds. Obviously, I didn’t get to photograph all of them.

House sparrow

House sparrow

Yellow bunny rose

Yellow bunny rose

Peace rose

Peace rose

Honeyeater at Rosedale

Honeyeater at Rosedale

26 October 2018 / leggypeggy

Let’s take a stroll down Park Avenue

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

The south entrance to Park Avenue with a wall of ‘skyscrapers’ on the rgiht

I’m not talking about New York City’s famous street, but the aptly named scenic trail in part of Arches National Park in Utah.

Early travellers noticed the similarities between the sandstone walls and spires and the skyscrapers along New York’s Park Avenue. The name has stuck. Of course, the main difference is that these western ‘skyscrapers’ have been sculpted by Mother Nature.

The trail is only a mile long and we were lucky enough to start at the south end, which meant the route was downhill all the way. It starts with a few stairs and a concrete path that turns into an unsurfaced, but well-defined trail.

Nefertiti's Head, Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Nefertiti’s Head is unmistakable at the south end of Park Avenue

Some of the landmarks along and near Park Avenue are Nefertiti’s Head, the Courthouse Towers, Baby Arch, Ring Arch, the Tower of Babel, the Three Gossips and the Organ. Except for Nefertiti’s Head, which is so darn obvious, I didn’t know any of these names when we were there. Of course, that meant I had no idea what I was photographing. As an aside, we saw the famous Nefertiti bust in a museum in Berlin, but no photos were allowed.

The signage was helpful and explained that Park Avenue is a wonderful example of Entrada Sandstone, something I’d never hear of. In addition to Utah, it occurs in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona.

 

It seems that Entrada Sandstone began forming more than 150 million years ago (the Jurassic period) as tidal mudflats, sand dunes and beaches. Over time, layers of rock, perhaps a mile thick, covered these deposits. The tremendous pressure from these layers compressed the buried sand into sandstone and cracked it.

Erosion eventually removed the rock layers and the Entrada began to weather. Over the past two million years, erosion of the cracks in the Entrada has left vertical slabs (called fins) like the rock wall that lines this Park Avenue.

The youngest layer (shown in yellow on the info board below) is called the Moab Tongue. The middle layer (orange) is called Slick Rock Member and the oldest layer (red) is called Dewey Bridge Member.

Explanation of Entrada Sandstone

This info board shows the layers of Entrada Sandstone on Park Avenue

A wall of Entrada Sandstone, Park Avenue, Arches National Park

See the info board above for an idea of the layers in the Entrada Sandstone at Park Avenue

In addition to the rock formations, we saw plenty of plant life, but no animals except bugs. Luckily we didn’t get bitten by any mosquitos, and the best thing was I could enjoy the beauty of this Park Avenue in camping clothes and tennis shoes—not some swanky outfit and high heels.

 

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Admiring the view

11 October 2018 / leggypeggy

Joy and sadness packed into two weeks

Jake

Could you drop a piece of the meat you’re chopping?

Time for a little break from the beauty of western USA—more soon.

We’re back in Australia and have been on an emotional roller coaster over the last few weeks. I was overjoyed to have our daughters, Libby and Petra, home for a landmark birthday. More importantly, I was happy Petra was home to spend two weeks with her amazing rescue dog, Jake.

Petra moved to Vietnam last year for the Australian government. She thought about taking Jake but, once there, realised it wouldn’t be at all fun for him to live in an apartment with no garden, so he stayed with us.

Dogs in the garden

Jake and friends chill in our backyard

Jake and Indi (our dog) are great mates, and it was so easy to have him.

Earlier this year, when we were touring the wonderful national parks in the USA, we had a collection of wonderful people looking after the house and dogs. Back in June, Jake had his first major nose bleed.

Carers jumped on the issue. Jake was examined by the vet, got antibiotics and seemed fine. But another nose bleed happened…and another. More trips to the vet and things seemed to calm down.

Dog shaking hands

Feeling well enough to shake for a treat

We got home and another bleed happened. There was a surgery. Two masses were removed from his nostrils, a biopsy was done and the result was benign. That said, the diagnosis was nasal angiofibroma. This is a rare disease. What to do next?

To cut a long story short (feel free to ask questions if we can help your situation), we needed to do a CT scan. In Australia that costs about $3000, including specialist consultations. 

Smiling dog

A smile from Jake

We waited. Petra was coming home soon. Jake seemed happy enough and not in pain. He still bounced around and loved his food, walks and treats, but one look in his eyes and you knew something was wrong.

There were intermittent small bleeds that I could bring under control within a few minutes using a cold compress (namely, a bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel). Just before Petra got home, Jake’s breathing became laboured and he had another major bleed. I scheduled the CT scan for the day after she got home.

The news was terrible—the growths were not benign after all. An invasive cancer had consumed Jake’s right nasal passage and was invading the left. Nothing could be done, except to love him as much as we could for the next 12 days and have him put down the day before Petra went home. That way he wouldn’t have to watch her pack and see her leave.

Dogs on bed

Indi and Jake keep an eye on the neighbourhood

Instead there were extra walks, extra treats, extra bones, no furniture was off limits and the hugs were abundant. He even got a few stuffed toys to dismember. Mostly his breathing was quite good. Over those last days, many people stopped by to farewell Jake. He had a huge following.

Last Friday, the vet came to the house and Poor John took Indi for a walk. Jake slipped away peacefully and you can imagine the floods of tears that saw him off.

He’s over the Rainbow Bridge now and I hope he’s running with the dogs we’ve had to let go before him. Jake was a gorgeous, big-hearted, loveable dog. He will be hugely missed.

Many people have sent condolences to Petra. One included a link to some of the most beautiful prose, written in the 1940s by playwright Eugene O’Neill. It’s a farewell message from his dog. I hope you love it as much as I do.

P.S. All the pics here have been taken since August 2017. Jake loved the beach at Rosedale.

Dogs at the beach

Jake and Indi at the beach. The link just above is to a short video