Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!





and of course no blog would be complete without a silly, adorable Mally :)

Flora, ready for her first marathon :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cobra Arch! We won!

Just found out that Steve's picture of me running over Cobra Arch won Editor's Choice in Trail Runner magazine! Weee! This is so awesome.

Stunning Cobra Arch is nestled in a quiet corner of the Paria Canyon Wilderness, just north of Buckskin Gulch.

Hi, I'm Jill and I'm addicted to trail running. Yup, pretty much. And the crazier the terrain the better. I love slick rock! I love hills! I love the desert. This pic makes my heart happy :)

Here are a few more photos from this day that I never had the chance to post. I would highly recommend this hike. The entire adventure, from the drive to the trailhead, finding the arch, and back to your car, is a sensory overload. For directions, email me @ jilljwilliams@hotmail.com.

Here ya go!



sitting on the cobra's head :)



off again!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sand dunes + fluffy malamute = perfect photo op


This afternoon Harry and I decided to go on an adventure. I wanted to stay close to home and nothing too strenuous (it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a couple of hours). We brought our sweet, mellow mute along with us and headed out with no real destination in site.

Our first stop was a lone road 8 miles north of Kanab. We just parked the xterra and started to hike. The views were pretty incredible no matter which way you looked. We stopped for a pic.


I asked Harry where he wanted to go next. Sand dunes! I love the coral pink sand dunes in Kanab, UT. If you go at the perfect time of day, you can get the most amazing photos of the vibrant pink sand against the deep blue skies. I really love it here. I was so happy he chose this park as part 2 of our adventure.

I don't really have much to say, so here are a bunch of drool-worthy photos of this incredible place (which is literally in my backyard). Disclaimer: lots of Flora pics ahead :)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spelunkin' a few miles from home

Livin' the dream (... of a 7 year old Indiana Jones)
There are some caves just north of town that I've been spying for a while now. We've explored a bunch of local sand caves, but these loom high above the desert land below, and I wasn't quite sure how we'd get to them. I tried to take the kids when their dad was in PA, but JJ was freaking out the entire time so I figured I better wait until Steve got back :) There's a really creepy backwoods shed, with a couple of overturned cars in a ditch... along the way.... and yeh, it actually is a little unsettling. But now daddy's home! Yay! So, tonight I promised Harry we'd go find these dang caves.

en route to those holes in the mountain over yonder

Wee! Wow, actually this cave is a LOT bigger than I thought!

sand angels :)

the beauty of nature (just disregard that graffiti to the left)

Look at these colors! Wowzers!
 
The happiest scrunt EVER

more explorin' (next time we need to bring headlamps)

JJ on the edge (sweet!)
We've been here nearly 10 years now. And we KEEP finding new places to explore. These caves are about 5 miles from our house. It's pretty awesome. I'm thinking I need to throw a party here. Maybe when I turn 40 :)

Sunrise, sunset

I could probably fill up an entire blog just with pictures of the sunsets here. The sunrises are pretty freakin awesome, too.
sunrise

sunset :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is this real life? Zebra Slot Canyon, Escalante, UT

Family pic in one of the coolest slots around -- Zebra Slot Canyon in Escalante, UT
Fall is absolutely my favorite time of the year in southern Utah. The temps are perfect -- only getting into the mid 70's, the parks are empty, and the skies seem even bluer than normal. One of the best hiking spots (in my opinion) is anywhere off of Hole in the Rock Road. From Kanab, the drive is about 2 and a half hours. That might seem like a haul, but the trip there is through gorgeous open landscapes filled with colorful mountains and looney tune-esque red rock structures. 

When deciding where to go this weekend, we took into account that the kids (now 5 and 7) are getting considerably better at hiking longer distances with more obstacles. I really REALLY wanted to get back to Zebra Slot in Escalante. It's not a hard hike at all, but it's about 5 miles round trip with some hills and there's also waist deep water to navigate through (very tight walls). We decided to give it a shot.

The trail head is only 8 miles down Hole in the Rock Road (which can still take a while depending on the road conditions). Park off to the left and then you'll see the trail on your right. The trail to the wash is about 2 miles and it's easy to follow. After about 3/4 mile the scenery changes and you are surrounded by awesome buttes and really trippy rock formations with zigzag stripes and woven textures. Our kids love to climb. So off they went up the sides of any mountain they thought they could scale. I have a feeling this mama is going to be having panic attacks once they are old enough to go off on their own :) 

Me and the boys en route to Zebra - super awesome fall afternoon.

Swirly orange rocks and lots of things to climb on.

My little mountain goat, Harry

purty desert flowers
When we got to the wash (after about 2 miles give or take...) you head to the left and look for the cairns across the creek bed. You follow these another quarter mile or so until the mouth of the slot canyon. We ran into some other hikers who were sure they found the wrong canyon because this one "had waist deep water". Yup, that's typical. So prepare to get pretty cold and wet.

You have to wade through the icy water for  about .2 miles. It varies from ankle deep to waist deep but it is worth it. There was a fair share of screaming :) (bad mom right here...) but we did manage to hoist JJ up on Steve's shoulders and I carried Harry through the worst of it.

Once in the actual Zebra slot, the awesomeness unfolds before your eyes -- swirly purple walls on both sides and just enough room to feel like you can dart in and out of the magnificent folds. It's really such a mind-boggling place.

Another family pic -- one with everyone ALL SMILES! (see, totally worth it)

My lil' explorers

Hi Mom

Harry is in awe.. JJ's ready to climb

My little spiderman

Getting a lift from Daddy

 
A cute little hiking buddy

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The beginning

Where to begin....

I can't believe we've been living here in the middle of nowhere for nearly a decade. It all started with a long-dreamed-about trip to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with my then boyfriend, Steve. A few years prior, I received a magazine from a girl at work called "Best Friends" which was all about this animal sanctuary in remote southern Utah were hundreds of homeless animals were looking for homes. The magazine had information about how you could go there and volunteer, walk some dogs, play with goats, feed horses, cuddle with cats and so on. You could even take dogs on sleepovers to your hotel. It pretty much looked like the best place ever. A few years later, I started dating Steve and I convinced him that we needed to go here --- and volunteer (and take dogs on sleepovers) -- and meanwhile we could also take some side excursions to the Grand Canyon. I think we booked the travel arrangements that very day.

 This was taken during our first trip to Kanab. Steve and I peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

We spent a week at Best Friends (yep, walking dogs and spoiling them rotten at our hotel) and that's when I fell in love. With Steve (my now husband) and the Sanctuary. And Utah.

Within 3 months Steve and I quit our day jobs in Pennsylvania, sold Steve's home, bought a new home (only seen once!), packed up our furkids and said goodbye to the life we left behind. Our parents thought we were crazy. But we were following our dreams. Besides, we wouldn't stay forever. I mean, 3 years tops. Right?
At Zion National Park
But life had other plans. We got married (at the Sanctuary!) and then had a kid (Harry -- he's 7 now. He's a desert rat). Two years (and 2 dogs) later we had another human child (J.J. -- he's 5 and full of sass). They are now in school. We've fallen deeper in love with Kanab. We spend every free moment with our feet in the red dirt of southern Utah -- which has slowly seeped further into our soul. I love it here. I hope you enjoy seeing some killer photography of this wonderful, weird and unique place we call home.
Harry, a few months old, at Tuweep

Starting the kids off early at Kanarraville Canyon

Camping under the stars at Sooner Rocks in Escalante, UT

Recent pic with our mellow malamute, Flora, overlooking Marble Canyon.