Clinton and I love visiting Utah (hopefully this is obvious by now), and when traveling out of our home city of Page, Arizona we often find ourselves back in the state. Utah hosts an abundance of amazing National Parks and public lands for anyone to enjoy. Getting there is usually half the battle, depending on what fancy magazine cover you convinced yourself you could easily duplicate. Usually “view point” are just that – gaining elevation to see a birds eye view of a large piece of land. One of the best places to view large pieces of land is in Utah. While we’d love to see more remote areas (and we will here this next summer with our new truck!) we knew we could do better than the areas we actually were able to see. For instance, the Burr Trail. The Burr Trail is easily accessible because it is partially paved, but we are not able to go too far down some dirt roads with a Honda Accord. We’ve pushed it in a few places but as you do your own travels always remember to be safe and think about your actions before you can’t retract them!
One of the most beautiful places to visit for a birds-eye view of an amazing Utah landscape is Canyonlands. Canyonlands National Park is a kaleidoscope of colorful landscapes including canyons, mesas, and buttes created by the Colorado River, Green River, and their tributaries. On September 12, 1964 legislation was created and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson to make Canyonlands a National Park. Preserving over 300,000 acres of land, Canyonlands preserves both human history and natural beauty in three districts: The Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze, with the Colorado and Green Rivers combining in the park. Each district showcases a different level of beauty. The Island in the Sky district is a broad and level mesa north in the park including the White Rim overlook. The Needles district is south and to the east of the Colorado River and is named for the red and white banded rock pinnacles that are featured in the area. Other rock formations exist in the area, including Arches, but fun fact – most of the arches are actually further out in the backcountry. Maybe we will be able to reach them this year with four-wheel drive! The Maze district is even more remote – there are no paved roads in this district!
Another location close by that we often find ourselves exploring in Utah is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Originally designated at almost 1,900,000 acres it is among the most remote pieces of land in the country and the largest national monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management. There are three regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowitz Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. Designated as a National Monument in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, the area was the last place on continental earth to be mapped. (Pretty cool!) The Anasazi and Fremont left behind rock art panels, campsites, and granaries from the period AD 950-1100, the time period when these cultures first made contact. But this area doesn’t stop in time there! Considered a dream for geologists, paleontologists, archaeologists and historians alike for scientific research and education. Don’t forget exploration! That is the best reason for our adventures! There are a few visitors centers scattered across the Monument that host educational opportunities, chances to ask a few questions before heading into the backcountry, and obtain a camping permit. One of the nicest things about camping in the Monument is the ease of camping in the monument. Even if you miss the opening hours of a visitor center, you only need to stop along a trail head and fill out the backcountry camping permit and they are FREE! (DO NOT forget to leave the copy for the Ranger! This is the whole point!) Clinton and I enjoyed camping in the area between Grand Staircase and Glen Canyon many times last summer.
If you aren’t planning to visit Utah for camping or hiking, remember that there are many parks to visit just for that picture perfect moment. But if you really want to see the true beauty, I suggest you try and take a little bit of time for a trail hike or a dirt road (safely!) that you can use to get out into the backcountry a bit more. Trust us, you’ll love it! We will always encourage visiting Utah, and hope that your travels will bring you to either of these wonderful lands!
I’ve always wanted to visit Wales to see the Lloyd side of my family, and with the addition of Talley when I married Clinton it was basically inevitable! While Emily and I visited Cardiff Castle as a day trip to see the landscape, I did try to take an extra look for anything that may give me more information about the Talleys. While I didn’t find really anything, I did actually find a key-chain with the name! That is pretty rare!
Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle located in the city center of Cardiff, Wales. The trip from London took a little bit of navigation as we had to take a 3 hour one way bus, but it was not difficult to purchase only a few days ahead of time for pretty inexpensive. The bus station was confusing to find because London does not like to label the difference between a bus, rail, or subway (at least to the average visitor) but we managed! Exiting from the city center stop is only a short walk to Cardiff Castle and the actual city center. We looked up a few places to visit while we were in town and settled on The Alchemist, a cute restaurant not for it’s Welsh food but for its unique flare and amazing drinks. We walked around the town for a few hours before heading back to London. A highly recommend a day trip if that is the only time you have left to visit the country! The bus was extremely easy – once we found the location, finding the correct bus line was very easy and our driver was friendly. We had a nice basic seat with room for our legs to stretch and baggage to be placed above our head. The bus wasn’t full so we were able to stretch out a bit, which was nice for such a long trip back and forth. It was also nice to have someone else drive since by then we were kinda over driving around England and Scotland. Cardiff Castle does charge a fee but it is well worth the price. Of all castles I have to admit – Cardiff was one of my favorites. Not only was it open to the public to view without problems (I felt in London it was rather difficult and not easy if you didn’t play it ahead of time) but there was so much history to view I doubt we learned it all. We paid extra for a historic tour and learned a lot – another thing I recommend spending a little bit extra on!
One of the most interesting things I learned was about the 4th Marquess of Bute, who inherited the castle early in the 20th century. The vast wealth is on display throughout the house – in one room there is paint that is actually gold! The Marquess of Bute was extremely religious, which is evident is the design of the house such as the Roof Top Garden. This area has both an open “roof” as well as a shallow step down into an area that would fill up during the wet season but still allow for meditation in a lovely garden. The bedrooms are breathtaking with their hand painted portraits and paintings, mostly of religious figures from the Bible. By the time World War II started most of the land was either commercialized or nationalized until little was left of the castle. Extensive air raid shelters were built in the walls and when you visit, you can walk through them to get a sense of what it would be like to walk around them in the modern era. When the Marquess died the castle was left to the citizens of Cardiff, who are able to enter the public land free to charge as long as they remain a resident of the city.
We didn’t have a lot of time left over after touring Cardiff Castle, not enough at least to travel further than about a mile on foot around the immediate area. We walked through Bute Park, which was very quaint and beautiful. Surrounded by the city of Cardiff, it reminded me of Baltimore and Patterson Park. You could easily disappear into the park even though if you took a minute to think about it, there was traffic and city noises all around you. They did a great job of removing that atmosphere. We stopped at a little cafe where I got tea (I tried to order that as much as possible, and discovered I like it with milk. Who knew?). It was different than the cafes I was use to in the Netherlands and Germany but I was trying to get use to it. Instead of a variety of breads and cheeses it was mostly teas and coffees juices. Sandwiches were big, but for some reason only flavors that I knew for sure I liked I actually liked – experimenting was hard. I didn’t like the reliance on mayo or fish and chips (super disappointing, I thought it was something I’d like!) but overall I’m glad I tried all the things I did during our travels. I drank a lot of juice smoothies so I didn’t get sick since I didn’t feel like I ate a lot food with substance, and we tried to remind each other daily to eat because there didn’t seem to be much of a variety with restaurants! I digress…Bute Park was a nice, close diversion from the city and a nice walk through nature. The tea was great! 🙂
This post ends the travels of #CuzUK but we hope you enjoyed the ride along the way! Traveling is stressful, logistically difficult at times, and complex. But it is overall enjoyable, breathtaking, and amazing…and worth it. Be smart, but don’t let simple things or the fear of travel stop you from taking the leap for adventures. I hope this blog encourages you to think outside the box and keep traveling!
If you’ve been keeping up, the #TravelingTalleys blog has already updated you to the adventures of #CuzUK in Sunderland, Scotland, the gardens of London, and the Tower of London. But everything in England isn’t roses! While Emily and I were in London we went to a few iconic places along with immersing ourselves in the history of Great Britain at the Imperial War Museum. Visiting London of course means visiting Big Ben, which was unfortunately under construction (leave something to come back for!) and Westminster Abbey, which we were not allowed to take pictures inside while visiting.
During one of our daily marathon walks we were able to travel over Thames by various bridges, one of them being London Bridge. The history of this bridge spans many generations, including a stone-built medieval structure that lasted 600 years. The current span opened to traffic in 1973 and is built from concrete and steel. London Bridge remained the only road-crossing downstream of Kingston over Thames until 1792 when the Putney Bridge opened. Central London, where we spent some of our time, is very similar to large, metropolitan cities that have a high percentage of visitors from around the world. Commercially, London also caters to many businesses across Europe and the world. Remember, Great Britain was an incredibly spread out empire – very much so even today. Seeing the blend of modern architecture and medieval was like when Clinton and I walked through the old Roman ruins, to an extend. While the Romans are no longer in power and arguably Great Britain still rules part of the world, the structures speak of an affluent time with creative minds. I appreciated the intricate details that were molded into everyday Great Britain.
Walking around the town of London also included educational trips to a museum, and one of the best museums we found during our travel was the Imperial War Museums. Actually a museum with five different branches, three of them in London. The museums were founded in 1917 to record the civil and military war efforts of Great Britain and its Empire during World War I. Today, the museum includes all conflicts that Great Britain was involved in since 1914. Included in the museum’s collection is the personal and official documents, photographs, film, and video material from various wars. It was an extremely impressive collection that included oral history recordings. As a self proclaimed “historian” of humans throughout time, a very important part of history is oral history recordings. Hearing from the person directly who lived during different time periods is always moving. The museum also includes a large art collection and many examples of military vehicles and aircraft. Entering the museum is free but donations are always encouraged!
One of the more popular places we visited during our trip was Westminster Abbey. This beautiful Gothic abbey church is one of the most notable and famous religious places in London and is also the traditional place of coronation for the monarchy. Formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster. SInce 1066 the Abbey has been a coronation church – or the official ceremony where a king or queen is officially crowned – since 1066 and is also the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The present church was begun by Henry III in 1245 and still holds a medieval shrine of Anglo-Saxon saint. Today, the church is not used for coronations but is a place for tourists to visit and for those to come to throughout the day for worship. Services are daily and just the thought that over 1000 years of history is in one building always amazes me. I’ve been to many “old” buildings and love visiting churches because of this!
Westminster Abbey does require a fee to enter and you are not allowed to take pictures, but there is a nice gift shop where you can purchase a picture book and you are given a self guided tour to peruse the Abbey on your own time. Seventeen monarchs reside within the Abbey and if you were like me to actually enjoyed your history class, it’s pretty cool when you round a corner and see a shrine to a monarch whose name your recognize. Who is not there – notably, Henry VIII. Of course not, right? 🙂 There is a section called “Poet’s Corner” where famous authors of the day were buried, including Charles Dickens. Death wasn’t the only thing celebrated in this gorgeous abbey. Wedding are also popular, including that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Kate. The building is absolutely beautiful and the surrounding area is pretty as well, though it is very crowded as it is part of the main city center of London. Be prepared for lines and rude visitors!
I’ve found that even knowing the language of the locals doesn’t necessarily matter, so patience is key in many situations. Don’t let a language barrier (or in this case lack of one) give you a false sense of security. You are still in a foreign land! We tried to stop into tea shops throughout the day and tried to learn as much as we could about the local history and culture wherever we traveled. It was nice not having language as a barrier, but customs still took a little time to get use to! I loved our many adventures and walks around town each day and appreciated the help we received along the way. This isn’t the end of my blog adventures since we also visited Wales and that post will be next, but our adventures in London will end here. Thanks for keeping tuned to the travels of #CuzUK and keep here for details of Wales! Till next time!