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Friday, 16 April 2004 10:51 PM MDT
My sister, Janna, came to St. George today to visit, and to rescue my car.
Yesterday evening on a whim, after picking up a Mach Burrito at the new Del Taco just off the Washington exit of I-15, I decided to drive out through the Washington Fields and eat there. I meandered slowly down the road, across the bridge over the Virgin River, past Shinob Kibe, a large hill east of the bridge, then around the eastern base of Nichols Peak (that's the hill in the Washington fields with a house perched on top). A little further south, after turning right on to another road heading west, I pulled off and ate, the evening sunlight bathing the verdant alfalfa fields around me. It was a pretty spot to eat.
After finishing off the burrito, I pulled back on the road and headed west into St. George, eventually winding past Stone Cliff and connecting to River Road. As I crossed the Virgin River on River Road, I glanced eastward.
The City of St. George has been working on extending their paved pedestrian/bike trail system further west along the Virgin River. It used to end just after it dipped under the River Road bridge (on the north bank of the river). On a walk in January I'd discovered that the city had prepared and graded an extension, so I'd followed it for a few miles before I'd had to turn back. More recently I'd noticed that the city had finally paved the trail. Now, as I crossed the bridge, I glanced eastward to take a fleeting peek at the trail. There it was, with a fresh, bright yellow line painted down the middle.
I had to stop! I turned in to a parking lot on the west side of River Road, on the north bank of the river, and got out. I walked down the short bit of trail that connects to the sidewalk along River Road, followed the east fork of the trail beneath the River Road bridge and then paused where the existing trail met the new pavement and freshly painted yellow stripe of the new trail section.
My intentions had never been to go for a walk. Otherwise I would be wearing good walking shoes, instead of the new Earth Shoe Highlanders (mens sandals) I'd picked up at Wal-Mart recently. Besides, I was full, a burrito in my belly.
There is a stand of native (I assume they're a native variety) ash trees that the trail curves through on the river bank just beyond where the trail used to stop. In the long westerly sunlight of evening, it was picturesque, the blacktop trail with a bright yellow line curving through the tall trees and disappearing beyond. I couldn't help myself. I felt propelled. On I walked.
And I kept walking, past the stand of trees, along the fence of a green field of sprouting grass (or grain or some crop), then straight ahead, almost due east, as the path traversed a stretch of sandy, flat river floodplain. The next thing I knew, I was continuing with the path as it curved around a hill that rose on the north, water-and-wind-scupted sandstone cliffs rising on my right, the saltcedar-choked river floodplain on my left. (Saltcedar is another name for tamarisk or tamarix, a non-native shrub that grows from 5 to 20 feet tall and thoroughly infests the Virgin River floodplain all around the area.)
Soon the lowering sun left me in shadow, and I kept going, a cool evening breeze picking up at my back, as the trail curved northward, the path confined by even higher cliffs on the right, and encroaching saltcedar and silvery-leafed Russian olive (another non-native species found throughout Virgin River riparian areas) on the left.
The walk was pleasant, but now I was well over a mile from my car. I don't know why I didn't turn around. It was at this point that I'd turned around in January when I was following the excavated trail bed. Maybe I wanted to continue to see where the trail led?
The hill on my left receeded, and I left the cliffs behind, following the path as it headed in a straight line to the northeast across an open stretch of sandy floodplain while the river made a wide loop to the right. The trail was basically a short-cut across the curved lobe of the river.
The trail continued in a northwesterly direction past the base of another large hill on the right, near where the river rejoined the trail and flows for a bit in a somewhat straight line parallel to the trail. (Or rather, duh, the trail is parallel to the river. Which one was there first? *grin*)
As I continued, I looked north and could see another hill, a long, low hill, part of the Johnson Farm where dionsaur tracks were discovered several years ago. I'd never seen the Johnson Farm area from this side before, though I regularly see it from the north as I drive home on Riverside Drive.
Since I'd come this far (probably about two-and-a-half or more miles), I had to see things to the end. It wasn't too much longer when the trail curved away from the river for the last time, and merged with a sidewalk in a pleasant residential neighborhood of duplex homes that looked across a road at the river.
Now I knew where the trail ended. This spot was just about a mile from my house. And probably over three back the way I'd come to my car. Decisions, decisions! I took the easy way out, and walked along the familiar streets and neighborhoods near where I live and headed home.
And that's why I needed rescuing today. I needed a ride to retrieve my car from the parking lot where I'd left it overnight.
When my sister parked her car next to mine, we got out, each of us with a Gatorade bottle in hand, and walked down the trail. I wanted her to see where I'd been yesterday, and to see the stand of ash trees. We only went about three-quarters of a mile (maybe a tad more) before we turned back. But it was fun to retrace my steps while chatting with Janna. She is very pleasant and intelligent, excellent company while strolling along.
There was much more traffic on the trail today than I encountered yesterday. Maybe it's because this is a Friday.
After our walk, and after some errands, Janna and I ate some Cafe Rio up on the Red Hill in Pioneer Park. And after we finished (I had an excellent-as-usual chicken salad with black beans and rice, house dressing, extra pico, and lots of extra lime) dessert (chocolate flan with strawberries and whipped topping), I asked Janna if she minded hiking up the hill to check out the site where my old St. George Red Hill Cache used to be located before it was reported missing in action.
What a beautiful place Pioneer Park is! Fresh green foliage carpted the sandy soil, still green from spring rains, a sharp contrast to the red sandstone.
My old cache used to sit hidden by some small rocks, and over time, the few rocks became many rocks as visitors to the cache added just one more to "hide it" better. When we topped the hill where the cache was, the rocks were scattered all about. I don't know what I should do, replace the cache in the original location, or move it elsewhere. The spot has such a marvelous view of St. George below.
Okay, I've written far too much, and taken far too long doing so. I didn't intend to detail my walk yesterday. Hmmm, looks like I could learn some brevity.
That's all, folks!