From the Writing Desk of Christine Mazurk
Two of my very favorite places to visit are Southern Utah and St. Augustine, FL. Two different coasts, each with its unique beauty - from gorgeous red rock and National Parks for hiking, to the Atlantic Ocean and splendid beaches for relaxing with a good book.
If you love hiking and other outdoor activities, Utah is the place to go! Here are a few of our favorite spots:
Bryce Canyon - Thousands of delicately carved spires rise in brilliant color from the amphitheaters. Millions of years of wind, water, and geologic mayhem have shaped and etched the pink cliffs of Bryce, which is actually not a canyon but the eastern slope of the Paunsaguant Plateau. The hike down to the canyon floor is awesome, and you feel tiny as you gaze up the sheer rock walls. We've taken dozens of pictures in Bryce and they never do it justice. The vast size is a sight you have to behold with your own eyes. There is nothing like it in the world!
Zion National Park - Another amazing park of red and tan Navajo Sandstone by the north fork of the Virgin River. The geology of Zion includes 9 formations that together represent 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. Uplift associated with the creation of the Colorado Plateau lifted the region 10,000 feet beginning 13 million years ago. It offers many hikes of varying difficulty, but the one I recommend most is hiking The Narrows. You actually hike up the river on a bed of rocks (watch your footing) between the canyon walls, curving and forking for miles. The bonus on hot summer days is the cool refreshing water.
Snow Canyon State Park is tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile dessert environment. Again a variety of hikes are there waiting for you.
Other places with driving distance include Lake Powell, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Cedar City and more.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States - many people do not realize it is older than Plymouth Rock. It was established in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Not only can you tour the old city to learn the history of how the Europeans and Native Indians lived, but you can drive across the Lions' Bridge to experience the beach on Anastasia Island - one of our favorite beaches to run on, because the hard packed sand curves north toward the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Hundreds of cute cafes and restaurants line the coast and the intercostal, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner with the gorgeous view of the ocean.
The drive down A1A along the ocean is spectacular. If you head south, you are only an hour away from Daytona Beach and the Daytona Speedway, home of the Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400. During Bike Week in early March, we love to ride the motorcycle down to catch the Motorcycle Races.
While kayaking along the fingers of the intercostal, we usually encounter Dolphin! Adults and their babies swim along with you as you lazily paddle the fingers of the inlet. And of course, there are the beaches, where you can swim, surf, play in the ocean, or stretch out with a favorite book - like Sisters Of Spirit - to soak up the Florida sun. Just remember to put your suntan lotion on.
Have you experienced any of the above? Which did you enjoy most and why?
Where are your favorite travel places and what do love most about them?