Welcome!Thank you for visiting Service Driven. This blog chronicles the adventures of Jay and Sharon as they travel the U.S. & Canada, volunteering along the way.
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StartingBloc Fellow 2011
Monthly Archives: September 2011
This week, I wrote a post about volunteer managers that we have met during our travels for the “From the Field” blog. I find it somewhat amusing to be writing for volunteer managers in Maine, because it is one of only seven states that I have never been to. Maybe through writing on their blog I will meet someone who will invite us to come check out the state and volunteer there!
We have had a busy and beautiful week. We were set to connect with our 2nd Grand Canyon Trust volunteer trip on Thursday at the Kane Ranch, so we headed down through Utah via the Scutumpah Road (a scenic dirt road that takes you by Bryce Canyon, Pink Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Grey Cliffs). We had heard from our friend Kirstin, that we had to try mountain biking on the Rainbow Rim trail that overlooks the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was awesome and we will be adding a post about that any day now. After our ride, and a celebratory milkshake from Jacob Lake Inn, we managed to find a wonderful free campsite halfway down the Kaibab plateau, that overlooked the Vermillion Cliffs. It was a great introduction to the area where we would be volunteering for the weekend.
So from Thursday through Sunday we were volunteering on the Kane Ranch (post to come in the next few days). We made new friends, ate great food, and watched the sunset every night from the porch of a ranch house built in the mid-1800′s. What an awesome opportunity. From there we had a few days until we were scheduled to volunteer in Chinle, so we continued to explore, camping on the edge of Marble Canyon (which leads into the Grand Canyon), swimming in Lake Powell, and then camping on the edge of Thousand Pockets near the historic Dominguez and Escalante route. We rounded out our tour of northernmost Arizona by driving from Page to Chinle, where we are now volunteering through the Muskoka Foundation. Jay and I consider ourselves very fortunate to have now thoroughly covered the top of the state. It is a fascinating and varied landscape.
Hours volunteered: 48 hours (combined) working on the Kane Ranch Native Plant demonstration garden with Grand Canyon Trust and restoring Mule deer habitat in the Kaibab National Forest for National Public Lands Day
States: 2 – Arizona, Kaibab National Forest, Kane Ranch, Page, Chinle; and Utah (though only in Utah for a couple of hours to go swimming in Lake Powell)
People Visited: none
Nights under the stars: 4, Kaibab National Forest, BLM land near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyon De Chelly
Best meal: All of the meals at the Kane Ranch were awesome, but eating Bacon Cheeseburgers with Kane beef on National Public Lands day was particularly special
Best beer: Ska Brewery Ten Pin Porter — picked up a great sampler pack in Page
Stevens Locker is a meat processor located in Loa, Utah. When we passed through Loa it was not open, in fact nothing was that Sunday. However, further down the road in Torrey Utah, we stopped in at the only store that appeared to have groceries and discovered that they were selling meat from Stevens Locker. We got some bacon, and I later regretted not also getting some steaks. The steaks looked perfect and were reasonably priced. However we do not have a grill with us on our travels. Ok, now back to the bacon. This stuff was classic, average leanness somewhere between fatty end pieces and center cut, average thickness too. This bacon would go well with any recipe. The curing was light and not overdone and the natural flavor really came out. There was also an overall quality of freshness. This stuff is basically classic typical bacon. Good stuff. It definitely makes me want to try other meats and different, more extreme bacon cuts from Stevens Locker.
Last week I was introduced to the evil that is Russian Thistle. We started our Capitol Reef volunteer project pruning shrubs that were blocking the trail from the visitors center to the campground.
When we knocked that out in a little over 2 hours we were rewarded with an assignment that has no end: pulling up Russian Thistle. This invasive weed is covered with prickly thorns and it has deep roots that are tricky to dislodge. At least there is the satisfaction of clearing a large swath of ground and seeing the little native plants finally visible. Of course it only takes a small rotation to the left or right to realize that the thistle is winning the war.
<Most of the morning, just looking up at the amazing rock formations were sufficient reward for hard work, but as morning turned into afternoon, I started dreaming of pie.
Capitol Reef used to be home to mormon pioneers, who herded cattle and planted orchards through the valley. These days, tourists can pick their own apples. Better yet, you can sit down on a picnic table overlooking the fremont river and colorful canyon walls for some pie, delivered fresh daily. After about 6 hours of hard work on a sunny day, strawberry rhubarb pie with locally made vanilla ice cream on top was sublime.
Thanks to Kirstin for connecting us with Lori to make this project possible. We appreciated the opportunity.
After leaving Capitol Reef we headed south and west along the semi famous Highway 12 and the Scutumpah road. We were in the Escalante – Grand Staircase National Monument almost the entire time and it was incredible!
Capitol Reef is a less well known, but just as amazing park in southern Utah. We were grateful to spend two days there this past weekend.
We have been experiencing all types of nature travelling across central/southern Utah this week. We started in the Fishlake National Forest near Loa, Utah measuring willow plants. Next we travelled with our Grand Canyon Trust team to the Manti La Sal National Forest a bit further north and east. The road up to the plateau was slippery clay after a few days of rain. A bit more exciting than I would have hoped for. The heart pounding continued as we counted cows in a lightning storm. If we hadn’t been part of a volunteer project we would have headed to warmer and drier climes, but as it was, we really enjoyed meeting the other great volunteers and staff and learning new things in the name of conservation. However, by Saturday we were thrilled to have a hotel room thanks to my mom’s hotel rewards points. (BTW, If you have rewards points and would be willing to donate them, please let us know).
We got our wish for clear skies and warm weather in Capitol Reef National Park. This is a real gem which seems to be seriously under visited. After a night in the park and a morning lopping bushes and pulling up invasive plants, we headed south on the Scenic Byway 12. We are spending next week at Kane Ranch on the Arizona strip for a second project with the Grand Canyon Trust.
Hours volunteered: 44 hours (combined) logging native plants and counting cows in the Manti La Sal National Forest with the Grand Canyon Trust and 10 hours (combined) clearing brush and pulling up Russian Thistle in Capitol Reef National Park
States: 1 – Utah – Gentry mountain near Huntington, Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante
Budget: under – thanks to Sharon’s mom for donating her points so that we could have a free hotel stay!
People Visited: none
Nights under the stars: 6 – Manti La Sal National Forest, Capitol Reef National Park, Dixie National Forest, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Best meal: Spinach and cheese enchiladas baked in a dutch oven by Emily and Gayle of Grand Canyon Trust
Best beer: Wasatch’s Devastator Double Bock — Utah is definitely not known for beer, but this one is worth a try
This weekend is National Public Lands Day and there are volunteer projects going on all over the country. Jay and I will be volunteering on the North Kaibab National Forest. This post from REI has details on how to find a project near you: