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I have fallen so far behind with the log that something drastic is required to get things up to date. I’m temporarily adopting a different format in order to whisk us through the missing year. Fasten your seatbelts!

Back in July 2015, we had two and a half weeks before Sterling’s surgery on the seventh of August and set off on another short trip in a feeble attempt to make up for some of our lack of travel this year. These are the places we visited:

Wheeler Peak Campground, Great Basin National Monument, Nevada Wheeler Peak Campground, Great Basin National Monument, Nevada

Great Basin National Park is in the middle of nowhere. Its craggy peaks, alpine ecosystem, glacial remnants, crystal clear lakes and bristlecone pines are a stark contrast to the surrounding desert areas where we’ve been for the last six months. The view from the campsite makes it one of the best in 2015.

Sterling on the North Rim Grand Canyon North Rim, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, north rim. We’ve never been to this side of the canyon and while it has plenty of visitation, it’s nowhere near as overrun as the south. There’s relatively flat hiking on the rim with few people once we leave the car parks behind, something that’s hard to find on the south rim. Of course we indulge in an obligatory G & T on the lodge patio, gazing into the depths.

Lupin Camp, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona Kaibab National Forest, Arizona

A wonderful dispersed site infused with the heavy scent of lupins and a soundtrack provided by wind in the trees and bees in the flowers.

Parlor, Winsor Castle, Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona

It seems a little strange to write about my first impressions of Pipe Spring given I’ve since spent three months volunteering here but these are my notes from our first visit: A site of Mormon settlement and American Indian displacement when Euro Americans built a fort over the spring, decimating the grasslands through overgrazing and cutting off access to the water. Reflective of European behaviour across the country. Very sensitive interpretation by the National Park Service. A living museum with animals, garden etc

Doe and Fawn, Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah

It’s impossible to tire of Zion. It has the most spectacular easy cycling route anywhere and that’s what pulls us back this time: the round trip from the campground to The Temple of Sinawa. The skyrocketing visitation is changing the experience of the park and not for the better. The increase is allegedly due to adverts run by the state without consulting the Utah national parks and they just don’t have the infrastructure to be dealing with these visitor numbers. Looking on the bright side, the brew pub is in walking distance of the campground, even for Gimpy McHobblefoot.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

This is another contender for Best National Monument you’ve never heard of. It’s a hoodoo heaven, very like Bryce, but without the crowds. While it isn’t possible to hike down into the amphitheater there are walks along the rim with stunning views. The added bonus is the spectacular display of wildflowers on the rim edge and in the woodlands.

Willow Park, Salt Lake Valley, Utah Willow Park, Salt Lake Valley, Utah

Willow Park, Salt Lake Valley. The saga of Sterling’s Achilles tendon dominated much of 2015. (Read some of the back story.) In another attempt to deal with it he decided to have a fairly non-invasive surgery which would be followed by two weeks in a cast and a few months back in Das Boot. A tall order whilst living in the camper! We head back to Salt Lake where the deed is to be done.

Sterling plugged into the compression machine Post Surgery

Here's Sterling post-surgery, connected to the compression machine that both kept his leg cool and cut down on the risk of thrombosis. In spite of appearances, he’s not a happy camper.

We decided that we weren’t going to let the cast cramp our style and so set off on a short trip to places in the area we wanted to revisit.

Sterling and an Old Bone, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado

Dinosaur National Monument. A great location for hikes, very large dinosaur bones and as always when we visit here, a happy little green friend. The heat is too much, especially for those with a leg trapped in a cast, so we move to higher and cooler ground around and in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.

Cast Removal Cast Removal

Yipee! The cast is due to come off so we head back to the Salt Lake area with high hopes for the Achilles.