Saturday, 24 December 2016

Snowdogs by the Sea


At last we had a local Wild in Art Trail!  As you know we have become big fans of these trails and until now we have had to journey away from our home county in order to find one.  To be fair it was probably only a matter of time until one came to Brighton and when it came it was the theme of Snowdogs.  I'm not entirely sure why this was the theme chosen but it may have had something to do with local author Raymond Briggs and his famous creation 'The Snowman', which is still shown every year on television at Christmas.

Beach Huts

As with the zebras it was only myself and youngest daughter for this trail and we started out at Hove Lagoon for the first snowdog.  We didn't start too well actually for we found this one quite tricky.  It was called Boomer and eventually found it inside the café.  The dog was dressed up like a cassette recorder (remember them?) as a tribute to his sponsor Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim.  This DJ is now popularly associated with Brighton and is a massive supporter of the local football team.  He also happens to own this café so perhaps it wasn't any great surprise that we should find Boomer there.

Hove Promenade

Our route then ran along the seafront towards Brighton City Centre.  It was quite obvious that we weren't going to manage to see all of the Snowdogs on foot on this first day.  The shortest route between them was apparently more than 10 miles and we only had a limited time available.  I therefore devised a route that would find the most that we could with a view to coming back the following week to find the remaining ones in the car.  Thus we skipped number 2 and headed for number 3, the rather lovely fuzzy Snowbrador by Medina Terrace.  It was at this point that we realised that it wasn't going to be easy to get pictures with each one of the dogs for there seemed to be dozens of other people on the hunt too.  Perhaps it was because we walked the trail while they were still pretty new and the weather was still very warm.
Palmeira Square
Number 5 was next (there were 45 in total) and this was in Palmeira Square.  We discovered that we would have to quicken our pace between the dogs for we seemed to be caught in with a bunch of people that wanted to linger at every dog and clearly that was going to slow us up considerably.  This one was called Dave the Dog and had a motoring theme - this was probably about the sponsor rather than its location for I expected it to have a floral theme to fit in with the floral clock, which is housed in the middle of the square.  After our quick detour inland it was back to the seafront to see Pebbles back on the promenade.  This was a much more appropriate theme for it fitted in with the nature of the beach, which is famously made of shingle (much to my disappointment as a child).


As we continued towards central Brighton we passed the bandstand, still looking resplendent after its makeover a few years back (in fact I couldn't be sure whether it might have had another one since then?).  Flower was stationed outside (number 7) and number 8 was by the i360 a little further on.  Long time readers of my blog may remember me mentioning this installation being planned when I came last time a few years ago.  Well, now it is completed and despite the teething troubles since its summer opening, it is becoming established as a popular tourist attraction.  The original intention was that it would help pay for a replacement West Pier, but looking at the state of the old thing I cannot imagine it ever being rebuilt now.  My daughter and I looked longingly at having a go on the i360 but the queues were enormous so we continued on our way.  Bobby, the police dog (number 8) was keeping guard on the masses.

A little way past the i360 and we headed inland through the modern shopping centre of Churchill Square where we found one inside and one outside.  Getting pictures of both was quite difficult although the one outside was due to a very chatty cleaner who seemed to be acting as a personal groom to the little fella.  She explained that she needed to keep him spruced up as he was very popular.  He was called Blot the Dog.  The one inside recalled the Mod era of Brighton, which a nod to the film Quadrophenia, which was filmed here and recorded the struggles between the mods and rockers who fought on the beaches during the 1960s.

We had a bit of a walk to the next ones which were situated at Brighton Station. Smart Vibes was outside and was the first we had seen for a while that did not have a crowd with it.  We grabbed a piccie and headed inside to find Newshound.  This one was plastered with some of the more comedy headlines that have been featured in local newspaper The Argus over the past few years.  We amused ourselves for a few minutes reading them before moving on.

We headed next down to The Level to see Gizmo (number 41).  This was quite lonely in the middle of the park and we had all the time in the world to spend with him.  What struck me about The Level though is how much more of an attraction it now is.  A café and play area have been installed in recent years and the whole place was alive with visitors.  The last time I came to this part of Brighton I remember it being quite drab and a bit unloved.
Brighton Pavilion
St Peter's Church was next and Dudley (no.40) outside.  This unfortunate dog was the first to hit the headlines when it was graffitied within days of its installation.  It had been repaired when we visited but the underlying damage could still be seen.  The offender was named and shamed in the Argus and he claimed that he thought that he was contributing to the artwork.  Honestly!

Horatio - The Bathing Beauty

We wound our way back through the vibrant North Laines area.  This was always my favourite part of the city in which to shop as it has all manner of eclectic shops selling stuff you wouldn't find anywhere else.  If anything these shops have become ever more cosmopolitan although sadly I note that the prices have skyrocketed too.  We were on a mission this time though - no time for browsing inside or even window shopping.  We found Frank (no.32) and had to wait our turn once again before pushing on to Snowman's Nightmare (21) at the other end of the shopping area.

Pier Clock
A cluster of Snowdogs were to be found around the Dome and the Royal Pavilion and these were hunted down next.  I love the Pavilion - it is perhaps the most preposterous building in the UK and was built as a royal palace for George IV when he was Prince Regent.  He loved Brighton and made this his home during his short reign in the 1820s.  The Pavilion is styled as an Indian Palace and looks rather ridiculous even by today's standards, let alone what it must have looked like when first built.  Its life as a royal palace didn't last too long - Queen Victoria couldn't wait to get rid of it and the building is now owned by the city council.

Next stop was the Lanes.  This famous part of Brighton boasts extremely narrow streets and some high end shops.  We checked off the dogs that we lurking in the Lanes although this took quite a long time as again we dealt with a plethora of young children draping themselves all over the bases longing for their pictures to be taken.  I cannot really think of another trail that has captured the imagination of so many people.  My daughter and I had already concluded though that we preferred the zebras from a few weeks earlier.

Pier View

We worked our way back to the seafront and from here it was to be a straight run to Brighton Marina.  What we hadn't bargained for was a huge motorcycle rally and the road along the seafront was absolutely chock-a-block with gleaming machines, mostly very expensive looking.  There were lots of hairy looking men and women in tight leather gear admiring each other's machines and generally having a great time.  I'm not overly keen on motorbikes but even I could see the allure of these machines.


We popped along the pier for some respite from motorbikes and found Grrrace and Palace Pup (28 and 29).  The latter wasn't so easy to find and we ended up going all the way to the end of the pier before discovering her about a third of the way back.  She was rather ignored by other visitors; perhaps they all thought that she was part of the furniture?  Under the Sea (number 30) was getting a lot more attention but then it was stationed at the entrance to the Sea Life Centre and was therefore seen by every visiting child who went in.

Bike Rally

For the remaining part of our walk we passed more than a mile of motorbikes lined up.  I have never in my life seen so many lined up in one spot.  They weren't just English either - there were plenty from continental Europe and especially the Netherlands.  The rally was starting to wrap up though - some people were already roaring away and the din was unimaginable.  We were pleased for a short detour into St George's Church in Kemp Town, where we escaped for a few minutes to check out Smiley (no.34).  From here it was on to Brighton Marina to pick up the remaining cluster.

Brighton Marina

Brighton Marina was constructed when I was a boy.  It is quite an astonishing piece of engineering and one that I am not sure would be built today.  It is one of the largest man-made marinas in Europe and rather brutally occupies a space at the bottom of the cliffs at Black Rock.  As a marina I am not sure it was overly successful since much of the harbour space has been filled in and is occupied by shops and restaurants.  There were three Snowdogs among the shops and a unique one to finish off with; one made out of sand by the artist 'Anonymous'.  It was very sensibly fenced off so that it couldn't be ruined by vandals.  This marked the end of our walking tour seeing the Snowdogs.  It was a pretty comprehensive look around the city and we got to see most of the main sights.  We also saw 35 of the 44 dogs on foot with the remaining ones in a car tour the following week.  Sad to say that one was missing (Sparky no.42) and one was in London at Victoria station (45 Brighton Belle).  On the whole a satisfying walk and I have no doubt that the success of the initiative will bring a different trail in a couple of years time.
Sand Dog

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Marwell's Zany Zebras

Zebastian the Seabra
Following the success of the Go! Rhinos trail in Southampton organised by Marwell Zoo a few years back they came back with another in 2016, this time involving Zebras.  The Rhino Trail was set out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Marwell Zoo and I think this one is merely a sequel.  The sculptures were sold off at the end of the season for charity and raised over £100,000 for conservation.  There were 47 zebras along the way, 15 more than the 2013 rhino trail.  They were a little more spread out than before and new areas were explored, notably around the southern part of the city close to the docks.  Additionally there were a whole lot of smaller zebras that had been decorated by schools and community groups as well as a couple outside the city.  We focused on the large sculptures as we only had a few hours to complete the trail and the small ones were mostly in shops, some of which were closed on Sunday.
Canute Building
Our walk started at Ocean Village, to the south east of the city centre and close to the cruise ship terminals.  It was still early and so there weren't many people about.  We found the first sculpture easily; a rather dandy one covered in fish called Zebastian the Seabra.  It certainly was a good start!  Sadly its near neighbour wasn't so lucky as it had been removed for repair.  We weren't to know at the time but this was a theme for the day.  It was good to see a change of scenery for this part of the trail - although the buildings and docks have been regenerated it was clear what the heritage was as the footway still had the rails embedded where the dockside trains would once have plied their trade.
We headed on to Queens Park, crossing the old dockyard branch line on the way.  I was very surprised when a train actually crossed the line behind us as for all the world it looked like it was disused!  Queens Park was an agreeable little green space - we didn't come here last time.  Luckily all the zebras were in place - Henman (a rather whimsical piece); Rio (a celebration of Brazil for the Olympics) and Zayla.  The last one was the least interesting so far but looking at the caption it looks like this one is better viewed at night rather than a bright sunny day.  Apparently it creates an ethereal stripey look at night when the lights go out.

Detail on Reggie
Across the road from the park is a reminder of the passenger lines that called Southampton home.  Union Castle House is a fine looking building although sadly the passenger shipping line for which this was the headquarters is now long gone as are the classy looking ships that largely sailed to South Africa.  One shipping line still visiting the port is P & O and one of their ships was in on the day we were there - the rather classy looking Arcadia.  We got a good view of her as we came upon Seafaring Zebra on the dockside.

Last time we came to Southampton we enjoyed the city walls and in the vicinity of the Town Gate were another crop of zebras starting with the excellent Reggie.  This one featured a zebra monarch hiding small icons of famous kings and queens of history which fascinated us.  Next to the Town Gate was ZZ Top, which pleased my daughter no end as the zebra was made to look like a piano.  I did have to explain to her who ZZ Top were though!  Sadly the zebra did not sport a massive beard...
ZZ Top
From here the rhinos came thick and fast as we headed around towards Mayflower Park.  Next up was Biff sponsored by Biffa Waste (looking very much like his rhino counterpart), and inevitably perhaps Zebra Crossings showing a design complete with belisha beacons.Southern Gold wasn't quite in the same location as Reggie Rhino but the design was the same - a scene of sailing boats out on the nearby Solent.  This was possibly the last zebra that we truly had to ourselves - our early start had meant that few people were out doing what we were doing until now.
Ziggy Zebra all at Zee
Following the numbers of the zebras seemed a little counter-intuitive at this point for we could see what we thought was the next one further along the street, only to discover that there were several more that we should see before that.  One of them was a nod to David Bowie, who sadly passed away earlier in the year.  It was called Ziggy Zebra All at Zee and featured a number of cartoon ships.  The head was emblazoned like Ziggy Stardust. 
Ziggy Detail

The trail took a zig-zagging course through the narrow streets of the Old Town and back on to the QE2 Mile for a short distance, catching more zebras along the way until we got to the rather astonishing Holyrood Church.  This 14th Century Church is now a reminder of the horror of World War II as it remains a ruin after being bombed during the Blitz in 1940.  In 1957 it was dedicated as a memorial to the sailors of the Merchant Navy and makes for a magnificent tribute to the bravery of those men.
Remarkably a little further away is the church of St Michael’s, which emerged from the destruction of the city completely unscathed.  It is now the oldest building and the only one of the original churches that remains intact within the walled city.  Outside was a rather lovely Chinese style design called Carpe Diem, which we had plenty of time to admire since most people seemed to be inside the church attending Sunday morning service.

St Michael's Church

We passed by the Tudor House and down a narrow path through the City Walls to reunite ourselves with Snappy, the zebra we had seen from afar when we were at Zozy Zebra.  After the flurry of rhinos (we had already seen 17 at this point) we headed towards the West Quay Shopping Centre via an outlier near Ikea called Captain Stripes, which was a rather patriotic beast with Union Jack type stripes.  We found our way into the West Quay Shopping Centre and picked off the two inside - the nattily dressed Zoot Suit and the buzzy Ze-Bee.  We didn't linger in the shops as by now my daughter felt like she was on a mission and was anxious to make sure we kept to time!

Holyrood Church

Outside the shopping centre and we walked along perhaps the best preserved section of the City Walls, which date from the 14th Century and were built on the orders of Edward III, perhaps inevitably to repel the French.  Given how much modern building there is in Southampton it was surprising but pleasing to see the old walls still taking pride of place in the urban landscape.

Feeling fortified by lunch we continued our route along the city walls, which had been knocked about a bit to accommodate modern developments.  However, the magnificent Bargate is still intact and nicely restored to take pride of place on what is now the main shopping street. I wonder what mediaeval forces would have thought of that?  Since our last trip in 2013 there looked to be no progress with the Bargate Shopping Centre, which was still derelict.  The shopping centre was only opened in the late 1980s but following a chequered history it finally closed its doors for good a few years back and is boarded up.  Given the current economic climate I can’t see it being taken over as retail space again any time soon and looks like staying a blot on the townscape for some time to come.  On a happier note the two zebras on either side of the gatehouse were receiving a good deal of attention from passing shoppers.
From shopping to the park, our next zebras were to be at the bus station and the park opposite.  Sadly all we found were concrete plinths but no zebras as they had been taken away to be repaired.  Despite the signs asking people to stay off them, much of the damage to the rhinos appeared to be caused by people ignoring the notices and posing for pictures on the backs of the mascots.  Sadly these sculptures seem to attract unwanted attention and are vandalised regularly - obviously the fact that they are there for charity doesn't seem to matter to some.  At this late stage in the zebras being out I suppose that sadly we might have expected a few absences...
Civic Clock
The play area in the Park was absolutely rammed with children and families. Unlike last time we came when I had both daughters this time the one I did have was more focused on finishing than worrying about going on the equipment.  Feeling a bit stymied by the lack of zebras we escaped back into the shopping street and to the hybrid Zeffe, the winning design in a local radio competition and showing what a zebra with giraffe markings might look like. 
Who's You?
From the shopping street to another shopping centre – it seems that Southampton is remarkably well served by them.  In this one (Marlands), we seemed to hit the mother lode, for not only were there several of the original zebras (including ones that needed to be brought in from the street to protect against vandalism) but they had been joined by a number of the smaller ones painted by school children and community groups.  To be honest they were as good and imaginative as some of those painted by professional artists.  We spent a good deal of time in the main concourse of the centre and then in the Zany Zebras HQ, which was in a shop at the back.
Fantastic Mr Fox
We still had more than one third of the zebras to find after leaving the shopping centre but the remaining ones were concentrated around the civic heart of the city, being in and around the Civic Centre and the adjacent parks.  Sadly these were the ones that had suffered the most and many of them we had already seen in the shopping centre after their removal to protect them.  Walking round the parks was pleasant but mostly it was completion of the trail and looking at the flower displays that persuaded us to continue.
Unlike last time there was an additional loop to complete as there were some extra ones placed out on the way to the railway station.  Perhaps the most eye-catching was Frederic, a rather dandy looking creature ready to go on the stage at the Mayflower Theatre, which he was located outside of.  Daughter rather liked the next one too as the stripes were replaced by pens and pencils.  It all looked rather back to school for me!  The last one was a kite design outside the railway station.  From there we went and had some lunch and drove to the last one at Southampton FC's football ground at St Mary's which we thought was a bit too far to walk to.
This turned out to be a most enjoyable walk and a rather different experience to last time with the rhinos.  Having only the focused daughter with me meant that we completed it far quicker!  The people behind the trail really had done their very best to show off the best of Southampton City Centre.  Adding some extra sculptures went down well with us, especially as it meant that the trail was extended a bit.  We particularly enjoyed seeing the historic buildings at the south end of the city and the manicured and colourful gardens at the northern end.  On the whole the trail was a great advert for the city and the zebras kept us entertained along the route.  It was sad to see some had been removed and pleasing to see that some of the designs of the rhinos had been popular enough to retain for the zebras.  I have no doubt that following the success of this trail we might well see a different animal featured in 3-4 years time.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Highlights of Mount Saint Helens

Mount Saint Helens
After our short tour of the Olympic Peninsula we were keen to show our girls another of the highlights of Washington State and for a time at least perhaps the most famous feature there - Mount Saint Helens.  We met up once again with my cousin Mark, this time with his girlfriend. This was a trip we wanted to do with him as he is a geologist and I knew a long time ago that this was near the top of his wish list of things to do.  What we hadn't bargained for was the searing hot temperatures - it was more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived and we knew then that we would probably have to curtail the walking that we had planned.  As with the Olympic trip this entry will be a series of interpretive walks that set the scene for the monumental events that surrounded this mountain back when I was a boy in 1980.

Silver Lake Lily
Mount Saint Helens famously erupted in May 1980 with the world watching.  The media attention on this eruption was unprecedented at the time and I have enduring memories of watching the footage and the enormous ash cloud that was ejected from the top of the mountain.  This ash cloud would affect great swathes of Washington and affect the global climate for a period afterwards as sunlight was reflected back into space.  The local area was devastated and millions of trees were toppled and/ or incinerated.  It wasn't just ash that was emitted though - about 3000 feet of mountain also blew off the top in the explosion!  Much of the interpretation around the mountain now focuses not just on the eruption but the nearly forty years of regeneration that has happened since.

Silver Lake
We stayed close to the nearby freeway to allow us the opportunity to visit the two main areas north and south where the highlights of what can be seen are found. We started on the north side if the mountain and headed up the highway that leads up to the Mount Saint Helens observatory and stopped at the first visitor centre.  This was a great introduction to the mountain, it's geological history and the events that led to the explosion that happened in May 1980.  A film showing the devastation caused was shown and this was a really good way of telling the story to the girls.

Mount Saint Helens From Silver Lake
Perhaps better than the indoor section was the walk outside on the boardwalks of the Silver Lake Wetlands Trail.  This gave us our first proper sight of the mountain but also some beautiful scenery as we wandered around a lily pad lake.  At the far end of the boardwalk we eventually walked along a narrow strip of land between the lakes.  It turns out that this strip of land was actually a railroad originally; built to carry logs away from the forested area.  It seemed a bit unlikely but the shape of the land was certainly consistent.  

Lava Flow in Toutle River Valley
We learned that the lake was formed in an earlier eruption of the mountain, about 2,500 years ago.  During this event landslides off the north side of the mountain blocked local streams and formed lakes behind the dams of debris. Some of these lakes eventually overflowed, resulting in huge mud flows that thundered down the Toutle River.  The mud came to form a dam at nearby Outlet Creek and created Silver Lake. The lake is actually quite shallow, perhaps this is why the distinctive lily pads thrive in the conditions?  On the way round we also came upon a touching memorial plaque to the 57 people who died in the 1980 eruption.

Looming Mountain

We headed on and soon the road started to climb.  We stopped briefly at an enormous bridge that had been completely rebuilt after the eruption in 1980.  Unfortunately we didn't get a clear sight of it but the scale was pretty obvious for all to see.  We crossed and continued to climb and the mountain loomed large as we headed upwards.  At the next available viewpoint was another visitor centre, this time devoted to forestry although there were some interesting elements about how the forests have recovered after the eruption.  The best thing about this point though was the view - we could see where the ash had been worn away by the river.

Recovering Landscape
The last stretch of the drive was a lot steeper as we headed up to the last of the visitor centres at Johnson Ridge.  This is surely the one with the best view of the mountain and some 15 years after we last visited and 36 since the eruption there was some recovery but mostly the surrounding area is a moonscape still.  We watched a film about the recovery of the landscape after the eruption - fascinating stuff.  Mostly though the view was the star here - the mountain this close up is quite astonishing although the heat was pretty intense.  My eyes were also drawn to the pretty wildflowers that call this area home.  They gave some much needed colour to an otherwise barren looking landscape. There are a lot of walks that start at Johnston Ridge - we stuck to the modest section of the Boundary Trail at the top.  It is possible though to take some big loops from here that even include going up to the summit itself.  Be warned though - anything more than a casual stroll and you will need a permit so make sure you are fully equipped before you set out.

Johnston Ridge Wildflowers
Having satisfied ourselves with seeing what we wanted to see we headed back down again.  We stopped briefly at Coldwater Lake at the bottom which was worth the stop for the lovely view across the water. There was an interesting short boardwalk here as well and this was rather more bearable to walk around as there was a breeze coming off the lake.  There is a trail that takes walkers right around the perimeter of the lake and it looks a most inviting walk.  At 10 miles and some appreciable height gain it wasn't one that we could contemplate on this trip.  I imagine on an autumn or spring day it would be a delight.

Coldwater Lake Boardwalk
On the second day of our trip to Mount Saint Helens we went round to the south side of the mountain to look at some of the other features of the landscape, mostly formed from previous eruptions.  Mount Saint Helens is the most active of the Cascade volcanoes and there is plenty of evidence of lava flows from different eruption episodes.  One of these is the so called Ape Cave, which is a lava tube system.

Coldwater Lake
We got there reasonably early which was a good thing for the crowds had already started descending on the place.  In order to explore properly we didn't just rely on the small torches we had but also hired a couple of gas lanterns from the ranger station.  We wandered up to the top of the cave and descended down the steps into the tube.  We decided to follow the 'lower' tube as this was a lot easier for the girls.  In total the tube is two and a half miles long and was formed when the lava flow cooled from the outside hardening the rock and leaving a cavity below.

Ape Caves

To say it was dark would be a massive understatement and we were very thankful for our torches and lamps.  This is not a cave system full of stalactites and stalagmites for there is no water.  The crystals of the lava could be seen in places together with evidence of how the lava flowed but this was not a place a magical beauty, more a reminder of the brute strength of the nearby mountain.  Eventually the route petered out into a cave far too small to negotiate.  The total length of the section we explored was about a mile and we had to return the same way that we went in.
A Trail of Two Forests

On our way out of the Ape Cave complex we stopped briefly at the Trail of Two Forests.  The Two Forests in question are the present day one and one from ancient times that was engulfed by a previous eruption of Mount Saint Helens.  This buried a forest in lava, leaving trunk shaped tubes where fallen trees had been covered in lava and subsequently burned/ rotted away leaving the hollow where they had once been.

Lava Tube

The trail itself was largely on boardwalk above the lava to protect it from the hundreds of feet that would otherwise erode it.  At the far end was a tunnel that could be accessed via a ladder and the girls and I gave it a go.  It was a fairly tight fit and the roughness of the rock made for a slightly uncomfortable experience, but was a fascinating feature!  I was certainly glad to explore this place - glad we stopped.

Lava Canyon Bridge

The last place we visited on our trip to Mount Saint Helens was the intriguingly named Lava Canyon. Of course it was still a river of molten lava but rather the remnants of an old eruption.  As we approached we went past the opposite side of the volcano than we were yesterday.  We parked at the top of the Canyon and descended to river level.  It was clear pretty quickly that the river was doing its best to wear away the lava but it was still quite clearly a lava flow!

Lava Canyon
The river raged underneath the bridge that we crossed and fell down through a fissure in the rock to find lower ground.  Warning notices were quite prominent advising people that trying to go in the water is generally fatal.  I imagine that a few people have found that to their cost.

Lava Canyon

We continued down the valley for a short way and took a look at some of the lava formations as we did so.  It looked as if there had been several episodes of eruptions judging from the different layers of lava that we saw.  There was also what looked like a lava bomb settled on the top of one of the beds. The piece de resistance of the walk was the crossing of a wibbly wobbly bridge halfway round.  High above the raging torrent below it was all a bit Indiana Jones but definitely added a lot of spice to the walk!

Suspension Bridge
On the other side of the canyon we traced our path back to the car seeing a rather different view of the rocks we had walked on over the other side.  We could see the columnar jointing pattern of the basalt, which was rather fascinating.  It was also interesting to see that although the forest had taken back control of much of the landscape the rock close by the water was still almost as fresh as the day it was created.  Other than a few lichens not much had managed to establish itself on the rock.  I imagine that this might hold true until the next eruption comes this way!

Basalt Columns
Sadly this was the end of our time together and we faced the long journey back to Bellingham after saying goodbye in mid afternoon. I was a little sad that it had been too hot to explore more on foot but in truth this is a vast area and two days are not nearly enough to explore properly.  If you have the time take at least 4-5 days.  I have no doubt that we'll be back!