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Monday, November 23, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 10 Part II - Colorado National Monument

While in Grand Junction we took a quick trip through the Colorado National Monument, home to a spectacular display of red sandstone and formations covering 23,000-acres.
There were several tunnels through the rock that were blasted out by workers during the Great Depression who felt fortunate to even have a job. This road took much back breaking work to make. A sign in the park commemorates several local men who died when a rock formation above them collapsed while they were working on the road. The road was completed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The overlooks and guardwalls were all stonework done mostly by hand.
We were quite surprised at the many scenic views and formations created from the great forces of nature along the 23-mile stretch of Rim Rock Drive. Ranchers used to use narrow passages to for cattle to reach the green highland pastures above.
Photo of Independence Monument, a good example of the steady advance of erosion on the rocks as the surrounding walls around this monument have worn away.
Old twisted trees. I love to take photos of them... Image of monuments with rooflike capstone rocks on their peaks.
In walking through the Colorado National Monument, the sandstone walls and formations are witness to 1.6 billion years of natural history, with numerous formation layers.
As we exited the park, we saw a few large houses that blended in well with the natural landscape.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 12:25 AM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 10 - Moab to Grand Junction, CO

Downtown Moab   
The next morning we took a walk around the shops in Moab. One shop included some of the rare dinosaur bones that have been uncovered in the area that I noted on in a previous blog entry.
See the photo below. The large stone at left is part of a dinosaur leg. We meandered around town for awhile then hitched up the RV and headed across the border into Colorado.
Dinosaur bones  
In Grand Junction, Colorado we stopped in at the Junction West RV Park for an overnight stay to check our email, and to do our laundry. We met some nice folks who were just getting started RVing. Besides being the largest city in between Salt Lake City and Denver, Grand Junction is home to the Colorado National Monument, a spectacular display of red sandstone covering 23,000-acres. We were surprised at the many views and formations along the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive. Look for more on the Colorado National Monument in our next segment.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 9:27 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Friday, November 13, 2009

Balsam Mountain Inn - Feature Accommodation

The historic Balsam Mountain Inn heralds from a golden age when travelers arrived by railroad and carried their steamer trunks down the wide hallways of all three floors.
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Get Tickets to Blue Ridge Mountain Events | Blue Ridge Mountain Attractions
Posted by Tommy Ford at 10:48 PM
Categories: Accommodations, Destinations

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 9 Part III - Arches National Park

Over 2,000 unique arches can be found throughout Arches National Park. We tried our best to see them all in an afternoon... These unique arches are comprised of sandstone that have been slowly eroded by the effects of rain, sun, and time. First, we stopped in at the Visitor's Center for a walking stick medallion to add to my collection, and then on to capture all the sights before sunset.

View at right is along Park Avenue Trail, with the Courthouse Towers with the Tower of Babel formation in the distance. They have changed little since 10 years ago when we were last here. The major change is Wall Arch is no more. The 71-foot span fell on August 5, 2008, a victim of the forces of time.

The sandstone and sculpted slickrock formations in Arches National Park were formed from 100 million years of erosion and underground salt beds. We could see the snow peaked La Sal Mountains in the distance. The mountains were so named by Spanish explorers who thought they looked like piles of salt when covered by snow.
Balanced Rock
If you look closely in the second photo above you can see some teens who climbed this spire. The park service doesn't take kindly to these shenanigans, and the sandstone can be quite fragile. It was also quite windy...

We drove past Petrified Dunes, which are ancient giant sand dunes turned to stone. We stopped to walk around the Balanced Rock which stands precariously by itself on top of a pinnacle. We hiked the Windows Trails up to the North Window (see above).
Delicate Arch
There are over 2,000 arches to view in this tranquil place. In the photo above you can get a perspective of the size of Delicate Arch with the person standing underneath. Delicate Arch is the most popular, and appears on the Utah license plate. There are three trails which provide views of this arch. We took the half mile viewpoint trail to get a glimpse. Another, more strenuous three mile (round trip, allow 2 to 3 hours) hiking trail offers a close view after walking along a rock ledge for 200 yards.
The Fiery Furnace
At the Fiery Furnace, a maze of spires create an intricate array of miniature canyons. Native Americans traveled these lands for thousands of years, leaving evidence of petroglyph and pictograph drawings.

As we got back to our RV park after dark I wondered what the pioneers thought as they traveled out West and went to sleep in their wagons dreaming of this new frontier...

Posted by Carl Burnham at 11:44 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 9 Part II - Headed to Moab

Hole N   
From Wilson Arch we headed closer to Moab.Hole N" The Rock is a famous tourist stop, a 5,000 square foot rock home and gift shop. It took Albert Christensen 12 years to blast through the sandstone to make it a home. As we had our fifth wheel with us and were short on time in getting to Arches later on, we decided to stop in another time. I hear it is a must see. We drove into the outskirts of Moab and unhitched our RV at Archview RV Resort as we had done almost exactly 10 years before in our previous fifth wheel while on our trek through 22 states.
This campground is only 10 minutes north of the entrance to Arches National Park, and the park can be seen from the campground.
The old church was still there, used on the set of the movie "Riders of the Purple Sage", a Zane Grey novel. Purple sage grows all around the church. In the next blog post I'll show an interesting photo of the church at night. Tepees are at the campground for the more adventurous.. You can see Mt. Peale in the distance to the right of the church, the 2nd highest peak in Utah.
We next drive into Arches and visit all the stops prior to darkness, taking fascinating photos of the richly colored rocks. Stay tuned...

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:00 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 9 - Wilson Arch

 Wind storm brewing 
In Blanding the next morning I talked again with the Trading Post folks then went next door to Thin Bear Indian Arts. An old couple greeted me and I looked around at the Native American rugs and artwork. I became interested in a local history book and the owner, who was talking to an old gentleman on a walker, told me that he had written it, and he signed it for me. We then hitched up and headed towards Moab for a return trip to Arches National Park. Along the way we stopped at a spire and I took some photos of a wind storm brewing from where we had just came from.
Wilson Arch  
Further up the road as we got closer to Arches, we saw a large arch (Wilson Arch) along the side of the road so we stopped. You can walk right up and sit underneath Wilson Arch, although it's a somewhat steep climb and can be quite windy. Made of entrada sandstone, the arch is referred to as a freestanding fin where the middle has been worn away by the ravages of wind, water, and time. The arch is named after Joe Wilson, a local pioneer who had a cabin in the valley nearby.
View from Wilson Arch  
Views here are up on the arch looking down at our rig and the valley on the other side. With Rhonda in the last photo you can get a perspective of how big Wilson Arch is.
 Rhonda sitting at Wilson Arch 
From here we headed on into Moab...

Posted by Carl Burnham at 9:44 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wild West Trip: Day 8 - Onward into Utah

Utah Landscape
After an incredible experience at Antelope Canyon, we hitched up the fifth wheel and headed out across the state line into Utah. The panoramic landscape reminds me again of old John Wayne westerns which John Ford directed in these parts.
Monument Valley 
We stopped for a photo opp. of our rig in front of Monument Valley. Along the way to Blanding, there are many interesting spires and rock formations.
We stopped in for the night in Blanding at Blue Mountain RV Park and Trading Post. Here we saw a large selection of huge dinosaur bones, Native American jewelry, baskets, artwork, rugs, and furs. I had a friendly conversation with the owners and one of the exhibitors, who gave me a background on Blanding's extensive mining history and also an interesting discussion on dinosaur bones, which many have been discovered around Blanding.
Blue Mountain RV Park & Trading Post   

Posted by Carl Burnham at 11:05 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Wild West Trip: Day 7 - Antelope Canyon

Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours
Carved over the ages from the forces of sandstone and water, the fascinating slot canyons of Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona are like nowhere else in the world as any visitor or photographer who has seen will confess.

Many visitors tour the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, which are two separate canyons. Rising 120 feet above the sandy floor, Upper Antelope Canyon is referred to by the Navajos as "the place where water runs through rocks." Lower Antelope Canyon is referred to as having "spiral rock arches."

We feature a unique tour company that offers photography tours of both Antelope Canyons as well as exclusive access to 3 slot canyons in the area that offer incredible photo opportunities.
Read about their Antelope Canyon tours in our new feature now.

Words come short in conveying what images fill the mind. Our five hour tour gave us an upclose view of five canyons within Antelope Canyon, three of the canyons can only be viewed through Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. Read about their tours in our new feature now.
Monument Valley in the sandstone at Antelope Canyon.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 12:11 AM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations