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.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Wild West Trip: Day 10 - Moab to Grand Junction, CO
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.
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.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Balsam Mountain Inn - Feature AccommodationThe 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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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.
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).
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.
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...
Friday, November 06, 2009
Wild West Trip: Day 9 Part II - Headed to Moab
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...
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wild West Trip: Day 9 - Wilson Arch
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.
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.
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.
From here we headed on into Moab...
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Wild West Trip: Day 8 - Onward into Utah
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.
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.
Wild West Trip: Day 7 - Antelope Canyon
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.
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