Gobsmacked again. How can Utah have so many spectacular spots that are so different from each other in such a small area?
We came in the eastern side of the park and our first sight was Checkerboard Mesa. Zion National Park is formed out of sandstone that was result of enormous sand dunes from a couple hundred million years ago. The horizontal lines come from the original cross-bedded sand dunes. It’s less clear where the vertical lines came from but they are probably stress fractures of some kind.
The first couple of miles there were sandstone domes and cliff walls everywhere. When you looked closely at the sandstone you could see it was made of thin layers, some less than an inch in width.
You then drive through first a short tunnel and then a real long one (1.1 miles). When you come out of the tunnel, you find yourself in the main canyon of the park. Photos don’t do it justice because the walls of the cliffs are a couple thousand feet tall.
Shortly after making the turnoff from Highway 89 to get to Bryce Canyon you pass through Red Canyon.
The photographs don’t do it justice, but it had the orange-est rock we’ve ever seen. I am not sure why it was called Red Canyon since it really is almost a florescent orange, but I guess Red Canyon sounds better than Orange Canyon.
The rock did not have the layers we saw in neighboring Bryce Canyon since all the rocks were a solid orange. The rock also looked a lot like dripped wax.
Red Canyon is a thousand or so feet lower than the lowest part of Bryce Canyon but I suspect it comes from one of the same rock layers.
When looking at the maps of our possible route through Utah I noticed that Capital Reef National Park was along the path so I added it to our itinerary. Our drive from southeastern Utah took us through Moab to Interstate 70 and then west through some of the most desolate desert landscape we’ve ever seen. We drove close to a hundred miles and didn’t see a single house or building. initially, it looked like tailings from some gigantic mine had just been dropped in piles along the interstate. Later we went along a section that looked like a giant plow had tried, and succeeded, in making a long, deep furrow in the earth. The rocks on the far side looked like a frozen wave about to crash down and we drove up through them in a canyon that had some been left behind. Just amazing landscape.
Our final stretch took us up over a mountain range. The pass was at 8950 feet and we saw a patch of snow by the roadside there (or at least I did, Susan refused to look) and more further up the slope. The other side of the pass, however, looked more like alpine meadow and there was a lot of green lower. When we got down to the valley we a river with water in it (!) and numerous farms most set up to use irrigation. We’re staying in Torrey, with trees and green lawn around us. It’s the first time we’ve seen this much grass in months.
Capital Reef is part of the furrow we saw many miles away. It is actually a remnant of the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. Some continental blocks got lifted more than others and there are now basically miles of tall cliffs. The cliffs were given the nautical term of ‘reef’, because they are too hard to get over and everybody had to go around. It got the name Capital Reef because it has numerous white domes in it that reminded people of state capital buildings.
When I had first planned our route through Utah, I had thought we’d stay in Moab, which is right next to Arches National Park. When I called ahead however, all the RV parks in Moab were full because of a 4-wheel Jeep get-together and we ended up staying in Monticello instead. This actually worked out well since Monticello is closer to some of the places we wanted to visit. Yesterday we drove through Moab on our way to Arches we could see that all of the RV parks were still packed. Moab itself is pretty busy and on the noisy side so we’re just as glad we’ve been staying in Monticello.
Arches National Park was about a 60 mile drive and about halfway there, we knew were were going in the right direction when we passed Wilson Arch.
Arches National Park is mostly located where an ancient salt deposit rose up through the overlaying sediments. When it did this, it fractured the upper rock layers in long, thin parallel lines. When water got into the salt dome it was dissolved and the rock layers fell into what is now a deep valley. The upper rock layers eroded along the fracture lines leaving a lot of rock fins in all different kinds of widths.
Once again PBS comes through for us. PBS has a regular show on the national parks and a couple of months ago there was one Canyonlands National Park. We’d never heard of it before, but I looked it up on the map and it was near our expected path through southeastern Utah. Canyonlands is divided into three districts (Needles, Islands in the Sky and the Maze) that are all separated by the Colorado and Green rivers. The Needles District is near where we are staying in Monticello, Utah so we took a trip to it a couple of days ago.
The scenery along the way, well before we even got to the Canyonlands park boundary, was absolutely spectacular. I know I’ve been saying that a lot lately but we really do feel that we’ve fallen into a National Geographic magazine. And once again, it was also completely different from anything we’ve seen before.
The software running our old website was installed in 2009 and was becoming difficult to maintain. For a variety of reasons it could not be updated to a newer version. Our web hosting service warned me that it was at significant risk for malware and that we needed to fix it soon. I copied all of the content from the old website and removed the old software, then installed WordPress. I have been using WordPress on all of my other websites and it is easy to use, maintain and update. I have finally finished migrating most of the website’s old material to our new setup.
I have known for a while that I would need to completely redo the website and so I am well behind on postings. I will continue to fine tune the website and will be catching up on postings for a while. Come back soon to see the new content!
While we were staying at an RV Park in Coos Bay, one of the local attractions that had been listed by the campground was Golden and Silver Falls. They said it was a half hour drive, so we decided to visit them. Well, it was more like an hour drive and a good part of it was on gravel roads, but the scenery was very pretty so we didn’t mind. The signage to the park was very poor however, so even though we didn’t get lost, for long periods of time we weren’t sure we were heading the right way or not.
The park is for picnics and day use so there were picnic tables and a couple of concrete outhouses. The path to Golden Falls (named for a person, not their color) was reasonably level so we were able to get Susan and her wheelchair almost to the base of the falls.
The path to Silver Falls was uphill and rocky so we didn’t try it. The forest must get a lot of rain because all the trees were covered in moss.
It was a fun trip and we are glad we made it. We’d have to give it a C- for handicap accessibility and the reality is that any accessibility was by chance, not by design.
Our front roof-top air conditioner died somewhere on the trip from Arizona to California. When I stopped to fill up with diesel about 50 miles west of Phoenix the temperature was 118 degrees. The dash air conditioning wasn’t enough to keep us comfortable so in order to help us keep cool I started the generator so we could run the rooftop air conditioners. Somewhere after we crossed the California border the front air rooftop air conditioner stopped working. When we got to Lone Pine, the temperature was 112 degrees so after we checked into a campground there, we retreated to the bedroom and closed the door. The rear rooftop air conditioner was able to get the temperature in the bedroom down to 85 degrees which was a lot more tolerable than it was outside. We were on US395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and there wasn’t anybody able to repair or replace the air conditioner until the Lake Tahoe area. I called ahead to a RV repair shop in Carson City and they said the could get a new air conditioner and replace ours within the time we needed it done. We pulled up to their repair bay and they were able to remove and replace our air conditioner in only about two hours. We were glad to get it working again because the temperature was back up over 100 degrees. Two thumbs up to Pro-Tech RV Services of Carson City, Nevada, for going out of their way to make sure we got our air conditioner when we needed it.
We left Arizona last Friday on one of the hottest days of the year. Trying to get out of the heat we drove more or less directly to Lone Pine, California which is on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It turned out it really wasn’t any cooler there and in fact Benson, Arizona was having temperatures in the 90’s while Lone Pine was over 110. What we didn’t know before we came was that Lone Pine was the epicenter of cowboy B-Movies from the 1920’s up until the 1950’s when the genre started to die out. As hot as Lone Pine was, it had a real cool Film History Museum.
The Film History Museum is almost worth a trip to Lone Pine all by itself. Both Susan and I were raised on B-Movies made in the Lone Pine Area. For Susan it was the Saturday Matinee at the local movie theater and for me it was Saturday morning in front of the TV. I have a very fond place in my heart for B-movies and this museum is devoted largely to B-movies. The Film History Museum was a lot of fun. They had movies posters and memorabilia from many of the films made in the area. Cowboy movies dominated, of course. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Tim Holt, Tex Ritter, William Boyd and many, many other cowboy stars made dozens and dozens of movies here.
A couple we met in the SKP park was leaving the area and gave us a coupon book for local attractions they had bought. Inside we found a coupon for the Tucson Miniatures Museum which also billed itself as The Mini Time Machine. We weren’t sure what to expect because all we had was the name but it looked interesting.
When we walked in it first looked a bit like a doll house museum, but it turns out that miniatures are for adults, not children. There were some doll houses, but I think more as historical interest in the origins of the craft of miniatures than anything else. Everything else was more like tiny tableaus or pieces of art.