Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately. Just too much to do and not enough energy to do it all. But I need to finish off this series and get back to some writing blogs, along with a report on this year’s Liberty Con. So, here goes.
Balancing rock off of Hwy 313.
The trip was nearing its end. It was Thursday of the second week. Friday I would be driving back to Vegas, then flying home of Saturday. But I still had a lot to see over those last two travel days. Today it was two national parks. I had visited both Arches and Canyonlands in July of 2017. Arches had been partially closed down by road work, and Canyonlands was worth another look, and, more importantly, a filming. It was overcast. So much for coming out to where it doesn’t rain. But I got what the day had to offer, and there was no use complaining about it. So, after breakfast at Denny’s I was off on the first part of the adventure, Looking for some sodas to drink on the drive. I stopped at the Chevron station just north of the Hwy 313, the road going out to Canyonlands.
River flowing through Canyonlands.
There was almost no parking at the Chevron station, which also served as the point of entry to a private land four wheeler area. I finally got one, and bought a brace of diet cokes. I told the clerk a little about my adventures in the Mojave, and she said that the enclosed rides they used were much easier to handle. So maybe someday. Armed with caffeine, I headed back to 313. There is a dinosaur exhibit at the corner of the roads, Moab Giants. It looked interesting, but I only had so much daylight, and I put it down for another time.
View into the canyon at Canyonlands.
313 is a beautiful drive, with lots of cliffs, mesas, balancing rocks, switchbacks, everything you look for out west. Some of the switchbacks were twenty mile an hour roads with steep drop offs. At one point I had someone crowding behind me who wanted to go faster in the steep curve. I wasn’t having any of it, and drove at what I thought was a safe speed. After the switchbacks the terrain flattens out some, though there are still some cool mesas off to the north. I passed the entrance to Dead Horse Point State Park. Cool place, I’ve been there before, and you can read about it on one of my earlier blogs. Today I didn’t have time.
Rains in the Canyon.
I told the ranger at the station that I had called ahead and requested no rain. His flat faced response was that we got what nature gave us. I stopped at the visitor center to look for a book. I found one on Utah Geology and added it to my collection. Outside it had started to drop sparse flakes of snow. As said before in an earlier blog, I’m not afraid of snow. In fact, I really like it, in moderation. What I don’t like is driving in it. I recall sliding out of control on a Tuscaloosa street after a winter storm. Fortunately, I didn’t hit anything. But that feeling of no control was something I really couldn’t stand. Heavy clouds were gathering to the northwest, and I decided I better start moving.
Rock formations in Park Avenue, Arches.
One old guy was testing out his mountain bike, a couple of feet from a cliff. Insane, as it looked like he was barely in control, and that was a long drop off. Unfortunately, he was old enough he had probably already reproduced. I went down the road, stopping at the overlooks, filming and taking pictures. I went down a few of the roads I had missed my first time through, like the one to the Green River Overlook. At one I saw a lady carrying at cat to the viewing point. I yelled out, ‘is that a cat?’ ‘Yes,” she yelled back. ‘He likes the view.’ I guess it takes all kinds, and I hope the poor kitty didn’t jump out of her arms to go over a cliff.
One of the Windows, Arches NP.
At the Green River Overlook I met up with a group of people with Notre Dame regalia. I asked if they went there and received an affirmative. I said ‘maybe someday you’ll beat us.” When they asked who ‘us’ was, I said ‘FSU’, and received a chorus of groans. Man, I have so much fun on these trips.
And arch in the making. Arches NP.
The Grand Canyon is spectacular in a different way here than in the Grand Canyon National Park. The rocks aren’t as colorful, but the canyon is much wider, and two rivers come together to make one. Well worth the trip, but if you had to choose I would say go to the park in Arizona. At the final overlook I saw the worrisome sight of heavy clouds moving my way across the canyon, while the wind gusted. Dark rain was falling, looking for all the world like a cloud burst. I filmed it for a little time until I thought it was time to get to the car. I had no desire to be soaked to the bone in forty some degree temperatures. I sat in the car, which was rocking a bit from the wind gusts, waiting. And the rains never came. I got out to look and saw that it was now heading up the canyon.
A pair of windows. Arches NP.
The day was not the best for video taping or photography, but as the ranger said, we get what nature gives us. Now snowflakes were falling again, and I decided it was time to head out and check out Arches. As I was driving through the park entrance the snow really started coming down. It was sticking and building up on the ground beside the road, but was not sticking on the asphalt yet. The temperature kept dropping, until it was just above freezing, and I was starting to worry that I might have gotten caught in a snowstorm. I made it through the switchbacks, and soon the snow was far behind me. It was time for something to eat, for both myself and the car. I had to drive into Moab, and stopped at the 7-11. I was on my way to Arches.
The Balancing Rock. Arches NP.
It was about three in the afternoon when I pulled up to the entrance of Arches. I asked the ranger if it was snowing up on the plateau, and she replied that no, but it had been snowing at Canyonlands. I told he I had been up there. She looked at my Florida license, said she could understand why that concerned me, and said ‘welcome to Utah.’ Another switchback up to the plateau that held the park, beautiful rock formations, then the first stop, at Park Avenue. The snowcapped mountains in the distance were beautiful. All of the road work was done. I got a good look at the formations of Park Avenue from both the front and the back, then moved on down the road, stopping at most of the pullovers to get shots of the next formations.
Clifs, Arches NP.
I had to stop at Balancing Rock, even though I had gone over it fairly well on my last trip. A balancing rock is a formation where erosion has eaten away most of the top layer, leaving a single boulder that is still on top of the column of the lower layer. They are not permanent. I’m not sure how long they last. A thousand years? A hundred thousand? A million? There had been small balancing formation here that was the little buddy of Balancing Rock, but one winter it just fell. Next I headed out the The Windows, the pair of holes through the rock wall that I had photographed from a distance. Turns out there are more than the two. I saw a third nearby, and there was a triple arch in that formation. Not only are there a lot of arches down this way, but also a lot of places where the erosion was eating a hole in the cliff, the homes of future arches. I think I saw the most down in that region. It’s said there are over two thousands arches in the park. If so, they need to take more of them out of storage. I think I saw about twenty at most.
Small hole. Arches NP.
I went down to the end of the main road, spotting a couple of more arches and windows. While this park was one of the more accessible ones I had visited, a lot of the arches still required hiking to see. I saw what I could, and by that time the sun was starting to get low in the sky. I headed back, and then the bicycles came. I understand that people like to bike, but a pair of the things, on a stretch with a forty mile an hour speed limit, holding up a dozen cars, was a little much. We finally all got our break though, and I was able to get around them. From there it was back to the motel, just as the sun was setting. Tomorrow was the last big day of exploration. I would be driving across Utah and back to Vegas, and there was a lot of stuff to amaze me along the way.
Next UP: Part Fourteen, Day Thirteen: The Drive Back to Vegas.