April 29, 2008

Moab - Colorado River Rafting!

Having just completed the interesting biography of Buzz Holstrom, "The Doing of the Thing" and well into Powell's own account of running the Grand Canyon, I simply had to get on the River for a little whitewater fun & adventure.

Since Kim wanted Tuesday to peruse the quaint shops of downtown Moab, I was left with only one choice for the float, the full day trip from to the ...takeout, a nice scenic trip with mostly class 2 rapids with a couple of 3's for a little extra excitement....with the Colorado at record highs this early in the season, we actually finished well ahead of schedule at each of the day's two stops.

Shortly after starting down the river, our guide, Sean, pointed out this unusual "dog rock", can you recognize who's sitting up there?

In case you haven't figured it out...a hint...think about the Charlie Brown show.
We went through several nice sets of ripples and a few Class 1 & 2's. Aphrehension started building a bit as we approached the first Class 3.....not so much out of any fear of going over, but, since it was a cloudy, windy, cool morning none of us was ready for a icey cold shower!

Although that big wave to the right looked mean, it turned out to be just an easy fun ride, and even though we had to bail a bit, Sean did a great job of keeping the chilling waters off of everything but our feet as you can see in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zEWk7JPNiE

Shortly before lunch, we passed the Red Creek Lodge, where Kim & I had enjoyed the day before on the trail ride. I was surprised at how much more beautiful the place looked from the water. It's a bit pricey, but I don't think you could go wrong staying there....

As we enjoyed our lunch, we noticed that last rapid hadn't been quite as friendly to the now soaked souls were using this (inverted) craft! (don't worry, moments later a group of kids floated by on another obviously overloaded boat, waving, laughing & hollering, after picking up this crew...).

The final Class 3 was a blast, and managed to fulfill Sean's statement earlier that "you may get a little wet on the next one"!

By the time we got into the second section, I was able to get the camera on video mode again.....so take a look at this one! Boy, that water was some COLD!!!
All-in-all a great day on the River! see y'all out there next time.......

April 28, 2008

Moab - Red Creek Trailride

It was a bright, clear morning when we met the ranchhands & saddled up at Red Cliffs Lodge just east of Moab, along on the Colorado. http://www.redcliffslodge.com/

I got a good, solid well trained mount, but they put Sam way, way up there...I guess they figured he was the only one in the bunch with long enough legs to get on & off this big, tall fella.... now there's a real cowboy!

I had been anticipating a good trailride for weeks, out here in cowboy country. We had checked the place out the day before, and I felt this was a great place to ride. The horses were well cared for and steps were taken for safe riding.
Judging from the amount of rocks on the trails, it must be a hell-of-a job dressing & shoeing all these steeds! I know from personal experience just how dirty, hot & sweaty this job can be......humm, and that wonderful aroma!
We decided to "bring up the rear", nice being away from the chatter of kids up front, but ate enough red dust to fill a flower bed. After lots of coaxing, Sam's horse realized there was a reason not to be ten feet behind me!

Up & down the washes...horses stumbling & sliding a bit, made us feel like real cowpokes!

And even a few wide open spaces....

Our trailguide did a great job of letting us work the horses, staying ahead of us and sharing a bit of local history on the Ranch & valley. Part of that history is the movie and television industry's use of this and the surrounding area. She (yeh, a cowGIRL...) showed us Needle Rock??? off in the distance, the site of the famed Chevrolet & Isuzu truck commercials.

Finally through a tight creek heading home....
as we rounded the final bend back to the corral, I begin to wonder if some day Sam & I might return and volunteer to lead these rides. It would be fun.... working with horses again.

Walking back from the stables to the Lodge we spook a pair of geese on "high alert", wondering what all the squawking & squealing is about, when all of a sudden it was very "a-parent"...

April 27, 2008

Moab - Canyonlands WOW!

Our first night was a nice boondock about six miles down the Mineral Bottoms Road in BLM lands just outside of the Park. We had gotten a tip to stay at the Horse Thief campground, a few miles away in the same BLM area, which was full. The host suggested the remote isolated spot, and it was a ultra-quiet delight!

Next morning we moved into the Park's fabulous "Island in the Sky" section, which is actually a huge mesa about 2000 feet above the confluence of the Colorado & Green Rivers. Kim decided we must see the "Gooseneck" of the Colorado and that the best vantage point was from an overlook about halfway down the near vertical canyon off the East (Moab) side of the mesa.

The map showed it could be reached by Shafer Trail (a 4WD Road??) .... let's see the Ranger at the Visitor Center said "it's actually in pretty good shape now" and gave no clue as to how steep and tight this was!!! definitely not for the faint of heart! Even in four-wheel drive, I felt the tires slip on the tortuous dirt & rocks scratched into the canyon wall. That was unsettling, given the deadly drop-off to my left, and the overhanging rock threatening to rip the kayak off the top on the right (which required driving much closer to the drop-off side than I'd rather). Unfortunately, these pictures were taken AFTER the steep area, where Kim wouldn't dare let me stop and get out to take a picture, for fear of the truck sliding off the edge.

We missed the warning signs at the top of this dizzying series of switchbacks that warned there would spots on the 1,400’ plunge to the White Rim, our vantage-point, that would require "jogging" the long wheelbase F-150 in order to make the turns without sliding over the edge! Kim clutched the passenger door handle and armrest so tightly, I thought she would tear it off. It was bad enough being the driver, it must have been really tough for her to sit there without any feeling of control! This pix is at the last steep switch, looking straight ahead onto a sheer drop, where I had to "jog" the pickup the last time to make the hairpin!
As it flattened out, the "road" was showing signs of washout in many places....

The vistas across the deeply incised mesa, where the higher rock of dusky reds and browns was beautiful, is a dangerous distraction anytime, but especially under these conditions. So I saved my sightseeing for a pullout about two-thirds of the way down. We were rewarded for our pain by this panoramic view of the Gooseneck!

The scenery along the way was diverse, and that along with a nice picnic lunch, provided a nice relief from the nerve-racking drive above.

Nearing the bottom, and on into Moab, Shafer Trail turns into Potash Road, which passes alongside the luminous aqua-green pits of this large operation.

Over the next few days, we learned that almost no one goes DOWN this thing! most run up it where your view over the edge & down the dropoffs is less distracting. Later that evening, we opted for the more traditional view of the Gooseneck, from Deadhorse Point and in spite of lots of haze managed to get a nice shot right before sunset!

The short drive across the mesa back to the Island campground provided the perfect platform for watching our "local" star surrender it's bright light to the night....

I joined the twenty-some dedicated photographers up at the crack of dawn to capture the famed Mesa Arch. According to the experts on hand the "light this morning is not favorable", but I guess that provides the reason for another trip. In spite of having to work around the large group of snappers & tripods, I did capture a few images that give a feel for the dynamics of change as the great fireball rose!

With that beautiful morning light still over my shoulder, I decided to drive over to the Crater, on the way, capturing a nice flat-topped bute between the western side of the mesa and the Green River....

A short hike up a little hill, and sunken below me the Giant Mesa Crater was waiting in the still cool morning shadows!

Looking downward on the hike back, an array of interesting colors, shapes & textures caught my eye...

Later that morning, Kim & I explored the southmost point of the Island, looking down on what has to be one of the Earth's most moving sites, we gaze mesmorized as we follow the stark cuts in Her crust that lead ultimately to the Green!

Recovering from this gravity defying view, we move along the ridgeline only to bump into two bandits....wonder if that had anything to do with my breaking out the peanuts? When we stopped a bit later for lunch, one of the two instantly swooped down from above, armed with new courage as the larger quantities of food were brought out.

I walked further along the precipice, and standing on a far perch, spotted Kim gazing again at the splendor below....we lingered half the afternoon, wandering Nature's magical path along this edge, enjoying perhaps Her greatest gift to mankind....infinite beauty!

April 25, 2008

Capitol Reef NP & Highway 24

On our way to Canyonlands & Arches (Moab area) we passed through Capitol Reef. We really hadn't heard much about this place where one of the earth's most unique geological features exist, a "waterpocket fold". http://www.nps.gov/archive/care/geology1.htm

Besides that uniqueness, the Park is a stunning example of one of the most lush & picturesque canyons man could encounter. Some early Morman settlers recognized this and stayed there, giving it the name "Fruita" because their orchard grew so well. http://www.nps.gov/archive/care/fruita.htm

Unaware of the Park's popularity, and arriving late, the camp host informed us "sorry, we're full" but went on to suggest boondocking on the BLM lands just outside of the Park boundry. Wow, what a great suggestion! Arriving just prior to sunset, we found this beautiful spot and nestled in for the night...

After quickly setting up the trailer, I turned westward to notice natures towers close by.
Morning brought anticipation along with a nice surprise.....the Visitor's Center was unusual in that it looked like a Frank Lloyd Wright design. If you've been following our escapades, you've already noted that we are big FLW fans.

Alongside the Center we noticed an example of the many volcanic rocks strewn about the Park. Since there were no volcanos anywhere near, geologist theorize these were all carried by glaciers.

We took the long drive down the Canyon to the very end of the Grand Wash Road, which turned out to be a continuous study in contrasting geology. The beauty of this place is indescribable!

Out the corner of an eye, I spotted this unique "ET" rock, at least that's what it appeared to be to me, what do you think?

Kim found more interest in the old Gifford Farmhouse and the delightful blossums of it's fragrant pear trees.

We had there wonderful pie for lunch, yep, that's right a whole 7" pie each! You'll have to let your imagination fill that shot in....It was so...oooo goo...ood, I didn't think about a pix 'til they were gone!

After lunch we continued East on Hwy 24, a fabulous drive to Hanksville. First stop, the Pioneer Schoolhouse. Mormon pioneers established the appropriately named community of Fruita when it was discovered that this was a good locale for growing fruit. The tiny 1896 Fruita Schoolhouse served as a church, social hall, and community-meeting hall, in addition to functioning as a one-room schoolhouse. Mormon pioneers established the appropriately named community of Fruita in 1896. The Schoolhouse served as a church, social hall, and community-meeting hall, in addition to functioning as a one-room schoolhouse.
A little further down the road are some interesting petroglyphs from around 700AD....

and an old farmplace across the road where I found some interesting colors & textures, making me aware that Spring has finally made it to the mountains!

The rest of the drive to Hanksville is like roving through another planet. Again, I'm in the delima of keeping the blog size manageable, so here's a sampling.....yes, we'll save the whole slideshow for you!

Ruins of images of a life gone by lay hidden around long sweeping curves....

In Hanksville you simply have to stop at Pop's Rockshop. And, yes those are actual dinosaur bones!