Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Almost Home

We travelled up the coast after visiting friends in Wilmington, NC, and that drive included two ferry rides to the outer banks. We’re now spending a couple of days near Ocean City, Maryland and then it’s home. Most of what we were planning to see/do here on the eastern shore is closed for the season, so we’re just hanging out and relaxing, although tomorrow may be laundry day.

So, unless something exciting happens, this entry will probably conclude this year’s blogging.

Until next time…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

In Case You’ve Been Wondering…

We’re still on the road. I haven’t added anything here because all we’ve been doing is visiting friends and relatives in Denver. Then we headed southeast for a visit to Branson, MO. This was our first visit to the country music mecca in the Ozarks, so we saw two shows. The first was a John Denver tribute led by a singer who knew John and worked with him. Good music, of course (the only CD we brought with us on this trip was Denver’s Concert for Wildlife, so it was quite a sing-a-long), but it was too bad the singer had a bad cold and very little voice.

Then we saw Legends in Concert which included a bunch of dead singers reincarnated. They included Johnny Cash (with whom we had a picture taken but which we didn’t buy), Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly and Elvis What’s-his-name? This was a surprisingly entertaining show with good dancers and decent production values.

Now we’re in Memphis and just toured Graceland. I didn’t take any pictures, but Penny did so maybe she’ll let me ad them here sometime.

The last time I was here, on business, was about 20 years ago. The Graceland property (still a goldmine for the Presley heirs) now includes an RV park and the Heartbreak Hotel, which just happens to be at the end of Lonely Street. Neither were here 20 years ago.

Tonight we’ll be going to a local barbecue joint I found 20 years ago to have Memphis ribs. Tomorrow we’ll be heading east.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Goblins

After leaving Zion National Park I surely thought I wouldn’t be taking any more pictures of Utah’s rocks on this trip. Then we visited Goblin Valley State Park.

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The official theory is that these sandstone structures are a result of many years of erosion. Maybe they look like hoodoos millions of years ago. But I have my own theory.

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Here’s a picture of some real goblins. I think, just maybe, real goblins were turned to stone many years ago. I have no proof for my theory, but it seems obvious. And Wikipedia was no help on this one.

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Anyway, Goblin Valley State Park has three valleys full of these formations. The park is about 50 miles from the nearest town in the middle of the San Rafael Desert.

 

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I’m pretty sure this group of goblins was assigned to guard the entrance to a view point parking lot, maybe to keep the hobbits out, but again, that’s just a theory.

 

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The stone goblins are a lot smaller than hoodoos (that’s neither a goblin nor a hoodoo in the blue shirt) but some geologists use the terms interchangeably.  I’m guessing those archeologists don’t adhere to my theory.

 

 

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You may be able to see blowing dust in the distance in this picture. While we were at the park a cold front moved through a started up a small dust storm. The sand in this area is very fine, so it really coats everything including skin and hair and camera lenses. I understand now why Bedouins dress the way they do.

And now its time for a shower.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Other Zion

Have you ever wondered if the people who supported the establishment of Zion National Park in the early 1900s were known as Zionists? Sorry. That’s a thought that entered my mind when we drove into the park.

Oh, in a previous post I spelled Navajo as Navaho and my spell checker didn’t flag it. Maybe its an alternate spelling.

Anyway, driving through Zion National Park was interesting. As we entered the road that led to the park, we thought we saw a sign instructing drivers of large vehicles and RVs to stop and read some instructions. We noticed the instructions as we passed them, but I decided not to turn around to read the rules. When we got to the park entrance, the Ranger looked at our trailer and said we needed to pay a $15 fee to be escorted through the tunnel. So we paid.DSC_0173

The tunnel wasn’t too bad, especially since the Rangers have traffic alternating in a single direction through the tunnel so I was able to go right down the middle. Since the sides of the tunnel are about 12 inches below the top of the trailer, that was a good thing. This image is of a bus on the main road through the park. Our trailer is about the same width as the bus. While we drove this road I purposely refused to look in the right side view mirror to see how close to the rock wall we came. Later we saw that there were no scratches or dents on the trailer.

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Zion National Park is another one of those places in Utah with breathtaking scenery. Huge peaks of sedimentary rocks in various shades running from almost pure white to dark red.

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As in some of the other places we’ve visited in Utah, the rock formations were originally sand at the bottom of an inland sea and then shaped  by millions of years of erosion – in this park, erosion by the Virgin River.

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And as in the other places we’ve visited in Utah, these photographs cannot impart the incredible scale and grandeur of these massive peaks and cliffs.

 

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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Weather

I just thought I should write something about the weather we’ve experienced so far on this trip, and how lucky we’ve been, weather-wise. We’ve had a few showers, but they’ve been rare. We left eastern Colorado a few days before that area was flooded. We’ve had sunny, warm days in western Colorado and in Utah. We saw on the news last night that there were flash floods in Moab, Utah, and we’re about 80 miles from Moab. All we got out of that storm was a brief sprinkle.

Hopefully, the good luck will continue. We’re heading north and east tomorrow and a storm is predicted in the area we’re heading to for Wednesday, including some snow in the higher elevations.

We explored Zion National Park yesterday and we’re returning for a ranger-led tour tonight in parts not available to private vehicles. Look for more pictures of rocks.

Kodachrome

Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colors
Gives those greens of summers
They make you think that all the world's a sunny day

Well I've got a, a Nikon camera
I love to take photographs
So Mama don't take my Kodachrome away.

Sorry Paul Simon, but they did take your Kodachrome away. At least the film version. But there’s another Kodachrome. This one is a Utah state park. Well I’ve got a Nikon camera, and I love to take photographs, so I did.

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Kodachrome Basin State Park is another one of those spectacular places in a state that has more beautiful landscapes than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And by the way, when we were there, the sky was really this blue.

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In 1949 a National Geographic team “discovered” the basin and named it for it’s spectacular colors. I’m sure the basin was discovered long before that, but I guess discoveries didn’t count back then unless they were made by white men.

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The park has lots of neat geology, including this keyhole shaped arch that’s difficult to see because of the matching stone behind it.

 

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Geologists think the landscape was once similar to Yellowstone National Park with hot springs and geysers, which eventually filled in with sediment and solidified.  Over millions of years sandstone surrounding the solidified geysers eroded, leaving 67 large sand pipes.

 

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While walking a trail we came across this guy who tried to sell me car insurance. I told him that we’re quite happy with Allstate.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hoodoo You Think You Are?

Well, I’ve run out of adjectives. We visited Bryce Canyon National Park today, and found it to be completely indescribable. The main features are the pink, salmon, cream, and orange hoodoos. I’ll paste in the definition and description from the National Park Service and stick in a bunch of my pictures.DSC_0082

“Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and ‘broken’ lands. Hoodoos are most commonly found in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau and in DSC_0088the Badlands regions of the Northern Great Plains. While hoodoos are scattered throughout these areas, nowhere in the world are they as abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park. In common usage, the difference between Hoodoos and pinnacles or spires is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a "totem pole-shaped body." A spire, on the other hand, has a smoother profile or uniform thickness that tapers from the ground upward.

At Bryce Canyon, hoodoos range in size from that of an averageDSC_0103 human to heights exceeding a 10-story building. Formed in sedimentary rock, hoodoo shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers. The name given to the rock layer that forms hoodoos at Bryce Canyon is the Claron Formation. DSC_0104This layer has several rock types including siltstones and mudstones but is predominantly limestone. Thirty to 40 million years ago this rock was "born" in an ancient lake that covered much of Western Utah. Minerals deposited within different rock types cause hoodoos to have different colors throughout their height.”

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Between Here and There

One of the big surprises we’ve experienced on this trip has been the incredible scenery BETWEEN our planned destinations, particularly in Utah.

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State Highway 12 runs between Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, and according the the Utah travel website, it’s one of the most scenic highways in the country and was designated (I’m not sure by whom) America’s Highway in 2002.

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Highway 12 (if you can call a two lane, narrow, winding road a highway) runs through Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, and here’s what Utah thinks about it.

“The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, at 1.7 million acres, dominates any map of southern Utah. It is unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the National Park Service.

DSC_0070The monument is a geologic sampler, with a huge variety of formations, features, and world-class paleontological sites. The Grand Staircase is a geological formation spanning eons of time and is a territory of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles, and canyons.”

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We generally don’t stop to take pictures when we’re pulling the trailer, but the BLM was kind enough to provide large parking areas at designated View Points, so we were able to stop.

As I’ve mentioned before, the landscape here is impossible to appreciate in a photograph. But this is another place where each time we went around a curve Penny and I each said “WOW.”