Monday, July 31, 2017

Bryce Canyon

Holey! Moley!

I do not think I can describe this National Park without using the words incredible, mind-blowing, awesome, gorgeous, spectacular, stupefying, etc. I will attempt to avoid these words but I am sure you get the picture anyway... 

The New Park's Magical Opening:

On June 1, 1925, a 315 car caravan, led by then Governor George Dern, arrived at the Red Canyon tunnels to celebrate the opening of Utah National Park, (later renamed Bryce Canyon National Park).  
A flower-strewn gate closed the entrance to the tunnel and a banner proclaimed, "Welcome to Utah's Fairyland."  

 Children dressed as Fairies tied flowers and long ribbons to the bumper of the governor's car.  When the governor pronounced his belief in fairies, two young elves opened the gates while a band began to play.  Dancing fairies pulled on the streamers to draw the car through the tunnel. (Men pushed the car from behind). The Red Canyon tunnels have served as a magical entrance to Bryce Canyon from then on.

Bryce Canyon is actually not a canyon, but a series of amphitheaters that are etched into the pink Claron limestone of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.  

Fiery colors and endless vistas give way to a spectacular, breathtaking display of dreamy landscapes.  

 Fairy tale castle-like rock formations known as 'hoodoos' capture your imagination as standing stones rise from fiery red earth. 

 Infinite variations of color and shape erode into a mysterious amphitheater of what many describe as sacred ground.  

The rim of the canyon is at 8000 to 9000 feet. 

Drops to the canyon floor are 1000 feet or more.

Gary and I could see many hikers down below but I wasn't ready to do that steep of a climb. 

  Bryce does not get as many visitors as Zion or the Grand Canyon because it is much more remote.  

But it certainly is worth seeking out.

We left Daisy and Lady Daga behind in the RVs and took advantage of the free shuttles that carried us from one end of the canyon to the other.

" this thirsty land, water has been the prime creator of scenery.    

Water formed these sedimentary rocks under ancient seas, and water sculptured them as they rose.   

Water carved the buttes and mesas, chiseled Bryce Canyon into every shape known."

--Peter Farb, "Face of North America" 1963

Incredible, Mind-blowing, Awesome, Gorgeous, Spectacular, Stupefying!

A few miles after leaving Bryce Canyon, Gary and Lady Daga waved good bye.  They headed east back toward New Mexico, Daisy and I started the long hot trek across the California Desert. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Escalante State Park and Petrified Forest

   As our two-RV caravan continued west, the landscape became ever
 more dramatic....

The weather was hot but not insufferable.

I knew we were probably going to need electricity for air conditioning, but in my usual, 'something-will-turn-up' style, I did not make reservations in any RV parks.  We headed for Escalante State Park and Petrified Forest with the idea that something would be available. 

The ranger informed us that the park was full to overflowing but when he saw panic in my eyes he suggested we stay in the parking lot next to the lake.  We would have no electricity but, who cares?  Look at our view. And he apologized because we didn't have hook-ups.

Daisy thought it was pretty neat too.

Lady Daga was jumping for joy, and Gary thought I was genius.  (I love having a groupie--little does he know how many times sheer luck bales me out)

Off in the distance we could see the smoke from the fires that were plaguing Utah at the time. We were skirting the fires but we kept a wary eye on them.

This Wide Hollow Reservoir sits at the foot of a 6000' high trail that leads to a petrified forest.

Early the next morning Gary and I packed our cameras and a few bottles of water and started up the very steep trail.  Babe (my pig valve) was about to get a really good work out.

We opted to leave the dogs behind with windows open to the lovely breeze coming off the reservoir.

150 Million years ago, during the late Jurassic period there was a lush forest in this spot.  Trees towered over 65 feet high with an under growth of ferns and cycad-like plants.

 During the age of the dinosaurs some of the trees were turned to stone as groundwater percolated through the trees downed by volcanic actions.  

Silica and other minerals replaced organic matter and filled the spaces in the wood.

Ancient river systems flooded and overflowed their banks.  

Uprooted trees collected along the riverbanks.  Layers of silt, sand and mud from flood waters covered the trees.  

Buried in debris and cut off from oxygen, the trees did not decay.

Volcanoes erupted.  Silica and other minerals saturated the groundwater.

An interesting fact:

Petrified wood averages 150 pounds per cubic foot.  A cubic foot of the original wood weighed only 45 pounds in comparison.

It was time to head back.  Gary was very patient with me, giving me lots of time to rest as we climbed but 1/2 way through we decided we'd seen enough.  Besides, the trail was only getting steeper.

The only good thing about a forest fire is.... get amazing sunrises and sunsets.

(Everything in Italics is from the literature at the park)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Anasazi Pueblo Museum

From Capitol Reef we headed south and west toward Bryce Canyon.  This was a stop along the way..

Archaeologists think the Ancestral Anasazi People left the area of present-day Boulder around AD 1175-- only 50 to 75 years after their arrival here.  

It is believed that this site was occupied for about 75 years during the twelfth century.  Over 100 structures have been identified through excavations here, including residential buildings, storage units, below ground pit houses, and at least one ramada.


According to some Southwestern Native American oral traditions, homes were designed not only for living space, but also to symbolically represent the Sipapu (the entry for the ancient ancestral spirits.)  

 By placing doorways with ladders through the roof, the people would be reminded of their origins--their emergence through the earth into this world. 


This was once a multi-room pueblo or group of houses. 

I noticed how cool these rooms were on an otherwise very warm day.

A mystery surrounds the Anasazi departure.  What drove them out?  

Most of the homes and storage structures were burned at that time, probably intentionally.  Charred remains of the homes are visible throughout the site.

A number of the homes were below the ground level.

The people that lived here made unique varieties of pottery. 


   The presence of distinctive artifacts such as turquoise and shell indicates the presence of an extensive trade network with neighboring villages.

Flagstaff Black-on-white bowl
AD 1125-1200

As we walked through this pueblo I went into a sneezing, crying fit.  The air was so full of white pollens it looked like it was snowing.

The cottonwood trees were leaving piles of these white fluffy missiles everywhere and the tiniest puffs of wind would lift these tickling missiles up in swirls and fill the air with allergens.  

Ah, I have solved the mystery of what happened to the Anasazis.  In a crying sneezing mass, they fled to less allergy inducing areas.  

Achoo! You are welcome.