Saturday, June 9, 2012

In The State Of Erosion–9–Capital Reef

This is our ninth week in Utah. We started in the southeast, spent several weeks in and around Moab in the far east, then around SLC, then the north end at Bear Lake. We are now back in southern Red Rock country at Capital Reef for eight days.

It was chilly, stormy, and windy last week. Now the whole state is pleasant. Temps here are upper-80’s and low 60’s.

We saw a store the other day when we passed through Wyoming on the way down here named Liquor and Fireworks. I always wanted a drive-thru that sold Liquor and Ammo.

Freedom and Zoning. There is very little evidence of zoning laws here that would prevent a shack being built next to a mega-mansion or vice-versa. Most people would trade a little less freedom for more restrictive laws to protect themselves. Folks here seem happy with the way it is.

All Utahans have an ATV. Kids get them by the time they are 8-10. Yes, girls too. Families spend a weekends camping and riding. The governor rides.

This irritates the heck out of the greenies. They don’t want people free to ride the back roads. Since Utah, and most western states, are mostly federal land the greenies get their way by suing the BLM and Forest Service to close roads and create wilderness areas. It’s an on-going war.

After WWII, the AEC carved roads all through Red Rock country to encourage prospecting for uranium and transportation of ore. Now the greenies are suing to have these roads closed. Those on the other side see the roads for recreation and tourism.

Factoid: All of the uranium needed to construct the nine weapons built during WWII was taken from tailing piles from old mines used for other ore. The uranium boom came after WWII in two stages, first for more weapons and next for power generation.

This is our fourth time at Capital Reef. We like it best of all the parks in Utah. Seems we have talked too much about it as it has become popular. The campground has been full for over a month.

The main reason Dorothy wanted to come here was to eat at Café Diablo. And so we have. Twice.

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Thanks Dave for the sign picture!

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My hors d’oeuvre Rattlesnake Cakes and Empanadas

The sauces are divine


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Dorothy’s entrée – Mayan Tamale

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My third attempt to photograph the Circle Cliffs. Finally the light was right. The tops look round from this angle.

Lots of LD’s here. The park host from Port Townsend has a red one. A couple from Seattle were here for one night in brown MB. Nancy and Brian are parked next to us. There is a green 31 parked on the Notom Road and Bernie and Martha will be here in BluCon.

We really enjoyed getting to know Nancy and Brian.

We hiked an hour up the Golden Throne trail. We knew we would not go all the way. We went about 20 minutes too far as Dorothy was in pain before we got back. The next day she was still out of commission.

I took Bernie to see the Circle Cliffs and he agreed that they were worth of painting. In less than an hour he had made what I would call a reference painting that he will use to make a gallery version when he returns home.

Just to say we had done it, we took Pleasant Creek Road at the south end of the Scenic Road. This becomes a true 4WD trail called South Draw Road that goes up the side of Boulder Mountain. We made it as far as where you start climbing rock ledges. We could have continued, but I decided it would get worse as the trail got steeper and we had had over 2,000 feet to ascend to get on top. Either Discretion over Valor or I wimped out.

Bernie painted, Martha took pictures of birds and we chatted in the afternoons. We may be able to see them in Santa Fe later in the year. I decided that I like the new LD paint scheme.

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The geologic story of Utah is depositation, uplift and erosion. Here you can see both un-even uplift and erosion. They say it was twice as high and it will be a level plain another in 5 million years.

Dorothy finally “got” the geology ranger talk. Now she knows Wingate and Chinle formations. Maybe next time, she will “get” Moenkopi and explain it all to me.

Leaving Cap Reef, we turned on the ever popular UT12, climbed over the 9,500 Boulder Mountain and descended again into red rock country. They call it Escalante country after the river I suppose, which was named for Father Escalante who walked all over this area looking for souls to save or Indians to enslave or both. The Escalante was the last river in the US to be named. The little town of Boulder was the last town in the state to be connected to civilization when dirt version UT12 was completed.

It’s a remote area because the Navajo sandstone is 30 miles wide and heavily eroded. Roads can be built on the ridges, not in the canyons, they would wash away or across the canyons, way too expensive. So the only roads through this area run north/south in the direction of the drainage.17 - Escalante 002

It would be tremendously expensive to build bridges across the several canyons in this picture that was taken out our back window along UT12. That’s Bryce in the background. Only 20 air miles, over 60 by road.  Further hindering transit in the area is Colorado River. There are very few places to cross it.

In places, UT12 has a narrow shoulders, only a few feet on each side. Deep canyons await the unwary driver.

I saw a stunning picture of the Escalante Bridge in a guide book. I wanted to make my own picture. I had no maps of the location, but all I needed to do was follow the trail. And so I did.

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After hiking for two miles, this was the last sign I saw. It promised a lot. About a mile south of the sign, the trail disappeared into multiple washes of deep sand. I could no longer even tell where the hikers I knew were ahead of me had walked. I back tracked, but still could not pick up a path out of the wash. No bridge for me. I did not see another human on the hike. Thousands of lizards tho.

Dorothy has a new problem, pain from her hip to her foot. So she could not make the hike today. Just as well, some of it would have been a challenge for her. She waits to tell me about the new pain until we are safely away from medical care.

Last night we parked on the edge of a canyon. We had a dozen TV stations. We watched an hour each of Adam 12 and Dragnet, the news, and then three hours of network fare. I think that is a record for this trip.

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Friday morning we moved five miles down the road and into a canyon where we have no TV, but we were in position for the aforementioned hike.

It’s been 10 days since we have had Internet where we were parked. We stopped at a lunch place where we had way too large sandwiches with high-speed Internet. Dorothy has gone from being a casual surfer at the start of this trip to being addicted.

Wednesday, May 30 - We have arrived at Capitol Reef National Park.  It has been a favorite place since we first saw it and it still hasn’t changed.  Our campsite is the same one that we had before, so we have green grass, cottonwood trees and  beautiful red rocks and because there is a field behind us, there are no campers.  The ranger talk was on geology given by a young ranger from Mobile.  It was the best we have ever had.  I actually begin to grasp what he was saying and retaining it.  I must admit that one of my favorite restaurants is Cafe Diablo in Torrey. 

The next day Nancy and Bryan arrived.  Nancy has a Lazy Daze and is a full-timer.  We had a great time getting to know these wonderful people.  They left Sunday, but as they were driving out, Bernie and Martha drove in.  They also have a LD and had meet Nancy previously.  So Nancy and Bryan turned around and we had an LD GTG where everyone contributed something for lunch.  It was lots of fun.

We met Bernie and Martha a couple of years ago and have kept in contact since then.  Don took Bernie out to  a spot that we thought was beautiful so he could paint.  Bernie is a very talented artist.  Martha is a very good photographer and also a published author.  I  have a signed copy of her book at home.  We were sorry to see them leave on Wednesday.  But hope to see them again before we get home.

Thursday, June 7 - We said goodbye until next time to Capitol Reef.  We love it there.  We found a parking place on the canyon cliff for the night.

Friday, June 8 - We arrived at Calf Creek where we have been before.  We arrived early and Don went for a hike.  I am sorry to say that I am having a lot of trouble with my foot, knee and hip so I am unable to walk. 

Saturday, June 9 - Don got up and went for another hike and once again, I stayed at the RV.  I just can’t seem to recover from whatever is wrong.  But we got lucky today.  Our plan was the spend the night at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.  We know that the chances of getting a campsite on Saturday is not great.  And the campground was full when we arrived.  We were told that we could stay in the overflow area.  Of course, there are no hookups, but we never need them so it wasn’t a problem. We parked along side the lake and there is a big breeze.  It’s much better than the campground. We have a dozen TV channels and fast wi-fi.

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