Monday, August 31, 2015

We Were Successful!

Sometime in the past year, I read a blog post with a picture of the House on Fire Ruins in Utah. The photo was spectacular and when I realized we could easily hike there while staying in Blanding, it was high on our list of things to do. The ruins are granaries that were used by Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) settlers who lived in cliff houses along Mule Canyon. The visitor center had given us a map to the area and I found a photographic site online that also gave directions.

After paying for a BLM permit ($2 per person per day), we hiked up the canyon. The trail was fairly easy to follow and we could always go down into the stream bed if we didn't like the path along stream side.

The canyon was pretty.

We passed a hiker and he said we couldn't miss House on Fire. When we got there, this group of men from Waco, Texas, assured us we had found House on Fire.

The rock formations above the ruins look like flames on sunny days when the reflected light in the canyon is just right--sometime between 10 and 11 am. If you take photos from the wrong place, this is the view you get.

The photographic hints I read on line said "X marks the spot." This is the X.

Here are two cell phone photos that have not been edited.

Here are two photos from a cell phone and my Canon where I used Picasa editing tools to enhance the color.

I was so glad we had a clear day and arrived in time to get these photos.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Goosenecks State Park

When I hear the word meander, I think of wandering slowly or aimlessly.  Rivers meander, too.  In Colorado, I have seen slowly meandering streams that are good places to catch trout and that eventually smooth out a meadow.  But water doesn't always meander slowly; it often makes major changes in the landscape--like when it forms the Grand Canyon.

In the far south edge of Utah, near the eastern border with Colorado, the San Juan River has meandered for millions of years, resulting in a twisting, curving river that advances only 1.5 miles west over a distance of over six miles.  This is what we saw when we visited Goosenecks State Park.

The close view above shows how the river cut out layer after layer of rock over the years. The water is dark red because there had been a heavy rain the day before, washing lots of the nearby red soil into the river. Below, you can see more canyons toward the horizon.

In this photo, the meander to the right is visible. 

We walked along a point of land to the left till we came to a point where the river meandered further to our left. Looking across the area, we could see many canyons formed by the power of San Juan River water.

Years ago, we camped in Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. There, we could look down on similar views made by the meandering Colorado River.

There is a campground at Goosenecks SP. Some of the sites overlook the river. But they are just barren spots on the ground with picnic tables and fire rings and a few trash cans. There are no hookups and you have to bring your water from somewhere else. No campsites were occupied when we were they, but it looks like your neighbors would be very close if it was full. We enjoyed the view but wouldn't be interested in camping there. You might see great sunrises and sunsets, I imagine.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Awesome Landscape

The Utah landscapes are really incredible. Yesterday we drove south, even spending a few minutes in Arizona. It's never boring around here. Several times an hour, the environment changed.

We drove through the town of Bluff. The sign on the way in says, "Established in 650 AD." Obviously, that date refers to the Ancestral Puebloans who lived here. Ruins of their villages are sprinkled all over the Four Corners area. In 1880, the first Mormon settlers came to the area to establish a farming community.

After Bluff, we came to Mexican Hat, another small town. This rock formation, which looks like an inverted sombrero, gave the community it's name.

As we approached Monument Valley, which extends into Arizona, we saw more distinctive rock formations.

We have been to Monument Valley twice before, in 1990 and 2005. We planned to drive through again. However, the road through the valley is now part of the Navajo Tribal Park and there is an entry fee. We didn't want to pay it since we had already been there. But just like our National Parks, the Navajo Nation has every right to charge people to explore their land.

There was more to this day. We visited Goosenecks State Park. But that will be covered in another post.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The title could describe most of the territory in Utah, as well as northern Arizona. But I am talking about Canyonlands National Park. We visited the park during the summer of 2003, following our retirement in April of that year. We toured the Island in the Sky section of the park at that time. Here are two of the photos we took then.

This time, we are at the south end and hiked in the Needles section. The views are totally different. Instead of looking down, we were on the ground, looking up at the various rock formations. The 2.4- mile Slick Rock Trail was fun to hike and gave us great views. The first time we tried walking on slick rock, I was sure I would slide down as I tried to go up. I don't know why it is called slick when it isn't, but I have grown comfortable hiking in this terrain.

There are so many different colors of rock in the area, from yellow to red to pink to white.

In places, the canyon floor is covered with grass, providing a real contrast to the rock formations.

Here are even more of the rock formations we saw.

God has blessed Utah with so many beautiful, diverse geologic areas. We are so glad we have been able to spend time in the wonderful state this summer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oh, the People We Meet

We are in Blanding, Utah, in an RV park that is almost empty. We were told that spring and fall are their busy seasons, summer is too hot for many people to come to southern Utah. (It is hot, but not as hot as in southern Arizona, where we are headed. We have met several others who are hovering here, waiting for Arizona to cool down.) But we have met the most interesting people.

We were doing our morning walk last week when a woman said "Getting your exercise, are you?" We stopped to talk and learned she and her husband are from Australia and they are exploring the American west, sleeping in their rented car and cooking on a one-burner stove.

This morning I was doing the laundry when we met the woman in the motor home parked near us. She was born in the UK, then moved to Canada for most of her adult life. She and her husband, like us, are waiting for Arizona to get a little cooler.

Today, a car came in the campground and drove all around. Then they parked in a camp site and began taking pictures. Many of the photos were of each other. One man was closely examining the RV hookups and taking pictures. We could tell they were from Asia somewhere. One of the men walked over by our RV, gave John a thumbs up for the carving he was doing, and looked around. Finally, he took a picture or two of our trailer and of John. Then he called the other man in the group over to look at the carving. That man could speak pretty good English. Then the three women came over. First we asked them where they were from. Would you believe, China? We asked them if they wanted to see the inside of the trailer and they nodded yes enthusiastically.

I wasn't planning on five guests in the RV today. All the clean laundry was still piled on the unmade bed. But they loved seeing our RV and took lots of pictures of it and of each other and us. This is a picture of John with the group.

The man who spoke English asked for our email address so he could send us a copy of the photo he took of us. We gave him our card with our email and my blog address. One of the women gave us her card. She spoke a little English and is a banker in China.

After they left our trailer, they drove to another RV site here in the campground and ate their lunch in the shade of a tree.

Who would have ever guessed we would meet people from Australia, Canada/UK and China while parked in an out of the way town in Utah? What fun!