Monday, February 28, 2005

05-16 Utah into Colorado, Moab

Eastern Utah, return to Colorado

Green River and Moab

Week 16 of 52
July 17-24

Leaving Kanarraville. My last day in Kanarraville was on Tuesday. Donna and Gary came over the night before I was to leave and were so sweet to say they would miss me. Gary suggested I spend the rest of the summer here, but I have to move on. I had made many friends while I stayed in this little hamlet south of Cedar City. I’ll miss the ice-cream and cake and conversations late into the evening.

I took my time getting to the town of Green River going north on hwy 15 towards Salt Lake City, then turning east onto hwy 70. I started to ascend over the Pahvant Mountain Range, Sevier and Awapa plateau’s. Ahead of me were 4 to 5 mountain ranges each shaded with a lighter mist the further they were from me. I was entering the badlands of Utah, 105 degrees blazing sun, yet life could be found even in these desolate areas. The grades were a steep 6%, at times it appeared that I was barely going up hill, my camper and the numerous trucks on the highway had to go a slow 45 mph on our ascent, sometimes less. I’ve taken to following slow moving trucks up hill, so as not to attempt to try to go too fast uphill. It also has helped me with my gas mileage, as I’m averaging 12 miles to the gallon with my 8.1 liter V-8.

On Wednesday I attempted to go see some more petroglyphs, but could not find them on the dirt road. Perhaps I didn’t go far enough. I had fairly good directions, but since none of the roads were marked, it’s possible I was not on the right ones. It seems strange to drive through desert country, surrounded by so many varied mountains on a lonely dirt road with clouds of dust trailing my truck and miles of desolate sage covered land. No one else for miles around.

But alas, I knew where some other petroglyphs were on my way to Moab, so I took a short detour and arrived at Sego Canyon.

Sego Canyon. Now keep in mind, I’m towing my camper, since I haven’t arrived at my next destination, Moab. Again traveling down a secondary road that probably was paved back in the 30s and hadn’t seen a patch of new pavement since then. I turned left in the dry sun bleached town of Thompson Springs. Where the springs were I had no idea. Going on nothing more than a marking on my big travel map, I ventured up a side road, across washes, getting deeper and deeper into Sego Canyon, the road becoming tighter and tighter with no way to turn back. A brown Gov. sign, indicating I should stay on the paved roads, was my only indication I was on the right road. Things were bouncing around in the camper that I would find later. Opps.

After a few miles into the canyon, I arrived at a rock outcropping with a dusty parking lot, a few interpretive signs, a wooden post fence to keep visitors away from harming the petroglyphs. I first had to maneuver the truck and camper in a very small parking area, so that I was heading out again. I’m getting pretty good at maneuvering the camper and truck.

Now these are some of the best pictographs as well as petroglyphs in the area, and there are numerous sites throughout this region. Of course you know the difference between a pictograph and petroglyphs so I won’t bore you with the details. Some of the pictographs can be dated to over 7,000 years and were created by a group of Indians called the Archaic and the Barrier Canyon Indians dating to over 4,000 years. The haunting reddish and white painted figures with hollow eyes and V shaped bodies almost look alien. This particular sight had some vandalism damage going back to the early 1800’s to almost present day. But almost nothing could distract me from gazing at these artists of so long ago… Imagine, between 7 and 8,000 years ago, Indians came through this area and created masterpieces that have survived all that time. To see the colors of the paint still visible after 7,000 years is just amazing. Some of the prehistoric animals depicted are long extinct.

The faded shadowy figures in the background are some of the oldest pictographs, painted in red, wearing robes , broad shouldered tapering to a V shape, are like viewing spirits from the past. Once again I was taken back in time, to when our country was a wild land, being explored by these ancient Indian tribes. Leaving a reminder of their presence that lasts too today.

Moab. The heart of Canyon Land, broadcast from the only FM station in the area, playing country music. The Ok Rv campground is surrounded by horses and a small horse racing track nestled between tall ridges that look like someone sliced them with a cake knife. There are so many canyons, petroglyphs and of course the Colorado River that it would take weeks to see it all. I’m literally only about a mile from the closest petroglyphs. The Golf Course Rock Art, so named because it’s next to a lush green golf course surrounded by a new development of homes. All surrounded by more lush green lawns. Sucking up all the precious water in the area which is also used to irrigate a number of farms in the surrounding valley.

Moab is a true western town and caters to bikers, hikers, rafting, ATV and 4 wheel drive adventurers. The center of town has a fair amount of restaurants, gift shops and lots of tour companies. Western Union Banks are popular out here.

Arches National Park. My main reason for coming here is because my friends Betty and Dave told me what great scenery was in the area. It’s a quick stop-over before heading into Colorado again and hopefully cooler weather. The temp is around 105, so I don’t plan on staying but two days. Arches has of course grand arches. My first stop is actually my favorite in the whole park and is called Park Avenue. (It’s the picture with the words Arches National Park superimposed over it.) I would need a very wide angle lens to take in the whole scene, which does look like the canyons of Wall Street and seems to go on forever. The two side walls in the picture go back much further creating the columns of the Park Avenue canyon.

The various arches throughout the park are spectacular of course, but I was unable to reach the longest and thinnest one called Landscape Arch. It was a 2.2 mile hike and by the time I had traveled and hiked for over 2.5 hours, it was already heating up to the high of 105 that day. Better planning and I would have gone to it first thing when it was still cooler out. Instead I slowly drove back through the park, enjoying the scenery one more time inside the air-conditioned truck, before heading into Moab for lunch.

The Colorado River, Island Acres State Park. After a windy evening in Moab and an early rise due to the other campers getting up before the crack of dawn, starting their diesel engines. I ended up heading out just about sunrise. Besides, I knew where a Denny’s was located and decided an early start deserved breakfast. I decided to take scenic hwy 128 from Moab back to hwy 70 into Colorado. What perfect timing. Since my next stay was to be at the Colorado River State park, Island Acres, the scenic route followed the Colorado River most of the way. There were only a half dozen cars on the road most of the way, so I had the road to myself as the sun began to peak over the canyon walls. It was slow going due to the winding road, the speed limit was about 35-45 mph in many places. Which was fine with me. More time to take in the scenery. With a winery and a few farms along bends in the river, secluded from the rest of the world. All surrounded by high canyon walls and the Colorado river flowing through it all.

I’m just outside of Grand Junction Colorado. The state park is right on the river, wedged between two mountain cliffs. My site is a pull through with concrete pad. Yippee. No more tracking red dirt into the camper for a whole week! Trains go by on the other side of the river, on barely enough land to have laid the tracks, adding a nice scenic touch. It was easy to get a signal for the satellite dish and after a quick lunch, I headed over to the swimming hole. Which is exactly what it is. Fed somehow by the Colorado River. It’s cool water, but with temperatures still in the high 90’s, I’m not complaining. It is soooo nice to finally get somewhere that I can sit under a shade tree, read a book and go for a swim. It’s the only way to enjoy a sunny day. Being able to cool off with a good swim. I’ll be here for five days enjoying this little bit of Colorado paradise. Ya’ll stop by now, yah here…

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