SOLTESWEB.NET ALASKA TRIP 2005 - APRIL Page 5
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Wednesday, April 20 - to Canyonlands National Park, Island In the Sky
Woke up late but rested. The wind had stopped. We drove into Moab, a cute tourist type town, seen near all the National Parks. Coffee and cinnamon roll at the internet cafe, then grocery shopping at the supermarket. Arches NP campground was filled (at 8 a.m. that day!) so we headed up to Canyonlands NP Island in the sky Willow Flat campground, then off to a day of hiking and sightseeing.
We took a ranger-led hike to an area called Aztec Mound, where the early Indians (used to be called Anasazi, now called Ancestral Puebloans!) stored corn and beans in a shelter made with stones and mud in a crevice in the cliff. While we were there, a storm blew over, and believe it or not, it started SNOWING! Then, it was soon over, the sun came out, and it warmed back up...maybe a high of 50° today at 6000 ft. Flowers: Jessica's stickseed, wooly locoweed.
Thursday, April 21 - Dead Horse State Park
Had a good night's rest, and went down to the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, where we found out that the Dead Horse State Park campground was already filled! So we took a day pass at the park, and spent a good afternoon seeing the sights. The bright blue pond in the second picture is a potash mining operation...use water from the Colorado to dissolve the potash, then use the sun (aided by a blue dye) to evaporate the water to make agricultural fertilizer. The LaSal mountains in the background are 8000 ft above the Colorado river level. We were 2000 ft above the Colorado for these pictures. That's the Colorado in the first pictures.
We stopped at a BLM site early, about 2:30 pm. Canyons and mesas on one side and the LaSal mountains on the other; and free, to boot! We're catching up on writing, reading and rest. Saw these new flowers earlier at Dead Horse SP: western peppergrass, northern buckwheat, Coulter's lupine.
Friday, April 22 - Arches National Park
Spent the day at Arches National Park. Lots of people here; the visitor center board said that the campground filled at 7:30 this morning, and people were waiting in line since 4:30! For good reason, though...look at these pictures. Lots of arches and good rock climbing. We had a great hike led by a park ranger.
Arches in Black and White:
Better in color:
Hey! If it wasn't for Patty, these rocks would tumble. Seriously, that arch is over 300 ft across!
That flower on the left is called...prepare yourself...beakpod nippletwist!
At the end of the day, especially since it was Friday, it was difficult to find a campground...so we found a parking spot near the Colorado river (near=3 feet!) opposite a sandstone wall with many Fremont Indian petroglyphs.
We are collecting pictures of petroglyphs...perhaps soon we'll post them on this website.
Saturday, April 23 - in Moab and Needles Overlook
Lazy day today. Spent the day in Moab, looking through the shops, then filling up on groceries, gas, pizza, etc. We were amazed at the new types of clothing (maybe even more amazed at the prices!) that are available for backpackers and serious off-roaders. Since we were neither, we drove to Needles Overlook south of Canyonlands NP, and spent the night on the edge of a canyon. It rained for the first time in many weeks! Lots of wind made our camper rock!
Sunday, April 24 - Canyonlands Squaw Flat Campground, Newspaper Rock
We drove about 40 miles to Squaw Flat campground in Canyonlands NP. This took us off the mesa and down into the canyon floor. We passed Newspaper Rock which has an abundance of petroglyphs - pictures pecked into the sandstone rock faces by Indians over 1000 years ago. One of the figures is the same as the one we have on our camper. One of these days, we'll show you all of the bumper stickers and other pictures we have accumulated on the camper. We thought it would be fun to plaster the back the same way people used to do.
Still cool and windy. Attended a ranger talk in the evening about the Indians and how the "animals" made the night sky. In the next set of pictures below, you can see far left the view from our campground yesterday, then our campsite today at Squaw Flat.
How about this VW dune bug? Don't you wonder where it's been?
Monday, April 25
The first row were taken as we are leaving the needles area of Canyonlands. The next row are from our campsite along the San Juan river at Sand Island park, about 100 miles down the road.
Lots of river excursions leave from here. Still windy and cool, but it is supposed to be better tomorrow. Some flowers we saw: wild onion, canaigre (wild desert rhubarb), snowball (sweet sand verbena). Saw a black-billed magpie today as well.
Tuesday, April 26 - Monument Valley
A beautiful day and we are off to the Grand Canyon NP. Our first stop is Monument Valley, with all the large monoliths that were backdrops for the John Wayne westerns. This is Navajo country so there are many Indians set up with small "shops" (no more than lean-to's) along the tourist trail selling all sorts of hand made items, and fairly inexpensive.
you just see John Wayne riding up ? We stopped to eat Indian tacos,
braised mutton steak, and Indian tea made form some desert plant. A Navajo
couple saw our SOWER emblem on the pickup and stopped to talk. Harry and
Julia were born-again Christians who told us that there were many Christians in
the valley, but also that many still include or solely adhere to old traditional
It was 3:00 p.m. when we started up the mountain from the desert. Grand Canyon south rim is near 7000 ft and we dropped about 10°. Driving toward the campground, we encountered some cold showers that caused the air temperature to drop another 5-7°, but it would soon warm up again. We easily acquired a $7.50 campsite with our Geezer pass, and right after we set up camp, a short hail shower passed us with pea-sized hail.
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