Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Even More Fun in Moab!

I've been to Moab close to 20 times in the last 20 years, and there is always something new to do.

Upheaval Dome is in the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands near the hike in the last post. This crater-like depression is more than 2 miles wide. Geologists argue about where it came from. The biggest theories are that it's from the impact of a huge meteorite, or that it's a big salt dome.

The next day, Bill and Bertie took us on a back roads trip to 2 different areas. First we went into Arches National Park and drove the Willow Flats road. It wasn't too difficult, and I couldn't help but notice you could get into the park for free by taking this road if you didn't have a pass. (Of course, I would never do such a thing...)

Along the road are some unique petrified dinosaur tracks, made about 165 million years ago by a three-toed human-sized therapods. Over 2500 dinosaur tracks have been found in the Moab area.

After we got back to the main highway, we went back to town and out Kane Creek Drive.

Right along the road is a huge boulder with petroglyphs on all 4 sides. The figures range from 200 to 2000 years old. The most famous is this "birthing scene."

Farther on, the road goes through the creek, then through a valley, then up to Hurrah Pass.

Hurrah! We made it!

There are some unique rock formations at the pass, and all along the road.

The view from the pass looking back down the valley.

After that exhausting trip (ha!), we had to stop at the Moab Diner for banana splits. We were told to ask for Brittany to make them, because she was the best. But she was off! So Diana (nice name) made them instead. She felt obliged to outdo Brittany, and she did! This is about 3 time bigger than it's supposed to be.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shhhh! A Secret Hike!

For about 10 years I've seen a picture of an ancient dwelling with the Canyonlands in the background, but I've never been able to find out where it was. A member of the WINs, Linda, knows where it is and has offered to take me, Phil, and Chuck.

It turns out it is what the park service calls a "Class 2 Hike." The Visitors Center will tell you how to get there only if you know enough to give them the name, photograph, or description of the destination.

The hike starts out easy enough. Beautiful views, with the Green River in the background.

But soon gets tougher, with some rock scrampling on the side of a cliff.

Our destination is up in that small hole in the middle of the picture.

You have to go past it a ways and then work your way up.

Whew! Almost there!

Yippee! I made it! The site is called "False Kiva" because people falsely believed the round structure is a kiva or ceremonial room. However, these structures were fairly common shelters for ancestral Puebloan people living in the area around A.D. 1200.

The front door had a great view of Candlestick Tower.

When we got there, the site was half in the sun and half not. Of course we waited around until the sun was just right. I took some pictures in raw format, which I had never done before. This is one of them.

Now all we have to do is find our way back to the car. Phil took most of these hiking pictures, because I was too focused on trying not to kill myself.

Don't look down!

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Fun in Moab

Moab is such a beautiful location that it's been used for many movies. There's a little museum I like about all the different movies that have been made in the area at Red Cliffs Ranch on Highway 128.

Most are Westerns, but I'm more familiar with the others, like "Thelma and Louise." They even have the Thelma that went over the cliff.

Another movie I remember most that was filmed here was "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," which opens with River Phoenix as Young Indy under Double Arch in Arches National Park.

There are lots of petroglyphs in the area. This one is 125 feet long and right along Hwy 279 on the way to our campsite. Lots of horned anthropomorphs holding shields, other animals, and abstract images.

The age of these images is difficult to determine, but they were made sometime between A.D. 1 and A.D. 1275.

This one nearby shows a large bear with a hunter at the bear's nose and another over its back, along with several bighorn sheep.

It was a hot day so we all decided to do the La Sal Mountain Loop road, which goes up to 8000 feet or so. It's easy to follow the WINs, just look for all the kayaks.

We went right by Castle Rock, which has been in lots of car commercials.

They had to take this car up by helicopter in pieces. It was quite an operation back in 1973. Now they can just do it with Photoshop!

The aspens provided some nice color as we got near the top.

Near the end of the Loop is the most amazing sight -- a waterfall right in the middle of the desert! But don't get too excited. It's called Faux Falls, because it was artificially created when water was diverted from a creek to fill up a nearby lake in 1981.

And lastly, another view from our group camp site, right along the Colorado River.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Island in the Sky

I have not been with the WINs for about 4 months now, but rejoined them in Moab, Utah for the start of the CUACK (Colorado Utah Arizona California Kayaking) circuit. We're parked really snugly at 2 sections of the Gold Bar group area, right on the Colorado River south of town.

Our first activity was a 4-wheel drive trip up to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands. You can get there on a paved road, but we went up Long Canyon instead.

It started out pretty easy, cute even!

Uh-oh! Trouble ahead at Pucker Pass. There's a really big hole up there with lots of sand in it.

Nancy had no trouble at all, even driving one handed so she could cheer with the other.

One thing we always say, "It's better to watch the show than be the show." Austin is stuck down there. Bertie pulled him up, with about 100 feet of combined tow ropes. She is really fearless!

Our first stop once we got to the top was Dead Horse Point. Down below us is the Colorado River and the Shafer Trail that we are going to go back on.

Remember that point with the arrow, I'll talk about it later.

Next stop was Mesa Arch, where you can get a beautiful picture of the arch with Washer Woman underneath. Can't see the Washer Woman?

Here's a close up. She's on the left.

Of course I had to do the touristy thing of walking across the arch. There's a BIG dropoff on the other side.

Then we went to the Green River Overlook, where you can see the Green River before it meets up with the Colorado River south of here.

There is more to see in Island in the Sky, but we have a long trip home, so here we go. That's our road??? Oh dear....

It's actually a pretty good road, although a little scary. You don't even need 4-wheel drive, although high clearance would be nice.

Here we are at the point I showed you from above. It's called Thelma and Louise Point, because it's where the final scene of the 1991 movie "Thelma and Louise" was filmed.

Thelma and Louise drove off the cliff in a cloud of dust, rather than surrender. They actually had to film the scene twice and waste 2 cars because in the first take, one of the mannequins fell over.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hot Sulphur Springs

This is a really cool town, or should I say hot? Free camping at Pioneer Park, one block from town and two blocks from--

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. It costs a whopping $17.50 a day to enjoy their 26 pools, but with the free camping, it all evened out.

Most of the pools are spread out on the hillside, and connected with a boardwalk. Each pool was a different temperature, from 95 degrees to 112 degrees, and labeled so you could find one that was juuuuust right.

Over 200,000 gallons of natural hot mineral-rich water flow through the pools and baths every day, so much that they do not need to add chemicals, filter or re-circulate the water.

Some were indoors.

Some partially covered, and a regular swimming pool in the background used town water.

My favorite, the Ute Cave pool, had its own massage waterfall.

Inside were historical pictures of the springs. This one was from the late 1800s.

And this was how it looked 23 million years ago.

Driving around town, I immediately spotted this sign. Wow!

Quite a take, huh? I even got a spare receiver exactly like my DirecTV receiver.