|Sunset Moab UT|
|Getti, our guide, with Marilyn looking over Canyonlands...well a part of it anyway.|
|Site in foreground with Colorado Rive|
on the left. The road we took is on
the right at the base of mesa along
rock art on the rock wall as the highway skirted between the river and the wall. These were created by those same Ancestral Puebloans we learned about at Mesa Verde. The exact meaning of the art is not clear. Actually the best understanding comes from the current descents of these peoples who are still living in their native cultures in the area. Often the meaning is not meant to be shared with those who are not part of that culture...that means us!
|Google satellite view with Colorado River to the|
right and the road we were on going around the top
and then down on the left.
We continued on through the Potash Company's extensive mining operation that generates potash or potassium chloride which we encounter as potassium in wide variety of fertilizers. Some years ago the company converted from shaft mining to solution extraction both for safety and accessibility issues. "Unlike conventional mining, which involves moving large amounts of dirt to access a mineral resource, solution mining requires boring injection and recovery wells into the ground. From there, a heated brine solution is injected into the deposit to dissolve potash salts. The dissolved salts are then pumped out of the cavern to the surface where the water is evaporated, either artificially or in solar evaporation ponds; salt and potash are left behind." (Quotation from web site.) Blue dye is added to the solution to speed up evaporation.
|Here we are at Thelma and Louise Point|
|From the intersection of Shafer and White Rim Roads looking toward Dead Horse Point|
|Marilyn at Musselman's Arch|
We returned back toward Sky Island Mesa and began our 2,000 foot climb up a twisting turning road up it face to arrive at the Visitor's Center of that part of the park. This video gives an idea of what it was like.
|A view to forever|
Once we arrived at the top, we were treated to a view that was hard to describe. Well, here is a photo...which is supposedly worth a 1000 words.
After a rest stop, we headed back to Moab, grabbed some lunch and headed off by ourselves to tour Arches National Park, a short five minute drive from Moab.
Arches National Park is an entirely different experience. Getti had characterized Arches as a personal, even intimate experience compared to Canyonlands. As soon as we entered, I could see what he meant. At each viewpoint along the road, short walk or hike brought us into direct contact with these giant sculpted red rocks.
|That's Colorado in the background. Imagine them snow covered!|
It is hard to believe that 65 million years ago all this was a dry seabed with these sandstone structures buried thousands of feet below the surface. "First, geologic forces wrinkled and folded the buried sandstone, as if it were a giant rug and someone gathered two edges towards each other, making lumps across the middle called Anticlines. As the sandstone warped, fractures tore through it, establishing the patterns for rock sculptures of the future.
Next, the entire region began to rise, climbing from sea level to thousands of feet in elevation. What goes up must come down, and the forces of erosion carved layer after layer of rock away. Once exposed, deeply buried sandstone layers rebounded and expanded, like a sponge expands after it's squeezed (though not quite so quickly). This created even more fractures, each one a pathway for water to seep into the rock and further break it down." (Quotation from Arches NPS web site.) Today what we see is in a constant process of destruction mostly due to the forces of water. Eventually all these structures will be flattened to await the next series of geologic cataclysms.
We spent the afternoon among these dramatic structures. Around 4:00 the sun peaked below the clouds providing the kind of light that shows the formations at their best.
We ended our time in Moab with dinneer at the Sunset Grill which is high above Moan in the house built by Charlie Steen, the "Uranium King" who put Moab on the map in the 1950's and who was probably also responsible for that massive cleanup mentioned at the beginning of this post. However, that was then and this is now so Charlie is somehow fondly remembered.
We left the next morning for Vail where we met Brendan and Maria White, friends of Marilyn and now friends of mine as well. Brendan has been in Colorado and the Vail area for many years and participated fully in the life of this beautiful mountain area. We worked for many years as a designer and jeweler for a major jewelry store in Vail Village and now works on his own. They showed us around Vail and Beaver Creek.
While we were there I did get a chance to review the current political situation with President Lincoln who provided me with much needed perspective and, I must say, hope.
After driving over Vail Pass during the end of a snow storm, we made our flight home through Chicago and ended our ten vacation in Colorado and Utah. I was able to get one last image, this one of downtown Chicago on our final approach to O'Hare.