March 13-16, 2016
Sunday, March 13
Onto I-80 east at 1:57 and immediately into Utah, elevation 4432, back into the Mountain Time Zone. Bonneville Speedway at 1:55. Overcast again. The salt flats began to the north and south at Mile 4 and ended at Mile 40. I stopped at the Cedar Mountain Wild Horse Range Rest Area and took a couple of pictures.
Jennifer Meadows is 58 years old today.
Nevada state line to Nephi, Utah
196 south at 3:08, temp 61, one lane each way, Rawlin, Dugway, Iosepa, mountains to the left, prairie to the right. Beautiful country, an old shack that has seen better days (a store or something), houses some distance off the road, a big house to my right with a couple of RVs, a trailer home nearby, a tree standing solitary on the plain near the house. 3:30, a farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, a building that looks like an old schoolhouse with raw wood thinking about falling apart, cattle shoots by the road. A buffalo sign, 70 mph speed limit, tiny little house way off the road, a small shed next to it. Not a heck of a lot of traffic on this road. An old abandoned gas station, the Tekoi Test Range with a shack alongside the entry road that might have been a guard shack but didn't look like one.
196 ends at the Dugway Proving Grounds. Definitely a guard shack there so I turn around and get on Utah 199. Looks like it's heading straight for the mountains. Between Dugway and the mountains, there are no houses until Mile Marker 8, where there are a number of houses and trailers. Instead going up into the mountains, the road goes into a low winding valley between the hills but there's no stream that has created this valley. Perhaps it's buried under the tar and concrete. Over the top and back down, a big wide valley down there some distance ahead of me, a big range of snow-covered mountains on the other side, snow patches alongside this road. Rush Valley at 4:02.
Route 36 south at 4:06, railroad track to my left with the usual prairie on the other side of the railroad and snow-capped mountains after that. Something raced across the road, a jackrabbit maybe but too far away to be sure. Not another car out here in the middle of nowhere. Welcome to Vernon at 4:22. Snow-covered mountain rising like a ghost over another range that's quite some distance away; to the west another range of snow-covered mountains maybe 2 or 3 miles away, maybe more. Orange plastic nets off to my left, to my right a railroad track that is pulling away, large desert bushes, mesquite maybe, Joab County, road ahead straight but rolling.
US 6 east at 4:40, still a 2-lane road, Mammoth off to my right, hillsides dotted with desert growths, pretty high, one or two of them 10 to 15 feet high. Eureka! At 4:43. Miner's Diner, the Oxford, big brick building of some kind, quite small city hall, the Tintic Mining Museum, several abandoned buildings in a row, a white church with a steeple, an ornate church in dull yellow with brown trim, Eureka Gold, a square and orange brick school, Tintic Lumber Company, Blue Rock Excavating. Into Utah County at 4:45. Into another valley, curving with what is probably a creek to my left, rock faces off to my right, some orange rock among the gray. A railroad bridge over a dry wash, the rails coming right up to this road and disappearing underneath it. Goshen at 4:49, a large gray bird (great blue heron? flapping away from the road. Genola, Old Pioneer Press, Sentaquin Pharmacy, Senta Queen Food Store, Ions Bank.
I-15 south at 5:09. A couple of really snow-covered mountains up there ahead of me slightly to my left, looks like really deep snow, also 3 snow-filled valleys directly to my left.
Into the Economy Lodge & Suites in Nephi Utah at 5:35, temp 57, odometer 125220, a large room, fairly well lit, lots of sink counter space, bathroom space and fan extremely loud. Everything is now an hour later since we entered the Mountain Time Zone at the Nevada-Utah border. The One Man Band Diner at 7:17 Mountain Time. A medicore steak burrito with chili, tomato & lettuce, iced tea.
Monday, March 14
50 years ago, I was apartment-hunting in DC.
Nephi, Utah to Green River
I thought my digital recorder had finally given up the ghost so I was unable to record today, which was spectacular. Now that I'm in a motel, I find it's working fine. So I have to reconstruct everything from my memory and my notes.
So, I left the motel after a breakfast of waffle, small blueberry muffin, coffee, and apple juice. No cereal or toast. $14.50 worth of $1.759 85 octane at a 7 Eleven in Nephi. Then I got on I-75 and took the next exit to Utah 24 which I followed to the Capitol Reefs National Monument then back up to I-70.
So it was through the usual desert, with mountains on either side, a number of small towns, a lot of space between them, a lot of black and red Angus, a number of horses and even donkeys, farming country (irrigation rigs).
The country as I approached the park was stunning and 28 went through part of it as I approached the visitor's center and for some distance afterwards. I stopped frequently to take photos but when I got to Panorama Point I was blown back a step or two several times by the wind. I took the "scenic drive" from the center into the park.
There was a herd of 10-15 deer (I have never seen that many deer together before) early on in the road then I hit the main part, with incredible cliffs and stone formations to my left and desert to my right. Nonetheless, good as it was, I could only call it incredible rather than awesome. What struck me most was the colors: orange rock (yes, orange), gray, red, and black streaks like tar on the rocks. A lot of different formations, including one that looked like a giant statue. Then the road became a dirt road and I hesitated. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I dived in (at 15 mph) to the Capitol Gorge. You want to talk about awesome? I'll show you awesome. Soon I was inside multi-colored walls.
Back on Utah 28, the great scenery didn't stop for quite a few miles then 28 headed north to I-70, through desert with frequent sizable rock outcroppings, 3 antelope, a dust devil blowing across the road and a tumbleweed racing across in front of me, to crash at the Budget Inn Motel in Green River, which turned out to be a dump, for the first time on this trip, nearly 6 months after I started. Mediocre spaghetti at a restaurant nearby for dinner.
Tuesday, March 15
In 1964, I began running lights for The American Light Opera Company.
Green River to Cortez
Leaving the Budget Inn Motel at 9:47, temp 40, odometer 125478. Leaving Green River at 9:58, $16.00 of $1.899 87 octane at a Silver Eagle after mailing a tee shirt to Burrie, the post office next to the motel, sun in my eyes, a completely clear blue sky day, over the Green River, low cliffs to my left, low mesa up ahead, desert everywhere else. I-70 at 10:01. A range of cliffs to the north, dark brown at the base then a white band of golden or yellow brown then topped off with another band of dark brown, little sentinel peak ahead to my left, rising up like the prow of a ship then falling off in a dark brown slope, smaller almost Egyptian rock formations in front of it. To the south it's mostly prairie, a couple of gullies, mountains up ahead to my right that seem to be snowcapped, at least a couple of them. The exit to Floy.
I had called Burrie this morning, he called back while I was on I-70, and I called him back at a rest stop where I drove uphill and then walked around it as we talked and there was this incredible dropoff to the desert far below. As I headed back to the highway, I went through what looked like solidified sand dunes.
Immediately to the exit for Canyonlands, Utah 191, one lane each way, desert on either side of the road, snow-covered mountains in the distance on both sides, much further off to the west than to the east, outcroppings here and there. 10:56, another red rock palisades cliff off to my right, red rock at the bottom then gray rock and finally an orange-red palisade that goes on and on, past it a lot of rock fingers on top of a cliff, Dead Horse State Park, a fenced-in tyrannosaurus. The road now becomes two lanes with a divider, red rock claws reaching out for the road, a railroad to my right. Past Arches National Park at 11:05. Been there, done that.
Across the Colorado River into Moab, Atomic Lounge, River Canyon Lodge, Museum of Moab, Love Muffin, Jailhouse Cafe, Red Rock Lodge, Desert Dreams, Miguel's Baja Grill, Apache Motel, Pancake Haus, Big Horn Lodge, Silver Sage Inn. Back down to one lane each way.
Utah 211 to Canyonlands at 12:01. Sagebrush and desert on both sides of the road, small hills to my left, pretty much rolling desert, some dirt roads, up ahead snowy mountains with 3 or 4 sharp peaks and ridge-type peak, gullies. Big tight ess curve; for a moment I thought the road went straight. Finally out of the desert into red rock country, nice but not terribly impressive, big yellow rounded mountain up ahead. End of 211 at 12:29, red rock cliffs around me, a rock ledge with shards of rock sticking up all over it. Past some twin peaks, 3 brown horses and a white horse and cattle to my left, one lonely bull (probably) by itself off to my right. The Superbowl Campground.
Entering Canyonlands at 12:50, a lot of high cirrus and a lot of blue, flat white to the south. Snow-covered mountains way off to the east. Cave Spring at 1:25: "This short loop leads to a historic cowboy camp and prehistoric pictographs." A long rock overhang. Wood ladder attached to a cliff with bolts and chains but I had to come back down because it seemed too precarious afterwards.
Pothole Point at 2:04. Big Spring Canyon Overlook at 2:17, looking into a canyon with rock figures everywhere, on the promontory, on both sides of the canyon, leaving at 2:28, a tiny lizard and a raven muttering "Nevermore" to itself. Generally speaking, Canyonlands was a bit of a disappointment. I would probably have been stunned if I came here first but I guess I'm getting a bit jaded. Some good stuff here and lots of photos but not up to the awesomeness of other places. One solitary cow in a field with more further on, all in the same large field. Big huge chunks of rock alongside the road, having fallen down from those cliffs some time in the past, some of them on the other side of the road, endless huge pieces of rock, 3 rock hoodoos standing sentinel on the top of a ridge. Newspaper Rock. A hawk, maybe an eagle, standing over some prey on the side of the road.
Back on to 191 south at 3:40. Monticello at 3:53. Welcome to Colorful Colorado at 4:12. I'm not going to make a special addition for this since I'll be going back into Utah tomorrow. The road to Hovenweep at 4:49. Lots and lots of cows grazing out in a field of stubble, mostly black, some brown, one with a white blaze on its forehead, one with a white head, some calves. I gave up on Hovenweep at 5:10. Maybe tomorrow. A hawk flapping away as I drive by and what looked like a swallow of some kind.
Cortez at 5:50, elevation 6200. The Tomahawk Lodge at 6:09, temp 43, odometer 125787. Kind of short on free plugs, small TV, no Kleenex. Then I had a reuben at Arby's.
Wednesday, March 16
8:30, another blue sky with cirrus and contrails, odometer 125788, temp 34. I had a dream where I was lying on a mattress in a room with other down-and-outers and it was filled with bedbugs. $21.40 of $1.999 87 octane in Cortez. I headed for Hovenweep by the southern route, a large snow-streaked mountain towering over the landscape as I drove between small hills and cliffs, 4 horses in a field, a little creek and gully with cliff-type banks about the height of a man or taller, a very tight U-curve, a pueblo style house with poles sticking out, then turned around and went back to 491, losing half an hour.
In 1926, Robert Goddard launched his first rocket.
Cortez to the Colorado line
Goodbye to the northern road to Hovenweep at 9:51. Dove Creek at 10:05, back into Utah at 10:16. Mountains with a pretty good amount of snow on them to my left. Back on to and Monticello at 10:39, the Peace Tree Juice Cafe. A strange contrail, a normal white contrail that turns to a darker contrail that goes on beyond the horizon, a fain dark blue or purplish, much fainter than the white. Passing Canyonlands south entrance at 10:50. A bunch of snow-covdered peaks with snow to my right, one especially tall and sharp, red rock shapes as I approach Moab and the Inca Inn at 11:25. Big dark cliffs overhanging the road as I cross the Colorado River, a walkway across it, red cliffs overhanging everything. Passing Arches National Park at 11:34. A road down there to my right with a bicycler on it that parallels the highway for a while.
Just as I was about to check the map to see if I had missed the turnoff, here is the turnoff to Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands, Route 313, at 11:44, which I reach at 12:10. I hadn't expected much after yesterday but, when I stopped at the Schaffer Trail Viewpoint, it was awesome (there's that word again), a way down view like the Grand Canyon but with a dirt road down there between red rock cliffs, the trail going down, winding--I don't think I'd want to go down it. It's very scary. 5 kids hiking, 3 guys, 2 girls, coming up from the canyon as I drive away.
Mesa Arch Overlook at 12:47, temp 45, a good stiff walk, mostly uphill then down to the arch itself over bare rock, a long drop to the desert floor beyond the arch.
What's incredible about Island in the Sky is that you're driving along the road and it doesn't seem like much and then you pull over at an overlook and there's this incredible dropoff and vista. But the problem with it is that it's basically the same view over and over again, however incredible, an awesome spectacular view again and again and again, not the changing rock forms of some place like the Capitol Reefs.
2:30 and I am finally on my way out of Island in the Sky after seeing Upheaval Dome, which is actually a large canyon, and I am awesomed out. In addition to the rock forms there are also the many fantastic twisted forms of mesquite trees, both dead and alive. The Neck, 5800 feet. Leaving Canyonlands at 3:00, back to 313 at 3:06 and 191 at 3:22.
I-80 at 3:45, temp up to 52. Coming down over a rock pass into rolling pastureland or desert. Leaving Utah at 4:40.