The 2018 Road, Day 5: Scenes of White, Red and Green

8

May 31, 2018, Limon, CO- 

A drive from Salina to Green River, Utah entails being mindful of all things road trip-related. First and foremost of these are gas and water, the latter for both the car’s radiator and for its passengers.  Having lived in the arid Southwest for 34 of the last 40 years, I am one of those who does not leave home without plenty of both.

So, after a fine night’s sleep, at Ranch Motel, in downtown Salina, I greeted the motel’s maid (not exactly a morning person) and went down the street to Mom’s Cafe.  The hostess was much more cheerful and served up a scrambled eggs, sausage patty and pancakes platter that would see me through the whole day.

20180531_084520[1]

20180531_084212[1].jpg

After my morning repast, I took a couple of views of downtown Salina.

20180531_084221[1]

20180531_084308[1]

Prep work for the long day’s drive then took over.  I said farewell to the Ranch Motel folks.  I really would stay there again.  Morning grouchiness aside, they are a nice family. Across the street, Barrett’s Market had ice and a few food items that I needed.  NAPA Auto parts had a couple of items for my project to secure the rear panel that is still taped in place, from last October’s mishap, outside Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM.  Finally, I stopped at Fast Gas, for the most important item, and I was on my way.

There are several scenic view pullouts, between Salina and Green River.  Three of them were my photo stops:  Salt Wash, Devil’s Canyon and Spotted Wolf Canyon.  A fourth, Ghost Rock, is one I am saving for an extended Utah visit, that will occupy October, 2020. More about that, later.

Salt Wash is the largest of the three sites I visited this morning.  Here are a few of the scenes that awaited me.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The top two scenes show the limestone that sits atop so many layers of sandstone, which forms the nearly endless canyons of our region.  The various layers are visible, in the third photo, above.

Salt Wash had a sizable display of Dineh (Navajo) art and crafts.  I purchased a lovely bowl, as part of my gift for the wedding which is taking me to Philadelphia, in mid-June.  When I got to Devil’s Canyon, a few blankets were laid out, with necklaces and such, all lovely, but I had what I wanted.  Here are a couple of views from this second viewpoint.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

You can see that, with just the passage of a few miles, a slight change in elevation brings a drastic difference in landscape and plant life.

At Spotted Wolf Canyon, the easternmost of the scenic viewpoints, there were no vendors, just a news photographer, out of Salt Lake City, plying his craft.  I worked around him, and got these scenes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This is the beginning of the relentless maze of canyons and eroded bottomlands, that make southeastern Utah, and much of nearby northeastern Arizona, such a major desert trekking haven.  I am looking to do justice to Utah’ s great parks and reserves-thus, a plan to spend all of July, 2020, beginning with the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and moving through Arches, Canyonlands and westward, ending at Cedar Breaks.

I made my next stop in Grand Junction, western Colorado’s regional commercial hub, intending to gas up again and get the car washed.  The car wash attendant had to manually restart the system, both for me and for the gentleman who came after me.  I ended up spending nearly two hours in Grand Junction, with not much to show for it, but the car was clean.

As luck would have it, my second cousin, in Denver, was working and I know my sister-in-law, with two jobs, would likely be unavailable when I got there.  So, I stopped in Glenwood Springs and had dinner at 19th Street Diner, a westside spot where another friend works.  She wasn’t there, but I was well-treated.

Along the way from Glenwood to Denver, the Colorado River shows its relative health.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It will be a fine day, when this level of vitality is again visible, for the length of this great river.  Alas, man must drink.

Wind, furious at times, was my companion from Denver to Limon, Colorado, where I would spend the night.  It was a minor adventure, gassing up in the small town of Watkins, just east of Denver International Airport.  The clerk inside was blase about the wind- “Well, we are in the Plains.”  True enough, and so it would continue, as I moved through Kansas.

 

 

 

 

In Spirit Canyon

6

April 2, 2017, Prescott- The second good part about yesterday, after being treated to a lunch prepared with love and caring, was a hike in the upper reaches of Queen Creek Canyon.  The trail I took lies about a mile or so east of Oak Flat.  A sign, at the bridge over Queen Creek, refers to Devil’s Canyon.  I would rather use the name Spirit Canyon, in the same vein as those, who love Wyoming’s iconic towering butte, use the name Spirit Tower.

So, there I was, again almost totally alone, with the gathering wind and dark, but high clouds, and one Arizona gray squirrel.  The canyon is as magnificent here, as it is closer to town.  The trail here leads up to the feet of the Pinal Mountains, which include Picket Post Mountain, on their western edge.

As always, one can imagine the rhyolite spires as fortresses and sentinels.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This scrunchy-faced sentinel was “alert”.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This rock almost reminded me of ribbon candy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Wild flowers, while still sparse, are popping up in bunches, here and there.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Atop the canyon, alligator junipers take over from cacti, oaks and mesquite.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Pinal Mountains lie ahead, across a trail-less expanse of about two miles.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As if to say “Heads up, there are fiery days ahead”, a small patch of Mexican Firecracker greeted me, as I got close to my car, at the end of the hike.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Whether the days ahead are tranquil or turbulent, I know that I have plenty of friends, both human and spirit, in the vast expanse, of which Arizona is a central part.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVI: Spirits and Graffiti

0

March 14, 2017, Superior-  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some call the place Devil’s Canyon.  Others prefer Spirit Canyon.  Folks like me look at it, and Queen Creek Gorge, it is.  There seem to be at least three canyons, branching off.  The one I checked out, from the highway rim, is between Superior and the Oak Flat turnoff.  It includes the high bridge over Queen Creek and a maze of rhyolite spires, reminding me of southeast Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge.

Bored local youths have, over the years, added their signatures, hopes and dreams to the pillars.  Most are mildly irritating, to those who seek solace, on the canyon’s edge.  One, though, is a statement that most of us can appreciate.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For the greater part, though, Queen Creek Gorge is a major delight, for hikers and rock climbers, alike.  It accounts for a good number of the campers who flock to Oak Flat.  On my next visit to Superior, I want to spend a key part of the time checking out the creek bed itself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES It also looks as if there is a ridge that could accommodate the hiker.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I always imagine the various face-like features of the sandstone spires, as if they were gargoyles.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Afternoon shadows mask what the stand-alone spire might resemble.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These three appear rather comical, yet ever watchful.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This one, I call Joe Palooka, because he probably isn’t into any funny business.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The scene on the north side of Highway 60 is every bit as amazing.  I saw an offbeat George Washington, in the figure to the right.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After about ten minutes of contemplation, it was time to bid adieu to the many spirits who seem to be inhabiting this compact, but extraordinary, canyon system.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Next up-  Boyce Thompson Arboretum:  The Regional Exhibits

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XV: Free Souls Abound

2

March 13, 2017, Oak Flat, AZ-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES The young couple were a bit taken aback, as I returned to the campsite, where my tent was set up.  They hushed their small, annoyed dog, as I explained I had been at the campsite for a while and had gone to town for dinner.  As they were car-camping, and the campground is free, we were all fine with each other’s presence.  Besides, after some banter, I left them alone, and was content to watch the stars and think loving thoughts. The campground reflected those back.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Before all this, as there were about 45 minutes until sundown, I took a stroll along an easy trail that led south and west from the campground.  A free spirit, whose own goal was explore all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, had pointed me in the direction of a spring, which he said was a good two hours’ hike from here.  I took the stone path out of the campground and shortly found remnants of another of General Stoneman’s outposts.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Rhyolite and obsidian abound, in this part of Arizona, as you will see further in “Devils Canyon” (I prefer the name, Queen Creek Gorge, but to each their own.)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Stone walls were built to last, in the 1870’s.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I like to pay respects at  memorials to the local departed, wherever I go.  This cross honours the wife of an Oak Flat native.

The campground is of further interest to me, because there is a controversy over just how extensively a planned underground copper mine will be allowed to run, underneath this immediate area.  There are concerns about depleting the water table and about creating a giant sinkhole, under the current campground.  There is some debate, even among Native Americans, as to the sacredness of the site to the Apache Nation.  Several protesters have set up a camp, within the campground, featuring traditional Apache dwellings, called wikieup.  The environmental and archaeological concerns are valid, as is the need for work, among the residents of Superior and outlying areas.  I would probably favour a scaled back mining enterprise, with careful attention to the water table and to honouring any burial sites that may be found.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES