Stairstepping In Kodachrome Land, Part 3: A Zip Through The Cedars

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June 3, 2016, Chinle, AZ- After leaving Nevada behind, I decided that the drive through the expanse of heaven that is southern Utah would have to be somewhat less than just.  I have the Golden Circle on my radar screen for a full month of exploration- but not until next summer, at the very earliest, and maybe not until 2020.  The pines, cedars and unparalleled canyons of southern Utah are treasures to be taken one inch at a time.

One caveat I share with most other drivers is:  Don’t make a nuisance of yourself, by constantly and abruptly pulling to the side of the narrow road, to get that great photo.  So, the scenes presented herein are few in number- focusing on two places:  Navajo Lake/Duck Creek and Orderville Canyon.  These two very different environments give a snippet of the variety in a relatively small area of Kane County.

I spent a few minutes in the commercial hub of Cedar City, just refueling and resting my Nissan.  The traffic was already gearing up for a crowded weekend, hereabouts, so on up through Kolob Canyon it was.  Navajo Lake lies in the rim country, above Zion National Park.  There were about a dozen people at the overlook, so we took turns with photographs.

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Dike  across Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

The dike was built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, during the New Deal, to maintain constant water flow.

Navajo Lake, and nearby Duck Creek, were created by lava flow, which altered the course of the Virgin River, which created Zion Canyon.  Below, are some scenes of the lava beds, around Duck Creek Visitor Center.

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Lava bed at Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Lava bed, Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Orderville is one of the small farming towns that are a delight to visit, in the midst of southern Utah’s canyon country.  It is also a jumping off point for those headed east, towards Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Park.  Orderville has a gorgeous canyon of its own, though, and can easily enchant the visitor for 2-3 days.

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

With the day growing short, I headed on east and south, through Page, AZ, on the southern shore of Lake Powell, across the Navajo Nation, to Kayenta and Chinle.  At Tsegi, just west of Kayenta, I cam across a couple whose vehicle and trailer had overturned.  The Indian Health Service worker who had stopped to help was having a hard time getting through to emergency services.  I was able to call and get help en route.  Good thing that neither person,nor their two dogs, were injured.  Past Kayenta, a brush fire had broken out, south of Chilchinbeto, where I once worked. Once again, 911 was dialed from my phone, and a fire truck was dispatched.

That was the end of the day’s excitement.  I enjoyed a relaxing meal at Junction Restaurant, in Chinle, before heading down to Native American Baha’i Institute, another 1 1/2 hours further southeast.  It is time to change gears, and focus on spirituality for a day or so.

The Glory Road

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January 27, 2016, Walsenburg, CO-  U.S. Highway 160 has long been one of my favourite routes- at least, the part between Tuba City, AZ and this little south central Colorado community has been, since we first traveled it, in 1983.

I lived for 5 years in Tuba City, four of them with Penny.  I was a school counselor, at the public Intermediate School (Grades 4-6).  During that time, we made friends with several people who lived there, and in the Navajo communities further northeast, sheepherding communities like Dinnebito, Tonalea, Cow Springs, and Kaibeto.  Highway 160 runs through Tonalea and Cow Springs, and there are several classic rock formations, throughout the portion of Arizona that is bisected by the 160, all the way to Four Corners, where four states meet.

I will do more with photos, when traveling the route again, in June.  For now, a dead battery in my camera, and a time frame connected with the Essential Oils Winter Summit, which calls me to the Front Range, have interrupted the photographic aspect of driving along this glorious road.

Once past Four Corners, I encountered a series of uniquely beautiful southern Colorado towns:  Bustling and congenial Cortez, agricultural Mancos and Bayfield, riparian Durango and its stately Fort Lewis College, healing Pagosa Springs, ski-oriented South Fork, laid-back Del Norte, commercial hubs Monte Vista and Alamosa, Spanish land-grant Walsenburg.

I pretty much bulled my way along the road today:  I gave a Navajo hitchhiker a ride from Tuba to Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley, scene of so many John Ford Westerns.  I filled up the car at City Market’s gas station, in Cortez.  I filled myself up at Junction Restaurant, Pagosa Springs- a favourite of mine, just because it lies at the western edge of Wolf Creek Mountain, whose Pass is frequently blocked in winter.

Not so, this evening, and I marveled at the stars  overhead, once being able to slow down and take them in, atop the massive mountain pass, with no ice or snow on the road.  I was planning to stop in Alamosa, for the evening, but the only non-chain motel had a No Vacancy sign, despite a near-empty parking lot.

It was just as well, though, as I made it to Walsenburg, a town I  visited, briefly, two years ago, whilst bringing furniture further up the road, to the Denver area.  Sands Motel is a gem, small enough to have gorgeous rooms AND be economical.  I will post a photo or two of the motel, when writing about my return trip.

For the next three days, I will be ensconced in a business meeting, so my posts will alternately extol essential oils and address some of the prompts in Winter Scavenger Hunt.  Stay sane and warm, everyone.