Updates and what nots…

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Can’t remember when I updated with non-travel issues, but it has been a while.  With the pandemic, things were kind of getting better and the “curve had begun to flattened.”   This was in mid to late May, and people including our illustrious leaders decided that it was ending, and it was time to open up the economy and loosen restrictions.  Each state did its own thing and although the federal government had issued “phased” reopening plans, many states did not follow these plans.

These re-openings coincided with Memorial Day and people took full advantage of being able to get out of their house and precautions be damned.  From that point on, people continued to congregate, restaurants and bars began reopening and many refused to take any precautions…  It has become a political statement whether or not to wear a mask.  Our administration has so far refused to wear a mask and has continued to say that everything is going great and opening the economy is what is best for the nation, health of the population be damned.

Here we are at the end of June and the country is having the highest daily case counts yet.  According to the administration this is due to testing.  If you don’t test there would be no cases?!?!   NY, NJ, etc. have done really well and are now not allowing people in from other infected areas without 14 day quarantine.   Tables have turned….  California, Texas and Florida are increasing cases exponentially.  Not only are cases increasing, but percent positive tests are increasing.

Today there are 2,800,000 cases and over 129,000 deaths in the US and the last week or so have spiked in several areas, cases more than hospitalizations or deaths, many in the younger age groups.  This makes me think a couple of things, will the hospitalizations and/or deaths increase in the next week or so with lag time from reported cases???  And with younger victims who probably have less symptoms do we really know the extent of infection and how far it has spread…AND WILL CONTINUE TO SPREAD.

Mask issues – this is really big stuff right now.  We have been to some towns Moab for example where 75% were wearing masks to towns where 35% were.  We choose to wear it to protect ourselves and others.   Many choose not to wear a mask, including many republicans, as I mentioned it is becoming a political issue.  President Trump has resumed his political rallies holding one in Tulsa and another in Phoenix with in the last couple of weeks.   Although the Tulsa rally was not as full as anticipated, there were over 6,000 people gathered inside with no social distancing or masks.  Same in Phoenix.

I have to admit that some republican politicians have back tracked on the mask issue recently.  VP Pence is wearing one sometimes and others are basically begging everyone to wear them now…  Unfortunately, it appears that it may be too late.  But we can always hope…

And if a pandemic was not bad enough, the country is going thru another crisis.  On Memorial Day, May 25 a black man named George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Police killing of unarmed black people is not a new occurrence, there have been several high profile instances just within the last couple of months, but George Floyd’s case really sparked an outrage in our country.

I don’t know if pent up frustration over the pandemic played a part or not, but either way, the outrage has been country wide.  Protests have been held in most large cities and many smaller towns, and are still continuing even now.  Many protests have been peaceful, but of course many have not been.  It is believed that most of the violent protesters are not part of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) but are infiltrators from either white supremist or antifascist depending on who you ask.

There are calls to “defund” the police departments, confederate statues have been destroyed, businesses looted and burnt and many other acts of violence as well as many acts of peaceful dissidence.   As for defunding the police, I kind of agree.  I believe that in many instances, police use of force is not the answer.  As I understand it the “defund” call is to redirect funds to other social safety nets such as mental health programs, substance abuse programs, educational programs, etc.  Police have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but some abuse their power and when they carry guns that abuse can turn deadly.  On the other hand, Americans seem to be able to kill each other pretty well with or without police interventions.   Once again, I don’t have the answers, just a bunch of questions…

Equality and Unity are what I believe we need.  To achieve equality, I believe that everyone needs to have the same opportunities.  This includes affordable housing, equal education, access to healthcare, but most important we must be treated equally.   People of color are not treated equally, this is fact.  I don’t know how to change people’s minds or outlooks on life, but somehow, we have just got to get over our bigotry!!!  As an individual, as a community and as a country we have got to get over that hate, fear, whatever you want to call it, we must find a way past.

I hope it is not too late for our response to this pandemic, I guess heard immunity is a last resort?  I truly hope it is not too late for us as a country to come together as a people and respect each other, provide basic necessities for our citizens and love one another!!!

Hmmm, don’t really know what to think of it all and know that this post didn’t help you, but maybe it helped me???

Peace love and JUSTICE FOR ALL!!!

Nine-Mile Canyon, Utah

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Nine-mile canyon is actually about 50 miles long and is known as the longest art gallery in the world.  It is full of “rock art”, petroglyphs and pictographs.  Many of the panels are full of characters, animals, people, designs, etc.  and some only have a couple.  We have seen many of these sites on our journeys, but this is location has so many scattered throughout.  Fifty miles is a long way to try to examine these features that are undoubtably scattered everywhere.  Luckily, we found an online guide that pointed out some of the major stops and where to look.

Petroglyphs are images that have been pecked into rock usually a panel with a dark patina exposing the lighter rock beneath.  Pictographs are images painted on to a rock surface.

Here we saw many more petroglyphs than pictographs so will show you the painted images first.  Many panels have been defaced with graffiti, gunshots or other means, but this was indefensible.   A wonderful image that was drastically defaced.  It may very well be on private property, but defacing this image in this manner should be illegal!!!  They should tattoo the message on whoever’s face (just my opinion).

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There were many petroglyphs that we saw and I am sure many more that we did not see.  One stop pointed to the owl panel, which was not on our guide so we had no idea where to look or how far to go into the canyon to look.  Research later showed us the panel, but we did not see it on our drive.  The area is vast and with out some direction you could look for days.

Here are some examples, particularly love the person leading the horse and rider…  and the ones showing people with bow and arrows.  All are pretty cool!!

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Finally the star of the show.  The Great Hunt, this is a very famous panel and it did not disappoint!!!

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Peace Love and keep on pecking (just not on ancient treasures)!!!

La Sal Mountains – Moab, UT

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Wanting an easy day, we decided to ride up the Colorado River to take in the beautiful canyon.  This part of the river is beautiful with red rock cliffs for about 20 miles.

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Then it opens up to vast flat desert landscapes.

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At that point we headed back towards town, and just happened to stumble upon the La Sal Mountain Loop Road.  Here you can see the La Sal Mountains in the background.

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Since it was so hot and we had most of the day we decided to take the loop road and take advantage of the elevation and cooler temperatures.  The temps dropped at least 15 degrees.  The loop started driving up thru Castle Valley and some pretty cool formations.  Including this “warty” little hill.

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Interesting how much and quickly landscapes can change.  Notice in this picture, the hills on the left are red rock cliffs and the one on the right is grey rock covered with trees the beginning of the La Sals.

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Looking down on the Castle Valley, notice the “warty” hill on the left…

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Peace Love and cows enjoying the free range.

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Dead Horse State Park

Dead Horse was inviting to us again since we had the Utah State Park Pass from St.  George, (making our visit free), it is very dog friendly and Nellie needed a day out.  Again this is somewhere we visited in 2017 so look back in history for more info…

This time it was quite hot and we had Nellie, but we decided to walk around the point.  Nice walk but did not enjoy the views as much as we should have mainly due to Nellie and her love of shade plus you know how much i love heights…

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Nellie in the shade!!! if there is any she will find it…

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Peace Love and Understanding!!!

Canyonlands National Park

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Again, we were here in March/April 2017 so look back for more information.  What is different in 2020.  Not much, we added a hike and skipped others.  We walked up whale rock not a long walk, but uphill some as you can see.  This is the rock…

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And this is up on top of the rock, proof we really took a walk for those of you who may doubt it…

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Not much else had changed, but it has only been 3 years and the world took billions creating it in the first place!!!  Wonder what it will look like in three more years???  Ha ha ha

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Interesting fact, they considered damming the Colorado and Green river just past their convergence just in the 1960s, thank our lucky stars this didn’t happen or all this would be under water…..

Peace Love and here’s to eternity and what it may bring?!?!

Arches National Park 2020

So, we were here our first couple of months full timing and we fully explored the park check our posts from approximately March/April 2017 for more information.

So different in Arches three years later.   We are in the middle of a world wide pandemic…  Since we started traveling again we have been to mostly deserted parks, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon, etc. have been very comfortable with our isolation protocol.  But Arches was a little crowded for us.  We did not get as up close and personal with several features as we probably would have if there was not a PANDEMIC.  We don’t usually wear a mask on trails or view points because we move to the side when others pass or wait until an area is open before approaching.  No need to get in the mixt of a crowd if avoidable.

Anywho, here are some Arches views from safe locations.

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Double Arch really cool!!!
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Delicate Arch on the left – on Utah license plates.  From a distance.

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The Windows
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The most famous of many balanced rocks

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Balanced rock again

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What a wonderful life we have… so grateful.  Peace, Love and thanks for the red rocks and blue skies!!!

Natural Bridges National Monument

First, for the few people who actually follow us on a regular basis, I apologize.  I have been really slack this year about posting in a timely manner.  Lately it seems that I am always catching up sometimes as much as two weeks after our visit.  Not sure why, and no promises that this will change, mostly I hope that I don’t forget too much since there is a time lag.  Either way, here we go catching up again.

We landed in Moab, UT in early June, surprised that it was not completely booked.  Not sure if this is due to the pandemic or just lucky.  We spent quite a bit of time here our first year on the road when we stayed in Green River for a month.   When here before it was March so weather was definitely different in June, quite hot most highs in excess of 100.

For a new adventure we traveled south a couple of hours to Natural Bridges.  Moab is well known for Arches National Park, and while these bridges are some what arches they are completely different.

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The first and most dramatic difference is that the rocks are white.  Secondly they are actually bridges with a river running under them, so their creation was much different than the red rock arches.  There are three main bridges to see in the monument.

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The monument also has remains of a cliff dwelling community.  These were different from dwellings in Mesa Verde.  They were located at the bottom of the cliff instead of near the top.  We assume that the cliff simply provided additional protection from the elements.  Being situated next to a river water was not an issue.  These ruins are under the lowest ledge of this cliff.

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The two-hour drive was not that unusual for us, we spend a lot of time in the car getting from one attraction to the next, but if it was all in one place imagine the crowds!!!  On these adventures we have seen some crazy roads, and this one did not disappoint.   Guess when you want to go somewhere and there is a reef in the way you just blast right thru it…  Like on this road…

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And road trips are nice for seeing little road side attractions like this.

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The below picture looks like  a large cavern, but in actuality it was about 4 inches tall.  Just thought it was pretty…

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Just some good advise…

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Peace Love and thanks for natural and manmade bridges!!!

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San Juan Loop, CO

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We were also able to complete the San Juan Loop.  The northern section was just a beautiful as the southern part.  Much more information about the mining in the area, and an interesting exhibit about building a railroad up the mountain range, the Silverton Railway.  Gibson may know something about this since he is our resident rail road expert.  It was so steep that they had to innovate a turning solution.

Not sure I have this quite right but something like this.  They had to run the train backwards for a portion of the mountain then backing on to a wye (that only held a couple of cars) the wye turned about a third of a turn and the train continued up the mountain going forwards.  No pictures of this, just info.  But here are some mountain pics.

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The other amazing thing we saw check out this creek that disappears into a covering of ice.  The ice is probably a couple of feet 3-4 thick as we noted by a crack in it where the creek is.  Then the creek emerges on the other side.  It is hard to tell that this is ice because it is covered with a lot of debris from that long winter.  Pretty cool though… literally…

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And literally living in the hillside…

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Peace Love and gorgeous blue sky looking over us!!!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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On our slow meander north, we were undecided as to where to go from Mesa Verde.  While talking to Millie one day she mentioned that a friend Margaret had visited one of the most beautiful canyons in Colorado many years ago.  This sparked a memory of wanting to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison when we were here three years ago, but it was too far and not on our path at the time.  Well times change and now we have no path so towards the Black Canyon we go.

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The Black Canyon is very narrow and very deep at certain parts of it.  In total it is 53 miles long and the Gunnison River that flows thru it drops at a dramatic rate averaging 95 feet per mile.  Towards the western end of the canyon it flattens out like a regular mountain canyon.

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But on the eastern end it is extremely craggy and rugged.

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It contains the tallest cliff in Colorado at 2,700 feet, almost twice the height of the Empire State Building in NYC.  This cliff is called the painted wall because of the wonderful modeling of different rock types.

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At the deepest the canyon is a half mile deep and a half mile wide at the narrowest.  Really quite a dramatic canyon many places to deep to capture both the river and the rim in the same photo…

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But approaching it from the north rim you would hardly know it was there.  We always laugh about the earlier settlers and how they most have felt making it all the way here and oops there is a large hole in the ground…

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The National park has two entrances one on the south side and one on the north side.  Although someone (with a really strong arm) could probably throw a rock across, the entrances are two hours apart by car.  Of course, we visited both sides, making the north side visit a loop (Nellie loves a loop and this was one NP that was dog friendly).

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The Gunnison is dammed three times before it reaches the canyon.  Which has created some beautiful lakes and recreation facilities as well as lots of electricity for the area.

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There is also a drive to the bottom of the canyon in the park with a nice trail walking up the river.  It was a hair-raising drive down, but beautiful once we arrived.  Nice picnic spot and the walk up the river, until we discovered that this trail was the only one in the park that dogs were not allowed on.  Didn’t think we could pass Nellie off as a kid so we didn’t walk.

Unbeknownst to us, starting back in 1904 a tunnel was dug beneath the mountains to divert part of the Gunnison to the surrounding community for irrigation.  It took about 8 years to complete and was a civil engineering marvel for the time tunneling 5.8 miles thru the mountains.

Peace Love and cheers to the tunnel diggers!!!  And thanks to Millie and Margaret!!!

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwellings etc.

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Our prior post focused on the history of the ancient Puebloans who called Mesa Verde home.  In the last couple of hundred years of occupation of Mesa Verde, some of the residence moved from the top of the mesa to the cliffs.  This began around 1200 AD.  The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are really the highlight of the park as you can see below with the Cliff Palace.

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Three of the cliff dwellings are open for with a ranger guided tour.  That is in normal times, just another INCONVENIENCE of the coronavirus since ranger guided tours are not available.  I say INCONVENIENCE on purpose because yes it is inconvenient, but we will wear masks, wait before viewing overlook points if others are there first, we are considerate and stay distant on trails masking or holding breath for a period of time while  people pass (outside of course), we stay out of restaurants and crowds and only grocery shop as necessary with masks.   This in inconvenient, but not worth dying over or harming others.  Do your part…

Enough of that.  Mesa Verde our first new national park in a little while, was being “phased in” in their opening.  The visitor center was closed, one of the two roads in the park was closed (the park roads go down two different mesas separated by the canyons Weatherill Mesa road was closed), ranger hikes were closed, some bathrooms were closed.  But the exquisite beauty, enchanting views of the cliff dwellings and history learned were wide open.

Back to touring the cliff dwellings, there are two that you can walk thru without a prescheduled ranger tour.  One is on Weatherill Mesa so we couldn’t see and the other was closed due to recent rock falls.  Here is a picture of Spruce Tree House.  Glad we didn’t have rocks fall, but sorry we were unable to see these dwellings close up.  In other words, our pictures are from a distance, that is probably easier to grasp than a close up of a wall???

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We have visited and climbed into cliff dwellings in Bandelier and Gila New Mexico, but there are larger and more intricate here.   There is a view point which has views of about a dozen cliff villages.  These villages were up to 200 rooms per location.  This was a thriving community when built.  Here are a couple of examples.

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As you can see these dwellings were multi-story buildings built into alcoves or ledges of the natural rock cliff.  They seem pretty close to the top o f the cliffs which makes sense since their crops and livelihoods were still on top of the mesas.  A few even had towers like this

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And many had the round kiva ceremonial rooms.  Especially the cliff palace.  They don’t know if the Cliff Palace was intended as living quarters or more likely a ceremonial or administrative gathering place for the many villages in the area.

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Although Sun Point the area mentioned above where you can see about a dozen cliff dwellings from a single lookout, there are many of these structures scattered throughout the canyons.  One of my questions was how did you access these structures.  The residents has hand and foot holds where by they climbed down the cliff face to the dwellings, not for the faint of heart (i.e. us)… This statue at the visitor center demonstrates this.

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Again, we were just beginning our summer adventures, but Mesa Verde was almost completely empty.  We hope this trend continues, we have been concerned about crowds in the parks and other destinations.  But as you can see the view point, I mentioned above was empty as seen from across the canyon, and the parking lot at the Sun Temple was practically empty as were most of them.  Actually happy that people are taking this as seriously as we are, can’t think of another explanation, both days we visited were Saturdays suprising…

Peace Love and stay safe and virus aware as you enjoy your summer!!!