Saturday, October 16, 2010

Utah Road Trip - Day 10

We didn't walk quite fast enough when we were headed to Smitty's Golden Stake for breakfast. Two French people got in front of us. Then when the greeter came to seat them and asked how many, they had about 20 people in their party who all proceeded to parade past us. Oh well, eventually we were seated and the service ended up being just fine despite how busy the place had suddenly become. Linda had an excellent cantaloupe and a large tomato juice with Tabasco sauce. John had his usual Saturday breakfast: eggs & bacon.

We went to Canyonlands National Park today, specific the Island in the Sky District. Island in the Sky is a high mesa, between the Green River and the Colorado River. It is in the northern end of Canyonlands. Early cowboys called it an island because it has vertical sandstone walls on all four sides, and is separated from the rest of the world by a narrow neck of land, just wide enough for a road. The road connects the island with the Big Flat country to the north. From the river canyons, more than 2000 feet below, the top of the mesa appears to be touching the clouds, hence the name, Island in the Sky. At the southern tip of the island is Grandview Point, one of the most impressive overlooks in all of Canyonlands. It is hard to capture the vastness of the views in this part of the country but we are giving it our best "shot". Luckily we have not run out of film yet. Ha!

On our drive in, the two old buzzards suddenly came upon a coyote who had planned on running off two ravens working on a recent road kill. Our car scared both the ravens and the coyote. Lucky for that roadkill, huh? We also saw assorted lizards and red ants in the park today.

At one of the vistas there is still evidence of uranium mining that went on for a while during the recent past. There were also backcountry roads (only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles, foot or mountain bikes) that could be seen from vista points. The info for one road that was also shown on the vista point info board said "Allow 2 days to go on this road". Actually it would take months (or even years) to really explore Canyonlands (or any of the other parks we've been to on this road trip) in very much detail. One of our photo club cohorts spent 3 months in this area and when he heard our itinery he said that we would only be scratching the surface. Now that we've been to several parks we can fully understand what he meant. But there have been many nice surfaces to scratch, indeed!

Linda took a hike to see Mesa Arch. The trail out to the arch was marked with cairns (little rock piles). Look for some of them in the photo gallery. It was a really nice arch and Linda was able to see it more closely than any of the arches at The Arches National Park. That will be one of her special memories. And she hopes some of her photos turn out. One fellow there was getting too close to a drop off in his attempt to get a good photo and he was ignoring his wife's pleas to step away from the edge. Finally she said, "OK, if you are going to keep standing there would you throw me the keys now before you fall off?" At least she had a sense of humor (and reality).

Canyonlands was the setting for Thelma and Louise and their famous drive into oblivion (despite the fact that most people think that it was the Grand Canyon). It was also the real life setting for where Butch Cassidy and lots of other outlaws hung out. Officials weren't too crazy about coming to find them in such a complex and unfamiliar territory.

We returned from Island in the Sky in time to have a nice rest in our room at Big Horn Lodge during the afternoon. John and Fannie took a nap and Linda spent some time with Kindle. She is reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie for a book group discussion.

We had dinner at Smitty's Golden Spike again. It was our 3rd meal there so we must be regulars now. The greeter was busy and handed us menues and told us to seat ourselves in the back (where we had sat the other 2 times). John had a mini chef salad and a stuffed potato. Linda had a dead horse and turkey & rice soup. Dead Horse is a Moab Brewery amber ale named after the scenic overlook near Arches National Park. Look for the label in today's photo gallery. Their motto is "You can't beat a Dead Horse".

Not a huge photo gallery today, but we hope you'll enjoy them. View the gallery by clicking here.

Today's tea bag philosophy is from Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Zinger: "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

John's Pot-Shot has, once again, been selected at random.

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