Monday, October 18, 2010

Utah Road Trip - Day 12

For the first time in several days we stayed last night in a place that included breakfast. However, when we tried to breakfast at 7am it was packed with a tour group from France (or maybe French Canada). We went and packed up the van and then checked back again. They were mostly gone but so were all the breakfast goodies. Oh, well. Pickins are slim in Blanding so we headed out and John had a granola bar. Linda was all set with her Raw Bits Twang Twang.

We left Blanding, Utah headed for Mexican Hat, Utah with a stop on the way at Natural Bridges. The temperature was 53 degrees on a cloudy day. We checked in with Cousin Jerry, our house sitter in Morgan Hill, who reported that it is also 53 degrees and cloudy there. He just spent the last 4 days volunteering at Cor de Valle at Fry's Inaugural PGA Tournament. They had weather from 104 degrees to rainy and cold during the tournament, which seems to have been a hole in one. Jerry was a last-minute sub for a volunteer who sprained her ankle Wednesday night.

The scenery at Natural Bridges was really worth seeing. A few of the bridges required a little walk to get to but the paths are very nice and are well maintained. At one view point there was a chance to see some ancient Native American ruins on the side of a cliff.

We saw a group of deer crossing the road in the park. They pauses to munch some grass and Linda got out and took a few shots (on her camera) before they departed. It is open range country so we also saw some cows near the edge of the road.

To get from Blanding to Mexican Hat, you get to go down the Okie Dug way located on Utah Route 261 just north of Mexican Hat, UT. It was constructed in 1958 by Texas Zinc, a mining company, to transport uranium ore from the "Happy Jack" mine in Fry Canyon, UT. to the processing mill in Mexican Hat. The three miles of unpaved, but well graded, switchbacks descend 1100 feet from the top of Cedar Mesa. The State of Utah recommends that only vehicles less than 28 feet in length and 10,000 pounds in weight attempt to negotiate this steep (10% grade), narrow and winding road.

The term "amok" is derived from the Spanish word moqui, which was a general term used by the 18th century Spanish explorers and settlers in this region to describe the Pueblo Indians they encountered and the vanished culture which had left behind the numerous ruins they discovered during their travels.

The panoramas coming down the Okie Dug way are very impressive, especially when there are nice clouds. You can also see the Valley of the gods from the top of Cedar Mesa.

After checking in at the Hat Rock Inn in Mexican Hat we went to search for some lunch. Linda had a Navaho taco and John had chicken-fried steak.

Following lunch, we unpacked. John & Fannie rested in the room and Linda took a walk down to the river behind our motel. She took some photos of it and of a native American hogan that has been constructed on the motel property. She also saw several lizards that posed for her. They are so well camouflaged. It looks as if they are dusted with the red dirt from around here but I think it is part of their skin's coloring.

In the late afternoon we drove to the Valley of the Gods to catch some formations in the "golden hour". Still more Utah rocks. Still different than any place else we have been to. We stayed for the sunset which was very beautiful. John got a good shot with a tall oblisque and the waxing moon.

We ate dinner at Cottonwood Steakhouse in Bluff, Utah. Our son Jay found it last year on the way back from a wedding in Colorado and highly recommended that we try it. John got the Duke (a John Wayne tribute steak) and Linda got BBQ'd chicken. Linda also got some Polygamy Port. Both meals were excellent and we felt lucky to get to eat there. They are closing next week for the off season.

Today's photo gallery includes 89 photos, most of which are HDR images. They include shots along the road, at Natural Bridges National Park, coming down the Moki Dugway, Valley of the Gods and the Cottonwood Steak House. Whew! You can view the gallery by clicking here.

Today's Teabag Philosophy is from Good Earth Chai: “Old age is always 15 years older than I am.” (Bernard Baruch 1870 - 1965)

John proffers his randomly selected Pot-Shot.

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