Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Monument Valley: A Day to Remember

When we decided to go to Monument Valley, we decided to go all out, and we are so glad we did. We had read you can go down and visit many of the places in Monument Valley on your own, which we often like to do, go places on our own. On the other hand, doing Monument Valley on your own, you could very well miss something important.

So we signed up with Majestic Monument Tours, for a morning in Mystery Valley and an afternoon in the regular valley below the hotel. Bright and early we met our guide, Hope, in the hotel lobby and our day began.

Immediately we were so glad to be with Hope. For one thing, she is knowledgeable, not showy but quiet and modest and full of good information, if you want to know. Second, she is a really great driver, and some of the places she took us needed four wheel drive. Third, many of the places she took us were also off-limits to people who did not have guides. Last and not least, the roads were as bad as any we have ever driven in Africa or the Middle East, and our little rental car might have suffered damage had we tried these excursions on our own. Going with a guide was the right decision, for so many reasons.

This was another best day of our entire road trip.

While it was still cool, we hiked up to some dwellings, straight up the red rock. I didn’t have any problem going up, I wasn’t worried about going up, it’s always going down on rock where I worry – loose pebbles can make your foot slip, and there are no soft surfaces on the way down. I did fine, and I thought AdventureMan did, too, only to learn when we got back to the hotel at the end of the day that he had actually slid and tumbled badly down one rock slope when he had gone up to photograph some hand prints in a location that I would not attempt.

This is the rock hill I climbed, early in the morning, while it was still cool. By later in the day, it was too hot for me, I would hike, but hide in the shady areas.

This is Hope, our guide, with me at the top of the hill, and the truck down at the bottom of the hill.

I risked it all for petroglyphs.

I was cooing and babying him, so sorry I had no idea that he had hurt himself, but he said “I didn’t want anyone to know, and the most important thing is I didn’t damage my camera.” LOL, so stoic, and here we are bumping around all day in hard seats mounted on a truck, like we are riding really difficult hard horses most of the day, and he doesn’t make a peep!

 

This is the cliff AdventureMan fell down. He had gone up to take photographs of family hand prints and petroglyphs on the wall. He was the only one who climbed up with Hope.

 

The day was full of wonders, including backdrops from old cowboy movies. When we cam back, AdventureMan reviewed a lot of the movies mentioned and would call me in and say “Look! Clint Eastwood is climbing that rock formation!” or “John Wayne is there with those cliffs in the background!” That was a lot of fun.

 

 

I love pictographs and petroglyphs. Can you see these?

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I find interesting about the following two:  each one has a right hand that is enlarged. I wonder if it is co-incidence, or if the enlargement of the right hand has significance? Look at the line coming out of the head of the top figure. That doesn’t look accidental, it looks intentional. What could it mean? These were intelligent human beings, problem solvers, artists. We have to give them credit for having as much capability of expression and intent as we have – or do we?

 

 

At one of the hollowed out areas, Hope pulled out her flute and played a haunting melody, echoed off the wall. It was a wonderful moment.

I liked this formation below a lot; it is called Three Sisters, and I am one of three sisters.

I think this was called God’s Eyes

And this was called God’s ear.

One of the classic cowboy movie backdrops.

Late in the afternoon, we got back to the hotel, grabbed quick naps (hey! it’s vacation!) and then headed to Amigos for a truly great dinner.

I woke up early to take this photo for you. This is sunrise in Monument Valley. You want this on your bucket list. Look, you can even see a star and the dim lights of the first trucks heading down into the valley to capture the early morning light.  🙂

 

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May 28, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Local Lore, Road Trips, sunrise series, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Zion National Park, Mineral Gulch and the Coral Sand Dunes

Wake up to grandeur in Zion National Park 🙂

 

It’s a little chilly for breakfast on the terrace, but the inside restaurant is nice, the wait staff is exceptional, professional, helpful and quick. When I saw blueberries available on another dish, and asked the waiter if I could add them to my oatmeal, it was a done deal. Don’t you just love it?


Most of the hiking groups who are tackling the higher peaks have already departed, but there are some elderly hikers getting a later start. We hike, but we are not group hikers. We like to set our own schedule and our own pace, but we admire the groups that have been hiking for years and adapting to one another’s styles. They have a great camaraderie.

We have to take the shuttle to get deeper into the park, so we go all the way to the end. Our plan is to do the Riverwalk hike, then work our way back to the hotel. At this time of the morning, there are only adults, no children. The children arrive on buses, hundreds of school children brought to the park nearing the end of the school year, to show them the wonder of our country’s natural beauty.

The Riverwalk is awesome. It is glorious, and relatively easy, and relatively safe. You reach a point where it says “no wheelchairs beyond this point due to the grade” and realize that even to this point, there have been steady ups and downs.

The beauty is so totally different from Bryce Canyon, we are in another geological era and we are viewing it all from below, rather than from above. This reminds me very much of Yosemite, with Capital Dome, and all the granite. The color mixtures here are wonderful to behold.

You can see that the path is mostly smooth, and paved, with an obstruction here and there to keep it interesting and natural.

There are rockfalls along the path, giant rockfalls. Anyone with an inkling of imagination can realize how short life can be, how unpredictable, how chaotic.

 

It is so early that the river itself is mostly in the dark.

 

Wonderful plants and flowers find enough nutrients in crevices and eroded places to explode into life.

Look at those trees, clinging to life at the tops of these cliffs!

 

I spotted this, and followed the line up.

AdventureMan, with his sharp eyes, spots an anomaly on the side of the cliff:

We think this is one of the park employees, creating safe climbing areas for those who like to go straight up, using ropes and pitons and you know, climbing stuff.

 

Leaving Zion, we are exploring Mineral Gulch, just outside Zion National Park, where we are told there are pictographs. I will tell you the truth, but do not do what we did, it is not safe. AdventureMan went one way, and I went another. I found a dry stream bed that looked promising, and I followed it.

Doesn’t this look exactly like where pictographs would be?

Or this? Oh, I wish AdventureMan were with me, with his sharp eyes. Even as I am thinking how very wrong and stupid it is to be off exploring separately, not together, I keep going a little further, a little further. Every now and then AdventureMan and I shout back and forth, but it’s been a while since I have heard him. I know I need to go back, I know it, but maybe, just around the corner, are the pictographs.

 

We never found the pictographs. I found a lot of places where I think they should be, but if they were there, I didn’t see them. Hot, tired, dehydrated, we headed for Mt. Carmel Junction, where we found this crazy funky restaurant, and got our orders in just before the Korean tour bus arrived.

Club Sandwich for AdventureMan:

Taco Salad for me. Very different, lots of peppers, lots of salsa. Very tasty, not a lot of beans or meat.

 

AdventureMan has spotted another remote road going to Coral Dunes State Park. I keep thinking we are on the wrong road, and he keeps insisting this is the road, it is the only road it can be. We are not arguing, we are just not on the same page. He was right. We find the Coral Sand Dunes, and they are beautiful.

He has shown me the road on the map, and we THINK we can make it, but his rental is a little low to the ground. I notice that the road number obscures the fact that for four miles, going into Arizona, the road is actually a track. We hold our breath, as the pavement ends, the road turns into washboard, the road forms crevasses, and we just hope the road doesn’t wash away. This is one of the longest four miles ever.

Safely off the track, we hit Springdale, just outside Zion, for ice-dream, and for sandwiches for dinner. They have a mercantile shop with a sandwich shop inside, with gourmet sandwiches. AdventureMan has an Avocado Veggie special, and I have a Reuben, and we find some crazy great T-shirts for all the little ones.

Back in Zion, the light is fading fast.

The horses are being taken back to rest up for the next day.

My feet are sore from the uneven smooth rocks in the creek-bed, and I am still a little dehydrated. Sure wish we had found those petroglyphs.

 

 

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Eating Out, Environment, Exercise, Food, Geography / Maps, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , , , | Leave a comment

Moab to Tropic, Bryce Canyon And a Wonder-Filled Detour through Capitol Reefs

We are still on Pensacola time, so early rising is a piece-of-cake. Quick breakfast, quick departure. We had looked at the options the night before, we could go directly to Zion via fast roads, or take a southern route which would take considerably longer. AdventureMan had looked at the map and suggested a third route, which took longer, but not so long as the southern route, and took us through a place I have never even heard of, Capitol Reefs.

We’ve lived in so many wonderful places, and, because AdventureMan’s job was always so demanding, I took care of trip-planning, finding places to stay, creating routes to travel and choosing sights to see. This way is so much better, AdventureMan has the leisure to look at the maps, and he has good instincts. This day was another best day of the trip.  🙂

(Yes, I know, technically, they can’t all be best days. Toward the end we had some more boring days, but each day brought wonders and joys, and this is one of those best days, honest.)

One thing we never want is to find ourselves miles from a gas station in a remote location. As we are filling our tank, leaving Moab, I see one of our contemporaries loading up for his own adventure. This is what I love about Moab, you are free to pursue your own adventure.

If you are thinking about taking this trip, or a trip like it, you need to know that our phones had no service much of the time. Fortunately, we had maps and are good at reading them, mostly. It is really important to have some kind of back up when you are in remote locations. If you rely on your phone, and there is no service, you will have a harder time.

The scenery, even along the major highways, can be distractingly spectacular. This is, I believe, along I-70, which we take for a short time to get to the scenic road we want to be on to get to Capitol Reefs.

What we didn’t realize was that the greenery near the cliffs in Capitol Reefs indicated a river. I discovered it as I was making a pit-stop. I was headed to a private spot when all of a sudden, I realized I was not alone. By a stroke of luck, I had my camera in my hand. I whispered to the Mule Deer that I meant them no harm, and they calmly grazed as I took a couple photos.

Can you see why I am considering this another of the best days? I love happy surprises, and this day is full of happy surprises, even a few flakes of short-lived snow.

Good thing we stopped where we did. Just another quarter of a mile down the road is a major stop, with a beautiful walkway, so people can view Petroglyphs!

So, can you see the petroglyphs? I bet your eyes are getting better at it. You learn to look a little higher than you would think.

There are so many places where petroglyphs have been lost to natural breaking off and erosion.

 

This is a piece that has broken off, but remnants of the original petroglyphs remain.

This is the beautiful walkway they built.

This is the sign. It is a little obscured, but we are always thankful for good signage.

I want you to know how very brave I was. I was about to lean on the railing to steady a shot when AdventureMan said “You’ll want to look before you do that,” and when I did, I saw a thousand creeping caterpillars. They were falling out of the trees, and covered the walkway. I made AdventureMan check my hair, and my hoodie, then I covered my hair completely; I looked like a total dork. Back in the car, I made him check me again, to make sure I wasn’t carrying an unwelcome guest with me. But no matter how much I was creeped out, it didn’t stop me from taking these photos 🙂

“This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be thankful in it!”

Shortly after finding a gas station, and looking for a restaurant that was open and might serve more than hamburgers and beer, we found the Capitol Reefs Cafe and Restaurant, which suited us perfectly. It had a unique gift store – I found the only petroglyph soap, black with etched petroglyphs – of the entire trip, perfect for a three year old, or even in the tip of AdventureMan’s Christmas stocking. Alas, there was only one, and I gave it to the three year old.

Look at that! Cloth napkins, and in a beautiful local textile.

AdventureMan had a fabulous corn chowder, and these Shrimp Tostadas.

I had a smoked trout salad, the only one I have ever had in my life. It was unique, and wonderful.

At Larb Hollow overlook, you could see for miles, maybe hundreds of miles. We could see Lake Powell. In the highlands, it was still very cold, and we had occasional flakes of snow.

This stop was hilarious. We thought it was some kind of big deal but it was a very little deal. It reminded us very much of Germany, with a rural forest feel, a walk around a large lake, people with those walking picks that give me the shivers – “No! Don’t point that pick at me!”

We stopped at a rock shop, where I bought a T-shirt I loved. He said it was last year’s color, and gave me a great discount, but it was a much more subtle color, a desert deep rose color, and it has a 70’s peace sign in gold, so elaborate that you don’t necessarily even see what it is. I love it. Then I went to take a photo of these cows, which AdventureMan thought was hilarious. “You’d be surprised how many people stop to take photos of those cows,” the owner of The Rock Shop told him.

Arriving in Tropic, we are assigned to this cabin. Of all the places we stayed on the trip, we loved this cabin the best. It was a lot of fun, spacious, clean, very private, great beds, and the least expensive place we stayed. This was the Bryce Canyon Inn, in Tropic, which also has a coffee shop and a pizza restaurant in the same complex.

We took a short rest, then headed out to do a reconnaissance of Bryce Canyon, finding one of the major sights on our way. I think it was called Mossy Grotto, or something like that. Honestly, they give names to all these hikes, and while the hikes are great, I can’t remember the exact names. These are all late in the day, some times the sunlight is perfect and some times it has already disappeared due to landscape features. We needed a good hike after spending so much of the day with our only exercise getting in and out of the car.


This is one of the features, and I couldn’t really figure out why. I think in winter it has huge icicles hanging from it. It is moist and water weeps from it. I think it is the mossy grotto.

It looks like these rocks are kissing 🙂

 

We headed back to Tropic around dinner time, ate at the pizza restaurant. AdventureMan did the smart thing, he ordered a pizza. I saw halibut and chips on the menu and the Alaska-girl instincts kicked in, oh, halibut and chips! I got two small heavily breaded pre-frozen little lumps of fish, tasteless, what a waste of halibut. 😦  Learned – re-learned a lesson: if you’re in a pizza restaurant, order pizza.

We slept wonderfully in this cabin 🙂 Every day so far exceeds 10,000 steps 🙂

 

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Eating Out, Exercise, Faith, Fitness / FitBit, Food, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Hotels, Living Conditions, Photos, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel, Weather, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Potash Road and Pictographs, Moab, Utah

Potash road is 279; you can see where it begins near the entrance to Arches National Park, but on the other side of the main road as you are going towards Moab. It is clearly marked Potash Road.

 

 

After our long hike, and our fabulous lunch, we took a short nap, then headed out to find ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. (Pictographs are painted on, petroglyphs are incised out.) Potash Road was near the entrance to Arches National park. It looked like an ordinary road, even a farm road. Once again, a road that started out looking and sounding inauspicious turned out to be a lot of fun.

First, the road follows the Colorado River flowing along swiftly, full of rafters and boaters. Then you come to the cliffs about 5 miles in which are used by the climbing and rappelling schools to teach rock climbing, and there must have been fifty separate people working their way up and down the cliffs. This is not for the weak in body; we saw one dazed and damaged young man being loaded into an emergency vehicle for transport back to the hospital. Just past the rock climbers is the first set of petroglyphs, which are really hard to spot, about 20 feet off the ground, but once you get the hang of it, you start spotting them everywhere.

The truth is, I can hardly ever spot them. AdventureMan has sharp eyes, he spots them and shows me where they are. This time, they are about 15 feet, 20 feet above the road. They were incised when the Colorado River, at our backs, was higher, before it eroded the valley more deeply.

 

Can you see any pictographs?

 

 

I can begin to see these; AdventureMan shows me where they are.

These are the cliffs where the rock climbing classes are held and the pictographs co-exist with the rock climbing.

Now, they are beginning to be more clear.

 

 

 

 

 

This is what the casual observer sees:

If you see closely, you can find some petroglyphs.

 

 

This is near the end of Potash Road, looking back into Canyonlands, toward the Dead Horse Point.

 

The Colorado River parallels Potash Road, which is in the foreground.

 

This is the climb up to the dinosaur track. I got this far, and the next part of the hike was straight up. It’s late in the day, my legs are shaky, I am not going to climb straight up and risk falling straight down.

 

This is the dinosaur print.  AdventureMan climbed all the way up!

 

 

 

 

 

Potash Road was a total thrill. It is easy to miss the sign for the Dinosaur Track if you are coming from Moab. We got all the way past the Potash Plant to the beginning of the unpaved, unimproved road before we turned around, and only on the way back did we spot the sign showing where the dinosaur track was. It was not a well marked trail, in fact, it was barely a trail at all, and I thought it was dangerous.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Exercise, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Petroglyphs in the Petrified Forest

So here we segue back to the Petrified Forest, and it may not seem logical in a linear, chronological sense, like time-as-pearls-strung-together-on-a-string sort of thing, but in terms of like things, the next chronological entry is going to be on 700 years of culture, the Ancestral Puebloans who used to be called the Anasazi, but before I go there, I want to show you some petroglyphs.

(I’m putting in a lot of links in case you are as big a petroglyph nerd as I am, and want to read more)

I always imagine the problems with being early man. Imagine they are smart, and spend a lot of their days figuring things out, most important being 1. What are we going to eat? 2. How are we going to keep dry/warm? 3. How do we protect ourselves from our enemies? They have the same problems we have, only on a much more basic level, and with fewer resources.

Have you ever thought about how easy it is to get information now? (The hard part being sifting through so you get the most reliable, most relevant information). Imagine a world where you have to figure it out for yourself, every day.

Early civilizations fascinate me. I am always interested in little tiny things that can be very important, like how did they fasten skins together to keep themselves warm? How do you poke a hole in a sharp bone so you can use it as a needle? How do you make a button, or make strips that can be used to tie clothing together?

How do you fasten a spear head onto a spear, or an arrowhead onto an arrow?

Early man was a problem solver, and I am fascinated by petroglyphs, which are either early attempts at documentation, or early attempts at communication, or maybe both? The first petroglyphs and cave paintings I ever visited were the Font de Gaume Caves near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, and they took my breath away. I didn’t even hesitate because it was a cave, I wanted to see them so badly.

I want you to look at this photo of a fairly early dwelling in Les Eyzies de Tayac-Sireuil and hold it in your mind before we move on:

Later, living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most fun day trips ever was to a rock formation called Graffiti Rock, which had no protection, so very old petroglyphs mingled with modern carvings, but some of the older carvings were so interesting, so intriguing.

Coming across petroglyphs in the Petrified Forest was a delight.

Here is part of what the national parks website has to say about petroglyphs found in the Petrified Forest:

In 1977 a spiral petroglyph at Chaco Canyon National Monument was discovered which displayed a precise interaction with sunlight at the time of summer solstice by means of a narrow shaft of sunlight that moved down a shadowed rock face to bisect the center of a large spiral petroglyph. Subsequent observations found that on winter solstice and equinoxes there were intriguing interactions of sunlit shafts with the large spiral and a smaller spiral nearby. No other example of a sunlight interaction with prehistoric or historic petroglyphs was known at this time. However, there was a tradition of Pueblo sun watching in historic times, particularly of the varying sunrise and sunset positions throughout the year, to set the dates for ceremonies.

As a result of the Chaco Canyon find, Bob Preston initiated a research project to determine whether other petroglyph sites in the Southwest functioned as solar “observatories.” Over the last 16 years he has identified about 120 examples of similar solstice events at more than 50 petroglyph sites in Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah. Evidence indicates that the phenomenon may have been spread over as much as a 1000-km region. These findings show clearly that certain petroglyphs were used by early pueblo cultures to function as calendrical markers for the winter and summer solstices. Petrified Forest National Park contains the greatest known concentration of solar calendars, with 16 of the sites being in or immediately adjacent to the park, and has been key to understanding their nature.

Shadows and sunlit images are found to move across petroglyphs due to other rocks being in the path of the sun’s rays. As the sun’s path across the sky changes throughout the year, the positions of the shadows and sunlit images change on the petroglyph panels. In many cases the petroglyphs have been placed on the rock faces in just the right position so that specific interactions occur on the solstices. The most common types of petroglyphs on which solsitial interactions have been identified are spirals and circles. The key to determining that these were intended and not by chance is that interactions are seen from site to site, and occur on the solstices more frequently than on other days of the year. These consistent interactions may involve a point of sunlight or shadow piercing the center or tracing the edge of a spiral or circular petroglyph; or shadow lines may suddenly appear or disappear at the center or edges of the petroglyph; or they may move up to the center or edge and then retreat. It is not uncommon for a single petroglyph to display multiple interactions of this type, either on the same solstice or on each of the solstices. In fact, at one site, there are five circular and spiral petroglyphs that show 15 interactions on the both solstices.

An intriguing question is whether types of petroglyph images were involved with specific dates. In several cases similar sunlight and shadow interactions occur on spiral and circular petroglyphs on the equinox, and distinctive interactions occur with other petroglyphs on the solstices and other dates. Clearly much of the puzzle remains to be unraveled.

There was a WEALTH of petroglyphs. I’m just going to show you a few of those we found:

This one makes me laugh; it looks so much like our modern day stork-who-brings-babies (LOL, where did that legend/story start anyway??)

LOL, these feet are larger than life, or else they were made by giants!

Early people in widely separated parts of the world carved and painted on rock, probably for a number of reasons, maybe keeping track of solar activity and seasons, maybe magical/religious thinking for a good hunt or nostalgia for a good hunt, maybe just someone who, like today’s blogger, just has to document in some way . . . 😉

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Communication, Cross Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, France, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Saudi Arabia, Technical Issue | , , , , , , | Leave a comment