Lake Powell

September 5th & 6th

I continue eastward from Colorado City via Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab, Utah and finally make my way to Lake Powell near the town of Page, Arizona.

I met some people at Zion who told me about a campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area called Lone Rock and where you can drive practically down to the beach. Just be careful of the deep sand on the roads, they say; it may be difficult to get back up to the parking area. So I park up top to have lunch and then I walk down to have a swim. I tell myself that it would be a good place to camp for the night, but I want to see about a motel in Page first. Page, I find, is busy and very expensive. Even a shabby motel costs more than a 100$ per night. And internet connections aren’t necessarily ensured. Since my main concern is to have a good internet connection, I decide to camp instead.

And thus I go back to Lone Rock. It is aptly named for this lone rock sticking up in the middle of an arm off of the main part of the lake:

1b_Lone Rock close up afternoon

To the left we see…

1d_to my left

…and across the lake:

1c_to my right

 

So this is my new swimming hole:

2_so this is my swimming hole 2b_my swimming hole

I’ll take full advantage of it while I’m here.

 

I’ve parked at some distance from the main campground:

3_I've parked some ways from the main beach

 

My campsite, in the waning light of the afternoon:

4_my campsite in the waning light

Making dinner:

4b_campsite 4cbis_dinner

 

 

As the light changes in the late afternoon…

…Lone Rock…

5_waning light lone rock

the trail down to the beach.

5c_trail down to swimming hole

 

Lone Rock at dusk…

9_lone rock at dusk

… and with the sunset the campground settles down…

8_the campground settles down

…which means no more motor boats or water skiers, no more OHVs…silence descends upon us.

 

And the show in the western sky begins:

7_evening light clouds gather

7b_clouds at sunset

7c_more clouds at sunset

7d_and more clouds

 

Finally, the moon rises over the lake:

10_moon rise

It isn’t yet the full moon, though you wouldn’t think so from the picture.  Notice the reflection of the moon in the water at the bottom left of the picture.  Here I have to admit that a better photographer than I am would no doubt have noticed it and caught it on camera.  Some of you readers out there have complimented me on my photography. I’m flattered, but I realize that I have a long way to go before my photos are  really good.  I’m taking all my pictures on a small but very good Canon A3100 IS that Maureen and Norris gave me for Christmas three years ago and for which I am very grateful.

You can see some excellent pictures of Lake Powell here.

And while I’m giving out links:

– you can learn more about the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area at the National Park Service site here.

– more about the Glen Canyon Dam here.

– more about Lake Powell here.

 

Moving right along… of course the clouds bring rain during the night. Not a lot, but the thirsty earth got a welcome drink.

I spend the evening sipping my wine and watching the sky. The next morning, I’m up at dawn. Coffee ready, I take a few pictures of the sunrise…

11_sunrise 11b_I take a picture...

…every few minutes:

11c_every few...

 

Lone Rock in the first light of dawn:

12b_lone rock first light

 

The cliffs to the west; my neighbor walks her dog:

13_cliffs to the west, my neighbor

 

To the north of my swimming hole:

14b_north...further

 

The night’s rain appears to have brought out a few wildflowers. Or perhaps these just close up later in the day:

15b_flowers 15c_flowers closeup

In any case the low-lying vegetation seems to have appreciated the rain:

16_low lying vegetation 16b_more vegetation

 

I pack up to leave and then have one last swim and also take a picture of the beach in the morning light:

17_beach in morning light

 

Now, will Van make it up the hill to the park entrance on these sandy beach roads? I cross my fingers and he makes it, hands down. Good old Van.

As I drive away from the park I stop to take pictures of two rock formations, unimpressive compared to what we’ve already seen…

18_as I drive out, some... 18b_formations catch my eye...

…but they serve to remind us that we haven’t yet finished with red rock.

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Through Colorado City, Arizona

September 4th & 5th

As I leave Zion Park this morning I see a cavalcade of vintage cars driving through the town of Springdale, Utah, the port of entry, so to speak, for Zion Park. I’m in the Café Soleil, having breakfast as they go by, with my computer set up, busy with an article, and I’ve left my camera in the car.  I content myself with watching the cars go by. I suspect they’ll join the people I met the other day as I left Bryce, perhaps at the Zion Canyon Lodge.

I leave early and drive all the way to the town of St. George, the biggest city in southern Utah and whose name has nothing to do with the Saint George of dragon fame. No, the town was named after a saint (in other words a Mormon) whose name happened to be George. That’s the story they tell here.

I spend a few hours this morning at the visitor’s center of the St. George Mormon temple…

3_St. George Temple

4_not so photogenic as Manti

…which is not nearly so photogenic as the Manti temple.

I also drive by the local tabernacle:

5_St. George Tabernacle

At the visitor center they show me a film and answer a few questions. I really just want to be polite and learn something about what I see as a local institution. I openly tell them that I’m not a potential convert. If you want to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints you can go here. If you simply google Mormon Church you’ll come upon a vast bank of resources, both sympathetic and antipathetic towards the Church. I maintain my position that the Mormon migration to Utah is a fascinating chapter in United States history.

I return east that afternoon to the town of Hurricane on Highway 59 where I spend the night in a motel in order to have an internet connection and to get some work done.

The next morning I take a few photos from the parking lot:

1_leaving Zion...Hurricane

The desert is never far, nor are the mountains.

And then I head east and south towards the Arizona border and the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.  These two towns, formerly known as Short Creek, are the stronghold of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The highway passes outside of the two towns. I drive by Hildale, but I turn off the main road and drive around Colorado City for a while.

Since 2006 this community has frequently been in the news for many reasons in relation to the FLDS practices. I won’t go into it here, but the town’s residents are wary of and hostile to outsiders. What I see largely confirms everything I’ve read about these communities. The streets are empty, the few women I see are indeed wearing those pastel prairie dresses and the children run inside. The houses are enormous, some of them apparently unfinished and are often surrounded by high fences or brick walls. There are few shops or offices.

I get a certain sense of forboding, of being watched. Of course, I’ve been noticed. An unknown Dodge Grand Caravan with a flashy yellow mountain bike strapped to its back will not go unnoticed here.

I take no pictures, I don’t need to. You will find many on the internet.  For more information I suggest that you google:

Colorado City

Hildale

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)

Warren Jeffs (the FLDS prophet)

the book Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

the documentary film Banking on Heaven (the trailer is particularly interesting)

the Lost Boys

 

You’ll find many photos and resources that merit attention but that need to be studied carefully. You’ll see why, in Utah and Arizona (and in many other communities in the US and Canada too), polygamy is no laughing matter.

And now I want to get out of here.

 

Zion Canyon National Park

September 1st, 2nd and 3rd

Leaving Bryce, we cross the Sevier River again, which means we are briefly back in the Great Basin. The upper reaches of the Sevier Valley and are high and green. Soon, though, we descend via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel into the Virgin River Canyon and are thus in the Colorado River Basin again.

The word “zion”, we are told here, is a Hebrew word meaning a place of peace and refuge.  Thus, the Mormon pioneers named this canyon Zion. Then again, the Mormons called all of Utah “zion”.

After the pleasant tempertures of Capitol Reef and the high-altitude chill of Bryce, Zion is sweltering.

Zion Canyon!  Now this is a “canyon”:

1a_Zion, now this is a canyon

And like both Capitol Reef and Bryce, it has been carved out of the Colorado River red sandstone plateau by a usually peaceful river, The Virgin…

3_that looks rather peaceful here, but...

…whose flash floods have left behind remarkable rock formations:

1c_on and on

You can take a shuttle towards the top of the canyon and then follow a beatiful trail…

4_you can take a shuttle to the top...

5_and then walk...

…that is an easy and pleasant walk, in spite of the heat…

6_and walk... 6b_a pleasant place to rest along the way

…often shaded and with pleasant places to rest.  And when the trail ends you continue in the river bed:

7_and walk, when there's no more trail

I didn’t go very far.

Zion Park is made for hiking, both easy walking like this and much more strenuous hiking. For a succinct description of the park’s history and geology you can read the Wikipedia article about Zion Park here, or see the National Park Service’s Zion website here.

 

The plant life in the canyon’s upper areas is luxurious. This is called a hanging garden:

8c_this is called a hanging garden

I don’t believe I’ve seen one of these before; I’ve been told that it’s an orchid:

8b_and plant life to charm us

 

That evening, back at the campground, I take advantage of the evening light to take some pictures of the nearby rock formations:

13_and another

10_I take a few photos of the local sights

11_in the evening light

12_another sight...

There’s just no end:

13b_there's just no end

 

I take a few pictures of the plant life too:

14_the plant life makes a good subject too 14b_good subject

These appear wilted or closed up at this time of day, but the next morning they’re wide open…

17_these flowers are open now... 17b_open

…and occupied…

17c_open and occupied

I see these prickly pears too:

18c_prickly pears

18c_prickly pears bis

I didn’t see them before Zion, though I did see some red ones yesterday afternoon:

18cbis_sometimes they're red

 

I’m up this early so as to catch the morning light…

16_the next morning

…and to take an early shuttle up the canyon again to get some shots that wouldn’t have been good yesterday afternoon.

This group is called The Court of the Patriarchs:

21_the Court of the Patriarchs

Abraham…

22_patriarch no. 1

Isaac…

23_patriarch no. 2

…and Jacob:

24_patriarch no. 3, hidden by...

What we see of Jacob, though, is only that small sunlit portion on the top right. Jacob is mostly hidden by this still shadowed mass called Mt. Moroni (yes, him again).

Further up the canyon, though, we get a good view of Jacob:

25_further up the canyon, no. 3

This series is called Temples and Towers:

26_temples and towers

The formation on the left is called the West Temple and on the right is the Altar of Sacrifice. The formation just left of center is called the Sundial, while in full center we have the Tower of the Virgin.

Here, if you lean forward and look in the lower right-hand corner, you can see that I’m not the only one out early trying to get some good pictures:

27_I'm not the only one out...

 

In the afternoon I take a long bike ride up the Par’Us Trail…

28_that afternoon I take a long bike ride...

…following the river as far as Canyon Junction.

Wild asters abound:

29c_more asters

And so do these guys:

30_and these guys again 30b_these guys

 

On the way back down the canyon I look for a some places to swim.  You’ll understand that since California I haven’t found any swimming holes. The Virgin is not a very welcoming river. The rocks and sandbars don’t make swimming easy, and the water is sandy (though clean). But I find one place where the water was deep enough and calm enough.

31_on the way back...swimming

But in this heat it’s enough just to lie down in the refreshing water.

 

Back at the campsite I indulge some more Wasatch Breweries beer, Evolution Amber Ale this time:

32_another cold beer

32b_sense of humor, but

They do indeed have a sense of humor at Wasatch.

Bryce Canyon National Park

August 30th & 31st

Leaving Capitol Reef, the open road follows a long ridge:

1_the open road towards Bryce...

If you look off one side of the road you see this:

2_on one side of the road...

And off the other side of the road you see this:

3_and on the other...

The road goes on towards Bryce Canyon National Park…

4_you can see where the road goes

…and the white rock begins to turn red.

 

Along the way, this vintage model Ford turns up…

5_along came this vintage model car

…with some jovial passengers…

 

5b_with some jovial passengers

…who happily allow me to take their picture.

5c_who pulled over to...

I believe they’re on their way to a gathering of vintage car owners that is to take place in Zion National Park. Several days later I see a large number of such cars arrive in Springdale, Utah one morning, heading into Zion Park, but I didn’t manage to take any pictures.

 

I arrive in Bryce Canyon rather late and set up camp:

6_I made it to Bryce rather late

 

The next day I take a long hike along the Rim Trail and the scenery of Bryce reveals itself…

7_and the next day, a wonderful scenery...

…again…

8_was revealed

…and again…

9_that just wouldn't stop

 

If Martians had cities…

10_if Martians had cities...

… I think they might look like this:

10b_I think they'd look like this

 

Small side canyons nearly reach the canyon rim:

11_somtimes narrow side canyons...

 

Southern Utah is beautiful:

12_southern Utah is so beautiful

 

Capitol Reef National Park

August 28th, 29th & 30th

As I drive out of Richfield in the morning I stop to take a picture of this imposing mountain in the morning light:

1_leaving Richfield

It was much more beautiful yesterday, in the evening light, but I didn’t have my camera with me when I was out and about. Live and learn.

 

We go east over the mountains and are no longer in the Great Basin. Here is another green farming valley near the town of Loa…

2_green valley of Loa

…when suddenly, near the town of Torrey, this red rock formation appears:

3_when suddenly

And closer up:

4_up close

 

We’re now in the Fremont River Canyon:

6_Fremont River canyon 6b_Fremont

We arrive from the west, but the next day I take a drive from east to west…

7_canyon opens up 8_farmlands and fruit orchards

…the canyon widens and we find fruit orchards planted by the Mormon pioneers.

More orchards and Mormon irrigation ingenuity:

9_more orchards 9b_Mormon irrigation ingenuity

We can pick and eat as much fruit as we want, but if we take any away we’re asked to pay a modest price.  Peaches are in season so I get about 5 pounds.

Up and down the canyon there is no lack of impressive rock formations…

11_and all around...

12_fantastic rock formations

12b_no lack of impressive formations

From my campsite the rock formations are also striking:

14_from my campsite 15_also from my campsite

 

Near the orchards there are these petroglyphs carved by the Fremont People who once inhabited this canyon:

26_...as are the petroglyphs

26b_petroglyphs2 26c_petroglyphs3

But you can see much better photos of these petroglyphs here. More on the Fremont People in a later post.

 

Later in the day I take a long hike up this canyon known as the Grand Wash.  Signs indicate that flash flood risk is at a very low level today:

22_earlier that day...Grand Wash

There has nevertheless been some rain recently and some strange specimen has left a print in the mud:

23_some strange local speicment left...

 

In the late afternoon I take another hike, further up the canyon, and we get a good view of what was once the Mormon pioneer settlement called Fruita:

10_took a hike one afternoon

The last private residents of Fruita left the area in 1968. Today only national park employees live here.

Fruita’s schoolhouse:

27_the local schoolhouse from Mormon... 27b_schoolhouse bis

The last remaining house and barn…

28_barn from pioneer times 29_last remaining home, now a store...

…the house is now a museum and store where they sell homemade pastries, jams, jellies and salsas.

 

Back at my campsite, after a hard day of tourism, I treat myself to a nice cold local Utah beer:

16c_a nice cold beer bis

Take a look at the caption on the six-pack carrier:

16b_why have just one

And I kid you not, in the Richfield supermarket where I bought it, there was a little sign that said Take some home to the wives. This beer, and others, are made by Wasatch Breweries located in Park City (of Sundance fame), Utah. You can read more about Wasatch Breweries here. Their beer is only 4%, but that’s better than the 3.2% beers you find in most Utah grocery stores. And at least the name shows a sense of humor about polygamy. Yet, as we’ll see in an upcoming post, in Utah today this subject is no laughing matter.

 

One morning in camp, Olsen gets down to work.  I’m currently working on: Sewage sludge application in a forest plantation: effects on trace metal transfer in soil-plant-snail continuum.

17_in the morning, hard at work...

But one of the locals does not appreciate my efforts:

18_but one of the locals...

Generally the local residents here are unimpressed with our presence:

19_generally the locals... 20_...are not impressed...

 

The little I have shown you here does not do justice to Capitol Reef National Park.  The park gets its name from a geographical formation that the early pioneers here called a “reef”. It is some 95 miles long and extends far to the south of the campgrounds near Fruita.  I drove down the scenic canyon drive, but took no pictures.

 

Mystic Hot Springs, Utah

August 26th and 27th, 2014

South of Manti we meet the Sevier River again and enter the Sevier Valley to find the town of Richfield.  With its 7,500 people, Richfield is the largest town in central Utah. I stay here two days in a motel with a good internet connection in order to get caught up on some work. As mentioned earlier, as I travel I continue to work on translations and corrections of scientific articles.

Currently working on: Sewage sludge application in a forest plantation: effects on trace metal transfer in soil-plant-snail continuum

Like Manti, Richfield is a pleasant town with many nice old houses (many of them even nicer and more characteristic than in Manti), but I’ve already taken enough pictures of houses.  Richfield also has all the services you might want and so I seek some advice about my computer at Intermountain Computer Services where Noah is very helpful. I also get a very good haircut from Julie at Tangles.

One day I drive out of Richfield to the town of Monroe, about 15 minutes south, where an old hot springs resort now called Mystic Hot Springs is to be found. The proprietor, Mystic Mike, took over the resort in about 1996 and also organizes concerts and other artistic activities on the site. However, I get the impression that Mystic Mike is a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of his undertaking. The grounds are not kept up very well, yet Mystic is still an interesting place. I cite their mission statement and disclaimer:

Mission Statement: Mystic Hot Springs creates an authentic environment which raises self-awareness by direct experience with nature, art and antiquities.”

Disclaimer: Mystic Hot Springs is a one of a kind place. You will not find it anywhere else. Some say it’s like stepping back in time to the 60’s or 70’s. Things are imperfect. We realize that there’s a lot we could do to improve it. We understand that things are always changing. We have learned to appreciate it for what it is at this moment.”

You can learn more about Mystic Hot Springs here.

What is remarkable here are the solid rock formations that have that have been created through the flow of the heavily mineralized waters:

1_Monroe_mineral formation

Hot springs parsnips perched upon a giant tomato?

2_Monroe_formation2

With some background scenery:

5_Monroe_formation4b 6_Monroe_formation5

 

The waters flow from this spring…

10_the main spring1

…through a series of ditches:

12_waters flow via ditches 15_ditches4

13_ditches2

 

At one point the ditches pass under these greenhouses…

17_greenhouses_bis

…where we find these plants…

18_inside the green house

 

The waters soon reach the soaking tubs and pools. But first we are informed of Mystic’s policy:

7c_no nudity, etc.

No alcohol, no glass, no dogs…these are standards at any developed hot springs resort. But no nudity? I find that disappointing as it seems to me that soaking in hot springs while nude is the most natural thing in the world. Yet I understand that, in the midst of a very conservative community, Mystic Mike can’t exactly allow the locals to think that a bunch of people are running about naked just blocks from their homes.

Mystic has many individual soaking tubs that are, in fact, real bath tubs:

7b_soaking tub

One of them is being absorbed by the rock:

7_Monroe_saoking tub in rock

The main pools:

8_main pool with house 9_main pool2

9b_main pool3

 

The waters finally flow into these ponds:

24_Pond1

24b_pond2 24c_pond3

 

Since it overlooks the Sevier Valley and the town of Monroe, Mystic is a good place to take pictures:

19_Sevier_Valley1

22_Sevier_Valley4

As you can see once again, the desert is never far.

And neither is suburbia:

23b_Sevier_Valley6

 

On its grounds Mystic has a number of bungalows that can be rented:

28d_bungalow-for-rent

This one is an old pioneer cabin that has been transported here from elsewhere. Up and down the Sevier Valley I’ve seen many old structures such as this one.

Some of the bungalows seem not to have been finished yet:

28_bungalow_unfinished 28b_bungalow_strange

 

There are also a number of other inhabitants at Mystic:

29_menagerie1_llama 29b_menagerie2_llama

29c_menagerie3_goat 29d_menagerie4_ostrich

 

The day’s soaking experience is quiet and relaxing. Mission accomplished.

I’ll soon be leaving this area.  A whole series of national parks awaits me in southern Utah.

 

 

Into Utah…

August 24th and 25th, 2014

I drive down the canyon from Great Basin National Park toward the dry valley and small town of Baker below:

1_as I head down into the dry valley

The desert is never far.

 

On the way I see this ancient wreck in a field beside the road:

2_I come upon this 1920 Dodge and its driver

The driver doesn’t look like he’s fit to be behind the wheel of a car.  Someone has written “1920 Dodge” on the side of the car. I turn around to look at my own 2011 Dodge, some distance back:

3_and I cast a glance at my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan

I have a decision to make. I really don’t know which way I’m going when I get down to the highway, either left to go into central Utah, or right, to southern Utah and the string of national parks that await me there. This type of dilemma will arrive more than once.

I decide that I want to see central Utah too, so I turn left and soon cross the stateline…

4_cross into Utah, yellow flower and desert grass

…where these familiar flowers greet me and the clumps of desert grass are much thicker and more widespread than in Nevada.

We continue to go up over small mountain ranges and then through low valleys, but a new feature soon appears. This is Sevier Lake, a dry or not so dry lake (you decide, based on what you see here):

5b_Sevier Lake bis

Sevier Lake, into which flows the Sevier River…

6_into which flows the Sevier River, or what's left of it

…or what’s left of it after so much of its water has been taken for irrigation.

In the town of Delta the Sevier River welcomes me with those familiar yellow flowers:

7_Delta_the Sevier River with flowers

The Sevier is to become a friend that I will meet again and again.

From here I head north and east through Millard, Juab and Sanpete counties, through irrigated farmlands and neat little towns like Nephi, Fountain Green, Moroni and Ephraim. Moroni, if you don’t know, is the name of the angel who appeared to young Joseph Smith and instructed him several times. Regardless of what anyone may think of the Mormon Church, I’m struck by Mormon efficiency and ingenuity in making this desert bloom. After the dry valleys of Nevada, the town and entire valley of Nephi is particularly impressive with its green fields. Then again, Utah seems to have water that Nevada simply does not have.

Driving down the Sanpete Valley we see the profile of the Manti Mormon temple from some distance–somewhat incongruous in this terrain, yet entirely expected. Once in town I take this close up:

8_Manti temple, on arrival

 

Manti, named after a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon, is a very pleasant town…

9_downtown Manti-pleasant town

…and a historic one in the framework of the Mormon migration and settlement of Utah. It was the first settlement founded outside the northern Wasatch strip (Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo) and one of the first communities to have a temple…

This statue is of the Indian chief Wakara and some Mormon immigrants. Wakara is said to have invited the Mormons to settle here  to teach his people the ways of farming:

10_a historic Mormon town

I wonder if Wakara knew what he was letting himself in for.

 

I take several pictures of the temple at different times of the day:

That first afternoon, on arrival…

11a_Manti temple-afternoon

…that evening…

11b_Manti temple-evening

…the following morning, the north profile…

11c_Manti temple-morning

…and the south profile:

11d_Manti temple-south profile-morning

 

The temple grounds are a good place from which to take pictures of the town and its surroundings:

…north…

12a_view north_green fields

…south and west:

12b_view south_green Manti 12c_view west_green fields

Notice the shadow of the temple in the foreground of the righthand picture.

I take a long bike ride around the town this morning, taking pictures of the irrigated fields west of town; everywhere, everything is green:

12d_irrigated fields west of town 12e_irrigated sheep pasture

 

I take pictures of many of the houses, too. Manti appears to be one of those idyllic American towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries:

14a_Manti house 14b_Manti house

14c_Manti house 14d_Manti house

14e_Manti house 14fbis_very nice

New or old, well kept or not, they reflect a period, and an image.  Of course, there are many houses of more modest standing too and also, as all over the US, a number of mobile homes.

 

Other noticeable buildings in town…

This was once a Presbyterian church, but is now home to the American Legion:

13b_old Presbyterian

The local Mormon church, with its characteristic low roof and short steeple:

15_Manti Mormon church parking lot

Not a very good angle, but it was the best I could do. This is taken on Monday morning. At 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon this parking lot was full to overflowing.

Later this morning I go for a drive around the valley and take pictures of the countryside…

17a_green countryside around Manti

…and of the town from an overlook:

18a_view of Manti from above_west 18b_view of Manti from above_south

 

Manti is well known for its annual Mormon Miracle Pageant which takes place every year in the early summer. You can learn more about it here.

And you can learn more about the Manti temple here.