09 October 2010

Utah's very grand canyon

The dullness that seemed to surround my head yesterday had turned into a very real threat of migraine by early this morning. Tal humored me by going to breakfast alone, letting me sleep (although it was a travel day and packing was required). The coffee and toast with peanut butter he brought back to the room for me nearly reduced me to tears. A few minutes of extra sleep, several Aleve and that breakfast was enough to get me out the door, on -- and to the back of -- the bus.

Our move to the back? Here's the drill. The people on the door side of the coach move back two seats every morning; the people on the driver's side move forward two; those having reached the front or the back moved across the aisle. And, today Tal and I reached the back. What an unexpected treat. It's quiet; there's less sway; the leg room is fabulous (something about more people weight in the front to offset the engine in the back). Anyway, a travel pillow from Chrystal's magic bag of tricks, Tal's shoulder, a seat that reclined ... take that you headache. It was a low day for me physically, but what a wonderful travel day it was, our stops varied and many -- and all interesting.

First, back across Capitol Reef on Utah Highway 24 and last glimpses of yesterday's sights, including "The Castle" in this image I made yesterday from the Visitor Center ...

Then, on to Hanksville for a rest stop at Hollow Mountain, a gas station blasted into the side of a really big rock. A "not to miss," for certain! To give the settlement its due, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had a hideout near Hanksville and presently evidence of dinosaurs is being excavated from the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry (which, understandably, we did not visit, this being a geology tour).

How in my 57 years have I missed knowing about John Wesley Powell, the Union Civil War veteran who was the first to explore the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869? Must have been asleep at the switch lots more than I realized. After visiting the John Wesley Powell River Museum in Green River UT -- with an extensive book store; exhibits of archival photographs, historic boats, Powell's further career, the area's history; and a thrilling film about Powell's first expedition, "Journey into the Great Unknown," I know about him now. The stop in Green River also included lunch at a very pretty river-side restaurant. Getting to it added to the charm for me, requiring as it did taking the sidewalk under the bridge.

The high point of my day, but not our last stop, was Utah's own very grand canyon Dead Horse Point State Park, adjacent to Canyonlands National Park. From the overlook's 2000-foot vantage point on the sheer-sided mesa cliff one can see evidence of 10 million years of erosion, the Colorado a powerful force. The weather was simply perfect for being there. But, no more words. Just look ...

Remember the last scene in "Thelma and Louise." Dead Horse Point would be the spot.

Before turning to Moab and our lodging for the next two nights, we made a stop at Canyonlands National Park to see the Mesa Arch, and the needles and spires beyond. It provided another incredible view, this one through the arch itself.

Finally, the hotel in Moab. We were all on our own for dinner. Tal and I and a new friend simply walked across the street to Jeffrey's Steakhouse, having energy for no more than that. It was a quiet and intimate place for a lovely dinner which also afforded us an early evening.

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