Kanab, Utah. Just over the border I was seduced by the pink sandstone, its texture, arches, caves and pools. I wanted to stop. But something drew me onward through what had already proven to be an amazing day. I expected to see Mormon churches everywhere. I was right. All mileage boards, no matter which road i travelled, always displayed a distance to Salt Lake City. Plenty of women and girls wore ankle-length dresses. Fortunately, apparently, no Burkas are required. Yet!
How does one adequately photograph this? You need a good local knowledge of both the locations and when the light is best. The sun was setting, the light was fantastic and I raced on like a giddy child looking for the next awesome spot. The arch is several hundred feet high and wide.
The afternoon light was fading quickly. I stopped, grabbed a few frames and hurtled off to see what was around the next corner.
Quick! The light, the light!
Oooo-ah! Yeah right! This old blue-collar boy dropped many expletives, all four-lettered and no ooooh-ahs!
A portal in the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. It is 1.1 miles long and drops/climbs 800′. There is no lighting other than that emitted through random portals carved out through the side of the cliff. It was built by the CCC, and is an amazing piece of engineering, as is the entire roadway through the park. The Civilian Conservation Corps was founded by President F.D. Roosevelt to provide relief employment for young single men during the great depression. Their projects across America are a continuing legacy for the infrastructure of the country.
The workmanship is amazing. The tunnels, bridges, road grades and hairpin turns are an achievement that should be listed among the man-made wonders of the world.
Loads of photographers, some with very serious equipment were there to milk out the last drop of workable light.
Mind how you go!
The Zion River RV Park. A very classy place!
Spawning of the Airstreams. They are apparently the ultimate in travel trailers, including price!
No, not my dog! A racoon, I believe, this way went along the Zion River.
Say no more.
Bob Marley and other Reggae musicians often sing about Zion. So, I’ve been there, I want to go back and spend time working with the changing light. I’ll need some sort of motorcycle so I can park easily along the roadside wherever I need to stop.Finding a pull-out is a challenge. For the moment I have to go home and reload. Just west of the park I came upon a fabulous place(They claim a 5 Star rating) and I enjoyed my stay in the poshest RV Park ever. In the morning I discovered the park is located on the banks of the Zion River where it flows through Virgin Utah. How did folks name their towns? By the way, I met a lady while there who makes hand-made high-top moccasins. They are beautiful. Her website is Moccasin Lady.com. Check it out.
No jokes please. Well maybe one. Virgin, Population None. Terrorists need not apply.
A Scotsman this way came. Who else would build a free-standing dry stone wall? Beyond Cedarville, Utah I point myself toward the Nevada border. Yep, lots of snow ahead. Little did I know how much!
A former glory. What keeps folks hanging on in these old communities? What do they do for income? For dreams?
The way we were. Milford, Utah.
Hey Frodo, I think we’re in Mongolia!
Quick! somebody’s coming! I swear that I could see this load of hay a half-hour before it passed. There is no sneaking up on anyone here.
The black spot in the distance is a dead cow. There were three ravens sitting on it…until I stopped.
First a little water. Then some slow-growing trees. Then a well. Then a small corral. Then a small ranch hand’s house. Then…abandoned.
Home on the range. There were four heifers penned in without feed or water. I assumed someone would be along to tend to them. As a stranger, I knew better than to mess with another man’s critters. Mormon bullets leave you just as dead.
Water, bull rushes, trees. sloughs, homestead, abandoned, posted ‘No Trespassing.’ So where did they get the building logs? There must be some sort of civilization within fifty miles.
Sho nuff! Sod roofs and all. Garrison Utah, on the Nevada border. Endless rustic scenes, eternal valleys and passes with a thousand sideroads heading off over yet another pass. I’m hooked.
What yuppies drove in the late’50s. Options included V-8 engines, 2-speed automatic transmissions, power steering, power brakes, push-button radios. It was not uncommon to have a six cylinder engine and a three-speed manual shift on the steering column with non-power brakes and steering. Many, like me, took their driving test n such a vehicle. “Son, see that space between the two cars on the hill? I want you to parallel park in it. Use your mirrors, do NOT roll back when we pull out.” This old beast’s last license plates were dated 1967.
A haven for the night in Baker, NV. Their water was frozen but I was happy enough with my little electric heater. I had the place to myself.
Actually, the manager took my trade at the roadside bar which she opened from 4-8pm. I had no gun to leave at the door.
The workshop…my kind of campground!
Beautiful downtown Baker NV. where the air is clean and free. So is the view.
As I drove northwest the skies became duller, snow began to fly and I speculated that I may have to find a niche to wait out the storm. North of a community called Cedar City I found the highway that would take me across the Utah border. I arrived in Baker, Nevada shortly before sundown at a lovely RV Park. Their water supply was frozen up. Fine!
My trip for the day encompassed traversing several mountain passes and broad, wonderfully dramatic valleys. The light there reminded me of Scotland in the way it constantly changed as the shadows raced across the broad plains of the wide valleys. What a wonderful journey! Again, my photographic efforts seemed pale against the task of capturing the feeling of that vastness.
Beneath a desert elm, complete with an old Oriole’s nest and setting new moon, I went to bed wondering what tomorrow would offer. It would prove to be another grand adventure.
“ We do not really know what draws a human being out into the world. Is it curiosity? A hunger for experience? An addiction to wonderment? The man who ceases to be astonished is hollow, possessed of an extinguished heart. If he believes everything has already happened, that he has seen it all, then something most precious has died within him … the delight in life.”
Ryszard Kapuscinski ‘Travels With Herodotus’
High Plains Drifting
I’ve described arriving in Page, Arizona. It was a time to buy provisions, do laundry and purposely begin heading in a vague direction toward home. It is amazing what can happen in one day. The next two blogs will be pictorial accounts of an amazing and ongoing trek.
And a partridge in a bare tree. It is going to be a good day when you are bid farewell by a Mourning Dove. There are thousands of these beauties in the Southwest. They are considered a game bird and are hunted aggressively.
Dam it all!? Page Arizona, where the Colorado River was backed up to make huge Powell Lake. This mighty but sorry river never reaches the Sea Of Cortez as it used to. It is pumped dry for irrigation of the rich farmland in a radius of Yuma. That happens after it is again dammed by the Hoover Dam near Las (Lost) Vegas That dam’s reservoir, Lake Mead, is almost dry. It is still an amazing river despite all the effort to destroy it.
Run ponies, run. Horses are another cornerstone of Navajo culture. The creatures are allowed to run wild and free. They are extremely wary and will herd up and charge off with the simple provocation of your stopping. They are difficult to photograph. They are beautiful!
The photographer’s shadow. I cannot get enough of this country.
I hope this cut was not made with pick and shovel. They are a feisty lot in this part of the country.
After doubling back from Page, i drove through the cut and down the long, steep grade to Bitter Springs on the plain below. Here one leaves Highway 89 and heads westward into the magic of Marble Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs and the hig snowy North Rim country of the Grand Canyon. Bleak and desolate perhaps but I was overwhelmed by the stark beauty of it all.
More wild horses, wary as ever. Surely another good omen for the day ahead. They quickly vanished beneath the rise of land as if I had only imagined seeing them.
Uh Huh? Would this sign make a difference if you were really going to take the plunge? This is on the old Navajo Bridge at Lee’s Ferry, a crossing of the Colorado River.
Head-Smashed-In-White-Man Jump. Turbid and swift, the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry is cutting its way toward the Grand Canyon.
Nice Canyon Ya got there! The Vermillion Cliffs drew me westward. I found a notation on my map about a place called “Cliff dwellers”. You know what I was thinking. I began to get excited.
WTF!? Bedrock City! In 1927 a couple driving by had their car break down. They decided to stay and built an abode with out-buildings (outrockings?) They constructed walls and roofs beneath the immense boulders, opened a restaurant, put in a gas pump and…? Cliff Dwellers is listed among Arizona’s ghost towns.
C’mon on in. Set a spell. D’ya bring any water?
An old Scottish expression came to mind. “Long may your lum reek.” Translation: Long may your chimney smoke.
The In-law suite.
Graffitti. Some from 1878. That’s cool!
Oh SHIT! Really? What’s with the Porta-potti security? Guess we’ll have to go behind a rock. Paper? No! Really?
Who let the rocks out? Why the hell would anyone go to the effort of fencing this? My dirt! It was intriguing but I couldn’t bring myself to trying to live beneath any of it. What if, what if?
Car-squashed-flat-native-jewellery vendor. Don’t lean on anything!
“She died, and left me the deed to the ranch.” That’s a punchline from an old Paul Harvey joke. Dang! that’s a lot of fencing to look after. There are ranch buildings at the bottom of the hill. The vastness, solitude and endless beauty are overwhelming.
Fredonia!? Old Fred drove onwards. Jacob Lake is where you turn in to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was closed, and heaped with snow. I was amazed at the number of people who live up in every one of these high, desolate places.
Descending into the Kanab Valley, the Utah border is a few miles ahead. I can never get enough of these broad, spectacular vallies. There were fresh deer tracks in the snow everywhere.
I once knew of a boat named ‘F.R.E.D.’ It meant F—ing Ridiculous Economic Disaster. Welcome to Fredonia.
The Town Center. Someone should be charging admission.
Low profile tires, spoked wheels, full cabin air. There was nothing to indicate what make it was.
A dodge tow truck. No hydraulic problems with the rig.
Home-made signal lights. Straight-out, left turn. Pointing-up, right turn. You used to have to know the hand signals for your driving test, car or motorcycle. Folks don’t even use their electric signal lights now.
The original Ram-Tough Dodge grill.
They delivered fuel in this! You can still see Standard Oil on the side of the three-compartment tank. There are mechanical brakes on the rear axle only. And there are no hills anywhere! Nope.
With a little paint, I’ll bet this thing would sell!
It didn’t hurt him a bit!
Farm yard frugal. Ya could stuff it with straw and git another cupla hunnert miles outta ‘er!
Says it all, that saw blade mural on the tin wall. I did not stop at the realtor’s office.
“ All I’ve ever wanted was an honest week’s pay for an honest day’s work.”
… Steve Martin