2014 Trip Four, May 19-20, The Southwest

Moab Utah Wednesday May 21 for Monday-Tuesday May 19-20

sunrise Monday showing left and right mitten

sunrise Monday showing left and right mitten

We left Monument Valley Monday morning. We had heard it stated that 80% of the visitors there were from foreign countries. It would not be hard to believe. U.S. National Parks, and Monument Valley is similar to one, seem to have a great attraction for international visitors. Japanese tour bus groups compete with French and German language visitors. Sometimes it makes our interactions with U.S. travelers more memorable.

The drive to Moab

The drive to Moab

The pharmacist at the Moab drug store was born in Kenyon, MN. We met two couples from Tallahassee FL and discussed with them our recent visit there. A park ranger born in West St. Paul, MN. A couple from Lincoln NE who raved about the quilt museum there that Chris has wanted to see but has not made it into our schedule yet.

Winslow Arch along the drive to Moab

Winslow Arch along the drive to Moab

But the Monday drive was less about people and sights than just plain travel. One of us was a little more concerned about the low engine coolant light. The drive from Monument Valley to Moab goes through territory that can safely be described as sparsely settled. After two hours we reached a town large enough to have an auto parts store and I purchased a container of pre-mixed coolant (rather than buying anti-freeze and mixing it with distilled water). Of course, you can not remove the coolant cap when the engine is hot so the actual addition occurred later in Moab but we had the material just in case.

Balancing Rock in Arches NP

Balancing Rock in Arches NP

This area of Utah is part of the Colorado plateau which encompasses large portions of CO, AZ, UT, and NM. Much of the land is high (altitude) desert with varying degrees of vegetation. We left the red rock and little vegetation of Monument Valley and have encountered mountains, some irrigated land, increasing vegetation, and more red rock.

rock formation with small arch

rock formation with small arch

Moab is at a lower elevation than most of the surrounding area. The Colorado River runs through it. Tourism is the main business now, but mining is still occurring on a limited basis. This town was a big uranium mining locale. The mines have shut down and in classic U.S. fashion, the mining company declared bankruptcy and the U.S. is in the early phases of a 20 year plan to remove uranium mining tailings and ship them by rail to a more isolated site 30 miles north of town.

We are in Moab because Arches National Park is about 5 miles north and Canyonlands National Park is about 30 miles southwest.

landscape along ranger hike

landscape along ranger hike

Tuesday was our first day for Arches. The park was crowded but we took in a ranger hike and several hikes to view the park. Arches is smaller and more compact than Canyonlands. It is supposed to have over 2000 arches-which by definition must have an opening at least 3 feet in diameter. Bridges (like Rainbow Bridge) are formed by moving water. Arches are formed by wind, ice, water and upheaval forces working at the varying rock layers.

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Turret Arch

Turret Arch

Landscape Arch, one of the longest in the world, had a large section of its lower arch fall in 1991. No one was hurt. Another arch fell down in 2008, heard but not seen by campers as it occurred. I did not hear or read about any new arches being formed/discovered.

North and South Window arches

North and South Window arches

Hike to Landscape arch

Hike to Landscape arch

Dinner Monday was at a local Italian restaurant and Tuesday night we went to a restaurant located in the former house of the geologist and prospector Charlie Steen who first found significant uranium ore in Moab and became a millionaire. The house/restaurant are on a hill overlooking Moab. The food was excellent and features numerous local recipes. We were pleased.

Ed and Chris May 21 8 pm

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