October 11, 2011

I took some time this past month to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, traveling some of the unimproved roads that wander through the 1.9 million acres, but only after consulting with a BLM ranger as to how far I could safely drive in my Corolla.

Devils GardenStanding Guard in the Devils Garden

“The finest workers of stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.” 

–Henry David Thoreau. 

What Thoreau may not have known is that air and water are not always gentle in these parts. Not only do they create these strange and fascinating shapes, they also create mud and flash floods throughout the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM. Devil’s Garden is 14 miles down Hole in the Rock Road just past the town of Escalante. I had been warned not to try driving any further on that road, so I didn't.

I finally braved Cottonwood Canyon Road and drove the 11 miles (which took me 40 minutes each way) out to Grosvenor Arch, a double arch said to be the second largest in Utah. Rainbow Bridge, which I visited on the way up here, is thought to be the largest natural bridge in the world.

There are over 3,000 natural arches and bridges scattered throughout Utah. Here is the difference between an arch and a bridge: the first is created by wind and rain, the second by flowing water. I wonder how many arches and bridges there are in Grand Staircase-Escalante?

More Adventures in the Grand Staircase-Escalante

Grosvenor ArchGrosvenor Arch

Twice lately I’ve left Kodachrome SP and Grand Staircase-Escalante, making the trip to the nearest Wal-Mart, two hours away in Cedar City. On the first trip I wound up and down on UT-14 through Cedar Canyon, in a stupor as I had not slept much the night before.

The most important item on my list, a new water filter with flexible hose extension, was out of stock. However, I discovered one of my windshield wipers was falling apart, and practiced being a helpless female, asking a gentleman parked next to me if he knew how to take it off. He very kindly did just that and I took it in to get a replacement. Unable to figure out how to put the new blade on, feeling totally inept, I asked another gentleman if he knew how to install it. He did. Gosh, I’m getting good at this.

As it turned out, I found that Amazon carries the water filters I was looking for, so I ordered a package of three.

My second trip to Cedar City was two days after a big rainstorm here in the park. Everything above 6900 feet had gotten a dusting of snow. The Cedar Canyon road was closed due to a storm-caused rockslide, so I took UT-20 across to I-15, spotting a coyote in a snowy field, the mountains to my north completely white.

Aquarius PlateauSnow on the Aquarius Plateau

At the Escalante Canyons Art Festival, also known as Everett Reuss Days, I learn that the National Geographic story about finding the body of Everett Reuss in 2009 is now considered incorrect. Apparently, though forensic evidence showed it was a white male of the appropriate age, DNA samples from Everett’s niece and nephew were considered not a good enough match. Now there is a new book Finding Everett Reuss. So… the mystery continues.

A great deal of time has been spent, and is still being spent, trying to make sense of my new computer. Windows 7 is very different from my old XP; MS Word is unbelievably different; the cursor skitters around, things open up here and there, and change size, seemingly of their own free will. I suppose I’ll get used to it eventually.

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Big Sage in BloomBig Sagebrush in Bloom

Trees are turning here – lovely splashes of yellow, burgundy, rose, and orange at the higher elevations in the Grand Staircase. Here in the park, the four-wing saltbush has turned pale gold, the big sagebrush is blooming, and Indian Paintbrush is sporting pretty green seedpods.

One of our German visitors drove the gravel road 1.5 miles out to Chimney Rock on a rainy afternoon and his battery died. Another visitor gave him a lift back to the Visitor Center and he came in, with very little English, looking for help. Since I had jumper cables, I drove him back to his car; after carefully reading the directions as I had never before done this myself, we hooked the cables up in the rain and got his car started successfully. He was very grateful and I was very pleased with myself - also very muddy.

Sadly, my caulking job on the leaking skylight did not survive the big storm. I’ll have to climb up on the roof to try again; if I can’t make it work this time, I’ll get it totally re-caulked when I take the RV in for service in Tucson. The list of work to be done is growing.

Abundance for Life

Caution:  Using this program could cause radical changes in your life. It certainly did in mine. I ended up selling my house and all my belongings to become a full-time RVer! Best decision I ever made! Basically, it changed the way I look at the world.

Indian Paintbrush Setting SeedIndian Paintbrush Setting Seed

A few more of my books have made their way to the little Cannonville “library.”

Last night, an almost full moon caused the high white cliffs surrounding the campground to gleam eerily in the moonlight, and lit my way as I finished up my shift, driving slowly through to make sure everyone was tucked in. Very Halloweenish!

Here are two more quotations from the interpretive signs on the Nature Trail:

“Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

And, my favorite, by Rachel Carson:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

It was a good month, and a busy one, here at Kodachrome Basin; I enjoyed wandering the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, yet it is such a vast area, there is much I'll never see.

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Cliffs at Kodachrome Basin SPLast light on the cliffs at Kodachrome

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