Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Lovely Southwest, Part 1

Upgraded to 1st Class

Mt Jefferson through the clouds.

     For several years when I was teaching I traveled from Oregon to the US southwest every summer to help run summer debate workshops for high schoolers from around the country. First in Santa Fe (College of Santa Fe), next Albuquerque (University of New Mexico), then in Durango, Colorado (Fort Lewis College), and finally in Flagstaff (Northern Arizona University). Each summer Anne would join me at debate camp and we’d get to do a little sightseeing. Now, every couple of years we go back to the southwest to do some of the sites we didn’t get to or to see favorite attractions again. On this two week trip we are basing in Moab, Utah, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, with stops in Durango.

     We flew in to Albuquerque to start our trip. We had just one afternoon so we got a quick visit to Petroglyphs National Monument. 
Most likely a birthing symbol.

No one can know what all the symbols mean, but the experts can make educated guesses. This is likely a Shaman because of headdress.

An easily identified bird symbol, but the deeper meaning is a guess.

Anne climbed the steep, rocky trail to the top. Going down was more difficult.

Native Rock Art (petroglyphs and pictographs) fascinate me. With Native American and Hispanic heritage (my maternal grandmother was Hispanic and Native American, probably Apache, from the Durango area), the southwestern native culture has become of great interest to me—on Netflix check out the three episode series by Robert Redford called “Skinwalkers,” based on books by Tony Hillerman.
A cholla cactus with blooms at the Monument Visitor Center.

     The Long Drive—six hours from Albuquerque to Moab—was our second day. Aside from plenty of big rigs traveling along at 75 mph plus, there wasn’t much to see. We got views of Shiprock, an interesting rock formation in Utah, but no photo opportunities—too far still to go. Finally, just outside of Moab we got into some areas that were more photogenic. 

Had to stop because of roadwork near some interesting geological formations. Then we got a nice look at Wilson Arch a few miles out of Moab. 

Moab is a grand tourist destination filled with interesting shops and restaurants and is pricey—Motel 8-type accommodations would run about $200 a night, if you can find a room available.

     Our next day was filled by a visit to Arches National Park, one of the most popular parks in the system. At the entrance the queue was two lanes of traffic for almost half a mile—took us 20 minutes to reach the front of the line in our lane. 

Surprisingly, the park crowds never got in the way of our seeing whatever we wanted to see and except for the arches in the Windows area, my photos were relatively tourist free. We saw all the major sites in the park, 

The Three Gossips

The Courthouse Tower

Courthouse Tower from the back.

except for Devil’s Garden (we would have had a devil of a time getting there with the crowds).
Two views of Park Avenue.

The Park Avenue overlook was filled with photographers, all taking turns getting the shot they wanted. 
Balance Rock from a ways away.

South Window Arch

Double Arch

Balance Rock parking area was closed, but I got a couple of images from the side road. At Wolfe Ranch we hiked out to the petroglyphs there
Wolfe Ranch Petroglyphs and a close up.

I believe these were made by Ute Tribe members in the 1750s.

—some very nice rock art. The most fun was hiking through a small, narrow slot canyon to Sand Dune Arch. 
The softer rock wears away leaving these vertical slabs -- they are called fins.

Anne hiking between the fins into a slot canyon.

Sand Dune Arch

Much left to explore in Arches National Park.
The Tower of Babel

      We played golf at the lovely Moab GC on one of our days in the town. 

We played in the morning, but in the later afternoon the surrounding rocks turn deep red.

After golf we drove over to a Rock Art site only a block away from the golf course. 

It has some of the best preserved petroglyphs in the area. 

Your guess is as good as anyone's, but the figure is likely a ceremonial dancer.
There was more we saw in the area, but that will have to wait for a future post.

NEXT: Canyonlands Jeep Tour, then on to Mesa Verde, Durango, and finally Santa Fe.