Thursday, June 14, 2018

Southwest Blog, Part 3: Arches, Games, & a Scotland Story


The geology dates back to 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the area and eventually evaporated. Over the intervening millions of years, the effects of water, ice, wind, and geological displacement created what has become one of America’s most popular natural attractions, Arches National Park. Adjacent to the Colorado River, the park is four miles north of Moab, UT.  
Arches rock formation with ancient tree.

We didn't see much fauna in the park, but we did see birds and few lizards.

More than 2000 natural sandstone arches (along with countless other natural rock formations) exist within the more than 76,000 acre high desert park boundaries (between 4000’ and 5600’ in elevation). Originally a National Monument (1929), the area was designated a National Park in 1971. 
Native peoples have used this area for many thousands of years—the Archaic People, ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi), Fremont, Utes, and Paiutes.  Non-native explorers came looking for mineral wealth in the 1800s. 
Moon Flower

Ranchers settled in the region to raise cattle and sheep on the sparse grasslands. Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe left a weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral (late 1800s) which can still be viewed. 
We visited the park (our fourth or fifth visit) both early in the morning of one day to get morning light and then late in the afternoon for sunset views. Whereas visitors in the mid-morning (when we left) were lined up in double lines for almost a mile waiting to be checked in, we zipped in both times with nary a wait—it pays to pick your visiting time. On our morning visit I got good lighting for photos at Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers. 
Park Avenue

The Three Gossips

Courthouse Tower

Our main morning objective was the Devil’s Garden—an area of hiking trail to some of the most iconic arches in the park. With stops at the Wolfe Ranch site to view Indian rock art (petroglyphs) 

and at Skyline Arch near the main road, we arrived at Devil’s Garden parking area before it was too crowded or too hot. Though hikers can spend all day (or several days) on hikes out to spectacular arches, it was less than two miles total for Anne and I to hike out to Pinetree Arch and Tunnel Arch—
The Hike to Pinetree Arch

Tunnel Arch

two nice sites we’d never been to.
After a forgettable dinner at the Moab Diner (ask for that story), we made our second visit of the day to the park about 6:00 PM. Before going out to our main evening destination, we stopped at Balance Rock, another of Arches’ treasures. 

From Balance Rock it is only a couple of miles to the area known for its numerous and easy to get to arches called The Windows. We took short hikes to several of the arches in the area 
North Window Arch?

South Window Arch, or is it North?

and then were treated to wonderful sunset views from the Balance Rock parking area. 

The LaSala Mountains
As many times as we’ve been to Arches, there’s still plenty more for us to see on future trips. If only Moab weren’t so damned expensive—$200+ per night in the cheapest motel accommodations.


On the weekend of June 8, 9, and 10 we participated in the McMinnville Celtic Festival held on the Linfield College campus. The Celtic Festival, America’s version of Scotland’s Highland Games, is a celebration of all things Celtic—music, dance,
Haggis Eating Contest

Apple Pie Fries--see photo below.

Lightly battered slices of apple coated in cinnamon and sugar--Delicious!
food, sports. 
This lassie is throwing a 27 pound weight over a twelve foot high bar over her head.

The festival is organized by the Celtic Heritage Alliance organized in 2011, who formerly sponsored Highland Games at Newport on the Oregon coast. 
The Honor Guard officially opens the festival.

The clans follow the Honor Guard. This is Clan McGregor (I believe).

The Alliance put on the Newport festival until 2016 when it was decided to seek another venue because the Newport venue, while great for flying kites, was often too windy for outside vendor tents or some of the traditional Highland competitions, such as the caber toss. After a one year hiatus, it was arranged to hold the 2018 event at Linfield College in McMinnville and name it the McMinnville Celtic Festival.
We had participated in two Newport events and were thrilled when a closer venue was found to continue the event. It didn’t hurt my feelings at all that it would be held at my alma mater of Linfield. 
Setting Up

We're Ready for Business

Friday afternoon we set up the skeleton of our booth and then brought in our books and photos on Saturday morning. Saturday’s weather was cloudy, breezy (we had to hold our portable gazebo from blowing away a couple of times), but dry. Sunday was on and off rain—thankfully without much wind—all day. 
The coat is made from the hide of a Hielan' Coo (Highland Cow or Hairy Cow).

We had an enjoyable time, though, both days making some sales of books and photos, visiting with people about Scotland and Ireland, seeing former students, and even reconnecting with a fraternity brother I hadn’t seen since 1967.
Throwing a 50+ pound weight for distance.

Mark Wechter is an international champion in the Masters Class (seniors). He is also a former student of mine from Brookings. Here he is throwing a 57# stone (upper right) for distance.

Mark is an international champion in the Caber Toss--throwing a 14' 120# pole end-over-end. He made three perfect throws to win the event.
     From everything we heard and saw, it looks like the festival was a hit with sponsors, vendors, competitors, and locals. We look forward to year two next June.

A Story from Scotland

In 2010 we were staying with our adopted family in Crieff and had one dinner which was very memorable. There had been a special run of some small local fish (similar to smelt) which one of the B&B’s helpers said were very like a fish she used to cook in South Africa. 
The Fishing Village of Crail near St Andrews.

Jacky, the B&B owner, bought a mess of the fish and Annie, the South African helper, said she’d do a fry-up. Annie cooked the fish whole with only a light dusty of seasoned flour. I thought the fish waa delicious—head and all. A few of the other adults cuts the heads off before they ate the fish. 
Anne with Ailsa at a dinner in the B&B.

Ailsa, our 10 years old unofficially adopted niece, was adventurous and going to eat the whole fish. As she took the first one off the platter she looked at it head on for quite a while. Finally, she said with a sigh, “I just can’t get my head around it!” and set the fish back on the plate. Out of the mouths of babes!

NEXT: More of the SW and onto our upcoming Canada trip.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Spring Southwest, Part 2

Sego Canyon Petroglyphs
Sego Canyon Wall

Just off I-70 east of Green River, UT, is the turn off to Thompson Springs and there’s not much there—population 39 (2010). 
Bluff outside of Thompson Springs toward Sego Canyon.

Thompson Springs looks quite a bit like a ghost town.

Five miles through Thompson Springs, though, is one of the best panels of petroglyphs and pictographs we’ve ever seen. At the Sego Canyon site (aka Book Cliffs and Thompson Wash) is a large parking area, a couple of picnic tables, a toilet facility (better than port-a-loos), and a short improved trail to the panels of Native American rock art.  Most of the art is pictographs (painted images on the rocks) with some petroglyphs (pecked images). 
Petroglyphs in Sego Canyon

Graffiti and bullet chips sit next to ancient art.

On one of the Sego Canyon panels it's easy to see where newer art has been superimposed over older images.

The images seen at the Sego Canyon site range from very early (Archaic period about 7000 BC) and the Barrier Canyon period (about 2000 BC), through Fremont Culture art (600-1250 AD, contemporaneous with the Anasazi of the Four Corners region), to Ute art (1300-1700 AD). 
Pictographs in Sego Canyon

Definitely out of this world.

Many of the pictographs are life size.

Besides the main panel of art there is a second grouping about 100 yards further down the road. The panel, again mostly pictographs, is on private property, but is easily viewed from the road.
From Sego Canyon we took I-70 to UT128 and then around the back side of Arches Nat'l Park to Moab. A lovely drive with great scenery, much of it along the Colorado River.

Colorado River

Looking at the various images, especially the pictographs, it’s easy to see why ancient astronaut theorists love this art. Aliens with space helmets and antenna are right there on the rock walls.

The Birthing Stone, Moab Rock Art
The Birthing Stone in the Kane Creek Drive area in Moab.

On Kane Creek Drive out of downtown Moab are several sites of major interest to petroglyph hunters. Moonflower Canyon has a nice panel and there are several small sites along the road, but the one we missed on our last trip to the area is the one not to miss. Called the Birthing Stone, this large rock on a ledge below the gravel road that is the continuation of Kane Creek Road has petroglyphs on all four sides. 
The prime "birthing" image.

Cactus Flowers

Park at a small pull out on the road, room enough for three or four vehicles, and walk about a hundred yards further along the road to see the stone. It’s an easy few steps down to the stone which is fenced off as a reminder not to touch the rock art. Most of the art is of Fremont-style, with the figure giving birth the prominent image. 
At the Birthing Stone we were greeted by one of the locals.

We were lucky on this trip to not only see art on the stone, but also cactus in bloom.

Dead Horse Point State Park 
Mesas on the way to Dead Horse Point State Park--these two are named Monitor and Merrimack.

Dead Horse Point State Park, 32 miles from Moab, is one of Utah’s most spectacular parks. The point above a horse shoe bend in the Colorado River 2000 feet below grants a wonderful Canyonland panorama. 
Great canyon views from Dead Horse Point.

Colorado River

The view point gets its name, according to one legend, from the story that cowboys would fence in an area of the point to use in the roundup of wild horses. One time, for unknown reasons, horses in the corral were left without water, and they died of thirst while being able to see the life-giving Colorado River 2000 feet below.
there were several interesting gnarled trees at Dead Horse Point.

NEXT: SW Part 3: Arches Nat'l Park and More Petroglyphs