Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Spring in the Southwest, Part 1

Nine Mile Canyon Scenery

Did We Steal a Car?

This is the first time we’ve rented from Enterprise and the check-in for our car was quite easy. We even got upgraded to a nice Mitsubishi Outlander small SUV for free—nice car to drive even if it is a little less gas efficient. The clerk did the paperwork and I signed electronically. He then gave us our key with a slip that read Slot 20 and said, “Have a grand time.”

We went out to the garage and with only one wrong turn we found Slot 20 and our gray Outlander. It took a few minutes to load our luggage, adjust the seats and the mirrors, and check the map for our directions. We pulled out of Slot 20 and toward the exit. We never did see a check out station like we have with other companies. As we thought about it on the road, the only documentation we had was the email Costco receipt with the Enterprise reservation number. We began to wonder, did we just steal a car? Will the Utah State Police come after us or track us down? 
The Solen Car and Anne in La Plata Canyon

Enterprise has our cell number and email—we haven’t yet received any threatening calls or notices. I still can’t help wondering, did we steal an SUV from Enterprise? If you get a strange call from us from some county jail in Utah or Colorado, please answer.

Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon near Price, Utah, was one of our prime destinations for this trip to the Southwest. To get to the canyon we turned off UT6 about six miles south of Price and followed Soldier Creek Rd. to milepost 21 where we entered the canyon (same road, but now called Nine Mile Canyon National Byway). 

The canyon is actually over 25 miles long and Gate Canyon adds another 30 plus miles to Myton. The canyon probably got its name in 1869 when explorer John Wesley Powell’s cartographer used a “nine mile transect” for mapping the canyon. The name stuck. The canyon is a natural conduit through the Book Cliffs between the Price River and the Uintah Basin. It was the 9th Cavalry who build the road which has long been used by settlers and freighters hauling goods from Price to the Basin.
There wasn't much auto traffic on Nine Mile Canyon road, but cattle were always about.

There is much to see in the canyon, even without venturing down the Gates Canyon road which we didn’t have time for. In the canyon are several ranches, picnic areas, and even limited camping areas. The ghost town of Harper, with several sort of intact buildings, is about half way through the canyon. 

It’s a good spot for photography, but you can’t really explore the buildings. Several examples of Native American architecture can be expored in the canyon, but they can be difficult to find or get to. There are examples of storage granaries and a recreated pit house called the Freemont Village.
There isn’t an abundance of wildlife in the canyon—sheep, cougars, and bear have been reported. 

We did see deer, lizards, vultures, and tourists.
The canyon’s main feature is the Indian Rock Art (petroglyphs and pictographs) carved or painted on canyon walls. People have lived in the canyon for at least 8,000 years. Most of the art remaining is from the Freemont Culture (Ancient Puebloans known as Anasazi) which lived in the canyon from about 200AD to 1200AD. Some newer art was added by the Ute tribes who settled in the area in the 1600 and 1700s. The difference between the Freemont Art and the Ute is style and subject matter. For instance, if the subject includes a horse or a horse and rider it would be Ute because they brought horses to the area.
The main Indian Rock Art areas that we visited were First Site (first major art panel you come to in the canyon), 

the Daddy Canyon Complex, 

and the famous Great Hunt panel. 

Besides these specific area we explored several other unnamed art areas. 

Much more art can be found in Gate Canyon, but we didn’t have time for that section.

Balance Rock in Nine Mile Canyon
We spent half a day in the canyon and were not at all disappointed with Nine Mile Canyon.

Author, Shouted the Crowd!

In a tourist shop in downtown Moab, Anne shopped for earrings to replace ones she’d lost in Price. The clerk helping Anne was wearing a Clan Campbell t-shirt and so Anne started a conversation with her about Scotland. We found out Caryl Say is an author of fantasy novels about “Merlin in Moab.” Nice lady, fun conversation. Check out her books on Amazon.

Starbucks Sleeper

In Starbuck in downtown Durango, this person came in, slumped in a chair, and promptly went to sleep. 

The clerk tried to engage him once, but on he slept. About the time we packed up to leave, the guy woke up (he’d slept about twenty minutes), opened his computer case, and pulled out a new Mac Pro. Bizarre culture Starbucks has developed.