Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bluff–Third and final part

As I said in part one, there are a lot of things to do in the area.  I was there 1 week and could have stayed longer.  If I come back to the area, I might spend a few days at Gooseneck State Park, a few days around Bluff (Sand Island BLM campground or a private campground) and a few days around the Natural bridges area.

I went to Natural Bridges National Monument one day.  I had planned on going back to hike down to the 2 bridges that I didn’t hike to, but ended up not having time.

The first bridge on the one way loop is the Sipapu Bridge. 

It’s hard to see, but the opening of the bridge is very close to the center of the photo above.

My next stop was the Horse Collar Ruin overlook, which is a short hike from the parking area.  The walk to the ruins was great, but very windy.  I later learned there were gusts up to 60 MPH while I was at Natural Bridges. 

The canyon where the alcoves are with the ruins. 

I love the way they build the ruins in the alcoves in canyons.  I always wonder how they built them.  These ruins were abandoned more than 700 years ago. 

One day my cold or sinus infection (whatever it is) was bothering me so I decided to do another no hiking day.  Just another scenic drive – I ended up going to Monument Valley (actually I did this the same day I did Muley Point).

I had been there years ago and taken one of the guided tours, but this time I decided to just drive where they allow tourist to drive.  The road was dirt and pretty rough, so I didn’t drive the entire way (for those who know this area, I skipped the loop).

In the picture above, you can see the dirt road that I drove a bit after taking this picture from the visitor center.  The picture below is taken from the dirt road.  These buttes are called the mittens – it’s easy to see why!

Above was taken from the John Ford’s Point.  This is one of a few overlooks where the Native Americans set up tables and sell things – mostly jewelry. 

Many movies have been filmed in this area, from John Wayne movies to Forrest Gump and many others.  The road below is the road where Forrest Gump was when he decided to stop running.

If interested here is a neat blog about many of the movies filmed in the area (including a picture of Forrest Gump running this hill).  {Utah's Canyon Country}

On one of my last days in Bluff, I headed to Hovenweep National Monument, which is in  Utah and Colorado.  Hovenweep is where Pueblo Indians build round, square and odd shaped towers.  Some of these structures were built on or around boulders.  It is believed that they left this area in the late 1200’s.  Below are the Twin Towers. 

There are several structures in the above picture.  My favorite is the Eroded Boulder House.  You can see the roof is a boulder and they built front and side walls to enclose the house.


I also appreciated a tower that was built down in the canyon.  Again wondering how they did this so long ago. 


From Bluff, I headed North to Moab, UT where I currently am.  I still have some congestion and after playing a bit in the snow on Wednesday, decided to spend the afternoon out of the cold and wind and finish up all my blogs. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bluff–Part 2

On the day that I went down the Moki Dugway, I saw the sign for Muley Point.  I wanted to go, but didn’t think I had time that day, so I ended up going back another day.  I had read about Muley Point in a book and also in Jim and Gayle’s blog (I tend to go to a lot of the same places they go!).  This was a neat place.  I had read it was a 5 mile road, but at about 3.5 miles I got to what I thought was the end.  I walked around a bit and took some pictures.  When I started to leave, I knew I had to head back the way I had come.  My GPS was telling me to turn around and I quickly realized that I was not on the same road that I had come in on.  I continued on and found the actual end of the road.  I’m glad I did as both stops were great. 

At the bottom of the Moki Dugway is the Valley of the Gods, which is said to be a miniature Monument Valley.  This was a beautiful place where I mostly did a driving tour, I did get out a couple of times just for a short walk.  The road was dirt and I had read was ok for non-4 wheel drive vehicles.  There were a couple of places that I questioned that statement, but I made it.

There were a couple of signs warning that this was “Open Range” and I saw a few cows and bulls. 

I am the type person who sometimes looks at clouds and rocks and sees something.  In the rock above (the one on the left) I see one of those mechanical monkeys who is beating a drum (he is wearing a hat).  Can anyone else see it??   My sister had one playing the cymbals, but I know I have seen one playing a drum.

Also in the area is Gooseneck State Park.  It’s not hard to see why it is called that.

The San Juan River twists and turns flowing a distance of six miles, but only advances 1.5 miles toward Lake Powell.  There are actually 4 “legs” in this area, but I could only get 3 in the photo.  I guess I need to learn how to stitch together photos for a very wide panoramic shot!

One day I decided to see if I could find the Wolfman Petroglyph panel on the Comb Ridge, that was just 7 or 8 miles from my campground.  I had some instructions and found the parking area quickly, but I still had a bit of problem finding it as the description said to follow the cairns that some people had built and I only found one cairn.  I eventually found the spot that had been described as “you must squeeze between a big boulder and the cliff wall”.  It was bit difficult walking as there was no true trail and was steep in some areas, but I made it.

Above is a picture I took after squeezing thru the crack between the boulder and cliff and then scrambling over the other rocks.  I would guess that the boulder was 5 – 7 feet high (in the middle of the photo). 

I knew I was in the right spot because I had read about the alcove above and I could just make out a small petroglyph just to the right of the alcove.  I had to do a bit of scrambling over slick rock and sand and gravel, but I eventually make it to the petroglyphs, which are etched in the patina (dark area) to the right of the alcove. 

You can see some bullet holes in the pictures where some ignorant person defaced the petroglyphs.

I have read different stories on the name Wolfman.  Some say the picture above may be a Wolfman, while others mention the paw prints in several places on the panel.  They believe these were made by the Anasazi. 

The picture above was taken of the area that I had to walk back thru to get back to the car.  I put a black arrow where the rock boulder is that I had to squeeze thru again (upper left corner). As you can see no trail, or great way of getting there.  But it was great,  I really enjoyed it and would do it again.  Some people may have gotten a laugh at my methods (sliding on my rear a few times, kneeling and crawling in one place), but I tend to be extremely cautious in areas like this.

Just some scenery in the Butler Wash and National Bridges Monument area --

Less than 1/2 mile from my campground is the Twin Rock Cafe and Twin Rocks Trading Post.  You can see why they have their names!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bluff, AZ–Part 1

There are so many things to do within an hour or 2 of Bluff, AZ that I am going to break this into multiple parts.

I had thought about staying at Devil’s Canyon campground (a National Forest campground with no hookups), but I decided to make reservations at a full hookup site a while back and I am glad I did.  We had 2 nights below freezing, but most days were in the 60’s and 70’s.  

On the day I drove from Cottonwood, AZ to Bluff, UT it was very windy.  So much so that I had decided if it got too bad I would pull over and wait it out.  I had paid attention to the weather forecast and since they called for the wind to get worse in the afternoon, I left very early and missed the worst of the wind (55 mph gust).   The dust was blowing everywhere (and so were the tumbleweeds!).  It also rained just enough to make a mess on everything.

But there was some beautiful scenery on the way --

The above picture was taken from my campsite and shows how much dust is in the sky!  This was the actual color, not taken through a tinted window!  I didn’t notice until the next day, but I think my RV was dirtier than it has ever been. Below is part of the hood and front grill (and me) --

My first full day, the weather was not great, so I did laundry.  But I also went to the nearby Sand Island BLM area.  This is a campground on the San Juan River, but also has some easy to get to petroglyphs.  They (whoever that is) have estimated these petroglyphs to be 300 – 3000 years old.  In looking at the panels, I could see some that were very faded, which appeared to be the older ones. 

At first glance some of the ones below looked like space alien masks, but then I noticed very faint heads on top of the masks (?).  I really enjoyed trying to figure out what the pictures were and what the artist was trying to say. 

The one below was one of my favorites, a man with a vortex head.  It was very faint as the petina had redeveloped over the scratched in area.

While in Blanding doing laundry, I also visited the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum.  It had snowed the night before in the mountains and I love seeing the mountains with snow on them!  I tried to be creative and get the mountains with snow and the ruins, but they are hard to make out.  If you enlarge it, you can see it better!!

The museum consisted of the ruins above and a large indoor museum of pottery found mostly in the area.  I liked the one below.  It’s a Bighorn Sheep Effigy pot made A.D. 900 - 1150.

One day, I visited the Butler Wash Ruins.  These ruins were built by the Anasazi Indians about 700 years ago.  The hike there was fun and beautiful.  Below is the canyon, with several of the alcoves housing the ruins.

On that same day, I saw the Moki Dugway for the first time.  I had read about this and knew I wanted to see it, but I didn’t realize that it was just a section of a regular road.  The road leading to the Dugway was paved and had a 55 MPH speed limit.  I wondered why my GPS was saying it was going to take me so long to get where I was going.  I found out!!  The road changed to dirt/gravel and steep grades, with quite a few switchbacks and a speed limit of 15. 

Much of the road was right on the edge of the cliff, as you can see in the picture below--

After I got down “the hill”, I turned around and took a picture of the sign and the area I just went down.  It drops about 1200 feet in about 3 miles. 

Unfortunately I got a cold (or as I now believe a sinus infection), so a couple of days I didn’t do much (I had a fever of almost 102 one day – that’s not fun!).  I am still not 100%, but am much better!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cottonwood, AZ–Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Before leaving Arizona, I wanted to spend a couple of days in the Sedona area.  I decided to stay at the Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ, which is 15 – 20 miles from Sedona.  While most of my days were spent closer to Sedona, one day I did the nature hike in the campground.  We had 15 or so people on this walk and one of the couples had hiked the area a few days before and found an owl’s nest.  We kept an eye out for it, but did not find it during the nature hike. 

Sorry, once again I am posting a Vermillion Flycatcher.  I love this bird and I have seen them a lot recently.  This one entertained us while the bunch was gathering together for the nature hike.  It is probably the closest I have seen one.

After the official walk was over a few of us, including the couple who originally found the owl’s nest, decided to look one more time and we found it.

In both pictures, you can see the Great Horned Owl and a baby.  It is easier to see the baby in the bottom picture.  You can even make out his bill. 

One day, I went to the Westfork Oak Creek trail, which I did a few years ago.  I really enjoyed this hike.  It is a 3.3 mile trail  (a primitive trail continues beyond 3.3 miles) that has 13 creek crossings (actually 6.6 miles and 26 crossing since you have to double back on the same trail).  Last time I did it, I didn’t do the entire 3.3 miles as some of the crossings were a bit difficult.  I think the water was lower this time as it wasn’t too bad. 

The bridge that leads to the trail and canyon and other pictures from the hike--

Of course, I went into Sedona and did some of the touristy things, including buying a new pendant!  I went to Red Rock Crossing to see Cathedral Rock.  When I got there, I found a wedding going on.

In the above picture, you can just see the bride and groom kissing, with Cathedral Rock in the background.   Other pictures from the area-


What a great place to relax and/or play!

Other Sedona scenery-

On my last day in Cottonwood, I was cleaning up and at the last minute decided  I should go to Tuzigoot National Monument, which was only a few miles from the campground.  I got there about 30 minutes before they closed, but had enough time to quickly see everything.

From here, I will finally make it into Utah.  My first stop will be Bluff, UT in SouthEast Utah.