Hank and Marilyn Coast to Coast 2017 travel blog

Hank in Colorado National Monument

Independence Rock

Balancing Rock

Utah outside a park

Colorado River doing its thing


Today was our day to begin to explore the great American South-west. Driving to Grand Junction yesterday moved us from the Rocky Mountains to the dramatic vistas of the Great Colorado Plateau. Forest gave way to shrub trees, and the hard granite of the Rockies changed to the erosive sandstone left behind by huge inland seas. We need a course in the geological history of the US.

Immediately after Hank completed yesterday's Journal the wind came up and it rained for 20 minutes. Because of the heat we had not put up the fly that covers the tent to keep out wind and rain. So the rain came in. Hank went to the store to buy a mop to mop the water out of the tent. After an hour it was dry and usable. And we put up the fly. (Sort of like closing the barn door after the horses ran out.)

We visited Colorado National Monument just west of Grand Junction. It is a preserved landscape dating back 200 million years. WOW! AWESOME! INCREDIBLE! are words that do not do it justice (nor do our pictures). What God has wrought through the eons of change! This land was once forest, then sea, then a desert of sand dunes, then sea again, and forest, and .... Now it is high desert. Each eon can be traced through the layers, some seen in the photos. Dinosaur fossils are found at multiple layers. More "recent" erosion by wind and rain and frost produced the canyons we now see.

Independence Rock is a 550-foot high monolith. It is what is left after all the rock around it eroded away. The hard capstone has helped it survive. Of course, one day it will topple. For now, it is a challenge for skilled rock climbers. Squint and you can see two climbers sitting on the top. Balancing Rock is a similar formation. Erosion isolated it from the cliff to the right. Climbing is forbidden, and it will probably fall sooner rather than later. For more on this park go to nps.gov.

Such magnificence is throughout the South-west. As we drove to Moab we passed amazing vistas that are not within a park system. To do so would mean to "parkify" the entire South-west.

We all know about how the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon. (We plan to be there next Monday.) Before it got there it was carving smaller canyons. We chose to follow Utah Rt 128 to Moab. Boring! Until it reached the River. The next 40 miles were spectacle after spectacle around every bend. And there were public campgrounds every 3-4 miles. An outdoor's person's paradise.

Tomorrow we will visit Arches National Park (also at nps.gov). We expect to be amazed again.



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