Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day and Marching for Science

Happy Earth Day and March for Science Day.  It's really impressive to see the numbers of people who have turned out to march in favor of peer reviewed research.  We looked for a march in Moab, but did not see any signs.

 Today's key learning is to stay off Kane Creek road on the weekend.  In our defense we did not know it was the nexus of dirt bikes, quads, UTVS and all manner of off road vehicles.  The original thought had been to hike the Hunter Canyon trail.  Once we saw this parking lot, we knew we'd be abandoning that plan.

The dust kicked up by the off road vehicles was horrendous.  Honestly, I don't know why this is fun.  I understand having a high clearance vehicle so you can get to more remote trail heads, but what the entertainment value is from driving these things down gravel roads is beyond me.  Moab seems to have sold its soul to the off road contingent.

After fleeing the dirt road, we pull into Moonflower Canyon hoping for a hike.  It's a very pleasant canyon.  First we were treated to the sight of a dog climbing a tree.

Then there was the always lovely red rock.

Unfortunately it's a very short walk to the end of the canyon.  There is a pool of water at the end.  We met a very nice young man who showed us what poison ivy looks like.  It is EVERYWHERE in that canyon and others in Utah.  I always thought it was a low spreading plant, and it's not.

On the way back we spotted this guy throwing his ropes over the edge of the cliff.  He was intending to rappel down, but his buddy wasn't there to be on belay.  He hollered for him a couple of times.  We had previously seen Kevin leaving the area, so we told guy with the ropes that he was gone.  Ropes guy asked if his ropes were reaching the ground.  We told him no, he had a 15 to 20 foot gap.  I guess if they had reached the ground, he would have rappelled without Kevin.

We drove south of Moab and found some low volume roads where we can ride our bikes in peace.  The good outcome for today was getting a giant amount of laundry done.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Moab – Canyonlands

It was really windy this morning, the kind of booming snapping wind that makes riding a bike unpleasant.  After farting around the internet for awhile, we decided to drive out to Canyonlands. We got out there about mid-day, when the sun was high and harsh.

The is the Schafer Trail.  It goes down to floor of the valley.  In the past we’ve seen mountain bikers heading down, but none were out today.  We did see two pickup trucks with campers driving along the valley floor.


Next up was Mesa Arch.  It’s a quarter of a mile walk down to see it. 


The view beyond it is also spectacular.


Here we are at the Grand Overlook.  If you’re pressed for time, drive directly to this overlook, it’s spectacular.  This used to be a flat plane of sedimentary rock layers.  Water and wind have carved the canyons.


I took this with the 200mm lens.  If you look at the center of the photo, you can see one of the evaporation ponds for potash crystals.  The water is dyed blue to increase the rate of evaporation.


As I mentioned the sun was high.  When we were here in 2009, we visited Canyonlands after a massive thunderstorm.  You can see that post here. Anyway, the broken clouds really made everything look so much better.

grand overlook 2

grand overlook

The mobile RV tech, who was supposed to arrive between 5 and 7 called at 6:57 to tell us he was on his way.  We said nah.  I don’t get a positive feeling about the guy.  While we were planning for his failure, we made an appointment with a large RV dealer in Grand Junction, CO.  It may just be that the service guy is polite and promptly returns emails; but I have a much better feeling about them.  Our appointment is May 4, we’ll depart Moab the night before and hopefully return the afternoon of the 4th.  All of that is contingent on not finding someone else local to replace the 7 pin adapter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Moab – RV Stuff and a Hike in William Grandstaff Canyon

Today started as an aggravating day, with the intrusion of reality into the travel season.  Our seven pin adapter is broken.  There are two winger things that align the door that holds the end of the electrical cable onto the back of the bus.  One is broken and now the door lists to the left.  The nightmare scenario is having the whole thing let go, and the electrical cable beats the front of the pickup truck.  We can’t leave Moab towing unless this is fixed.  The mobile RV guy didn’t show last night.  This morning we tracked him down in his shop.  We’re back on the schedule for tomorrow.  He does have the replacement part, and the screw pattern is the same as our current connector.  Having looked at the whole shebang, we are certain this is not something we want to install.

We did an excellent hike to the Morning Glory Natural Bridge.  It’s the 6th largest natural bridge in the US.  One walks through William Grandstaff Canyon.  This is the canyon formerly known as “Negro Bill”, named after an African American man who farmed in the canyon in the 1800s.  Apparently the first time the signs went up with the new name, they were promptly stolen.  The presence of water makes it very green, and the sound is pleasant, as well.


The bridge is enormous.  I took this from about a quarter of a mile away.  The bridge is dead center in the photo.


Once you get under it, it’s too big to capture.



It’s a really green area.


There are ten creek crossings.  Nine of them are no problem.  We did not like this one at all. The rock is very narrow across the top edge.


Jim wishes his right arm was longer than it is, so he could hang on to that rock.  We both made it across with dry feet.


More water.


As we were coming out of the canyon, there was a little weather in one direction.  The sun pierced the clouds and lit up the landscape.  I love Utah.  It’s the most spectacular place we have ever been.


Here are some more gratuitous red rock photos.



It was a really good hike, and an excellent antidote to our frustration with the RV and the current administration.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Moab - Road Bike and Potash

Greetings Earthlings!  Yesterday was spent vacuuming out the bed of the truck and washing all of the accumulated dirt and dust from Bluff off of the bicycles.  They were just filthy.
Today we got the road bikes out.  There is a lovely paved trail that goes up the hill towards Arches.  It's 7% at one segment.  When we were coming back down the hill, I was feeling pleased with my climbing, until confronted by kids riding up the hill on heavy 29er mountain bikes with really fat tires.

After the beautiful downhill, the best downhill, we rode up the trail along the Colorado River.  It's just lovely out there.

Later we drove out towards the potash plant.  Pretty please take a moment to review the post from two years ago.  We were out there after significant rainfall.  The parking lot to the Jug Handle Arch was under water and mud.  The rail line to the potash plant had been undermined in many places.
The rail line has been repaired.  There's new ballast in place and it's up and running. 

The UMTRA project is proceeding.   This is a huge undertaking to remove 16 million tons of uranium mine tailings which were dumped along the Colorado river.  The Moab Project ships 1 trainload of tailings Monday and Wednesday. The trains have up to 36 railcars, each holding 4 lidded containers, for a total of about 5,000 tons of tailings per shipment. Tailing shipments began in April, 2009, and are expected to continue through about 2032, depending on annually appropriated funds.  Note the phrase "annually appropriated funds."  Our 45th president wants to gut things like Superfund Site cleanups, Great Lakes cleanups and climate change research.  Fifty programs are on the hit list.  What if this goes on the block?  It's a DOE project, so maybe the fact that it's not run by the EPA will save it.

They're hard to see, but those are the shipping containers on a rail line up the hill.  There is a crane that lifts each container onto a truck.  The truck drives the container  down the hill to the clean up site.

 See the orange cranes?  They take the containers off the trucks and put them in the yard until needed.

We're not sure if they're digging here, or spreading new dirt.  There is a wiki on the project.

It's a really big deal.

In other news, how horrified are you that #45 lied to the world about the location of the USS Carl Vinson?  When he said he was "sending an armada" to North Korea, the ships were actually on their way to Australia.  The Chinese newspapers are making fun of the US.  Even worse was what a candidate for the S. Korean presidency said.
“What was said was very important for the national security of South Korea,” Hong said to the Journal’s reporters. “If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”
The word of this country can no longer be relied upon by our allies.  It makes me sad.  The full article can be found here.