Sunday, April 30, 2017

Moab – Driving

I swear, if I had to live in Moab I would probably shoot me or someone else.  Yesterday, traffic south bound into Moab was backed up to Arches National Park.  There was a car show in town, and for reasons not apparent to me, the police had established not one, but TWO pinch points with their cars blocking a lane – requiring all cars to merge to one lane.  Getting to the grocery store for milk just took forever.  Today, this is what south bound looked like at the north end of town.  For the people who live here, it just has to be brutal.  Highway 191 is the only way through Moab, and it’s not going to get any better.


We elected to drive out the scenic and gorgeously beautiful UT128, and then make a right turn on to the La Sal Mountain Loop.  It’s closed after 16 miles for paving.  The DOT is not fooling around with the paving, they have taken the road bed down to dirt.  It’s a pretty drive, looking at the mountains.


The road splits, the mountain loop goes off towards the right (all directions are coming from Moab), and the left fork is the Dolores Triangle Safari Route.  I have no idea why it’s called that.  The road will take you to Gateway, CO if you are so inclined.  The road pitches steeply up and winds through the trees.


Coming back down the hill, you look into the lowlands of Moab.  It’s just a spectacular view.




After departing the moutain loop road, we drove back out toward Fisher Towers, since the sun was out today.


Is this not stunning?


Those are Fisher Towers on the right side of the photo.


It was a fun drive.  We were both a little tired, and decided that a day off from the hiking would be a good thing. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Moab –The Fruit Bowl Highline

Last year we read an article about slacklining in Moab.  I’d never heard of such a thing. There is an area called the Fruit Bowl where the BLM allows slacklining, BASE jumping and human catapults. We decided that if we returned to Moab that we’d drive out and look at it.  The Fruit Bowl is a narrow canyon near Dead Horse Point State Park.  One drives out 131, turns on BLM129 (dirt), and then on to Fruitbowl access road (sand and slickrock.)


Eventually one reaches the parking lot, and walks towards the rim of the canyon.  There are cairns so the area can be found.  It’s really beautiful.


This is from one side of the Fruit Bowl.


And this is from the other side.  I could not force myself to walk to the very edge and point the camera straight down.  It was really windy and I didn’t do it.


So this is what they do out there.  They’ve made nets out of parachute cord and ropes.  These are suspended below the top of the canyon.  Some people will BASE jump through the hole in the middle to the canyon floor.  That must be a really long drive back to the top.

highline 1

Or you can walk the slack line out to the net.

highline 2

Or you can cross the canyon on the slack line.


If you’re mad at your bicycle, you can do this.


I love this photo.  It gives you an idea of the depth and how high up they are.


The article, linked in the first paragraph, is interesting.  If you have a few minutes it’s worth reading.  In the past they’ve had a festival out there Thanksgiving weekend.  I don’t know if they’re still doing it.  The bolts for all of this are still in the rocks, so hopefully they will.

Here is a gratuitous scenery shot, taken driving down the hill from Dead Horse Point.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Moab - Corona Arch and Thoughts About Current Events

It was chilly and overcast this morning.  We could not tell what the weather was going to do.  When we loaded the truck before heading out we took clothing for three seasons.  Today's hike was to the Corona Arch.  We loved it.  It's only a mile and a half to the arch, but it's just beautiful out there.
There is a ladder!  Today we were able to go up and down it with little trepidation.  One technique we witnessed when descending was to step on the top rung with your back to the ladder and then pivot to face it.  That had been my plan, but I ended up going all the way down like that.

This is the Bowtie Arch which is near the Corona Arch.  Notice the complete lack of color in the sky.

The Corona Arch - it's really big.

See the sort of horizontal line across the bottom third of the photo?  That's the cut that was made for the rail like that goes out to the potash plant.  We also think the UMTRA project is using it to haul away the radioactive mine tailings.

The Bowtie Arch with a little more sun.

In addition to the ladder, there are divots in the rock for your feet to get up the steep section.  BLM has very kindly added a cable for you to hang on to.

Apparently the cairn fairly has been hard at work, stacking rocks.

As we were heading back, the clouds moved out and it became a glorious day.

See the horizontal line sort of mid way in the photo?  That's a good sized fill that was done for the rail line.  The people who built railroads were not deterred by unfavorable terrain and grades.

The cut for the line.  That required a lot of dynamite.

On the way back down the hill we stopped and watched the UMTRA site.  It runs like a well choreographed machine.  Empty containers are brought down the hill and put in the yard.  The mobile crane puts them on a truck, which you can see mid photo.

The truck drives under the burgundy building.  It's hard to see because it's in shadow, but there is a crane that removes the top of the container and puts it to one side.

The empty truck heads out for a load of contaminated dirt.

 On the way back, the yellow crane puts the lid back on the container.  He's on the right hand side.

Then it goes up the hill and becomes part of the train that takes the dirt away.  They ship Mondays and Wednesdays.

Perhaps if there had been an Environmental Protection Agency when the uranium mines were operating, some thought would have been given to the utter badness of dumping tailings right next to the Colorado river.  People complain about the cost of regulations, but the cost of later clean up is also high.

Today's news was just a trifecta of badness.  The Freedom Caucus has worked with the White House to develop a replacement for the ACA.    Washington Post did an article detailing it.  One of those "essential health benefits" that states can opt out of providing is emergency care.  
Democrats assailed the latest proposal, saying it did nothing to help the 24 million people who, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would lose coverage by 2026 under the repeal bill.
They denounced one part of the new proposal that, they said, would protect health insurance for members of Congress. This provision, they said, guarantees that lawmakers would not lose “essential health benefits” and could not be charged higher premiums because of their health status. The group that helps elect House Democrats immediately unleashed internet ads in 30 Republican-held districts railing against the carve out. A Democratic interest group, Priorities USA, followed suit.

“The monstrous immorality of Trumpcare is perfectly encapsulated in House Republicans’ plan to exempt their own health coverage from the damage it will do to everyone else,” said the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi of California.
So, the Congress people are declaring themselves to be a protected class, and too bad for the citizenry. (Updated 5/4/17 - Congress removed the language exempting themselves from losing essential benefits.) (Updated 5/5/17 - Looks like Congress will be exempt from the downsides to the ACHA after all.  Article here.)

Also today, a review of all monument designated land since 1996 was ordered by the president.  Apparently Bear's Ears is being targeted again, as is Grand Staircase-Escalante.  Article here.  There is much appetite for drilling for oil and gas on public land. 

And finally, the FCC is again advocating the end of net neutrality.  Why is this such a big deal?  It's a big deal because it un-levels the playing field. When YouTube was a start up in someone's garage, Google was developing Google Video.  Google had way more money than YouTube, and had the net not been neutral they could have paid ISPs to favor Google Video over YouTube.  However, that playing field was level, YouTube was better, and they won.  Google eventually bought them, but that's another story.  This article discusses the ramifications.

There is rain in the forecast for tonight.  Tomorrow's winds are supposed to be in the upper 20s gusting to 40.  We may stay inside!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Moab – Scenery and Fisher Towers

Sunday was an aggravating day.  We set out to ride south of Moab.  The wind had other ideas for us.  After giving it a shot, we decided what we were doing was stupid and not fun.  So we got in the truck.  We did drive up part of the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. It’s pretty spectacular up there.  It’s a 60 some odd mile drive, but right now the middle section is closed for paving.


Monday we mountain biked out at the Moab Brands trails.  We did the Bar-M loop.  That’s the trail that is suggested for families, and now for the faint of heart.  It’s been awhile since we’ve done any consistent riding on dirt, and our skill set has deteriorated.  Part of the Bar-M is dirt and much of it is rock.  Knowing that I have osteopenia, I still have the internal debate about whether mountain biking is actually fun.  There is relief what the ride is over and no one fell, but is relief actually fun?  The jury is still out on this. 


Today exceeded expectations.  The wind came up early enough that it was clear that there would be no riding.  We decided to go out to Fisher Towers.  The area was made famous by the Citi Bank commercial showing the young woman climbing Ancient Arts.  You can watch the commercial here.


The air was very unstable, and for awhile it looked like we were just going to have a very scenic drive.


Those are the towers on the right.


Ancient Arts is pretty much dead center in the photo. People climb up there, roped, and then rappel down.  It makes my hands sweat just thinking about it.


Look at the sky.  What do you think?  Will we get wet or not?  The wind was unbelievable, when we would come around an outside corner, it would make me take a step back.  The blowing sand was somewhat painful.


It’s just a stunning hike.


This is a very tall rock face. 


We’re guessing this is how people get down from the top.  There was a rope left in place with no one attached to it.

the rope

In the end, we were confronted by a ladder.  Between the force of the wind and the threat of rain and the fact that I really hate ladders, I bailed.  I think we were about eight tenths of a mile from the end, but I did not want to do the ladder.  Thinking about transitioning from the top rung to the ledge was not making me a happy camper. 


It was good that we turned around, we got rained on a little on the way back, and it was cold.  Did I mention the wind?  All in all it was a good experience and we saw a very pretty area.

We drove farther north on UT128.  If you do one thing in Moab, you need to drive this road.  It’s just spectacular.  You don’t have to go very far before the rocks change.  Here we have paler stripes.


Then it transitioned to lumpy greenish desert, with cows.  Why does the cow cross the road?


The same striped rock from the other side.  Picture quality was not great due to darkness from the clouds.


This is closer to Moab, we’re back in the red rock district.


One can take a jet boat on the river.  The occupants of the boat were wearing a lot of clothing.


Pretty amazing.



On the floor of the canyon, there exists the Red Cliffs Lodge.  They have 110 rooms, a winery, a tasting room and a huge restaurant.  If one wanted to vacation in style, I’d go there.  They offer horseback riding and off roading and, of course, a spa.