Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Willow Springs Road and the whale

Today we took a long drive into Grand Junction.   I wasn't a pleasure trip like our normal off road adventures are.    Dave had an appointment with a well recommended Endodontist and he ended up having a difficult root canal procedure.      He's fine and the deed is done but the Dr. said he should expect some level of pain for a few days.

Afterward we took a different route home and were treated to some beautiful views on rt. 128 near the Fisher Towers.   I'm sure it made his jaw feel much better.

this is one of my all time favorite roads

Yesterday we had a much more pleasant drive.    We took Willow Springs Road, off rt. 191 north of Moab, and followed it into the little used west entrance to Arches National Park.   Access to this entrance requires a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle.  It's a great way to experience the Park's back country without the crowds.   You know how I feel about crowds.

The road alternated between being a sandy track and a rough path over slick rock,

with more spring flowers beginning to show their sweet faces.

Dave thought these smelled like his beloved Alyssum

 Along the way we came across a path lined with dinosaur
(Theropod) tracks. 

The creatures who made these footprints were walking along the tidal flats of an inland sea here over 165 million years ago.  It's always hard for me to wrap my head around these statistics.    And then I find myself walking along beside the rock solid proof.   It just blows me away.

A few miles after we entered the National Park's property we turned onto a very rocky and rough track that would lead us to the Eye of the Whale Arch.

can Rocky make it up that ledge?

After about 2 miles we came to a small parking area (empty) with a distant view of the arch we were looking for.

see the arch on the top left?

The hike didn't look very far so off we went.   The trail turned out to be relatively short but it was up and down little washes, something that my knee balks at so after some time I told Dave to go on ahead and I'd wait for him. 

  Curiosity overruled pain so I poked around slowly, found an easier way along the slick rock and met a surprised Dave at the base of the arch.   It was beautiful!

although it doesn't look like it, slick rock is much easier to walk on than rocky ground.

We enjoyed the arch exploration and then returned to Willow Springs Road the way we came, passing no one.    Eventually we intersected the the paved road that runs through the National Park and we took that back home.   So many people enjoying the Park and we virtually saw no one until we hit pavement.   What a great day!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Onion Creek with friends

I already did a post on our drive up Onion Creek Road so tonight I'll just show you some pictures of our second drive there with MonaLiza and Steve.

We did a fair bit of stopping to smell the flowers along the way.....and photograph them.

And to investigate the rocks both on the ground and lining the canyon walls.

Steve wanted to see the Stinking Spring, up close, so we stopped and let him gingerly cross the stream.    He put his hand into the water to see if it was wasn't, but it certainly stank!

While we were on the edge of the creek, waiting for him, I noticed what a neat pattern the sand and water made on our tire treads.    Small pleasures.....

We came across an huge old Cottonwood tree with  tremendous personality.   It beckoned us to stop and play.   So, we did.

The end was hollow and we discovered the furry remains of some sort of animal stuffed inside, but the men wouldn't pull it out for us to see, despite our repeated requests. 

Since we had no dinner plans this trip we decided to take the road to it's end (or the junction of another trail) before turning around.     It took us along a narrow spine to the top of a ridge.

We retraced our steps, crossed the creek a million times (MonaLiza says only 34 times) and ended up at the beautiful Sorrel River Ranch for wine and a light supper.

The sun was casting beautiful shadows on the cliffs on our way home.

Today Dave and I took Willow Springs Road into Arches National Park, the back way.      Along the trail we gave the Jeep a bit of a work out, saw some dinosaur tracks, a relatively remote arch and, of course, more wildflowers.      Check back tomorrow for pictures.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tusher Tunnel

Another week has gone by.   We've relaxed and also been busy.   Dave has been bothered by a toothache since we got here so, thanks to friends Gay and Joe, he secured a dentist appointment.   The result of that was a course of antibiotics (which are helping to lessen the pain) and another appointment at an Endodontist in Grand Junction this week (probable root canal - oh joy).

The pain, however, didn't stop him from eating well.   We met Gay and Joe at Zax's  for dinner last week (no pictures....of course!), had delectable quesidillas at the cute Quesidilla Mobilla food truck down town, a light dinner (and wine) at the Sorrel River Ranch (complete with a wine tasting AFTER our meal!) and "last night" dinner at MonaLiza and Steve's motor home last night before they left this morning.

I'm not good at taking pictures inside restaurants.   I'm uncomfortable doing so and the result is that the shots I do get are awful.     I do, however, enjoy capturing people doing what they love to do.

Dave instructs MonaLiza in the finer points of Lilac sniffing

well....I captured someone doing what he loves to do!

wine tasting at Castle Creek Winery after dinner at Sorrel Ranch
(nothing wrong with that!)

MonaLiza's colorful dinner.  Mmmmmm

As far as adventure goes, we drove to and explored Tusher Tunnel.   The road is listed as "easy" and most of it was, but it became rocky as we approached the Tunnel.   We liked that because it meant that it wasn't exciting enough for the "big guys" but too rough for regular cars.   Perfect!

The company we did have was of the bovine persuasion.

We had a short hike up to access the Tunnel and we weren't really sure where it was as we climbed up.

natural Tusher Tunnel cuts through this rocky ridge

Dave waits for me to catch up at the entrance

We found the narrow entrance and, although the term "tunnel" usually means it has an opening at both ends, I wasn't excited about entering this black slit.
Once again, Mr. David's A-1 Tunnel Guide went ahead to make sure there actually was an other end.   On can always count on any of Mr. David's long list of enterprises....they never disappoint.

He came back out right away and told me it was safe to follow, that there was a fantastic view once through the darkness.   So I left the relative safety of the opening and went on in.

light at the end of the tunnel

we exit into the sunshine and find ourselves 200/300 feet above the ground

interesting petrified sand dunes in the distance

As we came out of the Tunnel we discovered how high we were!   The views were incredible and expansive.   We turned right and followed a wide, rocky ledge to and into other arches, small slots and alcoves. 

rocky ledge out the Tunnel's backside

Another time (when my knee isn't singing quite so loudly) we'd like to go back and do more investigating.....

We took a different route - Bartlett Wash Rd. - home, along portions of a muddy wash and across some slick rock with totally different views.

we got out to check out some interesting rocks/stones.
don't ask

this huge boulder looked like a giant beaver had been trying to fell it!

MonaLiza and Steve have been doing a lot of strenuous hiking during their two weeks here and Saturday they had earmarked for a day of rest.   They told us this when they stopped by that morning.     We thought they may as well rest in the back of our Jeep, seeing more of this unbelievable scenery so we invited them to ride along on a repeat (for us) of Onion Creek Road.   They thought that sounded like a good plan, so after they did a quick grocery run we all set off.     I'll show you some pictures of that adventure later, this post has gone on long enough.