September 21, 2012

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Below are the diary entries for September 21, 2012, with the newest entries added at the bottom. Also, check out today’s photos.

Nicoline Scenic Utah
Nicoline (September 21, 2012)

Last modified: September 22, 2012 at 0:28:05

We can’t get over how quickly stuff dries out here! We’d rinsed out and hung up our bathing suits after last night’s hot tub session and this morning they were completely dry. Usually, my stuff takes at least 2 days to dry completely, because it has more layers. Farmers out here apparently don’t even bother to let the hay dry before they bale it. I saw bales as green as grass sitting in fields and on tractor trailers. It would seem to me that that could be dangerous. I’ve always heard that too much moisture in hay bales (or grass bales, in this case) can make the temperature inside a stack reach dangerously high levels, leading to spontaneous hay fires. But maybe Utah farmers don’t have to worry about that, with the air being so dry.

Today was a day for driving instead of hiking. After we left Monticello, we headed south for 20 miles or so to Bluff, Utah, on U.S. 191 and then took Utah state route 95 west. Our Utah highway map marked it as scenic and they were not kidding! What also stood out was that, unless there was another car on the road, it was completely quiet out here. You might hear a bee buzzing by or maybe a rustle of wind, but otherwise absolutely no sound at all. I must be more of city person than I realized, because I found the silence downright creepy at times. It must be that I’m used to always hearing at least some sound so I only notice its absence.

Two places where it was especially quiet were Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites that Eric had found in a book about photography in Southwest Utah. He particularly wanted to check those out, so we did. The first one was only about a mile and a half down a dirt road, so that was no big deal, but the second one involved driving down a dirt road for 11 miles to get to the rim of the Dirty Devil River canyon. I told Eric that he’d have to drive back to state route 95 and proper asphalt, because it did get a bit hairy here and there. Sometimes I drove up a slight rise without having any clue as to which way the road would turn, for example, or there wouldn’t be any road at all, just soft sand, and I’d be terrified the car would get stuck in it. Luckily, it didn’t. Yay for the Honda! It faithfully takes us wherever we want to go!

Eric took about six bazillion pictures at the canyon rim, and then hiked a little farther along the rim to take some more. Unfortunately, on the way back he was attacked by aggressive microbes who tripped him up, so he banged his left knee on a piece of Utah rock and skinned it. It really hurt and so I had to drive back down the dirt road, allowing Eric to keep his knee still for a while. I hope you all appreciate the pictures, though!

The canyon adventure put paid to our plan to go primitive camping on a BLM site, because crawling in and out of a tent was clearly out of the question. So we activated plan B, which involved looking for a motel in the nearest town, Hanksville, that looked on the map as though it might boast a motel. In fact, it had two, but neither had any vacancies. So much for plan B. The next plan involved driving another 140 miles to Salina, Utah. That way we’d be back on I-70 and within reasonable distance of Cove Fort. At least that plan worked out, so here we are, 55 miles away from our goal. Tomorrow we’ll visit Cove Fort, take another gazillion pictures, possibly also of the historic fort, and then we’ll turn east and head home!

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Eric Central Utah
Eric (September 21, 2012)

Last modified: September 22, 2012 at 0:27:35

It was bound to happen. Just about every vacation I seem to fall and rip open a knee... I have been careful with all the hiking and stuff we did but this afternoon I was inattentive for a moment when we were at Burr Point, an overlook on the Dirty Devil River. And boom, there I went. Fortunately is seems to be mostly an abrasion, so I've cleaned it and it should be healing soon...

Anyway, let's take the day in chronological order. We started out in Monticello, Utah his morning, heading South on US-191. We did want to get back up to the I-70, but wanted to take a scenic route to do this, and US-191 to UT-95 to UT-24 looked promising on the map.

And yes, UT-95 (the "bicentennial highway") was indeed very scenic! We made quite a few photo stops along the way, and also took a lot of photos from the car.

One particular nice viewpoint was where the road crosses the Colorado River, and you can walk out on the bridge and take pictures from there. Utah state roads are nothing like MD-100; traffic is extremely light and there is no problem just crossing the road...

Beyond the Colorado, we stopped at the Little Egypt Geological Site, the idea for which I got from a photography book. It is a mile and a half into a gravel road and is home to amazing rock formations. This was also the first time I saw a round cactus (the others had mostly been of the Opuntia type).

Not having had enough of primitive roads, we decided also to take the 11 mile road to Burr Point, for a supposedly spectacular overlook of the Dirty Devil River Canyon. This turned out to be not a gravel road but a dirt road, a different thing altogether. The photo book had said that it was suitable for passenger cars except during or after a rain. Well, it was -- barely! At times, we couldn't see where the road was because it was so steep we only saw the hood of the car! But the view was indeed pretty spectacular. All in all, this "little" detour took us two and a half hours for 22 miles.

From Burr Point we continued up to the I-70 (saw an antelope along the way) and crossed the San Raphael Swell. We had only one scenic stop on the way down from the swell because we felt we had just about seen enough for the day and wanted to find a hotel. But I intent to stop at more scenic points when we go back! After hitting a stretch of roadwork, we seem to have left the desert and entered a more forested area. Eventually, we got to Salina where we got a hotel.

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