Off to a Rocky Start: Arches NP… The Backroads Series

It looked a bit like Snoopy at first glance, making a sarcastic comment to Woodstock. But it wasn’t Snoopy. It was the famous Balanced Rock of Arches National Park. Someday it will come tumbling down. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We’ve started our journey around America traveling over the country’s backroads while wearing masks like bandits. The beginning of the trip was in Fallon, Nevada, which might seem strange given that we live in Oregon. Getting to Fallon, however, involved traveling over I-5 and I-80, two of Americas busiest freeways. Freeways are to be avoided and ignored in this series— even though Peggy and I have to use them on occasion.

It’s scary out here in America’s hinterland as Covid-19 makes its way from state to state. The lack of a clear national policy is apparent. Peggy and I, as well as our traveling companions, Bone and Eeyore, are all wearing our masks. So far, we seem to be the exception. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

In Fallon, we climbed on Highway 50. Its claim to being the ‘loneliest road in America,’ gives it genuine backroad credentials. I’ll get back to it. There is much to tell about the legendary highway I grew up near. But given Covid-19, our two to three month backroads exploration is off to a rocky start— and there are few places in America rockier than Arches National Park. Peggy and I know. We took 572 photos of rocks there. Peggy promises you won’t have to look at all of them. But there will be quite a few. Grin. I love red rock country.

Today, I am going to start with just one, the famous Balanced Rock. Its total height is 128 feet. The boulder on top makes up 55 feet of its height and weighs in at 3500 tons. If you have been to Arches, the odds are you have a photo. Millions of tourists have stood and stared up at it in awe.

It stands as a testament to the fact that there is much more to see in Arches than just arches. A lot more. Geology is the reason for the park’s unique look. The rocks that make up Arches have been layed down over hundreds of millions of years under a wide range of circumstances ranging from deserts to seas. Their different makeup impacts how fast they erode and that leads to the fantastic rock sculptures and monuments seen through the park. There will be more on the geology in coming posts.

In addition to its unique look and geology, the thing that fascinates me about Balanced Rock is how its look changes drastically from different angles as you walk around it. And that is the subject of today’s photos.

The mushroom look.
A more traditional look of Balanced Rock with a companion. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A modified ‘Snoopy’ look.
Side view.
A long view including Peggy. She’s safe, but is she balanced. (Grin) Another rock stands behind.
A more human look. Possibly a thumbs up with a thumb ring? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I’ll conclude with this view of looking up at Balanced Rock from its base. It gives a perspective on how massive the sculpture is.

NEXT POST: We’ll start at the beginning of the park with Wall Street, the Organ, and the Sheep.

65 thoughts on “Off to a Rocky Start: Arches NP… The Backroads Series

  1. I think that “Snoopy” looks more like a bust of a dinosaur, but then again – that’s me….
    Thankfully around here, masks are the rule still and that’s good because after the beaches opened early and the protests, our county had a massive spike.

    • Dinosaurs work. 🙂
      Throw in bars, meat packing plants, prisons, senior citizen facilities, church services and political rallies. Each has contributed its share, G. Almost any public gathering. I am glad to see that the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville is taking the coronavirus more seriously! –Curt

      • The southern states seem to be having more of a problem – other than the metropolitan NE – so we have been taking precautions for a long time. I was primarily wondering how availability was on the “back roads.” We flew to Ohio to see someone a couple of weeks ago and I am flying again tomorrow. For the most part, businesses seem to be taking it seriously, and my greatest concern is some other customers, many of who seem to feel masks are for sissies, to me showing a tremendous disregard for the health of others. Nonetheless, we keep going and try to be cautious, not fearful.

  2. Yes, I have a picture of the Balancing Rock!
    Are the National Parks open during the pandemic? Ours are all closed. In Europe we look on bewildered with what is happening in USA!

  3. Bravo to you all for wearing masks and modeling the way for others. Glad to hear you are on the back roads and hopefully finding wilderness and few people.
    The ‘balanced rock’ looks more balanced at some angles than others. Fascinating geology.

  4. Such a great post, Curt, for both the rock formation shown (like a hitchhiker with that thumb up!) and your survey of the current scene in America. Looking forward to reading more from the road.

  5. Glad to hear you’re on the road again and look forward to seeing your posts. Somehow I guess there aren’t any noticeable earthquakes near Arches or that rock might not have lasted this long perched up there!
    Seems like RV’s are the way to travel these days if one wants to maximize protection from Covid.
    May you be safe 🙂

    • Thanks, Arati. We are glad to be on the road and are being super careful, make that paranoid. 🙂 Arches is one of my favorite National Parks. And yes, I expect a major earthquake could do real damage there. –Curt

  6. We’ve been wandering around out west by car also, Curt – in our case in Colorado and New Mexico. We were at Arches last August and were wowed! It will be fun to see your trip photos!

    • Glad you escaped out onto the road Lexi. We should hit Colorado on our return trip. I thought about you when Peggy and I stopped to see Linda Leinen in League City.
      We spent a fail amount of time in New Mexico last fall, pre-Covid-19! And zipped down through Silver City this time. –Curt

  7. Curt, we visited Arches on our trip out west last summer, and it reminded me of why digital cameras are so great – film costs there would break the bank. We were there pre-Covid so we had to plan for crowds. We got a very early start (in fact, we rolled in before the office opened), but by the time we left, there was a 1/2 mile long queue waiting to get in – poor sods. I imagine crowds are no big deal now. ~James

    • Lines were definitely not a problem, James. Although there were still a fair number of people around the major sites. We found it easy to avoid crowds, however. And let’s hear it for digital cameras! 🙂 Of course there is still the problem with processing all of the photos! –Curt

  8. Curt and Peggy it’s so great to see you there rockin’ out. I’ve been spending a lot of time recently in the Columbia River Gorge, where the main tourist spots are closed, but many trails are open. Good modeling for others, to keep your whole team masked. I love that. And yes, you are right, I’ve got a couple photos of the balanced rock too. LOVE Arches NP and glad you are visiting there.

    • Thanks Crystal. Good to see you are out and about locally. If Peggy and I weren’t on this road trip around the US, hitting all the Covid-19 hot spots (grin), we would be doing the same thing. We are being super cautious out here! We are in Florida with our son and his family now. –Curt

      • Oy is right, Crystal! We seem to be moving from one hot spot to another. 🙂 It has been good to see the kids and grand kids, however. We have a couple more weeks of family before we start making our way back across America.–Curt

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