“But where are the arches?” my brother-in-law John asked Peggy about my series on Arches National Park. “There is more to Arches than arches,” Peggy had responded. John readily agreed but there was still a plaintive ‘where are the arches’ tone to his voice. This post is for you, John— and for all of our other followers who have been wondering about how anyone could do a series on Arches National Park without arches.
They aren’t hard to find. There are over 2000 in the park, the highest concentration of any place in the world. Of course you would need a month to find them all plus put in a lot of miles hiking. We only had a day and the 100 degree F heat (37.7 C) discouraged much roaming in the time we had. Not to worry. The road plus a little walking took us to some of the most famous in the Park. So without further ado, I’ll start with the arch I featured at the top of the post, Turret Arch, named for its resemblance to turrets on castles.
A walk up to the Turret Arch easily includes two of the Park’s other Arches, North and South Windows.
No trip to Arches is complete without a trip to see the Delicate Arch, which many consider to be the National Park’s most scenic arch. Rather than make the gentle three mile round trip at 3 P.M. when we were both hot and tired, we took an alternative one mile trip straight up a steep slope for an overlook. Hmmm.
NEXT POST: As we drove out of Arches, I took several photos from our van that will serve as a closure to this series.
Purcellville, Virginia— outside of Washington DC: We are at our daughter’s home where she lives with her husband, Clay and her kids, Ethan and Cody. They are renting an old home that was built in 1880. The main house next door once was part of the Underground Railway for slaves escaping from the South. I’ll do a post on the houses later.
Our visit to Arches National Park today takes us back to the end of the paved road and the beginning of the Devil’s Garden trail. We hiked a way on the trail but the 100 (37.7C) degree heat encouraged us to make it a short. We then doubled back where we checked out the historic Wolfe ranch and some interesting Ute petroglyphs.
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina: Peggy and I have now moved on from our large beach house on the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina where we were entertained by our kids and grandkids for a week. Peggy was treated royally in honor of her 70th Birthday. (Okay, I was spoiled too.) Eventually, I’ll do a post on OBX. Presently we are in an RV campground in Roanoke Rapids, not far from the Virginia border on an unexpected layover day.
When we arrived here yesterday, I noticed that we could get a mobile RV service to come by and fix the water line running to our pump from our fresh water tank. It hasn’t worked since shortly after we left home. Given that most RV repair shops are booked solid for weeks during the summer, we hadn’t had an opportunity to repair it.
Rufus and Cleve arrived at five in Rufus’s brand new ‘shop,’ a 2020 Hemi. It would be hard to find two guys more country— from their looks to their accents. But they were genuine, fun and knowledgeable. Eventually, they found the problem. The plastic water tube buried beneath the water pump in an extremely difficult place to get at was twisted and frayed. Cleve returned this morning with new tubing to finish the job.
Today, I am continuing my series on Arches National Park. So far I have done posts on Balanced Rock and the road into Arches. In this post, I will start just beyond Balanced Rock at the Garden of Eden and follow the main road on to the the Fiery Furnace and beyond.
A final view before heading on to the Fiery Furnace.
NEXT POST: Peggy and I drive to the end of the road and go for a walk along the Devil’s Garden trail.
Outer Banks, North Carolina: We have been on the road for a month now— zig zagging across the country— climbing over mountains, crossing rivers, traveling through deserts and forests, zipping through urban areas and moving more slowly through rural. We’ve traveled from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and driven through 13 states so far.
Let me report: It’s strange out there when it comes to the pandemic. Some states are doing everything possible to reduce the the number of people catching Covid-19 and the resultant deaths. Others are like, whatever. Or they feel that restarting the economy takes precedence. Sadly, had they aggressively fought the pandemic to start with, we would now be in a much better position to get people back to work.
We drove through Atlanta a few days ago where the governor of the state was suing the mayor of the city because she wanted to implement a city-wide mask ordinance. Thankfully, more and more people are voluntarily wearing face coverings. Even the President is declaring it patriotic. My sense is if wearing a mask can save just one life, it’s worth it.
It isn’t strange, however, that Arches National Park has a lot more than arches to ooh and aww over. In fact, I find the fins and pinnacles located throughout the park equally awe-inspiring. I’ll provide some of my favorite examples over the next two to three posts. My last post on the park will be dedicated to arches.
NEXT POST: Peggy and I travel farther into Arches.
Safety Harbor, Florida: I had intended to make a big deal out of my tenth year of blogging, which, surprisingly, coincided with my thousandth post. But both slipped right by. Post #1,000 was on Balanced Rock in Arches National Park. I was eager to get it up and totally missed my landmark occasion. We’ve covered a bit of ground since and are now in Florida with our son Tony, his wife Cammie and our grandsons Connor, Chris, and Cooper. There hasn’t been much time for blogging— or even backroads. So I am even further behind!
Given all of this, I decided that Texas hospitality would make an ideal blog for post #1001. It began with celebrating Peggy’s 70th birthday. We stopped off in Georgetown, Texas where Peggy’s brother John and his wife Frances live. They spoiled us rotten— feeding us salmon, ribs and steak. When we left, they loaded us down with chocolate cake, pumpkin bread (a true weakness of mine), and beautiful, large, garden tomatoes.
But our spoiling wasn’t over. We drove from Georgetown to League City just outside of Houston where Linda Leinen, a good blogging friend, had prepared another Texas feast for us. It came complete with brisket, potato salad and fruit salad finished off with Blue Bell ice cream topped with cherries. (Linda has been raving about Blue Bell for a long time.) She had also stocked in Texas beer and Texas wine. I’ll get back to Linda; but first, John and Frances.
Georgetown has a bit of family history tied to it. The Mekemsons/Makemsons came down from Illinois prior to the Civil War and were among the early settlers of the area. William Makemson was sheriff of the town following the Clvil War and later served as editor of the town’s newspaper. He eventually ran for Governor of Texas on the Republican ticket but lost. It was a time when only Democrats won. Texans still blamed the Republicans for freeing the slaves and for the ‘Reconstruction’ period that followed the Civil War.
While we were visiting John and Frances, I got a note from Karen at the WP blog, Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge. “I can’t believe you are in Georgetown,” she exclaimed. “My family had the original Spanish land-grant for the area!” Odds are that our families would have known each other. It’s possible that they even intermarried. Like Linda, Karen lives in the Houston area.
Visiting Linda had been on my agenda for several years. We had almost pulled it off four years ago when Peggy and I had re-driven the 10,000 mile route I had followed on my bike trek around North America in 1989. I had ridden my bike across Texas at the time. It’s a long way by car, so you can imagine what it is like on a bicycle! We had missed that connection with Linda on our road trip, but this time we succeeded.
In addition to enjoying blogging, photography, nature and wandering, we have another bond. We both lived in upcountry Liberia, West Africa. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there from 1965-67. Linda was connected with a Lutheran Mission in Liberia starting in 1970. We often share tales of our experiences.
When Peggy and I walked into her house, I immediately noticed Liberian tribal masks on her wall and decided we had to have a photo with them as a backdrop. There was also Liberian country money on display. Even more significant to me, she had a wood-carved crucifix from the leper colony in Ganta. If you have read my book, The Bush Devil Ate Sam, the carving of the bush devil featured on the front also came from the colony. It’s possible that Freddy the Carver did both of our pieces. My friend Morris Carpenter, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ganta and introduced me to Freddy, had a crucifix from him that looked quite similar to Linda’s.
We had a delightful evening with Linda. At 73 she is full of both energy and laughter and can still put in a full week sanding and varnishing sailboats in the harbor next to her condo, which is how she makes her living. She shared some of her fascinating history with us, which I will leave up to her to share other than to note the time she hitchhiked from Liberia up to London. If you have ever been in Africa, you have some idea of what a monumental task that would be! It speaks to what an adventuresome soul she is.
As we left, I noticed that Linda had a collection of rocks in a basket on the floor. I was going to comment on how they reminded me of the collections of rocks you find scattered around Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in New Mexico. Before I could get my observation out, Linda commented, “I collected the large rock from below Georgia O’Keefe’s house.” Forever generous, she reached down into her collection and came up with a fossilized snail from Texas and handed it to us as a memento of our visit.
Later that night, I thought “Darn. I meant to take Bone in to meet Linda.” Turns out she had her own bone that she wanted Bone to meet. “Next time,” she told me in an Email.
Our thanks to John, Frances and Linda for showing us the true meaning of Texas Hospitality!
NEXT BLOG: Who knows. The good news is that I have plenty of new blog material. The bad news is that I don’t have any time to blog. From here we are heading up to North Carolina where our kids have rented a large home on the Outer Banks as another celebration of Peggy’s birthday! She isn’t suffering. This morning, our son Tony took her flying while I finished this post!
Every couple of years I update Bone’s travel history because he continues to wander the world. This time, I’ve added his 750 mile trek down the Pacific Crest Trail. As you read this post, he is preparing for another 7,000 mile journey in Quivera the RV to some of the remote corners of the contiguous United States in honor of Peggy’s 70th Birthday. He’ll be wearing his face mask and reporting along the way!
Sometime in the 1900s Bone started his life as part of a horse wandering through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The horse was allegedly eaten by a bear. Bone ended up in a high mountain meadow practicing Zen and being nibbled on by a miscreant rodent.
1977: He was ‘discovered’ by two lost backpackers (Curt Mekemson and Tom Lovering) on the Tahoe Yosemite Trail south of Lake Tahoe and launched his career of wandering the world.
1980-81: Bone commenced his first World Tour with Tom. He visited Asia including Japan, Hong Kong, Bombay, Delhi and Katmandu where he trekked to the base of Mt. Everest. He then wandered on to spend spring and summer in Europe stopping off in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, England and Ireland. Getting cold, Bone headed south and hitched a ride in the back of a truck through Algeria, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, Sudan, Kenya (where he crossed the Equator), Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. He signed on with Tom as crew of a sailboat in Cape Town and headed north to Mallorca, stopping off on the islands of St. Helena, Ascension, Cape Verde and Madeira. Back in Europe he explored his possible Viking roots in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
1983-86: Bone assumed Cheechako status and moved to Alaska with Curt where he was stalked by a grizzly bear on the Kenai Peninsula, explored Prince William Sound by kayak, learned to winter camp in 30 degree below zero weather while listening to wolves howl, backpacked in the Brooks Range north of the Arctic Circle, and discussed the finer points of eating salmon with Great Brown Bears in Katmai National Park. He escaped briefly to the warmer climate of Hawaii and participated in the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
1986: He backpacked the Western US for five months with Curt exploring the Grand Canyon, the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico, the Rockies, and the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming before returning to his beloved Sierras.
1989: Bone joined Curt on a six month 10,000-mile solo bike tour around North America visiting 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces. He ended his journey by meeting Peggy in Sacramento.
1990: The International Society of the BONE was formed at Senior Frogs in Mazatlan, Mexico, where Bone spent the afternoon being pickled in a pitcher of margaritas and being kissed by lovely senoritas.
1991-97: Various members of International Society accompanied Bone on numerous adventures. Highlights included a White House Press Conference with Bill Clinton, being blessed by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square, visiting with Michelangelo’s David, going deep-sea diving in the South Pacific and Caribbean, doing a Jane Austin tour of England, and exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. A group adopted him as a good luck charm and took him back to visit the base of Mt. Everest one year and to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro another.
1998-99: Bone embarked on 40,000-mile journey in the van, Xanadu, through the US, Canada and Mexico with Peggy and Curt, visiting over 30 National Parks, driving the Alaska and Baja Highways, checking out Smokey the Bear’s and Calamity Jane’s graves, kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, leaf peeping in Vermont, jetting to the Bahamas, pursuing flying saucers in Roswell, New Mexico, and completing his visits to all 50 states.
2000-02: Bone journeys up the Amazon, returns to Europe, cruises to Belize, Cancun and the Cayman’s, and goes to New Zealand where a misguided customs agent tries to arrest and jail him as animal matter.
2003: Bone undertakes a 360-mile backpack trip in celebration of his discovery and Curt’s 60th birthday. They begin at Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe and end by climbing Mt. Whitney. Various friends join them along the way.
2004: Bone visits Hemingway’s grave in Idaho, goes horseback riding with Australians and Bahamians in Montana, and makes his first pilgrimage to Burning Man in Nevada, a very Bone like type of place. He also jets off to Costa Rica.
2005-2007: Bone returns to Burning Man twice and revisits Europe twice including special stopovers in Portugal, France, Holland, Germany, and Belgium. He also revisits Mexico.
2008 – 2011: Bone commences another exploration of North America. This time he travels in the van, Quivera, along with Curt, Peggy, and Eeyore the Jackass. His journey takes him over 75,000 miles of American Roads. Along the way, he barely escapes the hangman’s noose in Tombstone, Arizona. In May of 2010 he helps Curt initiate his blog, and rafts 280 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
2012-2017: Bone goes into semi-retirement in Southern Oregon. Please note the semi, however. He continues the exploration of the West Coast ranging from Big Sur to Vancouver Island, where he kayaks for a week in search of Killer Whales. He wanders through England and Scotland helping Curt find his roots and spends a week traveling by Canal Boat. Later, he returns to Europe again, traveling through the Mediterranean visiting Turkey, Santorini and other Greek Islands, Dubrovnik, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and Barcelona. He returns to Burning Man several times. On one trip, he is married to the lovely Bonetta, who he met while exploring a swamp in Florida. Rumor has it that it was a shotgun wedding. This past year he traveled with Peggy and me on our 10,000 mile trip around North America retracing my bike route. He made a very special trip with fellow blogger Crystal Truelove to visit with Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
2018: Bone joins Curtis in celebrating Curt’s 75th Birthday by backpacking 750 miles in Oregon and California. Highlights include the Rogue River Trail, Three Sisters Wilderness and the Siskiyou Mountains in Oregon. In California, Curt and Bone more or less follow the Pacific Crest Trail through the Klamath Mountains, Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps, Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada Mountains— taking detours whenever the mood strikes, including revisiting where Tom and Curt found him in 1977! Along the way, Bone meets and chats with numerous through-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail who are hiking from Mexico to Canada. He also spends a lot of time dodging horrendous forest fires. Peggy joins Curt and Bone for three sections of the journey and provides welcome backup for the rest of the journey.
2019-2020: He joins Curt for a trip down California’s beautiful Highway 395 among the Eastern Sierras and visits the Alabama Hills where cowboy movies of yore were made with the likes of John Wayne, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and a host of others— voices from the past that have echoed down through time. “Hi-yo Silver away.” Planned trips for 2020 including a journey through the Panama Canal and up the Rhine River have been cancelled because of the Coronavirus, but don’t count Bone out. He is madly planning another trip across the US where he will home-shelter in Quivera the RV.
In 1980, the American Lung Association of Washington invited me to help plan a 500 mile bike trek to Mt. St. Helens as a fund raiser. At the time I was serving as the national consultant to the American Lung Association on long distant backpacking and bike treks as fundraisers. I had created the concept and written the how-to manual. I flew up to Seattle and worked with the staff in planning the trek. As often happened with events I helped organize, they invited me to go along. Tempting. The trek covered a lot of beautiful country and looked like great fun, but I was supposed to be in Alaska helping to organize a backpack trek across the Kenai Peninsula around the same time. The rest is history.
On May 18, several weeks before the trek was to take place, Mt. St. Helen’s blew her top. It was fortunate that it hadn’t happened in the middle of the event! ALA Washington quickly arranged another route. This isn’t the end of the story, however. I was flying to Alaska six weeks after the explosion and the pilot flew us over the mountain. The devastation was incredible. It has lived in my mind ever since. In 2013, Peggy and I took another trip up to Alaska, this time driving the Alaska Highway. On the way back we stopped off at Mt. St. Helens. I did a post at the time. In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the eruption, I am reposting it today.
It was in early July 1980 and I was flying north to help plan a hundred-mile fundraising backpack trek in Alaska. The pilot deviated from his route to show us Mt. St. Helens.
It was total devastation, a scene from Dante’s Hell.
A month and a half earlier, on May 18, Mt. St. Helens had blown her top, literally. On May 17 the mountain had stood 9677 feet tall; on May 19 it stood at 8,364 feet. The mountain had a history of being the most active volcano in the Cascade Range of volcanoes— mountains that dominate the skyline of the northwestern part of the US and are part of the ring of fire that stretches around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
Peggy and I call the Cascade Range home, now. In fact I have climbed two of the mountains, Shasta and Lassen, and we see a third, Mt. McLoughlin, every time we drive the 30 miles into town for groceries. Normally we think of the mountains as dormant and a beautiful addition to our region. But all are capable of awakening. And all are capable of spewing disaster.
Weeks before Mt. St. Helens blew up, she had been showing signs of an imminent explosion. Couched between the two major urban areas of Portland and Seattle, the area had become a mecca for tourists, volcanologists and, of course, the media. Worldwide attention was guaranteed.
The explosion, when it came, was much more devastating than had been expected. A huge, lateral blast sent a cloud of dense, super hot steam filled with debris rolling down the mountain at 300 miles per hour and devastating an area of 230 square miles. Next to the volcano nothing was left. Starting at about seven miles, thousands of trees were snapped off at their base and laid down pointing outward. Further out, a narrow zone of trees had been left standing but the trees were scorched beyond recovery.
The side of the mountain that was blown away added to the disaster. Crushed rock and melted glacial ice joined with downed trees and rushed into Spirit Lake and down the Toutle River travelling at speeds up to 150 miles per hour. Hummocky deposits between 150 and 620 feet high were left behind.
Today, Mt. St. Helens stands as a National Monument to educate people about volcanoes and the recuperative power of nature. Three visitor centers tell the story extremely well. Peggy and I have driven by the area several times and promised ourselves each time that we would visit. Finally, on our trip back from Alaska, we succeeded.
The massive, 12-mile-high Mt. Mazama blew its top 7000 years ago. Local Native American legend claims that it had gone to war with Mt. Shasta, a hundred miles to the south. Mazama lost. It wasn’t that the massive explosion used up all of its bullets, aka lava. The problem was that using the magma emptied out the large chamber beneath the mountain and the weight of the Mazama brought it crashing down into the empty chamber, leaving behind a large crater or caldera to use the technical term. The caldera filled with water and voila! Crater Lake was born.
Peggy and I visited the National Park a week ago. It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from our house. We drove up by ourselves and were careful to keep the virus-safe distance from the relatively few other people who were visiting. One individual insisted on invading our space, however…
We had visited Crater Lake twice last summer and were eager to see it in the winter covered with snow. We were really glad we did. For one, it was as beautiful as we had expected it would be— and, two, the park closed on Tuesday because of coronavirus. The odds are that it will be closed until long after the snow melts. Here’s a map and some of the photos that Peggy and I took.
I took a detour on my trip down Highway 395 from Reno to Mt. Whitney last summer to drive east on Highway 50 to the town of Fallon, Nevada. I was excited to visit the Grimes Point Archeological Area with its ancient rock art five miles east of the town. They represent some of the oldest petroglyphs in America. The oldest are located approximately 60 miles away at Pyramid Lake.
I’ve enjoyed sharing petroglyphs with you. I can guarantee there will be more if for no other reason than the fact that Peggy and I enjoy them and are always searching for new sites. There are thousands throughout the Western United States. I can’t resist a few more from the Petrified Wood National Park and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
NEXT POST: I’ll take you on a visit to Crater Lake National Park.
A note to our blogging friends: As the world reels from the Coronavirus,Peggy and I want to wish each of you the best in making it through this world-wide pandemic, the likes of which we have never experienced.Our travel plans, like yours, have been put on hold as we hunker down at our Oregon home, avoid as much social contact as possible, and wait for the worst to pass. Assuming we are able to avoid the virus, I will continue to blog, possibly relying on older materials. In the meantime, be careful and be safe. Curt and Peggy
Peggy and I parked Quivera in a small parking lot for the Petroglyph National Monument that we found behind a fast food restaurant. Fifty yards up the trail we began to find petroglyphs. Archeologists believe that there are around 25,000 in the 17 miles.
It is estimated that the majority of the petroglyphs were carved between 1300 and 1680 CE by ancestors of present day Pueblo people, but some of the petroglyphs have been dated back to over 2000 years ago. Many of the petroglyphs we found at the Monument are similar to others we’ve found throughout the Southwest. For example, does the following rock art look familiar?
Peggy and I visited the site at absolutely the wrong time for photography: high noon. (Being the old hands we are with our cameras, you think we would know better.) As a result, a number of the photos like cat/badger woman aren’t as clear as we like— even with photo processing.
WEDNESDAY’S POST: Flowers of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Bush Devil Ate Sam is an important record and a serious story, yet told easily, and with delightful humor. This is one of the most satisfying books I have ever read, because it entertained me thoroughly AND made me feel better informed. —Hilary Custance Green: British Author... Click on the image to learn more about my book, the Bush Devil Ate Sam, and find out where it can be ordered.
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