Adios Arches… Hello Road Trip

I had originally intended to conclude my series on Arches National Park with photos of several of the more famous arches. But when Peggy and I were driving out, the late afternoon sun created photo-ops I just couldn’t resist. As Peggy drove, I snapped away.

Beneath Scotts Bluff, Nebraska: We are camped at the base of a towering bluff that once stood as a major landmark to pioneers traveling west in wagon trains. My great, great grandmother would have passed this way and stared up at it in awe with the welcome knowledge that she had left the Great Plains behind. And, indeed, we too are breathing a huge sigh of relief, glad to be back in our much loved west. The bluff was named after an employee of a fur trading company who had the misfortune to die not far from where we are camped. He likely would have been glad to live on and leave the bluff with someone else’s name. I, for one, prefer the Native American name, Me-a-pa-te, which translates ‘hill that is hard to go around.’

As I work on this post, Scotts Bluff looms in the near distance. This notable landmark once served to guide wagon trains on their way across America.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks as we have made our way west from Virginia. This past week we kept ahead of a major storm that whipped through the Midwest with winds up to 100 MPH. We also avoided numerous motorcyclists— most with a similar look and without helmets— as they dashed around us on their way to Sturgis, South Dakota and whatever fate awaited them.

One of many groups of motorcyclists that zipped past us on their way to Sturgis and a possible confrontation with Coronavirus. Those unfortunate enough to come in contact with the disease would carry it home.

Yesterday was particularly interesting. We started our day at Buffalo Bill’s historic ranch camped out on the North Platte River and then hopped on one of America’s most historic backroads, US 30, otherwise know as the Lincoln Highway. It was America’s first cross-country road. But that’s only a small part of its history. For thousands of years it served as a major route for Native Americans. In the 1850s it was part of the Oregon Trail. Pony Express riders used it on their two year ride to glory and the nation’s first transcontinental railroad was built beside it. In 1908 it became part of the greatest road trip/road race ever, the New York to Paris Road Race, which will be the subject of my next blog.

A view from our campsite on the North Fork of Platte River. Buffalo Bill’s historic home is less than a mile away.

But today, it’s time to say goodby to Arches National Park.

One of the many late afternoon views we had as we drove out of Arches National Park. I’ll share a few and let the photos speak for themselves.
A final view. Goodby Arches. Hello road trip.

NEXT POST: What better place to start posts from our present journey around the US than what I consider to be one of the greatest road trip/races of all-time: The 1908 race around the world from New York to Paris. I’ve been meaning to do this blog ever since I came across the winner of the race at the National Auto Museum this time last summer. It’s epic!

The Arches of Arches… Finally!

While every arch in Arches National Park shares a ‘see through look’, each arch is unique in the space created and in the surrounding rocks. One of my favorites is Turret Arch, shown here in a photo by Peggy.

“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.

This was my view of Turret Arch. The turret rises above the arch on the left.
This shot facing the arch provides a view of a smaller arch forming to the left. The dad and child seen through the arch give perspective. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Here, Peggy captures the yin and the yang of the smaller arch.
We were fortunate that impressive clouds added depth and interest to our photos.
I couldn’t resist using the arch as a dark frame for the clouds.

A walk up to the Turret Arch easily includes two of the Park’s other Arches, North and South Windows.

This is the view of North and South Window Arches from Turret Arch. I won’t hold it against you if you see two eyes and a large nose instead of windows. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I took a close up.
A view of the South Window Arch with the nose looking a lot more like a massive rock!
The North Window Arch is more popular with an easy trail leading right to it from the parking lot. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This photo by Peggy gives an idea of how massive the arch is. Note the person enjoying the shade! Also, check out the large crack, a reminder that these arches do come tumbling down.
My shot looking up shows how thick the arch is. You can see the beginning of the crack.
Which Peggy caught.
We both had fun using the clouds as a backdrop. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
My contribution.
And finally, I thought a black and white rendition of the North Window Arch would be interesting.
The famous Double Arch is just down the hill from the Windows and Turret Arches. New arches can be seen forming on the right.
You have undoubtedly seen photos of this Arch even if you haven’t visited the Park. Or perhaps you caught it at the beginning of the Indiana Jones’ movie “The Last Crusade.”
While we have hiked down to and around the Double Arch in the past, I took this photo from our air-conditioned van!

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.

Peggy’s telephoto worked best for capturing Delicate Arch.
I’ll conclude my post today with this shot of a towering cumulous cloud and tiny people making their way to the arch. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT POST: As we drove out of Arches, I took several photos from our van that will serve as a closure to this series.

When Arches Isn’t About Arches— plus Strange Times

Impressive pinnacles with ‘unique’ personalities are found throughout Arches National Park.

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.

This is a close up of the pinnacle I featured at the top of the post.
And this knobby guy— with my help— provides a perspective of just how large the pinnacles can get. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A different view.
These would-be/will-be pinnacles are known as the Three Gossips.
A different perspective suggests that one of the gossips might have dinosaur blood. Gossiping about it might lead to getting your head chomped off.
This is one of the views that greets you when you when you enter the park. If you look to the right, you can see a precariously balanced rock.
I think it is more impressive than Balanced Rock if only judged on its odds of teetering over. But who knows? Maybe it will hang out up there for another thousand years. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This is another view that welcomes visitors to the park.
This fin is known as Wall Street. In other words, some person at some time thought that these eroded rocks had a skyscraper look.
Here’s another view of Wall Street
Most of the major landmarks have names given to them over the years. I find it more fun to look at them for the impressive monuments to nature and geology that they are.
Or provide your own names. Peggy saw this as The Hand.
Here, she demonstrates why.
Here’s one I can easily see, the Sheep. Its nose was once part of an arch. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
We found this interesting. “Petrified” sand dunes frozen through chemical reactions in ancient times. The La Sal Mountains serve as a colorful backdrop.
I’ll conclude with a couple of scenic views Peggy and I found at the beginning of the park.

NEXT POST: Peggy and I travel farther into Arches.

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.

But Are You Balanced… Arches NP: Part 2

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock is one of the best known rock sculptures in Arches National Park. The cracked mudstone underneath it makes me wonder about how long it will last.

 

Ever have that feeling that you are teetering on the edge? What if you weighed 3,600 tons and stood 128 feet up in the air while you teetered? That’s the case of Balanced Rock, one of the most iconic rock sculptures of Arches National Park in Utah. Actually, the rock owes more to the super-glue mudstone that attaches the sculpture to its base than any super-power balancing capabilities. Someday, it will come crashing down, but until then, it is there to admire and astound.

Balanced Rock scene, Arches NP

A more balanced Balance Rock?

Balanced Rock in Arches NP

And a closer look.

Sliding off pedestal, Arches, NP

In terms of balance, I found this rock more talented. It lacks the glue-like mudstone and appears to be sliding off of its pedestal.

As the buried layers of salt that I mentioned in my last post work upward, it leads to parallel cracks in the sandstone above that eventually erode away leaving long fins, from which arches, balanced rocks and other rock formations of Arches National Park are created. The most impressive fin to me, Park Avenue, greets visitors on their way into the park. If you’ve ever walked down Park Avenue in New York City, you know it is lined by sky scrapers. That’s what folks had in mind when they named this impressive formation.

Park Avenue in Arches National Park 3_edited-1

Park Avenue with its sky-scraper like rocks.

Park Avenue at Arches NP

Another perspective.

Fin 2 Arches NP

This fin shows the beginning of the erosion process.

Creation of fins, Arches NP

And here, a number of fins reflect the parallel cracking of the sandstone.

My favorite!

Still a fin but with a different erosion look caused by thinner layers of sandstone..

And to conclude, here’s some more eye-candy from Arches National Park.

Courthouse Towers, Arches NP

Standing rock, Arches National Park

Sentinental 2

Climbers in Arches NP

Climbers.

Courthouse rock, Arches NP

And a final view for this post.

 

Note: All photos are taken by Curtis and Peggy Mekemson.

NEXT POST: The arches of arches.

 

 

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There’s More to Arches National Park than Arches…. Arches NP: Part 1

 

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

The red rock sculptures of the Southwest US are both beautiful and strange, firing our imagination while calming our souls. Few areas capture this paradox as well as Arches National Park. It is one of our favorite places.

 

“The desert wears… a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting — but waiting for what?” – Edward Abbey, 1968 in his book Desert Solitaire where he recounts his two years, 1956-57, as a park ranger in Arches.

 

I have a confession to make. I suggested in my last post that I was going to feature the petroglyphs of Utah’s Arches National Park next— and there are petroglyphs there that I will include in this series. But my real reason for posting on Arches was that I wanted an excuse to revisit our last trip there and share the beauty of the area with you. Peggy and I had been on our way to a private raft trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon when we stopped off at Arches. The clock was ticking. Consequently, we had been forced to rush through the park. Selecting and preparing the photos for this series on Arches allows me to relive the experience at a more leisurely pace.

Arches is known for its graceful arches: There are some 2,000 scattered throughout the park. But there is much more to Arches that arches! This beautiful red rock country also includes pinnacles, balanced rocks, spires, domes and fins— all of which I will be sharing.

Geologically speaking, we have to go back some 300 million years to discover the beginning of the forces that created Arches. The area was part of an extensive sea at the time, a sea that would retreat and refill some 29 times, leaving behind layers of salt several thousand feet thick. Eventually, the mountains and highlands that surround the region eroded away and covered the salt with multiple layers of sandstone. Since then, the salt, which is less dense than the rock, has forced the sandstone up, warping it and producing domes and mesas that have in turn been eroded away by wind, water, ice and gravity into the fantastic rock sculptures we see today.

My plan for this series is to include four posts:

  1. Look at domes, pinnacles and some rather impressive red rocks
  2. Feature balanced rocks and fins
  3. Introduce a few of the many arches
  4. Explore the surrounding country, petroglyphs and settler history

Peggy and I were sharing a camera with each of us taking shots whenever something caught our attention. We have long since lost track of who took what. So, we are sharing the photo credits.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

These domes feature the two common sandstones found in Arches: The reddish entrada sandstone which evolved from desert sand and the more buff-colored Navajo sandstone.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

A closer look.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

And closer.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

Peggy and I liked the way these pinnacles marched off into the distance.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

And here seemed to lean on one another for support.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson

In bright daylight, a family portrait.

Red rocks of Arches 2

Early morning and late afternoon adds color to the sculptures of Arches. Check out the little guy on the right with his hands in his pockets. He seems to be staring off into space. You can even see the buttons on his shirt!

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

More red, set off by the green of the plants that were capturing the sunlight.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

Early morning light. If you make it to Arches, be sure to plan enough time there to visit during the early morning, mid-day and evening. Each will bring new treats, often giving a totally different perspective on the same rocks.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

I’ll close today with the Three Gossips. Prominent rock sculptures at Arches National Park have all been named. To me, the rocks often seem to have an inner luminosity, glowing on their own!

 

NEXT POST: The balanced rocks and fins of Arches National Park.

Arches… A Photographic Journey through America’s National Parks

Photo of stone sculpture and mountains in Arches National park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Arches National Park is known for its soaring arches carved from stone, but that is only the beginning of its beauty.

One of our goals over the past several years has been to visit all of America’s National Parks. We’ve been to all 50 states in pursuit of this objective. There are a couple in Alaska still on our “to do list.” Since Peggy and I are presently wandering in Mexico, I’ve recruited some of our favorite National Park photos to fill in while we are gone. Enjoy.

Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah. While the towering rock arches are indeed striking, other rock sculptures are equally, if not more, impressive.

Stone sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

These stone sculptures stand like sentinels.

Shadow outlines of rock sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

With dark rapidly approaching, only shadowy outlines could be seen. I am thinking the Three Wise Men.

Wall of stone at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This wall of stone greets visitors upon their arrival to Arches National Park. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Family of rock sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I thought of this collection of rock sculptures as a family… Mom and the kids.

Sedimentary layers shown at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This collection shows different sedimentary rocks laid down in ancient times.

Rock sculpture at Arches Natioal park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another photo that captures sedimentary layers and shows the impact of weather on various rocks. Different rocks erode at different speeds, thus creating the wonderful sculptures seen throughout the Southwest..

Evening sun turns a rock sculpture red in Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Caught in the evening sun.

Photo of joining arches at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Naturally, any photo essay on Arches National Park has to include some arches.

Two arches at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The same arch caught 30 minutes later.

Under and arch at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Looking up from under the arch. I knew the rock was solid but still felt nervous.

Arches National Park photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A final arch.

NEXT BLOG: We will head west to Yosemite National Park.

The World’s Largest Cockroach… Burning Man 2013

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world's largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world’s largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

They grow things big in Texas. Just ask a Texan. But I never thought that the folks from the Lone Star State would fess-up to having the world’s largest cockroaches. Apparently they live in Houston. Regional Burners from the area brought a replica of one to Burning Man. Eventually it was sacrificed to the fire gods, burned up. But, hey, that’s what Burners do, right?

Houston was one of 24 locations from around the US and world that brought art to Burning Man 2013 to represent their regions. The Dutch bought a windmill, for example. Utah had a rock arch. Sacramento featured a riverboat and Reno a wedding chapel. You get the point.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Burning Man is big on regionalization. Groups are now located in areas ranging from France to Taiwan and Israel to South Africa, as well as all over the US. Their art this year was organized in groupings around the Man and burned simultaneously on Thursday night. It made quite the bonfire.

Texas cockroach at Burning Man 2013.

A front view of the Texas Cockroach. The media center was set up to teach facts about the cockroach, such as they will be around long after humanity has gone the way of the big lizards.

Utah regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Utah chose to represent one of its famous rock arches, the type you find in Arches National Park. It also featured petroglyphs, a subject I have written on in my blogs. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Arches National Park

One thing Utah has a lot of is beautiful rocks. I took this photo at Arches National Park.

Dinosaur National Monument petroglyph.

Nor could I resist posting this petroglyph I found at Dinosaur National Monument given Burning Man’s 2013 focus on aliens. This guy and his dog are about as alien as you get.

Dinosaur national Monument petroglyph.

I may have seen this guy walking by our camp. I am surprised Utah didn’t include him on its arch.

Idaho Marvin, regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Idaho produced this sculpture that they named Marvin. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm.

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

New York regional art at Burning Man 2013

I found New York’s piece, a representation of the iconic top of the Chrysler Building to be particularly graceful.

New Orleans regional art at Burning Man 2013.

There was something fishy about New Orleans.

Lithuania art at Burning Man 2013.

Peggy and I were particularly interested in Lithuania’s regional work, which featured birds. While we were at Burning Man, Peggy’s sister, brother and cousin were visiting with relatives in the country. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Burning of Lithuania's regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Our connection with Lithuania’s art brought us back to watch it burn on Thursday night.

Burning of Lithuanian Regional art at Burning Man 2103.

The piece comes tumbling down.

Washington DC's pyramid at Burning Man 2013.

The glowing remains of Washington DC’s pyramid stand behind the embers of the Lithuania’s work. 22 other regional pieces were burning at the same time.

New York City's regional art burns at Burning Man 2013.

NYC’s art piece burns on the right.

The East Bay Area structure burn.

The East Bay Area’s structure burns.

I've included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

I’ve included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

NEXT BLOG: The incredible ceremony surrounding the burning of the Man.

It’s National Park Week 2013… April 20-28

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

It’s National Park Week. One of my blogging friends reminded me. Somehow I lost track of time and became so wrapped up in the minutia of life that the week had arrived before I realized it was happening. Shame on me.

The United States and many other nations around the world have done a magnificent job of setting aside national parks. We owe it to ourselves to go out and explore these treasures. And, we owe it to our great, great, great, great-grandchildren to protect these sites of rare natural beauty for future generations.

It won’t be easy. There will always be people who believe financial gain outweighs any other consideration. Why save thousand-year-old redwood trees when they can be turned into highly profitable redwood decks?

Redwood

This 1500 year old redwood is located in Redwoods National Park on the northern coast of California.

Several years ago, Peggy and I set a goal to visit all of America’s National Parks. With the exception of Kobuk Valley and Lake Clark in Alaska, we’ve succeeded. It has been an incredible journey. Our travels have taken us from Denali National Park in Alaska to the Dry Tortugas National Park off the Florida Keys.

In addition to driving through and hiking in these parks, I have also backpacked in 13, biked through five, and kayaked or rafted in three. Once I even organized a winter ski trek into Denali National Park where we slept out in minus 30-degree weather and listened to wolves howl. That was a learning experience…

Since I couldn’t escape to a national park this week, I did the next best thing; I went through photos of parks Peggy and I have taken. All I could think of was wow– what incredible beauty!

Rocky National Park in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Hawaii Volcanos National Park.

An active volcano in Hawaii Volcanos National Park on the Island of Hawaii.

Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.

Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. A sign warned us to look out for an active grizzly bear.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California. I once woke up near here with a bear standing on top of me.

Fall colors of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Fall colors of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park.

Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.

The green of Olympic National Park in Washington.

The green of Olympic National Park in Washington.

Lesser known National Parks such as Great Basin in Nevada also hold great charm and beauty. This photo features the van Peggy  and I travelled in for four years as we travelled around North America.

Lesser known national parks such as Great Basin in Nevada also hold great charm and beauty. This photo features the van Peggy and I travelled in for four years as we wandered around North America.

Spectacular scenery is only part of the national park story. Wildlife, birds, insects, reptiles, flowers and history add to the experience.

Peggy and I found this beauty swimming through the water at Everglades National Park in Florida.

Peggy and I found this beauty swimming through the water at Everglades National Park in Florida.

And this striking Black Buzzard was another Everglades resident.

And this striking Black Buzzard was another Everglades resident.

We found this Luna Moth on the Natchez National Parkway.

We found this Luna Moth on the Natchez Trace National Parkway.

Brown Pelicans are a common visitor at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Brown Pelicans are common visitors at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Peggy and I are great fans of Native America rock art, much of which is protected in National Parks and at National Monuments. This man with his big hands and fat little dogs has always been one of my favorites.

Peggy and I are great fans of Native America rock art, much of which is protected in national parks and at national monuments. We have several thousand photos from different sites. This one from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado/Utah has always been a favorite because of the big hands and fat little dogs.

It never hurts to complete a blog with a pretty flower. We found this Foxglove growing in Olympic National Park.

It never hurts to complete a blog with a pretty flower, even if it goes on and on. (grin) We found this Foxglove growing in Olympic National Park.

NEXT BLOG: I hope you have enjoyed my two diversions over the past week because of Earth Day and National Park Week. On Monday I will return to Europe and Rome’s historic Colosseum.

Where the Colorado and Green Rivers Meet… Canyonlands National Park

A gargoyle-type rock perches above the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park.

I have a weakness for gargoyles. Their grotesque features appeal to my sense of humor. Or is that warped sense of humor? Whether I am touring a medieval cathedral or visiting Gotham City, they leap out and capture my imagination. Thus I was delighted when I came across a gargoyle-type rock hanging out above Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is where the Green and Colorado Rivers meet. The down-cutting erosive power of these two rivers combined with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and six million years of time are responsible for the breathtaking multitude of canyons and rock formations found in the Park.

A trip out the park road to Island in the Sky provides views of both basins and other prominent park features. A detour to Dead Horse Point State Park off of the main road shows the Colorado River doubling back and almost meeting itself in a major meander known as the Gooseneck.

The Colorado River winds around and almost meets itself at Gooseneck. This photo is taken from Dead Horse State Park and is looking down into Canyonlands.

Flowers, twisted juniper trees, wildlife and distant mountains add to the scenery.

Both Canyonlands and Arches National Park are easy day trips out of Moab in southeastern Utah. Sego Canyon with its fascinating examples of Indian rock art that I blogged about recently is also within easy driving distance.

One of the Southwest’s best known Indian rock art sites, Newspaper Rock, is located on the southern road into Canyonlands National Park. I will feature the site in my next blog.

Finger like canyons working downward to the Colorado River gradually cut away at the harder rock of White Mesa. This picture is taken from Grand View Point at the end of Island in the Sky Mesa. The maze-like canyons that disappear into the distance provide multiple reasons for the Parks name.

Flowers, like this Indian Paintbrush, add a dash of color to Canyonlands.

Junipers, even young ones, tend to look old, but this guy has obviously been around for a while.

Raven has a special place in Native American lore. His tricky ways, croaky voice, and ability to survive in extreme conditions give him a special position in the bird kingdom.

Spring is sprung but this young buck is still wearing his winter coat. While it may not be the height of fashion, it’s warm.

Distant snow-covered mountains, multi-colored rock cliffs, deep canyons and picturesque trees are all part of the Canyonlands National Park scenery.

Stark tree.

It is easy to lose yourself in the vast open spaces of the Southwest. My wife Peggy and Cloud prove the point.

The semi-arid climate, erosive forces of nature, and geology of Canyonlands National Park and the Southwest combine to create unique natural sculptures.

If my memory serves me correctly, these two sculptures are called the Beehives.

This massive monument of sandstone greets visitors at the north entrance to Canyonlands National Park.