Posts Tagged ‘Moab’

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

“The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

A page from my Journal.

After spending way too much time driving to the end of the road in Canyonlands National Park, I knew most of the rest of the day’s explorations would have to come through the windshield of my vehicle. That was OK because I was traveling through familiar territory that I had been through many times.

My Journal

While I often tried to drive new roads and see new sights on my trips to Texas to visit family once or twice a year, the one I was traveling this time was the shortest and the most used. Shortly after leaving Canyonlands, I stopped in Moab, one of my favorite towns, to gas up and get snacks for the road. Cheetos and a Coke, I suspect, as this is my usual travel fare.

But even in my hurry to get down the road, I did stop for about 10 minutes at Wilson Arch to take a few pictures.  Wilson Arch is about 25 miles south of Moab and quite visible from the road (Highway 191). There is also a half-mile trail leading up to and around it.

The first time I spotted the 46-foot-high by 91-foot-wide arch,, I had been amazed. It simply stood there without fanfare.

Today there are turnouts and interpretive signs noting that Wilson Arch was named after Joe Wilson, a local pioneer who had a cabin nearby. Additionally, the signs say the rock formation is entrada sandstone and that the arch was formed when ice-filled cracks formed and caused parts of the rock to break off. At least that’s my interpretation of the more scientific data.

Whale Rock in Canyonlands National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

On the same page of my journal that I noted my stop at Wilson Arch this day, I also listed the birds I saw, a habit I followed each day of my journey and one I continued in my book, Travels with Maggie about my later RV-ing years. And yes, the same Maggie who made this trip with me is the same one in the book.

The birds this day included American robin, European starling, California gull, magpie, raven, violet-green swallow, Say’s phoebe and pinyon jay, the latter being a species I saw for the first time and which I added to my then-growing life list.

Bean Pat: All about the Everglades https://earthstonestation.com/2019/03/06/two-people-that-saved-the-everglades-earnest-coe-marjory-stoneman-douglas/  Great blog for nature lovers like me.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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Female spotted towhee — Wikimedia photo

“The accent of one’s birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one’s speech.” — Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A Southern Accent, Perhaps

            Towhee … towhee!

The sound was coming from a bird hidden in a tree about halfway up Negro Bill Canyon near Moab, Utah.

Male spotted towhee

Drink ur tea … drink your tea, a reply echoed from farther up the canyon.

The sounds stopped me in my tracks. I had no intention of hiking on until I had spotted the two birds with my binoculars. I was sure I would see two different species, based on the different bird sounds they were making.

Although tucked among some small branches, I easily spotted the first bird, a male spotted towhee that gets its name from its voice. With a black head and back, rusty sides, and black wings speckled with white spots, it was an easy identification, even without the binoculars. But this basic bird-watching tool let me get a closeup look at the towhee’s bird’s brilliant red eye. Such details always delight me.

After the second bird sang out drink ur tea … drink ur tea a second time, I found it sitting in another tree. Except that its head appeared to be more of a rich brown than black, the two birds were identical. According to my field guide, this was a female spotted towhee.

Towhees, I had read, learn their songs when young, and pick up different inflections, even copy the songs of other species if they hear them frequently.

Perhaps one of these birds had a southern accent, like this native Texan. It was a fanciful thought, but it might even have been true.

Bean Pat: Brevity: Stripper Girl  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/stripper-girl/  Always one of my favorite blogs, and this one is an example of how the world’s language  changes.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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A lofty observation tower provides a spectacular view of Niagara Falls. -- Photo by Pat Bean

What’s your favorite waterfall?


“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” — John Muir

Travels With Maggie

 There’s a large Barnes and Noble located on Interstate 15 between Ogden and Salt Lake City. I drove by it frequently when I lived in Utah. Well, not exactly by it. Whatever vehicle I was driving, as if programmed, always took the turn leading into the bookstore’s parking lot.

Gypsy Lee, my RV, does the same thing these days for waterfalls. In fact, it will even detour many miles for a view of falling water.

OK! I admit it. I’m the vehicle programmer. The four-wheels moving my dog, Maggie, and I along only go where I tell them to go. But rarely do they pass up an opportunity to let me walk the aisles of a bookstore – Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, is one of my favorites – or gaze at the tinkling splash of falling water, be it the thunderous Niagara Falls or the less noisy Firehole Falls in Yellowstone National Park.

Multnomah Falls just off Interstate 84 outside of Portland, Oregon, is one of my very favorite waterfalls. -- Photo by Kevin Kay.

While books open up the world of reality and imagination to our minds, waterfalls unfold one’s soul to magic. While logic tells us it’s simply water falling from someplace above, it appears to be so much more. I see waterfalls as Mother Nature showing off, the equivalent of a rainbow in the sky.

More importantly, a waterfall’s symphony of water pinging off rocks and into a pool below never fails to calm my spirit. You should envy me if a waterfall’s wonder doesn’t touch you in a similar way, too.

Now here’s 10 of my favorite waterfalls to add to your bucket list.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Multnomah Falls, Highway 84, 30 minutes from Portland, Oregon.

Yellowstone Falls, Firehole Falls and Lewis Falls, Yellowstone Falls National Park, Wyoming

Niagara Falls, New York/Canada

Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park, Texas

Upper Emerald Pools’ waterfalls, Zion National Park, Utah

St. Mary’s Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana

Natural Falls, Natural Falls State Park, Oklahoma

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah

Bridal Veil Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

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Morning Glory Natural Bridge -- Photo by Jay Wilbur

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.” John Burroughs  

Travels With Maggie

 I learned about Negro Bill Canyon Trail at the visitor center in Moab, Utah, where I asked if there was a good hiking trail on which I could take my dog.

Moab is located adjacent to Arches National Park that has fantastic trails, but dogs are not allowed on them. The kindly desk clerk directed me to take Highway 191 north to Highway 128, which parallels the Colorado River, and then to look for a small parking area at the trailhead after about three miles.

It was easy to find and soon my dog and I were hiking up a narrow canyon trail that weaved across a small stream.

My hiking companion at the time was not Maggie. It was Peaches, a beautiful golden cocker spaniel who was then 15 years old. Since this was my first significant hike since foot surgery, the dawdling footsteps of her four legs and my two legs were perfectly matched.

It was actually a great pace as the trail, with its tinkling stream, red rock walls, willow groves and other wonders of nature, deserved adequate time to be properly admired. After about two miles, the trail forked. Peaches and I took the path veering to the right, which went about another half mile before ending at Morning Glory Natural Bridge, a 75-foot tall, 243 foot arch span overseeing an alcove.

Here, in this grand and peaceful setting, with a canyon wren serenading us, Peaches and I ate a leisurely lunch from my small backpack before heading back. It was the last hike Peaches and I took together.

Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead sign off Highway 128 with the Colorado River flowing past on the far side of the road.

The next time I hiked the trail, I had Maggie, a black cocker spaniel whom I had rescued from a life of abuse. She had been a year old at the time, and from her actions on the trail I realized this was probably her first off-pavement walk, certainly her first time to cross a stream. She either had to be coaxed or carried across. .

While she never became the great hiker Peaches was, Maggie’s now quite eager to get off the beaten path. In that, she and I are alike.

*Negro Bill Canyon is named after William Granstaff, a cowboy who ran cattle in the canyon in the late 1870s. While the name is not exactly politically correct, it’s more so now since the name was changed from the original “N” word.

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Downtown Moab with its red-rock backdrop. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Every crag and gnarled tree and lonely valley has its own strange and graceful legend attached to it.” — Douglas Hyde

Travels With Maggie

 Images of the humpbacked flute player, known as Kokopelli – sometimes depicted with an exaggerated pecker – is a common sight around Moab. You can find evidence of this southwest Indian fertility deity all around the city’s arch, cave and red-rock landscape. And he’s been around for over 3,000 years.

Kokopelli petroglyph

I was fortunate that in the 1990s a Moab native led me on a hike to see an ancient Kokopelli image that had been carved in stone. Because of vandalism, the location of some of the more precious of these historical links to the past are now not divulged to the general public. I thought at the time that it was a horrid shame that the destructive action of a few were depriving so many respectful viewers of the past from access.

Archeological evidence of Kokopelli was first found on similar petroglyphs across the southwest, and historians place the flute player’s beginnings to the Pueblo and Aztec Indian eras. In some of these myths, the hump on his back is said to be babies that he delivers to young women. In this, he’s shares a common goal with our own culture’s baby-delivering stork.

In Moab today, however, Kokopelli is often seen as an advertising gimmick. Both a local lodge and art gallery

The Moab Diner's version of Kokopelli. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 plagiarize his name and image. You can also take a Kokopelli hot air balloon ride or a Kokopelli bicycle tour on the Kokopelli Trail that continues into Colorado.

My thoughts about Kokopelli began this morning at breakfast at the Moab

Modern day Kokopelli

 Diner, which if you ever visit this fascinating city you should not miss. It has the best breakfast in town. This small restaurant is also known for its backward clock, which baffles tourists until they realize what’s different.

As I ate my sausage and eggs and studied a map for my day’s drive, my eyes were caught by another difference. The neon wall hanging of Kokopelli was a chicken. I, of course, had to go get my camera and take a picture. It’s these little kinds of oddities that add spice to my travels.

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“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

Day 20 

My drive today took me onto the Devil’s Highway, a route whose New Mexico portion includes steep, twisting sections. The high number of fatalities along the southern portion — along with the road’s original, satanic-mark-of-the-beast 666 numbered designation — earned it the nickname.

In 2003, transportation officials came up with the bright idea of renaming it Highway 491, their thinking being to end its cursed reputation. I guess they never read Shakespeare’s “… that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The 53-mile section I drove – from Cortez, Colorado, to Monticello, Utah – was not devilish at all, just hilly and lonely, giving one ample opportunity to drink in the high desert landscape from various vantages. I’ve driven it many times and always have found it a relaxing stretch of road.

At Monticello I turned north onto Highway 191, which I would follow this day into Moab. Western kingbirds and kestrels watched me go past as the drive took me through a landscape of red rock gardens set off by the snow-covered peaks of the La Salle Mountains in the background.

That night, from my RV window, I watched those same snow-clad mountain fade into pink as the sun set opposite them behind yet more red rocks.

It was yet another perfect day.

Wilson's Arch as seen from Highway 191 20 miles south of Moab -- Photo by Pat Bean


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