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Pothole Trail: A page from my journal

            I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. — Henry David Thoreau       

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

I was recently looking through my bins of journals hoping to find some specific details. I knew was in one of them. I didn’t find it, but I did come across a journal I kept during a 16-day trip from Ogden, Utah, to Texas back in 2002.

Saw my first pinyon jay at a rest area up Spanish Fork Canyon, then another one in Canyonlands National Park.

This was the first time I had looked at this particular journal since completing it nearly 19 years ago.  Perusing it brought back many good memories, including those of my former canine companion Maggie* who later traveled with me in my RV for eight years.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to retake the journey on my blog.

The journal contains more photos and brochures of places I visited than words, but with them to guide me, I think I can fill in the blanks. The one thing I did note carefully were the birds I saw each day, since I had only recently taken up bird watching.

I drove from Ogden, Utah, to Cortez, Colorado, the first day, just slightly less than 400 miles. I started before dawn to get past Salt Lake City and Provo before traffic, looking forward to my turnoff from heavily-trafficked Interstate 10 to Highway 6 that would take me through Spanish Fork Canyon. My first stop of the day was at the Spanish Fork rest area where Maggie and I took a short walk around the area, and where I saw a pinyon jay, a new bird for my life list.

Pothole Trail landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

Then it was up and over Soldier Summit, almost always a scenic drive – unless it’s during a winter storm – like the one I once drove through to get to Price for a newspaper story. It also wouldn’t be a good drive through the canyon this week as snows are predicted. But that June day in 2002, as I recall, was sunny, with a wildflower-filled meadow near the 7,477-foot summit.

After Price, the highway followed the Book Cliffs, a line of desert mountains east of Highway 6, to Green River, where after a jog on Interstate 79, it joined Highway 191. Just before Moab, I took a detour to the Islands in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, where I hiked the half-mile Pothole Trail before continuing on my journey.

I had hiked, and enjoyed, this short trail before, and knew it would be a great way to break up the long drive and enjoy a bit of spectacular scenery as well. I wasn’t disappointed. – To be continued….

Bean Pat: Texas Tweeties https://bobzeller.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/post-number-1000-yee-haw/?wref=pil 1,000th post.

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, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

*Maggie, is the same canine companion featured in Bean’s book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon. 

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Pueblo cliff dwellers left a mysterious legacy for us to unravel. Where did they go from here? Photo by Pat Bean

 “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” Eleanora Duse

While I know the landscape will eventually recover, the extent of scenes such as this saddened me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Day 19

 The 15-mile twisting, steep drive up to Mesa Verde’s Farview Visitor Center was a cruel lesson about the destructive nature of fire. In the year 2000, over one-third of the park’s 52,000 acres burned. Unlike the Yellowstone fires, this Colorado park’s pinyon pine landscape has not done much visible recovery.

As one who had visited the park before the lightning caused fire, I was devastated to see the drastic changes. And I had plenty of time to look as my drive up was often interrupted by road construction crews. I saw one lone squirrel in a burned out tree surrounded by a forest of burned out trees and wondered about its survival, and about those animals that didn’t survive.

 A view from Park Point, at 8,572 feet and the highest spot in the park, showed the immensity of the lifeless, black devastation. I would have gasped in pain at the sight if the short hike up to the fire lookout hadn’t left me without gasping air.

 The up side – I’m always looking for one – is that the fires were kept away from the park’s other treasures. Mesa Verde protects hundreds of 12th and 13th century Pueblo cliff dwellings. I also know that fire plays a role in the environment and that eventually, like Yellowstone after its fires, Mesa Verde will recover. It’s just doing it much slower.

An RV neighbor in the valley below where I was staying said he watched the huge 2000 fires. “You could see the flames and feel the heat. ” He also noted that the fires that had scarred the landscape revealed hundreds of additional Pueblo historical sites.

Meanwhile, as if to say she was sorry for the devastation,  Mother Nature made it a blue bird day for me. In areas where green still ruled the day, I saw a Steller jay, a pinyon jay and a western bluebird, each wearing its brightest and unique shade of blue.

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