Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On the way to Kodachrome

I've been, um, chastised for not posting more often. Because I was raised Catholic, I feel guilty and hang my head in shame. I keep saying that there aren't enough hours in the day, and it's true, but it actually couldn't make me happier. I remember times when the days dragged on and on, nothing of any interest to me at all, my spirit bled dry, so to have come back to life and find everything interesting again is a welcome situation.

We had the most magnificent thunderstorm last night - lightning flashing simultaneously all around, immediate explosive thunder - the granny of all thunderstorms. It was great! I wish I could have been out to see it but that would have been pretty stupid. When I was at Petrified Forest I had a wide open view of anything coming from the north or east and some of the west, so I could watch the monsoons roll in, but I'm in a forest now with not much of a view other than trees.

But on with today's show. A couple of weekends ago HH and I went to Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah. It was another place circled by my friend Richard on the Indian Country map. Here's the bad part of going anywhere away from the rim. Well, there are a couple of bad parts, including it taking forever to get anywhere, but the worst bad part is no matter where you go, you go through Jacob Lake. Jacob Lake is the intersection of Highway 67, the only way in to the north rim, and Highway 89 - or 89A, I can never remember - that goes up to Kanab and points north and west, or east to Lee's Ferry and on to the south rim and Flagstaff. Jacob Lake is the sticking point because it has a tiny restaurant and a bakery. When I heard bakery I concurrently heard angels singing because I thought I'd be able to get bakery bread, but it's not that kind of bakery. It's a cookie bakery. Just cookies. There's a discount for multiples of four and hasn't that turned out to be the road to hell. If you're going to get four, get a bigger discount by buying eight. What the heck, twelve!! My favorite is the gingersnap, about as big around as a salad plate. HH likes the chocolate chip with pecans. But they also make zucchini lemon, a weird combination that works very well. And lemon sugar, raspberry lemon, German chocolate, oatmeal raisin, a bunch of others, and Richard's favorite, one called parfait that has big chunks of chocolate. Once the bag of cookies is in the car all bets are off. My next door neighbor here, Linda, says she's gone so far as to throw the bag to the back of her SUV but it never works; they're still in the car and resistance is futile.

So we were fortified with sugar and butter as we headed north to Kodachrome Basin. There's a long way around or, alternately, a backcountry cutoff that we bravely took. Part of it is a good gravel road and then it changes to graded dirt, remarkably good, then it deteriorates to a take-your-chances, pitted track that had a dip in it with just feet and feet of mud all the way across it. By the time we got to this we'd gone about 85% of the way and I was not inclined to turn back. (I don't know that it was 85% but we'd gone a long way and so I made that up.) Lucky for us, another vehicle had gone through the mud so we followed its tracks and obviously survived. 

The payoff for all this risk-taking was a beautiful back road with interesting geology and lots of wildflowers.

Prickly poppy.

Bee plant, lacking one.

I don't know.

Also, this shimmery grass, soft as fluff, that's a field of white from a distance.

We made it to Kodachrome. According to the park's website, "The color and beauty found here prompted a National Geographic Society expedition to name the area Kodachrome, after the popular color film, in 1948." It reminds me of a mini Monument Valley.

Nice storms moving in but staying at a distance made for photo opportunities.

It was blisteringly hot. I don't know what's the matter with me because we leave the house for great adventures and I don't take my hiking gear with me. This has become a habit that's increasingly annoying. I did have my hat and walking poles, but only a bottle of water, not my Camelbak, and sneakers, not my hiking shoes. No SPF shirt. Any long hike was out of the question, but I did take a short jaunt to Shakespeare Arch.

I had it in mind to continue the trail on what was described as a strenuous hike over slickrock, but when I saw the actual trail, I slunk my way back to the car.

We continued around the park, catching views of the cloud-show the weather was performing - always one of my favorite things about the southwest.

Some of the 67 formations in the park.

We went on an easy half-mile nature trail that was the best one I've ever been on. It's not that it was all that educational, although if I'd taken the time to read the signs I might have learned something, but the variety of geology around the loop was a nice feature.

Then there was this lizard that I saw only because it moved. If it had rested there vertical to the tree and not moved I might not have noticed it.

One last view inside the park. The storm was moving in and we had a few hours' drive ahead of us.

This wow! formation below outside the park stopped us in our tracks. I sent the photo to the Petrified Forest geologist, the new PhD, because I figured this would be Geology 101 to him, and this is what he replied: 

"So this is what we in Geology call a 'cross-cutting' relationship and we use it to determine the order of events. 
1) lower brown sandstone is deposited in ancient times. (I don't know the age of these rocks just from the photo.)
2) the darker reddish brown layers were deposited. 
3) then there was a collapse into a subsurface void distorting all of the beds that were present at the time. 
4) erosion leveled the top of the distorted beds. 
5) the uppermost horizontal layer was deposited. 
It looks like all of these past processes have created a good place for modern water runoff, which exposed this structure and has caused the small gully at the base of the cliff."

Pretty cool!

I'm conveniently not remembering the fate of the cookies, whether we finished the bag on the way home or actually saved some for later, which is a near-impossibility. We headed out to Bryce Canyon this past Sunday and while HH made a legitimate stop for gas, I hustled to the bakery for cookies. I won't admit to how many I got, but will admit we ate them all before lunch. Hey, it is a long drive.

Thought of the day:

There is little in life that could not benefit from a little love, a little time, and a stick of butter. - Anonymous, via Pinterest

Monday, July 7, 2014

River song

Yesterday was a busy day. I was up early to try the North Kaibab trail to the Supai Tunnel again and wheezed and sweated my way out by about 10:00. It was beautifully cool on the way down but by the time I turned around with regretful resignation that I'd put myself through this again, it was inching past 80. That's not so bad if you're lying on the veranda with a cold one in your hand but hiking out of the canyon, even just as far as I went, is grim. Because it's so hard for me, I was sure the trail's slope is at least 30 degrees - oh, all right 20 - but when I put HH to the task of determining slope for me because somehow I missed that in school, he put it at 7. Seven? Is that all?

After I got home and recovered we took off for Lees Ferry, on the Colorado River. There was actually a ferry here, established by a Mormon, John D. Lee, but this was six years after other Mormon pioneers, led by Jacob Hamblin, built a raft and made the first successful crossing of the Colorado, in 1864. Hamblin made the trip to warn the Navajo of northern Arizona to stop making raids into Utah, stealing livestock, and threatening Mormon expansion, all under the white-guy authority of Manifest Destiny.

Lee was sent here by Brigham Young because of his supposed role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He became the sole Mormon scapegoat for the murder of 120 eastern emigrants, was excommunicated, and sent out of sight, out of mind.

The Mormon Church provided lumber and labor to build the first real ferryboat at Lees Ferry, first launched in 1873. In 1877 Lee was finally executed for his role in the massacre, the only Mormon ever held accountable. Lee's wife, Emma, took over operation of the ferry and farmed the ranch for several years. A couple of years later, the Church bought the ferry rights from Emma Lee for $3,000, and sent in someone else to run it.

Tour operators make this one of their starting points for trips down the river. Another volunteer here on the North Rim has just gotten back from a two-week trip. I thought that would be a great thing to do so I looked it up. A one-week trip is about $3000. Holy smokes. It's not happening this year, that's for sure.

I drove down the road a bit, pulled into a parking area for a beach, and walked over to the river. That river floods! There was washed-up debris all the way back to the parking lot.

I talked to a man and his wife who were fishing. They drive in from Tuba City, about an hour away. I can understand the attraction. The river is beautiful and this spot is the confluence of the Colorado and the Paria, which causes not-quite-rapids, but pretty riffles in the water. What I couldn't understand, though, was how they could sit out there in 105 degree weather with no shelter.

While I was there he reeled in a trout and said he's had pretty good luck all day.

Several boats made their way past this spot a little while later. $3000 or not, it would be a great trip.

I got back into air conditioning and we drove back the way we came, along the Vermilion Cliffs. The area is a National Monument.

Was I an idiot or what to stand under this rock? I wanted it to look like I was holding it up and all the time I was thinking how stupid it was.

We swung by the Navajo Bridge, which spans the Colorado and is the way to get from the South Rim or Flagstaff to the North Rim. 

This plaque was near the bridge. The history of Lees Ferry says that once the ferry was up and running, emigrants flocked to the area to use it even though no approaches had been built to the river. It doesn't look easy-going even after roads were built.

The bridge on the left is the one in use. The one on the right is a single lane and is the one HH remembers using when he was on the Great American Road Trip with his family in the 60s.

People are allowed on the bridge not in use, so I wandered out. Isn't the view amazing? All those colors in one space. I love the southwest.

The original bridge was built in 1927-1928, and is 467 feet high. It was placed on the National Register in 1981. Another one I can cross off the list. 

No, I did not lean over.

They can count on me.

Somehow I found out about a restaurant that sits in the middle of nowhere, not far from the bridge, near Vermilion Cliffs. TripAdvisor reviewers sang its praises so we stopped for a late lunch. HH got a Reuben but I got an appetizer of sauteed brie. This is an appetizer. This little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where you'd be inclined not to stop, serves a plate like this. The chef makes his own tomato and kalamata olive tapenades. $12.

The sign that gives nothing away as to what awaits and that is the view we had. We sat outside despite the heat because they've installed misters and ceiling fans and it was very comfortable. The only thing detracting from the meal was a woman seated two tables away who used the f-bomb so creatively I was tempted to take notes. She made it work for nearly every part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, exclamation, adjective. I think the only one she missed was an adverb. What a piece of work.

Then on back home so I could go to a yoga class one of the rangers is offering. I discovered that none of my joints bend and my muscles and tendons are so tight you could play notes from twanging on them. Other than that and the climb out of the canyon and the foul-mouthed floozy (I won't even go into how she was not dressed), it was a great day. No, I'm kidding. It was all a great day.

Thought of the day:

Night and day the river flows. If time is the mind of space, the River is the soul of the desert. Brave boatmen come, they go, they die, the voyage flows on forever. We are all canyoneers. We are all passengers on this little mossy ship, this delicate dory sailing round the sun that humans call the earth. Joy, shipmates, joy. — Edward Abbey, The Hidden Canyon — A River Journey

Friday, July 4, 2014

Strong women, doing what they gotta do

You have to drive through the town of Fredonia to get to Pipe Spring National Monument. I like to do the driving because I can cut over to the curb or pull a U-turn quick-like when I see something I want to take a photo of, instead of yelling out, Stop! NOW!!! and giving the HH a heart attack. So luckily I was behind the wheel when we went through Fredonia last week because I did execute one of those quick-like U-turns when I saw this store. Lotto. Guns. Ammo. Beer. I didn't go in; I just wanted the photo. What more could a girl ask for?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pipe Spring began as a tithing ranch for the Mormon church. In the 1870s, 80-100 cows were milked daily by the men and boys, which produced 60 pounds of cheese and 40 pounds of butter, churned out by the women. Daily! Twice a month a couple dozen steers were driven to St. George, Utah along with a load of cheese and butter. The men who worked on public roads and the St. George Temple and Tabernacle received shares of beef and the dairy products.

This particular site was chosen for the spring, of course, but also for the rangeland. At the time the grass extended for miles and was said to be belly-high on a horse. Later, years of drought and overgrazing reduced the land to desert scrub and it was no longer able to support cattle.

Anyone who's lived or visited in this part of the country knows that the wind blows and howls and whips sand into spaces that are not even visible. Before we left Petrified Forest I opened the windows during the early spring winds and found fine sand covering everything.  It was no different for the women who lived at Pipe Spring. Emma Seegmiller, who lived at the fort in the 1890s, wrote:
After every storm, house cleaning was necessary and from a single room I have swept or shoveled out five gallons of sand, the broom would not carry the weighty bulk to the door.

The women were also responsible for providing food for not only their own families but cowhands and other workers, clean beds, and a welcome to all visitors. Laundry had so many steps it took all day. I have a nifty washer-dryer unit in my house, a single machine that does both functions, and is it handy! On the nice days we've been having here I hang the laundry outside, just like we did when we were kids. For me it's a choice, though, and I don't have to use washboards and wringers and boil water to do the washing first. I have such respect for pioneer women. They were strong and endured a life we can't imagine.
Part of a wagon wheel with an iron rim.

I was surprised that the garden wasn't up and producing. The Ranger who gave the talk about the place said they do grow crops there and visitors are welcome to help themselves, but there wasn't anything ready yet. I noticed squash blossoms behind the main house and at the entrance to the monument and immediately thought about the stuffed squash blossoms HH and I enjoyed at La Posada in Winslow,

but didn't ask if I could take any. I couldn't have kept them fresh on that long day we were on the road.

This is the main building, Winsor Castle. It's the living quarters and fort and is named for its builder, Anson Winsor.

I mentioned this cornerstone to the Ranger who gave the talk, but until I loaded the photo onto the computer, I'd forgotten that I never got an explanation of what's on there. Because of all of the carvings it looks like a miniature version of Inscription Rock that I saw at El Morro in February. That seems like ages ago.

The heavy doors open to a sunny courtyard. One of my must-haves, if I ever have a stationary house again, is a covered porch. These are perfect. 

The gutters and downspouts are copper but are not the original. This was a really nice place and HH and I both thought it would be an easy house to live in.

One of two cabins outside the fort.

This plaque notes the award of National Monument status and honors Stephen Mather, considered the father of the National Park Service. What I didn't know until not long ago is that Presidents can name National Monuments but it takes an act of Congress to name National Parks. You can see the sign calls the place Pipe Springs, but the NPS calls it Spring.

According to an NPS webpage, Pipe Spring became a refuge for Mormon wives running from the feds in Utah:

With the passing of more strict anti-polygamy laws in the early 1880s, the federal government tripled the number of U.S. Marshals in Utah and began a campaign to convict men practicing polygamy. Pipe Spring became a refuge for wives of targeted Southern Utah men, since it was located across the territorial line in Arizona. Flora Woolley, second wife of Edwin D. Woolley, said of her move to Pipe Spring, "So about the year 1886, I moved to Pipe Spring. In other words, I went to prison to keep my husband out."

A photo from the same webpage, taken in 1891:

According to the plaque above, the telegraph line is reconstructed but the first was installed in 1871. As time went on Pipe Spring became, in addition to a women's hiding place, a resting place, a watering hole, and a telegraph cafĂ©. 

Using the juniper at hand, the poles were set 70 feet apart. The telegraph line that passed through Salt Lake City inspired Brigham Young to plan a church-owned communication network. After the Civil War, the price of surplus telegraph materials dropped enough to make it affordable to install. (The Park Service posts the best interpretive signs and between them and Wikipedia I don't have to know anything; I just look it up.)

For 17 years in the late 1800s, at least seven women were employed to work the telegraph. They apparently didn't last long because it was considered a 24-hour job. Their bedroom was the telegraph room and they weren't allowed to leave it to mingle with visitors to the castle.

In the 1930s the CCC also had a presence here. They came to clean out the tunnel spring, graded the campground area (which I think does not exist anymore), constructed a road through the monument on a new location, and other projects.

There is an amazingly detailed history on the NPS site, loaded with illustrations. For such a small site, this place has many stories to tell.

Thought of the day:

A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. - Carly Simon