Friday, April 24, 2009

We don't get very far on this post. That's because the scenery just required too many photos to get through it. If you recall, we were driving up this cliff face on highway (?)261, north west of Mexican Hat.
You can see that the road is a bit of a challenge, so I was a bit surprised in the morning to see this albeit small semi-trailer going up these switchbacks!A couple of corners above where I was camped, the tracks indicated that at least one outside dual had been rather hanging over the edge of the cliff! Yikes.

Here's another shot of the drop off.
Up, and up goes the road.

The view looking back off the mesa, to the road we had approached on the previous night.
Near the top, there was a wide spot and a viewpoint, so I stopped and put on the coffee and had some breakfast.
It was pretty much vertical looking over the fence.
After driving further, it was evident that some vehicles had not made the corner at some time in the past; intentionally or otherwise?
Zoom in on this one and you should see at least two car carcasses.
When the top of the mesa is finally reached, the road resumes it's normal look and even pavement again. But a side road to Muley Point beckoned me, and it was a worthwhile sidetrip out to the very end of the mesa. There is another goat trail like 4x4 road visible on the ledge way below the rim.
Some of the rocks at top had sheared off in completely flat chunks.

There was easy access and free camping areas all around. This is all part of the Cedar Mesa area administered by the BLM. There are innumerable options for hiking, driving, and camping both road accessible and back country.
There are also ruins and rock art left by prehistoric peoples in the area.
The photo below shows another section of the 4x4 road on the ledge below. This is not the road I had followed on the approach.
You can drive almost anywhere on the bare rock.
Or just sit and enjoy the view - and the flying demonstrations by ravens and hawks making use of the updrafts along the cliffs.
It would have been a great spot to enjoy the sunset, but unfortunately it was morning, and I had to make a few miles yet.
No one fell off a cliff during the making of this photo.
Onward toward Moab!

Monday, April 20, 2009

From Page, Ut we had to decide whether to head generally west towards Kanab, and the Grand Staircase Escalante area, or to the east and towards Moab, Utah.It was decided to head north-east, but first we had to head to the south east on Highway 98 from Page to it's intersection with 160. Then it was north from Kayenta through the Monument Valley which offers some pretty spectacular scenery, featured in many movies, book and CD covers, and even video games.
My camera was going full time, just driving through.
Every change of light and angle brings a new perspective, and begs yet another photo.

From wikipedia:

Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast and iconic sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the southern border of Utah with northern Arizona (around 36°59′N 110°6′W / 36.983°N 110.1°W / 36.983; -110.1), near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation, and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163. The Navajo name for the valley is Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii (Valley of the Rocks).

Eventually, well into southern Utah, was the small town of Mexican Hat

which was named because to the appearance of this rock formation, which appears like an inverted Mexican sombrero.By this time, it was getting late and a campsite location was required. From Mexican Hat, we turned off onto the smaller, quieter highway #261 towards Goosenecks State Park. We did not check out the park, but obviously missed some spectacular scenery there. Instead we continued on towards the Cedar Mesa area. There were grave warnings about the road ahead, and the types of vehicles that were not recommended.

The road appeared to head directly toward an inpenetrable mesa, with no way up!
But, amazingly, the road wound it's way up the sheer cliff, with switchback after switchback.
The view back to the south east and Goosenecks and Mexican Hat.
Not being sure what was ahead, and it being rather late, camp was made on a suitable switcback with a flat spot to park off the roadway.
The view was impressive.
I clambered around the nearby rocks to take more photos, as darkness fell.

The next day promised even better scenery if that was possible.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made lake in the United States with almost 2,000 miles of shoreline which is more than the combined coastline of the Pacific Coast states. It is over 180 miles long, more than 400 feet deep and is surrounded by the startling beauty of colorful rock canyon walls, rose colored sandy beaches and a night sky brilliant with shimmering stars. This breathtaking landscape extends from Page Arizona into southern Utah. Lake Powell is so vast, it would take years on the lake to experience its entirety.
Lake Powell has a number of large marinas in the area and it seems to attract a lot of houseboats!

Here are just a few of them in dry-dock, awaiting the summer season.
I drove just a few miles to the north, and soon found myself in Utah.
From the Arizona part of the lake I could see some RV's on the shore to the north, so I located this place, called Lone Rock.

I wonder how it got it's name?
With Google Earth running on my iPhone, I was able to confirm (the blue dot in the center of the display) that I was indeed on the lake shore, which you can just see in the background out the windshield of my truck.
My camp spot was soon surrounded by tracks of the local wildlife,
who I caught in the act of making more tracks. And quacks!
Looks like a tough spot to endure another night under the stars.