QUOTE-WORTHY: “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” ~Neil Armstrong
HAHAs and WHAT THE HECKs: 1) During our time in Canada earlier this year we saw lots of signs in higher speed zones that said “50 km/h WHEN CHILDREN ON HIGHWAY”. Isn’t it too late to slow down when they are actually on the highway? More importantly, why are they ON THE HIGHWAY? 2) Before we became nomads, I was back in Greensboro, NC, hanging with the Boogers (grandkids). At some point in the conversation, my daughter was telling me about a dish made with tofu. Missy Booger, who was 5 at the time, said, “Excuse me, Yaya. Excuse me.” Yes, Baby, what is it?” In a voice that conveyed total disgust, she said, “The chicken is toe food?” Bahahahahaha!! A little while later when heading out to take all five Boogers to the movies, Missy Booger was upset about something and whining. Trying to make her smile, I told her that being pouty and whining isn’t allowed in Yaya’s car. Almost instantly Little Booger, who was 8 at the time, finished my sentence with “because this car runs on FUN!” Those kids just fill my heart UP! 3) Saw this on the wall in an RV dealership: Camping – (kamp-ing) verb a) an activity that prioritizes unplugging, unwinding, and reconnection in a rustic outdoor setting; b) the act of spending a small fortune to live like a homeless person. 4) The sign below was near Concrete, Washington:
Wednesday, September 20, we headed out in the morning to catch the Utah Transit Authority train to Temple Square and get a gander at the Mormon Tabernacle. The whole train process was easy peasy, and the cars were clean and nice. (It’s been a minute since I was in NYC, but those cars didn’t feel too clean. We didn’t have any issues there, either, though.) The stop is just short of the square at City Creek Center, which fortuitously had a Macy’s where I could return some shoes. Bonus! The whole of Temple Square is undergoing renovations, so the best we could do is skirt the outside and tour the Conference Center, which is where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs. From the upper floors you could see into the square, and it will be lovely when they are done. Don’t expect that to be anytime soon, though. After checking out what we could, we walked back to the train and headed south one stop to have lunch at Sicilia Pizza & Kitchen downtown.
Thursday thru Sunday we took care of some urgently-needed stuff…hair and nail appointments for me and new brakes for Petunia courtesy of MW. The main reason for our stop here, though, was to hang out with friends John and Linda Hanks. John and I worked together at the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Washington, DC, a lifetime ago. Back then I didn’t have the chance to get to know Linda very well, but I sure am glad we’ve made up for that over the last few years. In no particular order, we spent time together visiting at their house, did a bit of leaf-peeping in Butterfield Canyon, and had dinner out one night at The Garage Grill in Herriman, Utah, which was excellent. We even had an opportunity to meet Linda’s Mom Dorothy, who is in her 90s and pretty amazing. As always at the Hank’s abode, there was music. Daughter Melanie came by to sing a bit with me and John accompanying on piano, and Linda gave us an impromptu cello concert. Such fun! We also checked out Alta Canyon Baptist Church in Sandy, Utah, on Sunday. It was a very small church with a welcoming congregation. Pastor Tim Peery continued a series about what grace means, this section being on life not being fair and submission as directed by God. We also stopped in at Goodwood Barbecue in Draper for brunch (delicious).
On our last visit to the Salt Lake valley, MW REALLY wanted to check out the Kennecott Copper Mine, but there were no slots available. This time he planned well in advance, and John and Linda came along. They had never been and were “waiting to be forced”. LOL. Located in the Oquirrh Mountains and also known as the Bingham Canyon Mine, it is the largest open-pit mine in the world. Copper was discovered in this canyon in 1848, but the first ore wasn’t mined until 1863. Placer gold, lead-silver, copper-gold, and porphyry copper were mined in small mines until the late 1800s. Open-pit mining would change the process near the end of the century, and the Utah Copper Company began mining at Copperton near the mouth of the canyon in 1906. Except for a 2-year period in the 1970s when the mine changed hands, the pit has operated continuously. By 1912, the mine and smelting operation combined to be the “largest industrial mining complex in the world”, and the pit continues to yield copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum. In 1972 the mine was established as a National Historic Landmark. Over the years several mining towns were swallowed up by expansion of the pit. One of those was Bingham Canyon, which at its peak, had ~15,000 citizens. Today only one, Copperton at the mouth of the canyon, remains. John drove us through there on our last visit. In 2013, the largest mine slide ever recorded occurred in the mine. Thankfully, although some equipment was damaged, no one was hurt. You can still see the scar where the massive amount of dirt came down.
A secondary reason for John and I getting together was to do a little recording. For years I’ve been wanting to get some stuff saved before my voice is completely gone. Last year I strained my vocal cords and thought my chance was gone, but they finally healed. When we were scheduling our visit, I told John my plan and asked about the possibility of hiring him. He made me promise not to go anywhere else, so we spent several hours laying down tracks in his mini studio. The music is canned, but my Boogers will be able to remember my voice, which was the object of the exercise. He is still working his magic, and depending on what it sounds like when he finishes, I MAY share a sample with you. We had so much fun!
SIDE NOTE: We stopped at a gas station the night before leaving town, and MW spotted this in the corner of the parking lot. This is a little like leaving a case of bourbon out for an alcoholic. I think it is the closest he’s come to being a criminal.
We’ve stayed at Mountain Shadows RV & Mobile Home in Draper, Utah, before, and it is not bad if you need to be in the Salt Lake valley. It is a combo RV and trailer park, but the sections are separated, and the trailer park is very neat. Located right off of the highway, there is a LOT of road noise as you would expect in a giant city park. Amenities include a store, game room, video rentals, book trades, indoor spa, pool, dog park, pavilion, playground, volleyball and basketball courts, and a large laundry room with 8 washers and 10 dryers. They also have a dump station and propane sales onsite. The facilities are well-maintained, and the campground is easy to maneuver through. Previously we stayed in a different section where some of the pull-throughs were opposite direction, making the doors face each other. That would be cool if you are traveling with someone, but we don’t care for it when it is just us. All of the short-term RV sites are pull-through with full hookup. The bathhouse was clean and well-maintained, and required a keycard for entry. There was great cell coverage on Verizon and AT&T, and we had way too many over-the-air tv stations to choose from. We would definitely stay again when in the area. For this visit in September 2023, we paid $378 for 6 nights. (Still no pics, though.)
We didn’t need to leave early on Monday, so I went to the post office and popped in at Einstein Bros. Bagels on the way back. Then, around 10 AM, we hit the road heading south on I-15 down to Orem. There we side-stepped on UT-52 over to US-189. That took us up into the mountains. After sitting in a construction zone for quite a while, we made it to Heber City and turned southeast on US-40. We crossed Daniels Pass (7,995′) and passed through the Uinta National Forest, slowly descending into foothills. At Duchesne, Utah, we stopped for lunch, picking a restaurant downtown. It was closed, so we walked to Jazmin’s Mexican Food, which was awesome, and you know I don’t say that often about Mexican. After lunch we continued on to Vernal, Utah, and stopped in a Lowe’s to stretch the legs and pick up a thing or two. The final leg was still east on US-40 all the way to Jensen, Utah, and the Outlaw Trail RV Park. We crossed mountains, passed through the foothills, and ended up in farm/ranch land. It was a gorgeous day with awesome scenery. Can’t ask for more than that.
Tuesday MW went for a nice hike on The Sound of Silence trail in Dinosaur National Monument across the road. I was feeling puny, so had a pajama day. Don’t judge…it’s been a while and was much-needed!
Wednesday we headed out to explore Dinosaur National Monument. The park is 211,000 acres of wilderness only visited by a few thousand folks a year. The original section was about 80 acres around rich dinosaur fossil beds in Utah on the west end of the present day monument. Later it was decided that the wild area around Yampa and Green rivers would become protected lands. With the first section so close by, instead of creating another park, they just added it on and the whole became Dinosaur National Monument. So, the name is misleading. Yes, there are dinosaur bones to the west, but mostly the park is a beautiful, open wilderness a bit like driving through Yellowstone, but in the high desert. To start our exploration, we headed over to the middle entrance near Dinosaur, Colorado. and took the long drive out to the end of Harpers Corner Road. It is more than 15 miles out to the actual park, but the views are spectacular. Along the way we encountered quite a few free-range cows and lots of mule deer and pronghorn.
We stopped in at all of the overlooks and took the short walk out to the viewpoint at Canyon Overlook. Although we didn’t take the dirt roads, Echo Park and Yampa Bench roads would be cool to drive. You would need a high-clearance vehicle as they are rough and can become boggy if it rains, but the views through the river valleys would be amazing.
SIDE NOTE: Echo Park Road passes Chew Ranch, which was in operation from 1900 to 1949. According to Wikipedia, the Chew family lived on the ranch until 1970, when their special use permit expired. I may not have the whole story here, but protection of the dinosaur quarry to the west didn’t happen until 1915 and the additional land, which included the Chew Ranch, was added in 1938. When land is newly designated as a National park/monument, I can see putting a rule in place that says, if you own something within the new boundaries and want to sell, you must offer it to the government first at fair market value. I can even see certain rules being added because you now live in a National park/monument. What I can’t see is issuing permits that say you have “x” amount of years to enjoy your property, and when that expires, you’re out. Maybe the feds bought the land from them and issued a 50-year use permit. I certainly hope something like that happened, because the other possibility is just wrong.
At the end of the road, we took the hike out to the point on the Harpers Corner trail, about 2 miles round trip. It was warm, but the wind across the ridge was very nice. The trail starts in a pinyon-juniper forest, which smells amazing, then drops off steeply on either side as it heads out to a point. There are terrific views overlooking the Green and Yampa rivers snaking through deep canyons about 2,500 feet below. At somewhere around 8,000′, I was huffing and puffing for sure. On the way back, a flock of chukar, a type of partridge, walked across our path, totally unconcerned about the humans approaching.
On the way back out, we stopped in at the Visitor Center before heading over to the Highway Bar & Grill in Dinosaur for lunch. (Very good, hand-pattied burgers and fresh cut fries.) Then, after crossing back into Utah, we went to take a look at the Dinosaur Quarry. In the early 1900s, one of the best museums of natural history in the world was located in Pittsburgh…the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The museum’s founder, Andrew Carnegie, had a keen interest in dinosaurs and funded paleontological expeditions to many areas in the western United States. One of those was led by Earl Douglass, who came to the Uintah Basin in 1907 looking for fossilized mammals. In 1908, he was back, but walked away empty-handed. He and W. J. Holland did locate a large femur, however, which proved the area may have value. In 1909 he was directed by the museum to “dig up dinosaur bones east of Vernal.” The initial finds were discouraging, but he kept looking in the hills along the Green River. On August 17, he moved his search one gulch over and quickly found found eight tailbones sticking out of a sandstone ledge. As excavation began, more and more bones from a variety of dinosaurs were unearthed and history was made. Douglass spent the next 13 years working in what was then known as Carnegie Quarry, sending more than 350 tons of bones, including 20 compete skeletons, back east. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson set aside 80 acres around the quarry to create Dinosaur National Monument. In 1938, the additional 200,000 acre section was added by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect the Green and Yampa river ecosystems. Today the sandstone wall left after excavation ended has been further excavated enough to show more exposed bones. It is protected in the Quarry Exhibit Hall, where you can see a LOT of bones clearly visible in the sandstone and even touch a couple! Too cool! Oh, and if you enjoy petroglyphs, there are several opportunities to see those in the park, too. After we finished looking around there, we popped in at the west Visitor Center, then headed back to Petunia.
Outlaw Trail RV Park is pretty nice. Located just across the road from the west entrance to Dinosaur National Monument and about 7 miles to the Canyon Area entrance, you get easy access to all of the park and to the towns of Jensen, Utah, and Dinosaur, Colorado. Amenities include a coin laundry, group fire pit, playground, volleyball and basketball courts, horse shoe pits, tetherball, picnic area, and bathhouse. Lodging options include tiny rustic cabins and the campground, which includes both RV and grass tent sites. The RV area has both pull-thru and back-in sites, all of which are full hook-up. Unusual for a private park, the sites were very long and wide. The bathhouse and laundry were both very clean, and everything about the property was well-kept. Also, despite being right on the road, there was very little road noise. We would definitely stay again, and you know we don’t give that kind of praise for a private park often. For this stay in September 2023, we paid $141.00 for 3 nights.
Thus ends another installment of Traveling With a Crazy Man…oops…I mean the Jones Path. Next up…Steamboat, More Family, and Colder Weather (Psych!!). See you on the path!
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