Green River UT

Continuing our journey along US-50…we headed out Wednesday morning from Grand Junction CO about 0930 or so for our 110 mile transit to Green River UT. This part of US-50 joins I-70 as it heads west from Grand Junction into Utah…and there is absolutely zero between the two cities. You see a very nice mountain south of the road…there was no place to pull off for a photo but we believe it to be Mount Waas in the La Sal Range…at 12,306 feet it is the highest point in Grand County UT. There are exits…but every last one of them is marked No Services. There was one rest stop and the Utah welcome center…but neither had a decent view of the peak  and as we passed it some 26 miles abeam there was no place to stop as the shoulder was pretty narrow in that area. Oh well…just imagine a relatively symmetrical conical mountain looking much like Mount Fuji in Japan with snow all over the top and you’ll know what it looks like.

So…110 miles later we pulled into iCamp Green River Campground…and immediately noticed that it used to be a KoA at some time since being built as it has the distinctively shaped KoA office building. Our assigned site was 45…we got there, plugged in power and started the A/C units as it was hot, and got unhitched. That was about the time our Progressive EMS Power Management System cut the power. Some looking around indicated that the problem was that one leg was at 125 volts and the other was at 103 when the A/C units were running…and the voltage was fluctuating…and once it went below 103 the Progressive shut things off.

We talked to the campground host and he said to pick out another site…there were plenty to choose from in this campground that is fairly rough. On either coast it would be declared a dump…here in the middle of nowhere it’s a lot like an Alaska campground…not much to look at but we’re not here for the campground. The grass might have been mowed this year…but I don’t think so. At least the sites are long and level…and after Neil checked another half dozen sites we found one that didn’t have the mismatched voltage issue and moved over there…this of course required pulling the slides back in and re-hitching to Big Red.

The whole process slowed us down 40 minutes or so…so we just went inside and vegetated in the A/C until dinner…leftovers and they were mighty good…then TV until bedtime.

Thursday morning we headed out for a day trip to Crystal Geyser and the John W. Powell River History Museum.

Crystal Geyser…well it’s not actually your typical geyser as it’s cold instead of hot…it’s also known as the soda pop geyser. Turns out it is actually man made…in 1935 an oil company was drilling for oil next to the Green River and instead of oil they found a pocket of carbon dioxide gas. They abandoned the well…but the gas made water seeping into the bore hole periodically erupt in a geyser like fashion…as high as 100 feet. It continues to erupt sporadically…on its own schedule but averages about 12 hours between eruptions…and the interval is essentially random. Over the past few years…dumb ass tourists tossing rocks into it to attempt to cause an eruption have mostly blocked the bore hole…today it only erupts to a maximum of a few feet when it does erupt…and mostly it just fizzes out the bore hole pipe. The water is safe but non-potable…it’s basically mineral water so there are a lot of mineral deposits around it. When it does erupt…at least according to the Wikipedia page…it erupts for much longer than the hot geysers at Yellowstone National Park…eruption length is bi-modal and is either 7-32 or 98-113 minutes in length…with a total daily eruption of about 100 minutes per day. From other information found on google…I think those numbers are probably an over statement of what it does in 2019…they’re based on a study in 2005…due to the aforementioned dumb ass tourists. 

Nonetheless…it was on the list for the day so off we went. It is about 7 miles or so from the campground…out in the middle of nowhere…it actually looks very similar to the photos you see from the Mars rover except there are a few plants…it’s all gravel road and we figured that there would be nobody out there.

Silly us…it’s BLM land which means camping is free…so we found 3 or 4 RVs, at least 2 dozen tents, and probably 200 people out in the vicinity of the geyser. Who knew?

The geyser sits right alongside the Green River about 4 miles down stream of Green River…here are a some photos.

This one is what it used to look like back in the days before the dumb ass tourists mucked it up…this photo was found via a google search. This eruption is probably 50 feet or so.

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Wide view of the geyser on the far right…it’s the pipe sticking up…and the drainage are down to the river.

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Close up view of the bore hole where the geyser erupts. 

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Strangely enough…looking up-sun on the bore hole the coloration is a lot more barely brown than the orangey hues in the above two this…those are more representative of what it looks like.

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Little rivulets formed over the 84 years since the formation of the geyser…these are deposited minerals from the erupting water and are about 1/4 inch high.

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Neil walking down toward the river edge.

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Looking back from where he ended up in the above photo.

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Our sole wildlife sighting for the day.

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Immediately downslope from the bore hole…there are all of this rounded gravel…I don’t know whether it was spit out by the geyser…that seems unlikely…or formed somehow from the minerals in the ejected water. Neil’s guess is that the fairly spherical pellets formed much like a pearl does with mineral water depositing onto and rounding out small gravel or sand particles.

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We headed back to town for our next stop…still amazes by the number of people, vehicles, RVs, and rafts that we saw down at the site of the geyser.

Next stop…the John W. Powell River History Museum…that’s the John W. Powell, one armed Civil War veteran…who was the first man to explore the Green River…which is the longest and the major tributary of the Colorado River during two expeditions in 1869 and 1871. Prior to those expeditions…nothing was known about the Green River downstream of the town of Green River UT and nothing known about the Colorado River in the state of Utah until it was downstream of the Grand Canyon.

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The first expedition consisted of Powell, 9 other members, and 4 boats. The first boat…No Name…was lost along with 1/3 of their food and half of the cooking and mess equipment on the second day of the journey. They set out in mid May 1869. After No Name was lost…they continued downstream for another couple of weeks when 1 of the two survivors of the No Name’s loss quit and hiked out of the canyon. Continuing down to a set of rapids they named Decision Point…a further 3 members departed to hike out of the canyons as the rapids were deemed by them to be impassable leaving 6 to continue…with each group thinking the other group would never be seen again as they departed. The 3 that left were killed by Indians 2 days later…the 6 that remained found that once into the rapids they were much less violent than earlier passages. Continuing on down through the Grand Canyon…although by this time food supplies were getting low so it was more of a survival mission than a scientific mission…they exited the Grand Canyon and ended the expedition in late August.

Powell put together a better funded expedition that lasted from early May 1871 to mid October 1871…this one included supplies that were carried overland, lowered down the canyon sides, and cached for later use by the expedition. The second expedition had only 3 boats and 8 personnel total and was taken at a much more leisurely pace to allow scientific observations and the gathering of surveying data.

Before heading into the museum proper…we stopped so Connie could get a shot of the world’s largest watermelon slice…we have no idea what or why this thing exists…the only thing google offered was that it’s in Green River UT, was built in the 1950s for for the town’s Watermelon Festival, is 25 feet long, and is used for parades. It used to be self powered…but the engine broke and was never fixed so now it’s towed around town during parades.

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Outside the museum we found a couple of display boards that talked about the history of US-50 and it’s predecessor…the Midland Trail. There’s a synopsis of what they say below the two photos.

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The Midland Trail was established in the 1940s to provide adventurous traveling in the west…it went from DC to Los Angeles and was one of the first marked coast to coast auto roads although some portions were not paved at the time. US-50 was established in 1926 but was non-continuous at the time and it wasn’t until sometime after the Midland Trail was established that 50 was actually completed as a coast to coast paved road from Maryland to California. It turns out that since it was completed…in the early 50s we think but could not find any confirmation of the exact date…the road has been rerouted several times in western states…including up through 1976 when I-70 was built. Although only one lane in each direction at the time and not really meeting the definition of an Interstate Highway as established by the Eisenhower administration…I-70 was still named I-70 and US-50 was rerouted from it’s previous farther north route to be coincident with I-70. This was done at the request of the National Highway 50 Federation…I have no idea what this is either and google was no help. This changed the length of US-50 to the current 3,073 miles…if you remember back a couple or three weeks when we talked about the Midpoint of America sign outside of Kinsley KS and the discussion about routing, where you picked to start and stop, and the fact that 50 goes west from Maryland and the sign said that NYC was the eastern end…well mebbe the rerouting of US-50 has something to do with the discrepancies I noted back then. But I digress…again.

 Heading into the museum…there’s a section of petroglyph that was brought in from someplace nearby I guess…but there was no other information on it. It looked and felt to be real and not a reproduction…I’m surprised that they would deface the original site by removing it so maybe it actually is a reproduction.

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A reproduction of Powell’s lead boat on the second expedition…the Emma Dean (his wife’s name). Although the chair is on top of the center section…leaving the fore and aft cockpits for two rowers and watertight compartments at bow and stern…the accompanying information says that he traveled in an armchair lashed to the middle bulkhead. There aren’t any pictures at the museum of the boat in question with the chair visible…but it seems to be choosing poorly for him to have ridden that high as they went through the serious rapids in the various canyons.

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There were a couple of neat sculptures in the museum depicting various aspects of both expeditions.

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Heading down into the lower section…we found some actual boats used for travel through the canyons.

First up…this is a Bull Boat which is essentially an elk or buffalo hide stretched over a willow frame. It was used by trappers from the mid 1840s on to get downstream to trap beaver. Although only used for the first couple of hundred miles downstream of Green River UT…which misses the worst of the rapids…would you want to go through rapids in something like this…it’s about 5 feet by 4 feet and maybe 18 inches deep. Not me…and bears are mostly waterproof and can swim ya know.

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Replica of the No Name from the first expedition…that’s the one that broke up early in the expedition. Two of the other three boats were identical to this and the third was shorter and used for exploration ahead of the passage of the main expedition.

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In the late 1800s…after the area was more settled…river rafting became something for travelers to do and thus the guide system was born. The first improvement was the Galloway Boat developed in the late 1890s by guide Norman Galloway…it featured a flat bottom as opposed to round for Powell’s boats with a wider beam and a greater rake (the curvature of the keel from bow to stern) to allow it to float in shallower water and better avoid submerged rocks. The operator also faced forward instead of rearward to operate the oars as in Powell’s boats…the operator then road opposite to normal rowing technique to slow down…the forward facing operation allowed him to avoid rather than bounce off of rocks.  It still narrowed toward the stern like a traditional boat though.

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In the 1930s…Norman Nevills improved even further on the design of white water craft…he kept the flat bottom and wide beam of Galloway’s design but increased the rake even more and widened the stern so that from midships to the stern it was the same beam. These changes improved the stability in rough waters even more than Galloway’s design…and Nevills used marine plywood rather than the standard frames and stringers construction used previously…this allowed much easier waterproofing of seams in the boat and facilitated repairs when necessary since the overlapping stringers made repair more difficult.

Both of these have largely been replaced in modern times by either rubber inflatable rafts, kayaks, or rigid inflatable boats…which are essentially a rubber raft with a frame to help maintain the shape of the buoyancy compartments.

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We briefly toured the art room…most of the paintings were strange although there were a few nice ones. There were also some very strange sculptures…it’s hard for me to see this “oil drums” piece as art…but then what do I know, Ima a bear.

Looks like they’re leaking oil drums to me…maybe this is some kind of political/social statement against the petroleum industry and the inevitable spills that occur during exploration, drilling, extraction, and transport of the oil.

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Interesting fact that the museum cashier told us…the site of the museum was the former site of a bar named the Old Chicago Bar from back in the ‘30s…it was locally known as the Bucket of Blood…so I guess there were a lot of fights there or something. It was torn down when the museum was built in the late 1980s.

With that…our tour was done. Connie headed back to the car and Neil wandered over to the river. So here’s a shot of the Green River as it passes through Green River…and I have no idea whether the chicken or the egg came first. Water level is pretty high here…although well below the levee on both sides the island in the center is submerged and only the tops of the trees on it are visible. On the far bank the lower branches of the trees are submerged.This isn’t unexpected…it’s still pretty early spring here upstream of here in the Rockies and associated mountain ranges…the snow melt combined with an unusual amount of rain lately in Colorado means a lot of water needs to go somewhere.

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After a quick provisions stop at the local grocer e headed home for lunch  and some more detailed travel planning in the afternoon…too hot (90 degrees) to really do anything else. Tomorrow…Capital Reef National Park and…time and tiredness level permitting…a drive through the upper portion of Grand Escalante/Staircase National Monument…we saw the southern portion of that monument back in 2017 when we were visiting southern UT but the northern portions were just a drive too far from our camping location in Bryce City.

Interesting things found on the net.

I saw an article today about a planned march called the Straight Pride March that’s being scheduled for Boston…and predictably the progressive/politically correct crowd is up in arms at this and is calling it racist. Now personally I have no interest in either a Gay Pride Parade or a Straight Pride Parede…or any other kind of parade actually, see the second cartoon below…but Ima having a hard time really understanding why one of those is OK and the other is not OK. Whatever happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression…nuts I tellya. I could kinda sorta see some justification from the left’s point of view if they had called it homophobic…but racist??

While I agree that the left should be entitled to their political opinions and allowed to express them…it seems that those on the left are only interested in free speech that they approve of…that sorta isn’t what I would call free speech. Anything they don’t approve is slapped with labels ending in -obic, -ophobe, or -ist. Ima not saying the right isn’t somewhat guilty of this as well…they are…but at least to my mind not to the level that the left takes it. Jus’ sayin’.

As a famous person supposedly said…well…another slight digression here…the quote (sic) is “‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”. The problem is…Voltaire never actually said this…it’s a line from a 1906 biography of Voltaire named “The Friends of Voltaire”…written by English writer Beatrice Evelyn Hall who published the book under the pseudonym, S. G. Tallentyre. The line in the biography was intended to be a reflection of Voltaire’s attitude towards Claude Adrien Helvétius, another French philosopher.

The trouble with modern technology.

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NoThanks

OlderIGet

Cyas.

About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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