Carson City NV

OK…on to more Carson City NV Fun Stuff©

It turns out that political shenanigans aren’t limited to today’s time…they’ve been around for hundreds of years. For instance…back in the ‘30s Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court with more justices that he would appoint…this was solely because the existing 9 justices kept declaring his New Deal solutions to the Great Depression unconstitutional…this effort failed. Now today…most of the Democratic candidates for President are also talking about increasing the number justices or having them serve rotating terms…again the reason for this is that the progressives keep having their demands thwarted by a Supreme Court membership that believes more in “the Constitution says what it says” rather than “the Constitution says what I want it to say”. Turns out that both of these efforts…and similar political shenanigans…have been going on for quite awhile…bit I’m gettin’ a bit ahead o’myself. Don’ worry yourself though…there’s a point to this paragraph once I get to it.

When last we left our intrepid explorers…they had completed their longest day trip of our stop here…back east out past Fallon to Middlegate for the shoe tree…the worst tourist attraction we’ve ever been to…and the best cheeseburger in Nevada…at least according to Middlegate Station Restaurant and we can’t disagree with them although we’ve only had 2 cheese burgers here so far…and returned safely to the rig…that was Saturday.

Sunday we went to Mass…then Monday we set off for a Fun Stuff© day here in Carson City. First up was the Nevada State Capitol building…continuing our tradition of visiting the various state capitol buildings we are near. Amazingly enough…this one hasn’t burned down and been reconstructed like most of them have…although it did have a renovation back in the ‘70s…it was essentially gutted except for the outer walls and interior stone walls then a steel and concrete modern construction methods interior was added on. We spent 45 minutes or so taking the self guided tour which included the Nevada State Museum.

Front view of the capitol building and the fiberglass dome that replaced the original one during the restoration…along with the planting of large numbers of shade trees around the building.

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Legislature building…constructed as part of the renovation and the state house and senate moved from the main capitol building to this one next door.

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Sara Winnemucca…sort of the patron saint…although she is not a saint, just an ordinary Indian woman…but then that pretty much describes a lot of actual saints…of Nevada. A Northern Paiute woman who became an educator…she was responsible for a lot of the educational system in the state for both her tribe and other native peoples.

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And now we get to that political shenanigans thing…

Way back in mid 1864…during the Civil War when Abe Lincoln was President…he was running for reelection in a 3 way race against two former generals that he had fired during the war for incompetence…and as of summer 1864 Lincoln was trailing. By that time…the war itself was all but won…but Lincoln needed to win reelection so as to implement his ideas for Reconstruction in the post war period…he wanted to welcome the southern states back into the fold, free the slaves, and not overly punish them…as opposed to his opponents who planned on a more punitive attitude.

Anyway…Old Abe…or maybe it was the Republican Party…figured out that if they got one more state admitted to the union…and they were targeting Nevada as the Republican Congress had passed legislation authorizing Nevada’s entry into the union in March 1864…but in order for that to happen Nevada had to approve a state Constitution and get it to Washington DC before the election so that an expected victory by Lincoln in Nevada would give him the additional electoral votes he needed.

Nevada approved their new state constitution on September 14, 1864 and mailed a copy to Washington…with expected arrival by October 1. As of October 14…you guessed it…the mailed copy was lost in the mail someplace…with not enough time for the mail to get a replacement to Washington on time. So the administration asked Nevada to telegraph it to Washington DC…all 175 pages containing 16,543 words. This started on October 26…it took some time for the request to make its way to Nevada…but there was no direct telegraph link to Washington from Nevada at the time. So it was sent from Carson City to Salt Lake City, then on to Chicago, Philadelphia, and finally to Washington. Each transmission took at least 7 hours followed by collation of the document and then retransmission…and naturally telegraph operators may or may not be working 24 hour shifts…so the final certified copy of the Nevada Constitution was delivered to Lincoln on October 31…just 8 days before the election. Lincoln immediately issued an Executive Order declaring that Nevada was a state by an Act of Congress…and hence he would have the two additional electoral votes they thought he needed.

During this time however…one of his opponents dropped out and Lincoln ended up winning 55% of the popular vote and by 221-21 in the Electoral College…so much for the pre-election thoughts that Lincoln needed the Nevada electoral votes to win…apparently polling back then wasn’t any better than it is today.

Nonetheless…at least according to the exhibits in the Nevada State Museum…Abe Lincoln went one better than packing the Supreme Court…he packed the entire country. As I said…political shenanigans have been going on since Socrates in ancient Greek days.

Interesting facts about the 1864 Presidential election…Lincoln was the first President to win reelection since Andrew Jackson in 1832 and the first Northern President to ever win reelection…and since Lincoln was actually the nomination of the National Union Party which consisted of the Republican Party and what were called War Democrats…he was the last President that was not elected as either a Republican or a Democrat.

Here’s the exhibit that talks all about the admission of Nevada to the Union.

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Next…we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce and turned in our Loneliest Road passports…they’ll fill our and mail our “I Survived the Loneliest Road” certificates and mail them to us.

Next stop…the Nevada State Railroad Museum…which while decent wasn’t as cool as the one we saw earlier back in Ely.

It had some pretty neat models…most of these are in the 2 feet long range and are incredibly detailed.

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This plaque tells the story of George S. Sheffield…a cabinet maker who built himself a 3 wheeled vehicle that could travel illegally on the tracks…he later found a broken rail and prevented an accident so he was given a pass to continue traveling on the railroad company’s track. He called his invention a Velocipede and manufactured and sold copies of it.

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Grindstone used for finishing forged parts before they were installed on locomotives or used to maintain track.

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There are the requisite old locomotives and train cars naturally.

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This is the wye…somewhat like a round house only instead of turning locomotives around it was used to move them from one track to another in a relatively small area. Seems like they would end up backwards on the final track though…but perhaps there was a roundhouse or other turn around area elsewhere…or maybe they just backed up instead.

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We spotted this flowering plant outside the museum…we have no idea what it is like nothing we had never seen before.

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After that…we headed home for lunch and rest…we are using a lot of our time here in Carson City to rest up from the pretty busy schedule we’ve had ever since arriving at the rally in early May.

Tuesday…we scheduled a visit 30 miles up the road to Reno…the primary reason was to get Li’l Red an oil change but in addition we wanted to stop by the cemetery there and get some info on Neil’s relatives who lived in Reno back in the ’70s and ’80s.

Headstone for Eleanor Brooke and Grace C. Frederick…Eleanor is Neil’s great uncle’s mother and Grace C. Frederick is his great-grandmother…at least that’s what Connie decided she was and she’s the genealogy expert ‘round here.

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Merle A Brooks (Neil’s great aunt) and her husband Barton’s headstone. They owned a house in Reno and Neil’s Aunt Rosemerle lived with them along with his grand mother Myrtle for many years before she moved back to Mobile. Rosemerle died and was cremated by the same cemetery…with her ashes picked up by Noel Wesley…who Neil thinks is Rosemerle’s stepson…at least that’s what he thinks and Connie hasn’t figured out whether he was right or not. When the lady at the cemetery said her ashes were picked up by Noel…Neil said he recognized the name and that Noel lived with the family…to his best recollection he was Rosemerle’s husband’s (Charles Wesley) son by his first marriage.

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We stopped by the house they all used to live in…pretty nice house if you ask me. Two huge wings with a covered breezeway connecting them…it’s almost like two houses.

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Then it was home for lunch…we blew off the lunch out and stopping by the Shoe Tree Brewery as we didn’t want to have to kill another almost 3 hours in Reno before we headed for lunch.

Wednesday…our sole activity beyond buying groceries and resting was an afternoon trip to the Genoa Bar and Saloon in Genoa about 8 miles south of Carson City.

By the way…that’s pronounced not as in Jen-Uh-Wa (first syllable emphasis) like the city in Italy but Jen-O-Wa with the emphasis on the second syllable…we were corrected by the bartender. 

It’s quite a cool little bar…established in 1853…and we still think that after making their way across the Great Basin with it’s many lower mountains…then finding water and flat land here and seeing the Sierra’s immediately west that they just decided to stop.

Interior panos of the bar.

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And of course no self respecting western bar is complete without a painting of a nekkid woman hanging over the bar…there were in fact 3 different ones…but the other two were in the glare coming from the doors so no good photos possible.

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Outside shots.

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We didn’t actually miss the Shoe Tree Brewery as it turned out that the saloon had their Ash Canyon Amber Ale on tap…and we also had a couple of tasty cocktails we had never heard of before. Then it was home for dinner…frozen fish fillets, leftover chicken/rice/cheese stuff from the night before and some corn.

Thursday morning was devoted to fixing our water filter setup…one of the pieces had cracked and the replacement parts were delivered on Tuesday so Neil fixed them. After that we went out and filled Big Red with diesel…it’s 55 cents a gallon cheaper here in NV than over the border in the Democratic Peoples Republic of California…we might have enough to get to Oregon but if not we’ll buy as little there…and give them as little of our money in taxes as possible.

Dinner Thursday was at the Fox Brew Pub…it’s up in town across from the capitol building. This turned out to be one of the better places we’ve tried this travel season. Really great beer…we had their own Naughty Boo Boo which was a most excellent brown ale…in fact it was the best brew we’ve had in quite awhile. We split a salami and pineapple pizza…again really good…while Connie had another brew but Neil saw they had Ginger Beer so he had a Kraken spiced dark rum with Ginger Beer…the latter is like ginger ale on steroids and is a far superior mixer to regular ginger ale.

Friday…another rest and get ready to travel day. Dinner was at Red’s Old Grill…lobstah ravioli…but Ima finishing this post Friday before dinner as all of our other chores are done…Neil even made Blueberry Crisp for dessert tonight. I’ll report on our dinner at Red’s in my next post since we’re traveling tomorrow…since we’re nowhere near water and the ensuring fresh lobstah availability Neil’s not holding out a whole lot of hope for the lobstah ravioli but he’s willing to both give it a try and to be either pleased or disappointed.

Math and Computer Nerds…get ready for this next part.

You too can try to break the world’s record for the largest number of digits of Pi…you know, that constant used to calculate the circumference of a circle amongst many other things…it’s a number that never runs out of digits. Anyway…it turns out that you can calculate the value of pi using something called the Chudnovsky Algorithm…you can read more details about it here…but the short answer is that this formula can be run through a computer to calculate the digits of Pi.

ChudnoskyAlgorythm

So plug that into your computer(s) and start calculating…the current record is 31.4 trillion digits which was calculated from 9/2018 to 1/2019…but it was google that calculated it using their massive cloud based computing array…so you’ll probably need several billions of dollars worth of computers to beat the record.

The diagram below reveals how the founding fathers were brilliant in inventing the Electoral College for the election of our President…their intent was to make sure that the small states had a voice in the election and that New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia (at the time) didn’t solely determine the Presidency…and proves once again that despite the intense efforts of some to either get around the Electoral College or abolish it entirely…anyway this is why we need it. The orange are and red area have the same population…which shows that if the Electoral College was abolished essentially coastal California/Washington/Oregon (and not even the whole state, just the coastal region) along with the East coast from the waterline to about 100 miles inland…would have more say in the election than center 2/3 of the country. Add in the rest of the populous East and Left coast states…and essentially California, New York, and Florida would determine the outcome. Instead…because of the Electoral College…presidential candidates are forced to run a national campaign including what the Democrats call the flyover states…in order to win the election. I say good-on-ya to the founding fathers…ya got it pretty darned right.

WhyWeNeedTheEC

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Only engineers and scientists will probably get this one…basically Schrödinger said that merely observing a process would potentially change the outcome of the process…his example was that if you had a cat in a sealed box you didn’t know whether it was alive or dead and that by opening the box to observe you changed the outcome from “don’t know” to “alive or dead depending on what you observed”.

Tell Schrödinger I survived.

TellShrodingerISurvived

Choose Fun

SpellingError2

EatMoreFish

WalmartLostCar

Until my next report from the Democratic People’s Republic of California or DPRC…

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 1 Comment

Austin and Carson City NV

After our pretty decent burger in Austin NV at the International Bar and Cafe…we went to bed early as the altitude and the travel day just made us tired. We did stop by and get some milk as ours was bad so we can have cereal for breakfast.

Friday morning…we were on the road after coffee, breakfast, and our limited underway preps needed about 0900 or so for the last 175 miles of our 2 day transit to Carson City NV.

Talk about bleak countryside…the last portion mostly did away with mountain passes…we kept going over these little hills that had chain up and chain down areas on each side…and there were nameplates at the top that said whatever pass and the elevation…but the summit elevations were only between 4,500 and 5,000 feet…and the passes themselves were usually only a few hundred feet higher than the valleys. As we got further westward in the Great Basin…the north to south mountains became more like just a single ridge or two.

Eventually we came down off the last pass…passed through Fallon NV where we were originally going to stay…and after that it was pretty flat to Carson City. On coming around the curve and noticing the really big mountains to our west…those marking the western boundary of the Great Basin…we understood why Carson City was settled…folks had struggled across the Great Basin and found that there was water (the Carson River), things would grow, and they noticed the really big mountains still to their west and said…we’ll just stop here.

Anyways…I forgot to post this image of the ceiling of the International back in Austin…whole lotta felonies with defacing US currency are stuck up there.

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On our arrival in Carson City…we quickly found Comstock Country RV Resort, got checked in, and escorted to our site 135…a nice pull through on gravel albeit a bit short so we had to park Big Red crosswise behind the rig and Li’l Red on the curve to our outside as we’re on the end of the row. The rig we positioned all the way to the front of the site to ensure satellite visibility and to keep the slides out of the trees.

We spent the afternoon resting after doing our regular travel season setup as we’ll be here 8 days…then Neil grilled a steak for dinner and we had the rest of our Beanie Triple Wienie from the other night as a side. It was great…and we started watching some recorded shows on our DirecTV DVR…but by 2115 we were fading fast so it was off to bed for us.

Saturday morning it was time for Fun Stuff©. We headed 100 miles…well, actually only 93…east back through Fallon to Middlegate NV for our first stop.

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Yeah…it’s a tree…a cottonwood tree to be precise…but it’s not your everyday garden variety cottonwood tree…no siree it is not. Ya see…it’s actually…

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Yup…it is the “Shoe Tree”…well actually it is the new and improved “Shoe Tree” as the original was cut down by heartless shoe tree hating vandals who were never apprehended on December 30, 2010…dastardly criminal masterminds who deserve the death penalty Ima tellin’ ya.

It seems that back in the day…google only identifies anecdotal data and it’s specified as “many decades ago”…a newly married couple (from a Reno quickey wedding chapel) were heading eastbound toward some unspecified home and were camping under the tree…when they got into their very first argument as a married couple. According to the legend…the woman was hot tempered and threatened to walk home. Her husband wasn’t having any of this…so he grabbed her shoes, tied them together, and tossed them into the tree…telling her that she could do it barefoot. He then jumped into the car and headed down the highway to the first bar where he proceeded to start drowning his sorrows and relating the story to the bartender. The bartender convinced him to go back and get her…which he did…and they worked out whatever the fight was about…and just like in the fairy tales they lived happily ever after…returning each year to toss another pair of shoes into the tree as symbols of their undying love.

Or something like that…it is legend and I could not find any actual facts.

Somehow this legend seemed interesting to the locals…who are kinda weird after all for living out in the middle of nowhere (I’ll come back to that in a minute…see if I don’t)…and a tradition was born of travelers tossing a pair of shoes into the tree.

At least until the aforementioned heartless shoe tree hating vandals dastardly criminal masterminds who deserve the death penalty done went and cut down the tree. No matter though…it didn’t take long for the locals to christen another nearby cottonwood tree as the new and improved “Shoe Tree”.

I gotta tellya though…I think the ol’ DLETC really blew it on this one…she drug my bear butt 100 (actually 93 as noted above) miles out into the god forsaken middle of nowhere …to see a tree full of shoes.

Think about that…93 miles…for A. Tree. Full. Of. Shoes. And not a stiletto in the bunch that I could see…even though our Field Trip app (that’s a phone app that monitors your location and tells you when something noteworthy is nearby) said they were there. All I could see were sneakers, flip flops, and the occasional pair of boots.

Most amazing of all…some of them were 50 or 60 feet up in the air and as you can see in the wider shot above they’re across branches that are at most an inch thick…so noway-nohow did anybody climb up there. How many times did they have to throw them up before getting them to stay there…especially as they had to crawl down into the stream a total of how many times less one to retrieve the missed tosses.

Anyways…it was a photo op I guess. Connie the DLETC…well she’s claiming that she only went there because it was 2 miles from our next stop and that otherwise she woulda skipped it…but it was still…93 miles…for a tree…full of shoes.

We headed to our next stop…the Middlegate Station which was both a freight station until the late 1800s or early 1900s as well as serving as one of the Pony Express stations during operation from 1860 through 1861. Middlegate still exists as an unincorporated area along the south side of US-50 and it has a single business that we could see…a combined bar, restaurant, convenience store, gas station, and motel. The joint has 2 claims to fame…they claim to have the best hamburger in Nevada…and Stephen King stayed there for 7 days in the 1990s and wrote a portion of his novel Desperation there.

Here is a photo of a plaque on the front of the bar…serving as absolute 100% living proof that this is the middle of nowhere. Yes…Middlegate…population 18, er 17 as somebody musta died…the Middle of Nowhere.

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Me…I always thought the Middle of Nowhere was down in the Atlantic Ocean under the hump of Western Africa and about 2,000 miles southwest from Nigeria. This was based on the old Macintosh operation system 6…back in the early 1980s days of the Macintosh computer…there were these small pieces of software built into the system named Desk Accessories. Anyways…one of these DAs as they were known…well it was Map…and if you called up Map after it loaded you could type in a location and it would locate it on the map for you. Typing in Middle of Nowhere…or MoN, either one would work…took you to this location about where I described it.

So…exactly where…or what…is the Middle of Nowhere. We’ve got some contenders…the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean…Middlegate NV. Now one of my missions is to edumacate ya’ll readers…so I googled it for ya and here’s what I found.

Where it is al depends on what it is…how you define it. According to the googles as President Bush used to say…there are a whole bunch of diners and restaurants that call themselves the MoN…I’ll just use that acronym since Ima gettin’ tired of typing the whole thing…and then there is an album by some band you’ve never heard of…and there’s a MoN movie…and then there’s a song from 2018. Best as I can figger out…there was only one actual definition of MoN to be found…and it was only for the USA. Some guy did the math…his definition for MoN was that it was the location in the USA that was the farthest from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people. By his definition…Glasgow MT is the winner…it is almost on the border with Canuckistan in eastern MT. Seems like a USA centric definition to me.

I did run across another page that had a long philosophical argument that the MoN is wherever you want it to be as long as it’s isolated.

Then there is the image above…it’s written down there in brown and white…and since Macintosh OS 6 is no longer with us Ima going with the documentary proof above.

We had a couple of burgers there…they were quite tasty and were definitely the best burger we’ve had in Nevada…but then we’ve only had 2 so statistically that might not be meaningful…but they were definitely really good burgers and not just adequate.

Neil grabbed a few more photos from inside and outside the place.

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Whole bunch more felonies here too…seems to be some sort of Nevada tradition.

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And a pano of the whole place…the center building is the bar/restaurant/convenience store and the low brown building to the right of the trees in the background is the motel.

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After lunch…we headed back towards Carson City with a couple of stops on the way.

Sand Mountain…which was formed from sand from the beaches of the Ice Age Lake Lahotan about 5 miles southeast of it…but you may know it better by the more catchy and easier to remember Northern Paiute name Panitogogwa…which means “giant rattlesnake heading northeast toward a burrow”.

Distant shot…the technical term for it is a sinuous transverse dune…you can see the RVs parked in the dry camping campground at the base…they come here to ride 4 wheelers up and down the mountain.

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According to wikipedia…Sand Mountain is 2 miles long and 600 feet high. Neil thought he had captured one of the 4 wheelers up on it when he got the images for the panorama below…but he can’t find it…it woulda just been a li’l black dot anyway.

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Aha…found him…he was in the first set of pano images Neil took. This is a highly cropped version of just the farthest left hand of the mountain with the vehicle in it. He was running all the way up to the highest section then coming straight down most of his runs…had to be doing 45 miles and hour going down before coming all the way to his right (image left) to get back into the campground.

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With that we headed for our last destination of the day…and I gotta tellya the ol’ DLETC led us astray on this one…although it wasn’t really her fault I guess. It was this abandoned salt mine about 3 crow flies miles southwest of Sand Mountain but about 7 miles by road…or so she thought. She had grabbed the GPS coordinates which we used to try and navigate there…but instead of getting them herself from the google maps satellite view…she copied them off of another web site and that site had mistyped some of the numbers. We went a half mile east from Sand Mountain then turned south and west toward what we thought was the salt mine on an unpaved, mostly sand road for about 4 miles. We could see the remaining salt mine machinery and buildings…but was on the other side of the salt lake from where we were…and while it looked like the road we were on would eventually get ‘round the lake it was getting progressively more and more sandy. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor since Li’l Red isn’t an off road vehicle…so we gave up, retraced the 4 miles back to the highway…and headed home.

Originally…we were supposed to stop in Fallon to get the final stamp we need (you need 5 total) on our Loneliest Road in America Passport to get our “I Survived…” certificates. The nice lady bartender at Middlegate had the stamps though and took care of us…so we just blasted…well, the speed limit is 25 for about 4 or 5 miles so blasted is the wrong term I guess…on through Fallon then took the Carson Highway south and west to Carson City. We stopped by Walmart to get a few needed vittles…we’ve a larger run scheduled for Wednesday but we needed a pepper and onions for tomorrow’s Carne Asada Grilled Pork…and then headed home for dinner.

We were still pretty full from lunch…at least Neil was…so Connie had a microwave chimichanga and Neil had a handful of crackers a little later. We left room for ice cream later though.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day…and to celebrate it Neil’s gonna do laundry. That is OK with him though because Father’s Day is a made up holiday and nobody gives a hoot about fathers anyway. Connie will head off after Mass and lunch to get her nails done…mebbe she’ll make something out of Father’s Day for him later on…then Neil will grill the aforementioned Carne Asada Grilled Pork…which we’ll have on corn tortillas for dinner.

We have more Fun Stuff© scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday…with mostly do nothing days on Wednesday and Friday…I’ll report on those later on in the week.

Interesting stuff found in our email this week…but email comes via the internet so clearly this falls under the “interesting stuff found on the net” category.

AutocorrectInventor

BeingOver40

DrunkDog

SpellingMistake

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Baker NV and Transit to Austin NV

With our work in Delta UT complete…and with only 94 miles to go to our next stop…we didn’t pull out of the campground until past 1030 to continue heading west…next stop Baker NV, about 10 miles across the state line and the location of the visitor centers and entrance to Great Basin National Park.

If you’ll recall from the other day…I wrote about roads that are “god-forsaken ass end of the middle of nowhere”…and surely enough, continuing west out of Delta was more of that sort of road.

Immediately as we left the city limits…right past the sign that said Speed Limit 65…we passed the one that said “Next Services 80 miles”.

Yes indeed…it was that kinda road…again.

Here’s a shot Neil took through the windshield of Big Red as we drove. Good thing we didn’t need to pee because there wasn’t even a spot where we coulda done so if we needed to…although I guess we could pulled into one of the gravel/dirt roads that very occasionally departed the highway on the way to some ranch or other. Of course…that would have required backing the rig back out onto the highway…and although normally we’re quite fine about that backing out into a 65 mph speed limit highway isn’t something we routinely accomplish. Of course…there weren’t any cars so in all likelihood it woulda been perfectly fine. We saw maybe 10 vehicles going the other way in 94 miles…and almost all of them were RVs of one sort or another…and saw exactly one car going west as he passed us. Predictably…despite the numerous long stretches of highway that were ruler straight and you could see at least 3 miles in front of us…that idiot passed us…well Big Red anyway…on a no passing zone marked curve.

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We arrived 94 miles later in Baker and pulled into our campground…Whispering Elms…and I gotta tell ya it’s appearance makes most Alaskan campgrounds look like resorts. Gravel sites, doesn’t look like they ever mow the grass around the utility pedestals, and an owner who should be named Mr. Grumpy to boot.

We backed into our site 21…difficult as Mr. Grumpy led us to the site from the wrong direction which meant essentially no room to back into the site. He left and we turned around in the narrow cul-de-sac and backed in…only to find out that the power wasn’t working. 

Neil checked with our tester and a voltmeter…the 50 amp circuit which we would definitely need for running A/C units…had 120 volts on one side and 0 volts on the other side. He checked the adjacent site…it worked…and wandered up to the office to see what they wanted us to know. At this point…Mr. Grumpy asked us what the heck we were doing troubleshooting his power pedestals…and that he could do that himself. He also said that he had a 50 amp unit in there the night before and it was working fine. Neil told him it wasn’t working fine now…at that point the guy got pissed, left, and sent his wife out to deal with it. The easy to back in site next to us on one side was already reserved for the night and the site on our other side was too short. She asked if we had an extension cord…we do…and told us to just plug into the short site power pedestal and they wouldn’t put anybody there.

I don’t know about that guy…a little later he was friendly and actually only charged us 2 nights instead of the 3 we reserved since there was a power issue…but then we went up the next day to see why the campground wifi quit working and he was grumpy again.

So…long story short…if you want to visit Great Basin National Park you’ll either have to put up with him…or not visit…there were two other “campgrounds” in town but they looked even rougher.

So…getting on to the only reason we stopped here…if it had not been to visit the park we would have just skipped here, overnighted farther west, and then continued on to Carson City where we’ll be Friday evening.

We have mixed feelings about this park…we’re glad we came because it’s another one checked off the list and the views were decent as well as the visitor center and movies…but on the other hand there’s really not much to do here. There are two visitor centers…one for the park as a whole and one for the cave section. We visited both but had zero interest in going into the cave…all of the tours were already full anyway but that made no difference to us.

Other than the visitor centers and the caves…there is a 12 mile scenic drive up to 10,000+ feet on the flank of 13,063 Wheeler Peak. However, the road turned out to be closed at about the 6 mile point at 8,500 feet…here it is June 11 and the road is still blocked by ice and snow. Nuts I tellya.

We did learn something interesting about the park at the visitor center…prior to our visit we all thought that the Great Basin was essentially a large depression…albeit it at fairly high elevation…surrounded on all sides by mountains…the Cascades and Sierra to the west and Rockies to the east. However…turns out that it is a basin surrounded by higher mountains…but it is full of mountains on its own with valleys between them. However…since the surrounding peaks are higher on all sides…none of the streams or rivers in the basin drain to the ocean…they all end up in lakes contained within the basin.

Here’s a 10,000 mile view of the entire basin…as you can see it’s bounded by the Cascades and Sierras to the west and the ranges of UT and western CO on the east…but there are numerous north/south running ranges with lower maximum peaks throughout the basin.

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Before we got to the visitor center…we stopped by the Baker Archeological site right outside the park. There was a dig there of an old Indian village but it was completely reburied after the dig was complete. There’s a path through the village with information signs…but all you can see is flat ground so we skipped it.

We did spot this Horned Lark…we’re pretty sure…sitting on the fence at the site though. Took us awhile to figure out what it was…until finally we looked at the second head on photo and could see the yellow throat…until then we had discounted the Hooded Lark as being the species since we couldn’t see the yellow even though the rest of the head/chest and back markings steered us towards it.

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Kind of a funky direct on pose with the wind ruffling his feathers…but you can easily see the horn like feathers that give it the name as well as the yellow throat, black whiskers, white eye band, and black stripe across the upper chest.

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View from slightly behind him…the horn feather shows up in this one a little better as well.

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And Neil got a panorama of the mountains in this region of the park…the peaks are about 7,000 feet higher than the elevation in the valley where Baker is located.

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As well as a closeup of either Wheeler Peak or it’s slightly shorter 12,771 foot Jeff Davis Peak…from the visitor center Wheeler isn’t visible as it’s behind Jeff Davis but from the location about 3 miles NW of the visitor center we weren’t sure if we could see past Jeff Davis or not…but based on the profile we don’t think so.

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This is the Forgotten Winchester…as you can see in 1914 it was found leaning against a juniper tree in a remote section of the park…having survived over100 years of exposure to the weather. There was no indication what happened to the owner. Neil had heard this story before but didn’t realize it was at Great Basin.

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After entering the park proper…

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We stopped by the cave visitor center…the main one was outside the park in town…the only thing there worth seeing was the Rhodes Cabin…we have no idea what this is as there was no informational sign nearby…obviously something from the early settler days.

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The scenic drive was nice…at least the half of it we got to go on…and the views were also pretty nice but there were no pullouts for photo taking except at the location where road was closed to traffic.

Taken from the top…this is Jeff Davis Peak and/or Wheeler Peak…again, no informational sign available.

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About 1000 feet down from the top…we found a pullout we had missed and got a shot of the valley. Baker is right in the center of the photo.

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And a close up of the entire town of Baker…yep, that’s it. Toldya it was in the middle of nowhere…67 full-time residents according to Mr. Grumpy with maybe 150 if you include summer only residents.

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Connie grabbed this shot from Li’l Red as we drove back into town…a bustling metropolis…two bars, two motels and one place to eat…good thing we were planning on cooking and drinking at home anyway.

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After dinner…beanie-triple wienie with 3 kinds of sausage in it…we wandered up to the bar in the campground for a beer. The good news was that they had Alaskan Amber Ale on tap…the bad news was that Mr. Grumpy…who we learned is actually named Chuck…was the bartender. We were the only customers at the bar…he sold 5 different locals their afternoon take out brews and he was much friendlier to the locals than his paying customers. Seems kinda wrong to me…but then that’s just me.

Wednesday after breakfast…we headed out about 0800 for a 60 mile trip west to Ely NV…pronounced Ellie as in Elly May Clampett and not as a long “eye” sound as in Elijah. That is the place you can pickup your Loneliest Road in America passport…it chronicles your drive across US-50 in Nevada and I gotta agree that from what we done seen so far it’s aptly named. We will need to get a total of 5 different stamps as we drive across…then we turn in the passport for a certificate that we survived the Loneliest Road in America. 

Since I mentioned it…a couple of Beverly Hillbilly tidbits. Only 3 characters appeared in all 274 episodes…Jed, Granny, and and Elly May. Jethro (Max Baer, Jr) who appears in 272 episodes is the only cast member still alive at age 81 as of June 2019. His fifth grade education was an inside joke for the cast as he actually has a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Philosophy from Santa Clara University.

I toldya the road was famous…even the GPS in Li’l Red knows about it.

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We stopped for about 20 minutes for road construction…they’re doing chip and seal repaving across the pass through the mountains directly west of Baker and Great Basin National Park…as I said before there are a series of north/south mountain ranges separating lower valleys throughout the Great Basin…the passes are all about 7,500 to 8,000 feet high with the mountains another 1,000 or so higher than that…the valleys are down in the 4,500 to 6,000 feet range. 

While we were stopped at the construction flagman…Neil got these pano shots looking both ways from the side of the road…it kinda illustrates the mountain rows separated by valleys I was talking about…well actually he took these as we came back when we stopped at the other side of the repaving flagman, but I digress…they fit better here. These are just about 180 degree views…we continue to be impressed by the deep blue sky color you see out here in the west…and the ridges are 8-10 miles distant.

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On arrival in Ely…we stopped by the Bristlecone Pine Convention Center and Chamber of Commerce, picked up our Loneliest Road passports, and chatted for a bit with a nice young fella there who grew up in Jacksonville before moving to Ely…his goal is to ski down the backside of Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park on July 4th…with the amount of snow left on the peaks we’ve seen that’s a highly likely outcome. After that…we headed off to our other destination in Ely…the Nevada Norther Railway National Historic Landmark.

It turns out that back in 1905…a copper deposit of about 13 square miles was discovered just west of Ely NV…and at 1% copper in the ore it’s one of the richest copper veins in the US. It was mined from 1906 to 1983 when it shut down due to low copper prices…started back up in the mid 90s for 3 or 4 years…shut down again, and opened again in 2004 and remains open today…as long as the price of copper stays above $2 a pound they can make a profit. The Northern Nevada Railroad was established to move the copper from the mines to customers on the main railroad lines…it originally transported the raw ore but later on in the first incarnation of the mine a smelter  was built at the mine and the railroad transported finished copper. When the mine was reopened in the 1990s…the smelter was not used any longer as a chemical process was used at the mine instead…this increases the copper percentage in the output to about 50% using about 10% of the energy of either the smelting or electroplating copper extraction process and about 10% of the workforce for either of those methods. By that time…better roads and trucks made moving the semi-finished copper by road more economical.

The railroad itself closed in 1983…but when they originally closed they told the workers that they were being laid off…not that the company would be closed. This meant that none of the workers appropriated any tools or equipment since they anticipated they would be back to work in a few weeks…but the layoff never ended. This meant that the entire railroad yard was essentially abandoned in place with tools, paperwork, forms, and everything else needed to run a railroad left on the shelves…which in turn allowed the museum to be almost a perfect replica of the original depot since it was in fact the original depot.

On the grounds there is the museum…which consists of the depot buildings and the still in use engine house which is used for maintaining the rolling stock of the Nevada Northern Railroad…this stock includes both early 1900 steam locomotives as well as modern diesel-electric ones as well as original passenger and hopper cars from 1910. An affiliated for-profit company runs a variety of train tours out of the depot out to the mines and back. These tours range from the $35 a person ride very similar to what we did at Royal Gorge all the way through the $3,766 Supreme Package…which gives you 2 rides, one on a steam engine and one diesel-electric pulling actual trains of the $35 each riders and in which you get to actually be the engine with your hands on the throttle. There’s also a Railroad Reality Week…which for a mere $1,156 gives you a week of living in the caboose, eating railroad food, working on tracks and doing maintenance on the stock…and for a miserly $719 add on price you can get the same Engineer experience…such a deal.

We passed on all of that and selected the $8 each self guided walking tour around the depot…that was plenty of train for us.

Early 1900s passenger car.

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One of the administrative offices of the railroad…the supply room we think as it’s still full of all the original pads, pens, and forms needed to run the railroad.

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1939 mimeograph machine…hand cranked. It brings back old memories of Connie and Neil’s first semester in college…they were both in the marching band and took over the publishing of the band newsletter named “The Windy Chord”…it was produced for distribution on a hand cranked mimeo machine that while not identical to this one…use the same operating principles and power to produce mimeo newsletters…we can still recall the smell of the mimeo fluid that was used.

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Today…they have these superwhamperdyne snow blowers that are bolted to the front of a locomotive…they drive down the track and this huge fan thing on the front sucks the snow in and blasts it 200 or 250 feet to the side. Back in the day…before the superwhamperdyne blower thing was invented they used a basic old snowplow that was pushed by a locomotive.

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Coal and water towers used for stocking up the steam locomotives for the run out to the mine and back.

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1910 era boxcars…at least according to the Built in stencils on the side.

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Old time log carrier.

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The old #93 steam locomotive…built in 1909 at a cost of $17,610…used until 1961 when it was retired and donated to the White Pine Public Museum in Ely where it was a static display until 1990. Towed back to the depot then…and completely refurbished and returned service in 1993…still in use today after another rebuild and boiler inspection in 2017…another will not be needed until 2032. As part of this rebuild…axle #2 was discovered to have cracks…calls to the warranty department at the American Locomotive Company went unanswered…so they had to weld build up and then turn down both it and the remaining axles to eliminate cracks.

The photo even has engineers looking at something on the locomotive.

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Neil spotted this strange car with the auger on the front of it…no idea what it’s for…looks more like a post hole digging sort of auger than a stone drilling sort of auger though.

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Connie was really enamored with the two engineers looking at #93.

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Looking from the engine house back through the depot.

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And here comes the return of the daily excursion train. It comes back from its 7 mile outbound trip heading behind the gray building on the left from the lower left out of frame to top center out of view down the hill in the shot above. From there it reverses direction to back through the depot, past the engine house, then reverses direction again and proceeds into the depot for debarking. I presume that it departs the same way…although that would require backing up the whole 7 mile outbound leg…which seems unlikely so there’s got to be a turn around down on the other side of the depot somewhere to allow it to proceed ahead out of the depot then curve around to the left to head out. That would also require some sort of turn around at the far end as well as when we spotted it coming back it was going ahead and not in reverse.  

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Just about to pass the engine house where we were waiting on it.

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Neil tried to get Connie to “make like a hobo” and hop a freight…but she wasn’t interested. ‘Sides…the railroad guys standing nearby woulda stopped us I guess.

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After the train had backed about 20 yards past where Neil is standing in the shot above…and past the switch…an action shot as the engineer climbed down and switched the switch the other way so that he could pull ahead into the depot.

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Then he proceed ahead and stopped to debark his sightseers in front of the white building past the red cargo warehouse.

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Heading into the engine house…here’s a set of refurbished steam locomotive wheels…you can see the attachments points for the rods coming from the piston and connecting to the wheels. I think this is a set for #93…it’s a 2-8-0 locomotive which means it has 2 wheels at the front to help guide it around curves, 8 powered wheels, and no trailing wheels.

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This says it’s a foundry pattern…and it might be that just in case the railroad had to have new wheels cast…but it’s sitting on an old milling machine which is used to help re-manufacture the single piece axles to eliminate cracking. The cracks are ground out and then weld filled to build up new material…then the milling machine turns them to be circular again and apply the correct finish and angle.

Interesting thing about train wheels. One might think from looking at the axle that there’s the lip which rides on the inside of the rail…and that the outer portion of the wheel that rides on top of the rail is cylindrical in shape…but it is actually conical in shape.

Think about it…when the train goes around a curve…the inside edge of the outer rail is longer than the inside edge of the inner rail as it’s on the outside of the curve. This means that the rolling distance is farther around the outside rail than the inside. However…the axle is one piece and the inner and outer wheels turn the exact same number of revolutions as it goes around the curve. So…how to account for the longer travel distance on the outside rail? Simple really…the portion of the wheel that rides on top of the rail is conical in cross section with the outside edge being smaller in diameter than the inner. So…as the train goes ‘round the curve…the entire axle shifts to the outside so that the diameter of the outside wheel where it sits on the rail is larger than the corresponding diameter on the inside wheel…hence for one wheel revolution the outside wheel actually travels farther as it’s circumference is larger where it sits on the rail.

We never knew that…until it was ‘splained to us at one of the train museums we visited in our past travels…but it makes perfect sense once you realize how it works…but I digress into minutia again, sorry ‘bout that…but I canna help m’self…I do likes me a good rathole to go down.

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Old #93 is getting some maintenance done on it right now…you might have wondered how broke locomotives got moved ‘round the railroad yard to the repair shop and back to the storage area…now you know as hooked up to the back of it is the railroad equivalent of a tow truck. It was built for the Kennecott Mining Company and obviously bought from them sometime after they closed their Nevada operations.

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Another old steam locomotive…but there was no indication whether #40 is getting repaired/rebuilt to just a static display.

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Ever wonder what the inside of a steam locomotive boiler looks like? Well…wonder no more…here’s the inside of another locomotive…again no idea whether this is a static display or an ongoing restoration. Since getting #93 running again back in 2016 cost a half million bucks…maybe this is a long term project that is waiting on funding for rebuild.

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Another shot of #40 with an older diesel-electric #109 in the background. There were a total of about 8 or 9 locomotives in the engine house.

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Close up of the front of #93…obviously undergoing some sort of boiler maintenance…this may be just an access plate to the front of the builder as (a) it’s not due for another boiler inspection until 2032 and (b) there’s no series of bolts that hold the boiler end cap on visible. My guess is that juts allows access to the forward end of the boiler cap and other related machinery.

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This is how you keep locomotives…or other rolling stock…from rolling away. There are brakes on the wheels of non-locomotive cars and on the coal tender car…but we did not see any on the locomotive itself. Brakes are air operated today with air being needed to hold them off the wheels…so they fail to stop the car without air…and there is also a hand crank on each car to manually hold them engaged to the wheels. Back in the days before air brakes…the train was stopped by the brakeman manually engaging the hand wheels…but mostly by reversing the flow of steam to the wheels and letting compression in the cylinders help slow the drive wheels on the locomotive. However…with no actual brake shoes on the locomotive…these little chock things lock to the track to hold a stopped locomotive in place. Modern diesel-electric locomotives just apply reverse polarity voltage to the drive motors attached to each wheel to stop the train in addition the air powered brakes on each car.

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Kennecott caboose #22. Four of these were built in the mid 1950s for their Nevada operations…two remain as of 2019…this one and another one owned by the Heber Valley Railroad and used for sightseeing trains in and around Deer Creek Reservoir in Heber City UT southeast of the Great Salt Lake.

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We stopped at the Golden Arches for some lunch and headed back…after stopping at the Great Basin Heritage Center…conveniently located right next to the driveway to Whispering Elms…we now have 2 of the required 5 stamps in our passports that are needed for the”I survived” certificate…ya know it’s the little things that count in life…doncha?

Close up view of one of the ridges from the panorama shot way back towards the beginning of this section of the post. This was taken at the construction stop which was about 8 miles long on the western side approach to the first ridge west of Baker. 

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Thursday we started underway preps about 0800 for our 209 mile drive to Austin NV…basically it is the closest town to the halfway point between Baker and Carson City. We were out of the park about 0925, stopped briefly in Ely for DEF for Big Red and gas for Li’l Red…diesel was fine…and again briefly in Eureka for lunch before continuing on to Austin…and I can definitely confirm that “The Loneliest Road in America” is an apropos name. The last pass over into Austin was a real bear…6% uphill and curvy on the eastern side to about 7,700 feet then 7% down and really, really curvy heading down…and did I mention it was raining by that time. The speed limit was only 25 heading downhill and Neil had Big Red in 2nd gear all the way down to Austin…population 192. We pulled into the Pony Express RV right after entering town from the east…a gravel parking lot but it has 7 pull through sites and we quickly grabbed #6. We put on power, de-aired the hitch on Big Red and grounded the front jacks after putting out the slides…and we’re camping.

Dinner was a burger and a BLT and beer at a local joint…and we’ll head out the last 175 miles to Carson City tomorrow…where we’ll stay for 8 nights as we need groceries and laundry in addition to our Fun Stuff©…and we worked a couple of rest days into the schedule as we’re pretty tired after the last few weeks of 2-3 night stops. We ate at the International Bar and Cafe which used to be the Last Chance Saloon but it went bust. Before we knew that our second choice and now first choice was the Silver State Bar and Grill. It it went bust too so it was back to the new and improved International. We passed on the Owl Club.

Sorry…no interesting stuff found on the net this time either…internet connectivity and spare time in Baker was very limited so I didn’t have time to find any. I’ll try to do better. This is all I got for ya.

ThisKidsGoingPlaces

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Delta UT

With our work in Green River done…we headed out Friday morning for the 180 mile transit to Delta UT. Although it was a relatively short day…we were still up and starting to get ready for the move by 0700. The reason is that our sole Fun Stuff© stop in Delta…the Topaz Museum (which ain’t whatcha think)…isn’t open on Sunday. Therefore…we needed to get to Delta early enough to get parked and setup and still visit the museum before it closes for the day at 1700.

Leaving Green River…we headed west on I-70/US-50 past the turnoff for UT-24 where we headed south to Capitol Reef the day before. The road then had a pretty steep grade for about 3 miles as we climbed to the top of the Waterpocket Fold that forms the western backbone of the park. Up close…the fold is a pretty impressive obstacle…but unfortunately there was no place to stop for an up close photo

We did stop at the Black Canyon viewpoint at the top for a couple of photos…then continued on west to Salina UT. Unbeknownst to us…there were another couple of summits we would also need head across…they were labeled summits at the top rather than passes…I’m not sure what the difference is as both pretty much looked like passes through the mountains to us. Once we got to Salina…US-50 diverged from the freeway and we continued west to the intersection with I-15, south a couple of exits, then back off onto 50 for the last 35 miles or so into Delta.

Black Canyon view from the top of the Waterpocket Fold.

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Panoramic shot looking south into Salt Wash…our second viewpoint stop on the way to Delta.

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We pulled into Antelope Valley RV Park and checked in…the lady at the desk took our money and told us to pick a spot and come back after to tell her which one we took. We got one on the back row away from the road…site 28…since it had good satellite visibility and backed up to the fields south of the campground. We grabbed a bite for lunch and did enough setup to let us start our dishwasher as it was full…then headed off to the Topaz Museum.

You’ll recall that awhile back over in Kansas…we attempted to visit the Granada Relocation Center…or Camp Amache. This was one of the 10 relocation camps where both Japanese nationals and US citizens of Japanese descent were essentially placed into concentration camps after the bombing at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. This was not one of our government’s finest moments…as a later study showed that exactly zero instances of sabotage or anything else supporting the Japanese government during WWII was performed or attempted by anyone of Japanese ancestry. The whole thing was essentially a hysteria induced detention of primarily US citizens…despite it being strongly argued against by many in the administration…including the director of the FBI Herbert Hoover. I can’t imagine that anything similar would happen today…although there are a lot of eerie parallels to the way that US citizens who originated in the Middle East or have Arabic sounding names have been treated since 9/11. Like the Japanese during WWII…a lot of US citizens have been painted with labels that they don’t deserve. Yes…I know that Saudi based terrorists were responsible for that attack…but there’s still a lot of hysteria going around about folks that look like the 9/11 plotters or have names that sound like them. Many US citizens…both naturalized and native born…have been tarred with the brush of undeserved responsibility for those attacks.

Anyway…after all the Japanese and Japanese Americans were essentially kicked out of their homes, businesses, jobs, and lives on the west coast with basically a 1 week notice…they were moved to relocation centers primarily located in the west. Two of these were Camp Amache in Kansas…which you’ll recall we tried to visit a few weeks back but were stopped by the muddy clay roads…and a town in Utah named Topaz.

Once the detainees were allowed to leave in early 1945 and return to their homes…most of the ones in Topaz were from the San Francisco Bay Area…the camp itself was dismantled and sold…almost like the government wanted to eliminate all traces of something they knew was just wrong. Luckily a couple of original buildings and many artifacts were rescued from loss, largely through the efforts of the camp staff and other local residents here in Delta.

Topaz itself was located about 5 miles north of Delta in the middle of the desert…and was the home of 7,000 or so detainees from mid 1942 to early 1945. 

One local resident of Delta…came home after the war and was horrified by the treatment of his fellow citizens…and started a campaign to construct a museum dedicated to the camp. It existed in a small building for a number of years but was eventually replaced by the current building.

Shells collected locally, bleached, and assembled into jewelry and other small decorative items by the detainees for sale.

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Aerial contemporary photo of Topaz.

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Reproduction of one of the barracks rooms…a family of 8 shared this one with the parents and two small children in this room and the four older children in an identical adjacent room. Each block in the camp had 16 barracks each with 4 rooms this size, a latrine, mess hell, and recreation room.

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This is an actual recreation room from one of the blocks…since the entire camp was torn down and sold I presume that a local purchased the building and then donated it for reconstruction later to the museum.

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All in all…a pretty nice little museum dedicated to one of our country’s less than stellar moments in history. I can sort of understand the problem the administration faced back then…with the culture differences between Japan and the US…the government was concerned that some of the Japanese here were spies or saboteurs who had been secretly placed there by the Japanese government before the war. Not a correct assumption…but given the times…it is at least understandable if not acceptable.

That was our sole reason for stopping here in Delta…we headed home and had a steak for dinner. Sunday was church and some planning for our next few stops and Monday we’ll head another 90 miles west to Baker NV…where we’ll pick up the start of the “Loneliest Road in America”…US-50 across Nevada.

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

High Five For The Mighty Five

Yeah…that’s what I wrote…but you’re probably trying to figger out what it means.

There are 5 National Parks in Utah…Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. We’ve been to the first 4…Arches and Canyonlands a couple of times…but when we were last out this way in 2017 Capitol Reef was just a bridge too far. With our schedule we just couldn’t get there. Hence…since it’s just south of US-50/I-70…we determined to visit it and that is why we stopped in Green River.

So let’s talk about Capitol Reef National Park a bit…but spoiler alert…it’s another hidden gem. Most people have probably heard of it…but it is way, way more impressive than any of us thought before visiting.

In the central Colorado Plateau…which you will remember is mostly not in Colorado…there is a 100 mile north to south fold in the crust of the earth named the Waterpocket Fold. According to what I googled…it’s a trending fold…that is a section of land where the west side of the fold is 5,000 to 7,000 feet higher than the land on the eastern side. So…millions of years ago when it was formed by tectonic plate slippage…I guess it started out as mostly a cliff that if you were standing on top of it looking east you would see the lower eastern side below. The rock here is layered as it was laid down by oceanic action…but with the harder and softer layers…and millions of years of erosion by water (the Fremont River) it ended up as a canyon with the western rim being much higher. While it does wind a lot down at ground level…from the 20,000 mile high view…it’s pretty straight.

Before coming here…we figured it would be a decent but not spectacular park…because we thought…errantly as it turns out…that it was relatively small and mostly was a fossil deposition location. However…to our delight the views turned out to be about as dramatic as anything we’ve seen…but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Friday morning we headed out early…about 0700…for the 90something mile drive to the park…15 miles or so west on I-70/US-50 then the remaining mileage on UT-24. The highway comes into the fold from the north with a long…we’re talking 30 miles or so long…ridge to the west before you turn west another 20 miles and then enter the park proper. As we got up onto the highway leaving Green River…the first two signs we saw were “Speed Limit 80” and “No services next 100 miles.” This caused us to reconsider our long held definition of roads that we go on our adventures. Starting way back before we moved into the RV…there were paved roads…and then there were the unpaved or right on the edge of the cliff roads…these were affectionally known as “the adventure portion of the tour” for at least the last 25 or 30 years before we became RVers. However…we now have a new definition to add to the list…it’s for roads or situations beyond “the adventure portion of the tour”…this can be either due to remoteness or road quality. Henceforth…this category will be known as “god-forsaken ass end of the middle of nowhere”…it takes adventure portion to a whole ‘nuther category. Friday’s journey encompassed both of those qualities…I gotta tellya…there’s absolutely nothing in east central UT once you get out of town. Then there was the road that we got on at the far end of the “scenic drive” through the park.

As you enter the park…the visitor center is about 20 miles past the park boundary…there are a couple of orientation overlooks before that but the visitor center is located in the old town of Fruita which is surrounded by the park. Fruita was founded by Mormon settlers who lived a simple self sufficient lifestyle growing fruits in orchards they planted along the Fremont River which is the major source of water in the Waterpocket Fold today.

We stopped at the visitor center, watched the movie, moved onto the Gifford House Museum and Bakery where we bought a peach pie and brought it home for later, then headed out on the scenic drive. The drive is mostly along the river in the bottom of the canyon and continues 10 miles south of Fruita. We then headed out on the highly adventurous road down the Capitol Gorge. We went down there another 2 or 3 miles to the parking area. There is actually a road past there…but it requires a back country permit, high clearance vehicle, 4 wheel drive, and cajońes the size of basketballs to go down…so we passed on it.

After we got back up Scenic Drive to Fruita…we continued south another 25 miles or so on UT-24 into the northern portion of Grand Escalante/Staircase National Monument…but that pretty much turned out to be a bust. At the far northern end of the Monument where we were this time…we had visited the southern half back in ’17 while we were parked at Bryce Canyon National Park…well it just wasn’t really worth it in our opinion. 

We finally turned around for the 125 mile trip back home…arriving tired but satisfied.

You should really visit Capitol Reef…as I said it’s one of the most spectacular viewing parks we’ve been…and we’ve been to a lot of scenic national parks. It and the Colorado National Monument have been the highlight of our trip so far scenic view wise. Let’s get on to the photos.

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This is a 180 degree panorama shot of the ridge to the west of UT-24 as we headed south. It’s about 7 or 8 miles away from the road and we literally drove by it for a half hour.

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These little flower buds are the smallest ones we’ve ever seen…the orange buds are maybe 1/8 of an inch in size.

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This is named Prairie Dog Butte…guess why.

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This is Mount Henry…the opposite direction from where Neil took the Prairie Dog Butte shot above…it is named after the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Actually…we could never decide whether it was Henry Mountain or the Henry Mountains…google gave us both answers.

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Factory Butte…yeah, I dunno know where the come up with these names sometimes either. Don’t look much like a factory to me although the squarish potion on top does kinda/sorta resemble a building.

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Our intrepid explorer getting the above shot.

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Castle Butte…and the names are getting harder and harder to make a lick’o’sense out of.

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And all of that…was before we actually got to the park. Shortly after the above shots we turned west at Hanksville…and then followed the Fremont River and several of it’s tributaries through the buttes and rock formations to the park proper.

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One of the original stone houses built by the Mormon settlers. For quite a while…the road into Fruita was just a mud goat track…it was eventually paved and became UT-24.

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Some of the petroglyphs that were left back around 700AD by Indian residents of the area…these people are about 15 feet high and are at the bottom of an essentially vertical rock face at least 1,000 or 1,500 feet high.

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Really cool colors in this section…right outside the visitor center.

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Chimney Butte in the foreground.

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Nicely shaped water eroded rock…20 feet high or so…on the Capitol Gorge Road…although road is a pretty generous definition.

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This is the road in Capitol Gorge…seewhudImean?

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More Capitol Gorge Road.

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The next three are looking down into a section of the canyon named Goosenecks…the creek in it has a sinusoidal shape as it meanders through…but it’s mostly dried up 

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Views from Panorama Point just before we exited the west side of the park to head further south into Grand Escalante/Staircase.

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None of us could figure why…20 miles from anywhere…there was (a) a parking area or (b) why it had a marked parking sign as it was pretty obvious what it was. There is a skinny little goat track road heading to the left out of the parking area in between some of the rock formations…no idea where it goes and by this time of the day we were too tired to venture down it…and it looked even worse than Capitol Gorge Road anyway.

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And that’s it for Capitol Reef National Park…again as I said it was amazingly scenic and the views are spectacular…I highly recommend visiting…but don’t go in the middle of summer as it will be hot hot.

This one is already too long…so no Interesting stuff this time.

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

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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OlderIGet

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Grand Junction CO

We were scheduled for a 110 mile transit from Gunnison CO to Grand Junction CO on June 3…so that’s exactly what we did. Since it was a short day we didn’t start as early as we usually would…but ended up hitting the road about 1020 or so…heading west…again…on US-50.

There were a couple of grades on the way…we had to get up on top of Blue Mesa which is just past the reservoir I posted the shots of the other day, then through a skinny little canyon getting down off the mesa…then another two…well, the road signs called them summits but they were typical slightly curvy grades up and down through some decent sized hills…no worry for us, we just got in the right hand lane on the way up and let Big Red and the Cummins diesel do what they needed to do to get to the top…then just downshifted a couple gears and coasted down on the engine brake. Once we were past Montrose it was a pretty flat 4 land limited access road all the way to Grand Junction.

We pulled into the KoA there…and quickly got checked in and parked in site C8…a really nice pull through gravel site. The only out of the ordinary thing was when Neil put the rear jacks down there was a lot of clunking as the relatively large gravel pieces shifted when the weight went onto the jacks…we were momentarily concerned until we figured out where the noise was coming from. Once we were leveled we had lunch then finished setting up and Neil ran a regeneration cycle on our water softener. Essentially you put two pounds of salt in it, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then slow flush it for 30 minutes and fast flush it for 10 minutes to let the salt remove all the original minerals that it had taken out of our water and prepare it for another run. We normally do this every 6 weeks or so…the benefit is soft water no matter where we are. He has a little connector jig that lets him connect the discharge during the flush to our sewer hose connection so that the flush water runs down the sewer connection in the site rather than on the ground…that would (a) make a mess and (b) dump a bunch of salt out on the ground which would kill the grass between sites.

Meanwhile…Connie resolved the issue we were having with our DirecTV receiver from the other night…essentially she just let the dish lock onto the birds and then rebooted the receiver to make it happy…DTV has a lot of user unfriendly copy protection stuff built into their service and their system really doesn’t expect receivers to move like they do when in an RV.

Tuesday morning we were up early and out the door about 0830 for our Fun Stuff© for Grand Junction…a day trip to the Colorado National Monument. None of us had ever heard of it before we started doing our route 50 research…Connie noticed the green spot on Google Maps that means some sort of park, wondered what it was, found out what it was, and put it on the schedule.

I gotta tell ya…we’ve discovered another hidden gem in the National Park Service system…it was way cooler than any of us thought it would be…so lemme get right into it.

We had one intermediate drive-by stop before getting to the monument…and on the way there we spotted this road sign. I was going to leave it for the “interesting things found on the net” section…but then it wasn’t found on the net…so I debated starting a new section named ‘interesting things found on the road” but decided there wouldn’t be too many entries so I’ll just put it here.

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What is it with these people coming up with these road names? It crossed the road we were on at this traffic light…and was named Unaweep Road on the other side…so why they didn’t they just use the same name…I dunno.

We continued on down the road to Fruita CO to see the memorial statue to Mike the Headless Chicken…yes, he was born and raised in Fruita CO. You can check out the full story here…but essentially Mike (April 20, 1945 – March 17, 1947) lived on a farm in Fruita. Owner Lloyd Olsen went out on September 10, 1945 to get a chicken to feed his mother in law. He selected Mike, chopped his head off with his ax…but unfortunately old Lloyd sorta missed…the ax removed most of his head but missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem attached. Mike jumped up from the stump…started running around…and didn’t die. The story on wikipedia doesn’t say what Lloyd did for dinner…but he decided to feed Mike and let him live. Lloyd took Mike to the University of Utah to establish that Mike (a) didn’t have a head and (b) was still alive. Mike lived another 18 months and made Lloyd quite a tidy little sum being photographed, appearing in slide shows, and the like. At the height of his career…Mike was bringing in $4,500 a month…or $50,500 in today’s dollars. Here’s an actual photo of Mike that I got from wikipedia.

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So what does this have to do with anything? Well, Mike…being the only thing ever to happen in Fruita…is now an institution and has such things as the annual Mike the Headless Chicken Day…which includes a festival with Pin the Head on the Chicken games, a 5K race, and Chicken Bingo…which involves putting a bingo board under some chickens in a cage and letting them choose the numbers with…well chickenshit is the appropriate term.

Turns out that Connie found a statue to Mike in downtown Fruita right off of US-50…and since the whole point of this journey is to “take the road less traveled by”…we were off to visit and document this truly Only-in-Small-Town-America event.

So…here he is…in all his glory…I especially like the touch of the Christmas lights wrapped around the sculpture.

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After the photo…we were getting back into the car when Neil noticed we were right outside of Aspen Street Coffee and Pastries…score!!! We quickly popped in and 2 scones for tomorrow’s travel day breakfast and a slice of pumpkin bread which we determined would be most excellent warmed up for dessert and covered with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Then…off to the Colorado National Monument.

We headed off another 7 or 8 miles to the monument…flashed our senior pass at the entrance station…I gotta tell you we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of that pass…it cost us $10 each (we needed 2 since sometimes we are in 2 vehicles) back when we turned 62 and it gives us free admission to every site in the National Park Service system as well as half price discounts at any campgrounds we use in their system or that are run by the Corps of Engineers or any other site that reservation.gov provides reservations for. Anyway…after flashing our pass we headed up to the top of the monument to take in the rim drive.

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The monument is located in the Colorado Plateau region…which amazingly enough is located mostly NOT in Colorado. It’s a roughly oval shaped area about 300 miles north to south and 200 east to west centered on the 4 Corners area…heck, instead of describing it lemme just show you a picture.

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Here’s a slightly blown up version with NPS places marked on it.

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The Colorado Plateau has the highest concentration of NPS units of any place in the country outside of the Washington DC area…located within it are 9 National Parks…we’ve been to 7 so far and will knock out Capital Reef, the last of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks later this week and Petrified Forest is too far south of Grand Canyon to get to this trip. It also contains 18 National Monuments…of which we have been to 8. There are several different regions that make up the plateau…but when you look at the topography from the 10,000 miles away level it’s pretty clearly a single high desert area.

Here’s an image from Google maps that you can see how the region became defined. The orangey section in the middle that’s sort of bounded by the four state names is pretty much the boundary.

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The Colorado National Monument is located on a section named the Uncompahgre Uplift and it looks out onto Monument Canyon which is where the city of Grand Junction is located. I don’t know why they call it a canyon…it looks more like a 20 mile wide valley to me rather than a canyon…but what do I know. There are many other features that actually look like canyons in the monument…and one end of them does open out to Monument Canyon/valley…but to our eyes there’s a clear difference between the canyons in the monument and the flat grassy area further away from the mesa. I googled it and while both are formed by water…it appears that “most geologists” say that a canyon is deeper, narrower, and has steeper sides. I’ll point out in some of the photos later where the Monument Canyon is…see if you agree that it should really be a valley instead. Most geologists also believe that a canyon is a special subcategory of valley…the real trouble is that there is no official definition and somebody way back when called it the Monument Canyon…and the name stuck I guess. 

OK…on to photos.

The first sight you get to is Balanced Rock. It was really early in the morning and we’re looking almost due east here…so it was extremely backlit and almost completely in silhouette. Here are two different HDR treatments of the images Neil shot…first one was done with Lightroom and the second with Aurora HDR 2018. Lightroom is a lot faster but you get zero ability to affect how the images are consolidated…Aurora is slower but you can adjust just about anything you want. Personally I think the Aurora one is far superior as you can adjust various parameters to bring out a lot more detail, color, and realistic rendering of the image.

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Notice in a lot o the there are different layers in the rock very similar to what we saw at Black Canyon NP earlier…not surprising since it’s all part of the same Colorado Plateau…and all of it was underwater in the distant past. Some of the layers were laid down by sea, some by volcanic activity, and some by ash from distant volcanic eruptions.

Back in the day…before the road to the top was built by the CCC during the Great Depression…the only way to the top of the mesa was the ‘road’ on the ridge opposite. Imagine trying to drive cattle up and down that road…the ranchers brought the herd to the top of the mesa for the summer and back down to the valley for dinner. You can barely see the goat track…road is too kind of a word…in a few places in this shot.

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Looking down on Fruita CO…which is located in Monument Canyon…the mountains in the rear are 20 miles away…so does this really look like a canyon to you…or is valley a better description as discussed above?

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A Pińon Pine…or as we chefs would say…pine nuts on the hoof. This is the source of pine nuts used in cooking…which are almost worth their weight in gold. We no longer buy them because we’re too cheap…roasted sunflower seeds are a decent substitute…real pine nuts cost $15 to $20 for an ounce…which means a pound of them is between $240 and $320…and a pound would fit in a teacup. That’s why we don’t buy them any longer. The other common tree in the monument is the juniper.

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One of the 3 tunnels we passed through on the drive…blasted by the CCC through solid rock. Literally the only option as the fins they blasted through were 70 or so feet here and the other two were hundreds of feet tall…and there was no way for the road to get around them.

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Rock actively engaged in falling off the side of the mesa…as long as you consider actively engaged to mean sometime in the next millennia or three. The freeze/thaw cycle has produced the cracks seen here…they were about 20 feet deep. Once they get deep enough…along with the cracking of the rock under the base…they will either fall forward into the canyon or slide down as Fallen Rock did further down the photos.

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Looking down the canyon we took to the top of the mesa. The road from Fruita starts back in the right rear, curls around the right side ridge, up through the canyon and then around the back of the ridge to the left. After a series of switchbacks on the back of that ridge it ends up coming into this overlook viewpoint from the left side.

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Wide pano looking down on Fruita…again does this really look like a canyon in the medium distance?

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Another view of Balanced Rock…this time from the mesa top. The previous photo was taken from the viewpoint just out of the frame to lower left.

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Whip tailed lizard…this one was about a foot long and the ranger said they maxed out at about 15 inches or so.

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Howard Payne Memorial Dead Tree photo.

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Cool looking log…it’s a Pińon Pine

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Looking down at the “Window”…near as we could tell it’s not a window as in a hold through a fin but the hold between the formation to the left known as the Island and the next one over. Both of them were originally connected to the mesa…there’s a better shot of this from the other side later.

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This is the side of the fin that forms the free standing portion of the Window in the shot a few back…the fins are really thin compared to height and length.

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The Window from the other side. The earlier shots were taken from a viewpoint at the top of the dark brown ridge just left of center. Way back in the day…like millions of years ago…the “Island” on the far right and the freestanding fin just right of center were connected to the mesa at the far left behind the tree.

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The kissing couple…we’re looking here from behind over the left shoulder of one of the couple.

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Another shot of the Window from this side.

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Another pano shot from Grand View…we thought this was the second best shot we got today…the one way back with the road snaking up through the canyon we thought was the most impressive view. This shot is just about 180 degrees wide.

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These formations are named the Coke Ovens based on their shape.

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Although Neil thought the formation in the right rear behind the Coke Ovens was better looking…it’s got cracks forming in it both in the direction of view as well as perpendicular…at some time in the future it will just be a bunch of needles aligned in a grid pattern.

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Artist’s Point is probably the most famous view here…I put this shot in just to show you the New Zealander on the lower left…he ran down there barefoot. Connie didn’t go down to the viewpoint as she was tired and it was about 100 feet down in elevation. When Neil passed this guy…he volunteered that his boots were hurting his toes so he went barefoot instead. Takes all kinds I reckon.

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Neil had to take this flower shot since Connie wasn’t with him…this was about 2/3 of the way down to the overlook.

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Another pano from Artist’s Point…we thought it was the 3rd best view of the day…about 150 degrees wide.

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Coming back up from Artist’s Point overlook…he spotted this cave being eroded into the rocks…it is about 7 feet high under the ledge and 3 feet in the dark back center.

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This is Fallen Rock. It was originally…a long time ago…little farther back and to the left and the top was even with the top of the formation behind it. The freeze/thaw cycle had two effects on this piece of rock…which is about 150 or so feet by 150 feet at the top and maybe 300 feet tall. First…a vertical crack gradually developed behind this piece of rock. Second…the base under it was gradually eroded until finally the remaining stone wasn’t strong enough to stay attached and it broke loose. Instead of falling face forward and turning into rubble at the base…that rubble forms the 45 degree pile of rock around the base of an eroding mesa or cliff. At that point…the rock slide feet first down the rubble pile to the current position.

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Distant view of the Fallen rock…you can see the rubble pile around the base formed by previous small falls. Usually the rock erodes and cracks off in relatively small pieces rather than the huge chunk that formed Fallen Rock. This is likely because there was a seam of softer and more readily eroded rock behind Fallen Rock when it was in position at the top of the formation.

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Ya know…I like a women in a dress and high heels as well as the next male…but look at this woman’s outfit and where she is walking to and see if you agree that it isn’t really the thing to wear on a drive along the rim of a canyon when you’re going to walk out on uneven rock and take photos.

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With that…our day was done…and our work here at Grand Junction is finished. So we headed for the rig, caught up on some chores in the afternoon and then went out for dinner to the Goat and Clover Tavern…the local Irish and British pub…for dinner.

Neil really, really thought about ordering the soup.

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Connie had a couple pints of Kilt Lifter…a Scottish ale made in Colorado. Neil had Guinness…naturally…it is the world’s finest beverage of course…and it was mighty tasty. Dinner was salmon glazed with apricots for Connie and a Steak and Ale pie for Neil…it also had mushrooms, onions, leeks, and carrots and was topped with puff pastry. Both dinners were excellent…afterwards we got back to the rig.

Tomorrow we’re off about 100 miles to Green River UT for 3 nights…Capital Reef National Park plus some other stuff is on the menu for Fun Stuff©.

Interesting things found on the net.

StressBackwards

PatienceTested

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Cyas.

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