Earthtribe-Gather: Drivearound    
 Drivearound8 comments
picture19 Sep 2009 @ 22:42, by John Ashbaugh

Utah Drivearound

First day out, three-hundred and seventeen miles from Los Jardines de Hawley to
Goosenecks state park, Utah, where the meandering river has cut a deep gorge. Start off
with a stopover at the San Ysidro roadside Quik Stop. Park to the side near the fence and
the grass.

Along comes a young Indian fella, maybe late teens early twenties, walks briskly over to the back corner of the building and sets down a small black canvas backpack, turns to go into the store, and looks over at me, smiling as he says, “Can’t take that into the store with me. Watch that for me, will you?” “Sure,” I say, “but just for a couple of minutes.” So we got some kind of a deal. What does, “a couple of minutes,” mean?
So I’m standing out there, and more than a couple of minutes goes by, but that’s ok. I’m in no hurry. Just standing outside on the first steps of the first leg of this excursion. So he comes out the store and goes back to the corner where he had put that old back pack, retrieved it and brought it back to where I was standing. Actually, I had been taking photos of the buildings and trees across the road and was out by the driveway, so we both came back to my car, and he started telling me his story of how he needed a ride back to Jemez.
So I take him home, and on the way, he explains to me about what is in his backpack. A twelve-pack of beer. His mama don’t want him to have it, so even though he’s already twenty-four, he’s gotta sneak it into his part of the house behind her back. Juan teaches me the pueblo language word for beer, “dirty water,” and the pronunciations I cannot repeat. I tried, and had an especially hard time with the first syllable, while the last three went pretty good, so says Juan.
I meet his Aunt and his baby toddler daughter. Juan shows me the picture of his grandparents on the wall, and several of the gems of pottery his mother crafts. Outside, he gives me some grapes to take with me, grapes from the vine at the side of the house.
Riding into late afternoon sunlight through haze effects and back –lit silhouettes, all I can do to keep from stopping is my sense for tonight’s destination, a spot on the map with a tent in the middle of nowhere. There, I’ve got a spot on the rocky terrain over the meandering chasm of the San Juan river going through the Goosenecks. Little bit of a crowd, maybe ten people, but there’s plenty of open space. Couple of old stone fire circles for orientation towards the chasm. Kind of south-southeasterly. Moon is clear, three-quarters waxing, and the sky is clear with occasional cloudlets. Up at dawn as the sun rises through a notch in the rock. Ushas and Surya come to say Hi.
Some little thought for the day just to get myself started. Second night campground on the Colorado river just a few miles north and east from Moab. At a bend in the river, surrounded by Red cliffs breaking into light from sunlight breaking through. Meandered over here round late afternoon lookin’ for a site. Yesterday was east from Goosenecks to Bluff, then north to Blanding, where I found Lynne in the visitor’s center very helpful in directing me to the ins and outs of all roads north. Took the turnoff at Monticello west on a rising road to an overlook, then went down to Newspaper Rock, a densely composed array of petroglyphs. Then on up to Moab for a gas-up, and queries into a Dollar General, and a Gearhead store, and Watkin’s General Store for a reasonably priced old fashioned coffee pot , and the only one I can think about is $32.99 and I don’t need that morning cup of coffee that much. Campsite eleven at the Hal Canyon grounds. Waves churning in the night under the becoming full moon. Big enough rocks just far enough below to create a white-capped disturbance in the water rushing by. Just a few yards long in the middle of the channel, and only for a short distance. Each disturbance is a punctuated note or group of notes, droplets of water on the clefs of a musical score. Churning Water, tumbling across the invisible rocks in an endless musical score of spontaneous composition.

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20 Sep 2009 @ 16:45 by susannahbe : Nice. . .
to read your writing again . . .I look forward to more. :-)  

26 Sep 2009 @ 19:47 by koravya : Thanks
Susannahbe, for your thoughtful comment,
and encouragement to come up with something more.  

26 Sep 2009 @ 19:48 by koravya : Rest of the Story
Tuesday morning picture taking session in the Castle Valley river campground. Red cliffs of one form or another in each of the four directions. Drive into town to get a bag of ice, and throw out used cans and bottles. Drive into the Arches national monument for a drive around the length of the sightseeing road and on over to the hikes to the viewpoints, one from farther away, one closer. I’m climbing the rocks to get to a photographic vantage point. Good day for climbing across rocks and climbing rock cut steps under a warm sun. Get a little baked into the land. Fed the roadrunners and other critters at the Skyview overlook; walked out a little ways and dumped Juan’s grapes and some others I had been carrying. All of those need to be fed to the wild. Roadrunner tracks running through the sand.
Pick up a couple of focalizing detailed maps of southern Utah for a reference along the road. On through Moab to Monticello. Going with cheese and corn chips on the side street near the visitor’s center. On down to Blanding, where I stop into the town grocery store for some celery hearts, one green pepper, one cucumber, and a canned cool Starbbucks coffee, and a half gallon carton of orange juice. Drive on over to Natural Bridges, and talked with the young man behind the counter about campsites here and down the road. I make the rounds with the three natural bridges, photographing two from their overlooks and walking down to the third. I’m lookin’ down the road towards Cataract Canyon at the village of Hite. Absolutely marvelous walls of red rock all around. Quiet Lake and Red Rock and Sky.
First night at Goosenecks was a late arrival in early evening; second night at Castle Creek was not so late, and last night, Hite, was the latest of all, just getting my roof up as last twilight faded into darkness. Fine red pebbly gravel tightly packed in clay, took the stakes very well. Windless near the rocks and the lake. The moon brightens into nearly full.
Pulling into campsite number three at Khodachrome state park at mile 915. That is two hundred and nine for the day from departure at Cataract canyon, on up to Hanksville when I can gas up at the intersection. Then on out over to Torrey, with a brief visit to the visitors center for Glen Canyon. If it’s not this scenic route, it’s another, and I am intent on making my destination with time to spare.
Khodachrome feels a lot like Palo Duro, and I will try one of the hikes in the morning. For now, the campsite is chosen and the evening is young. I needed to get here early enough to get a good spot, or even get one at all. Tourism is thriving in these National Parks and it’s first come first served and the Labor Day weekend approaches. I’ve just done nine-hundred-fifteen miles in four days. I’m living with my tent and my car. This is the fourth night coming along here, and I basically want to focus on serenity. Six hours on the highway, including stops along the way.
First night at Goosenecks near Mexican Hat. Sunrise through the notch in the cliff. Then the road to Moab and the evening surrounded by the red cliffs along the San Juan river valley, water churning, rippling in the night. Then the lovely Arches National Park, and a climbing excursion to a vantage point for viewing Delicate Arch, from across the chasm. From Arches the road is south and a little west to Natural Bridges, for a few photos and a little walk down near one of them. Then a late afternoon drive north on the chance that I will find some kind of reasonable spot to camp at Hite Marina at the north end of Glen Canyon. Not much greenery around. Red rocks below and red rocks around, and the silver of a lake at the base of the Red rock mountain. Get the tent up as night is falling from last twilight into darkness. The scene all around passes through phases of relative sunlight during morningtime. Then it’s time to break camp and head on down the road again, this time up towards Hanksville, and then over and down again to Khodachrome.
Find a great site, and after setting up, take an evening stroll along the asphalt to some closer views of the canyon walls as they fade into the dimming light of evening settling in. Morning walk on a nearby trail which winds between large red rock formations to summits and canyons within canyons, and formations making themselves up as they go along.
The drive to Bryce is thirty miles, and there is a long series of dramatically composed overlooks. More than a camera can capture, but we try, we photography nuts, to select out some little bits and pieces that we think might be visually somewhat interesting or beautiful. All according to the undercurrents of perception pressing the shutter. Getting to know the wide array of Bryce overlooks was pretty much what the day is about. Some are far more interesting that others, and it is rather easy to just want to stand and drink it all in, the colorful shape-shifting-ness of it all. This has been here like this for thousands of years or longer, in a state of perpetual motion, while for our eyes in this moment, rock solid. So many objects on the threshold of tumbling, and within our lifetimes, perhaps one of them will.
And the orange itself is so much more vivid than any of the other oranges around in canyons I have seen. Did some nice little climbs and took some good breathes at Bryce, and returned to camp at Khodachrome at evening a bit before sunset. I’ve had a lot of exercising today so pretty much stay in camp, and go over for a shower as night is falling. The night is calm, the moon is full, and I am sleeping on my mats on the ground.
Break camp in the morning and pack it all up into the car and drive over to the Shakespeare’s Arch trailhead on one of the outer edges of the park. The path is winding and entertaining in its formations and meandering curves. Reminds me very much of the trails I took through Palo Duro. Get my pictures along the way as well as of the Arch itself and its environs. Then return to the car and head for the road to Kanab and from there the southern route through the view of the Vermillion cliffs, all the way to Marble Canyon on the Colorado River, where the downriver rafters put in to begin their journeys into the Grand Canyon. Nice little campground on a bluff overlooking it all. I’m here early. Only three other campers out here so far. Only a few small trees scattered about, and shade’s rare. I find a spot near a little tree with just enough shade for my tent to sit in. Great viewpoint of the river flowing next to the far cliff. Plenty of time to enjoy the late afternoon and take a few pics.
Powerful winds come along as night is falling, along with ominous dark clouds, and the winds push my tent from one direction into the other, but the stakes are well anchored. The winds die down for a while, and then pick up again later, and rains come. A long gray night and the morning sky is mostly overcast, with a few occasional breaks.
The campground is starting to fill up, one site at a time, starting last night, and continues this morning. I’ve got a long drive today, and I’d like to get home before nightfall, so its time to pack it all up one last time, and get ready for the drive return home.
From Los Jardines through a fifteen hundred ninety mile loop through the canyonlands of southern Utah. Six nights camping through the nights of last waxing and first waning of Luna’s fullness. Down a road I’ve never been on before, sleeping in places I’ve never seen before, rising with Ushas in earliest morn opening the world to light again, o’er ne’er before seen horizons. Cascades of changing light. Cataracts of falling light. From out of the earliest glimmer of Surya. Shutter finger clicks six hundred eleven points in time along the way. Digital images to page through during some times far down the longer road that begins at the end of the loop from the garden.

26 Sep 2009 @ 22:02 by susannahbe : Thanks. . .
. . . for letting us share your journeys. :-)

I really can't imagine driving so far - your vast country highlights the smallness of our 'tiny' island of England.

Your words create beautiful images of your journeys - but I wondered if you have any plans to upload some of the photos that you took?

Thanks again for sharing your trip.  

29 Sep 2009 @ 03:52 by koravya : Uploading
I'm currently sorting through and resizing my photo set.
I know that there are any number of sites that one can sign up for or become a member of for some small fee that are designed for just that sort of thing.
I have an account with Yahoo Flickr at
and I've got a few older things on that,
but I want to look for another avenue for posting photos.
I'll let you know when I find that place.
Very best wishes,

29 Sep 2009 @ 09:23 by susannahbe : Thanks. . .
for the link to your Flickr photo's - I will enjoy looking at those. :-)

Have you checked out photobucket? I think that there is an option on there to keep your albums private too, if you wanted to use that.

Hope all is well with you.  

29 Sep 2009 @ 09:36 by susannahbe : I really . . .
enjoyed the photos and think Montana looks an amazing place!
Thanks for letting me visit there. :-)  

30 Sep 2009 @ 07:52 by vaxen : Great!
Thanks so much, John, for the stories and the link to your pics. Reaffirms my faith in life and it's processes.  

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