UTAH’S UNIQUE CANYON IS THE PERFECT SPOT FOR A #NATUREMOMENT
Fantasy Canyon is a postage-stamp sized area located about an hour south of Vernal, Utah. It makes up for its small size by presenting one of the most unusual erosional landscapes in North America.
The area was first discovered in 1909 by paleontologist Earl Douglass. The rocks of Fantasy Canyon are quartzose sandstones and date from around 38 to 50 million years ago. During this geologic period, the area was occupied by a large lake called Lake Uinta. Fantasy Canyon is along the east shore of the ancient lake. Because of different rates of weathering, the more durable sandstone remained while the more easily weathered siltstone and shale washed away, yielding this spectacular intricate and delicate formations.
Today’s geologic formations of Fantasy Canyon will eventually topple from weather and erode into sand, but new formations will appear as the surrounding soil washes away.
The main erosional direction is horizontal; much of the area resembles piles of irregularly stacked planks, or bones, but the rock also erodes along vertical joints to form very thin pinnacles. This combination has created innumerable amazing forms including many narrow structures extending both upwards and outwards from the bedrock. The best times to visit the area are morning and evening from spring through fall.
Okay but like…AU where Keith is a writer on the side. Sci-fi books are his JAM and he has a ton of old classics in his shack…they were actually what inspired him to pursue a career as an astronaut.
After Keith joins the Garrison, he doesn’t have a lot of time to read or write anymore. Then Shiro disappears on the Kerberos mission, and Keith gets kicked out of the Garrison–and suddenly books are his only friends again. Keith takes up a bullshit job to support himself, and he spends his off-hours reading. He escapes his grief through stories for a while–but Shiro is starting to leak into his fantasy worlds. He appears in the faces of the protagonists. His spirit is echoed in the characters’ determination; their valor; their loyalty.
On his way home from work Keith passes the Garrison, and a long stretch of canyon. This one punk keeps coming out to the valley at night and tagging the rocks; one night Keith decides he’s seen one-too-many spray-painted blue lions and he kind of snaps. He rides home, rips open a notebook, and writes until his hand cramps up.
Keith makes up a story about the shadow he sees on the roof of the Garrison late at night; a freshman, he decides, and a conspiracist. The graffiti lions on the canyon walls are actually runes, leading the way to an ancient underground weapon. His red bike becomes a robot lion. There are aliens in this world: Keith writes himself a reality wherein Shiro finds his way home in an alien escape pod.
In this story, Keith can fight back. In this story, Keith isn’t alone. In this story, Shiro isn’t dead. It’s silly, and Keith would never show his notebook to anyone, but the fantasy makes life a little easier.
A year ago on this date I was sleeping above a California desert valley, watching a cotton candy-pink lenticular cloud settle in above me. Tonight I’m sleeping outside again, in the high desert of Washington this time. And again I find myself boxed in by towering rock walls of ochre and brown.
The thing I like best about the Western third of America is how old everything out here feels.The earth has good bones here and the sky is close enough to the the ground that someone like me, who grew up in the tight spaces of the East, can’t help but notice it. (That you have to travel east from Seattle to get someplace that feels West is one of those little oddities I’ve accepted over the years.)
The canyon where I sleep tonight is no different. It is ancient, a product of time beyond my mind’s ability to reckon. Here a red boulder the size of a house perched alone on a green hillock, there a waterfall coursing its way down the path it carved for itself over the eons. It is old and big and leaves me plenty of space and time to think, which is the kind of place I like best.
One of the things I find myself thinking about is how funny the human brain can be. From my campsite, some distance away down the canyon, the waterfall above Dorothy Pool is little but background noise–so much so that its white hiss fades to nothing as soon as I look away and start thinking of other things. That my brain can tune out the noise of a million years, and that the noise can return full volume the second I remember its existence and turn my head toward it once more, is something of a marvel.
Rake and I scrambled to the top of the waterfall after an early lunch at its base. It was a split-second decision done for no reason other than the joy of the thing. Remember doing things for the joy of them alone? Before every deed and every adventure was framed as fodder for Instagram (or, hell, even a blog post)? I worry that I’ll lose that, the doing for the joy of doing rather than the pride of having done. (Fittingly–like the noise of the falls–the second I became conscious of this thought, I couldn’t let it go, and I made some mental notes for the blog and took a few pictures. Selah.)
But I want to return to joy for a second. Those pure, undiluted moments of joy are for me collected mostly through my reflections on childhood and all the grand things we did inside our small world long before any of us had the means to show or tell the world about the,. Wiffleball games played and trees climbed and creeks explored. It makes me sad for the 4th and 5th grade kids I interact with at work every week–that this has been taken away from them by what has been given to them. That they all seem to be social media experts already is troubling–how can you look back on being a kid with the rosy, sad sweetness we all deserve if you have pictures of every moment of it? It you replace the murky textures of memory with still, captured attempts to pause a life in motion?
I’m not anti-technology and I spend a fair bit (too much) of my own time using it. It’s just that today I wandered through the scrub desert with a bosom friend and watched four horses charge up the wall of a canyon while a haze of clouds settles across the sun. Things like that make me a kind of happy that is deeper and more complicated than the feelings I usually ascribe to that word. I am happy, truly, although today does feel like a carbon copy of the canyon day I spent with Ali just before I left last year. This is leaving weather, and I am happy and aching and lonely and content in a way that only leaving weather in a leaving place can make me.
Warnings: Mostly fluff. (There’s mention of kissing and sex but I don’t think that qualifies as NSFW?)
Summary: A little fic inspired by the song “Juntos a la par” that you can listen to here(original) or here (cover, and you might have to forward a little for the song ‘casue it’s a clip from a tv show). I tried to translate the lyrics as best as I could.
Le he pedido tanto a Dios, (I’ve asked so much from God que al final oyó mi voz, that in the end He heard my voice por la noche a más tardar, in the end of the night yendo juntos a la par. we go together side by side)
Jake’s eyes were fixated on the starry sky, his eyes drifting over the celestial bodies slowly while his legs dangled from the hammock aimlessly. His hand played with the dog-tags hanging from the silver chain around his neck absentmindedly, his eyes closing moments later as a sigh fell past his lips.
Tonight it was one of those nights he finally admitted to himself, one of those nights in which he couldn’t erase the feeling of solitude that surrounded him. The pilot had been able to hide the sensation from himself for such a long time, but there were times when it was impossible for him to escape it, to escape the memories that he shared with Mike, to escape the emptiness that he left inside of his heart when he was ripped from his life.
His fingers tightened around the metal pieces, holding them with such strength that it’d probably leave marks in his palms, but it helped him concentrate. Jake had lost count on how many times he wished to whatever was up there to erase some of the solitude, to give him someone that would help him cope with his past, someone that would help him forget what the feeling of being utterly alone felt like.
I found another one of your millipedes roaming around ‘our’ garden this morning. I’ve read that these ancient Arthropods first appeared in the late Silurian period - 440 million years ago! It feels like you keep placing these beautiful creatures in my path because you want me to share them with the world. So I’m sneaking a few into my WIP fern painting today. They are an absolute perfect addition. Once again, thank you nature, for your endless inspiration and guidance.
Your biggest fan & humble servant,
My first glance down into this mind-blowing ancient wilderness of rockwas amazing. It is sacred, powerful, inspiring and humbling. What more can be said about this wonder of the world… It’s impossible to convey in just one photo. It’s like a canvas of color and light that is always changing; and captivating from each perspective. These are just a handful of the 300 photos that I must have taken.
I spent the better part of 2 days in Grand Canyon National Park and had a really great, well-rounded experience…
Arrived in Grand Canyon Village at 7:00AM and found plenty of parking at the Visitor Center
Walked the Rim Trail from Mather Point to the Bright Angel Trailhead
Attended a 45 minute History Talk with a Ranger
Took the Hermit’s Rest Road shuttle bus to “The Abyss” view point; hiked the Rim Trail back to Powell Point; took the shuttle back and transferred all the way to the Visitor Center.
Checked in at Mather Campground and made some dinner.
Bought some supplies at Market Plaza General Store.
Drove the motorscooter back to the Hermit’s Rest shuttle stop and road the shuttle to watch the sunset at Mohave Point.
Took the shuttle back to the scooter; drove back to camp and called it a night.
Woke up and got a shower for $2.00 at camper services building.
Got a hot chocolate and breakfast and Market Plaza General Store.
Drove back to the Visitor Center and walked the Rim Trail east for some more views.
Drove Desert View Drive toward Yaki Point; parked and walked to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Hiked down the South Kaibab Trail to Ooh-Aah Point.
Returned to the van; drove east toward Grandview Point.
Drove east and stopped at Desert View to see the tower and eat some lunch.
In an area as vast and diverse as the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah, it’s hard to know where to start in exploring. Here are some ideas for capturing a sampling of what the new National Monument offers.
On the Northern end, take state route 211 into spectacular Indian Creek Canyon. Stop at Newspaper Rock, a large and spectacular petroglyph panel with carvings dating back to 2,000 years. Further along, the canyon opens up into a wide valley rimmed by Navajo Sandstone. The iconic “Sixshooter” spires soon become visible. Look for rock climbers scaling the narrow cracks in the vertical Navajo Sandstone.
Further south, Take Highway 261 and 95 onto Cedar Mesa. The twin Bears Ears rise just north of the mesa. This is one of the most significant archaeological regions anywhere, with ancient pueblos tucked into endless canyons. Visiting many of the pueblos require planning ahead as they include hikes and some also require visitor permits. However, a view of the spectacular Butler Wash Ruin is a one hour round trip hike from a developed trailhead while the Mule Canyon Ruin is located along the highway.
Driving south along the rolling pinion uplands of Cedar Mesa does not prepare one for the descent of Highway 261 via the “Moki Dugway”. The route drops precipitously with views of Monument Valley in the distance. Similar landforms to Monument Valley’s famous formations are found along a 17 mile unpaved loop drive beginning at the base of the Dugway which traverses the Valley of the Gods.
A final stop along the southern border of the monument is also a must see. The viewpoint at Goosenecks State Park takes in a spectacular sequence of tight and colorful meanders of the San Jun River carved into the sandstone cliffs.
Many parts of the new national monument are remote and there are no services. Make sure to stock up with supplies in Monticello, Blanding or Bluff which all offer a full array of services as well as accommodations.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico protects the remains of massive stone buildings – containing multiple levels and hundreds of rooms – built by ancestral Pueblo peoples. Chaco Canyon was home to thousands between 850 and 1250 A.D, and these archaeological ruins testify to organizational and engineering abilities not seen anywhere else in the American Southwest. Photographer James Kaiser wandered around Pueblo Bonito for hours, taking photos and marveling at its beauty: “I’ll never forget how uncrowded and timeless it felt in Chaco Canyon that morning,” Kaiser says. Photo courtesy of James Kaiser.