Monday, December 8, 2014

Tennessee rocks

Interesting cuts noted from the freeway in central Tennessee.

Last post for this blog, thanks for reading!


Overnight stay with the Dunns to admire once again grandson Sean's Lego® Ring Transporter, enjoy his new favorite game (Kerbal Space Program, very cool -- build a spaceship and launch it!), catch up on family matters.

The four legged animals also welcomed me cheerfully -- including the Best Wedding Present Ever, also known as Poptart.

Coco and Graysia


Recovering in Round Hill, Virginia, from three hours' dancing with the truckers again, up the Shenandoah Valley on Interstate 81. Still trying not to think about the tanker truck with the "Liquified Chicken" label.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Could Tennessee what Arkansas? Sure hope not.

Final stretch of driving began today, running off nine hours of dancing with 18 wheelers through the construction on Interstates 35 and 40. In easier traffic, I would have enjoyed paying more attention to the layered construction processes visible over the jersey barriers, but ....

Terrie and Joe, my hosts in Dallas generously sat with their dogs last night to suppress a second a capella performance for the house guest. The dogs really are entertaining -- one marks the beat, one sings tenor, and the other two contribute more or less on-key.

Tonight, though, I will have to settle for the road noise from outside of a Motel 6 in Jackson, Tennessee, the home of railroad legend Casey Jones. Who knew?

Casey Jones Museum

Sunday night, I will be back in Virginia; Monday, heading north-northeast and dancing with more 18-wheelers.

Friday, December 5, 2014


My hosts Terrie and Joe. Their four dogs were dismissed from the room on charges of overly rowdy behavior.

Next stop -- Jackson, Tennessee, halfway between Dallas and Pilot, on Saturday evening.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More Arizona and New Mexico rocks

Since I have a usable WiFi connection tonight -- here's some more photos. Enjoy!

Hasta que nos veamos de nuevo, SeƱor Saguaro
Mogollon Rim looking up Mogollon Rim plateau Mogollon Rim looking down
White sandstone? Wind blown dunes of White Sand! Many of us have this kind of morning

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Albuquerque,  New Mexico.  Forty three years ago, I flew in to this town for the ROTC induction records review and medical exam... A lot has changed since then.

Two sharp memories remain: going to a downtown   movie theater alone to see "Tora, Tora, Tora!",  and the interviewer asking if I knew that one of my references had written that I was not suitable for military service.  Vielen  Dank,  Herr Doktor  Flotow.

Hotel Wi-Fi is on its knees,  hope to have better luck uploading photos tomorrow.


Too short a visit in Coolidge, barely enough time to admire the work Hal and Jean have done on their kitchen and bathrooms -- not to mention the current jigsaw puzzle. Next stop, Albuquerque, on the way to Dallas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Earthshaking update

Quake near Flagstaff, Arizona, sent me out of bed and into my shoes, just in case we had to leave the building. Quiet for now, though ... nothing on the news, but on Twitter within half an hour. No damage, underwear or otherwise. Going back to sleep.

"Not all those who wander are lost."

-- J.R.R. Tolkien

Stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona, this evening, several hours short of my planned destination -- why? Short response: I missed at least one turn and found myself following GPS navigator instructions along dirt roads winding through the oil rigs in Apache County.

Tomorrow, Coolidge.

Early morning photo taken from the B&B porch in Grand Junction before one last excellent breakfast prepared by co-proprietors Lee and Young-Ja Garrett.

Traveling west on I-70, I watched the titanic sandstone cliffs and snow-crested hills of the Grand Valley fade gently into -- the titanic sandstone cliffs and snow-crested mountains of Moab County in Utah.

This may be the La Sal Mountain Range.
 More wind- and water-carved sandstone
 Clearly different mineral colors -- though the hues in the photo do not match what I recall.

The shapes in the stone are also very different from Grand Valley, flowing and rounded almost like Gaudi's architecture -- or perhaps the other way around?

The impression that each of these outcrops gives is of a triumphant masterwork done in stone. Looks like the Artist spent a few millenia filling in all the details.

Another discovery unique to the Moab region prompted me to pull quickly off to the side of the road -- a fifty-plus foot high dune of red sand, its fate enthusiastically accelerated by a dozen or so gleeful young vacationers under the watchful eyes of their parents -- at least, of the parents who were not up on the dune themselves! 

Continuing south on US 191 after lunch at a small outpost of John Lennon's Revolution -- the Peace Tree Juice Cafe in Monticello -- I noticed a few businesses named "Four Corners", and decided on a short detour in the direction of that rectangular meeting of state jurisdictions overlaid on top of two Native American Nations. It seemed like an easy choice, and worth doing just to see the place again after half a century ....

Since the monument did not come up on the GPS list, I followed the road signs -- and felt certain that I had missed one when the road abruptly changed from pavement to dirt. Oops.

Ignoring the wisdom about retreating from a good hike that Laurie and I had shown on Saturday, I chose to continue southward using GPS directions to head towards Coolidge. Faithfully following those robotic orders and winding around oil derricks on one-lane dirt tracks cut in the desert sand (but ignoring turn directions onto tracks that had not been refreshed recently), I eventually found a paved road leading out of the oil field to US 160 -- with a sign pointing to Four Corners. Serendipity works!

Which left only the small concern of crossing half of the State of Arizona (see map) to get back on course toward Coolidge, with the sun setting in the West. Again, serendipity gave benediction to my wanderings, even though the General Prudential Rule (aka "Don't be stupid!") led me to take shelter in a Flagstaff motel for the evening after the most difficult driving I have done so far this trip.  The unexpected rewards were many more astonishing vistas, two of which I was able to photograph.

Strange as they appear, they are not "fx" -- only corrected for contrast.

 Though these mesas looked like mine tailings at first, the stone layers are more like the uplifted and eroded seabed that dominates the area -- so why the bright hue?  Beautiful and eerie in any case.

This Orthanc-like spire sent me into the second fast exit from traffic flow for the day. The center  appeared to be over thirty feet high -- possibly more, difficult to judge for lack of perspective.

All of the slabs were turned to near vertical positions.  What happened to disturb the ancient sea bed so dramatically?
 Even more strange -- the stone tower near the road had kin further in the distance, including one white giant barely visible in the photograph reminiscent in shape and color to the Matterhorn. I do not recall anything like these structures from my high school earth sciences class.

Experienced Arizona drivers will see in the photograph below not only an example of the magnificent sunsets still seen here on the high desert, but also highway driving conditions that made the two hundred-plus mile drive to Flagstaff both hard on the eyes and somewhat hazardous.

Beauty is like that sometimes -- and often pays small attention to the best-laid of plans.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"It is better to retreat off a good climb than to succeed on an indifferent one."

-- Chris Jones, Climbing in North America

Our final hike for this visit aimed for Hanging Lake succeeded in completing a mile of ice-covered trail, enjoying the titanic sandstone/shale rock towers, and having fun behaving like the kids who innocently did everything they could to strike fear in their parents' hearts while rock scrambling. The sun was falling faster than we were climbing, though, so we reversed our course and slid back down on our Thanksgiving dinners, promising to return some day.

Off to Coolidge, Arizona, on Sunday, expecting to arrive late. I plan to post again on Monday, December 1.


Photos from a predawn foray to watch the sandstone towers greet the sunrise.

This is the second morning this year that I have woken well before dawn to hike up a pile of rock as the eastern horizon brightened, racing with the sun to reach the top ... easier this time, fortunately, if less enjoyable.

Still, madness. Not sure why I do this, other than knowing that it is the right thing for me to do.

Photos from the climb towards Hanging Lake

Sorry, no photos of our downhill slide. It was fun, mostly!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Free Friday

Remarkable if not surprising -- very few shoppers in downtown Grand Junction on Black Friday. Perhaps they drove over the mountain to the malls in Denver? Very good lunch at the Bin 707 Foodbar, great treats at Enstrom's, fun at the Museum of the West.

One of the rituals of home ownership needed Laurie's attention in the afternoon, and I volunteered to join in the fun: time to rake the leaves to the curb!

The time remaining before sunset put plans for a final big hike at Glenwood Springs out of reach until tomorrow, so we invited Negrita on a local stroll. Our path followed the perimeter of the new golf course laid in as part of a sprawling development; land, Laurie said, that was entirely open when she arrived.

Still the same question after fifty years -- where do they think the water is going to come from to keep all the residential services, the agriculture industry, and these golf courses going?  The Colorado River is sold, and the drought is getting worse, as discussed in this National Research Council report.

For now, the land is still a natural wonder bounded by towering sandstone cliffs and towers. With luck, it may still be that way for my grandchildren.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Culinary Recommendation

With thanks to my sister.

Giving thanks, walking in Tabeguache

Laurie and I had an excellent breakfast at the Los Altos B&B, followed by a neighborhood walk with Negrita to settle our digestion. Then, on to the 11:00 a.m. buffet at the Wine Country Inn.  I took a second turn around the neighborhood and Laurie raked leaves; still having some time before dinner, we took Negrita out to Tabeguache Park for another ramble.

Laurie's question: "Do you normally go walking three times a day?" Only when I eat enough food for a week.

Here's some photos from the "Hop Skip and Jump" trail at Tabeguache.

Big Water vs. Big Boulder. Guess who wins.

Laurie helped Negrita search the arroyo for good grass.

McInnis Canyon

Laurie and I squeezed in a valley hike between moving in to the B&B and nightfall. Here are some photos!