We left on Turkey Day around about noon. Our destination? The desert. We drove west on I-70 to Utah, and found our campsite off the I-70 at the overlook to Eagle Canyon. In the immediate area there are a number of overlooks that allow access to the San Rafael Swell desert wilderness. We woke up to a desert sunrise. Kevin took pictures while I slept in. We ate breakfast and then explored the Eagle Canyon overlook, walking along the top of a mesa that narrowed to a point. The cliff face dropped to the valley below. We had great views of this arid land: steep canyons, buttes and mesas. The only sign of wildlife seemed to be the large midnight black ravens.
After our explore we headed east and then took Highway 191 south to Moab. We ended up at the Islands in the Sky district of Canyon lands. Kevin wanted to take a photograph of the false kiva, a site only found there. Ask for directions at the Visitors Center. This site is a class 2 site which means that there are no signposts to this site. Directions are only supplied to people who ask for this site by name at the Visitors Center.
We drove immediately to the site, and started our hike. If you intend to attempt this please wear proper hiking shoes. The path is faint, so make sure you take note of your surroundings. It is not recommended to hike this trail at night, or in low light. The talus is very slippery and the trail meanders close to cliffs and precipices. I enjoyed the hike through this interesting terrain. I was a little hesitant to proceed further over the talus slope just under the site. Instead I sent Kevin on, and I found a nice rock to sit on and listen to the silence.
The false kiva site is located in a bowl surrounded by enormous sandstone cliffs. The acoustics are quite amazing. I could hear the crunch of Kevin’s footsteps, and the sound that the raven made when it beat its wings overhead. I looked out over to the west – Mesas and towers floated like islands in the sky.
We rushed back to our car so that Kevin could get his gear and then I left him there. He wanted to take a photograph from the site looking out at a sunset and a (hopefully) dramatic sky.
I picked Kevin up at a prearranged spot. He found it extremely difficult to navigate the return route. I am convinced he only managed to make it back safely with a combination of blind luck and a squadron of guardian angels. Miraculous.
That night we camped at the Willow Flat campground, and set our alarm clock for before sunrise.
We drove south to the Grand View Overlook to catch the sunrise and the light streaming in over canyon lands. I took a short video of Kevin photographing the changing light before my camera’s batteries died in the cold.
Once the sun had climbed and the light was no longer interesting we headed for Moab. Kevin wanted to check out Tom Till’s gallery there. Tom Till takes the most beautiful scenic photographs. I think he is one of the superior landscape/ scenic photographers around. I bought one of his coffee table books as a Christmas present once. I have regretted the generosity; I would have prefered to keep the gift for myself.
After a great browse in the gallery, I bought a 2006 Tom Till Calendar, and then we regretfully packed up and headed east for home. We had been keeping an eye on the weather; a snow storm had been predicted to move through Utah and Colorado. We especially did not want to be caught in the desert with bad weather. The weather contrived to work against us. At Grand Junction a highway sign flashed that Vail pass was closed due to severe weather. We immediately headed south to Montrose and then to Gunnison. We hoped by travelling south that we would avoid the bad weather altogether. Between Montrose and Gunnison we experienced exceptionally icy driving conditions, and foolhardy drivers ended up overturned or worse. We literally crawled into Gunnison; tired but relieved to be in one piece. It amazes me how stupid people are and how they insist on driving fast in treacherous conditions. All I can say is "Get out of my gene pool people!"
We decided we needed a motel room. We found a really cheap and comfortable room at Days Inn just as you enter Gunnison. As always we asked the locals for the best hamburger place in town. We were immediately directed to Mario’s, an Italian eatery specializing in everything.
The burgers were good, the french fries superb.
The next morning we left Gunnison in clear skies. We then decided to swing by the Sand Dunes to check that out. Unfortunately the sun chose not the break through the clouds. The light was just not special enough to spend too long there. We checked out the new visitors center which was not there the last time we passed through about 2 years ago.
We arrived home on sunday night at a reasonable hour feeling understandably quite pleased with our adventures.