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    • I wandered around the area under the bridge exploring and appreciating the beauty, trying to imagine what it would have been like years ago.

      The sound of the water trickling over a shelf made me wonder if that shelf had been eroding over the years, too, and if the pock marks in the ground were signs of similar trickles years ago.

      If you look closely, you can see the little droplets falling from the shelf

      And the random pock marks in the ground

      I made my way back to the car as the temperature began to dive. Five minutes later, I was driving through a snow storm! I decided to make the drive to Blanding (the closest town—35 miles away) and check out the museum there.

    • Blanding is a sleepy little town with a wonderful state museum, The Edge of the Cedars. The museum is far from the major highway on the edge of town, so you have to make an effort to find it, but oh, is it worth it! They have a beautiful collection of artifacts, and the presentation is done so well! It was a pleasure to roam the rooms and the grounds (there are archaeological excavations on site). I did not dare try to take pictures inside the galleries, but caught this threesome outside between snow squalls.

    • I headed back to Natural Bridges to set up camp (aka park my vehicle - lol). As I got close to the park, the snow moved out and dusk began to fall. I took one more lap around the loop and took pictures of some of the sights near the bridges that caught my eye...

      A Prickly Pear starting to bud

      Below is the type of plant my mother-in-law used to go searching for at Christmas time. When she was growing up, her family did not get a Christmas tree, they went out and got an “oose.” (I don’t know what the common name is for this plant—@Denise do you know?) She would bring home a big oose (rhymes with “moose”) and stick Christmas ball ornaments on the end of some of the leaf/spines. Fond memories.

      And, finally... this beautiful silver tree

    • The evening passed uneventfully (no knocks on my window-heh), and I got up the next morning ready to do some more exploring.

      Yesterday, I had seen a guy riding his Africa Twin (Honda adv bike) through the park. We talked for a few minutes when we both happened to stop at the same overlook. He said he was from British Columbia, and had driven his RV (and hauled his bike) to Moab to meet up with some other Canadians who were planning to ride the White Rim Trail. He pointed to his bike which was caked with red sand and said, “I love this bike, but it is too friggen big for that trail! I nearly died trying to get that thing around that damn trail!. I will never believe people again when they say, ‘You’ve got to do this or that trail.’ It was fuckin miserable. They had just groomed it the day before, and I have *never* ridden in such miserable, sandy conditions before in my life. It was shit.”

      We laughed together about it and then he said, “They wanted me to stay a few days, but I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. That place is just crawling with people! Ugh! So I hooked up the trailer and came down here to Goosenecks where there’s hardly anyone around. I love it. I’m going to make it my home base for a week or so before I move on. It’s awesome.” We talked bikes for a bit more and then went our separate ways.

      After hearing his description of Goosenecks, I decided to go check it out. It’s only about an hour’s drive from Natural Bridges. The highlight of that ride is Moki Dugway-three miles of dirt road that drops 1200 feet in a series of dramatic curves and switchbacks. From the road, you can see all the way across the Valley of the Gods (if you dare take your eyes off the road!). It is indeed far more spectacular than photos reveal, since there are very few places to stop along the way. This is the only time I ever remember seeing drivers and passengers alike in every car I passed or followed wave at me with huge smiles on their faces. It was like we were all having our own little Moki Dugway Club celebration or something. It is a route that seems to literally make people happy.

      Once you get all the way down the 1200 feet, there’s nothing but flat...

    • I got to Goosenecks around 10:00a...

      ...and was not quite prepared for how flat and plain it is! The lady at the kiosk checked my pass and then said with a little smile, “go straight ahead.” Hahaha. Yeah. Straight ahead to the edge of the cliff. The campground is what you see in this picture. No trees, no shelters, no fences. Wow. OK, then...!

      Apparently, this is a world famous river “meander.” The San Juan River down there flows along the path of least resistance, meandering back and forth like the second picture in this diagram.

    • Eventually, the river may cut through and create natural bridges here, just as a river did at Natural Bridges NM (and in the third picture in the diagram).

      I waited around hoping the sun would rise in the sky high enough to illuminate the river better, but I began to realize that probably would not happen until summertime.

      I looked around for other interesting vistas.

      I still had six more hours of driving to get home, so I decided to get on the road. There was more weather ahead, so best to stop dilly dallying...

    • I drove through more snow and rain. Finally the weather cleared a few miles before I got to Moab. I stopped for gas and did a few laps around the station to get the blood flowing, then hopped back into the car and drove through town. However, by the time I got to the river, I couldn’t pass up the chance to unload the e-bike and take it for a spin—Moab has some awesome paved trails just off the main road. I rode along the river for a few miles...

      ...and then up to the entrance at Arches...

      ...and back to the sign, where I took family pictures for several tourists before the place was cleared out enough to get this one...

      I headed back to the parking lot, loaded the bike back into the carrier, and started the drive home.

      833 weekend (s)miles.

    • If you have read through this whole thread and have any questions or comments, just add this reaction to this post and I’ll invite you to this panel so we can “talk.” THANKS!

    • Oh, I wish I knew... desert / high plains plants unfortunately aren't in my brain! I volunteer in a garden so I can ask about plants native to the northeastern US, but I don't know that one. Hopefully someone else can supply a name!

    • It's been a long time since I visited that corner of Utah - your photos make me realize I need to schedule a trip!

    • If you don't want your SmugMug URL or photo info to show for a gallery, set "Hide Owner" to ON. That setting is in Gallery Settings on the SECURITY & SHARING tab.

      Here's an example of a photo shared from a gallery with "Hide Owner" on using a photo link:

      If you click on the photo you will be taken to a larger image of the photo but without any identifying information.

    • I see the problem—apparently those settings are only available when I access my account using a computer. I do most everything from my iPhone. I’ll have to fire up the old dinosaur and see if I can tweak the settings there. Thanks @Denise!

      Update: Looks like I will have to go through the whole thread and replace each image with the new anonymous versions from my computer. Sigh.

    • What an awesome trip down memory lane. Thank you for writing that up. 👏

      My parents sent me to summer camp in Southern Utah in canyon country near Capitol Reef and I instantly fell head over heels for the place. I spent 9 full summers there kayaking, backpacking, climbing, riding horses and meeting my future wife.

      We get to go back to visit my wife's family each year, and I always love every minute.

      I've done some crazy things there like photographing my niece in her wedding dress in the Virgin River in Zion's.

    • Even though I grew up in SoCal, two of my kids were born in Kanab. (The other two were born in Napa and Pleasant Hill). I spent a decade in Cedar City before moving to the Bay Area and then finally settling in Salt Lake. (I guess I shouldn’t say I’ve settled for good yet. Ha.)

      I was surprised at how familiar southeastern Utah felt even though I have never been to these places before. I was surprised at how much the landscape influenced my weekend psyche. It was like a breath of fresh air, feeling that familiarity instead of the usual tourist response of amazement. (The guy on the Africa Twin was feeling that awe even though he was still pissed about the WRT.)

      Capitol Reef is one of the still-sane national parks here. Zion, Bryce, and Arches are the tourist magnets - CR just keeps humming along being accessible and charming. (The pies they sell there made from fruit grown in the orchards in the park are just one of those cool down-home touches you don’t get in the other parks.)

      (BTW, I tagged you into this panel because I had some questions about smugmug links, but then Denise gave me some pointers. I couldn’t figure out how to disinvite you once the invitation was sent. All of the sudden, sending that invite it felt kind of presumptuous. Glad you enjoyed the trip report, though!)