Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heating Up:

At I rode through the beautiful Southwest the past two weeks a common thread was weaving it's way through many conversations I had with local residents. Temperatures are much higher than "normal".  I know I certainly kept drinking a lot of water and kept a watchful eye for shade to stop in.

This morning I came across some very interesting statistics that bring the story together.

"A blistering March sets more the 7,700 U.S. daily-high temperature records.  More than 90 cities set monthly-high records.  Average temperatures are at least 10 degrees warmer than normal."

"The 12-month period from May 2011 to April 2012 is THE HOTTEST IN U.S. HISTORY".

"Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reach 391 parts per million, the HIGHEST IN 800,000 YEARS."

"As of May 8, our U.S. House of Representatives have passed 209 anti-environmental bills making the current Congress the most anti-environmental Congress in the history of our country."

I certainly would like to get our Representatives out on the road so they could experience just a small part of what I saw.  It is time.

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Closing the Circle - Freedom:

I closed the circle yesterday.  Left Bluff as the sun was beginning to break over the mesas.  The first hour of riding was in the cool evening air remaining in the canyons.  Day temperatures are hitting in the 100 degree mark throughout the area. Everyone telling me temperatures are changing.  Put the kickstand down at the Four Corners Monument as the sun began to heat the day.

It was still early not too many people around.  A good quiet moment to reflect on the ride.  Freedom.  Freedom of the road.  Freedom of open spaces.  Freedom of feeling the wind in my face.  Freedom of feeling the sun warming my back in the early morning. Freedom to close the circle.  Freedoms I will never take for granted.

I walked up to stand at the point where the states meet.  Raised my camera to look through the view finder...IN FREEDOM.
Looking through the camera I could not help thinking about how we define freedom today.  Do we consider the most basic, yet most important freedoms?  Freedom to breathe clean air.  Freedom to drink pure water.  Freedom to continue to live in our homelands.  Freedom to maintain our beliefs and ways of life.  Freedoms everyone deserve.  Freedoms not to be lost.

Into Santa Fe late in the day.  Kickstand down.  Rode through stunning landscape day after day.  Mother Earth has provided us with unparalleled beauty.  She is sharing important lessons...we only have to listen.  Ride in Beauty has given me the opportunity to share some of it with you. Thank you.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Monumental changes in Monument Valley:

Kickstand up early this morning to beat the heat.  Temperatures in the area are running around 100 degrees.  Too hot to be on the road in the late afternoon.  Everyone is telling me along the way...strange weather.  Left Marble Canyon around 6 A.M.  Out of the canyon, around the mesas, into Page.
Highway 89 passes directly by the Navajo Generating Station at Page.  The coal comes by rail from Black Mesa.  Morning air was thick with the brown yellow haze. Back to reality.

It has been several years since I have been in Monument Valley.  I was in for a bit of a surprise.
New hotel, new visitors center, new gift shop, new place to eat, new views... poured a lot of concrete.
The gift shop appeared to be doing a brisk Sunday morning business.  Special of the day...Monument Valley travel mugs buy one...get one free.
The road into the valley is still unpaved.  Wonder if that may change?  There was quite a bit of haze in the air.  I was told it is coming from the Four Corners power plants.
The rock which is almost an icon in many photographs of Monument Valley (including one Ansel made) has been left in place for people to gather around.

With Monument Valley in my rear view mirror I rode on to Bluff.
In the morning I will close the circle with a stop to stand in all four states of the Four Corners.  Leaving early to beat the heat.  The circle has been a Ride in Beauty.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Zion - Vermilion Cliffs - Marble Canyon:

People have occupied the landscape of what is now Zion National Park for thousands of years.  Zion's first residents tracked mammoths, camels, and other mammals through open desert and canyons.  Over one thousand years ago the Ancestral Puebloans made Zion their home.
Today I saw thousands of visitors weaving their way into the beautiful canyon.  Zion is Mother Earth's cathedral.
Due to heavy traffic and larger vehicles being driven today the mile long tunnel into the canyon which was once a two way road is now one way at a time.  Waited in line with over seventy-five vehicles to pass through the tunnel.  Noticed a haze in the air which may have been caused by car exhaust.
The gift shop at the visitors center was busy with shoppers.  Maybe they were looking for Father's Day Specials.
Leaving Zion I picked up Highway 89A into Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.  Another road less traveled.  It was good to be back on the open road.
In the 1930's a woman bought land along the highway and built a series of dwellings around existing boulders.  Her development became a popular travel stop called Cliff Dwellers City.
Kickstand down tonight at the Marble Canyon Lodge.  It was built in the 1920's in anticipation of the opening of the historic Navajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River.  Peaceful feeling parked under the cottonwood trees.  Good dinner in the original old lodge.  Need to leave early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in.  Monument Valley tomorrow.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 10 - Lessons from the Road:

Left Torrey, Utah this morning heading south on Highway 12.  Up over the mountains in the Dixie National Forest.  Down into Escalante National Monument and into Bryce National Park.  In Hatch, Utah tonight.  Pressing and leaning all day.  Beautiful riding.  Before the photos and details I need to digress.

Ten days on the road now.  The lessons of the road are coming to me clearly.  I want to share some of them with you tonight.
1. If a motel includes free wi-fi it does not always means it works.  Quite often you will be given the password followed by "oh...our internet hasn't been working for a few days now...but here is the password just in case if you want to try it."
2. In our National Parks you will always find the highest number of visitors in the area of the Park which provides concession food and a gift shop.
3. As a photographer when you see the perfect Kodachrome moment, remember Kodachrome is no long available so shoot it in black and white.
4. Do not believe in all the travel information available on the internet.  Some gas stations listed actually no longer exist...especially when you are nearly on empty.
5. Contrary to popular belief Google Maps are not better than the kind printed on paper you fold and carry in your pocket.
6. Lighten the load.  I need to spend a bit more time with this one. Just a minute...I need to figure out where to start.  Guess I have to start at the beginning.  That means when I was planning my trip.  Just how many pairs of socks do I really need?  How about all this equipment?  Do I really need to know exactly where I will be at all times?  This all started when Nancy met me in Mancos for a couple of days.  I was trying to shoot still images, shoot video, edit, post, oh...and by the fully engaged in the experience of the ride.  I won't go into the details, but will simply tell you this.  When Nancy waved good-by to me as we were leaving Moab she had nestled safely inside her Prius all of the video gear and more than just my extra socks.  It reminded us of the scene from the Electric Horseman where Redford slings Fonda's cameras, tripods, and extra equipment into the water.  Now we can start to get serious about the experience. Yesterday while stopped for gas a woman asked me how long and far was I traveling.  When I told her, she replied..."with only that small bag you are carrying?"  Yes, I said...seems like we always carry more than we need to make the journey.

Riding out to the Needles three days ago in Canyonlands I stopped to
visit Newspaper Rock.  The ancestors have left stories on the rock for over 2000 years.  Made me wonder how long our stories and photos made in this "digital age" will last.
Highway 12 has been one of the most beautiful rides I have ever made.  Here is a sample of what I felt today.
High mountain pass Dixie National Forest
Entering Escalante National Monument
Bryce National Park
Lighten the load, shoot it in black and white, remember to press and lean...because it is all about the ride.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A community to which we belong:

No internet connection last night.  A day behind.  As I rode today my thought was to write about the past two days since leaving Moab.  But that needs to wait.  We will catch up later.  I need to share today with you.

Beginning this morning the road carried me through Bridges National Park, Lake Powell, and into Capital Reef National Park.  A quote I remembered from long ago kept running through my mind as the landscape wrapped itself around me.  "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold.
Colorado River crossing  Glen Canyon
Glen Canyon
Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers - Beginning point of the Powell Expedition
Capital Reef
Capital Reef
Capital Reef
Navajo Dome - Capital Reef
Capital Reef
Tonight I am filled with a deep sense of community, community with the land, community with all living things.  A love and respect for the community to which we belong.

be strong, be safe, Carlan


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Arches National Park - Grandeur:

Water and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured landscape of Arches National Park.
Today only one word rang over and over to Nancy and me as we explored Arches...GrandeurGRANDEUR. 1. : the quality or state of being grand : magnificence.
It was a day where photographs can hardly express the scale and beauty present.
A day of walking through 250 million year old sand dunes.
A day of looking in every direction and striving to understand the wonder of it all.
A day of Grandeur.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hovenweep, Hole N" the Rock, and a Doggie Rest Area:

What could they all have in common?  Answer: you can experience them all in the Grand Circle of the Southwest in one day.
Left Mesa Verde and headed to Hovenweep National Monument in Utah. The canyon and mesa country north of the San Juan River hold the mysteries of Hovenweep.  Round, square, and D-shaped towers grouped at canyon heads were constructed from 1230 - 1275 AD in an area called Cajon Mesa.
Boulder House was built under an overhanging rock within the canyon.  It was hot and very dry.  The records show corn was grown on the mesa tops along with beans and cotton.  Hard to picture it based on the conditions today.  Quite a different "feeling" and experience from Meas Verde.  A much more lonely feeling, rather then the "community" feeling of Mesa Verde.

The landscape is barren and dry.  Stopped at the Hatch Trading Post on Highway 262 leaving Hovenweep.  I am sure the older woman running
the trading post has been there as long as the adobe bricks.  BIG sign in the store...NO PICTURES ALLOWED.  Ok...tried to strike up a friendly conversation.  No luck...enough said.  Quickly got back on the bike.

I keep looking in my rear view mirrors since Mancos and seeing a white Prius.  What a familiar sight.  Happy to say...Nancy met me in Mancos and we have spent the last two days together...or rather in the mirrors.  It was really good to see her.  She will head back to Santa Fe on Wendesday.  Ah...clean clothes...she was so very sweet to bring me some.

Outside of Moab this morning we saw our first "Hole in the Rock".  Stunning, beautiful landscape.
And then the second "Hole in the rock".  But this "Hole N" the Rock" was was not carved by nature.  Albert Christensen carved a 5,000
square foot home out of the rock by removing 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone over a 12 year period.  Amazing what people will do.  Today it is a monument to the "classic Americana" road trip.
In addition to the "Hole N" the Wall" home there are several very interesting bits of "art".  I thought this was just a jeep with very big tires until I took a second look.  The entire jeep is a sculpture made of scrap nuts, bolts, pipe, and old license plates.  Art at it's best!  Another work in progress is a 40 foot cactus being constructed from old bowling balls!  
And last...but not the doggie rest area with "his and hers".

In Moab tonight.  Out to Arches National Monument tomorrow. A big Thank You to everyone for your emails on the blog.  Really enjoy hearing from you!

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rhythm of the Road:

Yesterday my first on the road decision.  Change the plan...spend another day at Mesa Verde National Park.  First stop this morning was the Absolute Bakery Cafe in Mancos.  Good place to start the day and collect my thoughts.
No sooner had I sat down than I met Ralph.  German by birth, Ralph began to share with me his around the world odyssey.  Over several cups of coffee I heard of his boyhood experiences growing up on a farm in Germany, travels in Spain, restoring a historic hotel
in Flagstaff, and his life as a sheep herder on the Navajo Nation. We discussed the moon, the stars, and the cycles of life.
On the road from Mancos to the Park I think I found where all those arrows fell when they were shot into the sky.
The sky this morning as I approached the Park had a mystical quality.
I decided to spend the day on Wetherill Mesa. This is the more remote part of the Park only open in spring and summer. The area  was burned over by a major fire in 2000.
My destination for the day was Long House.  The second largest cliff house in Mesa Verde. Stopping in the visitors center I bought my ticket ($3) for a noon tour.  Tours are not high on my list of activities, so this was a "leap of faith" for me.
The "leap" far exceeded my expectations.  The Park Service Naturalist who shared the area with our tour brought a sincere and thoughtful "sense of place" to the experience.
The ancestors first built pit houses at Long House in about 600 AD.  Later, from around 1000-1200 AD the cliff houses were constructed on top of the pit houses.
High on the rock wall an artist in about 800 AD left a hand print.
Long House, although "discovered by Richard Wetherill in the late 1800's was not "touched" by many human hands until 1958 when the Park Service began work to preserve the cliff house.  A natural spring behind the building next to the stone wall supplied drinking water to the community.
My visit to Long House was rather short.  It would have been easy to remain for hours if not days.  Long House shares the spirits of the ancestors.  Our sisters and brothers.

Tonight I feel the "rhythm of the road" beginning.  Experiencing our National Parks, understanding the beauty, harmony, and great lessons they hold for us.  We only need to stop, feel, see, and hear the message.

be strong, be safe, Carlan