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Utah Travelogue

  • Submitted by: Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Submission Date: 15th Feb 2005

Utah 1995

(with some Colorado and Arizona)
(and a tiny smidge of New Mexico)
A travelogue by Evelyn C. Leeper
Copyright 1995 Evelyn C. Leeper

May 12, 1995:

Having enjoyed immensely our trip to New Mexico and
Arizona two years ago, we decided to take another trip to the same general
area, this time covering Utah and southwestern Colorado. (Utah has one
other aspect that makes it unique--it's the only place in the world were
Mark and I are Gentiles. And in fact, whenever I told someone where we were
going on vacation, they would say, 'Oh, going to see the Mormons?' as if the
Mormons were some exotic creatures.) We used many of the same resource
books, including HIDDEN SOUTHWEST, the 'Insight' book AMERICAN SOUTHWEST,
the'Discover America' book on Utah, and the AAA guidebooks. I also read
Thomas Keneally's THE PLACE WHERE SOULS ARE BORN, Leonard Wibberly's VOYAGE
BY BUS, Mark Twain's ROUGHING IT, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's STUDY IN
SCARLET. We also bought a couple of guide books on the trip: Sir Richard
Francis Burton's CITY OF THE SAINTS, Robert Casey's JOURNEY TO THE HIGH
SOUTHWEST, and Allan Robert Powell's UTAH GUIDE. (The latter is very
complete and useful,, but its index is a piece of crap [to put it
politely]--the actual page number is within two of the one listed, but
that's the best you can count on.)

One difference, however, is that while the previous trip included
several large cities (Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and
so on), this trip is through a more sparsely populated area. In fact, with
the exception of Salt Lake City, the largest town we visited had a
population of 13,000 or so.

While I have been calling this a trip to Utah, you can tell by the
title of the log that it actually extended into four different states and
the Navajo Nation (about which I will say more later). The 'smidge' of New
Mexico is a half-mile (kilometer) stretch of Route 160 that cuts diagonally
through the corner of that state when going from Colorado to Arizona and
which passes within a quarter-mile of the Four Corners marker (which I'll
also talk about later). (By the way, I'll give metric equivalents for
distances and temperature. I will not be converting time to a 24-hour
clock, though.)

I should warn you that I am not very good at describing scenery. I am
more a 'how things work' type. I can write a page and a half on how to
operate a Lithuanian luggage locker (and believe me, a full description,
complete with history vis-a-vis the Soviet occupation and parallels with
Estonian public telephones, could easily go that long), but am at a loss to
describe the flowers blooming in the desert, a butte reaching into the sky,
or a vista covering hundreds of miles. I can appreciate them (I think), but
my descriptive capabilities fail me in this regard.

I will also say that I use the term 'Indian' here rather than 'Native
American' because that's the term used in the Southwest by the Indians
themselves (though specific tribal names are even better), and one that is
preferred to 'Native American.' (In the early part of this century the term
'Native American' was also used, but with quite a different meaning. As a
Havasupai pointed out to one of the rangers at the Grand Canyon, everyone
born here is a Native American, so that term is not very descriptive.) I
don't know if it's a regional thing or not, though the actor Wes Studi also
says he prefers 'Indian' and I think he's Plains Indian rather than Pueblo

Note also that 'LDS' stands for 'Latter-Day Saints,' another term for
'Mormon.' (The Mormon Church is officially 'The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints.') So when I use that abbreviation, you'll know what I

Regarding handicapped accessibility, for most parks and monuments the
Visitors Center and other buildings are accessible, the driving tours have
stops which are mostly accessible (a few may have gravel paths a few hundred
feet long to get to a ruin or a lookout point), and the hikes and ruins are
pretty much *not* accessible. You can probably tell which are which from my
descriptions, but check with the various parks and monuments if you need
accurate information. I do *not* recommend many of the sites if you have
young children unless they are either extremely well-behaved or on a leash-
-most of the places we visited tended to have unfenced cliffs with drops of
several hundred feet. While there might be rocks twenty or thirty feet down
to break one's fall, letting your children near them might give you heart
failure even if nothing happened to them.

We flew from Newark to Salt Lake City. I know that many people use Las
Vegas as their arrival point, but we had been to Las Vegas once, and that
was enough (though Hoover Dam was pretty neat). We changed planes in
Houston, which even this early in the summer was already hot and muggy.
This contrasted nicely with the blizzard conditions reported earlier today
in the high mountain passes in Utah.

However, when we arrived in Salt Lake City at 10:30 PM, it was merely
chilly, not snowing or otherwise precipitating. This was a pleasanter sign
than the fact that the rental rate on our car had gone up from what we had
been quoted when we reserved it (apparently the corporate rate was re-
negotiated in the interim, though I intend to check on that). The
difference is about $60 for the seventeen days, and it's still cheaper than
what the other companies had quoted. It doesn't have a cassette player, but
we were able to set up our portable cassette player and speakers to serve
almost as well.

The Motel 6 was ... a Motel 6. It's May, so they've turned the heat
off, but the snow on the surrounding mountains didn't lie, and it was pretty
cold. (Actually, I was reminded of Lithuania, where they also turn the heat
off in May, no matter what the temperature.)

Minimum elevation: 20 ft (6 m) (in New Jersey).

Maximum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m) (not counting the time in the

Distance driven: 5 miles (8 kilometers).

May 13, 1995:

Breakfast was bright and early (thanks to jet lag) at
the Country Fair. Mark's breakfast featured liberal doses of Tabasco's new
jalapeno sauce, which we haven't seen in New Jersey yet. Contrary to what
one person told me, one does not have to bring one's own coffee to Utah.
Every place here seems to serve it just as commonly as they do everywhere
else. In fact, practically the first thing I saw in the airport was a
Starbuck's. (Of course, we did tend to be eating in the tourist areas.)
However, one positive sign that may be at least in part attributable to the
Mormon influence is the Utah Indoor Clean Act (translation: no smoking in
restaurants or just about anywhere else).

(Oh, and none of our hotel rooms have had a copy of the Book of Mormon
in addition to the Bible. I had thought of reading it during this trip,
even though Mark Twain calls it 'such a pretentious affair, and yet so
'slow,' so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in
print.' [Chapter XVI, ROUGHING IT]) (And I later read Sir Richard Francis
Burton's comments: 'Surely there never was a book so thoroughly dull and
heavy: it is as monotonous as a sage-prairie. Though not liable to be
terrified by dry or hard reading, I was, it is only fair to own, unable to
turn over more than a few chapters at a time, and my conviction is that very
few are so highly gifted that they have been able to read it through at a
heat.' [THE CITY OF THE SAINTS, p. 258])

At 7:30 AM, after taking pictures of the snow on the mountains, we
headed east on I-80 and then Route 40 towards Vernal, and drove through some
of those areas. Luckily the weather had cleared and the day was sunny, if a
bit chilly, so all we saw of it was a light dusting by the roadside here.
(Later, we saw patches at some of the higher passes we went through.)

The 174-mile (280-km) drive to Vernal took about three hours, and we
arrived about 10:45 AM. In Vernal we stopped at the Utah Field House of
Natural History (US$1.50 each). Though it has the usual rocks, local flora
and fauna, and historical sections, it's main attractions are its dinosaur
and prehistoric mammal hall, and its 'Dinosaur Garden with thirteen life-
size sculptures of dinosaurs. Supposedly these are in their natural
settings, but since it was early in the season, the Museum hadn't filled the
pond or the swamp yet, giving the setting a drier look than was entirely
Of the Field House, Leonard Wibberly had complained in his JOURNEY BY
BUS (written in the 1970s) of the display of human (presumably from his
context, Indian) remains. The remains he described were no longer there,
though there was a human skull in a case with thirty other mammalian skulls.
(What he described sounded more like mummified remains, with bits of hair
and skin.) I suspect that as attitudes change, the museum exhibits change
with them, though the upper walls are still adorned with hunting trophies,
including a bison head. Well, I suppose that these are really no different
than having the stuffed animals in the cases.

The traffic in Vernal (population 6700) was somewhat disrupted by the
'Temple Ground-Breaking Ceremony' for which we saw signs. Mark asked if
this were for a Mormon temple. I replied it must be, because a Jewish
temple wouldn't have their ground-breaking ceremonies on a Saturday.

We stopped in an IGA (I haven't seen one of those in years!) and picked
up our lunches: dried fruit, fat-free crackers, and fat-free fruit cookies.
As I noted in my log of Arizona and New Mexico, the only way to do a trip
like this and cover as much ground as we do is to:

- Rise early.

- Eat lunch while driving.

- Make no rest stops.

A corollary of these is that you also have no children.

Mark asked me what the Mormons believe about evolution and how they
feel about having the world's largest dinosaur cache here. Good question,
but we don't know the answer. We do know that whoever is living in Vernal
(and there must be a fair number of Mormons there if they're building a
temple), they certainly don't object to using dinosaurs to advertise
everything in town. Giant pink plaster dinosaurs hold up motel signs. More
realistic-looking green plaster dinosaurs invite you in to restaurants. A
big store along the main road is 'Remains to be Seen, selling fossils and
such and having a giant sign outside consisting of two fighting dinosaur
skeletons embedded in a plaster cast as if in a rock face. (These, I am
sure, are not authentic.) Even Sinclair Gasoline has retained the dinosaur
symbol that has disappeared elsewhere. And Dinosaur National Monument (or
sometimes the whole area) is referred to as 'Jurassic Park.' (However, I
sighted nary a Barney.) I hope they sent a note to Steven Spielberg
thanking him for all the interest (and business) he has drummed up for the

After this, we drove another 20 miles (32 km) to Dinosaur National
Monument, arriving about 12:45 PM. Since we arrived during the lunch hour
and the season hadn't really started yet, the ranger just waved us through.
This didn't really save us any money (usual admission is US$3 per car, and
as with most parks and monuments of any size, allows admission for seven
days), since we'll be buying a Golden Eagle Pass (US$25 for a year's worth
of admissions) as soon as we find a National Park or Monument that will take
our money.

The main attraction at Dinosaur National Monument is the quarry, where
thousands of dinosaur bones have been found. Located where there once was a
sandbar in the Green River, this spot was where the bones and dead bodies of
dinosaurs that fell into the river were washed up and collected (sort of
like trash collecting against a fence because of the wind). The result is
the largest trove of dinosaur bones ever found, including the most juvenile
skeletons. Most of the bones are isolated fragments, but several complete
or almost complete skeletons have been found. Originally (in 1922) the
bones were exposed by blasting (Belzoni would have been proud!) but now much
precise and less destructive methods are used.

If all you are coming to see at Dinosaur National Monument is the
quarry, however, you will have a somewhat short visit. While the quarry is
interesting, and of great scientific importance, it's not something that can
fill a lot of time. (We spent more time at the Field House in Vernal than
we did at the quarry.) It's possible, of course, that in the summer when
there are a lot more people visiting, there may be programs, lectures, and
films that weren't running now.

In any case, we also took the time to take the self-guided 'Tilted
Rocks' auto tour of the Monument, which encompasses a lot more than just the
quarry. (It is called 'Tilted Rocks' because that's what happened to the
sedimentary layers that eventually exposed them and the bones they
contained.) This took about two and a half hours and covered just about
every aspect of the area. We saw petroglyphs from the Fremont people of 800
years ago, prairie dogs (some of which were tame enough that they came up to
us and begged for food|), the geologic formations that shaped and were
shaped by the Green River, and the cabin of Josie Bassett Morris (1870?-
1964), who lived here without electricity or modern transportation until she
died of a broken hip sustained when she fell off her horse. While the cabin
showed she was not unwilling to take advantage of modern civilization--she
had wallpaper and a brick fireplace--she obviously drew the line at getting
a generator. (I suspect that getting lines run up here might have been

One thing we noticed while walking around at some of the stops along
this tour was the quiet. In the box canyon neat the cabin, where Josie kept
her livestock, it was so quiet you could hear the insects buzzing. It's
rare that one gets far enough away from 'civilization' to hear such quiet
(is that an oxymoron?). (The Monument has a hike called 'The Sound of
Silence' which is supposedly even quieter.)

The weather for all this was just about perfect: sunny temperature
around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), just a touch of a breeze.
I thought that it would be nice if it were like this the whole time, but
unlikely, and I was right.

We also saw the Green River, with a plaque by it commemorating the trip
of John Wesley Powell down it and the Grand (now the Colorado). Powell was
a Civil War veteran who was part of the first party to travel down these
rivers and through the Grand Canyon (which retained its name even when the
name of the river through it was changed). The force of the river was such
that they could not return upstream, so the question facing these explorers
was whether there were portages around the various rapids and falls. If
they got to one they could not portage around, they would be stuck there
until they died of hunger. Luckily for them, this didn't happen, though at
times it was a close call. (Powell had lost an arm during the Civil War,
but from his writings and sketches, one gets the impression that this didn't
slow him down much, and he did his share of rock climbing while on this

After this we returned to Vernal at 4:45 PM to the 7-11 Ranch
Restaurant (no relation to the convenience that I could tell) for dinner.
They had a 'chuckwagon,' which was a small buffet of ribs, chicken, beans,
potatoes, salad, and dessert, and cheaper than their meals, so we had that.
It was fairly mediocre, but then I doubt one can get exotic cuisine in

We finished dinner about 5:30 PM, filled up on gasoline, and headed for
Moab. Calculating from the AAA TripTik, it was 210 miles (340 km) (along
Routes 40 and 191), so we figured we'd get in about 9:00 PM. However, we
discovered that AAA had left a page out of the TripTik, and it was really 34
miles more (55 km) than that--34 twisty miles through Ashley National
Forest. The scenery was nice, but that got us to Moab closer to 9:30 PM,
where we discovered there were no rooms left at most of the motels we saw.
We were ready to give up and press on toward Mesa Verde, finding someplace
along the way, and return to Moab later in the trip, when a desk clerk at
the Ramada told Mark of a bed-and-breakfast that he thought still had a
room. And so it did. It was a somewhat small room which shared its
bathroom with one other room in half of the renovated garage, but was quite
cheerful and the bed-and-breakfast (the Purple Sage) was run by a very nice
woman named Sabrina. (And at US$50 per night was considerably cheaper than
the couple of rooms that were still available in motels).

So we finally got settled in about 11:00 PM, and promptly fell asleep.

Minimum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m).

Maximum elevation: 7995 ft (2437 m).

Distance driven: 465 miles (748 kilometers).

May 14, 1995:

Jet lag is still working for us: we were up in plenty
of time for our 7:30 AM breakfast of peach melba French toast.

We left about 8:00 AM for Arches, but stopped at Visitor's Information
in Moab to pick up information about restaurants, events, and such.
Amazingly, it open this early on a Sunday--but then, that's when they *need*
to be open. Apparently the town fills up with tourists every weekend, so
Saturday and Sunday are key times. We also stopped at the Back of Beyond
Bookstore, described on the Net as the bookstore having the best selection
of books on the area. While it's possible that a major bookstore in Salt
Lake City might have more, it was still quite an impressive selection.
Because it had so much, they sub-divided the topic, which made finding
things tricky. I didn't see Powell's description of his river trip or
Twain's ROUGHING IT with the history. It turns out Powell is shelved in the
'Rivers' section and Twain is in the fiction (!) because that's where people
look for him. We bought four books: Sir Richard Francis Burton's CITY OF
THE SAINTS (which was in the history section), Robert Casey's JOURNEY TO THE
HIGH SOUTHWEST (highly recommended both on the Net and by Fred Lerner),
David Lavender's GREAT WEST, and Allan Robert Powell's UTAH GUIDE. For a
tourist it's a great bookstore, but it's also true that their selection of
non-regional books (fiction and so forth) was fairly minuscule and tended
towards the lighter reading people on vacation would prefer. (Sabrina says
that the owner will order anything you want, so that helps a bit. Still, I
would miss the browsing experience.)

We finally got to Arches about 9:00 AM, bought our Golden Eagle Pass
(usual admission is US$5 per car), and went in. So far we've saved US$8 on
one park and one monument, and still have at least eight to go (and the
Grand Canyon would be US$10 by itself), so we will get our US$25 worth.

We had planned on signing up for the walk through the Fiery Furnace,
but luckily it was full for today. (Generally it fills up the day before;
you can book up to 48 days in advance, but you have to book in person.) I
say 'luckily' because after doing a two-hour 'easy' walk, it was clear I
wasn't ready for a three-hour 'strenuous' walk, especially in the heat of
the day.

But we did join the nature walk at 10:00 AM, which lasted about an hour
and consisted of a ranger talking about water and its place in the Park's
ecosystem. He quoted Henry David Thoreau as saying, 'The greatest workers
of stone ... are a little water and a liberal amount of time,' and pointed
to the formations around as evidence.

One of the most interesting (and most critical) things he talked about
was the cryptobiotic crust (also called the cryptogamic crust). This is a
crust that forms over the desert soil and consists of moss, lichen, and
various microbes. It forms long tendrils that go down into the soil which
absorb water like a sponge during a rainfall and make it available for
gradual use by the plants nearby. It also fixes nitrogen in the soil. If
it is damaged (by people walking on it, for example), it takes many, many
years to regenerate. Attempts to replace it more quickly with other water
absorbers works, except that they don't solve the nitrogen problem. The
message behind all this was not to walk anywhere but on the trails. I wish
I could say this was successful, but even though all the trailheads have
signs telling people this, some people just ignore them and walk wherever
they feel like. This is why people talk about closing part of the parks to
the public: the public can't be trusted not to destroy them.

The ranger also explained about 'desert varnish,' the dark-colored
coating on some of the rocks. It is formed by a microorganism bonding water
that falls over the rocks during a rainstorm to the manganese in the rock.
And while everyone knows the red color of most of the rocks is due to the
presence of iron, most people don't realize that the green color is too,
except for this it is unoxidized iron.

After this walk we talked for quite a while with one of the other
tourists. He was from Boca Raton, Florida, and ran an Elderhostel course on
cinema there, so we talked a lot of movies.

We drove through the Park, seeing as much as we could from the road
with a few short walks (such as around Balanced Rock), and then decided to
walk through the Devil's Garden. Our first mistake was starting this about
1:00 PM, the hottest part of the day. (Actually, that was my second. It
had been chilly when we got up so I had worn a long-sleeved knit shirt.
When we got to Arches it was already pretty hot, so I changed into my denim
shirt, but that was still pretty hot.) My other mistake was carrying too
much (bag with extra batteries, compass, walkie-talkie, etc., none of which
I needed). We saw Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, and Skyline Arch, but by the
time we got to Landscape Arch, I was pretty hot and tired. Now, Landscape
is up on top of a huge hill (at least a hundred feet [thirty meters] high),
and while there was a path, there was no way I was going to climb up there.
Besides, the longest natural arch in the world looks better from a distance
when you can see it all than close up when you lose the scale. And I
certainly didn't want to hike out any further, since the trail got rougher.
So we returned about 3:00 PM, having spent two hours on this hike.

It was also true we hadn't eaten very much (breakfast had been rather
small), so we sat in the car and ate some dried fruit and drank lots of

We had been planning to walk to Delicate Arch, which someone on the Net
described as, 'probably the best walk under one hour I've ever done.' That
sounded good, but then the trailhead and our books described it as a three-
mile round-trip which they estimated would take three hours. Given my
experience with the Net, I decided to trust the books and give it a miss.
There is a viewpoint accessible by walking a couple of hundred feet from the
parking lot from which you can see the arch, but only from a long distance
away. This is basically a level walk--it was either paved or packed dirt,
because I remember thinking it was probably even wheelchair-accessible (but
double-check before counting on this being true).

After this we took another short walk (a few hundred yards) out to
North and South Windows and Turret Arch, then returned to Moab. Arches
National Park was very impressive, but designed mostly for hikers. (Maybe
they're just applying Edward Abbey's philosophy that the right way to see
all this is by walking, although someone said that the viewpoint for
Delicate Arch was

constructed only a few years ago. Abbey also said that cars should be
banned from national parks.) There are nice rock formations that can be
seen from the car, but except for one or two, all the arches are visible
only after a hike.

We returned to Moab about 5:00 PM. I had wanted to eat at the
recommended Honest Ozzie's Cafe (a pun on Anasazi, I guess), but it was
closed, so we went to Fat City Pit House BBQ instead. Clearly this name is
not designed to attract the health food crowd, but after a long strenuous
day, it was pretty good.

We went back to the room to change clothes because we were taking a
'Canyonlands by Night' river cruise and it would be chilly. It started
about 8:00 PM (what time it starts depends on when sundown is), and was not
very crowded, The boat goes up the Colorado River about one hour (about five
miles, or eight kilometers) in the daylight while the guide tells you about
the history and geology of the area. By this point it's dark, and for the
return trip down, a truck on the road along the river paces the boat while
shining lights on the cliff walls, and there is a recorded narration with
music of history and legend. At least that's the plan, though tonight there
were problems in that the radio with which the boat talked to the truck was
not working and it took a half hour to get it fixed while we sat in the dark
at the upriver point. (It used to be that the coordination was done
entirely with light signals from the boat, but the new truck drivers don't
know them.) The whole thing took two-and-a-half hours (including the
unscheduled half-hour stop), and cost US$20 each. When you're doing most of
your traveling on your own, it's nice once in a while to get some
information from a local tour and this was a reasonably enjoyable way to
spend an evening.

Minimum elevation: 4000 ft (1219 m).

Maximum elevation: 5100 ft (1555 m).

Distance driven: 85 miles (137 kilometers).

May 15, 1995:

We had figured on breakfast at 7:30 AM so we could get
an early start, but Sabrina's husband must not have realized this, because
he was cooking an elaborate burrito which seemed to take forty-five minutes
to prepare from scratch. It was very good, though, with a bean, egg, and
chorizo filling. We had decided to leave Moab today and stay in Monticello
after seeing both parts of Canyonlands. So we exchanged email addresses
with Sabrina--it's amazing how the Internet is everywhere.

We drove to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park
(usual admission is US$4 per car for all three districts). This took about
an hour, and we arrived about 9:45 AM. On the way in, we passed the Monitor
and Merrimac Buttes, so name for their resemblance to the ships. However,
this is somewhat misleading, since when seen from the road and the view
point, they are really the Merrimac and the Monitor. (well, you wouldn't
want people to get the wrong idea of what the ships looked like, would you?)

We resolved to take it a bit easier this time, so we picked a few of
the short walks labeled 'easy' and decided to do those, rather than a single
longer, more strenuous walk. We started with a short walk (a quarter of a
mile, or four-tenths of a kilometer) to the Shafer Canyon Overlook. This
was the first of many impressive views of the day. Unfortunately, Mark
seems to think that the best pictures of scenery which goes for hundreds of
miles are taken only a few inches from the (unfenced) edge of the butte,
rather than another foot or so back.

We then drove on to our next short walk, up to Mesa Arch, which is on
the edge of the cliff and frames a beautiful panorama thousands of feet
below and extending for miles. Whether it's because it's earlier (and
cooler), or because I'm not carrying anything, or whatever, these walks are
a lot easier than those yesterday. (Maybe I'm getting used to the altitude
as well; it's up around 6000 feet [1800 meters] here.) This loop was a half
mile (eight-tenths kilometer).

After this (which took about a half-hour for the loop trail), we drove
out to Grandview Overlook for a panoramic view of the surrounding area,
including a view of the Needles District of Canyonlands to the south, only
twelve miles (twenty kilometers) away as the crow (or vulture) flies, but a
two-hour drive from this point. We could see just a bit of the Colorado in
the distance, a small brown ribbon winding which would have been all but
invisible except for the swathes of green along its banks.

We drove further along the road and came to Whale Rock about 12:15 PM,
which Mark decided he wanted to climb in spite of the fact that it involved
a 100-ft (30-m) change in elevation. (Later we discovered that this was
labeled a 'moderate' trail. I'm glad we skipped the other moderate trails.)
I climbed most of the way to the top, but the last ten feet (three meters)
in elevation, while they didn't look too bad to climb up, looked trickier to
get down, so I waited there while Mark went ahead. Going back was a lot
easier, of course--it was downhill. The round-trip took about forty-five

(Actually, the other two walks we took had the same elevation change,
but his one certainly seemed steeper.)

After we finished the scenic drive (skipping the climb to Upheaval
Dome, which looked difficult, but was labeled only 'moderate'), we returned
to the ranger station, hoping to get some water there. However, while there
was a water fountain, they asked people not to fill water bottles. So we
decided to wait until we got back to Moab and pick up some water there.

But first we drove to Dead Horse State Park, also off Route 313. It
also provides a view of the surrounding area and Colorado River--in fact, a
better view than the one at Grandview in Canyonlands. Dead Horse Point
State Park doesn't have much for the non-hiker besides the one view, but it
is spectacular. It's not a 360-degree view, but probably close to a 270-
degree one, and is probably the most impressive sight of the trip (at least
so far).

The drive to the Needles District of Canyonlands took two hours (from
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM, so we missed the hottest part of the day). This
included a stop for water, Gatorade, and more fruit newtons. On the way to
Needles on Route 191 we passed Hole in the Rock and Wilson's Arch, before
turning off onto Route 211. Hole in the Rock is a tourist shop and house
carved into the solid sandstone. It's kitsch from before everything was
kitsch, complete with huge sign painted on the other side of the rock
letting you know it's coming up. People stop here for the same reason they
stop at the Hard Rock Cafe, I suppose. We didn't stop.

Wilson's Arch is a nice-looking arch along the road, but after we had
been through Arches National Park, it didn't seem as remarkable to us as it
did to the people who were stopping to take pictures.

By the side of Route 211 into the Needles District was Newspaper Rock,
a rock covered with petroglyphs from 1500 years ago. This reminded me of El
Morro in New Mexico, except the latter had graffiti from a much longer (and
more recent) period of times.

The Needles District is so named because of rock formations resembling
needles sticking up from the ground, but the entrance to it is through even
more dramatic scenery. At Island in the Sky, you are at the top of the mesa
looking down; here you are on the floor of the canyon looking up. (Although
it's not really a canyon--it's too big and wide for that. I'm not really
sure what to call it.)

You drive in past huge mesas, lined up along the right hand side of the
road, with some buttes and other formations on the left. It's like driving
down a giant avenue of massive buildings, and some do indeed look like
fortresses or cathedrals. Driving past such magnificent scenery, so unlike
anywhere else, I was again reminded of a story Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote in
which a boy is offered, in effect, a trip in a spaceship, but with the catch
that he can never return to earth. Someone who had taken that offer
elsewhere tries to talk him out of it, saying, '='You want to see wonders
and marvels, huh? ... You want to see buildings a hundred stories high?
Cities of strange temples? Oceans thousands of miles wide? Mountains miles
high? Prairies, and cities, and strange animals and stranger people? ...
But kid, you can see those buildings a thousand feet high in New York, or in
Chicago. You've got oceans here on your own world as good as you'll find
anywhere. You've got the mountains, and the sea, and the prairies, and all
the rest of it. ... You want to see spaceships? You go to Florida and
watch a shuttle launch. Man, that's a spaceship. It may not go to other
worlds, but that *is* a spaceship. You want strange animals? You go to
Australia or Brazil. You want strange people? Go to New York or Los
Angeles, or almost anywhere. You want a city carved out of a mountaintop?
It's called Machu Picchu, in Peru, I think. You want ancient, mysterious
ruins? They're all over Greece and Italy and North Africa. Strange
temples? Visit India: there are supposed to be over a thousand temples in
Benares alone. See Angkor Wat, or the pyramids--not just the Egyptian ones,
but the Mayan ones, too. And the great thing about all those places, kid,
is that afterwards, if you want to, you can come home. You don't *have* to,
but you *can*. Who knows? You might get homesick some day. Most people
do. *I* did. I wish to hell I'd seen more of my own world before I
volunteered to try any others.''

Because we had arrived somewhat late in the day, we hiked only one
trail, the Cave Spring Trail, which leads past a series of caves (or rather
overhangs of the rock) and then up and across the top of the rock. One of
the caves still contained various objects used by cowboys who used to tend
their animals near there; another had the spring that they used for water.
Either the spring had dried up since then, or they didn't used very much
water, because it seemed to be merely a wet spot on the rock wall. It was
not the bubbling fount of water most people picture when they hear the word
'spring.' The trail wasn't always easy to follow, though there were rock
cairns pointing the way. The most confusing part was near to cowboy cave,
where the cave was blocked off with barbed wire which seemed to extend past
it across where the trail should have been. On closer inspection, however,
it turned out that there was an opening in the wire, but only if you walked
in a S-shape around the end of one fence and then the other.

We also stopped at Roadside Ruin which was more a nature trail than a
very interesting ruin. (It was a granary in a corner of an alcove.)

At 7:00 PM we left and drove to Monticello for the night. Again, we
had some trouble finding a room: there are only about four motels and the
cheap one was full. There was another relatively cheap one (Canyonlands,
$37.40 with tax) which claimed to be AAA approved, although it's not listed
in the latest book, and seems to have a more slovenly attitude than AAA
usually endorses. Still, it was only for one night.

Our choices for dinner were even more limited, as the restaurant
recommended in HIDDEN SOUTHWEST seems to have died. We had undistinguished
Mexican food at La Casita.

Minimum elevation: 4000 ft (1219 m).

Maximum elevation: 6240 ft (1902 m).

Distance driven: 181 miles (291 kilometers).

May 16, 1995:

Breakfast was at a place called Hoagie's, but we had
ordinary breakfast food instead.

The drive to Cortez took about an hour. We could have gone there the
night before, I suppose, but since we were staying in Cortez three nights,
this way we had time to find something more comfortable rather than taking
whatever was left over late at night. Arriving at 9:15 AM gives you a
bigger choice, especially if you don't want to occupy the room immediately.

We got a room at the Arrow National 9 (a chain, but with separate names
for each of the motels) (US$41.23 with tax). But we didn't unload the car.
Instead we went directly to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores.

The Anasazi Heritage Center, with its associated Dominguez and
Escalante Ruins is not a National Park, or a National Monument, or even run
by the National Park Service. It was built and is run by the Bureau of Land
Management (and is free). Apparently when the McPhee Reservoir was built,
something needed to be done to appease the people who thought that burying
Anasazi sites under hundreds of feet of water was a bad idea. So this
museum was financed. This should not detract from the fact that it is a
very good museum, using computers, microscopes, and holograms to tell the
story of the Anasazi in this region. It was not very crowded (not much is
about now) though there were the inevitable German tourists. Everywhere we
went there were German tourists--it must be the strong Deutschmark or
something. And it's certainly a function of the German interest in travel
and archaeology. When we were in Mexico, we went to Tula, a set of ruins
about an hour's drive outside Mexico City. As we approached, we saw one
group of tourists ahead, and our guide immediately say they were Germans.
'How can you tell from this distance?' we asked. 'Because only Germans come
here. Americans go to the pyramids [right outside Mexico City], the
bullfight, and on to Acapulco.' and he was right--they were Germans.

We talked a bit to the woman at the desk, who was telling us about
someone's theory that the Zun from Liberia. (I think she said his name was
Barry Fell, but I could be wrong.)

We spent two hours at the Center, brushing up on the Anasazi since we
had forgotten a fair amount since our last trip. (With all the resource
material we brought, the one thing we didn't bring was our logs.) The
Center claims, 'We know the Anasazi only by what they left behind,' but I
got the impression elsewhere that it is believed the Hopi are the
descendants of the Anasazi and much of what is believed about their society
is extrapolated from Hopi practice. ('Anasazi' is Navajo for ancient ones,
so the Hopi's ancestors are known by a Navajo word.) Just to give you a
general idea, the Anasazi lived in this region from about 1100 to the late

The Center divides the inhabitants of the area into paleo-Indians,
archaic (who used the atlatl), and basketmakers (the earliest of Anasazi,
who raised corn and later beans and used the bow and arrow). This was
followed by the Pueblo Period, when the Anasazi branched into three main
types: Northern San Juan, Chaco, and Kayenta. By this time, the pit houses
had been discarded, with their only legacy the kivas. From the descriptions
of activities in the kivas, they sound more like synagogues than churches,
being used for meetings, conversations, and social activities as well as
religious ceremonies.

The Center also had a section talking about the ecology of the area.
As one sign said, 'As they [the Anasazi] grew, they changed the land.' Was
this a subtle attempt to say that the McPhee Reservoir was no different than
what had been done for centuries before?

There was also a section called 'Seeds of Change,' talking about the
five things that made major changes in the contact between the New World and
the Old: corn, potato, sugar, the horse, and disease. Regarding sugar, for
example, the growing of sugar in the New World was what prompted the slave
trade, and the Center included the following description: 'At last, when
the ship had all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we
were all put under deck. The closeness of the place ... being so crowded
that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us ... the
air soon became unfit for respiration.... This deplorable situation was
again aggravated by the galling of chains .... The shrieks of the women,
and the groans of the dying, rendered it a scene of horror almost
inconceivable' (Olaudah Equiano). (It's not entirely clear that this had
much to do with the Anasazi.)

The following poem from the Nahuatl language was at least more relevant
to the people of the area:
'Broken spears lie in the roads;
We have torn our hair in our grief.
The houses are roofless now, and their walls
Are red with blood.
Worms are swarming in the streets and plazas
And the walls are spattered with gore.
The water has turned red, as if it were dyed,
And when we drink it, it has the taste of brine.
We have pounded our hands in despair
Against the adobe walls,
For our inheritance, our city, is lost and dead.
The shields of our warriors were its defense,
But they could not save it.'

This section concluded with a plea for environmentalism, including such
quotes as, 'It is not given to man to create wilderness. But he can make
deserts and has' (Wallace Stegner) and, 'Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only
thing that ever has' (Margaret Mead).

There was also a film called 'Green Gold' about three New World plants
have had enormous influence around the world: corn, potatoes, and chili
peppers. There are 20,000 usable plants in the world, of which only 100
have been domesticated. Of these, only 20 are major crops. This finished
with a section telling us how we are narrowing plant diversity and what a
bad thing this is. Now, I am all for environmental consciousness, but I
find myself asking why we put the earlier peoples on a pedestal regarding
the environment? They did what they could to change things. It's just that
we're more successful. Did someone say to the first planter of crops, 'No,
you should let the plants grow wild'? Or to the first domesticator of
animals, 'No, you'll change the species too much'?

After finishing seeing the Center, we walked up to see the Escalante
Ruins, the Dominguez Ruins being right in front of the Center. Then we
drove to Hovenweep National Monument (no admission charge). This is not
very well visited, probably because you have to drive 25 miles (40
kilometers) over gravel and dirt roads. And true to form, as soon as we got
there (about 2:00 PM), it started to rain. We waited in the car to see if
it would let up, and after a bit it did. We saw the closest ruins and then
it started to rain again. We headed back to the car. It stopped. We
turned around and began walking back to the ruin. It started again. We
gave up, since we had seen almost everything we could without a long hike.

On the way back we saw a sign for Lowry Ruin, and I had seen this
mentioned somewhere, so we decided to see it as well. (By now the sky had
cleared somewhat--of course.) This was another location managed by the
Bureau of Land Management, and has been designated a National Historic
Landmark. (I know that a National Park is designated by Congress, and a
National Monument by the President. I have no idea who designates a
National Historic Landmark.) While no one is on duty here, there is a quite
good walking tour brochure available for loan or for US$0.25 from a box at
the entrance. You can even enter the painted kiva here. (Obviously, no
admission charge.)

I would strongly advise people going to Hovenweep (or even Lowry) to
note which county roads they travel on (they are all clearly marked 'RD
{number}') and which way they turn. While the route *to* the ruins is
clearly signposted, the return to the main highway is not. As I noted,
Hovenweep is 25 miles (40 kilometers) over bad roads, while Lowry is only 9
miles (14 kilometers), and for what you can see without a long hike, I
would say Lowry is better.

We returned to Cortez by 5:15 PM and dropped off a roll of film at a
one-hour developing place (though at this time it was more an overnight
one). Mark had a new camera and it seemed to be deciding when to flash
somewhat arbitrarily, so we wanted to make sure it was working properly.
Then we had a very good Mexican dinner at Francisca's. Out here they serve
tamales, a dish that for some reason is hard to find in New Jersey. We
followed this by seeing CRIMSON TIDE--we have to keep up with the movies,
even on vacation.

Minimum elevation: 6198 ft (1889 m).

Maximum elevation: 7050 ft (2149 m).

Distance driven: 193 miles (311 kilometers).

May 17, 1995:

Today is Mark's birthday. No fair asking which one.

Breakfast was at 6:15 AM at the M&M Truck Stop: nothing fancy, but
good, inexpensive food, plus it's one of the few places open at that hour.

We started toward Mesa Verde National Park (a World Heritage Cultural
Site) and it was chilly, but not exceptionally so, and we had figured it
would warm up. (It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3 degrees Centigrade.)
However, as soon as we got to the Park (usual admission is US$5 per car) and
started up the road to the top of the mesa, we found ourselves in fog
(clouds, really). Then we started seeing snow by the side of the road.
Then it started snowing. By the time we got to the Visitors Center, it was
clear that it was not going to be very warm, not to mention that the 360-
degree panorama view from Park Point consisted of 360 degrees of fog.
('From Park Point at 8,751 feet, you can see over 100 miles into Colorado,
Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.' We could see 20 feet of fog.) Now, I was
smart on this vacation and packed gloves and an earband. I was also stupid,
because I left them in the room. So we came up with a plan which involved
getting tickets for an afternoon tour, then seeing the museum, then
returning to Cortez to pick up our pictures and warmer clothing. Then we
could return to Mesa Verde and stay until sundown instead of having to be
back before the photo place closed at 5:30 PM.

There are two ranger-guided tours: one to Cliff Palace and one to
Balcony House. In order to manage the crowds, they require tickets and you
can go on only one tour a day. The tickets used to be free, but now cost
US$1 each. This is to make up for budget cuts. Their choices this year
were to charge for tickets or cut their season to Memorial Day to Labor Day.
If they charge more than US$1, they would have to contract the ticket
service out, and end up with less money unless they drastically raised the
price, so this seemed the best solution. The Cliff Palace tour is the
easier, and Cliff Palace is the largest Anasazi ruin discovered, so we
signed up for that (for 2:00 PM). During the summer, they say there is a
long line for tickets even at 8:00 AM when the Visitors Center opens, but
this was not true today. (However, by the time our tour started, they had
sold out all the spots on it I would still advise visitors to get there
early for tickets. They must be purchased in person the day of the tour.)

(By the way, the only way to visit these two ruins is by tour. Spruce
Tree House can be visited on your own; a ranger is there to answer questions
and protect the site. Most of the rest of the ruins--and 571 ruins with
standing walls have been discovered so far--are only viewable from a
distance or completely inaccessible.)

We next drove another five miles to the museum. There were the usual
exhibits about Anasazi culture (including a recipe for 'chewed bread' that
you probably don't want to hear about). In addition, there was a section
talking about how Gustaf Nordenskio 'ld of Sweden first excavated the site in
1891. This was when Finland was still associated with Sweden, and there is
apparently a museum in Finland with some of the best pieces from the site.
In 1991, when Mesa Verde wanted to have a centennial exhibition, the Finnish
museum wouldn't ship them the good items because they said the Mesa Verde
curators didn't use as good techniques in handling or caring for artifacts
as the Finns did. It's interesting to hear of the United States being on
the short end of one of these occasions where artifacts where taken from one
country for a museum in another. (And the Finns were probably right. With
budget squeezes in parks budgets, we probably were at a lower standard

One interesting aspect of the museum was left over from that
centennial, though: a set of paired photographs with one in each pair taken
in 1891 and then one taken in 1991 from the same spot. Not much had
changed. In fact, in one spot, you could see the same dead tree!

As we were getting walking around, one of the rangers (who happened to
be an Indian) said to another of the weather outside, 'It better clear for
my tour.' Mark commented to me, 'This sounds like someone who hasn't
learned to live in harmony with nature.' Mark later asked him about this,
and the ranger said, 'I have to live in harmony with nature, but nature also
has to live in harmony with me.' Of course the trick is getting nature to
do that.

The museum also talked about foods originating in the New World, so I
will insert the trivia fact that there are only six food plants originating
in *North* America: the pecan, the blueberry, the cranberry, the Jerusalem
artichoke, the maple (maple sugar), and the black walnut. Everything else
is from Central or South America.

At 9:15 AM the weather had cleared a bit, so we decided to walk down to
Spruce Tree House before going back to Cortez. As usual, the pamphlet (the
usual US$0.25) spends a lot of time pointing out vegetation and geology--
interesting, but not what most people come to Mesa Verde for. The pamphlet
also points out that since it National Park Service policy to stabilize or
reinforce rather than to rebuild, almost all of what you see is original.
(Later we saw something that seemed to be contrary to this, but I'll talk
about that then.)

At 10:15 AM, we headed back to Cortez. On the way back, we again drove
through fog (which is even worse when you're going *down* curvy mountain
roads than when you're going up), and more rain. On the way down we passed
someone hitching a ride. Now normally we wouldn't stop for a hitchhiker,
but it was such miserable weather, and he was carrying some sort of auto
part, and he did look like a German tourist, and we were in a National Park,
so we stopped for him. In fact, he *was* a German tourist. He and a friend
had been attending school in Virginia and when the school year was over they
took their US$500 Volkswagen bug and started to tour the country. Their
clutch cable broke, and he had found an auto parts place in Cortez that had
a replacement, so we said we could take him there instead of just to the
main highway.

But first we got our pictures (which was on the way), and they had all
come out, which was a great relief. Then we dropped our German friend at
his auto parts store (which was a block from our motel), then got gloves,
etc., from the motel. We stopped at a supermarket, picked up a few things,
and then while Mark paid I called ahead to Kanab to make reservations for
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We then returned to Mesa Verde and, although
it had been sunny and warm in Cortez, it was still foggy and cold in Mesa

Or at least in parts of it. These must be what they refer to as
'microclimates,' since as we went from place to place on the mesa, it went
from rain to sun and back to rain again.

Pamphlet in hand, we started the driving tour of the Mesa Top Ruins at
12:30 PM and managed to get to the first seven stops in the hour before
having to leave for our Cliff Palace tour. The sites were generally of
pueblo ruins, with one or two scenic views thrown in. The seventh site
included the ruins of three pueblos which occupied the site at different
times. The ruins included walls of a kiva of the third pueblo which
intersected walls of kivas from the first and second pueblos. Now, when
they were building the third kiva, one would expect that they would tear
down the walls of the first two rather than have them run right through the
interior of the kiva. This is the site where their claim not to rebuild
seems least credible.

Although the Visitors Center is at 8040 feet (2452 meters), the Cliff
Palace Ruin (also called Cliff House Ruin) is at about 7000 feet (2130
meters). As a result it was actually warmer here than at the Visitors
Center, but I'm still glad I had the gloves. (By the way, it *is* possible
to type on an HP 100LX palmtop PC with gloves on.)

This tour involved going down some steps and then up a ladder to get to
the ruin. (Balcony House required two ladders, or at least more ladder
rungs total, and a crawl on your hands and knees through a narrow tunnel.
Contrary to the ranger's humorous description at the Visitors Center, it
does *not* involve swinging on a rope over a chasm.) The ranger guiding this
tour spent most of the hour talking about the people who lived here rather
than the structures themselves, which were described fairly thoroughly in
the pamphlet anyway.

After the tour was over, we spent a bit more time talking to the ranger
about Mesa Verde and National Parks and Monuments in general. There is a
policy now to try to get more Indians working at the various ruins sites,
and there were four at Mesa Verde, including our ranger. However, she
mentioned she was from the plains, so I have to wonder if it really is that
much better to have someone from a Plains tribe at Mesa Verde rather than a
non-Indian. Would an Inuit do just as well?

We also talked a bit about the philosophy behind the Parks and
Monuments. There are multiple, often conflicting, goals. First is
preservation. But there is also the goal of having people see the ruins, or
the scenery, or whatever, both for its own sake, and also because the
National Park Service is more likely to get funding if people can 'see their
tax dollars at work.' As it is, funding is tight. As I noted, they had to
start charging for tours, and the rangers' quarters were so awful that when
someone came to inspect them because of the recent Hanta virus outbreak,
they were all condemned. It doesn't seem as if things will be getting much
better either.

We then finished the Mesa Top Ruins loop, taking about another hour for
the second part. Several of the stops towards the end of the loop are to
view ruins across the canyon, which often blended in so well with the cliff
face that Mark described this part as the 'Where's Waldo?' tour.

By the way, Mesa Verde is on the Internet, at
Superintendent@MesaVerde.org, or at their URL http://MesaVerde.Org.

We left Mesa Verde at 5:45 PM, still driving through fog and getting
sunshine as soon as we left the Park. Dinner was at Little Germany in
Dolores, and neither of us liked it very much. German food tends toward the
heavy and greasy (almost everything is red meat), and we're used to lighter
fare. But Mark thought I wanted it, and I thought he wanted it. As someone
said, 'What we have here is a failure to communicate.'

Minimum elevation: 6198 ft (1889 m).

Maximum elevation: 8040 ft (2452 m).

Distance driven: 93 miles (150 kilometers).

May 18, 1995:

Most people might not feel that Canyon de Chelly
National Monument was actually a day trip from Cortez, but there is not much
cheap accommodation any closer to it. (For that matter, most people
wouldn't think Monument Valley was a day trip from Flagstaff, and we did
that last time we were here.) Motels in Chinle, right outside the Monument,
are US$70 and above per night. Since it was 134 miles (216 kilometers) from
Cortez to Chinle over straight roads, we figured it would take about two
hours each way, giving us a full day there. It actually took about two and
a half, with a few towns slowing us down a bit.

We left Cortez at 7:00 AM and traveled south on Route 160 and then on
Route 191. As I mentioned at the start of this log, Route 160 goes right
past the Four Corners Monument, which has turned into a tourist attraction
of the same sort as 'Hole in the Rock,' charging an admission fee and
selling souvenirs It's a totally artificial point, being determined strictly
by the fact that someone decided to draw the borders there. But it's even
sillier than that. This spot is completely contained with the Navajo
Reservation (which extends into all four states there for a non-trivial
distance). The Navajo Reservation is also the Navajo Nation, which is
theoretically a sovereign nation. So the states don't even extend to this
point; it's really the point where the boundaries *if extended in straight
lines* would meet. So what we have here is a theoretical artificial point.
The monument is managed by the Navajo, who are known for their wry humor,
and I can see why.

This of course leads nicely into the whole question of whether the
Navajo Nation really is a sovereign nation and what that means. In its
treaty of 1868 with the Navajo, the United States referred to the treaty as
being between two nations. Still, in 1924 the United States gave all
Indians (including Navajos) citizenship, and continues to enforce laws and
regulations on the reservation. In addition, the states within whose
boundaries the reservation lies seem to have at least some of their laws
enforced there. If the Navajo Nation is a sovereign nation, is it bound by
the constitution? For example, could it mint its own money? Could it
restrict religion? (I'm not saying it *would*, but asking if it *could*.)

On the reservation (and throughout the surrounding area) we have been
listening to KTNN (The Navajo Nation), the same station we listened to last
time, broadcasting in Navajo and English. Actually, much of the Navajo
might be better termed 'Navanglo' (in a parallel to 'Spanglish'): a long
stream of Navajo will be broken by such English words as 'dishwasher,'
'environmental fair,' and 'wool market.' Addresses and phone numbers (in
advertisements) also tend to be given in English, as of course are the
titles of the English-language country and Western songs. (KTNN is 660 AM.)

As we passed Four Corners I gave Mark the (fairly easy) math problem of
determining how long a stretch of road we drove on in New Mexico if it
passed within a quarter-mile of the corner and was at a 45-degree angle to
the boundaries. (The answer is a half-mile, or about a kilometer.) But
Mark got involved trying to figure out the general formula, which occupied
him most of the rest of the way there. You might want to try this with your
family to keep them entertained on long trips. Then again, maybe not.

According to the video at the Visitors Center, the Navajo call Canyon
de Chelly 'Ho Jo Na Sha' ('Walking in Beauty') and apparently exert a fair
amount of control over it, even though it is a National Monument. Navajo
still farm in the canyon in the summer, and run jeep tours to various sites
within the canyon. (For the mobility-impaired, these are probably the best
way to see the ruins, as the rim drives provide minimal views and certainly
wouldn't warrant the drive. However, you will need assistance getting into
and out of the jeeps.) Perhaps because most people visiting here do opt for
the jeep tours, there is no admission charge for the Monument itself.

The introductory video in the Visitors Center talks about how the
Navajo believe that 'the Earth is our mother.' I have heard this mentioned
as one difference between the Navajo religion and most Middle Eastern
religions. (Calling them 'Western religions' seems foolish in the context
of the American Southwest.) But Adam, for example, was also made from earth.

We had arrived at the Visitors Center at 9:30 AM. After seeing the
exhibits, we decided to do both rim drives and also hike to White House
Ruin. Since we wanted to do the hike before it got too hot, and it left
from the South Rim, we did that drive first, even though the newsletter says
the lighting for photography is better from the North Rim in the morning and
the South Rim in the afternoon.

We started at 10:00 AM at the mouth of the canyon, where it's only
about 20 feet (6 meters) deep. By the first pull-off, though, it was
already 275 feet (84 meters) deep. Further on, we could see across the
canyon to First Ruin and Junction Ruin (not as much 'Where's Waldo?' as
yesterday). We parked at the White House Overlook and began the 2.5-mile
(4-kilometer) round trip down the 550-foot high (152-meter) canyon at 11:00
AM. The descent was achieved via a switchback path on the side of the
canyon. Even here, with as few people as there were, we still saw litter
along the trail (a disposable diaper, no less!). The ruin itself seemed to
have quite a few people around it, but as we got closer, we saw that many of
them were jewelry vendors, and most of the rest were from the jeep tours
that stopped there. There were some other hikers, but not many.

The Navajo name for the White House ruin is 'White House In Between'
(or 'Ni 'nii ''Nai 'gai'), because of the white-plastered walls of the upper
stories. (One sees various spellings for Navajo. This was the spelling on
the plaque at the site; the book says 'Kini-na-a-kai.') The ruin is fenced
off to protect it from vandalism, since the site is not staffed, but you
still see pictographs on the walls and most of what walls are there.

The climb back up the 550 feet (152 meters) was tougher and hotter than
the climb down. (This should not come as a surprise to you.) The entire
round trip took about three hours (the pamphlet said it would take about two
hours, so we're still getting into shape, I guess.)

We finished up the South Rim with Sliding Rock Ruin (across the canyon)
(in Navajo, 'Kina 'a 'zhoozh') and Spider Rock. The latter is supposedly the
home of Spider Woman, who carries off disobedient children. (The white at
the top of the rock is supposedly the children's bleached bones.)

We returned to the Visitors Center and started up the North Rim Road at
3:00 PM. There are fewer stops along this rim: Ledge Ruin, Antelope House,
Tomb of the Weaver, Navajo Fortress, Mummy Cave, and Massacre Cave. Navajo
Fortress and Massacre are from the time of the Spanish (and later)
invasions, while the others are from the Anasazi period.

At 5:30 PM we started back to Cortez. We considered eating in Chinle,
which has in the last couple of years acquired a Taco Bell, a Curch's Fried
Chicken, and a Burger King. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have
acquired anything better, and we decided not to try one of the two sit-down
restaurants since both were associated with motels. We got back to Cortez
about 8:00 PM and ate at Francisca's again.

Minimum elevation: 5540 ft (1689 m)

Maximum elevation: 6198 ft (1889 m).

Distance driven: 350 miles (563 kilometers).

May 18, 1995:

AAA in general does a very good job of routing people on
trips. But they have one failing. They don't always choose the shortest
route, or even the fastest. They choose the 'safest': the one that goes
along the most major highways, through the most traveled areas (short of
city streets). So every once in a while I find myself saying, 'This route
changes routes four times and takes twice the distance of this other road
they didn't pick. Maybe I'll try that one.' This can have interesting

But first, we had breakfast at the M&M Truck Stop again. There may be
somewhere else to have breakfast in Cortez, but this is very convenient,
good, and cheap.

We left Cortez at 7:30 AM. AAA had routed us down Route 160, then up
Route 191, down Route 163, and up Route 261, while cutting across on Route
41/262, Route 191, and Route 95 would save 26 miles. Of course, 8.8 miles
(14.2 kilometers) of construction resulting in a rutted dirt road did slow
us down a bit. This may be why AAA didn't pick it, but even so I think it
was faster, taking two hours and fifteen minutes from Cortez to Natural
Bridges National Monument.

In the Visitors Center, they asked people not to write graffiti on the
bridges, saying, 'The difference between rock art and vandalism is time,'
but that 'here at Natural Bridges we are trying to preserve the past, not
the present.' So, one might ask, why was the first 'viewpoint' of their
acre of solar cells, which use photovoltaics to generate 50 kilowatt-hours,
This supplies the entire monument with all the power it needs and saves
$25,000 a year in power costs.

Proceeding to the actual natural bridges, we started with Sipapu Bridge
(the largest of the three near the road). I forget how the trail down to
the base was described, but it took us an hour and a half for the round trip
(from 10:30 AM to 12 noon), and included stairs, three ladder descents, some
rock descents with handrails, and a bare rock traverse to descend 500 feet
(152 meters) over the 0.75-mile (1.2 kilometer) trail (one way). Naturally,
when we got there, the sun was in just the wrong place for pictures, so Mark
had to use some rocks to cross a stream to get a better picture.

By the way, the difference between a bridge and an arch is that the
former is created by the action of running water against rock, while the
latter is formed by the action of rain, snow, and wind erosion.

After returning to the top of the canyon, we stopped at the Horsecollar
Ruin overlook and the Kachina Bridge overlook, but decided against walking
down to the latter, since it would have been about as hard as the first one.
We did walk down to the Owachomo Bridge, since that was a much easier walk.

At 2:30 PM we left Natural Bridges National Monument. This time we did
take Route 261, and I can only conclude that AAA may have believed that
driving *up* this road was much easier than driving *down* it. The first 30
miles (48 kilometers) out of the Monument are normal road; the last three (5
kilometers) are the Mokee Dugway, which descends from 6425 feet (1958
meters) to 5325 feet (1623 meters). When I saw the sign at the end near the
Monument saying this road had a 10% grade, unpaved sections, unfenced drop-
offs, and hairpin switchbacks, I didn't realize they meant simultaneously.
I hope Mark enjoyed the scenery; I had to concentrate on the road. I had
been using second gear a lot on the hills, but this was definitely a first-
gear hill.

But we got through safely, and then drove down Route 163 past Monument
Valley Tribal Park. Since we had visited Monument Valley last trip, we just
stopped and did a bit of shopping outside the park. This led me to wonder
who actually makes all the jewelry and pottery we saw on sale there. It
can't be the women selling them--they spend the entire day selling. Is
there a large factory somewhere? The items seem almost identical from shop
to shop, with the same pictures on the pottery, and the same designs for the
jewelry (even more than traditional would account for). This is most
noticeable at a place like Monument Valley Tribal Park, where there are a
couple of dozen vendors lined up. I assume everything here is Indian-made,
although we saw very similar pottery in the souvenir shop at the Grand
Canyon with a sign noting it was 'Not Native American Made.' (And the
baskets with Anasazi designs sold at the Grand Canyon are made in Nigeria.)
Anyway, the individual stands along the road have the same assortment as
well, but it's less likely the person stopping at one would know this. I
also noticed many of the roadside stands seem to have been abandoned--they
still have 'OPEN' painted in big letters on the side, but apparently haven't
been used in a while. It could be they don't open until June, when the real
tourist influx starts.

And it's not just there that I see this phenomenon of a sign saying
'Open' on a closed business. I'm starting to see more and more stores,
restaurants, etc., that have a big sign outside or by the road or in a
window that says 'Open,' and then after you pull up you see the small sign
on the door that says 'Closed.' (Or there's no sign, and it's only after you
get out of your car that you realize there's no one there.)

And while we're talking gripes, let me add two more. One is something
Mark noticed: signs that say something costs .25 cents. It's bad enough in
corner grocery stores, but we're seeing it in the National Parks as well.
And at Zion, the videocassettes had a sign next to them listing which
countries used NTSC and which used PAL. It's bad enough that they listed
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as countries, but they also listed
Alaska and Hawaii! The clerk I mentioned this too seemed genuinely
surprised and said that the sheet came from the videocassette manufacturer,
but that they would correct it. (Can someone who visits Zion let me know if
this is true?)

But back to traveling. We had dinner at 5:30 PM at Pancho's Family
Restaurant in Tuba City. Mark has a 'Navajo Taco,' which is fry bread
topped with lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and cheese. Fry bread is like (Asian)
Indian roti. We had had these last time we were here, at a restaurant in
Kayenta which seems to have gone out of business.

For the last stretch of driving AAA routed us over the scenic route.
The only problem with this is that we were driving over curvy mountain roads
into the sun, and visibility was at times extremely bad, even with
sunglasses. Again, though we made it through to Kanab by 9:00 PM where we
stayed at the National 9 Aikens ($42 per night plus tax). We probably
didn't need to book ahead; there seemed to be lots of vacancies, though
that's probably because it's very early in the season here. (The Grand
Canyon North Rim has been open only for a week, and most of Zion National
Park and all of Cedar Breaks National Monument is closed until May 27th.)

Minimum elevation: ? ft (? m)

Maximum elevation: ? ft (? m).

Distance driven: 547 miles (882 kilometers).

May 20, 1995:

After breakfast at the Four Seasons 1950s Restaurant, we
drove to Bryce Canyon National Park, arriving about 10:30 AM.

The first thing we noticed about Bryce Canyon was that it was swarming
with people! I'm sure in the summer it's even worse (they get 1,5000,000
people a year), but compared to the other parks we've been visiting, any
sort of crowd was amazing. And the road in the Park past Farview point was
closed because they were doing construction to widen it to handle the
increased numbers.

The weather was good, about 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees
Centigrade), although at 8000 feet (2438 meters) it still felt hot.

I overheard one of the rangers talking about how the Parks Service
wants them to label more trails strenuous, but how mis-leading this is,
because the most strenuous trail here is still nowhere near as strenuous as
a strenuous trail at the Grand Canyon. This is true; maybe there needs to
be some sort of standard scale, like they have for white-water rafting.

We started with the combination Navajo/Queen's Garden Trail at 10:45
AM. Both the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queen's Garden Trail go down into
the canyon (actually an amphitheater) canyon and then back up. In the
canyon there is a connecting trail joining the two and it seemed more
interesting to do the combination than backtrack over what we had already
seen. (Half the Navajo Loop Trail was closed, so it wasn't really a loop
for now.)

Bryce Canyon is known for its 'hoodoos': rock pillars formed by
erosion and usually in fantastic shapes (different layers of rock erode at
different rates). Someone named them hoodoos because they cast a mysterious
spell, and it's true that seeing them and walking among them is magical and
mystical. First you descend through them down a switchback path, then you
meander through them as the path gradually descends to the canyon floor.
Along the canyon floor is a path that goes through forested ground before
ascending the other side, the Queen's Garden Trail (named in honor of Queen
Victoria for some reason).

There seem to be trail markers on the Queen's Garden Trail, but no
trail guide to identify them. We finished our loop by walking along the rim
from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point and returning to our car by 1:30 PM.

We drove to Farview and Paria Viewpoints for a look at the other parts
of the canyon (amphitheater). Farview is the highest point in the Park at
8819 feet (2688 meters), and the snow is obvious here.

At 3:00 PM we took the one-hour Rim Walk with the ranger. She talked a
little bit about the early inhabitants, including Ebenezer Bryce, who
described it as 'a hell of a place to lose a cow.' But most of her talk was
about the history of tourism at Bryce, a subject of some interest, but
perhaps better suited to a talk in an auditorium than a walk along the rim.
The first year Bryce was a National Park (1929) it had 22,000 visitors; in
1994 it had 1,500,000 visitors, including lots of foreign visitors. Even
so, the ranger said, it is not as heavily visited as many other parks in the
area. Someone said that the most visited National Park was the Smokey
Mountain National Park; other popular ones include Yosemite, Yellowstone,
and Grand Canyon.

After this talk we went to Inspiration Point, which required quite an
uphill hike, but provided the best view of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. We
also stopped at Fairyland Canyon at about 5:00 PM, on our way out of the

We returned to Kanab at 6:30 PM. Coming back on Route 89 to Kanab, we
could see the tour buses winding their way north from the Grand Canyon to
Zion and Bryce, ready to disgorge more masses of people at designated
viewpoints and photo stops.

We had seen a sign for the 'Wok Inn' and though we weren't expecting
much, we figured it was probably as good as the meals we could get in the
more typical restaurants. It was surprisingly good. We had Kung Pao
Chicken and Garlic Shrimp, both quite spicy. The owner is Chinese, and I
imagine caters to the tourist crowd more than the local population, at least
based on the other diners.

Minimum elevation: 4925 ft (1501 m).

Maximum elevation: 8819 ft (2688 m).

Distance driven: 183 miles (295 kilometers).

May 21, 1995:

: Today we had breakfast at the Chef's Palace--not as good
as the Four Seasons and more expensive. On the tables they have A FEEDBAG
OF COWBOY POETRY by Bob Christiansen, which is a sampler of his poems. The
only catch is that each has the last verse missing and to find out how it
ends, you have to buy one of his poetry books sold at the cash register.
This restaurant also had Postum (a coffee substitute made from some sort of
grain, and having no caffeine) on the menu.

The last time we went to the Grand Canyon we went to the South Rim
(where most of the visitors go). This time we went to the North Rim. To
get from one to the other is 10 miles (16 kilometers) if you can fly, or
about 180 miles (290 kilometers) if you can't.

We left Kanab at 8:00 AM and arrived at the Canyon at 8:30 AM. This
does not mean that the drive took only a half hour. While Utah is on
Daylight Savings Time, Arizona is not, so we gained an hour.

On the way, we passed snow-covered meadows, and in fact the North Rim
had just opened a week ago. (Unlike the South Rim, which is open year-
round, the North Rim closes with the first heavy snow and re-opens only when
the winter is over.)

Some of you may have read the children's classic, BRIGHTY OF THE GRAND
CANYON by Marguerite Henry, but I have not. Apparently this is a big thing,
and there was a life-size statue of Brighty in the sun room of the lodge.

The Grand Canyon is 5,000,000 years old. That is, the river has been
cutting it out for that long. The rocks in it are considerably older, the
layer at the bottom being 1,800,000,000 years old.

We started at 9:00 AM with the Bright Angel Trail, a short trail out to
(where else?) Bright Angel Point. It involves some uphill hiking as well as
crossing two narrow bridges over gaps in the rock, a fact that distressed
some people. The path didn't seem to bother the mule deer, however, since
three of them crossed the path in front of us. These were the first of many
that we saw in the Park; they seem quite used to people and, while they
don't come up to you, they don't run away either.

From Bright Angel Point (actually, from the lodge as well) we could see
Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. (It's a measure of how many more
people visit the South Rim that it has an entire village, while the North
Rim has just a lodge.) We could also see what turned out to be a controlled
fire on the South Rim.

For some reason, someone had placed a bouquet of flowers on one of the
rocks off the trail overlooking the Canyon. I'm not sure why, but I noticed
them mostly because they had attracted a hummingbird, not a bird one sees
very often.

At 10:30 AM, we went to the half-hour geology talk at the lodge. The
ranger talked about the three aspects of the formation of the Grand Canyon:
deposition, uplift, and cutting. Deposition is the creation of the various
layers. The bottom layer is the Vishnu layer; other of the forty-two
distinct layers include red wall limestone (500 ft thick), the Supai group
of four layers, sloping red kermit shale, yellow Coconino sandstone, and
Kaibab limestone on top. Geologists say there were even more layers above
that have eroded--1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of them. Traces of these
remain, in Red Butte south of the Grand Canyon, in Zion National Park, and
in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The layers were built at or below sea level, however, and we were
sitting at 8000 feet (2450 meters). What happened? Well, the uplift of the
Colorado Plateau occurred when the Pacific Ocean tectonic plate crashed into
the North American continent. Subduction occurred; that is, part of the
Pacific Ocean plate went underneath the North American one, pushing up the

Finally, 5,500,000 years ago, a river flowing west below the Colorado
River (which was then flowing eastward cut through the cliffs at the foot of
the canyon and captured the Colorado (this is known as stream piracy).
Suddenly the Colorado was flowing westward and at a very rapid pace, since
there was an enormous elevation change in a short distance. The force of
this began cutting the canyon (and presumably is still cutting it).

At 11:00 AM, we were going to drive to Cape Royal for a hike there, but
the road was still closed. There had been a small landslide last night and
they had thought the road would be cleared and open by 10:00 AM, but that
was off. Now the estimate was noon. I found this out from the two women in
the car ahead of us, who said it was like waiting at the inspection station.
This made me ask where they were from, and it turned out that not only were
they also from New Jersey, but from two towns only one town away from ours!

Rather than wait an hour, we drove back to the lodge and hiked the
Transept Trail, which followed the rim of a side canyon from the lodge to
one of the campgrounds. Mark asked what 'transept' meant and I said I
wasn't sure. He said it meant mediumly skilled--halfway between ept and

We saw several deer on this hike, not on the trail itself, but in the
trees along the trail. Other than that, the only wild mammals we've been
seeing are chipmunks and squirrels.

We got back to the lodge about 1:30 PM. It might have been sooner, but
another hiker said he thought going back by way of the road was faster. We
walked in that direction, but when we got to that end of the campground, he
was sitting catching his breath and said that he had found out it was almost
twice as long that way. So much for trusting amateurs.

We had been planning to attend a geology walk at 2:00 PM, but it turned
out to cover the Bright Angel Point Trail which we had already hiked. So we
decided to get a quick lunch at the snack bar and do a little shopping in
the gift shop.

At 2:05 PM, we drove to Cape Royal. This was a long way out on a
winding road, and we were going to end up driving back right after the first
hike for a 4:00 PM history talk and the lodge, then *back* to Cape Royal for
another trail. Grossly inefficient, but the morning closure of the road
meant we couldn't do the two between the two talk as we had planned.

The Cape Royal Trail was a short rail, mostly to observe the
vegetation, but also providing a good view of Angel's Window (a hole carved
through a promontory), and a view from on top of the promontory it is carved
from (called Angel's Window Point, one supposes). It's not a place for
someone with a fear of heights, since even though it is fenced, the sheer
drop-offs combined with the wind will make most people nervous. It does
have a magnificent view though.

We finished this by 15:25 and by driving like maniacs were able to be
back at the lodge only a couple of minutes late for the 4:00 PM talk. The
ranger was talking about the fact that prehistoric burial cairns have been
found, and that to the Indians this is still a sacred place, because the
Blue Colorado Gorge has a spring the Hopis call 'sipapu,' or 'place of
emergence,' the place where they believe their tribe emerged from the world

The most well-known area tribe are the Havasupai (whose name means
'Guardians of the Canyon') who live in one of the side canyons. They used
to farm, but now tourism is their main source of income (from campsite and
horse rentals) and everything they use comes in by helicopter. (The ranger
said that the tribal police now use go-carts instead of horses or mules.)
And they have satellite dishes, even though the North Rim doesn't.

After the Indians came the Spanish. In the 1540s Coronado was looking
for the Seven Cities of Gold but found his way blocked by the Grand Canyon.
He had no idea how deep or wide the canyon was and thought the river was a
six-foot wide stream. Garcia Lopez de Cardenas of his party tried to get
down, but the Hopis wouldn't tell him where the trails were, so he failed.
No other Europeans tried until 1776, when a missionary (Anatnasio Dominguez
or Silvestre Velez de Escalante?) also didn't have much luck and left. In
1857 the Army thought of using the corridor to move men and equipment, sent
Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives with a paddle-wheeler to come upstream, but he
struck rocks and the boat sank. 'It [the Grand Canyon] looks like the Gates
of Hell,' he said. 'The region ... is, of course, altogether valueless.
Ours has been the first and will undoubtedly be the last, party of whites to
visit the locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River
along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever
unvisited and undisturbed.'

In 1869 Maj. John Wesley Powell, popularized the name 'Grand Canyon.'
He named most of the features of the region. For example, he named a clear
stream 'Bright Angel Creek' because he felt guilty about naming a dirty
stream 'Dirty Devil,' that being considered strong language at the time.

After this, 'the last blank spot on the map' of the United States was
filled in. Then exploration stopped and exploitation began, beginning with
miners. But mining wasn't very profitable, so some miners became tour
guides. One such, Capt. John Hance, has lost a finger in mining accident,
but when people asked him about it, claimed he wore it off pointing to all
the scenery.

The ranger claimed that it was only at the end of the last century that
people started thinking of landscape as scenery, but I suspect that is not
true, and will definitely check Maxine Feifer's TOURISM IN HISTORY when I
get home.

However, landscape is certainly scenery now, and with 50,000 cars a day
on the South Rim and only 7000 parking places, something has to change. A
shuttle is definitely in the works for South Rim, and maybe for the North
Rim as well. This will work if it's made attractive, but some of the
proposals I've seen seem unlikely to do much good. At Zion, for example,
they propose charging US$2.95 for a shuttle between the lodge and the main
road. For a family of four that's almost US$12 (one-way?).

There was the usual history of the National Park Service and this Park
in specific. Yellowstone was the first National Park. Theodore Roosevelt
loved the North Rim, and made it a National Monument, but economic interests
(miners et al) blocked National Park status until 1919. But finally
Roosevelt's request was honored: 'Leave it as it is. Nature's been at work
on it for millions of years and we can only mar it.' (Well, except for roads
along the rim and such.)

And what will happen in the future? (I idly wondered what would change
if we discover greater wonders on other planets. Will this be as
important.) The ranger closed with a quote from J. B. Priestly who, when
told some people are disappointed here, said, 'That's like being
disappointed at the Day of Judgement.'

After this we decided to skip the second hike at Cape Royal and instead
drove to Imperial Point for a view of Zoroaster's Temple and the Painted
Desert from the 8803-foot (2683-meter) viewpoint.

We returned to Kanab, stopping in Fredonia for dinner at Nedra's about
8:00 PM (MDT). Service was very slow, and we didn't get back to Kanab until
9:00 PM. (We never did get to Pipe Springs National Monument.)

Minimum elevation: 4925 ft (1501 m).

Maximum elevation: 8803 ft (2683 m).

Distance driven: 230 miles (370 kilometers).

May 22, 1995:

After an early breakfast, we left Kanab and drove to
Zion National Park, arriving about 8:45 AM.

Because we came in from the east, we drove past a lot of what there was
to see before even arriving at the Visitors Center. A landslide in April
blocked a river, which changed course and washed out part of the road
loading from the crossroad through the Park to the lodge. Unfortunately,
this road is also the Scenic Drive, and most of the trailheads are near the
lodge and all this is inaccessible while they are rebuilding the road (which
they hope to have done by May 27). In spite of this, however, the admission
price is still the usual US$5 per car. (In the Netherlands, if a large part
of a museum is closed, they discount the admission.)

But even the 'non-scenic' drive had lots of scenery. At the east end
of the road, we saw mostly petrified sand dunes, but as we drove west, we
started seeing massive (and I mean *massive*) stone cliffs. (For some
reason, the word 'massy' comes to mind and sounded more massive than

Because so few trails were open, we decided to do a moderate trail as
well as the one easy trail that was open. The moderate trail was the
Watchman Trail, a two-hour round-trip hike to the base of the Watchman, a
large stone formation overlooking the west entrance of the Park. This was
easier than some of the easy hikes we had done. First of all, we started
earlier (9:00 AM) in cooler temperatures than other hikes. Second, because
the climb is up the west face, we were in shade most of the way up. And
third, we did the climbing at the beginning of the hike; coming back was

We took a break from hiking and retraced our driving to the east end
and back. Because Mark had been driving in, he hadn't had much chance to
photograph, or even observe, the scenery, so I drove this time and gave him
a chance to observe.

At 1:00 PM we went to walk to the Canyon Overlook. There is parking
for twelve cars at the trailhead and easily five times that number parked
along the road. Because this was the only easy trail open, everyone wanted
to hike it. Normally, everyone would be hiking the three or four easy
trails up by the lodge (and the lodge parking lot).

This trail, while not involving large elevation changes, is not for the
faint of heart, with drop-offs (mostly fenced but not always), slickrock,
and the general appearance of at least some danger. The view at the end is
impressive, including many of the points at the end of the Scenic Drive.

This took about an hour, and at 1:00 PM we left this part of Zion
National Park and drove north along I-15 to Kolob Canyons, another section
of the Park, which is accessible only by leaving the Park unless you have a
4-wheel-drive vehicle. In Kolob Canyons there is basically just the Scenic
Drive (this one is still open) and some strenuous trails. So we drove into
the canyons from an hour--actually it's more than one drives along the side
of a mountain facing the canyons.

At 3:15 PM we left and drove to Cedar City, right nearby, where we got
a room for US$37.06 including tax (a less touristed area, except in June
when the Utah Shakepeare Festival is held here). We did some grocery
shopping and then went to dinner at 4:30 PM at the Market Grill, a
restaurant at the livestock yard, which had very good barbecued beef ribs
(one doesn't see pork ribs around here).

After dinner, we stopped at Mountain West Books so I could research it
for the bookstore lists I maintain. This is the only bookstore in Cedar
City (except for a used book store which seems to be part of a comics
store), and is primarily LDS material. This means not just lots of
missionary books (including language tapes such as 'Japanese for Latter-Day
Saints' designed specifically for missionaries), LDS books, and LDS fiction,
but also missionary tchatchkas like baby t-shirts saying 'Future
Missionary,' key rings saying 'I (heart) my missionary,' and so on. I noted
that while they had most of Orson Scott Card's works, his historical novel
SAINTS was with his science fiction rather than either fiction or LDS

Minimum elevation: 4925 ft (1501 m).

Maximum elevation: 5054 ft (1540 m).

Distance driven: 149 miles (240 kilometers).

May 23, 1995:

Today is mostly a day for driving from one part of the
middle of nowhere to another, though a lot more of it.

After breakfast, we took Route 14 east for 40 miles (64 kilometers).
This took us past Cedar Breaks National Monument, which we had planned to
visit. However, in the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center there was a sign posted
that Cedar Breaks was still closed because of snow and would open May 27th.
Driving by, we could understand why: there was still two feet of snow on
the ground and getting the road to it plowed and cleared was a non-trivial

We also did not get to Great Basin National Park this trip. This is
such a new National Park that it doesn't appear on any of our maps or in any
of the books. It was mentioned in some of the tourist brochures we picked
up, but even there they didn't say exactly where it was!

Along the road, we saw what we think where marmots just sitting on the
shoulder watching traffic go by. They were so still they seemed stuffed,
but when we turned around to check on one, it was gone, so it couldn't have
been stuffed, now could it?

This was probably the highest altitude of our trip, though there were
no altitude signs. We did see Navajo Lake about 500 feet (152 meters) below

After this, we went north on Route 89 for 20 miles (32 kilometers), and
east on Route 12 for 26 miles (42 kilometers), retracing part of our route
from Kanab through Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon. As we drove, we listened to
a radio program called 'Discover Utah's Wildlife.' It was sponsored by a
gun and fishing rod shop, and this episode consisted entirely of
instructions on how to apply for hunting permits. 'Discover Utah's
Wildlife--and Kill It!'

This got us to Kodachrome Basin State Park about 10:30 AM. This park
is known for its 'petrified geyser holes,' while are tall spires of mineral
deposits. (Scientists aren't sure they are the result of geysers; that's
just one theory.)

The admission here, as at other state parks, is on the honor system.
You take an envelope, fill in the information, put in your US$3 per car,
tear off the receipt, deposit the envelope, and put the receipt on your
dashboard. What you do if you don't have exact change is not clear.
There's also supposedly a pass for US$10 for unlimited entry to all state
parks for five days, but it's not clear how you get that either.

We tried to hike the Grand Parade Trail, but suspect we got off the
trail, because it was supposedly only a half-mile one way and we walked more
than that out and coming back found ourselves on a different trail on the
way back. In any case, we got back to the car, and drove to the Shakespeare
Arch Trail (named not for William Shakespeare, but for Ranger Tom
Shakespeare, who discovered it in the 1970s). This trail was supposed to be
one-quarter mile each way, which would be 1320 feet (402 meters). However,
it seemed longer, and when we paced it on the way back, it was 940 paces.
That would be an average of about 18 inches (half a meter) per pace, which
seems low, as the country was not that rugged. Oh, well, maybe that's

From here at noon we continued east on Route 12 for 33 miles (53
kilometers) to Escalante State Park, known for its large quantity of
petrified wood. But as soon as we got there (1:30 PM), it started to rain
(in addition to being cold and windy). This is an amazing talent we have:
if you put us in proximity to petrified wood, it starts to rain. It's sort
of like rubbing amber and wool together forms sparks. Anyway, we decided
just to take a quick look at their 'Petrified Cove,' which is a cluster of
petrified wood pieces collected and arranged in the curve of a hill near the
parking lot.

So we continued on, east on Route 12 for 27 miles (43 kilometers).
This took us past the Phipps-Death Canyon and the Boynton Overlook above it.
Legend has it that Phipps and Boynton were partners but had a falling out
over a woman. Boynton shot Phipps and killed him, then turned himself in
the next day. The local law enforcement gave him $10 and told him to go to
the county seat for trial. He was never heard from again.

We also drove over the Hog's Back, a stretch of road that follows a
ridge of rock instead of crossing it, resulting in a steep drop-off on
*both* sides. The roadside sign says you may feel like you're driving a
tightrope, and it's right. It is an amazing experience, in some ways
scarier than the Mokee Dugway even though much shorter. (It's probably a
little less than a mile, or about a kilometer.)

We stopped at the Anasazi Village State Park at 2:45 PM. This was
supposed to have a museum and some ruins, but the museum was closed. Well,
actually, it was open--wide open, with no roof or interior walls. They are
apparently completely remodeling it. The ruins were open though, and
because the museum was closed there was no admission charge. We took a look
at them, but this didn't take very long, and then we continued east on Route
12 for 38 miles (61 kilometers) and then east on Route 24 for 11 miles (18
kilometers) reaching Capitol Reef National Park about 4:00 PM. This was too
late to do any hiking, especially since we didn't have a motel yet, but we
did pick up the orientation flyers to help us plan what to do in the

We drove into the nearest town (Torrey) and after a couple of tries,
found a room for US$58.06 including tax in the Chuckwagon Motel (which
strangely enough doesn't seem to have a restaurant). This was more than we
had been spending, but the local motel situation was fairly sparse.

We had dinner at Capitol Reef Restaurant. Mark and I shared lemon
grilled chicken and smoked trout (similar to smoked whitefish). I was going
to have a cafe latte but their espresso machine was broken. (I'm not making
this up! And I certainly wouldn't have expected to find gourmet food and
coffee in Torrey, Utah.)

Minimum elevation: 5256 ft (1602 m).

Maximum elevation: ~11000 ft (~3352 m).

Distance driven: 238 miles (383 kilometers).

May 24, 1995:

We had breakfast at the Wonderland Inn. According to
one brochure, there are only sixteen restaurants in the entire county, so
our choice was limited.

We drove back to Capitol Reef National Park and decided to take the
ranger-guided hike through the Grand Wash. Unfortunately, we misread the
sheet and drove to the wrong end of the wash. By the time we realized this,
it was too late to drive to the other end, so we decided to start walking
through the two-and-a-quarter-mile (three-and-a-half-kilometer) wash and
meet up with the group in the middle.

This trail is also known as the Narrows Trail because you walk through
a narrow canyon between towering walls up to a thousand feet (three hundred
meters) high. Although the round trip is longer than other trails, it is a
very easy hike--the wash is as flat in most parts as a paved street. We
hiked along, enjoying the solitude and silence and, before we knew it, were
halfway through and met the group coming from the other side. They were
just getting ready to turn around and return, so we went back with them and
heard some of what the ranger had to say, much of which at this point was a
plea for us to write our Congresspeople and ask for better funding (or at
least not worse funding) for the National Park Service. She also talked
about how Utah's population was projected to grow from its current 1,800,000
to 3,100,000 in the next twenty-five years, and how this was going to put
pressure on the parks, both in terms of visitors, and in terms of needing
the land.

When we got to the end, we turned around and walked back. As we walked
rain clouds gathered, and I kept looking for alcoves and overhangs where we
could take shelter from the rain. But it didn't actually start until we got
back to the car about noon, three hours after we started.

We finished the Scenic Drive that we partially covered to get to the
(wrong) end of the Narrows Trail. The usual admission is US$4 per car, but
as with the state parks in this area, is on the honor system. (In fact,
they use the state parks envelopes!) The drive climbs gradually, from 5400
feet (1650 kilometers) at Capitol Gorge to 6500 feet (2000 kilometers) at
the Golden Throne. The rock formations here are similar to those at the
entrance of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, though not as
orderly and regular. In Needles, they were lined up as if a giant city of
massive rock buildings had been constructed; here, the rock buildings were
not as regularly spaced. After this we took a quick look at Goosenecks,
where the river below makes a gooseneck (or S-shaped) turn. (There are
apparently several places in Utah that have such river turns, so just seeing
the name 'Goosenecks' doesn't locate the site precisely.)

At 2:00 PM, we drove east on Route 24 to Goblin Valley State Park, with
a stop at the Luna Mesa Cafe. This rather odd bit of kitsch has a spaceship
(flying saucer type) painted on the front, and advertises that it's 'where
outer space and the elite meet.' It used to have a spaceship on the roof,
but that apparently fell off and is now sitting forlornly at the edge of the
parking lot, reminding me a bit of Harry's All-Night Hamburgers. In
addition to the dramatic scenery (I assume that's Luna Mesa behind the cafe,
or maybe it's just that the whole area looks like a lunar landscape), you
can get a pretty good cup of European-style coffee for only US$0.75.

This was about half-way between Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley, at mile
marker 103 (all the mile markers seem to face west, so if you're coming from
the east, it's 14 miles from the intersection of Route 24 and Utah Route
95). Actually, it's damn near impossible to miss unless you're asleep,
since it's just about the only thing along the road for miles.

So we're driving down Route 24 in the middle of nowhere when we get to
the turn-off for Goblin Valley State Park about 4:00 PM. We took the left
turn and drove five more miles (eight kilometers) on a secondary road
through even more nowhere, and then took another left turn and drove seven
more miles (eleven kilometers) though yet more nowhere, on an unpaved
washboard road. As we drove, the skies got more and more threatening (or
rather, the road kept twisting and turning to take us to the most
threatening part of the sky, complete with lightening). Just as we arrived
at the park (and a paved road again), the skies opened up.

Now this was similar to what had happened to us at Escalante (Petrified
Forest) State Park, and the entry fee system was the same, so we figured we
would take the envelope we still had from Escalante, fill in the information
and stick the tag on the dashboard, and then if the rain cleared enough for
us to see anything, drop the fee off on our way out. Well, it seemed like a
good idea at the time.ail. Luckily, the hail was small, not the golf-
ball (or larger) size we often hear about. Eventually this stopped and we
got off all these side roads and back to where the car wouldn't sink into
any mud that was created.

Having finally gotten back to the main road about 5:30 PM, we proceeded
east on Route 24 for 23 miles (37 kilometers) and then east on I-70 for 11
miles (18 kilometers) to Green River, where we checked into the Motel 6
(US$45.93 including tax).

Dinner was at the Book Cliff Restaurant, named after the cliffs nearby
that look like rows of books. I had a black bean burger, which was okay if
you added steak sauce.

Minimum elevation: 4080 ft (1244 m).

Maximum elevation: 6500 ft (2000 m).

Distance driven: 170 miles (274 kilometers).

May 25, 1995:

We got up early (as usual) and had a quick breakfast,
then went to the John Wesley Powell Museum. (Actually before doing this, I
called back to work to make sure that some information I needed on my return
would be ready. The time difference can sometimes be helpful, as I could
call before getting started for the day.)

John Wesley Powell, as we have already said (I think), was the first
person to travel down the Green and Colorado Rivers and map them, beginning
on May 24, 1869, emerging from Gray Canyon on July 13, reaching the Grand
Canyon on August 5, and the Virgin River on August 30. (This was all the
more remarkable because he had lost his right arm at Shiloh.) The Museum
covers his life as 'war hero, geologist, explorer, and ethnologist,' and
also the rivers of the area in general.

One extremely annoying aspect of the Museum was their film, 'The River
Experience' by Floyd Holdman. This uses footage from a couple of local
companies who run rafting tours of these rivers, with a narration consisting
of excerpts from Powell's diaries. Now Powell's party faced constant
danger, not the least of which was not knowing whether there was a way down
the river. If they got to a set of falls in the river too steep to go over,
and with no portage around (due to the sheer walls of the canyon), they were
doomed, because the current was too strong for them to return upstream. Add
to this hunger (an accident early on lost them most of their supplies),
disease, hostile Indians, and bad weather, and it's clear that this was not
a trip to be undertaken lightly. Which is why it's all the more irritating
to see happy vacationers frolicking on the screen while you hear Powell's
descriptions of hardship, or to seeing them eating sumptuous meals while
Powell talks of hunger, or to see them self-absorbed while Powell talks of
the beauty of the river, which for all his trials he seems to have
appreciated more than the modern-day rafters.

After this somewhat depressing experience, we made the three-hour drive
to Provo, gaining altitude--and precipitation. In fact, at times the rain
was so hard it was difficult to see.

In Provo, we stopped at the Brigham Young University Earth Science
Museum. Since it was lunch hour, even the staff was somewhat sparse.
Though the Museum is small, it does have several nice mounted skeletons.
Again, we found ourselves wondering, 'What is the Mormon Church's position
on evolution?' (A later reading of RELIGION, FEMINISM, AND FREEDOM OF
CONSCIENCE by George D. Smith makes me believe that while the Church accepts
the scientific notions of the age of the Earth and the existence of
dinosaurs and such, it does not endorse the principle of organic evolution.
But I could be misinterpreting.)

Lunch consisted of 'milk shakes': actually soft ice cream with flavors
mixed in to order. Utah is supposedly known for its ice cream, but Mark
prefers hard ice cream to soft.

We then drove to Salt Lake City (an hour away) and checked into La
Quinta (US$54.26 including tax). It was still early, but raining, so we
MOUNTAIN, which we had seen on the marquee of a cineplex we had passed. We
arrived at the theater at 2:40 PM, ready to wait if necessary, but it turned
out the next show was at 2:50 PM. Is that good planning or what?

When this was over, it turned out the rain had stopped, so we decided
to drive into Salt Lake City itself and have a look around. Our first stop
was--you guessed it--a bookstore. Deseret Books seems to be the largest
bookstore in the downtown area. Owned by the publishing house of the same
name, it has about half LDS books and materials, and half secular books. I
managed to find an LDS alternate history book; Mark found an LDS science
fiction series (not by Orson Scott Card, either!). Since I already have an
LDS Sherlock Holmes (well, what else would you call A STUDY IN SCARLET?),
that covered the bases fairly well.

The selection was okay--about what would expect from a mall store, but
not up to the level of a decent independent or superstore. I ran across Sir
Francis Burton's comments from 1862; they still seem somewhat relevant,
literature, after vainly ransacking the few book-stalls which the city
contains, I went to the Public Library, and, by sending in a card, at once
obtained admission.... The volumes, about 1000 in number, are placed in a
large room on the north side of the 'Mountaineer' office, and the librarian
attends every Thursday, when books are 'loaned' to numerous applicants.'

Dinner was at Cafe Trang, a quite good Vietnamese restaurant
recommended in THE UTAH GUIDE. After dinner (at 7:00 PM) we returned to
Temple Square to wait for the 8:00 PM rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle
Choir, which is open to the public.

I suppose that any description of Salt Lake City must include a
description of Temple Square, and any description of Temple Square must
include some discussion of the Mormon Church (a.k.a. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints). What follows is clearly personal opinion (as
is much of this log, I suppose).

I suppose I should note here that one of the things I like about
Judaism is an attempt by its philosophers to explain the reasons behind all
the rules (e.g., Maimonides' GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED). I haven't seen much
along these lines in other religions, which often seem to rely on pleas to
faith rather than evidence. So my views are colored by my desire for
explanation rather than just proclamations from 'authorities.'

One big point of debate I hear is whether Mormons are Christians.
Well, from my perspective they are: they believe that Jesus is the son of
God and that by dying on the cross redeemed mankind. Now I admit that some
of the Mormons' theology seems less in line with what other Christians
believe (for example, that God is a material being living on the planet
Kolob). Then again, one can also say that the belief that a priest actually
transforms wine into blood is not one held by most Christians either. In
both cases, the defining characteristic is whether the religion in question
holds certain beliefs about Jesus Christ (which is, after all, where the
name comes from).

In any case, one doesn't hear much more from the 'guides' in Temple
Square about the Mormon religion than this basic Christian message. The
guides are all young women who appear to have gone to what Shelley Berman
called 'Smile School.' They also all dress alike: long skirts, opaque
stockings, and jackets, and carry satchels. Are they all young women
because it's harder for them to go on missions and so they promote the
Church this way? Or is it because it's felt that they are less intimidating
to possible converts than any other group?

The guides take groups of tourists around to the various sites on the
Square which are open to Gentiles. (The Temple itself is not open to non-
Mormons.) At each one, they give some of the history, philosophy, or
message--usually all three. For example, after describing the Tabernacle,
our guide (Sister Damaske--they use the titles 'Sister,' 'Brother,' 'Elder,'
and so on) told us about what a sermon preached there might say, and how she
found it very comforting to know that 'Our Heavenly Father' was guiding her.
(For some reason unexplained, the literature and computer screens use the
word 'God,' but everyone seems to prefer 'Our Heavenly Father,' or even just
'Heavenly Father.')

The Square is one city block square, surrounding by a wall with four
gates in it, and containing the Temple, the Tabernacle, a Visitors Center, a
meeting house, several statues and memorials, and a lot of landscaping.

In the Visitors Center there are paintings of the famous stories of the
Bible, done with more realism than is typical. (The background characters
in the Noah's Ark painting are reminiscent of Breughel, for example.)
However, there were no paintings of stories from the Book of Mormon, either
here or in the Museum of Church History and Art. I can somewhat understand
it here--the audience is primarily Gentile. But it does seem odd in the
Museum, which seems aimed as much at Mormons as at Gentiles.

There is also a copy of a very famous (so they say) statue of Jesus in
a room where they play a recording of someone reading Jesus's words.

Because we were taking the tour so late, we missed the first fifteen
minutes or so of the rehearsal, but it worked out okay, because we had seats
reserved for us in the front (although I guess with the Tabernacle's
acoustics this shouldn't matter). The 342-voice, all-volunteer Choir sings
primarily on the Sunday morning CBS radio show 'The Spoken Word,' the
longest continuously broadcast network radio show (having run for sixty
years now).

While the Choir sounds very beautiful (even when the choirmaster didn't
seem to think so, but then I have a tin ear), I did have a problem
understanding the *words* they were singing in the songs unfamiliar to me.
Am I the only one who has this problem: understanding the words of songs
with more than one voice?

We left about 9:15 PM. The rehearsal was still going on, but many
people had left already, and this promised to go on for quite a while more,
while we were starting to get sleepy and still had to drive back to the
motel. On leaving Temple Square, we saw all the guides leaving in a group.
I guess they live in a large dormitory or something, since they are from all
over the world and don't necessarily have family to live with in Salt Lake

Minimum elevation: 4080 ft (1244 m).

Maximum elevation: 7477 ft (2279 m).

Distance driven: 220 miles (354 kilometers).

May 26, 1995:

Today was a day for the museums of Salt Lake City. We
started with the Utah State Historical Museum, housed in the Amtrak Station.
The exhibits were the usual sort of thing--old clothing and household
articles, mining equipment, and so forth. They had a list of all the
various ethnic groups that had helped build Utah, but I noticed that Jews
were not among them. Then again, even now the entire state has only three
Jewish congregations (two in Salt Lake City, and I forget where the third
one is), so I suppose that Jews were not a major force here. They had the
famous picture of the completion of the transcontinental railroad (of which
I will write more later), but although most of the work force of the Central
Pacific (and 40% of the overall work force) was Chinese, there does not
appear to be anyone Chinese in the picture.

We bought a couple of books in the gift shop: MORMONS AND JEWS by
D. Smith.

After this, which took about an hour and a half, we went to the
University of Utah Natural History Museum. This was filled with school
groups, which made the visit less than ideal. For one thing, the children
press the buttons to start the programs, listen for ten seconds, then
apparently realize 'Hey, this is trying to teach me something' and leave,
meaning no one else can hear it for the full cycle. What did they expect,
rock music?

We did manage to glean some interesting facts, such as the fact that
one-third of the world's languages are from the Western Hemisphere. And I
was pleased to see some skeletons of Cenozoic mammals in addition to the
usual Mesozoic dinosaur exhibits. I have to say, though, that the exhibit
on different sandal-making styles didn't do much for me.

By the way, you get free parking (with some upper limit) on the circle
in front of the museum if you're visiting it. Just ask the person who
issues your ticket for a parking tag to hang on your rear-view mirror.

We also stopped in at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, not easy to find
since all the signs seem to be obscured by foliage. It's a small
collection, and the special exhibitions were all very modern art, not my
favorite period. This is supposedly the largest art museum in Utah, but for
someone used to the art museums of New York or other major world cities, it
will be a big disappointment.

We finished here about 1:00 PM and the day appeared to be clearing up,
so I decided this would be a good time to spring my surprise on Mark. When
we had first arrived I had seen a brochure for an aerospace museum at Hill
Air Force Base. Mark likes this sort of thing, so I tucked the brochure
away and figured out where it was without mentioning it to Mark. The drive
up there took considerably longer than I expected, due to a traffic accident
and road construction, but luckily the museum hours were longer than the
information I had in the guidebook. (In general, museum hours seemed to
fluctuate wildly from what was listed in the books.)

Of course, the surprise was somewhat blunted by the signs indicating
which exit to take for the Hill AFB Museum, but you can't have everything.

The museum consists almost entirely of airplanes, some inside the
hangar, but most outside on the flight line. There are also a few missiles
and other accoutrements, but I will leave it to Mark to detail the exhibits
if he wants. I was an Air Force brat, so seeing military planes was no big
thrill, but Mark really enjoys this sort of place, so we do try to find them
on our trips.

At 3:30 PM we finished here and decided since we were so nee Ogden we
would go there for dinner, at the Cajun Skillet. I had alligator stew, and
Mark had a very spicy jambalaya. The food was good, but the service
somewhat slow (admittedly we arrived before the normal dinner hour and hence
probably disrupted their schedule). The parking on the street was one hour
only, so I had to go out right before the main course and move the car. Of
course, when time came to leave it was pouring rain--and hailing--so we
didn't look forward to the longer walk to the car.

Luckily, the waiter turned out to be somewhat interested in why we were
visiting Utah and what we thought of it. In talking to him, we also
discovered he was a science fiction fan, and ended up talking about science
fiction and science fiction authors. I don't know if it was the pink
triangle pin I was wearing, or just coincidence, but almost the first
science fiction question he asked was whether we thought Robert Heinlein was
gay (because he wrote about homosexual relationships and sex-change
operations). Based on everything I know (and I've read a fair amount by and
about Heinlein), this is not the case--Heinlein just found human sexuality
an interesting topic to write about. (And he was one of the pioneers in
writing about gender roles, though I'm not sure his attitudes would be the
most popular these days.)

By the way, the non-smoking rule does not apply to restaurants which
are 'private clubs.' 'Private clubs' are basically restaurants that have a
cover charge. These were initially created to take advantage of a loophole
in the odd liquor laws that Utah had until recently, but now they serve a
double purpose.

On the way back from Ogden, we passed a Barnes & Noble superstore.
Now, serious book-buyers in rec.arts.books have been debating the book
selection procedures of the superstores, saying that they are all cookie-
cuttered, based on the lowest common denominator and not on quality or local
customer base. So since I had the opportunity, I wanted to visit a Barnes &
Noble superstore to check out the truth or falsity of this assertion.

The Barnes & Noble was in West Bountiful, a suburb north of Salt Lake
City. In most categories it is true that it appeared to have the usual
selection. However, a closer examination of the science fiction section
showed a larger than average number of books by Orson Scott Card (the best-
known Mormon author of science fiction). My expertise in other fiction
areas is insufficient for me to judge them. In the religion section,
however, there was a noticeable difference. There were four stacks of
'Western Religion' (i.e., Catholicism and Protestantism), one stack of
Judaism (gee, I thought that was a Western religion--but I digress), and
three stacks of LDS books, including LDS fiction. (I don't believe there
was fiction in any of the other sections--books like EXODUS and THE LAST
TEMPTATION OF CHRIST tend to be found in the regular fiction section.) The
LDS books were by 'specialty' publishers which would not be carried by the
two major book distributors, so they must be ordered specially by the local

I have already described the other bookstores, and from all this, my
conclusion is that, far from driving out local independent stores, Barnes &
Noble is filling a gap, and in addition, their stock is at least somewhat
tailored to the local market, indicating that centralized buying is not as
over-arching as some fear.

We returned to Salt Lake City, and managed to locate the Utah Film and
Video Commission (which was in a building somewhat blocked by construction).
They were running 'Animation for a Friday Night' and since we are always on
the look-out for compilations of short films (animated or otherwise), this
seemed like as good a way as any to spend the evening. And so it was, even
though we had seen at least one of them ('The Janitor') before, and a couple
of others were not entirely to our tastes. Then again, most compilations
will have a couple that we don't particularly like, and there was a quite
wonderful Russian film ('The Hedgehog') to compensate. (It seems as though
Russian animated films are about the best ones these days, with some
competition from the Czechs.)

Minimum elevation: 4300 ft (1311 m).

Maximum elevation: 4390 ft (1244 m).

Distance driven: 133 miles (214 kilometers).

May 27, 1995:

Well, today was somewhat of a surprise, as we went to
one place we hadn't even scheduled and found a lot more than we expected at
a couple of others.

Our surprise addition was the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, run by the
Kennecott Copper Company--it was supposed to be named for Major Robert
Kennicott, but a clerk made a mistake and they stayed with the misspelling.
It is the world's largest open-pit copper mine, and is visible from space
(*not* from the moon, though).

Naturally, as soon as we got there, it started to rain (or maybe it was
sleet). Luckily, there was an awning over the overlook, and the Visitors
Center was of course inside.

This mine has been called 'The Richest Hole in the Earth,' producing
324,900 tons of copper (294,700 metric tons), 512,900 ounces of gold (16,000
kilograms), 3,439,000 ounces of silver (107,000 kilograms), and 12,625 tons
of molybdenum (11,450 metric tons).

As far as the rest of what is dug out (and this is fairly low-grade
ore), the tailings are dumped in Magna.

After we finished here, we drove back to Salt Lake City and the Utah
State Capitol. Given that we haven't even visited the New Jersey State
Capitol, this may seem silly, but that's what tourists do, I guess. We
waited in the car until the rain eased up a bit and went in. All we could
see, it being a Saturday, were the exhibits in the lobby and the lobby
itself. The relief map of Utah at least helped give us a feeling for where
we had been high in the mountains and where not.

After this we decided to see the Family History Library and the Museum
of Church History and Art. There is three hours' free parking for the
former, at a lot at the northwest corner of North Temple and West Temple.
(Of course, the books just say there's free parking; none of them tell you
where it actually is.) We parked the car and started with the Family History
Library at about noon.

The Family History Library is an outgrowth of the Mormon doctrine that
the deceased may have ordinances (such as baptisms and marriages) performed
in their behalf. Of course, the orientation room also notes, 'The deceased
may accept or reject the ordinances performed.'

This brings up a very recent issue. A few weeks ago, someone
discovered that the Mormon Church was performing posthumous baptisms for
Jews who had died in the Holocaust. The relatives of these people were
quite distressed upon learning this, and demanded that the Church stop
immediately. An investigation revealed that two Mormons who had visited
some of the death camps in Europe had been so moved that they decided to
have as many of these victims as possible baptized posthumously, in spite of
Church rules that you cannot have request these ordinances except for your
own ancestors (or possibly other close relatives). The Church apologized
and, I believe, declared the baptisms void.

Anyway, to get back to the Family History Library (previously the
Genealogy Library). It is now 101 years old. The present building was
dedicated in 1985, but it has already been outgrown. The records in it
cover 1550 through 1920. The latest United States census available is that
of 1920; later ones are still restricted by the Privacy Act (in 2002 they
say they can get the 1930 census).

The library has 2,000,000 rolls of film and 750,000 books. There are
240,000,000 names in their computer. The first floor is entirely books
relating to the United States and Canada, the second floor is microfilms and
microfiches for the same area. The second basement was described by the man
at the orientation lecture as 'British Isles,' but also included South
Africa and Australia. Unless tectonic shift has picked up the pace lately,
this floor might better be described as 'Eastern Hemisphere British
Commonwealth' (although South Africa is no longer in it). I suppose the
idea is English-language but not United States or Canada. The first
basement is the remainder: 'international,' he called it somewhat
inaccurately, saying it contained all the records in foreign languages.
This turned out to be inaccurate as well, since there was a copy of the
Isaac S. and Suzanne A. Emmanuel (Dewey Decimal 972.986 F2e) here. I
imagine this floor covered countries whose major language was not English.

Naturally I had to throw a monkey wrench (spanner in the second
basement) into the works by asking where the records for Puerto Rico would
be. The man giving the orientation seemed to think they would be on the
first basement, which was partially true, but the United Census records for
Puerto Rico were on the first floor with the rest of the United States, and
most of the rest were off-site.

The claim was that if you could trace your ancestry back to 1550, then
you hit a 'superhighway' and everything before that was easy. This may be
true, but we never found out. We started with the computer, and looking up
ourselves and our parents and so on by name. Both Mark's and my family seem
to have successfully dodged the Mormons, but mine seems to have dodged the
census takers as well. I couldn't find any of my grandparents in the 1920
census. (The sound of the first few bars of the 'Twilight Zone' theme is
heard in the background.) Mark did find records in the 1920 census for his
maternal grandparents, and discovered that they were not yet United States
citizens at the time.

The library also has passenger lists, death lists from the Social
Security administration and military casualties for Korea and Vietnam. Of
course, one problem with trying to trace back, say, my maternal grandmother
is that her birth name was very common (Horowitz); her married (Berlin) is
also fairly common; her first name was Gussie, was listed on her graduation
certificate as Augusta, and was later 'Americanized' to Gladys; she didn't
know what year she was born (but it was the third candle of Hannukah that
year), or what ship she came over on, or when; and I don't know where that
ship came from. I *think* she was born in Bialystok, but I could be
misremembering that.

On my father's side, the name is unusual (Chimelis), but I had no
success there either. The birth records for his town were not on site, but
even so I think all I'd get is what shows on his birth certificate. Perhaps
with a few days I could get somewhere, but not in two hours.

It is not yet possible to log into the computer remotely, but they say
that's in the works.

I did learn about the Soundex system, which maps similar sounds into
the same code number. Ignoring vowels and aspirated consonants (such as H),
you assign each remaining letter in the name (except the first) a number as
1 B P F V
2 C S K G J Q X Z
3 D T
4 L
5 M N
6 R

So, for example, 'Chimelis' becomes C-542 and 'Berlin' becomes B-645.

This method is very useful when looking up names, especially those
mangled by immigration officials, because names that sound alike are
together (Rubin, Reuben, Reuven, etc.). (I told you I could write more
about how things work than about scenery.)

As I said, we spent two hours in the Library, and then decided to spend
the remainder of our free three hours in the Museum of Church History & Art
next door. So we turned in our parking stub at the desk in the Library and
got a token to be used instead of paying US$5 at the lot. At the Museum the
'greeter' was an older woman--there seems to be a hierarchy here, with the
young women doing the Temple Square tours, and the older women working in
the buildings, though maybe these are paid employees rather than volunteers.
We explained we had less than an hour before our three hours was up at the
parking lot and the woman explained that limit was really for people from
Salt Lake City so they didn't monopolize the lot, and that we were free to
stay as long as we liked. It's true that the token was just a token, not
some sort of time-stamped ticket, and that the exit was automatic (you put
in a token or US$5 to exit). Still, this seems not quite honest, and it's
somewhat surprising to hear the official guides suggesting you ignore the
posted rules.

The Museum of Church History and Art is probably the largest museum
we've been in this trip (admittedly a small set). In addition to the
permanent exhibits, it had a couple of special exhibitions. One was 'Sacred
Connections,' an attempt to link the LDS religion to the Navajo and Hopi
religions. There was also a children's exhibit titled 'Jesus Was Once a
Little Child' (after the poem by James R. Murray: 'Jesus was once a little
child,/A little child like me;/And he was pure and meek and mild,/As a
little child should be.').

The audio descriptions here seemed longer than most museums, maybe
because they are aimed at an adult audience. Part way through the history
section, I found myself reminded of the exchange in A STRANGER AMONG US in
which the policewoman says to the young Hassidic woman, 'You're another Joan
of Arc,' and the woman replies, 'Who is she?' There's a whole history here
that Mormons know that we don't. (And here I am talking about such history
as the persecutions in New York and Illinois, the establishment of Salt Lake
City, the great emigration with handcarts, and so on, complete with their
heroes and heroines whose names are familiar to the Mormons visiting the
Museum, but not to me. Of the Mormon 'mythology' I am equally ignorant,
barely understanding who the Nephites and the Lamites were. It's as if
someone was trying to understand Christian art without knowing anything
about Jesus.)

Although immigration to Salt Lake City was initially encouraged, at
some point around the turn of the century Church policy changed and they
started encouraging converts to remain where they were and spread the faith
there. (One might wonder if there is some parallel to Israel, which is not
yet to this stage.) In any case, in Salt Lake City, in Utah, and in the
world, there is a large enough base for what might be termed a separate
culture vis-a-vis books, music, movies, etc. (The same is true of
evangelical Protestants as well, I would say.)

There is a forty-minute audio tour (via cassette, I assume) that might
be worth-while if we have time to come back.

After this I was really hungry, so we had a snack at the Chiang Mai in
the food court in the shopping mall across from Temple Square. It was 3:00
PM, which pretty much messed up our dinner schedule, but that's the way it

We walked back to the car through Temple Square to take a few pictures
and eavesdrop on some tours. As I noted earlier, all the tour guides talk
about 'Our Heavenly Father' or even just 'Heavenly Father' rather than
'God.' This, combined with their incessant cheerfulness, is what I find
most off-putting. I suppose it's that I have known Mormons, and they don't
seem to be as immersed in their religion to the exclusion of everything
else. Then again, they're not guides at Temple Square, and all this proves
is that trying to judge a religion based on the guides at its holy places is
probably misleading.

We also went to the part of the Visitors Center we hadn't seen before,
which had touch screens that had questions such as 'Is there a God?' and
'Are Mormons Christians?' Unfortunately, the answers to the most debated
questions (such as 'Is there a God?') tended to be authoritarian rather than
evidential. (All the people on the tape say 'Our Heavenly Father' instead
of 'God' also.)

At 4:15 PM we returned to the room and caught up on writing. Around
8:00 PM we went to dinner at the Thai House and had a much better Thai
dinner than we had a Thai lunch.

Minimum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m).

Maximum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m).

Distance driven: 85 miles (137 kilometers).

May 28, 1995:

I suppose this is as good a place as any to include this
quote from official Church documents polygamy and its understanding of the
legal position of the United States government towards it: 'The
Constitution leaves the several States and Territories to enact such laws as
they see proper in regard to marriage, provided they do not infringe upon
the rights of conscience and the liberties guaranteed in that sacred
document. Therefore, if any State or Territory feels disposed to enact laws
guaranteeing to each of its citizens the right to marry many wives, such
laws would be perfectly constitutional.... Indeed, we doubt very much
whether any State or Territory has the constitutional right to make laws
prohibiting the plurality doctrine in cases where it is practiced by
religious societies as a matter of conscience or as a doctrine of their
religious faith. ... If the people of this country have generally formed
different conclusions from us upon this subject, and if they have embraced
religions which are more congenial to their minds than the religion of the
Saints, we say to them that they are welcome to their own religious views;
the law should not interfere with the exercise of their religious rights.
If we cannot convince you by reason or by the Word of God that your religion
is wrong, we will not persecute you, but will sustain you in the great
Charter of American Liberty....' (As quoted by Sir Richard Francis Burton
on page 379 of THE CITY OF THE SAINTS)

In spite of the Church's somewhat optimistic viewpoint, the United
States did in fact refuse to allow Utah to become a state until it outlawed
polygamy. (This was during what Mark described as the United States's
clueless period.)

The weather had finally cleared up (and it was our last full day, so it
wouldn't have mattered anyway), so we used today to go to Golden Spike
National Historic Site.

On the way up we saw the sort of billboard that makes people hate
lawyers: 'Is your divorce driving you to drink?' followed by the names and
numbers of two lawyers, one who specializes in divorces and one who
specializes in drunk driving cases.

As we were heading towards Golden Spike, we passed a sign saying
'Rocket Display--6 miles.' I looked at Mark. Mark looked at me. We both
said, 'Rocket display?'

Yes. Out here in the middle of nowhere is a rocket display. Well, not
quite the middle of nowhere, but on the front lawn of Morton Thiokol, which
is based (not entirely coincidentally) in Thiokol, Utah.

Even on a Sunday morning, there were actually two other couples looking
at the rockets, although they left shortly after we arrived. The rockets
were supposedly real, but the Peacekeeper Stage I was made of plywood--we
could tell because it was not yet painted! This makes me think the rest are
probably fakes (or more charitably, replicas) too. There were about a dozen
or so, arranged on cinders--I found this an unintentional reminder of the
Challenger disaster, but that may be just me.

From Thiokol it was only a few miles to Golden Spike. In fact, from
the first stop at Golden Spike, overlooking the Big Fill, we could still see
the rocket display. In a sense, therefore, we stepped backwards in time
almost exactly a hundred years, from July 20, 1969, to May 10, 1869. Or
looked at in reverse, it's something like the 'Twilight Zone' episode, 'A
Hundred Yards Over the Rim.'

This site was considerably less crowded than I expected, partly because
there's very little there. There's a small exhibit, and a few hundred yards
of track (new) laid down specifically to give a place to run the two steam
locomotives (also new). Of the original track and engines, nothing remains
except a short length of rail in the exhibit hall.

How did this happen? Well, that's a long story. First of all, when
the tracks were being laid, the government was paying the Union Pacific
(coming from the east) and the Central Pacific (coming from the west) a
certain amount per mile, plus giving the land along the tracks. So when
they actually approached each other, they didn't hook up, but kept building
past each other until there was about two hundred fifty miles (four hundred
kilometers) of parallel track. At this point, the government called a halt
and ordered them to join up, so they split the difference and decided to
meet at Promontory Point, not because there was anything there but because
it was the halfway point. The real station was going to be in Ogden.

This is our last visit this trip to someplace managed by the National
Park Service, so I might as well include their mission here, although this
was really the first place we saw it posted: 'To conserve the scenery and
the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for
the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as to leave
them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.' [August 25, 1916]

Although the National Park Service is working hard to be what is often
termed 'politically correct,' I noticed they haven't changed one of the
displays, which makes reference to 'a Chinaman.'

There was a brief display of steam engines--mostly just driving the
reconstructions of the Jupiter and the 119 on the track to their original
meeting point. After that we listened to a brief talk by one of the rangers
on the history of the transcontinental railroad. He began with the
observation that, though the railroad was critical at the time, it has
fallen into disuse and that all of us arrived by car, and if from farther
away, by plane before that.

The whole idea of a transcontinental railroad began with Theodore
'Crazy' Judah, who was obsessed with idea of a Sacramento-Omaha railroad.
He convinced four rich men (Stanford, Huntington, Crocker, and [I think]
Collins) to invest in it, particularly when the Railroad Act of 1862
provided incentives. The companies would get money and land for each mile
of completed track. (As I noted earlier, this caused the railroads to get a
bit carried away.)

It took 22,000 men to build the railroad. First the surveyors came
along. Then the graders made a fourteen-foot-wide roadbed. These were
followed by bridge builders, trestle makers, section crew workers (also
called gandy dancers, who dropped a 556-pound rail every thirty seconds on
each side of the roadbed), gaugers, spikers, bolters, and spike-drivers
(each making three hits per spike).

The ranger also talked about the Plum Creek Massacre, where the Indians
cut the telegraph wires and used them to lash extra ties to the rails.

10,000 of 12,000 Central Pacific workers were Chinese. (The Central
Pacific was the company heading east.) This was apparently because all the
whites in California at the time were tied up in gold mining.

Tent cities followed the tracks, and were full of prostitutes,
gamblers, and other colorful characters. According to one contemporary
journalist, 'The men who worked on the railroad earned their many like
horses and spent it like asses.'

Not only was there duplication of the tracks for two hundred fifty
miles (four hundred kilometers), but there was also 'miraculous
multiplication' of the final iron spike. There were four special spikes
used for the ceremony: two gold, one gold/silver alloy, and one silver. One
of the gold spikes has disappeared, one is in the Stanford Museum, and the
other two spikes have known locations which I can't remember. But these
were just for show. Almost immediately after the ceremony, these were
removed and replaced by iron spikes. But people came and took the iron
spikes, which were then replaced, and re-stolen, and replaced, and re-
stolen, etc., for several days. So there are quite a few 'last iron

Of course, when the project was over, a lot of workers were laid off.
Even the original locomotives were treated rather cavalierly: they were sold
for scrap in 1903 and 1909. (The current locomotives were built by O'Connor
Laboratories from photographs, and cost US$750,000 each from tax money; the
company spent another US$250,000 each because the owner wanted to do it.)

The original track used iron rails because the railroad act required
them to use American parts and we couldn't produce steel then. So a few
years later all the tracks were replaced with steel, and none of the
original track was left. (And during the war, all the steel rails that were
no longer used were pulled up for scrap. I think the ranger meant World War
II, but I'm not sure.)

We watched the film 'The Golden Spike' and listened to someone present
'Tales of the Rails,' then took the West Auto Tour. Contrary to what was
said, there were no pamphlets at the trailhead, so we weren't always sure
what we were seeing as we drove along the old grade, except for the spot
where there was a sign noting that here was where they had laid ten miles
(sixteen kilometers) of track in a day. We also took the East Auto Tour and
walked along the Big Fill Trail, finishing up about 4:00 PM.

We returned to Salt Lake City, and had dinner at a great Mexican
restaurant called the Red Iguana. We started with Chiles Encurtidos (shrimp
wrapped in jalapenos and fried). Mark had Mole Amarillo and I had
Papadzules (a pre-Columbian dish). You can tell a good Mexican restaurant
by the fact it has mole on the menu besides tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
(Actually, even tamales are hard to find most places.) You can tell a
*really* good one by the fact it has a variety of moles.

After dinner, we went to the Tower Theater, where we bought a copy of
TRAPPED BY THE MORMONS (a 1922 British camp classic), and saw A MAN OF NO
IMPORTANCE. Returning to the room, we watched the last part of THE GREAT
INDIAN RAILWAY on PBS, a singularly appropriate end to the day.

Minimum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m).

Maximum elevation: 4905 ft (1495 m).

Distance driven: 238 miles (383 kilometers).

May 29, 1995:

I hate writing about the last day of a trip. It's
usually boring airport stuff.

We checked out of the hotel and were going to go see an LDS film,
LEGACY, but we got side-tracked at the Family History Library for an hour
instead. I was able to check my theory that 'Chimelis' is really a variant
on a Greek name, 'Ximelis.' I looked in a book of Greek surnames from a
census in Greece. There was no 'Ximelis.' Oh, well, another theory shot to
hell, as they say.

We decided to drive west on I-80 just to see what there was to see.
This turned out to be not much: the Great Salt Lake on our right, and then
a whole lot of nothing. But on the shore of the lake was a large pavilion
which I pointed out to Mark. 'I wonder what that is.' 'That's where the
dead dance,' he replied--and then a couple of miles later did a double-take
when he realized that *was* where the dead danced, at least in the film

So we drove down to the next exit, turned around, and returned to the
Saltair Pavilion. This is actually not the same pavilion--that one burned
down in the early 1970s (the film was made in 1962). And that one had
replaced a previous one. Each succeeding pavilion was less ornate than the
previous one. The current one was supposedly an airplane hangar before it
was moved here, and still looks it, though I imagine it could be fancied up
for events. As far as permanent concessions, there is a souvenir shop and
an ice cream place with some very good (hard, not soft) ice cream.

We finished looking around here, returned the rental car, and caught
our 2:15 PM flight to Houston. Our connecting 6:50 PM flight to Newark
ended up re-routed to Norfolk, Virginia, because all the New York area
airports were closed due to bad weather, though, and we didn't get in to
Newark until about 2 AM. This caused some problem with the limousine
because the phone number seemed to have been changed in the interim and the
new one didn't work from Norfolk. We were able to call when we got to
Newark and confirm that the driver was there (he eventually found us), but
it still cost us an extra US$50 in waiting charges.

Minimum elevation: 20 ft (6 m) (in New Jersey).

Maximum elevation: 4390 ft (1338 m) (not counting the time in the

Distance driven: 90 miles (149 kilometers).

Summary: Our costs for this trip were:

Airfare - 584
Land Transportation - 630
Hotel - 685
Food - 462
Film & Developing - 201
Miscellaneous - 532
TOTAL - 3104

This is more expensive per day than either our trip to India or our
trip to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries (though not by much), which
means the savings in air fare was taken up in the higher costs for
everything else (and the fact that the airfare was spread over a shorter
time). We drove 3720 miles, fewer miles than our last trip to this area,
but more per day.

I can't really summarize this trip except to say that Utah has gorgeous
scenery, but lacks many of the cultural and social outlets available in
other, less scenic, places.