Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Down and out in Denver

I was supposed to be in the Grand Canyon at this time, but shortly after the last blog post was written a large oil leak was discovered in my car. I am trying to get BP to pay, but in the meantime I have been stuck at a friend's place waiting to hear estimates back from various shops and then waiting for the parts to be ordered... work will commence tomorrow... I suppose I could have my car back tomorrow night, but there is the additional problem that it suddenly became very hard to start the morning I took it in to the shop and this problem has not yet been diagnosed, let alone worked on. So I do not know how long I will be here in limbo.

Watching the snow fall on Denver from my little prison. Katie and I took all of last month to get through Harry Potter 3, taking turns reading to each other in the evenings. I read Harry Potter 4 in two days, waiting, then read Krakauer's Into Thin Air today (it's very good, by the way). It took a long time to decide whether to repair the car (which has 175,000 miles on it... yeah, I know it's a Corolla) or to take my remaining money and buy a new one. In the end it seemed to make more sense, economically, to repair this one... it is remarkable what even another used car with only 150,000 miles would cost if I wanted to replace mine... and it means I will still have money to continue traveling, if I wish.

I am reevaluating the scope of my November/December travel plans in light of the repair expenses but at this time am still hoping to visit at least a couple more parks before the holidays. Best case scenario, the car and I will be ready to go tomorrow evening; worst, it will still take a couple more weeks to diagnose and fix the starting problem. I have been really languishing, mostly just reading to try to keep from worrying, not really taking advantage of being in Denver. Because I wanted to be in Arizona right now. I spoke of flexibility in the last entry... apparently I'm only able to be flexible if I'm already on the road. Right now I'm just sad and angry at being stuck here.

But, while I am posting, here are a bunch of photos from the first half of last month that got cut from my previous posts.

Our initial drive into Canyonlands.

A picture Katie took of me doing a yoga pose in front of some odd blocks of sandstone at Canyonlands.

A strange wall at Canyonlands. This was in the backcountry, I thought it might have been some kind of horse corral. The hilarious thing about it was that the builder(s) had used five different materials. From left to right, they are: barbed wire (difficult to see on far left); wooden boards; corrugated metal; sandstone slabs stood on end; and sandstone blocks piled into a wall.

One of the interesting geologic features we found on the trail. Katie said she thinks these are mud cracks (seen in side view) filled in with sand (all of which was later distorted, giving some of the cracks a lightning-bolt shape). The climate at this time, more than 200 million years ago, may have been becoming dryer.

On one of our long hikes, while I keep rushing on because of the thunderheads building on the horizon, Katie keeps stopping to look at fossil wood and bone in the Chinle Formation, the same formation she did her master's thesis work in in Arizona.

Katie and a pile of petrified wood.

Me and a view of the White Rim, which stands above the inner canyon.

A picture Katie took of me in the Joint in Canyonlands.

Katie in the Joint. I don't think I included this one in my previous post, though now I'm not sure why, as it's a great shot of the narrow canyon. Perhaps it was because Katie's expression didn't match the pure geologic delight of our surroundings. As far as that goes...

Katie threatens me for taking a picture of her painting her nails. I was fascinated with the process, never having painted my own nails, and especially with the fact that she was choosing to do this the night before we were going backpacking. And that she was choosing to paint them bright canary yellow.

Our good friend The Car, in Gobin Valley State Park at sunrise. I actually took this picture because of the guy sitting in his chair at the top of the hill who was watching the sun rise.

A shot of Little Wild Horse Canyon. When I was there I kept wanting to say Little Dead Horse Canyon, because we'd driven past Dead Horse Point State Park not long before. The story of how the state park got its name is predictably gruesome, but somehow the idea of a little dead horse is even worse.

Small eroded holes in the wall of Little Wild Horse Canyon. I believe there's a name for these, and I'm disappointed I've forgotten this one piece of geologic arcana.

A gigantic dog footprint at our campsite near Capitol Reef National Park. These huge prints were interspersed with human prints, leading Katie to decide that the site was most likely previously occupied by a werewolf. The other spooky thing about the site was that we were right next to a creek that was cutting into a bank of shale, and it was eroding fast enough that all night long we could hear chunks of rock breaking off and falling into the creek with great plops.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie and afternoon tea at the werewolf campsite. It was very civilized, except for the fact that we were sitting on chunks of wood in the dirt. Another thing about this site was that it was in the 70s while the sun was out--we'd be sweating in our t-shirts--and then the moment it set, the temperature would drop about 30 degrees.

The making of pizza on a pita. When we didn't have a picnic table, as was the case at undeveloped or "dispersed" camping sites, the trunk of the car sufficed. By the end of the month it had remnants of every meal stuck to it, as well as a good smattering of coffee grounds and cocoa powder from breakfast.

If I'm stuck here another week I'll do another post with more previously unseen photos!


Mom said...

Where is your little prison?

Sorry about your car trouble.



Anonymous said...

chin up girl, you'll be on the road in no time (that is on the geologic time scale!)


J said...

I am staying with a friend in Denver, actually the room is very nice, if windowless, but I think my not wanting to be here is making everything seem awful.

The car is currently being worked on in the 4th shop I've taken it to. We'll see if this fixes the problem.

Thank you for the support! Geologic time indeed.