There are only two significant attacks by enemies on American soil — Pearl Harbor and 9/11. All of us are aware of the efforts to “get bin Laden” and its ultimate success, but not many know about the retribution for Pearl Harbor.Continue reading
Monthly Archives: June 2022
First Motorized Crossing of the US in 1903
In 1903, ten years before the idea of the Lincoln Highway came to be, and travel was dominated by horse and buggy, George Adams Wyman accepted a challenge to ride a motorized bicycle across the continent in 40 days, the first attempt by a motorized vehicle. The California Motor Bicycle Company provided the bike and expense money if he documented the trip in Motorcycle Magazine articles. (Marketing!) He was to receive a bonus if he completed the trip in 40 days. It took 50 days so he did not receive the bonus. But then, he did it by himself, without any support crew. You can only imagine the fragility of a 1902 bicycle with wooden rims and unreliability of a gasoline engine of the day. (His crankshaft broke, and he had to push the bike to Chicago.) Half of his 3500 mile journey was on the Union Pacific railroad tracks.Continue reading
Heads of State
In the summer of 1970 I took my first vacation. Ever. I had a new yellow Fiat 124 Spider convertible that I packed with a tent, a duffel of gear and a cooler, and headed west from Detroit. It was maybe the second or third day out; cold, constant rain and dark. I saw the sign that said Mount Rushmore and decided to pass on setting up camp in the rain. I pulled the car up an incline on the verge of a side road to make reclining easier and quickly fell asleep.Continue reading
Goodbye Lincoln Highway
After wandering through the National Park Canyons, I again picked up the Lincoln Highway in the guise of US highway 50 in Ely Nevada and followed it through Nevada on the “loneliest road in America.” Some news organization gave it that moniker quite a few years ago, and I did not find it accurate. There was plenty of traffic, places to stop, pipelines, powerlines, farms and ranches that made it not at all lonely. In my experience a much lonelier road is highway 21 from Milford Utah to Garrison Utah. During that 80 mile drive I saw a dozen cars, two ranch houses, some kind of mine, and not a few lost cattle – nothing else. Occasionally there would be a dirt road with a sign that said, “Sometown 30 miles.”Continue reading
Goodbye Lincoln Highway
After wandering through the National Park Canyons, I again picked up the Lincoln Highway in the guise of US highway 50 in Ely Nevada and followed it through Nevada on the “loneliest road in America.” Some news organization gave it that moniker quite a few years ago, and I did not find it to be true. There was plenty of traffic, places to stop, pipelines, powerlines, farms and ranches that made it not at all lonely. In my experience a much lonelier road is highway 21 from Milford Utah to Garrison Utah. During that 80 mile drive I saw a dozen cars (some parked), two ranch houses, a mine of some kind, and a few lost cattle – nothing else. Occasionally there would be a dirt road with a sign that said, “Sometown Nevada 30 miles.”
I was generally disappointed with my Lincoln Highway drive. For some reason I expected it to be like Route 66, but it was not. Route 66 is alive. Towns along the way like Seligman, Winslow and Tucumcari make a big deal about it. There are many 66-focused restaurants, shops, museums and the like, and people you meet want to be a part of the history of the Mother Road. On the Lincoln Highway it was difficult to find even a highway marker. The first place I found a shop where I could get a Lincoln Highway sticker for my trailer door was the Medicine Bow Museum. It seems to me that the Lincoln Highway is a historical fetish of the Lincoln Highway Association, but they have failed to capture the interest of the people who live along it.
I rejoined US-50 north of Garrison and followed it through Ely Nevada and the “not so lonely road” to Fernley Nevada for the night. At Sparks I left highway 50 and turned northwest toward California.
Crooked River Gorge
The most fun I have on these wanderings is when I come across a place that is truly spectacular and I had no idea it was there. Such a place is the Crooked River Gorge.
Because of a scheduling problem, I had an eight hour driving day; pretty long for me, and stopped at a rest area north of Redmond Oregon to sleep for a while. Signs in the parking lot said “dangerous cliffs” and “leave your pets in the car. Many dogs have died here!” That was ominous. A short walk brought me to the Crooked River Gorge.Continue reading
Another Dam Site
Spring, 2023 Update
Since I wrote this in June, 2022, the western United States has seen a lot of precipitation. The “atmospheric river” dumped weeks of rain on the northwest. (I was hunkered down on the Oregon coast during most of it.) Snowpack in the California mountains is more than double normal levels. Wyoming has near-record amounts of snow in the higher elevations, with some concern that rapid melt and rain could cause a repeat of last June’s Yellowstone flooding. the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is predicting that levels of Wyoming’s two major lakes, Bighorn and Boysen will exceed 30-year averages, and Lake Powell levels could increase by 100 feet or more.
While one winter of heavy precipitation will not solve the problems of low pool in Powell and Mead, it will certainly help. We shall see what the summer holds.
Another night on the Colorado. (Technically it is Lake Powell until it flows through the Glen Canyon Dam and then it becomes the Colorado again.) Then it goes on its way through the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Davis Dam and Parker Dam before disappearing somewhere in the Arizona sand.Continue reading
I Hiked the Hoodoos
Hoodoos are a geological formation when erosion attacks a hard rock layer over a much softer rock. Some are small and others as tall as a 10-story building. Because of the minerals in the rock they can have spectacular colors. They are found all over the world, typically in dry, hot areas, and the most impressive are in Bryce Canyon National Park. If you want to know more about how they are formed, the National Park Service has a good explanation. As you can see in the photo below, as the mesa has eroded over the eons, freeze/thaw cycles and erosion has removed the rock, leaving spires of varying height – as if they were dug from the ground.
North from the entrance to the National Park you will find the trailhead to Mossy Cave and Tropic Ditch. In 1892 pioneer setllers of the town of Tropic worked for over two years digging a canal to divert water from the Sevier River, over the cliffs of Bryce Canyon and into the Tropic valley, a distance of 15 miles and a drop of 1,500 feet. To reduce the labor, they followed natural courses where possible. Except for the drought of 2002, the water has flowed continuously for 130 years, giving life to the people and crops of Tropic Utah.
I spent two full days here, hiking through this magnificent landscape.
Canyonlands Dark Sky
CanyonLands is a relatively new National Park opened in the 60’s. It is a 90 minute drive from Moab; rugged and minimally developed. Ninety-five percent of the park can only be reached by hiking or 4×4 trails, many of them considered “high technical difficulty.” ATV’s are not allowed. There are no amenities like food, gas or cell phone service. The only flushing toilets are in the visitor center. The campsites are paved, but primarily to keep vehicles from damaging the surrounding desert.Continue reading
Canyonlands Cowboys and a Bit of Remembering
From the 1890’s to as recently as 1975 Ranchers have run cattle in Canyonlands. This is not pasture grazing – this is high desert. I imagine the cattle only survived. The cattle and the cowboys that tended them were surely tough. The cowboys lived in open air “bunkhouses” under the overhanging rock for months at a time. The black is the smoke deposits from the stove behind the bush. (No, the white box in the center is not a beer cooler!)Continue reading