Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

On the Road Again

We took off at 8:30 am, after finishing the very last of our packing and the last dregs of the refrigerator. That's always one of those traditions of travel that I've both loathed and taken an odd sort of delight in. The usage of the leftovers in creative ways has always been kind of fun, but the last few meals are always something of a hodgepodge of odd bits and ends. And given that all the Memorial Day weekend and graduation party goodies were being advertised everywhere, it was insult on top of injury.

Boulder Flat Irons
One of those things that I nearly never do is take pictures of the beginning of our journeys. I think some of it is that I'm usually so tired from all the things that we had to do to get ready for the journey that I'm asleep in the car before we even get onto the freeway.

I had to get the beehive all settled, and had to get the tomatoes into the garden and the watering system up. There was also all the laundry so we could pack. I also wanted to play with a lot of the OTB community guys 'cause I'd be away for 10 days, and Jet also went late a few nights with Rainbow Six. I had fun watching him play.

This time, though, I managed to get a good shot of the Boulder Flat Irons just as we were leaving home. I often think that there's no real reason to leave when we have mountains like this just around our house.

Ghost Trees
Then I passed out. *laughs*

We headed directly north and then west on Highway 40. And it was all incredibly green. It's been raining and snowing pretty steadily since the beginning of May, and the lands up here showed it as well. There was still snow up here. The streams were full but not burgeoning, since the melt was slow and steady. And what you see here are groves of aspens that haven't leaved out, yet.

They look like ghost trees against the firs and pines; but it's the firs and pines that are dying due to the pine beetles getting at them.

There were clouds all along, and we stopped in Steamboat Springs to get gas and eat lunch out of our cooler and the back of the van. We had cheese, crackers, and salami and various types of fruit, Rainier cherries and apples were good. And it was cold enough up there I had to put on a sweatshirt.

I took over the driving after that. A good four hour nap was plenty, and it was fairly easy driving further along 40, through the rest of Colorado and into Utah. The rolling mountains and plains filled with cattle, horses, and even a herd of antelope that watched the cars roll by. There were rain showers and we ran past thunderheads that were rolling east.

The two-lane roads were clear of traffic our way, most of the traffic was people going home after a weekend out. There were plenty of police in the small towns, to, so I was careful to stick to speed limits in town, and we saw at least two people getting pulled over while we went through various places.

The Carnegie Quarry
Just before Vernal, UT, we stopped at the Dinosaur National Monument, and the most spectacular exhibit was the wall of fossils known as the Carnegie Quarry. It was a literal wall of fossilized bones. Earl Douglass had discovered it by seeing a whole set of tail bones sticking out of the ground in perfect formation. The wall is just full of fossils of over several hundred large dinosaurs.

There seems to have been a 'log jam' of dinosaur bodies all deposited in one site by, perhaps, a river flow, a pocket of still water where all the bodies and skeletons just ended up. It was amazing to look at that wall and see coils of bones of various types of dinosaurs that everyone has seen in natural history museums all over the country. They've left the wall as a display because intact it is more valuable, scientifically, than the individual skeletons would be if they were excavated. But the sheer wealth of fossils was pretty incredible to see.

Allosaurus Skull
What was even crazier was that since there were so many fossils exposed, there were even ones that you could touch at the foot of the wall. I was amazed by that, and I had to touch them. Of course, they felt like stone. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the grain of the bone could be felt in the stone. I was amazed and happy that I could do it.

One of the rarer fossils is actually the skull of the animals. Skull bones are thinner and more fragile than the other bones, so it's rare to get a complete skull and this Allosaurus skull was the prize of the Carnegie collection. It turned out that it had actually be separated from the rest of the skeleton; but because the bones had been so beautifully preserved, someone had written a paper that it seemed likely that the skull was also intact and should be in the vicinity.

Someone had a scanner that, given a small sample of the rest of the skeleton, was actually able to scan the nearby rock for a pocket of something with the same carbon signature, and they found the skull using that. It was pretty cool.

After the quarry, we went on a hike near the Green River, on the Desert Voices trail. Or at least what we thought was the Desert Voices hiking trail, but we went the wrong way and went up onto a bluff that was really steep.

It was pretty hard to get up, and wasn't in the same kind of shape that a national park path should be, but it was an amazingly hard hike up. At the top, though, were dozens and dozens of beautifully twisted juniper trees. Each of them had crazy personalities, and I kept stopping to take more pictures of them for reference materials for paintings. I really loved that.

Getting down again, though, was a pain, and the two boys had to scout for me, 'cause my right knee started to give out. So when we got down again, and found the actual flat, sand trail that lead out into the desert, we decided to skip the hike and go back to the car and get to the hotel John had reserved for us in Vernal.

Fried Brussel Sprouts with Candied Bacon
Dinner was at the Vernal Brewing Company, and it was pretty fabulous. We started with fried brussel sprouts with candied bacon, a raspberry Italian soda for Jet with plenty of cream, and an Allosaurus Ale for John. I had the house-brewed orange cream soda, which they made with their own bees' honey. It was cool sitting on the patio and being able to see their vegetable garden that they'd planted along the side of the building. I love a restaurant that has its own garden, where you can see their produce while it's still growing.

John had their Dragon Slayer 8 oz burger. Jet had the Cubano, which had pulled pork instead of roasted pork, and he loved the homemade pickles with "all the mustard." I really enjoyed a steak sandwich, but had more fun talking with Jet about his version of a Cubano that would include my slow-cooked preserved mustard pork, bhan mi pickles, and hot Chinese mustard. We may have to make that when we get home.

Back at the hotel, we went swimming, soaked in the hot tub, and then showered. I got to sit down and load things up and write this while the guys relaxed... so it's a good start to our vacation.
Tags: travel

  • Changing Habits

    I started reading James Clear's Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven way to Build Good Ones and Break Bad ones, and it started with a really…

  • Some Days...

    ... are very much less well defined than others. With the combination of being thoroughly retired and COVID, most of the days don't have a lot of…

  • The Cascading Failures of My Blog

    I know, I know, it's been a long time since I've written, and it seems an odd place to start: why I failed to write. But I think that knowing why I…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.