June 7: Crossing the mighty Colorado and other bridges

It was only 70dF when I left Capitol Reef NP at seven this morning <wry g>. I’d have liked to do some hiking, but not with temperatures approaching 100dF in the afternoon. Today was my last real day in the desert, though. It’ll still be warm at Mesa Verde over the next day or two, but after that I’ll be way up in the Colorado Rockies for a few days. Of course, after that I’ll be crossing the Great Plains, but still… I have to take my optimism where I can get it. Part of me is wondering if I should have headed across Canada, turned south when I got to the other ocean, and come back across the middle of the U.S. Oh, well. Too late now <g>.

But here’s two more Capitol Reef photos, anyway.

Capitol Reef in the early morning light.
Capitol Reef in the early morning light.
Can you see the pictographs?  These were left in what's called desert varnish (the black stuff on the rocks) a thousand years ago almost.
Can you see the pictographs? These were left in what’s called desert varnish (the black stuff on the rocks) a thousand years ago almost.

Today was sort of Monument Valley North. I’m only a hundred miles or so northeast of the real Monument Valley tonight, but I can remember going there when I was a kid, and trust me, what I saw today was plenty. Lots of huge monoliths rising from the ground. And very few places on the narrow two-lane road to pull over and take a photo.

One of the few photos I managed to take of Monument Valley North (my name for it -- don't try to find that on the map).
One of the few photos I managed to take of Monument Valley North (my name for it — don’t try to find that on the map).

Oh, and the mighty Colorado wasn’t all that mighty. Or at least it didn’t look mighty enough to justify photographing it, apparently.

Natural Bridges National Monument, which preserves three of the largest natural bridges on the planet, was much more photo-worthy. It was the first designated federal property in the state of Utah, which is saying something, and was brought into being by Theodore Roosevelt. Well, the monument was, not the bridges. They’re natural, formed by water over thousands of years. Never mind.

Two of the three bridges were easily viewable. The third one was perpendicular to its viewpoint, and so you really couldn’t tell what it was. But here are the two that actually looked like bridges.

Sipapu Bridge (a sipapu -- SEE-pa-pu -- is the little hole in the center of a kiva that connects the regular and the spirit worlds).
Sipapu Bridge (a sipapu — SEE-pa-pu — is the little hole in the center of a kiva that connects the regular and the spirit worlds).
Owachomo Bridge (oh-WACH-oh-mo).  Owachomo means rock mound in Hopi.
Owachomo Bridge (oh-WACH-oh-mo). Owachomo means rock mound in Hopi.

I also saw lizards (I think they were lizards, anyway), and a beautiful prickly pear cactus blossom (along with more other kinds of flowers than should have been blooming in that heat). Pretty nifty.

I saw three lizards at Natural Bridges.  I'm not sure what kind he is, but this was the best picture I got of any of them.
I saw three lizards at Natural Bridges. I’m not sure what kind he is, but this was the best picture I got of any of them.
A yucca in bloom.
A yucca in bloom.
Prickly pear cactus blossom.  It was about four inches across.  Just gorgeous.
Prickly pear cactus blossom. It was about four inches across. Just gorgeous.

The rest of the drive over to Cortez, Colorado, where I am now, was mostly through farm and ranch land, and I didn’t see anything really worthy of photographing. But tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m going to Mesa Verde National Park, just ten more miles down the road, and see cliff dwellings.