Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Montrose, CO (11/28 & 11/29/2016)

One morning recently, there were serious looking storm clouds to the east.  I wasn't concerned however, since our bad weather typically comes from the west or northwest.  So, I took a walk by the municipal cemetery and had a good view when sunlight lit the trees up with color.
Later that day, which was mostly clear, I went out for the sunset.  Before anything could happen, dark clouds came rolling in from the west, blocking any chance for a colorful sunset.  Through the clouds, I could see the profiles of several canyons on the Uncompahgre Plateau.
 The next morning, I awoke to discover 3-4 inches of white stuff on the ground.  Out front, it was difficult to see where the road or curbs were located.  When the sun rose, it helped light up the back yard for photos.

 After running an errand, I cruised over to a city park and snapped a few photos of the ducks and geese enjoying the pond.

Next stop was the water sports park along the Uncompahgre River.  There are six drops that create rapids and provide a practice run for kayaks.  In addition, folks use the waterway to practice stand-up paddle board techniques.  On this day, there were only ducks in the water.

 I headed south in hopes of seeing the San Juan mountains covered with fresh snow.  Unfortunately, I soon saw that clouds covered the mountains, suggesting the snow was still coming down there.  In any case, the mountains were completely hidden.  Moving to Plan B, I drove around finding scenes that appealed to me, such as snow covered adobe badlands.   I also spotted a number of homes, barns and other buildings that looked so natural surrounded by snow.  One of those was a teepee on display at the Ute Indian Museum.

 Later that evening, I went to a favorite sunset location, Flat Top Mesa, where there's a great view of the entire area.  When I saw there was still a lot of snow on the road to the top of the mesa, I chose to stay near the base where I still had a good view of a pretty nice sunset.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rattlesnake Gulch, CO (11/8/2016) & Montrose, CO (11/13 & 11/17/2016)

Immediately after leaving Escalante Canyon, I got a close up view of a large adobe hill in front of the Lands End section of Grand Mesa.
Turning south toward home, I noticed a side road that had escaped my attention before then.  Pulling over, I saw the road sign for "Rattlesnake Gulch", which definitely intrigued me no end.  How could I not explore such a delightful sounding place.  Although the road was only a few miles long, the scenery it held was certainly worth the time it took, even though it was delaying my lunch even further.

A video of the drive can be viewed at Rattlesnake Gulch.

Several days later, I went out for the evening to photograph the Super Moon as it rose over the Black Canyon uplift. From Flat Top Mesa, I knew there would be a good view of the moonrise.  As the sun was setting in the west, it provided great light on the adobe hills in front of the uplift.  Before long, the full moon began to peek over the mountain.

 Another few days passed before we got the first snow of the season.  It was only 1.5 inches in Montrose, and it didn't hang around long on the warm ground, but it motivated me to snap a few photos from my yard.  Those who live in the midwest or northeast won't consider this a big deal, but folks in the south might see it differently.  As the season progresses and snowfall increases, I hope to get some shots of snow-covered mountains.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Delta & Escalante Canyon, CO (11/8/2016)

The small town of Delta has been featured in the travelogue before, primarily to showcase the many murals that adorn the town's buildings and the scenery that surrounds Confluence Park.  Another noteworthy "attraction" for me is Orval's Used Cars.  Not your usual used car salesman, Orval Proctor started his dream business in 1975, a business that now has annual sales of more than $500,000.  Orval's used cars are special, being mostly from the 1940s and 1950s, with just a few outside that range.  Folks who want to collect, possibly restore, vintage automobiles have a great chance of finding an appropriate project here.  I've never seen such a variety of old cars in one place, so many that two lots on separate sides of the highway are needed to display them.

Northwest of Delta is the Dominguez-Escalante Conservation Area, one of several public areas on the Uncompahgre Plateau.  This one is named for the two priests who traveled through the area in the 1700s, looking for a better route between the important Spanish missions in Santa Fe, NM and Monterey, CA.  Given the rugged terrain, I'm pretty sure the padres never actually went into the three canyons that make up the conservation area, but took the easier trail in the valley to go around the plateau.  Two of the canyons, Big and Little Dominguez, can be visited only on foot or on horseback.  Escalante Canyon, however has a road through it, making it much easier for old folks like me to see it.

I drove through Escalante Canyon several years ago using the official entry, a nicely maintained gravel road.  For this visit, I wanted to explore an "unofficial" road into the canyon that I had spotted on the map, called Escalante Rim Road.  To get to this road, I had to start with Sawmill Mesa Road, which gave me an inkling of what to expect in terms of road quality.  Along the way, I passed a State Wildlife Area situated along the Gunnison River with nice views of the nearby badlands and Grand Mesa.
From Sawmill Mesa, I eventually gained a view into Escalante Canyon and my road as it neared the bottom.  Although the road was steep, narrow and rough, I enjoyed the ride down for all the spendid views it provided.

At the bottom, I took a left onto Dry Mesa Road for a short distance, having read there were Ute petroglyphs located there.  I easily found the rock art, which unfortunately included more modern entries, as well.  I've seen lots of Anasazi (and earlier) art, but this was my first experience with art left by the Utes.  In some cases, I could not be sure what was Ute or what had been left by vandals.  You can judge for yourself which images are authentic.  One thing for sure, the Anasazis never made drawings of horses, because horses weren't introduced until much later.  The Utes on the other hand made great use of horses and would have included them in their art.  Also, entries in English were obviously made at a later time, one claiming to be 1890, but who knows.

As it was well past my lunch time, I didn't bother to re-visit some of the canyon's sights that I had seen earlier.  Driving out of the canyon on the graded road, I made a few photos that show the character of the canyon, including the red-tail hawk that posed for me on a cottonwood branch.

I remembered to mount the GoPro for the ride down into Escalante Canyon.  Find it at Escalante Canyon.