December, 2014

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Happy New Year 2015 to you all! ;-)

It is time to wish you all – not to mention those of you who follow this blog “silently” without leaving comments, I know you’re quite a few – a


I hope it’ll bring you lots of beautiful discoveries and encounters, as VivaLaVida brings me every day of her journey, as this fabulous sunset on Awapa Plateau, to discover in a next article!
Thank you for your loyalty to this little blog – and for all your comments, which are a kind of link between my “mobile home” and the sedentary world which was mine before. I hope the story of my discoveries in pictures brings you some scenery and colors in your lives… And keep to comment when the heart tells you, it really makes me happy… 😀

Still San Rafael Swell…

So here I am in Black Dragon Canyon where I first discovered conventional petrographs but with quite rare scenes.
1. Principal petrographs panel.
2. Detail of the figure on the left and a kind of small octopus.
3. A chicken attacked by a snake!
4. And here is another rare representation with that kind of dog.
5. Beside, under an overhang, is another type of petroglyphs making the site’s reputation. It seems this is the only place where they are such petroglyphs.
6. They extend over about thirty feet.
7. I didn’t find any information about what they might represent.
8. I then hiked in another nearby canyon where there are potholes, water points for many animals.
9. Reflection…
10. Nice place to spend the night while a ray of light finally shines…
11. The next day, arriving at one of the highlands of the San Rafael Swell in a shower sky and a chill wind.
12. VLV advances towards the canyon of the San Rafael River.
13. The place is beautiful, with high cliffs.
14. Heavy sky…
15. After a good hike in the wind, I reached the slopes of Black Box, a deep chasm of the Sans Rafael River.
16. Black Box…
17. While going back to VLV in late afternoon…
18. Downstream the Buckhorn Wash.
19. Little Grand Canyon, another canyon made by the San Rafael River upstream. The view is superb despite the 15F..!
VivaLaVida then turned South-West, in search of little milder temperatures for Christmas. To discover soon… 😉

Around Moab, and then leaving Moab…

1. Three days later, I spent the night near a giant mushroom. Believe me, the dawn will reveal it. 😉
2. Here he appears…
3. Fifteen minutes later, the diverging sky makes me think about the brilliance of a lighthouse…
4. Still waiting for VivaLaVida’s door handle to replace the broken one, I did another little journey around Moab… I went to find an arch named Eye of the Wale. And it looks really like one. 😀
5. In the eye…
6. Farther on the trail, the Marching Men, in the Klondike Bluf.
7. I drove that trail in 2011 and it is much more ruff than three years ago, much more than it appears in this image!
8. Another quick getaway the next day in Canyonlands National Park to discover a ruin located under the overhang of a huge cliff … Not shown on maps of the park, this spot is still unspoiled by mass tourism. A fantastic place with a wonderful view of Candelstick Butte.
9. Souvenir picture with Madeleine and Hans who welcomed me at their home like a king. I left Moab the Friday before Christmas, VLV’s handle finally being fixed. (Picture of another picture, sorry for the quality)
10. I then drove upstream the Green River hoping to see Desert Big Horn Sheep which live in cliffs of mesas. Late afternoon light in the entrance of Gray Canyon.
11. The next day it’s really gray over the Gray Canyon. I didn’t see any Big Horn… :-/
12. Returning to the San Rafael Swell, I made a detour to discover a rather unique triple arch. Along the track, when the water meets the bentonite…
13. Natural arabesques of some lichen on sandstone.
14. Here is Colonnade Arch, above the canyon of the Green River.
15. Almost a cathedral, unfortunately without light that evening…
16. While going back to VivaLaVida, I spoted by chance these sandstone stalagmites at nightfall.
The next day, the weather was still very gray, so I took over the direction of the San Rafael Swell to discover petrographs in Dark Dragon Canyon.
17. Small dune area where snow remains in place.
18. The contrast between orange dunes and white snow is beautiful.
19. I pass close to Goblin Valley and discovered almost similar concretions.
20. Ray of light on the reef of San Rafael Swell.
21. VivaLaVida runs along the spectacular reef.
22. Path Under I-70 ; there is one inch margin with suspensions maximum lowered and tires deflated for trail! 😀
Discovery of petrographs in the next update.

Merry Christmas

The time has come to wish you all a Merry Christmas! 😀
At the time I’m writing these lines to be published in two days, I do not know yet where VivaLaVida is gonna lead me for Christmas night… 😉
I take the opportunity to announce a new feature on this blog: Waiting for VLV’s door handle, I’ve made some developments on the blog, thus you have now a picture gallery that will allow you, I hope, to more easily see again/find back images published over the blog. They are not all of those but a very large selection, over 1,600 actually! They are also displayed in a higher resolution. They are sorted by ante-chronological order, most recent at the top of page.
You can access to it by clicking on “Images” in the top menu. On the gallery pages – three actually – clicking a thumbnail makes the image appears larger and also provides access to a slideshow. From there, you can now also share images on Facebook if you want.
Corollary of the high number of images, gallery pages and the first clicked thumbnail take a while to load. With the poor network here during development, it took more than 50 seconds to display the first image! But with best networks, it should go faster. So be patient please …;-)
If you find bugs or have suggestions for improvement, please let me know.
Hoping you will enjoy finding some images back…

McKay Flat & Reds Canyon

1. The night was clear and at this altitude, the frost covers everything including VivaLaVida.
2. In exposed areas, ice crystals are huge!
3. Even cactus appear to wear Christmas dress… 😉
4. This old juniper trunk looks almost like antlers.
5. This anthill is an evident good insulation.
6. After two hours hiking, I arrived at the entrance of Baptist Draw, a little-known slot canyon. While above it is an open canyon, it suddenly changes in this thin crack…
7. … that sinks ever deeper…
8. … sometimes with a larger pot…
9. … and again some jumps and small waterfalls.
10. It’s a special atmosphere to be alone, isolated in such a corridor, I recommend it! 😀
11. Intrigued by the heights of Reds Canyon I had spotted the previous day, I continued south for exploring this little known canyon too. Dug by the Muddy Creek, it is huge canyon, comparable to Canyonsland by the height of the cliffs.
12. At Tomsich Butte, there are several uranium mines that have been oparated until the mid 50s.
13. I even discovered that curious shelter. I learned afterwards that it was the dynamite deposit of the mine!
Taking a look at the front axle, I discovered that the right wheel was again quite backward. In fact, everything moved and the axle was misaligned. Blame it on the right suspension of which the centering pin broke.
I couldn’t ride like that, so I had to mechanic for more than three hours under VLV, separating the axle of the spring with two jacks for inserting a bolt as temporary guide. Over one and a half hour to loosen four seized bolts, pulling on the handle of the hi-lift jack lever to achieve this; I so hurted my back …: – / But finaly, VLV was able to continue his way and hang gently until a more serious repair by replacing the broken pin. I then also removed the other side and I did well: the pin was also about to break.
It’s crazy what dirt raods hurts all running gear..!
14. Going up Reds Canyon, the scenery is gorgeous. Don’t they look like cathedrals porches carved in these huge cliffs?
15. In the upper canyon, about twenty miles away, they are some spectacular buttes.
16. Last look before returning to Moab to fix my broken suspension…
So much for today, hoping you’re not getting too bored with all these canyons! Thanks again for your loyalty. 😉

South San Rafael Swell

Out of my hike in the slot canyons, I saw a sign “Muddy Creek”. I thus followed the trail south and had the good surprise to find a quite large area of “bentonite”, this kind of clay that I also found at the Painted Hill in Oregon.
1. Bentonite Hills and Henry Mountains in the distance.
2. Nice colors in front of San Rafael Reef.
3. Valley…
4. Sweetness…
5. I vary the compositions in this sensual landscape…
6. VivaLaVida having fun on that beautiful trail!
7. Muddy Creek, at the end of the trail.
8. Ride over the Bentonite. 😉
9. I slept near an abandoned ranch and discovered this carcass at nightfall.
10. She too has beautiful sensual forms, isn’t it? 😀
11. The next morning I went up towards a small arch and saw this pothole on my sundstone path.
12. Here is Wild Horse Window.
13. The window is nice! 😀
14. Guess who created this double cave? Yes, that’s it, that little spring that seeps from the bottom of the two caves, giving life to some ferns…
15. Almost a makeup eye…
16. By late afternoon, towards a high plateau at almost 7,000 feet elevationl to a camp near another slot canyon.
17. Upper Reds Canyon cliffs in Sunset light.
Another dive in a slot canyon to come soon! 😀

San Rafael Swell

Continuation of discovering this region less known and yet not far from Moab.
1. VivaLaVida on a little-used trail that circumvents Temple Mountain.
2. They are many old uranium mines in the area.
3. They are of course closed.
4. On the other side of Temple Mountain remains the “cabin” which housed miners.
5. Mining access corridor.
6. VivaLaVida going down the beautiful North Temple Wash…
7. … driving in the course of the wash.
8. The output is a little narrow.
9. Splendid petrograph panel in the South Temple Wash.
10. The white dots are not of the same time, just a idiot who shot this exceptional site… The weapons are all over the US, unfortunately.
11. Going to the mouth of another canyon that I will explore the next day, I discovered a source…
12. Late afternoon reflection…
13. Having discovered that the bolts that connect the front axle with suspension springs were loose, I had to make some winching to realign the front axle before tightening… 😉
The next day I made a big hiking loop, up Little Wild Horse Canyon and back down through Bell Canyon.
14. Silhouette…
15. Entering Little Wild Horse slot canyon.
16. End and deep trench in which we sometimes have to go sideways as it’s so narrow.
17. Some water remains in places.
18. I imagine water flowing into these curves…
19. Labyrinth…
20. Some veining of sandstone are incredible.
21. Going down through Bell Canyon
22. Convergence…
23. Oui, it’s the right way! 😉
After this hike, I discovered by chance a nice area that I will present soon. 😀

Ruins and canyons

At a small meeting with Tom, aka Zeta on Sportsmobile forum, he advised me to visit the Hovenweep National Monument, a site where are grouped different Anasazi ruins. When I went there, it was raining but I still visited seven different sites.
1. The Twin Towers, on the main site in Utah.
2. Hovenweep Castle and Square Tower. These sites were all built on springs and have likely been built to protect those They were all built between 1220 and 1280, were inhabited by three generations before being abandoned for unknown reason.
3. Hovenweep Castle, consists of two horseshoe towers and a large main house.
4. We go to Colorado, just ten miles away, at Holly site. Amazing how these builders were able to anchor foundations on vertical blocks of sandstone.
5. While walking through the canyon of Holly, I spotted this petrograph symbolizing the sun.
6. Here is the Horseshoe ruin, an house shaped like a horseshoe with double row walls.
7. Farther, the Cutthroat Castle. Yet the Anasazi Indians were farmers, not warriors.
8. A well-preserved window. The covered – a large flat stone – is ensured with two poles of juniper.
9. At the foot of the sandstone block on which the castle sits, there are other structures, probably granaries.
10. Not far away, a known petrograph: Painted Hands. It dates as the ruins of the 13th century.
11. On the site of Cajon, again in Utah, the spring still exists and was protected by two walls.
12. Some petroglyphs in Cajon Cayon.
A part ordered for VLV still not arrived, I went to spend a few days in South San Rafael Swell, beautiful region that contains many canyons.
13. It is rather gray and very cold when I enter Crack Canyon.
14. This is not really a slot canyon but some portions have beautiful overhangs dug by flash floods.
15. This is the narrowest part.
16. Columns carved by wind and water…
17. Sandstone colors…
18. Pot…
19. Late afternoon on Temple Mountain with finally some sunshine…
More to come in San Rafael Swell soon. 😀

Sandstone around Moab

Leaving the Beef Basin, I had the good surprise to find a message from Hans, a Swiss who lives here with his wife Madeleine for 35 years. I was greeted like a king by this adorable couple, not forgeting to specify that Madeleine is fine cooker. 😉
They explained me how to access a petroglyph site within walking distance of their beautiful home nestled on a sandstone hill.
1. What a privilege to discover this private site where access is usually closed!
2. I have found some symbols already observed elsewhere.
3. The next day and despite his 80 years, Hans brought me drive the Sevenmile Ridge Trail, a 4WD trail listed red (the most difficult) which passes near Uranium Arch.
4. It’s a nice medium sized arch.
Near this arch, we met a couple from Colorado, Dave and Leanne, a little lost because their trail description was out of date. They followed us throughout the rest of the trail and took images of VLV in downright cool passages, especially a leaning spot that I really wasn’t sure how to deal with VLV high-pitched on her wheels. They sent me some pictures to discover here…
5. Steep hill leaving the arch.
6. It’s like David and Goliath, isn’t it? 😉
7. Here is Hans spotting me on the step to access to the leaning spot..
8. It doesn’t seem so but this entry is rather steep, with a good step!
9. and here is the off camber spot. It leans quite a bit despite the left suspension fully inflated and the right one completely down..!
10. After VivaLaVida it’s Dave who goes through in his 50 inches wide only vehicle. I indicated him the line to follow. Well done Dave ! 😀
I want to say a huge thank you to Hans and Madeleine for their so warm welcome. I had such a great time with them. 😉
Hans recommended me a spot on the Dome Plateau where I had already spotted a natural arch. Leaving them, VivaLaVida took the path of this view that I discovered the next morning.
11. Colorado River and Castle Valley in early light…
12. Not far away, I went to discover La Boca Arch, a small pretty massive arch.
13. A bush managed to grow under the arch…
14. Castle Valley towers in front of La Sal Mountains.
15. On my way to natural shelters, the famous herbs that are seen in Westerns rolled by the wind have almost eliminated the trail… 😉
16. Here are sandstone cavities inhabited by Indians several hundreds years ago. One of them houses a source.
17. The bluff above is polished by the elements.
18. The lower cave is quite deep and some water oozes from the walls in places. The soot of inhabitant’s fires is still present (left of the entrance on this image).
19. The top one’s ceiling is shaped in a quite photogenic circular vault.
20. Back to the overview in late afternoon.
21. Very red material of Fisher Towers is colored by the sunset light.
22. Last sunrays over Castle Valley.
More to come soon. Once again, thanks for your loyalty! 😀

Still in Beef Basin…

1. It begins with a blurry picture! 😉 Just to show that it was chilly that morning…
While I was getting ready to break camp, I noticed a young stag who seemed a little nervous. I decided to approach it to try to photograph it.
2. After 15 minutes of approach, I crouched beneath a juniper not far.
3. Forty minutes later, as I tell myself I’m gonna go back to VivaLaVida, I saw a large male tumbling.
4. In fact, he was folloing a female as it’s the full rutting season. And the female had the good idea to walk fifteen feet in front of me without seeing me!
5. What an animal and what a meet… I’ll even get to see a mating the next day, about thirty feet away.
6. VLV have now to drive the trail back…
7. Nice wheel up… 😀
8. … And quite steep downhill.
9. That’s where we’re coming back.
10. On the other side of the Colorado River, Orange Cliffs and Sunset Pass where we slept with Jean-Luc last Spring.
11. Still in Beef Basin, while going down a side canyon to discover a permanent spring, I saw this Indian granary on a cliff.
12. I manage to go up the cliff to show you the inside. Both ends have collapsed or have been opened.
13. A pretty lichens and fungi that can be seen on certain blocks of sandstone.
14. Having spotted a very red cliff I went to explore, I had the chance to discover on the way this beautiful Indian granary. It is not on any map and excepted archaeologists who studied the area, few people must have seen it as it is away from everything.
15. This is certainly one of the most aesthetic that I could see to date.
16. Nearby, there are several ruins of houses.
17. The cliff above have a very red layer of the same rock I saw in Fort Bottom called Chert, a kind of silex.
18. And I’m still discovering another granary also almost intact.
19. Time to leave Beef Basin but on the road, a strong antifreeze smell made me stop. A powerful jet escapes from one of the pipes of the VivaLaVida’s engine preheater!
20. Temporary repairs with duck tape and hose clamps. We need to join Moab, a almos 100 miles away…
I will succeed the next morning and replace the pipe in question, which rubbed against a piece of metal because of a broken ziptie. I take this opportunity to do some other small works and replace the heim joints of the sway bar that had taken much of play.
That’s it for my exploration of the beautiful Beef Basin, a place that is worth the trip. See you soon. 😉