Hello. After just over a year and half of forced home stay due first to cataract surgery and then to Covid, I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine 5 weeks ago, and decided to just start driving in a northerly direction for a few months (Tucson already had hit its first 100 degree day). I left the RV trailer home this trip because I suspected (apparently correctly) most of my age group now were vaccinated, and the RVs would fill the highways of the West by mid-Spring; thus obtaining hookup sites might be difficult. Motels should still be looking for tourists until summer travel season starts. I did book 10 nights for a hotel in Gardiner, at the north entrance to Yellowstone, for mid-May thinking that general tourism may start by then and Yellowstone normally gets booked months in advance.
I left Tucson March 31, and traveled first to the mountain town of Show Low. My second night in a cheap Days Inn, I was awakened at midnight to the yells, laughter and curses of several incredibly drunk males. By 2 am the laughter turned to angry fighting and door slamming. I watched out the window as a number of police cars showed up, and then discovered the disturbance had been in the room across the hall from my door. By 4 am an ambulance had carried one comatose male away, two other male adults were hauled off to jail, and one 12 year old male kid, with no legal guardian present, was hauled off to child services. After providing what little information I had to the police, I decided further sleep was not in the cards.
I spent about a week in Cortez and Delores, CO, and a couple of days in Bluff, UT, where I had a flock of Turkey Vultures roosting in the tree right behind my room. I also went next door to a favorite steakhouse, to find I had to order and pay at the front entrance, then was directed around the side to outdoor only seating; the huge wood fired grill was inactive, and they cooked the steaks inside and brought them out in a Styrofoam container, with plastic silverware and condiment packs – the worst steak dinner I ever have had.
From Bluff and Green River I spent some days revisiting a number of great petroglyph sites displaying 11,000 years of rock art, including in Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park and along the Colorado River cliffs near Moab. One relatively well known panel along the Colorado River is popularly named the “Bear Hunt” as it shows a very large bear surrounded by bow hunters and bighorn sheep; on close inspection I note the bear petroglyph actually overlays an earlier sheep hunt panel commonly displayed by the prehistoric Fremont Indians, while the later bear is a common theme of the later ancestral Ute Indians (who claim some continuity with the Fremont).
Continuing on north into the Uinta Basin, I drove to Vernal, UT, where I enjoyed once again the Dinosaur National Monument and its Freemont petroglyphs. From Vernal I continued North to Rock Springs, WY, where I have enjoyed driving the dirt roads into the Red Desert to visit the White Mountain Petroglyphs (dated 1000 – 1800 AD, apparently created by ancestors of the high plains Indians), and then the next day looping through wild horse territory, with pronghorn, desert elk, coyotes and, of course, wild horses. The Red Desert is remarkable in that most of it is a great basin from which water cannot exit – it also happens to lie on the continental divide, meaning that the divide here is discontinuous and splits into two lines which surround the basin.
I seem to have traveled too quickly to the north, as the last 10 days have seen overcast freezing weather with high winds, which will continue into this coming week. Nevertheless, I intend to head a little further north into central Wyoming for the next couple of weeks – probably looking again for a possible summer home in Buffalo or Sheridan. All is well after vaccination.