Sunday, 26 September 2010

Deserts and Shadows....

It is taking me some time to get used to the change in scenery, plus of course the rise in temperature as I have headed further south and the elevation has become lower.

The scenery has changed from mountains to desert in a very short distance. At one place I stopped there was even sand dunes – proper desert!....


























In the UK, we are a nation with a small land area and so whilst we do have regional variations in weather and scenery, these are small differences compared to what I have seen in the US. I can recall the huge woodland areas of Maine or the Adirondacks, but compare that to where I am now – Arizona – and it might as well be a different planet! The differences are huge and all contained within one country. I have read recently on other motorcycling related blogs that people are seeing the demise of summer and autumn is upon them. I read one persons words saying they thought their riding season was all but over, but compare that to the current weather here in Arizona and again, a vast difference is seen.

As I started my journey on this day (number 93), I didn’t notice something. I didn’t see that my low fuel warning light had stopped working and my bike spluttered to a stop as it ran out of fuel. Crap, how could that have happened? Knowing my fuel tank is actually two halves fixed together and knowing the fuel feed comes from one side only, I rocked the bike from side to side in an attempt to shift any last few drops to the feed side of the tanks and it worked and my bike fired back into life as I hit the starter button. I rode as economically as I could for about 4 miles to where I knew (thanks gps) there was a gas station and it completely ran out of fuel about 200 yards away but it was downhill and I managed to coast the rest of the way. Note to self – find a Harley dealer and get them to fix the problem!

When I left Page, I stopped and looked at the dam that forms Lake Powell. Opened in 1966 the Glen Canyon Dam as is it known, caused considerable environmental objections at the time of its inception due to the flooding of Glen Canyon and the damming of the Colorado River. It is difficult for me to understand the depth of the objectors feelings about the dam, but in the main I support any forms of environmental power generation and that of course includes hydro-electric generation.





































When I then saw the nearby Navajo Power Plant that burns coal to produce its electricity, I did wonder quite how balanced the anti-dam objectors are. I would much rather see a dam producing electricity than this power plant, located as it is, in what would be a beautiful area....




















This is the downstream side of the Glen Canyon Dam....


















At the scenic overlook that gives a great view od the dam (can a dam be scenic?) there are some amazing rock formations where the weather has worn away part of the rock to form wonderful lines and patterns....













































I went to see Horseshoe Bend, formed by millions of years of the movement of the Colorado River. Unfortunately it was early morning on a very bright sunny day and that meant shadows – bit long dark shadows which made photographing the bend in the river very difficult. This was the best result I could achieve, by over-exposing to get some detail into the dark areas, which of course doesn’t help the areas already lit by direct sunlight....





































I later looked at some excellent pictures of Horseshoe Bend and noticed the best were taken on overcast, cloudy days – the only way I guess to avoid dark shadows. Either that, or take the pictures when the sun is high in the sky!

I decided not to wait for either clouds or noon time and moved on!

As I headed south I marvelled at the feat of engineering that drove the road through these stone cliffs....




















A range of hills called Echo Cliffs run alongside US 89 for a considerable distance. This is one of the taller areas of the cliffs....
















I wanted to see Marble Canyon, so I turned north at Bitter Springs and made my way once more towards the Colorado River. I was surprised that the road goes over Marble Canyon on a rather splendid bridge....





































This is the new Navajo Bridge which was opened in 1995 to sit alongside the original Navajo Bridge. It had become apparent that the original bridge which had opened in 1929 could no longer carry the volume of traffic the road now carried and so the new, almost identical bridge was constructed. Here are the two side-by-side with the original bridge on the right....


















Here is looking upstream into Marble Canyon and the Colorado River....


















And this is looking downstream....


























Notice anything odd about these two pictures? The colour of the water changes dramatically as the current hits the sediment in the bottom of the river on a bend just before the bridges. You can see it happening in this picture - note the blue water at the top of the picture and the green at the bottom....


























I went to Lees Ferry just north of Marble Canyon. Not many people went on this road as it dead-ends, so many people don’t bother to take this road. I did, and I am glad I took the trouble to. A few photos from this road....

Part of the Vermillion Cliffs....







































Two well balanced rocks. A very large one and a small pile somebody had left for me to find....


























The same rock....


















Note the Leading Ladies in the background. This was a big rock!....


















Another nearby amazing balanced rock....


















More impressive cliffs....


















The Colorado River, from water level....


















I arrived in Flagstaff quite early and I had time to find the Harley-Davidson dealer there. I had noticed a small oil leak had developed on my engine and the service department discovered it was a seal failure where the gear change linkage passes through the primary drive casing. They didn’t have time to take the side of the engine off to replace the seal, so I have booked it into the H-D dealer near Prescott next week for them to do the work. I was so concerned about the oil leak, that I completely forget to ask them to look at the low fuel light! I will try to remember next week!

At my hotel for the evening, I checked what the weather forecast would be like for the next couple of days as I approach Phoenix.....

























What was that about the riding season coming to a close?

10 comments:

SonjaM said...

Not from this world, one might come to think. I have been in the area back in 2001, and find that nothing has changed. But what are 9 years compared to the lifespan of a rock. Lovely pictures as always.

Rob said...

Love following your trip. Last year I left Ottawa, Canada and did a trip across the U.S., doing 13,000 kms solo.
This year, I have my wife with me, and it looks like you and I will be in Arizona around the same time. We should be there Monday evening.
We are heading to Vegas for the bikefest happening next weekend.

Anyway, love the pictures!

Charlie6 said...

Gary, all those magnificent rock formations had me itching to put Natasha on the road and check them out in person!

I liked the concept of the twin bridges instead of one massive large one....

Though in the planning stages, my family and I are projected to be in the Monument Valley area third week in OCT, with Natasha. It'll be interesting to see where you are in your adventure at that time.

dom

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Rickey Brown said...

Gary if you don't have them you really a graduated Neutral density filter and a polarizer. This would help in the bright sun and give you some contrast to make the colors pop

Beck said...

There is a sharp contrast in these mountain pictures as compared to the ones before, but they are non-the-less beautiful. You are no longer seeing the spectacular trees, grass and flowers that were further north. But, the colors that you see in the actual rocks are gorgeous. Plus the desert has its own beauty in its plants and flowers. You capture it all. I look forward to your posts and hearing your stories to come. Have a wonderful time in Arizona. I am sure you won't be disappointed.

As always, stay safe.

kpaysour said...

Gary, It is great seeing your pictures of the same roads that I rode just less than a month ago. It's funny that you seem to stop at some of the same places that we stopped at. I guess Mother Nature calls to us with her beauty as we ride by. Keep up the great work. Ride safe.

Axel said...

I left this morning for a ride with 5 degrees Celcius, and return in the afternoon wet wet wet, 15 degrees. Great ride to Bluebell Railways, ut needed a Sauna thereafter. I would recommend you when you finish this trip in California, don't come back to the UK, turn around and drive a southern route back to the US east cost... :))

motoroz said...

You are seeing some of the great contrast of this country. The landscape is as varied as the people. Get that fuel warning light fixed. You don't need to run out of gas again. :)

Gary France said...

Sonja – I would have to agree. 9 years is a very short time really, if you are a rock. I hope your leg gets better soon.

Rob – 13k kms is a long ride! You must have good negotiating skills with your wife to let you go for that time on your own. I wish i could be in Vegas for the bikefest, but that’s not possible.

Charlie6 – If you come to Arizona now, you will fry. It is so hot – 106F yesterday in Phoenix, but I got back to Flagstaff yesterday and it is much cooler there. I will be back in Monument Valley on 11th and 12th October.

Rickey – I have both on my Nikon D200, but they couldn’t cope with the huge light range between the shadows and bright areas.

Gary France said...

Beck – The difference between two adjacent states is amazing, especially when seen in just a few days. The desert has a beauty all of its own.

kpaysour – There are some places that just draw you to them as they are so stunning, so it is no wonder I am going to some of the same places that you did.

Axel – I must admit returning to the cold and wet weather in the UK in November is something I am not looking forward to!

Oz – Its being fixed the day after tomorrow!