Monday, 18 October 2010

Goosenecks, Moki Dugway and A Bridge For Helen

Now if that isn’t a strange title to this post, then I don’t know what is.

About a year ago I saw a photo of the Colorado River in Goosenecks State Park. It showed the meandering river and how it had cut into the soft rock to form an amazing curving canyon, called Goosenecks. I knew I wanted to see it for myself. When I saw the picture, I realised the shot was taken with a fisheye and this was the inspiration for me to go out and buy one of these lenses for myself.

Being quite near to Goosenecks, I knew I would get there early in the morning and it was going to be a sunny day. On the way, I just knew the photos I took wouldn’t be good because of the sun making such intense shadows and I was right. The picture below is over exposed just to get some detail in the shadows....



















It doesn’t look far with the view through the fisheye lens, but the rock outcrop in front of me was quite a long way away and I know I should have walked there to take the photo, but to be honest, I didn’t have the energy to do this as I knew the resultant photo would still not be very good. I resigned myself to sticking with what I had got!

Instead I walked along the ridge to get another shot of one of the bends....




















In the car park at Goosenecks, I did meet a German couple who had shipped their own camper van over and were on a year’s road trip of the USA. I got a shot of the back of their van as they were driving away....




























Very close by is a road called Moli Dugway. I have no idea why it is called that, but I will look it up. I had heard about this on a motorcycle forum I used to read and I had learnt it was a steep gravel road, but I didn’t know much more about it. This sign was the first indication I was near it....




















The road rises up a steep cliff. As you ride up the cliff along the flat ground you cannot see any indication of the road and as I got nearer to the bottom of the cliff I wondered if the road did in fact climb the cliff at all as all I could see was a sheer cliff in front of me. I had mounted a video camera on the bike, so I will let the video tell some of the story of riding this road....




That was quite a road. I am getting somewhat used to riding on gravel roads now so I wasn’t too worried about this one. As long as I take it slow and brake only very gently, I feel relatively safe. Here are some photos I stooped and took....

This is the best overall shot of the road I took....




















The road as it rises ....



















I said it was steep!....





















I love this bend....





















This is a road that you really don’t want to fall off!....



























Looking down at where I had just ridden....



















The view from the top is stunning....



















When I was at the top admiring the view, I met David and Lei Nani (a Hawaiian name). They are from Farmington, in North Western New Mexico. We chatted for sometime abou my trip, Lei Nanis ancestors and guns....



























They were a really interesting couple. He had driven a huge rig on the Moki Dugway road about 20 years previously and he wanted to show Lei Nani where he had been. It was tough getting such a big vehicle around the bends, so he had to sleep here overnight before continuing his journey. She told me about her Mormon family that had travelled across the area in the 1880’s when her Great Grand-Father was a settler looking for somewhere to live. Times were very hard back then and I learned a little about how the settlers had to use ropes to raise and lower their wagons and supplies in order to cross the canyons that are prevalent in the area.

We talked about guns and David went and retrieved his from their truck to show me...



























Coming from a country where it is illegal to have a gun, it seems strange that people feel a need to carry one. David told me he felt safer having one. I thought about this as I continued my journey and I suspect that if I lived in the US, I too would probably carry a gun, especially in particular areas such as near the Mexico border. I have watched some recent news items about the trouble the Mexico border states have with “illegals” and drug runners. I wouldn’t want to carry a gun, but so many people have told me they feel they need to, that I would probably feel the same way if I lived there....

I spoke on the telephone with my cousin’s long-term partner, Helen. I wanted to congratulate her for some terrific good news she had about a health issue she had been battling with for many years. Great news Helen!

When we were on the ‘phone, Helen told me of her love of bridges and just how much she had enjoyed seeing all of the photos of the bridges I had posted on my blog. Obviously encouraging me to include more, I thought today was an ideal opportunity to meet her wish, but not with the usual type of bridge! On day 114 I was to go see the Natural Bridges National Monument in southern Utah.

Located in White Canyon, there are three natural bridges. The most impressive of these (and thankfully the easiest to walk to down into the canyon and back up again) is Owachomo. This has a 180 foot span, is 106 feet high, is 27 feet wide and 9 feet thick. Made of sandstone, the desert stream would occasionally wear away at the rock and form a bridge structure. As the river bed got deeper, the bridge got higher. Today, the stream runs nearby and no longer runs underneath the bridge span. The natural bridge is spectacular and I hope Helen likes it.... I photographed it from both sides....





































I walked down to where the desert stream runs today and the power of its waters became immediately obvious. It was not flowing, but it became clear that it had been just a day or so ago because there was water in parts of the river bed and undisturbed mud / sand patterns....



















This is a wider shot of the stream bed....



























If the water could move sand and mud into these patterns, then it must have been flowing quite fast. I can see how this would erode the weak sandstone rock over a long time.

After moving on from the Natural Bridges National Park, I headed west on Highway 95 and was intrigued to see the road run up a huge cliff. This is known as Comb Ridge and not only did it rise along the face of the cliff, when it nears the top, a whole section of the cliff has been removed to allow the road to pass through it. You can see the gap in the cliff in the photo below....





















This is riding along the rising road just before it turns left and goes through where the cliff used to be! There were signs saying no stopping or parking because it was clear that many rocks had fallen in this area and no doubt many more would do in the future. The cliff was heavily cracked and huge (and I do mean HUGE) sections of the rock face looked as if they could fall at any minute. I didn’t hang around!....



























I had to look twice when I saw this sign. Surely that should say Cottonwood?....





















I checked the sign facing in the opposite direction....





















Yep, Cottnowood was mis-spelt. Now, that’s not something you see every day!

As I rode north towards Moab, my stop for the night,, I passed Church Rock. Does it look like a church? I don’t think so....





















Then I passed Wilson Arch, named after Joe Wilson, a local pioneer....



























I then reached what must be one of the most over-the-top and inappropriate signs I have seen anywhere. What person in their right mind would paint this on a cliff, just to advertise a shop? This is commerciaslism gone mad....





















If you look closely on the left of the sign, there is also a huge lizard sculpture fixed to the rock. This is a close up. Actually I like this, but I still didn’t go into the shop on principle as they had defaced the cliff....




















I hope Helen liked the bridge!

22 comments:

SonjaM said...

Argh, those Germans and their months long vacations... Remind me again, why the heck did I move to Canada?

I have to say, this is probably the best road video so far, at least it is my favourite now! I am impressed how well your Leading Ladies cope with the gravel roads, I mean how well you are handling this bike ;-)

The Bridge with the sun peeking through is awesome, and the brown mud looks like chocolate mousse. As for church rock... the shape reminds me more of a mosque, but that wouldn't probably fly in Utah, or would it?

It is amazing that you still discover new highlights while traveling through. What a great country the U.S. of A. is (despite people's irrational need of guns.)!

Doug said...

Gary, you have a keen eye for your photos a fine sensibility about about what constitutes bad taste in public behavior and commercialism. That sign painted on the cliffs is a hideous embarrassment to all who love the out of doors.

As for guns in America, it's not a simple subject at all. Recommended reading is the book "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws" by John R. Lott, Jr. American notions of gun ownership goes all the way back to English law in pre-colonial days!

BeemerGirl said...

Looks like you are having so much fun!! Great photos. They are also on my list.

You might want to look into HDR photography to help with the highlights and shadows. You can either take the 3 (or 5) pictures at the time. Or you can create the f-stop changed images after the fact.

Thank you for riding and posting! -Lori

Webster World said...

Great post Gary. I was going to carry on about guns but I thinks Doug covered it. History says we Americans are NOT giving them up.

Charlie6 said...

Oh yes, I definitely have to ride the Moki dugway when I am out that way next week! Great video, I must see if I can get one of my sons to shoot video while we ride this road.

Gooseneck is also a place we plan to visit...last time we were there, Martha managed to fall and break her foot in the parking lot, never made it to the edge to take a look.

Good stuff Gary.....am really looking forward to the trip out this coming weekend.

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

RichardM said...

Absolutely wonderful photos and I really like the video. Much different than cruising down the highway. I've spent a lot of time in that area working in the past and I do remember that road.

Thank you!

George F said...

I had read about that road, it looks amazing. I'm making a list of roads I plan on going to sometime in the future, hopefully soon, this one is on the list. Beautiful pics and video. You are adding roads to my list, thanks ;-) I hope to do these kinds of roads with my new Super Tenere starting next year.

Beck said...

Beautiful pictures and even though I was only watching the ride it made me nervous with those steep drops. I bet it was so much fun! Look forward to more. Thanks for sharing.

WooleyBugger said...

I really enjoyed this post. Great pictures and the video going up the mountain ...wow.

Anonymous said...

Have just discovered and read your blog. Wish I hadn`t, am now TOTALLY jealous!
Owen

Eve said...

The video was great! That road reminds me of my driveway!!! Well, ok my slope isn't quite as steep, and maybe it's not quite as long, but it would rival the bumps for sure!! hahahaha! Glad Helen is doing better and I'm sure she liked the bridge. I HATE that they painted on the rocks. I'm happy we have the right to own guns!
;-)

Gary France said...

Sonja – I am glad you liked the video. With the exception of my drive, I had never ridden on gravel before and I don’t worry about it as much now as I did when I started the tour. I liked your comment about the mousse!

Doug – The sign is very out of place in such a beautiful area. Thanks for suggesting the book – I will order a copy. I don’t really know whether I am for or against gun ownership. Coming from a country where you are not allowed to own a gun, I am happy with that regime, but it simply takes guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Overall, I think not having so many guns around makes for a safer place, but if I lived in the US I think I would feel the need to own one.

Lori – I have read a little about HDR photography, but have never tried it. I will do so when I get back home when I have more time to experiment with it. I wondered if my Nikon took multiple exposure shots of the same image. I mean, does it take say three different exposure frames of the same image if you pressed the shutter just once. I don’t think it does, so I would need to set my camera up to bracket (I know how to do that) and take 3 similar pictures. I am thinking you really need to use a tripod to keep the images composition exactly the same, but somebody told me you can hand-hold if you are careful and let the software merge the slightly different pictures together. I am not sure how that will work, but I will give it a try back home – I just don’t have the time to experiment while on the road. Thanks for the suggestion though!

WW – Thanks. I agree with you, I don’t see guns being given up. There are so many of them, I don’t think it could ever happen anyway.

Gary France said...

Charlie6 – I suspected you might like Moki Dugway! I now remember you told me Goosenecks was where Martha broke her foot. Be sure to hold her arm to stop her doing it again.... I hope the whole family has a great time and I look forward to reading all about it.

Richard – Thanks for your compliments. Yep, so different from the highway!

George – I am glad I am able to help add some roads to you list. There are just so many great roads....

Beck – Thank you. Sorry about you getting nervous!

Gary France said...

Wooley – I am glad you liked the video. They do take a long time to make, especially when time is short when on the road, so I try to only take them when the road is great, as it was here.

Owen – That made me laugh. Sorry!

Eve – Good grief, I pity you if your driveway is as bumpy as that. I hated it too, but was even more shocked that they are allowed to do it.

George F said...

I hope you doing Death Valley, I did it with my wife on an Harley Davidson and loved it. From Vegas go west over the mountains and then head to Shoshone, go north from there. Check pics here:
http://ridingusa.blogspot.com/2009/12/our-trip-to-death-valley-we-where-in.html

Gary France said...

George - I have to find the time to go back and read all of your posts about your trip across the USA!

George F said...

Enjoy your trip first, later when you return to the UK and have some down time go see some of the pictures I took on my trip, I traveled through the middle of the country and then up the west coast, there's also beautiful country up north :-)
I am really enjoying your pictures and reports. Maybe one day I will be able to do the same in the UK, I would love to go there too :-)

Gary France said...

George - Good idea! If you get to the UK make sure to let me know - I will show you around or give you any help you need.

Donna Rees said...

Wonderful post and fabulous photographs.

I rode the Mokee Dugway only two months ago and had a grin a mile wide! The vantages up there are simply amazing. How I missed the White Canyon riverbed, I am not sure as I walked all around Natural Bridges, but I thank you for bringing it to my attention!

My favorite park is Capitol Reef NP. I believe it is due to the fact it is less crowded, amazing roads criss crossing the area, gorgeous colors and road formations and wonderful riding!! I don't know if you say it or not as I haven't finished reading about your trip. The Burr Trail is right out of Boulder, UT and winds back down to the Capitol Reef. One totally awesome road snaking though a slot canyon. A DON'T MISS!!!

Thanks for the wonderful posts. I am really enjoying myself!

Gary France said...

Donna – Hello to you! I am wondering if this is the Donna Rees that works for CH2M? I am not surprised you had a big smile after riding Moki Dugway! I did go through Capitol Reef, but didn’t spend much time there. Sadly I didn’t know about the Burr Trail, so I didn’t get to see it. I am glad you are enjoying my blog!

Donna Rees said...

Wow Gary, another Donna Rees, I guess. What is CH2M? Too bad you didn't know about the Burr Trail as it's an awsesome road too and I am certain you would have really enjoyed it. If you check out this post, you'll get the idea!
http://demenshea.com/blog/?p=1696

I am really enjoying reading you. How much longer are you riding here before heading home?? You have certainly covered some diverse countryside!

Gary France said...

Donna – CH2M is the name of a company that my company worked are working with on the London 2012 Olympic Games and the other Donna Rees worked for them, hence I made the wrong connection! I see what you mean about the Burr Trail, it looks very good in your pictures!