Thursday, November 23, 2017



Thankful for family traditions like pumpkin pie for breakfast.

True confessions -- I have made a lot of pumpkin pie, over the years. I have never, no matter what I tried, managed to make pumpkin pie that didn't have soggy crust on the bottom. I don't like soggy crust.......... 

I finally gave up pumpkin pie for pumpkin custard. Back in the day when I did ceramics, I made myself a bunch of little fluted ceramic "pie crusts." This is pumpkin custard in a ceramic "pie crust." All the goodness of pumpkin pie, without the soggy crust.

Trying to concentrate on gratitude rather than dread, with marginal success.  Remaining appalled at the numbers of people who vigorously, gleefully reject reality in favor of fiction that happens to suit their fantasy...........


Monday, November 20, 2017

May 29, part 1 -- shifting to the Grand Canyon


This is the view out the back windows of our AirBnB townhouse in Kanab.

There were horses inside that white fence, though none of them are visible in this image.

This is the view from the front door of "our" townhouse.  It was great to have a whole "house" to ourselves, especially two full baths, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer.....

Goodbye, Kanab.  We are on our way to the Grand Canyon.

Southern Utah.

I believe this is Le Fevre Overlook and Rest Area (which I have added to the expedition map).

You can see a long, long way from here.

This southwestern landscape has extensive flat lands, but the flatness is broken by immense places that rise up, and enormous places where the land has been cut away. 

This landscape is an issue when trying to get from here to there.  Unless you are traveling on wings, there are usually impassable barriers between you and your destination.  There aren't many route choices.

National parks, monuments, and forests are often about extremes of high and/or low. 

I believe this is the road that brought us here.  You can see we are considerably higher now than we were just minutes before.

There is a sheltered picnic spot here, in addition to the lookout.

Driving on toward the Grand Canyon.  I believe this is the Kaibab National Forest.

The top of this plateau is not flat.

I mentioned earlier in the trip that we saw lots of places where the trees were dead.  We never knew why.....

I don't know if these big meadows were natural, or not. 

Big sky.

Moving from the national forest into Grand Canyon National Park.  (I am pleased to have my senior lifetime pass!)

Compared to "high" -- Denali at 20,310 feet, or Everest at 29,029 feet -- this isn't, very.  But for a flatlander, who is used to less than 1000 feet, 8827 feet is high.  And dry.

In the Mountains 101 MOOC I just finished, they talk about how conditions differ, up high.  There are fewer molecules of air in each breath, and there is less water vapor in the air.  Thinner air means more UV radiation.  It's colder, up high.  Summers are colder than in the lowlands, and the non-frozen days are fewer.

Tough living conditions, for plants and animals alike.


The north rim had opened to the public for 2017 just one week before we arrived.  It's kind of hard to plan a trip to this part of the world.  If you want to visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon, your dates are limited.  The north rim opens in late spring, and closes in early fall.  If you plan to visit Zion as well, you may not want to come when it's hotter (and more crowded) in Zion than it was in late May.  Very tight timing....

And interesting packing, as you have to plan for 30s or low 40s (if you want to be outside looking at stars after sunset in Bryce), and for 100s (if you mean to have a look at Vegas before you fly home).  Don't forget your sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.  And your moisturizer of choice!

Lots of dead trees here.  I wonder if the ones that are still standing, and the dead ones, are different kinds........

From the top of the plateau, as you approach the north rim, you drive a long way, up and down, over curvy roads.  It's been so long since we were there (as I write this in mid November) that I can't remember all the numbers.  I believe the north rim is about 70 miles from anything.

You have to mean to go to the north rim; it's not on the way to anything else.

When you get the end of the road, there are campgrounds, and a big parking lot, and a lot of tiny cabins, and the lodge.  You can't see much from the parking lot but trees and cabins.  We went into the lodge, which is where you check in, and which has a restaurant (for which you must have reservations), but where no one sleeps.  We checked in and got the keys to our cabin.

The lodge also has a huge room full of huge leather couches, with huge windows.  I was drawn, like a moth to flame, toward the view....... 

The lodge is built right on the rim.  There are verandas on each side of the lodge, also right on the rim, with Adirondack chairs (and one has picnic tables).

You can sit, inside on a couch, or outside on an Adirondack chair, and ... look.  

And look, and look, and look.  

(That white place on the right edge of the image above is a look out point, which we will visit presently.)

A thing about the Grand Canyon is that it is so big.  So astonishingly big.  Too big (and far too complicated) for me to take in, even as I stood (or sat!) right there beside it.

It goes and goes and goes -- down, left, right.  Stretched out in front of you.  I think I could be there for the rest of my life, and not feel that I understood it.


If I studied this landscape for the rest of my life, I would only just barely scratch the surface......

As we looked at the slot canyons, I talked about time. 

Here is deep time, spread out in front of us as far as the eye can see, in every direction.  Inconceivable eons of time to build up the land, layer by gradual layer, followed by more inconceivable time for water and weather to carve the land down, bit by bit by bit.

We are on our way toward the view point we saw earlier.  Here it is.

Closer crop of the above.  Perhaps it's just as well I didn't look, up close and personal, at the rocks supporting this view point until I was safely home in Michigan, where the rocks underneath us are not as ... potentially mobile ... as these appear to be.  (We wondered, from time to time, just how it is determined whether things are "safe" for clueless tourists to walk on................)

Looking down from the view point.  It's a long way down.

A bit to the left of the above.  I bet that most of the green on all of these rocks is adult trees.  It's a long way down.....

A bit more to the left of the above.  The tallest human shadow is mine.

Lifting our eyes.........

To the left of the above -- the lodge.  The huge windows at right, on the half-hexagon, are one end of of the big room with the couches.  The three pairs of windows at left are one wall of the dining room for the restaurant.  One of the verandas is right below the three pairs of windows.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

May 28, part 4 -- heading back to Kanab


Here is a link to the interactive expedition map.

Driving back toward Kanab.

Approaching the Glen Canyon dam and "Lake" Powell (which we looked at earlier on May 28th).

We went across that bridge to get to Horseshoe Bend, and to the slot canyons.  Note our shadows at the bottom of the next image....  :-)

This is a different view point than the one we looked across from earlier that day.  This one is better for showing the dam and the bridge together.

Closer crop of the above, taken from fairly near the center of the above image.  Somehow I think that tacking the wall together is a very temporary fix. 

One thing about this landscape -- if you pay attention, you really get a sense of how temporary humans are.  We may take most of life-as-we-know-it with us, as humanity departs the planet, but the planet will survive, and will nurture other life in the future.  I hope none will be as careless and destructive as we are......

Speaking of deep time, and long-gone life on this planet.......  This was outside the visitors' center at the dam.

Dino footprints.

The sign reads "The imprints were made by a one-ton twenty-foot-long meat-eating dinosaur.  The slab of limestone [previous image] came from a nearby side canyon.  When Dilophosaurus tracked through the silt, 170 million years ago, this was a different landscape.  Shallow streams meandered across a marshy plain.  Throughout Glen Canyon, the red-orange layer of Kayenta sandstone appears -- a lost world turned into stone, then river-cut and weathered into view."

Huge amount of water, where there should be much less.

We used the bathrooms and bought postcards in the visitors' center, then headed on back to Kanab.

Definitely not in Michigan.

Boggled at how green it was, at the end of May.

Here is a link to the next post about the Grand Canyon trip.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

another reason to get a good night's sleep


Here's a TED talk elucidating a reason to get a good night's sleep:  the only time your brain gets cleaned of waste products (like amyloid beta....) is when you're asleep.

We heard about this in the sleep MOOC I listened to a week or so ago, so that's hearing about it twice from two different sources.......


May 28, part 3 -- Rattlesnake Canyon


Here is a link to the interactive expedition map.

We added an extra canyon to the basic tour.  Rattlesnake is less accessible than Antelope, requiring some clambering over rock and ascension of a ladder at the end of the canyon.  We hoped this (and the extra $$$) would mean it was less crowded.  It was, but everything is relative.  It was still crowded.  Just not jammed........

Flowers outside the canyon.

Closer crop of the above -- note the tiny flower at right.  Two different plants, both with white flowers, growing next to each other.

Heading into Rattlesnake.

Closer crop of the right edge of the above.  Rainbow sun flare.

Rattlesnake was more open than Antelope.  Looking out the side.

We had to go under one archway -- not sure if this is the one....  You can see the footprints are continuous under this one, so maybe it was.

Zig-zag, zig-zag.

There were places in Rattlesnake where you had to squeeze through.

A rock closeup.

The end.  Note nuke plant on horizon.....

As I climbed up that ladder, I wondered how we were going to get back down.  As it turned out, we walked back to the beginning on top rather than down in.

Walking back to the ... road? driveway?  That plant-lined crack, with all the footprints beside it, is the canyon.  Note, also, the interesting rock on the other side of the crack.

Stepping a little closer to the canyon....

These slot canyons were amazing.  So different from anything one would see in Michigan.  I am very glad to have had the chance to see them!

Here is a link to the next post about the Grand Canyon trip.