9/21/19

Fruita, Colorado, via Colorado National Monument

Good morning to you! I'm up early since our cell signal is weak, and I'm using the park wi-fi to write this post. When I tried uploading pictures yesterday evening, I found it too painfully slow to think about writing. It's my habit to get up early, and so I tried again this morning while the rest of the park is still sleeping. Without so many folks using a this shared resource, I was able to get them uploaded on onto the blog. Okay. So let's talk, shall we? Very nice to see you.

When we took off from (geez, where were we?)...the days are starting to blur. Oh yes...the Black Canyon place...Montrose. Sheesh. I thought I was going to get stuck right there. Anyway...Miss Sadie was preparing for the drive by closing her eyes for her morning nap.


Our drive was short yesterday, and so I had quite a bit of time in the morning to work on my slow-stitching. I finished off the bottom section.


Now I've moved my hoop up to approximately the middle of the piece, and I'll be working on the sunflowers next. I'm a little worried about this because I don't think I have enough contrast between the two colors of gold floss I brought. It's Sew Moab, quilt shop in Moab (our next stop), will probably have something.


We were headed to Fruita via Colorado National Monument and scenic Rim Rock Drive, which is the way this monument is seen.


After passing through the East entrance, we came upon this sign:


Oh wow...wouldn't that be fun!?! I can only remember one other time actually seeing any in the wild.

The road started out easy enough, and we began to climb through 200 million years of accumulated sedimentary rock, tilted in great slabs, isolated columns, steep fields of crumbled boulders, and curving overhead in continuous smooth cliffs.


The road was winding and narrow, and it was windy too!


Right away we passed through a small tunnel. We knew we were within the parameters of height and width, but it was a little nervous-making just the same.


Our first stop was Cold Shivers Point, overlooking the deep trough of Columbus Canyon.


Rim Rock Drive was built during the 1930's, and I'm sure no one anticipated big motorhomes and big truck campers pulling trailers loaded with ATV's. We were often squeezing into too small spaces for parking, and so it was a matter of jumping out, looking over, taking a picture, jumping back in, and then speeding away...although "speeding" is probably an overstatement. Mostly, we were inching forward trying not to run into anything or anybody. Looking left...


Looking right...


Here is what the accompanying sign said.


We were also seeing stunning views across the Grand Valley below from Grand Junction to Fruita. Our scenic byways book tells us that the plateau's core has risen twice, first as the base of a mountain range that has eroded away. Then, after layers of rock reburied the core, it rose again as the valley floor sank.

Our next stop was Red Canyon overlook, and this really did turn into something of an attempt-to-park fiasco. I jumped out and looked, took a picture, and jumped back in.


We thought we might miss the next stop, but found a turnout just passed the overlook where we could park and walk back.


From there, we had stunning views of some of the pinnacle formations jutting into the canyon.



Here's a panorama of the area. Honestly, it was breathtaking.


I took this next picture so you could get a good feel for what the road was like. Steep rock cliffs on one side, steep drop-offs on the other. It was white-knuckle driving to be sure.


Our next stop was the Grand View Lookout. Most of the lookouts involved short walks out to an overlook. Here, I paused about halfway for the picture below. Looking past the pinnacle in the middle, you can see Fruita out in the valley.


Walking the rest of the way, it was very, very windy, with gusts of as much as 40 mph. We worried we'd get blown over the side. Looking left, we could see this:


Looking right, we could see this.


And here's another panorama of the area.


Around the next corner...BIG HORN SHEEP! THERE THEY ARE!!! Oh my gosh, how exciting to see them.


They were standing right at the edge of the road with a steep drop-off. We drove by very slowly, trying not to frighten them into taking a plunge over the side.


After that, we stopped at the visitor's center, where we learned more about the construction of the road. It was mainly built with pickaxes and shovels. At least 11 men died during its construction.


We owe the existence of this national monument to the vision of one man: John Otto. Wikipedia tells us that he was the first park custodian at Colorado National Monument, and had been a key advocate for its creation and its later inclusion in the National Park System.


He was married within the boundaries of what would become Colorado National Monument.


Sadly, it was a short marriage.
.

To here his bride tell it:


But here's a little more information about the man and his efforts to turn his beloved canyons into a national monument.



After picking up my refrigerator magnet and wandering around inside the visitor center for a bit, we continued on toward Fruita. Before we left the boundary of the monument, we passed through another tunnel...


followed quickly by one more.


And then we were free...having cheated death once again.

We're spending just one night here in Fruita, and we have a short drive to Moab today. Moab is our last planned stop for this trip, and we'll be spending five nights there. While there, we'll be getting new tires put on our ATV's and I believe we'll have about three days for riding. After that, we're still considering driving north again to see Dinosaur National Monument. You might recall we passed it by while we were in Vernal. If we have energy enough for more sight-seeing, we'll do it. And if not, we'll be heading for home.

20 comments from clever and witty friends:

piecefulwendy said...

What a beautiful drive! I can imagine it was a bit of a white knuckle going through those narrow tunnels and switchbacks, though. I'm adding this one to my list as well. Thanks for sharing the photos!

Teri Russell said...

I've loved travelling along with you. I think I'll be looking forward to your next trip almost as much as you will. Thanks for the great descriptions.

NancyA said...

I have really been enjoying your ‘travelogue ‘. Your photos are wonderful and your descriptions are too. Next best thing to being there, but I am pretty sure I couldn’t get my hubby to drive that road in a big camper pulling an ATV trailer! I have always wanted to visit the Moab area, so am looking forward to those posts.

Kate said...

I'd tell you what to see in Moab, but I got all my suggestions from you. LOL However, Dinosaur is so worth a stop if you go back that way. There's the dinosaurs and pytrogylphs (autocorrect has no suggestions) on the Utah side and scenic mountains on the Colorado side. Then drive up to Craters of the Moon in Idaho before cutting across to Oregon. We stayed by Sun Valley in Idaho and there's a cute little quilt shop right across from a great pizza place. Wait, I feel like we've already talked about that one, too....

QuiltShopGal said...

Oh my, what beautiful scenery and interesting history. But those Big Horn Sheep are amazing. Lucky you. I've never seen them before (other than stuffed in a museum).

Lois said...

I visited It's See Moab last year .Very much worth it. Enjoy Moab, recommend visiting Canyonlands also.

Judy1522 said...

We drove through there in August and it was so amazing. I never get tired of seeing the different colors of rock layers and the different formations. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any bighorn sheep.

gpc said...

So beautiful, I love those rock formations . . . but I still remember how much I hated those canyon roads. Shudder. I cannot imagine doing it with your kind of load. Mike is my hero. You, too, of course. Sometimes being the passenger is the hardest job of all.

Kate said...

As I was catching up on all your blog posts, I kept thinking of the book "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful pictures and visits. Colorado is one of the few places we can get to via direct flight. After our visit last spring, My Guy really wanted to go back. Now I have a whole list of places to visit. Hope your last few days are full of ATVing and beautiful scenery.

Deb A said...

Those tunnels were making me nervous just sitting in my chair! Beautiful area you are visiting. Thanks for sharing your trip with us through photo's. Enjoy your next stop. Do you happen to do any geocaching while on the road?

Karrin Hurd said...

Love seeing your scenic pictures. I also adore your stitchery!

Jill said...

Beautiful, scenic photos. Thanks for taking us on your nail-biting drive. You have a well planned itinerary knowing that you'll be able to purchase embroidery supplies up the road. :-)

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Just awesome photos!! I love looking thru your lens, but in person I would be horribly hiding from the cliffs. No way would you get me on those roads or overlooks.

Jenny said...

Such breathtaking scenery! I can understand how you feel slowly driving on the narrow, winding road. But you did it without mishap, thank goodness, and have all those great photos to prove your bravery. Wonderful that you saw the sheep you were hoping to see.

Little Penpen said...

What beautiful photo's; you must be having so much fun! A couple of those pic's took my stomach, just imagining being that close to the edge of the overlooks. I love your country stitchery!

Quilter Kathy said...

Lovely embroidery... and amazing photos as always!

kc said...

Oh.my.oh.my. thanks for taking me on this ride, it's certainly not one for us!! Don't think I could even do it in the car alone, much less a rig!!! Stunning photos tho!

Lyndsey said...

Stunning views. I'd do that journey in my car but not in anything bigger. You really are intrepid explorers. No wonder Smitty went climbing, he had to demonstrate his explorer spirit.

quiltzyx said...

I guess Mr.& Mrs. Otto didn't really TALK before they got married, huh? But thank you Mr. Otto, for all your work & rallying for it being a National Monument.

Fabulous photos!

CA Bobbie said...

Just home from a 28 day romp thru the north east coast of US and some Canada. No white knuckle roads though for us. Loved reading all your emails and seeing the beautiful pictures. I do love the old times names of places, so descriptive. We passed one "picnic" site with the sign "Mosquito Park"- we didn't stop....
Thanks for all you share