Monday, May 30, 2016

Meeting the Giants - Monument Valley Aerials

Meeting the Giants - Monument Valley Aerials

We took off just after dawn in order to capture the best light and smoothest air. We departed the Bluff airstrip to the, then turned west. The temp was about 45, but anticipating a 60mph wind chill, I had 6 layers on top and 4 layers on bottom, plus winter boots, gloves and balaclava under my helmet. Paul has a heated jacket and gloves.

 The San Juan River, west of Bluff, with puffs of morning mist remaining.

Rock formation, part of Comb Ridge, known as Mule Ears. See the coarse curves of the Comb Ridge, an 80 mile long "monocline" beyond.

Note the triangular patterns as the surface expression of a fault, running north-south, with this being the eastern edge of the "Monument Uplift". Many geologic strata are exposed and evident.

 Near the "Goosenecks" wanderings of the San Juan River.

 "THE" Mexican Hat rock formation for which the nearby town is named.

 Monument Valley "Giants" in the distance. Anyone seen "Forest Gump"?

 Nearing some of the larger buttes.

 The "West Mitten" in the middle distance, with the Monument Valley hotel in the upper center.

 Massive bytes with very long shadows in the morning light.

 Close pass by the "West Mitten" and the shadow it throws.

 The "Three Sisters" formation, near John Ford (movie director) Point.

 Looking back eastward over the Valley

Eroded butte with the swirled etchings of sea water and waves, still visible on top of the rock mass.

 Approaching the Totem Pole (single pillar-R) and the Yei Bi Chai (grouping-L)

 Climbing equipment visible atop the Totem Pole. Formation was used in filming of the Eiger Sanction - 1975 movie with Clint Eastwood.

 So many unusual rock and ridge formations

 Wing tip of the Ultralight visible in view toward NE

 Rooster Rock - close up view

 Rooster Rock from the other side

 Bowl-shaped grouping of the Yei Bi Chai and Totem Pole with dramatic shadows.
 Water run off from small streams, leading to the San Juan River, as we head back toward Bluff.

Returning to Bluff for landing, with straight airstrip and tiny hangar visible on mesa in upper center of photo.

Thanks for joining us as armchair passengers! Few will ever enjoy this perspective of Monument Valley!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Large Items Arrive in Large Packages

Large Items Arrive in Large Packages

 A Place of our Own
Arriving in Bluff, we drove about 5 miles past town to the county airstrip. The airport "manager" (also the town fire chief and dog catcher) gave us permission to park and "dry camp" here, since we had an aircraft to look after. 

Private Plane on Tarmac
The Bluff airport is not exactly humming, but there was an aircraft waiting for the pilot to return from a rafting trip. He then went on to South Dakota to work as a seasonal park ranger.

 Airport "Facilities"
Yep. That's the pilots' lounge/restroom/cafe, security checkpoint, and lobby for the airport in one tidy package; handmade and lovingly built for sure! Actually, there is an airplane hangar, that may or may not contain planes. 

 The Big Reveal
This trailer was customized by Paul (an engineer's dream!) from a basic car-hauler into a SUV & Ultralight into a toy box. First the Xterra is unstrapped and backed out.

 Slowly eased out with the help of a winch (not wench).

 "Trixie" the Trike parked and secured nose first, with the wing bundle up on the shelf to the right.

 Easy does it.

Taking Trixie for a roll to the tie down spot.

 Starting to assemble the wing....
Let's see. Slide Bolt A into Fitting A or does it go into Slot A?

 However, Mother Nature had other plans on our first day.

Fully assembled, Trixie, tethered down, waits to fly, once the wind sock settles.

Thanks for joining us on this journey.
Barbara and Paul

Taking the Circus to Meet the Giants

Taking the Circus to Meet the Giants

The Traveling Circus
Yep, that's a 30-plus foot Newmar brand RV (nicknamed Julie) attached to a 30-plus foot V-nosed trailer parked in front of our house last week. We were preparing to embark on the maiden voyage with the "Traveling Circus" of RV towing trailer containing Paul's ultralight and Xterra SUV. This was a test run for future plans to sight- and flight-see around the most scenic areas of the US of A

Sleeping Ute Mountain near Cortez, CO
We pointed our compass NW from Albuquerque and passed by the "Sleeping Ute" mountain (head to the right) draped in virga, by early afternoon. Virga is also aptly called "walking rain" in these parts, and is falling rain or ice crystals that evaporate before reaching the ground. 

Rusted Truck beneath Twin Rocks
With light traffic and clearing weather, the "Circus" set up shop outside Bluff, UT; a small town just off the Navajo Reservation, in the SE corner of Utah. A town of only about 300 souls, it subsists mostly on the tourist trade these days. 

Awesome Navajo Taco
Bluff is mostly Mormon and 35% Navajo, which favors the creation of one of the best Navajo Tacos I've ever eaten - in the Twin Rocks restaurant. The base is fry bread (in lard, of course) a layer of chili, and then garnish of lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and sour cream. Yum.

 Hole in the Rock Journey
This map depicts the arduous journey (red dots, left to right) taken by about 230 Mormons of all ages, wagons and livestock from south of the Salt Lake, southeastward across incredibly rugged country, in 1880. Misinformed by earlier scouts, they came to the edge of Glen Canyon only to find a 600 foot drop and no way down. Finally, they found a narrow cleft in the rim, called Hole-in-the- Rock, through which they were able to eventually move people, wagons, and hoof-stock down a perilous incline, utilizing pick axes, pulleys, and ropes, to reach the Colorado River below. A planned 6 week walk actually required 6 months, through the winter. After crossing the Colorado River and many more miles of tough, slick rock territory, they could go no further, so founded and settled the town called Bluff, on the banks of the San Juan river.

This town sign recognizes the arrival the first Native American settlers who began living in the area about 650 AD. Consequently, the area is rich in Anasazi and Pueblo history, artifacts and petroglyphs.