States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Goblin Valley State Park, UT

In order to cram in as many incredible places as possible, this day began three days of driving.  As we were packing up, I watched a Peregrine Falcon swoop down and snatch a smaller bird.  It then just sat in the middle of the road glaring at the other ‘little bird friends,’ who were chirping aggressively, with its catch wedged under its claw, pinned on the ground and still wriggling!  Nature in action, disturbing but equally amazing!  We left the State Park shortly after lunch, pausing outside the Dinosaur Museum – if time had allowed, we would have visited but we admired their sign and bus regardless! 

While Dave finished up his work (thanks to McDonalds wifi), we spent some time at the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park.  This had attracted our attention because of the ‘Huey helicopter on a stick’ which could be seen from the freeway.  The focus of the Memorial is to “Honor those who served, those who were killed, disabled, and missing, regardless of whether they actually spent time in Vietnam.”

The latest addition to this memorial is a new bronze sculpture representing a “Welcome Home” for the sons and daughters who may have never had a homecoming celebration, created by sculptor Richard Arnold.
 Little stone statues like this flower were dotted throughout this area of Fruita.

Back on the I-70, we quickly crossed over the border into Utah, appreciating the wonderful expanses of open land and towering rocks.  It was a tad concerning to pass the sign letting us know that there were no services available for the next 100 miles!  Exiting the freeway and heading seemingly into the middle of nowhere, we eventually reached the wonder of Goblin Valley State Park, passing incredible rock structures on the way over – my ‘skills’ of on-the-move photography were being tested once more!

Of course, in my opinion, there are many disadvantages to no hook-ups, a definite advantage however is that set up is a relative breeze.  We survived on our one water container so didn’t even bother filling our water tank.  There was running water in the bathhouse, so we were fine – I just prefer the luxury of the camper if I can have it!

Given that we didn’t unhitch the truck, we hiked/climbed the 1½ miles to Goblin Valley through Entrada Canyon – the kids had an absolute blast running up and down the sand structures.  We discovered copious amounts of petrified wood giving us a clear sign that this area had once been underwater.  Once at the actual Valley, loosely following the Carmel Canyon Trail, the opportunities for running, climbing, and playing were even greater.  When we checked in, the Ranger had commented that it was like Desert Disneyland; the kids certainly had plenty of fun.

We read that this area had indeed been waterlogged millions of years ago and was in fact a tidal flat.  As we played, we found more petrified wood, chalk, shells, and quartz.  From the brochure: From deposits laid 170 million years ago by a vast inland sea, Goblin Valley State Park was sculpted by forces of nature such as uplift and erosion by wind and water.  Today, results of these geologic forces are witnessed in the stone gnomes inhabiting the valley.  The goblins are made of Entrada sandstone, which consist of debris eroded from former highlands and redeposited here on a tidal flat (alternating layers of sandstone, siltstone, and shale).  The goblins show evidence of being near an ancient sea with 1) the ebb and flow of tides, 2) tidal channels that directed currents back to the sea and 3) coastal sand dunes.  Joint or fracture patterns within the Entrada’s sandstone beds create initial zones of weakness.  The unweathered joints intersect to form sharp edges and corners with greater surface-area-to-volume ratios than the faces.  As a result, the edges weather more quickly, producing spherical-shaped goblins.

The sun was beating down and there were a surprising number of wasps, but I think, if our stomachs hadn’t eventually screamed with hunger, we would have stayed all night!  As we made our way to the edge of the Valley, a moss-covered rock stood out as unique, but on closer inspection, we realized that it wasn’t moss but a swarming pile of wasps.  Dave clearly used the ‘zoom’ to take this photo!  The downside of hiking over……..having to hike back: ugh! 

We had an incredibly late dinner and due to kind previous campers leaving firewood behind, the kids begged for a fire and s’mores.  We succumbed – on the road and camping for two weeks and our first fire: shocking!  It was perfect.  As we sat out after the kids had gone to bed, Dave and I gazed up at a clear, starry sky – more advantages of being in the middle of nowhere (not to mention no cell phones or internet!).

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