DAY 4: Five Day Challenge to post a photo and writing: Desert Varnish

Slot Canyon

Getting Lost in Nature

I consider myself very lucky to have been able to live out in the middle of a forest, off the grid at one point in my life.  We had a four-wheeler that we would take out often.  Any of the many trails leading out our back fence, onto BLM land, would end up in an awe-inspiring view.  We discovered so many places of interest in a relatively small radius just out our back gate.

One place we went to often was this narrow slot canyon.   We had to travel a little distance to get to it and actually ended up riding parallel to the little-traveled road that led into the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, six miles east from our property.  

One of our favorite places was this little, 3-sided canyon whose entry was so narrow you had to hike down into it from above. We’d park the 4-wheeler and hike into it.  This included hiking up a hillside of huge boulders, an awe-inspiring venture in itself.  When you got to the top of this rugged mound or boulders, sage brush and wild flowers there was an extremely narrow, dirt trail leading down into this quiescent, narrow canyon.  As the photo shows, the floor was soft, red sand (depicting the name of this area; The Coral Pink Sand Dunes).  The walls went straight up on either side.  Both sides of the canyon walls had distinct petroglyphs on them.  

It was so quiet and peaceful in there, with the thick layer of the soft, red sand floor; I often wished I could just spend the night in there.   It was only after quite a few trips to that place that I learned something else about the rock walls.  They were a brilliant contrast of red sandstone and a black coat of something I later learned was called “Desert Varnish”.  This varnish builds up over hundreds of years upon a rock formation that gets little precipitation, fracturing or wind abrasion; usually in an arid climate.  The varnish is primarily composed of particles of clay along with iron and manganese oxides.  There is also a host of trace elements and almost always some organic matter.  The color of the varnish varies from shades of brown to a purplish black.  Scientists can judge the age of the rock from the layers of varnish built up on it.

In this particular canyon, the varnish is almost a bluish black, very dark with a gleam to it.  You can look straight up from the bottom of the canyon to the sky above.  It is one of the most magnificent places I have been to.  I have a hankering to go back.

We sold our cabin that was located in this area and moved away.  I miss those days and the natural beauty we saw in any direction we looked.  I miss the trails and the surprises awaiting at the end of the ride, we were always surprised by something extraordinarily magnificent.  

Blogging U Photo 101

As part of this assignment, I am to challenge another blogger to do the 5 consecutive days of posting a photo with a word or two, or more.  I would like to invite one of my favorite bloggers, whose blog I absolutely love, “Through The Open Lens”, to do this challenge.  He posts daily anyway, so this shouldn’t be anything added to his list.

Lake Mead, Arizona Springs and Roger Springs: Memories Galore

LAKE MEAD:  Taking the long way there…..

My husband and I took an exciting road trip a number of years ago.  Although we didn’t have a solid agenda, just a scratchy idea of where we were heading, it turned out that we made a full, sweeping circle, beginning at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then on to the South Rim and everything in between.


A Photo of the Awesome North Rim of the Grand Canyon

This trip actually took in the three prominent waters of my childhood and youth.  We took our truck and camper.  One thing that stands out for me were the gourmet meals we cooked enroute when we pulled off the road, to a hidden location, stopping for the night.  We brought a small grill top and all the ingredients to maintain our healthy eating habits.  We fixed some pretty fancy meals, right there on the ground on a grill we balanced on the rocks circling our small fire pit.  The fare was something I felt proud to have prepared in such crude conditions.


After visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we drove on towards AZ following historic highway 89, ending up in Sedona and then on to Jerome (two of my favorite towns in Arizona).  We camped in Jerome that night then visited this artistic, touristy town that teeters on a hill-top the next day.  That afternoon, we took an unknown road out the back end of Jerome that looked like a short cut to our next destination.  Truly, this was the scariest road I have ever been on.  Practically a one-lane road with sheer drop offs the whole way!  We met a car coming in the other direction and I told my husband I had to get out and walk.

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New Mexico Hot Springs: Ojo Caliente

My husband and I took a road trip last summer with our destination being Taos, NM.  I’d been there before but he hadn’t.  As the New Mexico license plates label it “The Land of Enchantment”, I can attest that they chose a perfect description of this enchanting land.

Almost everywhere we set out to go we ended up driving in circles; backtracking, getting lost or taking the very long way around.  Since we had no agenda, we just took it in stride and I experienced a new feeling about “being lost”.  It was almost liberating to not be the one in charge and to let go the frustration of taking a wrong turn and ending up somewhere totally off track.  Eventually we just let this “confusion”  have its way and instead of fighting it just surrendered our need for control and put ourselves in a joyful state of unknowing, following the whims of whatever force was guiding us.  Because of this, we were able to experience a more innocent, childlike state of wonderment over the new, unexpected sites along the way.

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