So as usual, we spend a little more time than expected, the present robs from the future…and then all of a sudden we find ourselves in a Walmart parking lot instead of our intended National Park or Monument. Anyway, of note from our Grand Teton experience is this: We had several drinks on the back deck of the mooseless Jackson Lake Lodge which appeared at first glance to be your average run-of-the-mill plastic cups, which can take years to break down in a landfill. But these were not those evil plastic cups. These were amazingly, according to the side of the cup, “MONOGRAM SUSTAIN ™”… “MADE FROM CORN” … “100% COMPOSTABLE”. So in fact, these cups, when placed in a landfill and exposed to sun and water, will break down in a mere 6 months!
This is great news, right!? My son thought so as well. And he was so impressed, he kept a stack of cups to take home and put on his shelf. And he doesn’t like to get rid of anything, so the cups will probably last a good 50 years.
Nice try, hippie engineer.
Still in a somewhat self-imposed media blackout, I walked into Walmart, and in addition to doing the stuff that the rest of the family was doing in the phone booth-sized on board facility, I took care of one small errand. As this was Father’s Day, I picked out a few good cards, offered them to myself, thanked myself for being a great dad, and took a picture of another. (Before you start feeling incredibly sad for me, I “give” my wife cards like this as well.) Or maybe it was the same one. I’m not usually very discriminating when it comes to greeting card purchases. Or non-purchases, as the case may be.
I then walked over in the vicinity of Starbucks, which claimed the existence of wi-fi, and after several attempts finally emailed the picture of the Father’s Day card to both my dad and father-in-law. Kind of the 2012 equivalent of starting my own fire using a pair of sticks and some leaves.
Anyway, off we went, and soon we crossed into Utah. From the picture, it seemed like we must have been going in the right direction.
Soon we passed the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which I believe has recently issued an edict that no Chik-Fil-A shall be allowed to build within its borders. So far, not one in sight.
The guidebooks all explain that it is the red color of the rocks gave it the name “Flaming” Gorge. Are they sure? Because, the gorge is actually ON FIRE. Right now! Can someone get that, please?
Truth be told, to this point in the trip, we’ve seen what seems like half of America’s trees burned down. Either that or the deadly Mountain Pine Beetle which has already wiped out or will wipe out 80% of the pine forests of the northern Rockies. Yeah, 80%. It’s often hard to tell, though the result seems the same. It’s a dam shame.
As we approached Vernal, UT, the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument, we kind of expected it to be less dump-like. I hate to rag on the place, but it looked like it was abandoned years ago, then a tornado came through, and then actual prehistoric creatures waded through the remains of the place, swinging their tails and taking down any remaining buildings. This is the kindest photo I can show.
To be fair, I assume that the town must have been fairly dependent on its proximity to Dinosaur National Monument, and the park’s quarry had been closed for around 5 years for repairs. I believe a ranger mentioned that 200,000 visitors come to the park each year compared with millions who go to Yellowstone. And that’s with an open quarry. I would expect that when the quarry was closed, the park probably welcomed about 38 visitors.
Here we go, here’s a nice looking sign.
And a new visitor center!
There is a short tram ride to the new quarry building, which is in the same spot as the old quarry building because, well, you can’t really move a quarry. Not bad!
A placard tells the story of the long crumbling quarry building. Even with the low attendance, they finally figured one of the 200,000 would eventually take a rock to the head.
Inside the building, there is an exposed rock face running along the back of the inside of the building. I seemed to remember back in the seventies that there were people working on the rock with picks, toothbrushes, and that sort of thing. The ranger, who looked to be seventeen, backed up my story. Though she may have just been humoring the old guy.
Here’s a close up of some kind of dinosaur or dinosaur-like creature. I’m just going by what I see.
The site is located where an ancient river may have been flooded, leaving many dinosaurs and other creatures trapped under sediment. Since the site has a huge representation of very large dinosaurs, the lying nazis known as scientists say this suggests that the smaller creatures were swept away, while the larger ones sunk to the bottom. Likely story. Some of the alleged inhabitants are dinosaurs…and…Oh, just read it for yourself.
Here is one such example. The brown one. The orange one is mine.
Here is a closer look at the wall. Yes, there was a ranger and sign here that said you could touch it. And you can tell by how nasty it looks from all 200,000 people’s sticky fingers.
Here my daughter tests this alleged “large dinosaur” hypothesis. Hmmm. OK. Checks out. This time.
Also found was evidence of a rare, yet tenacious creature known as the Hokiesaurus.
This rock was dated at 1,200,000,000 years old. It has held up pretty well. Way better than that Thompson’s Water Seal garbage.
After another express junior ranger pickup, we moved out. There are two entrances to the park. One here, near Vernal, Utah. And one in Dinosaur, Colorado.
There was not much evidence of color in Dinosaur, CO. This place made Vernal look like Paris. We thought about taking the drive into the park at Dinosaur to see a canyon overlook, but we were running out of time and skipped it.
Random lost sheep.
Farther down the road, Bo Peep was apparently taking a nap in the camper.
Yawn. But wouldn’t you know it, in two random areas of Colorado, we saw two different moose! On the side of the RV that the kids couldn’t see out of! Curses! There better be some more damn moose around here. That was not acceptable.
We drove into Steamboat Springs, which doesn’t seem terribly large. But how much space do a bunch of skiing hippies need anyway? Located the alpine slide for the next day and then found our Steamboat Springs campground, which was called…lemme see…oh…Steamboat Springs Campground. Took a swim in the pool, played some pool, threw the frisbee, ate some hot dogs, and turned in.