But Are You Balanced… Arches NP: Part 2

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock is one of the best known rock sculptures in Arches National Park. The cracked mudstone underneath it makes me wonder about how long it will last.

 

Ever have that feeling that you are teetering on the edge? What if you weighed 3,600 tons and stood 128 feet up in the air while you teetered? That’s the case of Balanced Rock, one of the most iconic rock sculptures of Arches National Park in Utah. Actually, the rock owes more to the super-glue mudstone that attaches the sculpture to its base than any super-power balancing capabilities. Someday, it will come crashing down, but until then, it is there to admire and astound.

Balanced Rock scene, Arches NP

A more balanced Balance Rock?

Balanced Rock in Arches NP

And a closer look.

Sliding off pedestal, Arches, NP

In terms of balance, I found this rock more talented. It lacks the glue-like mudstone and appears to be sliding off of its pedestal.

As the buried layers of salt that I mentioned in my last post work upward, it leads to parallel cracks in the sandstone above that eventually erode away leaving long fins, from which arches, balanced rocks and other rock formations of Arches National Park are created. The most impressive fin to me, Park Avenue, greets visitors on their way into the park. If you’ve ever walked down Park Avenue in New York City, you know it is lined by sky scrapers. That’s what folks had in mind when they named this impressive formation.

Park Avenue in Arches National Park 3_edited-1

Park Avenue with its sky-scraper like rocks.

Park Avenue at Arches NP

Another perspective.

Fin 2 Arches NP

This fin shows the beginning of the erosion process.

Creation of fins, Arches NP

And here, a number of fins reflect the parallel cracking of the sandstone.

My favorite!

Still a fin but with a different erosion look caused by thinner layers of sandstone..

And to conclude, here’s some more eye-candy from Arches National Park.

Courthouse Towers, Arches NP

Standing rock, Arches National Park

Sentinental 2

Climbers in Arches NP

Climbers.

Courthouse rock, Arches NP

And a final view for this post.

 

Note: All photos are taken by Curtis and Peggy Mekemson.

NEXT POST: The arches of arches.

 

 

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There’s More to Arches National Park than Arches…. Arches NP: Part 1

 

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

The red rock sculptures of the Southwest US are both beautiful and strange, firing our imagination while calming our souls. Few areas capture this paradox as well as Arches National Park. It is one of our favorite places.

 

“The desert wears… a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting — but waiting for what?” – Edward Abbey, 1968 in his book Desert Solitaire where he recounts his two years, 1956-57, as a park ranger in Arches.

 

I have a confession to make. I suggested in my last post that I was going to feature the petroglyphs of Utah’s Arches National Park next— and there are petroglyphs there that I will include in this series. But my real reason for posting on Arches was that I wanted an excuse to revisit our last trip there and share the beauty of the area with you. Peggy and I had been on our way to a private raft trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon when we stopped off at Arches. The clock was ticking. Consequently, we had been forced to rush through the park. Selecting and preparing the photos for this series on Arches allows me to relive the experience at a more leisurely pace.

Arches is known for its graceful arches: There are some 2,000 scattered throughout the park. But there is much more to Arches that arches! This beautiful red rock country also includes pinnacles, balanced rocks, spires, domes and fins— all of which I will be sharing.

Geologically speaking, we have to go back some 300 million years to discover the beginning of the forces that created Arches. The area was part of an extensive sea at the time, a sea that would retreat and refill some 29 times, leaving behind layers of salt several thousand feet thick. Eventually, the mountains and highlands that surround the region eroded away and covered the salt with multiple layers of sandstone. Since then, the salt, which is less dense than the rock, has forced the sandstone up, warping it and producing domes and mesas that have in turn been eroded away by wind, water, ice and gravity into the fantastic rock sculptures we see today.

My plan for this series is to include four posts:

  1. Look at domes, pinnacles and some rather impressive red rocks
  2. Feature balanced rocks and fins
  3. Introduce a few of the many arches
  4. Explore the surrounding country, petroglyphs and settler history

Peggy and I were sharing a camera with each of us taking shots whenever something caught our attention. We have long since lost track of who took what. So, we are sharing the photo credits.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

These domes feature the two common sandstones found in Arches: The reddish entrada sandstone which evolved from desert sand and the more buff-colored Navajo sandstone.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

A closer look.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

And closer.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

Peggy and I liked the way these pinnacles marched off into the distance.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

And here seemed to lean on one another for support.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson

In bright daylight, a family portrait.

Red rocks of Arches 2

Early morning and late afternoon adds color to the sculptures of Arches. Check out the little guy on the right with his hands in his pockets. He seems to be staring off into space. You can even see the buttons on his shirt!

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

More red, set off by the green of the plants that were capturing the sunlight.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

Early morning light. If you make it to Arches, be sure to plan enough time there to visit during the early morning, mid-day and evening. Each will bring new treats, often giving a totally different perspective on the same rocks.

Photos of Arches National Park by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.

I’ll close today with the Three Gossips. Prominent rock sculptures at Arches National Park have all been named. To me, the rocks often seem to have an inner luminosity, glowing on their own!

 

NEXT POST: The balanced rocks and fins of Arches National Park.

Arches… A Photographic Journey through America’s National Parks

Photo of stone sculpture and mountains in Arches National park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Arches National Park is known for its soaring arches carved from stone, but that is only the beginning of its beauty.

One of our goals over the past several years has been to visit all of America’s National Parks. We’ve been to all 50 states in pursuit of this objective. There are a couple in Alaska still on our “to do list.” Since Peggy and I are presently wandering in Mexico, I’ve recruited some of our favorite National Park photos to fill in while we are gone. Enjoy.

Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah. While the towering rock arches are indeed striking, other rock sculptures are equally, if not more, impressive.

Stone sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

These stone sculptures stand like sentinels.

Shadow outlines of rock sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

With dark rapidly approaching, only shadowy outlines could be seen. I am thinking the Three Wise Men.

Wall of stone at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This wall of stone greets visitors upon their arrival to Arches National Park. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Family of rock sculptures at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I thought of this collection of rock sculptures as a family… Mom and the kids.

Sedimentary layers shown at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This collection shows different sedimentary rocks laid down in ancient times.

Rock sculpture at Arches Natioal park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another photo that captures sedimentary layers and shows the impact of weather on various rocks. Different rocks erode at different speeds, thus creating the wonderful sculptures seen throughout the Southwest..

Evening sun turns a rock sculpture red in Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Caught in the evening sun.

Photo of joining arches at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Naturally, any photo essay on Arches National Park has to include some arches.

Two arches at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The same arch caught 30 minutes later.

Under and arch at Arches National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Looking up from under the arch. I knew the rock was solid but still felt nervous.

Arches National Park photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A final arch.

NEXT BLOG: We will head west to Yosemite National Park.

The World’s Largest Cockroach… Burning Man 2013

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world's largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world’s largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

They grow things big in Texas. Just ask a Texan. But I never thought that the folks from the Lone Star State would fess-up to having the world’s largest cockroaches. Apparently they live in Houston. Regional Burners from the area brought a replica of one to Burning Man. Eventually it was sacrificed to the fire gods, burned up. But, hey, that’s what Burners do, right?

Houston was one of 24 locations from around the US and world that brought art to Burning Man 2013 to represent their regions. The Dutch bought a windmill, for example. Utah had a rock arch. Sacramento featured a riverboat and Reno a wedding chapel. You get the point.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Burning Man is big on regionalization. Groups are now located in areas ranging from France to Taiwan and Israel to South Africa, as well as all over the US. Their art this year was organized in groupings around the Man and burned simultaneously on Thursday night. It made quite the bonfire.

Texas cockroach at Burning Man 2013.

A front view of the Texas Cockroach. The media center was set up to teach facts about the cockroach, such as they will be around long after humanity has gone the way of the big lizards.

Utah regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Utah chose to represent one of its famous rock arches, the type you find in Arches National Park. It also featured petroglyphs, a subject I have written on in my blogs. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Arches National Park

One thing Utah has a lot of is beautiful rocks. I took this photo at Arches National Park.

Dinosaur National Monument petroglyph.

Nor could I resist posting this petroglyph I found at Dinosaur National Monument given Burning Man’s 2013 focus on aliens. This guy and his dog are about as alien as you get.

Dinosaur national Monument petroglyph.

I may have seen this guy walking by our camp. I am surprised Utah didn’t include him on its arch.

Idaho Marvin, regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Idaho produced this sculpture that they named Marvin. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm.

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

New York regional art at Burning Man 2013

I found New York’s piece, a representation of the iconic top of the Chrysler Building to be particularly graceful.

New Orleans regional art at Burning Man 2013.

There was something fishy about New Orleans.

Lithuania art at Burning Man 2013.

Peggy and I were particularly interested in Lithuania’s regional work, which featured birds. While we were at Burning Man, Peggy’s sister, brother and cousin were visiting with relatives in the country. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Burning of Lithuania's regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Our connection with Lithuania’s art brought us back to watch it burn on Thursday night.

Burning of Lithuanian Regional art at Burning Man 2103.

The piece comes tumbling down.

Washington DC's pyramid at Burning Man 2013.

The glowing remains of Washington DC’s pyramid stand behind the embers of the Lithuania’s work. 22 other regional pieces were burning at the same time.

New York City's regional art burns at Burning Man 2013.

NYC’s art piece burns on the right.

The East Bay Area structure burn.

The East Bay Area’s structure burns.

I've included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

I’ve included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

NEXT BLOG: The incredible ceremony surrounding the burning of the Man.

It’s National Park Week 2013… April 20-28

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

It’s National Park Week. One of my blogging friends reminded me. Somehow I lost track of time and became so wrapped up in the minutia of life that the week had arrived before I realized it was happening. Shame on me.

The United States and many other nations around the world have done a magnificent job of setting aside national parks. We owe it to ourselves to go out and explore these treasures. And, we owe it to our great, great, great, great-grandchildren to protect these sites of rare natural beauty for future generations.

It won’t be easy. There will always be people who believe financial gain outweighs any other consideration. Why save thousand-year-old redwood trees when they can be turned into highly profitable redwood decks?

Redwood

This 1500 year old redwood is located in Redwoods National Park on the northern coast of California.

Several years ago, Peggy and I set a goal to visit all of America’s National Parks. With the exception of Kobuk Valley and Lake Clark in Alaska, we’ve succeeded. It has been an incredible journey. Our travels have taken us from Denali National Park in Alaska to the Dry Tortugas National Park off the Florida Keys.

In addition to driving through and hiking in these parks, I have also backpacked in 13, biked through five, and kayaked or rafted in three. Once I even organized a winter ski trek into Denali National Park where we slept out in minus 30-degree weather and listened to wolves howl. That was a learning experience…

Since I couldn’t escape to a national park this week, I did the next best thing; I went through photos of parks Peggy and I have taken. All I could think of was wow– what incredible beauty!

Rocky National Park in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Hawaii Volcanos National Park.

An active volcano in Hawaii Volcanos National Park on the Island of Hawaii.

Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.

Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. A sign warned us to look out for an active grizzly bear.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California. I once woke up near here with a bear standing on top of me.

Fall colors of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Fall colors of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park.

Sand dunes in Death Valley National Park.

The green of Olympic National Park in Washington.

The green of Olympic National Park in Washington.

Lesser known National Parks such as Great Basin in Nevada also hold great charm and beauty. This photo features the van Peggy  and I travelled in for four years as we travelled around North America.

Lesser known national parks such as Great Basin in Nevada also hold great charm and beauty. This photo features the van Peggy and I travelled in for four years as we wandered around North America.

Spectacular scenery is only part of the national park story. Wildlife, birds, insects, reptiles, flowers and history add to the experience.

Peggy and I found this beauty swimming through the water at Everglades National Park in Florida.

Peggy and I found this beauty swimming through the water at Everglades National Park in Florida.

And this striking Black Buzzard was another Everglades resident.

And this striking Black Buzzard was another Everglades resident.

We found this Luna Moth on the Natchez National Parkway.

We found this Luna Moth on the Natchez Trace National Parkway.

Brown Pelicans are a common visitor at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Brown Pelicans are common visitors at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Peggy and I are great fans of Native America rock art, much of which is protected in National Parks and at National Monuments. This man with his big hands and fat little dogs has always been one of my favorites.

Peggy and I are great fans of Native America rock art, much of which is protected in national parks and at national monuments. We have several thousand photos from different sites. This one from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado/Utah has always been a favorite because of the big hands and fat little dogs.

It never hurts to complete a blog with a pretty flower. We found this Foxglove growing in Olympic National Park.

It never hurts to complete a blog with a pretty flower, even if it goes on and on. (grin) We found this Foxglove growing in Olympic National Park.

NEXT BLOG: I hope you have enjoyed my two diversions over the past week because of Earth Day and National Park Week. On Monday I will return to Europe and Rome’s historic Colosseum.

Where the Colorado and Green Rivers Meet… Canyonlands National Park

A gargoyle-type rock perches above the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park.

I have a weakness for gargoyles. Their grotesque features appeal to my sense of humor. Or is that warped sense of humor? Whether I am touring a medieval cathedral or visiting Gotham City, they leap out and capture my imagination. Thus I was delighted when I came across a gargoyle-type rock hanging out above Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is where the Green and Colorado Rivers meet. The down-cutting erosive power of these two rivers combined with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and six million years of time are responsible for the breathtaking multitude of canyons and rock formations found in the Park.

A trip out the park road to Island in the Sky provides views of both basins and other prominent park features. A detour to Dead Horse Point State Park off of the main road shows the Colorado River doubling back and almost meeting itself in a major meander known as the Gooseneck.

The Colorado River winds around and almost meets itself at Gooseneck. This photo is taken from Dead Horse State Park and is looking down into Canyonlands.

Flowers, twisted juniper trees, wildlife and distant mountains add to the scenery.

Both Canyonlands and Arches National Park are easy day trips out of Moab in southeastern Utah. Sego Canyon with its fascinating examples of Indian rock art that I blogged about recently is also within easy driving distance.

One of the Southwest’s best known Indian rock art sites, Newspaper Rock, is located on the southern road into Canyonlands National Park. I will feature the site in my next blog.

Finger like canyons working downward to the Colorado River gradually cut away at the harder rock of White Mesa. This picture is taken from Grand View Point at the end of Island in the Sky Mesa. The maze-like canyons that disappear into the distance provide multiple reasons for the Parks name.

Flowers, like this Indian Paintbrush, add a dash of color to Canyonlands.

Junipers, even young ones, tend to look old, but this guy has obviously been around for a while.

Raven has a special place in Native American lore. His tricky ways, croaky voice, and ability to survive in extreme conditions give him a special position in the bird kingdom.

Spring is sprung but this young buck is still wearing his winter coat. While it may not be the height of fashion, it’s warm.

Distant snow-covered mountains, multi-colored rock cliffs, deep canyons and picturesque trees are all part of the Canyonlands National Park scenery.

Stark tree.

It is easy to lose yourself in the vast open spaces of the Southwest. My wife Peggy and Cloud prove the point.

The semi-arid climate, erosive forces of nature, and geology of Canyonlands National Park and the Southwest combine to create unique natural sculptures.

If my memory serves me correctly, these two sculptures are called the Beehives.

This massive monument of sandstone greets visitors at the north entrance to Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park… The National Park Series

The soaring arches of Arches National Park create magnificent scenery.

I added Arches National Park to my must see list when I read Edward Abbey’s book “Desert Solitaire.” I highly recommend both. The Park is located just north of Moab in the scenic state of Utah. You can pick up Abbey’s book by following my link, or better yet, visiting your local bookstore.

The eroded sandstone of Arches National Park forms some of the best stone sculptures in the world. Its claim to fame, of course, is arches, some 2000 of them, but I was equally impressed with its soaring pinnacles, massive balanced rocks, groupings of sculptures and long, thin ridges.

There are also Desert Bighorn Sheep in the area, often seen near the Visitors’ Center. Check out my blog on these magnificent animals.

Desert Big Horn Sheep are frequently seen near the Visitors’ Center at Arches National Park. The Peripatetic Bone decided to join a sculpture of the Big Horn Sheep at the Center.

Ancient Native American Petroglyphs are found throughout the West and often feature Big Horn Sheep. This petroglyph is found in Arches National Park. Note the Indians on horses.

Utah has several other National Parks that I will feature in future blogs including Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion. You can visit these parks in a week but spending more time is definitely better. Each is worth a week itself!

I’ve been back to Arches National Park twice and have every intention of going again. Enjoy the photos.

Rock sculptures come in all shapes and sizes at Arches National Park. At one time arches would have connected these sculptures.

I took this photo on my first visit to Arches National park. The two arches are the same as I featured in my photo at the beginning of the blog.

The stone sculptures at Arches National Park often form interesting groupings as demonstrated by the picture above and next three below.

I thought teepees when I saw these sculptures.

The dark sky above these sun-lit rocks added drama to this view.

Parent with lots of kids?

Erosion often leaves rocks precariously balanced at Arches. I wonder how long this rock will remain on its perch. it could fall tomorrow, or in a thousand years.

This impressive structure at Arches National Park is called the Courthouse. I call it V.

A final arch…

Distant snow-covered mountains add to the beauty of Arches National Park.