Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 Vacation - Day 9: 4x4 And Jet Boat - Pictographs And Petroglyphs

Our second day in the Moab area was tour day. It turned out to be the best day of our vacation so far.

The day started with a 4x4 Jeep tour. Actually it was a 4x4 Ford Excursion tour but that's being picky. Our driver, Dave, was a grizzled ex-cop from the Chicago area. He looked like he could tear you apart if you looked at him wrong. He turned out to be a real fun guy. I was surprised to find out that he was 72 years old. He didn't look a day over 50-ish to me. I hope I look like that when I'm 72.

The tour took us up in the hills to the Gemini Bridges – stone bridges. The road was rough but the scenery was interesting. Dave's descriptions of plant life, mineral deposits, and area history were spot one and interesting.




After the bridges we went to Dead Horse Point State Park. The views from the point were amazing. Multi-color stone cliffs and the winding Colorado River. You'd swear the cliffs were carved.

Next came the Pictographs and Petroglyphs. (Pictographs: Paintings. Petroglyphs: Carvings in stone) The Pictographs are estimated to be 5,000 to 8,000 years old and were drawn my person or persons unknown. Some looked very alien like … just saying.

The petroglyphs are younger – 1,000 ± 500 years old from several known tribes. They are more extensive than the pictographs. The petroglyphs and pictographs were the highlight of the 4x4 tour.

Dave returned us to the tour office in time for a delicious lunch provided by the tour company. After lunch we got on a Jet Boat tour that took us down the Colorado River.

This was by far the most relaxing part of the vacation. This part of the Colorado river is as smooth as glass. The boat took us through red rock canyons lined with Tamarix trees. The tamarix is an invasive species of tree that has been creeping up the Colorado river from California at a rate of about 50 miles per year. The tree is incredibly hardy, resilient, and hard to kill. It also sucks water up at an outrageous rate, increases the humidity around them (which encourages mosquito growth), and squeezes out the native species. The park service has introduced a beetle to kill the tree. Wonder when they'll introduce a bird to eat the beetle that was introduced to kill the tree?

Along the way we stopped to see some petrified trees near the shore and more petroglyphs. Our driver, Rory, would turn off the engine and we would drift as he pointed out different geological features and talked about the many movies and commercials that have been filmed in the area. With the engine off it was so peaceful and serene. I took over 250+ pictures. I sample of those pictures are here.

On the way back the boat was brought up to speed (59 mph max but we hit around 40 mph). The wind felt good and the speed felt energizing. The boat ride was the highlight of the entire vacation so far.

The day was made complete with dinner at the Sunset Grill high on a ridge overlooking Moab. Prime Rib, Chicken, and a slice of Chocolate Mousse Pie to die for (No, not good for my cholesterol and high blood sugar but I'm on vacation).

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