August 2012,

Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break….I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun. – Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey

As we left California for Nevada and Utah, I started reading out loud “Desert Solitaire” to Col whenever we had a break, at lunch or after setting up camp before cooking dinner each night. I didn’t know then but I couldn’t have picked out a better companion for this leg of the trip. Abbey is so witty and opinionated – especially on his car-loving compatriots – and his prose reads like poetry. The whole book is quotable. He gave us the perfect introduction and explanation of the desert landscape, based on his experience as a seasonal park ranger at the Arches National Park.

Quite simply, I had never seen such a scenery before. It actually got me interested in that dreary sounding subject of geology. I could never have imagined that one day my jaw would drop looking at rocks! But how could you not? Looking at rocks of orange and pink and red layering on top of each other, flaming up as the sun sets, how could you not ask questions and want to learn to pronounce those prehistoric names of the Earth’s past?

Valley of Fire, Nevada, colored rocks, desert

Valley of Fire, Nevada

Valley of Fire, Nevada, colored rocks, desert

Valley of Fire, Nevada, colored rocks, desert, hieroglyph

Zion national park, Utah, cliffs

We went marveling, from the fire rocks at Valley of Fire to the colored cliffs and narrow gorge at Zion to delicate bridges and arches diligently carved through millions of years by water, sometimes in the form of rivers and other times as tiny droplets.

Zion National Park, Utah, The Narrows, gorge hiking

The Narrows, Zion NP

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

a natural bridge

balancing egg, Arches National Park, Utah

Balancing Egg, Arches NP

Double O Arch, Arches, National Park, Utah, hiking

Upper O of Double-O-Arch, Arches NP

But Bryce Canyon topped it all. Hoodoos, what the hell are those! It was surreal walking through this rock forest, each hoodoo a unique creation of nature.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, hoodoos, amphitheater, hiking

the amphitheater, Bryce Canyon NP

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, hoodoos, amphitheater, hiking

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, hoodoos, hiking  Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, hoodoos, hiking, desert tree

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, hoodoos, hiking, desert tree

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