So I’m a bit embarrassed as to how long overdue this post is. We’ve been home for many months now (Spoiler alert! We made it back.) and I’m just now getting the gumption to finish the trip reports.
Jen and I left the bay area all married up and ready to tackle the next stage of our lives; returning home. Clearly a straight shot would be unacceptable so we made a couple pit stops. Number one was Yosemite National Park. I’ve said it so many times on our trip that it may have lost all meaning, but it is sincerely of the most beautiful, huge and awe-inspiring places I’ve ever been. Camping under the immense sheer granite face of El Capitan, the splendor of half dome, the sheer beauty of mirror lake and countless alpine ponds reflecting stunning mountain views was a perfect way to honeymoon for Jen and I.
When we left from Yosemite Jen was hellbent to drive all night long to our next destination in Utah. She has this ability to drive and drive and drive, sometimes for 24 straight hours without stopping to rest. It happened on a couple of occasions when we first started dating and she would have to drive back to Santa Fe in time for class. I guess she wanted to prove that she still had it in her…..turns out she does. She measures trips like that in Redbulls. 1 can of that vile smelling poison for her equals 3 driving hours for the rest of us. We drove all night (5 Redbulls) in the pitch dark high desert almost completely alone. There was no moon and no lights for many miles. It was impossible to tell if we were driving along side of cliff faces or vast desert. We passed, maybe, a dozen cars all night. Houses were even rarer. It seemed like the most desolate place on earth. Not another human being for miles and miles!
Sure enough, come the next morning we were pulling into Wellington Utah to visit the “longest art gallery in the world.” On our way out of Utah a few months back Jana told me about this 30 mile long canyon (oddly named 9 Mile Canyon) completely lined by ancient petroglyphs and ruins. Upon further research it was perched high on the list of “stuff I must see before I die.” So we went and it was as amazing as I’d hoped. I can’t even begin to explain how meaningful I find that artwork to be. It was really something to see the different panels portraying everything from everyday life to great hunts to war. There are even some that chronicle the initial stages of Western expansion and the railroads.
After a night of great sleep (0 Redbulls) we headed off on the second leg of the trip to South Dakota.
One of my favorite memories of Yosemite was on the hike back from Mirror Lake. I came upon a couple gazing up on El Capitan with binoculars. I asked what they were looking at and they pointed to tiny specs that I could just barly make out. “So what!? It’s just a couple of stupid blackbirds perched.” I thought. They urged me to take a closer look through the binoculars to find that those were climbers slowly making their way to the top of the 3000′ face. I can’t imagine that type of strength and endurance.
Jen is an effective killing machine with the Subaru! On more than a couple occasions, while traveling the high desert in the pitch dark night, I was stirred awake by a thud and Jen’s squeal. Each time I sat up to find tears streaming down her face saying, “I hit another jackrabbit!” I did my best to explain that it made some coyote’s life way easier, but she wasn’t having it. You would think after two or three it would be an easier pill to swallow.
Unfortunately the most lasting impression I have of 9 Mile Canyon is the picture of what either Haliburtan or Barrett Corp. (both drill for natural gas there) decided to do to one of the finest examples of a pictograph in existence. The site is right alongside the main dirt road in the canyon and includes numerous petroglyphs, pictographs and a well preserved grainery. There is a short leisurely trail leading to the site, and the company didn’t want people walking on their land so they painted over the main attraction. Pretty disgusting all around.