Part 3: Cottonwood, AZ to Cortez, NM


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The Trip

After a great night in Cottonwood, we headed east toward Durango, CO and a meeting with our good friends Brad and Laura.  From Cottonwood, we headed toward Sedona and attempted to get a place to camp close-by, but were skunked.  We ended up staying at a nice place in Page Springs.  From there we headed through Flagstaff, AZ and on to Page, AZ.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

While we were in the Cottonwood area, we were told that the Museum of Copper Art was a good place to see so we headed out.  Near the entrance, I spotted this gnarly root ball that had been excavated and cleaned.

This nice bronze (copper and tin) bell was at the entrance to the museum

A copper kettle used for brewing beer.

Our first view of the red rock cliffs at Sedona, AZ.  The weather was poor with overcast skies and strong winds.

A local juniper tree frames the sandstone monoliths in the distance.

Sedona apparently has strict zoning laws that force business owners to choose colors from the approved pallet.  Even the McDonald's sign was in terracotta brown.  These observations aside, it did produce a pleasing result.  The city is nestled between the sandstone cliffs so bright colors would be annoying.

Our path took us northeast on highway 89 along Oak Creek Canyon.  Above, a large bridge spans a gap in the canyon walls.

The large sandstone cliffs in the canyon were very impressive.  From Oak Creek Canyon we headed north toward Flagstaff and the Lowell Observatory.

Excusing the pun, the Lowell Observatory was a shining star in the world of astronomy around the turn of the (previous) century.  The observatory is popularly known for its identification of Pluto as a planet.  But, the REAL important discovery was Hubble's work on the discovery of the expansion of the universe.

This is likely the worst photo ever, but given the reflections from the glass case in the observatory museum, it was the best I could do.  This is one of the first tracking mechanisms for guiding telescopes.  The large drum at the bottom was wrapped with steel cable which was attached to a heavy weight.  The torque from the weight turned the drum which drove the balance of the gears.  The fly-wheel weights at the top were to smooth the rotations.  The large gear on the left is part of the winding mechanism to raise the weight.  This mechanism drove the tracking for the telescope that found Pluto and supported Hubble's discoveries.

Glare on the glass case notwithstanding, the device above is as early spectrograph that can identify the composition of stars and galaxies.  This device consisted of a slit, a diffraction grating and a couple of mirrors.  The large left end was attached to the telescope and the spectra was produced through the single tube on the top.

From a viewpoint at the observatory, we could see the Northern Arizona University campus and a large forest fire in the distance.

En-route to Page, AZ we passed a huge cliff structure that ran for tens of miles parallel to the highway.  We spent a windy and cold night in Page at an RV park in preparation for viewing Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend the following day.

Hiking to a viewpoint I passed this cactus in bloom.  Note the complex internal structure of the flowers.

I was surprised to see this woman walking her cat on a leash.  When she got sufficiently far from the parking area, she took off the leash and the cat followed her.

A nice view of Glen Canyon dam, a major power source in the west.

The Colorado River has eroded a huge canyon over millions of years.  The walls of the canyon are sandstone and nearly vertical.

The sandstone mesas near the dam show a tortured history of uplift, tilting, erosion and deposition.

Notice how many uplift angles are included in this small sandstone bluff.  A complex and tortured past indeed.

In the distance we could see the Vermilion Cliffs with the Colorado River Canyon in foreground.  The terrain is essentially flat and then drops into the abyss at the edge of the canyon.

We had to walk about 30 minutes to get to the Horseshoe Bend overlook.  This is a big structure and would normally require a 12mm (full frame) lens to get it in one photo.  Not having anything that wide, the image above is a stitch of 7 images shot at 30mm in portrait mode.  A respectable final image, IMHO.

From Page we headed east across the Navajo Nation.  Just outside Page is the Navajo Power Plant.  This plant is coal-fired and burns coal mined at the Black Mesa Mine near Kayenta, AZ (on the reservation) about 100 miles away.  The coal is delivered by a robot train that is fully automated.  The plant location was chosen to leverage the existing power distribution network and switch yard at Glen Canyon Dam.

We passed Church Rock visible from the highway.  This structure is a volcanic plug among surrounding sandstone strata.

From Kayenta we headed toward the Four Corners Monument.  The monument is on tribal land with a $5 fee per person to view "it".  The brick structures around the perimeter house vendors selling "stuff".

Kathleen and I were holding hands while being in two states at once.

Replicas of the state seals were embedded in the concrete.  This is Arizona's seal.

The Utah state seal.

The Colorado state seal.

The New Mexico state seal.  This seal is an amalgam of the US seal and the seal of Mexico (the eagle with the snake in its mouth).

Traveling in the red rock country is always a pleasure.  However, the areas are very popular so if you are going during "high season" be sure to have reservations secured for hotels and/or camping sites and the area is "over-subscribed".  Traveling through the Navajo Nation is constrained in that all land is private and, in general, no trespassing is allowed.  So, open camping is not possible.  There are, however, limited campsites and RV parks that are available for a fee.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2018, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.