Windy, windy, windy! As soon as I stepped foot outside the hotel, the wind hit with full force. The forecast stated wind gusts up to 40 mph. Yes, I believe it! After we loaded up the bus we headed west. That was not toward Capitol Reef though. Darryl, our in-resident geologist, had a little surprise for us. We drove through some backroads and stopped along side a couple of houses. Up ahead, in a tall cottonwood tree there sat a gigantic nest. This was the home to a breeding pair of Bald Eagles. Now, this was not in an isolated area. There were a few houses within 100-200 yards of the cottonwood tree. As we sat there, you could occasionally see the head of one of the adults popping up.
As I was looking out my window I saw a dark figure soaring from across the rocks. After circling the tree the other adult eagle landed on the nest and within minutes took off to the grassy area about 30 yards from the nest. We learned that there were probably 2 chicks in the nest and this was probably the 4th year the female had started her family at this location. The male was not her original mate. The male had been shot a couple of years ago, so the female enticed a new partner to her beautiful cottonwood tree. It is believed that a man living in the house across the street from the nest may have been the culprit in the shooting. Apparently he doesn't like tourists pulling over in front of his house, therefore he wanted to get rid of the eagles. So, we stayed clear of his house. The pictures aren't very good due to the fact I had to take them as we drove by.
The group made it's way to Capitol Reef National Park. At our first stop, the wind was whipping and biting! If you didn't have a good footing you could be knocked down. I can't believe that I am posting this picture.....oh well.....
We made our way to Grand Gulch. This is a dry river bed that sees several flash floods yearly. As a result of these flash floods, the bed was laden with beautiful rocks. Not just your average river rocks, but diverse rocks. Different hues, varying sizes, textures and shapes. Such diversity!
As we walked through this dry bed, the enormity of the rocks around us was breathtaking.
I really don't have words to express the complexity of the surroundings. I've never really seen anything of this magnitude.
After a return trip back to our hotel, Darryl gifted us with his keen observations on wildlife. His vast knowledge of critters is remarkable. He delighted us with visual aids such as pelts, skulls and a few funny props.
With a much needed nap, followed by dinner, we were again treated to a lecture by a local named Larry Davis. Wow! His knowledge of Native Americans is astounding. His passion and love for them is overwhelming. All of us learned a great deal. The most unique thing I learned is how to start a fire with steel wool and a battery. I will now be prepared!
Tomorrow we depart this area and continue on to Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park with a quick stop at the Mesa Arch. We will also be trying to stay ahead of projected rain. I hope we can!
Due to further crappy internet, I can't upload my pictures. Guess that will have to wait until a new hotel.
On a happier note.....get a load of Mr. Tom. Our little group of folks just love him and he feels such a part of them.....