Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dinosaur National Monument

 After a rainy day in Vernal we drove through Naples (an industrial sprawling extension of Vernal devoted to supplying the oil and gas industry) then through farm land then crossed the Green River and to the covered Quarry where hundreds of exposed dinosaur bones rested in the petrified mud of an ancient river, now uplifted. The layer is exactly like the one below. The Split Rock Mountain that the Green River flows through is illuminated in the back round.
 We camped on the Green River and met a wonderful couple from France. They travel in their green "Papillon" for five months a year and have been all over the world. I love that spirit.
The day dawned very bright and we kept going through the Dinosaur National Monument but the photo below is from a short segment of private land.
 We had a full day of exploration and hiking but one thing that was pointed out is how rarely lizards are pictured in petroglyphs.
 These two (below)  think it is completely appropriate.
So much about today was quieting. The clear air, the quiet, the purity of the desert. The signage along our hike reinforced the uniqueness of the environment and all there is to lose with contamination of the air and water nearby. It reminded me of the title of that book, which had nothing to do with this special place-- The Incredible Lightness of Being. A hollow and still union of being and place.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dilophosaurus and Phosphorus

 We hiked in a mile and a half through beautiful rock outcroppings of red and cream colored smooth and jagged rock formations to the edge of Fleet Reservoir to see the dinosaur treadways of numerous dilophosauri, three toed dinosaurs that lived at this place 193 million years ago. In the photo below you can see the red cracked rock where these prints are scattered.
 On BLM land near there Michael processed veggie oil while I wandered in the cliffs where there is a bicycle path. I thought of the crone's wanderings-- noting tracks, stones, flowers, birds... everything a joy and a simple sweet discovery. Meanwhile Michael got only 17 useable gallons of veggie oil out of 30 we had picked up. (It is so wonderful to be back in Veggie Voyagers mode instead of using up more stinky finite dinosaur carbon.) You have to click on the photo to see the V.V....

 As we were headed down the grade from Flaming Gorge (from a pass of over 8000 feet) we came upon this site (11 miles north of Vernal as the crow flies.) It is now owned by Simplot but is called the Stauffer Chemical Tailings Pond. They open pit mine for phosphate which is shipped by pipeline as slurry to Rock Springs to make into fertilizer. The "pond" is 326 acres and in an unlined reservoir almost 6000 feet high. Some of the effluent contains uranium, manganese, chromium and thallium. Brush Creek, which appears to run off this area, drains directly into Fleet Reservoir... During the high winds we encountered yesterday you can see the airborne cloud coming off the tailing ponds. I couldn't find a single bit of info about monitoring other than ground water. Alarming what passes for being o.k. (You have to click on this one too.) I tried to find data on health issues in Vernal but couldn't find anything specific.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flaming ? Gorge

 We were relieved to get out of Rock Springs. Did errands in Green River and rolled past the Flaming Gorge reservoir portion of Wyoming until after lunch. Once the road passed back into Utah it became much more interesting, especially a loop we took called Sheep Creek Road.
 It made me wish again that I had had more than that elementary course in Geology back in 1965 at the University of Missouri. So much variety and so many fascinating structural changes.
 The gorge itself doesn't become red canyon until the lower segment. We were at a Visitor Center with no visitors, except for the sheep, for the sunset and then camped for the night down by a small cove. In the morning the threatened rain hadn't arrived yet but the wind was already up so we decided to just walk for a bit and move on. I was sorry the Green River had been deprived of her natural course but grateful to have seen this beautiful country.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wind River

 We are in Lander, Wyoming. It hasn't been an exciting day but I did pick up on a couple of things I wanted to mention.... (inserting some more shots from Legend Rock.. the ancient hieroglyphs made by the ancestors of the Eastern Shoshone.)
 Last night we parked by this southern terminal end of the Boysen Reservoir which is a state park carved out of the Wind River Reservation, where both Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe (traditional enemy) people live-- about 23,000 people, with the central town being Riverton which we rolled through a few hours ago.
 Along the road there were references to the Sand Creek Massacre Trail. I had to look that up. Apparently in 1864 a Methodist preacher led his militia to massacre about 100, mostly women and children, of Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers in Colorado. The Northern Arapaho survivors have designated a route of remembrance. Every reservation has roots deep in trauma... I look around at the new casino, the dilapidated mobiles, the well to do large bottom-land ranches. Only grabbing up impressions and not even knowledge.
We are in Lander. About to move up into the Shoshone National Forest. Here in Lander they are planning their One Shot Antelope Hunt... even Cheney, that grand hunter, will be here. The antelope dot the Wind River basin in little groups, even out on the vast oil fields...sitting ducks to the descendants of the European migration experiment.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cody to Thermopolis

 Just after I published the last post in Cody Michael showed up at the coffee shop and said he'd found good grease. He pumped 25 gallons and we both left there feeling revived.
 We drove south to the ridge above Legend Rocks and were treated to the full moon. The next day we went down the ridge face to wonder at the petroglyphs, some 10,000 years old. Will anything this modern generation holds dear survive that long? The rocks tell stories of power and relationship to spirit and to the creatures that live here with a third of a mile of over a hundred images surviving on the rock varnish.
 Visible on the other canyon rim is vast Hamilton Dome, one of the most productive oil and gas production areas in the state. A woman told us that they frack here and "clean" the water and dump in the Cottonwood Creek where downstream ranchers irrigate with it.
 Just a little while down the road we came to Thermopolis where we have soaked in the mineral waters and enjoyed this day. Feeling great now that we have had a full 24 hours without truck battles.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yellowstone limited

 We had a leisurely start to the day yesterday and were dogged by rain showers and thunderstorm cells. Michael had to do some (nasty) injector cleaning at our picnic stop and we didn't get up into Yellowstone until late but it was very overcast and we were tired of driving and just wanted to walk and assumed we were near where we were going to camp and not thinking about time. It seemed like the .7 mile Natural Bridge would be a nice stroll and it was ... along the way we saw two unusual things. A chipmunk completely ignored us to retrieve some morsel buried in the ground and a porcupine scooped up a huge mouthful of grass and waddled away with it...
I guess they were smarter than us..they knew what was coming. Just as we got to the bridge. At that moment the skies opened up, lightning started striking in quick proximity with thunder and dark shuttering down the light. We returned as fast as we could, staying at least 50 feet apart so one of us would survive, in case. It was pitch black and we were drenched on our return to the mother ship.
At that point the truck and the vagaries of the Yellowstone National Park service took over. We couldn't find a place to camp and of course we got pulled over for no running lights by that rare creature, the park police. His instruction was curt and simple- Fix it. So Michael did, out in the rain.
 Then we made a run on the east park border in the absolute darkness and heavy rain. This was our view back into Yellowstone this morning... snow on the peaks and expected to be under 30 degrees tonight. We decided it wasn't worth it. Too many problems. We headed out to the east. To Cody, then south.
 The Wyoming rockscape was beautiful coming out of the Shoshone National Forest but we aren't running on veggie. Michael gets no rest and it just isn't feasible for him to take on that one thing that seems like an energy expensive luxury. The truck is always throwing up new ploys for his attention. Each challenge he meets but that Yellowstone adventure was really marginal and yet we were both sorry to make such a fleeting visit there.
There are grease dumpsters here in Cody but he thinks the recent rains have probably gotten into these poorly closed devises. I want to cut him the slack. (I'm no help.) We could change the name of the blog to the Dirty Diesel Voyagers... perhaps we should. But, I'm grateful for every uneventful and interesting mile we travel. Sorry earth for our pollution-- intention and action are too different animals and can not be reconciled by regret. Mea culpa.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bear Lake to Jackson

 We traveled from Bear Lake's flank in Utah around to the Idaho north end of the lake and to the Bear Lake Hotsprings. The lake was brilliant blue and following that it was bluesy gray when a squall came through... Amazing and beautiful changes in a very brief time.
We spoke to some drinking men and one was Cherokee and a guide. He told about the original springs and we learned about the Shoshone and their relocation. 'Guess the white folks didn't want to share the lake. The treaty lasted seven years before the people were sent to the Wind River area of Wyoming. Another trail of tears..
It was really quite amazing to see the ostentatious homes on this remote lake. Almost all are vacation homes.. lived in by white ghosts of an economy I can't even begin to fathom.
 We tootled on up the 89 corridor to a reservoir where we stopped for the night, still in Idaho--photo below. As we crossed into Wyoming and headed down into the Salt River basin the land became less desert and more diverse and we also started seeing pine beetle damage.... really inspiring to be able to see the changes in the environment within a 20 mile span of highway but a good reminder why California should not be clear-cutting its way through the forests--where we don't have the infestation, yet... there is so much destruction here. Intact forests are really endangered.
 And then... then we were in Jackson, Wyoming. Did I mention ostentatious wealth in regards to homes around Bear Lake? Well, you'd have to see the stores in this town... nothing too expensive for these shoppers. We did our own little consumer loop-- the mountaineering and water sports stores, the health food store, propane.... then headed out before nightfall since the running lights aren't working.
 We parked on the north end of what is called an elk reserve.. an elk slaughter ground is more like it. I'm glad we weren't here for that part of the year. No sign of elk and well may they be in their high country in the Gros Ventre. This was the view out the VV hatch this morning. The rosy fingered dawn toying with the Tetons. (Click on it for the big WOW.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Almo to Fish Haven

 Before we left City of Rocks we went to the hot springs in Almo which had expansive views of the prairie and relaxing pools. You can see Michael's head poking up... pointing in the direction of our leaving.. eastward and then south.
 We had a vague idea of a reservoir where we might spend the night... it was near Snowville, Utah. What we thought was really quite incredible is that we ran out of fuel 30 feet from the NO Trespassing sign over the irrigated bottoms of what must have once been a reservoir. This was our view back toward where we'd come.
 In the morning (we carry fuel) we saw these antelope as we rode back toward the main highway that goes south to Salt Lake.
 We don't like driving the Voyager in urban areas so my old friend (from high school!) Lisa Shavers, drove up from Salt Lake and we had our rendezvous at a laundromat in Brigham City. The open cab darkness would reveal umpteen wires splaying out from the dash-- while we caught up Michael worked on the head lights and managed to get the low beams working. Yet another victory for the Voyager Director of Maintenance.  Although... we did have more problems after we headed up Hwy 89 through Logan and up into the Logan River pass---some more intriguing fuel or fuel pump problems. We spent the night off a side canyon in a gentle rain and got this 7000 ft. view down to Bear Lake in the morning. Now we are paralleling the lake and have crossed back into Idaho with an eventual destination of Yellowstone... We hiked a little this morning and I'm sorry not to post more of my drippy shots. It's time to move on.

Friday, September 13, 2013

City of Rocks National Reserve

 Yesterday we went for a great hike.. learned that this place is mainly visited by climbers because of the ideal granite challenges. In the shot below though you can see to the valley floor.
 And if you enlarge this photo you can see two climbers on the center spire..
 We'd had a little rain along our hike yesterday but it rained all through the night and the road to Pinnacle Pass was too muddy to attempt even in 4 wheel drive today so we came back via Register Rock, where early Californians had signed their names in axle grease, now fading into obscurity.
 Without Michael and his efforts the Veggie Voyagers would be nowhere. It is so good to be back in our slow clunky clumsy rolling stride. He is one month out from chemo and finally able to take a break from efforting. One thing I have to admit though... we have run on bio-diesel until it ran out but there has been no veggie oil to collect in Nevada and no towns yet in either the Utah or Idaho corners of those states so we are running on diesel..... Hopefully soon to return to our mission... if possible.

Leaving Nevada

 It seemed like our troubles have switched off. We had a really relaxing evening in Elko then the next morning launched out of the Walmart parking lot without trepidation. The day was filled with squally little rain bursts and I took lots of photos of clouds as we headed east and finally left the I-80 corridor.
 We went north around the Great Salt Lake Desert and camped near the hamlet of Rosette but never found the short cut we were looking for to City of Rocks which is across the state line in Idaho.
 City of Rocks was named by the great Caucasian invasion (Michael's term) that started in 1843 and lasted just under 40 years... until the coast to coast railroad made the torturous crossing obsolete. The travelers came across the prairie and saw the rocks we saw and some had enough energy left to remark and others to sketch or sign their names on a rock. Nowhere is record of the original people who lived here though.. with over 50,000 newcomers flooding through their homelands they just moved aside, according to the white history.
 We were just delirious with happiness to be somewhere beautiful and to be able to hike and relish the new countryside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eeking by in Elko

 Just a quick post to say we ain't dead yet. Even if he looks it here... changing the oil in the differential... this was an elective in a long daisy chain of mandatory truck duties. The time out on South Fork Reservoir (2 nights after the accelerator cable went out again yesterday,) wasn't so bad. Lit up Ruby Mountains with the late afternoon sun, the crescent moon and that planet dance it did the night before last... all the clarity of the desert air.. that clarity not necessarily correlating with how to be present to the difficulties... that go on and on. Michael is not exactly robotic but seems to be grimly optimistic in a way that the facts don't really support. The 1987 Ford truck is crapping out... one part at a time. Just like the two of us. You can feed us vitamins and good food and lots of love but we are still falling apart. It's an analogy and a sad one which we still don't fully grasp and absolutely can't accept since it's not our way to identify with age or frailty (even though he is just one month out of chemotherapy.) La vida loca. Completely crazy in a slowed down desert sort of trucking way.