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Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM PDT

DKos Sabbatical, Looks Like...

by richholtzin

Folks, I think in light of some recent commentary and my heavy workload producing the DKos Tour Series the better act of valor here is to bow out for a while and see if I can't make up some lost time to my future publishers (some of which you folks have been given many samples of one work in particular). After all, I can't keep stalling these folks by procrastination (but in reality I was having fun writing the less demanding diaries instead). So I have to beg my followers indulgence for some time and get these other tomes spruced up a bit (which I do find time to edit same...though not the diaries...mea culpa, otherwise you would probably never get them (LOL). So perhaps sometime down the road of time for more of the same diary sequence and tour series.

Anyway, I have other obligations that best be tended to and if some of you feel this postponement is okay than kindly drop a tip in the 'ole jar. That would be appreciated. Otherwise, to those of whom I have offended with my diaries, mea culpa. That was never my intention. I'm a giver by nature, a pleaser, and the trouble with being such is I am just too damn sensitive sometimes. I haven't learned how to grow a thick skin like some folks manage.

All the best and I apologize for leaving any or all in a lurch given (what I have been pleased to hear from so many of you) an interesting series of seeming no end. (Actually, in the larger tome there are about 250 scenic highlights and assorted topics covered.)


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Prologue: Summer’s coming on and before you know it vacation time will be here and planning for the adventure begins. For those of you headed out West, specifically those interested in seeing the so-called Indian country, this two-part series may whet your appetite to stop by the big valley north of Kayenta, Arizona (which straddles southeastern Utah). Although a previous diary appeared on our community’s site, what I have in mind this time around is to present something more tourist related. Remember: vacation time means tourists and tourism and Monument Valley, which is entirely owned and managed by the Navajo. They also welcome you to their home, at least this part of their sprawling reservation in this sector of the Colorado Plateau.

Note: The following diaries are excerpts from a larger copyrighted work I composed many years, entitled MONUMENT VALLEY––Scenic Sandstone Sculptures of the Southwest! In this work are many chapters, which I call Sketches. The following diary begins with Sketch Number Six with the title “The Desert’s Quid Pro Quo. . .Or?”

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This diary voluntarily removed; if anyone would like me to resend to their email, let me know. Apparently, someone didn't like my take or spiel on Native American history and I'd rather not quibble about such things. Nevertheless, I think my research on the subject has been meticulous and culturally sensitive. Thanks for your understanding.


This diary voluntarily removed; if anyone would like me to resend to their email, let me know. Apparently, someone didn't like my take or spiel on Native American history and I'd rather not quibble about such things. Nevertheless, I think my research on the subject has been meticulous and culturally sensitive. Thanks for your understanding.


Location/Geography: In southeast Utah, Montezuma and San Juan counties. Nearest city: Cortez, Colorado, and Blanding, Utah. Area: 785 acres. High desert west of Cortez; a series of river valleys feeding into lower McElmo Creek and the San Juan River from Cajon Mesa on the Utah-Colorado border.

Spotlight: Hovenweep (sometimes spelled "Hovenweap") is one of the more unusual ruins in the Southwest. Its remote layout is also one of the last communities of the Ancestral Puebloans. Here is found a remarkable construction of singular designs of dwellings, almost a Medieval castle impression complete with an engaging watchtower. What was the intended function of the square and round-tower shapes? This austere and outback setting is a possible astronomical site similar to Chaco, though diminutive by comparison.

Snapshot: Paleo-Indian culture was here as early as 13,001 years ago and possibly a lot longer. Later, hunter-gatherers continued to inhabit the area. This was long after agriculture and farming were introduced around 501. Favorable climate typifies the attraction to this sector and for a variety of primal cultures, especially the Ancestral Puebloans. Sometime between 1151 and 1201 they decided to live here, and for reasons we don’t fully understand. (By some accounts, the reason may have centered on defense, and thus a purposeful isolation from possible enemies). The Ancestral Puebloans later constructed larger pueblos around fortress-like towers at the heads of box canyons. They also laid out cultivated fields in areas where water could be better managed. Since the only large body of water remotely close to Hovenweep is the San Juan River, the people relied more on springs and seeps for fresh water for their needs as well as for agriculture. Hovenweep’s setting is also noted for its solitude and undeveloped, natural character. For a time, this barren and ranging landscape, due west of the famed Sleeping Ute Mountain (overlooking Cortez and the desert country to the west), might have seemed a desert oasis. Of course, the paleo climate was much different than in recent times. Heavier rainfall with more moderate temperatures were typical, and it's believed the soil base throughout the region was also deeper. Given its fairly remote location, Hovenweep was proclaimed a national monument in 1923. Its setting is indeed a rarity of archeological sites, mainly due to the unique building design of the many engaging dwellings.

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Close to the edge and ready for one hellava hike to the bottom!

Prologue: Yesterday's diary on the Goosenecks of the San Juan ( explained how these magnificent entrenched meanders were formed. Today's diary will feature a trail description down to the river for those who want to see these marvels up close and personal life. And for those who are physically fit, and who love hiking no matter what the terrain or elements, there’s only one way down to the river from the overlook. Be advised this strenuous 5-mile roundtrip hike is not for the faint of heart. However, for those who do go the end of the trail the effort getting there is quite rewarding. go down there or not to go down...that is the question!

Once you have made the decision to hit the trail, to reach the trailhead follow the dirt road near the parking area, which is marked by a water tank and a nearby metal sign that says Honaker. From there, follow the sandy two-track road (1.4 miles) to the canyon rim. Allow some twenty minute for this jaunt. Then turn left (toward the rim). About a quarter mile farther along look for a faint track of a road off to the right. This route goes about another quarter of a mile down to a lower rim. The trailhead begins here and is marked by cairn. Then down you go. From this vantage decorative features of Monument Valley peek out across the river to the south. Cedar Mesa looms on the skyline to the north. All these Permian Period red rock layers have been stripped back by erosion across the Monument Uplift that typically defines the geologic blueprint of this wide, far region.

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Prologue: Welcome to the world's most famous entrenched meanders––goosenecks by the more common term. If you have ever rafted the typical slow and muddy water of the San Juan slipping through this vicinity, you cannot help but be blown away by these meanders rising high above you. Their bulwarks actually force the river to take a detour around the obstacles in their path. Then again, that's what meanders: they alter the course of a river and make impressive backdrop scenery. But there is more to the scene than this and all that will be explained in today's diary.

Location/Geography: Near the southern border of Utah, the closest town is Mexican Hat. Area: 10 acres (40 sq. km). Elevation: 4,949 feet.

Spotlight: World's greatest entrenched meanders, bar none. The muddy, slow San Juan River taking the so-called long way around (by way of the meanders it carved). Hiking. Focus: geology, hiking and classic desert country scenery.

Snapshot: Goosenecks SP overlooks a series deep and impressive bends of the San Juan River. These serpentine bends are considered the most classic entrenched meanders in the world. Here, downcutting by the river has uniquely dissected the crest of the Monument Uplift, which defines a broad dome that buckled during the Laramide Orogeny event some 66 million years ago (also the great uplifting of the Rocky Mountains, and soon thereafter the birthing of the Colorado Plateau). As a state park, however, Goosenecks is largely undeveloped. Primitive is another way to describe it. Nearby Mexican Hat is the major scenic hub and tourist hamlet, especially for boaters coming off the river. From the summit overlooking the meanders, clear views of Monument Valley are seen in the southeast. Closer, the Moki Dugout (sometimes spelled “Moqui”) leading to the summit of Cedar Mesa and the Raplee Anticline (a.k.a. the Navajo tapestry of colorful rocks) adds to the long, wide view. Muley Point and Valley of the Gods (see Destinations list) are all within 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km) of the goosenecks.

The awesome view from high, high above the meander formation folds
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This diary voluntarily removed; if anyone would like me to resend to their email, let me know. Apparently, someone didn't like my take or spiel on Native American history and I'd rather not quibble about such things. Nevertheless, I think my research on the subject has been meticulous and culturally sensitive. Thanks for your understanding.


Location/Geography: Closest town: Cedar City, Utah. Area: Unknown, though considerably smaller than neighboring Bryce Canyon. Surrounded by Dixie National Forest. Western edge of the Markagunt Plateau.

Spotlight: Hoodoos galore! A small version of, though no less significant, Bryce Canyon. The colors are even brighter. The Markagunt Plateau's other geologic gallery. Focus: geology and climate.

Snapshot: Cedar Breaks NM was established in 1933. Like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the monument is open from late May but closes in mid-October due to harsh winter snows (at least the Grand Canyon’s north rim country used to get inundated with hefty winter snowfall). During the relatively fewer warmer months, and because of the 10,000-foot elevation, summer daytime temperatures are fairly cool, ranging anywhere from 60 to 70ºF (15.5 to 21ºC). Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are common.

The monument is tucked into Utah's 800 square miles Markagunt Plateau (a Southern Paiute word meaning "highland of trees"). Climatic conditions and Cedar Break's geology are ideal for the formation of its whimsical hoodoos. Early settlers called this type of setting badlands or breaks. Their description eventually became the designate for this monument by combining breaks with cedar to represent the area's many juniper trees (often incorrectly called cedars). Incidentally, the lodge at Cedar Breaks is considered the smallest of all lodges operating in a national park or monument.

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Enjoy traveling from continent to continent while you can, for tomorrow, sometime in the future, you won't have to hop, skip or jump across oceans or borders to get anywhere!

Prologue: Yesterday’s diary (URL came and went quickly due to so much other important news coverage. Before reading the conclusion to this primer and spiel I recommend reading the first diary. Afterward, today's continuation will recap some of that spiel, while adding more to the pile of learning afforded this moving subject (pun intended). Let’s call this a Geology 201 course extension.

More Details About Plate Tectonics: Continents not only grow and shrink over time, but also tend to meld their real estates from time to time. Actually, cycles in millions of years confirms such a phenomenon. Thus the changing planetary landscapes almost since the beginning of our Earth’s time, which includes adding new material by a process called seafloor spreading (at mid-oceanic ridge points, instigating faulting).

When Pangea initially fractured into two large segments, the lesser sized landmass, Gondwana, had amassed its real estate by merging with smaller land segments. This exotic-sounding name derives from a region of central northern India, tracing its roots from the Sanskrit “Gonhavana,” meaning forest of gond.

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Prologue: Sometime ago I published a 3-part diary series on the Colorado Plateau (if interested in reading this diary, see this URL to get started: Given that broad subject matter I mentioned the why and how (and for the most part, the when factor) process of Colorado Plateau's uplifting event. Specifically, how its province was directly related to plate tectonics, the same as happens with mountain-building, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. What follows in this diary will focus on this subject matter––plate tectonics––and provide the reader with a concise, though nonetheless, generalized comprehension of this subject matter. Let's just call it a crash course on the collision of continental and oceanic plates. Ongoing, by the way.

As most of us already know, continents move around the globe and slide on the rigid outer part of the Earth, whose rind consists of the crust and upper mantle. Think of these migrating plates as large, stable blocks of the crust forming the nucleus of a continent (also known as “craton”). Another way to think of this scenario is to envision a series of planetary plates as continental “rafts” inexorably inching along the lithosphere (the crust and upper mantle) but at a remarkably slow pace. Because continents and oceanic plates move, fender-bender incidents (or worse) are unavoidable. Hence, think of these plate encounters as extremely slow-moving traffic in motion, whose geophysical process accounts for the planet constantly rearranging its granitic and basaltic furnishings (respectively, continental and oceanic material).

It's a busy, scientific subject, that, once explained, makes more sense than mom's apple pie!
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Prologue: Geesh. . .talk about a busy email bout after the Grand Canyon virtual tour series was posted last week! Well, that's what I get for opening a hiking Pandora's box for our illustrious community. That being said, I decided not to respond individually to all those many requests (i.e., "I'm planning on visiting your 'other office' and I want to do what you suggested by getting my head below the rim. . .can you suggest a trail or two that I might enjoy?") Seriously, the requests have more or less all gone like this, and of course I can't really say what a person may or may not enjoy given a Grand Canyon hiking experience. However, since everything comes down to one's stamina, as well as how much time s/he has to hike, I composed a more or less generic profile of a few hiking trails, a rather detailed description, that may be helpful in a generic sense.

Bragging rights established only after you get out of the canyon (alive, of course.)

Medical Advice...Just In Case: Although this salient information was previously mentioned in the Grand Canyon series posted last weekend, I think it's worthy mentioning the second time: When hiking in the canyon you really want and need to be aware of common ailments that could turn serious, and in some cases, lethal. For example, a medical condition known as hyponatremia. It’s a long word for hikers who experience an electrolyte imbalance. In short, sodium concentration in the serum (blood plasma) is lower than normal. Another way to think about it is how an excess body water entails diluting the serum sodium. Simply not good! A sure sign something’s awry with your body, and caused by dehydration, is an old fashioned cephalalgia. That’s a fancy word for headache. I mention this because those who do understand the benefit of drinking water when a headache comes on, especially at higher elevation levels, tend to drink and not eat.

By the way, do not confuse any of the above with hypoxia, which denotes a pathological condition that deprives an adequate oxygen supply. Sure, hypoxia, in its most general sense, is a threat to people who ascend to high altitude, thus causing altitude sickness. Even if some of you are flat-landers coming from much lower elevations, being on either rim is not a threat to one’s health. I mean, there’s really no need to worry about the danger of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE, as it’s commonly called), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). Consider this little additional talk on health sound medical advice and nothing more. I also think it’s better to be forewarned than not informed about such stuff, don’t you agree?

And that, folks, is what this special supplement is all about, including why I wrote this diary that hopefully will appease most readers. There will also be more matter and less art in this diary (i.e., more chit-chat and fewer photos). Besides, it's better to focus on the trail description and less the spectacular scenery, otherwise you might lose your way!

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