Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Moab Trip Day 3 - Slickrock Biking, Dinosaur Bones, and Rock Hounding

 On our final day in Moab we got up early and left the hotel. We had things we wanted to do. First on our list was to do some mountain bike riding on slickrock. I really wanted Desert Boy to try that out, as he loves bike riding and is surprisingly good at it. I did some research on the Internet before our trip to find out where to go. Despite the abundance of slickrock in the area, it turns out there's not much that's open to bikes and is relatively flat and close to a parking area. As Desert Boy's bike is rather basic (no gears, no hand brakes), we needed something that wasn't technical. Fortunately on one forum I found some advice to go to the cutoff of the Bar M trail and take it over towards the Circle O trail. We found the huge parking area (with just one other vehicle in it), and took off on the cutoff road.

 The cutoff road had some hills that really frustrated Desert Boy, and he was not happy walking his bike up them. But he loved the downhills. Before long we had met up with the Circle O trail and were riding on real slickrock!

 The views were awesome.
 The trail was marked with a brown line, and we were challenged to stay on it in order to protect the pockets of cryptobiotic soil (soil with microorganisms holding it together).

 The slickrock was a little difficult in places for Desert Boy, but it was relatively flat. Off in the distance we could see Arches National Park. We'll have to return again to go visit--we decided to skip it this time instead of doing a quick drive by. On our next trip it will probably be a main focus.

 Eventually the trail started descending faster, and we decided that would be a good turn-around point. It was such a nice ride, and my husband and I decided we need to figure out a way to go on a half day ride (sans kids).

With the bike ride over, we loaded up and headed to another nearby attraction: dinosaur bones!
 We took a slightly dubious road to Mill Canyon in the van, hoping we wouldn't get stuck in the deep sand. Fortunately we made it to the trailhead and started on the marked trail.

 A quick stop for a family photo! Everyone is starting to get the idea that if they smile the first time, I won't torture them with extra photos, and we can get it done right away.

 This trail was different than others I've been on--it showed distinct dinosaur bones in situ, but no big replicas anywhere. It made it feel like we were scientists making these big discoveries.

 Of course the signs helped quite a bit!

 The trail was gradual and good for our kids. We weren't totally alone--a family that had been at the race the day before was also there, and the kids had fun running along the trail together.

 I really liked the views.

 More dinosaur bones. Seeing them in the rock gave me a greater appreciation of how hard it could be to excavate them. It also gave me a much better idea of how to look for fossils. I probably wouldn't have known I was looking at dinosaur fossils without some guidance.

 Across the draw were some remnants of an old mining operation.

 Then we drove around the corner to half-way house, a rest stop for early travelers to and from Moab. While the kids dug in the sand, I went for a short bike ride to check out another area.

 It had nice slickrock, but also a lot of deep sand and steeper ascents, so I was really glad we had chosen the other spot for Desert Boy's first slickrock experience. Apparently Dead Horse State Park also has some good bike trails for kids. We'll have to try them out on another trip.

 Then it was time to get in the van and drive for hours. But I couldn't help myself and found directions in a book to a rock hounding place right off the interstate. In fact, the directions were to go half-mile past a sign and then go through the gate. That's right, just go through the gate on the side of the Interstate. No on/off ramp, just slow down, pull over, and get off. The directions were good, we found the gate.

We drove near the bluff and started looking for jasper, in particular for jasper geodes with calcite and celestite crystals.

 We weren't exactly sure what we were looking for, to tell you the truth, so we just picked up any rocks that caught our eye. We will take them to some geologist friends and find out what we got!

 It didn't matter too much what we were finding, because we were having a good time and the scenery was fabulous.

 The terrain was fun and slightly challenging, but not overwhelming.

 We could see the Interstate nearby, and the San Rafael Swell extended in both directions. We saw quite a few roads and decided we would have to go back and do some more exploring in this area.

 Then it was time to get back on the Interstate--go through the gate, check for traffic, and merge!

 We had another stop when my husband found a cattle exclosure. He loves to check them out and see the differences between grazed and ungrazed land.

 Desert Girl was a little cheeky.

 Can you see her attitude? Oh my, she gives us so many laughs!

She loves to explore and learn.

The rest of the trip was mostly driving, although the kids enjoyed half an hour at the playground while I went grocery shopping. They ran the whole time. 

We had an awesome three days. Now we're back to our regular routine, but just looking at these photos brings back good memories.

1 comment:

jendoop said...

Looks like a great trip and as always cute kids! I should stop saying this, because so many of your photos make me feel this way, but they make me miss Utah.

My sister lived in Moab for a while. When we visited we picked up a "Moab is my happy place" bumper sticker. We get a lot of comments on it- some "What's Moab?" and others, "I love Moab too!"

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