“The real question is not whether life exists after death. The real question is whether you are alive before death.” ~Osho
Two weeks. Holy cow. We’re halfway done. How can that be?
Sleeping was tough last night. The storm never came through (skirted all around us) and the near-storm just left everything more still and hot than it had been before. Being on black asphalt didn’t help either, I’m sure.
We rolled through Dinosaur, Utah on our way to Dinosaur National Park and saw a couple of signs that tickled me, including one for the town burial plot, Dinosaur Cemetery, and a sign on a local church advertising Dinosaur Bible Study. There was also a Bedrock Depot in town, which I’m sure employed a Barney and a Fred. Lots of dinosaur statues in the town, including a giant, fiberglass pink one with long black eyelashes.
Dinosaur National Monument and the Quarry Exhibit Hall was amazing. It’s an especially rich vein of dino-bones from an ancient lake that (it’s believed) supported dinosaurs 149 million years ago, then dried up leaving the weakened ones vulnerable to carnivores. The rains returned, re-filled the lake, and the bones washed into a logjam that petrified over time. So there are lots of articulated skeleton sections, lots of variety, and lots of really big specimens.
They’ve hauled out major skeletons that have been sent all over the world, and the exhibit hall was built right onto the side of a wall of bones so you can see them as they were deposited and as they have been painstakingly excavated over the years. Lots of stegosaurus, including the smallest skeleton ever found, which did not have the bony back plates, leading paleontologists to believe that perhaps they grew over time and weren’t born with them. Have I mentioned that I love dinosaurs? I’m like a six-year-old boy, giddy in their presence.
We passed through Ashley National Forest (Altitude 8,204 feet) and the weather changed from 100 degrees to 60 degrees and rain. Our first real rain while driving. Hard to believe we’ve gone two weeks without hitting rain. Except my nose believes it. Another little-known fact about arid climates: they are HELL on the nasal passages of spoiled easterners with normal humidity.
I’ve taken to carefully snorting water just so I can blow my nose and actually make something happen. And yes, before you ask, I DID bring my neti pot, but I challenge you to try and find a spot in a public campsite/public restroom where you feel comfortable pouring warm water into one nostril and out the other using a very anatomically-shaped spout.
I received a hermit crab update from my (wonderful, kind, generous) crab sitter and all is well. She even sent a picture in which I could see that Miriam is up from her molt! She’s one of my favorites (she used to be Hiram—until I realized she had eggs last summer). She’s the one in the wheel in the green-and-white Mexican turbo shell. Miriam is very particular about her shells (has only changed twice in the past fifteen months) but she has great taste and I’ve gotten good at picking out ones that she’ll like. The shells she goes for usually involve some amount of green in their coloration.
We hit Wyoming at 3pm, then Uinta County at 3:30, visited Flaming Gorge Dam, found a grocery store and passed out two more TC Teardrop business cards in the parking lot, then came out to find another Teardrop parked right beside ours. Those owners asked to see our galley as we were stowing the groceries and then gave us a tour of theirs. They envied our fridge. I envied their countertop prep space.
We got to our Lyman, Colorado campsite (we edged along the Utah/Colorado border quite a bit) and it was so frustratingly windy there. We struggled to set up the side awning for shade, but had to take it down when the winds became unmanageable. I showered because the dusty winds get to you after a while, made salads in two plastic storage containers because they were actually blowing off the plates, then tried to do my daily update. The (promised—nay, touted!) campsite Internet sucked royally and I couldn’t get any pictures to upload despite the fact that I had the whole Day 13 post already written. I sat there for almost three hours being so very patient while the arrow spun and the network crashed. And then I had another meltdown. (Hey, it’s been a whole seven days since the last one. That’s not bad, right?) In retrospect, instead of struggling with the connection and stubbornly keeping on trying and waiting, I should have closed the laptop, gone for a walk, done some yoga, and indulged in a bit of self-care after so many hours in the Jeep. (Note to self.)
At one of the rest areas we passed there was a sign showing before-and-after images of some nearby petroglyphs that had been defaced by someone in the modern world who also wanted to leave his-or-her mark. And it’s definitely a shame to have those modern marks existing right beside the ancient ones … and yet … I can’t help but think that 1,000 years ago those petroglyphs were an ancient human making a mark on the landscape … and 1,000 years from now, those defacing marks will also be ancient human markings. I find myself doing this a lot the older I get. It’s something akin to thinking in “earth terms” or thinking in “geologic time.” The ultimate long view. The age of the earth is so vast as to make our piddly human footprints laughable. And yet we think that the things that are happening in this moment are so important, when in earth-time, we are less than a blip.
And as humans, for the most part, we are too self-centered to think in earth-time. We fail to remember that we, too, are simply one minuscule part of the earth’s vast history and even in terms of human history everything done today will someday be studied as ancient history.
Anywho, these wide-open spaces, vast night skies, and dinosaur footprints push me toward such expansive thoughts which may ultimately be horse hooey, but I do enjoy the exercise of whole-earth thinking.
Mileage so far: 3,230.