Posts tagged ‘landscape photos’

Winter fun

It’s a week later, and I am finally getting the time to blog about what my family and I did while they were here for Thanksgiving.

For the most part, we sat around in the warm house, watched TV and movies, cooked and ate lots of good food, and played with laptops and video games.  But despite the bad weather for most of the weekend, we did venture out a few times.  My sister was the inspiration for the first adventure.

Althought we grew up in upstate New York and are no strangers to snow, my sister J has been living in warmer climes for almost 10 years now.  So she really wanted to go sledding.  We went and picked up a few cheap plastic saucer and toboggan sleds, and then tried to figure out where to go.  T called a few coworkers with kids, but didn’t get much info, since most of them live well to the south of us.  So my fearless mom walked up to total strangers in the parking lot and got directions to a sledding hill that wasn’t too far away.

When we got close, we saw a family carrying sleds and followed them to the hill.  There were a couple of slopes behind an LDS temple for us to choose from.  We had the dogs with us, since they love the snow, so we decided to take a slope that no one else was on.  The last thing we needed was to freak out some parents if a giant, playful German shepherd decided to chase their kids down the hill.

Since my sister was the instigator here, she definitely took the most runs.  There were a couple of jumps built into the hillside, and she even went over them a few times.  But my mom and dad and I hit the slope too.  We had a great time, and the dogs thought it was a lot of fun to chase us around, and try to “fetch” snowballs.  Finally, even though T’s back was acting up, he decided to take a couple of runs with the dogs.  He could only convince Cara to get on the toboggan with him once, but it was hilarious!

The only photos we got were on cell phones, so the quality isn’t great, but we definitely had fun.

J heading for a jump

landing jumps hurts!

me and the dogs

"That was fun Mom!"

Dad going backwards

T and Cara on the sled, with Diezel chasing

A few days later, I was trying to get us motivated to get out of the house again.  For some reason, my family and I decided to go visit Antelope Island.  It’s a small island in the Great Salt Lake, that was historically used by the LDS church to herd sheep, horses, and other animals to raise money to help LDS settlers come out west to Utah.  I’d been out there last spring with my mom, and several family members had gone when they were here for the wedding.  Nowadays, there are bison and pronghorn antelopes on the island.
There is an 8-mile causeway across the lake to get to the island.  Once we got to the island, the roads were snowy and not very well cleared.  We drove around a little bit, and got to see several small groups of bison grazing in the snow.  There were several different species of raptors and other birds flying around, too.  We drove around a bit, eventually stopping at a lookout spot.  There were a few bison and a bevy of ground birds, either partridges or chukkars, right nearby that I managed to snap a picture of.

snowy wonderland

Those are the bison, just past the edge of the hillside

After just a few minutes out in the snow and wind, we decided it was time to head home.  On the way back across the causeway, we saw an open area in the lake where several flocks of wild ducks and seagulls were swimming around.  There was a canid of some sort standing on the far bank, hoping to get close enough to snag a duck or two, although they were definitely keeping their distance.  With J the zookeeper in the car with us, we had a long conversation about whether it was a coyote, a gray fox, or a Mexican wolf.  His tail looked too thick for a coyote to most of us, but I thought he looked too big to be a fox, and he had the wrong proportions for a wolf.  We drove a little further along the causeway, and spotted another of the canids, really close to the edge of the lake.  After doing a little research on canid species in Utah and looking at some photos, I am pretty sure what we were seeing was a coyote in his thick, winter coat.
All in all, I think we had a really good time while my family was here.  Good thing my dad knew how to drive all over an isolated island in a minivan in the snow.  *smile*
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artsy-fartsy

I have some more photos from the Paria River canyon that I took to be artsy, and just wanted to share.  I’m half thinking of taking some of the abstract ones and printing and framing them as a triptych.  Enjoy!

rock art site

When we do a survey for a project, we have to go in to the SHPO (state historic preservation office, rhymes with “hippo”) and do some research to see what sites have been recorded in the past.  Usually you get nice, complete site records that an archaeologist has filled out in the last 10 or 15 years.  Sometimes, you get a one-page summary that an archaeologist wrote up 30 to 50 years ago.  And, very occasionally, you get an odd entry from roughly the 1930s, where someone walked into a government office somewhere and said, “Hey, I found a cool archaeological site.”

We had one of those.

A card describing the location of a rock art site in the Paria River Canyon.  Claiming it was one of the biggest panels in this part of the state.  With some rough directions.  And we had to go check it out.

While this was my first rotation in the field this season, the rest of our crew has been surveying and recording sites for this project all summer long.  But they couldn’t check out this site, because it was at the bottom of a canyon, there was water in the river, and for part of the time there was a serious risk of flash flooding.  But now the river was finally low enough (read:dry) and the weather was clear enough that we could hike in and see what all the hoopla was about.

We got to the BLM trailhead around 8 or 8:30 am and started hiking in along the riverbed.  There was no river whatsoever, and in most spots the bed had either dried smooth and hard as asphalt, or the clay top layer had crackled and crazed and dried into thousands of curls of baked earth.  We all had a great time taking photos of the amazing rock formations, some of the flowers that were still blooming, including the huge, white trumpets of jimson weed, and just the beauty of our surroundings.

striped wall

canyon bend

arches

hiking in

delicate

jimson

willow

Partway down the canyon, we spotted a panel of historic rock art.  It’s what my old boss would have called a “hello rock,” meaning it’s a spot where people carve their name and the date, and you know who has been through that area.  It didn’t seem very interesting at first, and then I noticed my current boss’s last name, which is very distinctive, was up there!  Turns out, her kin are from down here, and she was related to a few of the names on the rock.  There were also a lot of what looked like old brands carved in place of names, and some carved animals and figures.  I think the earliest date we saw was 1908.

hello rock

H. Pollock and dove

a horse and figure

Orlo Baldwin

When we finally got to the right spot, we couldn’t see anything at first.  There was a large earthen bank built up in front of a huge rock wall, covered in tumbleweed and other prickly plants that stuck in our pants and socks and skin.  But when we got over the bank, we found a narrow strip of sand along the base of the wall, and some rock art.  It was faded, and hard to see.  We were all pretty disappointed, to be honest.  But then we started walking, and realized it kept going.  And going.  And going!  I would estimate that the total length of the rock art panels was about 120 meters long, or about 400 feet,with very few breaks.  There were, of course, tons of little family groups of goats and bighorn sheep.  As is common in the area, there were also plenty of squiggles, wavy lines, circles and spirals.  The art was all petroglyphs, which means the designs were pecked or carved into the sandstone.  (Pictographs are made with paint)  Because they couldn’t just make a handprint with paint, there were several tiny hand shapes carved into the rock, or marks that looked like indentations for fingertips.  Everything was water-worn and in some cases covered in dripping mud and water stains.  Some places where you find rock art on sandstone, there is a thick, dark layer of patina on the stone that the artist chips through, making it easier to see the petroglyphs, but we didn’t have much patina here.  One section in particular had wild, crazy figures and monsters on it.  It took us several hours to draw and photograph everything, with some of the time spent just waiting for the sun to move and put the end of the panel in shadow, which is easier to photograph.  Because there wasn’t much contrast, it was really difficult to get good shots.  But I monkeyed around with the photos on Picasa, and even though the colors are completely different from real life, I hope you can see the designs now.

before tinkering

demon rainbow caterpillar

sun and moon with goats

goat family

doing archaeology and having fun

So, try as I might, I didn’t find any more projectile points to photograph this week.  Most of the sites were small lithic scatters, which means that they were a collection of small pieces of stone that were left behind when someone made a stone tool in the past.  Honestly, I think archaeologists find fewer projectile points (aka arrowheads) than most people, because by the time we get to a site, they’ve all been picked up! 

at the "office"

not a bad view

old bridge we didn't drive over

Some of the sites included pieces of groundstone, which is how people used to grind up seeds and the like, and some also had a small piece or two of pottery, which was pretty neat.  When we find groundstone or pottery, we assume that folks were using the spot as a campsite, since they are roughly the equivalent of coming across a butterknife and a saucepot at a site — the kinds of things you mostly only find in a home.  But even the sites with those kinds of artifacts were small, since they were in sand dunes.  We assume that more of the sites were there, just buried under the sand.

We did record one large site, up Long Canyon.  This is the road to get there:

Long Canyon

It’s hard to tell from this shot, but it is a very steep, narrow berm of dirt that you drive across the top of.  There’s a car located in the canyon to the right, balancing on its front bumper, to make you feel much better about driving on that narrow “road.”  *smile*  That site at the top was a lithic procurement site, meaning it was a place where people went to find the right kind of stone to make tools from.  There were a lot of cobbles of chert and quartzite that were eroding from the ridges, and it looked like people had been going there for generations and busting up rocks to find the ones that would make good tools.  Still not good for photos, since it was a bunch of broken rocks, but I couldn’t resist taking some of the prettier rocks that no one had broken up home with me, including several small, nice pieces of petrified wood.

 After work one day, we drove over the Arizona border to Price, did a little grocery shopping to prep for the birthday of one of our crew members, and then went to check out the Glenn Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.  I’m pretty sure I have driven across it before, years ago during a colllege road trip, but it was still kinda fun.  We also stopped at the newly-completed lookout, and I put together a panoramic view of Lake Powell from up there.

Glen Canyon Bridge

Glen Canyon Dam

the canyon itself

Lake Powell

Southern Utah

I am actually working in the field!  It has been about a year and a half since I went “on rotation” and got to record prehistoric sites for 10 days straight.  It is also the first time I’ve had the chance to work in southern Utah, and this landscape is just so amazingly gorgeous.  Red rocks!  And striped buttes!  And cool sandstone formations!

This is day four of the rotation, and it’s the first day I remembered to bring my camera along with me.  I completely forgot to use my camera to record the cool lanceolate projectile point I found at the second site, but fortunately we had lunch at Flat Top, and I went crazy taking pictures of the landscape around me.  I got so wrapped up in it, I shot a lot of pics out the window on the way back into town, too.  So, in the next five or so days, I’ll try harder to take pictures of archaeology, instead of geology, since that’s what I’m out here doing.  *smile*  But in the meantime, here are some of the things I saw today:

my lunch spot

dramatic tree

dramatic rock

slipped

texture

for T

I couldn't resist...

on the way home