North in Colorado

six climbers on Independence Monument

six climbers on Independence Monument

Showers and laundry are done by 8:30 am. I had some cini-minis from Burger King. Utah is such a beautiful place that doesn’t require music to keep you going and has a very high mule deer population. We get to Colorado Monument around 10:00 am. We will come in the west entrance and take Rim Rock Drive through to the east entrance. This park was made possible by the Redlands Fault zone – a major break in the earth’s crust. There are expansive views, winding roads, and balanced rocks with smooth layers and rough edges.

The visitor center teaches us about the history of the rocks, the eating habits of pinyon jays, and the resilience of the Utes as they were moved to reservations. On Otto’s Trail we learn that John Otto would be the first person to summit Independence Monument as a way to celebrate President Taft protecting the park in 1911. We take the trail leading to Half Tunnel – one that runs under the road and happens to have the words ‘San Diego’ spray painted at the end where it seems others have partied before us.

In Grand Junction we picked up donuts, bananas, and a 32-GB memory card. We stopped at Giovanni’s in Rangely for pizza, cheese sticks, and bruschetta with pita chips. North of there on our way to Dinosaur National Monument via County Road 1, I ran over a prairie dog – my first live animal hit. He was standing next to the road, seemed to be praying, and when I drove by he jumped out in front of the tire. It may seem like a typical story from my point-of-view, but I would’ve swerved had I been given the chance.

rabbit at Dinosaur National Monument Canyon Area visitor center

rabbit at Dinosaur National Monument Canyon Area visitor center

As I broke down for the life I just wasted Sparky jumped out the window and took off. Luckily this time the ground was covered in dirt mounds and dry grass, not gravel. We called him back to the car and then chose to sit outside of it for a while, but had better luck of getting pictures from inside the car, so there we sat. We got to a visitor center that is closed for the season so we parked to readjust our schedule – Caleb looked for a brochure while I took pictures of a rabbit.

We had planned on camping at the little triangle on the map that lives inside the park, so we started up the 161 in hopes of finding somewhere to sleep along the way and then we can wonder if we can visit the park in the morning. Eleven miles later we would turn on CR-16 and set up the tent near some dung and bones. I let the dogs run around while I watched the sunset behind the hills – a great setting to take notes about the day.

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