Friday, July 6, 2012

Surprises Along Potash Road

Are they dribbling basketballs??   Oh, shields? -- Never mind!

Roger here....  How many of you have ever heard of Potash Road near Moab, UT?  Unless you have been here, you probably have not.  Unless you spent more than a couple days here, you probably have not.  It is not in a national park.  It is not marked especially well from the main highway.  There are no brown "interest" signs on the main highway indicating something to see.  What an unexpected find!

Fellow bloggers Geri and Chuck (Mothership Travel Blog), who we met at Zion River Resort, have helped us find a number of interesting locations and good places to eat as we traveled through Utah.  A week ago, they sent us information about petroglyphs along Potash Road. On the Fourth of July, we decided that a dog park playtime, then a short trip (with the dogs) to find the petroglyphs was in order.  The short trip turned into a much longer event, full of surprises.  

The first surprise was the beauty of the drive itself.  (It should not have been a surprise.  Everything here is beautiful.)  Potash Road, just north of Moab, clings to a narrow stretch of land between the Colorado River and vertical cliffs.  We think that the cliffs look like chunks of chocolate.  

Surprise # 2.... As we meandered down the road, we saw two young people (I assume they were young) climbing up the rock face.  In both instances a spotter stood next to the road, manning the climbing ropes.

Surprise # 3....  The petroglyphs we went to see were not the usual petroglyphs we have seen in the past.  This was the most impressive display we have ever seen.  The panels extended for a couple hundred yards along the road.  The panels were crowded with images.  The images (probably from the Fremont Tribe - dating back to 600 A.D) were the clearest we have ever seen.

The petroglyph below depicting a string of people holding hands is evidently very unique.

The dogs waited in the car with the windows partially opened while we ogled the ancient art.  Don't worry. We were always within sight of the car -- we were only gone for a few minutes -- it was not hot yet -- and the car was in the shade.  Here is a rare family shot of all four of us :-).  (Dianne here:  The dusty window is unavoidable here; every time the wind blows, clouds of dust blow through the rv park, enveloping everything in their path.  As soon as we get away from the dusty red sand/dirt, both the car and the motor home need a good washing!)

Since the scenery was so spectacular and there was virtually no traffic, we decided to drive a little further down the road.  Glad we did!

Surprise # 4...  About a mile down the road we saw a sign pointing to "dinosaur tracks".  Something to check out.  This is what we found.  Well, not exactly this, but we did find three large rock panels that were covered with fossilized imprints of large predator dinosaurs (allosaurus).

Unfortunately, it was not that easy to get to the fossils.  We saw a narrow path that switch-backed to the panels.  We opted to try the short, but steep trek with the dogs.  We reached a point when it became evident that the dogs would not be able to go further.  We decided that one of us should stay with the dogs, while the other scrambled up to the panels, then we would switch.  I went first (and last).  Dianne agreed that she would not have liked the scrambling/climbing involved.  I made it safely to the largest panel.  It was fascinating.  Two very large prints (about a foot long), and several smaller, less obvious ones.  I placed my hand on the lower of the two imprints.  It was so small in the larger space.  Weird feeling to actually have my hand where a huge dinosaur had once walked. 

 Crap!  Dianne has the camera.  I had a difficult time finding a safe place to descend, but I made it, while sliding on my butt.  I knew that Dianne would not be comfortable doing this, and quite frankly, I did not want to do it again.  So, the pictures in this post are from a distance.  

First a shot of the location of the panels... (The center panel is pretty much in the exact center of the picture.)

Next, a zoomed shot of the center panel that clearly shows the two largest foot prints.

Since the dogs were with us, and we were enjoying the drive, we decided to go a little further down the road.  Glad we did!

Surprise # 5...  the biggest surprise of the day.  What are all those tents and trailers down by the river?  We both knew immediately.  In my mind I could hear, "Who was that masked man? 

We had accidently found the base camp for the filming of the Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto!  Dianne was snapping pictures as we drove by, but expressed concern that I was not driving slowly enough.  In this case, slow evidently meant come to a complete stop.

We knew we would be passing by again on the return trip, so we drove another mile to the end of the paved road, next to the potash (potassium chloride) processing facility.  As we drove this last mile, a railroad track (obviously for transporting potash) sloped out of the canyon next to the road.

Then.  Look at that!  Is that the train engine that we saw from the movie set that we saw from the top of  Dead Horse Point a couple of days ago?  It certainly looks like something from the Lone Ranger time frame.  So do the others that we found in the same location.

We also discovered a couple of fancy, old (or, newly fabricated) passenger cars.  The first one looks so pristine.

The second one looks a little like.... a little like.... a little like it had been attacked.  A train robbery?  An explosion?  We can't wait to see the movie to find out.  (Dianne here:  The movie is set to be released in July of 2013.  Here's a link with photos, cast and crew listing:  The Lone Ranger).

On the way back past the base camp I drove the car as if I had spotted a bear in Yellowstone.  Very, very slowly.  Dianne took several pictures of the "star waggon" trailers and motorhomes.  I wonder who was in them?  (Dianne again:  I did see some signs on the smaller trailers with "makeup" and "costume"; the larger fifth wheels, who knows???  Tonto perhaps??)   By the way, the man who was guarding the entrance to the complex smiled and waved to us as we inched by.

Dianne read on the internet that Johnny Depp has been doing many of his own stunts, but that he has had problems with falling off his horse.  Could that be one reason for the event ambulance?

I did a little googling before writing this post to confirm that the filming is indeed taking place right now.  Potash Road is going to be closed in a couple of days for further filming.  Johnny Depp is in town somewhere.  I am surprised that we have not been invited over for dinner :-).  I also discovered that the filming in the Moab area was preceded by filming in Creede, CO.  We are spending two weeks in Creede in a few weeks.  What a coincidence.  Looks like we will be seeing this movie.   Hi-Yo Silver, Away!

This was a great Fourth of July!  We actually stumbled on all of the surprises, petroglyphs excluded.   Finding the movie set was completely unexpected.  It was such a good day that we rewarded ourselves with ice cream (a rare treat these days).  I had mocha-coffee.  Dianne had chocolate chip-carmel-cashew.  Bandido and Tequila had vanilla, and enjoyed theirs the most, so the following are no-brainers for the pet photos of the day!


Sue Malone said...

Sigh. I love Potash Road. I love Johnny Depp. I love slickrock. I love Wingate formation (those chocolate cliffs). I love this post, I love all your posts. Sigh again. Gotta get back to redrock country sometime! Too many places not enough time!

Patty w/ Joey and Scout, the greyhounds said...

I just found your blog and wow, did I find you on a day full of beautiful photos and excitement. You definitely had a great day!

klbexplores said...

What a wonderful day! Looks like spectacular sights! No dinner invite, indeed. Stay Cool!

Nancy and Bill said...

What a great day!!! Everything just fell into place and days like that are a special treat:o))

Speaking of special treat... got to LOVE "Chocolate Mountains!!!"

Gin and Syl said...

Wow! That's a great drive. Dinosaur prints in the rock...rock.