Archive for December, 2010

on the road from sevier to kanab   13 comments

Posted at 5:09 pm in old buildings,traveling alone,Utah

old house north of Marysville, Utah

I’m now picking up where I left off in my autumn travels through Utah. After leaving Fremont Indian State Park, I followed Route 4, which runs parallel to I-70 for a few kilometers, ending at the junction with Route 89 near Sevier. Turning south, I followed 89, with the intention of camping at a favourite spot near Kanab. It’s an interesting route which I’ve taken a few times before, but always under overcast skies. Each time I’ve passed that way, I’ve told myself that I should stop and photograph some of the old buildings when the weather is a little nicer. This time round, I got the sunlight I’d been hoping to find.

The top photo of the old house was taken near the town of Marysville (click on all images to see larger versions). I didn’t really know anything about the town, but a staff member at Fremont Indian State Park had mentioned that the rock formation just north of the town (see photo below) has a connection to the old song, Big Rock Candy Mountain, by Harry McClintock. I did a bit of looking around on the net and found the following on Utah Department of Natural Resources geology website.

Shortly after the release of the song in 1928, some local residents, as a joke, placed a sign at the base of a colorful mountain in Utah naming it “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” They also placed a sign next to a nearby spring proclaiming it ‘Lemonade Springs.’ These names stuck, and the mythical Big Rock Candy Mountain of the song became perhaps one of the most recognized geologic sites in west-central Utah.

Big Rock Candy Mountain, near Marysville, Utah

I hadn’t actually put two and two together on where Big Rock Candy Mountain might be, but just turned off to photograph this formation as it was so colorful – not in the way of many of the painted sandstone hills I have seen during my travels, but with deeper yellows and browns. Again, quoting from the Utah DNR page: The yellow, orange, and red colors are from the presence of iron minerals, such as jarosite, hematite, and pyrite. The white color is due to the presence of alunite and kaolinite, minerals rich in potassium.

a neat old building that looks to have been a service station – in the town of Junction, Utah

The above building caused me to stop, turn around, and backtrack a mile or so. I do a lot of that when I’m driving alone as I don’t usually notice buildings or other interesting landmarks or objects until I’m right upon them. It then takes me a couple of minutes to circle around to take photos. Some days, I am willing to do plenty of this, but other times, not so much. Fortunately, I was in the right mood to do so and stopped to admire this old structure which looks to me to be an old service station. It’s located in the village of Junction, Utah, and was interesting from just about every angle. I sure wouldn’t mind owning a cool old place like this – well, that is, if I could have it materialize in southeast Arizona!

old farm buildings just south of Panguitch, Utah

The last photo was taken just south of the junction of Route 89 with Route 12 (the road that goes east to Bryce Canyon). This site is in a bad spot for stopping, but I was able to turn the van onto a dirt road that passes along behind. I love the way these old unpainted farm buildings weather in the arid climate of the southwest. I have seen their like on countless old roads winding through the high plains and deserts of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Utah and Arizona. Most are now abandoned and it probably won’t be all that many more decades until they’re gone, but in the meantime, I make time to photograph them during my travels.

Written by bev wigney on December 20th, 2010

madrean alligator lizard   13 comments

Posted at 11:20 am in Arizona,reptiles

I’m working on another post about our autumn travels, but just had to share some photos of a lizard that put in an appearance in the garden last evening. I was walking around in the lane with the two dogs when my gaze fell upon a sinuous, ornately banded tail. At first glance I thought it might be one of the many species of snakes here in southeast Arizona, but closer inspection revealed it to be a lizard which held its small forelegs close to its body. The body had rows of rectangular scales. The head had a longish snout with pretty markings, and quiet, bird-like eyes. I went indoors to get my camera and returned to find it still frozen in the same spot. I shot a few photos, then came in to look for an I.D. in A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona (Brennan & Holycross) – and yes, as you might guess, I have built up a useful collection of field guides pertaining to the flora and fauna of the southwest. Flipping through the pages, I soon identified this creature as a Madrean Alligator Lizard (Elgaria kingii nobilis). Apparently, they are fairly common in this region and often found in forested canyons such as the one where I’m living. Their diet consists of insects, spiders and scorpions. With any luck, this little fellow will dine well on scorpions. As some of you may remember, last year around this time, I was stung by a scorpion, so any creature that puts a dent in the scorpion population is a friend of mine. If you are interested in getting a closer look at this lizard, click here to see a larger photo in which I laid an iris leaf alongside the lizard to provide some scale. Okay, there will probably be a Utah-related post coming up sometime very soon.

Written by bev wigney on December 12th, 2010