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Utah Vacation Saga Post Two – First Day In Town And The San Rafael Swell

Day two of the trip didn’t start too early, but we still had quite a bit of adventure :)

Freight train passing through Price, UT

Freight train passing through Price, UT

Two things you’ll find in abundance in Carbon County, UT are coal mines and railroads.  This was a very quick pic taken with my cellphone because I thought Glenn would like it :wink:

Cindy's grandma's back yard garden

Cindy's grandma's back yard garden

Cindy’s grandma may be 90 years old, but she has one heck of a garden!  There’s squash, corn, cabbage, several types of fruit trees, a couple of different berry bushes, and lots more I can’t remember now.  Some of it’s eaten fresh but most of it is put away in the basement in cans and jars.

Panorama - Old corral near the road to the San Rafael Swell

Panorama - Old corral near the road to the San Rafael Swell

I’m a real sucker for old places and places that just look old.  I don’t know for sure which this is, but it’s still cool 8)  Somehow it brings to mind scenes of cattle and cowboys on the open range and outlaws like Butch Cassidy who used to hide out on the San Rafael Swell years ago.

Purple dirt on the way to the San Rafael Swell

Purple dirt on the way to the San Rafael Swell

Cindy told me she was going to show me purple dirt and she sure did!  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but Cindy seemed to think the color comes from uranium in the soil.  Utah was one of the hot spots back in the early days of nuclear power and weapons because of all the uranium that’s in them thar hills.  Uranium camps were the reason that liquor by the drink was first legally sold in the state of Utah.

Driving through the high desert in Utah to the San Rafael Swell

Driving through the high desert in Utah to the San Rafael Swell

We only made it to the Wedge Overlook due to the weather (you’ll see more about the weather in a minute :wink: ) but I’ve got a few more places to check out on my next trip to central Utah :)

Panorama - Cattle grazing with a storm moving in on the San Rafael Swell

Panorama - Cattle grazing with a storm moving in on the San Rafael Swell

I keep saying it, but it’s true – Things haven’t really changed all that much out in the wild west.  The ranchers might use pickups and quad runners instead of horses and wagons, but cattle are still raised on the same land.

Plaque at the Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell

Plaque at the Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell

Panorama - The Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell AKA The Grand Canyon of the North

Panorama - The Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell AKA The Grand Canyon of the North

Panorama - The Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell AKA The Grand Canyon of the North

Panorama - The Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell AKA The Grand Canyon of the North

We managed to reach the Wedge Overlook before the storm hit full force.  It’s known as the Grand Canyon of the North for good reason.  I wouldn’t mind getting down on the floor of the canyon sometime – that river looks nice :)

The storm was advancing on our location even while we were on the way in.  It started to spit on us – just widely spaced drops – and the lightning and thunder got pretty darn close before we got back into the car.  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know how much I like thunder and lightning.  There’s something different about thunder in a place like the Wedge.  The sound echoes off the land around you, but also bounces around the canyon for a bit before it reaches you.  It gives a feeling of being even farther from civilization than you are – the place seems just a bit more wild and I really enjoy that when I can find it.

The impending thunderstorm finally hit

The impending thunderstorm finally hit

About that thunderstorm…  It finally did reach us and it hit full force.  The rain was heavy and hard enough to splash back up and fuzz out the road a bit.  It made driving that much harder even with the wipers going as fast as they could.  Winds were probably somewhere between 50 and 65 miles per hour.  I love stuff like this but I wasn’t disappointed by the lack of damaging hail :wink:

Panorama - Waterfall in the desert fed by runoff from the thunderstorm

Panorama - Waterfall in the desert fed by runoff from the thunderstorm

Closer view of the desert waterfall

Closer view of the desert waterfall

We decided to try to get down to the Buckhorn Draw after the storm passed, but that didn’t quite go as we’d planned.  A very nice carload of people flagged us down and told us that my HHR wouldn’t make it where we were planning on going.  We’d actually already decided to turn around about the same time we saw this waterfall, but it was still nice of ‘em :P  I wanted to get these pics, but I didn’t stay out of the car any longer than I needed to because there was still thunder coming from just about every direction.

Our thunderstorm after it had passed

Our thunderstorm after it had passed

As quickly as it had arrived, our storm was gone off to the north.  You can see just how heavy the rain was if you look at how much it obscures the mountains in the distance.

Flash flooding after the thunderstorm which gave us second thoughts about our route

Flash flooding after the thunderstorm which gave us second thoughts about our route

A bit of a different view of that same flash flooding

A bit of a different view of that same flash flooding

When heavy rain comes to the desert, you can count on some flash flooding.  We’d planned on taking a different route back to town, but thought better of it.  You can never tell just how deep the water is in a place like this and you can easily wind up stuck or worse.  The last thing I needed on my vacation was a car that was a total loss or winding up drowned in the desert.

These cattle seemed to like hanging out on the road for some reason

These cattle seemed to like hanging out on the road for some reason

These cows just didn’t seem to mind cars and didn’t want to move.  They finally did, but making a bit more noise than a horn did cross my mind :wink:  One of ‘em had a very interesting pattern of white on black on his hide that we thought would make an interesting couch…

Panorama - Thunderstorm still heading north and away from us

Panorama - Thunderstorm still heading north and away from us

The storm kept on truckin’ north and left quite a bit of humidity in its wake.

Scenery near Price, UT on the way back into town

Scenery near Price, UT on the way back into town

It really is pretty country in Carbon County!  I could live with a house and some land up there.  Cindy told me someone recently bought a three story house on a couple of acres for about $50,000.  I’ve sold cars that cost significantly more than that and it sounds awfully inviting to this former resident of the land of insane real estate prices 8)

The food's cheap and I hear it's good at this restaurant, but it was already closed

The food's cheap and I hear it's good at this restaurant, but it was already closed

Small town burger joints are pretty cool in my book.  The prices are great and the food’s supposed to be awesome as well, but we couldn’t get dinner there.  It seems they close a bit early on Sunday.  Actually, the whole town rolls up the sidewalks at about 2000 hours every night.

I think we might have driven through just a bit of mud out on the San Rafael Swell :wink:

I think we might have driven through just a bit of mud out on the San Rafael Swell :wink:

By the end of the day you could certainly tell my car had been in the middle of a thunderstorm while driving on dirt roads.  No, I still haven’t washed it yet – money’s gotten a bit tight with all the dental work in my future.  I did manage to get the license plate and taillights cleaned off :wink:

We had a good time that day and it only got better as the week went on 8)  That’s it for this post, but there’ll be even more pics soon.  Have fun everyone :mrgreen:

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