Monday, September 14, 2009

2 Quick Things

IMG_2100 Twin A and I had a great weekend. But we got home late, I had work to do, and it’ll be another day or 2 till I can post about it. So in the meantime, here are 2 quick things from the very tail end of the trip which I probably wouldn’t be able to include in the main post about the weekend anyway, but that I wanted to mention before forgetting. The 1st is something that if you have kids, and travel at times in Southern Utah, you should file away under “next time you’re in the vicinity”, and the 2nd will only be of interest to readers who can a) get a day off this week and b) love pine nuts*.

*I recognize that the chances of such a reader reading this post this week are about a zillion-to-1, but hey, it’s what I’d do if I could get a day off this week…

2things Map

Little Egypt

IMG_2193 On the way back to pavement from our adventure, Twin A and I passed by Little Egypt Geologic Site. Here’s the deal: it’s a miniature Goblin Valley, with the same hoodoos that kids can climb and explore all over.

IMG_2200 Side Note: the hoodoos here and at Goblin Valley are composed of Entrada sandstone, which is real soft and erodes super-easily. This is a different, later, layer of slickrock than what you ride on when you bike the Slickrock trail in Moab (that’s Navajo sandstone.) Someday I hope to do a geo-post about all the different types of slickrock and their mtn-biking attributes.

Looking Down It’s way smaller than Goblin Valley, so why check it out? Here’s why: It’s only a mile and a half off the highway, and it’s hardly visited. You could easily camp in the lot*, or if you’re passing by (say on the way down to Lake Powell) you could pull off the highway, Looking Updrive 5 minutes on dirt, let your kids run around and tire themselves out in a neat area for an hour or less before hitting the road again. No long access road, no crowds, no fee.

*No facilities. No picnic table, no interpretive sign, no pit toilet, nada.

Drive ~16 miles South of Hanksville on U-95. Turn right onto dirt road for Bull Creek Pass. Drive about ~1.5 miles, it’s on the right.

The Second Thing

IMG_2186 As we came down out of the Henry Mountains and passed through the Piñon-Juniper belt on our way back down into the desert, I noticed that the Piñons along the Crescent Creek Road are exploding with ripe pine nuts. It’s always tricky to know when a particular area is peaking for pine nuts; this stretch is prime right now. This week. They’re Colorado Piñons (P. edulis), so the nuts are not quite as big as those you find on Singleleaf Piñons (P. monophylla) out in the West Desert, but they’re still great.

Side Note: If you care about the difference, check out the Botanical Spotlight in this post.

Anyway, if I could get a day off (and an accompanying Kitchen Pass) this week, here’s what I’d do.

I’d sneak out of work early and drive down to Hanksville. I’d continue another 16 or so miles South on U-95, and then pull off on the road up toward Bull Creek Pass. I’d drive past Little Egypt and then turn West, following Crescent Creek Road along the wash for a ways and then up, up, up until Junipers and then Piñons started appearing. I’d continue until the woodland was mostly Piñon, and then pull over somewhere, probably near the teeny dirt airstrip off on the North side of the road. I’d roll out a groundsheet, my bag, and sleep under the stars*.

*The moon is way waning right now, not rising till a couple of hours before dawn. The stars would be spectacular.

At dawn I’d make a cup of coffee and maybe some oatmeal, and then I’d get to work. For the next 5 or 6 hours I’d roam the woodland with a plastic bag, shaking and picking nuts out of Piñon cones. Maybe I’d bring a pole or something to whack at some of the higher-up ones, or maybe I just wouldn’t worry about it, and keep walking to new trees. I’d wear a big hat*, and drink plenty of water.

*I mean “big” as in having a wide brim, not like a top hat or a Viking helmet or something…

IMG_2187 Around noon or maybe 1PM, I’d circle back to the truck, and clean the pitch off my hands*. Then I’d open the cooler and pull out the sandwich I’d had the foresight to pack the night before**. I’d lean up against the trunk of the biggest, shadiest Piñon around, and I’d eat the sandwich, accompanied by a cold beverage. Maybe a beer. Maybe I’d even drink a second beer, and then snooze under the tree for a couple of hours.

*White gas works great for this.

**I’m thinking a Kneader’s turkey and avocado on sourdough.

Then I’d get up and collect nuts for a couple more hours till it started getting dark or I was just too beat to continue. I’d pack up, clean my hands again, and drive home with my bags full of pine nuts, stopping en route in Green River for a burger at Ray’s.

Anyway, that’s what I’d do if I could get a day off this week.


KB said...

You're torturing yourself with the "if I could get the day off" part, and all the great details!

Alcohol based hand sanitizer also works for pine pitch.

I love pine nuts, and I once found a bevy of ripe ones in Nevada in January! I was clueless but a fellow hiker pointed them out. What a treat.

Glad you had so much fun with Twin A!

KanyonKris said...

I had no idea those hoodoos were out there, and I've driven that road many times. I may see it soon as I'm planning a slot canyon trip for the kids down that way (we'll probably do the right fork of Leprechaun).

The pine nut day sounds perfect, even if it is only a dream.

Rachel said...

A day collecting pine nuts is right up my alley, especially in one of my favorite parts of the world.

I don't think I can swing it, either.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

My dad is retired and loves pine nuts. I'm going to forward him a link.

Rachel, maybe you could go with him.

msj09027 said...

Did you know that mayonnaise works very well for getting sap and pitch off of stuff? It's the only reason I have it at my cabin...


alison said...

I have been lurking on your's great. Here's a topic---this last week I saw more praying mantis than I have all season. They were just sitting-standing around locked into poses. Is it mantis season?

Watcher said...

OK, hand sanitizer or mayonnaise. Got it. Both sound way less stinky than stove fuel. Thanks KB, MJ, and Coworker Sid!

Alison- I suspect the mantises you saw were looking for action! Early Fall is when praying mantises mate, so it makes sense you’d see them now. They’re very cool BTW, and I’ve come close to blogging about them a few times (and hope to do so before long.) Here’s a cool nugget about them: Their primary predator? Bats. And supposedly they can hear the ultrasonic frequencies used by bat sonar.