Lunar Landscapes In Utah’s Badlands

Pete’s post-lunch nap didn’t last long, and he awoke refreshed and relaxed.  As we made our way through the Gore Canyon, an announcement over the speakers in the hallway told us that this area of the trip was only accessible by train, raft or kayak on the river below.  And sure enough, shortly after that, we saw some rafters in the water.

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SOME AREAS OF THE JOURNEY CAN ONLY BE SEEN BY TRAIN, OR IN A RAFT OR KAYAK

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Other areas of the journey have highway along the rail lines which helps visitors in cars to access popular parts of the state.  We sensed this as we approached Glenwood Springs which had a whole bunch of amenities including a theme park with rides, hot springs, hotels and 6 ski resorts.

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MANY PEOPLE GOT OFF AT GLENWOOD SPRINGS.  WE GOT OUT AND STRETCHED, BUT WERE CONTINUING ONWARD TO SAN FRANCISCO.

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PETE GETS OUT FOR A BREATH OF FRESH AIR … WE STOPPED HERE FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES AS THE TRAIN WAS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

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The next segment of the trip went through a number of canyons including the Glenwood Canyon, Debeque Canyon and Ruby Canyon … each has its own unique scenery and colour palette.

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THE SCENERY IN EACH CANYON IS DIFFERENT IN COLOUR AND FEEL

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WATER REFLECTS THE MOUNTAINS ABOVE IN DEBEQUE CANYON

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SPECTACULAR RED ROCK DOMINATES RUBY CANYON

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Watching all that scenery can make a traveler hungry, so we opened up our snack of wine and cheese.

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WINE AND CHEESE AND CRACKERS MAKE AN EXCELLENT AFTERNOON TREAT

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IT ALSO INDUCES THE DESIRE TO NAP.  

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The time spent between lunch and dinner (which we reserved for the late seating again) was a whole lot of beautiful mountains, some small towns that looked like ghost towns and amazing blue skies.

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GREEN SAGE BRUSH BEGINS TO TAKE OVER AS THE MOUNTAINS GET LOWER AND DRYER

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Eventually, the train winds up on a giant plateau, elevated above the surrounding canyons and valleys, before descending into the badlands of Utah.  We crossed into Utah at around 5 PM.

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THE TRAIN CROSSES A GIANT PLATEAU BEFORE DESCENDING INTO UTAH.  AT THE EDGE OF THE COLOUR BEFORE THE MOUNTAINS IS A STEEP DROP OFF.  OUR TRAIN WAS TRAVELING ACROSS A GIANT FLAT-TOPPED MOUNTAIN.

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THE MOUNTAINS ARE REPLACED WITH RIDGES OF SAND AND BADLANDS, WHILE THE TREES GIVE WAY TO SCRUB AND DESERT.

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THE HILLS OF UTAH LOOK LIKE FOLDS OF CLOTH OR A LUNAR LANDSCAPE

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SMALL TOWNS AND RANCHES DOT THE HORIZON AS THE SUN BEGINS TO SET

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YOU ARE HERE … THIS IS THE CENTRE OF GREEN RIVER … A SMALL DESERT TOWN

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FLAT-TOPPED MOUNTAINS WITH SAGE DESERT IN THE FOREGROUND DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE

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SUNSET COLOURS THE ROCKS IN THE DISTANCE.

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We made our way to the dining car and enjoyed a meal with a couple heading to a conference in Reno.  Once again, the meal was delicious and for dessert, I decided on the Tiramisu.  It was yummy.  We knew our beds would be made down when we got back, so we spent a little time in the lounge car watching the scenery go by and reading before heading to bed. We were told we might see Jackalopes who leapt across the plains beside the train.  We assumed what we were seeing (animals that look like deer or antelope) were what they were referring to, but apparently, jackalopes are actually more like jack rabbits with antelope horns.   If you click on this picture to expand it, you will see a few animals that look like large deer. At this point the train was on a flat stretch and going at top speed, so catching a picture of them was tricky!

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CAN YOU SPOT THE ANTELOPES  IN THIS PICTURE?  AND MAYBE THERE WERE SOME JACKALOPES TOO,  BUT IF SO, THEY WERE TOO FAST FOR US TO SEE!

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Trip Pix 544THE SUN SETS ON UTAH

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Once the sun had set and with full stomachs, we decided to make our way back to our room, and read in bed until we fell asleep.  We lasted until about 9:30.  Before going to sleep, we set our watches back an hour, for the next day we would be on Pacific Time. When we woke up, we would have crossed through Utah and be on the edge of the Nevada state line.  In the middle of the night, there was a 30 minute stop at Salt Lake City, but we opted to sleep instead of exploring the station.

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Tomorrow … from Reno Nevada, through the Donner Pass and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to San Francisco.  More great scenery to come from …

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Fenton & White

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