We’ve had an unusually cool and wet March, so I’m putting off the 30th Annual Kent Is No Longer 29 Adventure until April 9 or 10. I haven’t settled on exactly what the adventure will be, in part because I want to see how much it dries out over the next couple of weeks, and in part because I’ve been busy scrambling to plan my May adventure in Utah. Yes, I got the first dose of the vaccine, and I’ll be getting the second dose a week from Monday. That may be yet another reason for another postponement; I may be recovering from a reaction to the second dose.
The first dose gave me an amazingly sore arm. Which I suppose is reassuring, as an indication they actually injected something active into me. However, Derek Lowe tells me that the strength of the reaction isn’t actually much correlated with how much immunity you build (which is high in almost all cases anyway; the vaccine is very effective.)
But now that I will shortly be fully vaccinated, my family and I have cemented plans for me to visit my mother for her 90th birthday, on May 16. She lives in Provo, Utah, and much of my family live in Utah, and I’ve generally squeezed some geological adventuring into my trips up to see them. This time I have a little extra vacation time accumulated, thanks to COVID restrictions last summer, and I’m taking a full three weeks’ vacation for this trip: A week up to explore many nooks and crannies of the Colorado Plateau, a full week with Mom to record all her old stories and memories, and a full week in Arizona afterwards doing all the things I’d planned to do last spring until COVID shut down my vacation plans. My friend, Gary Stradling, will be joining me for most of the outdoor adventuring and it’s bound to be a blast. And it will all be reported here, with photos!
I do mean “record” Mom’s stories. I’m trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to record hours of conversation. (I grew up with tape recorders.) My cell phone is a very simple one with limited memory, since I can’t take it into my office, and I’m not sure what kind of newfangled gadget I should invest in or borrow. Suggestions welcome.
But there is a lot of preparation. I had to rush to make reservations — Canyonlands and Arches, for example, have already filled up through June — and I have a first draft of my itinerary, which is still getting adjusted, and I also need to be sure the car is in decent shape. I had the oil changed last week and nothing was obviously wrong, except that I have a cracked windshield that’s bad enough I will probably replace it in April, and I get a warning light on the fuel system — vacuum leak. I’m told by people who know these things that this isnt’ really a big problem and waiting to fix it will not damage my car. So I may postpone that one.
Well, maybe the windshield, too. Cindy allows as how she might prefer I replace it after taking a bunch of adventures on gravel roads.
I also need to fix a leaky pipe under my house and a leaky sprinkler valve. The pipe is a very slow leak, making a small puddle in my crawl space, and I watched for several minutes and saw no drip. Just felt some moisture on the piping. Nor is any of the woodwork above the puddle showing any moisture. So it’s probably not a big problem — likely a cracked connection in a sewer-side pipe well below floor level — but I’d like to get it taken care of. Mostly a matter of figuring out where the leak is and caulking it, I suspect.
The sprinkler valve is a bigger nuisance. The leak is quite active whenever I turn on the cutoff valve from the main house water supply to the sprinkler valve tree, so I can’t really ignore it. Cindy is due for vein surgery in her legs just before my trip, so she’ll be in no shape to go into the crawl space to turn the system on and off when she needs to water the lawn. She’ll certainly need to be watering the lawn by May. So I’ve got to fix it. The nuisance is that this particular valve has already been replaced once, and the coupling where I cut out the old one doesn’t leave much stub to attach a new valve to. Best case: I can leave the valve casing in place and just replace the innards. There’s actually a fair chance of that, if I can find the exact matching replacement. Rainbird, so it’s not an obscure brand. Worst case: I have to replace the entire valve tree. That would be a huge nuisance.
Also a few big deadines at work before then. But it’s looking good that those will be met, and the vacation time has already been approved by management.
Meanwhile: More bugs:
Unknown bug. Hypotrichas, perhaps?
These are variously from my fish tank, my pond tray, or Cindy’s leftover biology specimens. I saw a really impressive bug in the pond gray, but too fast-moving to get a decent picture. A little like the Hypotrichas? above but bigger.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding occasional snow storms, spring is coming:
And we had enough dry weather (until this week) for me to take a hike at Bandelier. Frijolitos Trail last weekend.
The trail switches up the canyon wall to a purported archeological site atop the mesa.
And, yeah, the camera is still acting up. Cant’ seem to get rid of that blurry patch. Hoping a new camera is gifted to me for my birthday — I really liked the old Coolpix, a lot, until it broke. This TG-5 was never as good.
View from up the trail across the canyon.
So, geology: Long-time readers are very familiar with the Bandelier Tuff. For new reader (Welcome!): We’re looking at one of the famous finger mesas of the Pajarito Plateau, which is underlain by Bandelier Tuff. The rock here is almost entirely Tshirege Member. Unpacking that: The Bandelier Tuff is an ash-flow tuff, formed 1.265 million years ago by a ginormous eruption in the Jemez Mountains that produced the Valles Caldera. Some 300 cubic kilometers (some 70 cubic miles, if I remember right) of volcanic ash boiled up out of the ground as the roof of a magma chamber 13 miles across collapsed to produce the caldera. The ash was mixed with red-hot volcanic gases and acted as a heavy fluid, which and flowed across the surrounding area for miles. The ash then settled to the surface and cooled to form a kind of soft volcanic rock called tuff.
The eruption took place in several closely spaced pulses, and you can see the layering from individual pulses in the sides of the mesa. The lowest two layers (almost indistiguishable here) are the A and B units, above which is the lighter C unit and the slightly darker D unit forming the top of the mesa. The D unit also forms the surface in most of the Los Alamos area.
Tyuyonyi ruins from the trail:
This is the crown jewel of Bandelier National Monument. It was probably a ceremonial center more than a village, with most of the population living in bulidings constructed of the soft tuff along cliff bases or in small field houses atop the mesas.
I get to the top of the mesa and the trail forks. There is no sign telling which fork goes to the ruins. I guess south, but after a half hour of hiking, I decide this was the wrong way.
That smudge is just intolerable.
I turn around and go the other way. There is an excellent view of Tyuyonyi:
and of Frey Trail.
In the early days of the monument, Frey Trail was the only way in. The modern engineered road access came much later, and Frey Trail is now a foot trail (and one I should hike sometime.)
Could these be the ruins?
Looking at the satellite image, it seems possible, but it’s hard to be sure. Checking the geological map seems to confirm it. These are completely unexcavated, but you can see the scattered blocks of tuff from which the buildings were constructed.
I hike a little further north, just in case I’ve missed something, but turn around here. And my GPS is acting up; taking a very long time to lock and, in this case, the lock was clearly wildly off. Definitely time for a new camera.
Would like to hike again tomorrow, but we got three inches of snow this week, and while it’s all melted now, the ground is pretty muddy.