Monday, May 02, 2011

Travel Journal: Utah's National Parks April 23-30 2011: Day 2

Monday morning found us still a bit tired out from our hiking at Zion and the wild drive home. 
Can you blame us for sleeping in, then heading down to do a bit of soaking in the spas, swimming, sauna, steam room, rinse, repeat...
Well, that is exactly what we did for awhile.
I loved looking out to the snow covered scenery while soaking in front of a blazing gas log fireplace.
Good times!

But then the weather got nice and clear; we got restless and Bernie suggested we take a short drive down to Parowan Gap to see the Petroglyphs.
Petroglyphs, or Indian etchings on rocks, never interested me much.  I pictured us driving down the mountain to a small building where we would pay a fee, then walk into an area where we would look through glass at a few curious cave drawings, and then that would be that.
But the drive there might be interesting so I was game to go.
We headed down toward the Parowan Gap via a dirt road which shot through farmland that was deeply bordered with lavender flowers.
Bernie was quite willing to stop and let me photograph an old farm shed that I thought was picturesque.

Then we passed a flat area with a body of water; the map said it was the "Little Salt Lake". 
Huh.  I didn't know there was two salt lakes in Utah.
Wonder if there is a "Middle Sized Salt Lake" somewhere that we haven't discovered yet.

The landscape looked identical to the landscape around the Great Salt Lake. I can say I have visited the Little Salt Lake.
Now where is my tee shirt to prove it?

I was just taking the maps word for it that this was a salty body of water.  No interest in sampling the water personally....

Up aways we came to a cross roads.  Yup, I guess our map was right!
It looked like the whole shebang was a property owned by one person with a really big house on the bluff.  The sunsets and sunrises over the Little Salt Lake must be beautiful.

A couple of minutes more up the road and Bernie hit the brakes again .
A sea of lavender!
Must drive up the hill a bit and get pictures!

As I walked around trying to find the best angle to capture all the color, I almost stepped on this cactus plant.

A closer look at the flowers.  Not quite as awe inspiring as the lavender meadows but pretty spectacular in its own way.

The grass up the hillside had beet red bits which contrasted well with the lavender.

I had/have no idea if this lavender stuff is welcomed or if the landowners just tolerate it for its beauty or if it is actually an invasive weed.

I hope it is a good thing.  Scenes like this once a year at the end of April would make me want to keep the stuff growing on my land.

I wasn't sure how far we had to go before we would come to the Parowan Gap....I had to laugh when I looked at these shots later.
The Gap:  That's it up just up the road!

(Had to get down into the flowers for the full sensory effect.)

Kind of wondered at how the flowers seemed to especially like fence posts.
Or was that owner planned?

So this is the flower up close.  Anyone know what it is?

Just a bit more down the road we came to this sign.  Hmmm...we must be getting closer to the Petroglyphs!

The Park Ranger's building must be just on the other side of the gap...

You could of knocked me over with an Indian feather...there was NO ranger building, no fees, no glass to look through.
Just the rocks with the markings for anyone passing by to enjoy.

My interest level soared.  See the large petroglyph that sort of looks like an open zipper?
Turns out (after reading up) that the zipper opening matches the shape of the Parowan Gap, and the little tick marks have to do with the season.  When viewed from a rock cairn on a day that the ticks indicate, the Summer Solstis can be observed through the gap.

The meaning of the rest of the markings are more obsure. 

Several tribes: Piute and Hopi lived in the area and even they can't say for sure what the glyphs mean.

Several plaques were in the area. One said no one knows what the symbols mean, another (above) suggested hunting, religious symbols and family history, water sources and travel routes.
A modern publication copied onto another display board had more specific suggestions as to the meanings.
As time goes on, we will understand more perhaps?

Meanwhile...I felt like I was on a hunt looking to see petroglyphs.
I saw this rock first and was amazed at how many etched symbols were to be seen.

Then I looked a little farther...and saw more. 
Love the spider symbols kinda at the center top.  The string line and eight legs, has to be a spider, right? Is that someones name, or a warning that there are spiders or maybe someone just liked spiders or ?????

The more I looked, the more I saw....again and again.

I figured this rock was the whole deal, so I shot a lot of pictures at different angles.

So curious...

I was shooting through this totally lame hurricane fence.
Why even bother with that?
Anyone could just walk around the end of it if they wanted to.

Then I moved on a little more...and saw more...

And more...

The fence ended and I started walking right up to the glyphs!
I think the fence was actually there to catch any rocks that might happen to fall!

Bernie started to climb up the rocks.

Parowan can see how there are miles and miles of flat land beyond.  This gap would be a natural place to cross over the small mountain range.

There were several of this design scratched into rocks.

And a few of these. My finger is not quite touching the rock.

I keep scanning the rocks, looking for another glyph.

I'd look and look, and then suddenly another set would just pop out at me.

Clearly rocks had tumbled over the years.  Were there glyphs on the hidden sides of the fallen rocks?

As I worked my way through the gap and around the bend, the fence had barbed wired added.
I tried to read what the oldest of signs had to say about the glyphs.  Apparently the meanings were "unknown" when this plaque was commissioned.

Right about now I was totally hooked on petroglyph hunting.
Two women around my age came walking down the road, and one of them was pointing out things to the other.
I asked if she was an Indian; no, she was Mexican but lived in the area.

The land beyond the gap.

That must actually be centuries if not eons heads straight for the Gap and goes through.

Did the Indians trod through the lavender flowers or are they a more modern addition to the landscape?

Nature seemed to be communicating as well: That orange and black rock is pretty cool too.

About now Bernie caught up with me.  I said I wondered why the Indian's had only etched on the one side of the road and not the other.
Bernie quickly pointed out to me that there were etchings on both sides of the road!

Better still: the other side was much easier to walk up to the rocks on paths through grass.
I checked out the little cave right away.

Eyed a fish bone design...

Frowned at modern defacings.

Admired colorful lichen (I guess that is what that is, or maybe a mineral deposit.)

Vowed to NEVER visit O. E. Waldram, DC.
(What a jerk!)

And yet...I was kind of charmed by signatures left behind from a hundred years earlier.
At what point does such thing become a historical element instead of defacement?

The patterns: Are all of them ancient Indian, or are a few modern fakery?

The rock is very hard, and the places of the etchings quite awkward.
Why did the Indians go to all the trouble to leave these signs?
And why did they not develope an alphabet instead of individual symbols for communication?
The Chinese write with almost unlimited symbols; it is a very difficult language to learn to read.
Hebrew letters are each a symbol, but there is a limit, 22, which are further varied with the addition of points or dots.
The Cherokee did have an alphabet.
Just some of my thoughts as I mused about the symbolic communication.

One interpretation of a circle in circle in circle is migration or traveling.
Why scratch that symbol?
Traveling..where? How long? Why?

I did realize that hacking a straight line would be easier to do than a curve.
Yet there are lots of curved shapes too.

I really do think the designs and the whole place is just beautiful.

I like this symbol.

And this one...

Love them!

I think: Water?  Boats?  Cat faces?

Surely I can figure this one out:  A coccoon?

Little ones, big ones, some so low I wonder if they sat to make them.

A rocket ship???

I would wander back to look again and try to get a better angle.

Now doesn't that look like a church symbol there in the middle?

Hacking the bottom of that question mark thing must have been a bear..

Did I miss any? 

This was the scene when I was done looking.
Just us, our car, a couple of benches, and a board thingee with nothing on it.

The sun has shifted, I try a few repeat shots..

That zipper big compared to everything else.

Bernie came down the hill to join me.

Now to properly get the effect that I was experiencing: Look at the pictures with a fan blowing right at you full blast.  I was literally swaying at some points.

After I jumped into the car, my face feeling like it had been blown off, Bernie mentioned if I had read all the signs.
I thought I had.
He pointed to what I had thought were blank displays.  The information was posted on the other side away from the rocks.
I of course had to run over to take a look. It was still sooo windy that I just shot pictures of the info so I could read up later in a more comfortable setting!

If you are the sort that likes to read up on stuff like this...this is what was posted.

If you aren't that type...just scroll ahead to the next part of our adventures.

The Zipper Glyph overlayed at Summer Solstice!

The Mexican woman pointed out the Indian Face in the rocks that is called the Overseer.
Pretty weird that it swallows the sun in November to let the Indians know summer is past.
Heck, wouldn't the November snow and friggen cold be an easier way to know that?

OK...enough with the reading and stuff.
Let's move on to...

Scenes that make me giddy!

Just so you can see what we were seeing as we drove along the dirt road...

(Made me think of the tulip fields and other floral field created by man.  This one was totally God made!)

Just a few farm building in the distance...a few trucks kicked up dust from time to time.

Looking back at the road we had driven.  A bit glyphic, isn't it?

Only saw one of these flowers, about the size of a large dandelion head.

The wind was still blowing and caused the flowers to billow and roll like the sea.

I kept thinking: If I had come here a week earlier or a week later, would I have seen all this?
Probably not.
Texas: I do miss your blue bonnets, but the Utah flower fields are comforting me now.


A Lady said...

the original facebook. interesting.

Lovella ♥ said...

I was just thinking about you and your texas bluebonnets and now you have found something utterly beautiful. The rolling lavendar fields are just gorgeous. I can well imagine how it would be nearly impossible to stop clicking the camera.
The markings on the rocks are amazing. How incredible that it is just there without security for people to enjoy and wonder about. I like the previous comment. .the orginal facebook.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous scenes....I want to know what the air smelled like too....with all that burgeoning plant life....

ellen b. said...

Beautiful scenery for sure and what interesting history and markings.
Love the carpet of flowers blowing in the wind...
I always take photos of the signs and info then read them later.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

A successful 'hunt' all around! What beautiful fields of lavender...and the petroglyphs are most interesting. Amazing that it was 'free for all'!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was another amazing post! The petroglyphs are so interesting and the scenery so fascinating. I loved the billowing fields of early spring flowers.

Belladonna said...

Great pics! I'm going to be in Utah over Memorial Day weekend for a family reunion in Holden. Makes me want to go do some exploring in other parts of the state.