04 July 2006 Tuesday Independence Day

It rained a little last night and again this morning.  We’re concernedabout the roads only if we get a a heavy rain.  The roads we came in onthru national forest had plenty of gravel and rock, so we had a way out, but theroads down in the valley were more clay.  We had the campground toourselves except for two guys that chose a site quite a ways from us.  Wegot an early start to try to beat the afternoon thunderstorms.  We stoppedalong the drive at an old cabin once used by cowboys tending cattle in thevalley before it was a park.  The cabin was small, but very neat. It’s hard to imagine real cowboys using this tiny cabin, tending herds of cows,in the 1930’s and 40’s.  

We continued to the Gypsum Sinkhole.   I wasn’t sure what made thissinkhole special… it’s just a hole, right?  When we saw it, it was prettywild.  This sinkhole, perhaps 50 feet deep, is at the base of, and evenUNDER a rock wall, a couple hundred feet high!  I wouldn’t want to be herewhen this thing falls!

We have rain clouds chasing us, even sprinkling on us from time totime.  We are trying to see this area without becoming part of the scenery,with our truck stuck in the mud.  So far, we’ve been able to outrun therain.  I think we got some nice photos with the rock formations in the sunwith dark clouds behind.  I hope they turn out well.  It was magnificentto see it live!

We continued the drove to the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon andthe Glass Mountain.  The Glass Mountain is actually made up from crystallizedgypsum, which is clear, white or sometimes tinted.  Gypsum is a form ofsalt and is formed as minerals in the rock are leached out in water, dried and crystallized. Somehow, this was piled here (perhaps by glaciers) and erosion has uncoveredthis mountain.  The Temples of the Sun and Moon are photographed for manypostcards.  Beautiful!  

It looks like the rain cloud has passed us by, so we can breathe a littleeasier.  Bu we still have a love of driving ahead of us today.  We finishedthe drive and saw several spots on the road that would not be fun to drive in withheavy rains.  We stopped briefly to fill our water and headed out towardsthe Great Basin National Park.  

We drove across Utah and Nevada, thru some of the emptiest land ever! One 80+ mile stretch, we saw only 5 cars, all going the other way.  There’sa whole lot of nothin’ out here.  While driving, sometimes I’d see a carbehind us and a few minutes later, it would be gone.  There are no sideroads… where did it go?  Did the aliens pick them up?  Why were werejected? … Or were we?  How would we know if we had been abductedby aliens?  (insert theme song to "TheOuter Limits" here)

We thought we’d be too late to catch the Visitor Center open in Great BasinNational Park, NV, but as we passed from Mountain Time into Pacific Time wegained an hour.  Isn’t time travel wonderful?

We talked to a ranger to find out what was here.  Neither one of us isfamiliar with this park.  We knew that the Great Basin is one of the fourmajor desert regions in the U.S.  We’d already been to the Chihuahuan,the Mojave and the Sonoran deserts, so it just made sense to finish our desert tour. We found out that this area has a glacier, the southernmost glacier in the lower48 states and the only one in Nevada.  There are also Bristlecone Pines,some of the oldest living things on the planet, trees over 4,000 yearsold.  And Lehman’s Cave, a very highly decorated cave.

We found a campsite to call home for the night.  We’ll check it all outin the morning.

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