Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Tuesday December 21 2010

My new favorite color is Cliff-Vermilion. It's right up there along with Raven-Black, and Alpine-Lake-Surrounded-By-Snowfields-Deep-Blue. (Painted-Desert-Pink is a close second.)

This color ranking was prompted by a drive along highway Alt-89 in northwest Arizona, along the Vermilion Cliffs (part of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area; the Vermilion Cliffs along the northern highway 89, just over the border in Utah, on the northern edge of the Paria Plateau, are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument).

The area is simply stunning - intriguing - mystifying - alluring. The landscape is incredible. The colors are impossible. Sixty plus miles of breath-snatching, jaw-dropping, run-off-the-road, awe-inspiring 1500-ft high cathedral cliffs made of striking, multi-hued layered shale and sandstone towering over the valley - and then towering another 1000 ft over the Colorado River where the cliffs meet Marble Canyon and the Navajo Bridge.

Not only did the geologic aspect of this other-world make it a memorable drive, but my first-ever sighting of a California Condor shattered the awe factor.

An experimental population of California condors was reintroduced to the area in 1996. The condors like to roost on the Navajo Bridge at night. One was soaring over the canyon when I stopped there. A couple of Ravens flew above the condor, trying to imitate the giant condor with its 9-foot wingspan.

I have been seduced. It's a part of the country that requires more exploration.


  1. Beautiful colors. Nature continues to amaze with the best art around.

    And the condor! Wow! I do have to admire the ravens' self image, even thinking they could intimidate such a huge, magnificent creature, but I've seen groups of little birds around here try to run off a hawk.

  2. I'm with you, Merri. The desert's so silent and deep. I grew up in AZ and it usually takes me a couple days to "drop down" into that special space and be with it. Love your pix! What're you doing in that part of the west? Best to you in 2011!
    Jill Cohn

  3. Merri, you just make my day with your pictures and comments. I have not yet had the opportunity to travel much, but I know where I will be going when I am finally able to go! Renie Burnett

  4. Beautiful! I am planning a trip to Nevada and Az this Feb, might have to check that area out.

    Speaking of beautiful, did you see the Bloodhorse video of Zenyatta's first turn out at Lane's End? Its on youtube. She is awesome.
    Karen W.


  5. Had the pleasure of making that drive just last week -- so glad you got to take that route too. Walking across (old) Navajo bridge is magical this time of year; just you, sky, rock, water, wind and winged folk (if you're lucky, which you were!)

    Safe travels ~ Lynn

  6. Very cool, seeing a wild condor! Visited a condor restoration project near San Diego a few years ago, but never got to see a wild one soaring past. Happy Trails & Merry Christmas.