Friday, 29 August 2008

More of the delights of the American Southwest

Forgive me for indulging myself somewhat. After my family's wonderful holiday to Arizona and Grand Canyon I have I'm afraid, become slightly obsessed by everything Arizona and southwest USA. The wet, miserable, dull and drab 'summer' weather here in north-west England only serves to increase my yearnings for more of the magnificent Grand Canyon and southwest USA!

During our March trip I bought a few books as I tend to do. Wayne Ranney's 'Carving Grand Canyon' is superb and well worth reading if like me, you are intrigued by the mysterys surrounding the formation of Grand Canyon. Another excellent book that I picked up over there is 'Geology Underfoot in Northern Arizona' by Lon Abbott and Terri Cook, which takes a look at the geology of the Northern half of the state and encourages the reader to get out there in your car and see the various features for yourself. This book also emphasises to me just how many magnificent geological features there are in Arizona that I didn't have time to visit last March and only increases my desire to return. While we saw and were mesmerised by Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest and Salt River Canyon, we barely scratched the surface of what Arizona has to offer.

There is an excellent web site called 'The American Southwest' run by a guy called John Crossley, who surprisingly resides in Bristol, England. His site covers the National Parks of this region of USA and includes a huge library of photographs. As well as the beautiful photographs and brilliant text guides to each area, he includes maps, hotel guides and some superb panoramas!

I'm delighted to say John has given me permission to use a few photographs from his site on this humble blog of mine. Such as this one....

East and West mitten Buttes, Monument Valley, Utah.

© copyright 1994 - 2008 John Crossley.

This area was I believe used as the backdrop to many classic Western films in the 1960's and 70's.

Merrick Butte, Monument Valley, Utah

© copyright 1994-2008 John Crossley

And then there is this extraordinary place, The Arches National park, also in Utah:-

The far side of Double 'O' Arch, Arches National Park, Utah.

© copyright 1994 - 2008 John Crossley.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

© copyright 1994-2008 John Crossley

There are over 1000 arches of Entrada sandstone in this national park, ranging in size from the 89 metre span of Landscape Arch to small cavities of a mere 3 feet, which is the smallest size for an opening to be actually classified as an arch! John's web site will tell you all you need to know about where to find this place, so I won't repeat it here, but when I make that return trip back over the herring pond, I will definitely check out these breathtaking national parks.

I could attempt to explain how these awesome features formed, but on reflection perhaps I should wait until I do that geology degree and have a more thorough understanding of it all before I do that. Other blogs do all that way better than I could at the moment, such as 'MJC Rocks at 'Geotripper'. He's been running a brilliant series of blogs on the whole Colorado Plateau which has been superb. But then, he is a lecturer at Modesto Junior College! I only hope my future geology lecturers are as good as this guy!

Many thanks again to John Crossley at 'The American Southwest' for permission to use these photographs!

Cheers for now!


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Return to education

The last few weeks have been a little crazy, racing around the country in search of Carillons, but that's another story. Suffice to say, it's been an education and that is something that is going to play a big part in my life in the coming months and years all being well.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Geology has been an interest for most of my life and really ought to have been my life's vocation. However, due to the unfortunate combination of a lousy maths teacher and my school's refusal to allow me to drop my 'A' level maths and concentrate on my geography and physics, I failed both maths and physics. That scuppered any hopes of getting into Oxford Poly to do the Geology degree course that I had set my heart on, but at least my excellent grade 'B' in Geography meant I could activate 'Plan B'. Being the cautious type, I did at least plan for the nightmare scenario of not getting the required two C's and only managing the one Geography 'A' level. As a result I embarked on a Higher Diploma in Geographical Techniques at Luton College and my life took a different course as a result.

A working life that started as a Cartographic Draughtsman has evolved into that of a CAD Technician. Yes, still drawing but now with the computer rather than Rotring drawing pens; on a computer monitor, rather than drafting film. They call it progress and I suppose it is of a sort. But like so much of modern life, it doesn't make it any better or more pleasurable. Quite the opposite in fact. Where I used to have the satisfaction of some degree of artistic creativity, that is now all but gone. So not surprisingly my heart yearns for something more, something to feel passionate about, that will stimulate my mind for the next 20 years plus. What frightened me was the thought of plodding through the next 17 years bored senseless, waiting until I retire to a life of gardening and incontinence! No thanks! Not for me, ta!

High time then for a change of direction. To make a start, I have enrolled with the Open University to start their Science Foundation course "Discovering Science - S104 which is due to commence on 29th September. Exciting! This will hopefully kick start the 'grey matter' and re-familiarise myself with the concept of study. As around 30 years have passed since my last period of formal study the next 9 months could prove challenging, particularly as I will be attempting to do it all around usual family/work life! So, if there is anyone out there from UK who has done S104 or S103, it's predecessor, do post a comment and let me how you found it!

For now I will leave you with another reminder of just why I want to study Geology and if I ever work out how to set up this Picaso Slideshow thingy I'll show you a whole lot more!

Cheers, Grumpychops.

The 'Tee-pees' at Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, Arizona. A stunning place!

(Photo by Grumpychops, March 2008)