Edward Abbey once wrote an essay called “TV Show: Out There In The Rocks” It was in the form of an interview with an old codger (Abbey) who had been a Park Ranger at Arches National Park in Utah. He wrote about this time of his life in “Desert Solitaire”, the first of his works that received the recognition it deserved (forgive me Ed-he was not a man who recognized his recognition).
These images are not from Arches NP. They were made in the Lybrook Badlands. No matter, either place is definitely out there in the rocks. I recently found myself driving the gas company roads that criss-cross this section of the San Juan Basin; they branch off here and there, ultimately dead-ending at gas wells. Actually, Robin was doing the driving, I was navigating with the help of my friend Garmin.
We were searching for the elusive heart of the Lybrook badlands. We had already seen them from the mesa-top, stretching out before us like some huge geological maze. Now we were down in the midst of them, down there in the rocks exploring and looking for one certain spot in these miles of desert landscape.
As it turns out, the journey was as rewarding as the final destination. The search for a unique landscape in this case was more a constant visual feast. Being a seasoned desert rat and badlands connoisseur, this is not a new experience for me, but I am always pleasantly surprised when it happens. Because many of the roads in this area are not on any map (even the topos on my GPS), we made many false starts on dead end tracks. It was all good though; the scenery was spectacular, and the ride was an adventure in itself.
Finally, after nearly a full day of bouncing over rocky and rutted not quite roads, we reached the co-ordinates we had been searching for. By now, it was more about just finding the place than there being anything special about it.
We had enough time for a short hike and a few images before we had to start back home. That’s OK. The hook is set. Another day will find us back out there in the rocks. Ed would be proud.