Decided to stay over in Vernal one more night so that we could really explore this area. Much to see from relics to amazing geologic formations. Out early and stop at Betty’s for breakfast. What a great spot! Family owned and operated small-town cafe with great food, lots of laughter, old timers who know the servers and vice versa. One of the female servers was especially liked by the customers – telling stories and laughing with gusto at their stories, never failing to receive hugs upon the customers’ departure. She is the owner’s niece, the other female server her granddaughter, and the older fellow said “been here for 17 years – Betty found me under the viaduct and that was that!” Don’t know if it is true, but makes a good story.
Head to the Utah Department of Natural Resources to check on our planned route for the following day. Maybe it’s the water, but the agent, a contemporary named Cindy, was a real gem with an outgoing personality, fun loving manner, and a delightful laugh that was a treat to the ears. We enjoyed meeting and talking with her.
Head to Red Cloud Loop (18) through Ashley National Forest stopping at Dry Fork Overlook to get a pic of the road up. Large stands of pecker poles at the summit. At North Fork Creek on Taylor Mountain Road, a cut throat habitat protected area, we find a sweet deer curled up resting in the shade of aspens, then a beautiful marmot busy in a rock field.
Out to McConkie Ranch to see petroglyphs. The heat and the climb proved too much for us so will keep the site on our list for another trip – perhaps fall. We are experiencing some minor difficulty with the elevation. Sea folk do require time to acclimate to elevations of 6,000′-12,000′.
South 191 – we discover we are going through an area determined to have “bizarre sharks and phosphate” referring to the fact that the area is a site of ancient seas (Salt Lake is a remnant) and dinosaur beds.
At Sage Ranch we turn left onto Jones Hole Road. We took the “detour” because the sign said there was a fish hatchery, but this turned into the most amazing gorge with some of the most beautiful geology of the trip. Literally took our breath away. Layers of the past preserved in stone. And, can you say concretion? They were huge! Stopped to look for interesting rocks and I found an actual dinosaur bone!!! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa. Also found some glossy, carmel-colored jasper (Wild Horse?). Into the Green River Gorge and then head back to Vernal on Jones Hole Road. Stop for dinner, then laundry and sleep. Another great day!