These four arches are a small sample of the many sculptured rock formations in Utah’s Arches National Park. In fact, people who count the arches in the park say there are 2,000 of them ranging in width from three feet to 306 feet. The state of the arches is changing all the time, with new ones being formed by ice, water and other environmental factors while others crumble away. Although it is still strong and not crumbling, the first in this series is named for the large crack at the center of the arch.
In geological terms, Heart Mountain’s flat-topped shape is caused by a thrust fault, the pushing up of younger rocks above older ones, and subsequent erosion. These distinctive formations are called klippes. In human terms, it was in the shadow of this mountain outside of Cody, Wyoming, that over 10,000 Japanese-Americans were held in an encampment after the World War II bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Today the site is a National Historic Landmark comprised of an outdoor interpretive center and a museum, which together provide visitors with an intimate view of what daily life was like in the camp.
The badlands of South Dakota form a vast protected wilderness today. However, paleontological evidence shows that ancient Native Americans used the area as their hunting grounds, as did the tribes of the Sioux Nation in later years. The stratified layers of sedimentary rock show the changes over eons in the earth’s surface, which first emerged from under the sea as tropical land and then slowly changed to open woodland. Gray bands show evidence of volcanic eruptions at certain times in history. Geologists now have a good idea of what each layer represents, and there are many strata!
If I hadn’t accidentally locked the keys in the trunk of our rental car, we would have stayed in a resort down this beautiful country road in New South Wales. (Instead, we stayed in a small place across from a mechanic’s garage, where some nice people worked a day and a half to retrieve the key. There were complications with the way the car was built!) Experiencing the wide-open spaces where kangaroos are free to hop is something I greatly miss about being in Australia.