Today we visited The Needles portion of Canyonlands National Park. We visited the Island in the Sky portion north of here near Moab when we were in Utah 3 years ago and we enjoyed it the most of the two. It rivals the Grand Canyon for beauty and interest. If you don’t care to or cannot go on 10 mile round trip hikes you don’t see the best parts of The Needles – including the formations called the Needles. Thank goodness for the telephoto lens. We did take a short hike to a Hopi Granary used as storage bins for corn, seeds, and nuts. They were often well hidden, and sometimes located in almost inaccessible places. We couldn’t figure out how they got into the stone structure but the brochure said the door of this granary is located on the roof. After a picnic lunch at a shaded table near the Visitor’s Center we set off to find some geocaches. We were very successful and found 14 of them!
One of the last ones was very disturbing. It was located on 78 acres next to Monticello, the city where we are camped, and was the site where the government produced uranium during the war. Residents recall that when the mine was operational workers would be covered in yellow dust and people from the town wouldn’t hang clothes out to dry on windy days to keep them from turning yellow. No one was warned about the health effects of uranium or exposure to the yellow dust that covered the town. Throughout the 1950s the mill was the main plant for processing large amounts of ore taken from the canyons of southeastern Utah. In 1960 the Atomic Energy Commission closed the plant down. In 1989 the EPA placed the site on the National Priority List as a Superfund site in need of cleanup. The ground water and surface water are contaminated with uranium, as well as its radioactive decay products, thorium 230, radium 226, radon 222 and several other heavy metals from tailings deposited on the site, including arsenic, selenium, vanadium, molybdenum, manganese, and others. The levels of uranium in the groundwater presented a potential health threat to people in the vicinity. There have been 600 cases of cancer confirmed among the current and former residents of Monticello. No one knew the effects of uranium on living beings at that time. Makes you wonder what things are going on now that the future will show was detrimental, and even fatal, to those of us living now.
Tomorrow is a travel day to Cortez Colorado all of 61 miles. I hope we don’t get too tired.
Keep those cards and letters coming in folks.
Once again the link(s) below will get you to my Skydrive account that has a few pictures from today. Once you get to the folder you can click on the first photo to get a slide show.
Geocaches Today 14 Trip Total 40
License Plates Spotted so far on the trip: 38 states, Wash DC, Mexico, 5 Provinces
Gas Watch – Monticello UT $3.83