Our second day on the train was short. We were served a good breakfast and a charcuterie board before disembarking in Moab. Both were delicious. Our first notable sight was the De Beque Canyon, named for Dr. Wallace De Beque, a Canadian and Civil War veteran who settled there in 1884 with his third wife. It is a narrow canyon on the Colorado River, approximately 15 miles long. Geologically the canyon walls are stair-step cliffs of shoreline sands deposited during the Cretaceous era, 145 million to 66 million years ago.
We then passed the town of Palisade, home to the famous Palisade peaches and the beginning of wine country for Colorado, and Mount Garfield, named after the 20th US President, James Garfield. It is 6765 feet high, part of the Book Cliffs, a series of desert mountains and cliffs so named because they appear similar to a shelf of books.
The train then passed through Grand Junction, the second largest city in Colorado, at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, where fruit orchards and more vineyards are found. Then on to Ruby Canyon. Ruby Canyon gets its name from the fact it is lined with red sandstone cliffs. There is a painting on the side of the canyon indicating the Colorado/Utah state line.
We arrived outside of Maob, at the end of the line. This line does not connect with the major rail line running through Utah because of the ongoing clean-up work to remove uranium tailings on this side of the town, so we rode buses to our hotel destinations.
Main Street in Moab
Moab was a typical wild west town, a favorite hideout for many gangs of outlaws in the 1800s because of the surrounding deep canyons.The discovery of uranium in the 1950s put Moab on the map and it now attracts visitors, like us, to come to explore the five surrounding national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion.
The following day we visited Arches National Park. Originally a cattle ranch, it was established as a national monument in 1929 and a national park by President Nixon in 1970. It got its name from the over 2,000 rock arches found within its boundaries. Water and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement sculpted the rock scenery of the park over a hundred million years of erosion. While the arches are the main draw, towering spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks (rocks balancing on what look like precarious bases) are part of the vistas. We went early in the morning when it is cool and the air is so clean and fresh, you want to spend time thinking about breathing!
I’m just going to show you some of my favorite rock formations.
The Three Gossips
Delicate Arch – you can see the La Sal Mountains through the arch
Marching Elephants (see the ears?)
A pocket arch – not all the way through
And one that seemed to be giving us the middle finger!
The next day, we headed to the La Sal Mountains, traveling down the Colorado River valley and then climbing to around 5000 feet. The view down the valley was spectacular and I could have sat there all day, enjoying the cool breeze, and the clean and fresh air, and absolute quiet, except for the wind in the pine trees!
I hope you enjoyed coming along on our trip as much as we enjoyed taking it!
For my birthday this year, Hubs decided we should take the Canadian Rocky Mountain Railway from Denver to Moab. Canadian Railways just opened this route this year and it’s proved to be enormously popular.
Spoiler: some of these a pictures not taken by me!
After flying from Raleigh-Durham to Atlanta and then to Denver, we stayed in the mile-high city in a hotel that had been created from the old railway station. The rooms were commodious and comfortable and the original vast waiting room had been converted into a comfortable waiting room with sofas and chairs, with various restaurants and bars surrounding it. It was a fabulous place to people watch and when they came in to get a drink or coffee or just sit to talk.
We left by bus the next day from a remote railyard, where they laid out the red carpet for us. Our bags were sent ahead by truck to that night’s stopover in Glenwood Springs, so we just brought a small bag with things we thought we might need.
The view from our car was spectacular. While not completely glass-topped, it did have a partial glass roof, and our vantage point for everything was vista-like. And the food! They plied us with a breakfast and a lunch fit for a king, plus all the drinks we could possibly want.
The haze is the smoke from the CA wildfires
When gold and silver were discovered in the Rockies in the 1860s, railroad lines were built between canyons and over high passes to connect all the mining camps in the state. These lines connect and were the basis of the rail line we to. The first climb we made was up the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies and is an engineering marvel with the tight 10-degree radius of the switchback curves to keep the grade to 2%.
We discovered there are a lot (30) tunnels over a 13-mile segment of rail that were hand-blasted through solid rock on the way up to the Continental Divide. No pictures, just blackness!
We passed the beautiful Gross Reservoir that holds water piped from the western side of the Continental Divide and supplies Denver and the agricultural Great Plains to the east. The Continental Divide, which separates water flowing west into the Pacific from those flowing east into the Atlantic, runs from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. It runs through the heart of Colorado for 650 miles crossing many of the state’s mountains’ peaks. I checked the direction of the water in the rivers/ streams we encountered just to make sure.
My view and the reservoir
A ten-mile-long tunnel, called the Moffat Tunnel, was built by David Moffat, a Denver banker, and cost him his entire fortune. It eliminated 10,800 degrees of curvature, replacing the rail that looped dangerously over Rollins Peak. It is an incredible feat of engineering, ingenuity, and persistence.
Although the final cost of the tunnel was $23,972,843. The project excavated 3,000,000,000 pounds of rock over the five-year project, and construction was intensive with 800 men working around the clock for three and a half years.
The Colorado River began as a rather narrow stream that widened as we passed westward from the Continental Divide and followed on the left or right side of the railroad tracks. Byers Canyon, 13 miles long, is the first of many carved by this river on its march to the Pacific, and was followed by Gore Canyon, which is bordered by cliffs 1,000 feet high. We saw rafters and kayakers in the white water of the Colorado in this canyon. Then we saw Burn Canyon, sheathed by red sandstone, and then the Dotsero Cutoff where the Eagle River joins the Colorado.
Byers Canyon, top, and Gore Canyon, bottom
Towards the end of the first day, we traversed Glenwood Canyon, the largest of the Upper Colorado and one of the most scenic in the US. The canyon was formed relatively recently in the Pleistocene era by the rapid cutting of the Colorado down through layers of sedimentary rock. The canyon was hit with a devastating wildfire in 2020, which burned 30,000 acres and led to rock and mudslides the following winter that closed I 70 and the railroad tracks for about ten days. There was evidence all around: burned and charred trees and piles of boulders and mud.
We ended the day in Glenwood Springs, originally called Fort Defiance, but renamed by entrepreneur Isaac Cooper after his wife’s hometown. Frankly, I like the original name. Cooper and silver baron Walter Deveraux make the town into a world-class hot springs destination with the arrival there of the railroad in 1887.
It is still renowned for its hot springs and was a real Wild West town with visitors such a Buffalo Bill Cody and Doc Holliday. Holliday is buried in the town’s Pioneer Cemetery. You will recall John Henry “Doc” Holliday (1851 – 1887) was a gambler, gunfighter, and dentist. He was a close friend and associate of the famous lawman Wyatt Earp and is best remembered for his role in the events leading up to and following the gunfight at the OK Corral.
We were booked into the Hotel Denver, built in 1914, and decided to walk to the cemetery. Little did we know it was about a mile uphill from the hotel with another half-mile straight up a mountainside (final altitude around 6000 feet). The walk, which would have been manageable by us at sea level, nearly flattened us.
Next: On to Moab and the La Sal mountains!
I am always grateful when someone decided to follow my blog, so here is my acknowledgment of them in return. I have a backlog of followers to recognize so if I haven’t mentioned you, hand in there.
Josué Júnior at https://linkezine.com.br/ I believe he is Brazilian and he publishes about politics, sports, etc in his online magazine. I translated the Poruguese and found he is a post-graduate from Cândido Mendes college, who works in the market with his company Arte Foto Designer and is owner of the content site Linkezine, @linkezinea
artworldblogspot at https://artworldblog.com/2021/07/22/quotations-on-art/ An Art News Blog covering diverse topics to do with art and style, as well as creativity in general. They blog about art, photography, mindfulness, recommend related products and give our best SEO tips for artists and bloggers.
wholelottarosie @ https://roswithageisler.wordpress.com Roswitha Geilser is a talented artist and the author of this blog. She features artwork, portraits, paintings – hers and others.
Arthur Hofn at https://arthurhofn.home.blog His is a pen name. He’s from Milton Keynes in South England but moved to Dublin when he was in his early twenties, and currently lives just outside London. He writes novels and other stuff, travel, reading and photography. He posts about his writing, literature reads and music.
An old friend, Wayne, at https://tofinophotography.wordpress.com. Wayne has introduced me to the wildlife – bears and whales and eagles, oh my! – in his area with his exquisite photography and I am delighted to have him as a follower. Do check out his blog – fantastic!
Rhonda Gayle at https://sibylschristmas.wordpress.com Rhonda has a whimsical blog about Sybil Riversleigh who lives in Riversleigh in an old style manor house that offers rooms with a view to artists and writers who are interested in settling in Lemuria and working to populate this old realm. Christmas is clearly the best time of year to visit.
Patricia Furstenburg who posts at https://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/blog/ Pzatricia writes novels about history that blends with fiction, about war heroes, human or canine, and she also pens humorous poetry & haiku about nature and dogs. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain and education and the psychology behind it. Her latest book, Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting For, is about the war in Aghanistan. She also blogs about travels in Romania.
Marc Baker at https://mbdevotional.com. He is is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center (Pastoral Ministries), Liberty University (Religion), and Regis University (Information Assurance/Cybersecurity). His ministerial background includes pastoral ministry, leading revivals, and writing devotionals to inspire Christians globally, which he puts on his blog.
Mechanics Food at https://mechanicsfood.wordpress.com This site publishes easy recipes for delicious foods – along with photos that make your mouth water!
Katie at https://whisperingofpages.wordpress.com Katie is a Korean teenage book blogger. On her blogs she screams about all things books. But also tells us about her life and her heritage. If you need to find a book for a teen or YA, this is the blog site for you! She is a discerning reviewer.
Alozade Ahmed at https://paintdigi.com The author presents different kinds of beauty in a large categories: Art and photographic images in several sub-categories (natural beauties, urban beauty, artistic beauty, including historical art). The photos are awesome.
A compelling read about two cultures and one family’s struggle to deal with the past.
Eeva has a happy life in Finland, with a caring mother, her beloved Pappa, and an older sister Anja who is entering the difficult teenage years. Then Pappa moves the family to Stockholm where he has found a better-paying job, and Eeva’s life changes. Anja, who has learned Swedish, makes friends easily, although not always the best kind. Eeva and her mother struggle to learn a new language, which causes social problems for them both since they are bullied for being Finnish. The relationship between her mother and her father becomes strained and ugly. Her father takes to drinking vodka and eventually beats his wife, which leads to a divorce.
This novel is a believable, but dark, story of family dynamics. Eeva was badly affected by the divorce. As an adult, she seldom sees her mother and has avoided her father for three decades in an attempt to adjust her life to avoid the pain of her parent’s separation. Although she at first seems psychologically stable, there was a hint that all was not that well with her when it is revealed she has never gone back to Finland to see her grandmother, whom she loves deeply. Instead, she relies on a weekly exchange of letters, but she never follows up when her grandmother fails to write her for three weeks in a row.
Human frailty is the basis of the story and the faults in each of the characters are on full display. When the family is forced together again for the grandmother’s funeral, its members, and especially Eeva, have to face the truth of their twisted relationships. When the real reason behind the parents’ divorce is revealed, it becomes clear why each family member has dealt with the fallout in their own way.
This is a well-written novel, if not the most pleasant. At its bones, it is a dish of reality served up by an author who knows how to present it. The setting – Finland and Sweden – was novel for me, and the characters were well drawn and never boring. It was a good and compelling read.
About the author (Amazon)
Helena Halme writes Nordic fiction with a hint of both Romance and Noir. A prize-winning author, former BBC journalist, bookseller, and magazine editor, she holds an MSc in Marketing and an MA in Creative Writing. Full-time author and self-publishing coach, Helena also acts as Nordic Ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors and has published twelve Nordic fiction titles and three nonfiction books.
Apart from writing stories, Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching.
You can find more about Helena Halme
On twitter: @helenahalme
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenaHalmeAuthor/
On Instagram (@helenahalme)
And on her book site: https://helenahalme.com/
You can find Coffee and Vodka on Amazon:
D. Wallace Peach is, to me, the master of world creation. In The Ferryman and the Sea Witch she blends a romping nautical adventure with a population of beautiful and deadly Merrows (think mer-people on steroids) and various greedy, powerful rulers and just plain nasty characters against a vivid backdrop that transports you to the vastness and beauty of the sea with her gorgeous descriptions.
The story: The officers on a ship from the country of Brid Clarion captured a Merrow, the Sea Witch Panmar’s daughter, in a net. Out of the water, she is dying. Callum, the ferryman, demands his captain to free her but is refused. In retaliation for her death, Panmar rips the ship and sinks it into the Deep. Callum survives because he tried to save her daughter, and Panmar allows him to be the only one to cross the Deep between the countries of Brid Clarion and Haf Killick without being sunk. But there is a punishment: Callum can’t step on land until someone of royal blood in Brid Clarion or Half Killick is sacrificed.
Neither Caspia, the queen of Haf Killick, an artificial island nation, nor Thayne, the king of Brid Killick, are willing to pay royal blood to satisfy Panmar’s vengeance. So Callum keeps sailing, year after year, bringing fruits, vegetables, cloth, and other livelihood items for Haf Killick and bringing back treasure in payment to Brid Clarion. Complicating matters is the fact Caspia has Thayne’s son as a hostage and Thayne has her daughter.
There are plenty of secrets held by the main characters and twists and turns in the story kept me turning pages as fast as I could. Callum’s frustration and anger and growing sense of isolation impart to the reader as does the nasty doings Caspia, Thayne and the fickle Panmar. The Merrows are particularly delightful, at once playful and deadly.
But I also read the author’s books for the gorgeous and lyrical quality of her descriptions. As a sailor myself, I was right at home on Callum’s ship, hearing the slapping of the lines and sails, feeling the rocking with the waves, and smelling the brine of the ocean.
This is a must-read for anyone in love the with sea, the concept of mermaids (Merrows) , and sheer fantasy!
The cover is a winner, too!
About the author from Amazon):
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
The author can be found
On twitter: @Dwallacepeach
On her blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com
On her website: dwallacepeachbooks.com
You can find The Ferryman and the Sea Witch on Amazon:
This is a post from several years ago when I did Renaissance artists for my A-Z challenge.
Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431 – September 13, 1506) was an Italian painter and a student of Roman archeology. He was the first to experiment with perspective, in which objects become smaller as their distance from the observer increases, and foreshortening, whereby an object’s dimensions along the receding line of sight are shorter than dimensions across the line of sight. He is also one of my favorite artists of the period because he drew figures with accurate anatomical features. This is a little longer than my other blogs because I find this artist so fascinating.
Mantegna was born close to Padua, part of the Republic of Venice. At eleven, he became the apprentice of Francesco Squarcione, a painter interested in the ancient art and architecture of Rome and Greece. Mantegna was said to be a favorite pupil, and during this time Squarcione and his pupils, including Mantegna, began the series of frescoes in the church of Sant’ Agostino degli Eremitani, almost entirely lost in the 1944 allied bombings of Padua. One of these, St. James Being Led to his Execution, is clearly Mantegna’s but only old photographs exist today. It is notable for his worms-eye view of the scene and is a good example of the artist’s understanding of perspective.
At the ripe age of seventeen, Mantegna left Squarcione’s studio for the Venetian art firm of Jacopo Bellini, claiming Squarcione exploited him.
Mantegna’s early style is best represented by the Agony in the Garden, painted in 1455.
Note the angels in the upper left, with the disciples sleeping in the foreground. In the background, Judas comes with soldiers to arrest Christ. Jerusalem is depicted as a walled city, with monuments more suitable to Rome (an equestrian statue, a column with relief sculpture), undoubtedly from the influence of Squarcione.
In Verona around 1459, he painted an altarpiece for the church of San Zeno Maggiore, depicting a Madonna and angels, with four saints on each side. Note the use of classical details and perspective in all of the panels.
In 1460 Mantegna was appointed court artist for the Marquis of Mantua; he was paid a salary of 75 lire month, a huge sum which marked the high regard in which his art was held.
His Mantuan masterpiece was painted in what is now known as the Wedding Chamber of the Marquis’ castle: a series of frescoes including various portraits of the Gonzaga family, of which the Marquis was a member. It was finished around 1474.
After the Marquis died and Francesco II of Gonzaga was elected, Mantegna’s artistic commissions resumed. During this period he painted St. Sebastian, one of three he painted. The saint is tied to a classical arch and seen from an unusually low perspective, to create the dominance of his figure. The head and eyes are turned toward heaven and at his feet are two people intended to create a contrast between the man of faith and one attracted by earthly pleasures.
Pope Innocent VIII commissioned him in 1488 to paint frescos in the Belvedere Chapel in Rome, now destroyed, after which Mantegna returned to Mantua. There he finished nine tempera pictures of the Triumphs of Caesar, which he had probably begun before leaving for Rome. These are gorgeous depictions of the splendor of Caesar and are considered Mantegna’s finest work. Note the elephants in one of the processional scenes and then Caesar, a stony-faced figure high on his chariot, which is the last in the series. Caesar’s features were copied from Roman busts and coins, his body stiff as a sculpture, while the people around him are more alive.
During this later period, Mantegna also painted the Lamentation of the Dead Christ, which portrays the body of Christ supine on a marble slab. This painting is often used to demonstrate Mantegna’s extreme and talented use of perspective. In this painting, there are rich contrasts of light and dark, with the realism and tragedy of the scene enhanced by the perspective. An analysis of the painting has shown that the size of the figure’s feet has been reduced since in their exact size, they would have blocked some of the body from that angle. Note Mantegna’s obvious knowledge of anatomy, particularly in the thorax, hand, and feet. This is one of my favorite paintings of his.
Mantegna died in Mantua in 1506. In 1516, a monument was erected in his honor by his sons in a chapel of the church of San Andrea in that city.
Bust of Andrea Mantegna made by himself or Gian Marco Cavalli
If you like these Renaissance diversions I will find more to re-post!
This is the fourth book of five in No Woman Is an Island: Inspiring and Empowering International Women, a collection of novels written by different authors and edited by Jean Gill. I agreed to review this as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, for which I received a copy in return for a fair and honest review.
The Chalky Sea is a story of the physical, mental and romantic tribulations of people from different backgrounds and countries brought together by the disruptions of war. Clare Flynn has set her novel in England during WW II and tells it from two viewpoints, one English, one Canadian. I doing so, she paints a very realistic picture of the vagaries and horror of that war.
Englishwoman Glen Collinwood lives in Eastbourne on the eastern coast of England and is enduring a farewell to her husband, who is heading off to an unknown job in the Army during WW II. Despite the fact she knows she may never see him again, her good-bye is muted, almost sterile, which is an early hint to her character. Two weeks later, her sleepy little town is attacked by German bombers, who will return several times over the next two years. Jim Armstrong is a wheat farmer in Ontario, uncertain whether he should volunteer for the army. But when he learns his fiancée is having an affair with his younger brother, he leaves the farm and two weeks later, is on a ship bound for England with other enlistees.
As the war progresses, Gwen is called upon to intercept and translate German radio broadcasts, the job which Jim, who is billeted in her house, will take over. The presence of the soldiers, as well as of a young mother with two children who loses her home in a bombing attack, causes Gwen to re-evaluate her distant and unemotional relationships – not only with her husband but also with the other people in her life. A romance with Jim brings her shortcomings into clarity.
The author brings in some interesting facts – the Canadian army volunteers find themselves stuck in England, enduring unending and prolonged training before they are ever considered ready for combat, and the German bombed non-critical targets to demoralize the British. This, along with the expected disruptions caused by the war, wartime romances between young soldiers and local girls, unexpected pregnancies, rationing, and death notices underscore the common theme is how war changes people in basic ways, sometime for better and sometimes for worse. Gwen’s gradual metamorphosis is at the heart of this premise.
There were a few parts of the plot that didn’t ring true: Jim’s best friend falling instantaneously in love with one of the ‘common’ women and marrying her at once, Jim’s relationship with a woman he doesn’t understand and doesn’t seem to like, followed by his intense relationship with Gwen, which ends with no lasting emotion.
The ending was abrupt, but happy, for one of these characters, while the future of the other was left hanging at a crucial juncture. I would have liked to see the former drawn out more and the latter resolved.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this historical romance. The characters were for the most part believable and the settings rendered with such realism that the reader is sucked into the story. The author has done her research, and the tension and deprivations the war brought to England are palpable.
This is the first book in the author’s Canadians series, and I plan to read the other two books in that series: The Alien Corn and The Frozen River.
About the author (Amazon)
Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels. She is the author of twelve novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire that largely disappeared after WW2.
Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavor of her books.
Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
You can find Clare Flynn
On twitter: @Clarefly
On her book site: http://www.clareflynn.co.uk.
On Face book: https://www.facebook.com/clarefly
You can find The Chalky Sea in the anthology or as a standalone book on Amazon: