Monday, May 23, 2011

Basin and Range

Basin and range, basin and range, basin and range. That’s what was on the "to see" list today as we traveled from St. George, UT to Ely, NV.

Basin and range is a particular method of land formation that results in a long series of basins, or valleys, and mountain ranges. We traveled over five of these combinations during today's travel. Up, down, up, down, up, down. John doesn't like going uphill in a rig; I don't like going downhill. The valleys we crossed were so flat and boring that seeing a herd of cows was annoyingly interesting. So even though there was some gorgeous scenery along the way, it seemed that one of us was always nervous, or both of us were bored.

Next valley and range from this range. Note road continuing across valley on the upper right.

The land got this way through a process known as basin and range block faulting. Millions of years ago, this part of the south-west was a shallow sea. Over the centuries the bottom of the sea, which by then was compressed into limestone, developed huge cracks from pressures coming from inside the earth. Eventually, the cracks broke into large blocks, and then the blocks started to tip, slip, and slide. One side of the block wound up being elevated, and one sunk downward. Block after block tilted, leaving a series of mountains (the elevated parts of the block), and valleys (the fallen parts of the block). Today's valleys are flat and level because they have been filled with the eroded materials from the mountains -- meaning the mountains were once much higher.

Another mountain-valley-mountain scene.

The same range as the photo above, but this one shows a rain/snow storm over part of the mountainside.

When we finally got into Ely, we found our target RV Park was not going to work -- their only available sites were short, rutty, and uneven, with tacky, trashy rigs for neighbors. So we went to a more expensive campground, where our site is long enough, unpaved, reasonably even, but comes with the same tacky, trashy rigs for neighbors. And at 2 1/2 times the price! What a bargain!

More basin and range on tomorrow's "to see" list!

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