Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where on Earth?

Where on Earth (WOE) are we?
Open with care.

I hate flying.  It’s a stress scene.  As always, I couldn't take everything I wanted to.  My e-passes didn’t arrive, snow was forecast, I had to be at the airport at 5:15 am, etc.  Security’s always a puzzle (infrequent flier) so I imitate the people in line ahead.  It went well until TSA discovered a Swiss Army knife in my pack.  (I forgot, really!)  Stuff spilled all over when they inspected the pack, it was crammed so full.  I could barely lift my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment.

The plane was packed full.  No one smiled, few chatted. Somebody coughed and sneezed regularly.  A baby wailed behind me.  We waited, then waited, taxied a little and waited again -- for de-icing.  Finally we took off.  It was getting light and through the clouds were glimpses of mountains, frozen lakes, broad white meadows, high snowy peaks with tree-lines far below and glacial cirques.  It was beautiful.  I relaxed, even dozed off.  When I awoke, the clouds were gone.

But where on Earth were we?  It was a harsh country -- brown, yellow-brown, reddish-brown, ochre, burnt-ochre -- with almost no vegetation to obscure the landscape.  The landforms were clear and striking.  [Click on images to view.]

WOE? #1:   Entrenched drainages in foreground and distance, “confined to a canyon or gorge ... with little or no flood plain ... often with meanders.”  The CLUE is a prominent landform.
WOE? #2  Sandstone monuments and mesas in center of photo.
WOE? #3  Another entrenched drainage.
WOE? #4  Linear structure extending from lower right to center top includes (left to right): steep sandstone hogback dipping to left, reddish strike valley with dry drainage and highway, more gentle hogback.
WOE? #5  Entrenched meanders and prominent gooseneck -- "an extremely bowed meander."
WOE? #6  Leaving the desolate country to cross a high forested plateau.
Where on Earth were we? ... over the Colorado Plateau, where all these landforms are common.  I’ve spent a lot of time among them on the ground, and it was really cool to see to see them from the air.  I love flying!
One of the many wonderlands of the western USA; source.
Above:  Where on Google Earth, coordinates below.  Note: photos in post are “upside down” as I was shooting roughly south.

#1  611873.00 m E  4119824.00 m N; this is the location of the CLUE, an abandoned meander of the San Jan River
#2  580157.12 m E  4101810.81 m N (approximate); looking toward Monument Valley
#3  488244.77 m E  4064986.78 m N; one of many entrenched drainages on the Plateau
#4  448807.42 m E  4038890.32 m N; this strike valley is traversed by US Hwy 89
#5  422814.73 m E  4027471.85 m N; Colorado River not far upstream from Grand Canyon
#6  408229.18 m E  4022493.52 m N (approximate); starting across the Kaibab Plateau

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