However we were not going anywhere near that far. About 5-6 miles east of the visitors center is the ford road turn off, where funnily enough you ford a river (The Freemont River to be exact) which is not a big deal, unless you are in a small car with no ground clearance. Seeing as we were in a big brawny 4 wheel drive truck we blasted right through and kept going.
Just a few miles up the road we stopped at an area Phil and I explored last year on our way out of the area, we were curious to see what had happened to the dead cow we saw but I didn't have the stomach to photograph last year. Well this is what was left... a few bones scattered around on the cracked earth.
This is the old drill truck that was used to drill the nearby well. It looks like it was abandonded after drilling was completed and has just sat there since. It has sunk into the desert sand/clay so deep the the frame now rests on the ground. It is surprisingly well preserved considering it's age. I still haven't really captured the thing, but I didn't have much time this trip seeing as we had a series of squalls heading right at us.
Here is the approaching front that drove us off the drill truck and back on the road. We were fortunate that really all that was going on was little squalls and not full out large heavy storms. It there had been we would have headed right back out of there. As it was the 10-15 minutes of moderate rain and hail wet the road down enough that the top 2 inches stuck to the tires and pulled off the road bed leaving ruts behind us and flying off the tires to loudly hit the bottom of the truck. A disconcerting noise to be sure. Be sure to click on the photo to make it larger, if you look closely you can see the dome of The Golden Cathedral in th middle left of the photo, it is one of three large domes eroded out of the reef.
Traveling further northwest, we ended the day at the Upper Cathedral Valley Campground. Phil and I stayed there last year and really enjoyed the silence and solitude. Both nights we have spent there were quiet without another person in the campground. That is my kind of campground! It's free too, you just have to be crazy enough to drive 25+ miles of fair to middling dirt road to get there. You have cellular service (With Verizon Wireless) but not much else beyond a fire pit, picnic table and a plopper toilet. No running water or trash cans. After we started setting up camp, Phil alerted me to an impending sunset event. Quickly grabbing my camera but not my tripod I ran to the edge of the bluff less than 150ft from our campsite and started shooting. The light was ethereal and the clouds delicate yet powerful. All in all a moment in time worth immortalizing.