. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Grand Canyon of Texas

When long-time college friends suggested that we go camping together, I thought it would be a wonderful idea.....for next summer. What a surprise to hear them ask us to go camping with them during Thanksgiving break! The plan is for them to drive from Dallas toward the west and we'll drive from here toward the east and we'll meet up in the middle. The middle is roughly 6 hours for each of us in the town of Amarillo, Texas. Our friends found a place to camp that has full hookups for our pop-up campers, a Texas State Park called "Palo Duro Canyon," also known as "The Grand Canyon of Texas."

Humans have lived in Palo Duro Canyon for approximately 12,000 years. The Clovis and Folsom people first lived in the canyon and hunted large herds of mammoth and giant bison. Later on, the Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas lived there..

Early Spanish Explorers are believed to have discovered the area and named the canyon "Palo Duro" which is Spanish for "hard wood." There are a lot of mesquite (which I have no idea what it looks like) and juniper (abundant in my town and an allergy nemesis).

In 1874, Palo Duro Canyon was a battle site during the Red River Wars. The US Government captured the Native Americans living and hiding in the canyon by first capturing 1,400 horses and then later destroying the majority of the herd. Unable to escape, the Native Americans surrendered and were transported to reservations in Oklahoma.

Of course, I can't wait to explore the canyon and discover the geological features there. I did a little bit of research to prepare me for what I might see and found out that the canyon is approximately 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep. Palo Duro Canyon was formed primarily by water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, which began to carve the canyon less than one million years ago. This is exactly how the Grand Canyon in Arizona was formed. The slopes of the canyon reveal the colorful natural history of the area.

From this website here I found out the oldest layers of rock, the Cloud Chief Gypsum, is 250 million years old and can only be seen in a few areas in the canyon. The next oldest and most prominent layer of rock is the Quartermaster Formation which can be seen with its distinctive red claystone/sandstone and white layers of gypsum.

"The Tecovas Formation is located directly above the Quartermaster and is composed of yellow, gray, and lavender mudstone and sandstone. Together with the Quartermaster, they form the colorful triangular slopes called Spanish Skirts. Above the Tecovas, the Truijillo and Ogallala formations can be viewed. The Ogallala is composed of sand, silt, clay, and limestone, which compose the hard caprock."

I hope to be able to find some trails to walk on so that we can see the beautiful rock formations around us and maybe see some wildlife as well. My only worry is the weather! On Thanksgiving Day it should only be 39 degrees, but then again, that is how cold it supposed to be in my town as well. Nights will definitely be below freezing. As I said, we'll have full hookups and so we're bringing electric heaters.

Our friends and we have coordinated meals so that we're going to have a real Thanksgiving meal. It'll be really wonderful, I'm sure. I really can't wait for this exciting adventure, something we've never done for Thanksgiving before!

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