Vernal, Utah

After driving past Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on Thursday I continued south towards my ultimate destination of Grand Junction, Colorado. The morning was progressing very nicely until I hit a deer as I was driving southeast towards the Colorado state line. I was on a 2-lane highway and I saw a young deer charging the road from my left. The highway was slightly elevated so there was nowhere to pull off to avoid a collision. The deer saw my car and started to change direction but it was too late and I ran over it’s legs. I saw a truck in the other lane swerve to avoid the carcass and I continued driving. There was an area to pull off the road a short distance ahead and I stopped there to assess the damage. It appeared to be light and I decided to go back to the town of Vernal, which I had passed through earlier, to make sure the car ran normally rather than continuing on over 100 miles through a rather sparsely populated area where cell phone service might not be too good if there were problems.

Vernal ended up being a very colorful town, thanks to local businesses planting an abundance of pretty flowers, and that helped brighten my mood.

The other thing I should mention about Vernal is that there is a very apparent dinosaur theme in the town:

This is due to the fact that Vernal is located just west of Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Utah/Colorado border. It is also part of the “Dinosaur Diamond”, a large area with lots of history and artifacts as they pertain to dinosaurs.

The town of Vernal had several murals and many large dinosaur replicas, mainly serving as gimmicky motel signage. I’ll skip the signs but include some of the replicas which I found outside one of the museums in town:

After I had a chance to calm down a bit from my ordeal, and was confident that the car was at least okay to get me as far as Grand Junction, where I would be for 5 nights and there would be more options for any repairs which might be needed, I got back on the road and continued southward.

By the way, by the time I had turned around after hitting the deer and after assessing the damage to return to Vernal, only about 10 minutes, the deer carcass was gone, although there was a red pickup truck sitting by the road which I’m pretty sure I had seen turn around in the same parking area I had parked in. This was a few days before the 4th of July weekend and I suspect the owner of the pickup treated his buddies to a venison cookout.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, but much less colorful than Vernal had been. I soon returned to the browns and grays which are seen quite a few places in Utah.

But when I reached Colorado things got a little greener, especially as I crossed through Douglas Pass, up at about 8,300 feet elevation. This was the view near the top looking back the way I had just come:

And this was the view looking forward, just a short time later when I reached the peak:

I arrived in Grand Junction without any more difficulties and had the alignment of the car’s wheels checked the next morning (they were right on spec). I also went to the Nissan dealer to get a part to help keep the bodywork behind the left front tire intact (it was loose but not in danger of coming off).

I would be in Grand Junction for 5 nights over the July 4th weekend and would be revisiting some places I had been to before as well as seeing one new venue.