After all the cold we had in Montana we were happy to at least find the sun. After pulling out of Hurricane, Utah I noticed that our new alternator wasn't working... Fortunately we found a shop that could get right on it. From Hurricane we took a secondary state road that took us to Jacobs Lake. Reaching the "lake" (not much more than a watering hole for cattle) we stopped for lunch at this little tourist trap at the top of this ridge (7856 ft.) This route also took us to the American Indian "Rock Dwellings", Vermillion Cliffs, and Lee's Ferry Landing. From there we headed for Flagstaff and then to finish our day parked just outside of Camp Verde.
We "hope" we have left the snow behind. Our travels yesterday took us from Idaho Falls to our stop last night, Hurricane, Utah. Uneventful, little plowing snow, some rain and wind, but some beautiful countryside.
18 October 2010
After leaving Mesa Verde we headed for “4 Corners”. We are constantly looking for new places and this would be one for us. We followed the “red” roads on our map (that’s all that was available) so we weren’t surprised when the roadway turned to CRAP !!! It was so bad that we tried to get through it by going slow (30-40mph), but that didn’t work, so we took it up to 70. It got a little better so we kept it there until we made it all the way to Bluff, Utah from 4 corners. Oh yes, we passed on “4 Corners”. It turned out to be a total rip-off in the desert… So after turning west from Bluff we headed to Mexican Hat, Utah. I had no idea of what we were going to find at “Mexican Hat” but that’s what we’re on the road for…
_ As it turned out we found this little campground for $20 (full hook-ups)
_and they had a list of “MUST SEE” locations for this area. A couple of them we had heard about, but others… not so much. Well we’re always up to exploring so all we did was park the coach, plug in the power, and off we went with map in hand. Mexican Hat is deep in the red sandstone cliffs
_and is named for the inverted sandstone sombrero just north of town. It also sits on the shores of the San Juan River. We started our “tour” by heading for the Moki Dugway. A “dugway” is a road that is dug out of a hillside and advances to the top at an 11% grade on a gravel base. (sorry, I tossed the photo away...) All this while driving through tight switchback and hanging on the edge of the cliffs for 3 miles while going straight UP !!! The views to The Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley were stunning, the smell from under my arms…not so. Once we got to the top we found the graded road to our next site, Moley Point. My God, what a view and what architecture !!! Amazing views into John’s Canyon…
_Over the centuries the San Juan River has dug a “snake like” route through the canyon on its way to Lake Powell.
_The San Juan covers more than 6 miles while advancing less than 2 toward Lake Powell. Well we went to the top and then we went back to the bottom to head off on another adventure…Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley. We found ourselves back on a graded red dirt pathway and heading out through the sagebrush.
_This route took us through sandstone formations that have been named for their amazing shapes and sizes, but we took it upon ourselves to rename each and every one of them.
_This drive was to take us about 3 hours, but with a stop (to play my flute)
_or two it soon became a little more. Fortunately we had enough fuel, but I have to admit I kept looking at the gage anyway, we didn’t want to call AAA again while in the middle of the Valley.
6 October 2010
So what did you think of the two pictures of the “sea creatures” from yesterdays blog? With the water as flat as glass and the sun giving great reflections, I thought the “water bug” and “sea creature” were really quite interesting. Both of those were taken at Red Fleet State Park, which sits just above the Red Fleet Reservoir. This is the state park that I mentioned earlier about the cost of camping AND charging additionally for the second vehicle…kind of stinks.
Well last night turned out to be a little exciting around here… I mentioned that we received our flu and shingle shots yesterday and we were told that there could be a little discomfort that can be associated with getting the shot. Right after dinner, Louise started getting sick to her stomach. She also had severe pain around her belt line and it extended around to her back. About an hour later she decided to head into bed but that didn’t last too long. Within a few more minutes we were underway to the hospital to see just what she is suffering from. With a lot of tests and 2 ½ hours later we walked out not knowing for sure just what she had or has. The guess is she had a passing of a gallstone, but that isn’t known for sure. Fortunately she is feeling pretty good tonight. About 2 this afternoon we drove way out to a place that was highly recommended to us for a great hike. I wasn’t too sure that she should be going so far out for a hike but she fought me to go. The place we went to is called “Jones Hole”. The area is a “National Fish Hatchery” that is located some 45 miles from Vernal and sits right at the borders of Utah and Colorado. I think you might like to know that the road was just like those that I’ve written about over that last week…constant curves, tremendous heights and even more tremendous drops. The one difference we noticed was instead of 6 or 8% grades, these were 10%. Thank God we were driving the toad instead of the coach. When we finally pulled up to the ledge that overlooked the fish hatchery, we were looking down approximately 2,000 to a lush green crevice that sat between some amazing red sandstone cliffs that are amazingly beautiful. Our hike
_took us deep into the crevice of the red sandstone and we followed the Jones Hole Creek up water until we came upon a small bridge.
_Crossing the water and continuing further downstream for another 100 yards we arrived at a location that housed some old and beautiful pictographs that were left by the Fremont Indians.
_The trail we're hiking today was used as far back as 1000 years. You can almost feel those who were here then...
_Our hike out and return was just under 4 miles and at an altitude of 5,200’ I think Louise did really well despite what her evening was the night before.
6 October 2010
While lying in bed this morning I really thought we would be spending one more day at the Lucerne Campground. After leaving Craters of the Moon we found we were being blown down the road with a tail wind. After leaving Green River we were treated by a side wind that was strong enough to release our door awning and come close to taking it off. Well this morning the wind was so strong that neither Louise or I wanted to get on the road with it, so we just stayed in bed longer hoping that it would blow it’s self out. Fortunately that’s exactly what happened. Just after 10:30 we were all hooked up and heading for that mountain that I told you about yesterday. No matter how high or how low you start out driving up an 8% grade, and you’re driving to as high as 8400 feet, it’s quite a feat. We were fortunate enough not to have but 2 cars pass us during the first 30+ miles of up and down hill. There was a period when we just drove the top ridge of these mountains and all the while thinking “that all that goes up must come down”… well indeed we did get to that end and in doing so, we came upon a tanker that lead the way. During the 10 miles, with 9 20mph switch-backs, and an 8% grade, we put the transmission in 2nd gear and followed him down the hill making a top speed of 10 to 15 mph. At the bottom we found a state park that really looked interesting,
_so we pulled in to see what they offered and for how much... $29 plus another $18 for our toad...sorry. Further down the hill we arrived at our next destination…Vernal, which is known as “Dinosaur Land”.
_It seems that more Dinosaur parts and pieces have been found within an 80 mile circumference of Vernal than anywhere else in the world. Well after finding our campground, hooking up to water and electricity, we headed out to find Smith’s Pharmacy. Last night Louise read about Smith’s in Vernal. It seems that they are offering Shingle shots for $19 each and from what we’d been quoted in Seattle of $240, we couldn’t pass it up. Besides, we could get our flu shots at the same time. Following our shots, we went into Vernal to visit the Dinosaur National Monument (a dinosaur and fossil museum) to get a little education about dinosaurs and the area they apparently called home.
_5 October 2010
As we pulled out of Green River our route was to take us down the west side of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The scenery begins with broad rolling vistas of sagebrush and desert and the further south we went we watched the terrain become more rugged with juniper trees, large pine and the yellow leaves of the aspen covering the mountainsides. I should say that before we noticed the rolling vistas and sagebrush, we noticed the steep grade of our new route. Right out of Green River we started our climb and it continued and continued far longer than I would hope. It’s one thing if you can get a running start, but when you start climbing at 8% grade right out of the box and it lasts for over 3 miles you find yourself pushing forward from the driver’s seat to see if it helps. I was amazed at how often we found ourselves climbing to such degrees of grade and then down the other side with the same. Finally we arrived at our turn-off to the Lucerne Marina and Campground. This was going to be our new campground for the night. It only took us about two hours to get here but we really wanted to see all the sights we could around the south end of the gorge. We are but one of TWO campers here and our site sits at the water’s edge and offers a magnificent view right out of our front windshield. Well I guess I should mention that we “aren’t the only campers here…there is the camp host and about 6 to 8 resident pronghorn that make this their home as well. We also had a surprise waiting for us when we arrived…a dead battery in the Suzuki. We’ll have to check out to see just what makes this a problem, maybe it’s a new battery that we’ll be looking for… Fortunately we have two policies that will cover a dead battery or “jumping” for the car or motor home. We chose to call AAA this time and they were just great in their response. The negative for them was that their only affiliate for doing this job for them had to come all the way out from Vernal, Utah. Their drive to get to us took over 2 hours for a ten minute stay and then all they had to do was turn around and head back…a quick $246 for a jump. Well to help build the battery back-up, we took a ride. Just outside of Milan (which is about 3 miles away), we were told about a loop road they call Sheep Creek Canyon Geologic Scenic Drive. This drive was highly recommended so we had no choice but go… For well over an hour we traveled the canyon reading the roadside signs indicating the geological formations of twisted rock and pinnacle formations that surrounded us. They rose hundreds of feet above our heads making us wish we had a Boxer convertible to make this drive even more enjoyable.
_We were told to watch closely for Bighorn Mountain sheep clinging to the steep cliffs, but no such luck. The colors, the layers, and the unbelievable water and wind carvings of the mountains were amazing, we were very impressed. After leaving the lower portion of the drive, we climbed high (8000’) into the hills to our exit from the loop drive. This put us high above the gorge and you can see how it got its name of the “Flaming Gorge”. Another amazing thing that we discovered when we got to the top of loop drive was that we now had an 8% grade to take us back to Milan…that means that tomorrow we will have this drive ahead of us. In the morning we will be driving the coach with the toad behind all the way back up as we head to Vernal and a visit to Dinosaur National Monument. When we returned to Milan we decided, because of the lateness of the day, that we would stop by the “only” restaurant in town and have dinner. One thing that shouldn’t surprise us any longer is the opportunity to meet others that are traveling the world and enjoying the heck out of it at the same time… We met Paul and Lauren who are here in the states for the third time and have traveled all the way from a small village just outside of Liverpool, England. Unfortunately, they are on their last week before flying out of Salt Lake City.
_11 May ‘08 Sunday
This morning we were out on the trails by 8. We wanted to hike out to see the Landscape Arch in Arches National Park before we were to meet the ranger at 10am for our hike through the Fiery Furnace. We’ve really been fortunate, the weather has been great for hiking and we’ve sure been doing a lot of that in the past weeks. The fact is, when we missed a couple of days on the trails we really feel the difference, and that isn’t a good difference. We had heard that yesterday a hiker came across a pigmy rattlesnake while hiking the trail to Landscape, so we kept our eyes and ears open while out there. Well we still haven’t seen our rattler, but we did see the Landscape Arch and it was as advertized, amazing.
_In 1991 a rock slab 60 feet long, 11 feet wide, and four feet thick fell from the underside of Landscape Arch leaving behind an even thinner ribbon of rock. Even before reading about the slab coming off of Landscape, I’ve wondered if another arch might “calf” some rock while we’re walking across or under one of them…we pray a lot. Ok, it’s 10am and we’re meeting 23 other hikers to meet and another hike to make. The hike through Fiery Furnace isn’t for everyone. If you are bothered by small tight places,
_or drop-offs, this may not be for you. Louise joined more than half of the group by squeezing through one of the smallest “arches” in the Furnace…we saw a lot of butts while doing it.
_But I think it is one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on. Besides the beauty and the fantastic colors, it is a great challenge to get through.
_I watched many people doing things that they had never done before and being very proud that they accomplished them.
_Hike finished and our last day in the area, we decided to head into Moab, do a little window shopping, and have lunch. Where we decided to have lunch happened to be the hot spot for bikers (the peddle type of bike). The micro-brewery, Moab Brewery, was a good choice. Both of us happen to like a good IPA and they had one, and besides they also had a good Ruben...
_10 May ‘08
Yesterday we had planned to take a couple of hikes in the Canyonlands, but that didn’t work out. Just as we pulled into the visitors center, we were met at the door by one of the “newbie” Park Rangers. She was telling us that she was just about ready to put on an half-hour seminar and wanted us to join her. I think she was afraid that she wasn’t going to have much of a crowd to talk too. Well we couldn’t disappoint her so we walked across the street with her and found a rock to sit on. Her talk was on how the different animals and insects adapt to the season changes in the high deserts of Utah. The time taken with her was well worth it as we really learned a lot. Now back across the street, we took the time to watch the movie on Canyonlands and pick up the information sheet for the area. This area is still part of the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado River runs down one side of the Canyonlands and meets up with the Green River that runs down the other side. Where they meet is deep in the canyon and make up one of the most incredible “white water” areas for floaters and kayakers. We gave a thought of taking our kayak down there but immediately came to our senses… This is the same water that has created the hundred of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires thought out Canyonlands. At the far end of the road through Canyonlands, we ended up at the Mesa Arch. After taking our picture under the Mesa Arch,
_we decided to take time out and enjoy the view of the valley and ridges below us. We could follow the Green River as it twisted its way through the jagged edges of the “new” canyons below.
_After a couple of short one mile hikes, and stopping a couple dozen more times to see some different views, we headed back to the coach to rest up for tomorrows hike into the Fiery Furnace of the Arches. Oh, by the way, yesterday evening Lou and I were out for a walk around our campground. This campground is semi-primitive, as it is in the middle of no-where, has no hook ups, and is spread out so that just about every site is not within view of an other. Well, on this hike we came upon a fox den.
_At the time we were walking by, there were up to 8 pups and 2 adult fox. The pups were jumping and running around each other and having a great time and the other two were being aware of all that was around and being watchful...what a great find !!!
8 May ‘08
We’re camped at the top of a plateau, just outside of the Canyon Lands National Park. We tried to get into Arches National Park but they were all filled for the weekend. About 20 miles from here is the town of Moab, Utah which we toured this afternoon while looking for the best price on gasoline…the toad was getting a little low, so if we are to do a little exploring around here, we’ll just have to pay the $3.87 a gallon and get over it. After filling with the gas, we headed up to the Arches Visitor Center to see if there was still room for us to join the guided hike through “The Fiery Furnace” in the next couple of days. Fortunately we were able to join them on Saturday at 10am for the 2 hour hike. This is one of those “must do’s” when you get close to Arches National Park. To fill in the rest of the day, we continued from the visitor center and drove the 24 miles to the end of the park.
_Along the way we were entertained with more “arches”
_than we had seen in total for the last month and of course some other spectacular natural rock and mud formations throughout the park.
_One thing’s for sure, if it’s going to be a spire or plateau of red, white, burgundy, or chocolate, you’re traveling in one of the 4 corner states. While traveling today, we even came through a large area of black/gray plateaus and of course the rains and winds created their own spires, this was the first for our trip. In some areas they were so black, that when the sun hit them straight on, they turned gold…unbelievable. Well, we’re getting up early again in the morning. We want to hike another canyon here in Canyon Lands. Fact is, if we get it done early enough we will go for a second. I have to get on-line and order some new hiking shoes/boots, I just about worn those that I have completely out.
_07 May ‘08 Wednesday
We started the day with a little cloud cover but by the time we got back to the coach the weather had deteriated (I can’t find how this is to be spelled, even in “spell-check”). About 4 miles down the road, and into the “water fold” area, we approached the days hike. It was to take us up to the top of the Cassidy Arch. The Cassidy Arch was named after Butch Cassidy, the infamous bad guy of the West. Our trail was to take us up 1600 feet in about a mile and a half, and then level off the rest of the ¾ remainder. I’ll tell you what, those hiking sticks that we bought back in Indio this last December have really shown themselves to be a great asset… We bombed up the hill…
_I can’t say that we didn’t huff a little, but we really did get up there quick. Unfortunately, we did miss our trail marker once we got up to the “Y” and we ended up climbing another ¾ mile before turning around and looking for the right trail. Once we found our mistake we couldn’t have been happier. The Cassidy Arch was more than we had expected, the size, the placement, and the beauty of the structure were really outstanding. We were there when 2 young women and a guy started their repel from the top. The young man was a little nervous,
_but in the end he dropped off the side with his companions. To make it all the way down to the road, they had 4 more repels to make. As for Louise and me, we had to hike allll the way back to our car. I don’t know, but why is it easier to go up than to have to go down those steep inclines??? Well tomorrow we are out of here early. Our next destination is Arches National Park….see you tomorrow.