Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 48

We got a little earlier start today since we had a 45 minute drive north to Canyonlands National Park. The first stop was the visitors center for the passport stamp and sticker and to watch the movie. I must admit that I really enjoy watching the movies. This photo was taken right across the street from the visitors center and you may notice the smoke. It's from the Brian Head fire that I had mentioned when we were in Cedar Breaks. The fire has grown quite a bit.

Our first stop was Upheaval Dome. This is an area where they say that a large salt dome was pushing up the area followed by a collapse. It was a moderate hike to the first lookout (pictured here) and there was a second lookout that required some scrambling to get there. We didn't make it to the second lookout as it was really feeling hot. By the time we got back to the truck it was already 94°F. For some parts of the trail the cairns were the only way to know where to go.

On our way to the second overlook, we stopped at a turnout as there was another great view. BTW, we spent our time at the most accessible section of the park, Island in the Sky, with paved roads on top of a Mesa. Every direction we looked there were great views.

The second long stop was Grand View Point Overlook. You can see the White Rim Road in the picture running along the rim. The park service literature states that traversing this road takes three to four days in a short wheelbase, high clearance, 4WD. They warn not to take an AWD vehicle and mention that the towing cost is over $2000. Today there was an additional warning about the Green River flooding a section of road 20" deep.

All of the trees in this area of the park look as gnarled as this. The NPS uses stacks of them to make small fences and barriers. We stumbled into a ranger talk here and she mentioned that there was a push in the early 1960s to put in a dam and flood this area. It didn't progress very far. The argument was that the only one using the area were a handful of hikers. If it was flooded, the number of users of the resulting lake would be much higher.

We thought about following Dom's suggestion of driving down Shafer Trail a bit but by the time we were heading out of the park, we were both pretty warm and tired. Next time...

The two panos were taken at the two overlooks. The first was Upheaval Dome and the second was Grand View Point.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 47

We knew that today was going to be another hot one. But we didn't get to the entrance of Arches National Park until 8:30am. There were a number of other people around but it wasn't overly crowded. Nothing like Yosemite or Zion. We went to the Double Arch/Windows parking lot and it was pretty full plus a couple of tour buses. It was a short walk to the Double Arch and it was worth seeing the size of the arch up close. Seeing pictures doesn't do it justice.

For scale, here is Bridget under the first arch. I think the last time I was here at the Double Arch it was around 1980 or so. A lifetime for some but it doesn't feel like it was that long ago. I had visited a couple of times when we were doing field work and a couple of times on my own. There were a number of cyclists on the road that had me feeling a little nostalgic.

This is Turret Arch located across the road from Double Arch and next to the North Window and the South Window. In the foreground is a couple walking with tripod, video camera and a large DSLR. They arrived riding 2-up on a KTM adventure bike. That seems like a lot of camera gear to be carrying around on a bike. Of all of the arches we saw today, this was my favorite.

Just a short distance from Turret Arch is the South Window. This one was pretty crowded with a large tour bus group all walking together. I'm not sure if keeping together is required or they just prefer traveling in a pack. And all seemed obsessed with taking selfies with their phones trying to get the Arch in the background.

One last stop before the visitors center was Park Avenue. Named, I believe, for the tall, sky scraper-ish sandstone cliffs lining the short valley. There is a primitive trail through valley ending at another turnout down the hill. "Primitive" translates to "not paved" as are most of the popular trails in the park.

The balancing rock was at the top of the western wall along Park Avenue. Oddly, the camera I was using (Bridget's Canon SX30 IS) flashed face recognized in the viewfinder with three green rectangles. I guess it thought the shapes looked like people.

The first panorama was taken from the Garden of Eden viewpoint. I was never able to figure out the origin of the name. But it was getting pretty warm by this point so I didn't wander around too much. The last panorama was done with the iPhone camera looking up at the arch.

BTW, the wifi here and at the last campground is abysmal. Essentially unusable.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 46

The weather app says that it is 106°F today in Moab. Maybe it was the wrong direction to head at this time of year. But, that's where we're at right now. Today was a longish driving day when compared to the last couple at 280 miles. Plus, I had an audio conference this afternoon so I needed a good cell signal. There was a large gap in AT&T coverage along I-70 until Green River, UT. This is the view from our campsite a few miles south of Moab, UT.

We are planning on going into Arches National Park and possibly Canyonlands National Park but probably only during the mornings. Too hot to do much during the afternoon. I've never been to Canyonlands before so that's going to be new. I'm not even sure what there is to see.

One last iPhone picture of the hills across the highway around sunset. Nice colors. It's still 94°F at 8:54pm. Ugh...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 45

Three guesses what the activity of the day was... We went on a half day trail ride through Red Canyon which is just outside the gate of Zion National Park. There were 17 people in the group plus a couple of leaders. We chose this trip as it was advertised "no experience required". We were driven from the lobby of Ruby's Inn to the start of the trail ride in Red Canyon. They give us general directions on how to control the horse but I think they all run on cruise control anyway.

I was put on Geronimo who did not like to be tailgated so he had to be at the back. He was never in a hurry and rarely felt a need to hurry up and wait so there was always a bit of space in front of me. A couple of times, one of the guides pulled up behind me and you can tell that this horse was annoyed and wanted to kick whomever was back there.

The scenery was beautiful with tons of red rocks, hoodoos, trees and dust. The trip as a 3½ hour loop and, at least for me, that was long enough. They need gel pads for the saddles... I wasn't sure how any of the pictures would turn out due to the jostling from the horse. (See video)

We got back just before lunch and the salad bar at the hotel sounded pretty good. But that turned into the lunch buffet for only $2 more...

Right now, between the trail ride and lunch, I just feeling like lying around for the afternoon. This is about the halfway point on our road trip.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 44

Today was a relatively short trip from Cedar City to Ruby's Inn RV Park just outside of Bryce Canyon. It is close enough to the entrance that the NPS free shuttle has a stop at the RV park. After getting set up, we headed into the park on the shuttle not knowing how crowded the parking lots were going to be. It turns out that most of them had open parking spaces even though the electronic signs told everyone to ride the shuttle.

As I had remembered, all of the views of Bryce Canyon are phenomenal. It's hard to get a bad view from the rim. We took the rim trail from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point but didn't descend below the rim. Even though we are over 8000' in elevation, the temperatures are still on the warm side at 85°F.

We stopped at the visitor's center to get the passport stamped and pick up another sticker for Bryce. I'm told that the hoodoo on the left is Thor's Hammer. Hoodoo is the name given to the vertical rock formations in Bryce Canyon. They were also visible in yesterday's photo of the amphitheater at Cedar Breaks National Monument.

I don't think I could ever get tired of the views of Bryce. I believe that this is the third or fourth time I've been here and still not tired of the views. The colors are fantastic as long as you like reds...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Day 43

This morning we ran some errands after wandering around the historic Cedar City. Late this afternoon, we ventured up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was only about 25 miles from Cedar City but the road climbed about 4,500'. This road was one of the possible routes to Bryce Canyon. I think that I will take one of the other routes tomorrow.

We headed up to not only see the amphitheater but also an astronomy program which starts after sundown. There was some hesitation to go there at all on my part as we were able to see the smoke from the Brian Head fire that just started today. In the pano, you can see how close the fire is to Cedar Breaks. Needless to say, they cancelled the star gazing event due to reduced visibility from the smoke. Both of these pictures were taken from the scenic overlook next to the visitor's center. One looking north (above) and the other looking southwest (on the right). The second photo was HDR which is why the reds seem to be oversaturated. BTW, that really is snow in the shadows just left of center in the picture.

After leaving Cedar Breaks, we took a short hike to a view point looking south towards Zion National Park and a couple of examples of bristlecone pines. I had seen the really old ones in the White Mountains between California and Nevada. But these are more accessible but about 1/3 the age. Pretty impressive.

This is the 1,600 year old tree at the end of the trail. Small compared to something like a Sequoia redwood. For scale, you can see the walkway to the left. The railing of the walkway was falling over probably from a lot of runoff from the winter snow. You can see the size of the tree.
And this is the view south towards Zion. The largest feature is the Temple Mount and you can see the Narrows to the left. At this point, these features are about 50 miles away. There was a cool sign showing the differant layers cooresponding to the Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon and Bryce/Cedar Breaks.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 42

This morning we left the Zion River Resort for Cedar City. I had checked with about 5 campgrounds in the area between Zion and Bryce and all of them were booked solid for the weekend, The Cedar City KOA online registration system said that they couldn't accommodate a 32' 5th wheel trailer in a back in site. But when I changed it to a 33' 5th wheel trailer, no problem. So I went ahead and made the reservation for two nights. Backing the trailer in is getting easier each time.

I haven't stayed at a KOA campground for quite a while. It seems fine though a little expensive even with the 10% discount. Maybe it's all of the sales tax that I'm not used to. The weekend is supposed to be really hot so I was not inclined to stay where we couldn't connect to shore power. Having a pool is a nice plus for any campground especially in these temperatures. There was a very talkative gentleman at the pool today who was enjoying the cool weather. He was from Las Vegas where it's around 112°F today. It turns out that he used to live about 3 miles from where my parents lived back when I was in college.

Tomorrow, we are planning to explore Cedar Breaks National Monument. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Day 41

This morning, we took the campground shuttle to the south entrance of Zion National Park in the town of Springdale. We walked across the bridge to the pedestrian entrance to the park when I realized that I had left my drivers license and the park pass back at the trailer. We mentioned it to the park service employee and she waved us through without it reminding us to treat it like cash. We then got in line for the Zion shuttle bus. It was a 40 minute wait.

The shuttle bus is the only way to access the really scenic trails in the park and we took the shuttle to its last stop. We walked up the river trail until the beginning of the Narrows where you need to cross the river. The trail continues in the river itself. We opted to turn around at this point. Two of the most well known hikes in Zion are the Narrows and Angel's Landing.

It was very cool at this time of day as the trail was on the south side of the east-west canyon. Today's forecast was for high 90s by mid-afternoon. Not a good time to be hiking. There were a lot of people on the trail with their rented shoes, neoprene socks and shoulder high walking sticks. Supposedly to be able to feel for deep holes as you are walking in the river.

Here is where we turned around. A lot of people but the bus driver said that this was nothing compared to Memorial Day weekend. The line of hikers here and on Angel's Landing was continuous. We did not venture up Angel's Landing as it was a strenuous hike with a lot of elevation gain and hiking on rocks holding onto a chain. The pictures show thousand foot drops on both sides of the trail in places. Some other time...

We walked the short hike up to Weeping Rock where there was a continual drops of water coming out of the sandstone cliffs. We got back on the shuttle after lunch and stopped at the Human History Museum. This is the view from the back deck showing, from left to right, the Temple, the Sundial and the Altar of Sacrifice. In case you haven't guessed, all of the features were named by Mormon settlers including the park name, Zion.

Another picture looking up-canyon as we are waiting for the shuttle bus. You never need to wait long as they are spaced out 5-10 minutes apart. We went to the park visitor's center but there wasn't much there besides the gift shop. I expected some displays or something. Anyway, we showed up early for the return trip to the RV park on the shuttle.

Added on Friday. According to Wikipedia, this is the view from Angel's Landing. The view may be worth the hike...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 40

Not a too bad of a location for an audio conference. After it was completed, we headed into Zion National Park through the south entrance. We were told that the parking lots would all be full by 10am but Hwy 9 through the park would be open. We used our annual pass for the second time. The fee would have been $30 so we are rapidly approaching the $80 cost for the annual pass.

This is the Checkerboard Mesa, all the way near the east entrance to the park where we turned around. The road is narrow with few places to pull off and we had to wait in both directions when the tunnel is limited to one way traffic. For any vehicle over 8' wide or 10' high, the traffic is stopped to allow them to drive down the middle of the road through the tunnel. It was built way before busses and RVs were common. The tunnel is over a mile long and has "windows" spaced along it's path for ventilation. Bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited in the tunnel.

This is just a generic view of the scenery at the higher elevation near the east entrance. It was still 88°F so not a whole lot cooler but still very nice. As the road climbed from the valley up to the tunnel, green trees became more common. I think that this was around 6000' elevation.

We stopped at the visitor's center to get our national park passport stamped and pick up a nice sticker for the page. This is a very touristy thing to do but I like doing it. This is taken just outside of the park gate where we stopped for some frozen lemonade and to relax a bit before heading back to the campground. No matter which way you look, the scenery is fantastic. This place is crowded but nowhere near as crowded as Yosemite was.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 39

I just noticed that Aerostitch used the picture that Dom took of me at Garden of the Gods last November on the cover of their catalog. Not having a paper copy of their catalog handy, this is a screen grab from the pdf copy. 

Today was going to be our first attempt at a Walmart stay but the manager told us that the city passed an ordinance prohibiting overnight parking. Oh well, scratch that one off of the list. We did pick up groceries and planned our next move.

Our next reserved campground was at Zion River Resort for Wednesday through Friday. I called them to see if I could change it to Tuesday through Thursday. They shuffled a few reservations and told us to come on over. Now we just need to plan to boondock over the weekend. Our next reservation is for Sunday outside of Bryce Canyon. Tomorrow I have an audio conference but we plan on driving Hwy 9 through the park. On Thursday, we are taking the campground shuttle to the park entrance and taking the NP shuttle. I'm not sure of the purpose of the NP shuttle if you are allowed to drive through the park. Maybe because there wouldn't be any parking. We'll find out tomorrow...

Monday, June 12, 2017

Day 38

We left Las Vegas this morning and headed for Utah. Today, we are staying at another Harvest Hosts site. We are set up in their small parking lot after calling them a couple of days ago. The business is open Wednesday through Saturday (today is Monday) so it probably doesn't matter that we are parked across five parking spaces. It is still kind of windy with gusts around 25 mph so no awning today. But with a temperature of 74°F we have the windows open and running off of the batteries. The last couple of days we were lucky to get the inside temperature this cool during the day.

It is really wide open around here and the hills are starting to look like Utah. Reddish with flat tops.

At this location, I have the Ubiquity NanoStation Loco tied into a public wifi network that I think must be nearby somewhere. The signal level is low (-90dBm) but it's fast enough. Even the RV parks that advertise "free wifi" in their ads usually only have one or two locations where it actually works. With the NanoStation, it works pretty well no matter where we are in the park. And we never have to change the SSID on our devices. I just log into the Ubiquity device and tell it which wifi network to use then save the new config. It reboots and within 30 seconds or so, you are online.

Today's experimental dinner is chicken, vegetables & rice made in the rice cooker running off the inverter.