Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4/27 Back On the Road After Visiting Family

I've spent most of the last week in Ohio visiting family and going to a granddaughter's birthday party.  I had not seen them since October, so was very happy to spend some time with them.  Unfortunately, my back has been extremely painful due to that open-truck tour I took of Monument Valley on April 17th. So today I am taking it easy, staying an extra day in a state park near Provo, UT, with a nice view of a lake and snow-capped mountains in the distance. 

This is my kind of campground:  electric and water, almost no other campers, good view, and excellent Verizon signal for Internet.

Did you know you could park a motorhome or a truck and trailer at most airports for the same rate as a car? I have done this in Tampa, Las Vegas, and now Salt Lake City.  Yes, I take up more than one space, but the area for oversized vehicles is always in the far reaches of an economy parking lot, so there is lots of extra space. This time I chose Salt Lake City over Phoenix because I knew the temperature would be cooler, since I do not like to "bake" my RV.  The refrigerator runs on propane and a little bit of battery power while I am gone so food stays frozen for a few days--five in this case. 

My biggest fear in parking in a regular car lot is getting pinned in. This happened to me about a month ago in a shopping center. I parked as far out as I could in an empty area with no cars around, and I parked so that I was between the lines but straight through, so I was only taking up two spots. Not only is my motorhome too long to make a turn to get out, but the rear end tends to swing out, aka "tail swing."  If I had not had a friend with me to help, I would have had to wait until someone moved next to me.

When I arrived at the airport, there were two other motorhomes parked in front of me in this space.  They were aimed so that they could just drive out past that red sign.  So I also parked parallel, but made sure I was close to the end of the spaces. I also made sure I had enough space behind and in front of me, but I was still very happy to find that no one was near me when I returned.  Whew!   

Assuming I can get a prescription called in to a local pharmacy in time to pick it up tomorrow morning, I will head off for someplace a little closer to Zion National Park, where I have a reservation on Saturday for several days.  It is one of my favorite places because of the incredible scenery. There is also good bike riding on the roads there so I am hoping my back will be in good enough condition by then to enjoy riding.

In the meantime, today's agenda includes watching TV, reading, baking some cookies, and doing some work online.  I was able to get everything unpacked last night and got a good night's sleep, which was nice after a long and uncomfortable plane ride.  Nice to be home!

Friday, April 22, 2016

4/20 Arches National Park

I was really supposed to be here a couple of weeks ago, but had cancelled my plans because of some other priorities.  However, I wanted to at least check out this place so I would know how much time I wanted to spend here next year.  So, I allowed myself three hours this morning before driving off to Provo, UT, where I had reservations for the night. 

I think this cliff on the road to Moab and Arches, from the entrance to Canyonlands National Park is impressive.  The sign below it describes some of the local geology.  

After a quick stop in the visitor center, I headed up the steep hill to the plateau where most of Arches National Park is located.  I chose only one place that I figured I had time for--Delicate Arch.  At a scenic pullover on the way, I made sure I had my vehicle in Park and the emergency brake engaged, but it still makes me nervous to park on hills with big drop-offs on the side.

Pretty place.

These are petrified sand dunes. 

There are three ways to see Delicate Arch: 1) a three-mile hike uphill and on a very rocky path, 2) a half-mile hike uphill to a scenic viewing area, and 3) a 300 foot walk along a handicap-accessible flat trail.  Guess which one I took?

I took the 300 foot walk, but then could barely see the arch in the distance.  Can you see it in about the middle of the photo?  Anyway, I felt guilty and headed up the half-mile uphill trail.  At least it was a very cool day and I had lots of company.

There is almost always something in bloom in the desert.  Lady said this was some kind of "vetch" but I need to look it up for sure. 

I have no idea what this plant is, but it had very pretty purple and white flowers.

This is fireweed, I think.

Looking down part of the trail I came up.

Is this the "deadly" nightshade???

Another white flower of some sort.  Anyone have any idea what it is??

After a substantial walk uphill, some resting on rocks, and taking a lot of photos, I could see the arch a lot better.  This is taken with a telephoto lens, but note the people nearer the arch.  They are the ones who took Option 1--the three-mile difficult hike.

Heading down!

A couple of wildflowers I missed on the way up.

The building in the distance is the visitor's center.  It is a very steep road with a hairpin curve or two.

Snow-covered mountains!

4/19 Dead Horse Point State Park & Canyonlands National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is located next to Canyonlands National Park.  Since Canyonlands has no campgrounds with electric service, this was a logical place to stay.  The campground is located at 5,900' in elevation on a high desert plateau that forms a point of land with spectacular views.  The tip of the point where the main viewing area is located is only about 1/3 miles from the campground.

This high desert plain has a lot of short cypress and pinion pine that are stunted by both the high elevation and desert conditions.  It also is very windswept. 


This wizened old tree is only about five feet tall.
The river below is the Colorado.  This looks a lot like Grand Canyon, but is only 2,000 feet deep.

This view back to the parking area at one of the scenic pullovers shows how much the mesa is solid rock.

 More views. Note the small zigzag in the road below.  There were a lot of 4-wheel drive vehicles down there, plus a few bikers.

The tiny dots on the road just before the zigzag and where the other road joins the main road are three people riding bikes!   

The river makes several oxbow turns visible from Dead Horse Point.

There are also some boats down below.  You can see them better in the second photo.  Apparently they are motorized rafts full of tourists.  I would really like to take one of these raft trips and will check into that on my next trip.

Look at this road or path going up the slope on the opposite side.
The mountains in the distance are the La Sal mountains.

Canyonlands National Park is about 10 miles down the road.

The park service uses old trees to keep people from walking on the fragile desert. 

Very pretty view, and the Colorado is somewhere in the distance, but you cannot see it from this area.  Next few photos were taken from the main canyon viewing area.

Tomorrow, I head for Arches National Park for a very quick visit.  I originally had planned to spend several days here, but had to cut them short because of family medical issues.  I will be back next year, however.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4/18 Monument Valley to Moab, UT

This was a long drive today on two-lane roads without very many services.  Luckily, my motorhome has a 55 gallon gas tank, so I can drive a good distance. 

The first thing I did this morning was laundry.  When a campground has a laundry, I try to take advantage of it because I never know when I will find the next one.  Laundromats in towns are OK, but most have very small parking lots, so I often have to pass them by.  I also needed to fill my fresh water tank up because I knew the campground this evening had no water.  All of this meant, I did not get on the road until 11:00 am.

This certainly is pretty country!

The best part is not much traffic.

I passed several clusters of snow-covered mountains.  The elevation of the road was between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, so it was very chilly.

Enjoyed my brief stop at this pull-off.

Note the snow or rain falling in the distance.

And finally, my campground for the next couple of nights!  This is actually a very high (6,000') mesa with canyons on all three sides.  Going to be a really cold night at this elevation.

Looking down into the canyons on one narrow stretch of the road.  This is a teaser for the stuff to be seen in tomorrow's post!!