Friday, July 31, 2009

Flaming Gorge and the Flat Top Mountains

Sunday, July 26

We drove north on US191 from Vernal to Flaming Gorge. We picked Fireman’s Memorial CG which seems like the best of the many in the area. By luck, we got a good site. It’s quite a large site that has two views of the reservoir below. And it’s cooler here. The afternoon high was 84.

This is a boaters and fisherman’s paradise. It is not as scenic as it is billed. I recall the north end of the Gorge as being more striking.

We plan to do a scenic drive on one day and paddle the yaks the other. Then it will be decision time. Head west and camp in Unitas mountains or head east to Colorado.

There is a Magpie here and it sounds like the very annoying noise you hear on the radio when Civil Defense does it monthly test.

I think Utah could change it’s flag. A truck towing a travel trailer, towing a trailer with ATV’s would better depict what Utahans are all about.

I never thought about Utah as cow country. They are everywhere as it’s open range. You are hiking in an area where mountain goats do not tread and there are cow patties. Nothing green in sight, but cows were here. I’ll bet the ration of cows to humans is high in Utah as they have so few people.



Dorothy writes: We got on the road before 9:00, looking for a place to put in the yaks. We found a ramp and away we went. We had a great paddle. I think Flaming Gorge is just fantastic. This is one place where I wish we had a motorboat so that we could explore the Gorge. No one has asked us to go boating or share the fish they have caught. I am getting a craving for salmon, so guess we will have to find a store and buy some.

20 flaming gorge 07



We did a scenic drive today. The first part of the drive took us through Hideout Canyon, which is a excellent canyon. When we came out of the canyon, we were at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the part called Sheep Bay. This is one fantastic vista. See picture. It totally beats the view from Red Canyon. There are two places to overnight here, both overlook the water. They are nothing but dirt, but the view is great and it’s free. Note to self, come back here in cooler weather.

20 flaming gorge 10

20 flaming gorge 12


Wednesday, July 29

Into Colorado

As we crossed the state line, the odometer read 28,122, 3,162 miles since we left home. [Pelli has about the same number of miles] That means we have averaged about 40 miles a day in KoKo on this trip. That’s about four gallons of gasoline a day.

When we stopped in Craig, CO for groceries, it was noticeably cooler even though we were at the same elevation, 6,300, as at Dinosaur. I don’t know why it’s cooler, but it sure feels good.

Not having a clue where we wanted to be, we picked the closest FS CG to Steamboat Springs - Meadows CG just off of US40 at 9,300 feet. It was a long pull up Rabbit Ears Mtn from Steamboat Springs to the CG.



Dorothy writes: We are near Bear Creek Campground near Yampa at 9700’. For those of you at lower elevations, I will explain the difference. I am wearing jeans, socks, long sleeve t-shirt and a light-weight flannel shirt and I am very comfortable.

I said were are near the CG as we are dispersed camped, but with a difference we have not encountered before. These dispersed sites have fire rings, picnic tables and gravel parking pads rather than just an open place in the forest. And they charge for them – a buck 50 a night.

Why are we here? Well without any research on Colorado, the Flat Top mountains sounded interesting and close by. Besides, I could not resist going to a place named Yampa - the Ute word for big medicine.

From a pamphlet about the area: Nathan Meeker, a Government Indian Agent, arrived in the White River valley in 1878 with visions of developing a rich agricultural business. He saw the Indians as threat and vowed to plow up their lands and convert the Indians to farmers – thereby “civilizing” the Ute.

This conflict, known as the Meeker Massacre, led to the killing of Meeker and ten government employees. The massacre resulted in the eventual removal of the Ute’s from their homeland to reservations. And was the last major Indian uprising in Colorado.

A political note from Dorothy: Theodore Roosevelt was responsible for much of the public lands we enjoy. He did this, not for political gain, but because he thought it was important for everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness. Franklin Roosevelt created the CCC, of course, buying votes for the next election. But these young men built things that still stand 70 years later. He helped create roads into these public lands. There is no way this would happen today. First, young people probably aren’t willing to go without their “comforts” – cell phone, wifi, etc. for a very small amount of money, half of which had to be sent home. Second, any construction would have to have union members. Probably no other presidents have done so much for the public lands. Can you picture some of our “modern” day presidents and congress people getting away from it all!



We drove into Oak Creek to do laundry and had a yummy pizza for lunch. I wanted to give the Flat Top Mountains more of a chance to charm us so we took the scenic drive. This turned out to be mostly a drive through fir trees. When we got to Dunckley Pass at 10,000 odd feet we overlooked and decided we had seen enough and turned around. I have ruled off the area for future exploration.

The Flat Tops are black basalt on top, carved by glaciers and covered with dark green firs on the slopes. This makes getting a decent picture of them futile for me.


The west has lots of dead trees. Consider that Yellowstone had a major fire in 1988. The trees are still standing. The fir trees in this area were attacked by beetles - in the 1940’s. They are still standing. The Indians used Cedar and Juniper as roof supports. Some of those logs are still laying across the ruins – 1000 years later. Now consider how long it takes an Oak tree to decompose in Alabama.

Wildlife – closely following camper’s need to build campfires in the summer, is taking pictures of wildlife. Well, not all that wild. In a film we saw at a FS VC last week, the narrator mentioned wildlife and on the screen was a freaking chipmunk. The same damn varmints that I shoot in my backyard. Perhaps I should start feeding them and charging people to see our wildlife? Perhaps it would increase the value of our home?

Marmots are everywhere here. When they hear a car coming, that signals them to exit the weeds and cross the road.

Big Horn Sheep

We would leave here in the morning, but it will be Saturday and on weekends finding a decent place to park can be difficult. Weekends are the bane of retired travelers.

We will drive south to Buena Vista Sunday and meet up with a Lazy Daze couple and do some four-wheeling.



Dorothy is officially old today - a Medicare recipient. She starts it just when Congress wants to transfer funds from the near bankrupt Medicare to fund health insurance for those here illegally.

Today also marks two months without hookups.

We had our second hailstorm last night. This one lasted for about 15 minutes with BB size hail. A brochure for this area says “Summer days normally begin with sunshine, but thunderstorms often form by later afternoon. They are usually short-lived and skies clear quickly for a fresh and cool afternoon”. In our brief time here that has been the case. But, there may be participation at other times also.

Today has been rain free with blue skies.

We managed to do a two-hour huff and puff hike this morning. We never acclimate to elevation and at 10,000 feet getting up is often a problem for Dorothy. The trail we took goes to the Devil’s Causeway, a narrow path linking two buttes. Why it is so popular is beyond me, but it is the most popular trail in NW Colorado. The popularity is also evidenced by the number of vehicles passing our campsite on the way to the trailhead.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dinosaur NM

Monday, July 20

Our drugs arrived! So we kicked the tires and lit the fires and drove WAY north to Dinosaur NM to meet up with Betty and Terry. Our travel time was 7.5 hours. Of course that includes Wal*Mart, hunting for propane, lunch, etc. Still, we were tired puppies when we got to Deer Lodge CG, which is just over the line in Colorado. Three high balls later, I was in much better shape.

The CG is not much - a dirt parking lot. If you are tenting, you have some tall grass for your tent site. However, it is right on the shore of the Yampa River, which is a fast moving shallow river, entirely appropriate for rafting and yakking. The first night there were three of us there. Full house, the next night, seven.

The deal is Dinosaur is low, 5 to 6 thousand feet and so it’s warm.


We all piled in the Peli [blessed a/c] and drove the phenomenal Yampa Bench Road. It’s only 30-odd miles, but the loop is over a 140 miles. It took us seven hours. Four very tired puppies.

However, the overlooks have some of the most spectacular views anywhere. Plus we had near ideal weather for photography.

19 dinosaur 08

 19 dinosaur 13


Terry woke us up at 5:45 to prep for moving and hiking. We drove east to the Harper’s Corner Overlook and hiked the one-mile trail out to the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. SPECTACULAR! Sadly, the fine weather we had yesterday did not continue. It was sunny with a blue sky, but hazy, so we could not take any decent pictures.

19 dinosaur 18

After the hike we continued west to the Green River CG in the west end of the park. It’s even lower, 4,800 feet and so it is warmer. We are going to try to put up with the heat and enjoy the park.


We started slow today, not getting into the Jeep until 9. Our goal for the day was to get a “Play Permit” which allows you to float/paddle the Green River through a section of the park. We thought it would be a cool way to spend part of the day. By the time, we got the permit and located both the put-in and take-out points it was getting warm, so we explored some other places in the park and made it back to KoKo in time for lunch and a nap before the heat arrived.

During the afternoon heat, we enjoyed the a/c of Lowe’s and the library.


We all piled into Pelli and drove to view the petroglyphs at McKee Springs. They were well worth the trip. In the afternoon, it was too hot, 97, to do more than drink cold water and sit.

19 dinosaur 29

19 dinosaur 31

Saturday, July 25

We kept putting off the yak float. Today was to be the day. We awoke to a very light drizzle and completely overcast skies. Without the sun, the trip would not be scenic and so we are sulking around the CG. However, it’s much cooler without the sun, low 80’s.

In the morning, we will head to Flaming Gorge and our tour guides, the Woods, will go to Jones Hole to hike down to the Green River.

We plan to come back here, when it’s cooler. Maybe next May.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cathedral Valley, Kent Lake, Indian Creek

Sunday, July 13

We spent the night parked next to the Fremont River. Regrettably it rained several times during the afternoon which brought out the mosquitoes and yellow flies, so we stayed inside and listened to the river babble.
Like most western rivers, the Fremont is only 20 feet wide and two feet deep, but the water runs speedily.


We did it. We parked KoKo with an overlook of Cathedral Valley. We woke up to blue skies with a few alto cirrus clouds. By 10am cumulus clouds were starting to appear. The jet trails were wide, indicating a lot of water vapor in the air. Drats, I was hoping our third foray into Cathedral Valley would be clear for some good pictures. Oh, well, you play the hand you are dealt.

In addition to the water vapor there was a small fire just south of us that added a little more haze. Still the sunset view was worthwhile. The cathedral rock formations were just below us maybe three miles off. To the south, we could see Boulder Mountain and in the distance were the Henry Mountains. To the north, we think we could see the San Rafael Swell.

10c catheral valley 02 (Small)

Our company was a truck camper parked two miles distant at Round Lake and a cowboy who went by with three saddled horses and two Blue Healers.


There are ATV’s everywhere. No self-respecting Utahan would be without two. Kids drive them on the highways. No plates, no license, no one cares. Dorothy was talking with a man who moved here and bought an ATV. He said he could strap on his .45, get on his ATV and go to town and no one gives a damn.

Today was our longest drive since we got to Utah. It would have only taken us an hour, but there was a mountain in the way, so we went around, 2.5 hours. It took us all day, as we went to the grocery store and washed clothes along the way. We drove on concrete, both I70 and I15! And us shunpikers.

Tonight we are at Kent Lake in what is termed the Beaver Canyon area, just east of Beaver, UT. The Beaver River runs through the canyon, but we think all the beaver were made into hats long ago.

16 kent lake 01

We had cocktails with the camp host Janice and Ray. The first humans we have chatted with in weeks. While chatting with them, they asked if we fish. Everyone fishes except us. I gave the standard reply, “No, but we sure like to eat them.” They brought us some of the trout that Ray caught the previous week and had frozen. It is always a good thing to beg!


We came here to do a drive through the mountains that our back roads guide said was spectacular. We drove a boring forested road, finally breaking through the trees at Big John Flats and got a view of the 12,000-foot bald peaks. A few miles up the road, just beyond Poison Creek a gate was closed. Something about too much snow and rain. Arg! They could have put a sign at the beginning of the road announcing the closure.

Dorothy got some reading material at the pawn shop - the only retail store in Beaver.


Since the weekend is almost here, it’s was either move or stay at Kent Lake, which is an extremely busy area. Since people were already walking through our campsite to get to the lake, we decided to move.

After a long time (for us), we arrived at Indian Creek CG. It’s very small, 7 sites, and certainly off the beaten path. There are three of us here. After getting settled in, it was time to fix dinner. This is the first time I have ever pan-fried trout. We were given four large trout and two medium size pieces. Since it was all frozen together, I had to cook it all. It was delicious. We had corn on the cob with the trout. Corn is very cheap here, ranging from 15 – 20 cents an ear and delicious.

A comment on the un-paved roads here. Since we left red rock country, the road surfaces have been much better. However, they are quite dusty. This part of Utah was volcanic. There are lava flows all over the place. Crushed lava rock makes an excellent road bed. The deal is the dust sticks to the car like glue. Poor Pelli stays gray.

I mentioned that everyone here has two or more ATV’s. I forget to mention everyone also has a camping trailer. Most of them are medium age, while some of them are decades old and look it. The forests are littered with trailers. It’s a Utah thing to camp in the mountains and ride ATV’s.

Looks boring to us. At least the ATV folks in Oregon, California and Arizona ride on sand. Here they just ride down a road, that they call a trail, we don’t get it.

Strangeness on I70 – Perhaps this only happened because we are not accustomed to driving on concrete. We were eastbound from Richfield going into a canyon whose walls were increasingly higher. The illusion was that BOTH lanes appeared to be going downhill. This went on for miles. The river along the highway flows west, so unless gravity was suspended we were going uphill and the GPS confirmed it.


Our goal for the day was to drive the Skyland Drive and swing by the post office and pick up some drugs. We failed at both tasks.

The drive started well enough. The Skyland Drive goes down the spine of the Washatch Plateau mostly above 10,000 feet. There are superb views of the valleys below on both sides of the road. After about 15 miles, the fine road changes to ‘Native Surface’. Which means they scraped the vegetation off the rock sometime in the past. We elected to continue. After another 15 miles, just before we were to cross the highest pass, we were stopped by a snow bank. Drats!

17 wasatch plateau 02

When we turned around we had driven 40 miles in four hours and faced another four hours back. Arg! After about five miles, we noted a road winding into the valley heading directly for our CG. Our GPS showed it as better road than we were on. We took it. It turned out to be a goat path down the mountain. Once on it, there was no turning around. Near the bottom, it improved dramatically and it did cut three hours off our travel time. If only I did not damage the tires on the rocky road.

We reach a milestone tonight – 400 nights in Koko and we still love it and think it’s one of the best purchases we have made.

Walter Cronkite died today at the age of 92.


We finally had a successful scenic drive. It was through “rock” country. We drove from Castle Dale through parts of the San Rafael Swell, which is an anti clime, or to us, a rock formation that was pushed up.

Along the drive we saw the “Little Grand Canyon” of Utah, some really clear petroglyphs, rock formations that are superior to Valley of the Gods and canyons that are a cut above those at Natural Bridges and rival those at Capital Reef. All this on BLM land that can be accessed in a passenger car, on a smooth gravel road that rides as well most paved roads and had near zero dust.

18 san rafael 05

18 san rafael 14

18 san rafael 16

18 san rafael 21

18 san rafael 24

If we get back to area in the fall or spring there are several camping spots near “The Wedge”. The sites are scattered over several square miles. I don’t think any are closer to one another than a half-mile. The only vehicles we saw on the road were three ATV’s and the Sheriff.

The air temperature was 101, so we did our sight sighting from the car. Pausing every so often to step out at an overlook and take a picture. A late afternoon shower just north of us, cooled things down to the upper 70’s.


Sunday, July 19

We drove down into the valley to be close to the Post Office. Hopefully our drugs will arrive in the morning and we can head north. We are going to try to hook up with Betty and Terry. No way to contact them, so will park at one CG in Dinosaur NM and see if they show up there.

Parked at a Utah SP near Castle Dale. TV, cell coverage, SHOWERS, no hookups, 88 degrees.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dry Camping in Southern Utah CG’s

I was looking through this groups database for recommended camping sites in Utah and found four; only four in the best of the best western states.

We have been crossing southern Utah for eight weeks, taking it real slow and we will share with you where we have parked KoKo. If you don’t care for dry camping, you can quit reading now, because that’s what we do.

I will list the places in the order we encountered them.

Monticello Lake, head up the mountain from town. There are only two or three level places on the lake, we had the place to ourselves two out three nights. Reason for being here. We wanted to explore the roads in the Abajo Mountains. Also you can access the south end of Canyonlands from here. It’s a steep climb up the mountain, so unhook your toad. There is water at the formal CG’s you will pass on your way up. Be sure and fill up your larder and fresh water before heading further west.

Cedar Bluff, You can park on the south side of the road or if you want a world class site, head up the road on the north side a mile or so and look for a right turn and park next to the rock wall. Reason for being here. There are several excellent hikes and ruins in the nearby canyons. The gate on the north side of the road may be closed. That’s to keep the cattle in, not you out.

Natural Bridges Overflow Parking. A 26 is too big to get into Natural Bridges and if you have a 23 and a toad you are still too big. So turn on UT261 [toward Muley Point] and take the first left. It’s just a large mostly gravel parking lot, but the view is decent and it’s free. You will need your water full and your tanks empty before you arrive because Blanding is the closest place to dump and take on water. Reason for being here. Hike Natural Bridges and explore the numerous canyons and ruins on Cedar Mesa. You can get a little water at the VC. We tote it expanding bladders.

Muley Point – It’s seven miles down a decent gravel road to one of the best views in Utah. When you see the overlook, turn sharply left, avoiding the rough road along the cliff. There are several level parking spots on left side. Reason for being here: VIEW. You will even have OK TV and cell phone coverage.

Capital Reef CG – One of the best NPS CG’s. Stay in loop B, there are fewer tents there. Reason for being here – we think Cap Reef is the best of the Utah parks. It’s also the least visited. Eat at CafĂ© Diablo, some of the best food you will encounter. A high clearance vehicle will allow you to access Cathedral Valley. Don’t miss the Burr Trail. There are enough trails to hike to keep you at Cap Reef for two weeks. Groceries are found in Loa.

The FS Singletree CG on Boulder Mountain at 8,600 feet is a change from Red Rocks and provides cooler temps.

Calf Creek Falls CG on UT12 is a small FS CG. There are only a few sites for a 26 and they are across the creek. We got the first one across the creek. You can probably find a site here Sunday through Wednesday if you arrive in the morning. Reason for being here – hike to the falls, hike the Escalante River and explore Hole in the Rock Road.

Kodachrome SP is very scenic itself and it provides access to two roads that are worth exploring, Cottonwood Canyon and Skutumpah Road. You can also day trip to Bryce. The CG has the best showers in Utah.

Red Canyon, a FS CG on the west side of Bryce is even closer to Bryce than Kodachrome. It’s a scenic area with plenty of hiking trails. Groceries are found in Panquitch, 13 miles west.

Overlooking Cathedral Valley, turn east off UT72 on Elkhorn Road. About six miles up the gravel road you will see a turn off to an overlook. Reason for being here: VIEW.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A week at Fishlake

Sunday, July 5
We drove 2.5 hours north, our longest distance since we arrived in Utah to Fishlake, which is in the mountains and guess what it has - a lake. The lake must be teeming with fish judging by the number of campers here. We have never seen a CG so full on a Sunday afternoon.

We trolled around for quite awhile and finally found a good site, only to have a reserved for Tuesday sign hung on it after we signed up for it. So we will have to find another one tomorrow.

It’s about the same elevation as our last place, Panquitch Lake, but it is cooler and a lot more scenic here.

We are close to Capital Reef, where we were June 3th. One of the reasons we are here is to revisit Cathedral Valley in the north end of Cap Reef, this time by going down Thousand Lakes Mountain. The transition from mountain to red rock is supposed to be dramatic.

We explored the area looking for another campsite. The terrain reminds us of Montana. East of the lake are numerous “dispersed” parking areas right off the road along the Fremont River. Two of them interested us. We could put the chairs by the river in the shade and listen to the river babble. We have never seen road side parking along a paved FS road. This must be one busy place in whatever season is high season.

We saw a sign for the trailhead to Pelican Canyon. Sure, right, lots of pelicans here. A mile or so down the road on Johnson Lake we see two-dozen pelicans on the shoreline. And get this, not a single pier for them to perch.

Last month, the Cottonwoods were sending their seeds out on wafts of “cotton”. In some places, the air was rather dense with them. Around noon here, if you look up it looks like a light snow. No Cottonwoods this high up, it’s Aspen’s.

We found the perfect campsite nestled in Aspens and we both agreed this was THE place. Then Dorothy noted that mosquitoes were chewing on her. She ran to the Jeep. I looked down and saw a few on my legs, one was as large as a bumblebee. I think they are called Wood Mosquitoes. So much for the perfect campsite.

We did find another campsite at Doctor Creek.

Something that is new to us, are the number of double, triple and group campsites. Utahans like to take 2 or 3 RV’s, a few tents, lots of trucks, a boat or two and a passel of kids camping.

We drove to Cathedral Valley today. This time descending into the valley from Thousand Lakes Mountain. [Which does not have a thousand lakes. It is said that “back when” someone likely confused it with Boulder Mountain which does have quite a few lakes]. The drive was good, but did not meet the expectations that I had built up from reading a description of the drive. Perhaps when the aspens are yellow, it would be more rewarding to the eyes.

Cathedral Valley is picturesque, but it was also warm so we only spent an hour or so there before retracing our route back up the mountain. There is a campsite only five miles up the gravel road that overlooks the valley. You can also see Boulder Mountain to the south and the Henry Mountains far to the southeast. The view rivals the panorama from Muley Point. We might take KoKo up there for a night or two.

We thought we might get back to the paved road without seeing another human, but coming out we saw one truck at Round Lake below and another truck checking on his cattle, but no one in Cathedral Valley.

We wanted to put the yaks in the water today, but the breeze started out moderate and built to blowing like stink. So, before lunch we drove to the mountain overlooking Fishlake, a high clearance road since the dirt that covers the large sized rock roadbed was exposed in a few places. The view from the top was worth the effort to get there. I posted two pictures taken at the overlook.

We have been gone long enough now that we don’t feel the need to do something all the time. We lazed the afternoon away surfing the web and watched the news and “Friends” at dinner. Having both cell phone and TV at the campsite is novel for us. It’s been over a month since we have had both.

Not much to Blog about. We moved a mile down the road to a dispersed camping area. [In a National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed anywhere there is already something that resembles a campsite. Which just means, you can not make a new one. The bottom line is that you have the place to yourself and it’s free.] In the afternoon we drove into the only town and made some phone calls.

Another wonderful day in paradise.

Another lazy day. We are sleeping until almost 8. I might be awake, but Dorothy has not been able to get to sleep until after midnight for over a week. So I nap until she wakes up.

I spent the morning locating back road trips, as described in a tour book, on our large-scale map. This done, I can now see where we want to go next. Darn thing is there are zero formal CG’s anywhere close to that point. So I guess we will go to Richland Monday and see if the Forest Service office can point us to dispersed area that we can get into. All too often the personnel in the offices don’t know much about camping spots. When we see a Forest Service truck picking up trash or doing repairs, we ask them as they are out on the roads everyday.

There is still too much wind to paddle the yaks. Maybe tomorrow?

Saturday, July 11
Another glorious lazy day. I am too lazy to even Blog.
We did get the yaks in the water for awhile before the breeze came up. Well, it came up while we were out. I surfed back to the ramp off wind.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pictures of Cedar Breaks, Zion and Fishlake

This is Cedar Breaks NP. It supposed to be a little like Bryce and it is, but it is not as dramatic.

Taken in the ghost town of Grafton. This house was used in Butch Cassidy. Recall the scene where he rides the bicycle and Etta gets on the handle bars.

This is the front door to Zion taken from a overlook a few miles distant.
Not a view commonly seen. You are so blessed to see it. [BG]

Fishlake taken from an overlook across the lake from where we parked KoKo. If you had eagle eyes, you could see KoKo. There are several eagles and other fish eating birds that cruise the lake for lunch.

Fishlake looking east. It's a pretty big lake and a natural one. There are two sailboats on the lake. One was out today, main only, rail down, in 20+ knots.

Nope, that's not snow, the "cotton" from the Aspens. This area trapped it. If you click on the picture, the larger size will show it better.

This one is for our friends Terry & Betty. They take a picture of every park entrance sign with Betty standing next to it. They use the pictures to introduce all the other pictures they take at the park. I am guessing they don't have a picture of this particular sign. The road looks OK here, 50 yards down it's all rock.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bryce, Red Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Zion

Tuesday, June 23
Lay Day – Washing clothes and marketing in beautiful downtown Panguitch, Utah

At 8PM we drove to the Bryce VC for an astronomy program. We were surprised that the auditorium was almost full. [There is also a parallel program at the lodge] Before the ranger began his talk people were sitting in the floor. After the informative talk, we went into the parking lot where they had five telescopes set up for viewing. We saw Saturn, the Ring Nebula and the Whirlpool Galaxy.

This area is one of the few in the lower 48 where light pollution is low and viewing is superb.

When we left at midnight, there still people coming into the park.

We slept in and did a few chores in the morning. Then it was back for a driving/viewing tour of Bryce. We didn’t do much walking, as I was saving my foot for a special hike (Sunset Canyon to Sunrise Canyon). The views are breath taking.

We hiked in Red Canyon on the Arches Trail. We were supposed to see 15 arches. It was a short one-mile hike and was described as easy. We have a different opinion of easy. If the trail is on steep red gravel that slides, then it is not easy. We did see 6 arches at one time. And it was good exercise.

We set the alarm clock for 5:30 am, so we could be on the Sunset/Sunrise Trail by 7:30. The trail is down and up, but the path is very good, so I would rate it as an easy trail. I did huff and puff coming out of the canyon. I wish I could find a word that would describe how spectacular the Queens Garden is. I really become overwhelmed with the views. Doug, I think Utah is become our favorite state once again.

In mid-afternoon, we drove KoKo into town to spend the night so we would be on-site at 6:30 Saturday morning for the mass ascension.

Hot Air Balloon Day – We counted 32 that lifted off. The air was calm, so they were able to float around the huge field for an hour or so and land close to where they took off. It was neat to be able to wander around and see how they assemble the craft. No one was asking anyone to stand back.

We went back to Red Canyon for the afternoon and visited with some folks from Lake Havasu until time to return to town for Balloon Glow. About a dozen rigs were set up on Main Street and when they turned on their burners, the balloons glowed in the dark.

I am sure it’s all bigger in ALQ, but I liked the small town atmosphere. The people in Panquitch could not be more gracious and sociable.

Sunday, June 28
We moved west 24 miles to Panquitch Lake. We are in meadow and forest land. Every so often we see some red cliffs, but this is different country than we have been in the last few weeks. West of Bryce is also ATV country. Everyone is towing ATV’s. We saw an ATV dealer this afternoon that had them stacked up, dozens and dozens of them.

The odometer reads 27,144. KoKo has traveled 419 miles in the last 30 days.

Our new home has a canyon in the backyard with a babbling creek. We are at 8,400 feet here, thousand feet higher than Red Canyon. The nights should be a little cooler.

After we settled in, had lunch and a nap, we decided to get in the Jeep and explore a little. We had not driven far (30 minutes) when we saw signage that we were in Cedar Breaks NM. So we stopped and looked. We had read descriptions of it as a mini Bryce. I can see the comparison, but it pales next to Bryce.

We noted that Cedar City was only another 30 minutes west and since we really wanted a Wal*Mart we headed downhill, from over 10,000 to 6,000 feet. From 61 degrees to 88 degrees.

This was our first Wal*Mart since we left home May 10th. It is one of their largest stores. Food everywhere. Cantaloupes for $1.25, strawberries for $1. etc.

Since we were not going to get back to the campsite until 8, we splurged and dined at an upscale Mexican place. The flavor of the green chile sauce was divine.

We slept until 7:45. We managed to get dressed by 10:45. We spent the rest of the reading and napping.

After over six weeks, we put the yaks in water today and paddled around Panquitch Lake. We spent the rest of the day reading, napping and doing a few chores. We are just enjoying our new cabin in the mountains.

We want to explore the Kolab Terraces, but have not figured out how we can do it and avoid the heat in the low lands. Maybe that will be on another trip when we can be on the Utah/Arizona border in climate weather. It’s either another trip or staying in Utah until mid October.

After the fourth, we may turn north to the Fishlake NF. Right now we are holding position until the holiday passes. Weekends and Holidays are the bane of the retired.

We drove Pelli over 150 miles today. It’s a long way to anywhere from here. We scouted out CG’s at Duck Creek and Navajo Lake to see if we wanted to go there next week. They are OK, but we like where we are just as well. So we will visit there on our next trip through the area.

The first few miles of the road to Kolab Terrance looks fine. But I want some local info before we take KoKo down to Lava Point.

We stopped and shopped in Cedar City for a few items and then drove out to see the “world class” Parowan petroglyphs. A bit disappointing. It did give us a sample of the desert that starts just west of Cedar City. It was 93 and felt like Nevada, which is only a short distance away. We were glad to escape back to the mountains.

We did, finally, find some really choice dispersed CG’s on FS 068 just west of Panguitch Lake.

Lay Day, we washed clothes and did a few chores. It rained most of the afternoon. This was the first prolonged rain in a month. Most rain showers are measured in thousands of drops and are highly localized.

We knew we were biting off a large chunk, before we started out today. But, we have not been able to figure out how to get closer to Zion without being in the valley, which is almost 5,000 feet lower and the temps are in the high 90’s there.

So we started out on what would be a 240-mile loop that took us ten hours and the engine was running most of the time. Sometimes, we were only going two miles an hour over boulders.

First we headed down the mountain almost to Cedar City and turned south on the Kolab Road, which took us back up to over 9,000. The road winds on a plateau through picturesque alpine meadows with aspens, blue sky, sheep and expansive vista’s. This is a must do drive.

I was seeking Lava Point for the view and to see if we wanted to bring KoKo there for a few nights. I was relying on signage, there was none and so I missed the turn. By the time, I figured it out I did not want to head back up the mountain. My next wife will be able to navigate while I drive.

We continued down and passed through some of the stunning rock formations that Zion is known for. The road ends at Virgin which is at 3,500 feet. We had come down 6,000 feet from the plateau in 40 miles. The air temp went from the pleasant low 70’s to 99!

We drove east a few miles to Rockville and took the road to the ghost town of Grafton. While we were looking the buildings over, we chatted with another couple. It turns out her mother was one of the last residents of Grafton in 1945. One of the houses was used in the scene where Butch Cassidy rides his bicycle. The couple took a picture of us illegally standing on the porch. [If the porch does not match your memory of the scene, it’s because the house has three porches and we used the one that was most accessible]

Next we took one of the worst back roads of the trip. It had two miles of the worst ruts and boulders we have seen. But the views from the road of the opening of Zion Canyon were extraordinary. My feeling is that when you are in Zion, you are so close the massive rock formations, you can not fully appreciate them.

It was after 3pm when we got back to the paved road and we needed to head back to the CG. We made a short stop at the Kolab Canyons part of Zion which is just off I15. We wanted to hike Taylor’s Creek, but it was too late in the day, besides we had just driven through a rain storm and the clouds were still dark. Hence, no pictures.

Yes, we drove 25 miles on an interstate, the first concrete we have seen since ALQ.

We stopped in Cedar City and ate at the same Mexican place we had been to earlier the week. I had the same dinner and Dorothy had fish tacos.

On the way back we encountered two police roadblocks. They waved us through the first one, but checked our papers at the second one. They did not notice our expired tag, Funny thing, you seldom see a police presence, but each road block had over a dozen officers. The road blocks were not on main roads.

We were asleep by 9.

[Note to file: FS 68 just west of Panquitch Lake has several dispersed camping areas in large meadows. There are two near the north end of the road and two more about 15 miles south. We scouted for good dispersed camping before settling in at Panquitch Lake, but we missed these. Also Hwy 14 from where FS 68 intersects it is very scenic west of there. Duck Lake is OK, private sites. We liked Navaho Lake better]

We slept in and were not ready to go anywhere until 10:30. So we elected to be lazy. By noontime, there were dark clouds in half of the sky. We got bb size hail about 2. Since it’s the Fourth of July, I decided to have a real Fourth feast. Made baked beans, cooked corn on the cob and even fried chicken. I love fried chicken, rarely eat it and it’s even more rare for me to cook it. We enjoyed it. Hope every one celebrated how great we have it in this wonderful country.