Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Two writers for no extra cost. We were both recording this week, so it’s merged together. Dorothy’s comments are in the serif font.

Sunday – April 1 – High Winds! Gusts to over 40. Our plan to spend the night in Monument Valley was aborted by blowing dust.

If you have ever watched a Western movie, a part of them was probably made at Monument Valley.  We had planned the to stay at the Navajo campground, take the tour Monday and then leave Tuesday morning.  But the dirt was blowing so much and is predicted to continue that we just drove past.  I am really really disappointed!

I thought about Muley Point, but decided on Goosenecks. There were a half-dozen other rigs there. No dust, but at times the wind seemed to lift KoKo off the ground. Surprise, we had 22 HD channels coming from we have no idea.

This is just a mesa with sagebrush and rock but the dust isn’t bad since there is ground cover. The price if Free! We like that.

Now consider that we are out in the middle of nowhere. There isn’t a large town anywhere. On a whim, Don put up the antenna to see if we could get a television station. We got 22 including Al Jazeera in English. We must admit that it was very interesting and we got news that we would never get anywhere else. I could not pick up bias of any kind. There were comments on the Trayvon Martin case on how the media was making a bit of a circus out of it.

Monday – April 2 – We drove 20 minutes to our new home at Sand Island near Mexican Hat. We wanted to put the boats in the San Juan River, but found the closest put-in and take-out points to be 27 miles apart. More distance than we wanted to do, even with the river flowing 4-5 knots.

It’s still very cool  here and the bushes are just beginning to flower and leaf.  There are petroglyphs on the rocks just across the way from us.  Nothing to do when we got here so we drove into the town.  This is a very small town, but there are old historic homes being renovated and some new construction also.  So something must be going on here. There are three campgrounds plus the BLM park where we are staying.  We saw Fort Bluff and a lot of cabins, so we decided to take a tour.  It is free.  This is the place where several Mormon settlers decided to settle.  The fort is being rebuild by Mormon families.  There is one old cabin standing, the rest are reproductions.  They are furnished with old furniture, chairs, feather beds, dishes and each bed is made with a beautiful homemade quilt.  It is very impressive the work that is being done.  There is no government money coming in, just donations and the time, labor and money of the families involved.  There are probably a dozen cabins and each has the family’s name and history.  We watched a movie at the Visitors Center about the settlers building the “Hole in the Wall” road. 

By this time, we were hungry (we’ve had another time change - MDT now).  We went to the Twin Rocks Cafe and Gift Shop.  All of the food looked very good, but our Navajo Pizza was absolutely yummy.  It was the Classic - Italian sausage, pepperoni and red onion on Ash Bread.  You had your choice of Indian fry bread or Ash Bread.  We told the waitress (who was Navajo) that we didn’t know and for her to pick.  It also did not have the traditional tomato sauce on it.  Don’t know what it was, but it was good.

Tuesday – April 3 – We decided to head north, towards Canyonlands. I thought we would stop at our secret lake location in the Abajo Mountains for the night. From there you have a view north across Canyonlands to Dead Horse Point, some 40 miles distant.

I had forgotten how high the lake was. At 8,600 foot it was 44 at 2PM and the campsites were still mushy from the snow storm three weeks back. So we came down the mountain into Canyonlands, 3,800 feet lower.

We left the campground the campground late and made the 20 mile drive to Blanding where we stopped at the Clarks Grocery Market.  It’s a small store but they had fresh baked bread and pita bread.  I have been looking for pita bread since we ran out in Texas.  They had good prices so I bought a rib eye steak and a pot roast.  We have been beef deprived. 

We headed up the mountain, but the higher we went the more snow we saw and the temperature was dropping.  We got to the lake which is the high point – 8,600’ and it was cold.  The snow was melting so it was muddy.  We continued our journey to Canyonlands National Park.  We thought that since it is so early in the season there wouldn’t be any problem getting a site.  We did pass a BLM campground that looked okay.  When we got to Canyonlands it was full and they recommended that we go to the BLM area.  As we were driving in, a passing car waved at Don to stop.  They have a Lazy Daze and said we would have to get together when they returned.  We found an absolutely fantastic campsite close to David and Mary Gardner from San Francisco.  They came over after dinner and we had wine and a great visit.

I wanted to park at Squaw Flats, but it was full. So we went back five miles to just outside of the park and found a delightful site on BLM land. We have the best back window view in a long time. And it’s free! No phone, No TV, but great views.

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Our parking place near Indian Creek

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Out our back door

On  the way to finding a campsite an on-coming car flagged us down. It was Lazy Daze owners David and Mary from San Francisco. They came over after dinner and we talked for several hours. We have some friends in common.

Wednesday – April 4 – The bright sun coming through the rear window woke us up at 7. After piddling around, we drove into the park and then on the access road to Elephant Hill Road. According to the signage, this is the most challenging 4WD road in Utah. I hoped to see some Jeep carnage. We hiked up the road, and I use that term very loosely. In places, clearance is measured in feet, not inches.

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The reward at the top is a section of The Needles and views of the La Sal, Abajo and Henry Mountains.

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Panorama of The Needles

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We only saw one vehicle on Elephant Hill Road, sort of a dune buggy, strictly custom. Based on the throbbing sound, in excess of 400hp. It crawled along effortlessly.

David and Mary opted to move to the formal campground at Squaw Flats to be close to the hiking trails. We elected to stay put with our view. We drove over to have cocktails with them.

Thursday – April 5 – We slept until 9! We had planned to be out early. It’s just as well as there was near full cloud cover in the morning, so no photography.

Dorothy fixed the last of the foule [Fava Beans] we brought with us for brunch. Since we did not eat until 11, we are having a steak lunch at 4 – a two meal day.

We drove north on the road we are camping on, Lockhart Basin, which winds up in Moab. There are RV’s galore parked along the road. This is the largest rig we have seen anywhere.

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Built by Halmark on a Freightliner chassis

Note tag axle on the coach and triple axels on the trailer

We crossed Indian Creek and the road went rather steeply uphill. I put it in 4WD and started up. The gears were not fully engaged, so I pulled over to let a Rubicon show me how to do it. He made two feeble attempts in his brand new rig and gave up. Since he had twice the tread width I had, I decided Pelli was out of her league in the loose dirt.

The ranger talk was on the numerous outlaws that were in the area in the late 1880’s. Butch and Sundance and some really bad guys like Harvey Logan - the big guy in the movie that challenges Butch for leadership. Also Blue John and Silver Tip. The local stronghold was Robbers Roost just west of here near The Maze district of Canyonlands. Most were horse thieves and rustlers. Butch was the only one to hold up trains.

This is a place where having solar pays off. We can bring a few gallons of water from the campground. But, after a week we will need to dump the tanks and so we will head to Moab and a phone signal.

Friday – April 6 – Yesterday’s wind continued through the night and until early afternoon today.  When the dust cleared, we took what we thought would be a short hike near Salt Creek. It was a loop trail. At the trailhead an arrow on the sign pointed left and read uneven terrain and ladders. I read that to mean we could go right and avoid the ladders and return the way we went in. Wrong. The ladders were near the end of the loop. Poor Dorothy could not handle getting on the ladder to go down so we had to retrace our route over the not so slick rock.

The forecast low tonight is 29 and then warming.

Saturday – April 7 – It’s was a good day.  I operated on the hiking boots so that I am now able to get them on.  We got up and went on two short hikes. One had a view of the Needles.  Then we went on another hike which was only .6 of a mile, but the view of the Needles was much better.  I had an easy day, so was it because it was the morning or was it because my boots fit so much better or a combination of both.  In the afternoon, the Gardner’s joined us for Happy Hour and we enjoyed the visit.  We plan to see them in Moab.

Sunday – April 8 – A busy day. We hiked a little over an hour toward The Needles but did not get there. There was always one more bend to round before arriving. We will have to be content with the more distant view we saw.

It was a difficult hike for Dorothy, especially the return downhill over high rocks steps.

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Our closest panorama of The Needles

After lunch we took a Sunday Afternoon ride in search of Indian ruins. This was a two hour dirt road odyssey first west, then south along the base of the Abajo Mountains to 8,000 feet and where there is still snow along the road side and finally north and down into Beef Basin where there are several ruins. That sentence is as long as the road. We did see one perfectly preserved ruin on a cliff. We will take it on faith that there are more ruins in the basin. We could not see them and hiking up a steep cliff to see, was not enticing as sunset was approaching.

However the views of the canyon beyond Salt Creek were spectacular – one of the most expansive views to be found. Bernie you need to paint this one. Much too wide for our camera. The red rock buttes were aflame in the late afternoon sun.

Monday – April 9 – We drove north to Moab. We are parked at Goose Island just north of town. We have cell coverage, but no TV. We did stream Blue Bloods last night.


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