Friday, October 2, 2015

The Forgotten Coast

We had not been to the Gulf coast in several years. It was at the top of Dorothy’s list. When we started camping there 30 years back, there was no reason to make reservations, especially in early Fall. We would have the place pretty much to ourselves. She has told way too many people about it and it has been discovered. It’s still not densely populated with condo’s and beach clutter like it is from Gulf Shores to Panama City, but it has been discovered. So we made reservations, ugh!, and hoped the weather would be kind to us. A little cool and no sand flies was all we asked. We got humid mornings, mostly gray skies, showers before noon, but the sea breeze kicked in by mid-afternoon and the flies were no problem. I think there have been three Blood Moon’s this year, clouds covered all of them where we were.

We started this trip by visiting friends in Mobile, then another couple in Pensacola. The drive from Pensacola through Panama City is thorough a densely populated residential and commercial strip - mile-after-mile at 45mph. Once you get to Mexico Beach commercial places drop to near zero and there are no buildings taller than two stories. It’s as close as you can get to Old Florida. Here’s a blurb about the area from Wikipedia.

Florida's Forgotten Coast is a registered trademark, coined in the early 1990s, by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce. The name is most commonly used to refer to a relatively quiet, undeveloped section of coastline stretching from Mexico Beach on the Gulf of Mexico to St. Marks on Apalachee Bay in Florida.

The Oregon coastline maybe be more scenic, but the white quartz sand here is remarkable. The sand comes from rivers in lower Alabama.

panhandle01 panhandle02 panhandle03Looking for breakie panhandle04 panhandle06The sunset pictures are not juiced, it’s the way my camera sees them. panhandle09 panhandle12 panhandle21

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Rock Trip

We finally came up with a name for this trip. Since almost every stop has been to look at rock formations, The Rock Trip seems appropriate.
14 Moab63Dorothy in our fixer-upper 14 Moab68Gemini Bridges From Below 
Our last week in Moab was marred by bad weather, first high winds, then snow and rain. SLC had a monster late winter storm and Moab got some it.
14 Moab73 14 Moab82
Rain And Snow in Moab
However, on our last day the rain quit, the sun came out and the skies were quite clear, so we were able to drive the whole Poison Spider trail and managed some decent pictures of the Behind The Rocks area. The trail is rated one notch more difficult this year due to heavy use by ATV’s. We had no problems going up, but coming back down, I could not believe the height of ledges we went up. Sometimes they look bad going up, other times they look really difficult going down. Maybe another time, we will have all day so we can continue from Poison Spider to the Golden Spike trail.
14 Moab77 14 Moab79 The very difficult to access Behind The Rocks area from the Poison Spider trail
Trails done this trip: Bull Canyon, Day Canyon Point, Dome Plateau, Fins and Things, Hell Roaring Rim, Hey Joe, Poison Spider, Picture Frame Arch. Drove again to the start of Behind The Rocks and knew we still did not have enough Jeep or the nerve to do it. Dorothy said there was no way she was doing Hell’s Revenge. Maybe another time. 
Sunday – April 19 – We drove two hours south to The Needles District of Canyonlands. We have been here several times before. We were here last year and did half of the Elephant Hill trail before I chickened out and turned around. NPS is proposing to permit the trail soon, so that effectively means closing it to all but a lucky 10 vehicles a day. So I wanted to give it another shot.
And so we did. We got away at 8:30 and got back at 6 – a LONG day. The Jeep trail looks worse than it is in places. We had no problems. The Rubicon continues to amaze us with what she can do. Much of the trail is through long canyons on smooth dirt. I wanted to do the trail for two reasons, the primary one was to get to Chelser Park. This hiking distance to it is way beyond our endurance. We tried it last year. Looking at the map, it showed we could almost drive to it. In fact, in the parking area at the end of the trail is a sign that shows .6 miles. It does not say to where you will be in .6 miles however. We went twice that distance and still did not get to Chelser Park.
15 the needles22This is what stopped Dorothy, it’s over 40 feet high 
15 the needles26
This is what stopped me. Slipping off the narrow cedar log and breaking a leg on the way back was on my mind. On the next ledge is a large pile of boulders to scramble over.
Oh well, it was both a fund and a scenic drive.
15 the needles06 15 the needles15
What we did NOT see
Chesler-Park-Trail-Canyonlands-National-Park-Utah Pan_CheslerPark1-c3x1-c2_XL
Tuesday - April 22 – We continued south on US191 to Canyon de Chelly. A place that has been on our bucket list for years. We met Mary and David and got caught up with them. I have say that as canyons go, the Indians here had a great home. Not only scenic, but they had plentiful water.
16 canyon de chelly02 16 canyon de chelly15
16 canyon de chelly04  16 canyon de chelly11We are home bound. See you next year.

Trip Stats: 6,500 miles on KoKo. $1,800 worth of gasoline. Parking per night: $6.09. Almost 60 consecutive nights wo hookups.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Still In Moab

We opted to stay another week and see if the haze would clear out so we could take some photo’s. ON Sunday the forecast was for only one windy the whole week. Monday night the forecast was changed for four days of wind. And so it goes. We could go elsewhere, but the wind is blowing there too.

Dorothy writes: April 4 - Saturday - We drove the Hey Joe Canyon Trail.  It's an easy drive, but was good to get on a trail again.

April 5 - Sunday – Some LD friends called us and said they were leaving Goose Island CG early and we could take their site.  Goose Island is one of my favorite CGs.  It's close to town so it’s easy to get groceries at City Market and go to the feed store to dump and take on water.  Almost half of the sites are along the Colorado River and it's hard to get a site there, so we were excited.  Thank you Dan & Barb!  After we got our site set up, we went to town to do laundry.  It had been two weeks, so it was piled up. 

April 6 - Monday - Don met people getting in their site, Eileen & Dave from Canada.  Already we are meeting friendly people here.  While sitting outside reading, a new neighbor, Laurie, came over and chatted while she waited from her husband, Paul, to bring their rig over.  They are from Washington and they also have a Jeep like ours, except theirs is red. 

With our new expensive 4G booster, we can get internet at our site - we are happy campers.  Paul & Laurie came over for Happy Hour, so we are having fun.

April 7 - Tuesday - It's windy today so no reason to go out in the Jeep because it's too dusty to take photos. We went to Eileen & Dave's for Happy Hour and were joined by Paul & Laurie.  One of the things I like about Goose Island is that we have met friendly people.

April 8 - Wednesday - It's VERY windy, but that's a good thing because Don finished our taxes.  We went to Susie's Branding Iron for another prime rib dinner and took Paul & Laurie with us.  Delicious food and good company.

April 9 - Thursday - A very good day.  The wind is down and we went wheeling with Paul & Laurie to Dome Plateau. It's not difficult enough to scare me, but still just enough to make it interesting.  The views overlooking Professor Valley are majestic.  Many westerns were made there and you could just see John Wayne riding around the monoliths. 

April 10 - Friday - Our camping friends left, so we are now in a popular CG on a weekend.  We hope that when the weekender's leave, we will get some new camping buddies to share Happy Hour and maybe go wheeling together. 

The above was written after I wrote the following. Dorothy says we are on different trips.

Sunday – April 5 – We have been here two weeks now and will be around for at least one more week. 1,300+ Jeeps left this morning. The town almost looks vacant. We were little affected by the influx. After 10 days perched on a rock we came down and are parked in our usual place along the Colorado River. Dorothy likes the rock wall on the other side of the river. We gave up a quiet place, with a great view and internet access for a place with a little road noise and no internet. The upside is that we have four days of winds of over 20 forecast, so being in the canyon tones the wind down a bit.

It’s a popular CG and idiots cruise through all day looking for a home, even tho the sign says Campground Full. The ones that come in after 6 in the evening must be some kind of special stupid. I would like to change the sign to add, “No shit, it’s really full.”

Two weeks of dirty clothes and linens took up four “triple load” washers.

The local community radio station is run by volunteers. You hear artists played by no other other station in this universe. Some of it is actually enjoyable. This morning a Navaho was playing traditional “Indian” music. The other morning a young gal, 12?, hosted two hours of 70’s tunes. She liked Journey. They announce who needs a ride to neighboring cities and also lost and found items.

Wednesday – April 8 – Being Wednesday it’s prime rib day. Along with two other couples, we will be at Susie’s tonight. The wind has been blowing all week and topped out today. Woowee. It is forecast to lay down tomorrow for several days. The wind has allowed us to get some maintenance items done, shopping, and finishing taxes. Still on the list is washing KoKo, it’s been over two months.

Thursday – April 9 – The wind did lay down and we were on the Dome Plateau trail for nine hours. We had done part of the trail before in the Liberty. Looking at the trail yesterday, we have no idea how we got that Jeep over some of the obstacles. This time, thanks to careful navigation by Paul and Laurie, we stayed on the trail and found all of the things we wanted to see, including La Boca arch and best of all the overlook of Fisher Valley. I kid you not it’s the best overlook we have ever seen, anywhere, anytime. That was the agreement of all four Jeep teams at the overlook. You want pictures to prove it. Sorry. The sky was great when we left in the morning. But it was 3pm when we got to the overlook and the sky had loaded up with water vapor and clouds had settled in over the La Sal mountains. Still it was a glorious day.

14 Moab41

This looked way worse to me than it was. I wondered if I got down if I could get back up in the sand. So I went down while our friends with a winch stayed up. I came back up and never spun a tire. The Jeep continues to amaze me with it’s capability. 14 Moab52La Boca Arch [The Mouth]

14 Moab54Here I am sucking it in for the camera at the overlook

14 Moab56

Fisher Valley in the haze 14 Moab58An attempt an a panorama – Did not work so good 14 Moab60 14 Moab63 

Friday, April 3, 2015



Monday - March 23 - We got to Moab and parked in a CG along the Colorado River that is close by the Poison Spider Trail. We should have taken the trail that day as it was really clear. But, we figured that we would have another shot. Still waiting. We did do part of the trail one afternoon and got some half-decent shots.

Sunday - March 29 - It’s Jeep Safari Week in Moab. Lots of commotion on some trails and in town. We are blissfully not a part of it. We are perched on a rock, again, with 50 mile views. OK, OK, we do have to walk 70 yards to see the SW view. Out our back window is a canyon, in the distance the portal from US191 to Island In The Sky Road, beyond that Arches NP and way way in the background the Book Cliffs north of I70.

The only TV is QVC and HSN, but we do have two bars of 4G. We have drive 40 minutes into Moab to get groceries, dump and take on water. So the parking is free, but the gas into town costs.

We are about finished with the third season of Deadwood and have a few movies left to watch on the DVR. I was able to snag a library card and devoured yet another military history. This one on Operation Torch and the heroic role a banana boat played in the landing in North Africa. Bet, you did not know that the script for Casablanca hit the desk of Hal Wallis the day after Pearl Harbor. The film was released just weeks after the invasion of North Africa and made box office boffo.

14 Moab09

Dorothy Out Our Back Door – Canyon, Portal and Arches in the background

14 Moab16

Our Perch – Taken From Across The Canyon – Crowded Huh?

We drove two hours down Day Canyon Point Trail. No, you will not find it on your map. We barely found it. It descends 1,700 feet over stair steps from near Dead Horse SP to an overlook of the Colorado River. My purpose was to get closer to the potato shaped rocks you see in the middle of the next three pictures. There is a trail through them, but we don’t have enough Jeep to drive it. It’s the most difficult trail in Moab and you need a really serious machine and be willing to accept damage. 

14 Moab04My Fav Rocks In The Moab Area 14 Moab06Dorothy Posing With My Rocks 

14 Moab13My Favorite Rocks From Another Angle – Too Much Haze

14 Moab11

The Monitor and Merrimac

Wednesday – April 1 – No April Fool, the water vapor increased yesterday, contrails went from horizon to horizon. In the evening the wind piped up and got dirt in the air. By morning our view was limited to less than five miles. So we spent the day lazing around. No sense in fighting it. Kinda feel a little bad for the 1,300+ Jeeps here this week to drive the trails. But, not too bad as most of them drive the trails for the thrill and not for scenery. So limited visibility is not that big of a deal for them. The ones in the open rigs with bandana’s to keep some of the dust out of their lungs are a different from us. We keep our top and doors in place and drive with the AC on.

Jeep has an expo in town. They had a concept Jeep that we both wanted. 70’s surfer style. They were giving out all sorts of bling like caps, tshirts, scarfs, patches and decals.14 Moab21

One of kind concept Jeep – We want it

Thursday – April 2 – We woke up to a cell modem (myfi) that was not working. It was on, but we had no access. The power switch and display were inoperative. Grumble. I left it on all day and by late afternoon the battery was discharged. I put it on charge for a few minutes and powered it on and it was all good again.

Dorothy’s laptop battery has been deteriorating for over a year. It finally got to the critical stage after we left civilization last month. Happily, we found the best to get it replaced right here in Moab. A young couple moved here last year and opened phone and computer repair shop. They could not be nicer or more helpful. Apple in their infinite wisdom designs a new battery for Macbook’s every few months. Same footprint, but they change things like the connectors. Even with the serial number it took a few tries to get the right battery.

The owner mentioned a xxx that he had replaced his wife’s hard drive with. It sounded good to me, so I had him order me one and he imaged my existing drive to it. I now boot really fast to Yosemite and like a flash to Windows.

Spent some time listening to Chet Atkins on Youtube. I only need to listen to Chet for a few minutes to remember he was the best of the best. Even the greats were always humbled to play with him.

The Big Jeep Expo – We spent two hours wandering around asking questions and looking puzzled. Their were dozens of vendors selling things that we know little about. At least a half dozen selling their version of the generic Dana 60 axle's. To me, none of them could demonstrate why I would want to buy one of their products, except to have some heavy duty part on our Jeep, so we would look mean like the rest of the flock here. It would be nice to get our rig lifted a little, but what’s the best way to do it? And any lift would mean Dorothy would need a step to be able to get in. Well, for only $1,900 we saw an automatic step. Open the door, it drops down and goes up out of the way of rocks when you close it. I figure for 6 to 8 G’s we could get lifted enough to tackle some of the more extreme trails. Not at all sure, that is the direction we want to go.

14 Moab19  14 Moab20Some of the more fanciful designs – One of our grandkids might like them, but we really don’t know because we never hear from them.

14 Moab22

Out the back window – colorful, but hazy

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sitting On Top Of The World

It feels like we are overlooking the world. Well, three states at least. We can see both northern Arizona and western Colorado from our perch. 50 mile views. We can see two other campers parked a mile or so off. We have been back and forth between Utah and Arizona many times in the last few weeks. Today, we drove north, committing to Utah. We are quite a ways from the Colorado River, but still this land is managed by Glen Canyon. Someone there decided to cut a new road around the canyon rim. Probably done last year. There was only one tire print on the road we drove out. Not a single foot print seen.

We took the highly not recommended Moki Dugway road up here. After I saw 18-wheelers driving the last time we were here, I had no qualms about driving it while towing. It was built to haul uranium ore after all.

06 muley point 08The Moki Dugway06 muley point 05

Our Southern Exposure - The View Towards Monument Valley.

We recalled having lots of TV stations here. Now there are 104! Some are duplicates and most are Denver stations. We have been without TV for quite. We recall having good cell coverage. This time only weak analog and an unusable 2 bars of 4G.

Sunday – March 22 – The wind blew like stink over night, so the haze from the loose dirt in Monument Valley was worse this morning, so after enjoying CBS Sunday Morning, we pulled up stakes and headed north. We stopped by the BLM station on Cedar Mesa. The last time we were there Mordak, the Information Denier was running the place and I wanted to see if the attitude was the same. The old building has been replaced with a fancy new stimulus funded one and two men who are quite helpful in directing you to ruins. They did admit that if they read you as one who might damage the ruins they direct you to one of the sacrificial ruins. I liked that. Turned out that one of them was a retired archeologist and knew the area intimately. I was not in the mood for another hazard prone hike so soon, so perhaps we will return next year. We also learned that Germans like to come over here and commit suicide by jumping off the cliffs and leaving BLM to clean up the mess.

Dorothy writes: For several years, I have followed the adventures of The Bayfield Bunch. Its always interesting to follow the adventures of people that enjoying camping the way we do.  Today we pulled into the Welcome Center in Blanding for lunch, nap and wifi and happened to park next to Al and Kelly (and Pheebe).  I couldn't believe it - after all these years we got to meet a delightful couple that I felt that I knew even though we have never met.  Life on the road is fun in many ways.

There was a laundromat across the street from the VC that had a large level parking lot. I decided we could do two weeks of clothes and park there for the night. So we did. Had TV and five bars of 4G. woohoo! By breaking our usual pattern of where to stay, we were rewarded with a delightful drive through the early morning sunlit rocks on the way to Moab the next day.

Monday – March 23 – Our preferred CG in Moab was full, no surprise, besides we could not stay there as long as we wanted due to the 14-day limit. So we went on the other side of the Colorado to a less well buffed CG, but are rewarded with new rocks to view. The sunset here lasted for over an hour due to some heavy clouds drifting through. The rocks changed color at least 6 times.

It was the perfect day for photography, but I was flat out of energy. Even knowing, clouds would be moving in Tuesday, I just could not get myself up for going out after lunch.

On purpose, we have placed ourselves in Moab during the most congested 10 days of the year – The Easter Jeep Safari. The hills will be crawling with thousands of Jeeps. Plus there is the Q equivalent of The Big Tent, with dozens of Jeep equipment vendors showing off their wares.

Political Rant – Moab is in Grand County. The Grand County Council has been taken over by Greenies. They wish to shut down a lot of the biking and Jeeping trails by designating them wilderness. Plain language in the Wilderness Act states the lands must be pristine. Areas that have been mined, used daily for trails for over 50 years, have active gas and oil operations on them hardly qualify as wilderness. Asshats! And I read that NPS will go to permitting Elephant Hill Trail, only 10 a day, including bikes, so we will have to do that when we head south.

Tuesday – March 24 – I read about a canyon that sounded scenic and I wanted to see if we could access it from the river, rather than driving all the way around to Dead Horse Point. So we took Long Canyon up toward Dead Horse and sure enough the dimly printed trail on my map turned out to branch off to Day Canyon. We will make that drive on a day when the weather is more cooperative to photography. Along the way, we re-discovered a parking area near Dead Horse that is almost on top of the world. You have a southern view of Behind The Rocks with the La Sal Mountains in the background. Almost an Alabama Hills view. It offers 3 bars of 4G.

Friday – March 27 – And that’s where we are tonight. Back on top of the world.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Arizona Strip – III

Pictures taken at our camp site, White Rock CG. We would call it Chocolate Swirl CG.

11a White House06 11a White House10One Of My Fav’s11a White House11

Yellow Mountain

This has been on my bucket list for years. The first time I tried it, I could not even find the trail from the road through the Tamarisks. This time I was able to find the faint trail, mostly used by cows. After crossing the shallow Paria River and entering the drainage canyon, I found the trail. Can you see it? Steep and filled with scree. It was the challenging climbs I have attempted. Huffing and puffing, I thought twice about blowing it off. After resting for awhile and looking up, I was twice enticed to continue and twice fooled by false tops.

11e Yellow Mountain01 Somehow, I made it and this was the view. I would have liked to hiked over to it and walked around on it. But I was totally baked. So I contented myself shooting hand held with 600mm digital telephoto.11e Yellow Mountain05 11e Yellow Mountain19 11e Yellow Mountain23

Looks like a wave to me 11e Yellow Mountain24 


After the sights we have seen in the last month, we are now jaded. Nothing else, in the US, compares to Valley of Fire or the pockets of wonder found in and around Vermillion Cliffs. This is nirvana for us. Several years ago, I bought two books on photographing the south west. They have pointed us in directions we would have never known about. He provides details on the best time of day for photography and detailed access information. The day we were leaving Vermillion Cliffs I thought to look at them. Discovered I had left plenty on the table. I hope to live another year so can return and at least try to get some of the shots he did.

Indian Country

When you drive east from Page, AZ you enter Indian Country. Most of AZ, NM and southern UT is Indian Country. We elected to take this route to Moab simply to stay in the boonies. On a whim, we decided to see what the Navajo Monument was all about. Well, it’s like Mesa Verde, without all the people. The only person in the VC was a Indian woman running the book store. She was most forthcoming in answering our questions about Indian culture. The campground is delightful. We were the only ones here all afternoon. After 6, two tenters showed up. And it’s free.

The more remote Keet Seel site is accessed from here in the warmer months. It’s supposed to be the best preserved site in the SW. We will not be seeing it as it is a 17 mile hike.

You decide from the pictures, if it’s worth your time.

12 Navajo Monument01 Any and every canyon out here has ruins

12 Navajo Monument02 12 Navajo Monument04