Friday, October 13, 2017

A Fabulous Final Day in Torrey, Utah

October 4-5, 2017
Torrey, Utah

Utah's Highway 12 is number two on Fox Travel's list of top ten most beautiful highways (in the world!). It's just a left turn out of our driveway for our day trip on this scenic route.

We start out through patches of golden Aspens, as we gain elevation the views stretch in all directions. Capitol Reef is just as beautiful from up here :-)

We climb to over 9,000 feet where cattle graze freely. The views are spectacular, but I feel better when we head down the other side. As we near the little village of Boulder we enter miles of petrified sand dunes. 

We climb up the other side above dark canyons and more red rock cliffs. It truly is a beautiful highway of wonderful diversity. 

We follow this interesting van for a few miles. Lasers? Yeah, no problem staying back....
Along the top of a deep ridge we enter Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. 

Highway 12 continues on to Bryce Canyon which is our next stop, but with two 8% grades, a 14% grade, and a narrow section with deep caverns on both sides, I think we'll take Highway 89 on travel day. We turn around at one of the view points after driving about 30 miles further than we originally planned. 

We have plans for dinner so we bypass a big meal at Hell's Backbone Grill (we will definitely come back for the chipotle meat loaf that looked so good in John and Pam's post), and grab a great salad next door at the Burr Trail Grill. 

We only saw part of it, but from what we experienced, the "most beautiful" claim is well deserved.

Almost two years ago we just missed Tim and Amanda in Borrego Springs, CA. I've been reading her blog for several years, and we finally catch up with each other again. They're boondocked near the national park and we arrange to meet at Cafe Diablo. In a town with mediocre eateries, this is a delightful surprise. 

Great conversation with fun people always goes by too quickly. I'm so glad we had this opportunity to get to know them better. The two couples next to us overhear that we're fulltimers, and we spend some time answering their questions about this life style we all love so much. It's always interesting to watch people's reactions :-))

I had to include the vegetable art - thanks Amanda and Tim for a fun evening.
Although not the incredible scenery of Highway 12, our drive on Thursday morning along Highway 89 is still pretty. Really, since we got to Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, all we've seen of Utah is beautiful.

Panguitch is another small, clean town near a couple national parks. With the elevation lower than Bryce it's a better stop for me. We pull into Hitch N Post RV Park and after a warm welcome from the helpful office staff we get set up. 

I've already changed dates twice here and she still gives me the option to change sites if our satellite doesn't connect through the large tree next to us. Of course that means it does connect :-)

This all gravel park includes a small motel and a handful of seasonal sites. Level, FHU 50 amps, good park WiFi and strong AT&T connection - it's a nice little park with tight spaces typical of parks in town.

Friday morning we're off to see our fifth national park in Utah - Bryce Canyon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Capitol Reef - Could Be My Favorite!

October 1-3, 2017
Torrey, Utah

Photo overload alert!!!

As anticipated, the temps drop significantly. It's a chilly Sunday for staying home and watching football.  Monday morning we wake up to snow! It sticks until about 10 AM. The flakes continue until early afternoon then turn to rain. It's so pretty and quiet - we spend another day inside reading and watching movies. 

Snow slides down the window from the roof.
Tuesday morning is bright and sunny and we're off to see our third national park in Utah - Capitol Reef!

The Castle stands tall along Hwy 24 before the Visitors' Center.
We've made a habit of stopping at the VC before exploring the national parks we visit, and watching the "story of" movie. Arches' movie was one of the beat we've seen, but the Capitol Reef video is a big disappointment. Mostly people history, and very little geology other than water's a big deal - got that!

While the movie disappoints, this $1.99 informational map of the scenic drive is wonderful!! I highly recommend picking one up when you visit.

We learn about interesting traditions - like the Mail Tree where the mail carrier delivered weekly mail to boxes attached to the gnarly trunk. It's enjoying retirement now.
Throughout the drive we follow the Waterpocket Fold. Wingate Sandstone tops the shallow Chinle layer over the Moenkopi at the bottom. The cone in the background is Navajo Sandstone. Their different rate of erosion makes for wonderful formations.
The yellowish-gray rock is the bottom of the Chinle Formation, rich in uranium. The Oyler Mine opened in 1901 when uranium was used in medicine. Later it was sold for atomic weaponry. The mines were closed when the land became part of the national park.
Mostly seen on the top of formations, the yellow of Navajo Sandstone really stands out against the red and gray along the canyon floor.
Fallen boulders make their own "arch".

Iron-rich desert varnish stripes the cliff face.
A real arch - Cassidy Arch - named after the outlaw Butch Cassidy who is said to have hidden in the area.
The only critters we saw in the park - this Fluffy Dog sighting.

The towering escarpments make me feel insignificant.
There are beautiful and amazing views looking high up the cliffs. Colors and formations wow us throughout the drive. But being able to take our time to enjoy the surprises close to the ground is just as special.

As is always the case, the return drive gives us completely different views of what may be my favorite park in Utah. We're fortunate that although there are a lot of people here, we have several places to ourselves. I'm even able to stop on the road to grab a couple photos where there's no pull-outs.

I was going to include our trip to Escalante Staircase the following day, but this is already a lot of photos - I'll put them in the next post.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Glad We Added Two More Days in Moab!

September 28-30, 2017
Moab, Utah

Thursday morning Bill drives the couple miles to ACT Campground to stalk the people currently in what will be our spot the minute they pull out. We have another trip planned with Gay and Joe just as soon as we get moved!

I get the "come on down" call just before 10:30 and get backed into our very tiny space, hooked up to electric, paid for two nights, and meet our pals at the gas station before 11:00. 

After yesterday's precipitation we start out with mostly blue skies. A few hours later we'll turn around under dark clouds.

The other side of the river from where our Tuesday drive began.

The Birthing Rock sits below the dirt road with rock art on all sides.

One of the more dramatic petroglyphs we've seen.

Styles date from the Archaic to the historic Ute period.
The desert is still green along the river.

From the end of a fin, our view is wonderful!

In all directions.

She's doing it again!

Piper's color is called Mango Tango everywhere else. In Moab it's called Camo.
But Mom, Gay does it!

The potash pools shine in the distance.

Mother Nature having fun.

Up and over Hurrah Pass
The trail winds through rougher terrain so I don't get more photos of the last section.

We can't thank these two enough for showing us another part of their beautiful Moab - we had a great time!!
We grab "linner" at the Peace Tree Cafe who has delicious fresh and healthy menu items. It will turn out to be one of very few places in Utah that does :-( You come here for the views, not the food!

Friday morning we once again wait for our new site to vacate. This much larger pull-through has sweet views of the red rock all around. This is a small park, but it's very clean, and although they look very sloped, we're able to get level on both sites. Nice outdoor kitchen and fire pit for group gatherings, and very helpful staff. FHUs with 50 amp and the park WiFi works well.

Bill and I are voracious readers and the more we travel the more fun it is to read about places we're now familiar with. One series we read before we got there was the Manny Rivera mysteries by Rich Curtin, set in Moab. One of the stories is about a cult that lives in houses built into caves just outside of the town.

When I read John and Pam's blog about a Mormon settlement that sounded very similar, I knew we had to check it out.

Friday we're off to Rocklan Ranch. Their post also includes Looking Glass Arch on the same road. We stop on our way in, then again on the way out. It's a pretty and quiet spot away from all the crowds.

A short walk along the slickrock gives us a beautiful view through the arch.

Between the arch and the ranch are these two "rustic" cave houses.

No change in furnishings since John and Pam were here :-)

A Mormon "camp" with several large houses.

I'm amazed by the number of solar panels above and in front of the community.

These are not small shanty homes!

Additional caves have been opened, likely for storage, garages, etc.
After turning before we got to the homes (the pics are all with zoom), we followed these foot prints back to the main road where they disappeared. They are small prints of bare feet. It was strange.

The homes all have expansive views.

Looking Glass Rock with what we now see is more than a single arch.

A small ranch road takes us to the other side. Over more slick rock and through small brush we find the "back" of the arch.

And this outstanding amphitheater. It's so quiet, we spend time just appreciating how blessed we are.

Although the temps are nice where we are, the La Sal Mountains are getting more snow.
As expected, we love Moab, and with so much more to see here, we'll be back!

Saturday morning we get on the road with a thunderstorm over the red rock surrounding Arches National Park. Rain starts as we cross the Colorado River and head up the hill. Soon it's like driving up a water fall. Water is streaming down the slickrock, rivulets form along the road. It's easy to see how flash floods form so quickly in the desert.

Twenty minutes and we're out of the storm. Clouds crisscross our 150 mile drive, but we don't get more than sprinkles. South of Hanksville we enter a dramatic canyon, and soon we're in Capital Reef National Park. 

Out the other side, we find Wonderland RV Park in the small town of Torrey, Utah, and get set up. What a beautiful little park! We love having real grass that is lush and well maintained. A few trees provide some shade, but our satellite connects easily. The owners are wonderful - he's cutting branches at the site next to us to accommodate the slides on a 5er :-). Level gravel sites with FHUs, 50 amp, and the park WiFi is strong. 

We like it here!!