Utah Rocks! Part One.

10/29/15 Leaving Colorado, we entered Utah through Monticello and drove the beautiful route north to Moab through canyon country, our favorite part of the U. S. of A

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Arriving in Moab, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center and picked up some local maps, then went straight to Milt’s, at the suggestion of friends Bob Stevens and Richard & Susie Jones.  Burgers and shakes, yum!

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We then drove around eleven miles west of town on Kane Creek Road where Maggie had camped before, but things have changed in twenty years. Camping is now only allowed in campgrounds.  We camped in the last BLM site just before the Chicken Corners junction.

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The amenities were adequate if not somewhat primitive.  Bring your own umbrella and dry toilet paper.

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We were alone in the area except for tent campers about 1/4 mile away.  It was a good night for campfire and then reading in the bus.  The next morning we drove back into Moab, stopping to look at petroglyphs along the way.

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After restocking in Moab, we drove several miles up Sand Flats Road to Juniper Campground.  Snow on the LaSals!  We opted not to go any higher.

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A cool night called for a campfire followed by a tortellini dinner and reading in the bus.

10/31 Happy Halloween!  36 degrees on a beautiful sunny morning, but Skitter didn’t seem bothered by the cold.

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We hiked around the area and spent a quiet evening reading and journaling.  Meanwhile, back home, great-granddaughter Melody was dressed for the occasion.  Sweet as punkin pie:

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11/1  Drove into town to Moab Coffee Roasters, then headed out to Dead Horse Point.  Found a nice campsite and then drove out to the point for a picnic lunch and a hike on the rim trail.

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The loss of daylight saving time made for a short day, but we managed a campfire before the cold drove us inside.  Great bathrooms at Dead Horse Point, by the way.  Individual rooms are heated and have hot running water.

11/2 We planned to camp on Willow Springs Road (the back road into Arches) where it enters the park, but some recently placed signs said “no camping”, so we opted to go on into Arches the back way.  4WD is helpful in this situation.  High clearance is a must.

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There were dinosaurs in them there hills. Though long gone, they left some tracks.  Lar had difficulty trying to match their stride.

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Unable to camp where we planned, we drove on into Arches, stopping at balanced rock to make lunch, and on to the campground where we were fortunate enough to get a campsite.

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There were some interesting campers nearby, but they weren’t very talkative.

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With perfect weather, temps in the 60s, we hiked a bit from the campground, enjoying the drop-dead scenery everywhere we looked.

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11/3  The winds came up after dark and battered the bus most of the night.  We got up at 0400, had leisurely coffee, and watched the sun come up.

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Then we battened down the hatches and took a nice drive through Arches.  We stopped at the Delicate Arch viewpoint and climbed the steep trail up to the high viewpoint.  Mag had hiked to the Arch with family and friends many times in the past.

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We took our time traversing the park road to the Visitor’s Center.  The senior parks pass is the greatest thing.  We’ve had ours for a few years now and what a bargain.  $10 gets you into all National Parks and National Monuments free and camping is half-price.

We drove into Moab and filled all the tanks:  water, gas, and propane.  Then checked into a hotel for much-needed showers and laundry. Had dinner at the Moab Brewery and then came back and soaked in the hot tub before the rain and winds hit.

11/4 Left the hotel, stopped at Moab Coffee Roasters, and took off for Bluff.  The weather was great until we got closer to Monticello and snow.  Drove on to Blanding where it was sleeting.

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It was raining when we got into Bluff and we stopped for Navajo Tacos at Twin Rocks.  We had planned to stop for the night at Sand Island and proceed to Muley Point the next day, but we opted to just push on despite the weather.  The weather, however, continued to deteriorate as we approached Cedar Mesa and the Moki Dugway.

For the uninitiated, the Moki Dugway is a steep, graveled switchback road with a 10% grade that climbs up the face of Cedar Mesa for 1200 heart-stopping feet (Mag’s description).  It is narrow in some spots as well.  We have been up and down it many times but today was different.  With Mag driving, we started up in rain which changed to sleet and then snow as we gained elevation.  We have a 10-minute video of this fun trip.  It was snowing hard at the top.

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We turned onto the 5-mile road to Muley Point.  It is normally passable dirt, but now was 4″ deep mud – slick clay.  Mag had been stuck on Cedar Mesa in a similar situation in the past and we didn’t want a repeat.  So we backed out and drove on up to Natural Bridges.

It was cold and breezy but not yet snowing at Natural Bridges although there were signs of more inclement weather to come.  We followed the scenic drive and did some short hikes.

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We got back to the campground just as it began to sleet and snow.  Popped the top and turned on some heat.  We went to bed early after a nice pasta dinner, thankful for down comforters and the Propex heater.

11/5 We awakened to a layer of snow on the bus and surrounding landscape.  Although the temp in the bus was 41 degrees, we turned on the heat and soon brought it up into the 60s.  Hot coffee made the world right again.

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Our plans to enjoy the dark skies of Muley Point and Natural Bridges were thwarted, but the landscape was lovely as we drove north toward Hanksville.

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We soon dropped down in elevation and lost the snow, but the views kept on coming.  We took dozens of photos as the landscape continued to inspire us.  There were miles and miles of deep sandstone canyons and towering mesas.  Here are but a few:

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When we stopped by Hite, we were surprised to find the boat ramps high and dry and Lake Powell just barely visible to the south. We drove on over the Colorado River and up towards Hanksville.

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After gassing up at Hanksville, we went north to Goblin Valley State Park, a wonderland of hoodoos of all sizes and shapes, including Mr. Potato Head.

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Taking a cue from our brother-in-law Stan, Larry appears to try and tip over a hoodoo.  He may have been trying to apply for a position as a Utah Boy Scout leader.  Mag was able to prevent mayhem and we drove on to the campground to find a site.

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As we drove into the campground, we spotted a white Syncro Adventurewagon parked in a site and two guys came out to the road to greet us.  Introductions were made and they recognized the Roadhaus from our website and we recognized them from a Kickstarter project that had been posted on the Facebook Vanagon Owners page.  Miles and Aaron and their dog Nietzsche are in the early stages of a major adventure, taking the van to multiple countries while filming along the way.  You can follow their adventures at http://www.headfirstdiaries.com

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We enjoyed visiting with the guys and we all contributed to dinner and a roaring campfire.  The guys are headed to Arizona after this to install a Zetec in the bus before heading south – really, really south.

4 thoughts on “Utah Rocks! Part One.

  1. As I may have told you…Utah is one of my most favorite places on the planet! And if I could ever manage to get there together with you two I would be in Heaven! Looks like the altitude has caught up with you!!! I’m going to by in Ojai, CA from Dec 8-14…just in case you’re in the hood…

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