Sunday, September 25, 2016

Days 12 & 13 - Dinosaur National Monument

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We ventured out of the city and to nearby Dinosaur National Monument.  It will take two days to visit the park.  Today we went to the quarry.  And yes, the wall of bones is real.  Back in 1909, the discoverer hoped that someday visitors would be able to see the bones in the same way they were discovered,. They made it a national park and today it is quite a grand exhibit. The bones ar real and in their oririnal position of discovery.

It was overcast and rainy so we opted to return to town for some chores.  Our list for RV updates was completed at LoweOur s's and Walmart.  Afterward we went to the movies and saw ":The Magnificent Seven."

Our second day took us to the other side of the park and Colorado for the day. We were pleasantly surprised by the landscape, and views, and the couple of trails we took for some really outstanding vistas.

Back in the late afternoon it was time for some housecleaning and laundry and a quiet night at home.

Day 11 - North to Dinosaur National Monument

Today we finished up repairs to the RV dome, dried up a bit, and headed west and then north.  We decided to not go through Provo and Salt Lake City and instead opted to drive a state highway north through Price and up to Duchesne (pronounced Du-shane).  Once again we encountered some amazing fall colors as well as SNOW!  Two mountain passes up to 9500' made NiRVana a bit touchy.  Once she cooled off things were fine.

 We arrived in Vernal City, UT late afternoon.  It was a really nice dirve and we found a nice RV park in the heart of the city.  We will be here for three nights as we explore dinosaur country.

Bobbie has her virgin "full-hookup" experience with the RV today.  She hooked up the sewer hose and its cute little elevated support fence,  We are now pretty much fully indoctrinated and schooled on how this thing works.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Day 10 - Capitol Reef National Park

We woke to a sunny morning with menacing clouds in the distance.  We hurried up our morning routine and decided to get into the park while the weather held. The vistas were spectacular.

However, by the time we reached the visitor center in Fruita the sky had fallen, weather advisories had doubled and the road into the most scenic part of the park has closed due to flash flooding.  With that we headed back to camp to sit out the rain.

In the afternoon the storm had cleared and we ventured a bit west into the next few towns in hope of finding an RV store.  Each of the next three towns barely had a grocery store, however in one was a True Value hardware store stocked about as bes as you can imagine.  We were able to purchase new domes for the RV and headed back to camp to work on the fix.

Day 9 - In route to Capitol Reef National Park via Escalante

We broke camp and got things in order slowly.  Today was a no rush day with a bit of driving, lots of scenery and an expected destination of Torrey, Utah, the entrance to Capitol Reef Nat'l Park.  We have acquaintances in Torrey we hope to plan a short visit to say hello.

We stopped in Bryce for fuel and propane then continued east along Scenic Byway 12.  The route proved its name in magnificent vistas.  We stopped at the Anastasi State Park Museum and wandered around there for a while.  After lunch we headed into the Escalante region of the Grand Staircase area.  The rock formations, canyons, and windy road were stunningly impressive.  The canyons looked like someone has poured mild chocolate over the rocks.  The flows were smooth, dotted with Utah Juniper trees.  We mastered the summit of several passes reaching 10,000' a few times.  The air was pure and the sun gleamed. Clouds in the distance warned us of more rain to come.

We began looking for a spot to park in the National Forest only to find that most of the campgrounds were closed or the sites were limited to vehicles no more than 20 feet.  That put our 45' rig out of bounds.  Eventually we reached Torrey in the late afternoon.  After three stops and spotty wifi we found a spot in an overflow area of one last RV resort heading north out of town.  Sometime during the drive we lost the dome to one of our skylights. started to rain.  A lot of rain.  And a lot of water in the van.  We mustered a quick fix with a plastic bag and some duck tape and settled in for the night.

It was a rough night with the van rocking back and forth, the wind howling, and the torrents of rain plummeting down.  Our phones beeped weather advisories and a tornado touched down in the town we had slept the night before.  It was a long night.

Day 8 - Bryce National Park

With an amount of rest and a sunny day we left our lake campsite and headed east in the pull car for another day of touring a national park.  This time our one hour drive east took us to Bryce National Park.  Wow, crowded and parking at a minimum.  The park shuttle lot was full and the lines to get on the free shuttle were huge.  We decided to drive to the end of the park road and see what the status was.  It was as good decision as there were spots to park at each of the lookouts.  The views of the hoodoos (sandstone columns) were outstanding, albeit the drop-offs from the trail edges worked on the nerves and fear of heights.
 The park has a really nice system of bike paths, paved, and lined, and not too busy.  We parked the car and unloaded the bikes.  At 8500' pedalling was a bit taxing and we ended up doing just a short ride.  Halfway through the ride it started to rain and that ended our cycling for the day.

We headed back to camp for our last night at the lake.  It rained the rest of the day and well into the night.  Looks like summer on this equinox eve is coming to an end.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Day 7 - Cedar Breaks National Monument

"As if a giant hand grasped the covering of grass, trees, and dirt - pealed it back - and exposed the skeleton beneath."

We left early for a full day circle car tour starting with Cedar Breaks.  AS we climbed higher up the two the park, we entered massive hardwood forests in their bright fall reds, yellows, and oranges.  Just beautiful.

We weren't expecting it to be so dramatic.  Literally, only a mile across and bowl shapped, the entire landscape surrounding is grass and tree covered hills.  The altitude as 10,800' and the air was a bit thin for us seacoast folks.

After our visit we ventured down the otherside of the mountain range to Cedar City.  This was a very large town with lots of shopping and huge urban neighborhoods.  Once at the I-15 we headed north to the Highway 20 cutoff.  From there is was a drive once again ove the ridgeline and down in the the Pauguitch area.

We visiting our first ever Utah State Liquior Store for supplies.  Then a quick stop at the market for grocerires and back up tot he lake for the rest of the day. Everyday we are so surprized to see a green and beautiful Utah.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Days 5 & 6 - Rest Days

After all that hiking in Zion we decided it was time to start practicing that "living" element of nomadic life.  We simply can't be tourists every day.  On top of that the altitude is a a bit taxing.  We enjoy a slow morning getting things tidied up and stored.  Heading north we drove a short 65 miles to the town of Panquitch.  It is definitely a one-horse town.  Main Street if full of wonderful brick storefronts dating back to the 1890's.  We passed through town and up highway 143 to Panquitch Lake.  AT 8500' the air was fresh and the skies bright blue.  We found an RV park on the lake with a campsite overlooking the water. We will stay here for four nights.

A lazy afternoon followed with a bit of sketching and some napping.  We enjoyed a prime rib dinner at the cafe for $11.95 - the Saturday night special...and it was crowded!!

A light breakfast followed an awesome sleep.  We backed up a daybag, loaded our laundry into the Saturn and headed down into the valley and into town.  Being Sunday, the entire place was buttoned up...except of  course for the Morman churches whose parking lots were full.  We found a coffee shop, a laundromat, and a Family Dollar store open.  While the laundry was working we went shopping for supplies.

Back up the mountain we attempted to ride bikes around the lake.  We both were out of air before the second mile and called it a day.  Tonight is taco and movie night in niRVana.  Tomorrow we head our for a full day in Cedar Breaks Natonal Monument.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Day 4 - Zion National Park

We sure picked the right spot to stage our camp.  Grand Canyon one hour to the south and Zion less than one hour to the northwest.  Tomorrow we rest.

We left mid-morning for our short drive north to Zion National Park.  It was an absolutely awesome drive with views of bluffs, plateau, and all of those amazing colors.  We even saw a herd of buffalo.

The east entrance to the park is a unique landscape of swirling rock faces and etched buttes.

A one mile dark tunnel led us into the Zion Valley.

 We parked the car got on the park shuttle system.  It took us to the top of the canyon and the Riverwalk and Narrows.  The water was freezing and the river bottom too rocky for bare feet so we opted to only go up the narrow canyons a short way.  The other trails were great, some a little more moderate than easy, and there were plenty of folks in the park.  We walked about 7 miles altogether today.  We returned to the RV pretty tired and ready to plan a restful day tomorrow.

Day 3 - Grand Canyon North Rim

We unhooked the pull-car and headed south from Kanab and into Arizona.  The canyon is a 90-minute drive.  As we crossed plains of sagebrush and cattle, the Vermillion Cliffs lined the horizon.  Kanab is at 4800 feet elevation.  Within 30 minutes we had climbed to plateaus and were at 8500.  The sky was completely clear of clouds.  What an amazing view.

We reached the north rim of the Canyon and hiked several trails.  The views were beyond spectacular.  The altitude was intense on our ability to hike and in total we did about six miles.  The viewpoints and vistas were all easily reached from the parking lots and there were few crowds.

On the way back we stopped at the Arizona/Utah border to purchase some beer. In Utah you can't get anything stronger than

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Day Two - Mesquite to Kanab, Utah

Day Two started with a nice lazy brekky.  We were the only ones in the parking lot.  It was cool and quiet.  Mid-morning we headed north on I-15 to St. George, Utah.  The drive out of Mesquite and through the Virgin River Canyon was awesome.  Colors, rock formations, and a lazy river at the bottom of the cliffs.'

St. George is a large city with casinos and lots and lots of hotels.  It is 45 minutes from Zion National Park.  We stopped at the Dixie Visitor Center and with an hour to wait until the door opened, we headed off to a local Walmart and Lowe's for a few supplies.  The town sits quietly amid amazing landscape.

From St. George we took a state highway east and crossed into Arizona.  We traveled through the Kaibab Indian Reservation reaching the town of Kanab back in Utah.

 We will park here at the Hitchin Post RV Park for three nights as we take the car out on several day trips.  Tomorrow is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!!!

Day 1 - The USA Grand Adventure Begins

After three weeks of family time in Orange County, we are ready to head out on the open road.  The RV is stocked, our worldly possessions neatly stowed, and the gas tanks are full.  We love Don, Dianna, Aleana, and the kids so much.  It was great to see Rick and Susy in Los Angeles during their pre-planned long weekend.  That was great timing.  It will be almost a year before we return the RV.
We left Fountain Valley at 10AM sharp and ventured into the Southern California traffic.  Driving a 50' rig for the first time was a bit daunting, especially with cars and truck jutting in and out.  For the first day since leaving Anchorage we saw a bit of rain.  Our destination today would be the Utah border and it was a steady climb through mountains and desert.

It had been a long time since either of us had seen the desert and the vast and desolate landscape upon closer examination was teaming with life.  Reaching the Nevada border a sudden shuddering of the front end became evident.  We limped the last 60 miles into Las Vegas and sought out the advice of a tire expert,  The fellows at Ted Wein Tires were excellent and it didn't take much to realize the front tires on the van needed to be replaced.  $365 later we were back on the road with Mesquite, NV as our destination.

Wepulled into a large parking lot at the back of the Eureka Casino in Mesquite and settled in for the night.  Don had instructed us on how to network out phones with our computers.  With that we enjoyed some Netflix, the news, and had our first official dinner in the camper.