Road Trip

As we made our way from the San Juan River to Bozeman, we happened to be going through Moab UT, which is base camp for many outdoor adventures, including trips into Arches National Park.  We looked at our fishing calendar which suddenly had a couple of openings due to SNOW on the Green River in Flaming Gorge and decided to hole up in Moab for a few days.

The first day we arrived in Moab, we parked the SaraLinda at the SlickRock Campground on the north end of town, nearest to Arches.  Once we were settled, we headed up to venture into the park for our first sojourn.  It was late, the park was closing at 7pm due to road work in the park, so we raced (at 45mph, park speed limit) deep into the park to see a few of the sights.  We walked about a quarter mile to get a better look at Double Arch (see Pic 1) and realized that we really needed to go all the way up into it to gain a greater appreciation of its size.  We also did our three nods looking up at Balanced Rock which we were told is actually the size of three school buses.  What our first day excursion told us was that we’d be spending at least a full day in this beautiful park.

The next morning we were up early and headed into the park again.  After stopping at the Visitor Center, we ventured up the winding road, heading again to Double Arch.  There were far fewer people in the park at this hour so our hike to the arch was much more peaceful (aka…. all the young ones were still safely in bed as were the tweens).  We made it to the base of Double Arch where Barb shook her head as I was determined to climb up inside the arch to get a picture looking out over the landscape.  It took a bit of “scrambling” but I finally made it (see Pic 2).  After slowly sliding back down on my backside, Barb and I headed off for the next set of arches.

Across the way from Double Arch are two “Window” arches aptly named, North and South.  What is amazing is that as you hike the path to see North Window Arch, you are looking everywhere to see where South Window Arch is located.  Nothing!  When we arrived at the base of NWA, I was able to coax Barb up under the arch for a picture taken by another hiker.  We traded a lot of arch pics with people from all over the world.

As we left NWA and thought we were headed for Turret Arch (the arch in our featured cover pic…that’s me inside the arch), disappointed we didn’t find South Window Arch, low and behold, it simply appeared, behind a rock.  Perspective was everything in seeing SWA as I later learned.  We continued to Turret Arch which turned out to be a very easy hike.  Again, Barb took in the view from a distance while I climbed up into the arch.  When I turned around, a beautiful view of BOTH “Window” arches appeared (see Pic 3).

After these three hikes, we were beat and ready for lunch.  We headed to an area in the park known as Devils Garden.  We grabbed a quick lunch of our usual PB&J, a few chips and an apple.  It’s our “go to” lunch everywhere… fishing, hiking, traveling and just hanging out.  We never get tired of it.

Our next hike was to Landscape Arch (see Pic 4) which is the longest arch of its kind in the world.  This was a longer hike, a bit of up and down, but not too bad.  On the way back I couldn’t resist running up a hill of sand weirdly tucked into the canyon walls.  On the way back from seeing Landscape Arch, we took side trips to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch.

We had a bit of energy left in our tanks, so, we hit a few more arches before heading to a local brewery.  As we sat down and shared a nice Moab Brewery scotch ale, we looked at Barb’s watch and determined we’d hiked about 6 miles during the day… so, of course, we splurged with nachos to go with our brew!

The next day, we headed to yet another national park in the area, Canyonlands, as well as to a state park that got rave reviews, Dead Horse Point State Park.  The prevailing story behind Dead Horse Point State Park is actually pretty sad.

After another day of hiking, we made our way back toward Moab, our basecamp.  However, one more hike was in store for us.  We hiked up the side of a cliff; yes, even Barb had to climb this one, overlooking Moab to see some Native American petroglyphs (see Pic 5).  Very cool.  And we just had to make one more trip into Arches to see Delicate Arch which is the arch used in most all of the literature about the park.

Our time in Moab was done and we headed on to Bozeman for some fishing, R&R and seeing friends.  We had an “epic” day fishing on the Madison, but that’s another story.

Ramble On

 

 

 

After fishing the Lees Ferry Reach of the Colorado River with Lees Ferry Anglers, we took off for Navajo Dam, NM and the San Juan River.  Along the route, we noticed a right turn at Cameron, AZ that would take us to the Grand Canyon…. well, DUH!  Of course, we decided to head west to Grand Canyon National Park.

We arrived at Trailer Village RV Park inside GCNP around noon, got the SaraLinda setup and off we went.  We were anxious to get in as much as we could that first afternoon because the forecast for the next day was rainy and windy.  Nothing worse that hiking down a narrow trail with the wind blowing hard and the trail wet.  So off we went!

When we decided to go to the park, we consulted with our friends Chuck and Marty Raplinger, who’d actually hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with their daughters Christina and Jessica, a year ago.  They’d shared with us the details of their trip, hiking down Bright Angel Trail, camping at the base of the canyon, then hiking back up on Kaibab Trail.  Chuck told us the hike up was challenging, especially that last mile.  However, Chuck told us that a good hike might be the first mile down the Kaibab Trail to a viewpoint called Ooh Aah Point.

So, our first stop was the South Rim trailhead for the Kaibab Trail.  I knew Barb would be somewhat skeptical of hiking the trail due to it being narrow, with somewhat steep drop-offs and mostly, her fear of heights.  Not to be deterred, Barb and I started down Kaibab Trail for Ooh Aah Point (Refer to Pic 1 above – “Selfie”).  About 50 yards down the trail, Barb looked at me, said “give me the backpack”, and headed back up. .  She said “You go if you want, but not me!”   As I continued down the trail, I took a picture of Barb as she ascended the trail (Refer to Pic 2 above – “Bye”).  We were headed in opposite directions.

As I continued down the trail, two things struck me, first, the views were breathtaking.  Around each switchback of the trail, a new view unfolded with the shadows painting the landscape of the canyon in different ways.  Second, I knew that if somehow I’d convinced Barb to continue down the trail with me, she’d have already pushed me off the trail, down into the canyon.

Continuing on, I also noticed two kinds of hikers coming up.  First, those who’d hiked down to Ooh Aah Point; they were all smiling, a bit winded perhaps, but still smiling.   Then, there were those who clearly had hiked that day from the canyon floor, straight up the trail.  Now mind you, the Kaibab Trail, from the canyon floor up to the canyon rim is 8 miles long.  Those people were NOT smiling, most were breathing heavily and NOT wanting to say “hi” or even look up at you.  Their goal was simply to make it to the top.  Take a look at Pic 3 above…. this is the “Warning” sign along the trail.  It seemed a few of those coming up didn’t heed this warning.

The real crazies were those who’d decided to hike down to the canyon floor and back up in  one day.  Those, what is the right word…. um…… idiots, were the grumpiest of all.  You could easily identify them.  They had only a small backpack, if any at all, and were typically complaining loudly with their hiking partners… some very loudly.

In any event, I made it down to Ooh Aah Point, took my obligatory canyon photos and selfie (Refer to Pic 4 – “Ooh Aah”), took a sip of my water, and then headed back up.  About a quarter of the way up, I started to take stock of my breathing and the amount of water I had left in my liter bottle.  I started to wonder if others coming down were categorizing hikers coming up like I was.  I was hoping they would put me in the right class of those just hiking down to Ooh Aah Point, and not that “idiot” class.  I tried to make sure I at least smiled at those coming down as I gasped for air periodically.   Finally I made it to the top and hooked back up with Barb at the Visitor Center.

The remainder of our day was stopping at various lookout points along the Rim Trail.  We concluded our day by watching the sunset at Mather Point.  OK… to be honest, Barb had seen enough canyon views, she took the bus back to the SaraLinda and I met up with her after the sunset.

The next day actually turned out to be better than expected, other than it snowed on us several times throughout the day.  We went to the Desert View area of GCNP, climbed the watchtower there and took in more incredible views of the canyon.  We also stopped at more overlooks, especially stopping at those where you could actually see the Colorado River cutting its way through the canyon and one of the Class 8-10 rapids.  We went to the Tusayan Ruin, an 800 year old pueblo a short distance from the canyon rim.  It was so interesting to ponder what life was like for the Native Americans who made GCNP home.

Next, we visited several of the “historic” spots along the Rim Trail, including the Hopi House, Kolb Studio and the El Tovar Hotel. As we were walking back to our car, taking a short cut through another historic structure, the Bright Angel Lodge, a rainbow appeared over the canyon and we snapped the 5th Pic above.   Take a close look in the picture, in the lower left corner.  You can see a small ribbon of a trail going right to the edge of the canyon wall, a part of the Bright Angel Trail.  THAT is where Chuck, Marty, Christina and Jessica hiked and then down further to the bottom of the canyon on their hiking/camping trip.  You cannot even see the Colorado River from this viewpoint…. just that ribbon of the trail disappearing off a cliff.

Finally, we did what we always do at the end of a late March Saturday, we retired to the lounge at the Yavapai Lodge to watch March Madness.  More specifically, we were there to watch the KU Jayhawks play the Oregon Ducks.  Growing up in Missouri, attending the University of Missouri, you can imagine who we were cheering for….. Go Ducks!

The next morning we packed up the SaraLinda and headed east for the Navajo Dam State Park and the San Juan River.

Ramble On

ROAD TRIP!!!

On our way from Michigan to Montana, we decided to take a side trip to Devil’s Tower National Monument.   The SaraLinda was up for it so we gassed up with the big boys and headed across the midwest cornfields on I-80.

When we made it to South Dakota and I-90, Barb actually took over and drove the SL for the first time.  She made about an hour of clenched teeth driving before she turned it back over to me.  We needed a rest before we made it to Devil’s Tower, so of course, it was “Wall Drug or Bust”.  It was HOT to say the least.  Our temp gauge registered a high of 110 but we couldn’t get a pic quick enough but we caught it at 109.

After our night in Wall, we headed to Wyoming, which meant Devil’s Tower couldn’t be far. We pulled the SaraLinda into our campground and boy were we surprised at the incredible view our View had.  We looked directly up at Devil’s Tower from the campground.

The campground does a somewhat cheesy but ultimately very cool thing each night.   With Devil’s Tower as the backdrop, they show Close Encounters of the Third Kind on an outside big screen TV.  Barb and I still remember seeing it for the first time back in November, 1977.  This time was pretty special given the environs.  What was really fun was seeing families watching it for the first time.

After watching the movie, we headed up the mountain to Devil’s Tower to try out the camera on a night shot.  Lots of trial and error, but we got a couple of pretty good shots of a moonrise along with the tower and stars.  Many thanks to Keith Mitchell, John Woody and Don Henderson, my photography gurus for helping me figure all this out.  Turned out great I think.  Afterward, it was back to the SL and our oh so appropriate nightlight (make sure to see the pic in the attached movie 😉

The next morning we got up before dawn to see if we could capture a sunrise on the tower.  We found a family of deer as we climbed back up the hill.  The buck was really watching out for everyone.   We ended up hiking Joyner Trail to get some great photos of sunrise and how it hit Devil’s Tower.

After getting shots along Joyner Ridge Trail, we headed to the tower to hike the Tower Trail that circles the entire Devil’s Tower.  It is truly awe inspiring to walk it.  We saw ten climbers scaling the columns that make up the tower.  We even heard their grunts and screams…. eeeeeek!

Devil’s Tower is a sacred place to many Native Americans.  In June, climbers are not allowed on the tower.  Tribes connected to the tower come and place prayer cloths on trees around the tower, conduct ceremonial dances and more.  You can see the prayer cloths everywhere as you circle the tower.  The Native American Lakota Sioux (great grandmother on my dad’s side) in me made visiting here very special.   Must do more research when I get a chance.

We encountered lots of wildlife as we hiked the trail.  From a squirrel stretching on a log to two fawns playing just off the path.  The night before we saw a fox and a zillion prairie dogs.

There are so many incredible views as you hike around Devil’s Tower.  You can even see the valley where the spaceships came in the movie CE3K.  I highly encourage anyone heading near this area to stop and take the hikes around Devil’s Tower.  If you can, spend the night at the campground at the base of the tower and watch the movie as well.   We hope you enjoy the slide show movie of our journey to Devil’s Tower.  Road trips ROCK!