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Old 05-04-2015, 07:13 PM   #85
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When the enormous Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument was created here in 2000, the locals were angry. But Escalante has grown with the influx of tourists eager to see a new national monument. They can go on Hell’s Backbone, a narrow old trail built by the CCC in the early’30’s on a nearly knife edge ridge—we’ve never tried it and I understand from those who have on a motorcycle, it is really scary. I think we’ll pass today because a wet muddy 4wd road is not what I want to try. Another attraction is the 60 mile road to Hole in the Rock.

When Mormon pioneers were settling this area in the mid-19th century, they tried to cross the Colorado River at Hole in the Rock. They started in the fall, defying winter. The problem was after they traversed the trail there, following a desert valley below the Kaparowits Plateau, they came to a rock wall with a narrow break in it. Below, at least 500’ down, was the River, now dammed up by Glen Canyon Dam as Lake Powell. They found wood, probably far away, and drilled holes in the rock and built a very steep road down to the River. Each wagon was carefully let down with 10 men and animals holding back the pull of gravity. All the wagons and people survived the trip down. They built this awful road in 6 weeks in winter. Most of the road washed away years ago. They built a raft to cross the river. They still had to cross rocky country but six months after they started, they arrived at their destination and settled Bluff, Utah. These were people on a mission. Most people would have turned around and scouted an easier way. Seeing the remains of that road down to the River is an amazing site and testimony to what determined (and maybe crazy) humans will do to reach a goal.

There's now a museum near the entrance to the road to the Hole in the Rock with an interesting film about the trip. We drove to the Hole more than 20 years ago and it is hard to believe anyone could build a road there.

We had reservations at the Shooting Star RV Resort, but we drove through Escalante and didn’t see it. We passed a CG in town and wondered if we’d have to turn around. But a mile past the town, there was sign for it. That was a relief. The CG was created several years ago with 9 Airstreams outfitted for overnight use, a movie theater that shows old movies plus a number of campsites for Rvers. It went bust a couple of years ago, was closed for 1 1/2 years and a new couple bought it. We were led through a piñon forest to a site between two old Airstreams. Not many people here, but more coming in today. They do have full hookups, but the wifi can only be accessed at the office. And Verizon only has a poor signal and I can’t down- (or up-) load anything. There was a local internet provider that Verizon bought and Verizon hasn’t done anything to improve it. Locals appear bitter about Verizon.

The rain stopped here, but not before our shoes were caked with sand which we managed to track into the trailer. A nap seemed appropriate, and then some dinner, and more sleep. Only about 10 hours last night and I feel somewhat rested for the first time in weeks.

Maybe we’ll get out by noon and try to find an internet connection. The Jetpack says it has a signal, but it is so intermittent to be useless. Others tell me it can take hours to download a video. I guess we’ll check out the town and maybe drive somewhere. Maybe not. The temps have cooled to the 70’s and it is pretty cloudy with showers possible. One more night in Escalante and then on to Snow Canyon SP near St. George. Somewhere we’ll find the internet.

We took a trip into town and then out 15 miles east to the Kiva Koffeehouse. We had lunch there and it was good. Amazing views out the windows. The building was designed and built by a man in his 90’s in the late 90’s. Pretty impressive building. The wifi there didn’t work either. After we returned to our CG, I got the password and will go to the office to send stuff. It is raining again, strange for a drought.

Later: the rain stopped and the wifi at the office works well. Talked with Michelle, half of the couple who bought the CG a while back. He is electrifying all the 9 Airstreams with electric heat and instant hot water because people don't want only a 10 minute shower and can't figure out how to operate the furnace. He has a lot of work ahead of him. The Airstreams are the prime money maker for them, but there are quite a few other sites and many are very private in the piñon forest, but if you want sewer you may be between some older Airstreams. There's another 25' FB here too. This couple is working hard to fit into the community as like in all rural towns, if your grandfather wasn't born here, you are an outsider. They are very nice people and know they have a lot of work ahead of them. They had a cherry Chevy El Camino and say they have other old cars parked elsewhere.

Gene

Photos:

1. As we went east today from Escalante, we saw these rocks.

2. The Kiva Koffeehouse, about 15 miles east of Escalante.

3. View inside the Koffeehouse. I had for lunch some really good scrambled eggs and Barb had some kind of wrap. Good food and organic too.

4. View out the window at the Koffeehouse from our table.
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:21 PM   #86
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Yes, Maggie, we had to leave to sleep. We never take a day off from all our activities and wouldn't have it any other way because we are crazy.

Gene

More photos:

1. The highway goes through a red rock road cut just west of the Kiva Koffeehouse.

2. A large area of yellow rock where the road winds through a little further west.

3. More yellow rock.

4. From a vantage point above those yellow rocks, a thunderstorm develops far out. I finally got to use my new 500 mm. lens. It is heavy, but with image stabilization I don't need a tripod. I waited for a while for lightning, but none came.
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:36 PM   #87
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And even more photos:

1. Clouds building over piñon forests and red and yellow rocks.

2. The north end of the Kaparowits Plateau. In the foreground is the Escalante Valley.

3. A painting of the trip down from Hole in the Rock. The locked the brake on—just a wooden block pressed against the back wheels and chained those wheels to prevent them from turning. Since the rock was sometimes wet or even icy or snow covered, and wagon wheels were wood with a steel rim around them, they slid very easily. I'm surprised they got the horses to even try it or that no one was killed.

4. Another painting at the museum outside of Escalante. This was the last wagon without the ten men, but just a mule at the rear. The kids are waiting for the wagon to get down, then they had to slide down on their butts using their feet to control the drop.

Tomorrow we leave and head to Snow Canyon SP near St. George and meet friends there. I don't know whether I will get internet there, but I'll find a way. I'm feeling much more rested and won't have to take a nap. We do get community TV here and there are some channels I've never heard of, but it is ok. I'll take some photos of the campground later.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:46 PM   #88
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Thanks, Gene - great photos and info. We'll make it a point to visit and stay a bit with the nice folks at Shooting Star RV when we visit that area next month.
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Old 05-04-2015, 08:47 PM   #89
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Beautiful landscapes catured perfectly by an accomplished artist. Thanks for sharing, Gene. Y'all ahve a great trip.

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Old 05-06-2015, 12:15 PM   #90
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We're at Snow Canyon SP. There is no snow. It appears to named some some whitish grey mountains that could only be mistaken for snow by someone with heat exhaustion or too much to drink. It is a beautiful place with red rocks all around plus the whitish ones in the distance.

We took a hike this morning and my super knee brace did its job, unloading the stress on my knee and I climbed over rocks arriving safely at the top of an overlook. Someone else did not do so well—we saw a woman hiker with a group from a resort who did something—she had a compression brace on her left knee and had to be helped to a bench. Not sure what she did—fall, twist her knee, or perhaps strained her ankle which she seemed to be favoring. She seemed to be in a lot of pain and I guess a golf cart was sent for her since there was a paved bike trail nearby. The trail we took was about 2 miles, some across flat areas, but then through rocks and then we climbed to an overlook. Plenty of photos, perhaps I can send them later or another day. Getting the internet here is spotty and works better on my laptop than my iPad. Sometimes mail works on the iPad, nothing much else. When we go to our friend's house, I can update everything.

There are two types of RV spaces here. The dispersed sites have no hookups and are in the piñon trees and have a lot more privacy. Then there are the electric and water sites which are very close together, too close, but that means there is A/C and St. George has a climate closer to Las Vegas than in the rest of Utah. Our electric cable is worn out—the plug has broken and falls out of the receptacle, so I used electrical tape to hold it in. The other end's insulation came out of the strain relief and I taped that too. The ring that tightens the twist lock to the trailer has broken, so it does not always make good contact. I guess I could buy new ends and rebuild it, but I'll just look for a replacement. We'll look for Camping World to get a new cable. Even though it is mid-week, the CG filled up early and I'm glad we had reservations.

Now I find out if I can send this….

Gene
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:03 PM   #91
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A bit of this is a repeat of the last post, but once I started typing the story told itself, regardless of repetition.

We left Escalante driving west toward St. George, but first we traveled through rocks, mesas and valleys. As the day moved on the clouds got darker and thicker and we had showers, some heavy. Bryce Canyon was the first well known place we passed. The road there crosses a high plain with a 2 tourist towns mainly made up of motels, restaurants and trinket shoppes. The rest looks like ranch land, though we saw no livestock. It was less busy than I expected. We went to Bryce about 20 years ago and learned Bryce Canyon is not in a canyon. One side is high, then it opens out to a broad valley, but on the way down you walk through the hoodoos.

Hoodoos are standing rocks, usually multiple shades of red, shaped roughly like cylinders with a rounded cap. There are formations like this all over the southwest, but here a large number of them are clustered. In the early ‘90’s, when we arrived at the parking lot, 4 busses arrived and the passengers followed every stereotype you can imagine. The Japanese bus was full of men with one or two cameras; they all had suits on. They were very serious. The French bus was full of people with sour looks on their faces, but they were casually and stylishly dressed. The British bus was full of friendly and polite people, a bit dowdy. The Italian bus was full of happy and garrulous people who ran to the hoodoos laughing and playing. The Japanese carefully took photos of each hoodoo. It was hard to not laugh at all of them; the herd instinct was evident.

We continued on to US 89, then at a place called Long Valley, turned west again on a highway with a 9,800’ pass. The first sign said 18 wheelers discouraged. The next said there was no plowing at night. The rain increased and the temperature decreased. We passed a little mountain tourist town and began to see patches of snow in the forest. The temp was 43˚, but slowly began to drop as we climbed, but the climb was pretty gentle and the road was pretty easy to drive. We hadn’t bought gas in a while because it was $3.22, and the gauge was dropping to 1/8th and the dreaded gas pump lit up.

We made it to the top, but the temp stopped dropping at 39˚ and no snow was falling. The descent was much quicker and there were a fair amount of switchbacks and soon we back in the 50’s, 60’s and then low 70’s in Cedar City. The state highway goes through the middle of town and we found much cheaper gas—at almost E, we had 6 gallons left. I know there are at least 5 at E, but it always makes me nervous. Maybe this time the gauge will be accurate.

More coming….
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:04 PM   #92
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And this is more—If you travel down I-15 in southwest Utah, on the east is a mountain range that runs through Zion NP—that’s the range we crossed 10 or 20 miles north of Zion. It wasn’t far to St. George from there and we found Snow Canyon SP easily and checked in. Though it looked like the narrow spaces required backing in, our neighbors who arrived at the same time, pointed out how to pull through after driving around a circle. That was easy.

If you get an electric and water space, they are close together in the middle of the campground. There are far more private and wide spaces in two loops, but they have no hookups.

Our friends here have an attached house that mostly is rented to vacationers. They just put their house in Crawford up for sale and once they sell it, they will look for another house here and sell the attached house. This one, with the rentals, pays for itself.

St. George may have 30 or 40 or 50,000 people. Maybe that includes suburbs. The town is very clean, has very wide streets, is very orderly. Downtown doesn’t have much in the way of big buildings except for Mormon temples and churches. Everything is extremely well kept. It feels to me like a fantasy town set in some long ago era that never really existed. It is also a market town for surrounding counties, so there are lots of businesses to serve them. There are walking/biking trails all over and lots of gyms. People here want to be fit. We have seen scores of subdivisions, mostly gated, with a bland version of southwest architecture. They have large garages that seem to be almost as big as the rest of the house. Lots of golf courses, ball fields and open space. It is the dream of retirement communities for active seniors, but lacks the grit and diversity that most of America actually is. Less than 10 miles from Arizona and about 25 from Nevada where sin reigns, it all feels strange.

Our friends came to pick us up and we went and had mediocre pizza at a chain—Pizza Factory. And the next day they took up on a hike at Snow Canyon—I put on my fancy leg brace and covered 2 miles through lava bombs (basalt expelled from a long ago volcanic eruption), through rocks and up to an overlook. The knee brace did its job and my knee felt fine. I couldn’t do this rock scrambling without it. Snow Canyon is apparently named because of some whitish mountains that looked like snow to someone. But most is red and yellow rocks—some petrified sand dunes, some hoodoos, lots of cliffs and ridges of fantastic formations. Lots of school kids come here on day trips, people from fancy and very expensive resorts come in vans, people from mostly Utah, but also everywhere else, all come to hike and view the canyon. It was pretty busy for the first half mile, then we could still hear the screaming kids, but it was less busy, especially when we climbed to the overlook. Up there the views were great and we had it mostly to ourselves.

That was the extent of our exercise. We also ate out a lot and finished this evening with enormous quantities of frozen yogurt. Our friends took us all over town and we saw an art community, a place with an impressive amphitheater, a gazillion subdivisions and the country club. More historic is the nearby and older town of Santa Clara—orginally settled by the Swiss. Lots of Arts and Craft bungalows in town and massive cottonwoods and sycamore tress along the streets. More like a real place.

Fans of Road Trips may have surmised I am not a country club kind of guy. I think this was the 3rd time in 60 years I’ve been in one. The architecture is southwest influenced, but it is mostly fashioned by extravagant display. Nonetheless it is impressive in scale and comfort. Barb and I ordered pad thai and a stir fry. They were, at best, Asian influenced, but tasty. A lot of sugar was involved. It will be a second dinner when we get home tomorrow.

Our bodies are recovering from remodeling, but soon we will be back at it. May is a busy month anyway and another rest at Ouray’s KOA at the end of the month will help. Tomorrow we go home—400 miles of interstate. We bought a new electrical cable to replace the broken one, but it is inches shorter and didn’t quite make it unless I held it in the air. I know it works, will keep it.

Photos another day.

Gene
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:08 PM   #93
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And this is more—If you travel down I-15 in southwest Utah, on the east is a mountain range that runs through Zion NP—that’s the range we crossed 10 or 20 miles north of Zion. It wasn’t far to St. George from there and we found Snow Canyon SP easily and checked in. Though it looked like the narrow spaces required backing in, our neighbors who arrived at the same time, pointed out how to pull through after driving around a circle. That was easy.

If you get an electric and water space, they are close together in the middle of the campground. There are far more private and wide spaces in two loops, but they have no hookups.

Our friends here have an attached house that mostly is rented to vacationers. They just put their house in Crawford up for sale and once they sell it, they will look for another house here and sell the attached house. This one, with the rentals, pays for itself.

St. George may have 30 or 40 or 50,000 people. Maybe that includes suburbs. The town is very clean, has very wide streets, is very orderly. Downtown doesn’t have much in the way of big buildings except for Mormon temples and churches. Everything is extremely well kept. It feels to me like a fantasy town set in some long ago era that never really existed. It is also a market town for surrounding counties, so there are lots of businesses to serve them. There are walking/biking trails all over and lots of gyms. People here want to be fit. We have seen scores of subdivisions, mostly gated, with a bland version of southwest architecture. They have large garages that seem to be almost as big as the rest of the house. Lots of golf courses, ball fields and open space. It is the dream of retirement communities for active seniors, but lacks the grit and diversity that most of America actually is. Less than 10 miles from Arizona and about 25 from Nevada where sin reigns, it all feels strange.

Our friends came to pick us up and we went and had mediocre pizza at a chain—Pizza Factory. And the next day they took up on a hike at Snow Canyon—I put on my fancy leg brace and covered 2 miles through lava bombs (basalt expelled from a long ago volcanic eruption), through rocks and up to an overlook. The knee brace did its job and my knee felt fine. I couldn’t do this rock scrambling without it. Snow Canyon is apparently named because of some whitish mountains that looked like snow to someone. But most is red and yellow rocks—some petrified sand dunes, some hoodoos, lots of cliffs and ridges of fantastic formations. Lots of school kids come here on day trips, people from fancy and very expensive resorts come in vans, people from mostly Utah, but also everywhere else, all come to hike and view the canyon. It was pretty busy for the first half mile, then we could still hear the screaming kids, but it was less busy, especially when we climbed to the overlook. Up there the views were great and we had it mostly to ourselves.

That was the extent of our exercise. We also ate out a lot and finished this evening with enormous quantities of frozen yogurt. Our friends took us all over town and we saw an art community, a place with an impressive amphitheater, a gazillion subdivisions and the country club. More historic is the nearby and older town of Santa Clara—orginally settled by the Swiss. Lots of Arts and Craft bungalows in town and massive cottonwoods and sycamore tress along the streets. More like a real place.

Fans of Road Trips may have surmised I am not a country club kind of guy. I think this was the 3rd time in 60 years I’ve been in one. The architecture is southwest influenced, but it is mostly fashioned by extravagant display. Nonetheless it is impressive in scale and comfort. Barb and I ordered pad thai and a stir fry. They were, at best, Asian influenced, but tasty. A lot of sugar was involved. It will be a second dinner when we get home tomorrow.

Our bodies are recovering from remodeling, but soon we will be back at it. May is a busy month anyway and another rest at Ouray’s KOA at the end of the month will help. Tomorrow we go home—400 miles of interstate. We bought a new electrical cable to replace the broken one, but it is inches shorter and didn’t quite make it unless I held it in the air. I know it works, will keep it.

Photos another day.

Gene
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:27 PM   #94
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bookmarking so I can read later this evening....
Thanks

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Old 05-10-2015, 05:26 PM   #95
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Friday morning was rainy as we hitched up. Then at the excruciatingly early hour of 10:30, we left for home, 406 miles away. Driving north from St. George (54˚), it started raining again and 15 miles north on I-15 the temp dropped and dropped until it started snowing and by the time it reached 34˚, it was like a blizzard and high winds were coming from the south. The south?

We stopped at a rest stop to try to get a weather forecast, but the Verizon box wouldn’t work right, the radio only had C&W music and our weather radio batteries were dead and even cranking it, we could get nothing. Sometimes I felt Utah is in an alternative universe without wifi., cellphones or the internet. We looked up campgrounds on the way wondering whether the snow would continue north, especially as we crossed several mountain ranges on I-70;

Right then, lost without media except for an old fashioned printed book (Woodall’s), the snow started to lessen, so we started up and after another 10 miles we were back to rain and clouds, on and off all day. So we switched drivers every 100 miles, bought gas twice, ate while driving and arrived home at 6:15. That was not bad time for lousy weather.

I managed to back the trailer into its space in a few minutes (when I’m even more tired, it can take 20), but got the angle of the truck and trailer so tight, I broke the taillight against the lower rock guard. Toyota wants about $200, but Amazon had it for $72. This driveway teaches many lessons.

We saw wondrous scenery, spent 3 days with friends, and got some rest. The trailer did fine, the truck hit 100,000 miles and the rotors are starting to warp again. Soon we’ll be back to remodeling, but lots of stuff to do in the next few weeks and 4 nights in Ouray will be upon us soon.

Photos to come.

Gene
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Old 05-10-2015, 05:39 PM   #96
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Photos:

1. The view from our bedroom at Shooting Star RV Resort. Actually, we hardly ever open the bedroom blinds, so this was from next to the trailer.

2. The area we were in bracketed by older Airstreams for rental. There's another (non rental) 25 FB at the end of the row and a movie screen behind that, but it rained so much no movies were shown. The old cars that were there at one time so you could sit and make out during the movie are no longer there. There are a number of dispersed sites without hookups (or maybe no sewer, can't remember) plus another row of rental Airstreams where people can camp between them.

3. Rocks along the way to St. George. I think this is near Bryce Canyon and there are some that look like hoodoos, but not freestanding like the ones at Bryce.

4. In St. George along one of the many parkways around town—getting close to Snow Canyon SP.

Maybe more tomorrow.

Gene
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:26 PM   #97
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You sound relaxed and refreshed, Gene.

Glad you had a good trip



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Old 05-12-2015, 10:01 AM   #98
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Maggie, now we're busy wearing ourselves out again so we can sleep at the end of the month. Doctors, dentists, remodeling, house painting, visitors this weekend, trailer maintenance, socializing—that last one is taking more time than when we lived far out in the boonies. There are a lot more people here of like minds and a lot more to do. Barb's new book club will be here today and then we go out tonight to the blues jam. Meanwhile I'm sanding wood and polyurethaning it while doing some cleaning to help Barb. I also have to gather info about real estate prices—the county increased our valuation 31% in an area where prices have hardly begun to recover—so I can protest and possibly appeal.

If I had been this industrious when I was 25, I'd have cured cancer and rule the planet. Lucky for the planet I wasn't.

Gene
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