Saturday, May 4, 2013


292 miles

     This will wrap up our Spring 2013 Series of Blogs.  This is the ....and Home part!!  We are ready!

Sunset reflections in trailer windows. 
     Pull out before 8am again, deciding to fix our own coffee and to gas up at the Flying J in Jerome, 44 miles away.  It is a beautiful morning.  Last night the storm clouds cleared, we had a beautiful sunset (unfortunately I didn't get down to the river to take some awesome reflection pictures), and today has dawned with the same crisp skies.  Everything in eastern Idaho is green - rolling fields of irrigation farmland.  Absolutely beautiful!  
     Another stop at the Flying J in Caldwell - our last tank of gas for this trip!  The price is 3.43 ....which will look good when we arrive in Baker City and gas is 3.59 at the cheapest station!  Prices for this trip have fluctuated from a high of $4.19 in Austin, NV in February, to $3.05 in Roswell, NM in late April.  Wow...a pretty big range!!  Most of the time we were able to buy for somewhere in the $3.40 to $3.60 range.  We averaged 12.5 miles per gallon for the trip.  

    Over the Snake River again and we enter Oregon just before 12 noon!  The balsam root are covering the hillsides of the Burnt River Canyon with yellow splendor.  The hills are definitely greener than they were when we left!  Back into Pacific Time Zone at 12:20.  
     For those readers who haven't ever been to Baker Valley, the following picture, taken from Interstate 84 as you past the crest of the hill at Pleasant Valley, is one of the reasons we come home.  The incredible people who live here are the other reason!  I was excited to see our Elkhorn Mountains today.  
Elkhorn Mts. as found on I-84 about 10 miles from Baker City. 

Total miles:  6850
Total trailer miles:  4277
Total truck only miles:  2573

Total Housing Costs:  $856
Total Gas Costs:  $1,792
Total Food Costs: $1,682
Total Misc. Costs: $1016
TOTAL COST:  $5,346
Total Gas per Mile: $0.26
Total Trip per Day: $73.23

City of Trees RV Park in Rupert, ID
386 miles
Click HERE for a few pictures
     Well, the weather this morning has confirmed our decision to pull up stakes and head for home.  The mountains are totally socked in.  It has rained off and on during the night (quite hard yesterday evening at times).  Fortunately we were able to finish breaking 'camp' this morning in a dry manner.  
     This is going to be a bit bizarre, but before we leave Wonderland RV Resort, I must comment on the unwonderful bathroom facilities.  The bathhouse basically had 5 doors: men, women, shower 1, shower 2, and laundry.  The doors to the showers were locked.  You had to request a key from the office.  I figure there were about 4-5 keys for each shower, so you had to be sure to draw the chain guard from the inside to be sure someone else wouldn't walk in on you during your shower!  The shower facility was beautiful: sink, john, and a huge one-piece shower stall with installed seat.  Lots of room, bench, hooks, etc.  (OK, the fan didn't work that well.)  However, the really bizarre part of the bathrooms were the men and women doors.  When I opened the women door, I found two toilets, side by side.  No privacy screens, no doors, just two toilets and a sink.  What women go to the bathroom in pairs to actually SIT together???  So...once you locked the door, which everyone would do, the two toilets were as useful as one.  The mens had a toilet and urinal - no privacy either.  I just found it very unusual.  
Snow on summit pass between LOA and I-70. 
     Enough about bathrooms!  We left Torrey around 8am to drive the next 60 miles through fog, clouds, snow, and rain storms!  The snow level didn't get down to Torrey elevation last night, but it is just above us on the mountains!  I wouldn't have wanted to be driving over Boulder Mountain this morning!  

Mountains near Idaho-Utah
   Overall, the day went smoothly.  Scattered showers early and after lunch as we headed north out of Ogden.  (Once particular storm was REALLY heavy!  I was glad Rick was driving!)  Everything was so green, particularly the rolling hills south of Salt Lake City.  We could see snow on the mountains - mostly right at the level of the clouds.  We stopped in Scipio for gas (frustrated that Gas Buddy told us that Flying J was about 30 cents less per gallon than reality). By 12:30 we were through the worst part of Salt Lake City and Rick could start to breathe again!  We stopped for gas and he stated he was good to go into Idaho.  So....a trip to McDonald's for lunch to scope out campgrounds in Burley area.  

Rick with winning
horseshoe form. 
     City of Trees RV park at Exit 216, just west of the I-84, I-86 junction, is truly an oasis in the desert along the Snake River.  For $31 a night, cable TV, wifi, and full hook-ups, we are nestled in a thick grove of trees surrounded by deep green grass!  We took a short walk around the park, down to the river, and ended with a game of horseshoes, impressed that they leave the shoes available at the pits for anyone to use!  (BTW, Rick easily won the match!)
     Quiet evening, glad that we will have a shorter day tomorrow, PLUS we will gain an hour enroute home!!  

Snake River reflections at City of Trees
Hwy 24 and views toward Torrey in the morning light.
Cassidy Arch Hike
Click HERE for more pictures (lots more!)

     I can’t believe how fortunate we are!  Raindrops fell as I lay in bed this morning.  A few more while we ate breakfast.  By the time we were ready to leave at 8:30, the sun was breaking through!  To the east, the Capitol Reef mountains are lined with dark clouds, but to the west (or looking backwards this morning!) the sky is blue with puffy clouds!  We could see a little more snow on the top of the breaks in one or two places! 
View from Panorama Point
  We drive the short 8 miles back toward Capitol Reef, stopping first to squeegee the windows so I could take pictures!  Then we pull over at Panorama Point for views, especially good again to the red rock west of us and the Chimney Rock area of Capitol Reef.  We drive out the mile gravel road to the Goosenecks viewing area of Sulphur
Goosenecks on Sulphur Creek
Creek.  A short trail leads to an overlook high above the creek  as it winds back and forth through the red rock. 
Capitol Reef uplift along Scenic Drive
     Our goal today is to drive to the end of the Scenic Road, and then evaluate the weather!  The road traverses the western base of the high cliffs – Rick has good views up and I figure I will take pictures on the way back.  We drop down to the end of the road at Capitol Dome Wash, but opt NOT to take the 9 mile gravel road to a series of trails.  We backtrack instead to the Grand Wash area where the trail to Cassidy Arch takes off.  
Heading back up from
Capitol Wash
     The arch is named for Butch
Another Scenic Drive vista
Cassidy who sometimes hid out in the wash canyons.  The arch is NOT easily seen from the road.  It sits HIGH at the top of the cliffs, a massive span with more red rock behind it.  We park at the end of the
Driving down Grand Wash
drivable part of the Grand Wash road, and head down the wash.  The skies are iffy and we decide to just go as far as we can and pray for the best.  Of course we are in an area that has posted warnings for Flash Floods in the event of major
Start of the Cassidy Arch Trail
thunderstorms.  While a few drops of rain fall as we prepare to leave, we find sunshine soon after we take off.  The skies again just got bluer as we climbed. 
The trail wound UP the side of the cliff. 
     I was leading and I have to admit I took as fast a pace as I could.  I knew we were racing against the skies, but gradually it got nicer and nicer!!  The trail goes down the wash for about 300 yards, then veers off to climb steeply up the face of the cliff in a series of rocky switchbacks.  Eventually we gain a good strata layer and gradually climb as we traverse the cliff face.  We can see our truck parked far below! 
     Around a large notch, we gain a view of the Cassidy Arch on the opposite side of the canyon.  Our trail will take us to the TOP of the arch rock – we won’t even know we are on it!   
We look down in Grand Wash from the trail. 
View from trail. 
    We gain the top with great views all around – Fern’s Nipple to our south, Boulder Mt. (well, it was in the clouds!), and red, yellow, and white rock everywhere!  The top of the climb is like a giant sheet of solid sliprock.  The entire trail was not an area I would have like to hike during a storm – when wet the rock would have been VERY slippery.  Rick and I
First view of Cassidy Arch
quickly began the return trip when a few drops of rain fell while we were on the top, but those clouds soon blew off and more blue skies and sunshine graced us.  So nicely, in fact, that we stopped about mid-way down at a good viewpoint and ate a little lunch. 
Rick and Ginger on top of Cassidy Arch
Broad flat  top of arch
     Back to the car by 12:45 ….more cars in the parking area and more people just starting up.  A little concern as it has really darkened and more rain is coming. 
     We stop and visit the Fruita Historical area – the Gifford House (Rick got a little baby pie!), the old schoolhouse, and the petroglyphs on the canyon walls.  Fruita was a very isolated Mormon community of self-sustaining individuals from the late 1800’s until 1969 when the last member of the community sold out to the park service.  (The park was established in 1937.)
Petroglphs at Fremont River
   Back to the trailer to pack outside things up while the weather was holding.  Sprinkles of rain have come and gone.  Tomorrow could be a stormy drive at times!  We ate dinner early so we could clean up the dishes and then disconnect the water lines, drain, etc. 
Fruita School
     While the weather here in Torrey hasn’t been perfect, we feel like we have had a good experience.  There is always plenty of beauty to draw us back!!  In the meantime, we are heading HOME!! 
     I shall include a few more pictures from our day:
Lunch vista point

Trail vista

Ginger in one of the super size hole along the wash. 

Storm clouds made the colors pop! 

Calf Creek Falls Hike and Scenic Highway 12 over Boulder Mountain
Click HERE for pictures 

Gloomy skies over the mountains
       What a day this has been!  We awoke to overcast skies – gray and gloomy.  But the disk of a sun could be seen trying so hard to burn through.  Alas, by 8:15 when we were ready to go, the first drops of rain started to splish-splash their way down from the sky.  The forecast is for 70% precipitation for today… NOT what we had hoped for!  But we decided to make the best of it (or FIND the best of it) and head south of Scenic Hwy 12 toward Escalante, specifically Calf Creek Falls! 
        First a quick trip into ‘downtown’ Torrey to check out the local gas stations.  We found…NONE!  Guess the $3.79 across the street is the best we can do, so we gas up, coffee up, and are on our way!
Ponderosa pines!  
The 30 mile drive from Torrey to Boulder is superb!  This high elevation section of Route 12, over the flank of the Boulder Mts. and a summit pass of 9600’, was the last section of the highway to be completed and link the remote Western town of Boulder with the ‘outside world’.  (Fact trivia – Boulder was the last community in the continental US to receive mail via mule train!)  We quickly felt at home as we entered Dixie National Forest and ponderosa pine trees.  As we climbed in elevation, we entered a thick aspen forest, interspersed first with pines and later with firs.  We stopped at Larb Hollow Overlook.  In spite of the overcast skies and intermittent rain, we could see SOME of the colors  and landmarks of Capitol Reef to the east of us. 
Capitol Reef landmarks from Larb Hollow
     At the top of the pass, barren of firs, but still with scattered thickets of aspens (none of which are in bud, so lots of white sticks!) we found the rain had turned to snow.  Light and not really sticking, but snow nonetheless!  (Trivia fact from Rick: Boulder Mountain is the highest timbered plateau in North America.)
Aspen groves near summit
     Near Boulder you drop out of the national forest lands and on the west side of town you abruptly enter the land of rock, strata, canyons, juniper, and pinon pine.  The transformation is amazing.  Boulder itself is an broad, green agricultural valley. 
     Between Boulder and Calf Creek Recreation Area of Grand Escalante National Monument, you travel over the ‘Hogsback’ – a tall fin of rock on which the road passes.  Literally a ‘top of the world’ feeling –
Hogsback heading south
the rock canyons drop off abruptly on either side of the road.  Not a place for those faint of heart with heights!  It reminded me of hiking up the fin of rock at Angel’s Landing in Zion, only we were driving it!  And then…. A sign announcing 14% grade, steep curves, and 25 mph speed limit!   Descent OFF the top!
Hogsback descent signs
     By the time we arrived at Calf Creek RA around 10:15, the rain had stopped and the skies showed early signs of a little clearing.  We were encouraged that several other groups were
View toward Calf Cr Canyon from Hogsback
preparing to take off on the hike as well. 
      All I can say is God blessed us ONCE AGAIN for our willingness to risk a lousy weather day for the hike.  Not only did the skies clear, but for most of the hike we were in t-shirts, sunshine, and BLUE SKIES!  (OK, a few fluffy white clouds in places!)   SOOOO glad we persevered and kept driving! 
     The trail to Calf Creek Falls is 2.75 miles, relatively gentle uphill grade, up the canyon.  The creek was a constant source of gurgling and bubbling music, the birds sang a beautiful chorus the entire route, and the canyon walls were an ever-changing vista of strength, beauty, and color.  Plant life included Mormon tea with tiny yellow blossoms, alders & cottonwood, sage, gambel oak (just leafing out - sooo green!), false Solomon’s seal, orange globemallow, a forest of horsetail ferns, and a tiny white daisy-like cluster.  We saw four or five beaver dams and one beaver house.  No beaver.  Lizards and chipmunks and squirrels though! 
Life-size pictographs
Rick heads up the trail
    In two places old Anazasi ‘granaries’ were supposed to be in view along cracks in the canyon walls, but Rick and I couldn’t locate them.  We did find the three life-size pictographs on the far canyon wall about mid-way through the hike. 
Calf Creek Falls
Calf Creek Falls, at 126’ high, is a beautiful ribbon of water free-falling and cascading down a mossy covered wall of stone.  On either side of the falls, hanging gardens descend from the overhang ledge.  In the sunshine on the right we saw yellow monkeyflowers, on the shady left maidenhair ferns.  The pool was a blend of deep blue and green. 
Just to get an idea of size. 
     We ate a bite of lunch, gazed at the falls, and enjoyed the cool breeze created by the watery mist. While we were at the falls, there were about 4-5 other couple groups.  I asked one to take our picture.  I don’t think he spoke any English, but we got the picture taken!  I seem to make a habit of asking or talking to other travelers who don’t speak English!  (Earlier did the same with a Japanese couple!)  As we hiked out, we probably passed 30-40 other people hiking in.  We noticed the clouds gathering in strength.  Believe it or not, the rain started to fall just as we were pulling out of the parking lot.  (I felt bad for all those just starting the hike….they got wet!)
     Rain off and on all the way back to Torrey – hard at times, and then nothing at others.  We stopped in Boulder at the Anasazi State Park, I got my passbook stamped, but we decided not to pay to go in to the museum.  Grabbed a drink at a little tiny Country store and headed on up over the pass.  We found more snow!  A light dusting among the aspens all over the top plateau.  Awesome!! 
     A few more pictures from Calf Creek Trail.  Soooo beautiful. 
We never figured out what this blooming yellow bush was, but it smelled wonderful!! 
This section of canyon wall was a favorite with its vertical stripes of many colors. 
The globemallow was in full bloom along the trail. 
       Back to the trailer around 4pm.  A little down time and then off to dinner at ‘Slackers Burger Joint’.  A good little local dive, completed with license plates on the ceiling!  We enjoyed some great burgers and
The Hogsback heading north.  Check out the clouds! 
green bean fries!  Over dinner we decided to give it one more day…. Maybe we can tempt the weather gods once more and get enough clearing or dry skies to take the short scenic drive at Capitol Reef and maybe a short hike or two.  So… when we get back to the trailer, I go in and sign up for one more night! 
Slackers licenses
     Catch up time with scribbles, blogs, etc.  We have the heater running to keep the trailer warm.  Predicted low tonight is 25 degrees.  We will probably have a frozen water line in the morning!  Brrr!!!   G’night! 

Bluff to Torrey, UT     218 miles
Click HERE for pictures 
What happened to the sunshine and clear skies?  We knew Sunday might be a little cloudy, but there was no blue sky to be seen this morning!  Everything was gray, but it was the kind where you couldn’t really decide if it was dust, smoke, or moisture.  The wind picked up during the night several times and we could tell SOMETHING was blowing in!  When I checked the weather report for the next few days, it was not encouraging….
We cut through a slot...
     So, we packed up and took off shortly after 8am to ‘see what we could see’.  We are on scenic highway today (and it proved to be MUCH more scenic than said designation near Fort Davis, TX!)  First stop is Blanding, about 25 miles north of Bluff.  We literally drove back to the top of the mesa in coming out of Bluff and were on a large flat plain, jagged canyon walls on either side (they call them Washes) and the higher ‘mountains’ to the north.  We go into Blanding a couple miles to gas up the truck.  (Ten cents cheaper than in Bluff!) 
     From Blanding, we left 191 and headed west on Hwy 95.  Up and down for the next thirty miles, as we cut down into a wash to cross it and then up to the top again before dropping down to the next one!  The vegetation seemed greener than in NM – more grass, sage, etc.   In one place we climbed up to find ourselves driving through a slot cut in the canyon wall – around the corner and a vast new valley, lined on the east with mesa red rock walls, greeted us.  Gorgeous terrain. 
...and were greeted with a
vast panorama!
     We turned off at Natural Bridges National Monument, a little side trip for the day!  We couldn’t imagine WHERE the park was located as all we could see as we drove the 4 miles in to the visitor center was flat juniper and sage covered mesa and rock.  We discovered a magical land hidden in the crevices of White Canyon, BELOW the visitor center!  The nine mile loop drive takes you down to the canyon edges – to a layer of white strata channeled by the meandering of the White River (no water now!) into a labyrinth of canyons.  Three of the world’s largest natural bridges can be found here, all within a few miles of each other.  The road takes you to viewpoint from the rim.  We found it was hard to distinguish the rock bridge from above – it blended in with all the other rock colors.  We took pictures of Sipapu Bridge from the viewpoint, but we hiked to the bottom of Kachina and Owachomo Bridges.  Kachina is the ‘baby’ of the family, with a thick stone mass and smaller ‘hole’.  Owachomo is the grandfather bridge – a huge opening with a narrow band of rock still connecting the two sides of the canyon. 
Kachina Bridge
  The trail down to Kachina was worth the hike!  It drops about 400’ in three-quarters of a mile, cut into the canyon rock wall.  It was lined with stones or dead juniper, marked by cairns of stone in another, and in many places the steps had been carved from the rock.  In one spot I looked ahead and said, “What? Where?” because it appeared the trail just ended at a large rock slab steeply angling down.  But when I got to the very end, I saw a neat little line of steps off to my left continuing on down the cliff!  Pretty cool hiking (literally – windy and
Ging enroute back up from
Kachina Bridge
     Down at the bottom of the wash, we hiked the last few hundred yards to the base of the bridge.  So quiet and tranquil among the cottonwood trees, birds, and occasional pools of water.  We found the petroglyph deer hike up on the right face of the bridge, but never located the ruins to the left.  We mostly wandered and explored in the peace.  Kachina is located on the main White River canyon, but where the side Armstrong creek joins it.  Our trail actually led us down the Armstrong wash to the bridge. 
     Back UP (pant, pant!) to the trailhead and on down the road along Armstrong wash to Owachomo.  From the viewpoint, you could hardly pick out the span – it blended into the canyon so well.  Down the trail, excited because patches of blue  are starting to emerge in the sky and it is warming up! 
Owachomo Bridge from distance
The walk down to Owachomo (which is Hopi for rock mounds, one of which is situated on the top of the bridge) is only a quarter mile down 200’.  It was hard to get any pictures from the bottom, the bridge is so wide and tall.  I will add my panorama to the blog when I get it pasted together at home!  (Hug-in isn’t working well on the laptop!)  While Owachomo was formed by the water flowing beneath it, the creek has long ago changed channels again and the huge amphitheater below the bridge has long been dry.  However, other forces of time was slowly eroding the bridge away.  You can see cracks in the rock when you look up.  Will the bridge fall in on itself tomorrow, or a million tomorrows?  Who knows! 
Lunch spot with Bears Ears in distance. 
     Time to get on our way!  We pull over at Bears Ears viewpoint to eat a bite of lunch.  Another scenic lunch spot today!  This landmark is a major orientation point for all of the Four Corners region.  Evidently the ‘ears’ can been seen from Mesa Verde east to Monument Valley in the west. 
Typical vistas along Hwy 95. 
     The sixty or so miles from Natural Bridges up to the bridge over the Colorado River at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell were an ever-changing vista of pinnacles, spires, massive cliffs, and wide mesa plains.  It was beautiful. especially as we dropped down to the Lake Powell area.    Wow!  The lake itself is low, very low here 200 miles up from the dam.  We crossed the river and another feeder ‘creek’, but they meandered a channel through the flat, grassy plain that should be filled with water.  The road cuts around the rock walls and borders the lake for a short bit before cutting through a slot and climbing back up to the plateau. 
Bridge over Colorado River at Lake Powell
  We stopped for a potty break at Hog Springs Picnic area – a lush oasis of green nestled back in the red rocks.  For the next thirty miles the views were still mixed with buttes, but gradually we entered a grassland area and…..what’s that?  Mountains, REAL mountains with snow on top?  Peaks with summit elevations of over 11,000’ lined with western horizon until we reached the town of Hanksville and Highway 24.  (End of 95.) 
Snowcapped mountains!
     Hanksville must be located at the top of the Watermark Fold area of Capitol Reef.  That layer of rock was a shale deposit, and everything here was black, with sculpted black dunes at the base of gray rock cliffs.  It felt like we went from lush green and red to white and black….the scenery suddenly lost its color! 
Early Capitol Reef view
     The fifteen mile drive through Capitol Reef National Park itself, however, was gorgeous.  An ever-changing vista of rock walls with a rainbow of colors.  We followed along the Fremont River to the town of Fruita, which was settled in the 1800’s where Mormons homesteaded a little agricultural community nestled below the towering monoliths which protected them.  The town is now vacated except for the tourists and park employee who maintain much of its history. 
Capitol Reef view from Visitor Center
     We stopped at the Visitor Center to pick up some information and an up to date weather forecast (not good – 60-70% change of rain, snow, and thunderstorms for the next few days!) With that in mind, I only paid for two nights at the RV park when we checked in.  We shall see what ‘shakes’ out.  Our plans might be changing!
     All set up at Wonderland RV park at the junction of Highways 12 and 24.  Nice enough, but not quite the views I had expected and we are right on the road.  Lots of phone calls to family, showers, and in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, we defrosted Rick’s last burrito from Hobbs!!  (I had suggested a walk over to the Taco Time sign I saw, but it wasn’t open!  L )
     Goodness I have written alot (it is Monday morning!) and we only drove 218 miles!  

Edgewood, NM to Bluff, UT   316 miles
Click HERE for pictures

Our planned route from Edgewood to Torrey, UT
     On the road again!  We pulled the trailer out last night, hitched up, and backed up next to the shop for our final night – ready to pull out this morning!  Disappointed last night that we didn’t get to say goodbye to either Regan or Rachael, but both of them were up early for a hug!!  Reg had to go in to work, and Ryan had told Rach we were leaving at 7a so she got up and went back to bed!  Shame on you, Ryan! 
     Smooth sailing for the day.  Through Albuquerque on the freeway and up to Bernalillo where we take off for Hwy 550 which angles across the northwestern corner of the state to Farmington and Shiprock.  We have only taken this route once before, and forgot how pretty it is.  Cuba is halfway and near the Continental Divide at around 7,000’.  We crossed the divide at 7300’ and then  rolled across a vast plateau of mesas, red and white rock bluffs, and sage.  Rick laughed because we must have passed a sign stating ‘Elevation 7000 feet’ at least 6 times! 
Rimrock and cliff country between Bernalillo and Cuba, NM
     The highway drops down to the San Juan River (same one we camped along at Pagosa Springs last fall) at Bloomfield.  We then followed Hwy 64 from Bloomfield to Shiprock, north on 491 into Colorado, southwest on 160, then north again on 41 into Utah.  We were only in Colorado for about 25 miles – right down in the SW corner near Four Corners itself! 
Lunch stop in the SW corner of Colorado
     Right after turning off onto Hwy 160, we pulled over for a lunch break!  It was 1:20 and we were hungry!  We had been looking for a shady spot since Farmington when we got gas.  No shade, but the vistas were magnificent looking out at Chimney Rock south of Cortez, CO.  (How many Chimney Rocks can there possibly be in the western United States??  Hundreds!)
Cottonwood RV Park campsite
     We are camped tonight near the banks of the San Juan River at Cottonwood RV Park in Bluff, UT.  The river is lined with steep rock walls, the top layer of which is at least 50’ thick and MASSIVE!  My table is nestled under cottonwood and locust trees – with a salt cedar next to the trailer (we learned to identify that one at Bottomless Lakes in Roswell!) 
     We began new highway today from the time we turned off onto 160 until late next week when we rejoin Interstate 70 south of Salt Lake City.  This will be a fun adventure to end our spring travels!!

     PS.  Productive morning from Edgewood to Cuba – I sewed together and stuffed the last two camels!!  Six completely done! From Cuba to Farmington I worked on a new one, but I don’t do needlework on new highway!  So no more until later in the week!  
Bluffs as we drop down into Bluff, UT!

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