I thought I had a pretty good plan, with a couple of back-up places to camp at higher elevations in case the heat got to us. But unfortunately, and fortunately, tunnel-vision and exhaustion made the decision for me.
This long weekend started off with two objectives:
1) Get that photo of Muley Point for my (step)dad like I’d promised last time I went up there.
2) Travel the road into Arches to Balanced Rock that Ed Abbey talked about in Desert Solitaire. The original entrance into Arches BLM 378 Willow Spring Road.
The first night, I camped at one of my favorite-not-too-far-from-home places to camp out near Munds Park, AZ.
I suppose you could say that the weekend was a resounding success on those two objectives:
I drove up the Moki Dugway
and got the photo:
and stayed overnight up at Muley Point. This time, however, I didn’t stay right out at the point where it was so horribly windy last time, but instead, moved south to a somewhat treed area I’d scouted before. (Point over there to the left, my campsite somewhere on that red circled road.)
It was lovely, protected, and still had an amazing view. That’s Monument Valley out there!
Because it was so warm, I stayed inside and got some little projects done in the camper.
Set up my paper towel holder
Added Velcro to under the runner rug so it will stop scootching up. Cut out a reflector and added Velcro to keep sunlight from streaming in the ceiling fan.
I wondered if I could put in a skylight instead of fan over my bed?
Made a lunch of guacamole while working on the projects.
Wondered about changing out my sink faucet with on that swivels, as well as goes up/down?
Pugsly’s favorite napping spot. Need to organize that for her better.
Did my routine check of the turnbuckles and much to my surprise, one of the fasteners was loose! Eep!
Chris, from Rocky Mountain FWC, recommended adding blue Loctite. I’m going to pick some up today!
Unfortunately, there were bitey gnats that drove us inside the camper to spend some time viewing the sunset through the mesh. Still, not too shabby!
I also accomplished the second thing on my list:
I drove the original entrance to Arches. BLM 378
Not only did I traverse the original Abbey road into Arches, I conquered a fear and used my Low 4 on the truck for the first time! I was fine in the high-4 for the first part of the road, but then I came to a wash and encountered two problems. The first one was the big rock that stepped down at a rather alarming angle
and the second, was that I couldn’t see where the “road” went after the wash. I got out to scout, and saw some faint tire tracks so thought it angled off to the right.
This is looking back to the truck from where I thought the “road” led across the wash.
I sat there for a while, and texted my (unintentional) “navigator” Cayuse, and sent him some pics. He suggested using 4-low to slowly “walk” the truck down the decline. I thought about it, then decided that I wasn’t ready, backed up, and turned the truck around. Feeling like a wussy loser, I paused. While I was in that pause, a Land Cruiser drove by. I decided that if they could do it, so could I! Plus, I could follow them to find the rest of the path.
By the time I got turned back around, the Land Cruiser was disappearing behind a left angle of the road beyond the wash. I was correct in my initial assessment of there the road led, so with my confidence up, I slipped into 4L and slowly creeped down that rock.
The truck bottom scraped momentarily, but with a smooth transition, I was in crossing the wash and up the other side. What fun! I’m now considering adding an extra leaf. Nothing major, just to get a wee bit more height for next time….
Pugsly slept the whole time.
Balanced Rock was disappointing for the reasons why I dislike tourist attractions.
This was my view when I pulled into the small parking area.
That’s Balanced Rock peeking up from behind the bus.
The bus was sitting there, idling, spewing fumes and noise into the lovely view. I skedaddled away from that crowded area, and did a tour of the main attractions. At all of them, people were crawling about like ants. I had to leave.
This is near Devil’s Garden. The “dotted” line in the rocks fascinated me. How was that made? Did an alien ship set that top part down on top? Is it removable with internal hinges and there’s actually a whole gnome world inside?
The original idea was to boondock at the camping area that starts that original Arches entrance road BLM 378. But I didn’t have the energy to go back over that road, so I made my way back down the 191 to camp.
I ended up at Windwhistle Campground. Not boondocking, but it was a lovely place to camp. I wish I’d explored a couple of the red dirt roads that split off into the distance on my drive out to Windwhistle, I much prefer campering away from people and well, civilization. But there is a convenience to having a toilet and trash cans. Plus, there were these lovely giant rocks to scramble up behind my site.
It was too hot to do much during the day, so I got some reading done. Pugsly got a cool treat (my vet told me to freeze baby food – vegetable turkey for example – and give to pups) Great for a hot day!
Around sunset, Argos and I took a wee hike up on the rocks. I found a perfect spot for a tent up there… wish I’d brought mine along, although carrying Pugsly up would have been a trick. You can see my camper just off center, to the left.
Couldn’t resist a selfie with my goofy dog:
My original back-up plans for “in case of heat” included a couple of higher places near-ish, or to drop down to the Mogollon Rim back in Az. Instead, I headed to Capitol Reef (and on to Escalante) in what turned out to be a grueling and beautiful, and exhausting day of driving more than I’d intended.
I was cursing myself, but I also got to scout out places for future trips, and the following day, happened upon a favorite childhood memory.
Saturday morning, I first headed to Needles Overlook in Canyonlands. Wow. Just…wow.
What amazing earthly forces created these places. At 7:40am I could already feel the heat building.
I headed off for my unintentional crazy trip across Utah. Blanding –> Fry Canyon –> Hite –> Hanksville (the then through armpit of UT) –> Boulder –> Escalante.
Most of Utah is state parks. It’s pretty amazing.
I need to go back to Bryce Canyon NP
And I should have camped up near Torrey – it was amazingly beautiful, and satisfied my need to get out of the heat.
However, and here are lessons to be learned, my stress of Time did not align with my need to be out of the heat. I got tunnel-vision on the Time part of the equation and let that rule my decisions. That landed me a full day of driving behind me, outside of Escalante driving down washboard for 14 miles in search of a campground before giving up with worry of my poor turnbuckles and turning around. I found a boondocking site closer to the Hole in the Rock turn-off and pulled in there.
This looks a bit how I felt: dusty and rumpled
It was hot and a good portion of that day I felt kind of lost. That feeling of not having your bearings.
When I was 15, I visited my cousin in Houston. She took me to Galveston beach front to look at boys. I was excited about the big water and ran in – and got pulled down and topsy-turvy by the undertow. That feeling, of not knowing which was is up and feeling trapped in that place, stayed with me. It’s the feeling I get when exhausted and without a firm grasp on my location, even if I’m at home in my bed. My dad and I used to call it “the existential heebie jeebies”.
This time, I reminded myself that I was a day’s drive from my cottage, and not lost on a remote island.
Once the heat abated, it was a lovely sunset there outside of Escalante.
The dogs and I settled in for a good sleep and woke with the sunrise. As usual, the previous evening’s worries were gone with the fresh morning light.
Sunday. Heading back towards my cottage. Since I had another day, and was feeling on the home-stretch, I didn’t have that same frenetic stress as the day before.
I had planned to stop in Kanab, UT to visit Best Friends Animal Society. They do a ton of animal rescue and adoption and I’d once considered applying to work with them. On the way, I saw an unexpected sign:
When I was a kid – 9 or 10 years old – my mom and grandparents and I took a road trip to the Southwest. I was smitten. Grandpa and I peeked under rocks searching for scorpions, I picked sagebrush, and I saw the giant forever skies.
One of the stops we made back then, was to an off the main path state park the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. We rolled down those soft pink sand hills and had a glorious time. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. It was a location I’d put on my list to visit. I was surprised to see this sign and immediately turned down the road.
My family drove down this road some thirty years ago. I imagine it looks pretty much the same.
It was too hot to stay, and so I left the dogs in the truck (running, with a/c), clambered up a hill and buried my feet in the soft, pink sand. I could almost see my grandpa walking barefoot along the crest.
After I reluctantly left the Sand Dunes, I stopped in at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. It’s huge! They have acres of land dedicated for the rescue, rehab, and adopting of animals. Amazing.
I made some good time on the road, until I saw the sign for “Lee’s Ferry”. Well, what good Abbey-adventurer can pass up that sign? I had to see where the MonkeyWrench Gang met up! I drove down and saw another “Balanced Rock”
It was too hot to meander, so I left the dogs in the truck (a/c on…) and ran up to the mighty Colorado.
Then it was a push on to Munds Park area.
After the long, hot trip, it was a relief to find this idyllic little spot away from even the Forest Service road.
I arrive home somewhat conflicted as to whether sticking to original plans would have been the better of decisions, or if coming across my childhood memories and some lovely new areas was worth braving the harrowing heat and long drive times?
Either way, it was an adventure.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Love that Utah is next door! (in Colorado)
Yes! It’s just a hop north for me! Super close!
Really enjoyed this, I always boondock on what I call the Ed Abbey road when in Moab.