Sunday, May 30, 2010

05-30-10

Yesterday, I took a ride with Clyde and two other jeeps.
Patti was not feeling well, we aren't sure if it is just sinus problems or a cold but she stayed home.
We drove out Hwy. 128 again. After we crossed the Dewey Bridge, we stopped to check out an abandoned cave house.


The story is that, about 20 years ago a guy started to build this house in the side of a sandstone cliff but his permit was revoked when part of the ceiling collapsed.


He was pretty far along with a great room, a "grand staircase",


a fireplace, some of the kitchen back wall,


and a bedroom with a great view.


Unfortunately the material that he was digging in was just too soft.

From the cave house we drove farther up 128 to Kokopeli Trail where we turned west and stopped to air down our tires.



After that I lost track of all the roads and turns.
Along the way we stopped to check out some old cabins.


The interesting thing about these cabins was that they were built out of Railroad ties.



Behind the cabins a little ways is a large mine tunnel.



I didn't have a light so I could only go a short distance into the mine.



We passed these three old women.


The next place we stopped was at some caves in a huge sandstone cliff.
The first one was just a small cleft I call "the chapel"




The next was a trio of caves. The one in the center was the deepest and opened up into a large room.
I tried to get some pictures inside this cave but my camera was on the wrong setting and none of them came out.
I did get this shot looking out of the opening.



Our next stop was a large sandstone formation I'll call "The Whale".



We drove up the side, along the back and stopped at the dorsal fin.





After we left "the whale" Clyde got a little confused and we drove around for a while looking for the trail he wanted.
I know how that feels, after my experiences guiding people in Quartzsite.
There are a zillion roads out there and there are no signs.
Eventually we got to a road that Clyde recognized and headed east on this wide dusty road.




Eventually we came into the back of Arches National Park,




got back on the asphalt and were home around 6:30.

It was an interesting ride but a long day and very dusty.

Friday, May 28, 2010

05-28-10

Another day of high winds. The La Sal Mountains to the south are almost hidden by the dust. I hope it doesn't rain mud again. Our neighbor, Clyde invited us for a ride on a trail called Fins & Things. It was our first ride on a trail that is rated "Difficult". We left at 10:00 and there were five jeeps in our group.

Fins and Things is a trail in the "Sand Flats Recreation Area". The trail was fairly challenging.



All the other jeeps in the group were modified Rubicons with lockers and stuff.



but we were able to make the trip with only a few spots giving us trouble.

The trail is very popular and we had to stop a few times to let the traffic clear.



Here are some more pics and vids of the ride.





video

video

video

video


Okay, that's it for today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

05-27-10

Okay, I guess I have a couple of days to catch up.

We have had one day where the wind has not been blowing at gale force in the last 7 days. This place is even windier than Quartzsite.
In the last post I mentioned the dust in the air and the rain squall that came through. The rain was a "MUD rain". The next morning there was mud all over the windows and side of the RV and the jeep. I have never experienced "mud rain" before.
The wind is still blowing today and according to the weather on the computer will be windy through Saturday.

On Tuesday Patti went to the casino in Cortez Colorado with Harry, Barb and an other couple. She lost $59 but it took all day so I guess that isn't too bad
I stayed home.
I wanted to see if I could get the starter out of Plan "B". Yes the starter is still messing up.
Everything is so close down there that even though I could get a socket on the top bolt there wasn't enough room to move the ratchet. I had three 4 inch extensions and one 6 inch extension connected to the ratchet but still couldn't get passed the exhaust and other obstacles. I struggled with it for a while and decided to give it a rest and think about it for a while.

A few days ago I got an email from my brother, Sonny telling me about hunting around Newspaper Rock and describing the area as it was then (probably 40 years ago). I was curious to see if I could find the places he mentioned so around 12:00 I headed south on 191. I was surprised how far the turn off was from Moab. It turned out to be about 14 miles north of Monticello. You turn onto Hwy 211 at Cathedral Rock.



Then drive around 11 miles to newspaper rock (See blog for 04-08-10). When I got there I looked around for the camp spots that Sonny had mentioned but only found a parking lot and some native guys selling jewelry. I drove on down the road for a while and didn't find any camp ground so I turned around and went back past the rock.
About a quarter mile east of Newspaper Rock I found a large turnout to the right so I turned out.

I found a portagee gate across a small dirt road. I went through the gate and think I found the area that Sonny had mentioned. The road was very small,
I followed it for a ways but after a while, I realized that there were no vehicle tracks on the road only foot prints. The road got very narrow with the brush closing in on both sides. I found a break in the brush large enough to turn around so I did. On the way back I stopped to take a few pictures of the camp spots along the creek,



the canyon and the road.




Is this the way you remember it Sonny?

Wednesday morning, I realized that I had a couple more socket extensions and a swivel in the Jeep tool box so I dug them out and crawled back under Plan "B" and was successful in removing the starter so I went to the local parts store and purchased a new one and had it installed by 10:00. I tried it several times and it worked every time.

Around 11:45 Patti and I took off for a ride to the Deloris River overlook. To get there we drove out Hwy 128 which goes east from Moab along the Colorado River.



About 30 miles from Moab, just before the new Dewey Bridge, we turned onto Entrada road.
The road is a wide graded road and except for all the rock on the road is a pretty easy ride, not very challenging but very bumpy.



We wandered through the canyons for almost 18 miles until we got to the end on a high point of land overlooking the Deloris River.



The wind was blowing very hard so we once again had lunch in the jeep.



The views of course were impressive


and there were some new wild flowers along the way.




On the way back we saw a bright green lizard running down the road. I stopped the jeep and got out to see if I could get a picture of it. I was lucky because he ran under a piece of brush and stopped there thinking he was hidden.


I have never seen as brightly colored lizards as they have around here.

We got home around 4:30 and around 6:00 went to dinner at the third of the Mexican restaurants in town "The Fiesta". We decided that the "La Hacienda" is the Best.










Sunday, May 23, 2010

05-23-10

The wind has been blowing hard for the last three days. Today there is a pall of dust hanging over the valley this afternoon that looks Like fog.


It just started to rain, they are big drops so it probably won't last very long.

We took a ride today with Barb and Harry Hutchins, who were our neighbors in Quartzsite. They are from Moab.

They took us out La Sal Loop Road. We passed Ken's Lake


Of course all the scenery is beautiful.

We passed lots of red rock formations


and a waterfall that comes out of a tunnel through the mountain


We also visited a man made cave that was used as a set for a Roy Rogers movie in the
60's.



The cave even has fake cave art.

I tried to find out which movie it was but without any luck.

We drove through a scenic valley with some nice expensive homes and up Pack Creek Rd.
We were home around noon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

05-21-10

White Rim Road trip.

05-18-10
We got a late start today and we had to go to the visitors center in Canyonlands Park to get our permit for the White Rim Road.
As we drove to the visitors center she Sky's were threatening rain.

">

From the visitors center we had to go back down highway 313 to Mineral Bottom Road where we turned left heading for the switchbacks and the White Rim. Mineral Bottom Road is a wide graded dirt road for about 12 miles

then you come to the switchbacks down to Mineral bottom.

As we started down the switch backs it began to rain. It only lasted for a little while.


video

At the bottom we came to a “T” where we turned right (north) and drove to the only boat launch on the Green River in Canyonlands Park.

From there we headed south along the W.R.(White Rim) road. The first 25 miles of the road runs along the Green River


video

About five miles south of the “T” you enter the Park. After another 1.5 miles we turned east on the road that goes to a pair of spires called Zeus and Moses it is a side trip of about 6 miles,



here we stopped for lunch.

While we were having lunch we could hear thunder rumbling through the canyons.

After lunch we returned to the W.R. road and headed south again. Soon we came to the roughest part of the road north of Murphy’s Hogback but more about that later. This section is called Hardscrabble hill and is well named. The “Trail’ is very steep on both sides of the hill, very narrow and is covered with lots of large broken rocks. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this part of the road.

From the bottom of Hardscrabble to our camp spot at Potato Bottom the road is not too bad and we saw several cactus and wild flowers along the way.

We got to the camp spot around 3:30. As soon as we started putting up our tent, the wind came screaming down the canyon and blew in gale force until we finally got the tent erected. In the process one of our fiberglass stretcher poles got broken and we sustained a rip in one corner of the tent.

As soon as we finally got the tent erected and got inside exhausted from the effort, the wind stopped.

After the wind died I went back out and by jerry rigging the side with an extra pole in place of the one that got broken, got that side of the tent stretched.

For the rest of the day and through that night the winds were light.

05-19-10

We awoke to a nice morning with the remnants of clouds from the previous day storm moving away to the east.

After breakfast we packed up and got on our way toward our next camp site at Airport camp, a distance of about 50 miles. The road to Candlestick camp was pretty good.

The next obstacle was the climb up to Murphy’s Hogback. The trail here is narrow and steep with some overhangs that could be a problem for a pickup with a cab over camper on it. The only “bad” spot on the climb up Murphy’s is at the top where there is a large outcrop of rock in the middle of the road.

Once at the top of the grade we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the incredible view.

Some times a photo just doesn't do justice to the scene so we decided to try some video pans. here is one from Murphy's hog back.


video

The drive down the south side of Murphy’s is a steep grade and very narrow but not particularly rough. From the bottom of the south side of Murphy's grade, all the way to the Colorado River Overlook near the end of the White Rim Road about, 35 to 40 miles is very, very rough. It isn’t particularly challenging but it is very slow going do to all the “slick rock” that the road crosses.
This is typical of the road between Murphy's and the Colorado River Overlook.


The speed limit for the W.R. road is 15 mph. and there are a few spots where you can actually achieve that speed but most of the time because of the rock, 2 to 5 mph is about all you can do. Even so the views are breath taking and worth the drive.

And of course there are the flowers.



in the following video you see what I call a desert garden.


video

By the time we got to Airport Tower we felt pretty beat up and we were spent.
We had planned to erect the tent but when I tried to drive a stake in the ground I found that the ground was solid rock with about a quarter inch of dust on top. Our tent requires 8 steaks to hold it up so we decided to just put down a ground tarp, set our cots up and sleep under the stars.


Sunset at Airport Tower camp.


It was a clear night and the stars were beautiful. Around 3:00 in the morning I tried to get some star pictures but I guess our camera won’t do that.

05-20-10

I woke up at sunrise to the sound of something moving around our camp. It turned out to be just a Raven looking for scraps.



After taking a couple of sunrise pictures I went back to sleep for another hour or so.



I got up around 7:30 and had breakfast.
We packed up and left camp about 9:00.
We stopped several times to take in the views.




We stopped to see Musselman Arch.
I was very impressed by Patti who has a fear of heights and still walked out on the Arch so I could take a picture of her.



The next stop was The Colorado River Overlook.



From there we climbed The Shaffer Switchbacks.



looking down the Shaffer switchbacks.



We exited the park around 11:30.
By the time we got to Mineral Bottom Road where we started this trip we had covered 122 miles. The official distance for the White Rim Road is 96 miles.
Even though the ride was a little rough it was all worth it.

Here are some tips for any one who would like to take this trip.

First;
Make your reservations well ahead of time. You can’t make reservations before July 4th but I wouldn’t wait much later than that. We waited until mid February to make ours and as a result we were unable to get the camp spots that we wanted. Therefore on the second day we had to travel about 55 miles between camp spots. All camps on the trail are by reservation only.

Second;
I would suggest that if you want to make the trip in a counter clockwise direction as we did that you plan to camp at Candlestick campground the first night and Gooseberry camp for the second night. That way you won’t have that long, long drive on the second day. It would probably be about the same if you are making the trip in the clockwise direction.

Third;
Be sure to take along some insect repellant because the “No-seums’ are many and voracious. They are the size of dust motes with teeth like alligators. They attack in swarms from sunrise until dark. Fourth; Take a free standing tent. Most of the camp spots are in areas of solid rock so tent stakes won’t work. Fifth; This route is a favorite of “Mountain Bikers” so there are lots of bikes on the trail. Be careful and watch for swarms of bikes.

Sixth;
Take at least one gallon of water per day for two people and be thrifty with it. There is no water anywhere along the trail. We used about three quarters of a tank of gas in our Four cylinder jeep on this trip. I would suggest that you take extra gasoline just in case.

If your are a masochist you could make the trip in one very long 17+ hour day. I have spoken to people who have done it. I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you are a little less of a masochist you could make the ride in two days. If you really want to do this, I would suggest you get reservations to camp at ether White Crack which is about half way or Murphy's which has a great view.

I personally wouldn’t try this trip in any less than three days, four days would probably be best for ease and comfort, if you have the time.

We saw all kinds of vehicles on the trail.
Every thing from a big Dodge 4X4 with a cab over camper (I wonder how he did with the overhangs on the north side of Murphy’s grade) to a Lexus SUV and even a BMW.
I don’t know if the Beemer was four wheel drive or not. I hope so or he may still be there.

To sum it up. It was a good trip even with the long hard drives and trouble with the wind that first night. We will probably do it again sometime but not real soon. Next time I will know what to plan for and will get my reservations early.

Patti was very excited because she was able to get her Golden age pass.