September 19, 2020I spent two days and quite a bit of money having some maintenance work done on the van. I needed an oil change which cost me $100. It is the most I have ever paid. It is usually around $65. The tires also needed to be rotated, which was done at a reasonable price of $30. The cabin air filter needed to be changed, $23. I did this myself after watching a youtube video on how to do it. I also had one headlight out $20. I did this myself after watching a youtube video, but I have to confess I was nervous about this one. It involved removing a few pieces, but I am happy to say it all went well. Then about a week later the other headlight goes out and needs to be replace. Now I am a pro at changing the lightbulbs!I also did laundry, got my propane tank filled and went grocery shopping while in town.

Mesa Verde NP

Sunday September 27, 2020This was another National Park that was a delight. It far less crowded than some of the other parks I visited. I am also reaching the end of the season which helps. I was able to finding parking at every place I visited.Mesa Verde is most famous for its cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo people in the late 1190’s to late 1270’s. They first settled in the area about AD 550 and lived in pit houses, a pit dug in the ground with timber used to support the walls and roof. But as time evolved so did they dwellings.My first stop was Cliff Palace. It is the largest dwelling with 150 rooms and had a population of approximatley 100 people at some time. I was surprised to see how empty the parking lot was when I pulled in. All guided tours have been cancelled because of covid so you can only walk to an overlook and take a picture from here. And unfortunally my timeing with the sun wasn’t the best for taking picture of the dwellings, therefore the quality is really poor.The next highlight was Square Tower House. It is noted in my park map brochuer that much of what we know of these early residents are clues found in the garbage heap at the bottom of the cliff. It is though that the population of this area many have reached seveal thouseand over the years by the fair amount of discarded trash.Lastly was Spruce Tree House. Again poor picture quality of sun and distance for site.This was truly a remarkable park. There were so many places to stop and get out and view sites it was exhausting. Thankfully the weather was perfect. A sunny, cool and breezy 70ish day allowing for many stops. After doing a short hike and the dozen or more stops I made I took a short nap in the van.

Follow along for today’s adventure

Thursday September 24, 2020

It started with a beautiful morning sunrise. I just open the door and there it is. My mornings now start at 7am when it gets light out. I am no longer up hours before the sunrise. Since I am traveling I only walk Berkley when it is light outside unless I want to be somewhere really early. It is a nice way to start the day. We usually walk for a couple of miles then come back and have breakfast. Sometimes I am just finishing breakfast as late as 9am. It is so nice not to have to run around like a crazy person in the morning. To enjoy each day and not dread it is so lovely.

Today was just going to be a travel day from one point to the next. I had no idea all of the spectacular sights I was going to see.

First was the Navajo Bridge spanning the Grand Canyon. It was orgionally built in 1929, but was to narrow and not strong enough for the large vehicles of today. A second larger and stronger bridge was later built in 1994. The first one still remains intact and is open for pedestrians to walk across. It looked like it was going to be a little scary driving over it but it was really wide and non-scary for me.

Next it was Monument Valley. More unbelievable scenery. I did take a few pictures while driving but did not stop at any of the pullouts. I just enjoyed it while driving by.

Then it was Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River. This required a parking fee and a 1.5 mile hike to see, but was well worth it.

The grand fanally was a drive up a canyon wall. I am just driving along gazing at this canyon wall off in the distance. Then I realize that the road is heading stright toward the middle of it and it looks like it would be a hell of a long way to go around it. As I get closer I see where the road does indeed go right up it. OH MY!

Then imagine my shock when I see a sign that says the pavement ends. WHAT?!?! This is the way Google Maps is taking me! I shouldn’t be surprised. There are just as many dirt roads out here as paved roads. For the next 3 miles I climb this canyon wall on a dirt road with sharp turns and switchbacks and sometimes only enough room for one vehicle. The road did have some washboard sections, but for the most part it wasn’t to bad for a dirt road. It was definitly scenic and crazy fun. When I get to the top it is flat with a perfectly smooth paved road. I was thinking I was going to have to go down the other side, but nope. Pure bliss at the top.

Zoom in to see the sign that says “pavement ends 800 feet”.

Don’t tell Mom… I took some photos while driving.

View looking over the edge of the road.

Getting closer to the top.

For anyone one who would like to try it. It is route 261.

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” ~ Babs Hoffman

Grand Canyon NP

Tuesday September 22, 2020

Did you know mice like cantaloupe? Yup, they sure do. I stayed at a dispersed campsite last night and I could hear a mouse in the van before I even fell asleep. It was a long night. It woke me up several time rummaging around. In the morning I found it had eaten a portion of a cantaloupe that I had out to ripen. Pesky little things!

My morning view before entering the Grand Canyon NP.

The rest of the day didn’t go was well either. My Grand Canyon visit was kind of a bust.

I camped just 4 miles from the enterance to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive in was beautiful. Some of the Aspen trees are starting to change color.

I was pulling up to the enterance just before 8am. There was no one there so I just entered and headed to the visitors center to get a map and info.

Only about a third of the parking lot was open. They were repaving the surface so most of it was roped off. I’m glad I got here early. The visitor center was closed so I couldn’t get a map or talk to a park ranger. So I took a picture of a map posted outside and planned out my day.

There were a few overlooks and a trail that I could do from here. First was a short hike to Bright Angel Point, but I couldn’t do it. I got part way and got scared. The narrow trail with steep drop offs on each side left me feeling dizzy. I just wanted to get down on my hands and knees and just crawl back the way I came. There were a couple of other lookouts and I did do one of them, but not the other. It looked a little to fear inducing to me.

Next I was going to hike a small portion of the North Kaibab Trail, but the parking area was totally full.

I was going to do the scenic drive to the overlooks, but the WHOLE road was shut down for construction. All 20+ miles! I talked to a worker and he said that he didn’t know if they were working an 8 hour day or a 10 hour. So the road would be closed until at least 3pm.

I decided just to headout. It was so busy and very little parking. I also decided not to go to the south rim. The east enterance is closed so that would mean that I would have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff and back up. Probably a 5 hour or longer drive for me. I am happy with what I have been able to see. I think I am on beautiful landscape overload. I am so thankful for all that I have seen and I know there is still so much more. This land we live on is remarkable.

I head out of the park and don’t get very far before finding a beautiful spot to camp. I realized that the next couple of places that I wanted to stop at were much lower in elevation and may be a bit warm. So I decided to take a break at this higher elevation and enjoy the beautiful weather. I end up staying two nights at this spot. The weather is great. The scenery is good and there are miles of walking. I just smile and enjoy it. This makes me happy.

My morning view is so lovely.

My camping spot for the next two nights.

Zion NP

Thursday September 17, 2020

I arrive mid-afternoon and the temperatures are much warmer here. It is 95. Luckly the campground has electric sites so I will be able to run the AC.

Checkerboard Masa

I take the east enterance into the park. There are two tunnels that I have to go through and I though I would need a special permit to pass through them but no one required me to purchase one. There were a couple of large motorhomes in front of me and I was just ushered through with them. The tunnels are normally two way traffic, but with vehicles wider that 7’10” they make it one way traffic to prevent accidents through the narrow tunnel. The drive in through the east enterance is stunning, but plan for a long delay at the Mt. Carmel Tunnel.

It has been a wonder just driving out west. Just going from one park to another is like going through another park. It is that beautiful.

Tunnel in Red Canyon area

Note: if in the area again overnight in Red Canyon between Bryce and Zion on 89.

At the beginning of this trip I was stopping all the time to take pictures at practically every lookout. Now I just enjoy the moment and continue on, ouing and awing to myself as I pass through.

My campsite is massive. I think you could fit 10 of me in here. It is a pull thru site on the river. It was my only option when I made my reservation. I’m sure it was only available because someone cancelled and I got really lucky.

Friday September 18, 2020

Views on our morning walk

Little Man was a walking machine this morning. I had to make him turn around and he still did 2.5 miles. We passed by a deer and the deer started to walk toward Berkley as if he wanted to check Berkley out.

Zion has a shuttle bus system and you can only see certain areas of the park by taking the shuttle. You have to buy a ticket for each day you want to ride the shuttle. You can buy them two weeks in advance or there are also a limited number available the day before. All shuttle tickets are one dollar. I was able to get a shuttle ticket for today, but I was unable to get one for tomorrow.

Today I took a hike to Emerald Pools. I would call them something else. They were not that attractive, but the scenery on the hike was beautiful.

Waterfall that you pass under on your hike up to Upper Emerald Pools.

Upper Pool

I walked by a few deer on the way up the trail and they were still in the same spot on my return trip. I was surprised because there were so many people on the trail. I guess the deer are really use to people.

Since I was unable to get a shuttle ticket for tomorrow I crammed a lot into today. I also walked the riverside walk which goes to the narrows. I did not go into the narrows. I did want to walk through all that water. I’m sure it was pretty frigid! Plus I like my feet and shoes dry.

I also stopped at the Big Bend stop which gives you a view of the Angel’s Landing Trail from far below. There are numerous areas that are closed in the park because of covid and being unable to social distance on the trails. This is one of them. Trust me I’m not heartbroken on this one.

Angel’s Landing follows that razor’s edge pictured above. Nope! Not for me.

Saw this pretty little guy on the sidewalk in front of the lodge.

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Sunday September 13, 2020

Today is my father-in-law’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Jim. I had a fabulous sunrise on your special day.

Today’s adventure was a hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls. It is a 6 mile hike located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area. The trail is relatively flat, though the deep sand you are hiking through makes it challanging.

I was warned to make sure I took plenty of water and I did. I just didn’t drink enough of it and now I am suffering for it. I have a pretty bad headache. I think it is a combination of dehydration and exertion. I usually get a headache when I start a backpacking trip or harder hiking trail.

The deep sand I was walking through made the trail tough. Plus Berkley was not a fan of the sand and I carryed him for almost the whole distance.

I like to have the van at just the right angle to make sure the water in the shower drains well. This was my highly paid education put to use on my very low budget.

Tonight’s dinner…pretzels crisps and hummus and later a white russian.

There is a campground at the trail head but you have to drive over this wash to get to it.

Bryce NP

Tuesday September 15, 2020I start the day with many birthday wishes. Thank you all for thinking of me. Forty nine Forty something, we’ll keep it at that.I have a great start to the day with a waterfall hike on Mossy Cave trail.

This canal which supplies water for this waterfall was created from the hard labor of pioneers from 1890-1892 that labored with picks and shovels to carve a 10 mile irrigation ditch from the East Fork of the Sevier River, through the Paunsaugunt Plateau, into this canyon.

Every year since its completion in 1892 (except during the drought of 2002), this canal known as the Tropic Ditch has supplied the communities of Tropic and Cannonville with irrigation water.

Mossy Cave isn’t actually a cave at all, it is a grotto that is constantly wet and dripping, even forming ice in the winter months. If you closely at the pictures you can see the water dripping.Upon entering the park I took Berkley on a stroll down the multi-use path from the visitor center. There are much more doging walking options in this national park over any other national park I have been to. We pass by North Campground which is a first come first serve campground and I see that there are some open sites. I decide to take advantage if this. The campground looks really nice with shaded campsites.Wednesday September 16, 2020I wait for it to start to get light out then hop out of bed and take Berkley for his morning walk. The temperature is in the upper 40’s. When we get back I saute some broccoli, add in some eggs and asiago cheese and breakfast is ready.Bryce has a free shuttle service that will drop you off and pick you up from the really popular viewpoints. I take advantage of this.I take the shuttle to Bryce Point, the furthest point you can take it within the park. From there I hike all the way back to the campground combining several different trails.Bryce Point, one of the most scenic vistas of the full amphitheater and all its wonders amaze me. I just can’t believe what I am seeing. All the hoodoos look like they have been set alight as if by fire from the first rays of the rising sun. It is magical!I take the rim trail that walks around the amphitheater to Inspiration Point. The viewpoint at here consists of three levels that provide varied spectacular perspectives of the main amphitheater. All who look out from this point are bound to be inspired, considering the intricacies of the hoodoos and their formation through the passage of time.I continue on the Rim Trail to Sunset point. Of course best seen at sunset, but it offers some of the most famous and breathtaking views of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos.I then get on the Navajo Loop Trail. This trail travels down into the main amphitheater and I combine it with the Queens Garden Trail which will create a longer, but more varied, loop.

Going down the wall section of the Navajo Loop is generally not recommended because of it’s steepness, but I did not know this at the time. It was pretty much straight down. I am thankful for all the switchbacks and the fact that I’m not going back up it. It looks like a heart attach inducing climb back up.

Those dark spots in the photo above are people! The trail goes down in a hurry with numerous switchbacks.

Now that I am down in the main amphitheater I am constantly looking up rather than down.There are some narrow areas through fins and a few more stairs.When I get back to the van I’m shocked to see how dirty I am. I have an unusual sock line…dark below and white and dusty above.I get cleaned up and Berkley and I take a nap. It is not hard to talk him into it.Thursday September 17, 2020It is another cool morning. We walk to Sunrise Point. It is after sunrise and there is a smokie haze in the air, but I enjoy the view.We slowly get ready to drive the scenic drive through the park. The main highlight I want to see is Natural Bridge. So I make it the first stop on my list.OH MY! It is jaw dropping big! I think I could stand here all day and view it. It is that beautiful.I continue on to the other overlooks, but none are spectacular as Natural Bridge.

Capital Reef NP

Friday September 11, 2020

It is a pretty sunrise on this cool 40ish degree morning.

My campsite last night.

View toward the front of the campsite.

Upon entering the park I come across a cabin that was build by a mormon family of 15 in 1882. Thirteen children! That is some crazy shit in a one room cabin. The cabin is tiny. They only lived there for a year because of the flash floods that ruined their crops.

I hike to Hickman Bridge. It is a natural bridge and beautiful.

On the hike I meet a couple from California. They are visiting the same parks as me just in the reverse order. They are traveling with a side by side in the back of their truck and towing their trailer. When we get back to the parking lot there is a crowd surrounding their truck. They are staring at how the side by side loaded in the back of it.

This is the first school house in the area built in 1896. It also served as a church and meeting hall. The classroom desks were tiny. I can’t imagine today’s kids fitting in those seats.

I take a scenic drive within the park and the pictures below are the views on the drive.

This is my lunchtime view.

I am fascinated with the colors in the sand/stone/rock/or what ever you want to call it. It is like art work.

This is my campsite for tonight. View is steller.

Berkley, acting like a kid and climbing on the rocks!

Saturday September 12, 2020

We slept in this morning and didn’t venture out until 7:30am. Super later for us. The temperatures were nicer this morning. The interior temp was 50. Which is so much better than the 40’s. The sun was out and the sky, blue. Berkley continued his rock climbing this morning.

After an awesome breakfast burrito of spinach, avocado and egg I was off to hike grand wash. It is a dry streambed deep in the heart of Capital Reef at the bottom of a canyon with sandstone cliffs looming hundreds of feet above. There is a warning at the trailhead about occasional flash floods. I don’t think I have to worry about that today. The dry dusty conditions and sunny skis assure me that all will be well for the hike.

I can see the flow the stream takes as I am walking. It is free from a lot of rock and slightly lower in elevation.

It is a marvel to look at the sandstone and see how smooth some of it is as it has been worn away by the elements. I often wondered what things look like under the sea. This gives you a slight impression of the path the water has worn over time.

The narrows section is mind blowing with steep cliffs that go straight up.

The sections that the sun has not reached at this hour are chilly with an even chillier breeze blowing through. The areas the sun reaches are a warm welcome at this mid morning hour.

Twin Rocks

Berkley doing his best to keep the plants alive!

Canyonlands NP

Tuesday September 8, 2020

I woke up to rain hitting the roof this morning. Current temperature is in the upper 60’s which is the high for the day. Once the rain stopped for a short while I took Berkley out for his walk and I think the temp had already dropped 20 degrees. It was windy, cold and sprinkling off and on.

I pulled out of the paid campground at 11am. It was 45 degrees. It was about 85 this same time yesterday and it is snowing in areas about 1.5 hours from here. What an incredible difference.

The drive from Moab to Canyonlands was very scenic. I would’ve loved to be a passenger rather than the driver. There was just so much to see. I stopped at three scenic view areas to take pictures. I love storms and the combination of the dark clouds and stunning views had me all happy.

Once I got to Canyonlands NP it was really raining with a little hail missed in, super cold and just plain old nasty out. I decided not to do any exploring today and just went to the campground. I put some warm comfy clothes on and just tried to stay warm the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday September 9, 2020

Berkley laying in front of the heater.

I woke up to temperatures in the upper 30’s and a very chilly 42 degrees in the van. It is windy and gray outside. Dosen’t look like it is going to be a nice day.

I start the day with a hot chocolate and turn the heat on. It is hard to believe that just a few days ago it was over 100 degrees.

I head into the park again to see if I can see any of the views. I stop at the Shafer Canyon Road overlook. It is a 18 mile thrilling scary off road driving experience, that I decided not to attempt in the van. A different vehicle maybe, the van definitely not. I watch from high above, on the canyon wall, as a couple of vehicles descend a portion of the steep downhill switchbacks. They are proceeding very slowly. It is hard to see in the picture just how steep it is and the sheer drop offs. The wind is blowing and it is to cold for me to watch for long. So I head back to the van, thinking whoah that looks insane.

I proceed over to the Green River overlook. It has started to rain again. I wait in the van hoping it will stop soon, but it continues. Now there is snow mixed in with the rain. Everyone else seems to be just trudging through it, what the hell, why not join the rest of the crazies. I head out to the overlook which is just a short walk through the rain/snow. The fog is thick here and you can’t see the Green River far below. What am I thinking? It is nasty out and I get pretty wet. I look like a Florida girl. I have 4 layers on up top, two on the bottom, plus a buff and hat on. While one guy exits his vehicle in SHORTS!

I continue on like the rest of the tourists. Next stop is a short hike to Upheaval Dome. The cause of this abnormality is not know for sure. It is thought to be a large impact crater that later had rock erupting from the bottom.

It starts to rain on my way to Grand View Point Canyon overlook and trail. It is pretty nasty out. I make some lunch and just watch the rain and fog. I decide to lay down in the back and take a nap. When I wake up the rain has stopped, but the fog is still here. Oh well, I’ll make the best of it and head for the trailhead. The fog moves in and out and I do take some pictures, but again the Green River can’t be seen.

I hike most of the 3.5 miles, but decide to turn back before reaching the end. I can see some dark clouds and don’t want to get rained on.

I call it quits for the day. I decide to see if there are any spots in the first come first serve campground. I get the last spot for $15. There are no amenities except a pit toilet.

Thursday September 10, 2020

Sunrise is pretty this morning. It looks like it is going to be a much better day.

I wasn’t going to spend today in the park, but since I didn’t get to see Mesa Arch yesterday it is on today’s agenda. It am so glad I didn’t go yesterday. This is one site you want to see with the sunrise. I didn’t make sunrise, but I think having the sun lower in the sky makes an impressive view.

This arch is right on the edge of a cliff. There is nothing behind it except for a nasty first step.

Arches National Park

Saturday September 5, 2020

Arches National Park is an amazing park even though the temperatures were over 100 degrees. There is much to see and do and it is kept very clean.

At the enterance I am about 20 cars back in line.

This is my first stop in the grand circle, all five national parks in Utah. I am giddy! Most people just dream of doing this and never get the chance to do it.

I arrive at the park at the late hour of 9:20am. The line to enter is long. I must be 20 cars back and there are two lines this long. But I am patient talking to Mom on the phone and before I know it I am passing through. I stop at the visitor center. I need to try an arrange a hotel room for SHORTCUT, who is hiking the CDT. It is a holiday weekend and after about 10 phone calls I don’t have any luck. I walk Berkley then head on my way. It is about 10:30am and it doesn’t seem as busy now.

Just pulling into the visitor center I am in awe. It looks like the road into the park climbs up a rock wall. I can see cars switchbacking up it.

Today I plan just to do a driving tour. It is supposed to be 103 today and that is to hot to leave Berkley in the van for long, since dogs are not allowed on the trails in national parks. I have early morning hikes planned for the next two days. I stop at many of the pullouts to take pictures and I can leave the van running to keep it cool inside for Berkley.

I must have made over a dozen stops today. There is just so much to see and you hate to miss something.

Pictured above is the Three Gossips on the left and Sheep Rock on the right.

The Organ.

This is one of the very few shady places to park I found, but only until the sun rises above the rock.

Balance Rock

Most of the sites in Arches NP can be seen with a short and relatively easy hike.

The photos above are from the Garden of Eden viewing area.

Photos above are from the Fiery Furnace viewing area. There are normally guided hikes climbing adventures through this area, but they are temporary closed. After you do the guided tour you are then allowed to explore the area on your own. But you must do the guided tour to be allowed to explore on your own.

It is really getting hot out so I head to a campground that I have reserved for the next 3 nights in Moab. The temperatures are forecasted to be over 100 for the next 2 days then 99 the day after. So I splurged on a campground to be able run the AC during the really hot afternoon and evening hours.

Sunday September 6, 2020

Morning sun rising to great the new day.

My alarm goes off at 5am. I don’t see this hour much anymore. I usually wait until it is light out to get up. But I want to do a hike in Arches before it get to hot. It takes about an hour to get to the Devil’s Garden trailhead area. It is at the end of the drive into the park. I walk Berkley one more time before I head out.

The moon is still visible.

Landscape Arch

My first stop is Landscape Arch. It amazes me that it is still intact. It looks so thin. It think I read somewhere that the thinest area is only about 6 feet thick and it spans over 300 feet wide.

I proceed to Double O Arch, but choose to turn around when I encounter a steep rock climb with even steeper drop offs. Yup, that is not for me! No way!

Pine Tree Arch

I make my way to Pine Tree Arch, an easy walk with no steep drops offs.

Tunnel Arch

Then it is on to Tunnel Arch. Another non-scary terrain hike.

When I get back to the van it is still cool inside and Berkley was probably napping. The parking lot is packed and cars are just circling waiting for someone to pull out. I decide to head over to the windows section and do a couple of very short hikes there. I’m in luck. There is parking available here.

Double Arch

I first hike to Double Arch. Oh Wow! This one is my favorite so far. It is a beauty!

North Window

Then I proceed over to see North and South Windows and Turret Arch all located a short distance from each other.

South Window

Turret Arch

It was a super day minus my failed hike. The sights were spectacular. As I am exiting the park the enterence is packed. There are two lines of vehicles waiting to get in. I would guess there to be about 60 vehicles in each line at about 12pm with forecasted afternoon temps to be around 103. I know it is a dry heat, but…

Monday September 7, 2020

Delicate Arch

I saved the best for last today, Delicate Arch. I was told that the best time to see it is with the setting sun, but with the temperatures so high I opted to see it in the early morning. I am up at 5 am again and make it to the trailhead at 6:20am. The parking lot is 2/3 full! I can see people hiking up the trail with headlights on. I am shocked that there are so many people here. I guess they wanted a sunrise picture or to beat the heat and crowds. I can tell from the smell that the bathroom has had one hell of a workout this morning. You can smell it halfway down the parking lot. They just have composting toilets. I’m thankful to have my own bathroom and don’t have to enter one of those.

The hike to the arch is 1.5 miles. It is a interesting hike over a lot of slickrock with mindblowing views. There is a narrow ledge with a drop off, but I did well walking along it. Then you round a corner and there is the arch and all those people from the parked cars. Whoa! It was crowded. There was a long line to have your picture taken in front of the arch. I opted just for a picture of the arch and didn’t hang around long.

Slickrock. Yes, the trail went all the way up it.

Narrow trail ledge

View from narrow trail ledge

On the way back down I took a side trail to see some petroglyphs carved in a rock. They were thought to be carved sometime between 1650-1850. They were impressive for their age.

Wolfe Ranch located at the trailhead.

John Wolfe and his oldest son, Fred moved into the area in 1898. John had a leg injury from the civil war and wanted to live in a drier climate. His wife remained in Ohio. John lived at the ranch for 18 years before moving back to Ohio.

View from the overlook with camera zoomed to the max. Look at all those people.

I also went to the Delicate Arch viewing area that doesn’t require a long hike and it was disappointing. It was so far from the arch you couldn’t really get a good picture of it unless you had a really good zoom lenses on your camera. I definitely recommend doing the longer hike. You won’t be disappointed.

Flowers in the parking lot.

When I got back to the campground I decided to take advantage of the laundry facilities. I only had enough quarters to do one load of wash. I just had to hang everything up to dry in the van, since I was out of quarters. It all worked out fine. Everything was dry by the next morning.