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Some of the Snow we Woke up to at San Miguel RiverIMG_5617IMG_5624

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Keeping warm. Bad Positioning of the Toilet Behind Joan

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On the Slickrock Trail at CanyonlandsIMG_4649

The Balancing Rock at Arches NP and Two of the Arches in the Park

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Then Into Utah

Lake Ridgeway State Park 11th April

The Uncompahgre River at this point is classed as a Gold Medal Water because of the size of trout that are found in this stretch. The Parks & Wildlife in the past have spent good money on improving the river and placing boulders in positions that attract the fish. Last night and today I put having a licence to good use although not successfully in this instance. It is a ‘Catch & Release’ stretch of water meaning the trout here are getting fatter and fatter. Speaking to a Denver visitor today he was saying he had a friend who caught a 28” Rainbow along this stretch. I will try again tomorrow but even being on the river is so relaxing whether I catch anything or not. When we were checking in to this State Park the volunteer told us to speak to ‘Bill’ about the best places to fish. Bill met us on the footbridge over the river and pointed out the trout lying just below us and also the best holes to fish. He has worked for the National Parks service for over 21 years in Yellowstone first then here at Lake Ridgeway.

The drive from Durango yesterday had us going over three passes, the highest some 2300 metres. Snow was heavy on the ground right up to the road. The darkly wooded trees were a contrast to the scene of whiteness. The local forecast for Friday is a minimum of 18F with snow anticipated. If I remember correctly 18F is well below freezing. Tomorrow we head west back into Utah where we will visit Canyonlands NP and Maybe Arches NP although I believe the latter is very busy.

San Miguel River. BLM 12th April.

 

Coffee in the US has a bad reputation what with a Starbucks being on every second corner but we’ve found the opposite up till now. Take today. I threw the line in once more this morning meaning our get away wasn’t much before our normal morning coffee. But no, we won’t make our own, we would have a look at nearby Ridgeway which seemed to be a progressive small town to see what they had to offer. There were two on the main (and only) street. The Cimarron Book & Coffee Shop took our fancy. The coffee was hot and strong. Kim sold coffee beans as well. It was one of the occasions where you can sample before you buy.

A frustrating day as we had travelled some 120kms after morning tea, just taking our time and on stopping for lunch discovered a bag had been left back at the coffee shop. The helpful staff in the diner we were having lunch lent us her phone as ours was showing ‘no service’ and yes, it had been discovered two hours after we had left and handed in. So it was back to Ridgeway and then re tracing our steps a third time to find us spending the night still fairly high and this cold front hit two hours ago. No plug in here so it will be a three dog night I feel.

I threw the line in before tea and managed to catch my first Rainbow. Unfortunately it was chicken for tea as it was too small to fry.

 

Canyonlands NP Utah. 13th April

The scene this morning on looking out the window was one of white. The cold front deposited about 6 inches of snow throughout the valley where we were parked. I thought I would duck down to the river for half an hour casting but the eyelets on the rod froze up as soon as they became wet. It took a while making the bakkie driveable and putting the wet canvas fly etc away but 7.30 saw us on the road. Fortunately the road was snow-free and there was no ice lying around. But the day has remained cold with a bitter wind blowing. At the Visitor Info Centre at Monticello the temp was 36F at 12 noon. Here at Canyonlands the camp area has no hookup meaning no heater. It will be another early night. Cold weather was expected on this trip but the change in the last couple of days has hurt.

But Canyonlands is another amazing park with sandstone buttresses, mesas and deep canyons. It is ideal for a bit of trekking, will see how we feel tomorrow.

 

Creek Pasture Camping. Another BLM Site 14th April.

Well we didn’t make it very far today. This camp ground is about 15kms from the Canyonlands NP. It wasn’t our intention of stopping, just thought a perusal of the camp site wouldn’t hurt. It’s a first in best dressed camp, one of three near the park catering for the overflow from the camp ground inside the park. There was one site not taken, it was early afternoon, the sun was warm in a cloudless sky and little breeze and after a freezing night, how could we resist? This morning we drove into parts of the park not visited yesterday, then after our coffee break went on a 4km trek over a smooth-rocked mesa that looks down to another of those remarkable canyons. Took us a couple of hours including at least 20 minutes chatting to fellow walkers passing by. Americans seem to be very hesitant greeting strangers and having a chat, but Joan has the knack and soon conversation would be flowing.

The advertising department of Subaru have done an amazing job of promoting their product. In the park we drove to Elephant Hill, a trail recommended for 4WDs. Coming back at our coffee stop I counted the vehicles passing by. Two out of every three cars would’ve been a Subaru. We spoke to a family from Colorado about it later and yes, they had one as well. In the car park at the Visitors Centre it’s the same. Subarus everywhere.

 

Drink’s Canyon, on Banks of Colorado River 15th April

Another great Bureau of Land Management campsite metres from the muddy Colorado River. The sandstone cliffs tower above us on both sides. At this point it is quite a big river and moving fairly quickly.

We visited Arches National Park today. In this area there are over 2000 sandstone arches and the park has many of them. The amount of time it must take to form them is hard to comprehend.

But, as we have been told to expect, the park was very crowded especially being a Sunday. The car parks were often full and there was no chance of having some quiet time on one of the walks. Not one of our favourite parks.

 

 

 

 

Images

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Sunset (Top) and Sunrise at Monument Valley Camp Site

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. Helping out on the Short Cut. The Women Talked While the Men Did the Work.

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Into Colorado

Outside Mesa Verde. Colorado 7th April

 

John Ford and John Wayne are synonymous with Monument Valley. Where so many of their famous movies were shot. “The Searchers”, “Stagecoach” and “Cheyenne Autumn” were all filmed here. The vertical cliffs of the various buttes and flat mesas are so photogenic. The road to the valley is an appetiser to the main event. As soon as a majestic mesa or butte passes you by another one is appearing on the horizon. The three buttes nearest the campsite are to the east, catching a photo with the colours of the setting sun playing on the rocks is the goal. But a day of cloud made this seemingly impossible. Then, just as the sun was disappearing below the distant hills, a shard of open sky appeared. And for less than a minute in which time there was a mad rush from all the RVs, every snapper had their wish. The same in the morning. All cloud but for a brief second when the sun lit up the clouds forming a memorable scene.

We drove the 17 mile drive around the park admiring the different monuments from different angles. Had our morning coffee at one of the most spectacular of the view points. Monument Valley I don’t suppose would compare to the Grand Canyon but it is still a wonderful experience.

Then it was off east to Colorado and Mesa Verde. There was a short cut marked on the map once you left the park. As typical for a short cut it was great at the beginning then turned into 40kms of bone shuddering discomfort. But we did our good deed for the day: the only car on the detour was of a Navajo family whose car had a flat tyre, they had no jack or gear changing outfit of which I was able to help them out. Then their spare was flat as well. So out came the compressor. They were quite incredulous we had all the gear to see them right. They were off to buy jewellery for their oldest daughter’s ceremony.

Mesa Verde’s highest point is   2600 metres. It has some of the best cliff dwelling sites as well as ruins dating back to an earlier time than the Pueblans. Once again, over two generations they all up anchors and headed south west to join other tribes in the Four Corners area.

We arrived at the visitors centre right on closing time only to be told the camp site in the park was still closed for the winter. But the helpful ranger on duty mentioned a boondocking site not far away where you could stay the night. A nice place:. plenty of trees, level, even had fire embers hot enough to catch on again from a past stayer. It started a pleasant evening. But during the night the rain started. Not heavy but enough to soak the dirt that in the morning made me realize we may have trouble getting out. But I slipped it into 4WD and skidded our way out quite easily. Not like others who were struggling in their massive caravans.

Durango sits on the lower slopes of the Rockies. From desert heat to be surrounded by snow. A nice looking town with an actual main street with individual shops! We will look around tomorrow.

Durango, Colorado. 9th April.

A young woman Joan was talking to at the White House in Canyon de Chelly said we must go to Durango. What better reason to take a look! An old mining town filled with graceful hotels built in sandstone and brick. The Purgatory ski fields are nearby and the shops were filled with sporting gear. I decided to buy my fishing licence for the state so hope to throw a line in the next couple of days. Joan even managed to get in a bit of shopping during the day. We will head north for 200kms approx. then head west back into Utah.

Spider Rock. Canyon de Chelly

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The White House at the Bottom of the Canyon

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The Getting Down Was the Easy Part

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It Wasn’t Really That Bad Getting up either

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Hubbel’s Trading Post. The First in the Navajo Nation. Still Going Strong With the Help of Tourism. The Prices Were Very Fair and a Good Quality.

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Canyon de Chelly 5th April

Lake Wheatfield Arizona 5.4.18

 

Canyon de Chelly (Pron: d’Shay) was an impressive opener to the National Parks in the South West. It is mainly a drive along both rims of the canyon. The height of the sandstone walls at the start are no more than 100 feet but by the time you get to the highest point the drop is something like a 1000. Most of it vertical with a palette of colours on its slope. The Navaho still farm in the bottom of the canyon and, unless you are on a tour with a local guide, the only place the public can descend is at the White House Trail. The White house named after the colour of the render the Senasi, who built the structure before the Navaho came on the scene, applied.

There was a pleasant breeze, the sun was sheltered by high cloud so decided to do the 4km trail to the bottom. We took our time with a few stops but still did the walk in the time allocated. Bit sore afterward but it was the highlight of the day.

In 1862 Kit Carson lead an army detachment to capture the local inhabitants in the canyon. They were being rounded up to take part in ‘The Long March’ I mentioned earlier. They started at the mouth then pushed Indians higher and higher until they were trapped at the start of it. Any who tried to escape were shot.

Tonight we are wild camping or as they say, boondocking, tonight alongside Lake Wheatfield. Very quiet. The rubbish bins here have an elongated mouth where you throw the trash. The idea is to stop bears getting at it. Haven’t seen any yet but did burn the campfire brightly before going inside.

 

Sights of Route 66

The Blue Swallow is still going strong

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IMG_4462 (1)IMG_4467 (1)IMG_5479Version 2Remember when cars got so ostentatious?

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Perhaps the only good use of the Ford Edsel. As a snow plough

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