Friday, November 29, 2013

The Best For Last


Switchbacks on the trail to Angel’s Landing, ZIon National Park.


We wanted to do one more hike in Zion, and had planned to do this one with John and Susan while they were here, but the weather drove them away and they never even made it into the national park. On our first visit to Zion in May 2009 we did the trek to Angels Landing. Looking back I wonder how I ever made it to the top, and we don’t intend to do it again. But if you climb the steep, mostly paved trail not quite two miles, just before getting to the challenging part with chains, the trail forks left to the West Rim Trail, where we had never been.

Angels Landing straight ahead. We continued up more switchbacks along the West Rim.


This turned out to be a great hike even though we did almost 2,000 feet of climbing in about four miles. We stopped so many times on the way up to take pictures and take in the views, it didn’t seem so bad.

We had a good view of Angels Landing and saw quite a few people making their way up.



Always a crowd at the top of Angels Landing.


The West Rim trail offers just as good views as it makes its way up to the canyon rim and we were treated to a variety of rock colors.








The West Rim trail is actually 16 miles long and connects the main canyon to Lava Point, the highest point in ZIon, which can be accessed off Kolob Terrace Rd. We would have liked to go farther but it was late afternoon and getting very cold as the sun went behind the rock walls. On our way down we met up with a hiker we had spoken with briefly on the way up before he turned off and went up Angels Landing. He was nice guy in his late 20s who works for an LA hedge fund. We talked the whole way, which made the hike back down seem very short. We seem to meet the nicest people on trails.

And yes, Zion is still our favorite national park. We’ll be back.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

More Bike and Cat Stories


It took about six hours with a break for lunch Monday to get the old bikes disassembled and packed in boxes. We’ve shipped bikes several times in the past but it’s always a challenge. On Tuesday we dropped them off at the Fed Ex shipping store in Hurricane. Glad that is over. By the way, if you ever have the need to ship a bike, Jim found a service called They don’t count the weight (up to 70 lbs) but base the rate on the size of the box. You pay online, print out the label and just drop off the box at an authorized FedEx store, or for an extra $5 the box can be picked up. It was the first time we used it and the rates were much less than when we’ve taken them ourselves to FedEx or UPS. The buyers of our bikes paid for shipping so I’m sure they appreciated the lower cost.

After all that we were in the mood for a ride, so we took our new mountain bikes with us and went over to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and the Prospector Trail, about 10 miles west of Hurricane.

From the trail head parking lot.


This is rated as an easy/intermediate trail, and for the most part it wasn’t too bad. There were a few steep, rocky areas where we had to get off and “hike ‘n bike” but then the trail became rockier and ran very close to a ledge. Neither of us were comfortable doing this so we turned around at this point.

This is the trail? Not in our comfort zone. Jim is still sore from his falls last week.


It was a good workout in a lovely area. We never cease to be amazed by the views around here while biking.




And an update on Benny “Z” the cat. A couple a few sites from us informed the family (in front of the little girl) that they could not take the cat because they were! She’s been feeding him but we spoke with them and they said they have four dogs at home in Oregon and couldn’t take it. Also they just bought a new 45’ luxury motor coach, and the man said the cat was NOT coming inside. Who would have thought there would be a fight over a stray cat? We can’t GIVE ours away! It will be interesting to see how this plays out and I hope Jim doesn’t have to intervene.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. We saw a bunch of wild turkeys in Zion yesterday and it made me happy to know they would not be on someone’s table today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A “Tail” With a Happy Ending


Shortly after arriving at Zion River RV Resort at the beginning of the month we spotted a couple of cats wandering around the park. One in particular was extremely friendly, and we initially thought he must belong to someone staying there. Found out he was a stray but a few of the campers were feeding him. We put out food and water and soon he became our best bud. Well, Jim’s anyway. I was keeping my distance because I know how we are with cats. Suckers!


Jim really wanted to adopt him, and kept working on me to agree. As it is, the two cats we have are two too many in our small RV. No way was I taking in a third one!


I checked with a no-kill shelter in St. George, and we were thinking of taking him there if we didn’t find anyone at the park to adopt him before we leave. It’s getting into the 30s at night, and we just can’t bear the thought of him out there in the cold. It’s rare to find a cat with such a sweet and loving personality. Maybe he’s learned that being that way gets him food, but we think he’s just one of those unique kitties that loves being around people.


Sunday morning Debbie and I went to pick up some groceries and on the way home we were discussing “Benny” (Debbie named him). She said it would be nice if a family with a child would decide to take him home. I laughed and said, yes, and one who’s cat died recently and is looking for another. What are the chances of that happening?


As we pulled in the driveway Jim came out and said he found Benny a home. A class A had come in the night before with a couple and their six year old daughter. The little girl’s cat had died just a few months ago and mom said it had been really hard on her. Endearing little Benny introduced himself to her and it was love at first sight. They have decided to take him back to San Diego with them, so we contributed food, a few toys, and a cat bed.


The little girl asked her mom if they could keep him until he dies, and she said of course! It made our day. He has a new name, “Z” (for Zion). We hope they live happily ever after.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Four Seasons Wrapped Up In One Month



If you’d like to get a taste of all that Mother Nature has to offer, southern Utah is definitely the place to be during the month of November. We’ve experienced temperatures ranging from the low 80s to the upper 20s, skies ranging from cobalt blue to SAD-inducing gray, and precipitation ranging from drizzle to sleet and even snow. Yes, lots of snow!

Zion River Resort November 20134

And we didn’t even have to drive too far to experience it, just a handful of miles up Kolob Terrace Road into Zion National Park. It was a winter wonderland, nice to experience from the cozy warm confines of Mark and Bobbie’s Subaru.




Too much car sitting left Bobbie and me restless for a hike, but when we stopped at a trailhead the blowing snow and 28 degree temperature didn’t make it all that inviting. And of course Mark was wearing shorts! So we descended the road until the snow turned to drizzle and hiked down the muddy trail that leads to the Subway, a popular Zion hike that requires a permit. We turned around just before the trail started its steep descent into the canyon.

You’d think a guy who lives in Ouray, CO, where it rarely gets above 70, would have sense enough to put pants on!





Honestly, hiking in the rain isn’t so bad. The previous day we drove into Zion Canyon and hiked up the trail to Observation Point about a mile and a half into Echo Canyon. Water on the rocks makes the colors more vivid, and we couldn’t help stopping frequently to take pictures even though we were cold and wet. And there were a surprising number of others out there with us.









Zion River Resort November 20135]P1060902

Sadly Mark and Bobbie are leaving us today. John and Susan headed out a couple days ago with the help of a tow truck, and wise Boonie departed before the rain turned their lovely boondock into a mud hole. We will miss our hiking and biking buddies. It’s been a great month so far and we’re already thinking about coming back here next year. We think it might be wise to arrive in mid October, though, and boondock in one of the many nearby spots we’ve found on the surrounding BLM land. All are welcome to consider joining us. This area has much to offer and there are so many places to explore in and out of Zion National Park.

Our weather forecast is looking great for this coming week, so we hope to get in a few more hikes and bike rides before we leave. That is in between boxing up bikes and partaking in the RV park’s Thanksgiving potluck, of course.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Unholy Guacamole, or The Tale of Our New Mountain Bikes



We had a couple requests for a post about our experience with shopping and purchasing our new mountain bikes. Jim can’t get motivated to write it since he can barely use his right hand due to a fall on our last ride, but more about that later.

We have been biking for years, both road and mountain, but only being able to carry two bikes we sold our previous mountain bikes before we went full time.

Our favorite recumbents. They got lots of pre-retirement mileage.


We loved our recumbent bikes but just didn’t find a lot of suitable riding in our travels, so in 2009 while volunteering at the Bonneville Lock and Dam in Oregon, we sold the recumbents and bought a couple of cruiser type bikes.


We thought those would be suitable for both dirt and pavement riding, and they were to some extent, but without suspension they weren’t much fun to ride off road.

During our first winter in Mission, Texas in 2011/12, Jim got the bug to get another recumbent after seeing so many people in the RV park riding recumbent trikes. He was able to swap bikes with a guy from Austin, and was back to riding a recumbent. There was a five mile paved bike trail just outside the RV park gates which led to many great areas to ride, so during our two winters in Mission we biked several times a week.


After leaving Texas this past April our opportunities for road biking dropped off considerably since most of our summer and fall were spent boondocking in the forest on dirt roads. Our pals Boonie and Box Canyon Mark are always preaching the mountain bike sermon, and it finally took!

We probably would have done it sooner, but we needed to be somewhere long enough to sell the other bikes, and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Having owned several mountain bikes in the past, we knew that full suspension bikes with shocks on the front and back were a must. What has changed over the past few years is that now you have a choice between the traditional 26” size wheels and the new 29” wheel bikes. From our shopping experience it appears that 29ers are now all the rage, and after hearing all the salesmen (and Mark) sing their praises, we decided we may as well go for it. Of course they are more expensive, but we were accustomed to paying big bucks for recumbents, and with five months of workcamping for a free site, and five months of boondocking, our expenses for the past year have been extremely low. So what the heck, we aren’t getting any younger, might as well splurge!

My Giant Anthem. It’s very pretty even when covered in dust.


Jim’s Specialized Rumor. He bought a ladies bike to have more clearance over the bar and a shorter reach to the handlebars for his short arms. The salesman assured him that lots of guys buy the women’s frame.Winking smile


 Since we haven’t ridden a mountain bike in almost six years, it’s a bit hard to compare the 29er to our old 26” bikes, but the theory is you get a  more comfortable ride, better obstacle rollover, and even better traction with the 29’ wheels. We certainly feel like that’s the case, and even I can attest to the fact that I have been easily going over rocks and ledges that I never could have done on my old mountain bike. We are sold, and feel like we made good choices on both our bikes.

Now for the Guacamole Trail, one that Mark, Bobbie and Boonie had not previously ridden. If you’ve already read Mark’s post about our ride, you know it was quite a technical trail, not the kind I was ready for after our long steep climb up Dalton Wash Rd. Bobbie and I decided to stop and take in the view and then hike the trail while the guys went on.


Yes, we came up that road. It  really wasn’t as bad as we thought going up, although we did have to get off and walk in a couple of steep spots.


Show offs Mark and Boonie rode the whole way.


Taking a little break for our legs and lungs.


When we caught up with the guys on the trail, Jim was nursing a swollen thumb and Mark had blood running down his legs. They tried to downplay their falls, especially Jim, after having fallen three times. Bobbie and I definitely made the right decision not to continue trying to ride!

Since Boonie has moved on to warmer and drier pastures (maybe), and Mark and Bobbie will be spending Thanksgiving week back east with family, Jim will only have me as his riding partner. And you can be sure we won’t be riding any more advanced trails!

As for our old bikes, we were hoping to sell them locally, but after listing them on the St. George, UT and Las Vegas Craigslist and only getting one inquiry, Jim posted them on Bent Rider Online a few days ago. They were both sold within two hours so we are now awaiting checks. We picked up some boxes from a local bike shop, and as soon as we have the money in hand we will box them up and ship them off to New Hampshire and North Carolina. A happy ending to our story!


If anyone has a technical bike related question, Jim will gladly answer. His thumb is feeling much better now.