Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Virgin, Utah


We had no problems negotiating the Zion tunnel, just paid our $15 and that was it. The woman who took our money didn’t even question our length (no more than 50’), but when we got to the tunnel the employee there asked if she had measured us, since we looked quite long. We told them our RV was 30’ and our car surely wasn’t 20’, but he warned us about the winding road and Jim said it wouldn’t be a problem. Fortunately it was not. When we went through it in 2009 from the west we did not hook up the car so no questions asked.


Jim said this was a record for taking too much time to find a suitable campsite. Mark and Bobbie ended up down the road a mile or so, but we liked this spot since we needed to make room for at least four RVs. Laurelee caught up to us before we made our decision, and we all concluded this was the best area. A couple hours later and we were settled in. Coincidently Jim and Allison, who are at the nearby RV park, were riding their bikes on the road so they stopped to chat.


And just so happens some other Lazy Daze friends are camped nearby, and we didn’t even realize they would be here. It’s a small world.


But there is plenty of room for everyone, and this is our view.


I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood the day we arrived, then yesterday we took the bikes up to Gooseberry Mesa. Don’t go up this road without a high clearance vehicle. Got lost trying to find the trailhead but we finally made it and rode one of the easy trails. Not so easy for us, and Jim’s chain came off on a rocky uphill section which caused him to stop abruptly and fall over. He was fine, but it cut our ride a little short. He thought he was going to have to walk back but managed to get the chain back on. Problem was it wouldn’t shift so he rode back a few miles in one gear. Apparently Mark and Bobbie found some other good trails up there. The views are incredible. We even came to a small pond.



After we got back Jim worked on his bike and it now seems to be shifting fine. Then he worked on the generator, which had a new fuel pump and filter put on in Bend, OR in July. We had been smelling gas occasionally and he figured out there was a small leak from the fuel filter. He spoke with the guy who repaired it and he said around the time he repaired ours he has since had two others that had defective fuel filters that were also leaking. He told Jim how to replace it, so we found one at an RV place in St. George yesterday. We’ll see today if Jim can put the new one on and it solves the problem. While in town we also went to the state liquor store, pet store, and Walmart. Didn’t get home until 7:30, and we were happy to see that Suzanne had arrived and settled in just down the road.

Today we’re back to hiking with the group.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

East Zion Riverside RV Park



With temperatures still being a bit too warm in the Virgin area, we all decided to spend a couple nights at the East Zion Riverside RV Park at Mount Carmel Junction, where Hwy 89 intersects with Hwy 9, leading to the east entrance of Zion National Park. This is certainly not a destination park, but we were lured by the wifi, which is typical of most RV parks, sometimes it’s great and other times we can’t even open an email. Still better than what we’ve had for the past several weeks near Capitol Reef.

We have full hookups here for $20/night and we’re backed up to the East Fork of the Virgin River. This is part of the Best Western across the street, so guests can use their laundry and pool. Not a bad place to spend the night as long as you can ignore the highway noise.


We are about 10 miles from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, so Jim and I took an early evening drive to check it out.


The dunes weren’t as big as we were expecting and it looks to be mainly a place for riding ATVs. The sand is extremely fine and hard to walk through.



Yesterday we all went for a hike on the East Mesa Trail in Zion National Park to Observation Point.. We hiked this trail through the snow with Chuck and Carla back in April 2009, but it was actually a trail that Mark and Bobbie had never been on before. And we thought they had hiked them all!


The good thing about it is that you get most of the climbing out of the way in the car, instead of hiking up from the canyon floor. It was 3.3 miles one way to the point, where we encountered quite a few people. This is another back door trail that not many people seem to know about.




Lots of people on top of Angels Landing, too.



Today we brave the tunnel through Zion as we move on to Virgin where we hope to find a good place to boondock. The weather looks perfect for the next week or so.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tropic Trail: The Back Door to Bryce Canyon



Since we were so close to Bryce Canyon we decided to spend another night at Kodachrome to take a hike in the national park. Mark and Bobbie inquired at the coffee shop in Tropic and found if you head west on Bryce Way (right in town), at the end of the road is the trailhead for the Tropic Trail, which enters on the eastern border of the park. Interesting that there is no sign and no entrance fee. It almost felt like we were sneaking in the back door.

The trail is a gradual climb of 600’ through the Bryce Wilderness (we finally came to a sign), and along the way we were getting glimpses above the trees of what was to come. We were all alone on the trail except for large amounts of horse poop.


After 1.8 miles we came to the junction of the 3 mile Peek-A-Boo trail and decided to go right. It really wouldn’t make any difference which way you do the loop, as we soon encountered others going both directions, and it was ups and downs the entire way.

Now this is what we came to see. Although we had all been here before, the scenery was just as fascinating as the first time.





It took us about 4 hours to do this hike since we stopped frequently for photo-ops, and once for lunch.

Bryce Canyon NP, UT

Even the outhouse was scenic.


A short geology lesson.





Besides windows, we thought we saw the shapes of faces, animals, chess pieces, ancient buildings, gnomes, lamp finials, and even electric toothbrushes in the rock formations. Maybe all this hiking is affecting our brains.








Or is all this fresh air just stimulating our imaginations? Doesn’t matter, it was another fine day on the trail.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kodachrome Basin State Park, Cannonville, Utah



We ended up spending three nights at Kodachrome Basin State Park, near Cannonville, Utah. Although we tried to find some dispersed camping on nearby BLM land, there were quite a few RVs on the choice sites, probably hunters, and the only spots open were not level and not very attractive. We are in the no-hookup sites for $19/night, a bit pricey for dry camping but the showers are quite nice. There are about 10 full hookup sites for $28 and they were all reserved each night. Build them and they will come.

The one downside to this area is there is no cell service at all. When we were here in 2009 they had wifi at the office, but that is no longer available to the public. So we made a couple trips to the coffee shop in Tropic to check email and publish blogs. The even smaller town of Cannonville is a few miles closer but we didn’t find wifi and only had a bar or two of 1X Verizon, too slow to be useable.

We did some hiking in the park the first two days, then yesterday we paid a visit to beautiful Bryce Canyon, which requires a post all its own.

Photogenic and colorful Kodachrome Basin.



With all these unusual rock formations.






She doesn’t have the prettiest leg.


Inside “Cool Cave”. It was very cool.


And finally Panorama Point, with Jim, Mark and Bobbie admiring the views.



Next up, a day in Bryce Canyon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Other Side of Spring Canyon: Sometimes You Just Have to Get Your Feet Wet


(Since we’re still sipping coffee in Tropic and I managed to finish this post, here it is, two in one day.)

On Sunday we did our last Capitol Reef hike. The previous week we hiked not quite halfway into Spring Canyon from the Chimney Rock trail, so this time we started a few miles east of the visitor center on the lower end. There is a paved pull-off for a few cars but we were the only ones there. The problem with this hike is there is no official trail, and to get in the canyon you have to cross the Fremont River, which means wading through about 10 feet of knee deep water. So we wore our water sandals in preparation but didn’t realize it would be so hard to locate the river crossing.


You can barely make out Bobbie in the brush. Yes, we walked through this wearing sandals. Both Jim and Bobbie had bloody legs by the time we got to the river. Some of us may have been having second thoughts.


Mark finally found a somewhat easy way to get down to the river, and he hurried across, shoes and all. He said he doesn’t mind hiking with wet feet. The rest of us followed along with no problem, other than very cold toes.

Torrey, UT, Capitol Reef NP October 20142

Once across, now we had to put on our socks and hiking shoes, not an easy task with no good place to sit. By this time almost an hour had passed since we parked the cars.


But after bushwacking our way through more heavy brush we entered Spring Canyon, a mostly level, wide, very scenic canyon filled with cottonwood trees, many of which were a brilliant shade of yellow.



Bobbie was trying to keep everyone quiet in hopes of seeing wildlife, but with our group of six that just wasn’t happening. We did see bighorn sheep and mountain lion tracks in the sand.


And colorful art in the water pools and mud.

Torrey, UT, Capitol Reef NP October 20141

We hoped to get close to where we turned around at the other end, but after almost six miles we still hadn’t come to the slot canyon we found from the other side. We kept thinking it was just around the next bend so we kept going.




When we came to a view of these rock spires we decided it was a good place for lunch and a good turn around point.


Since I forgot to make sandwiches and we had already eaten one of our Clif Bars, Jim and I went a little farther to see what was ahead while the rest of the group rested and ate. The wash became much rockier and we knew it was already going to be a long hike back so we didn’t continue on.

If Jim’s GPS was registering correctly we ended up with just over 13 miles. Except for tired feet and legs, we were all able to go that far because the canyon is a relatively easy place to hike. Much more like a walk in the park than Little Wild Horse. There were a few areas of soft sand and some rocks to scramble over but nothing too difficult. Well, there is that little issue of crossing the Fremont River, but it felt good taking off our shoes and going back through it on the way out.


And on the drive home we saw this herd of sheep not far from the road. We’ve been looking for them since we got to Capitol Reef.


What a nice way to end our stay here.