Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two days in a row of fairly hard driving to avoid the lousy weather finds me at home a day ahead of schedule. First, there was the early morning departure from the Salt Lake City are to avoid the high winds and snow that were predicted. That day's end found me in Great Falls, Montana.
Did a quick calculation of purchases over the last two months and found myself a bit low on maximum allowed personal exemption for the border crossing. So I filled it up and bought a new laptop, taking advantage of the Canadian dollar at par. They nailed me for the GST on the new satellite internet system, but that should have been paid anyway.
The plan was to spend the night with some friends near Waterton National Park, however they called to say that the blizzard had begun and a winter storm warning was in effect, calling for a large accumulation of fresh snow. With that outlook, I put the pedal to the metal (in this case carpet), and fought the very strong headwinds and crosswinds around the edge of the storm and made for home. The truck and trailer handled it well, but I think the fuel consumption skyrocketed as a result. In a bit of a reversal, the weather at home in the mountains was calm and dry, unlike the winds and snow and rain out on the flats. Of course, there was time along the way to stop for a hot double-double at Tim's!
Glad to find no snow on the driveway or sidewalk, and only a few remnant drifts around the hot tub, and that the robins and other birds are back - singing up their own storm.
Got the new satellite dish all set up on the front lawn in short order - and online!
For some reason I had not been able to connect with my previous ISP since just before I left in early March, so I sent them a note to cancel that service as well.

Once again, nothing much to take photos of across the wide open plains - in a snowstorm,
Here's a link to the storm story in the National Post

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great Falls

The weather reports were calling for a 'wind advisory' midday in
central Utah, followed by plunging temperatures and up to 18" of snow
in some mountain areas, so I made an early start to avoid rush hour
traffic as well.
I was on the road by 0530 in the dark, and still on the road by 5:30
pm, but managed to make Great Falls, MT.
It was a fairly 'blah' day as far as weather and scenery are
concerned, but I saw no evidence of heavy winds, or snow, or falling
temps, so I guess the plan was a success?
It should be an easy drive to the border tomorrow, then maybe home the
day after.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 26, 2010

On the road north

Pulled the pin in Moab today.
Fueled and washed the truck and pointed it north.
Pulled off at exit 284 in Lehi, UT at the big Cabela's store. They
have a very nice Rv dump, fresh water, a horse corral, and a dog kennel.
Lots of room, and a few trucks and RV's taking advantage of the space
and the view.
Nicer (and quieter?) than the average Walmart, anyway!
Nothing worthy of a picture today. It's feast or famine!
North again tomorrow ... :-(

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Canyonlands NP

Today we hit Canyonlands in our quest to visit a few National Parks during – Parks week.  Unless I forget some, we visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands this week.

There is quite a variety in the way each park handles the free admission.  In Zion, I was greeted by a Ranger in the gate who issued me a free, week-long pass for Zion – normally $25.  In Bryce, the ranger in the gate gave me no permit, but gave me the requisite maps and brochures.  In Capitol Reef, there is no gate, I drove right through without stopping.  In Arches, I got a special looking pass, good for the week, but expiring the next day.  In Canyonlands, a handwritten sign in the gate!

Oh well, free is free, and who am I to complain.  Next year I will likely buy an annual pass.

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I took the obligatory photo of the park sign, but I much prefer the one I took the last time I was here – where Harley was along to pose on all the signs we encountered.

Previous visit.


The scenery had not changed much either, and was still stunning.

The weather was good and I hiked the mile trail at Grandview lookout in shorts and sandals, the way it is supposed to be done!CIMG0788 CIMG0789 CIMG0793 CIMG0794 CIMG0797 

The local wildlife was on duty, and this guy wanted to play hide and seek with me!

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Even the author got into the picture.

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I drove through the campground and could not resist a photo of this rig!


Then, like many of my recent days spent in national parks, I decided that it was time to go 4 wheelin’.  And you can do that legally in many of the US parks.  Yay.

Here’s the road I chose.  Not for the faint of heart.

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It starts out gently, driving on a teeny ledge for about 3.5km before it even starts to get serious about going down.


Don’t look now!

CIMG0832 CIMG0833 CIMG0838 Made it to the bottom (of this section) and then it was later in the day, so time to go right back up again.

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The road follows along that ledge.

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Good times were had by all.CIMG0852

No trucks or lizards were harmed during the production of this blog episode.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Arches National Park

After beating a hasty retreat from Bryce Canyon, I headed north through Antimony, east through Loa, then Torrey, and into Capitol Reef NP.  I kept on moving east and found a very nice and very deserted mesa  top to spend the night a bit west of Hankesville.


The next day turned cold and rainy for a while, but improved as we caught the interstate east for a bit, then south to Moab.  Did quite a bit of looking around for a good spot to camp as well as refilling the fuel and propane tanks.  I settled finally on Willow Springs road a bit to the north of Moab.  It is BLM land and a bit of an ATV area, and mountain bike area, but most of the ATV’ers were somewhat family oriented, so they were not as loud and disruptive as they might have been.


I knew you had to start early to get a parking spot in Arches, so I managed to make it to the end of the park at Devil’s Garden and be on the trail by 9.  There were only about 8 other vehicles there at the time.CIMG0718 CIMG0719

There are many many arches in the park of the same name, but there has been some ‘recent’ changes to some of them.  This one shed a few tons of rock from it’s underside back in 1991, which is only the wink of an eye in geologic time.  Incredibly, it was captured on film.CIMG0731

And Wall arch completely crumbled one night in 2008 – nothing much to take  photo of – other than a pile of rocks.

This one is known as the Double O.

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The sign warns of ‘difficult hiking’ on the ‘primitive trail’ back to the trailhead, but there was only a bit of seriously sloping rock to contend with.


Of course there were flowers.CIMG0745 CIMG0750

And steep rock. 


And holy rock.

Got a bit of a shock when getting back to the trail head a couple hours later.  Now, there were swarms of people coming up the trail, and every imaginable parking spot was taken, with cars cruising for spots.  So I kept my spot and hiked through the campground for a look around.  Found another trail leading out of the campground, going to Broken Arch.


It wasn’t really, but there is a crack in the top of it. CIMG0756

Coming back with the campground in the distance.

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In the campground ( and this is a first for me), the posts that held the camping permits had locked compartments on them.  This campground is 100% reservation now, tho apparently there are a few rare cancellations or no-shows.CIMG0763

I hit a few more of the viewpoints along the road back, but most of the parking lots were packed, and I did not feel like hiking with the crowds, so didn’t stop for long.

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Then, much to my pleasure, I found a shortcut leading right back to my camp.  A nice, rough 4x4 road leading down out of the park.  And the same road that I am camped on – Willow Springs!CIMG0774 CIMG0776 CIMG0777

I would not have wanted a much longer wheelbase in a couple spots, but me and the truck had fun.


And before long, we were right back in camp!

One more day of free park entry. CIMG0779

Where should I go tomorrow?