Monthly Archives: May 2011

May 31 Leaving Zion .. Heading to Grand Canyon

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Got up at 5:30 this morning to watch sunrise ..  sunrise hitting the canyons can make for some interesting shots … A bit breezy and chilly this morning .. so .. we didn’t hang around too long .. had breakfast and left campground at 8:30 .. took our time driving .. arrived in North Rim at approx 11:00 ….  gained an hour when we hit Arizona …  Trip was only approx 120 miles .. but .. driving was a bit slow … took us 30 min just to leave Zion campground.  Nice campground at Grand Canyon  .. we’re completely off the grid … staying here for 3 nights then we head to the Tetons …  As we were pulling into campsite we were surprised to find out that two of our  Casita camping buddies were already camping.. Cleo and Claudia .. They’re here for another night .. made arrangements to have dinner with them at Grand Canyon Lodge tomorrow  … we’ll also try do some hiking with them ….

Took a scenic ride this afternoon to check out Pt Royal scenic drive … great views of the Canyons … it was sunny out .. so colors were awesome on canyon walls … Drive to Pt Royal was a little dicey in that you can look over the edge into the canyons .. and of course .. no guard rails !!!

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May 30 Zion National Park

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Our last day in Zion .. departing campsite tomorrow (Tues) ..   After breakfast we said goodbye to another Casita group member heading back to Kansas.  Also chatted with another Casita owner who had a neat bird watching Nikon scope .. she showed us a hummingbird nest .. we were lucky enough to catch a hummingbird IN the nest .. very cool stuff ! Headed into town (Springdale) to browse around .. weather abit better today … sunny and not as windy as yesterday ..  Currently sitting is ‘The Pioneer’ coffee shop having a cup of tea and sharing a blueberry muffin while using there wifi .. SSeems as though alot of people have left the campgrounds … no lines for shuttle buses .. no lines of vehicles waiting to get into the park …  don’t think we want to be in a National Park during a holiday again …

Uploaded some Zion photos to Smugmug ..  we have way too many photos ..  tough to sort through them …  if I don’t download photos to Iphoto every night .. I can very easily get confused as to where photos were taken …

Don’t know when we’ll have wifi access again .. we’ll try and find a hotspot in the Grand Canyon .. if not .. we’ll update blog when we can .. !

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May 29 Zion National Park

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Wifi access at last !!!  🙂   We are currently sitting in Zion Lodge having lunch … since they have wifi .. thought we’d take advantage and do some updating.. Haven’t made an update since May 22 .. so .. we’ll do a quick summary of what’s been going on and we’re we’re heading.. Won’t be able to load too many photos .. but .. we’ll try to load some while we’re at the lodge..  We’ll be leaving Zion on Tuesday morning .. heading to Grand Canyon (North Rim) …  Going off the grid in Grand Canyon .. no services at all …  We’ll make sure we charge up all our gear before we leave Zion.  I think one of next purchases will be a generator ….
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Arrived at Zion on Thursday .. really warm temps .. up in the mid 80’s … so.. big temp swings .. we had temps in hi 20’s at night at Red Canyon .. to mid 80’s at Zion …. actually had to use the Casita air conditioner for past few days …  Lots of great scenery .. and trails to take .. campsite is actually in Zion .. we’ve got electricity at campsite .. but .. that’s it .. using Casita for our showers … Casita group broke up today .. most folks heading out this morning .. a few are staying for a few extra days. It was a good group .. everyone got along very well .. I’m thinking we’ll stay in touch with quite a few of them. Very breezy day today .. so we thought we’d take the day and catch up on things .. This morning we hitched up Casita and dumped tanks and filled up our water tank .. it’s a little inconvenient to re-hitch and take trailer to dump/water stations ..but .. after using water for showers etc .. tanks get full pretty quickly..  Later on we might go to theater onsite to see an IMAX presentation of Zion…  Being Memorial Day weekend … Zion is packed with people  .. busiest weekend of the year for Zion …  Park has great shuttle buses .. with so many people in the Park .. they run every 7-10 minutes in an attempt to get the people moving …  As in most of National Parks we’ve been in .. English seems to be the 3 or 4th language spoken .. alot of French, German and Japanese tourists …  I’d say more than half folks in Parks have been from a different country ..  OK ..   thats all for our current status .. we’ll try to fill in the blanks from our previous days of traveling .. I’ll also try and add some photos to Smugmug before we leave lodge ….
–      Getting you caught up !
May 23/24/25  …  Leave Escalante and head for Red Canyon Campgrounds & Bryce Canyon … very nice campsite .. probably the best we’ve stayed in.. plenty of room between sites .. with canyons all around us.  Backed in to our site with no problems .. no hookups .. but the campgrounds do have showers.  Bryce Canyon is really different from all other canyons we’ve seen .. alot of different rock structures/sculptures … alot of  ‘hoodoos’s ..  vertical rock structures .. very different than any other canyons.. Took an 8 mile scenic drive throughout the park .. many turnoffs to stop and check out the scenery. Took alot of hikes on some scenic trails … Actually drove around some free range cattle during approach to one trail . alot of cattle just walking on the road .. or .. on the side of the road (see photo).. Temps really got cold at night .. one night we encountered 20 degrees …. as luck would have it .. our Casita furnace conked out .. blower or furnace would kick in … checked fuses .. circuit breakers .. all good .. Fortunately … another Casita owner helped us troubleshoot problem .. we used his voltage meter to determine that we had power up to our thermostat … we then jumpered 2 wire termination screws with a pair of plier  within thermostat .. and much to my surprise .. blower and furnace worked !!! Guy is like McGiver .. fixed problem with whatever tools were available !  We really needed that furnace working !!!!
May 26/27/28/29 …    Next stop …  Zion National Park  !  Group formed up at 8:30 in the morning and convoyed to Zion .. only about 90 minute ride so we were able to get to our next campsite before noon .. staying in Zion complex (Watchman Campgrounds) .. we lucked out and got a pretty good campsite .. we’ve got some shrubs/greenery around us .. and a river behind us .. other sites were not as nice.  Another back in site … backed in with no problems .. one attempt and I was in.. but .. apparently I wasn’t quick enough for some yahoo behind me .. he honked his horn and had some choice words to say .. in that I was focused on what I was doing .. I didn’t hear him .. if I did .. I would have stopped and ‘chatted’ with him .. another Casita owner in our group got out of her truck and went to ‘explain’ to the guy that it takes a little time to back in .. (he was driving a class A trailer .. one you just drive like a truck .. not too many backing skills required .. Anyway .. we got backed in and setup camp with no problems … One of the coolest things about driving into Zion was going through a mile long tunnel .. tunnel was almost completely dark .. as we came out of it .. there were numerous switchback roads to get down to down to our campsite … As we’ve been doing .. we’ve gone on alot of hikes .. had campfires almost every night with our group .. did alot of tourist stuff .. One of the coolest things we did was look through a huge telescope that another Casita owner brought with them (person was in another Casita group) ..  telescope was a very large, computer controlled Mead telescope .. big bucks .. I’m sure .. Through the scope we were clearly able to see Saturn, it’s rings and several of it’s moons .. she also zoomed in on a cluster that contained half a million stars … very amazing stuff .. Person who had the scope was actually a ‘rocket scientist’ … very intelligent lady  !!  Took a ride into a local town to pick up some groceries and to re-supply my med’s …  went into town to do some laundry and walk around .. As you can imagine … nearby towns are dependent on Zion tourism .. local cost of goods and services were very high … gas prices at least 20 cents higher than we’ve seen …  Friday night  group had a pot luck dinner .. TG whipped up a coleslaw .. came out pretty good … lots of good eats….  Lots of lizzards and bats in the campground .. bats seem to come out at nite and buzz around the trees .. a little creepy !   Had our farewell campfire and picture session yesterday …. email address’s exchanged with alot of folks .. we’ll try to stay in touch and hope to meet up some some of the folks ..
Our traveling schedule is .. Grand Canyon May 31-June 2 .. then we head to Grand Tetons on June 5 for 3 nights … Yellowstone for 5 nights … then Badlands for 4 nights ..  We should be home on June 25 …  Schedule is flexible   .. so plans may change ..
I’ll attempt to load up some photos on Smugmug .. can’t get to them all because it takes some time to load them from Iphoto to Smugmug ..  Only able to load Bryce Canyon photos .. ran out of laptop juice ..  I’ll try will load up rest of photos tomorrow …  !!

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May 22 Escalante Day 2

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Today was a hiking day .. took one hike at Calf Creek .. (6 miles) and another near our campsite (3 miles) ..  Needless to say .. we are bushed …  Both hikes were very interesting .. Calf Creek was a nice trail between canyons .. something we’ve done before.. but .. this trail had alot of vegetation along the trail .. grasses .. trees. Trees and cloud cover provided us some well appreciated shade .. today was in the 80’s and partly sunny. Path was almost like walking on the beach .. soft sand for most of the trail … at the end of the trail .. there was a great waterfall and pool of water … took 1/2 break to have some water & snacks .. and headed back .. trail was 3 miles to waterfall … 3 miles back .. took us a total of about 3 hours to complete the hike.  Along the way we saw some mule deer .. (look alot like BBL deer only scruffier) .. some fish in the creek along the trail .. and some ‘pictographs’ on one of the canyon walls ..  Three large figures painted with red pigment . ‘Pictographs are painted images while petrographs are carved or pecked into stone. With their trapezoidal shape, depictions of arms and legs and elaborate head dresses these images are typical of Fremont style rock art’  (see photos).

After taking a break back at camper .. we took a short hike near our campsite … Trail led us to some petrified wood .. trail was pretty steep and strenuous … and  ..  dark clouds were in the horizon .. but .. we figured we could finish the hike before any rain hit us … As we got to the top .. we heard some distant thunder and noticed dark clouds heading towards us .. we were only about 15 min from the  petrified wood trail (Rainbow Trail)  .. so we continued … glad we did .. wood was pretty amazing .. unusual colors on alot of  different pieces .. took our photos and made a quick return trip to the Casita … dark clouds did pass over … but .. as I’m typing this .. no rain.

Tomorrow morning is get away day .. another Casita Convoy to Red Canyons/Bryce National Park .. Should be a short ride  .. approx 60 minutes …  we’ll find out tonite when our group gets together  what time we’re leaving .. We’ll dump our tanks .. and wait for everyone to lineup .. then we’ll leave together ..  Not sure when/where next wifi opportunity will be .. we’ll update blog when we can …  Going off the grid !!         Take care ..

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May 21 Back on the Grid Escalante State Park (Utah)

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We’re back .. at least for 2 days .. !   Arrived in Escalante this afternoon … much to our surprise .. we have Wifi !!!  Nice campsite in Escalante ..  water & electric hookups .. only $20 per night ..  We’ll give a quick recap of our past few days ..

May 18   Arrived at Capital Reef .. nice campsite .. our site was a little on a slope .. had a few difficulties backing the CAsita in .. took me about 4 tries .. but ..  we finally got it !  Weather was nice when we arrived .. but 2 & 3 days were chilly and had some wintry mix on Wed the 18th .. Furnace doing a good job keeping us warm. Went into nearest town .. Torrey about 7 miles from campsite .. fueled up truck .. stopped in a coffee shop called ‘Castle Rock’ .. had some hot chocoloate .. and something to eat .. but .. main reason for us stopping was free wifi !!  Campsite costing us $5 per night … great !

May 19   Went on 2 hikes for a total of 7 miles …. pretty tired after that 2nd hike … Walked along a washed out creek bed that gets used when there are flash floods .. which apparently happens quite frequently ..  awesome sights as we walked in between the canyons …  Saw some ancient Petroglyphs (pictures) on canyon walls  (check photos) … Casita group is a nice bunch of folks .. we are a total of 12 couples …  Group has a little ‘fun’ streak in them .. alot of folks know each other from previous tours .. so they have no hesitation in pulling some jokes .. Our group leader .. Don was a day late in arriving .. and would be the last person to arrive .. group thought it would be fun if we all lined up around his campsite to watch him sweat as he backed up his Casita  ….  took him a few tries .. but .. he got it under pressure .. Note to self … NEVER be the last one to arrive !

May 20      Took the ‘Scenic Road’ drive in Captial Reef … amazing sights .. stopping to take photos at every turn …colors and structures of rocks/canyons are amazing …  Tried to take a drive to see an attraction called “the Waterfolds’ .. formations caused by many years water running over them ..  After driving about 13 miles mostly on wash board roads  .. a Park Ranger stopped us and told us roads were washed out and we had to turn back .. !!!  Argh ! Had a group dinner at a place called ‘El Diablo’  .. small restaurant in Torrey … Great food .. but .. the presentation of their food was amazing (see photos) …

May 21   Today …..

Got up early so the tour could continue at planned time of 9am …  Everyone in group needed to get up early so we could wait our turn to dump our tanks .. 12 Casitas .. plus other trailers in park can take some time … Everyone made it .. and group departed after taking a group photo of all our Casitas at nearby gas station.  Traveled to Escalante in a Casita Convoy .. quite an amazing sight to see 12 Casitas in a row coming down the road … !   Drive from Capital Reef to Escalante was very scenic .. it’s called the most scenic bypass in the USA …..  we believe it !!  Encountered numerous steep inclines up to an altitude of 9,000 feet ….  Sierra earned it’s keep today .. it was a long hard pull …   Arrived at our Escalante site this afternoon .. we have a nice site across from a lake ….  After everyone unhitched .. we took an auto tour of the area .. group  leader lives in Utah and has done this Casita Tour for a couple of years ..  took us to some nice spots that we probably have never seen on our own …  Tomorrow we’re heading for a 7 mile hike to see more  .. yes .. you  guessed it .. canyons .. only these canyons have a pretty steep waterfall at the end of trail .. I’ll really be ticked if this ‘waterfall’ is just a trickle ! All plans are on condition of good weather .. rain always seems to be a threat .. locals will tell you  ‘it’s Spring .. anything can happen’ …

We’re backed up on photos .. I’ll try and sort through some of them later tonite …   Good to back on the grid !  But .. it will only last another day …  staying at this site for 2 nights .. then leaving for Red Canyon and Bryce Canyons…

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May 18 Heading to Capital Reef State Park

Starting to rain as we’re finishing breakfast .. checking forcast .. rain for the next few days ..  possible snow showers tonite .. 36 degrees !  Watching local TV  forcasts … all this rain is very unusual for the area … the rainest Spring in 5 years … We are the ‘draught busters’ !!!   Weather is main topic in local news this morning … flash flood, landslide, and mud slide warnings .. etc ..  Since we have a relatively short driving day .. we won’t leave campsite until 10-11.. We’ll be sure to take long .. hot showers today .. don’t think next campground has showers …   We’re expecting to be ‘off the grid’ for next few days … wifi may be available in certain spots in towns near our campsite …  when we gas up the truck in these towns .. we’ll check for wifi access …

‘Going off the grid’   …  catch you later  !   Possee-ing up with our fellow Casita owners  ……

Todays travels

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May 17 Last day in Moab !

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Decided to take today as a re-group day ..  Windy and cool today, so we thought we’d do some laundry, wash the truck, shopping for food stuff, go to the bank, gas up the truck .. etc .. etc ..  took our laundry bag.. and headed into town .. our first attempt was to stop a little place in town to do our laundry .. placed looked a little ‘worn’ .. when Terri looked in one the washers .. it was filthy .. our dirty clothes were cleaner than the washer .. took our laundry bag and headed out .. figured we do better at campsite .. Continued on with our chores …  went to wash/vacuum truck at a car wash .. truck was really filthy with all the dirt & sand we’ve picked up along the way .. As we were pulling out of car wash we noticed that Food Store was just across the street .. we pulled into their lot .. no parking spaces .. !  As we were trolling around the parking lot we noticed another place to wash our clothes .. a MUCH better place that even had wifi .. place was clean .. a bonus find !  Took approx 2 hours but .. laundry is totalyl done .. good for another couple of weeks ..  Next off to the bank .. then something for lunch …  All in town chores complete .. we headed back to campsite to do our preparation for our next leg of our trip … Reorganized stuff in the truck .. cleaned up Casita .. Going to grill some chicken for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner .. Terri making some pasta salad .. We want to prepare some meals ahead of time because we’re seeing rain in the forcast for next few days ..

Our next stop will be in Torrey Utah …. Capital Reef National Park … approx 150 miles from our current campsite … We meet up with rest of Casita group on  Thu the 19th ..  For the next 2 weeks our campsites will be at National Park Campgrounds  … I’m sure they will be much more scenic .. but .. we will have little if any hookups or wifi .. Not sure we can survive this .. but .. a camper has to do .. what a camper has to do !!  Some places have electric .. we will be using dumping stations .. some have showers   (we may be using our Casita shower ) .. I don’t think any of the sites have water at sites .. we’ll have to ‘carry’ our water to Casita (we have a 5 gallon water container) … We will be visiting Capital Reef, Escalante, Red Canyon/Bryce and Zion/Watchman National Parks with the Casita group … after that .. we hit the road to check out Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Badlands …

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