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Archive for May, 2009

We’re home once again. The weather is beautiful and unloading the RV hasn’t been bad. It’s been another good trip.

Last Tuesday, we steamrolled our way past Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon to get to Cedar City, our standard push-off point to drive 400 miles through Nevada. We usually take Highway 6, ending up at Mono Lake, but Tioga Pass is still closed at this time. We’ll take US-93 and US-50 across the state, roads on which there are darn few towns. So we filled up with food, milk, water and gas in Cedar City, and headed out, just like the pioneers of old. (Not exactly.) My birthday dinner occurred at Great Basin State Park, in eastern Nevada. Nothing fancy, but a beautiful location. Then, in the middle of Nevada, we discovered the Petroglyphs Recreation Site, a free campground with a great view of snow-covered mountains. So we’re doing a lot better at finding nice sites to stop at on Highway 50.

We were in our next to last RV park in Fallon, Nevada, on Saturday. Dave left at dawn to drive 45 miles back east to the Shoe Tree. He wanted a shot with clouds, but it didn’t happen. I, on the other hand, luxuriated in bed for a couple of hours, reading and sipping tea. What a life! Then we got our act together and drove to Carson City, then over to Lake Tahoe, went along the shore for a ways, then up and over Highway 50 into the mountains. Our goal was Plymouth, CA on Highway 49, home town of the Shenandoah Valley, our favorite wine-producing area.

We checked into our fancy RV park, parked next to a pond full of ducks and ducklings, and found out that Karmere Wines was open on Sunday, but not Monday. So we got over there by 4 p.m. and picked up a case of very good zins, syrahs and a couple of jugs of “The Temperance Tarts”. We returned to our lovely campsite, I fixed some appetizers and we sipped our way through sunset. The only dark spot on the day was that one mother duck who had three tiny chicks when we arrived, ended up with only two later. We looked around, but chick #3 had disappeared. The next day we cleaned the inside of the RV a little, visited a few more wineries and enjoyed the beautiful location.

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After a couple of hours of driving on Saturday, we reached Capital Reef National Park, another beautiful place. As we searched for a campground, we passed another Lazy Daze and said hello. Later, Mike and Linda invited us over to see their rig and a glass of wine. It’s a 23-foot vehicle, so it’s set up a little differently from ours. We then had another glass of wine at our rig, so they could get a look at ours. They are full-timers, with no permanent house, who split their year between New Zealand and the United States. They keep a rig in New Zealand and spend summer in both countries, since New Zealand’s summer is our winter and vice versa. As we drove out the next day, we met another couple from Livermore, CA in their Lazy Daze. There aren’t all that many Lazy Daze rigs, so it is fun to talk about them with other owners.

Yesterday, we did one of our favorite drives in the country. We went on Highway 12 over Boulder Mountain. It was a mostly cloudy day, so the light wasn’t that great, but the views are still spectacular. Boulder Mountain has the best stands of aspen we’ve seen. They were still bare of leaves, but their white trunks, limbs and twigs gleam in any light.

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In all our trips to Boulder, we never went on the Hell’s Backbone Road. We did today, and though it had a few nice spots, it wasn’t worth the 38-mile trip. So we continued onto the Burr Trail, one of our favorites. The ride starts out in white hills that are etched with vertical and horizontal breaks that create a grid effect. Then the road drops into Long Canyon, with 1,000-foot high red cliffs with huge alcoves where the rock has broken away. Although I’m very careful going up and down the gullies, my feet slipped out from under me and landed very hard, directly on my butt, adding to my collection of bruises, but not seriously hurting myself.

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Tomorrow, we head to Cedar City, to stock up for our race across Nevada. Nevada has its own kind of beauty, but it’s a long haul across a lot of empty country. It looks like Nevada is where I’ll turn 60.

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From Needles, we drove north to Moab in order to stock up for another dry camping experience at Goblin Valley State Park. Moab had very nice weather, so we got up early on Tuesday and went to Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky, an enormous mesa that is 2,000 feet above the Colorado and Green Rivers. It was much chillier and windier than we expected, but the light with the clouds was spectacular; it always is. The remainder of the day was spent grocery (and wine) shopping, but we went to the Moab Brewery to get a good burger and fish and chips. In the restaurant, we were entertained by videos of people whose off-road experiences didn’t go so well.

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Currently, we’re ensconced in Goblin Valley State Park. This place is filled with strange sandstone formations that assume all types of weird shapes. The weather is extremely pleasant – around 78 outside with a little breeze. We got up early today and went down a couple of dirt roads into the San Rafael Reef (Isn’t that a great name?), a 2,000-foot-high, 30-mile long, spectacular ridge of multi-colored rocks in various states of erosion. There are natural bridges, arches and ancient rock art strewn about the deep canyons running through the Reef.

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Today, we got up very early in order to drive east for 40 miles on a dirt road so we could begin the 7-mile hike to Horseshoe Canyon at a time to avoid the heat of the day. The hike worked out very well. When we got to the parking area, two married Park volunteers were getting ready to go down into the canyon. This was good because we could get a lot closer to the pictographs with them around.  There was cloud cover and the first couple of hours were very pleasant hiking. By the time we got to the Great Gallery, the sun was out and it warmed up considerably. But the Park volunteers were great. They spend every spring there for a week or two, acting as docents for the Great Gallery. We got to go up very close and they were pointing out all kinds of details we had never noticed before.

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Afterwards, we sat in the shade and talked to Blaine, the volunteer, for a while. It turns out he is a golf pro, who retired early, along with his wife. They’ve done what we have: cutting back on some expenses and spending more on travel. As we were talking, a small bird landed on Blaine’s daypack and appeared to be looking for a way in. Then he fluttered directly in front of Blaine’s face, almost landing on his shoulder. A few minutes later, he landed on Blaine’s neck and was pecking at his collar. It was very strange to see a bird do this. We finally began to hike back, and though it was only 3.25 miles, it was much hotter and the 750-foot rise out of the canyon at the end was a slow, sweaty enterprise. But we had plenty of water (unlike a father with 3 young sons, who looked like he had one 12-ounce bottle for everyone) so we were fine.

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