Four Spiritual Days in Kanab, Utah April 12-16 Bryce Canyon/Zion

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Our base of operations for these adventures was Wheel Inn RV Park ($27/night with Good Sam’s) in Fredonia, Arizona. It was just a few miles from Kanab, Utah and about 3 miles from the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation. The reservation is semi arid with natural springs on a little over 120,000 acres. There are five tribal villages on the reservation.

The owners of Wheel Inn RV Park were great. The husband, Eric, stopped by to talk to us about local roads, some of them dirt lanes, and places to eat. He shared very useful information and we were happy to have it as he told us how to get around to sites, even with road closures. He recommended Houston’s Trails End Restaurant in Kanab, a locals’ favorite. The food was delicious and the waitstaff was outstanding. We were also allowed to modify menu offerings to fit our needs and there was no fuss about it. I recommend eating there but go hungry!

We had planned to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but due to late snows, the North Rim was closed. Parts of Bryce Canyon National Park was closed at the 11 mile mark at Natural Bridge and many of the trails were closed to hiking. Zion National Park was in full spring blooms. We just altered daily plans and went where we could. This was a wonderful area and we had a blast. Bryce Canyon National Park was cold and snowy, we wore jackets and scarfs. Zion National Park was warm tee-shirt weather. Each day it seems we had extremes in weather. We were prepared.

The first day we traveled on the Highway 12 Scenic Parkway. It is considered one of the most scenic roads in the United States and was named “All American Highway” in 2002. Highway 12 runs through Dixie National Forest and two national parks: Bryce Canyon and Escalante. It’s simply breathtaking. We traveled through Red Canyon, Panguitch and Bryce Canyon National Park. We did some hiking but many trails were closed due to late snow. It was still a great experience.

At Inspiration Point I met a woman from South Carolina who had a finance position at Coastal Carolina University but now lives in Arkansas. I retired from finance at Horry Georgetown Technical College, just across the street. We had a nice long talk. It certainly is a very small world.

At Sunset Point Bryce Canyon

Off to Zion National Park for our next caper. So far, this is the best place I’ve visited on this trip. I can’t explain the feelings and oneness that I felt with nature and the universe while there. Telepathically, I communicated with my dear friend, Liz, who appreciates this place as much as I do. It was simply wondrous! One of my favorite things was sitting on the bank of the Colorado River on a flat rock, reveling in the quiet beauty. Zion was in bloom and gorgeous. I’d like to add that my travel partner has some issues with oxygen at high altitudes. The Park Rangers issued us a pass to drive through the Park so that he wouldn’t have to shuttle on and off the buses with his pack. We had our own private tour and we saw much more of the park and trails. We didn’t know that the National Park Service had this service. What a great bit of information to have.

We visited the reservation (they had the best deal on diesel fuel) and took some scenic drives. It was time to move to a new base and new excursions. Next up: Pahrump, Nevada where weed, prostitution, and gambling are legal. Death Valley/Mom’s Diner/China Ranch/Ghost Towns/Titus Canyon…. Stay tuned!

It’s Extreme Sports! Moab, Utah April 5-9

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What can I say about Moab, Utah, population 5,300 (on a good day)! We stayed at OK RV Resort ($41.65/Day with Good Sam’s) on the outskirts of town. Great resort with great amenities and views. Moab is the mecca for mountain bikers, hikers and off-roaders. I have never seen so many Can-Am, Polaris and jeep vehicles in my life! Oh, and the red dirt. It’s famous!

If you love red dirt, warm weather, and the outdoors you’ll love Moab. The Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park are all nearby and make for great adventuring! The town is eclectic and quaint but busy. Two restaurants we enjoyed were The Moab Diner and Hidden Cuisine. Both reasonably priced with good service and tasty fare.

Our first stop was The Arches National Park. What a great landscape! The Arches has the highest density of natural arches anywhere in the world, about 2,000 of them. The Park is on 76,689 acres on the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time. The hiking areas are rated easy to extreme but even on the easier trails water and sunscreen are necessities. We averaged hiking a little over 6 miles in an afternoon. Well worth it. Don’t forget to take your National Park Pass or the entrance fee is $35 per car. How do you choose a photo? It’s difficult.

The park’s terrain appears to be rugged and durable but it is extremely fragile. With more than 1 million visitors each year this ecosystem is threatened by those who think the rules about not climbing (without a permit) and walking off existing trails applies to them. The cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, and lichens can be destroyed for decades with a simple footstep off the trail. There is a $20,000 fine if you are caught. Unfortunately we encountered a few of these folks and we did confront them, only to hear, “I don’t care, Ranger Bob.” Even sadder, they had their school aged kids with them. What are they teaching them?

The next day we headed to Dead Horse Point State Park. They also ask that you stay on marked trails to lessen the impact of your visit. Legend has it that cowboys in the 1800s used the point as a corral to round up wild horses. They would round up the horses and drive them across a 30 foot neck onto the point then close the neck with brush and limbs. One of these roundups was disastrous for the horses as the cowboys picked the good horses and left the “scrubs” to die of thirst on the point. The Colorado River is 2,000 feet below the point. The horses could smell the water but could not get to it. No one knows why the cowboys decided to do this. No matter how I look at it, it’s cruelty in the worst form.

Canyonlands National Park was our last excursion while in Moab. It is another beautiful place in the high desert. Canyonlands is divided into four parts: The Maze, Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Rivers (where the Green and Colorado Rivers converged. These rivers cut deep creating two canyons. We enjoyed the trails and clocked over 5 miles while in the canyon. More pictures:

Hope you enjoyed reading about this outing. Next up: Torrey, Utah with Capital Reef, Escalante at Grand Staircase, Anasazi Museum and more! Stay tuned.

Part II: Blanding, Utah: Sand Island Petroglyphs and Monument Valley

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Locals had told us about visiting Sand Island Park, home of a campground on the San Juan River and the Sand Island Petroglyphs. This area has a 100 yards panel full of petroglyphs, some dating to 6500 BC. We took some time, sat on a rock and just viewed them. The longer we sat, the more we saw. It’s a must see if you are interested in ancient art and petroglyphs. Instead of labeling these, I’ll just let you look and see what you can discover in this magnificent art.

Our last excursion near Blanding was Monument Valley, on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The Navajo refer to it as “valley of the rocks.” The Valley is 5000 to 6000 feet above sea level with the monuments rising another 1000 feet above the valley floor. The sandstone buttes are vast and part of the Colorado Plateau. The red color comes from iron oxides and the blue-gray colors from magnesium oxide. The buttes cover 5 square miles and were made famous by John Ford in his westerns starting from the 1930s.

While there we met several members of the Navajo Nation. They were skilled artisans and jewelry makers. Gracious, friendly and accommodating. I was able to purchase a few items and get photos of the artisans, with their permission. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and learning about Navajo culture, history and the history of the valley.

We had a very large time on this adventure. I enjoy learning about cultures, both modern and ancient and studying history. There is so much to learn if you are open to it. History is an important tool to avoid mistakes of the past. Learn and grow, no matter what your age.

Next up: Moab, Utah and the many adventures there. Stay tuned!

Outstanding Adventure: Blanding, Utah April 2-5

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Our base of operations was Blanding RV Resort ($28/night with Good Sams). This was a pretty central location for all of our day trips. We would leave early in the morning and return around dusk.

First caper: Edge of Cedars Museum and ancient pueblo, a state of Utah run park on the outskirts of Blanding. The ancient pueblo was built and occupied from AD 825 to about 1225 AD. The museum has a vast collection of Anasazi (Ancient Puebloan) artifacts. The most fascinating was a macaw sash from around 850 AD, which had survived in full color and form. Many sculptures are on the grounds and they are marvelous. There is a 1000 year old restored Kiva (ceremonial building) and one can enter through the roof by ladder. I’m so glad we put this on our lists of must sees!

On the way to Natural Bridges National Monument we made a few additional stops for hiking. The first stop was Butler Wash Ruins, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It was a hike over rugged desert terrain and shear rock and about 1.75 round trip. Ray hiked part of the way but due to altitude and breathing issues he stopped and waited for me. I made it up to the cliff dwelling ruins that dated from about 950 AD to 1130 AD. They too were abandoned but experts aren’t sure of the reason. Modern Hopi’s claim them as ancestors and continue with their cultural ways. The Hopi ask that you treat the Ancient Pueblos with respect as they are sacred grounds. The hike is worth it, just remember to pace yourself and take plenty of water.

Second Stop: Mule Canyon Ruins, managed by the BLM. Some covers have been built to help preserve these over 700 year old ruins. They were also abandoned around 1025 AD.

Natural Bridges National Monument, established in 1908, is Utah’s first monument. The three bridges are named to honor the Ancient Puebloans:
“Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu.” The area of the bridges was a sea about 100 million years ago. Striations in the rock show this. Shell and fossil sea creatures have been found here. The bridges were cause by erosion from running water after the plates collided some 10 million years ago. This is a great place to hike for views. Spectacular! Sipapu Bridge:

On the way to Kachina Bridge, we stopped so that I could hike the Horse Collar Ruin Trail (1 mile round trip). It was an interesting trail with some areas walking on slick rock with no barrier on the cliffs. Horse Ruins are Ancient Puebloan structures on a cliff above the Colorado River drainage. These ruins were also deserted around 1025 AD. Possibly part of a mass migration due to many years of drought.

Then, there we were at Kachina Bridge!

Owachomo Bridge:

On to the next shenanigans! We took the Moki Dugaway access to Valley of the Gods. The Moki Dugaway reminded me of the Road to Hana on Maui, without the lush tropical seascapes. The Moki was shorter, in the desert and completely dangerous, especially if you met a car on the narrow dirt lane. The Moki was built in 1958 by a mining company out of Texas. It is 3 miles of dirt switchbacks. It was exhilarating and exhausting….. no kidding.

With adrenaline pumping, we made it to The Valley of the Gods, a sandstone valley in San Juan County, Utah. This ancient landscape has buttes, mesas, columns, and balanced rocks. As of December 2017 it is no longer part of Bear’s Ears National Monument but is still protected by the BLM. The road through the Valley is 17 miles of bumpy dirt roads. We were fortunate to be there with just a few other tourists. It’s worth a look and I enjoyed it, right down to meeting a German tourist who was spending months here to complete his bucket list as he had just finished cancer treatment. He was around 40 years old and had an awesome attitude about living life.

Next stop: Sand Island