The cold weather and snow in the Colorado area are still pushing us south, which make us a little concerned about meeting our visiting window with friends in a few days. As a result, we were up and on the road before 7 AM this morning to get a good day in. The mountain time zone was about 1/4 mile down the road from the campsite, so we went ahead and set the clocks forward last night to be prepared, which was helpful in the sleep department. The good side of the detour, though, is that we are actually going to get down to Moab, Utah, which is where Jim and Cathy (cousins) are vacationing with their daughter Caroline and her family.
It is windy this morning; flag standing straight out WINDY! That makes it feel pretty cold out with the temps in the 30s. An abundance of sunshine and beautiful views make it a good day to be on the road, though.
Side note about the wind: We have always heard that towing a trailer in high wind causes a lot of swaying and issues. On this trip we have been in some really high winds and gusts, especially up in North Dakota. While MW says he can definitely tell it is windy, there has been absolutely no swaying at all, and we do not use a sway bar. I’m not sure about the physics involved in this, but that has been our experience, and it is a pleasant surprise. For Brutus, a tail wind is definitely preferable, though.
Our objective today is Ogden, UT, so we hopped on I-84 headed south. In Nampa we stopped at the McDonald’s so that I could download some pics for this blog. While I was doing that, MW headed over to check out the air museum at the airport right down the road. He showed back up in just a few minutes, because it didn’t open for an hour. Bummer! On the other side of the interstate we saw a giant, inflated dragon which we assumed was some type of Halloween decoration. It was the biggest inflatable I’ve ever seen, though.
Next was a brief detour to go see the Balanced Rock. Along the way we traveled on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway. How cool! The road runs along the Snake River for a bit. On our side was farmland and a resort. On the other side was a giant cliff. As you drove along, you could see many waterfalls gushing over the top and down to the river. Not one or two close together, but many spread apart. It was quite a sight. While zig-zagging through the fields, we did a double-take as we passed (sadly) a dead cow. In a lifetime of traveling back roads through farm and cattle land, I have never seen one dead in the field. He appeared to have been moved, so someone
knew it. Still sad, though. Another odd thing we saw was a cistern of some type that was just gushing water out of the top. It must flow into irrigation ditches to go out into the fields (although we didn’t see any), because it was right beside the road and there was no huge puddle of water. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the size of the hay stacks out there before or not, but they are like large, two- to three-story hotels. Most of the hay is bailed into rectangles (instead of the rolls we see at home), then stacked in the huge piles. It looks like they just stack them randomly where they may be needed in the winter, but we did see some centralized stacking areas along the road where large flatbeds came to pick it up, too.
The approach to the Balanced Rock area is odd. You are in flat farmland, then the road descends into a canyon that becomes very jagged walls of rock. At the bottom is Balanced Rock Park, which is beautiful with a clear stream running through, lots of picnic tables and some nice trails. We both missed the sign that said that the actual Balanced Rock is down the road, so we stopped and walked around looking for it in the park. Guess what…we didn’t find it! Interesting, though, was the picnic table in the shade in a crack in the rock wall. Now, these rocks clearly come down occasionally, and we are not talking pebbles. Why would anyone sit there for lunch. You know if it were me with the Jones luck, that is the moment that puppy would break loose! That feels like it is just asking for trouble. Another interesting point was that, although there was no camping in the park, someone just pulled their camper in and set up housekeeping. That is something we’ve seen a lot in the northwest, folks just pulling into a rest area or an overlook and setting up. I don’t mean parking and just spending the night, but getting out all of their stuff and making themselves at home. We finally gave up and headed back out, which is when we saw that darned sign and headed up to the actual rock. It is pretty darned big and defies gravity for sure.
We headed back over to I-84 on our way to see Shoshone Falls. They call these falls the Niagara of the West. For our visit, the water level was way down, so the actual fall was much smaller that expected and not Niagara-like at all. The area is beautiful, though. There is a secondary fall coming off of the cliff slightly downriver from the big one, too. The canyon and surrounding area are amazing, and on the opposite side of the river just before the falls are some houses with views of the canyon and river. We had to park Penelope a ways away and walk, and the wind there was horrendous. One gust was so strong I almost tripped. (As you’ve probably already surmised, that doesn’t take a body blow! LOL) One cool thing with the wind was that, as it was blowing up the canyon, it actually blew some of the water from the falls back up over the top. It was really neat to see. We could even feel droplets back in the parking lot at Penelope. The spot where Evel Knievel tried to jump the canyon is about a mile downriver. Seeing this canyon in person just reinforces the thought that he was crazy! After walking around as much as we could stand in the cold wind, we went back to Penelope and made sandwiches for lunch. No outside picnic, though!
Back on the road, we pointed Brutus towards the campground. Along the way we saw some antelope, elk, and lots of tumbleweeds. We also saw a sign that said “Blind Spring Ranch. No trespassing next five miles.” Wow, five miles of fence line. Now that’s a ranch! As we got closer to Ogden, the mountains were amazing and covered in lots of snow.
We arrived at the Wasatch View Estates and RV Park, which
did have a great view of the Wasatch range. This is both a mobile home and RV park, but unlike others that we have been in, they did seem to have some standards and rules for the mobile homes. The roads were nice, and the spots were paved and full hookup. The one we had was easy to get into and didn’t have anyone else around, although there were spots right next to us. There were a few trees around, so it did not feel totally like a parking lot. The only complaint would be a bit of vehicle noise from the residents coming and going.
After a long day, we settled in to watch a little TV and eat leftovers.
More pics from today:
It was supposed to go down to 28 degrees last night, and it definitely got there. The electric heater kept us plenty warm, but the big fear was Penelope’s pipes.. To keep her juices flowing, we turned on the tank heaters, turned on the hot water heater, opened the under-sink cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen, and ran the water when we got up to pee. It worked, but we didn’t get a lot of sleep worrying about it.
We were up and out early again to head south, still chasing warmer temps, and when I say warmer, I mean upper 20s! Surely we will find it before we get to Mexico. It’s October, not February for gosh sake!! After a couple of failed attempts, we found a wifi hotspot at a McDonald’s in Orem so I could download some more pics (added bonus…breakfast sandwiches).
One thing we will need to resolve soon is the internet thing. I get unlimited on my phone, but the amount that can be used for a hotspot (so I can work on the computer) is limited. I’ll be doing some research to figure that out soon.
After breakfast, MW put the pedal to the metal, and we didn’t stop for a while. This part of Utah is all city. It starts well north of Ogden and goes down past Provo. (We turned off at Spanish Forks, and it was still all city.) The 15-20 mph wind makes us happy to be enjoying the protection of the truck. We took US-6 over the pass at Soldier Summit. The temps dropped a few times coming through the mountains, but not too bad. All week we had seen snow on the peaks above us, but now we were up in the snow. There was never anything more on the roads, though, than small piles at the edges as evidence that plows came through before. The land through the mountains alternates between hilly, scrub-covered fields with lots of low grass and rocks and steep, rocky abutments. One minute you are in rolling hills, then you round a bend to find cities of rock towers with small trees crammed in the cracks, or flats with dirt devils dancing about. There have been several times on this trip that I have been sleepy in the middle of the day, but I try so hard to keep my eyes open for fear of missing stuff!
Along the way we have passed several teepees, and today there was one in the back yard of a house. Is that where Indian men go when the wife has had enough? Around noon, quite abruptly more fields appeared, and we were back in farm/ranch country. We arrived in Thompson Springs around 2 PM and set Penelope up at Ballard RV Park. This is a basic park in an open field with sites laid out side by side. It was a little odd, because every other one had the electric on the opposite side, which caused the front doors to be facing for some. It was cold and REALLY windy, so we didn’t have an opportunity to explore much, but they did offer showers (the water was not very warm, though) and a FREE laundry. (Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take advantage of the latter because we had places to be.)
Between us and Moab was Arches National Park. We had a little time before we had to meet Jim and crew, so we headed there first. This drive is just plain amazing, and again, the pictures will have to show you, because it is just too hard to describe. Near the beginning of the drive, we stopped at an overlook called Park Avenue. The rocks tower up out of low, hilly areas like dunes, and go straight up in a line like the buildings in New York. The largest factor in the formation of these towers was wind for millions of years. We saw some rock climbers on a column that was about 100 feet tall. In fact, we saw a LOT of people as the park was just covered up! It is a hiker and biker’s paradise with trails everywhere. There is even a bike trail that goes all the way into Moab from the park. We went to the end of the road, then turned around and headed back out of the park. The RV in front of us made the drive out a little irritating (see Rude!!! ), but we finally made it back to the main road.
Moab is a very touristy town, and it was covered up with people, too. We were a little perplexed because it is really cold and windy. We grabbed some supplies at the store, then went and sat at McDonald’s, had a snack (we were starving since we hadn’t eaten since McDonald’s this morning), and wait for the Shelton clan (Jim, Cathy, Caroline, Steve, and baby Matheson, who is 10 months) to get back from their day’s adventures.
We haven’t seen Jim and Cathy since Granny’s funeral, so it was nice to be able to work in this meeting. They live in Evergreen, Colorado, but were in Moab to meet Caroline. Once we got the call that they were back, we headed over for grilled salmon, salad, bread, and great family conversation. This was the first time we ever met Steve (Caroline’s husband) and Matheson (their baby girl), so that was nice. Jim found out that the town is so crowded because the summers are very hot, so as soon as it cools off, the locals swarm the outdoor sites until the big snows hit. We visited for a good while and had to force ourselves to leave. Hopefully it won’t be as long before we see them again.
The drive back to Penelope was about 45 minutes. Driving along in the dark we noted that, if you passed through this area at night, you would have no idea what towering giants were right beside the road. That would be a sad thing to miss. We turned in as soon as we got back.
Lots more photos from today: