|Bruneau Dunes, from our campsite.|
|Sunset looking east from the Dunes.|
The game whiled away a good amount of driving time, the Zags pulled it out, and before long we were in the big city of La Grande, Oregon where we had reservations in the Walmart parking lot.
I was not feeling quite up to par, so I went to bed early. It was a rather cold night but we were able to sleep as well as you can expect on your first night out.
During the night the weather changed and when we got up and hit the road there was a slight cover of snow on the road. As we drove south toward Baker OR, the snow got a bit heavier. Outside temperature slowly got warmer. It made for a slushy mess and every big rig that shot past covered our truck with a dirty slush splash that shook us mercilessly. Linda did her best to stay calm, but I heard a few swear words as several 18 wheelers splashed by.
We drove past Baker and the roads began to clear up, driving became easier. We passed through Boise and made our way to our rendezvous spot at Bruneau Dunes State Park. We set up our camper and went for a short walk. Within the hour of our arrival, Jacquie and Grant pulled in to a spot close to our site. Once set up and ready for the evening we gathered in their RV and started our evening ritual of playing Skip Bo, talking, and laughing.
|Here, pull my finger.|
|Wingers and basketball. Go Zags!|
At around 7:45 PM we all loaded into old Stinky Jeep and invaded Wingers. They sat us in the center of the pub area and turned the 80” TV on to the game. We had burgers, salads, fries and drinks as we watched the Zags eke out a win. Jacquie mentioned that she had never been in a pub where almost all the patrons were drinking soft drinks. Welcome to Utah.
|View from our campsite at Big Bend.|
Our change put us in Green River where we went to Green River State Park and spent the night. We wanted to get up early and drive into Moab area to find a BLM campground site. The earlier the better, especially since this was Monday, the first day of numerous college and school spring breaks. Also the Moab Jeep Safari was gearing up to start the following weekend. We had our work cut out for us!
Leaving the Green River before the sun came up saw us on our way to Moab. Sunrise was beautiful and we arrived in Moab around 8 AM. When we crossed the bridge at the Colorado River, we turned left and followed the highway upriver to Goose Island Campground.
We drove in and immediately talked to the camp host. He explained that there was only one campsite available, but a kid was trying to decide if he wanted to take it or not. We met the young man and asked him what he had decided. He was sort of strange and gave us a very vague answer. After a bit and without saying a word, he walked to the site and put his tag on the post. We guessed that meant he was taking it. So we missed the prime spot by about five minutes. Oh, well!
|Weather coming in, Linda's running.|
|After the storm!|
Once we were all settled we loaded into Stinky Jeep and headed into Arches National Park for a bit of a recon mission. At this point, let me explain the “loading into Stinky” part of our day. This is important to know about because we did it at least 14 times a day.
First, we would pack the back compartment with items that we needed to access during the day. Water, food, extra jackets, stuff like that. Then Jacquie and Linda would alternate climbing up onto the Jeep and scrunching into the back seat. Once they were there and had their seatbelts on (which could be quite a project in itself), they would be handed numerous items that we didn’t want to squeeze into the way-back. They would find a spot for them and then give Grant and I the OK to climb into our seats and fight to get our seatbelts on.
|The seven Gossips.|
|During our hike down Park Place.|
Our little exploration then took us up into the park where we introduced Jacquie and Grant to a beauty they had never viewed before. Each curve of the road displayed the red rock wonder of this national treasure. I had taken the windows out of the Jeep; the sun was out yet the air was chilled. I think we introduced our friends to this part of Utah quite well that afternoon.
|In front of the Three Gossips.|
The next day we spent exploring Arches National Park. The weather was beautiful as we drove from one hike to the next. Park Avenue, Balancing Rock, The Windows, and Turret Arch were all there before us in earth’s entire glorious splendor.
|Hiking back up through Park Place.|
Wednesday morning we woke to a bit of a change in the weather. Plans are made to be adjusted so we decided to save the Delicate Arch hike for a nicer day and we drove south to the Wind Whistle area. Linda and I had stayed at Wind Whistle CG and explored the area beyond extensively.
Stinky Jeep took us out to the Needles Overlook and there we spent the next hour looking out over Canyonlands National Park. We pointed out the areas we had visited in the past which prompted the first of many stories about our “Epic Trip” by Mt. Bike along the White Rim Trail. By the end of our Utah visit, Jacquie and Grant would hear about that adventure every time we walked to a canyon overlook where we could see the White Rim Trail off in the distance. It is amazing that they didn’t get fed up with our yarns and toss us off the cliffs before us.
|Looking out over the La Sal Mountains|
On the trip back from the overlook we took a little detour to a big red rock that protruded out of the ground out in the middle of nowhere. Circling the giant rock we drove to an area where cows had been fenced in during the winter. There were cow pies everywhere, so we decided to have our lunch amongst the treasure trove. It was fun climbing on the big rock and enjoying the sun. We did, however, have to watch our step as we moooooved about.
Back in town we searched the internet and found that we could get showers at Moab’s new aquatic center. Having planned for showers prior to leaving for our daily adventure, we made a hasty beeline to the center, paid our access fee and everyone took a long hot shower. All clean and squeaky, we returned to Big Bend for sun, drinks, dinner and, of course, Skip Bo.
|Behind the Windows.|
With all the people on the trail and in the parking lot we decided that we would not let the throngs impede our visit to this iconic arch. Onward we hiked up, following the cairns and the folks before us.
When we reached the end of the trail and climbed the final steps up to view the vista, it was well worth the work. Before us were the La Sal Mountains in the distance and fronting them was Delicate Arch in all its glory. I can tell you this, the license plate does not do this icon justice.
We took photos and climbed around for a while and then headed back to the parking lot. On the way down we did a quick scramble up into a small arch where we got a different view of Delicate Arch. I believe that Jacquie and Grant were impressed with all they saw during this adventure.
We hustled back to camp and grabbed a bite to eat. Then we loaded back in Stinky and went into town where we found a sports bar called the Alley and watched the Gonzaga game. The Zags played poorly and lost. We had a good time watching the game and observing the “sports bar” happenings. Our waitress was a bit strange but was very nice.
We accepted our loss (reluctantly) and returned to Big Bend. One thing that we decided during our evening away from camp was that instead of packing up and moving camp to another area, we would stay in Moab and keep exploring all that was available to us. No need to search for another site when we have just scratched the surface here.
Morning found the weather in a bad mood. Linda got up and took the Jeep downriver to a running trail along the river. There she took off on her run and within a half hour discovered that a huge lightning and thunderstorm had followed her downriver.
She turned around and made it back to Goose Island CG when the storm caught her and opened up. The camp host rescued her and drove her to the Jeep. During all this I was worried sick, but could do nothing but wait. She returned and told us her story. I was very relieved.
The weather cleared up so we jumped into the Jeep and drove upriver to a hike that would lead us into Fisher Tower area. We parked and hit the trail and immediately got lost. The people we met on the trail told us that they had gone out the direction we were going and the trail ended. So we listened to them and turned around. Needless to say, they had not hiked far enough and had missed the rock cairns leading down into the gully. After a bit, we figured out the mistake and got on the right trail.
|Picnic along the side of the road.|
Saturday was a shopping day! Yep, we went into Moab and did the tourist thing. Even better, it was shower day!!! Showers and shopping, Linda’s favorite combination ever! We got clean, shopped and had a great lunch before we returned to camp and sat out in our chairs in the sun.
|Climbing up the cable to Corona Arch.|
|Then we climbed the ladder!|
Our conclusion was that they were feeding on the white substance that dotted the rock. These Squarebacks repeatedly clung to the rock until the sun went below the skyline and then they would wander back away from the rock and back across the highway.
We got up on Sunday and drove to the park entrance. Our destination today would be the Devil’s Garden at the far end of the park road. As we rounded the bend a line of vehicles stretched out before us. It looked to be about a mile long. I slowed, turned on my blinker, and made a U-turn. Corona Arch, here we come! If you go north out of Moab and follow the road down the Colorado River in the direction of Pot Ash, you will eventually come to a parking lot that lets you access the Corona Arch trailhead.
|Corona Arch, my favorite!|
The hike into Corona Arch is very cool. You get to walk ledges, climb steps using fixed cables, and even ascend a ladder affixed to the rock wall. You pass a couple arches as you hike and at the end of the trail you come upon one of my favorite arches, Corona. It is spectacular and pictures can’t do it justice. We climbed around, took photos, and talked about how amazing it was.
Back in the Jeep we drove back upriver and stopped to look at a large canyon wall covered with pictographs. There were etchings everywhere! The area of the etchings was right adjacent to the area where the climbers were doing their thing. Signs prohibiting climbing amongst the pictographs made you wonder why in the world anyone would climb on or around these ancient wonders. Then again, man will be man, I guess.
Monday we agreed to hike Devil’s Garden come hell or high water. (Note the pun.) Back in the Jeep we drove to the last parking lot in Arches. The hike was busy but the sun was out and it wasn’t too windy. We visited Tunnel Arch and then walked over to Pine Tree Arch. The panorama views of Pine Tree were spectacular! After some photos, we backtracked to the main trail and made our way to the Landscape Arch viewing point. From there the trail heads up a steep fin. Linda and Grant continued up while Jacquie and I held down the fort at the foot of the fins.
Back at the Jeep, we drove back down the road to the parking lot for Sand Dune Arch. Sand Dune Arch is the area where all parents get a few minutes rest as their kids scale the dune, jumping and cavorting in the sand. We took a couple photos and hurried on down the trail to Broken Arch. From the trail you could see Tapestry Arch off in the distance; we decided not to make the hike over to that area and returned to the Jeep.
|Pictographs along the road.|
For the next two days our duties, as assigned, were as follows: in the morning we were to take down the Campground Full sign and hide it in a bush. In the afternoon, we were to then take the sign out of the bush and place it in the road at the campground entry.
As you can probably imagine, we read a bit more into the “Duties as Assigned” as the specially appointed official Big Bend Campground Hosts. Grant and I became the dusty road speed monitors. Whenever a vehicle drove by at a speed we deemed too fast we would motion with our hands to “Sloooow Doooown!” Come to think of it, Grant and I were drunk with the power of the title of specially appointed official Big Bend Campground Hosts. Our voices got deeper and we observed every happening around the campground with a wary eye. Linda and Jacquie were good with just completing the two duties assigned. They rolled their eyes a lot as their boys spouted off about how they were going to straighten up the campground.
After two days of our being in charge, the camp host returned and stopped by to thank us. Grant asked for his hat and again was denied.
The day ended with our group sitting and talking about their adventures. We played Skip Bo and made plans to do nothing the next day. I, however, had gotten a text from a former student, Jack Vanderlinden and he said he was in town staying at the Lazy Lizard Hostel. It wasn’t that late and the drive into town wouldn’t take long so I drove in and met up at the hostel.
Arriving at the Lazy Lizard I pulled in and parked next to a North Idaho College van. Calling Jack, I found which unit he was staying in and proceeded on in. Jack was with the NIC Outdoor Mt. Bike class on their spring break trip. Also in attendance was instructor Paul Chivvis and another former student I knew, Brian Hilland. We sat around their room in the Lizard and chewed the fat. We caught up on what each had been doing and laughed about some of our past adventures.
Morning activities were low key. We drove into town and took our final showers at the Aquatics Center. For lunch we bought quesadillas from a food truck and sat in the sun enjoying life. Tomorrow we will part ways. Grant and Jacque will drive home through Salt Lake City, into Idaho, through Washington and then into Canada. We will head to the California Coast and then north visiting friends and family as we go. We had a wonderful time in the Moab area; it was a good last spring break.
One more thing, I AM THE UNDISPUTED SKIP BO CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! BOOM!
|Squareback feeding rock, note the white powder.|
|Squarebacks heading to the rock to feed.|
|Deadhorse Canyon area.|
|Looking down over Canyonlands.|
|The Green River and White Rim.|
|Appoint as temporary camp hosts,|
we took our job seriously!