Canyonlands Here We Come – June 2019

Wednesday June 19: Clifford and I enjoy a leisurely morning with our friends, Kaylee and Ren, who are here visiting us on their way to Arizona in preparation for their upcoming wedding. Clifford and Kaylee work on the Carnicom Institute website, while Ren I visit and drink her delicious coffee substitute.

Even though they have to leave this evening, we decide on an outing to Canyonlands National Park, as Ren has never been there. We are taking the road over Abajo Mountain and our first stop is a viewing area on the far side of the mountain. The wildflowers are in bloom and it is really lovely here on the mountain.

View of LaSal Mountain from Abajo Mountain
Wildflowers on Abajo Mountain
Kaylee and Ren on the sagging bench
The viewing spot on Abajo Mountain – bench to the right looks out to Canyonlands

Our next stop is “Newspaper Rock,” a rock panel covered with petroglyphs. There was vandalism at some point, but the panel has been protected and is in very good condition, for the most part. It is fascinating to look at all the etchings, recognizing what some are and trying to guess at the meaning of others.

Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
View from the parking lot at Newspaper Rock

From there we continue west through BLM land until we arrive at Canyonlands National Park. It was quite warm on the mountain, but much more so here in the lower elevation of the canyons. We stop at the Visitors Center to see the displays, then continue on the scenic loop.

Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
It is very surprising to see this pond in the otherwise arid region
Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
Iconic formation seen from Needles Visitor Center

We stop at Pothole Point to hike the loop. Even though Clifford and I have hiked this loop before, it seems the cairns have been moved and a portion of the loop is missed. However, it is much too hot to go back and redo it. As it is, we appreciate the unique formations and the shade of rock overhangs.

Kaylee, Ren, and Clifford on the Pothole Point Trail
Looking toward the Needles District from the Pothole Point Trail
Formations seen along the Pothole Point Trail
We missed part of the loop, but too hot to go back
Where did it come from?
Enjoying the shade of an overhang

Our last stop is a side road that gives us a closer view of the iconic Wooden Shoe Arch.

Iconic Wooden Shoe Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Good-bye to Canyonlands for this trip

Back at home base, the guys nap (Kaylee has a long drive ahead yet tonight), while Ren and I chat as she writes wedding invitations and I edit photos. For dinner, we all sit outside at one our bistro tables, enjoying the mild evening temperature. Then our friends finish packing their car and are soon on their way. We wish them well and look forward to seeing them on our journey south next winter.

Hiking in Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Saturday October 27: Today Clifford and I hike with our Colorado friends who are camped next to us at Dead Horse Point Utah State Park. We start from the Visitor Center and walk the canyon east rim trail out to the point that gives the park its name. The story is that wild mustangs were corralled here at the point, the best picked out to be kept as riding stock, and the rest turned loose, except for the time that they were left corralled and died of thirst. Not a pretty story, but the name remains.

It is a scenic hike with deep canyons on all sides and the Colorado River far below. Back at camp, we all rest up a bit and then head to Moab to have dinner together at Eddie McStiff’s. This is a fun outing for us and after we return to the park, we have tea and visit until midnight.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah – October 2018

Thursday October 25: I take photos as soon as I get up, watching the play of sunlight on the desert scene. This is our last morning here on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. After breakfast, we begin packing up for our move to nearby Dead Horse Point State Park, where we are meeting Colorado Friends.

Desert view from Mineral Point Road
Beneficial soil microbe colonies

The spot reserved for us at the state park is small, and although not quite as challenging as our set-up on Mineral Point Road, it is tricky because of a culvert that does not allow for an adequate turning radius to back into the small site. But eventually we are set up and have 110 electricity for the first time since leaving Monticello in July. That certainly is a convenience! And we did save some time and trouble not having to set up the solar panel.

Our site at Dead Horse Point State Park

Now the odd thing about being here is that, while the electricity and the nearby flush toilets are quite the treat, we have gone from being surround by acres and acres of sage brush with seldom another camper or person in sight to being in a fishbowl surrounded by campers and people in every direction. I guess that is fine; it just sort of feels weird to me.

Our friends arrive and set up in the site next to us, which makes it easy to visit. We haven’t seen them for awhile and enjoy their company, so end up going to bed quite late.

Friday October 26: Frost on the grass this morning. Looks like fall is upon us.

This morning, I walk to the new campground, which is not far way, to check it out for future reference. It is flat and much more suited to RV’s, but not nearly as pretty.

Walking to the new campground

Back at camp, Clifford is up, but still in his pj’s. I sit outside in the sunshine to write in the journal with my little thermos of French press coffee.

Clifford in his pj’s

A half-mile trail takes me from the campground to the Visitor Center where I look at the displays and follow the nearby Nature Trail. There is no cell service at the campground, but I can send texts to kids and siblings from the Visitor Center.

A view of the La Sal Mountains from the trail to the Visitor Center
Walking on the Nature Trail at the Visitor Center
Nature Trail as seen from the Visitor Center

Back at camp, after lunch, I do more editing of Emperors and Exiles, my daughter Ang’s epic fantasy. Clifford works on his projects, also. When our friends return from their Moab outing, we all walk down to the Visitor Center again before dinner and more visiting.

Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center
Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center

Later, by time I finish my bedtime routine, it is nearly midnight – way past my bedtime.

Last Days on Mineral Point Road – October 2018

Tuesday October 23: I walk in the fog again this morning at our camping spot on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. So strange to see the fog in the desert when there is not even a river nearby.

Fog on Mineral Point Road

After breakfast, I play viola and write in my journal in turns so as to get more out of each, send texts with pics to my kids, finish the blog I started yesterday, and do some editing on the next book of the Novels of Shannon series, Emperors and Exiles. Clifford is working on the next animation video for the CI website, introducing some aspects of the research in a way that is easy for folks to understand.

Looking west after sunset on Mineral Point Road

Wednesday October 24: Today features many of the same activities as yesterday, but no day is exactly the same. More fog, but not the same fog; more editing and journal writing, but different words; check texts and FB, sending and receiving messages different than yesterday’s messages; and play viola for awhile, but different vibrations than yesterday. Like the wind, never the same wind from one moment to the next, so it is with the stream of activities that are not necessarily noteworthy, but have value anyway.

Another morning and different fog
Boondocking on Mineral Point Road

Today is our last day here. Tomorrow we will be moving to nearby Dead Horse State Park to meet up with friends from Colorado. We have liked being here, but life on the road means moving where the weather and the situation takes one.

Boondocking on Mineral Point Road

A Trip to Canyonlands National Park – October 2018

Sunday October 21: Clifford and I are boondocking with Cougar on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. Even though our original intention was to find a spot in Horsethief Campground, we are liking the view and the quiet of being further out on the road away from the busyness of the campground.

Morning View from Mineral Point Road

Today is spent at camp taking care of things that we need or want to do. I take photos, post photos for friends and family, and finish editing the revised Princes and Priests for my daughter, Ang. This is a big deal, as we are preparing her novel to be presented to a literary agent.

It is nice enough that I am able to play viola outside in the afternoon, alternating it with writing in the journal so as to play longer.

Clifford works on the animation video for CI for a good part of the day, but we also walk up the road to explore a campsite, now vacant, that we had seen from the road. It does, indeed, look like a good spot for a future trip.

The night time view from Mineral Point Road

Monday October 22: It is a pleasant temperature outdoors in the sunshine this morning, so after breakfast, I play viola and write in the journal on the sunny side of Cougar.

Warm enough to sit outside

Clifford is working on the animation video for the CI website, but in the afternoon he takes a break and we go for a drive to nearby Canyonlands National Park. Even though it was nice outdoors earlier, by time we leave for the park, it is windy and jet trails mar the sky. But we go anyway, visiting the Visitor Center and then walking to the viewing point across the road from the Visitor Center. The view of the canyons with the La Sal Mountains in the background is quite spectacular.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Back at camp, we get the Suburban in place to tow Cougar out, as thunderheads are forming and the weather forecast shows the possibility of rain. The set up here was awkward and challenging, and getting out will have its own set of problems, particularly if it rains. Getting Suburban situated while the ground is still dry is a smart move under the circumstances. And indeed, there is rain in the evening hours.

Mineral Point Road – October 2018

Wednesday October 17: It is cloudy and rainy today and we spend the day at our campsite on Mineral Point Road near Canyonland National Park.

Cloudy and rainy day – can’t even see the La Sal Mountains

I take photos, send texts with photos to family and friends, play viola, and edit Princes and Priests. Clifford is working on preparing his CI lab notebooks for digital copying. While none of this sounds super exciting, it actually is what we want to do.

Clifford working on projects

Thursday October 18: This morning I walk about taking photos of the fog. It is not often in these desert regions that I get to see such.

Trees lost in the fog
Cougar like a ghost ship on a sea of sage

Taking photos, making business calls, writing in the journal, editing, playing viola, and blog writing fill my day, a good day for indoor activities with the high only 45 degrees. I start reading “Anatomy of the Spirit” by the medical intuitive, Caroline Myss. Clifford is working on video animations for the CI website, an interesting way to introduce certain papers.

Friday October 19: Frost on the ground this morning! Today is a Moab town day and off we go after making tea and coffee. We have breakfast at Denny’s, then run errands. We also spend time at the library with free power and wifi, which allows for downloading of bigger files, necessary for some of the work that Clifford is doing.

Trip to Moab

Back at camp, we find new neighbors in the spot right next to us; we are glad they found a place to camp. We have learned that it is fall break and thousands of people flock to the scenic camping areas of the country, like the national parks of southern Utah. We are happy to have found a niche to call home for a couple of weeks.

Painterly view of evening light on La Sal Mountains

Saturday October 20: Another coolish morning, but after tea and coffee we go for a drive further out the road to look at other possible camping spots. There is a good one not far from us, should it be available at some future time. We are fine with staying where we are for the time being, however.

Exploring for future campsites

After a late breakfast, I edit photos, edit Princes and Priests, then sit outside to write the next blog (Sedona in March). Later I put the text and the edited photos together and publish the blog. We are lucky to have that much cell service when camped out in the boonies like this.

Boondocking with cell service via La Sal Mountains

Clifford continues with his projects, mostly the animation, but also plays his dulcimer, and works with his ham radio. After dinner, reading and playing viola finish out the day for me.

Mineral Point Boondocking – October 2018

Saturday October 13: It is 32 degrees, clear and windy this morning at Beas Lewis Flat, west of Capitol Reef National Park. The sunlight on the mesa at sunrise is amazing!

Last morning at Beas Lewis Flat

Clifford has been watching the weather forecast; a storm is coming and he figures we should leave. I want to stay and hike in the park as planned and leave after the storm, but my brother Rollie has had enough of chilly weather and is also ready to move on south. So, we pack up and head out, even though I think moving to a popular area (Moab for us) on a Saturday is a bad idea.

Leaving Capitol Reef National Park
Utah sand dunes

We arrive at Horsethief Campground outside Canyonland National Park in the late afternoon and sure enough, there is not a single site available. We keep on going out Mineral Point Road, as we know there is some dispersed camping about a mile further on. When we reach this dispersed area, we discover that it has been closed. We continue on and it seems that every available pull-out is taken. Finally we choose a spot that is small, hard to get into, and close to the neighboring campers, but the best we can find. We are barely off the road, the ground is far from level, and the sand is soft. It is one of the hardest parking and set-ups we’ve ever done, but at least we have a home for the night.

Sunday October 14: It is a windy chilly day here in this sagebrush desert. We had thought we’d move to Horsethief Campground this morning, but decide there really is no point in doing that since we are set up here now. It is very peaceful here and the neighbors left, so we don’t feel so much like we are crowding someone. And interestingly enough, we have better cell service at this location with the slightly higher elevation and a view of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains (cell service is better when there is line-of-sight to La Sal Mountains).

Peaceful in the sage brush desert
Line-of-sight to the La Sal Mountains

Since we are not moving this morning, I walk down the road to take photos, send texts with photos to family and friends letting them know where we are, redo the fire ring at the campsite, and rake out unsightly tire tracks. In the afternoon I edit, making good headway on the revised and updated version of Ang’s epic fantasy, Princes and Priests. Clifford has kept himself busy with working on video projects for CI, ham radio, and his dulcimer.

Evening view of the La Sal Mountains

Monday October 15: It is 25 degrees outside and 34 inside! That is a bit chilly for an inside temperature, but we can’t run the furnace without electricity. Ah well. Making coffee and cooking a big batch of applesauce with the last of the wild apples warms Cougar up.

Applesauce made from the great wild apple tree

Clifford continues working with the video project and his ham radio set-up today, and I continue editing.

Tuesday October 16: Another chilly morning, but luckily Cougar’s living space is small enough that it warms up adequately with making coffee and breakfast. Today we go to Moab for errands and a stop at the public library where we can use power and free wifi. I post a blog of our brief stay at Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona on our way north last spring. Clifford always has research to do when the opportunity presents itself.

Scenic drive to Moab

Back at camp, we have a late dinner, and even though it is near bedtime by time dishes and cleanup are done, I take out the viola and play for a bit. Sending texts with photos rounds out the day for me, while Clifford stays up to listen to the radio.

Canyonlands Needles District – July 2018

Thursday July 5: Today is a playday for us – Clifford, me, and CI webmaster and friend, Kaylee, who has come up from Albuquerque for a CI board meeting, project planning, and web work. We have been working hard on CI projects this week, but decide to take a day off to show Kaylee the countryside.

Our destination is the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, by way of Abajo Mountain. Our first stop is Foy Lake at the crest of the slope we are traversing, as we explore possible camping spots for future reference.

Foy Lake on Abajo Mountain

Our next stop is a Utah State Historical Monument, Newspaper Rock, a 200 square foot cliff wall covered with Native American petroglyphs, created by several ancient cultures beginning about 1,500 years ago. The “drawings” consist of animals, human figures, and many inexplicable symbols. In our travels, this is the most dense display of petroglyphs that we have seen.

Newspaper Rock

A close-up of some of the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock

Exploring at Newspaper Rock

Clifford and Kaylee chat as they wait for me to take a few more photos

Continuing on highway 211, the journey includes several miles through canyon land under BLM jurisdiction.

BLM land on the route to Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

BLM land on the route to Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

When we arrive at the Needles District Visitors’ Center, we browse briefly, then drive on to view points of interest. Wooden Shoe Arch is a good stop and we linger there a bit.

Wooden Shoe Arch vista point

Other views from the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

Other views from the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

Clifford relaxing at the Wood Shoe Arch pullout

Kaylee enjoying the views at the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

At Pothole Point, we hike the loop trail, which offers views of the remarkable landscape in this part of the park. On the way back, there is a better pullout from which to see the Wooden Shoe Arch, even though it is not marked as such.

Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Carol on the Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Badland views from Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

View of the Needles District from the Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

A closer view of Wooden Shoe Arch

Back at home, I download the photos of the day. We visit after dinner, bed time is late, but we all had a very good day, a refreshing break before we carry on with CI business tomorrow.

Winter Journey – Horsethief to Big Bend – November 2016

Friday November 11th, after a long layover in Salt Lake City in the wee hours of the morning, it is with great relief that I board an uncrowded bus that takes me to Moab, where Clifford is waiting. We get propane and a few groceries, before going to the Moab Brewery for a good lunch. Then on out to Horsethief campground just outside Canyonlands NP where Clifford camped while I was gone.

Clifford’s campsite at Horsethief Campground

It is a big campground with roomy sites and views of the mesas; it would be nice to stay here for awhile, but the 14-day limit has been reached. I unpack my bags as Clifford and I catch up the news. I am exhausted, feeling caught between two worlds.

Sunset at Horsethief Campground

Saturday November 12th Since I am up before Clifford, I go for a walk on the trail near our campsite, getting photos of the sunrise. I like it here; too bad we have to move.

Sunrise at Horsethief Campground

As soon as Clifford is up, we pack up and head toward Moab and east on Highway 128. We are fortunate to find an available site at the Big Bend Campground along the Colorado River, about six miles out from Moab.

Colorado River upstream from our campsite at Big Bend Campground

Getting set up. Notice Clifford putting up his ham radio antenna.

Colorado River downstream from near our campsite

After we get set up, we realize that we left the sensor for the weather station at the Horsethief campground, so we have to drive all the way back out there to get it.

Autumn colors along the road back to Horsethief Campground

An interesting formation along the road to Horsethief Campground

Canyonland vista

Returning to our new campsite, we take naps, only I can’t sleep, the words of Dave van Ronk’s song “Motherless Children” going through my head. I get up and write a short blog about the void in my life created by Mom’s passing. Dinner is late; I am too tired to do dishes tonight, so leave them for Clifford and go to bed.

Winter Journey – Dead Horse State Park – October 2016

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View of Green River Overlook from our campsite

Sunday October 23rd, I read “Dances With Wolves” with my morning tea instead of writing in my journal – not sure that is legal! After breakfast we go to Moab to run errands and have a picnic sitting on big rocks under the trees at Lion’s Park.

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Roadside view driving to Moab

On the way back to our campground, we check out the BLM campgrounds along the way: Lone Mesa is a bit too far off the highway on a washboard road; Horsethief is a future possibility. Too late to play cello by time we get back to camp and I’m feeling like I might be coming down with whatever Clifford had, so have a cup of tea and early to bed.

 

Monday October 24th, I finish reading “Dances With Wolves.” I don’t feel great today, but we go for a picnic at Upheaval Dome anyway. We find a picnic table with a nice view, but the wind has come up and probably not the best thing for me to be outdoors today. I am not up for the hike uphill to see the dome itself, so will have to save that for another trip.

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Drive to Upheaval Dome

Back at camp, I rest, while Clifford plays with his ham radio. After dinner, Clifford does the dishes so I can go to bed. Heavy rain in the night.

Tuesday October 25th, we just have vege juice for breakfast, as we need to pack up and head on down the road to nearby Dead Horse State Park, where we are meeting friends from Colorado.

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Crossing the mesa from Canyonlands NP to Dead Horse State Park

 

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View of the canyon from Dead Horse State Park

One of my sisters calls; Mom is in the hospital again, and it could be more serious this time. I start looking into bus fares in case I need to head back to Montana; automated systems are not helpful – please give me a human being!

Clifford and I go for a hike with our friends along the West Rim Trail out to the Rim Overlook. Because of the rain last night, the depressions in the rocks are filled with rain water, which provides interesting photo opportunities.

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Rock puddles and a mesa on the West Rim Trail

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At Rim Overlook with the canyons in shadow

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Rock puddles and junipers at Rim Overlook

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Even though the canyon is in shadow, the views are spectacular.

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Spectacular Views

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Our friend finds a vantage point for canyon gazing

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Shadows in the canyon

As we walk back to the campground, the last light of the setting sun bring warmth of color to the westward-facing mesas and our immediate surroundings. 

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Last rays bring warm color to the mesa

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Immediate surroundings brightened by the last light of the sun

Though I am surrounded by the scenic beauty of the area and the company of our friends, I am preoccupied with trying to figure out bus schedules and decisions about when (not if) to head to Montana. The word from my siblings is that Mom is stable and plans are being made for rehab to see if she will be able to return home or not. Maybe I don’t need to rush the bus decision yet, but I am uneasy as the day ends. 

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At the day’s end