Life Throws a Curve Ball – November 2020

The first week of November is especially busy as Clifford wraps up the CI project he is working on, including an online presentation of Carnicom Institute Disclosure Project. I am busy packing Cougar and getting house and yard ready for us to be gone for the winter. When time allows, I continue editing for a couple of authors, post a daily Higher Vibration photo and publish blogs on my website. We plan to leave either Friday or Saturday the first weekend of November, heading for southern Arizona for the winter, but the forecast for 40-60 mph hour winds may delay our departure. We still hope to beat the first snow storms.

Friday is much too windy for us to leave, and Saturday, Long Story Short, I have a stroke. It is not scary or painful really, but potentially extremely serious. Fortunately, Clifford is there when it happens, notices something is quite wrong and gets me to the hospital in Monticello within a short time. After a couple of CAT scans, I am given a medication to break down clots. The docs want to airlift me to a bigger hospital in Provo, but with the wind and snow, it is not possible, nor is ground transport available due to ice over the pass between between Monticello and Provo.

It is all a bit odd. I don’t know what month it is, can’t walk heel to toe, I am chilled and have a headache, but otherwise I feel okay. In the morning a flight is arranged in a small fixed-wing plane, and I am soon in the big hospital. During the flight, I want to look out the window, but I am strapped onto a stretcher and can’t move much. At the hospital, more tests, IV’s, many helpful caring people all doing their job as if I am important enough to matter to them. Clifford has gotten hold of my daughters, so the family knows what is going on.

I am happy that my room has a large window and what I really want to do is get up and look out the window and take photos of the snow on the mountains around Provo. However, I am not allowed to even stand up, let alone walk to the window, without a nurse with me. By the next day, I am allowed to sit in the chair nearer the window, eat meals, and walk the halls with assistance. There a steady stream of caregivers coming to my room, from neurologists to housekeepers, and everyone is kind and helpful.

View from my hospital room
Sunrise from my room

The days blend together, but on Wednesday, my daughter Katie, who has flown from northern Idaho to Provo, rents a car and comes to the hospital to take care of my discharge and drive me back to Monticello.

Discharged and on our way

For the next week, she takes care of meals and dishes, while Clifford continues with his activities. It is absolutely delightful to have her here. We walk around town, as I am supposed to walk every day.

Walk about town with Katie

One day we go on an outing to Newspaper Rock and to the Visitor’s Center at the southern entrance to Canyonlands NP. We even go for a hike at the Pothole Trail. I need to hold onto her arm for the ups and downs of the uneven terrain, but all in all, I do okay, and it is a beautiful fun outing.

Castle Rock
Katie in Canyonlands

The days go by quickly and I am sorry to see her leave, but she has a business and a family waiting for her back in Idaho. I receive some assistance from Home Health Care, but for he most part, I resume my usual activities and chores. Clifford and I plan our leave-taking of Monticello, albeit with a different route to accommodate the changed circumstances. Things are different, but I am ever-so-grateful to be alive, as well as grateful that I can walk and talk and do all the things that I do.

Well wishes from a friend

Utah Outings – May 2020

In mid-May when my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, stopped to visit Clifford and me at our Utah home-base, in addition to rebuilding our deck, we went on two outings.

Deck not quite done, but usable

The first outing was a short trip to Pine Flats on Abajo Mountain west of Monticello. Although there were clouds and a breeze, we were not deterred from having a picnic and playing music in a grove of scrub oaks. Nearby aspens added variety to the scenery.

Picnic at Pine Flats
Pine Flats

The second outing was a longer trip to Needles Overlook, south of Moab, about 20 miles off highway 191. Needles Overlook provides an unrivaled view of the dramatic landscape of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park. In addition to walking the trail along the rim of the overlook, we again had a picnic and then played bluegrass tunes.

Rollie at Needles Overlook

This area is worthy of more exploring and we did pull off on one side road, but there is more to be seen another day.

View from a side road

Abajo Picnic and Needles Overlook – April 2020

Upon our return to homebase in southeast Utah in early April, life begins to settle into a different routine for Clifford and me. Now we have more house and yard chores to take care of, but it is nice to have access to hot showers, washer/dryer, and other conveniences.

More house and yard chores

For the most part, we are still living in Cougar. I miss being able to walk in the vast desert of southwest Arizona where we were camped all winter, but we make a couple of outings that are enjoyable.

Delighted with my first ever daffodil

Our first outing is a drive up nearby Abajo Mountain for a picnic. We intend to go to one of our favorite spots, either Monticello Lake and Pine Flats. However, when we reach the parking lot at the first campground, we can go no further, as the highway has not been plowed and there is too much snow. We drive back down the mountain to a forest road that is clear enough to allow us to pull to the side and park safely. We set up our table and chairs between old snowdrifts for our picnic before taking out our instruments to play music on the mountainside.

Picnic between the snowdrifts
Scrub oak

Our next outing is to Needles Overlook, about 45 miles from homebase. We pass the BLM campground where we stayed last fall, currently closed. As we drive to the overlook, we watch for places where we might boondock later this spring. Needles Overlook is 20+ miles from highway 191, but worth the drive for the spectacular view of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park.

Views from Needles Overlook
Canyonlands National Park
Rock formation at Needles Overlook

Although there are picnic tables tucked in here and there, we decide to check out a couple potential boondocking spots for our picnic on our way back to the highway.

Sandstone Formation

The wind deters us from picnicking until we find a low spot off a side road that is out of the wind. A juniper provides a mix of sun and shade. We have our picnic and then play music, happy to have found a spot warm and calm enough to enjoy our afternoon outdoors.

Picnic in an arroyo
La Sal Mountains from our picnic spot

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.

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 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.

Canyonlands Picnic – November 2017

Thanksgiving November 23, 2017

No wind for a change and forecast for 64 degrees in nearby Canyonlands National Park, so we are going there today for a Thanksgiving outing and picnic. I send Happy Thanksgiving Day text to my kids, pack food for the outing, and then we are on our way.

Castle Rock at the junction of Hwy 191 and Hwy 21 into Canyonland National Park

We are going to Canyonlands via the secondary highway rather than over Abajo Mountain, as Clifford wants to check out a firing range that is not far off Hwy 191. We find the right place and are the only people here. It is nice spot and we could even come here for a picnic sometime.

Firing range area off Hwy 21. Could be a nice place for a picnic

Then on we go, checking out a couple of the BLM campgrounds on the way. We are surprised to find them overflowing. Not a single spot available for us to have our picnic. This is unexpected, as there was almost no one in these campgrounds when we camped here in September on our scouting trip.

Views along Hwy 21

Rock formations along Hwy 21 into Canyonland National Park

On the to the Visitor’s Center, expecting to find it packed, also, but there is almost no one there and we have our pick of the picnic tables, choosing one with the most sunshine.

Our abundant Thanksgiving picnic

After our abundant picnic,  I go “rock climbing,” finding my way up a huge boulder outcrop… or more precisely, an upcrop. I take photos from the top – too bad the sky is so trashed with jet trails. 

Rock climbing at the Needles Visitors Center

Views of red rock mesas from the top of the rock climb

Then we go on the scenic drive, stopping briefly at the Wooden Shoe Arch View Point.

Wooden Shoe Arch View Point

Looking the other direction at the Wooden Arch View Point

At Pothole Point, we go on the hike – really just a half-mile walk across the slick rock with great views of the badland rock formations.

Badland formations seen from Pothole Point trail

Badland formations seen from Pothole Point trail

Clifford looks west toward the rugged Needles District

When we reach the end of the scenic drive, we park, and ravens are eagerly waiting to invade the car through the open windows!

Raven ready to take advantage of tourists

We hike part of the trail here and I take a few more photos of the formations before we head back to Monticello.

It is getting too late to drive over the mountain, so we don’t make a loop trip as planned, as driving over the mountain in the dark wouldn’t be that much fun.

It was a very fun outing and we look forward to going again in the spring.