Sitting on the same rock with the same river below, the same red cliffs before me, the same trees, the wind as before. But not really the same – the water in the river has now reached the ocean. New leaves have come and gone. The wind, where does it go? Still windy, but not the same wind at all. Even the red cliff, solid and unchanging as it seems, has weathered away a bit under the forces of nature. How am I like the river, the trees, the wind, and the rock. Life moves on – no moment is repeated, new experiences come and go, some things about me that are unseen are the most powerful, and even that which seems most solid and stable is ever-changing with the forces of nature.
Clifford and I returned to Monticello the very end of March after our winter journey to Arizona.
April was a time to catch up with business and time in the lab for Clifford. However, we did have one outing, mostly due to the fact that our Suburban needed to go back to the dealer in Moab to see if they could fix the ongoing problem we’ve had with it.
We found a place to camp along the Colorado River – no small feat! – and then delivered the Suburban to the Chevy dealer.
We were given a ride back to our campsite and for the next week we waited without word and without transportation for our Suburban to be repaired.
In the end we, we got word to them that we couldn’t stay longer: Clifford had suffered a serious health issue and we were also trying to prepare for a trip to Tucson where Clifford would be speaking at a conference.
In spite of the uncomfortable side of the situation, it was also a time of enjoying being camped with a view of the river
and the great red mesas,
and a young oak grove that provided shade so we could sit outside to do some of our work.
Although the Suburban was not repaired, the scenic surroundings were much appreciated as we hung out by the river waiting……..
Thursday March 29: This morning, we – Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I – are going to the Grand Canyon National Park, about 12 miles to the west of our boondocking spot on FR 307 off Arizona State Highway 64. I make tea for the thermoses and a picnic lunch, and off we go.
Our first stop is the Visitors Center at Desert View, located at the very east end of the park. We tour the Watchtower, an amazing and beautiful architectural work of art, inside and out. The architect and builder, Mary Colter, was a woman of great vision.
I take photos of the canyon from Desert View. The lighting is not the best, but it is what it is.
After we leave Desert View for more sight-seeing, we stop at a picnic pull-out and enjoy our picnic lunch.
Then we drive on to Grand View Point, hoping to find the Rim Trail so Ninja can get out and walk with us, but no such luck, so he stays in the car.
Next is Yaki Point and we find the Rim Trail. We have an enjoyable hike along the rim before we head back to camp.
Along the way back, we stop to explore other dispersed camping areas on highway 64, but we like the spot where we are the best.
Back at camp, we enjoy a campfire and play music until it gets too chilly.
Then I make dinner for all of us and play a game of cribbage with Rollie. Later Clifford and I have a discussion about ozone and ether, topics of interest in connection with his research. And bed late.
Friday March 30: We are going to the Grand Canyon again this morning, leaving earlier and planning to be back in time for lunch here. No need to make a picnic, and since Rollie is going to buy me a latte at the Desert View Gift Shop&Store, no need for thermoses, either.
At Desert View, as we enjoy our hot beverages, we take more photos and chat with a couple from Pennsylvania.
Today we go to Navajo Point, Lipan Point, and visit the Tusayan Museum.
We take lots of photos at every point and then return to camp in time for peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Easy and tasty!
Rollie and I explore further up the road from where we are camped and find a much larger campsite, one that could work for us in the future, should we come this way again.
We have breakfast burritos for dinner by the campfire, a pleasant and relaxing end to our couple of days here.
Saturday March 31: We start packing as soon as we are up, leaving FR 307 once we are all ready. It has been a good spot, but it really is time for us to get back to Monticello. Rollie is going to caravan with us that far, which will give him a day to relax and get his laundry caught up before he heads on north to Montana.
We backtrack to highway 89, then travel north until we reach the junction with highway 160, which runs east across the northern tier of Arizona.
There are some crazy drivers here, passing when it is not safe to do so. There is a roll-over near Kayenta… not surprisng, but still sad for those involved. There is a long delay before we can go on.
Arriving at the junction to highway 191, we turn north and soon we are in Utah and back to our home base, no longer nomads for the time-being.
It was a lot of miles, with many good camping spots and beautiful places to see, photograph, and hike. Plans are already underway for a trip to Montana in this summer…..
Sunday May 7th is mostly sunny in the morning, but increasing clouds during the day. As well as the usual journal writing and editing, I also make potato salad in anticipation for having lunch with our friend, David, tomorrow.
In the later afternoon we drive to the Grandstaff Trailhead, formerly called Negro Bill Trail, just a few miles down the road. We only hike about a mile in, as it is too late in the day to do the whole trail. However, it is a very interesting and pretty canyon with the trail running right alongside a creek.
It is fun for both of us and it is good to get in a hike before we leave this area.
Clifford has his experiments going on in the kitchen, so I work outside on our picnic table until a big wind comes up, forcing me to head in. We have some of the potato salad for dinner, then tidy up and off to bed.
Monday May 8th is a town day in preparation for leaving the Moab area. We go to the laundromat, run errands, and pick up the supplies we will need for the next leg of the journey. David is unable to join us for our picnic lunch as planned; we are sorry to have not gotten together with him before our leaving. We go to the library to get caught up on emails and such. Becka calls, so she and I have a chance to visit before we head back up the canyon where there is no cell service.
Back at camp, we clean out the Suburban and get Clifford’s tubs all packed in the back, as well as packing up as much as I can inside Terry. I have greatly appreciated and will miss the great red cliffs here and the powerful Colorado River,
but I am not really sad to be leaving, as being camped so close to the highway with all the traffic has not really suited me well. It is said that variety is the spice of life… I guess some spices are just tastier than others!
Wednesday May 3rd – I go down to the river first thing, as I am so enchanted with the beauty and power of this flowing water.
I sit for awhile, and back at camp I build a little campfire, make tea, and read Mary Oliver poems. I’m not that much into poetry, but I do like her poems, as her connection with nature resonates with me.
I prepare thermoses for our trip to town, thinking someone from Moab Chevy dealership will be coming to pick us up; we know that they replaced the fuel pump yesterday. Get other things ready to go – items to mail, laptop for a stop at the library, and so on. No word from Chevy, so play cello awhile, working on Franck and one of Ken’s pieces. As it turns out, we do not hear from Chevy all day, so no trip to town. Errands are not done, we miss our friend’s birthday celebration and miss the bluegrass outdoor concert. What I would have missed had we gone to town was the extraordinary color on the mesas this evening, which were thrilling to see.
Thursday May 4th– This morning I make a campfire first thing; it is really nice to be outdoors for journal writing.
Call from Chevy – our ride is on the way and I scarcely have time to get ready. Once at the Chevy dealer, there is a bit of a hassle getting NAPA warranty to cover the cost of the new part and labor, but finally things are worked out and we are free to run our errands. We have a late lunch at Eddie’s before heading back to camp. In the evening I take a few photos and journal a little, but I am tired and my eyes hurt, so earlier to bed tonight.
Friday May 5th – I sit out for tea, journal and Mary Oliver this morning, but no campfire, as it is already getting warm. We are lucky that there is always some shade/diffused light on the picnic table, making it a pleasant place to be any time of the day. I do some editing today. We decide to forego the trip we had planned to Castle Valley because it is too hot to feel like going anywhere. We spend some time looking at the map, contemplating our return route. What with all the vehicle issues, we are behind on our schedule and our itinerary needs to reflect that, as we have to be back in Wallace before the end of May. Looks like I-15 straight north through Salt Lake City will be our best bet.
Saturday May 6th – Clifford gets up at 5:00 a.m. (unheard of!), but comes back to bed at 6:00 a.m., waking me up, so I get up, visit the river, make tea, and sit out to write in journal.
After Clifford gets up again, we get ready to head to Moab, as he has a business call, which gives me time to work on my projects at the library, mostly emails today. We make arrangements to meet our friend David on Monday, as we will be leaving on Tuesday. It is raining in Moab as we head south to see LaSal, a small town in the foothills of the great LaSal Mountains. Out of Moab a ways, it is very windy, but blowing sand and dust rather than rain. Once there, we know that this little town will not work for the CI lab for several reasons, but good to have checked it out. Back at camp, late afternoon naps are in order, and then I stay up too late editing photos and reading!
Monday May 1st – We go to Moab this morning, run a few errands, and then take the Suburban to the Chevy dealership. We wait around there until more diagnosis is done; it is decided that the fuel pump that was installed at Bryce Canyon City is faulty and needs to be replaced. Then they give us a ride back to camp.
In the afternoon, I play cello outside until our friend, David, and his daughter come out to see us. Nice to have visitors.
Later, I head back down to the river – every day the light and quality of the sky is different, and today the sky is especially dazzling. I never tire of taking photos of the ever-changing beauty that surrounds us.
Tuesday May 2nd– this morning I make a small campfire and sit outside to write in my journal and read poems from the collection “Thirst” by Mary Oliver. Her connection to nature is so like my own. A light rain puts an end to the writing, so I go on down to the river, thinking of my mom who is no longer here and my kids who seem so far away. The sky is grey, not a good time for river photos.
Back at camp, as the sun comes out, I write some more and play cello on the protected side of Terry, out of the breeze. Then down to the river again for photos with the now-blue sky in the background.
Clifford received a message from NAPA saying that they will not honor the warranty on the fuel pump purchased from them in Bryce Canyon City. Oh, I am getting tired of the ongoing hassle with our vehicle, but at least it runs good once it starts…….
Wednesday April 26th – I take photos of the mesas at sunrise,
say good-bye to the young couple who spent the night camped next to us, then run through the campground before taking the path down to the Colorado River. So soul-nourishing to just sit by the river.
Back at camp, I do some editing and then sit outside to write in my journal and play cello.
Clifford spent most of the day fussing with his radios and antennas, getting things working. We have chili for dinner and end the day reading “My Grandfather’s Blessings.”
Thursday morningwe take the Suburban into the auto repair shop, but they can’t diagnose it, since it starts there just fine. As we get ready to leave, it doesn’t start, so we wait around while they replace a part that could be the problem. It is no surprise to me when it doesn’t start as we are preparing to leave. We head on over to the Chevy dealership and make arrangements to bring it to them tomorrow morning.
Back at camp, it is much too windy to take the cello out, even too windy to feel like going out for evening photos.
Friday morning weleave early for the Chevy dealership. They have a decent place to sit and wifi, so I post a blog and take care of email while Clifford studies. We walk to Eddie McStiff’s to have lunch with our friend, David. From the parking lot, I take a photo of a few flakes of snow, almost mist-like blowing in from the west; we are hearing of 6” or more in places where family and friends live in Montana and Colorado. Winter is hanging on.
The Chevy dealership diagnoses potential problems and replaces the fuel pump regulator, which we discover later, did NOT fix the problem, as the Suburban won’t start once it is turned off. Bah humbug, and we are still having to use starter fluid.
Back at camp, we have a light dinner and I finish reading “My Grandfather’s Blessings.”
Saturday morning we head back to Moab to the Chevy dealership, as we cannot call them from camp. Plans are made to bring it back on Monday and leave it. We go to the antique car show at the city park, planning to meet friends there. Lots of nifty old cars, but after an hour walking about in the chilly wind, our friends have not arrived, so we go on to the library to take care of business. Seems the Verizon tower is being repaired, so most of our messages are not getting through to each other about what is going on. Nobody’s fault, but really frustrating. Back at camp, after a light dinner, I take photos of the mesas at sunset.
Sunday morning is sunny, so I make tea and sit outside to write in my journal before going for a run to the lower campground.
From there, I decide to see if I can find a trail up the draw between the mesas on the other side of the highway. The trail is a bit sketchy, but I hike a ways in and find a nice boulder beside the creek where I can sit quietly for a bit. It is really a sweet place and I’m hoping Clifford will hike with me here before we leave.
Back at camp, it is warm enough to play cello outside before dinner. Clifford has gotten his science instruments out and has been studying the composition of various oils, which ties into his research. Nice to have a day at camp.
Tuesday April 25th – we are up by 7:15 and leave Horsethief Campground at 8:45, which is the fastest we have ever gotten out, except for overnight stays. No breakfast or showers, but we can do that later. The Suburban needs starter fluid to start, but we are getting used to that, and off we go, heading to Big Bend Campground on Highway 28 along the Colorado River outside of Moab.
We see a few open sites in campgrounds prior to Big Bend, which is encouraging, but we would like to camp at Big Bend, as it is a little further off the highway with great access to the river. However, no such luck, as when we get there, it is full. Maybe someone could still be in a leaving mode, but not likely, so we head back downriver, pulling into Drinks Canyon CG. The sites we saw open here just moments ago are already taken. As we are heading out, someone pulls out of a campsite; the site appears totally vacant and the stub on the post indicates leaving 4/25, which is today, so we assume it is available and pull in, pay our fee for a week, and get minimally set up.
The campground is close to the highway, which I don’t care for, but our spot is in an oak grove and I can see the river below and we are surrounded by the great red cliffs of the Colorado River Canyon. Terry (our RV) is right alongside the dirt road, but provides privacy from the traffic going by on the road and the highway.
We head to Moab, as we have packages to pick up at the post office and then to the library for free wifi, power, and a table to sit at while taking care of business. We also go to an auto repair shop in Moab, but they don’t have time to look at the Suburban today.
We head back to our campsite, a very scenic drive up the canyon, and finish setting up: solar, antennas, and so on.
About then a huge wind comes ripping through the canyon and everything that is not solid blows away, including someone’s tent that almost ends up in the river. This lasts about an hour and then it is calm enough that I take the cello out and play for a bit.
Later, while Clifford is getting his ham radios working, I go for a walk, seeking views of the river and trails where I can run. I find one trail down to the river, but no good places to run.
In the early evening, a young couple shows up, claiming they paid for this site, but since the ticket was filled out wrong, we honestly thought it was available. Long story short – we offer for them to park next to us, and use the campfire ring and picnic table if they want. They are satisfied with the arrangement and go off for more adventures, returning late to set up their tent for the night.
In the meantime, in the minutes before sunset, I take photos in every direction, enchanted with the beautiful colors of the mesas at the last light of day.
After the sun sets, we have dinner and I read “My Grandfather’s Blessings” to end my day. Although I miss the quiet of Horsethief, we are fortunate to have found a spot along the river, and I fall asleep listening to the murmur of the powerful Colorado flowing by.
Tuesday, November 15th, this morning I find a little yellow butterfly dead on the ground, but in perfect condition. Very special, as butterflies were Mom’s ‘thing’ and it is totally unexpected to find one here at this time of year.
After breakfast, I make a thermos of tea and then walk down to the day use area where there is a gravel and sand beach. I sit there on a rock with the river right at my feet, drinking tea and writing in my journal.
After a walkabout to gather abandoned firewood, I sit at a picnic table at a nearby campsite where I can see the river and write postcards to family.
Back at our campsite, I play my cello, sitting in the sun, while Clifford sits on the shady side to study until after the sun goes behind the mesa.
This was really quite a lovely outdoor day.
Wednesday, November 16th, I am up in time to get photos at sunrise.
I make a cup and tea and start reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which I am sure I read eons ago, but I want to read it again now. After breakfast we head to Moab for errands and to use the wifi at the Visitors’ Center. We take a break from catching up with emails and other internet business to go to the Moab Brewery for lunch, then return to the Visitors’ Center to finish up our business. On the way back to the campground, we stop at a spring outside of town – water coming right out of the side of the cliff – to fill up our gallon jugs. Back at camp, I take photos of the river just before sunset.
I edit until the laptop battery goes dead and then finish reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull: seek your own highest level of perfection and don’t be limited by the flock mentality. Good advice for all of us.
Thursday, November 17th, we are up at 4:00 a.m. to secure anything that might be blown away and close the visor over the window at the end of the camper. Shortly after we go back to bed, the rain starts, light at first and then a real downpour. It is still raining when I get up; I go for a walk, taking photos in the rain. The rain has stopped by time Clifford gets up, but it is cloudy, windy, and chilly all day. Good day for inside activities: I reorganize some storage areas, write in my journal, and even play the cello inside. We are grateful for Terry’s sturdiness, as we stay comfortable and warm in our “tiny house.”
Friday, November 18th is another beautiful sunny day.
Today we go to the Red Cliff Museum, about seven miles further out on Highway 128 from where we are camped.
This museum features the movies that have been made in this area because of its scenic value. Starting in the early 1950’s and up to the present, about 60 movies have been made here, everything from old westerns to Thelma and Louise.
Back at camp my laptop has been recharged via the solar panels and the hotspot is also working, so I check email and bank balances. I am glad that I was able to spend most of the day outdoors, and it is also nice to have the laptop and hotspot charged for evening activities.
Sunday November 13th is catch-up day: After taking photos of the Colorado River, I write in my journal, check email and bank balances (hotspot internet is very marginal, but better than nothing), and do some editing for the Montana author. We figure out where the propane smell is coming from – the regulator will have to be replaced.The campground is nearly empty today, so I walk about salvaging leftover firewood.
Once the sun goes behind the mesa to the west, the temperature drops considerably, even though it is still light out.
I take a few more photos of the river before making a campfire to extend the daylight time outdoors.
When it is too dark to read or write by the light of the campfire, I come in and make applesauce with some of the apples that I had gathered back in Idaho, amazed that they have lasted so long.
Monday November 14th is a town day for us and we head to Moab right after breakfast for groceries, laundromat, and several other short errands. Back at camp, I put groceries and clean clothes away, thinking about how Mom and I, after a trip to the laundromat when I was a kid, would fold heaps of clean clothes while my younger siblings would scamper off with piles of folded clothes to be put away. I call my sister Lillian to share the memory, but no answer, so just leave a message. Lots of memories, lots of feelings to work through.