Always Changing

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.

 

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.

Field Day on Abajo Mountain – June 2018

 

Thursday June 21: We are heading up Abajo Mountain today to Pine Flats, a dispersed area beyond the campgrounds, and setting up for Amateur Radio Field Day 2018. Leaving the paved highway, the road into Pine Flats is terrible, with deep ruts some places, rough and rocky in other spots. We had checked out this area last fall, so we have an idea of the layout. Creeping along at two miles an hour, we make our way to the branch that we’d like to take. We walk in first to make sure the road is passable and the spot free. Hooray, we are good to go, so continue creeping to a group of pine trees beyond a stand of aspens. The pine trees ofter shade and the aspens offer their graceful beauty.

Aspens add their graceful beauty

Once Terry (our 30 year old camper) is in place, the fridge won’t light. It is touchy in its old age, but we know what to do and soon we have a cold place to keep food. We set up our yurt tent for the first time, as it will offer outdoor protection from the flies and the breeze. We are delighted that this spot was available. Guess the bad roads keep most everyone out except the 4-wheelers.

Terry is set up in the pines for shade

Friday June 22: This morning I pick rocks while chatting on the phone with Becka, happy for cell service here on the mountain. The yurt tent is perfect for playing viola and writing in my journal away from pesky flies.

The yurt tent is a great place to play viola and write in journal

In the early afternoon I make a trip down the mountain to take care of errands and chores. It takes me much longer than planned and the sun is near setting by time I get back to camp. So glad to be here! Clifford has spent his day preparing for field day, which will start tomorrow at noon.

Saturday June 23: A lovely blue-sky day on the mountain with a few cumulus clouds floating around to keep the temperatures pleasant. I make tea and then sit in the sunshine for my morning quiet time. What a great place with its stillness and beauty.

A great place for outdoor quiet time

Walking down to the aspen grove, I see that these trees are suffering from the lack of moisture – no monsoons last summer and little snow pack during the winter, a pattern going on for several years from what we’ve heard.

I’m involved with phone calls and texts while Clifford concentrates on his ham radio field day activity. He is using several modes, has made 30 contacts with low power in six states and two countries so far. I know he will be up late into the night.

Amateur Radio Field Day is underway for Clifford

Sunday June 24: Another lovely day on the mountain. Clifford continues with his field day activities until it ends at noon. I text ham radio friends who are doing their field day in tents on a rainy mountainside in western Montana. Man, we sure do have it nice here!

Last contacts for Field Day 2018

I play viola in the yurt away from the breeze and the flies, read, and write in my journal until Clifford wraps his field day. Later, we go for a hike to see if there are any camping spots that we missed in case we come again and find this spot taken.

Monday June 25:

Catching the rising sun

Even though field day is officially over, we are going to stay on the mountainside. Clifford has received a portable high-quality microscope (which I brought up on the errand day), so his studies and research can continue right from the mountain. I take care of CI email and then begin the re-editing of Princes and Priests, Ang’s first book of the Novels of Shannon series. Later, Clifford and I go for a walk before dinner, and after dinner we read until time for bed.

Walking in the aspens near sunset

Tuesday June 26: I go for a long walk by myself this morning. This is really a beautiful area with the huge gnarly pines trees, aspens, scrub oak, among other vegetation.

Gnarly sub-species of ponderosa pine

Today is a day of editing for Ang, writing blogs, and editing photos. Viola, journal, and reading also find their way into my day. It is a study day for Clifford.

Study day for Clifford

Wednesday June 27: I pick up more rocks and load them into the Suburban before making another trip down the mountain for errands and home chores. At the post office I have a package from Becka, including the cutest leggings and a summer top. It is so fun to get a package!

Pretty leggings and summer top from Becka

I drive back up the mountain with the setting sun in my eyes (again). After we unload the groceries, I make nachos for dinner and even after sunset it is warm to eat outside. Then we go for a moonlight stroll, Clifford in his house shoes and me in my Tevas. Back at camp we read until bedtime.

Thursday June 28: Sure could use some rain here – only 1% humidity this morning! I show Clifford the bear scat that I found just beyond the scrub oak grove by our campsite. The first night we were here, I smelled something musky, almost like skunk, but not quite. From talking with Ang, I think it is was a bear, but he/she has not bothered us at all.

A shy visitor

Meals, calls and text conversations with my kids, playing viola, editing, and blog writing for me; studying, reading, writing and ham radio for Clifford – good day on the Abajo Mountain!

Gnarly pine tree behind our campsite near sunset

Friday June 29: Another lovely day on the mountain with all the usual good activities.

Good mountain activities

We receive good news that my brother Rollie has sold his house, bought a big Class A motor home, and is now officially a full-time RV’er. Way to go, Rollie!

Saturday June 30: Our last full day here. It has been a great camp and we might have talked ourselves into staying longer, but our webmaster is coming tomorrow, and soon we will begin preparations for our summer journey to Montana!

Our last evening at Pine Flats on Abajo Montain

Way Up on Abajo Mountain – May 2018

 

Sunday May 27: It is a beautiful spring morning, so we decide to go up Abajo Mountain for an outing. I make a picnic lunch and thermoses of tea, and off we go. For the first time, since we also like to explore, we turn left on the Lloyd’s Lake Road just outside Monticello and head up Abajo a different direction from where we’ve been before.

Abajo Mountain ahead

It’s a beautiful day for an outing with the blue sky and the variety of trees, aspens being one of my favorites.

Great blue sky
Aspens line the road at times

I have an ulterior motive: the neighbor has told me where I can gather rocks needed for the landscaping I’m doing in the back yard.

We go quite a ways up the mountain, not having yet seen the rock slide, and turn on a side road named Electronic Road. There is a tower of some sort here, and although it is not a great place to gather rocks or have a picnic, since we are here, I start picking up a few rocks. In less than ten minutes a 4-wheeler turns on the same road and it turns out it is a park ranger, probably wondering why we are so close to the tower. I tell him we are exploring and looking for a place to have a picnic and he recommends we go on up the road to the top where the main set of towers are – a great view, he says.

So we do that, but the further up we go, the more we wish we hadn’t. The road isn’t bad, but it is very narrow and no place to go if we meet someone coming down. Right before the last ascent to the towers themselves, there is a wide turnaround spot and we take advantage of that. The views are quite expansive.

Expansive views from way up on Abajo Mountain. Monticello and Lloyd’s Lake can be seen left center
Looking the other direction from the turnaround

On the way back down, we are ever so grateful not to meet anyone, other than motorcyclists who squeeze by us. We stop at the rock slide we passed on the way up and gather rocks.

One of several rock slides

A ways further down, we turn off onto a side road to a camp spot we had also passed on the way up. We set up a little table and have our picnic, relaxing as we enjoy our late lunch.

View of where we have been, as seen from the picnic pullout

It was a good outing, but we are not likely to take the road beyond the rock slide next time. That was far enough for us!

Landscaping moves forward with rocks from the mountain

 

Moab Outing – April 2018

Clifford and I returned to Monticello the very end of March after our winter journey to Arizona.

Abajo Mountain in SE Utah with snow into the early spring

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.

Castle Rock seen from Utah State Highway 191 between Monticello and Moab; La Sal Mountains in the background

We found a place to camp along the Colorado River – no small feat! – and then delivered the Suburban to the Chevy dealer.

The Colorado River along Highway 28 north of Moab is the boundary of Arches National Park
Terry is set up in the Drinks Canyon Campground
Small, but cozy and comfortable dwelling

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.

The “restroom” at Drinks Canyon is rather rustic and leaves a bit to be desired.

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

Colorado River – view upstream from our campsite
Colorado River – view downstream from our campsite
Reflections on the river
Reflections on the river
Colorado River – view at sunset

and the great red mesas,

View of the mesa somewhat to the north of our campsite
View of the mesa right across the highway from our campsite on a sunny day.
View of the mesa on a partly cloudy day

and a young oak grove that provided shade so we could sit outside to do some of our work.

I sit at the picnic table to write in my journal with a morning cup of coffee
Clifford enjoys of the shade of the oak grove as he studies…
and as he plays his dulcimer

Although the Suburban was not repaired, the scenic surroundings were much appreciated as we hung out by the river waiting……..

A nearly full moon rises in the east at sunset

 

 

 

Grand Canyon – Heading North – March 2018

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.

The Watchtower at Desert View
Panels of Native American art adorn the walls on every floor of the Watchtower
The staircase spirals upward along the outer wall, leaving an opening to the top
Replicas of petroglyphs on the walls of the Watchtower
Carol and Clifford at the Watchtower
Carol and brother Rollie at the Watchtower

I take photos of the canyon from Desert View. The lighting is not the best, but it is what it is.

Canyon views from Desert View
Far below, the Colorado River carves its way through the canyon
Every window of the Watchtower is placed so as to frame a geological feature, including this formation

After we leave Desert View for more sight-seeing, we stop at a picnic pull-out and enjoy our picnic lunch.

Picnic at the Grand Canyon

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.

A little slice of the Grand View

Next is Yaki Point and we find the Rim Trail. We have an enjoyable hike along the rim before we head back to camp.

Life on the trail near Yaki Poin
Rim Trail near Yaki Point

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.

Rollie, Carol, and Clifford at the Grand Canyon

At Desert View, as we enjoy our hot beverages, we take more photos and chat with a couple from Pennsylvania.

Enjoying the view from Desert View while we chat with other visitors to the Grand Canyon

Today we go to Navajo Point, Lipan Point, and visit the Tusayan Museum.

Navajo Point

Lipan Point

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.

Dinner at the campfire

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.

The caravan leaves FR 307

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.

Badlands of northern 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.

The Abajo Mountains come into view

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…..

Leaving Red Rock Country – Northward Journey – Spring 2018

 

Wednesday March 28: 31 degrees this morning, a bit on the chilly side at our campsite on forest road 525 outside Sedona, Arizona.

Today is moving day; we will be heading north toward southeast Utah. I make tea for the thermoses; Clifford is soon up and we begin packing. Once we are ready to go, we see that our tail lights are not working. It is a blown fuse and replacing the fuse doesn’t help. Rollie helps figure out what is causing the short, and we are soon on our way with Rollie right behind us.

Clifford and Rollie fix the electrical problem

At Sedona we turn southeast at the junction to Arizona State Highway 179 and take this scenic route to the Visitors’ Center/Ranger Station where there are great views of Bell Rock (except for the jet trails which are really not good for photos or our health).

Scenic route – Arizona State Highway 179
Bell Rock as seen from the Visitors’ Center on state highway 179
Bell Rock detail

We watch a documentary of this red rock desert area, and then we are on our way.

The landscape changes dramatically once we are heading north on I-17, leaving red-rock country behind. We are headed to Cameron, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, for an overnight stay at a quiet truck stop (yes, this one was quiet the last time we were there), but Clifford sees a sign that indicates that the Grand Canyon is only about 65 miles away, so there is a quick change of plans.

We take the junction to highway 64, which leads to the Grand Canyon from the east. There are a few miles of forest service land between the Navajo reservation and the park boundary, and there we find dispersed camping on forest road 307.

Precursor canyon along highway 64.

We get set up on a spur road, a pretty spot with  junipers and sage, and a small mountain behind us.

Setting up camp on a spur road off FR 307

We pick up trash and rebuild the fire ring before I make nachos for dinner for all of us. Clifford has a call with his brothers, so I go over to Rollie’s camper for a game of cribbage. Later, back our camper, dishes are done, but I’m too sleepy to write in the journal. Off to bed, happy that we found this nice spot and that we have the Grand Canyon to look forward to.

Sunset colors from our campsite

Jerome, Arizona – Heading North – March 2018

Tuesday March 27: The sky looks better today; it would have been a good day to go sight-seeing and taking photos of the red rocks around Sedona, Arizona. Oh well, hard to know.

I visit Rollie and we look at maps, as Clifford has mentioned going to Jerome while we are here. After breakfast, Rollie and I play music outside in the sunshine; sure nice to be able to do that. The neighbor in the airstream comes over with his guitar and joins us, which is great fun. Afterward, he shows us his airstream – big enough for his wife, four daughters, a big dog, and himself full-time. An airstream sure would be a nice way to go, so well designed to utilize space.

Then we make a trip to Jerome, Arizona, once a mining town on the side of the mountain, now a tourist place.

Main street of Jerome, Arizona, once a mining town, now a busy tourist town.

It was hard to find a place to park, but once we did, there was lots to see and do: we looked inside the old Catholic church,

The old Catholic Church in Jerome, Arizona

went through a museum (guess it is not the main one), popped into a few other shops, and had a tasty lunch at Mile High Cafe. Fun outing.

View from Jerome, Arizona
Heading back to FR 525
Almost looks like rain

Back at camp, as it almost looks like rain, we set up the screen house again and anchor it down so Rollie and I can do music outside even with a breeze and a sprinkle. Another neighbor comes over to take photos of us as we play, and a perky college girl traveling in her car during spring break comes over to chat after she gets her tent set up. Sometimes a village can be quite fun.

I don’t fix dinner tonight, since we had a big lunch in Jerome, but still play a game of cribbage with Rollie before heading into the evening routine and to bed.