April 21st, 2021
About 90 minutes after leaving Ely, NV and crossing into Utah, we pulled off the highway onto a gravel parking area and unhitched the trailer . Doug was going to go up to the U Dig site before Delta, UT on his own to find some trilobites for the grandkids. As the price had gone up quite a bit since he’d been there ten years ago, and it was only for 2 hours and not all day, Fran stayed with the trailer and he went on this own, bringing back about a dozen fossils and a couple of rocks that the owner said would have something in them so that Arya and Cyrus could discover their own.
We found a free dump station in Delta, UT and then drove on to Salina to spend the night in a hotel to get Wi-Fi and showers. There was even a hot tub which we had to ourselves although it could have been hotter.
So Thursday we pushed on through Utah eastward. The I70 began to be spectacular viewing; we’ve driven the eastern end of the I70 in Utah but not from Salina. The I70 is known as the “loneliest” freeway in America and after driving that short stretch of the I15 yesterday, we could see a noticeable difference in the amount of traffic.
We took a few photos and then stopped at Devil’s Canyon for a pee break and to enjoy the view there.
As we drove further we encountered this:
Before reaching Moab we heard from our overlanding friend, Kirsi, whom we’d met up with last fall in Pahrump. She was still in Moab and we arranged to meet up and camp with her. We stopped in Green River to gas up and check out two sculptures:
And the Elements:
Upon hitting the UT191 to Moab, the traffic increased significantly. We were amazed on the amount for a Thursday! We met Kirsi on Willow Springs Road and set up camp in an large open area with lots of other RV’s/tents – and the people driving further up that road that day until about 9pm was astounding; no such thing as remote camping on BLM land around here anymore!
Friday, Fran noticed the soffit coming loose under the trailer so Doug tried to screw it back up but wasn’t very successful. We then tried some of the HVAC tape we’d purchased for the AC and got it all back up – let’s hope that holds.
Kirsi left mid-morning as she felt she’d been in Moab long enough and we heard from some overlanding friends (whom we’ve never actually met face to face but had been online with for months while in Brazil) and turns out they were in Green River heading to AZ the next day. So we arranged to meet up with them this afternoon.
After we had our brunch, we headed to do a couple of off road drives before going to Green River. 4×4 roads are classified one to ten based on their difficulty – 1 and 2 being easy enough for a car and 8 – 10 being very technical with a high likelihood of damage.
When we had our Jeep while living in Salt Lake, we used to do up to Number 7’s. In Tigger, because it was our home, we didn’t go passed 3; now in our Tundra, we figured no more than 5.
The first road, Spring Canyon Point, was a 1; easy peasy; the second, Rainbow Rocks, was a 5; at one point we hit the hitch so we thought: lesson learned: remove the hitch next time. Then we hit a patch of slick rock that our side railings did not seem to want to get over. So after three tries, with some maneuvering Doug got off it and we turned around. So we are going to make 4 our new limit.
By this time it was 2pm and we had to be in Green River by 3 so Fran found us a back route that was 30 km shorter than going back to the 191 but when we saw the road, we both went “no way” and headed to the highway.
We spent a couple of hours with Geneva and Mike, her sister, Jessica and her husband, Richard (the latter two are volunteer hosts here at Green River State Park) – darn! we forgot to take pics of all of us!
Upon a recommendation from them all, we went across the I70 just outside town- the abandoned Athena Missile Launch site. The buildings and infrastructure are all there still
The first two days here were sunny and each day was a little warmer. The wind really came up Saturday afternoon and there were clouds around but nothing dreary.
Saturday morning, we drove into Moab (Kirsi warned us that traffic is horrific in the afternoons and that there is construction going on) to go to the library for free Wi-Fi. It was closed but they display the Wi-Fi password, there are benches by the building AND bonus: a power socket. We stayed there a good two hours before going to the Tourist Info office to get some ideas on hikes/drives (in case there were new ones since our time frequenting the area a decade ago – our last time here was back in 2015 before we entered Mexico).
We then stopped for some groceries and returned home. Yesterday, while spotting for Doug on that number 5 track, Fran slipped and hit her knee quite hard. Overnight it began hurting every time she moved it so today she took it easy while Doug went for a long walk in the afternoon.
Over the next three days we went off roading some more:
Sunday we did the Sand Flats Road and the Hurrah Pass.
The first, rated a 1, took us up quite high in the La Sal National Forest and out through Sand Flats Recreation Area. Some spectacular scenery and not too difficult.
Hurrah Pass had two ratings; a 1 to the Creek Ford and then it said 2. Well it should have been a 3 or a 4. We hit some technical stuff, hit the railings a couple of times but we had removed the hitch so did not encounter that problem. There was a stop on the road in at Moonflower Canyon to do a short hike to a pond and see some petroglyphs.
Down Kane Creek road towards Hurrah Pass:
At the top:
Monday, although cloudy and still very windy, we did a large loop including Willow Springs Road into Arches NP (rated a 3) into the back side of Arches NP, Salt Valley Road (rated a 2) to Salt Wash Overlook (rated a 4) then on to Yellow Cat Trail (rated a 1) switching over to Yellow Cat Road (also a 1) ending on I70.
On Willow Springs Road there is a set of dinosaur tracks – theropods and sauropods:
Passing through the north end of Arches National Park:
The Salt Valley Road:
Salt Valley Overlook:
From there we drove south on what we consider one of the most scenic byways in the US: UT128 which runs parallel to the Colorado River about 60% of the way. We stopped at the Red Cliffs Lodge Museum which commemorates all the movies filmed in the southeast part of UT to the northeast part of AZ including Thelma & Louise.
at Red Cliffs Lodge:
Before returning to the trailer we checked out the Mill Canyon Dinosaur tracks discovered in 2009 and open to the public. It’s totally free and unmanned hence not well cleaned up – lots of sand and stuff around the foot prints.
Tuesday we awoke to wet ground; it had rained and the forecast was for a 40-60% chance of more rain all morning.
We thought, well the first and main road we wanted to do today was a 1 and gravel so rain shouldn’t pose a problem and maybe it won’t rain. We decided to head south towards Moab and 40 miles beyond, when Doug noticed a tire pressure warning light on the dash. We stopped at a rest area at the edge of town to get rid of our trash and he checked the tire pressures; the back right said was at 25 PSI and appeared to have a slow leak. So now we needed a garage and it had begun to lightly rain once again. First place couldn’t help us but advised of two others; first of those said minimum 1-2 hours before they could even look at our truck and by the looks of the shop and the amount of people sitting inside, Fran figured it could be twice that long so we carried on to the other shop which was an actual tire shop and they said it would also be two hours but we could leave the truck and he’d call us.
It was still misting a bit so we grabbed our laptops and chairs and walked about 5 blocks to the library where we sat under cover for a couple of hours before it got too cold. The high today was only going to be 14C / 59F and it wasn’t there yet. It had begun to rain harder after two hours and we returned to the tire place and were told were we now about 2nd in line. It had stopped raining by now, so we dropped off our stuff in the truck and went for a walk around town for about 45 minutes returning to see the tire was off and inside being repaired. The mechanic gave Doug the screw he’d found imbedded in the tire. We had him air up all the tires and decided the weather was not good enough for a pretty drive and after stopping for a few groceries we began the drive back to the trailer wondering how muddy that area was going to be.
We approached a Denny’s and decided to go in and get our brunch before going home – an extra hour might allow the red slick mud more time to dry – :).
We got back and it was not too bad but instead of either of us walking in it, Doug drove right up to the outside mat, Fran got out and unlocked the door without stepping on the ground (mat to steps) and got everything unloaded from the truck. Doug then drove around and the driver’s side up to the mat and also got in without stepping in that mud.
About an hour after retuning back, we heard thunder and the rain came down hard for about a half hour and then slowly, slowly the clouds began to clear and the mud began to dry up. Kirsi returned to camp with us late that afternoon but due to the soft mud, we skipped an outdoor happy hour.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warm so let’s hope so. Our friends Kim & Casey (overlanders we met in Peru) should be arriving in the afternoon to spend a night here with us.
Wednesday we awoke to a cool morning which was partly cloudy. We’d seen the forecast which was for mostly sunny later so we took off to try and get some more off roading done.
We headed south of Moab about 40 miles to do the Anticline Road which we knew was a good gravel road. As we passed through town, Fran called the Canyonlands Visitors Centre at Island in the Sky to ask about the conditions of the Schafer Trail and was told they were good and would be even better this afternoon after it had more drying time.
Enroute to the Anticline, we saw the sign for the Needles Overlook and since it wasn’t too much further down the road, we went there first – NO regrets as there were amazing views and we had it to ourselves.
The Anticline Road (rated a 1) was in great shape as expected and the views there were awesome as well. We could actually see the road we’d done to the Hurrah Pass a couple of days ago.
On the way back we stopped to take photos of the Wine Glass Arch.
Next was the 8 Mile road and it was sandy but dry (rated a 2). It passes by Hatch Rock where here are caves that people use as home and these days many actual homes as well.
That road took us back to the 191 to Moab passing by Looking Glass Arch.
Once we got to Moab we went to the library for a while where we got online and ate our packed lunch.
Next we drove the other Scenic Byway here, the UT279 to the end where we went through the Potash Works to the rougher part of the Schaffer Trail (rated a 2 in this part but we thought it should be a 3) to the easier and smoother trail that zig zags up the hill to the Island in the Sky.
We then thought we’d be lucky with the roads so let’s try one more: Long Canyon (rated a 3). This took us past the spot we used camp up here with views like this:
The start of Long Canyon Pass:
Then it was the “pucker pass” downhill to drive under the rock
and along Long Canyon
back to the UT279 and home.
When we got back we did some steps and Kirsi returned from a day out. Around 4pm Kim and Casey arrived and after a brief chat went to set up their tent.
Doug started a campfire (the wind had died down some and we parked our truck in such a way as to help shelter it from the worst part. All five of us had happy hour, then roasted hot dogs over the fire, shared pot luck salad, veggies & dip and topped it all off with smores provided by Kim and Casey. It was a lovely night for a fire and we really enjoyed it. It’s been a few years since we’d had one; maybe since we met Kim & Casey in 2018! We usually wild camp where you can’t have one or it’s too hot or cold or windy and as a rule, we don’t carry wood with us. So this was a treat.
Thursday morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine and while chatting with the others, packed up camp and hit the road – we’d had a full week in Moab and loved it. Even though it seemed like there was so much more traffic and so many more RV’s, on the back roads, we hardly encountered anyone.
Please check out the Moab photo gallery – there are tons more pictures!
We made our way about 160 km / 100 miles to Grand Junction, Colorado where we’d booked a hotel for good showers. First we stopped at the Welcome Center for a sani dump and water:
and then we got to the hotel around noon but they let us in early and we also asked for a late check out so we spent 24 hours on a points room enjoying hot showers each day, plenty of Wi-Fi, charged up items, exercised and relaxed. Life is good!
In Grand Junction (if you squint you can make out the Colorado Monument in the background!):
Around noon on Friday, we checked out, and made our way towards Denver. It was a beautiful and a beautiful drive. We made it to Bakerville at over 3000 m / 9700’ and found a gravel parking lot used by hikes where we could spend the night. It was not as cold as we expected because there was snow all around us
The next morning was quite chilly though and Doug had an altitude headache so he had not slept well so we took off earlier than planned so we could descend to more reasonable levels.
We arrived on the west side of Denver, ran a few errands and then Doug met a former work mate for lunch while Fran went shopping. We ended the afternoon by arriving at our overlanding friend’s, Barnaby & Tsugmi’s in Boulder and spent two nights here. They have both been vaccinated so no masks required – felt so liberating! We parked on the street out front.
Sunday morning we all went to the local Village Diner for breakfast; when we left at 10 the sky was blue and rain was forecast for the afternoon. Before leaving the restaurant, the sky opened up and it poured! On the drive back at 11:15 we saw patches of hail and our truck looked like this upon return:
After 32C / 91F yesterday, this was a huge surprise. Today’s high is 19C / 65F.
We spent the afternoon pretty much indoors due to the weather. We played a few games and then Tsgumi made us a nice dinner. We played another game after dinner and then packed it in for the night. Next morning after some hot showers, we said our goodbyes and made our way eastward trying to get ahead of the weather!
Before arriving in Boulder, we had checked out a T-Mobile shop to see about getting a second SIM card for our spare phone for cheaper data than Google Fi (they also cover Canada and Mexic0). After deciding on a plan we both applied separately trying to set it up but probably because we are in Colorado and our ID is from South Dakota, the system wanted a manual credit check done. This will take about 24 hours so we left the shop and were told we’d get called the next day and could pick up the SIM on Monday on our way out of Denver.
While at Barnaby’s place, we told them about this and Barnaby advised he had a 3 line plan with T-Mobile and as they give periodic bonuses, he happened to have two spare SIM cards included in this monthly plan (so he had five lines for the price of three). He offered us one! He didn’t want any payment of this but after some chatting we settled on a amount and paid him up front for the next few months on the understanding that if we no longer needed it, we’d send it back or continue to pay as we used it. What a guy! We are so grateful. Fran got it set up on “our old purple phone” and we’re all set. However it does mean she’s back to carrying two phones around.