October 8 - 15, 2014:
We left the Horsethief Campground around 8:30 AM for the 30 mile drive back to Moab. Twinkles went straight to the BLM Goose Island Campground to check out the situation while I went a mile away to another campground to dump the tanks and fill the fresh water tank. The plan was for Twinkles to call me if things were a "Go", if not we would try another BLM campground 6 miles further down the road. It's all in the planning ! Our luck held out again, one site would be available at 10:30 when the current people vacated. We killed an hour or so at a local coffee shop then moved into the campsite. It is one of our best campsites ever, wide and level with the Colorado River and a towering red rock face behind us. No hookups, but we barely use electricity, only need to run the generator an hour per day, shower sparingly and it's not so cold here, barely need heat if the sun shines during the day.
|View of the campground from hill across road|
First stop was Arches National Park visitors center, then a ride around the Park stopping at a few of the viewpoints. I am so amazed at these Utah National Parks. We have now been to Bryce, Capital Reef, Zion, Canyonlands and now Arches, they are all different, all unique and all equally amazing, would be hard pressed to say which is the favorite. I could however easily say that the Moab area has the most to offer in outside activities anywhere (by far) with Canyonlands, Arches National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Colorado River and all the crazy mountain bike, ATV, dirt bike, jeep trails, river adventures and the vibrant town of Moab. We had no idea in mid October this area would still be so crowded.
|There are spires like this all over that are slowly eroding away|
|The Balanced Rock|
There was light rain in the early morning and the forecast was threatening, as a result our plan was to do several short hikes. It never did rain and in fact turned out to be good hiking conditions. We did the "Park Avenue Trail", the "Double Arch Trail", the "North, South and Turret Arches Trail Loop", the "Sand Dune Arch Trail" and the "Broken Arch Trail" for about 7 1/2 miles total. It was all exceptionally good and I especially love to hike on the Slickrock Trail areas amongst the spires and Fins. Needless to say, we were tired at days end, but it's much easier hiking here at this lower elevation, compared to the 9-10,000 feet hiking we did at Great Basin National Park.
|Massive rock formation viewed from the trail|
|Park Avenue trail view|
|The Double Arch|
|Rule # 1 - Always make a list of the Arches as you go along|
so you can identify them latter
|Rule # 1 again|
|Lovely wildflowers along the trail|
|Narrow slot on the Sand Dune Arch trail|
|The Broken Arch|
|A great slick rock section of trail|
Back at the RV in the evening, I heard the unmistaken sounds of a creature scratching or chewing somewhere under our bathroom sink or wall area. This put Twinkles into scream mode immediately. I beat on the wall and the sound disappeared, hopefully the creature retreated never to return.
I then went to Woody's Tavern in Moab to check out the live music scene, hoping to not get a panic phone call about the mouse. Moab is a happening town, but has very few actual bars or taverns in town, it's seems to be mostly restaurant and Hotel lounges. Woody's looks like a locals hangout with pool tables and a decor that is mostly Budweiser, in particular the infamous Earnhart Jr. # 8 chevy along with lots of Bike and ATV performance stickers. Also the bar top is all carved up with names and other mostly dumb stuff, but they now have a sign that says it is no longer allowed. (I was just about to whip out my swiss army and carve a "travels with twinkles" on it). The music was a young woman, rather strange, on tour, from Boston with her flat brim baseball cap with a B on it. She played an eclectic mix of indie and reggae with a strange New England twang to her voice. Hardly anyone paid any attention to her, just kept watching the football game that was on every TV or shooting pool. I haven't seen so many bad pool shooters in a long time, but the very pretty asian girls were a pleasant distraction. Two beers was enough, out the door, while I can remember where I parked for the ride back to the campground in the dark.
No sound of the mouse overnight, seems to be gone, but I put a humane live catch mouse trap under our bathroom sink area for insurance.
The Museum of Moab is a really well done small museum. As we walked in there was an old quirky looking man at the counter talking to the woman at the desk. We waited quite a while for him to finish talking to her before we could pay for admission. He then left and she was so excited, absolutely giggly, it was like he was a rock star or something. It turns out, he actually was as she explained that he was Lin Ottinger. He has a rock shop in Moab, has lived in the area since the 1960's and is a somewhat famous Dinosaur fossil hunter guy, there is even a dinosaur named after him, "Iguanadon Ottingeri". His shop is almost a museum also, a must see when in Moab.
|They used to drink Uranium Water for health ?|
|You filed a claim by filling out the form|
then putting it in a tobacco can and
burying it under a pile of rocks at the site
|Charlie Steen who located the Uranium in the Moab area|
|Lin Ottinger's Rock Shop|
It's Friday afternoon in Moab and it's getting crazy here, people are streaming into town for the weekend, I believe there are more Jeeps, ATV's and mountain bikes per capita in this town than anywhere else in the world. It seems all the campgrounds, hotels and motels are filled to capacity. Driving around town is a little scary, people everywhere, bikes, cycles, jeeps, many driving like it is a practice session for the trails.
I checked our mouse trap, it was tripped, it actually worked as advertised ! It is a live catch trap so I took it outside and let the half dead mouse go. Hopefully never to return and to also tell his friends to stay away too !
A second big hiking day at Arches on the Devil's Garden Loop Trail doing everything except the Pine Tree Arch spur and returning on the Primitive Trail Loop for about 7 1/2 miles. There were a few sections that were a bit difficult for us old folks to get through but we made it. They had considerable rainfall here a few weeks ago and water is still in some of the basin areas. We came upon one area on the Primitive Trail where we had to ford a small pond. The trail was fantastic with many arches, fins, spires and distant mountain views. We saw the Landscape, Partition, Navajo, Double O Arches and the Dark Angel spire.
|The Landscape Arch|
|Rule # 1 again|
|A trail view looking down on across the valley|
|Rule # 1 again|
|The Dark Angel|
|A trail view going through the Fins|
|Twinkles crossing the water obstacle|
We went to see a series of short films called "The Radical Reels Tour" that is a Banff Mountain world tour presentation at the Moab High School. It was all adrenaline junkie, extreme sports stuff that was really amazing to watch, but insane to do. Half the audience was wearing hiking boots, flannel shirts like they just got off the trail. We saw a couple there totally by accident, Bill and Martie who we know from our winter's at Desert Trails in Tucson. They are mountain bikers who work camp at an RV campground in Moab for part of the year.
Sunday was a windy day, but we went for another hike on the "Negro Bill Canyon Trail" which is a very popular trail a couple of miles from the campground. Negro Bill was a mixed race man who was one of Moab's earliest settlers and had a herd of cows in this Canyon for a while. He eventually left Moab and they named the Canyon after him. The name has been revised to be more politically correct since the 1960's. It is a great 4 mile roundtrip hike following a creek into the canyon to a massive natural Bridge. There are a number of creek crossing along the way and it is difficult to keep your feet dry. At the Bridge a group of climbing students had repelled down from the bridge about 100 feet above. As we were standing there, the instructor then came quickly down the rope just as Twinkles was taking a photo.
|Morning Glory Bridge at the end of the hike|
|Climber rappelling down from the bridge top|
|A Negro Bill Canyon trail view|
One of the most popular places in Moab is the Moab Brewery. They have a huge brew pub decorated with all kinds of outdoors sports stuff, decent food, good beer and even a ice cream shop. Also lots of radical Moab merchandise to buy.
Another popular thing is a scenic ride down the River Road, route 128 to the turnoff for the Castle Valley Road. The road takes you through the very scenic Castle Valley with "Castle Rock" and several other great views. You then turn onto the La Sal Mountain Loop Road and enter the Manti-La Sal National Forest. It becomes a narrow winding road that goes into the La Sal Mountains. There is a zone where the Scrub Oak and the Aspen trees are a beautiful kaleidoscope of color with the snowy mountain summits above. The National Forest grants grazing rights to a rancher there and we must have passed a hundred cows trotting along the roadway. The road eventually connects with route 191 south and returns to Moab.
|I think this one is called the Rectory|
|Castle Rock Famous for the Chevy car advertisements|
where they put a car on the top
|Fall colors in Utah|
|The Aspens are great !|
|The snowy La Sal Mountains in background|
|A beautiful drive|
Probably the most iconic view in Arches National Park is of the "Delicate Arch" as shown on the Utah license plates and the Utah State Quarter It is a rather strenuous hike because it is steeply uphill for 1 1/2 miles. It is well visited however, one of the top attractions in the park and the view is worth the hike. The setting of the Arch is special as it is all alone with the La Sal Mountains in the background.
|Twinkles striding up the hill|
|The Delicate Arch|
|My best Jerry Garcia pose|
This place is so great, there is so much to do that we have extended our stay at the campground another four days.
Afterwards we attempted a back road adventure which did not go as planned. In fact it went terrible ! It was 8 miles down a tortuous washboard dirt road that about shook the Jeep and us apart. We then came to a rocky obstacle that was pretty scary, more than our stock Jeep was designed for, so we turned around and rattled another 8 miles back to the main road. Turning onto the main road, the Jeep couldn't make the sharp right turn, it does not turn well in 4 wheel drive, so I shifted to 2 wheel drive. I pulled into the next parking lot, it turned left fine, but still an issue turning right. Eventually I found that the Steering Stabilizer cylinder was hitting the Steering Tie Rod limiting it's travel. I removed the stabilizer and all is well and it seems that the Stabilizer mounting bracket clamp has shifted. I see nothing bent or broken, so I repositioned the bracket, tightened the clamp and all is now well.
Another highly recommended hike on our final day was the Corona Arch Trail. A mostly easy hike through a nice wide canyon with lots of wildflowers and cactus in the beginning. It then enters slickrock and climbs up to Corona Arch. This is outside of Arches National Park, but I would rate Corona Arch as one of the best Arches in the area.
|Healthy looking Claret Cup Catcus along the trail|
|Hikers love to build rock cairns|
On the return to Moab on route 279 along the Colorado River there is an area where there are many indian Petroglyphs in the rocks. This same area is a very popular rock climbing spot as there are huge rock walls straight up next to the highway. There were several rock climbers out there as we drove through.
|Artwork for the generations|
|Amazing to me that it has survived right next to the roadway|
Back in Moab, we made a lunch stop at the legendary Milt's Stop n' Eat, since 1954. It is a local institution in Moab and always seems to be busy. The food is good, not sure if it's all that great, but it's homely, funky and way more interesting than McDonalds. Just enough time left to do some laundry, wash the Jeep and prepare to move in the morning.
|Milt's Stop n' Eat|
Next stop is the "Needles" area of Canyonlands National Park about 70 miles south of Moab;
Twinkles and Slick