Jun 7, 2010

Moab Adventures

Moab is a small touristic town in the heart of Utah Canyonlands. It is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands Parks and offers many other attractions and activities. Well – I am not here to sell you Moab, but just giving you a hint of the many things we have done here in this little town. Among our adventures, we went to a hike were we thought we are not going to be back home but sleep out in the desert. Read on…

It was not boring here, in Moab, in the short time we stayed here, many things have happened and I will try to mention them all, at least those that relate to our RV Life, but on a second thought – it is all related – RV Life is the only life I got… So Let’s see… but before I start I just want to mention how sorry I am about the flood tragedy in Arkansas. Many lives of campers were lost in that terrible event, and my heart is with those campers and their loved ones.

First things first

OK_RV_Park 001 Monday, May 31st, 2010 – Travel day! And this time we had reservation ahead of time. Unbelievable. The way from Hanksville to Moab is not too long, and mostly goes through I-70. We arrived to OK RV Park early afternoon, checked in and got a nice site at the far corner of the park. Passport America Rates are valid here only from June 1st, but they gave us this last day of May too. Nice!
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 – We hoped that since this is the middle of the week, the park will not be so busy but this is the busiest season here in UT. A group of parents and kids arrived and parked just beside us. Kids are kids, and this is their vacation, and we are in a family park, so no complaints – but they were running all over, throwing their ball on the RV and playing with their dogs (I think 3) all around us. The parents were worse than the kids – yelling their names trying to control the chaos but doing nothing more than promoting it.

Got a new Wide Lens

Patti went to town today and got me a new lens! A bargain! Used 18-55 that really looks like new for half the price. So I am a happy camper today, and the kids can yell as much as they want – I got my new lens, so I don’t care! We already started to look at the endless opportunities around here, and at the top – the two national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Tomorrow, we agreed, we will start with Canyonlands. – a bigger park with lots to see and offer.

Canyons in the Sky

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 – Today is a field test for my new lens, and a first introduction to Canyonlands National Park. So we get there and enter the visitor center. Patti is stamping our National Parks Passports and I am getting a walking stick medallion. One of those days I will have to put them all on the stick. We talk to the ranger and getting some ideas about what we are going to do.
The park has 4 separate parts to it. 3 of them are naturally divided by the ‘Y’ shape where the Green River and the Colorado River meet.
1. Island in the Sky – this is a very high mesa surrounded by deep canyons all around with a very narrow connection to the north (the ‘Neck’). This area is the top of the Y between the two rivers, and it is the most visited part, with many roads, overlooks and trails.
2. The Needles – The Southeast part of the park, down in the canyon valleys. This area has many colorful spires and provides longer hiking trails and overnight field camping.
3. The Maze – This is the real wild part of the park, and is very hard to access. The trails are long and hard, and usually requires few days backpacking in the field. Not our league yet.
4. Horseshoe Canyon – This part is accessed from the Hanksville area, no access from here. Next time we will be there – there is a new place to go!
We are in the Island today, so we decide to do the ‘Intro’ – Drive through the main roads of the park, stop at the overlooks, take the shorter hikes and get a better idea of where we want to hike next time.
There is also a gravel road that goes all around the island, but according to the ranger that would take many hours to complete.
Canyonland_2291The views are amazing around the rim, especially looking down the river. We drove along the curvy road through the neck, stopped at the overlooks and walked a short trail to some attractions on the way. The Mesa Arch was very pretty and people stood in line to climb up the arch, pose and take a picture. That is very high up there and if you are afraid of heights you better stay on the safe ground. There was this athlete girl that showed off her agility on the top of the rock, and gave us a little show :) so I took some pictures of her posing to her audience. At the very south tip there is a short hike (1 mile one way) to a point where you can see the two rivers get connected – The Grand View Point overlook – spectacular views from that point. We continue to the northwestern leg of the road, and visited the green river overlook and took another trail to the upheaval dome. One theory is that it was another one of those meteors that hit the ground right here.
Canyonlands National Park
On the way back to the RV Park just before we passed the bridge over the Colorado river, a business complex on the river bank caught my eye. It said Canyonland by Night.. We pulled in and stopped to get some information, They provide different types of boat tours on the Colorado river with western style dinner. One of the tours is done after dark and has an Audio-Video light show in the Canyon. That sounds exciting, Too late for tonight, so we made reservation for tomorrow.

Show Time

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 – Slow day today. Some job hunting (yes, we are still looking), marketing, and get caught up with daily errands. Later at the evening we drove to our Dinner with a Show event. The dinner was not bad, considering the amount of people they had to feed, but it felt like a Kibutz Dining Room – Long long tables with those cheap chairs on both side. They had a nice salad bar, and 3 or 4 meats to choose from. Stand in line, get your plate filled and go back to your chair :) If you want more – Eat as much as you want.
imageDinner was done and we were ready to hit the boat. maybe 20 rows of 8 people on that boat. We had a real great guide, very knowledgeable and funny. on the way up the river he was telling us all about the history, geology, and culture of the river, the people and anything else. He showed us some nice shapes on the canyon walls. When we got to the point were the show started it was already dark. The audio soundtrack was pre-recorded with music. It was OK. I think the first part with our guide was better. One thing though – Cameras were not allowed, so the only pictures we could use are the ones from the Gallery they have on their website. So here is one picture that shows the dancing lights on the canyon walls, as the boat slowly went down the river.

The Mother of all hikes

(Well, at lest for us)

Friday, June 4th, 2010 – Hiking. We love hiking. It is the perfect activity for us, since we love nature, we love to take photographs and it is a good sport. It is a very hot day today, well over 100 degrees. We stopped at a local outdoor store and got 2 of those backpacks that has water containers with a little hose that pops out  Filled them with water and drove south to the Needles part of Canyon lands, some 65 miles away. image We stopped and talked to a young nice ranger lady at the visitor center, and chose a challenging trail – about 11.7 miles from elephant hill through Chesler park and back (Marked Blue on the map). We drove through the park mesh of roads to elephant hill. The way to the trailhead was an additional 3 mile on a gravel road, that ended on yet another Jeep Trail for 4X4 vehicles only.
Narrow crack with full sunshine When we started our hike it was already noon. The sun was right above us and we felt it very well. We started by climbing on that elephant and an amazing view of rock mushroom field was spread just around us. There are two layers of rocks here – the Red and the White, and they formed mushroom type shapes with red stem and white top. We started by walking among those and slowly climbed above them looking at them from high above, continuing to yet another layer of rocks that looked like a Disneyland Fantasy castle. The area was amazing, but we had to stop quite often for drinking breaks or just to catch some shade and shelter from the heat. At one point we crossed a narrow crack between two giant rocks, and the sun was just above that crack lighting the whole path. 10 minutes before or after, I believe it would have been shaded. Perfect timing. Disneyland Castles The GPS showed us that we walked just about double the miles that were marked on the map. I have no idea if this is inaccuracy of the GPS, of the map, or just a result of our little spurs off the trail to take pictures (I checked, the units are Empiric Miles). After we passed the sculpture garden (Just a name a gave to all those spikes that stood out in the middle of the green field) we took a break, and I told Patti – I think we have a little problem. (That was on the point marked 1 on the map). Mushrooms and Towers It is already 5:00 o’clock and we did not make it half way. There is no way we can be back on the original route before dark, unless we will start running. I look at the map and we decide to change plans – instead of going on the hiking trail (blue), we will turn North on the next junction, and catch the jeep trail (orange). It will be safer to walk on that trail, and probably much faster, as we don’t need to climb rocks. The next intersection is only 1.2 miles away (marked 2 on the map), but it took us a whole hour to get there. I ran out of water, and started to get a little worried. Hopefully we will find someone at Devil’s Kitchen campground and get some water. We started heading north through a nice wash. The trail was much easier to walk at this point, and the sun was not so intense. The way to the campground was only 1.4 miles now, but it seem much longer. According to our GPS we already went over 12 miles. We passed a designated overnight camping spot (DP1) and knew we are on the right way. When we got to the campground it was already 7:00pm, but still full light outside. We met a group of people in the campground (The only people in the campground) and came to say Hi. They were very nice group of 3 men that camped there, and  offered us water. That was a great relief as not only I was thirsty, but we still had some miles to go.
CanyonlandsNeedles_2695 At this point, the hiking trail becomes a ‘Jeep trail’ and we started to walk towards the parking lot on the only trail we saw around. After a while I checked our position on the GPS when I realized we took the wrong trail. The trail was very comfortable to walk on, and we were far enough that it did not make sense to turn around. We took the Green trail instead of continuing on the orange one. The sun disappeared behind the tall rocks of the canyon, and only at the top of those walls you could see the golden rays of sunset. We still have a chance to make it in last light, I thought. The sky got darker by the minute, but I already saw on the GPS the starting point, where our car was parked.

Life is not so Easy

Up until now, the trail followed the wash and was very easy to follow, but now that it started to get dark, the trail, as of a sudden, started climbing on rocks and mountains and became very hard to follow. I continued to follow on the GPS but we slowed down. It was completely dark. We could not see the trail, and went just by the GPS. Patti was scared of mountain lions, so we had a rock in our hands, just in case. When we reached the top of the mountain, the ground was nothing but rock, and we could not see the tracks anymore. We were exhausted and according to our GPS we went over 20 miles!!

It gets worse before it gets better

CanyonlandsNeedles_2699 The trail on the GPS disappeared too. After 2,000 points the trail starts to overwrite itself. Sure, it is a setting that you could change, but at that point I lost the starting point of our trail. We lost the trail too, and found ourselves at the top of a cliff, can’t see the trail, can’t see the car, can’t see anything. I tried to use the car remote, hoping that the distance will be close enough for the lights to blink, but nothing. Now what?
Patti is starting to get panic, we are not going to find the car, what are we going to do? No one knows we are here! Worse case I said, we will find some protected cave and sleep… I don’t think she liked that answer. I Searched my vest pockets and found a small survival gadget I bought at one time. It had a compass, a thermometer, and a flash light. A flash light! Bingo! Let’s go back to the last place we remember seeing the car tracks and track it from there. Now we have a light! So we go back to the top of the hill and find tire marks on the rock. Follow it to one direction, but it shows the direction we came from. Ah huh – the other way. We walk slowly, Patti is looking for car track, I follow us on the GPS and try the car remote. Suddenly Patti yells – The car! Here is the car! We look way down there, on the bottom of the other side of the mountain, and there was our lovely car. With renewed energy, but very carefully we went down the curvy steep trail and got to the car. it was almost 11:00 but we were safe in the air condition and comfort of our comfortable car seats, on the way back home.
Here are some of the pictures we took that hike:
Saturday, June 5th, 2010 Patti’s pills are running out, and she needs a WalMart Pharmacy to refill the prescription. Up until now it was no problem, as we could always find a Wal-Mart store close by. When we searched for the closest store to Moab – we found one in Great Junction, CO. That is over 100 miles away. But those are pills that you can’t just stop taking, so no choice – we got to go! Wal-Mart is a great choice for many RVers as it provides good prices and great selection, and you can find them all over. They even allow RVs to park in their parking lot overnight (most of them).
Hwy128 015I remembered that the guide on the boat told us about a road to Grand Junction that runs along the river, and although it is shorter, it might take you longer to get there, because people stop there all the time to take picture. I was thinking to myself – that would be us…
So today we took scenic route 128 to I-70 and to Grand Junction. The road climbed up the river and had several overlooks, outlets, beaches and campgrounds where you could stop or even stay and enjoy the water. At some point the road left the river route and crossed the high desert to I-70 towards CO.
Dropped the prescription, and went shopping. I bought some extra flash light and a knife to put in my vest (wonder why). When we finished our grocery shopping, Patti went to pick up the pills but guess what – the Pharmacy was closed. This is a 100 mile trip and that was the main reason. Oh no. I go to customer service and explain the situation. The store manager comes and talks to me, and explains that even him has no access to the pharmacy, but he will see what he can do. After 5 minutes he comes to me and tells me he got the pharmacist onb the phone and she is coming back just for me. Wow – that is something! This is the best service I got for a long time. Who said Wal-Mard does not have good service?
We also stopped at Best Buy and got a spare battery for Patti’s Cybershot camera. Cameras should come with 2 batteries! you can’t charge the battery before it gets empty, without ruining it, so what are you supposed to do? Get another one, I guess.
Got back home, put everything back in place and that was pretty much it. By the time we were done, it was already bed time!
Sunday, June 6th, 2010 – Not much was done today except for the normal chores – cleaning the house, Laundry (that’s me) some cooking, finances, bills, you know. Now that the refrigerator is full again (that is not hard to do in the RV – it gets full so fast) Patti can cook her delicious dishes. Yum.
I thought I will be able to write all about Moab in one blog – but it is getting too long :) I will try to post one more blog this week so I can get caught up… So many things to do, so many places to see!
So until next time…


  1. Great photos again, this time mostly places we have yet to see. Thanks for that! Know what you mean about someday putting the mnedallions on your hiking stick. I have some on mine, but others are stuffed away somewhere, and I don't even know where right now. We also have dozens of patches to sew onto our jackets, but that's another project for another day!

  2. The view is awesome. It's worth the hike I guess. I always am excited to hear about your travel adventures.