|A window in Tom's universe.
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share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
Tom Ballard Photography
Fall Road Trip...............2013
2013-09-05, This is the day I will claim as being the first day of my Western Adventure 2013.
Actually, I left home on the 4th, but my goal was to reach Denver on the 5th and I did. Before
heading out, I had been in contact with my ole supervisor and friend who, at the moment, was back
in Colorado between his jobs in Germany. He now supports the military as a contractor.
He is a big sports fan and he informed me that on the evening that I arrived, he would be at a local
watering hole, sports bar, watching the Denver team play the Baltimore team!!! And, that is where I
found him. Using my GPS and some phone support, I found the place and got a stool to sit on
before the game kicked off, which was late due to lightening storm in the area!!!!!
The game finally got going and since he is a Denver fan, I had to make thing interesting, so I
supported the Baltimore team.. We lost, bad!!!!! Played like grade school kids! But, we had a lot of
good refreshments an a LARGE order of nachos!! The order was huge.. Needless to say, we only
ate about half of it!!!!!! And, while I was at the watering hole, I got to meet, again, his daughter,
Carlie, and her boyfriend, James!!! Fun people to know!! Lots of fun!
By arrangement, I was to stay at the apartment with the family, and did!!! Was a fun way to start the
Western Adventure!! If you would life to meet my friends, use this link: Western Adventure, Day 01
2013-09-06. By my calendar this is a Friday and Carlie and her boyfriend, James, have to work, so
they are up and off at an early hour.. CH and I made like retired men and slept in, but eventually got
up and go going. He has some dogs to walk and I would use the time to be the first in the shower.
When he got back, he would do the shower thing, then we would be off to breakfast. And, this is just
what happened. We went to local breakfast place called The Edge! Turned out to be pretty good!!!
Since it was later in the day, I chose a burger as my breakfast food!
From the big feast, it was back to apartment, where I gathered up my stuff and headed towards
Central City. Before I left home base, this family had planned to spend this night in Black Hawk, doing
the games, eating, etc.. For, I was just going along with the plan because I was in town. I do not do
the games! But, I like to hang out with friends. They had made plans for rooms, at an earlier date, but
I passed on the room option and made arrangements for a tent site at the KOA in Central City. I had
been to the KOA earlier this year, and it was good, so I was happy to get back to it.. Even got the
same site! TV-1.
After the young people were off work, they and CH drove up to Black Hawk, and I met them there.
They started the games, I did the watching! Tis amazing how many people like to play these games!
But, after awhile, it was time for some thing to eat, and off we went to do that! Forget the name of the
place in the casino that we went, but it was good!
After dinner, it was time to me to go get some sleep, but the younger members of the party said they
would be going back for more gaming!!! I guess I am showing my age! :-))
I did return to my tent, and when I started to move my sleeping gear into my tent, I discovered I had
left my pillow back at the apartment in Denver!!!! Would have to make arrangements to return and
get it!!!!!!!! For now, time to get some sleep! If you would like to see the memory photos of this day,
use this link: Western Adventure Day 02.
2013-09-07. I think this now Day 03 of this adventure, and I think it is Saturday!! I am up early and I
do my usual breakfast of chicken and pineapple, then off to the shower! Originally, I was to get on
the road and head west towards Moab, UT, to do some 4x4 tours, etc, but, the missing pillow has
caused a change in plans. I want that pillow. It is my travel buddy! Has been all over the USA and
Canada with me! Could just go get a new one, but since I am this close, why not just go get it! But,
how did I miss it on the way out of the apartment!
I emailed and called the Cook family at the hotel.. Finally, after repeated calls, I was able to wake
them up and chat with them!! After a series of possible ways to solve the issue, I chose to take a
key, drive into town, get the pillow, let the dogs out for a walk, then return to the hotel with key. And,
this is just what I did! Was a nice drive, and I got to see and say goodbye to my friends a few more
After dropping off the key, I headed west, and after awhile, I saw a sign for the Loveland Pass, a
route that takes trucks loaded with hazardous material and the like, around the tunnels through the
mountain.. I missed the turn off, but decided I wanted to do the pass, so I drove through the tunnel,
turned around, drove back through the tunnel and took the road to the pass.. Was a good choice!
Was a fun thing to do..
After leaving the pass, I continued on and took the route that went through Leadville and on to Twin
Lakes, a place I have camped often. However, I have always camped up on the mountain, in free
camping areas.. But, today, I saw a bathroom down by the lake and decided to take advantage of it
before going up on the mountain. Once at the bathroom, I discovered there was camping near the
bathroom and there was no charge for the camping.. Great, I just found a home for the night. I
moved in. Was a great spot and had a really neat sunset! To see the images from this day, use this
link: Western Adventure Day 03.
2013-09-08. It is now the first day of my adventure, as a solo traveler. I am up early to a really neat
morning. I set up my stove and make hot tea and coffee, do my usual breakfast and take down the
tent, etc. I am ready to continue going west toward Moab. As I look west in the direction I will be
traveling, I see YELLOW! It has started, the fall colors have started here in Colorado! This seems to
the first place that starts changing colors, from the best I can remember.. I come here almost every
year to start the color hunt in the fall. Some of the best color is near Twin Lakes!
After leaving Twin Lakes, it is not long until I come to the famous Independence Pass!!! Of course I
stop for the usual tourist photos, then move on. I head on to Aspen, where I stop for coffee and some
time on the computer to check my email. Then I am back on the road..
On my route west, I arrive at a nice little tourist stop called Redstone! There is about 50 old ovens on
the side of the road that were used for ????. Not sure what they were used for, but now they are in
much better shape than a few years ago. If you go back and look at my older photos, you will see
these ovens before they were restored, which happened last year, I think.. Tis a neat place to stop!
Would even help if you read the sign and learned what the ovens were for!!!
Next stop on my route was Marble, CO. I actually drove pass the turnoff, but turned around and went
back. In town, I saw the Jeep Tour sign. I went in to see about getting on a tour. The nice lady behind
the desk was also the owner, with her hubby. I think her name is Sandy. I will have to check my notes
again. But, her last tour, the 2 PM tour had just left, so I was out of luck for today, but we chatted a
long time and I learned that I could come back later in the month, take the tour to Crystal Mill, and see
the fall color at the same time.. Will plan to do that! What this nice lady did tell me was that I could
drive up to the Marble Quarry, and then to Beaver Lake. Both would give me some neat things to take
photos of today. I did, and she was correct, it was a neat drive to both places!!! Glad I went..
When I arrived in Delta, CO, late this afternoon, everything was still going according to my plan, but it
was soon to change. I called the KOA in Grand Junction and asked about getting a tent site! The man
said yes, they had a site for me, but it has been raining, so things are wet!!! RAIN!! In the desert!!! It
rains on me everywhere I go!!!!!!!!!!
I arrive at KOA a little after 7 PM, get my site and sit the tent up in the best location I could, given it
might rain more, then got to work doing dinner, working on photos, etc.. They had internet, but closed
the game room, the place where I could get power, at 9 PM.. So, this was the end of the day for me..
Time to get some sleep and see what the weather would do tonight and tomorrow. To see the images
from this day, use this link: Western Adventure Day 04.
2013-09-09. It RAINED again last night!!!!!! Can you believe it! It rained on me!!! Here in the desert
where they have not gotten rain all summer, it is happening now! After my shower last night, I lay my
towel on the top of my tent, not thinking about the rain.. Wrong, it rained, towel got soaking wet.. This
meant I would be going to the laundry and doing a little drying time! Got it done.. Got breakfast taken
care of, got my shower, and checked the weather. More rain, everywhere, but less to the west. So, I will
go west! Not sure where.
As it turns out, I ended up at the KOA in Green River. Was a really neat place! Lisa, who worked at the
desk, gave me the local news and directed me to place that was supposed to be good for dinner, but
after waiting in line there for nearly 20 minutes, and no hopes for a seat, I left. At food I had in the car,
and worked on photos from the day, etc..
On my drive to Green River, I stopped to take a photo of the Utah state line sign. As I was sitting up my
tripod, a young couple showed up and wanted to do their photos. They asked if they would be causing
me a problem. I said no, as I had a lot of time, so go for it... They did their thing, I continued getting my
camera set up the way I wanted. As the young couple was getting ready to leave, a highway truck
showed up, and guys with a ladder got out!!! As the young couple went past me, they laughed and said
I think those guys are going to be there for awhile, and they were, so I included them in the photos.. It
would see they were cleaning up some crap people had put on the sign!!!!!!! Tis hard to imagine that
people would go to some much trouble!!! They evil ones must have had to show up in the night with a
ladder and do all this stuff.. How bad can you want to mess up a sign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To see the images from this day, use this link: Western Adventure, Day 05.
2013-09-10. Rain!!! Did you wonder if I would see rain today? OK, get over it, yes, more rain! But, it is
what it is...
This morning I am up early, I go to the office at 0800 to get coffee that I was told would be there. And, it
was. Also, there were boiled eggs, and pastries, etc.. I did the eggs and coffee, but passed on the sweet
stuff, as I am supposed to be losing weight on this trip!!!!!!!
I did not do the sweets for breakfast, but I did get some sweet information. A fellow named Martin, who
works in the office, knows a lot about this area, and told be of some great places to go, once the ground
is dry!!! So, I have to come back here, with a pickup, etc, and do the back country stuff.. I will return...
But, for today, Martin tells me that I should just head west on Highway 70. There will be awesome things
to see and to photograph as I move west to Salina. So, off I go!
Martin was correct, the drive west was awesome. If I had not been limited by the daylight available this
day, I would have taken more photos, but I think I got a few good memories collected in the images I got.
There is just an endless list of things to see.. I did as much as I could with the time I had.. Was fun.
At around 4 PM, I stopped in Salina, had an early dinner at Subway, used their wifi to catch up on stuff,
then moved on the KOA in Richfield. Really neat place, and CeCe who works there, gave me a nice
discount!! Guess this was to help with being rain soaked!! Plus, I was the only tent camper there!
It kept raining all evening, but for awhile I was able to hide in the laundry room and work on my computer
stuff until the place closed at 8 PM, then I was told I go work under the pavilion, where there was electric
outlets. I did. Worked there until about 10 PM... Then, off to bed and more rain!
To see the images from this day, use this link: Western Adventure, Day 06
2013-09-11. This was a moving day!!!Its raining again.. Who would have guessed!!! And, there were few to none photos
to share.. I left Richfield KOA around 1045, and went to the public library to do some computer work... Finally got out a few
updates and shared some of the photos I had been able to collect as I traveled this way..
Once the computer work was done, I was gone. This happened around 2 PM. I expected to get some more memory
photos as I headed south, but no. I did see a few nice rock formations, but passed them up for some reason.. Rain and
traffic was the bigger points to consider here.. Now I wish I had. But, I was expecting more down the road aways.. Did not
happen. Once I was a few miles from town, the photo ops ended.. Still nice country to look at, but not the kind of thing one
would consider photo worthy!!!
THEN the heavens opened!!! Just at the intersection of highway ?? From Richfield, and I-35, I hit a wall of water.. Should
have stopped was but was afraid that if I did someone would mess around and run into me!!!! I kept rolling, as did the
others, and finally we got through it, but, it was a mess................
I am not real sure where I was headed this day, but as evening got closer, I started looking for a place to spend the night..
It turned out to the KOA in Cedar City.. I pulled in, parked, went in, and was greeted by two very attractive and friendly
employees.. Which one would be my helper? We had to do a coin toss. Julene won the toss, so she set me up with a tent
site for the evening and got me a nice rain discount! Then, somewhere in all this, probably from my card, she learned that I
do photo stuff and this is of great interest to her!!! We started talking photos, and the time flew by. I think she learned a lot
and we both had a good time with the photo lessons!!! The two images above are from that office chat, and are really the
only images I have to share for the day...
The ladies told me where to go to find a good Subway, so off I went. On the way, I found another, and stopped to give
them some business.. Wrong!!!!!!! They were slow and I think every onery kid in town was there, along with out of control
parents. To add to this, there were some people who were VERY demanding of the staff.. I gave up and left! Went to the
place that had been recommended, got my good chopped salad and headed back to the campground. Stopped at the
office for one more photo discussion, then was off to bed.. Was a nice day,
2013-09-12. Three state lines in one day!!! Not bad!!!! Sometime before I went to bed last night, while looking
at my map and remembering a sign I saw on the side of the road that said Las Vegas was 200 miles away, I
started a new plan.. I first thought I would go to Vegas, but as I looked at my map, I thought why not go to Death
Valley, I have not been there in a long time and I did not have a big camera when I went, so this might be good..
So, with that thought in mind, I went to sleep and woke up to more rain. Yes, I was going to Death Valley on this
day, or at least I was headed in that direction!!!!!!!! So, I push a rush on my feet and got things done a little
earlier that normal.. Got my breakfast eaten, tent down, shower taken, car packed, time to go! And, I left..
I did stop at McDonalds for my senior coffee and one more email check, but it was not long before I was gone,
and it was not much longer after that when I came to the Arizona State Line! Go figure.. I was headed for
Colorado a few days ago, now I am going into Arizona and before the day is done, I expect I will cross two more
At the Arizona border, I stopped and took the usual tourist photos... Then, it was back in the car and on the
road, in Arizona! The view in the part of the state was interesting, but there were no places to safely stop and
do photos, so I grabbed a few windshield images. You can do that with these new auto everything cameras!
Was not long until I reached the Nevada border!!! This one got my attention, as I expect Nevada to be desert..
It is, but rain has come here as well. There is mud and water everywhere!!!! That said, I did manage to stop
and get the memory photos... And, I saw a new sign that I expect will be seen more places as time goes by, it
say NO talking on the cell phone, if you are driving.. Well that is not exactly what it said, but that was the
meaning. You will see the sign in the photos!
What would you expect when you cross over into Nevada? Casinos?? Yes, just over the hill from the state line
is a welcoming committee of buildings all saying CASINO on them... Who would have guessed! But, there they
are.. They also, have a nice Welcome Center, which I used... And, I got a state map and map of the STRIP in
Vegas. Got this because I saw another person get one and so I asked for one.. Came in handy later! Otherwise
I would have missed the famous WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS sign out by the airport! Neat place to do memory
photos, but needs more parking.. I got lucky and got a spot just as I arrived!!!! Others were not so lucky, but the
line moved along pretty fast! I got my photos, called a friend back home, jumped in the car and left..
Down the road aways I had to stop and get gas!! 3.44 per gallon.. Not bad!!!! Paid closer to 4.00 in other
places. What do these people have that the other places do not have???
Before I got out of town, I stopped at Subway and got another one of the Double Chicken Chopped Salads..
This is now my favorite.. If you have not done one, do it.. They are great!
From here it is all driving across the desert.. I was headed for Shoshone, CA. A little spot in the road just
outside Death Valley.. Not sure what I would find there, but that was the place I had sit my GPS for.. And, off I
went.. In the photos you will see what I saw, not much, except for long stretches of straight roads.. Some flat,
some hilly, but always straight!!!!!
I finally arrived at the California state line, stopped and did the memory photos.. This place has to the most out
in the middle of nowhere place I have every seen a state line.. No, there was one other, but it was on the east
coast, I think, years ago! But, this California sign is in the middle of nowhere.. Still, I got my memory photos and
took off.. Where I will end up is a mystery.. I have become afraid, given the time of day, that I will not reach the
park this evening, and will have to sleep in the car on the side of the road. I have started looking around for
likely places to hide me and my car.. But, then, I see a wide spot in the road. It is almost a town, it has three
buildings, maybe four, depending on how you count, but one was a gas station and it had a light on.. I can ask
these people where to camp. NOT... The sign in the window said CLOSED. But, the sign above my head said
5.00 per gallon for gas!!!!!!!!!!! Getting gas out here is not going to be a bargain hunters dream!!!
So, I kept driving, headed towards the park. In just a short distance, I see a hotel. I slow down, I look it over, I
wonder.. I could not make up my mind.. Should I or not. I decided to drive down the road aways and think about
it.. THEN, thank my lucky stars, I see a sign that says TENT CAMPING.... I pull in. It is a real place and it is
open.. I pull up to the office, I go in.. Nobody home.. I go outside, see nobody, go back inside, go back outside,
then I see someone riding a bicycle and waving their hand as they came my way.. Has to be the office person..
It was. It was Debby and she was riding one of the neatest bicycles I have seen in years.. I may have to get
one.. I think it is a Townie SE Electra. It is a unisex touring bike. Nice and big with good stuff on it.. Three
Okay, so I found the office help and we get to work getting me fixed up with a tent site.. Turns out, Debby and
her hubby work here as WORK KAMPERS.. They work for their keep, so to speak. This is popular at
campgrounds... Before it was all over, I had paid my camping fee, got my keys to the laundry, pool, and
bathroom!!! There is no key to library where I am sitting now, at near 1 AM in the morning.. I do have internet,
but it is too slow to publish this report. Will have to find faster speed to publish this..
Debby rides her bike, I follow in my car. She leads me to my tent site and gets me all set up.. From her, I have
to get quarters and soap to do my laundry.. Plus she shows me where the neat hot springs pool is, that will be
open til 9 PM...
After getting all settled in, I dress for the pool and head to it.. NICE.. Warm, and I had it all to myself!! Did my
swimming and soaking, and photos, then it was off to get a shower, do the laundry, and write the report, plus
process the photos. That is now all done, so it is time for bed, at 1 AM....
To see the images I am sharing from this day, use this link: Western Adventure 2013, Day 08.
2013-09-13. I think this would be Day 09 of this Western Adventure! I'll check that later! But, no matter, this
was a long day!!! I had stayed up until about 1:30 AM working on the stories from the last two days. So, I was
hoping to sleep in a bit, but that was not to be.. The sleeping was good, as long as it lasted!!!
I would ask if you have ever heard a dragon blowing fire, but I would have to assume the answer would be no.
For me, it would be different.. I heard a dragon breathing fire, loudly, this morning! It was really roaring when it
did its dragon thing.. Now, the truth is, I could have been dreaming, and that is pretty much what I thought, the
first few times I heard the roaring. Then, when I was sure I was awake, there was no doubt that a dragon was
not far away and hard at work doing whatever dragons do with their flame and fire blowing thing!!!
Finally, I just had to give up on the sleeping thing and check out this dragon!! I rolled over on my belly, and
unzipped my tent. From this position if was easy for me to crawl outside my tent far enough that I could peep
out of the tent and look around towards the back, where the roaring was coming from! I found the
dragon!!!!!!!! It was burning grass or something, and had a man was in charge of it!!!!!!!!!! No, it would not
pass for a dragon, in the truest sense, or even be an actor in a dragon movie, but it was a dragon... And, it
was blowing fire!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I went to the car, got the camera and took photos! You will see them in this set..
In a short, some fellow had a gizmo rigged up to be a super huge propane torch!!! You will have to see the
images to see what I mean, but he was in the process of getting rid of some grass in an old pond that had
been drained, because it leaked. This time it was going to have a liner put in it, and then refilled.. It may be
the desert, but there is LOTS of water here. I think the lady at the office said there were seven huge springs
here that pump out lots of water, year around!
Ok, so the dragon mystery is solved, and now it is time to eat, get cleaned up and get out of here as I have a
lot of ground to cover and I cannot use the highway I had planned to use, as it has been damaged by the
flooding that happened in this area not long ago! So I will be going around...
Now on the road, I start taking memory photos. These will be shared.. But, at a given point in my travels, I
arrive at the boundary sign for Death Valley National Park!! Has been a lot of years since I was here. Now, I
am back, but it was not part of the original plan when I left home a couple of weeks ago!
When I got to the sign, there were a lot of people in the parking lot, doing what tourist are supposed to do,
take photos!!! Given the number of people, I expect I would be there all day, waiting my turn, but surprisingly
they all moved along fast and was gone, I then pretty much had the place all to myself!!!! So, I got my memory
shots and was gone.
Not far down the road I came to the Pay Station!!! Darn the luck!!! It is going to cost me 20 dollars to tour
Death Valley!!! For those who do not know, entry into the park has a fee of 20 dollars for a 1-7 day pass.
However, if you are 62 or more, you can buy a Senior Pass for ten dollars, which will get you into all the
National Parks for the rest of your life, for free! The sad part today is that I will not be 62 until November 1..
That is just over a month away!!!!!!!!! So, today, at 61, I will still have to pay the 20 dollar fee like everyone
else! But, it is worth it!!! For those who might be interested, the little pay station operates on the honor
system. You stop at the station, you put your credit card in the machine, and it kicks out a pass for you to
show the rangers in the visitor station when you go in to get your official map, and to have any and all of your
questions answered... If nothing changes, this will be my last time to pay an entry fee to get into a national
park.. After November 1, I can just use my old age pass and go right on in!!! How fun is that!!!! There are a
lot of other benefits to the pass, such as half price camping, etc.. So, if you are 62 or above, get it.. Or, make
sure you travel with someone who has one. Both of you get in free, etc...
With my ticket in hand and a copy of the park paper, which has a cheap map in it, I am off to see my first
attraction, which is Dantes View. I think it is a 15 mile drive to get to it.. It is a great view, but it also is a great
heads up to people to be aware that this is a huge park and it takes a long time to get places and it is hot, so
lots of water is a necessary thing to have!!! ALWAYS have LOTS of water with you, ALWAYS! Cell phone
service in the valley is not an option. There is none, except in Furnace Creek, which is the hub of all the life in
the valley.. More on that later!
At Dantes View, you are at one of the most beautiful view points in the park, and you are looking down on the
lowest place in the United States, Badwater........ 282 feet below sea level..... There is not a lot I can say
about this location, so I will let the images do the talking.. It is amazing what you can see from this location..
And, there is some short hiking that can be done from the parking lot, so be ready to walk and be sure to
From Dantes View, it is back to the main park road, then on to the next tourist attraction. For me this was the
20 Mule Team Canyon road.. I would not consider this a real canyon, but rather a nice drive through the hills
in the valley.. If you go to Death Valley, you have to do this drive. Any street car can handle it... Awesome
Then, just a bit further down the main road is a little quick stop for tourists, called Zabriske Point... Don't miss
it.. There is not much to see from the parking lot, and there is a bit of a hill to climb to get to the view point, but
it is easy, and it gives great views of the land formations in the area!
Back on road, and off to the next stop which is the road intersection where one goes left to Badwater, or right
to Furnace Creek, the social center of the valley. As one approaches the intersection, one will notice the large
hotel to the right!!! I have never been there, but I hear it is nice!!! For the well heeled, this is supposed to be
the place to stay!!! I being a camper, move on.. At the road intersection, a person is at Sea Level!!! Yes, I do
the tourist photos here as well, then head off to find Badwater!!! On the way, I will stop at a couple of other
The first stop is a place with amazing land formations. The tourist name is Devil's Golf Course. And, yes, it is
well named!!! I am not sure why the ground creates the forms that you will see, but I can say it is fun to see,
but one must be EXTREMELY careful here, walking in this area is like walking is broken glass. Actually
broken glass would be better and safer.. The the land formations are made of salt, I think, and they are as
hard as rock, and they are as sharp as needles and razor blades.. This stuff is seriously dangerous.. If you go
there, be careful... I walked through the area in sandals, but they are strong as boots, but they are open. I
would not advise people to do what I do.. My sandals are made for the mountains, etc, but they are open on
the sides, so a few wrong moves in this stuff could mean a trip to the hospital. You will better understand
when you see the images.
From here it is off to the famous Badwater, a general location that has been officially listed as 282 feet below
sea level. I cannot say that there is any special sensation when you get there, but because of the tourists and
all the cameras, you know you have reached a well known place.. And, I did not know this until it as pointed
out to me, but the park service has put a sign on the side of the bluff, above Badwater, showing where SEA
LEVEL is.. You will see this in the images! This is one of those places where photos tell a better story and
words, but, photos do not tell how hot is.. I think it was 110 when I was there. And later, at the visitor center,
the temp will be listed as 114 degrees at about 4 PM...
From Badwater, it is back on the road and off to the next attraction, which will be Artist Drive.. This is one cool
thing to do. Like all places, some parts are better than others, but you have to see it all to see any of it.. First
stop is the overlook where people have started building little hoodoos!!! Not sure what that is all about, but
there they are.. Actually, I took photos of this area, and one just up the road, twice, because the NIKON I use,
SCREWED up again.. I hate Nikon, but not enough to throw the cameras that I have away, not yet anyway. I
think I will move up to Canon soon! The deal with Nikon is that when things go right, one gets great photos,
but Nikon is not dependable, and it the equipment breaks or stops working properly, a lot. And if that is not
happening, it will just change settings all by itself, or so it would seem, causing you to ruin a lot of good
photos... I finally got all the images I wanted, but had to do a lot of extra driving to get it done....
Back on the main road and off to Furnace Creek to go to the national park visitor center for park info and for
local info. When I arrived at the visitor center, it was showing the official temp to be 114 degrees!!!!!!!!! This
is a little different than my car, which said it was 112.. But, theirs is the official temp, so we will go with that!!!
Either way, it was warm!!!
Once inside I found a nice park ranger and started asking questions.. The main thing I wanted was a place to
pitch my tent for the night, and I wanted to know about the food and gas situation here in the valley.. The sign
at the gas station next door said regular fuel was 5.48 per gallon. When I asked, the ranger said it would be
cheaper at the station at Stove Pipe Wells, several miles down the road and in the direction I would want to
go. Since it was 114 degrees here in the valley, I needed a cooler place to camp.. The place the ranger
suggested was at Immigrant Campground, up on the side of the mountain above Stove Pipe Wells. This
campground would be at 2100 feet in elevation. At the ranger station, I was below sea level!!! And, the
campsites on the side of the mountain, at this location would be free.. Even comes with a flush toilet!
I got the campground info, but am wondering about treats and food. After a chat on these topics, I was off to
the town part of the valley. There I found the general store and a place called the 49er, a burger type place..
That is the good part, the bad part is yet to come. This place is one of those places you will want to avoid if at
all possible. I have eaten at a lot of national park food places and many are good, but this one is bad... The
food is bad and the prices are double what you would pay in town. For a plain hamburger and fries, the price
was over 14 dollars. With taxes, it was over 16 dollars, with a tip it was over 19 dollars.. I asked for the one
half pound burger to be cooked to a medium level. It was damn near burned.. I could have complained, but
wanted out... Also, the bun was not a burger bun, it was a thing that looked and tasted like a bagel...
Now for the funny part of this visit to the 49er. On the menu, it offers a dinner buffet, but does not say how
much, or what is in it.. When I asked the waiter, he said it was 30 dollars and you had to go to another place
of business to get it... Can you imagine. You sit down to dinner, you get all your water glasses etc, then when
you get ready to order, the waiter tells you have to go down the street to eat your meal.. Is this place nuts or
I did eat the burger, I did pay, and I did leave. I went next door to get something to wash that nasty burger
down. Found a 24 ounce can of cold stuff, paid a high price for it of course, then went outside, sat down,
called a friend back home, and chatted as I recovered from dinner!
Now it is time to go find the camp!! Turned out to be a much bigger task than I had planned for. The first thing
to note is that it was going to be a lot further away that I had guessed, and on the way, I found the gas station
at Stove Pipe Wells. It is a 24 hour, help yourself place.. Use a credit card and get gas any hour of the day!
So, I stopped and filled up, at 4.63 per gallon, as opposed to the 5.48 back down the road....
From here I went another 10 miles or so up the road, looking for this campground.. Saw a campground sign,
but no campground.. It is dark out now, so this is making finding this a bit difficult!! I ended up driving up and
down the road, in the area, several times before I just started creeping along looking for a turn off.. Found it! It
was an old washed out dirt thing, so no signs of life, until I was down it aways, and there were people, a lot of
them, sitting out in the dark!!! Just so happened that I got lucky.. All the spots were full, except the one right at
the entrance.. In fact, it was so easy, I was not sure it was real, but the people camped next to the this slot
said it was open, so I backed the car in and shut it down.. I was home..
Now, it is only proper that I should visit with my neighbors for awhile, as they were sitting out at a table, trying
to stay cool, which is getting easier as the evening goes by.. I think it was 114 in the valley and maybe 94 up
here on the mountain.. Turns out my neighbors are a man and woman from Nebraska, who are on a 10 day
national park drive. They flew to Vegas, got a car, and were on their way west to see other national parks
before returning home.. They, were big time travelers, for work anyway. They tell me that they have been
spending the summers in Alaska, working in the fish business. I forget all the details, but seems they were
working on islands off the coast of the Kenai, not far from Homer... ..
At some point, we all decided we had cooled off enough that we could sleep, so we called it a night.. As it
turned out, I had to sleep in my car. Up here on the side of the mountain, the ground is nearly solid rock, and I
do not have a free standing tent. The one I have requires stakes in the ground to hold it up.. Well, that is not
going to happen here, the ground is nearly solid rock!!! So, I rolled the windows down on the car, opened the
sun roof, lay the seat back, and went to bed!!! Was asleep in no time!!! Was a hard, fast, and long day, but
fun.. And, if you want to see the shared memory photos, use this link: Western Adventure 2013, Day 09.
2013-0-14. This should Day 10 of this adventure, and it will most likely have the largest set of images I have
ever released on one day.. I may have to break the set up into smaller ones.. It was a day with a lot of
different events and places to capture memories.. So.. And, of course, I have a lot of “much alike” images..
So, if you are up to the challenge of seeing the images from this day, be prepared, or do it in a little at time! I
covered a lot of ground in one day..
Today I wake up in my car seat, and am so comfy that I am hard pressed to want to get up and get going, but
my neighbors are up and moving around, so I think this means I too should get up and get going as the sun
is soon to show its face above the hill to the side of us.. My neighbors are up way sooner than I would want
to get up, but they have a long day ahead of them, they are headed for to the national parks on the west side
of the Sierras. The will have a long day.. So, they are up early, tent down, and gone!!
Once I am out of the car and on my feet, I can see that the rest of the campers in the area also up or nearly
so. Most are younger Germans, I think, based on what I can hear of their of conversations. One of the things
that I have noticed is that Germans love coming to the USA and visiting the national parks out west. The fly
in with camping gear, rent a SUV, pile in and off they go. This is for the younger ones, the older ones rent
the RVs. But, it is very interesting to be around all of them, as they are very friendly, love to chat, and are
very health aware.. They refuse to eat the junk food that the Americans eat. They go to the store and buy
real food. Much of it is sandwich material, but consists of a lot of veggies, cheese, etc.. Have met and visited
with a lot of them. Have been much impressed with my chats with them.. And, they do get real vacations in
their country!! More on this later! But in short, we do not have it as good as we think, in many ways.. There
are things we should learn from people across the pond..
OK, so, as the sun is coming up, everyone is moving around, getting breakfast and making read for a day of
travel. This includes getting rid of the wine bottles from the night of being social!!!! Many of the young
people, more women than men, were sitting up late at the picnic tables, drinking wine, chatting, and most
likely planning their day, but, they do like their wine. I think every SUV has several bottles of wine in it.. And,
oddly enough, they like white wine.. I guess it is less of a mess if you spill it on your clothes!!! But, the
people were very attentive to their staying clean part of life.. Always in clean clothes and everyone carries a
bathroom kit that they use a lot.. Lots of tooth brushing going on..
With breakfast complete, trash tossed, water bottles filled, bathroom trip finished, it was time to head to the
valley and start gathering memory images before the day got too hot. The first stop would be the Sand
Dunes.. Really neat place to hike, but today I do not have time to go very far, so I gather images close to the
car. On earlier trips, I have hiked out on the dunes and watch the sun set. This is good fun!!! I went out on
the dunes for maybe one fourth mile and came back. Had a lot more places to see today..
The next stop is the Devils Corn Field. I have been this area several times and have read the notes on what
causes this to happen here, but cannot remember right now, but it is a neat place to stop and be a tourist.. I
was just about finished with my photos when a car stopped, a middle aged Asian lady jumped out, come over
took some photos, asked me to take some for her, and I did.. She was very sure of what she wanted and we
got the task done. Good that she asked, because she wanted to include the cloud pattern that was above
us!!! Made a nice photo.. When she was gone, I took some photos that included the cloud pattern. Turned
out neat! Everything happens for a reason!!! Or, so some say..
From here it is a fast track bad towards the village. Along the way, I stop at Salt Creek and check to see if I
can find any of the Salt Fish that live there. Nope, no fish this time. I have seen them there before, but then,
there was water in the creek.. This time, even though the area had been flooding, the creeks were dry.. I
think the little fish have the ability to bury in the dirt until the water returns!!! But, I have seen them there..
Next stop is the Borax processing area. This is one of the most photoed places in the valley. I think it is
because of us old people who remember the 20 Mule Team Borax soap ads, or whatever it was. But, it is a
well known place and is fun to visit. It is much better when it is cooler!
Next stop is Furnace Creek, or the village. Here I wanted to use the internet, but what was free yesterday at
dinner is now on a fee system.. I think it changes during dinner hours, etc.. But, no internet, so I get a
refreshment, do a few photos of the old wagons they have there, and the palm trees, etc, then I am back on
the road, I am now headed for Scotty's Castle. But, there is still things to see, actually only one more thing of
interest to me, the Stovepipe Well.
I read the story of the Stovepipe Well, and it might still have water in it, as there is lots of water in Death
Valley. But, at this location, there is nothing left but a historic marker, and the well head of the old well.. At
one time, it was the only well in the valley, for this area, so every traveler had to come by here to get his
water jugs filled! Now, it is just a place. The last time I was here, it was 117 degrees... On this day, it was
From the well, It is one to Scotty's Castle.. I have heard the story of Scotty and the castle, but I do not
remember enough of it to do an official repeat. But, in short, I think Scotty was and old wind bag and con
man. As I remember he tried to swindle a fairly wealthy gentleman from back east, out of some money, by
taking the man on a trip to look for gold, but of course, being none, they found none. But, even a crook can
make friends and this is what happened. Old Scotty was found out as a cheat, but the man who hired him for
the mission liked him, and kept him around as the wealthy man set out to turn a no gold place into a place of
great fun, which in the long run was better than gold..
As the story goes, the wealthy fellow started building a state of the art retreat for him and his friends and
family at the location where Scotty's Castle is located. And, for some reason, Scotty just became a part of the
woodwork, so to speak. Maybe he was like a Walmart Greeter! But, he stayed around. As the years went by,
the place grew, and so did the tales of the places. Lots of people came to visit, and check out the desert..
Which seems to lead to the unofficial name of the place, Scotty's Castle. This is not its real name, but, when
reporters came to visit, they met Scotty and he told them it was his castle and that his gold was buried under
it!!! So, the reporters reported it as Scotty's Castle and the name stuck.. Some where in all this, some asked
the owners about Scotty's pay and expenses, to which the owner replied, “He repays us with laughter”.....
So, comedy does have its place!!!
When I arrived, I went into the ticket office and inquired about the ticket prices and what was covered. There
were two tours available. 15 dollars for the house tour, and the same for the tunnel tour, but if you did both,
the price was 25. Turns out, I had already done both tours, I think, so I passed on the tours and just did a
walk around the property to include Scotty's Grave on the hill above the castle.
I never did get a straight answer to my question, but some how the palm trees in the back of the property had
burned.. One of the workers suggested it was an accidental fire, of unknown origin. But it burned the living
daylights out of a lot of the palm tress. Surprisingly it did not burn down the castle!!!
After the walk up to Scotty's grave, it was back down the hill and on the road for me. I had spent about 1.5
hours here, and was needing to get back on the road real soon.. That said, if anyone ever goes to Death
Valley, be sure to visit Scotty's Castle and take ALL the tours.. It is a very interesting place with a lot of neat
stuff for you to see, inside and out!
After the castle visit, it was on the road to Vegas, where I understand I can camp for the night in a KOA
campground.. So, I am headed that way!!! But things are not going to go as planned!!!!!!!!!! Just not going to
happen... But, it is an adventure! So, after leaving Scotty's Castle a little after 3 pm, I think, I find myself back
at the state line between California and Nevada.. Nice sign to tell you that you are at the state line, but the
funny part was the road. You could really tell the difference at the state line when it came to the road, each
state has their own style and each built right up the official line, and stopped!!!!!!!!!!!
Once I got on the main highway, headed for Vegas, it was smooth sailing, for me anyway.. I had not gone far
on this road until I saw flashing lights as one would see on a patrol car when a speeder has been pulled
over, etc... As I got closer, things did not look as I would have expected.. The patrol car was down in a low
place off to the side of the highway, and right next to it was a car turned upside down!! And, here were
people, about three, standing outside.. What to do? I came to rapid stop. Put the blinkers on, got out and
started walking back to the wreak.. Maybe there is something I can do, who knows. There are not
emergency vehicles here, so!! But, then as I approached the wreak, a big voice came out of the patrol car,
“Everything is OK, Thank you for stopping”!! Well OK, then. I think this patrol person wants me to stay away,
and so I will. I waved at the car, turned around, walked back to my car, and proceeded on down the road.
According to my KOA book, which I did not look at very well, it shows a KOA in Vegas.. So, I set my GPS for
the Vegas KOA and off I went, The traffic was heavy and crazy, but I actually found the place!! It is right next
door to the Circus Circus complex. I parked, I went in, I went to the desk and was well greeted by young man
eager to help. Told him I needed a campsite, he smiled and acted as if this would be no problem, until I said I
would only need a small place, for me, my little tent and my car. This changed his smile to something else..
He looked up and said sorry, no can do. We only take RV campers, and that it is a city law of some kind. He
goes on to say that RV people cannot even put a tent next to their RV!!! Very strict...
So, I say this is not good, as I need a place to stay tonight. He suggests I get a room in the Circus Circus
hotel.. Of course!!! I say no, I have too much equipment in the car to leave it sit out by itself at night, an
unknown area, and that I really needed a campsite.. He then suggests I go to the Lake Mead camping area,
wherever that is.. He is not sure either, but a lady who works there, tries to help. She gives me a map that
shows how to get on I-15 going north. On this road I will find the turn off to the campground.. I say OK, this is
what I will do. But I should use the bathroom before I leave.. They have to go unlock the bathroom for me for
me to use it.. Very secure place!!
After the bathroom break, I return to the desk, find a new person there, tell him I will be trying to find the Lake
Mead camping area, and ask how far I will have to drive to get to it.. One hour was his reply.. Damn the luck..
It is well after dark now and I will be driving and hour into who knows where... But, I am determined to do it..
So, I return to the car, and prepare to leave, when I notice the pretty lights around me, so I grab the camera
and do a few memory images!, Then, I am off.. I end up having to ask a security person how to get out of
there, but I finally get out and get on I-15 going north!!! Cool!!
Time is dragging by as I chug along in the dark, trying to imagine where the heck this campground thing
could be, and it was not noted on my GPS, so.. But, then the phone rang, and it was friend from back home.
After they heard my story, they asked how much camping would cost. I told them. They said that for just a
few dollars more, I could most like get one of those roach hotel rooms, which would provide a bed and a
shower. Now that I have heard the idea, it seems like something I could do, and so I have a new plan!!! But, I
am still keeping and eye open for signs telling me about this lake campground.. Finally, I see a sign for a
state park, and it has a camping symbol on it.. This could be it!!! No distance is given, so I will get off the
highway, use my GPS to try and find the state park, which should then tell me how far out in the boonies I
would have to go to get to the campground.
Now off the highway, I pull into a service station to check my maps and GPS info. This place also has
parking for big trucks. Maybe I can just park with them!!! Then, while I am figuring this out, my phone rings
again, this time is my buddy from St Paul, MN. He wants to know where I am. I tell him I have been on I-15
north of Vegas, but have gotten off the highway at the exit to Overton, to check my maps, and look for a
place to stay!!! He says, OH MY GOD, you are just down the road a ways from my brother who lives just
outside of Overton!!! What a small world.. And, he says, wish my brother were home so you could go stay
the night with him, it would be sooo much fun.. Says his brother is a great person.. But, his brother is not
home now, he is in Reno.. His brother's wife passed away recently, and so he is out doing a little running
around to cool off and think about life again..
Then, it that were not enough, I tell my buddy of my plan to do a cheap hotel. He really jumps on this and
says I have to drive on to Mesquite and go to the Casino on the left and get a 30 dollar room. Would be
perfect for me. Might even get a free meal.. I can do that.. So, after we have chatted a bit more, his traveling
brother calls, and says he just arrived home!!!!!! So h is back.. Terry tells his brother that I am looking for a
place to stay tonight.. The brother tells him he is just whipped and needs to get to bed. So, that option is out,
but I find out that is good, there have been cats living in this house.. I could not have lasted long there, as I
have allergy issues with house pets, and more so cats than anything else!! So, I will be heading on up the
road to the casino.. It is actually a long story, but in a short I find the Casino, and I know I have the right one
because I see the billboards with th 30 dollar room ads on them.
Once at the hotel, I go in, and am quickly faced with slot machines and cigarette smoke!
WOW, what a place.. But, I go to the desk and tell the lady I want one of the 30 dollar rooms, She tells me
they are all gone, Only a few rooms are reserved at this price and when they are gone the balance of the
rooms go up to near 70 dollars. She asked if I would like one of these rooms, I just stand there, saying
nothing.. Does this sound like bait and switch to you?? It smells bad to me.. I tell her the higher price is not
an option, and that I need a place to stay, what should I do. To this she replies that I might get a cheaper
room down by the state line. There are a few places there that are cheap. She offers to call them, I say yes,
She calls. No answer at the first place, but the second place, named STATE LINE does have rooms, 35
dollars for single, 45 dollars for double. I agree that this sounds good, and I get directions and I take off.
About a mile down the road, I find the place. I is worse than a dive.. I would not stay here if they paid me the
35 dollars, Plus, it looked like I would be the only one there! NOT GOOD.. I left, without even getting out of
Down the street aways, I find a service station, and I pull in. I shut the car off, get my wallet out, get my credit
car out, get my pencil and piece of paper ready, then I call the concierge that works for card company. These
people do a great job. Told the man, Martin, nd explained the issue. He called a few hotels, but all wanted 80
dollars for the night, and it was near 11:30 PM now!!! I decline these offers. So Martin says he will try some
cheaper places, and the first place he sees on his computer is the Virgin Hotel, where I had met the bait and
switch lady. I told him this story. I suggested he try and see what he could do.
Martin puts me on hold and is gone for awhile, but when he returns, he is laughing. He tells me the person
he talked to is willing to sell me the room at the advertised price of 30 dollars, plus, they will throw in 20
dollars in play money to play at the casino!!!!!! WOW, is this different than when I tried.. Of course I agreed,
used my credit card to confirm, got my reservation number, and was headed back to the hotel to get my room
for the night.
I walk in, but am not greeted by the same person, although that person is still behind the desk. I get a new
person. I tell them I am here for my room and that I have a reservation number. She asks for it, I provide it,
and we get business done. I will be in room 2222.. Sounds like a lucky room, so when I get my 20 dollars, I
can make money with it and come out ahead!!!! But, to collect my play money, I have to take my coupon to
the rewards window, get it set up there, etc.. So, off I got. When I get there, they are closed... They are not
supposed to stay open until midnight, but at 5 till, they are closed. I return to the main desk, say what
happened. They call the rewards people. No answer. Closed, and closed early!!! The main desk lady says I
will have to wait until tomorrow.. So, off I go to my room.
I find my room without much hunting, and find it to be a really nice room for the price.. So, I have a home for
the night. I set out to carry in whatever I will need for the evening, but as I carry things in, I notice they have a
nice and well lighted pool.. And, they have the big Marque showing that they have rooms for 30 dollars. With
this I grab the camera, take photos of the pool and the big lighted sign, showing that they had 30 dollar
Now I am in, I am showered, and I should go to bed but I am too wired, so I work on the computer.. I think is
was after 1:30 AM before I slowed down enough to get to sleep.. Was quiet a day, and if you would like to
see the memory images of the day, use the links below. I think I will break todays images up into smaller
sets. Use the following to see the shared images:
Western Adventure, Day 10, Part 1
Western Adventure, Day 10, Part 2
Western Adventure, Day 10, Part 3
2013-09-15.. If my calendar is correct, today will be Day 11 of this road trip that you have been following. Am
not sure as to how to start the story for this day, but it, like the others is not without its special qualities. So to
set the stage, think about this, I was up until 1:30 this morning, trying to go to sleep. But, before I went to
sleep, I set my alarm for 0900. Knowing that I am supposed to get 8 hours sleep every day to stay healthy, I
should have set the clock, actually it was my cell phone, to 0930, but, I cheated a little, knowing that it might
shorten my life a bit and cause me to gain weight, and all the other things that are said to happen if you do
not get 8 hours sleep per night. And, there has got to be some truth to this. My friends that get eight or more
hours sleep each night are very healthy and are very thin. So, I should have set a goal of eight hours sleep,
OK, so, here is the deal, at 0730, I am wide awake.. Have no idea what is going on, but my body is ready to
get up and get going, even if my head is not. I could have used a bit more sleep, but I quickly become the
walking dead or something. My body is moving but my brain is barely work well enough to get around the
room without running over something.. But, no matter, I soon find myself in the shower and getting myself
awake. It works. I am now awake, I am clean, and I am ready for the day, but I have to eat and I prefer my
good over the cafe food, so I go to the car get my chicken and pineapple, etc, and do breakfast in the room.
With all that out of the way, it is time for me to check out.. Somewhere in here I have lost a lot of time. Since I
got up so early, I should be on the road in no time, but that did not happen. I wasted a lot of time doing
something. However I did manage to get moved out of the room by 1030.. I think I worked on the photos this
morning.. There was no internet in the hotel last night, so it was computer work only.. Now, that I am out, I
have the car loaded, etc, I just have to find out what I can do with that 20 dollar play money thing I got last
At the rewards desk, I present my paper, and the lady goes through the process of getting me on of those
player cards, etc. It is about the same process as getting married, or buying and registering a new car.. No
matter, gets it done, and informs me that I will get an additional 5 dollars for being a beginner, or something
like that.. Whatever the deal, I now have 25 dollars in play money. But, to use the play money, I have to
invest one of my dollars. A real dollar!!
I ask for instructions on how to play the slots and am given a sheet of paper with the “how-to” info on it.. This
cannot work, as I can not even understand it, much less do it.. But, I went searching for a cheap machine,
like maybe a penny machine. Found one, right in front of the main lobby desk where I checked in. Not only
that, but there was a man sitting on one of the nearby machines, so I asked him to help me get started, which
he tried. Did not work.. Something was wrong with my card... So, I had to go back to the rewards desk, get a
new card and start over. Still did not work. So, back to the rewards desk. This time the lady came back with
me and did something that got it to work.
I had to put in one of my dollars, which got things going, then I moved up the ladder by playing with the play
money. For a bit, I did okay, but then things started going south.. But I was still just betting 9 cents at a time,
so this was going to last all day!!! But then, some large lady come sit close to me and started playing a
penny machine. Then in a short bit, she fired up a cigarette. For some reason, it seemed I was getting more
of the smoke in my lungs that she was getting in hers!! This was just too much for me, so I kicked my bets up
to 45 cents per spin.. Things moved a lot faster then, but, they were moving downhill. I started this process
at 1045, with 25 dollars of their money and one of mine. At 1115, 30 minutes later, it was all over and all
gone, theirs and mine.. In the end, I lost one dollar plus 30 minutes of my travel time. Such a deal..
As I left the casino parking area, I noticed the McDonalds across the street, so I went there and worked for
some time, getting more update written, more photos uploaded, and my site updated.. With that done, it was
back on the road.. As for what I saw, it was not too much. There were a few neat hills in Arizona, as I went
through, but not much else. However, in my quest to find a campground, which is a story in itself, I did drive
by a small local lake, which gave me a few memory images..
The place I ended up camping was a KOA in Hurricane, just outside of St. George, Utah. Both are in the
deep southwest part of Utah. My KOA book listed a campground here, but when I tried to get there using my
GPS, it took me to some strange places.. I ended up getting there just by using the directions in the KOA
book.. Also, on the way to the campground, I discovered a helicopter tour service. I saw the helicopter, and
thought neat, I should do this, so I pulled in, but, it was closed. Closed on Sunday!!! This is what happens
when you lose track of time. You forget what day of the week it.. So, I missed my chopper ride, which I think
would have been a flight over Zion, etc.. Maybe I can do it later!
I find the KOA, I get checked in and have a site for the night. Life is good. I get my tent up, and just sit down
to rest when my buddy Terry calls, he is the one who has the brother down by Overton.. We had a nice chat,
then after he was gone, I got other calls.. Ended up talking till dark, I think.. But, my plan was to get to the
game room and use the internet to do these updates. Good idea, but did not go well. What internet I could
get was slow, then at 10 PM, I had to move to the laundry room to continue working as the game room was
now closed, but the laundry would be open all night..
In the laundry room, I set up my little office and got to work. Was not long until a lady came in to do a load of
laundry. Then she left, then she returned. This time she asked if the internet worked here. I reported that it
did. She said it did not work at their campsite. She and her family were in an RV. So, again, off she went.
The next time she came with her hubby and all their computer toys, to include, a tablet, a MAC, a smart
phone, etc.. But, for them, they could not get on here either. I was the only one getting internet at this
location, even slow internet. Then to test it, I logged off, but could not get back on!! None of us could use the
internet, for awhile. So, we visited. Turned out to be the best of fun.. Had a great time visiting with these
people. They were from Denmark. They had been here before, and they were here again with teenage
children, two of them, and they were all in a rental RV.. They were here for 16 days and were just having a
blast.. There is a lot we could learn from these European types.. These people get six weeks of vacation
every year, no matter what!!!!!!!! And, when they get it, they go play and see the world, like a real vacation.
This is a lot different than the one to two weeks people get here.
As for money, the lady said she figured it cost about 16,000 US dollars to do this 16 day trip in America, to
include the air, RV, food, gas, etc.. And, they do this about every two years.. The lady said this was a
second marriage for each of them. Her first husband had died and left her with one 5 year old child to raise.
The man was divorced with a five year old child. Now, the kids are around 14 years of age and able to enjoy
the trips that this new family takes.. The lady is a medical worker, somewhat like a nurse, and her hubby said
he was a janitor for school.. They both spoke English as well as I do. And to top this all off, they have travel
a lot in Europe, in their life.. So, the people get out and do things.. Was fun to talk to them. They left after
midnight, and I stayed up till near 1:30 again.. Then it was off to bed. To see the images from this day, use
this link: Western Adventure 2013, Day 11.
2013-09-16.. This would be Day 12 of this Western Adventure.. And What a day it turned out to be.. Some of
my better days are screwup days, and today was one of those days. I hope that after you read this, you will
agree with me!
So, how did it all start, well it started with a really great view from my campsite. I was in site number 119,
which was just perfect for getting a photo of the red rock wall across the valley from me as the sun casts its
morning light on it.. Was awesome!! But, that was just how it got started, there will be more ups and downs
as the day progresses. There were times I was so stress I could scream, other times I thought I would bust a
gut laughing, so this day gets to see some of everything.
After the usual morning chores of eating, showering, and packing, I was off on the road, with plans to go to
Escalante, a town I have been to many times, but from the other side for the mountain, so to speak. This time
I am west of Escalante, a direction I am not familiar with. But, being a trusting fellow, I just tell my GPS that I
want to go Escalante, and off we go..
I have been driving for awhile, and the views are nice, as there are some nice red rock formations off to my
left to see and to photograph as I move along.. Life is good, until, I see a sign that says WELCOME TO
ARIZONA!!!! Arizona, What am I doing in Arizona!! I was supposed to be going east to Escalante!!!!!!!! Now,
I am taking a photo of a welcome sign, and Arizona welcome sign no less.. This means something is wrong!!
I stop, I get my map, I check to see what the heck is going on... It would appear that, per my map, I have
arrived at a town called Colorado City!!! To be honest, I think every state has a Colorado City.. I am not sure
about this, but I have heard this names several times before, and I am pretty sure the speaker was not
referring to this little place on the Arizona border... Well, whatever, I am here.. But what happened. I actually
cannot figure it out.. I will just assume that since I have my GPS set for fastest time, it has calculated a route
that none of us would take. I sure looks a lot shorter if I had just gone straight east.. Actually I had my GPS
set for Mt. Carmel, which is a town on the way to Escalante. But what has gone wrong. It looks as if the GPS
route is go into Arizona, then switch back north to get to Mt Carmel..
Whatever the reason for the GPS to go to Arizona, I do not want to go to Arizona. So, I tell the GPS to take
me back to Hurricane, the town I came from. At this location, I can get on the road I want to be on, which will
take me almost straight east, which is the direction I want to do.. I get back to town, I reset the GPS, for Mt
Carmel, and off we go, except this time I am in charge, but for some reason, the GPS still wants to take the
original route.. It keeps telling me to do a u-turn and go back. At this point you could have bought this thing
cheap.. I had it with this GPS.. I ignored it and proceeded with my choice of roads.. And, all was going well..
All was going well until I zipped past a funny looking set of building on my left that look like they were built for
a comedy western. Whatever the reason, I decided I should go back an look this place over, and I did. I did a
u-turn in the highway, and headed back. I was just going to wander along the road and take a few photos of
the buildings etc. As I got closer, I could tell it was a setup for an Out Post that had animals to feed, pet, etc..
I was not interested in the animals, but I was interested in those buildings.. So I kept walking. At the front
door, I figured I had seen enough, and started to leave, but felt an urge to go in and see what was inside.
Just as one would expect, there was lots of stuff for tourists to buy.. You name it, it was here.
What to look at first? I looked around and found some leather hats. So, I tried on a few.. These were not me,
so I kept going.. Was not long before I spied some people setting at a table eating ice cream cones. Now that
is something I could do, even though I am not supposed to have them. So, I start looking for the place where
the cones come from. I ended up in the kitchen/dining room.. NO ice cream on the menu, so what to do. Be
smart, go ask the people where they got it.. I did. Turns out, it was being sold right behind where I was
standing. Had the ice cream been a snake, it would have gotten me. I asked the lady if her cone was good,
she said OH YES!!! But, be sure to get the huckleberry!!!! So, I turned around and got the attention of the
lady selling the ice cream, told her I wanted the huckleberry in a cup ,one scoop. With that, she handed me a
spoon with some huckleberry on it.. OH YES, this is the one. This stuff is awesome. So, I confirmed my
order, paid, and was off to enjoy my treat. Was awesome.
Having finished my treat, I was ready to get rid of the empty cup and go see the buildings.. Per the sign on
the door, it cost one dollar to go out to the buildings and the petting zoo, of sorts.. This explains the animals I
had see behind the building.. So, up the counter I go. Behind the counter is a man and a woman having a
friendly chat. As I approached, the man came to the counter and asked if he could help me. I said yes, I had
just finished the awesome ice cream and wanted to go out to the entertainment area, and wanted to know
how much it cost.. He looked at me with the funniest look and said, “you want to pet the animals?”.. I smiled
and said no, I just wanted to go see the buildings. He said something like there is nothing in them.. I said I
had guessed as much but thought they would be fun see up close and take photos of them. He said, okay
then, one dollar is the fee, and was sort of laughing.. Then he said he built them just to get people to stop. I
said, “you built them”, he says yes, I say, “did you build this whole place”, he says yes and the conversation
was off and running.. I have no idea how long we stood there talking, but then through the glass door, we
could see a burro walking around outside, sort of looking it. This man, told one of the ladies that the burro
was out, and might be causing problems.. To that she said he was probably eating the grapevines behind
the house, etc, etc..
At some point, he said we got to go put that stupid animal back in the pen. It would seem this stupid animal
has a thing for breaking out of its holding pen.. So, all of us go out to put this critter back in its pen.. Problem
is, it does not want to go back in its pen, it wants to stay out and play with anyone and everyone that will give
attention and carrots!!! One of its favorite foods.. The lady who works there had brought a carrot with her to
entice this critter to follow her back to the pen.. It would have little to do with this idea as it knew where this
was going to lead to.. With that, the man I had been talking to, whose name is Andy, and who is the owner of
the Out Post, slapped the burro on the butt and hollered at him.. This got some action.. But, not exactly to
the enjoyment of everything on the property.. Just after the burro got smacked on the butt, the big white
rooster, name Rooster Cogburn, came by. The now pissed off burro decided to take his frustration out on the
rooster and the race was on.. I managed to get one partial photo of this chase as the two ran between to of
the buildings. I was laughing so hard I almost forgot to do the photo thing... And with this the lady and Andy
went off to get serious about putting this critter back in its pen.
I went about my business of looking at the buildings, snapping some memory images, etc.. Then as I was
drifting back towards the car, I ran on to Andy again.. And in no time flat, we are talking about how he grew
up, where he grew up, which was an Out Post down in Arizona. His grandfather owned the business, and
raised Andy. So, Andy had been around this business every since he could walk. He learned the business,
learned how to get along with people, learned how to attract business, and the list goes on.. I was just spell
bound as I stood and listened to the stories of his life.. And, I will tell you as much as I can remember, but one
of the things that Andy learned in his early years was how to make the silver jewelry that he sells inside the
Out Post.. Later he took me inside and showed me some of the work he had done. It was just awesome..
The bottom line here is that Andy built this business from scratch, so to speak.. It would seem he gets bored
easily and moves on to other ideas. But, in a thumb nail sketch, here is what he told me about his life. He
was born and raised in Arizona, but I forget the town. He was raised by his grandfather, who owned an Out
Post in that area.. When Andy got older, he wanted to get out on his own and start making his own way in
the world. His grandfather had a friend in Sadona who was starting the jeep tour business. Though contacts,
Andy went to Sadona to be a tour driver.. One thing lead to another and he left there after high school,
probably because he had a problem with getting in trouble a lot.. He was restless.. So, his grandfather sent
him to a live with a relative in northern California. Once again in high school, he met and fell in love with a
little 13 year old girl named Dee.. I did not get to meet Dee, even though she worked in the Out Post, but
back to the story.. Andy and Dee soon decided they would have to be together for life.. It just had to happen.
They tried several times to get married, but issues kept getting in the way.. The list is long.. But, they were
super young and her father was opposed to this marriage thing.. However, her father finally said to Andy, if
you can get a real job and show that you can make a living, I will agree to the marriage.. So, off Andy went to
find work, and did. With an income, the father allowed the marriage, and off they went to may their way in the
world. At this time, they have now been married 49 years, and are still going.. They have been through a lot
together. They have started and sold a lot of different businesses over the years to include a restaurant, a
post card business, a tee-shirt printing business, and the list goes on.. At some point, they make a trip to
Hawaii and fell in love with the place. So much so that they bought a home there and now spend the off
season there. As I recall, they live in Utah eight months and in Hawaii for four months. They have six
daughters, who are scattered to the four corners of the United States. I think there is even on in Alaska.
As for the local business, Andy tried to start this business in Springdale, just up the road. But, that did not
work out. Some he moved in this direction. The first location he tried to buy was a miss, and the owner and
he could not come to terms, etc, then he found this place, started building, and now it is what it is.. What it is,
is a really neat place that you should plan to stop and see, and if you are as lucky as I was, you can meet
and spend time with Andy. I got there around 2 PM, and left after 5 PM.. I had only planned to be there for 15
minutes!!! To add to this visit, While I was there, I got one of the other tourist to take a photo of Andy and
me, out in front of the buildings. Then later, an old desert rat name Herb, showed up, and I got a photo of he
and Andy. After herb went inside the building, Andy told me Herb as the person who took care of the animals,
year around. Herb comes down twice per day, feeds and waters the critters.. Herb's wife passed away not
long ago, so this is his new family, the people and the animals at the Out Post.. If I have time, I will come
back and add more to this story.. If I would have had time, Andy and I would most likely still be out in front of
the building, exchanging stories.. Was just the best part of my day to have stopped here and visited with
Andy... Great fun... Looking forward to returning for more fun...
After lots of laughter, I now back in the car and headed east again, in the direction of my goal, Escalante. I
know I will not get there, seeing as how late it has gotten, but I can go in that general direction.. So, off I go..
Tis not long until everything starts coming apart.. In the Springdale area, I find myself in a line of cars, waiting
to do something.. After a long wait, the truth is revealed to me. I am in a line to get into Zion National Park..
From my map, I could not tell that I would be going through Zion, and if I was, it should just be a drive
through.. Well, that ain't gonna happen. When it comes my turn to talk to the ranger, I learn that it will cost
me 25 dollars to use the road though the park to the to Escalante!!!!!!!!! 25 dollars just to drive to the other
side of the park.. Not worth it.. So, I ask the fellow what my options where, to include using the pass I had
bought in Death Valley to get though this park.. He said, no, my pass was no good here.. Damn the luck!!! I
ask for my options. He hands me a map that shows how roads to take to get around the park.. Looks like I
am going around. And with that, I do a u-turn and head back to Hurricane.. Coming into Hurricane, I see
signs advertising 33 dollars rooms at local hotels.. So, I stop and call my concierge service and ask them to
find a room for me at one of these hotels.. Turns out, they are all bait and switch hotels.. It would seem that
is very legal here. Advertise 33 rooms, but when you get there, those rooms are all gone, but the 70 dollars
rooms are easy to get... I did choose the one hotel and went there. For 64 dollars I could get a room, but the
internet speed was only 11 mps.. TOO slow for a hotel.. So, I said I would pass.. The local McDonalds has
54 mbs and today as I write this in Torrey at the Castle Rock Coffee and Candy Shop, they have 72 mbs
service.. So.... I go to the car, drive back to the KOA where I was last night, renew my contract and will spend
the night there...
Now checked in, I head back down the road, 10 miles to the local McDonalds, and arrive after 8 PM.. It is
there that I sit, working on these reports until the place closed at 11 PM.... WOW what a day!!!!
To see the images from this day, use this link: Western Adventure, Day 12.
2013-09-17.. Western Adventure, Day 13...
Ok, I am zipping right along on this Western Adventure thing.. Actually, I have hardly a clue what is going to
happen each day, as this thing just sort of happens as I go... Most every time I make a plan, something
changes it... Like yesterday.. I expected to get to Escalante, but of course that did not happen for several
reasons, so today I will try again.. Actually it is not my plan to stay there, but rather to just pass through
So, today I wake up back in the campground I had left yesterday morning.. Since I could not get through
Zion, I returned to the KOA, spent the night, and will now take a new path around this Zion problem. On
November 1, I can get my old age pass, and I will no longer have this issue! But, for now, I have to work
with it.. Today, I take a northern route... This route will take me near Bryce Canyon National Park, but not
With my breakfast complete and the car packed I am off. I head north, exit off the main highway at Cedar
City, travel to Panguitch, then through the Red Canyon area, where there are some awesome red rock
formations, then past the turn off to Bryce Canyon NP. Not far on the other side of this exit, I found another
neat place with a sign that said Mossy Cave.. Sounds good. I should check it out, and do.. The hike is
short and easy, so I am not gone long, but the views are awesome.. As with most everything I saw this day,
the photos will have to tell the story because the views are the story...
Back from the Mossy Cave hike, I am on down the road. I stop for some images of an old pickup, some
images of an Indian Grainnery, I think it is, then on to Escalante.. I have been to Escalante many times
now, so I know the town pretty well. In fact there is a pretty nice campground right in the middle of town,
more or less. So, if you are going through this town, and you are a camper, stop and check this place out. It
is beside the big sign for Escalante Outfitters.. They own the store and the campground.. It was too early to
camp, when I came through, but I knew they served refreshments, in the cafe area. So, I stopped..
Once inside, I asked the lady at the desk if I could buy adult beverages here. She said yes, if I also bought
food with it, as they have a license to sell such things with food, but not as a stand alone product.. So, I ask
what was the common way to deal with this issue.. She said there were small food items in the cafe that
were cheap and were legal food items to purchase with the brews.. So, off I went.. When I got to the
serving counter, I told this lady that I came for a brew, but knew I would have to get food, so lets work
something out.. We did. I asked for the strongest and darkest brew they had! She had something that fit
that request.. But, it was an 8% item. What the heck, I will try it.. But, what shall I have with it.. She
suggested the chips and salsa. So I did! Turns out it was pretty good brew and fair on the food.. Probably
would not do that again, but it was fun to do this time..
After the refreshment, I took my water bottles around to the back, filled them up, and headed downtown,
where I filled the car with gas, then headed east again, this time I had my sights set on the area around
Goblin Valley, where there are some slot canyons I want to see. This would have to happen tomorrow, as I
still had a ways to go, but as I left Escalante, I started see the awesome rock formations that this area is
well known for.. Again, the photos have to tell the story, and even then, they cannot tell it all.. It has to be
seen in person. The photos are just to create a desire to see more, and in person!
I was not real sure where I was going to spend the night, but since the mountains are mostly government
land, there is most often a side road where I can sneak off and set up camp for the night. But, tonight I will
have a real campsite, sort of.. As I was heading toward Boulder, I saw a sign for a government
campground. I pulled in, found it to be really nice, and the price was right at 10 dollars, so I moved in!!!
Home.. Was a nice day with lots of great views and a nice camp site for the evening.. To see the images
for this day, use this link: Western Adventure, Day 13.
2013-09-18, Day 14 of this Western Adventure
If you have been following this adventure, you will know that rain is like a bad child that I just cannot get rid of..
It follows me everywhere, but luck is about to be with me for awhile, today will turn out to be a rainless day and
it will be beautiful... Lord only knows how many times the area I have been traveling in has been referred to as
the WILD WILD WEST, and it is, but not in the way most people would think when they hear that statement.. I
call it this because it is just a WILD feeling you get when you are there. The land formations and the rivers, etc,
are unlike anything I have seen so far in my travels.. As I travel through the west and play in the mountains and
on the rivers, I am just in awe at how many different types of land formations there are, and how many of them
are extremely different, but very close together.. Flat ground can rise up to be a mountain, or drop off and
become a canyon with a waterfall. Every turn in the road will offer the viewer something amazing to look at.. My
photos really do not do it justice, but I hope they cause more people to go stare at these places and wonder
how it all happened..
Today, I will travel from the mountains where trees are as thick as grass in the meadows, then, I will end the
day in the desert, after wading in orange water and squeezing between rocks in a canyon were the walls are so
close together that you have to turn sideways to get through them.. Just amazing.. Then, I will camp on a flat
area that offers a view almost to the horizon in several directions. I will watch a full moon rise from the horizon
and make its way through the maze of clouds that are drifting by in the early night.
This morning I woke up to the sound of the wind blowing through the trees around me, high on a green
mountain near Boulder, UT. I tried to sleep in a bit, and just enjoy the sounds and the cool air, but, I had a long
day planned, so it was up and at it.. Got my coffee and tea water heating, opened my can of chicken and my
can of pineapple, and my bottle of hot sauce!!! I find that these three items mixed together in the morning are a
great way to start the day.. Might not sound very good, but it works.. I have tried a lot of travel food, and this is
a magic combination.. Wakes ya up, gives you strength and go power!!! Try it!!!
With breakfast finished and packed away, I started on the tent. Then about that time, a fellow stopped by to
visit a bit.. He had been to the restroom not far from my campsite. He and some buddies were camped across
the road from me.. When he comes by he says, “You are a long ways from home”!! I agreed, and assured him I
was also having a lot of fun!!! On that we agreed. We chatted about me living in the St Louis area, but I grew
up in the hills on the east side of Oklahoma. For those that have not seen the east side, try it.. Its kinda like
Colorado, it has a lumpy side and a flat side.. People like me prefer the lumpy side, but there are those I have
met who have given me great stories about how I missed some great fun by not stopping to appreciate the flat
places!!! I am sure they have a point, but all the same!!! You know what I mean...
When the fellow learned that I was from Oklahoma, he laughed, sort of.. Said he was once married to a woman
from Oklahoma, but could not remember what town he found her in.. Said she was an Indian woman. That is a
Native American, to those that are keeping track of such things! Said he would probably remember the town
name later.. Old men, old minds, old memories, it all goes together.. It all gets old, it all dies. Best enjoy it fast
as you can.. We chatted some more, and as it turns out, he too is retired.. Retired from what, I forget, but it was
something like welding, I think. And, he was here on this trip because he had worked hard to get some of those
city people out of their boxes and outside to enjoy some nature stuff.. All of them were from California and they
were here to do some fishing!!! Did not see any fishing places up here on the side of the mountain, but it was
his story and he could tell it anyway he wanted... Nice fellow..
After our little chat, he said goodbye, and made the excuse that he had to get back and get those city boys
moving so that they could enjoy these hills.. And with that he was gone.. Well sort of.. I went back to work
packing up my tent and etc, then a couple of minutes later, and from a distance of about 70 steps away, he
hollered “Tahlequah, my ex-wife was from Tahlequah!! Knew it would come to me later!!! Have a nice day!!! “.
All packed up, I got back on the road and back to snapping memory photos wherever I could find them.. But, it
was not long, until the Green Hills were beginning to flatten out and become orange stone pillars, among other
shapes.. One of the places I passed by was the “The Flute Shop”. This is a really neat place to stop, just about
three miles before arriving in Torrey, Utah.. I have been here before, several times, but only stopped once. I
think that was in 2011. And, I wrote about it, so check the 2011 travel story for this area. But, I did snap a
couple of memory photos as I went by.. I actually want to send some contact info to Andy, who owns Fort Zion,
that I met on this trip. He is always looking for new supplies for his Out Post! If you like the sound of Native
American Flute music and the flutes that these tunes are recorded on, check out the Flute Shop.. I just learned
they also have a hotel... Should be a nice thing to try.. The website for THE FLUTE SHOP is: http://www.
fluteshopmotel.com/. No point in telling them Tom sent ya, they won't have a clue who I am, and they might
wonder about you.. Not really! I spent a lot of time talking to the owner, who just happened to be at the front
desk the day I was there.. He told me the whole story about how the business got started.. Hopefully you too
will get to talk to him and hear the story for yourself.. He is a local fellow who grew up just over the hill from his
shop.. I forgot how many flutes he and his family make each year, but it is in the thousands, and they are
shipped all over the world, from what I understood.. Tandy Leather is a big customer of this shop... Just a few
facts to get ya interested...
Just a hop, skip, and jump on down the road, I arrived in Torrey, a cute little place, just outside of Capitol Reef
National Park.. I would bet that everyone who has been to Capitol Reef has been to this little spot on the map..
I been here now a bunch of times.. It is the place to get gas and some supplies before going out into the wild!!!
And, they have a great coffee shop here with wifi... I tested it, personally, so I know.. Very good... The name of
this place of business is, Castlerock Cafe & Candy. And, they have a website for ya to peek into.. It is: http:
//www.castlerockcoffee.com/ …. And, while you are in the area, my ole buddies at SUBWAY are serving their
product just across the parking lot, a few feet away!!!! This may not be of interest to anyone except my
photographer readers, but there is a great photographer lady who lives just down the road from here, in
Bicknell, Utah. I met her in 2011, when I was here last time doing photos. Photographer or not, you will want to
see her work. She specializes in people photography.. Here is the link to her and her work.. Check it out, it is
amazing what she does with people: http://faundimages.blogspot.com/ .
The coffee is gone, the computer work is up to date, so it is time to roll.. Capitol Reef is just down the road. I
will be making a drive through visit this time, as I have a goal of getting to the slot canyons early enough to do
some hiking.. More on the slot canyons here in a bit, but now it is time to go.
In the car, I am gone. And, soon I am in the middle of Capitol Reef.. This is one awesome park.. Too bad I will
just be zipping through, but I have been here to play before, and I will be back.. On this zip-through, I will grab
as many memory images as I can, but keep moving.. I do make a short stop at the park visitor center to use the
restroom, then I am gone.. I hope the few memory images I grabbed will give you a sense of what is in the
park.. You have to see it to appreciate it. One of the things you will see in the images is people picking fruit.
This happens in this park.. And, it is fun.. There are some large orchards here. You pick what you want, use
the honor system to pay at the exit, and off you go to chomp down on the goodies. Its good, I have done it!!!!
Now on the other side of the park, I find a lot of other interesting things and formations to point my camera at..
There is soooo much to photograph that doing it all is not possible.. Just getting some of it is a big deal!!!
On the back side of the park, the land forms change so much, you think you have entered another world, it is
just so completely different. The park is full of big orange rock formations, then just on the other side, the color
changes to layers of gray and orange, then further out even, the land formations just turn to gray, for the most
part.. The photos will have to show you what I mean.. So, get ready for some big differences as you watch the
show.. Now, I will tell you, there is some novelty out here as well.. At one location, I found a roadside attraction
that I have no idea as to what it is all about, but it got my attention, and maybe that was the purpose!!! Further
yet down the road, in Hanksville, there is a gas station inside of a solid rock.. I even stopped and got gas here.
I actually got it so I could check the place out, but I did need fuel.. Here is a word to the wise, if you travel like I
do, a half full tank is an empty tank.. If you drive in this country, keep the car full of fuel.. Many times fuel
stations are few and far between, plus these people close up and go home EARLY!! So, don't push it!!! The
price is the same!!!When I drove this car to Alaska, I was warned many times to never go anywhere that I
could not come back to on the same tank of gas.. On the Alaska trip, and even here in the west, services can,
and will be, over 100 miles apart!!!!
As I drove into Hanksville, I drove past a BLM sign. This is a government agency that has charge of a particular
segment of land out west. If you are interested in playing outdoors in the less populated areas of the west,
check with the BLM before you go.. They are the go-to people for many of the western playgrounds.. That said
and after getting my fuel, around 2 PM, I tracked down the BLM office and was greeted by a very nice lady,
Susie, who provided a wealth of info, pertaining to my interest, hiking in the slot canyons just a few miles
further up the road and on BLM land.. I do not remember all that we talked about, but, this lady provided me
with a hiking map of
the slot canyon area I was interested in, and gave me the weather report, past and present.. Saying it has
rained here, means MUD!!! Saying it will rain here means stay out of the canyons.. But, lucky for me, no rain
was forecast for the near future.. However, it has rained several days ago, meaning I might run into mud in the
canyons!!! With my information consumed and my treasure map in hand, I am out the door, headed for my goal,
Little Wild Horse Canyon.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is just a short drive from Goblin Valley State Park.. I have been to the state park
several times, but not in these slots.. However, I recently was reminded that I had been to the trail head of the
slots.. A buddy and I were out exploring in 2011, when we came onto the trail head. We walked up the trail a
ways, but turned back, not knowing what we would have seen if we would have keep going... So, how did I get
interested enough to go back? My friend Nancy, who is a long time friend and a well traveled person, came
here earlier this year. She and her boyfriend came here to explore, then came home to tell me I just had to go
see it.. Meaning, it got put on my do list, and now it is going to get done!!!
I leave Hanksville, drive through some more very interesting country, and arrive at the famous turnoff to Goblin
Valley.. I take the road, and I take photos as I go... Then, just a few miles down the road, comes the Y in the
road. Just before I would get to the entrance to the Valley, a road turns to the right and heads for the slots.. I
take it.. More awesome country!!! More photos. I do arrive at the trail head, and I do pack up my survival
daypack, and off I go.. I am going to do my first slot canyon hike.. Won't be a very long hike as it was 4 PM
when I arrived at the parking lot.. So, I will get to see some of it today, then will come back tomorrow for more..
Today is a scouting trip... And, with that I am off.
I am going off into the unknown here.. I have seen photos etc of this area, but did not see what one has to do to
get into the canyons. It is not a straight forward thing for a newbie to do.. As it turns out, the rain had most likely
changed the entrance a bit, though I am not sure. But, when I saw the first pool of water, I started thinking this
is not going to be what I expected!!!! Should have brought a swim suit, or a boat, or some really tough rock
climbing clothes and shoes, etc... Lots of different thoughts raced around under the hair on top of my head....
But, I was not to give up, as I knew lots of people do this all the time, so it is doable!!! I just got to get past this
Not far “up” the trail, I ran into my first problem.. I was standing on a ledge, looking down into the valley below
me, and I have no idea how I am supposed to get from here to there! But, I will try, and I do.. First try was a
loser! What I thought would be the path, straight ahead, turned out to be a trap.. I got out on a ledge that
people with big cameras and packs should not be on. One wrong move here and the vacation is over. Might
just be some cuts and bruises, with maybe a couple of broken bones, no big deal and as long as the bones are
not in my neck or my back, I'm okay, the others would mend pretty well if given the proper attention..
There are some places that getting out of is way more dangerous than going in.. Well, to be honest, I think that
is always the case, but... I am in harms way right now, and there is nobody to help or to serve as witness as to
what could well be a disaster here in a few minutes!!! By the grace of the spirits, I somehow managed to wiggle
and crawl back to a safer place. This time, I spend more time LOOKING for a better way down. Then, I find it,
the secret path. I is actually marked by little piles of rocks, but they are not something you would be looking for
on your first trip in.. Now, I know, so.. But, even the path down the side of the hill here is not a walk in the park,
it is just not as bad as the one I was on.... That is not saying much, but, it worked.. I got to the bottom, and felt
quiet proud of myself..
Having successfully managed the downhill challenge, I am soon standing in front of the sign that points in two
different directions. One to the left, one to the right! Why, I do not know, but I chose the right. And, I think it was
somewhere between here and the car that someone I met mentioned more water, meaning more than what I
had already climbed up and over... But, if they can do it, so can I... And off I go, I am on the Little Wild Horse
Canyon trail.. Truth, it is not a trail, it is just a canyon... And is it ever a canyon.. It was not long until I was
breathless.. I have seen photos of slot canyons, mostly the really famous ones like Antelope, I think it is called..
But, this is a great introduction for me.. I am just in awe.... I realized it was getting late, I realized there might be
water, etc, etc.. And I wanted to see it all.. Before long, I was almost running, so as to beat the clock.. But, then
there is the challenges.. WATER.. Water out here in the desert! Yes..
At first it was mud spots, then there were little puddle spots, then there were bigger puddle spots, etc... If I did
not know that people had been doing this already, since the rain, I might have turned back, but, if they can do
it, so can I, up to a point! I keep going.. Then comes the big one.. What is in there? How deep is it, etc.. Takes
me a while to get the nerve to try it.. The thing that is a saving grace here is that the bottom of these pools is
fairly solid, no matter how deep they area.. The pool in front of me is long, but how deep it is, is an unknown..
Then, right there in front of me is the answer. A stick, a gift from an earlier hiker.. USE IT!! So, I elected to just
go as far as I could go without getting my wallet and keys, etc, wet.. Turns out, that the water was the perfect
depth for my limits.. I picked up the stick, waded into the pool, checked the depth in front of me, and was doing
well, until about the half way mark, then, the stick broke!!! Now, I am in the middle of this pool and no way to
check what is in front of me.. What to do.. I inch forward a big at a time, and at one point the water was up to
the bottom of my front pockets. Why I kept going is an unknown, but I did, and in just a few feet, the water
started getting less deep.. I had done it. I had gone the length of the pool!!!! Once out of the pool, I was off and
running again.. For those people in my circle who have not seen the slots, you will be amazed at the images I
will be sharing from this day and the next..
At one point, I came to one of those big rocks that is stuck between the canyon walls.. Might even be similar to
the one that a man got his hand caught in several years back, then cut his hand off to release himself.. A bit
uncomfortable to be sure, but to get further up the canyon, I had to crawl under this rock... And, I did! Good to
be on the other side.. But, then, just as I stood up, I saw a fellow about my size coming my way, and he looked
wet!!! In fact when we got close enough to chat, I learned that he had been wet the better part of the day, and
right now he wanted to get to the car and get to dry clothes.. But, we did take time to visit, and I learned about
his trip.. His name was Jonathan, and he was from New York.. A long way to go to play in the rocks, but that is
what he was doing, on his two week vacation.. He had been here and done this trail before.. What I have not
told yet is that these two canyons are connected on the uphill side by a connecting trail, which allows for a loop
hike. This is what Jonathan had done. He started his adventure by going up the Bell Canyon side, looping
around the back and coming down the Little Wild Horse side... I think this is the most common direction... Of
course, I took some memory photos of this wet person, and then he was off, but before he was gone, he tried to
warn me of the large pools of water that I would come to if I were to do the loop.. Something to think about..
And off I went..
I am not sure how far up the canyon I got. Distance is hard to judge in here, but I will guess I went in at least a
mile.. Then, I started back out.. It goes without saying, but I was trying to get as many photos as I could before
the canyon got too dark.. When I would look up, I would see clear blue sky, but all around me it was getting
very dark, kinda like being in the bottom of a deep well. If the sun is not straight over head, things get very
dark... So, I moved pretty fast.. But, at one point it got very narrow and very dark, so much so that taking
photos was a waste of time, so I turned around and started back out... Because of the way light was entering
the canyon, it did get lighter as I walked out, but still.. And, I had to wade back through the long pool of water!!!
But, now I know how deep it is, so I can do it faster..
Not far down from the pool, I am scooting along at a nice clip and almost run into a fellow.. But, he is coming in
as I am going out.. Why, it is dark in here!!! Turns out, he is another person on a tight schedule. Wants to see
as much as he can, as fast as he can, then he too has to leave.. Turns out, his name is Eddie Andersen from
Denmark.. I never been to Denmark, but these people speak better English than me!! I have a lot to learn, and I
will as I get out more, but we are not the only English speaking country in the world.. And, oddly enough, Eddie
is the third Denmark person I have met on this trip. He says how odd that is, giving that he has been here
several weeks and has not met another person from his country..
Turns out, Eddie is here to check out the possibility of starting a business to bring Europeans here to see and
experience this Wild West.. It is very unique.. He has been here several times and thinks others would like to
come see as well, if they had a good adventure leader who could help them really get out and experience the
great outdoors.. No hotels, no running water, just great fun playing in the wide open places with all these
amazing formations around you.. Plus, when I told him I was headed for Moab, he said he had just spent eight
days there, and then he started recommending outfitters that could do the best job for me when I got to town...
Cool.. And, after we talked, I learned he would be doing like me, camping out here in the wild tonight, so I
invited him to join me later, then told him where I planned to camp.. Then we went our way!
When I arrived back in the parking lot, I found two young ladies much interested in something they had spread
out on the ground.. Looked like hunters cleaning their catch for the day.. I guessed one of the ladies to be a
yoga expert, as she was standing with her butt in the air, and her head was down by her feet, not an easy
thing to do.. And, she was working on something.. Her friend was sitting in the dirt doing something equally as
interesting... The funny part is that when I got up to them, it turns out they were chopping up part of water
melon, and consuming it, in celebration of their hike this day.. They had just completed the Two Canyon Loop..
That is not an official name, but I assigned it as such for this note.. But, in a short, they left about 11 AM, hiked
up Bell Canyon, crossed over, and came back down Little Wild Horse Canyon. They arrived back at the
parking lot around 6 PM, give or take a little.. They looked like they had been playing in the dirt, but they were
smiling from ear to ear..
You will meet these ladies in the memory photos, but in a short, these two ladies are from the Salt Lake City
area of this state, Utah. And, they are mountain women.. True outdoor people. They tell me they have played in
this area and in the canyons around the state for most of their life.. When I asked for their names and
occupations, I should have written the info down right then, and might have, but it is currently lost. Update, I
found the info!! The ladies names are Becca and Sarah. Becca works in a health food store, but I did not
record what Sarah does for a living. If you ladies ever read this, please send to me the correct info!! But,
whatever info is correct, it was great fun to have met and to have visited with these gals.. They were covered
with dirt and mud, from top to bottom, but I have not seen happier girls in many a year.. They had a great day!!!
And, topped it off with a watermelon they had bought in Green River, where there was a watermelon festival
taking place at this time.. And, on top of all this, they had started the hike this morning with Jonathan, who I met
in the canyon this day. Somewhere along the way, the two parties got separated, but they had traveled
together for much of the trip.. That said, there was a fair amount of difference in how the trip was described by
the girls then Jonathan. When I met Jonathan, he was wet and cold and told of great challenges, as he worked
his way through and around the large puddles of water.. But, when I talked to the girls, they said sure, there
was water, and there was mud, but not a problem!!!! Guess it all depends on where you are from. They were
raised in this stuff and loved it, so did Jonathan, but he was from New York, so.... Tis good to get two points of
view on these things...
The girls did offer to share their melon with me, as they had almost half of one left after they had gotten their
feast completed. And, I would loved to have had some, but with my camera in hand, the last thing I needed was
melon juice all over me and the camera, etc.. There was no place to clean up after the fun of the feast..
However, I much appreciated the offer as I love watermelon.. Was very hard to say no to the offer... And to
confirm the possible mess, they had one.. They had used the underside of a cooler lid as a table to cut up this
melon. The lid and the ground around the lid looked as if someone had butchered a large animal. There was
red juice everywhere, to include on them, but they did not care.. They were happy!!! And, they were headed
home this evening, so before the day was done, they would be splashing in a shower and getting out all
cleaned up... I on the other hand, would be camping in the desert with no shower!!! Then again, the girls
offered help. Since they knew the area well, they told me of a neat place to camp, just down the road.. Turned
out to be an awesome place to camp!!!
As our conversation was coming to a close, the girls cleaned up the mess they had made at the watermelon
party.. But, they still had half of a melon to deal with. This half would fit in their cooler, but it would leak juice.
They asked if I had a garbage bag to share. I had a bunch of them. So, I shared, actually I gave them two.. With
that, they bagged the melon, and was set to head home, but I did manage to get a few memory photos of them
and their prize melon before I drove off... You will see all this in the memory photos.
As I approached the turnoff to the camping area, I noticed the moon, a full moon, was coming up over the hills
ahead of me. Lucky for me that I carry a camera.. I grabbed it and started shooting!! Lost track of how many
images I took, as I tried to get that one special photo, but no matter, it was an awesome sight to see the moon
coming up and making such a show in the process.. This too you will see in the images shared.. I actually shot
a lot, you will see but a small part of those...
From the turn off, I drove on to the camping area, and continued to take photos of the rising moon. Then, up
the road came a Suburban. I expected it was Eddie that I had met in the canyon, and sure enough, it was.. He
parked close to my car, came over to visit, and was not long until we were doing some serious talking.. He was
a super interesting person. At 27 years of age, I think, he had done a lot of neat things, to include several trips
to the USA and to have played in the Wild Wild West. He and a ladyfriend, came here a few years ago and
spent several months exploring and doing photos. She is a photographer now, by trade.. They are no longer
together, but, he said they did a lot of neat stuff when they were together. Also, he was a camera and lens with
him, that he is using for this trip, that is the big brother to the one I am using, so we had a lot to compare there..
I did not see many photos from his travels, but what I saw looked great.
When I told him of my intent to travel to Moab and play for a few days, he got very excited. He had just came
from there, and had tried many of the play options offered by the outdoor outfitters, as he was looking for
people to use for his future business. One suggestion that he had even included a business card. When I said I
wanted to do the 4x4 tours in the area, he said there was really only one to do, it was called EXTREME 4x4,
and it was a one of a kind, home built, rock crawler, that a fellow named Dave built and gives tours in.. It looks
nothing like the auto it was born to be, but it is neat, from the photos. I am told the rock crawler started life as a
1989 Suburban, or something like that.. However, you would not know that by looking at the photo on the card..
More on this later, when I actually do go for a ride in this thing!!!
Time travels really fast when you are having fun, as you well know, and this was the case with Eddie and me.
Seems like we talked minutes, but was hours. In fact, we had to almost force ourselves to say good night and
head off to bed. I had a tent set up, but he was sleeping in his truck, a truck he had rented from someone he
knew in this country. In his travels here, he was made a lot of friends and done some awesome adventures!
But, he had not hunted scorpions with a UV light. I had one in the car, but took forever to find it. When I did, I
gave it to Eddie and let him hunt scorpions with the light. Turns out, he found none, but it was a rather cool
night, so maybe they were not out feeding under this condition.. However, a scorpion will glow green, a pale
green, when they are under a UV light.. I first learned of this when I was on the mule ride in the Grand Canyon.
Wrangler Lady, Terri, showed us how this worked. Was amazing.. Without a UV light, we could not and would
not have seen them!!!! The things you learn when you get out and travel!!!! Travel is one of the greatest forms
of education... Mark Twain had a famous saying about this. Here it is as I found it on the internet. Sounds great
**** Mark Twain...... Quotable Quote
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these
accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little
corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Was an awesome day... So awesome in fact that I ended up with a lot of memory images to share.. So many in
fact that I broke the day up into two parts. To see the shared images from this day, use the links below..
Slot Canyon, Day 14, Part One.
Slot Canyon, Day 14, Part Two.
2013-09-19, Western Adventure, Day 15.... Updated 2013-10-20
Wow, another beautiful day!!! NO RAIN!!! And, I am going to return to the canyons and do the left side, which
is Bell Canyon.
I forget what time I woke up, but shortly after getting up, I grabbed the camera and started gathering memory
shots of the area where I was camped last night.. Was not long before Eddie was awake and out of his truck..
We chatted a bit, then he took off. Said before leaving that he had several long days left before flying back to
Denmark. I think he was supposed to be in Salt Lake City fours days from now. There, he would leave the
truck with a friend and fly back to Denmark.
I set up my stove, etc, fixed my morning coffee and tea, had my can of chicken and my can of pineapple.
Then, I packed the tent, etc, in the car and headed back to the trail head.. Time to get serious about this
Per my records, it as around 10 AM when I arrived in the parking lot. My day pack was already set to go, so
off I went. Was not long until I met two people hiking out of the canyon area. Turns out these people were
just out for a short morning walk. While chatting, I learned that they were named John and Louise, and that
they were from Salina, Colorado. They had been married about 30 years or so. John, as it turns out was a
well traveled man who was born and raised in Croatia.. When he was a teenager, he came to America, lived
with relatives, and built a life here. That said, he goes back to the home country to visit, hike, etc... Croatia is
on my do list!!! Beautiful place, per photos I have seen...
Earlier I had met a couple about my age and learned that they were doing the canyon hike to day, but I did
not visit much with them.. However, now, while talking to John and Louise, I see this couple coming back.
What is the issue.. Turns out, they had gone up to the first pool of water, did not see the path around it,
assumed they were in the wrong place and had started back.. We gave them instructions for getting around
the pool and back on the trail.. With that, they were gone.. And, after finishing my chat with John and Louise,
I too was on my way..
At the sign, I went left as planned and started my hike into Bell Canyon.. Then, not long after I started, here
comes the couple again. Where they headed this time.. Turns out, they had come to a nice pool of water with
a wall at the back of it.. And, getting around it was more than they were prepared for.. But, they were still
desiring to do the hike if they could get past this issue. While talking to me, they figured I might know how to
get past it, and wanted to show the problem to me.. So, up the trail we went. And, sure enough, there it was..
The wall... I had no idea what to do.. But, I knew other people got around it, so we could to, but how.. We
tried just about all the things we could thing of, that were fairly safe for us.. Without my camera gear, etc, I
could most likely have made it over the wall or have gone around it, but with the pool of water there waiting to
drown my gear again, I was a bit more cautious. After several attempts by the man, Dennis by name, he was
able to get up the wall. Now he is on top, but his pack and his wife, Ann, are down here with me.. What to
do.. Well, being a farm boy, I have filled a lot of mud holes with rock, so I started gathering rocks from the trail
to use to build a tower, to help get up the wall.. Before long, Ann is in on the act, and then Dennis joined in,
even though he was on top. He had a lot of rocks in his area, and was tossing them down to us. At first, I was
trying to pitch the rocks into place, but that was not working very well, so I just waded in and stacked them as
Did the tower work? Yes!! Took a couple tries to get it adjusted to my liking, then it was a go. I got up with all
my gear, etc... Now, Dennis and I are on top, but Ann and their equipment is still on the lower level. What to
do? Get Ann up to the top.. She tried a couple of times, but did not think she could make it, but finally, with
our encouragement, she tossed up the gear, then climbed the tower.. She was not tall enough to make the
last part of the climb, but Dennis and I finally got down close enough to her that we could just grab her and
drag her up.. It worked.. She was pretty dirty as a result, but she was happy and ready to get on with the
hike, so off we went!
Was not long before we started finding the pools of water that Jonathan had talked about, yesterday. By
now, these pools had gone down a lot, but still presented a challenge.. In the photos you will see the different
ways we got around them.. To be honest, I waded all of them, but I was the last one to go through. On the
first pool, as I recall, it was Dennis who was brave enough to go in and check it out.. At the next one, it was
Ann who plowed in and tested the waters.. As it turns out, this was a great couple of people to hike with..
They were true adventure people.. They had not done everything there was to do, but they were willing to
try, which made for great fun.. Looking back, it would be hard to say who was the most aggressive, as I
watch each of them take a turn at pushing to go on when it looked like we were too ill prepared for this, and
should turn back. Multiple times, one of them would be ready to stop, but the other would push until we all
decided to move on. I think I laughed most at Ann, the shortest one here, as she tackled the pools of water,
the rock climbs and the tight fit places. She did not back down, and in the end, was the first one to reach the
end of the canyon...
Per my records, it was 1 PM when we finally reached the upper end of Bell Canyon. When we arrived, we
found that there was an official trail head and a dirt road to it!!! So, there are other ways to get to these
canyons, other than the one I took.
Now that we are here, what shall we do.. I think we have hiked over two miles getting here, but to get to the
other canyon, we would have to hike the 1.6 mile, or so, connector trail over to the Little Wild Horse Canyon,
which would take us back to the car.. The complete loop is about 8 miles.. At 1 PM, and with several long
miles, and possible more water ahead, I decided I would not go on.. And, Dennis did not really want to go on,
but Ann did. And, off she went. Of course, she knew Dennis would do it if she did. We said our Goodbyes,
and did the well wishes, then they were gone.. I sat down on a rock, watched them for a bit as they left,
wondering if they would get out before dark. While I wondered, I decided to have a food bar and just enjoy
the beauty, as it was everywhere! I did the food bar, then headed back. It is now 1:30 PM...
The trip back to the car went much better and faster than the trip in, as I was now familiar with the pools of
water and the challenges I had to deal with. Actually, there are some big rocks to get over and around to
complete this trail. It was in this area of the world where I young man was doing what we were doing, when a
rock rolled, trapped his right hand, I think, and there he stood for 5 days, until he eventually cut off his hand
so that he could escape. He later wrote a book about his adventure. The title of the book is 127 Hours. I have
not read the book or seen the movie made on the same event. But, oddly enough, in 2011, when I was in
Escalante, I met the man who actually rescued the hand, wrapped it in plastic and carried it back to the
authorities for processing or whatever they did with it.. And, to expand on this, the wife of the man who
brought out the hand, had gone in earlier, found where the hand was, then determined what would be
needed to free the hand and bring it out.. Per this fellows story, several rescue people carried hydraulic
jacks into the canyon to lift the rock, free the hand, then let the rock back down.. Makes you think strange
thoughts while you are climbing over these things.. Could they move??? What if I were trapped??
Back at the location where Ann and I had built the tower, it was now up to me to get down, by myself.. It was
a lot more stressful than I would have guessed.. In the end, and after several minutes of evaluating my
options, I slid down the rock face until my feet were on the tower, then I very gently lowered myself to the
bottom.. Getting down was not the real issue, but ending up in the water and drowning the camera was an
issue... But, I got it done.. When I was here the first time, I was so involved in the challenge that I forgot to
record the climb that Dennis made to get up the wall the first time, nor did I think to take photos of the tower,
before I went up.. I try to record everything, but on this I missed.. But, now, on the way back, I can get some
memory photos. That said, there was a big surprise in it for me.. The water level had gone down a lot since I
was here just hours ago!!! When I got here this morning, the water was knee deep, or close, but now, it is
would be half that much.. Goes down fast.. So, judging from that and what Jonathan had told me, I am
guessing he really did have a lot of water issues to deal with. Even now, after a night of disappearing water,
some pools were still deep enough to get your butt wet!!!
Once down the tower and photos taken, I started to head for the car, but ran face on into a nice couple
headed into, or up, the canyon.. I chose to tell them about the tower issue and walked back to it to see if they
would use it.. After a lot of soul searching, the man decided he would give it a try, and by darn, he made it up
to the higher level. Now, he is on the top and I am down here with his wife.. We tried to talk her into climbing
up and going on with him, and it almost worked, but in the end, she decided that it was much safer for her to
remain down here.. And, she did.. She sent her hubby on to explore for a bit. I could have gone on, but chose
to remain here and chat with her while her hubby was exploring more of the trail..
Our visit turned into a chat about jeeping.. And, I think that is what we were chatting about when the hubby
returned and we held our breath as he came back down the tower!!! He actually did it with ease, but one slip
of a rock could have landed him in a bad way.. But, he made it.. Now for the visiting.. Their names were Rick
and Jan Prazak, from St Petersburg, Florida. He was a doctor, internal medicine, and Jan was his nurse..
Pretty cool.. In Florida, there is not a lot of rocks to play on, so they come to this area to play. Actually they
have been coming here for years.. I think they said that back in time, some 20 years ago or so, someone in
their social circle brought them here and introduced them to Jeeping.. They were hooked.. They started out
with a 1993 Grand Cherokee, I think, and played in it for years.. Later they moved up to bigger toys.. Now,
they have one of the largest Rubicons you can get, with all the bells and whistles.. Per Jan, they take off a
month each year, hook the Jeep behind their motor home, and head for the west, where they spend as many
hours per day as they can, driving all the back roads, crawling over rocks and though the mud and water, as
required.. Basically they just have a lot of fun.. After a little visiting, I headed towards the car, while they sat
and prepared to do lunch...
Back at the car, I go about my business of putting away my gear, etc, but as I start to drive out, there is Rick
and Jan, to wish me well as I finish my day.. Then, after I got on the road, but was pulled over to grab a few
photos, they passed me and waved.. This part of my day has been great fun, in a great place, with great
people.. But, now, I have to get moving.. The calendar is telling me I have to get rolling to compete this trip as
Was a neat drive as I headed to Green River, a little town I camped at earlier, and will be camping in again
tonight, I will assume, given the time of day. I would like to make it to Moab, but I think that is pushing it, so
my goal will be Green River.. So, Green River it was.. I arrived safely, got off the highway, and found a
Subway.. My favorite place to eat when I travel. So, dinner at Subway is the action plan.
After I get my visit in Subway finished, I head out the door to see if I can get another campsite at KOA, just
down the street. As I am leaving, a friend from long ago calls.. We start chatting, so I pull over and stop. After
a minute or so, I notice that nearby is a pickup with the biggest load of watermelons I have ever seen. I have
seen larger loads of melons, but they were in a much larger truck.. Those babies are heavy. I could not
believe this pickup could haul that many melons. The number was not the issue, it was the weight!!!!!!! So, I
stopped the phone call, grabbed my camera, and headed for the pickup.. The man who was unloading it
gave me permission to do photos of it. And, he offered me free samples, which were in a cooler, there at the
melon shack.. Later, I would learn that there was a melon festival going on these days here in this town, so
melons were going to be seen everywhere. After learning of the festival, and the activities, I almost went to
the fairgrounds to check it out, but when I saw the daily schedule, I learned that I had already missed all the
fun stuff, like the seed spitting contests, etc... I had gotten a campsite at the KOA, so, instead of spitting
seeds, I am going to be taking a well needed shower!!!!!!!!!!! But, this turned out to be the most expensive
KOA I have stayed at.. Cost over 31 dollars to stay here, and that was after my 5 dollars AAA discount!!!
Guess water is expensive out here! I think they miss-charged me. The first time I was here, it was only 25
dollars, or there abouts..
I set up my tent, called my friend back, caught up on some local news, got my shower, checked my email,
and headed for bed.. It was a long day, but a fun one.. Am glad I have a lot of photos to look back on and
remember all this when I am too old to actually do it.. Will just live on the memories... !!!! That too will be
Tomorrow, I will drive to Moab, get a new campsite, and start hunting for outfitters to provide me with 4x4
toys to play with.. But, that is tomorrow, and there will be more photos, but today is today, and if you want to
see the images I am sharing from the Bell Canyon hike, use this link: Western Adventure 2013, Day 15.
Update 2013-10-20: In my story for this day of adventure I told how I had met and hiked with two really neat
people from the eastern part of the USA. I said that at the top of Bell Canyon, I turned back and they went on
with plans to complete the loop. Several times since then I had wondered if these two people completed the
loop and returned to their car safely. I imaged that even if they did, it would be well after dark. Well, guess
what, just a few days ago, I got an email from Dennis!!! He and Ann were alive and well, and back home
safely. I replied and ask Dennis to tell me the story of their adventure after I saw them last, so that I would
know what happened and I could share the story with my readers. Just minutes ago, I got another reply from
him, which I will share here so that you too will know, in Dennis's words, how their adventure went after I left
Let me get right into responding to your main question. First, from where we left you at the top of bell canyon
we hiked two and a half miles up and over to the top of the little wild horse. This was a long hot dry trek. Up
seemed to go on forever. We then went another mile into the upper (dry) part of the LWH canyon. Just when
it narrowed down we hit major obstacle. It involved dropping down a six foot dry water fall into a large rock
that was itself at an angle sloping towards another 20 foot drop into some nasty rocks at the canyon bottom.
We spent quite some time looking for an alternative but nothing reasonable presented itself. We were tired
and knew we could easily make a bad decision. Even if we made it down we didn't think we could make it
back up if we ran into something even worse later. So as much as we wanted to continue on and as tired as
we already were we decided to walk back up and over to the Bell canyon back through the obstacles we
knew. So that's what we did. We were slowed by a few situations on the way back. I climbed down the dry fall
stepping onto the tower you and Ann built and she figured out a way down which I think was the same way
you took. We ended up back in the parking lot at around five in the evening. We were tired but in good
shape considering we had put on about ten miles over pretty rugged terrain. At least it was rugged for us. So
it was a bit anticlimactic and a trifle disappointing but there is also the fact that we lived to tell the story. I've
enjoyed reading your diaries. Thanks for including our little adventure into them. Your tour of Moab hit home
especially. We spent a week there ourselves at the beginning of our trip this year. We are even thinking it
might be a good place for second home or an eventual first home later. I wonder how serious we are.
2013-09-20, Western Adventure Day 16
Day 16!! I have to repeat myself here, what this trip has turned into is nothing like the plans I had for it when
I left home around September 4, plus or minus a day.. It was supposed to be a casual trip to Colorado with a
little Moab time mixed in, but due to weather issues, it has taken on a whole new personality. Not bad, just
different. What it has done is presented me with lots of new fun people to meet and to talk to. Some you
have met already, some you will meet later on. But, right now, it is early morning on Day 16, it is just past
0800 and I am headed to the office to get some complimentary vittals and coffee that are served here. Doors
opened at 0800 and it is chow time.. What to chow down on is limited but nice.
On the menu this morning is the usual pastries that you would find in a continental breakfast, plus, this place
has boiled eggs, which is what I am interested in.. Need to do less sugar and more protein.!! I hear this is
the secret to weight loss and a longer life. I am seeking to gain both.. So, protein wins out over the sugar
This morning, once again, since I have been here earlier in this adventure, I get to take the class on how to
make coffee, for a second time!.. Yep, a coffee making class for each person who comes in for breakfast,
assuming they want coffee.. What gives? Instead of making a pot of coffee or a barrel of coffee, etc, the
company has purchased two of the little coffee machines that makes coffee one cup at a time.. Pop the little
container in, pull down the handle and fresh coffee comes out into the cup you have set in just the right
place.. On top of all this, this class is taught by an engineer, if I remember correctly. Frank I think is his
name. He is a retired fellow who camped here so much over the years that when he retired, they just put him
to work here, so that he would have something to do. He is perfect for the job and loves the work.. OH, and
he looks after office dog.. !!
With coffee in hand, I look around for a place to set my cup. Only one table spot open. There is only four,
and three of those are taken. I ask the lone eater if I may join him. He said sure, would be great, and he was
correct. After getting my eggs and other goodies, I sat down. Does not take a genius to figure out that this
man is not going to be driving a car or walking today. Because of the way he is dressed, I would assume he
would be a bicycle rider. So, I ask, and yes, he is traveling by bike, and doing it alone. Which is not all that
strange out here, but where he was going is a bit strange!
Cannot say I remember exactly how I got the gist of the story on his life, but when I asked him where he was
headed, he said the southern tip of South America.. WOW, did I get that correct, southern tip of South
America! He assures me that is his goal. OK, so how long do you expect to take to get there, 18 months?
No. More like 20 years!!! Are you kidding me! There has to be more to this story! So, I ask where he came
from, he says “all over”!!! And, as it turns out, that is the best way to describe where he came from or better
yet, where he has been.. Life for this man started in Hong Kong some 47 years ago. Then, through a series
of events and connections, he took to bike riding around 11 years ago and has been on the road pretty
much every since..
He did not have enough time to tell me everything about his travels and his adventures, but as we sat there
filling up on boiled eggs and the like, he did share some of the better parts of this adventures. Then, when I
asked if he was sharing any of his amazing stories and photos on the internet, he said he was. Turns out,
he publishes a website, which he updates with facts about he and his life, his equipment, how he got started
in all this, etc, etc... From his stories at breakfast, and what I learn via a fast visit to his website, he has done
and will do some really neat stuff that most of us can only dream of. More to the truth, most of us, including
me would never even think of trying to do what he is doing.. I like adventure, but what he is doing takes a lot
more personal will power and endurance than I have!!!
The man I have been talking about is named Tony Woo. He is 47, I think, and has been a carpenter by
trade, in his early life. Now, he rides. In my photos, you will find all the connections and contact info for
contacting Tony, or just learning about him. He is quite social, carries a smart phone and small computer, so
he is in touch with the world, most of the time.. When talking to him, I asked about him having a website and
an email address, etc.. He said yes, just photograph it. And with that, he lay his smart phone on the table,
clicked to his contact info. I took photos of that info and will be sharing it in the image set at the end of this
note. For now, you might want to get a head start by sneaking a peek at Tony's website. The address is:
On the list of places he has traveled so far is China, USA, Canada, Africa, and South America.. He has
some neat stories and some great photos, so check the site, and if you get time, send Tony a note and say
HI or ask a question or both... His life is an adventure and it makes it better to share it!
After our conversation, Tony went outside, saddled up his bike, posed for a few memory photos and off he
went. Today, he too was headed for Moab. Not long after I got on the highway, I caught up with Tony, and
snapped a bunch of images as I got closer to him. You will see these as well.
On the way to Moab, I saw a sign that said, HELICOPTER RIDES!! It was posted on the side of the road
near the airport, some 18 miles north of Moab. Just as I sailed by, I passed on the idea of stopping, then
changed my mind, turned around and went back.. Just as I was walking into the airport, a small helicopter
was taking off.. Inside I learned that the ride I was interested in taking had just left! This adventure was a
one man operation. The pilot did it all. He took the calls, set up the rides, flew the machine, etc.. And, he
had just left.. I was told he was generally gone no more than 20 minutes per ride. So, I waited, but no pilot
returned. Then, I saw a chopper on the ground, with blades spinning. Could this be the one I wanted? I
called the number posted in the airport. The pilot answered. Yes, this was it. He had just landed and would
be in the office in a bit. And, sure enough, some five minutes or so later, in he came. I told him of my desire
to go for a ride, a long one. Hummmm. Problem. Only three customers can ride in this at a time and he says
he has to go into town and pick up his next three customers. Looks like I am out of business. He does not
like to fly past 3 or 4 PM.. Wind and clouds are an issue in this area. So.... He takes my number and says he
will call me when something opens up. I agree and get back on the road..
In town, I have to secure a campsite but am not sure where. My first thought was KOA, but turns out it was 5
miles out of town, so I went back to the campground I have used in times past, the Moab Valley RV Resort.
Neat place. Prices are right and people are always a joy to work with, plus, their campsites are covered by
tents, so that sun and all weather is less of a problem for campers. I like the idea a lot.. I hate to leave my
tent set up in the sun all day!. So, into the office I go, I meet the smiling face behind the counter, which
belongs to Stephanie. Who, will be a wealth of info and help to me over the next two or three days that I am
camped here. She is a 4x4 driver herself, knows the area, has done the adventures, and speaks the
language, plus she knows the locals, etc... This is going to be great. I sign up for two nights.
After getting settled in, and with help from Stephanie, I am headed downtown to set up some adventures.
While I was in Stephanie's office, I mentioned my desire to find and ride in the Extreme 4x4. She knew about
it and knew the fellow who has it. I guess most everyone here in town does.. So, she gave me info on where
to find this beast, and off I went. This is the machine that Eddie from Denmark has recommended to me. It is
supposed to be the best. Its headquartered at a hotel downtown, so I head there. I find the hotel, go in, talk
to a lady behind the desk, but do not have the best of experience in getting a ride set up. She actually called
the owner/driver, Dave, and talked to him, via cell phone, plus, she let me talk to him. He was out on a trail
with friends that afternoon, and was far enough away that cell service was spotty.. Not much was
accomplished on the call, but it looked like I could not get a ride this day.. But, there might be a sunset trip
later in the day. I do not like the thought of a sunset 4x4 trip, but if that is the best I can do, I will.. So, I will
await the call from Dave later this day.
What to do now? I head to the office of a business called Tourism Center. I find it, I go in and as best as I
can, I say that I want to drive one of those 4x4 machines out there in the parking lot. Around town they are
called RAZOR, or RZR, no matter what brand they are.. Kinda like all sodas being called a COKE!!! For
some reason, the fellow behind the desk and I do not communicate. He more or less tells me I cannot join a
tour and drive one by myself.. Hummm. Who would have thought. I did not mind having someone ride with
me, but I was going to be the driver, no matter what. Riding was not what I wanted to do, driving was. So, I
cannot go any further here.. I leave.
I think I end up back at the campground office, and after talking to Stephanie, I headed off to find the MOAB
JET, a blue jet boat that is famous in this town for doing river trips in the area. So, I have a new mission, find
the jet boat. Turns out, it was easy, just follow the signs. As I park in the lot, a friendly female voice calls out
from somewhere and says HELLO, hows it going!!!! When I find the source, it is a blonde carrying a
something from a pickup parked nearby. We both head inside the little building that serves as the office. I go
in the customer door, the blonde goes in the owner side. I tell here my name is Tom and she tells me she is
Annie.. What can she do for me.. To be honest, Annie and I do not get off to a good start. It would seem I do
not speak the language of this valley, but I can learn.. About the time Annie and are about to give up on
each other, we start to understand each other. She learns that I am here with time and money and she
knows the people and places where I can spend it to have fun.. Now, we are talking! Annie will turn out to
be the best helper in town. Without her, much of my trip would have gone down the tubes, but once we got
on the same wavelength, things started happening fast. She knows everybody in this town, by their first
name, and she has their phone number memorized. If you need or want something done in this town, find
Annie! When you do, your mission will be 90 percent complete.. She can do it all... Here is the link to Annie
and the Jet Boat driver, Cassidy, http://www.moabjett.com/.
Now, with Annie as my FUN AGENT, I am getting things done, fast.. She makes a list of all the things she
thinks I can squeeze into the next two days that I will be in town. This will include a helicopter ride, Extreme
4x4 ride, Jet Boat ride, Razor Drive, and ATV drive. Guess what, if she would have had one more day to
work with, she could have made it happen, but I did not have an extra day. So, what did she do, she
bargained with everybody, and did it fast. She called everybody that needed calling. Was not long before I
was set up for the Extreme 4x4 ride. The only thing available was the sunset thing tonight. Then, there was
the Razor ride the morning, and the Jet Boat ride tomorrow after lunch. Then, was set up for the ATV ride
the following morning.. Could not get confirmation on the chopper ride, but was on standby. With all that
done, it was off to get ready for my Extreme 4x4 ride.
What to do while I waited? I set up my camp, got a bite to eat, etc.. Then at 5:30 PM, the beast picked me
up at my campground!! WOW, what a thing it is.. It looks a lot different in real life than in the ads. Dave the
owner/driver, welcomes me to the adventure and gets me into the seat and buckled down, after we do the
credit card business.. They can do that with a smart phone now!!! Once in, I have to learn to use the five
point harness that will be required for this ride.. This is serious stuff!!! Once buckled in, we head downtown
where we will pick up the other two riders for this adventure. As it turns out, it is a male and female from
Spain. They are air traffic controllers, by trade, over here on vacation.. And, once their check-in is complete,
we head out of town, to get to the trail head for this drive.
I really have no idea what I was expecting this to be like, but it was a lot more than that I expected.. First of
all, we arrive at a small parking lot at the bottom of a mountain. In the parking lot is a potty station. Dave
says this is the last one till we get back, the rest of the time will be natural restrooms!
I look around, and I see no trails. I ask Dave where the trail will be. He says in front of us. In front of us is a
friggin mountain! And, as I look up, coming down through the rocks is what looks to be some jeeps.. Or they
were at one time. They are so modified that it is hard to identify them now. The thing we are riding in was a
suburban, but all that is left of the suburban is part of the hood, the windshield, part of the frame, and the
VIN number. Everything else has been changed. OH, the motor is the same, but modified, I think.
In short order, we were crawling up the side of the mountain over stuff that would have been hard for me to
go up with a pack on. This stuff was nasty! But, this “thing” went right up it without a hitch. There was some
barking as the tires were slipping on the rocks, but we were moving. In fact, one of the tires moved right out
over the edge of the bluff. I was surely hanging out over the highway below! Very close call.. But, we made
it! As we went up, more people came down. In fact, the trail was busy!!!!!!! Given the way this thing was
made, with the roll bars etc, it was near impossible to take memory shots from inside of it. But, I tried, and
have a few images to share. And while on this note, the sunset trips should be avoided by people who are
interested in taking memory photos, etc.. The lighting this time of day is just the worst. Women seem to go
for anything that is labeled “sunset”, but to people like me, sunset is nearly a loss, especially in this part of
the world. The extreme difference in light between the light and dark places makes it near impossible to do
good photos. True, for a calendar photog, there is that one quick shot that can be gotten at just the right
time, but for everything else, not good. So, if you are planning to do a Moab trip on the rocks, with a camera,
make sure you go in the middle of the day, or close to it. At this time of the year, September, I would say 8:
00 AM to 4 PM is safe.
Getting past the photo thing, the Extreme 4x4 ride is just AWESOME, while it is daylight. We crawled over
stuff that you would not believe!! And we went places I would not have guessed possible.. That said, at 7
PM, almost right on the money, we arrived at a hilltop where we were supposed to watch the sunset. It
worked. The timing was perfect. The sun went behind the mountain, and with the last little glimpse of light,
the sun was gone.. Then, things started getting dark very fast..
From the sunset point, we drove through some sandy areas, and a few more rock challenges, then it was
time to do a truck trick.. This one you will have to see to believe! In a short, Dave has a favorite place where
he can park the truck in such a way as to have one wheel “way” up in the air, off the ground.. This was a
photo op for sure! We had a great time doing our tourist images here.. This is also where the light of day got
so dark that Dave started turning on his special trim lights. And, he has a lot of them.. To be honest, they
are neat. Some of them are in color, some just super bright!!! And, they are expensive. I think the one
mounted above the windshield cost him over 1300 dollars! I have might have that wrong, but it is close. But,
again, taking photos under these conditions is really hard. I managed to save a few, but lost most of them,
even with the best tricks I had.. A planned shoot with a tripod would have worked, but did not have one, so.
After we did our time with the truck parked on three wheels, Dave moved it to level ground, we piled in and
off we went, but now it is dark and for the next 1.5 hours or so, we will doing this tour in the dark. This is a
unique experience, but again, for a tourist, doing a once in a lifetime event, the sunset tour is not something
I recommend. In fact I strongly suggest people avoid it.
Before we got away from the place where Dave did the truck trick for us, he wanted to demo the trucks
climbing skills, and he did, but it was so steep that we had to do it backwards. I am afraid to guess how
steep the hill was, but it could only be done in reverse. I am guessing it would have tipped over backwards if
we had tried to climb up nose first.. It was impressive to experience. Now, I should add, we only climbed up
a distance of maybe two truck lengths, but that was plenty to get the feel for what was going on.. It was
On the way out, we stop at an overlook of Moab, and it just so happens that we arrived just before the moon
came over the horizon. Was a neat thing to watch.. One or two photos survived the edit on this... While in
this area, we also visited an old building that used to be part of a tram system, I think. Then we headed back
to street level. At one point, I moved down from the back deck of the machine to the front passenger
position. This gave the lady in our group a chance to use my seat and for me to get a different view as well.
Down at street level, Dave ask if we were in a hurry. We all replied no, so he took us on a little extra spin
around the backroads. What we were doing was looking for the petroglyphs, and other Native American
history items.. We found them.. Dave shined his lights on them and I shot some images. Some turned out
well enough to share..
With the tour over and the hour getting late, we head back. At 9:30 PM, Dave drops me off back at my
campground.. WOW, what an amazing experience!! For those who care, I just checked, best I can tell from
my 4x4 book, Dave took us on the “Poison Spider Mesa” trail... It was bad, but in the books, I see much
worse!!! Some trails can only be completed by highly modified machines!!! You can see some of them on
youtude, if you are interested!!!! Note, Dave's 4x4 is AWESOME and Dave is AWESOME. I strongly
suggest you not leave Moab without doing the ride in his 4x4, just make sure it is done in the middle of the
day, not at night! I think he sometimes has trips in the morning and just after lunch.. Either should be good,
just avoid the sunset trip.
Ok, now for the end, this day is done. Time to see the images that survived the edit.. This set is not nearly
as large as some of the others, but still it will take time to see the slide show.. To see the shared images,
use this link: Western Adventure Day 16.
2013-09-21, Western Adventure Day 17
Today will include an adventure that I have been looking forward to for a long time. Today, I get to drive one
of the 4x4 rock toys on one of the famous rock trails here in Moab, Utah. Moab must be the center of the
universe when it comes to having a playground made for people who love to take their 4x4 machines and go
crawl over rocks, big rocks!!
Annie at Moab Jet has set this day up for me, but it is now up to me to get there and get it done.. I did sleep
well, but woke before the alarm went off, as I wanted to get this day started, soon.. I was the first one in the
shower house, which is very unusual! But, I was there, I got my shower and was gone before the rest of the
campground even woke up.
Back at camp, I do my breakfast, make sure my camera gear is ready, then I sit and wait as time ticks by. I
am supposed to be at the Moab Tourism building at 0830. I will get there long before then.. As a matter of
fact, I get there around 0800, and this is after I go to McDonalds, get coffee, and drink it. This will be an
issue later!!! Putting coffee in means it will want out later..
At the office, I watch as people start getting the office open, and getting the machines fueled up and ready
to. I go inside as soon as they will let me in and announce that I am here. There is still some paperwork to
take care of and there is a credit card payment to make. If I remember correctly, I was charged 150 dollars
for this adventure. Worth noting now is that the man running around in a pink t-shirt is the man who takes my
credit card payment, etc.. Then, he looks me over and asks where I am camped!!! I tell him that I am camped
at the Moab RV Resort on the other end of town. Then he says he generally does not let people with flip-
flops drive the 4x4s. But, since I am camped so far away, he will have to let me go with what I have on.. No
problem.. But, here is the deal, I think I had my boots in the car at the time, but I do not like to wear shoes, I
prefer the sandals, which are made for backpacking in the mountains, and will be perfect for this drive as
well. That said, most people would not know that these sandals are made for serious outdoor activity. If
anyone is interested, they are CHACO sandals. Very good footwear and highly recommended by me. But, I
strongly suggest buying them one size larger than normal shoe size, to add toe and hell protection.. There
are many models of sandals made by this company, but the only one a real mountain person would wear is
the one called Z/1 Unaweep. The rest of them are just for city kids to wear to the mall. Now in defense of
what the man in the pink t-shirt was thinking, the sandals would not be appropriate for the ATV ride
tomorrow. There, the feet are very exposed to possible damage, so closed toed shoes are an absolute must.
Driving the 4x4 will not expose me to any unusual dangers.
Once in the parking lot, the man in the pink t-shirt will tell me that I will be driving machine number 1. So, I
get in and get ready.. The other customers on this trip follow a similar procedure. Then it is time for class.
We have to learn to drive these things!!! And sure enough, there is that fellow in the pink t-shirt again..
Turns out, he is a pretty cool guy. He tells us that his real name is Kent, but around town he is known as
“Cowboy”. Works for me. And, as it turns out, he is a cowboy and most likely still gets his feet messy in the
cow lot ever now and then, but currently, he is the owner, operator, and tour guide for this company. The
company is called Moab Cowboy Country Offroad Adventures. If you want to check them out, their website is:
The company has a really nice site and has some neat video clips to watch, so if you do nothing else, go
see the video clips to see what these things can do. The clips I saw on the site are not clips from tours like I
went on, the clips are from rallies where the pros are doing wild stuff.. Keep that in mind, you will not be
doing what you see in the clips. However, they are amazing machines and great fun to drive.
After we get our very strict mini class on how to operate the machine itself and how we will conduct our
driving on the trial, we are off. The one thing that was a smart rule, but not one that I like was that the driver
of the machine could not take photos while operating the machine. It was a good rule, but it sure limited what
I could share about the fun we had.. Non-drivers could take all the images they wished.. As for my camera,
there was a small glove box in the machine. By taking the battery pack off the camera, I could get it to fit in
the box, so we were good to go..
The place we will be playing is about a mile or so from the office, meaning we have to take some back
streets from the office to the park where all the action is going to take place today. I do not know the name of
the park, but the name of the trail we will be on is known as Hell's Revenge. In fact, if you go to the company
website, you will find the adventure we are doing today listed as “Hell's Revenge U-DRIVE”.
Once in the parking lot where the action starts, we stop and make sure we are accounted for and are ready
to go.. Speaking of going, I have to tell Cowboy that I need to go.. The coffee has finished processing. And,
with that, I am off to the bathroom, which brings up another point. At the trail head where we are now, is the
only official potty you will see until you get back here some three hours later. So, it is strongly suggested that
you go to the restroom whether you need to or not, just the way mama taught you when you were a kid.. If
that is not sufficient, you will be hunting for a bush to hide behind while on the trail. There are bushes, but
not many. So, plan ahead...
If you think there is a warm up period, think again! Just after you get on the trail, you start up an incline that
would un-nerve most anyone. And, it is a ridge, meaning there is very little real estate on either side of ya..
So, don't be goofing off, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the trail. Seriously. This is real
stuff.. But, there is a lot to be gained here. First, you gain confidence in the leader. He paid for this machine,
it is his, and he will most likely not take you anywhere that will damage the machine!!! Second, you gain
confidence in the machine. And, to tell you the truth, before it was over, I had all most too much confidence
in the machine. We did things I would not have guessed possible. There is a fine line in here somewhere
about what the machines can and cannot do. Some of the hills are super steep. In fact, if I had not been
there and drove the machines myself, I would have a hard time believing the hills we climbed, etc. When I
asked Cowboy about what they could handle, he said they could handle almost anything as long as they
were on all fours, but they would flip over backwards easily beyond a 70 degree incline. Today, we drove up
60 degree inclines. Felt much more, but it is what it is. The other good thing I learned about these machines
it that they are designed not to move unless you are giving them the gas. You take you foot off the pedal and
they stop. I suppose that under some conditions they roll a little, slowly, but for the most part, they do not run
away with ya if you take you foot off the pedal. This was very comforting to me. If one of these started rolling
and you could not stop it, bad news!!! It is now that I will tell you ahead of time that tomorrow I will be riding
the ATVs, and they will roll when you take you thumb off the throttle. That caused some nervous moments
when the darn thing started rolling backwards down the hill I was on!!! I wish the ATVs were set up like the
As for the trail ride, it was awesome. Everyone should do it, but again, do it during the day. I think this place,
like the Extreme 4x4 people, have sunset trips. I STRONGLY suggest you avoid them.. You will miss out on
the beauty of the country if you are out running around in the dark... Don't do it.. Sounds romantic, but it is
not.. There is nothing romantic about it while you are there, or even later, I would not think.. You cannot get
in the mood for love while being bounced around in the dark on a bunch of big rocks!
Our first stop was at an overview of the Moab Valley, and a view of the famous Lion's Back Ridge. I do not
know all there is to know about the ridge, but Cowboy gave us very interesting info about the area and about
an event that took place one evening while he was working for the local police. As his story goes, he had
driven out towards this area just to see what was going on and to enjoy a donut or two that he had brought
from town. While enjoying his treat, he looked to the side and noticed a 4x4 headed up Lion's Back Ridge,
something people do from time to time. The ridge is narrow and steep. Then at the top, there is almost no
room to turn around!! To turn a vehicle around, you have to do about 10 forward and backward moves. The
driver of this 4x4 did made it to the top and did get turned around, then started down. Part way down, the
brakes gave out and down the 4x4 came at full speed. Needless to say, it soon went flying off the ridge and
dived nose first into the ground. Cowboy, and others rushed to the aid of the people in the 4x4, and they
were expecting to recover dead bodies. What they found was two, alive and well people, with a couple of
As it turns out, the driver of the 4x4 was a woman. It was her wedding day, and her passenger was her new
husband!!! And, if I understood correctly, this was their third trip up the ridge this day, but on this trip, the
brakes had not been allowed to cool properly and gave out on the third trip down.. If you would like to see
the video of the downhill run and the crash, use this youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
I do not know much about the trail we are on, but I know it was neat to do. I can tell you that even as much
fun as these rock trails are, they do present a serious threat to life and limb. At one spot where we stopped,
and I do not know if it has a name, Cowboy, who is also a volunteer rescue person, has retrieved several
bodies from the bottom of the canyon where bicycle riders have just simply ridden their bikes over the edge,
not knowing that they were riding into a canyon.. It is a great place to have fun, but it has to be done with a
clear mind and a knowledge of what you are doing and where you are doing it. Anything less will result in
injury, or more likely, death.
A few more words about the trail, assuming you go with Cowboy. There are several nice spots where the
tour stops so that you can hear stories of the trail, the land around the trail, and other tidbits of interesting
information. You can also take photos! There are some great places to take memory shots along the way.
And, if you are not the driver, but the person sitting next to the driver, you can really get some great photos. I
may have mentioned earlier, one fellow did ride by Cowboy, and I will assume he got some great photos of
the action as we went through the rock course.. The fellow I am thinking of was shooting both video and still
photos. He offered to share, but we never got around to exchanging contact info.. As I recall he was from
The turn back point is listed in my trails book as “Overlook”, and it is. It is a great one.. You will get to see
this place in the share images. We arrive at a point where we can look down on the Colorado River and we
can see Balanced Rock in Arches National Park. Great view in all directions.
From the overlook, we headed back. Too bad I cannot share the amazing rocks and ledges, etc, that we
crawled over, as we did some amazing things on the way back. Bottom line is that we had a fun drive back..
And, if my memory is correct, we got back at 11:30 AM. Then, once back, we said goodbye and took off.. In
my case, I had to rush to get to back to the Moab Jet office where I was supposed to go on the Jet Boat tour
From the 4x4 ride, I headed to McDonalds for lunch. I have pretty much stopped eating at McDonalds, given
the quality of food there, but for a rush trip like this, I break my rule and head over for a burger and fries..
Once that is woofed down, I am headed to the Jet Boat office. There I find a larger group of people than I
had expected. Not sure how many I expected, but it turned out to be eight customers and the driver, Cassidy.
After Annie made sure we had done all of our paperwork, she then issued each of us a life jacket and made
sure we were wearing it properly. And, while doing this exercise, she was busy taking names for
reservations at a local dining place this evening after our ride. It was not a part of the ride, but she said it
was great food, served on a patio with entertainment. It should not be missed. I think she owned part of the
business. But, no matter, I added my name to the list. Whatever it was, I was sure it would be pretty good.
With the food list completed, Annie instructed us to load into the van parked outside. But, before we did this,
she talked us into emptying our pockets into our cars, then bringing her the keys to the car. The reason? We
are going to get wet, or at least we stand a good chance to get wet... She was a bit uncomfortable with the
fact that I and a couple others would be carrying cameras, but we assured her we would have them covered
with something to keep them dry. In my case, it was a trash bag!!!! Waterproof cameras are a thing of the
past. Nikon used to make one for divers, etc, but it was a film camera and is long gone from the market.
There are waterproof cases that a person can put the camera in, and keep shooting, but last time I checked,
the case cost more than the camera!!!
In short order, Annie has driven us just outside of town, to spot on the Colorado River, where the Cassidy is
waiting for us with the jet boat. We get loaded up, Annie takes our photos, using our cameras, then she
waves us goodbye. As it turns out, I will be sitting in the front seat across from the driver, Cassidy. We were
told that there would be some of the famous jet boat slides taking place, which can generate wet
passengers. I asked Cassidy to just give us a little warning, so we could cover the cameras, then he could
go the action.. He did, and the cameras were saved.... As it turns out, we had eight passengers and one
driver. There was room for two more passengers, if I counted correctly.
So, what was it like? It was a fun boat ride, a rather fast boat ride. For the fellows who want to know such
things, the engine used for this boat is the same engine that is used in the Corvettes. It was a power house!!!
Our ride was fun. Cassidy threw in a few spins, etc, but did not get us as wet as we had been expecting..
Maybe this is normal, or maybe because of the cameras, he backed off a bit.. Not sure how far up the river
we went, but the views were awesome from the river.. Currently there were not many rapids to go up, as
there had been when I did the Rogue River in Oregon, but it was still fun. And, at some point, we turned
around and headed back. Then, not far back down stream, we stopped at a sand bar, with a bathroom, for
those interested in such things!! Also, we learned that at the point where we turned around, there is winery
on the bank. There are plans in work to start including the winery in some future tours. The plan would be to
jet up to the winery, do the beverage thing, have some fun, then jet back.. That sounds like fun to me!!!
In the shared images you will see how Cassidy uses a sand anchor to hold the boat secure while we take
our break.. Then, after the break is over, we head back, only this time I move to the back to give someone
else the front seat experience. Truth is, I think the back seat was more fun, but the front seat was better for
Back at the dock, we were greeted by Annie who took us back to the office, treated us to a popsicle, gave us
our dinner reservation, thanked us for our business, and sent us on our way. For me, this meant going back
to camp, returning a call to my sister, doing a long chat, having a beverage or two, cleaning up, then
heading to dinner. But, in here somewhere, I discovered there was a problem with one of the showers in the
mens room, so I reported it to the office. Stephanie, the office person, knew about it, but did not have
anyone to fix it.. I checked out the issue, asked for a tool she might have. She had what I needed, I took it,
made a temp repair, and life was good. One of the showers in the mens room was spraying water all the
time. Lots of gallons of hot water was going down the drain. With a screwdriver, I was able to tighten the
handle enough to shut the water off. Later it would need a real repair. For now, it was just patched.
At 8 PM, as planned, I arrived at Buck's Grill House, which is real close to where I am staying. I park, I go in,
I tell the lady I am here for my reservation, and in short order I have been escorted to the very nice patio out
back where a fellow is playing and singing for the guests this evening. That part is good, but, only minutes
after I sit down, it starts raining.. If anyone knows me, they know it rains “everywhere” I go. There is small
rain covers, or sun covers or something overhead, but this does not stop the rain from coming to my table,
so I get up and go inside for an inside table. Then, while the waiter is finding a new table inside for me, I
notice someone is leaving a dry table outside near the singer. I ask to be seated back outside, but at the dry
table.. It is done. I am now back outside and at a dry table.
My waitress, Rachael, arrives fairly soon and gets the meal started. I am not sure what I want to eat or drink,
so I ask for suggestions.. She gives them to me. I make my choices. What I end up with is a 15 dollar bottle
of beer, a 17 dollar buffalo meat loaf, a 10 dollar salad, and some ice tea. I say I want my beer really cold.
Rachael is not sure if it will be super cold as it comes from their cooler, but she is willing to bring one of
those wine chillers to put it in, and does. It works. It keeps the beer at a nice temp for drinking. It is a sipping
beer to me, so it lasts all the way through the meal.
As for the entertainment, our singer and guitar man took a break after awhile and came by to say HI. I had
been taking photos of him while he was working. Turns out he is Frank Schramm from Eugene, Oregon..
Small world I tell him, I was born in Cottage Grove. That was the winning ticket, now we are buddies!!!
During the meal, he puts on a good show, then after he is finished and I am finished, he invites me to join he
and two of his local friends, at a table not far away. Turns out, Frank works this town a fair amount and has
made several friends here. Tonight he has two nurses here to visit with between his sets. One nurse is a
male and one is a few male. One had been here a long time, the other not so long, but I forget which was
which... Either way, it was fun to meet them and to meet and chat with Frank.. A good time was had by all..
OH, about the food. I guess it is what it is, I think the final bill for dinner was 45 dollars plus the tip. The beer
was pretty good, even if expensive. The meatloaf was really good, which I can recommend if you ever come
here to eat!!! This meatloaf is famous, per their ads. At some point it was featured on the “Travel
Channel”!!! I'll take their word for it, but it was good. The salad, well, it was just a salad.. The price was way
too much, but.... If I do not spend my money, who will?
Was a great day of adventure and fun. I hope everyone who reads this will go try the adventures I did this
day. And, even if it is expensive, go try the meatloaf.
Tomorrow is going to be another great day of adventure as well, so get ready for it, but for now, time to see
the images I am shaving for today, if you have time. This is another long set, so be prepared!!! To view the
shared images, use this link: Western Adventure 2013, Day 17.
2013-09-22, Western Adventure Day 18
WOW, again!!! When yesterday was finished, I thought I had put about as much excitement into a day as I
could. But, that thought is about to meet some strong competition today. I think you will see what I mean
when you learn about this day and see the images that I plan to share. Actually, the images are going to be
the best part of what I will share for this day.
I thought I as up early yesterday, but, I had to get up even earlier today, as I have an 0800 appointment at the
High Point office to pick up my helmet, and finish my paperwork for the ATV ride I have scheduled this
Again, I think I am up before the alarm goes off, and again I am the first one in the shower house, etc.. plus,
today, after I eat, I have to take my tent down and pack it away, as I will not be camping here tonight. That
said, I have been told that I could be getting rather dirty on this ride, so I have made plans with Stephanie, in
the office, at Moab Valley RV Resort, to let me come back after the ride and shower off before heading south
to my next part of this adventure.
With all my stuff packed, I am off to the High Point office, but on the way, I have to stop by the campground
office and drop off my key for the park. Here they use electronic entry for the customers, much like the hotels
do now. This is a credit card looking thing that works the same as the hotel room keys. Tis a good idea.
Keeps the place safer, etc.. The campground is gated, so you will be issued a pass when you arrive.
I arrive at the High Point office, go in, meet Valerie, who is already there and smiling for the customers!!
When it came my time to finish my paperwork, etc, she had to help me pick a helmet. There was a rack of
them in the building, but I had not a clue what size, etc, that I might need.. Turns out, I needed an X-Large..
Had any of my friends seen this happened, it would have been a great opportunity for them to tease me
about being big headed.. But, it was only Valerie and me, and she just said she thought I looked pretty cool in
my helmet. I thought so as well, and got her to record the moment for me with my camera.. You will see how
cool I am when you get to the shared images..
We get our paperwork complete, and now it is time for me to go riding, or so I think.. I say where is the ATV I
will be riding? She says it is about 8 miles north of town!! Really!! Am I supposed to fly there or what! Shuttle
maybe! No, I will drive myself out to the spot where the ATV and the tour guide will be waiting for me.. If I
drive at an honest speed, I should be there in plenty of time.. Do I have time to get coffee and if so, where?
She says yes, of course. There is the coffee shop across the road, and then there is the Maverick gas
station. When I left the shop, I slowed down at the coffee shop, but it was clear that it is was one of those fu-
fu shops and was very crowed. That would not allow enough time for me to get coffee and go, so I opted for
the gas station. Good choice.. Nice coffee!!!
Sure enough, about 8 miles out of town, there was the gas station and parking lot Valerie had told me about.
I was trying to imagine where this place would be, but when I saw the old church/school that she mentioned, I
remembered. At this location is a gas station, a campground, and an old building that looks to be an old
school or church. I have been here before, in fact I have camped at this campground before.. The old
building is an old movie set building, left here by some movie company some years back. Now it is just sort of
a land mark!!! From a distance, it looks like the real thing, but when you get up close you can see how it is
just a lot of plastic pieces, etc, stapled together to create the image.
As I pull into the parking area at the old building, it is easy to see that I am at the right place, as there is three
red ATVs parked in a neat row, with a blue parked in front of them. Plus, there are some people milling
I jump out of the car, grab my good looking helmet and head over to meet my people.. This is an easy task,
as there will be only three customers and one leader on this trip. The machines are all nice and clean, and
each has a set of goggles hanging on the handle. We bring the helmet to the site, but not the goggles!!!
Why? OK, no matter, I am here and I am looking at two riding buddies who look excited to get this trip going!!
I am all for that.. But, first, we have to do the meet and greet, and we have to take the driving class, etc..
Our leader for this adventure is a fellow named Luke, and he will be riding the blue ATV. The rest of us will
be on the red Hondas, I think. But, it is time for introductions and our class.. The people I will be riding with
today are from Sweden. Also, if I remember correctly, they are named Jennifer and Joanas. I kinda think they
have ridden these things before, but not sure...
Luke goes over the features of the machine, telling us how to start them, change gears, use the breaks, etc.
Changing gears will be a challenge for me, as will the throttle. More on this later, but these things use a
“thumb” throttle.. Imagine that.. Nobody knew why, but there it was.. And, it was not easy to use.. But.. So,
with our mini class complete, our helmets and goggles on, we are ready to go. We even look like we know
what we are doing. Just wearing these strange looking helmets makes you look like a pro!!!
So, here is the drill, we will line up, as expected, and play follow the leader.. But, things will be a bit different
today, than yesterday... I suppose this is because of the terrain, etc.. First of all, nothing is said about my
camera, which will be hanging around my neck all the time. Second, we do not have to follow the leader,
exactly. He says he will taking the line of least resistance, but we are free to go over and around things as
we please, and if we want to stop, we can, etc.. Luke will keep and eye on us and adjust our travel speed to
suit the group. Turns out, it works pretty good. I take the position at the back of the pack, so I can stop and
take photos without messing up the other riders. I generally did not get too far behind and then caught up
fairly easy.. They kept an eye on me.. Was good that I could stop and do photos, as we were traveling
through some really neat places!!! You will want to see this set of images.. Very unique..
The images will have to tell the story for me of what we saw, but in a short, we saw beautiful country!!! That
said, our first stop was an overlook that let us look back towards Moab, and the parking lot where we had left
the cars, though we were too far away now to see the cars. Was a great view. From here, it lots more riding
on what I would call jeep roads, but it was not long before we came to some big towers!! Awesome!! Lots of
Next stop was Tusher Tunnel. This is where we are going to get into some action. The action I speak of did
not take place on the ATVs.. At the parking area, we parked our machines, which took some doing on my
part as I was challenged when it come to setting the darn parking brake, etc.. The thing kept trying to roll
backwards down the hill, which is far from desired at this point! I finally got it done, but I fear I did not do it
correctly, just managed to get it to not roll. If done correctly, I think it should have been in another gear, then
the brake set, etc... But, it is holding for now!
The sign post near where we are parked says Tusher Tunnel. I look around and see nothing that looks like a
tunnel, but Luke assures us there is one and that we will go check it out.. And, off we go.. Then, not far up
the side of the hill, we find the opening to the tunnel.. Was not what I expected, but here it is.. Actually, it
turned out to be an awesome tunnel, with awesome views, etc.. Again, you will have to see the images to
understand. But, in a short, there is a tunnel type thing here which is a path under the big rock formations.
The length of which I do not know, but would guess it to be up near 100 feet, more or less.. The fun part of
the tunnel is that it is long enough that it is dark inside. To get from one end to the other, Luke had to train us
to walk safely through. To do this safely, you have to hold your hands up in the air, and slightly forward, sort
of like the “I give up” position. Why do this? Per Luke, if you do not, you are going to bang your face into a
low hanging rock.. He was right, you do want to walk slowly and hold your hands us so as to feel for the
walls of the tunnel and to protect your face!!!
On the other end of the tunnel we find some great views of another valley and more rock formations!! There
are so many awesome rock formations that everything starts running together!!!! Beautiful.. Also, outside the
other end of the tunnel is some nice rock art left here by Native Americans many years ago.. A lot of it is
being destroyed by people!!!! I am sure they think they are good Americans!!! Have never understood why
people have to destroy things like this.. When I was in Mesa Verde, and similar places, the stories of
destruction by white people who came to this country is enough to make you cry, really. After all those years
of being protected by Native Americans, then these people wipe it all out.. Why????? This goes for soooo
many other things in this country. Thinking back to what it was like when the Native Americans roamed the
land, then compare that to now, and it is mind numbing.
After our tunnel visit, we returned to our ATV, but as we approached the machines, we became fully aware of
what was about to happen, we were gonna get wet!!! I had brought a cover for my camera, but not for me..
First there was strong wind, then there was rain, then there was hail.. At first everyone just sort of stood
there, doing nothing, thinking it would go away, I guess.. Even our leader just turned his back to it and stood
there. In short order, I had had enough, I was headed back up the hill to the tunnel. By the time I got there, I
was near soaked. I did find some shelter by being in the tunnel, but it was not a water free zone!!! From the
other end, or from cracks in the ceiling, there was water, and lots of it, pouring in.. So much so that a small
river was running out of the tunnel.. All I could do was watch..
After awhile, the rain let up, and Luke came to check on me.. Not sure where he and the others hung out
during all this, but I am guessing they just rode it out down near the machines.. They did head for a tree in
the area, but it would afford them little or no protection.. When I returned to the machines, I found three very
wet people!!! But, they were not the least bit concerned. They were smiling and ready to ride, which is what
we did. We fired these babies up and off we went..
The rain added another dimension to this ride that only happens when there is a rain, we had water to play
in, and we did... I am not sure that what we had would be called a flash flood, but it could be called a little
one, I would think. As we continued our ride, we were able to see water starting to come down the washes,
sort of like in the movies.. We did not see the big walls of water that you hear of, but we did see the little
ones, as they turned the dry dirt and dry roads into fast moving streams, as we traveled on them.. It is now
easy for me to see how people can get into serious trouble here. More so, I can see how fast the slot
canyons in this part of the world can become death traps if there is rain upstream from these narrow
canyons!!! The desert is fun, but it can take its toll on you if you do not pay attention to what you are doing
and what is going on around you. Things can change fast here.
What else can I say about the ride, other than that it was just awesome, and even the rain added a special
touch that I had not seen out here before. Was neat to see the land go from dry washes to running streams,
them have the chance to go through them on an ATV.. How fun!!!!
At some point here, it was time for Luke to get us back to the parking lot, and he did. It was about the time I
got back that I finally learned how to use the gears as I think they should have been used all along.. Lord
only knows how long I drove this poor thing in a gear that was too low.. I finally got the hang of it, and all was
well, but it was not a fast learning curve. For me, driving the 4x4 toys yesterday was a lot more easy on me..
Now, the question is, which is better? The RZR type or the ATV? I am still thinking about that as I type this
note, but, since that day, I have talked to a lot of people who have owned both, and in the end, they said they
would go for the side by side 4x4 like I did the first day. I think I would have to agree. They are easier to
drive, more comfortable to sit on or in, they stop and go without rolling off by themselves, which would be a
real plus in nasty terrain. There are other advantages to the 4x4, but the one thing that was a plus for the
ATV was the openness. I could sit on it and shoot photos in any direction, at any time. This is not the case
with the 4x4. With it, you have to stop, get out, do the photo, get back in, etc.. Kinda like taking photos from a
jeep.. If I could have only one, it would be the side by side.. And, while I am here, there are a few more things
to mention. The ATV has a thumb throttle, which is a PAIN.. And I mean pain. My thumb was worn out by the
time we got back!! There has to be a better way.. With the thumb throttle, I was forever jerking the ATV
around.. I just could not keep it at the desired setting. This was a real issue when going over big rocks or up
the steep ledges.. I darn near flipped the thing over backwards because I kept “goosing” it!!! Not good.. If the
machine would have had a smoother throttle on it, this would not be a issue..
I think it was about 1 PM when we pulled back into the parking lot, and if memory serves me correctly, it was
starting to rain again.. This meant we all said our goodbyes quickly and run for cover.. Once in my car, I took
time to make some notes of the day, etc. But, then as I started to drive off, I looked back and there was Luke
out there in the rain, with a water hose, washing down the muddy ATVs that we had just ridden.. In short over
he will have them clean and refueled for the next set of customers to come out.. As a side note, I asked him
how far we had ridden this morning and he said he thought it was about 35 miles!!! So, we got in a pretty
I drive back into town and head for the campground where Stephanie works. There I went in and asked if it
was still okay to do the shower, etc, to get out of the muddy clothes and get ready for the road!! She said
sure and sent me off to clean up.. It was still sprinkling rain at this time..
After the shower, I went back to the office to visit a bit and say goodbye. And, while I was there, Stephanie
pointed out to me that one of the slideshows for the elk pictures in Rocky Mountain National Park, was not
working.. Humm. This needs to be fixed.. So, out to the car I go. I get the laptop I travel with, bring it inside
and start to work trying to solve the issue. Sadly enough this happens too often. My website is hosted by
YAHOO and for some reason their software messes up my data from time to time.. No reason for it, it just
While I am working on this issue, I am sitting in the office area at a desk where I can see outside. First there
is a little rain, then there is more rain, then more rain, then it turns into a downpour. I mean downpour. I do
not think I have ever seen so much water come down so fast in all my life! This was amazing to watch.. Not
sure a person could have shown the amount that was water coming down by using a camera, but I might
have tried if it were in the building with me, but it was in the car.. So.. As the rain came down, I continued to
work on the website issue and finally got it fixed.. Not sure what was wrong, but doing a few refreshes got it
going again.. The other thought was that we had just gotten back from the ATV ride, just in time. If we had
been out there when this happened, I would have had a drown camera, again. This happened on Halloween
Day in Rome last year. It killed the camera I am using. I had no camera for the next 16 days of my trip. Then,
it cost over 500 dollars to get it repaired, plus, the repairs, took several months. The camera had to go back
to the shop several times. It is still not right, but I was tired of fighting with NIKON, so I just moved on with a
promise to myself that was going to study up more on the Canon line, then move over to them. As far as I
know, most all of my other photographer friends have already moved to Canon. NIKON is a mess...
Once my site was fixed, I showed Stephanie how to get back to the show and see the elk, which is what she
was most interested in.. While she was looking at those on her computer, I went back to mine to check a few
more things. In short order, she came over and said “Tom, I do not want to run you off, but being a
photographer, you should get out of here and go drive up highway 128, and look for waterfalls”!!!
Waterfalls!!! Yes, with all this rain, there should be lots of them as the water on top of these giant plateaus
starts to makes its way to the Colorado River... Great suggestion, and with that, I grabbed my computer and
headed out the door..
Was not long before I started finding the waterfalls that Stephanie had suggested would be there waiting for
me.. Boy, were they ever.. But, due to road construction along highway 128, it was very hard to get photos of
the falls near town. But, as I drove up the road, I did find some that I could photograph from the car by just
stopping in the middle of the road, or by pulling onto the shoulder.. There were lots of these things!! Some
very small, others quite large.. You will see what I mean when you see the images.. But, it is good that I acted
fast. The falls did not last long.. Since they were runoff from the rain, their life was short lived.. By the time I
got back to town, some of the ones I photographed first were already gone, or nearly so.. Many thanks for
Stephanies fast thinking. Had it not been for her, I would not have seen this show of water.
With the water show over, it was time to head south. I plan to be in Pagosa Springs tomorrow night.
On the way out of town, and on the drive south, I find some neat stuff. The first is snow in the hills!!! Winter
cannot be that far away.. Then, there is the “Hole in the Rock”. This is a store that has been hallowed out of
one of these big stone ridges. I think I was in it many years ago, but not sure. I did not stop this trip as time
was now limited.. Then, later, I found the Wilson Arch... This is a nice roadside attraction that everyone
should try when they come by here. I have hike around it. There is not much to see except the arch, but it is
neat and worth the time it takes to stop and do some photos.. Later I will cross the state line back into
Colorado and watch the sun set as I drive towards Cortez.
In Cortez, I have a few of those GPS moments that so many people complain about.. When I got to town, I
drove around a bit, looking for a simple hotel to stay in for the night. But, I did not have much luck. So, I
stopped in a parking lot somewhere, called the VISA Concierge service that I always use to find hotels, etc..
After a chat with them, they search their computer and find a fair priced hotel not far away. Given the address
and the phone number for the place, I plug the address into my computer and take off. It is not long before I
am on a dirt road behind a Walmart or something and am staring at a dead end sign.. There is no road
beyond where I am. But, the Garmin tells me I am to keep going. Wrong.. So, given where I think this place is,
I will try to outsmart this Garmin. I drive back up the street I was on, make a turn that should get me closer to
the hotel, then ask the Garmin to try again from a new direction, thinking it will find the hotel via new route..
Wrong, it tries to do the same thing again. So, I call the hotel. The owner takes my call.. I tell him the issue,
and he laughs. He has heard this story before. I would assume that whoever is responsible for the database
my GPS uses, has a major flaw here. To be honest with ya, the database has a lot of flaws.. I have long
since lost track of how many times this thing has been wrong, but for the times when it is right, it pays for
itself.. However, as all experienced CAR GPS users know, you cannot trust them 100 percent. You have to
think of them as an aid, not as a God. They can and will be wrong many times!
The fellow I talk with asks where I am, then tells me I am just a few blocks from the hotel. With a right turn
and two left turns I will be sitting in front of his office, and he is right. In no time flat, I am there. And, though all
this, I had been just a stones throw away from hotel, I just could not get there! Go figure! Turns out, it was a
really neat place and the price very good. I think I got a good deal since it was getting late, and they had
some rooms to fill up.. On this night, I got a room with two beds for 50 dollars. This would be well below the
going rate, but even at normal rates, it would be a nice place to stay, and so I will recommend it to anyone
who wonders this way looking for a room for the night. The fellow who checked me in is the new owner. He
had owned his own business in ABQ, NM, but after selling out, wanted to continue working, so he and his
wife bought this place. He has the skills to do all the work, so he has to rely on nobody for help. If it needs
doing, he does it.. OH, and if you are interested, here is the link to the hotel: http://www.knightsinn.
After paying the man, having a nice chat with him, at 9 PM, it was time to go check in and get some rest. Has
been an awesome day, full of fun, but now I am tired and ready for some rest.. If you would like to see the
shared images from this day, and I am sure you should see these, use this link: Western Adventure Day 18.
2013-09-23, Western Adventure Day 19
For my readers who have gotten use to long stories and long sets of images, today will be culture shock, as
the story is short and the image set is even shorter!!!
This morning my day starts a wee big late as I was up until 1 AM this morning trying to share another story
from the road.. Was fun, but took awhile.. That said, I get up, get cleaned up, and head over to the office for
coffee. There was nothing else that interested me. I am not into filling up on the sweet stuff and wheat
products, so it is coffee for me. I have real food back in the car and end up returning to the car, getting real
food, going to my room, eating, then doing the final packing, etc.. When I left the room for the last time, it was
just after 1030 AM.. I am dragging my feet a bit to stall for time. Last night, I think it was, I called Paul, a
fellow I met on a backpacking trip last year, and who has a house in the Pagosa Springs area. He and I have
temp plans to do a few days of backpacking when I come through here. However, when I called him last, I
learn that he will have company coming to visit in a few days, so our outdoor trip will have to be short. It is
now Monday, and his company will arrive on Thursday.
While on the phone with Paul, I tell him I should be at his place today sometime. He tells me he and his wife
have to go to town, so plan to arrive after then get him around 1 PM.. So, that is what I do, but as it turns out,
I do not travel as fast as I thought I would, and so instead of arriving around 1:30, I arrived closer to 3:30 PM.
This is still okay as there is nothing to do but visit and get ready for the pack trip we will be starting tomorrow.
When I arrive, Paul's wife, Sandy, has gone to town with her horse trailer to pick up a mare that has been in
the animal hospital for a few days, due to a foot injury that got infected.. So, while we wait for Sandy to
arrive, Paul shows me where I will be sleeping tonight, which is a room downstairs in their country place. As
a matter of fact, it is great. I have the whole basement to myself, and can just back my car down close to the
door, unload the car into the basement, sort through all the gear that has been crammed into my car, then
reload my car in a proper way for the trip home!!! But, the goal right now is to sort though this mess and find
all the items I will need for the backpack trip we plan to do tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Tuesday, and
their company is coming Thursday, we have only one night to go play in the woods.
While I am messing around with my gear, Sandy returns with her repaired horse. It is a long story, of which I
have forgotten many details, but as I understand it, Sandy adopts Arabian horses, mostly by default. She
claims she has not paid for any of them, but has four of them, I think. Someone gave her one, then someone
else gave her another, etc, etc.. I assumed she rode them a lot, but Paul says that hardly ever happens, they
are just pets. Pampered horses!!!
As Sandy was letting her horse out of the trailer, we started walking down to meet here. Up until this point, I
had not met her, but had met Paul last year on the trail, then twice more when I was here earlier this year, in
June. Now it is time to meet Sandy, and I do. She meets us with a big hug and a wild story of how the horse
was now repaired and ready for more good days on the ranch!!! With that, we all walked back to the house
and visited a bit more, then I had to get back to my packing.. But, while I was doing that, Paul put some
steaks on the grill for our evening meal...
Not sure when I was called to dinner, but when the dinner bell rang, I took off up the stairs and got ready to
eat.. Tonight we were having steak, peas, corn on the cob, baked potato, etc, and some salad. Plus, Paul
and I did an adult beverage to wet our whistle.. All in all, it turned out to be a good evening.. That said, we
did have to keep and eye on the clock. Both Paul and I still had packing to do. With dinner finished, I went
back downstairs to finish as much as I could, and Paul retired to his pack area to do the same. Now, it is
somewhere in here that I will tell you that his style of backpacking is MUCH different than mine.
On the subject of packing style, I am what most would call a heavy packer. I take everything I think I will need
to be comfortable and safe. This does include the kitchen sink. I take it everywhere with me. It has served
me well for years, so why change now!!! Paul on the other hand is the exact opposite, he does not even take
the things he needs much less the extras. For him, no toothbrush, no toilet paper, no water filter, very little
water and very little food.. And, the list goes on.. When I am daypacking, I carry more than he does when he
is “backpacking”.. My ole buddy from my working days, Guy Berry, a real mountain man born and raised
here in the hills of Missouri, once told these words to me, and they stuck! “Travel lite and you freeze at
night”!!! For me, that is true, but for Paul, I do not know.. He might stay warm. But, he does have one
advantage that has not been announced here, he has CD. CD is a dog that goes everywhere Paul goes..
And when CD goes with Paul, I mean he goes with Paul. I have never seen a dog stay so close to is owner..
CD walks so close to Paul that the two bump into each other.. OH, and the name CD stands for Continental
Maybe I got ahead of myself with the pack and dog story, but what the heck!! It is what it is.. The gist of it all
was to let you know, I pack heavy and Paul packs lite, then when he gets cold, he uses CD for heat!! I guess
you would call that a One Dog Night, instead of a Three Dog Night!!! A three dog night is really cold!!!
Especially if you have only one dog!!!
At some point, everyone has finished the evening chores. Sandy has cleaned up the kitchen, Paul and I
have finished packing, and it is off to bed for all of us. Too bad I did not have more free time this evening, my
bedroom had a pool table in it!!! But, no time to use it, except to use it for a place to sort my clothes, etc..
To see the few images I have to share for this day, use this link: Western Adventure Day 19.
Extra bit of info.... When I met Paul, I learned that he was a PHD soil expert, and had owned a company that
advised people on how to get more produce per acre of crop planted. At some point, he retired and started
backpacking pretty much full time. That said, I learned that he and Sandy had backpacked and hiked
together for many years, until her health issues caused her to hang up her boots, so to speak.. They did one
of these extreme pack trips when she was six months pregnant with their son!! Tough lady!!! So in their
early years, they took on some big challenges.. Some of them are high on my do list, still yet.. Then, there is
Sandy, she is a retired government employee. I think her years were spent doing environmental work.. Now,
with all that behind them, but still looking for something to do, Paul works the stock market, and helps Sandy
with real estate work. By this I mean, she/they find under valued homes that are being sold at auctions. They
buy them, bring them back to life, and turn them into rental properties, or sell them, depending on what will
be the better choice at the time.. They tell amazing stories of what they have bought, and the stories reveal
the hard work that they put into this!! But, it is fun for them and adds to their retirement fund!!!
2013-09-24, Western Adventure day 20
The plan for today is to leave here, meaning Paul's house, before 0800, so I have set my alarm for 0600 or
so. When the alarm wakes me up, I hop out of bed and get moving on finishing up the last little bit of
packing, then with my shower and clean up complete, I grab my breakfast food and head upstairs, where I
find coffee waiting. Paul offered to cook a couple of eggs for me, etc, but I excused myself and chomped
down on my chicken and pineapple combo.. This is my preferred food for traveling.. Then, with our eats
completed, we get our packs loaded in Paul's truck and off we go to the trail head. We are right on time, it is
just minutes before 0800.
I did not record how long of a drive it was to the trail head, but I am guessing we were on the road 45
minutes or so before we arrived. To get there, we had to go into town, take the road that heads towards
Williams Reservoir, then split off to the point where we parked the pickup.. I cannot recall this place having a
name, but it might have. Our goal was to get to Hossick Lake from here, so finding this trail head on a map
should be simple enough, if you have a map.
Not long after we roll into the trail head area , we have parked, gotten our packs ready, and have headed to
the registration box. I am not sure we logged in, but should have, as this is how the government can keep
track of how many people are using the trails and what type of travel they will be using, meaning by foot or
by horse, and then a general idea how far people will be going and their planned return time/date. Tis good
to do this. Ok, so we are officially on the trail and moving!!!
Before long, I start to realize we are doing a lot of downhill travel. For some reason, this does not compute
in my mind.. I do not have a map of this trail, so I have not studied this hike. I do have a GPS and I have
recorded the position of the parking lot where this trip is starting. I always do this.. If all else fails, I will
always know where the car is!!! But before we started this trip, I had ask Paul to choose an easy trail for us
to do as I am not in the best of shape at this time, and would be carrying more weight than he. Back at the
house, he had assured me that this was going to be an easy trip of four or five miles to a small lake in the
hills. That sounds good. Easy going thing to do, which will be easy on me and give us time to visit and
exhange backpacking stories, and life stories, etc.. Should be fun, but we are going downhill, and if I
remember correctly, he said this lake was near the top of a hill. Going down to get up is a bit of an issue..
But, it does happen sometimes. He has also told me he wants to do this trail because he has looked for it
before, but has not found it. Now, with me carrying a GPS, we can be sure we will find it. To save weight,
Paul does not carry a GPS, just a map. In this day and age, I cannot imagine going backpacking without a
GPS. The maps over this area are not perfect, so avoiding going some place you do not want to be is a big
deal out here!
At some point, we reach the the valley area, next to a ranchers pasture fence. We stop, check the map and
the GPS, decide where the trail should be and start looking.. Sure enough, it is hidden in tall grass, which
should be a clue, this trail is not well used!!! But, once we are sure we have the right trail, we are good to
go, and off we go.. But, this is not encourging. I am looking up at a pretty steep hill in front of me!!! I have to
wonder.. But, we press on.. Before long the sloping hill becomes a steep hill, and it stays that way .. Given
our difference in physical condition and pack weight, it is not long before Paul, who is in great condition,
disappears up the trail. This is about 11 AM. At 12 noon, I have not seen he or CD in an hour, but I am tired
and ready for lunch, so I stop, drop my pack and do my food bar lunch..
So as to not get too far behind, I make the lunch break short, and at 12:15, I have my pack on and am
moving again, though it is not very fast. This easy trail is a challenge for me. I am guessing the incline of
this hill I am going up to be at least 70 degrees, or more. There are switchbacks, but they too are steep, and
after one walks then continously for a good while, they too seem to be at 70 degree inclines!!! I am stopping
to take a lot of breaks.. At 12:30, I look up and here come Paul and CD back down the trail to me. When they
arrive, Paul ask if I am okay, as I am way far behind. I say I am but the steep hill is hard for me. Then I tell
him that if this is the way it will continue, then I will not be able to make it to the lake, which he says is some
four miles away. I will just go as far as I can, then I will be forced to camp and walk back down tomorrow. He
replied that his intentions were to make it to the lake and that he was going on and would catch me on the
way out tomorrow, but, he would be stopping about one fouth mile further up the trail for lunch at a water
source before going on. And, with that he turned and headed up the hill.
After a bit, I too continued up the trail, and kept an eye open for a place to camp, but in terrain this steep,
there are none, or nearly so! There are no flat places to pitch a tent, even a small one like mine.. So, I have
a lot to think about. It is obvious now that I am now alone and will be until sometime tomorrow. I guess any
thoughts of visiting as we walk or sharing campfire stories this evening at dinner are pretty much out of the
question at this point. Best I get my head around this issue and decide what I am going to do, not what we
are going to do, because there is no we, just me, now.
After more walking, I find the stream that Paul had mentioned. I will assume it is on the map he is carrying. It
is a nice stream and I drop my pack, drink some water, then take a little hike up the trail on the other side of
the stream, but without my pack.. As far as the eye can see, it is just more steep trail.. That was good
enough for me, I will not be going any further up this thing.. What fun would that be? So, I return to my pack,
where I start getting ready for dry camping this evening somewhere on the side of this mountain. I have seen
a few spots that I might use, but they will be poor at best.
Getting ready for dry camping means I need water from here, as there is none below me, until one gets back
to the valley area. So, I pull out my water bottles and my water filter, and start the process of filtering water
into the one liter bottles I am carrying. For this trip, I brought three one liter bottles with me, plus a flexible
three liter bag. For this evening, I will fill only the bottles, which should be enough, if I go easy on the coffee
and tea. My dinner requires two cups of boiling water to rehydrate. This should not be a problem. So, with
my bottles filled, I put my filter away, put my pack on and start back down the mountain. It is now around 2
PM, maybe a little later.
As I make my way back down the trail, looking for a flat place to camp, it dawns on me that I might was well
go all the way back to the valley and camp where I know there is some flat areas. So, with this as my new
goal, I forget about camping here on the side of the mountain, and just focus on getting to the low area,
which I do. I think I arrived there just before 4 PM. And, lucky for me, I found a great camping spot!!! Turns
out it was made just for me!!! Big trees surrounding a really neat spot, so neat in fact that lots of people
have come here and camped, as evidenced by the big fire ring and other things left behind by other campers.
In short order, I select a spot to my liking, for my tent, and start setting it up!! I am home!!! And, with home
established, I check my watch and the surrrounding terrain. If campers have been here, there must be a
water source here somewhere in the area. I did not have a map, but I did have my GPS, and it has a fair
amount of info in it. When I finally got the GPS fired up and running, I could see that there was supposed to
be a creek about 1000 feet away, so I head for it, but in short order, I give up, as there was no trail, and the
terrain as nasty.. I came back to camp. Then after a bit, I got the urge to do a little exporing, so I followed
what might be an animal trail. Was not long before I found a real trail. And, from my GPS I could see that it
crossed the creek I was trying to get to, which was Hossick Creek. This means I have a source of water, so
back to the camp I go to get my water bag and my filter. When I get there, I find that I have used up one of
the bottles of water, so I take it with me as well.
Back down the animal trail to the real trail, then up it to the creek!!! WOW, is it ever a real creek. It would be
a serious exercise to have to cross this with a pack on. Doable, but with great caution as it is deep, and the
water is moving fast.. No matter I am not going to the other side, so.. I get to the business of filling my water
containers and heading back to camp.
Once back, I look around for a good place to cook dinner and decide that out in the meadow area in the sun
would be just great. I heat the water for the food, and then do enough more for extra tea and coffee.. I now
have plenty of water.. And with that, I set about the buiness of doing dinner.. Was good. I think it was the
Mountain House pack titled Chili Mac.. Very good, and just perfect for this event here in the sun!!! Was
turning out to be a beautiful evening.. The lingering question is, where is Paul and CD..
Shortly after eating, I start looking for something to pass the time and discover that I am surrounded by some
pretty neat looking trees. Some are huge evergreens, others are the famous aspens!! What to do! Sure,
grab the camera and start looking for something to shoot.. I found quite a lot really. Was fun exploring the
area and doing the tree images.. And, under one of the trees, I found what I will call a “hide” or small shelter
type thing created by using the low hanging limb of a large tree, and the bark from a large dead tree nearby..
Pretty neat. I will assume it was for hunting, though I am not sure.. Then, for some reason, I put the camera
away and started following some tire tracks I found in the grass. Had been a long time since the auto was
here, but to the trained eye, it had been here, so I started following it.. The following lasted longer than I
expected. After about an eight mile, I came to the creek again.. The auto that I had been following had
traveled to what looked to be a small dam on the river. Maybe at one time it had been a water gaging
station, but now it was in pretty bad shape.. Why the auto here? Probably someone just driving around in
their 4x4.. After looking the place over, I headed back to camp, and not far away, ran onto a small deer, but
without a camera, I have no record of it..
Back in camp, and with the sun behind the trees, and with cool air coming in fast, I closed up shop and
headed for the tent. I had yet to get my sleeping pad and bag laid out properly, plus, arrange things in the
tent in such a way that ALL of it and I would fit in there for the evening. The pack would spend the night
hanging from a nail on the side of tree, just outside my tent. Was quite the day. Not what I had expected by a
long shot. Been doing this sport since August 1986, and have never had anyone to dessert me on a trip.
This is a first. It will go in my history book!
To see the images from this day, use this link: Western Adventure Day 20.
2014-09-25, Western Adventure Day 21
Now I know why I like to go backpacking!! I get to sleep in the forest under the big trees, then wake up the
morning and have a coffee while just soaking in all that is around me!!! Awesome!! And, I am still here, the
bears did not get me.. There might not even be any in the area..
I wake up early this morning, pile out of the tent, get all my cooking gear gathered up, then head back out into
the meadow to do breakfast in the sun that is starting to bring warmth to the valley.. Per my thermometer,
which I keep in my tent, it was 40 degrees in there when I woke up, so it was not a cold night down here in the
valley, as a matter of fact, I did not even get in my sleeping bag last night, I just unzipped it and used it for a
blanket... Worked great.. This big down bag that I use is super warm, and a lot of times, even in really cold
weather, using it as blanket will do the job.. Getting in it and zipping it up, will mean getting too hot, believe it
OK, since I am the only one here, I will have a great morning conversation with myself. Something I have
gotten good at over the years... So.. I set up the stove, get the water boiling, pour water in one cup for the
instant coffee mix, and pour water in the other cup for the green tea bag.. I like to mix things up.. Probably
because I cannot make up my mind. So, doing one of each solves the issue.. As for the breakfast, cold water
will be good enough. My breakfast this morning is another Mountain House product called “Granola”. Not
sure what all is in it, but it is good.. The Mountain House dinners are designed for boiling water, but the
breakfast is designed for cool water.. Sometimes, when the weather is really cold, I will add warm water to the
bag to make breakfast. Speaking of bag(s), my morning and evening meals are freeze dried foods, sealed in
bags that double as a containers for preparing the food, then eating out of them, then using the resealable
bag as a container for the trash generated at mean time, to include tea bags, coffee bags, paper towels, etc..
Works great.. I think that in one of my earlier stories, I describe my mean plan for each day and what makes it
work so well for the trail. I probably should just devote a whole section to meals, water, filters, tent, bags, etc..
These seem to be the things people ask me the most about...
Actually, the thing people ask the most about is the animals, bears and mountain lions in particular. They
always want to know if I carry a gun when I go out.. Then, when I tell them the truth, they get a really funny
look on their face and just stand there, like their brain stopped working.. So, what did I tell them that caused
this!! Trees!! To me, trees are the most dangerous things out here with me.. I plan each campsite based on
how likely it is that one of the trees around me might fall on me during the night and mash me.. I am also
always alert to the sounds of a falling tree, hoping that if I can react fast enough, I can avoid being hit by one.
I have had trees to fall near me, but so far, not on me. That said, one fellow in our outdoor club was killed by
a falling tree, and one local female hiker was killed by a limb that fell out of a tree. So, bears or trees? So far,
the bears have killed nobody, but the trees have.. A gun will not stop a falling tree.
OK, breakfast is complete, and it is time to get packed up and headed back towards Paul's truck that we left
at the trail head yesterday.. Speaking of Paul, at one point this morning, I thought I saw someone or
something moving through the trees, moving in the direction of the truck, but, whatever it was disappeared
and I did not have a chance to find out what is was. Might have been a deer.. If it were Paul and CD, then
they would be waiting for me when I got to the truck. And if that were true, then I could get back to my car
sooner and get back on the road going east...
If I remember correctly, it was around 0900 when I did my last camp-check, to be sure I was leaving nothing
behind, and headed up the incline and through the trees to where I would be able to get back on the main
trail. And, this is just what happened. I came back into the trail at the point where it had intersected with the
pasture fence, and the point where we cut off on the trail to Hossick Lake. I am not sure what is going on
here, as I did not have a map with me, but there was a well used trail here at the fence, and it was the one
that I walked on to get to the creek yesterday evening, and it is the one that leaves the parking lot, but where
it goes is still a mystery. The reason it shows so much wear it that people who do horse travel, have been
using this trail.. So, it is hammered up real good..
Back on the trail, means back to climbing a hill.. Since I am in a valley, everything is up from here! So, I get
after it.. But, that said, the climb back to the car is not very challenging. It is an uphill trek, but it is not really
steep and it has a fair number of semi-flat places to coast along on.. With my heavy pack, I can do these all
day, but when the hills get steep, I lose my speed.. So this little trek back to the truck is a comfortable thing to
At around 11:30, I arrive back in the parking lot, and would not have been surprised if I had found Paul waiting
there for me, assuming that it might have been him I saw walking through the woods this morning, but that is
not the case. Back at the truck, there is no sign of Paul. So, I have beat them back.. Guess that was a deer
that was going through the woods this morning..
Now what to do? Not much it would seem, as I have little clue as to where Paul is or when he will be coming
back, so I wait.. Waiting for me means walking around looking for something to take a photo of. In a parking
lot there is not much, but I did discover something I had not seen before, a van with dual wheels on the back..
Could not decide why a van would need this setup, but I guess someone did.. Of course I took photos of it
and you will see them in the share file.. Then, I found the work of some American Terrorist, or similar.. A poor
lonely parking sign in the parking lot had become the victim of a nut with a gun.. You will see this in the share
files as well. How retarded do you have to be to shoot road signs!!!!!!!!!!!! The shooter was probably carrying
a bible and an American flag while doing the shooting.. After the poor sign was properly destroyed, the
shooter most likely read a few scriptures from the good book and waved the American flag in victory!!! Brings
tears to your eyes doesn't it.. A real American hero just doing his duty for his country!!!!!!!! Maybe the shooter
should get a ribbon or something.. Maybe this country should have a big ceremony each year and honor
those who have destroyed the most road signs with their guns!!! In my travels, I have seen a LOT of road
signs destroyed by these nuts. There is, or was, one sign near Crested Butte, that was so shot full of holes
you could no longer tell what was originally printed on it..
I walked circles around the parking lot several times while I waited, then at around 2:15 PM, I saw Paul and
CD coming towards me from the registration box area. They looked as if they were still in good shape.. I
asked it they had made it to Hossick Lake as planned and Paul said yes, and that it was a very beautiful
place, but the weather had gotten really cold during the night. In fact he said that CD's water bowl, which had
about two inches of water in it, had frozen solid during the night. That is cold. Of course to conserve weight,
Paul does not carry a thermometer, but oddly enough he was carrying a water bowl!!! Does a dog need a
water bowl if he is close to a lake? Maybe, but maybe it was a folding bowl, and maybe CD was carrying his
own bowl. But, at any rate, the water froze during the night.. On that note, we loaded our packs in the truck
and headed back to Paul's house..
Around 3:30 or so, we were back at Paul's house, and I went about the business of moving my pack from his
truck to my car, and getting ready to leave when Paul mentioned dinner. I said I appreciated the offer, but had
decided that to stay on my schedule, I would have to get going. He did however talk me into coming in for a
cold one before I left. This I accepted. Sandy, Paul, and I sat in their kitchen while enjoying our beverage and
making small talk about the area.. Then with the party over, I excused myself, hoped in my little car and
headed towards Pagosa Springs.. I will not be stopping here, but I will be going that direction.
My travels this evening take me towards Wolf Creek Pass, and South Fork. In the back of my mind, I was
thinking there was a neat place to camp in the hills above Wolf Creek Pass, but I could not remember where it
was, and I could not find it in my GPS.. So, I had to keep traveling. But, I did plan to stop and go to the
restroom at a place near Wolf Creek Pass, near a waterfall on the side of the road, but, when I got there, the
bathroom was gone! Totally gone, as in removed.. Guess people had mistreated it so many times that they
just removed it.. It is amazing how destructive people are.. I always wonder who these nuts are that do these
things.. Well, for whatever reason, the potty is gone, so will have to push on..
My next stop is in South Fork. I pull into a local business and ask about hotels. I learn there are only two, so I
go to look them over.. Not impressive.. I check my map. Creede is not that far away, maybe 21 miles or so,
and I remember there being a small hotel just inside the city limits that might serve my needs. Last time I was
here, I used their laundry. Small place, but clean, etc.. So, this will be my target, go to Creede, and I do.
I think it was just after 7 PM, when I arrive at the hotel, which turns out to be named Snowshoe Lodge. I park,
I go in, and I am met by a very friendly lady who ask if she could help me. I explained my situation, said I
needed a room, and ask if she had one and for how much. She did have a room, and it was 71(?) dollars,
plus tax, etc.. I ask if there were discounts, such as AAA. She replied, the room is 71 dollars, plus taxes.. I
guess that means there is no discounts.. So, I ask it the room is in this building or the one across the road.
She said it could be either. I chose to stay here on this side with the office. With that, we did the paperwork..
When the paperwork was complete, she said I was going to be staying to John Wayne's ole room, second
one from the end, room 102. The door is unlocked, the key is in the room, just go move it.. And, I did.. I took
photos of it of course, before I messed it up.. Looked pretty neat. According to the lady at the office,
somewhere back in time, John Wayne came here on fishing trips to get away from his acting, etc. And, when
he came to town, we would come here and stay in room 102.. Not sure why, as it looked little different than
any other room, but.. Also, the lady told me that there was a VCR in the room plus a large collection of old
John Wayne movies I could watch, if I so desired..
Just how I would play these movies she talked about is beyond me, but they were in the room.. I was not
particularly interested in the movies, but I was interested in watching the TV that was hanging on the wall..
One of those 32-42 inch things.. Only problem was, could not get it to work.. There was a controller laying on
the cabinet under the TV, so I had grabbed it and started pushing the buttons to get the TV working. Nothing,
not a thing... Now what.. I have learned from my travels that as soon as you get to a room, in any hotel or
motel, check to make sure everything works.. Many times, even on this trip, things do not work. So, I turn on
all the lights, turn on all the faucets, check for hot and cold water, check the towels, etc, etc.. It is a habit that
pays off.. This time, I have found that the TV does not work.. So, I am headed back to the office for help!
Back in the office, I seek out the lady again, and she ask if I need help. I say I do. I cannot get the TV to work.
She hollers for her husband, who arrives smiling and says it is probably the controller, as these new fangled
things can be a problem.. And with that, we head out the door.. It is in here somewhere, that I ask the lady if
she could recommend a good place to eat. She says that if I want to eat in this town, I better hurry, it is 7:30
now and the cafes etc in this town close at 8 PM.. She says the place across the street is a really good place
to eat. Has good burgers and homemade pies, etc.. Has most anything a person could want.. So, I have a
recommendation.. But, I best hurry..
Back in the room, the hubby asked for the controller, I grab it and hand it to him. He says this is not it, this is
the one for the VCR, which is not hooked up.. Hummm.. We look for the controller for the TV. We find it. And
he gets the TV working.. He tells me it can get messed up real easy. Best I just use the channel button, the
volume button and the on/off button.. Sounds like good advice.. With that, he is gone and I am out the door to
go eat at MJ's across the street..
You cannot tell about these kinds of places by looking at them from the outside, but it does look odd that
there is no cars in the parking area! I go on in. There is one ole boy sitting a table, doing what I would guess
to be “text messaging” on a smart phone. Sitting at the table with him is a blonde who might be doing the
same thing. On a good day, they could be texting each other!!! I have heard of that.. Too lazy to talk, just text
the person across the table.. Sure!
The girl looks up and I ask if the place is closed? She says no, it is open, just sit anywhere you want. I do.
Finally she gets up, goes and finds a menu and brings it to me.. And, she ask if I wanted something to drink.. I
do. I ask for ice tea. She leaves. After a long time, she brings the tea, and she ask for my order. From the
menu and the looks of things, I should just get up and leave, but, hamburgers are generally safe, so I order a
burger and fries. With that she turns and walks away. I think she goes to the kitchen area. Wherever it is, she
is gone. Finally she returns with my food. I was right, I should have left before ordering. This does not look
good. And, the taste is equal to the way it looks. No, it is worse.. But, I have it, so I will eat it.. But, my tea
glass has been empty for a long time. Last time I saw my waitress, she was heading into the kitchen area. I
thought she died she was gone so long.. But, she finally returned.. I had to wave her down to get a refill on
my tea. Should have skipped the refill as well. It was some nasty tasting stuff. Must have been ole instant stuff
of some kind. I do not remember the first glass being this bad, but this one is.. Yuk!
I finish my meal as quickly as possible and head up to the counter to pay. I have not been given a ticket, so I
will have to get the final numbers at the counter.. The girl finally reappears, and calculates my charge for this
trip. It is over 9 dollars.. Three times what the food was worth!!! But, I give her a card, put the charge on it,
skip the tip, sign the paper and zoom out the door.. I have had some good surprises and some bad ones. This
is one of the bad ones.. Now, a word to the wise, if you are ever in Creede, avoid the food place across from
the Snowshoe Lodge. The food and the service is horrible! That said, plan ahead and eat downtown at the
The Old Firehouse. The food there is super!!!!!!!!! Wish I had gone there, but I had taken the word of the lady
at the office, MJ's was supposed to be a good place. Wrong!
Back at the room, I settle in for the night. For me, this means a shower and several hours of downloading
photos and doing as much as I can to publish a road trip on my website. I forget what time I got to bed, but it is
generally after 1 AM... Today has been a long and twisted day, but it is finally over, and I am glad of it. For the
most part, the adventure of this trip is just about over. I still have a lot of miles to drive, and several more
people to see on the way back, but, the outdoor stuff and the connection to the mountains and the desert is
winding down. I am, and have been, hoping to see color here, but so far it is not happening, much! Maybe
tomorrow. If you would like to see the few images that I have to share from this day, use this link:
Western Adventure Day 21.
2013-09-26, Western Adventure Day 22
Well, now I know what it feels like to be John Wayne!! I have slept in the same room he did, I may have even
slept in the same bed!!! I used the same sink and potty he did, and showered in the same shower he did..
Well, yes, all this is per what I was told.. Somehow, after doing all the things that John did here, I still feel the
same, so, no changes to report as result of this experience..
I have to rise and shine early this morning if I want to get part of the breakfast being served in the back of
the office this morning.. As some hotel/motels do, they have a bit of a continental breakfast available.. And,
when I checked, I was informed that this is true here. Egg casserole was mentioned as a highlight of the
meal, so I want to be sure I get some of that! But, to do so, I have to get to the office early.. I think they will
be serving from 6:30 to 0900. Gotta work fast..
Honestly, seems no matter how fast I want to get things done, there is a set amount of time that is
unchanging around me, and most often I barely get to any place early, which is the case this morning. By the
time I get up, shower, get dressed, check and reply to emails of interest to me, it is near 0830?? So, I have
to rush to get to the office before all the eats are gone or the buffet is closed.. Of course, I get there in plenty
of time, since the office is only 25 steps away.. That said, I expected I would be getting the last of the
goodies.. However, that was not the case, they still had plenty of whatever there was to have.. I most always
pass on the sweet stuff, and look for protein and fruit.. I find a little of both, along with some coffee..
I do not think the dining area was ever intended to be a dining area, but it has been pressed into service as
such. The food area is about eight feet wide and eight feet long, then the eating area is in a side room. In
this room is a large TV, and a couch, etc. The dining function takes place on TV trays.. That said, it works.
When I went in, I started looking for a the fruit and protein. I found it. There was one banana left and about 6
pieces of a thin egg casserole cut up into pieces, that made the whole thing look like the work of my
grandmother when she made brownies.. The pan, the thickness, the size of squares, all made this look like
yellow brownies!!! But, there is was, so I got my egg product, my banana, and my coffee, plus some sweets
and cereal. I went into the sitting/eating room, and got to work on the eating part..
In the eating room was a fellow named Kim Ehlers, a Soil Conservationist, from Stillwater, Oklahoma. He
tells me he has been coming here since 1963.. Family use to bring him here on fishing trips. Now, after all
these years, he still returns and stays here a lot.. Also, he has traveled and lived in several states while
growing up. This includes living for awhile in Missouri, which is my home base. Kim has been here fishing,
but will be leaving later today. OH, and while we are eating, we get to listen to some fine guitar music, which
was being played in the front office by Sandy, the owner. He is also the man who helped me with my TV last
night. Turns out, somewhere in all this, I learn that Sandy is also a product of Oklahoma, where I was raised.
Sandy was an engineer and QC person for a large chemical company in Okmulgee(?), OK, I think.. After
retiring, he wanted to do something different, so he and his wife found this place, the Snowshoe Lodge for
sale, bought it, and have been calling it home for several years. He too had been coming here for years to
play, so it was natural to buy a business that was in the area he like to play.
With my eats completed, I head back to the room, where I finish up the packing, tooth brushing etc.. But,
while loading the car, I saw a pickup come in pulling a 4x4. Turns out it was Sandy the lodge owner. I went
over to talk about these things for a bit, as I am interesting in getting one. He tells me he has at least two of
these and they are for rent. The current rate is 225 dollars per day. That is one daylight day, not A 24 hour
day.. I rented a jeep in Ouray some years back and it was a 24 hour day rental!! And, from Sandy I was
reminded that the forest service here in town has ATV type maps in their office.. Tells where ATVs etc can
ride on forest service land, and the rules, etc...
So, after checking out of my room, I head over to the forest service office. I park my car and start to go in
when a truck with a 4x4 on a trailer pulls up.. I like the trailer, so I grab my camera and take a couple of
memory shots.. Then, while looking and doing the photo thing, I meet the owner. Cannot remember his
name, but he is from Wyoming, has owned, driven, rented, and guided ATV machines for years. So, I ask
the big question, which is better, ATV or side by side, which is what he has here. He said it depends!!!! Big
help.. He says there are pluses and minuses to both. He just bought this one so his dog could ride with him..
His dog could not go with him on an ATV!!!! So, having a dog determined why he bought this one. But, after
we talked awhile, it would seem he would get this no matter what. These are more comfy, can take a friend,
can haul stuff, can put a rain cover on it, etc..
We are both here at the forest service office for the same thing, maps and info on ATV trails, etc.. He plans
to ride now, like today, but for me, it is later.. I still need a toy.. But, I do go in the office and I do ask the good
questions. And, as always, the staff are most helpful. I leave with new info, and a free map of the trails in this
area. For those interested, these maps that the FS gives out are updated each year, so you have to replace
them fairly often. The FS changes the trails, the areas, the size limits, etc.. So, always get a new one when
you go play.. The maps are given without charge.. I started to say for free, but they are paid for by everyone
through taxes. Nothing is free.
After leaving the FS office I head on towards Lake City. But, as always, it is not long before I come to the ole
Freemon's General Store. Which is more or less a tourist attraction, but one that almost goes unnoticed by
many people driving by. It really is just an old general store building on the side of the road, but it sells the
best burgers and ice cream you will find in this part of the state, maybe the whole state!!! Plus it is an
experience. I would never have even guessed it to have food for sale, much less be a place to get burgers,
etc.. But, many years ago now, I was driving by, looking for a photo moment and I saw this old building with
a lot of cars parked around it, nice cars!!! So I stopped. Then before I even got in the door, I could smell the
burgers cooking. All I had to do them was follow the smell. I did, and after learning how to order, etc. I
became a customer for life!!! Been here many times now.. You should try it, at least once!! I have a lot of
good stories about this place.. I think I have written about them in earlier stories.. But, one day a customer
went to the car, after eating, and came back with a mandolin. Started playing it and singing.. We were all
having a great time. Then along comes another fellow who has a guitar in the car, he gets it and joins in..
WOW, it was awesome.. Both were good at bluegrass, and so that became the entertainment!!! Was great
This morning, I am only here for a large cup of coffee, which I get and head on down the road, but had it
been later, I would have gotten the burger. I am still full from breakfast. Note, one day here, I saw them
make a hamburger so tall that they had to put one of those wooden sticks in it to keep it from falling over. I
think it was a triple decker or something!!!!!!!!
As I headed north towards Lake City, the elevation changed for the higher. This brought on a number of big
changes of scenery. Not far north of Creede and Freemon's, is a great view point, which gave me my first
good glimpse of color.. Then just a bit further north, I came to the famous Clear Creek Falls!!! Both of these
places are neat, but the falls are always in season. I was first here in 1982, but forgot where I had seen it.
Took another 20 years to find it again. Now I am here at least once per year.. You will see it in my share file,
later.. Its really neat and highly visited.. The odd part is that it is in a flat valley.. You cannot see it until you
are almost right on top of it.. !!!! Very pretty!
From the falls I headed north again, grabbing a few memory shots along the way. But, it was at the San
Cristobal overlook that the wind nearly knocked me to my knees.. Wind here this day was very strong, and
quite cool, as winter is coming in fast. I got my snapshots and headed into town, with the intent to zip
through and head for Gunnison and Crested Butte, my destination for the day. But, as I went though town, I
saw a coffee shop I had been to before, so I stopped again for coffee, but more so to check my email and to
call a friend, who will have a birthday tomorrow. Normally, I would stop here and stay overnight with friends
who live here, but this year, given how quickly I need to get back east, I pass on the contact with ole friends
and just stick to business. Will catch them on another trip. This one is getting a little tight on time.
From Lake City, I drive on to Gunnison, where I have lunch in Subway, then go to the local library for some
internet connection. Then, from there, I head on towards Crested Butte, hoping to get there in time to see
some color.. Surprise! I do get there in time to see some color, but there is almost no color in the places I
normally find it. The weather here in the state has been so strange this year that even the trees are screwed
up!!! So, I pass on the color hunt, spend a little time in the coffee shop getting out another update on the
website, etc.. Then, heading out to get to my planned camping site. I have discovered a free campground
outside of town that is really neat. It goes by the name of OH Be Joyful. It is a property of the BLM.. They do
a nice job of keeping it up, but the road to it takes my car to just about the limit of what my car can do. The
road in to the campground is a real mess.. But, once there, life is good.. So, this is where I am headed. I do
stop at the Visitor Center, chat a bit, use the restroom, learn where to go to get water, and I get a new local
map.. Then, I am off.
The weather has degraded a lot since I arrived in town, around 4:30. Now, I am headed out to the
campground, but on my way, my attention is caught by the local cemetery and the light on the stones, etc..
So, I stop and grab some memory shots.. Then, back on the road to the campground, again.. This time I
make it. And, after looking at my watch and feeling a few rain drops hitting me, I rush to get my tent up..
Then, not long after I get it up, a fellow who is in camper near me stops by to visit, on his way back from the
restroom. He starts the conversation with a question about my tent.. Says that he is always on the lookout
for a smaller and lighter tent to use for his motorcycle tours. On this trip, he has the wife with him and they
have brought the pickup and camper, but even at his age, a bit older than me, he still enjoys doing big trips
on a touring bike.. I am not sure how long we talked, but it was well past dark when he said he best get back
to his camper. But, it was great fun to chat with him. He and his wife owned a plumbing business in southern
Texas somewhere, Galveston I think... That said, he was going into his retirement life at full speed and was
leaving the business to kids, and managers to carry on!!! After he left, it was time for a food bar and bed..
Has been another full day.. But, I still have more to go!! And, so far, I have not found any real color to speak
of.. I have a feeling I am not going to see color this year. To see the images I am sharing this day, use this
link: Western Adventure Day 22.
2013-09-27, Western Adventure Day 23
The feel of winter is creeping into my adventure. During the wee hours of the night, I could hear something
tapping on my tent that sounded a lot like rain, but could be a mix of snow and rain. That happens around
here.. Turns out, I was correct, we had been getting a mix of rain and snow.. This may well be a messy day
for travel.. Sometimes days like this can produce fun images, but I have a funny feeling this is not going to be
one of those days...
Now, out of my tent, I make a fast trip to the restroom. While I was gone, I thought about trying to do breakfast
here at the campground, but then on the walk back in the rain, I said "to heck with it".. I'll do a food bar on the
road. With that decision taken care of, I emptied the contents of the tent into the back seat area of my car,
then grabbed a trash bag and as quickly as I could, I took the tent down, a very wet tent, and just stuffed it in
a garbage bag, squeezed as much water out as I could, tossed the bag in the trunk, closed it and made my
exit from the campground. Back in Crested Butte, I stopped at the coffee shop, Rumors Coffee and Tea
House, again, had some coffee, did some email work, then, with the rain and snow getting heavier, I decided I
best get moving and get over Kebler Pass before it got so bad that I could not make it. Hopefully I am not too
late already... And, with that, I am gone.
I zip through town and get on the road to Kebler Pass.. And, yes, things are getting nasty!!! And, the further I
go, the nastier it gets!!! But, the photo thing keeps happening. You will see this in the share file.. But, what
will turn out to be the bad part is not the rain and snow, directly, but the mud on the road, as a result of the
rain, etc.. The type of soil up here on these roads is something really nasty.. Great stuff when dry, but a
horrible mess when it gets wet. And, it is wet now!!! So, I have a mess on my hands.
As the photos will show, there was quite a lot of snow coming down, and some of it had already begun to
stick.. But, even with that, I was not too concerned about the driving.. Concerned, yes, but not overly so,
until!!!! When I got to a place my friends and I call Horse Camp, though that is not the official name, I decided
to drive up to the lookout where we all go to take photos of the mountain range behind the Horse Camp.
Beautiful mountain range back there.. But, today, things are different!
When I get to the parking area, if you can call it that, there was water running down the road towards the
place where I normally park, so muddy would be the word I would use to describe the road. My second choice
was to park under some trees nearby, but there was already a pickup parked there, which eliminated that
spot. My third choice was to swing the car around to the left and park back along side the road I had just
come in on. But, as I turned the car, I could feel the wheels slipping. OOPs, this grassy area I expected to be
solid and safe to drive on is anything but safe. I quickly tried to zip across the muddy grass area and back
onto the solid gravel road. Seemed like a great plan, but it did not work... I did however get the car turned
around and headed back towards the road before the wheels lost traction. Then, I was stuck!!! I tried a few
times to go forward, but that did not happen, the car just sit there. I get out, to check the situation around the
car, looking for rocks, stumps, etc, and find that I am standing in about three inches of slime that used to be
solid ground before the rain.. Not good... I walk around the car and find that I truly am stuck, but am sitting on
nearly flat ground, I just cannot move..
This car does have front wheel drive, which is a blessing, and it has fairly new ties, which is also in my favor..
I am thinking that if all goes well, the tires can dig into the mud until they reach hard ground, which will then
get me out, but I will have to rock the car enough, forward and backwards to get a trail made to get out.. And
so, the process starts.. I start rocking the car forwards and backwards enough to dig down to solid ground,
then get enough of it in front of, and behind the power wheels, that on the last forward run, I was able to climb
back onto the road.. Success.. That was close a call.. What I have not told you yet is that there was a stump
on the passenger side of the car. I missed it, but barely!!! I have already lost that right front fender to a stump
here in Colorado on an earlier adventure, and did not want to lose it again to another!!!
Down the short hill I went and got back on the main road, which is also dirt. And, it too is now a good three
inches of gray mud.. Remember this for later.. The roads around here are great, as long as they are dry, but
when they are wet, they are like skating rinks, made of gray mud.. I have no idea where the dirt comes from to
surface these roads, but it is horrible stuff when it gets wet!!! So, if you are thinking of driving the roads in the
area that I am talking about, keep this info in mind. I think this is the main reason four wheel drive is so
popular in this area. The rocks etc are a challenge, but the mud is one thing that will stop you in your tracks! It
is like being on ice.
For the rest of the drive from Horse Camp to the blacktop highway, that will take me to Redstone and
Carbondale, I do not stop!!!! I am afraid to!! The mud on the road was just amazing, and it was slippy!!! So, I
drove the center of the road and gave up that position only when I met an oncoming car, and had to submit
space.. Otherwise, I was in the middle. This provided a little bit of safely.. And it worked. I made it back to the
highway, and I immediately felt my stress level drop.
Back on the highway, I headed towards Carbondale. It was not my intent to stop at Redstone, but when I saw
the road sign saying Redstone was just up ahead, I decided I would just drive in and look around, then move
on.. Did not happen that way.. I had never been “in” Redstone before, only to the tourist attraction out on the
side of the road.. This time I am driving right into the town.. I think town is too big of a word for it, but what else
can you call it.. I am not even sure it had a stop sign.. Might have, but..
The first thing I am faced with is a large metal structure in the front yard of a rather large building.. Turns out
the structure is “art” and it seems to be make from the chrome bumpers of old cars!!! The building around it is
the Redstone Inn.. I did not go in, but it looked to be a really nice place. I will put it on my things to do list for
the future! I should mention, I am not properly dressed to go into a really nice place. This morning I was
looking pretty good,
but after wading in the mud back at Horse Camp, I am a mess. I have mud almost to my knees.. And, for sure,
the foot area of my car is caked in mud.. I will have to wait until it drys before I try to get it out... The mud has
caused a lot of problems..
From the Inn, I continued on down the little street in this little town. Then, for some reason, I saw and became
interested in an old building that said General Store on it.. So, I stopped and started looking around. Next
thing you know, I had been inside long enough to have gotten coffee, etc.. And, it was in here that I learned
there was a free museum across the street.. So, I went there as well.. Not a big place, but at least the town
can say they have one!!! Then, as I was leaving the museum, I discovered a building that said chocolate on
the side of it.. That works for me. Good chocolate I do like.. So, in I went, looking for the chocolate advertised
outside.. Turns out, the chocolate collection, all of it, was in a little jewelry case sitting on the counter. I would
venture to guess all if it would fit in a one gallon zip top bag.. But, I still wanted some, so when the cute little
lady behind the counter asked me if she could help, I said sure, I want some chocolate. As a matter of fact, I
want the strongest and the darkest chocolate she has. Hummmm, she is not sure which one that is, but she
starts trying to tell me all about each one.. I say I would like to pass on the description. I have now slept in the
John Wayne Room and I want the good stuff, I want the strong stuff, I want the real cowboy stuff, because I
am going to consume it with this here good strong cowboy coffee I got next door!!
With such little chocolate to choose from, I did not think it would be such a big issue, but the lady I had been
talking to had to get help. From the back room came a fellow who listened to all this info again, and decided
that what I should get was the dark truffle chocolate thing in a paper cup that looked like a black golf ball.. I
agreed to his suggestion, and said lets go with it.. The little woman rang it up. The little black golf ball cost just
over 3 dollars!!
With the little golf ball in one hand and my coffee in the other I headed outside to taste test my golf ball..
YUMMY is the best way to describe it. I was all gone in about three bites, a rate of one dollar per bite. But, it
was worth it!! It was good!!!! I would do it again! And, yes, I washed it down with the coffee and headed for
the car. It is now time to get back on the road!!! But, on the way out, I did notice a restaurant that looked like it
would be a great place to eat, though I did not have time for a restaurant meal. I'll do it next time I am here..
Back on the road, I arrive in Carbondale, where I track down the local car wash and spend a few dollars trying
to get some of the road mud off my car! It worked pretty good for the body of the car, but not for the
underside. The car had developed a vibration when the speed got up around 50. I am guessing I have mud
stuck to the back side of my wheels. Will hope it rains on me now so that the underside of the car gets a bath
In Carbondale, I find the local Subway and feast on one of their new chopped chicken salads. This is my new
favorite!!! Used to be that I got the flatbread and chicken, but now that is history, since I discovered the
chopped salad.. If you have not tried it, do. It is pretty good! Then with salad finished, I head for my next
destination, which is Twin Lakes. I know the area pretty well and will plan to camp there tonight.
To get to Twin Lakes, I will be going through Aspen, and a couple other little wide places in the road, but I
barely even slow down for these. Time is slipping away and I am running into more snow, etc.. In fact by the
time I leave Aspen, and head for Independence Pass, I am seeing a lot of snow. It is not falling on me, but it is
on the ground. When I get to the pass, I am the only one there!!! Usually, there are at lease a dozen tourists
there doing the memory photo thing. Today, I have it all to myself. Of course, I do stop and I do take the
valuable memory photos, then I too get back to the warm car and head on down the road. In this case I do
mean down, as I am going down a very steep and winding road to get to Twin Lakes!!
When I arrive at the turn off to the campground where I planned to camp tonight, I look up and to my
amazement, there is a whiteout snow storm coming across the lakes and headed straight towards me. I start
thinking this camping thing may not be my best option for tonight. I took a few photos of the incoming storm,
then called the concierge service that gets rooms for me. Most every time I have called I get good people, but
not today. I got someone who was at the bottom of the quality stack. Don't know what was going on, but I am
guessing this person could not spell their own name without help..
After 15 minutes, they finally got something set up for me.. I already knew which hotel I wanted to stay in, in
Leadville, which is just a few miles up the road, but this poor person was too challenged to handle it. They did
make a reservation for a hotel, but when I got there, it was the wrong one.. So, I had to cancel the reservation,
then go to the hotel I was interested in and do my own pricing and check in etc!!! The hotel I wanted, and the
one that I got, was the Silver King Inn and Suites. It is nice and I can highly recommend it. It meets all my
standards for price, cleanliness, etc.. And, for me, I got a room on the bottom floor, close to my car so that I
could carry my stuff in, easily. And, there will be a meal include tomorrow morning!
I get moved into my new room, I take a well needed shower, and I do some catchup work on my computer..
Then it was off to sleep in a real bed. I could have survived in my tent, but this is soooo much better. I am
here in my nice big warm bed, the rain soaked tent is the trunk of my car in a trash bag!!! Was a very
challenging day, but it turned out okay. Taking the hot shower helped make it a good day!!! And speaking of
day, if you would like to browse through the shared photos from this day, use this link: Western Adventure
2013-09-28, Western Adventure Day 24
Winter came early to Leadville, Colorado last night!!! This morning when I woke up, there was a little sliver
of light coming through the window shades, which I think is what woke me up. I had my alarm set, but the
light coming through the window is most likely the reason I woke up. For some odd reason, I went to the
window to look out. Was not expecting anything in particular, but just wanted to check the weather, I
suppose. What I found when I looked out was snow and ice!!! It would seem that the snow storm I had run
from last night, followed me into town and released a little early Christmas cheer on my car!!! Looks kinda
neat, but looking neat and being neat are two totally different things!
I learned that breakfast here would be served until around 0930 or so. I have plenty of time to go eat, but to
stay on my schedule I am going to push on. Today, I expect to be passing though Denver again, as I head
back east. My old buddy who I stopped and visited on the way out is still in the area, and he has a birthday
coming up on October 5. He has told me that he expects to be back in Germany on a new job by the end of
October, meaning I might not be seeing him again for a good long while, so a little birthday lunch might be
just the thing for us to do as I am going through town. I send an email to him and suggested we get together
when I come through. I will be awaiting his reply or a phone call..
After cleaning up and getting things in order here in the room, I am off to breakfast!! Turns out it is really
nice.. They have a nice setup and there is a lot of different choices of foods. However, there is still no
protein, except some boiled eggs. I grab a couple of those and include them in my meal plan, along with a
banana, etc.. I will just throw this in for fun, in Europe, where I was in October of last year, the hotels that
serve breakfast, most always include protein in their choices... The Europeans seem to focus more on
quality food than Americans do. Here it is mostly all fattening foods. We want healthy health care, but not
healthy food to stay healthy.. Hummmm. Healthy food means healthy people. Junk food means junk people.
With breakfast finished, I head back to the room, but, on the way, I have to stop and clean my car. This
means brushing off the snow, then getting in the car, starting it up, getting the heater and defrosters
working, which then allows me to get the ice off the windshield!!!!!!! It was on there good!!!!!!!!!!!!
With the car loaded, I went back to the office one more time, checked out and got a copy of my paper work,
etc.. Then, it was on the road.. Actually, I think I stopped and got fuel, then got on the road.. But, either way,
I was headed towards Denver and a possible reunion with my buddy..
On the way to Denver, I found a lot more snow than I would have guessed.. And, in some places there was
packed snow on the highway, which was spooky, as some people were driving their normal crazy self.. The
drivers in Colorado are nuts, and that is putting it mildly. Here they are living in paradise and they are
driving everywhere as if they were running from a fire, or going to one, depending on how you want to say
that.. But, you/I would think they would like to just do the speed limit and enjoy the mountains, etc.. Nope,
they are all in a hurry, and they will nearly run over you to get to wherever it is they are going. I never did,
and never have figured out where they are going in such a hurry, or why.. This is still a mystery. That said,
I have seen some of them upside down on the side of the road, and I expected I would see some wreaked
today, but they had managed to escape the tow truck this time! If I can ever figure out why they are in
such a big hurry, maybe I too will driving crazy to get there as well.. Until then, I am going to just ramble
along and enjoy the views!
My friend does not have a phone that works in this country, as he did not expect to be here long enough to
do a contract, but, his phone will do email.. So, with that thought in mind, and knowing I had sent notice to
him, asking for us to do lunch, I needed to find a place where I could get off the highway, get to a
McDonalds or something, and check my email via my tablet. But, I could not find any place to get off this
Denver highway. The road I was driving on was 8 lanes wide, in each direction, for a total of 16, if I counted
correctly. But, there was one more hope, his daughter has a USA cell phone and he is generally pretty
close to her, so he could use her phone to reply to my suggestion of lunch. But, nothing, so I kept driving..
Actually, I was completely lost, but I was following the little pink line on my GPS. I have set it for Omaha, NE,
where I plan to visit with a friend on my way back east.
At some point, I realize I am leaving Denver!! Not sure where I am but the town is now behind me, and wide
open country is ahead of me.. Finally, I see something that looks like a place where I can do email, there is
a McDonalds sign on the side of the road.. So, I exit. As it turns out, I am going to a mega shopping center,
and I think it is called Prairie Center, or something like that, but it does have a McDoanlds. And, after a
couple of tries, I find it.. Then, once I am parked close enough to reach their router, I drag out my tablet, and
fire up my email. Sure enough, there was a message from my buddy. He tells me that sure, we can do
lunch, come on down and join us at the place where he and his daughter, and daughter's boyfriend are at
the time of the message. When I check my GPS, I can see that I am some 20 miles or so past where he is.
Its too late to go back. I will have to just take a rain check on this one and move on. I sent him a note and
explained that I was way past where he was and that doubling back would not work, as traffic on the return
side of this 16 lane thing was backed up for miles, and it was.. Must have been a wreak on that side or
something... Then, with that, I went down the street to my favorite place to eat, got my salad, ate, got on the
road, and headed east.
Cannot say I remember much about the drive from Denver to the Nebraska state line, but I am here to let
you that Colorado is flat, in some places.. Mercy is it ever flat. I have heard people complain about Kansas
being flat, when they drive from Kansas City to Colorado, on highway 70, but I am here to tell you that, that
part of Kansas is high mountains compared to what I found as I traveled towards the Nebraska state line..
FLAT, FLAT, FLAT!!!! Did you get that, FLAT!
At some point on this FLAT road I have been driving, I come to the state line between Colorado and
Nebraska.. Of course I had to have memory photos of this, so I stopped, got out, set up my trusty assistant,
my tripod, and started shooting. Shot a bunch of images, trying to get something interesting to happen..
Me on the left, me on the right, me in the middle, me in the grass, me far away, me up close, etc.. Well, you
get what I am saying.. But, through all that, I think two images survived the edit process.. But, I made it to
Nebraska, and I have proof!!! And, for those who are likely to keep track of such things, the set of images I
am sharing at the end of this note will be the last ones for this adventure. The adventure for me is not over,
but from here on the adventure turns from the hills and mountains that anyone can go see, to a more
personal time with family and friends. I did take photos of them, but I will afford them some privacy and leave
those memories on the computer..
The photos have ended, but the stories have not. After I crossed the state line into Nebraska, I continued on
east, driving on the flattest place I have ever been on this earth. The roads were flat and they were
straight.. Amazing really.. Then, as darkness came, and I determined I was not going to be able to make it to
Omaha tonight, I called my concierge service when I got to Lexington, and asked for help. Turns out, I was
just a block from a Super 8 hotel, so they out me up there. Was nice enough for me. So, I am hotel camping
tonight. One thing I want to add here is that when you are traveling on FLAT ground, your gas mileage
improves a bunch.. Normally, my car will go about 400 miles on a tank of gas. Out here on the flats, I think it
would have gone 600. When I was over 400, I filled up, but I still had nearly a quarter of a tank when I
stopped. I am fairly sure I was good for another 200 miles.
The next day, I continued east. I said I was headed to Omaha, NE, and I was, but my friend actually lives
just across the river in Council Bluff, IA.. As I recall, I arrived there around 3:30 PM, and was met with a big
welcome. Everyone was out on the porch to greet me when I came down the street.. Was a great reunion.
My friend that I am coming here to see, now lives here with a daughter and son-in-law, but had been living
for many years in the town where I grew up in Oklahoma. Has been over two years since we have seen
each other. My friend, Virgina is now 90 years old and still going strong. She thinks she is 30!!! Beautiful
person with an awesome personality. She sends out some of the neatest cards.. She is a “card sender”.
Sends them out for all occasions, plus in between times, just for fun!!!! Great lady!
I spent two nights here, getting to know her family here, which I had not met up until now. We did the usual
visiting stuff, and we did some shopping, and we went out to eat, etc.. Was just good fun. But, as good as it
was, I had to keep going, so after the second night, I got back on the road, headed to my next stop, Stilwell,
KS. Stilwell is for all purposes, a part of Kansas City, so I guess I should just say I headed to Kansas City.
But, just before I headed for Kansas City, I get an offer for a Trans-Atlantic cruise this fall... WOW, and the
price is really good, so I contact the agent. We start talking, and I say I have to think about this. I like the
offer, but will it fit into my life right now.. I will have to do some checking, the agent will call back.
It is here in Stilwell, that my best friend in life lives with her family. My friend Katy and I met when I was
working in Kansas City, 40 years ago this month, September!!! I had a short stay in Kansas City after
college, then moved to my new town, St Louis, MO, where I have been every since. But, through those 40
years we just became family. Could not ask for a better friend. She was always there to take my calls if
things were not going well, or if I had something to celebrate. As the years when by, she got married, and
with her really neat husband, Dave, they had two beautiful daughters, who are now all grown up and
making their way in the world. One of them has married and has produced Kathy and Dave's first
grandchild. They are loving it. Tis amazing what becoming a grandparent does to people!!! For sure, you
will get a spoiled grandchild!!! I think..
I arrive at Kathy and Dave's big beautiful home, where I am as always, greeted as a member of the family. I
think they even named the guest room, Tom's Room, since I have been here so many times over the years..
Maybe they just tell me that.. Because, they have lots of other people come stay as well, and the guest
room is used by all of use who are lucky enough to get to stay here. There are perks to being here, Kathy
is a great cook and prepares great comfort foods for the weary travelers who stop by. It really is like coming
home. So, needless to say, I always look forward to my visits here. Most of my trips to the west start and
stop here, at least for a day or so. There was one new twist to this trip, Kathy's youngest, and her boyfriend,
were staying here as well. I do not know the full details, but there was some issues at the place where they
were living, so they came here until they could find a new property to rent. That said, her daughter and her
daughter's boyfriend, who I had not met before, are both really neat people, so it was good to spend time
with them as well..
Speaking of spending time, Kathy and I have a thing for thrift shops and cooking stores, to include spice
shops. I am not the cook she is, but I do like to go to the cooking stores and search for treasures. On an
earlier trip here, we went to her favorite shop, and while there, I bought three floor sack towels that I love. I
wanted more, so this time we went back. Could not find what I wanted, was about to give up and leave,
when I spied one at the bottom of a rack. So, rather than tear up the place digging in the box, I asked one of
the ladies to do it for me. Then, if she messed things up, it would be okay!!! I had found one towel, she
found another. Then she ask, how many do you want. I ask how much there cost. She has to go check.
They are four dollars each. I say I will take all she has, since these things are hard to come by!!! Floor sack
towels are not hard to come by, but, the huge ones are. These babies must be 32x32. Really big.. In the
end, I got all the store had, seven of them!!! Now, I am set for a good long time!!! Found a treasure.. We
also we did the Costco and Sam's thing, and somewhere in there I got a half gallon of organic olive oil, so I
am good to go in that for awhile... Was a good treasure hunting day.
NOTE...While we are in the kitchen store, the travel agent calls. The trip I am thinking about is on hold for a
few hours, so I have to decide.. Then, while we were in Costco, something tripped my trigger and I decided
to accept the Trans-Atlantic offer. From there on it was just a matter of doing the paper work. So, my next
adventure will be from England to the Caribbean.
The clock is still ticking on my countdown to get back to home base. I have things to take care of there, and
I have to do more to prepare for the next adventure. And, a part of that prep is to finish this story, and the
photos, etc.. So, fairly early on the second morning at Kathy's home, I am up early, I showered, I ate, I
drank, I put my travel bag in the car, got my last hug from Kathy, and I was off.. Next real stop will be home
base in St Louis. I made it without a hitch!!! Even stopped and got my held mail at the post office. Was a
To all the people I met along the way, THANKS for being a part of the fun and for sharing the road with me.
To the people back home who were tracking my adventure as it happened, THANKS for sharing it with me.
Was good to know you were there. And for those people who might not see this for a long time after I finish
it, I hope you will get something out of it. When I started traveling, there wasn't, and still isn't a lot of shared
travel info out there to learn from.. So, to that end, when I started traveling, I said I will do it. I will do my trip,
I will share the stories, share the knowledge, and share the images. If you want to just sift through some or
all of this for fun, great. If you do it to learn something, that is even better. I have now met people who tell
me they found my site and used what they saw and what they read to plan their adventure.. Perfect, that is
what all this is here for!!! It is now October 26, it is after 2:00 AM, and this ends the Western Adventure
2013. A lot of this had to be written and shared after I got home, as the trip was moving along so fast that I
could not keep up. Most of my notes were recorded on my digital pocket recorder, but for some reason, a
fair number of notes were written on pieces of paper, which were hard to keep track of, in fact it would seem
I have lost some of them.. But, I did get home with most of them.. If any of the people in my stories read this
and finds errors, please let me know and I will update the info per your help..
There is one last set of images to share, and to see them, use this link: Western Adventure Day 24.