We left Sand Hollow campground on Monday and headed to Red Canyon visitor center. We were going to be boondocking between there and Bryce at a place called Toms Best Spring and we wanted to get in a spot early. Red Canyon was beautiful, so many beautifully colored red rocks and the beginning of hoodoo land. A hoodoo is a rock formation (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid) that is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. It is formed by the erosion of softer rock and dirt below a harder rock.
We were told of some hiking trails right around the visitor center that gave great views of the local hoodoos. We do seem to spend a lot of time right outside the National Parks doing some hikes which leave the crowds behind, so it was good to know about. After setting up camp we headed back down to the visitor center to do a short hike and check things out. It was a short hike, but Kat didn’t really like it much because of all the loose gravel on the steep narrow trail. The views were worth it though.
The next day when we went to Bryce we found it very different from Zion and Moab because of the hoodoos. The view from the top is pretty spectacular, but when you go down in the canyon and see them up close and personal at a different angle… just wow! We did a rim hike the first time in and really enjoyed those views. It was a pretty easy trail with lots of stops to enjoy the sights. Like Zion, Bryce also has a shuttle system taking visitors from the main entrance to stops along the way. We found that it was no where near as busy as Zion and we could have easily found parking, but the shuttle was convenient. After hiking and walking back to the truck we made some plans about our future hikes and headed back to our nice camping spot. There was so much wood laying around that it only made sense to gather it up and have a campfire. The weather was chilly, but not super cold, well, except in the morning!
The next hike was to be a longer one in Bryce that took us down into the base of the Canyon among the hoodoos, but when we got out to the main road it really looked like it was going to rain in Bryce, so we went back to do another longer hike near the visitor center. This was called the Golden Wall and it was great! We had done a quick walk near the visitor center before taking this one because we were kind of waiting to see what the weather was going to do and we had also met a French guy who was chatting with us as we walked about all the places he had been and was going to go. After we left him we did decide to go ahead and hike the Golden Wall. I didn’t really look at how long it was or anything, but yeah, it was longer and harder than expected. The views were amazing and the trail was a single track that went up and down along the sides of the mountains.
The trails weren’t terribly scary, but I think that is because even though we were high up on the side of a mountain it was not a sheer drop off down into nothing. Sometimes it was not just a drop on one side, but both! There were steep slopes with lots of bits of small sharp rocks that looked like they just broke off bigger pieces. I figured if I fell and just slid down without putting my hands down I would be a little shaken, but not dead. And if I kept my hands up and used my feet to slow my fall/slide I would not get all cut up, unless my jeans ripped, then I would be hamburger on you know where. Besides if I fell I would have to figure out how to get back up to the trail, so I was not going to let it happen. Sorry, but those things cross my mind on scary trails. I am afraid of heights, but I thought I did really well on this hike. We were maybe half way through the hike and it looked like rain was coming, so we had to speed up. After walking some parts of that trail I was sure happy that we didn’t get caught in the rain up there. At one point we were headed into what looked to me like a dead end into the canyon… um, no, the trail took us up and over that mountain pass into more hills and windy trails along the sides of them. Crazy beautiful! After we got back down the steepest trail ever to the truck we decided we could hike anything! Turns out we didn’t do just the Golden wall, but we connected to the Castle Bridge Trail and then onto the Buckhorn trail. About 6+miles in all. Whew!
In Bryce the hike called the Peekaboo trail down into the hoodoos was considered strenuous, but one of the rangers said it wasn’t the path itself, but the ups and downs that made it classify as that. Well, we aren’t afraid of hills any more and so we did go and loved it. We didn’t hike the entire Peekaboo trail, just half of it and then onto another trail called the Queens Garden. The last section was my favorite part of both Bryce and Zion. I can’t even begin to say how cool the hoodoos were there, but I did take lots of pictures.
There is so much to do and see in the local area that we planned on staying as long as possible. We were able to use the solar panels during the day to charge up and that gave us the heat we needed when it was cold in the morning. We had a campfire every night except one when it was too windy. We really liked that spot in the woods and the mice living nearby liked us too. We had seen one little mouse one morning in the camper and while Kat danced around and shrieked I chased him out the door. Well, he must have gone and told all of his friends because we had to remove 6 of them from the camper over the next few days. One took his own life by climbing into a bucket that was outside that I had been using for putting water on the campfire. We took one of them with us when we left and he stayed a couple of nights before….well, you know. Those country mice are not stealthy, they make a lot of noise at night and are not shy about nibbling on anything left out and pooping wherever they feel the urge.
We were close to the Grand Staircase Escalante but we didn’t drive all that way, but we did go to Kodachrome State Park though and took a little hike. Again, fantastic views all around the basin. On the way there we took a quick side trip to check out Grovesnor Arch which was about 7 miles down a dirt road. Not much else out there, but it was a pretty drive and a nice Arch. We also went to Shakespeare’s arch after Kodachrome and walked around and admired the views. You could see for miles and we both commented on how cool it would be to have a house way up there-except in the snowy winters.
We really enjoyed that part of the trip, but between the cold, the mice and the need to empty the tanks it was time to go. Oh yeah and it was Sunday…Football, so we needed power and a TV signal. After boondocking for awhile you just really want the luxury of power and no water conserving.. ie, a long shower. We went just down the road to the little town of Panguitch. Unfortunately not one restaurant (no bars around) was open on Sunday or had any TVs to watch football. So, Kat watched football in the camper and I took a little bike ride around the town. Cute little place, but I’m not sure I would want to live there.
From Panguitch we went to MT Carmel junction where we were staying before heading towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We would meet up with Susan and Dan there. Susan retired recently from the same company I had worked for and was doing some traveling around in their RPod and we hadn’t gotten together on the road yet. But before we met them, we had a quick 3 night stop at MT Carmel junction not far off the road and after the first night we were all alone. We had great sun for the solar panels and it wasn’t too cold, so it was nice. We wanted to go there because the Golden Wall hike inspired us to go back to Zion and do a little more challenging hike. At that point we figured we could hike anything! Observation Point is an 8 mile hike (definitely strenuous). It was 4 miles up at an altitude gain of 2000ft and then back down again. The scenery along the way was great, especially the canyon part of the trail. The end of the hike up was the worst, but well worth the satisfaction of making it. Going down was not too bad, but a little tiring on the knees. We were knocked out the next day and I was feeling that hike in my legs. Kat says she wasn’t too bad… What?
Observation Point pictures.
From Mt Carmel Junction we headed to Jacob Lake, Arizona 30+ miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Kaibab forest. More boondocking to be done. We found a sunny spot that would fit our camper, provide sun for the solar panels and Susan and Dan’s camper would fit easily which was nice. When parking I noticed a big hoof that had part of the leg still attached and looked like it was cut off with a saw. Later I found out that hunters cut them off because they have no use for them. I only found one and was told later that maybe the coyotes carried off the others! We never heard any coyotes while we stayed there. I do like hearing them at night, but from a distance is best.
We took a trip to the North Rim and unfortunately couldn’t get any good pictures because it was washed out with too much sun, but it was really pretty anyway. We drove down to Point Imperial and Cape Royal where there were nice viewing areas of the canyon. We had planned on a 4 mile hike, but decided to wait until another day. On the way into the park and back out we saw a herd of buffalo and a lone coyote walking around in a field, lots of deer too. Back at camp it was too breezy and got too cold for a campfire, so we hung out inside that evening. We go to bed so much earlier when it gets dark out so early and I only went out one night to check out the stars. It was like being in an astronomers dream. So many stars! I also missed seeing the full moon except for the light it brought into the camper at night.
On Saturday after a trip to Kanab to do a little grocery shopping Fat Henry finally gave us a check engine light and a code to help diagnose his problem. We were only hoping it was not another issue that was not the cause of his hiccups, stuttering, power loss, or however I can try to describe that intermittent issue. We called a garage to see if we could make an appointment and had to leave a message. We weren’t sure anyone would be open on Monday since it was Columbus Day and possibly a holiday. Not much to do except wait until we could get ahold of a mechanic and besides we needed to get ready for Susan and Dan to come camp with us on Sunday afternoon. They weren’t sure what time they would arrive, but guessed about noon. At about 11 we got a knock on our door and yay… there they were. After their 10 minute set up of their RPod we decided to have lunch. They had a propane regulator go bad and weren’t able to use their propane at all, so it was going to be a chilly night for them. It was supposed to get down into the upper 20’s. Kat cooked some chili up at our place between games of lawn darts. The sun was warm and we all just hung out, enjoyed the warmth and talked.
On Monday at about 630 I heard noises from their camper and since I was awake I thought I would invite them over for coffee and to warm up since we could use our heater. Susan had texted me earlier, but I just saw it and they were going to head to the Canyon for sunrise and did we want to go. Well, sure! We quick made some coffee, got dressed and jumped into their car. It was pretty cold! When we got there we just walked to a couple of the overlooks near the lodge, into the lodge and then we headed back to camp.
They had planned on cooking us breakfast and since they didn’t have propane we graciously offered to let them use our kitchen to cook (they weren’t getting off that easy!). By 9am we hadn’t heard back and there was still just a voicemail answering, so we called another place – Bowman’s diesel. He said if we got there before 5 they would squeeze us in and take a look. In the meantime Susan and Dan headed to Kanab too in search of a regulator and a propane refill. We had Fat Henry towed just in case something was really wrong and we would be making it worse, and we were worried that we could get stuck in the 40 miles into town, as there were a lot of miles with no cell service. Good Sam covered the tow, so no big deal. When we got there they hooked it up to the computer to get the codes and then start looking into the causes. The code indicated there was a short to the injector block. So he started testing the injectors. I tell you, those computer codes are pretty handy and they really need to have them with the way engines are built now. Jed is the name of the guy in charge of the shop who was helping us and he gave me a ride to the car rental place… (the only one in town). He and Kat drove back and talked about the truck and the engine, etc. When I got back he was still testing things, but had some good ideas and was really trying to find out the cause. It seemed it really was our little problem had gotten bigger. I was happily hoping we would get it all fixed for good, but also afraid of what it could be and what it could cost. We went ahead and left him to work on it, but he did say we could stay. We decided to go and let him work in peace. Our usual strategy is if we take the truck for service we wait around because maybe, just maybe they will know we are there waiting and get to it sooner and finish faster, but it didn’t seem so this time and we had people waiting on us to get home.
Back at camp Susan and Dan were ready to cook dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. That worked well because with how cold at night we were both trying to cook inside to warm up our campers. Both nights we hung out and shared dinners and they taught us how to play cribbage, which is not so easy when just reading the rules. They also taught us how to play a card game called golf. It was really fun to play new card games with other people.
The next day (Tuesday) Susan and Dan decided to head out. It was just a bit chilly for them and they wanted to get somewhere with power. I don’t blame them, but we couldn’t leave without FH. We decided to head into town and go hang out at the library and be close to the garage, just in case. On the way into town Jed called to say the truck was ready! What?! It wasn’t even lunchtime. He said the wiring harness was rubbing on a bolt and was shorting out. He found it out just by luck when testing the electrical connections. Yipee!! It wasn’t 1000’s of dollars and there was no waiting on parts to be ordered. He was 95% sure this was our intermittent problem all along! We felt really good about it because that made a lot of sense. We were so happy we bought the guys in the garage a couple of pepperoni pizzas for lunch and then we went and had buffalo burgers. We returned the car early and only got charged for one day. We decided to just head right to Vegas and stay there getting some things done before we were to leave on Monday for the UK – as nice as it is out in the wilderness, it feels good to be warm and not think about things like electricity, heat, water tank levels and mice.
Just FYI for those of you who are wondering how it is in Vegas now we didn’t go to the strip and so we didn’t see any of the shooting stuff that happened recently, but there are a lot of Vegas Strong signs around. Some of the things we were planning on doing in Vegas were shopping for some new shoes for me. I wanted to check out the outlets in the hope of finding some good walking sneakers that were lightweight. I don’t have small feet, so packing even one pair of shoes is an issue for me and I may need to leave something else essential behind or infringe on Kat’s suitcase space? We needed to get some dry goods shopping done so we can be a little more ready to leave when we return, so that was a Walmart trip. Kat really wanted to go to the Airstream dealer and check out their little backcountry campers. They were really sweet and if I had an extra 40K laying around, was working and wanted to go away for long weekends I would just do it. Of course we checked out Costco. Actually two of them. Who knew there was a Costco that caters to business people? You could buy industrial kitchen appliances and items that would make sense for businesses to buy. It wasn’t busy, but had no snack bar with those nice frozen yogurts for a dollar and NO SAMPLES! We did end up going to another one on the other side of town just because it was next door to where we had lunch later and it had only 3 samples that were pretty lame. Don’t go to Vegas for free Costco samples. The liquor is cheap though and sure beats UTAH liquor stores who charge an unreasonable amount for even bad beer. If the prices don’t deter you, the warnings about snakes in the parking lot might! We ate at a tapas place for lunch and saved ourselves from having to cook dinner and clean up on Saturday. Sunday we watched Football… yep, football. Camper is in storage, laundry is done, blogs are caught up, feeling good about this trip until I checked the weather in the UK where we are going and yeah… it’s going to rain pretty much the whole time. Oh well, it’s to be expected I guess. We will make the most of it and have fun anyway. Off to England.