I’m having to backtrack quite a bit, but will do my best to fill in the blanks with my notes. Lately it’s been a lot of moving around and a lot of visiting and traveling with friends lately which distracted me. As well as super bad internet service in most places. Here we go on a journey from Northern NM through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and to Spokane, WA then Portland, OR. I will break it up though or you will be reading for hours and looking at pictures until your eyes cross. It was a great adventure and we saw spectacular things.
We stayed in between Santa Fe and Albuquerque at Cochiti lake for a few days after leaving Santa Fe. It really feels out in the middle of nowhere, but is only 25 miles from Santa Fe and not too far from Albuquerque. There is a convenience store in the little town of Cochiti lake, but for a town of only 500+ what can you expect? We didn’t venture back to Santa Fe, but we did go to Tent Rocks National Monument. That was really an awesome hike through a really impressive canyon with a fantastic view from the top at the end. We took the lower trail to see the cave and weren’t going to take the second part through the canyon, but man are we happy we did! It was so worth it. The rock formations were our first taste of these unique rock formations and they were beautiful and magical. It really isn’t a well known place and not heavily advertised and without just happening to be close by we probably wouldn’t have gone, but it made me very happy that we have these national parks that are protected and their presence is made known to the public. Thank you President Roosevelt for creating the National park system and Bill Clinton for adding this one.
When we left Cochiti we were going to stop in Angels Peak campground for the night, but I was in driving mode and really wanted to get further along in the direction of civilization, so we kept going to Valley of the Gods in Utah. Kat did a great job of finding it on the fly as we drove. We usually have a plan of where to go, but I threw it all off by wanting to keep going. Sometimes not having a reservation at a campground has its benefits. We went through the beautiful northern NM and towns of Farmington and Shiprock, which were a bit of sad little towns. Sorry for any offense to those who live there. We were originally going to head right into Colorado and up to stay at our friends farm (Carol and Sue) who we had stayed with late last summer, but as I looked at the map I saw that Arches and Moab could be on the way. We have it in our plans to go to Bryce and Zion in the fall along with Arches, but this would enable us to stay on the West side of Utah when we go back there in September. The drive was great, crossing the border into Arizona and then into Utah was spectacular with red rock formations in the distance and just great big wide open spaces filled with views of far off formations of rocks, cliffs, canyons and towering rocks. It was exciting to see what more was to come as we drove on.
You could see all the rock formations in the distance as we pulled off the road into Valley of the Gods. We knew that we could just pull over into any site that had been stayed in before, but not to go more than 3 miles. The road, although a bit bumpy of a dirt road was ok. We found a spot we really liked backed up against some rock formations and of course after getting setup we needed to see more, so we went out for a drive to see what was further down the road. It just kept getting more amazing, but we made the right choice not to go further with the camper. Dinner and relaxing was next on our to do list and we did it well. I was so amazed by the views from our camper that I just had to share a photo on FB, which I don’t do too often. There wasn’t great internet service, so I was glad it went through.
The next day we took a drive to Monument Valley which is known for its towering sandstones. We planned to stop at Gooseneck State Park to see what there was to see and then take a driving tour through Monument Valley when we got there. The driving tour was full of fantastic views and was terrific, except for the roads. I suspect they don’t care about keeping them maintained, they are dirt so that may be difficult, but if cars could easily drive down those roads how would the tour groups stay in business and there were many! When we finished the tour I saw that I had a comment on the picture I had posted. It was from our friends, Greg and Cori that we met in Usery Park, AZ (LINK). They were going to be staying at Valley of the Gods starting that night! What a crazy small world. And if the park had more than one road in we would have a small chance of finding them, but as we drove into the park….there they were! We stopped in and made plans for dinner back at their camper a bit later. We had a super dinner and good conversations, then made plans to meet at our camper for breakfast. We planned to make green chili egg burritos, say goodbye and hit the road. Things didn’t go as planned. As I packed up outside I noticed one of our camper tires was looking very low. Sure enough it was 1/4 of what its PSI should have been. A bit closer of inspection showed we had a screw embedded in it. This was after breakfast and Cori and Greg were still around. I feel like an idiot admitting we didn’t even have a lug nut wrench to take off that tire and replace it with the spare. We were so lucky Greg and Cori were there! He had what we needed to get the punctured tire off, replace it with the spare and even let us use his compressor to get the spare to pressure after we fried our little one by running it too long. Darn it, we use that quite often and now will have to replace it as well as figure out how to make it easy to put air in when needed. So happy I posted that FB picture! Thanks again to Greg and Cori for the help. We got the tire repaired on the next stop for 20 bucks.
We needed more awesome rock formations and our next stop was Moab, Utah. Arches National Park was our real goal. We once again had no reservation and with the tire issue we were later arriving than we wanted to be, but we got totally lucky in getting the last spot at Kens Lake campground, just about 9 miles from Moab. I was dying to go check things out in town, so off we went after setting up. Really, I needed some civilization and city life as we had been in nowhere land for a long time. The first thing we did when we arrived was to get Kat some food. She was fading fast and this was not going to end well if we didn’t. More good luck shined down on us when we parked and on the corner of main street was the fabulous food truck: Quesadilla Mobilla. Wow. I have never had that much meat in a Quesadilla, or seen so many people lined up for a tortilla folded over with stuff in the middle. It was great and even though we had to wait a bit we enjoyed the outside seating area and people watching. They were mostly bikers and hikers. One of the first things I noticed about Moab was that almost everyone had a bike on their truck or car or they had a trailer with an ATV. If people weren’t in a car they were dressed for hiking or doing outdoors things. Definitely an outdoorsy place. So many shops there to accommodate that lifestyle as well. Gearheads outdoor shop even provided as much free filtered water as you wanted and the Maverick Gas station had free water for campers and a free dump station, we made use of both.
Of all the places we have been we both agreed that Moab is one place we would think about living. Well, there are probably more, but we fell in love with the area and the town. The weather was good, the outdoor vibe of it, the views and activities were amazing. Arches National park was just fantastic, even better than I imagined. Wewent to Arches on Friday night and hiked to Delicate arch to see the sunset. It was a nice 3 mile round trip hike over and through some really cool rocks. The viewing area was packed with people waiting to get a good picture. We didn’t stay until sunset because we didn’t want to have to hike back down with all those people and instead we drove to Fiery Furnace area and took some pictures there and drove out of the park. The park is doing road construction and the only time it is open in the evenings is Friday and Saturday, the rest of the week it closes at 7pm. We planned to go back and do some of the hikes later in the week because we both love the area and were going to stay around as long as possible and do as much exploring as we could before we head to Colorado. We booked ourselves into a ranger led walk through Fiery Furnace on the following Friday at 1pm before we hiked another trail on our own one day. All the hikes were great and we saw a lot of different, but all very cool sights.
Arches is actually one of the smaller parks and we wanted to get in more exploration of the area which meant off to Canyonlands park we went for new sights and hikes. We started out one day by driving to the Needles section of the park where we took a six mile hike. It’s hard to describe, so pictures will have to do, but again…just amazing! After our long hike we did a shorter little walk to see where an old cowboy camp was found. That was pretty well kept and one part of the trail required climbing up a wooden ladder. The weirdest thing ever was that at the top of that ladder we both smelled pepperoni pizza. I mean seriously, how can we both smell it like it was right there hot and ready to eat? Weird, we must have been really hungry! Unfortunately, there was definitely no pizza around.
The other section of Canyonlands we went to was at the other end of the park called Island in the sky. It wasn’t a great weather day and we thought rather than hang around the camper we could at least go for a drive and maybe the weather would be ok up there. Haha-nope! We got snowed on and other than a quick break in the clouds and fog for about 20 minutes we couldn’t see anything much. Kind of fun anyway. Canyonlands is a great park. The name sort of sounds like an amusement park and I guess it is for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers, bikers, climbers and anyone who likes being out in nature.
My favorite places lately have been Carlsbad Caverns and Utah. Comparing the two is odd because they are both wonderful to see, but one is beautiful because it is forming new amazing formations and the other is beautiful because it is eroding. Who knew rock formations could be so beautiful? I always wanted to go to the Parks in Utah, but it was a thought that was just in the back of my mind and not a solid one. Wow, so cool and I wish everyone could see it. For those who aren’t into biking or hiking or ATV’s it is still a wonderful experience because the park system has been kind enough to create scenic drives with lots of pull offs to view the scenery.
We stayed in the area as long as we could because we loved it so much before we needed to head to Berthoud, Colorado so that we could spend time before Kat headed out for a two week work trip. We did spend some time in Moab at the library using the internet and supporting their book sale. We got 28 books for $20! Of course now we have to find places to keep them all or quickly read them and give them away. We didn’t eat out in Moab except for the food truck, but we did enjoy some nice meals cooked on our little grill. The wind made that challenging sometimes, but Fat Henry makes a nice wind block. Staying without power for so many days without power convinced us that we should bite the bullet and buy some portable solar panels. We could have them shipped to Berthoud and get that all setup while parked there. Sad to leave Moab, but we were excited to go see Sue and Carol again. Colorado here we come with more adventures to follow as I get caught up on all the fun getting to Portland, Oregon, where we are now.