UTAH

Utah has so much to offer. We never knew how amazing this state is. There is no shortage of things to do and explore in Utah. We found some very quirky things to do in Utah as well. I’m pretty sure Utah has something for everyone.
If hiking, biking, and just being outdoors is your desire then southern Utah is for you. We easily could have spent three or four months here is time permitted. The difference in landscape from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park made it seems like there was no way they were so close geographically. Angels Landing in Zion National Park left the biggest impression. That hike was a huge accomplishment for me and something that was on James’ bucket list. Places like Zion and Arches are much more enjoyable if you hit them in the off season. We were lucky that we hit these places before huge summer rush, even still some of the places we stopped were crawling with people.
Some of the more peculiar places were things like the Mummum church and Zaqistan. The Mummum church is a place that mummifies people and pets. When we pulled up to this place I instantly made up my mind that I wasn’t going in. It just seemed to creepy, and it looked like it was some guys house with a pyramid in the yard. Apparently that is a tomb and the guy who came up with this religion is in there. Zaqistan, which is it’s own country ,is located north west of Salt Lake. This was like a treasure hunt, but the treasure was a bunch of junk in the middle of nowhere. It took us most of the day to find Zaqistan but it was worth it. “What the hell” is the best way to describe this place.
Salt Lake City is a great place. Sometimes it’s a nice break to visit a city for a while. The dinning, though we try not to do to much of it, gave lots of variety. We even took time to stop and catch a movie while in Salt Lake City. There were two gardens that we went to and they were free. The bar scene was plentiful also, even though they have 4% abv draught in Utah! Just on the east edge of The Great Salt Lake we stopped to see the Spiral Jetty. This is a huge earth sculpture that can be seen when the water level is low enough.
I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised by Utah. I really didn’t we would find so many amazing adventures here. Having the annual National Park/Monument pass paid for itself in Utah alone. Now we are heading to the wet state of Oregon.

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ZAQISTAN

Zaqistan, UT
March 19, 2017

 

First, let me start by telling you that what I’m about to write is 100% true! While Zaqistan is physically located in Utah, it is actually attempting to become it’s own country. That’s right! Some guy on the east coast bought this land on e-bay and then applied to be his own country. It was the strangest and most entertaining thing we visited in Utah.
We wasted a whole day trying to find this damn country. If you search for it on google maps, it does come up. The problem is that there aren’t any roads that show up on the map. It is all shity dirt roads and they all have roads that shoot off of them. So once again we were stuck with some vague internet directions on how to find this place.
As we are driving and trying to guess which road to take next by comparing directions we had and GPS we came across a sheep farmer in the middle of no where on the rocky mountain. It seemed like he was just a random guy who decided he was going to post up on the side of the road. The sheep were all over the road and there were also about six or seven huge sheep dogs. We scoped it out with our binoculars before we decided to proceed. As we press through the road blanketed with sheep, the dogs were very upset with us. Making it through that we find that the road leads nowhere. So no we are on the side of a rocky mountain and have no idea where we are or need to go. We talk about throwing in the towel and heading back before it gets to late and we run out of gas. Before we give up I take out the binoculars and scout the land. As I’m scanning the desert below us, BAM, there it is! It is so far away that I can’t make out what I’m seeing but I know that its what we are searching for. I catch a glimpse of red and something shinning in the sunlight. I yell for James to come verify. After he does, we are in the van and on our way to another country.
Finally we arrive at Zaqistan, after traveling all day! Pulling up to the boarder of this country there is a very official wood shack with a fake drop gate ( its just a piece of wood painted red and white). A big red sign welcomes you to Zaqistan. That was the red that I spotted with the binoculars. The object that was shinning in the light was a huge robot sculpture made out of metal. There are several other robots but not near the size. In the wood shack we find a log book and make sure we sign it.
As we walk around this desolate country we find a half built bunker made out of sand bags, Cody’s point, and Mount Insurmountable (the highest peak in Zaqistan). And, well, that’s about all there is to see in Zaqistan. Walking back to the van we see a sign on the back side of the welcome sign which read, bummer dude….. you’re leaving. Before leaving we decided to leave a “gift” to the country of Zaqistan. I’m sure you’ll figure it out in the picture.
This stop will go down in the books as the most ridiculous, hilarious, strangest, stop we’ve made. While it took us most of the day to find, it was something we had to see for ourselves. I’m still in awe that this place even exist.

SPIRAL JETTY

East Salt Lake, UT
March 16, 2017

 

We spent a few days in Salt Lake City. I’m not sure what I expected of Salt Lake, but I enjoyed it. It seemed to have a little bit of everything, for everyone. The city had lots of nice parks, which is great for us with Xander. We never had a problem finding somewhere to get him out. We had some very tasty Indian food, which we had been craving for months.
Just outside of the city there is a Spiral Jetty. It is on the north east side of The Great Salt Lake. The Spiral Jetty is an earth sculpture created by Robert Smithson in 1970. It is created out of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks and water. It is 1,500 feet long and 15 feet across. This coil that starts at the bank of The Salt Lake is not always visible. It all depends on the water level of the lake. I wish we had better photos to show.

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The drive out to Spiral Jetty was horrible. It was about 20 miles on a washboard dirt road. It was dry out as well, so every passing car left you in a cloud of dust. We were told a lot of people get stuck out on that road and there isn’t cell service. When we arrived there were two other cars there. They didn’t stay to long. We walked up opposite the lake where there is a podium that gives information about the Spiral Jetty. Since there were other people there we decided to cook some lunch and hang out for a while. We actually ended up spending the night there. As we were almost done cooking a sheriff pulled up and was checking on the area. He caught a glimpse inside the van and pulled over to chat with us. He is the one who told us about people getting stranded out on the road, actually that was why he was out there. He was very impressed with the van and had lots of questions. He also informed us that it would be ok to spend the night there. The sunset that night was a wonderful display of yellow, orange, pink and purple. It looked like a water color painting.

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In the morning Xander and I went for a run on the lake bed. We didn’t get very far though. Even though it looked dry, it was pretty soggy. I did find some big salt crystals. This was a great spot to have the drone. The Spiral Jetty is so big that its hard to capture it in a picture standing on land. We had some awesome footage of the drone flying over the Spiral Jetty and Xander running around playing in the sand, but we lost all of those files.  It still makes us sick thinking about all the photos we lost.

DELTA SOLAR RUINS

Delta, UT
March 12,2017

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James’ nerdiness was calling him to this place. It is an old solar plant that was suppose to be a cost effective way to provide solar power. This was back before today’s technology with solar panels. The material they used couldn’t withhold the wind and sun, in the long run and the plant was abandoned.
I’m really glad that they left these crazy looking contraptions up. They were very ancient and modern at the same time. You could almost hear the life in them when the wind would blow and they squeaked and moaned.
It was very windy out here so I could see how that would have been a major factor with these solar “panels”. This was just a quick stop for us. You can’t go on the property so we just had a quick look from the road, had some lunch and snapped a few pictures. I wanted to write a little about it because the panels are an interesting site.

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MYSTIC HOT SPRINGS

MYSTIC HOT SPRINGS
Monroe, UT
March 11, 2017

 

Upon first arrival of Mystic Hot Springs my thoughts were, “nope, we’re leaving.” As you drive up to the office there are a bunch of old run down buses. (Some of them had very artistic paint jobs on them.) Walking into the office was interesting. It was very hippy, which I expected. There were bathrooms where you could change and it seemed like the owners/employees lived there because they had cabinets marked and it looked like it was all of their personal toiletries. There used to be a pool next to the office, but it is now just a shallow mossy duck pond. So we pay our $16 each and go off to find the hot springs.

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We are told that there is a big community pool to soak in and if you walk up above that there are individual tubs that you can soak in and they all vary a little in temperature. So we follow the signs to the hot springs and walk up to the individual tubs. That is exactly what they were! They had diverted the hot spring flow into bathtubs. The tubs had been there so long and had the hot spring water running into them for so long that minerals built up where the water flowed and it looked like the tub was part of the rock. It was awesome.
James and I found a tub that was off by itself and we shared that one for a little while. This tub was hot! We had to keep taking turns sitting by the water that flowed in. It was really hot right where it flowed into the tub. We also had to get out and cool off every couple of minutes. Moving on we went to another set of tubs. There were three tubs side by side here. Of course I had to get a photo of us both soaking in the tubs. It was a pretty funny site. I propped my phone up set the timer on the camera and ran back to the tub and hopped in. This scene was repeated several times so I could get just the right photo!

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On the way out we discovered that the buses were actually “cabins” that were rented out to guest. I thought that was a pretty cool idea. Different if nothing else. Mystic hot spring was a rejuvenating experience and was much better than the first impression it gave. If you get the chance to visit here, do it! You wont regret it.

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FRISCO GHOST TOWN

****WE LOST A TON OF PHOTOS, SO THERE ISN’T MUCH FOR PICTURES ON THIS AND UPCOMING BLOGS. SORRY****

FRISCO GHOST TOWN
Frisco, UT
March 10, 2017

 

This trip was a little out of the way but we wanted to check it so we made the drive. This old mining town was at the base of the San Francisco mountains in Utah. The town was formed in the late 1800’s by the miners and their family. They mined zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold here. After a major mine cave in the town started to dissipate and by the 1920’s it was all but memories.
As we drove up to what looked like part of the town we discovered we were at the cemetery. We parked here for the night and had a look around. It was strange to see that the majority of the graves were of children, and really young children. Makes you wonder what happen here to have so many children die at young ages. While I thought it might be creepy to sleep right next to an old cemetery, it really wasn’t. There were no ghost haunting that night!

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In the morning James took the drone out and got some great pictures of places and things that we wouldn’t have been able to walk to. Some of this area is still being actively mined, which left a lot of areas off limits. There were a lot of big open concrete pits that had been covered with an iron grate. The drone also found a few buildings, some in better shape than others. At the top of the hill we could see an old mine shaft and what looked like a conveyor belt that might have loaded rock into trucks to be processed.
We hiked up the hill to have a closer look at the mine shaft. It was surprising how much equipment was left there. The conveyor over the shaft was in pretty good shape also. There was also some type of big motor that maybe ran the conveyor belt from the shaft to the loading area. The mine shaft also had and iron grate over it to keep people from falling in. There was also a couple of buildings still up there.

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Moving on to another part of the town we found more old buildings and equipment. We also came across what looked like it used to be the kitchen. There were old rusted cans everywhere.
Utah is know for their beehive structures that were used to produce coal. We came across a spot that had five of them still standing. These giant structures are made out of big rocks and mortar. The whole thing is enclosed besides the door way and what seemed to be a vent hole at the top back. The inside of all of these beehives were completely black from all the fire and heat. A few of them were partially collapsed.
Well after hanging out with the ghost we hit the road. Next up is Mystic Hot Springs!

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

St. George, Utah
March 2017

 

We were pleasantly surprised by St. George. Neither of us had ever spent any time in St. George. Its always been a place we drove through to get somewhere else. The town was larger than we thought and had a cozy feeling to it. I could see the appeal to living here if you liked a small town that still had lots of things available to do.
On the way to St. George we stopped in a tiny town for the night. In the morning I looked on Google maps and found a way down to the river so we could let Xander out to run and play. As we got closer to the route that I thought would take us there, it seemed to be a pedestrian path. I told James to just turn on it and drive off on the dirt shoulder. About 5 seconds after he does this we hear the dreaded sound of sirens. Yep, sure enough we were getting pulled over for driving down a pedestrian pathway. Luckily the police officer was cool and told us that the way we were headed would have got us stuck and gave us directions on how to get to the river. No ticket for us!

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One of our stops in St. George was Snow Canyon State Park. The fee was only $6 to enter and it had a couple of pictures of a slot canyon that we wanted to check out. The first stop in the park was a very short, small slot canyon. Next we wanted to stop at the one trail that dogs were allowed on so we could get Xander out for awhile. I decided on way back to do some running with him to help burn off some energy.

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This park was pretty small. We walked to Pioneer Names rock, which was a rock that had a bunch of pioneer names and dates written on it with axle grease. We did another hike that led us to a lava cave. The cave entrance had collapsed in so you couldn’t get in it. The hike that caught our attention for this park was not on the map they gave us at the ranger station. Upon more research we discover that the park discourages people from doing this hike. I think it might be because of the petroglyphs that are not protected from people doing harm to them.

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After finding some very vague directions on line we wandered around the desert for a long time. We did find two sets of petroglyphs but started to think that it was a lost cause looking for the slot canyon. Finally we decided to throw in the towel and head back in the direction of the van. Boom, wouldn’t you know it, we stumble upon the slot canyon. After we gave up on it, there it was.

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There is a lot of petroglyphs on the tight canyon walls. Some are hard to see because the canyon is so narrow. Right in the middle of the canyon there is a tree growing tall up through the top of the canyon. Eventually the canyon gets so narrow that it is impassable. We made it back to the van and had a good laugh about how we managed to find this slot canyon in the middle of nothing.

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We stayed the night on BLM land and had a wonderful campfire all night. You could hear the frogs croaking all night down by the stream. It was a perfect night. This apparently was the parking spot for the vortex hike that we wanted to do. Upon returning from the hike we walked up to what looked like a parking lot. Spending a second night was not so appealing anymore.

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This hike was another one that wasn’t marked. Again, we followed random internet directions to the vortex. It was unmistakable once we found it. Right in the middle of the huge mass of rock is a giant hole that looks like a corkscrew made it. The bottom of the vortex had a little bit of water in it. People somehow had climbed down in there and etched their names in the rock. James and Xander hiked up higher to get a better vantage point. The drone was able to get a picture of three different vortexes, the giant one and two smaller.

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One the way back we stopped at the stream that we had to cross, and put our feet in the water and cool off. It didn’t take long! The water was freezing. Xander played around, blowing bubbles in the water and jumping back and fourth across the stream. After getting back to the van we had lunch and headed out.

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St. George has some pretty great hidden gems. Small towns often hold wonderful surprises. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t always pass through the little guys. Take some time to experience something different on the way. I love how our life affords us to do this now.

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ZION NATIONAL PARK

Utah March 2017

Zion National Park seemed unreal. The beauty here was astonishing. We came into the park on the east side. As we pulled up to the ranger station, we asked if all the hikes were accessible this time of year. She informed us that they are, but one was closed due to a rock fall and the other was closed in the morning but should be open by the time we get there. The second trail she was talking about was Angels Landing. The reason it was closed was because they were doing a search and rescue, which we found out later was actually a body recovery. While this is incredibly sad, those weren’t my first feelings. This is a hike that is on James’s bucket list. So my fear started settling in right away.

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We arrived to the park about mid day so we spent the rest of the day driving thru the park and figuring out what other hikes we wanted to do. We were excited to find out that we were there before the “season” started here. Of course we ended up hear on a Friday afternoon. Turned out that even though the season didn’t pick up until next week you had to ride the shuttle through the park on the weekend still. As we drove to the different trail heads we understood why. The parking lots were packed and people were parking in the street causing traffic problems.
There was a short but steep hike to Weeping Rock that we were able to find parking for. This was interesting because the water that falls off the rocks is the same amount year round. It felt amazing to stand where the water was falling. It was a welcoming cool mist. In the pictures it almost looks like white noise. Some of the rocks did look like they were weeping. The water seemed to seep right out of the rock. When we were done here we drove just outside of the park to find somewhere to stay and to get some groceries. After grocery shopping we hit the local brewery. That is where we overheard two locals disusing the body recovery.

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Angels Landing is a 5 mile hike round trip. Although the last half mile is the part that will make you shit your pants. The first 2 miles of the hike are paved and the trail has a steady steep elevation gain of 1,488ft. A series of switch backs called Walter Wiggles involves 21 steep switchbacks. Scout Lookout is generally the turn around point for people who are unwilling to make the final push to the summit which is 5,790ft. The last half mile that scales the rock fin formation has an anchored chain along portions of the trail, which has 1,000ft drop offs on either side of you.

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As we approach the first part of the trail that has chain, my stomach drops and I start to rethink my commitment to finishing this trail. As usual James is there to lend supporting words to talk me into it. In passing, some people mention how the rocks are a little slick because of the sand, great! So hear we go, all in, I’m doing this. We get to the first little peak and I discover that is not the end. Oh no, we have much more scary trail to concur. Looking ahead of us at the trail, I really start to panic inside, and outside. I tell James that he has to let me back out if I feel the need. Of course he dismisses my panic and we forge on.

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We came across a guy who followed us up the rest of the way. He became dubbed Uncle Dave. He said he liked our pace and he could tell that James had no fear, so he was channeling his chi. I told him not to channel to much because I needed it! I was surprised at how well I scrambled up this trail. I basically had tunnel vision the whole way up. There were only a couple of spots that made my stomach turn. Once we got to the top we had a breathtaking view of Zion canyon. I was amazed at how many people did this hike. At the top there was a couple big groups of people. We found Uncle Dave and took pictures of him at the top because he did it by himself. He in turn took pictures for us as well, and didn’t miss the opportunity to throw in a selfie of himself. It was pretty funny. This inspired James! He now willingly takes pictures of people for them. One picture is a selfie and the other is of them. I wish we could see their faces when they find his mug on their phone.

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After loitering up to for a while we thought we should head back down. The foot traffic was getting heavier and the thought of having to pass people on this retched trail gave me anxiety. Going down was so much fun. If you believe that last statement then you clearly haven’t read any of this. This was the most horrifying part of the hike, by far. I did a lot of sitting on my butt and scooting down on the really steep parts. There were so many people coming and going that we came upon several traffic jams on the way down.
Once we made it back to Scout Lookout I had a euphoric high. I can’t believe I just did that crazy hike voluntarily! James said he knew I could do it. We were both proud of me. Now it was time for a snack. We stashed our backpack near a bush so that we didn’t have to carry it up the difficult part of the trail. When James walked up to the backpack, he found a squirrel tail deep in it. That little sucker chewed a hole right through our pack and through the lid of a can of nuts we had. The squirrel was in heaven eating all of our nuts. Unfortunately James didn’t catch a photo of the criminal in action. We had a pretty good laugh about that squirrel. Neither on of us gave it a second thought when we left the pack there. Oops!

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James made us a much deserved steak for lunch. After lunch I caught the shuttle back into the park and did one more hike to the Emerald Pools. I have to admit, I had bigger expectations of this hike. Maybe it was the time of year, but it didn’t look any kind of green. I imagine when it is warm the moss grows better and gives it an emerald color. James hung out at the van with Xander while I did this hike. On my way back to the shuttle I passed 3 women who were hiking with their purses. This made me chuckle. Seems like a huge pain to have to carry your purse on a hike but to each their own.

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Zion will always have a special place in my soul. Doing a hike like Angels Landing and seeing the canyon from that height is something you never forget.  Angels Landing is the most epic hike we have ever done. It is hard to put into words how it makes you feel. Zion Canyon is a very popular and busy place, and for very good reason. One day we will make it back to do The Narrows hike. It was the wrong time of year for us. You need dry suits this time of year because the whole hike is in water that is ankle-knee deep. It is hard to believe a place like this exists.

BRYCE CANYON

Utah- March 2017

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Talk about an amazing canyon! The crazy towering rock sculptures, called hoodoos, left us speechless. It looked like a spear made of rock was pushed out through the center of earth. The elevation of Bryce canyon is between 8,000-9,000ft. So as you can imagine, in the beginning of March , it was still pretty snowy. During the day the temperature wasn’t to bad though.

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We were having a good laugh at how we started our day in Grand Staircase, topless at noon, and in the snowy canyon of Bryce by the evening. It its pretty crazy to go from such different climates. A lot of our travels in Utah have been that way so far. We once overheard someone talking about how it takes ten years for a person to climatize to cold weather. Hilarious, I know, but that has been our inside joke every since we heard it. Now we joke that we are never going to be able to climatize with all the different climates we experience in a single day.

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Bryce canyon was a short stop for us because of the snow. We really couldn’t do any of the hikes. When we stopped at the visitor center and asked what hikes were accessible this time of year the ranger told me, “ Honey, do you have any type of cleats for your shoes? Because it is really icy right now.” He recommended one hike that we could do. Of course, as we usually do, we did what we wanted anyway. There was a spot called Mossy Cave that we really wanted to check out. It was actually before the park entrance but still part of the canyon.

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This hike was gorgeous. James talked me into hiking up to a spot that had holes in the rocks to take a picture. It was such a steep hike. Coming down was a bitch, but I made it! There was only one spot on the trail that was a little icy and we were glad we had our hiking poles. Once we got to the cave we were astonished at how awesome it was. It was not mossy, but icy. There were huge icicles hanging down from the cave and also “growing” up from the bottom. You could hear a consistent plop, plop, plop as water dripped into a puddle that had formed.

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Bryce canyon was unlike anything we have ever seen. We had no idea a place like this existed. It truly is amazing. It made me think we were on a different planet. And the color of this canyon had so many variations of orange. The touch of snow on the rocks made it that much more beautiful.

If you enjoy following our travels don’t forget to check out our-

web sitehttp://www.the3gallivanters.com

and our You Tube–  http://www.youtube.com/c/thegallivanter

GRAND STAIRCASE NATIONAL MONUMENT

DINOSAUR TRACKS
Utah- March 2017

 

The weather was really cooperating with us today. You can tell that Spring is on the verge of breaking through. I’m not going to lie, I had expectations for this spot. I really thought we were going to come across some giant T-Rex track! Sadly that wasn’t the case, but it was still cool.

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We drove down a dirt road, for what seems like a lifetime, trying to figure out the correct turn. This spot was on the little map we had but it was not marked at all after we got on the dirt road. After taking a right on the first dirt road we traveled about five more miles down another dirt road and finally decided to stop and do a little drone investigating because the road was starting to get a little hairy and wet. The drone helped us decide that we weren’t on the right track. James maneuvered the van in reverse for a long way before he found a decent stop to turn around. On the way back out we see another dirt road turn off that was only about two miles in. Guess what? That was the road we needed.

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So we turn down that road and find a tiny, crappy sign that marks the dinosaur track spot. It also only stated that they were on top of the rocks straight in front of us. It took a little scrambling up the rock face to get to the top. Xander is really getting good at this! Once up top, we wandered around wondering how we were supposed to find these tracks. Looking back where we had already walked I finally saw them. It took looking at the big picture instead of trying to see one track. You could see the actual path of tracks. After we figured that out we saw tons of tracks all over. Crazy how tracks that old can still be seen in the rock. Why haven’t they eroded like all other rocks over time?

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The weather was go nice that we took our shirts off for the short walk back to the van. We enjoyed soaking up the sun and having some lunch outside. The sun felt so good on our skin. It was warming our bones.

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We had a great time trying to find the dinosaur tracks. Wrong turns aren’t always wrong! We even found a cow with some pretty funny markings, it looked like she had a mustache. Finding the tracks was a great walk thru time (even though it wasn’t T-Rex).