Fruita, UT February 2017

We headed to Capitol Reef National Park after our fail to see the Crystal Geyser. Capitol Reef is an old Mormon settlement area. There is also history of Native Americans, but not much is known about them. They know that unlike other tribes they didn’t move with the seasons. They stayed here full time. They don’t know what they called themselves or why the left. A tiny river called the Freemont River cuts through this park, and so the name was given, The Freemont people.

On our travels we try to take scenic bypasses as much as possible. This is something neither of us have ever done before. Seems like in the hustle of life even if you did do a road trip it was always a rush to get to where you were going because you had limited time to get there, do your thing, and get back to work. I love that we have time to enjoy the route to our destination now. It adds so much more to the experience.

As seems to be the theme of our travels so far, this park is also formed of wonderful red rock. The canyon walls tower above you. We did a great hike in a wash that had huge canyon walls on either side. We brought Xander with us (shhh don’t tell). He loved it, except when we would make him pose for pictures. You think he would be used to it by now! We spotted a couple of big horn sheep but they were to far to get a good picture of. We found a cool rock formation that I played “where’s Waldo” in. It looks like I have no body in the picture. Xander and I played in a few other rock formations. He loves rock climbing, I think he feels like king of the mountain.





Next stop was an arch. This hike was short but really steep. We passed a couple coming down and they advised that it wasn’t worth the hike. After visiting Arches National Park we decided that we were probably jaded on our opinion of arches, and took their word for it. We turned around and moved on to see some petroglyphs. Some of these were really different. They looked like aliens carved on the rocks. For some reason this made me think of the movie Stargate.

On our way out of the park it was close to sunset so we went to sunset point. It got extremely windy. We brought Xander with us here also. He was miserable. He is to prissy to sit on the rock and the powerful wind was cold. He would cuddle up on my lap. After sitting in the freezing wind for about 15 minutes we headed back to the van. The sunset wasn’t worth the misery.

Capitol Reef was a quant park. You could almost see how the settlers lived. We got to see turkey, deer, and big horn sheep. I love seeing wildlife. It was a good decision to pass through this park. We might have to come back and spend more time here.


Somewhere in southern  Utah
February 2017


The drive from Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT is wonderful.  As usual we took a scenic bypass that followed the Colorado river.  Fisher Towers was a random stop that we saw as we were driving.  It was a good decision to stop off and check it out.  The huge rock towers were awesome.  It is a great rock climbing place.  If you’re into that.  I want to be into it but then reality sets in and I remember that I’m scared of that shit.



After we parked and opened the back to get Xander out a dog comes running around the front of the van.  So we close the door and wait for unleashed dog and owner to pass.  As we are waiting on them we see a lady with two dogs off leash coming up the trail to the parking lot.  So we wait a little longer for this group to pass and then let our monster out- ON HIS LEASH!  It constantly amazes us how many people are completely ignorant about keeping their pets on leash.  I understand letting your dog off leash on the trail, we do that if there isn’t lots of traffic.  The thing they don’t think about is everyone else.  What if someone wasn’t crazy about dogs or afraid of them?  What if (in our situation) there is another dog who is not dog friendly?  At least leash your dog when you are close to the trail head or in the parking lot.  Ok rant over!
On the drive to this stop James had a great idea.  We stopped and he got the drone out and he flew it along the van as we drove down the river.  It was a really great idea.  We have done it a couple times since.  It will be footage for our you tube channel.  There is a beautiful property along the river that has cabins you can rent out.  It would be fun to go back there when it is warmer and do some river floating.  The river is really gentle in this section.

On the Fisher Towers trail I tried to make Xander pose for pictures numerous times.  I managed to catch a few of him and James.  They both hate being in pictures.  We found a few good opportunities to get pictures of unique trees also.




We cut this hike short so that we could move on to Canyonlands.  I love finding random gems like this along the way.  The great part about what we are doing is that we can change our plans and any point and make any stop/side trip that we want.  Whatever strikes us at the moment is what we are doing, and it is always the right choice.





Moab, UT February 2017


Canyonlands is quit majestic.  James and I both feel that while the Grand Canyon is larger in size, Canyonlands wins in beauty.  The colors here are so much brighter and vary so much more.  We went to both sections of Canyonlands.  The Needles in the south and Island in the Sky in the north.  Canyonlands is located near Moab, UT.

Moab is a cool little town.  It is defiantly geared towards those interested in the outdoors.  There are a lot of mountain bike and four wheel trails here.  We stopped at a brewery and discovered Utah’s interesting alcohol laws.  Beer on draft can only be 4% abv, but you can buy the same beer in a can or bottle in regular abv and drink it at the bar.  Doesn’t make sense but OK.   At the bar we met a couple who were visiting as well.  They were camping in a tent and said they had a six month plan to be in a van.  It was great talking to them about it and being able to give some pointers.  They said that it just fed the fire for them.  I hope everything works out as planned for them.
Our visit of the north and south section of Canyonlands was divided by my trip to Las Vegas.  I flew out of Grand Junction, Co.  I have family that live very close to Grand Junction so we decided to take a quick weekend detour and go visit my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin.  It was great to see them all.  They are such giving people.  My Uncle is always looking out to make sure I have everything I need (thanks for the full propane tank!).  Xander had a blast playing with the horses and cows that lived next door.  It was his first time interacting with livestock.  He was pretty brave with a fence between them.  He looked forward to going out in the yard every morning.



We didn’t have the best weather while visiting.  It was cloudy, chilly, and very windy.  It seemed like all the trails here were fairly lengthy.  We didn’t do to much hiking here because James’ knee was acting up (or so he claimed).  That was fine with me because of the weather.  An advantage to going this time of year is that the Park is free in the off-season.  We didn’t have to whip out the annual pass here. The Needles section of Canyonlands is defiantly not as popular as The Island in the Sky.  I think it might be because its more out of the way to get to.



I can see the lure to this National Park.  It is amazing to see what natural has carved out of the land after thousands of years.  What we are left with is priceless sculptures of the earth.




 Moab, UT February 2017


Arches National Park is located just outside of Moab, UT and is neighbors with Canyonlands National Park.  This park is well named.  There are so many beautiful and different arches to see.  The come in all different size and shapes too.


We did this Park after the South Canyonlands park.  This park was much busier than Canyonlands.  Which equaled lots of bored kids complaining about being there and more foreigners with selfie sticks.  It was still pretty windy and cold when we went to Arches.  This park had more variety of trail lengths though.





James still didn’t feel good about his knee.  We did a few hikes together to some great arches.  The Landscape Arch is one worth mentioning because in 1991 a huge piece of rock at the bottom part of the arch fell!  There was a visitor who managed to catch a picture of it falling.  Can you imagine being there when that happened?  This trail had a really cool tree on the path also.  We are suckers for pictures of interesting trees.



Before we ended the day I hiked to Delicate Arch.  James stayed with Xander in the van to give his knee a rest.  This hike was 3 miles round trip and 480 feet elevation gain, all on the way to the arch.  The way back was all down hill.  It seemed like it just went straight up the side of the mountain.  It was all one giant slab of rock.  It is crazy how a trail gets worn into the rock from all the people.  The views up to the arch we spectacular.



When you’re almost to the arch you walk on this path that they blasted out the side of the rock to make.  It got my stomach turning a little bit.  I don’t like being up on the edge of cliffs like that.  It was totally worth it though.  The Delicate Arch was like a piece of art work that had its own gallery dedicated to it.  When you come around the corner, there it is standing tall all by itself with an amphitheater in front of it.



After Arches National Park we finished up Canyonlands then headed to Green River, UT.  Talk about a dieing town.  We had researched a landscape called Crystal Geyser, so we added it to our pit stops.  It is near Green River.  We found the route to get out to the geyser.  It was all dirt road.  Well after a few wrong turns and almost getting stuck a couple times we decided it wasn’t meant to be.  The van made some pretty impressive ruts in the super soft sand sections that crossed the road.  I really don’t know how we didn’t get stuck.  You could tell when you hit the sand because the van almost can to a complete stop.  Finally the road just got to rocky for us to safely navigate.

Here is a video


And a picture of where we almost got stuck.


While we didn’t get to see the geyser (which who knows if it would have erupted when we were there), we had a blast trying to get there.  This pit stop was about the journey not the destination!  Its important to always remember that.  Utah hasn’t let us down so far.  Cant wait to see more of it.





Somewhere in Utah

February 2017


Natural Bridges was our first stop in Utah.  This monument is kind of in the middle of nowhere.  Its in the southeast part of the state, west of Blanding, Utah.  Driving up from Page, AZ we passed through a few smalls towns that looked like they were almost abandoned.  The landscape changed from giant red rock formations to more mountainous snowy canyons.  We also found one of the craziest roads we have ever driven on.  It looked as if the road just disappeared into the canyon wall, but no it went up up up.  The curves on this road were no joke.  It had a 5mph speed limit and just snaked right up the canyon. We later found out it was called the Utah Dug-way. It literally switchbacks up a very tall and vertical mountain. You cannot see the road around the next bend or anywhere for that matter. We expected washouts and horrible road conditions since it was dirt, but you could tell they maintain the road very well and often.



When we stopped in the visitor center at Natural Bridges and found out that camping was free this time of year, score!  It was also null of people.  The ranger gave us a little info about the three bridges and said she didn’t suggest doing the hike to Sipapu bridge because it might be a little icy.  Of course, we did that hike. Natural Bridges are caused from stream/river erosion whereas Arches are made from other types of erosion, there are not many Natural Bridges and this park had some of the biggest in the country.

We ended up doing the hike from Sipapu to Kachina bridge.  It was about a 5.5-mile loop.  Even though dogs aren’t allowed (stupid national monuments) we decided that due to the lack of people we would go ahead and take Xander on the hike with us, so we thought.  We get about a quarter mile in and come across a ladder made from tree branches to get down into the canyon.  Sarah was very scared of these sketchy natural ladders, it was very funny to watch her climb down these. We ended up coming across many more of these.  After finding the ladder I ran Xander back to the van where he had to wait for us.



Here is a video of Sarah going down the ladder and some of the trail….. lol


The hike took you down into the canyon pretty fast, unfortunately it come up just as quick.  The first bridge was amazing.  Of course, as with most of these natural wonders, pictures do not do it justice.  We reach the first bridge in the beginning of the hike. This thing was huge and towered way over us. We paused for a few and took in the amazement of its size before moving on down the trail. After that it seemed like forever before we reached the second one.  We walked along a stream for most of the hike.  We came across an area that used to have more water/mud in it.  People put their muddy hand prints on the rock wall.  It was a funny thing to stumble upon.




At one point in the hike we reached an area of the canyon floor that doesn’t get much sunlight.  There was decent amount of snow.  I built a tiny snowman and James made a snow angel.  After that we saw an old cliff dwelling.  James wanted to take a detour from the hike and go up on the cliff face to check it out but I said no because we had Xander waiting in the van.  I later regretted that because, when we stopped at the overlook on the road you could see that there were about four more dwellings that we couldn’t see from the canyon floor.





We played Marco Polo for a short while on the hike when I took the high road and James took the low road.  Shortly after we met back up we found Kachina Bridge.  I was humongous!  It was almost too big to get in a picture.  We headed up out of the canyon after that.  Once we got out of the canyon we decided to walk the road back to the van, instead of the trail.  We were tired and just wanted an easy walk.  I’m glad we did because James’ knee was really hurting him when we finally stopped.




Xander was not happy about having to stay behind in the van.  I don’t blame him though.  We stayed at the campsite for two nights and had a fire on the second night.  I miss camp fires.  There is something so peaceful about watching a fire burn.  I’m really glad we decided to give this monument a try.  It was a beautiful and peaceful place.