Saturday September 30th until Wednesday October 11th 2017
Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.
The days fly by and we are almost 5 months on the road, traveling across the United States. Our RV is now our home. Despite the fact that we are in a place where we have been before, we always see something new. Soon after leaving Bluff, Utah we arrive in Arizona.
Although it was cloudy all morning, the clouds disappear so we see the red rock formations Monument Valley is famous for, lit by the Sun. It is striking that there is significantly less dirt and glass along the way than previous years and there are no tourist stalls at all.
After a stop in Kayenta, with a delicious Sonic milkshake, we continue our drive until we see the sign “Navajo National Monument”. Ofcourse we take that route and when there is also a (free) campground, we leave our RV there and walk to the Visitor Center, view the film of the monument and hike the trail to an overlook from where you can see one of the three cliff dwellings. It is these cliff dwellings where this place got the status of National Monument. There is also a walk to one of the cliff dwellings, tomorrow at 10 am, and since I want to go there I register my name. Dick has hurt his ankle so he don’t want to walk steeply down into the canyon.
Everywhere are signs that it is prohibited to collect Pinons, seeds of the Pine trees that grow everywhere, but the native Americans don’t bother so late in the afternoon, when we sit outside enjoying the nature, cars constantly drive around with 5 till 6 Indians, they stop, get out and collect the seeds. It’s not for personal use only as we discovered this afternoon in Kayenta.
For a small bag with Pinon seeds, $ 5 was asked. Well it’s at least better than the procession of native Americans that followed, begging for money. Long after dark, there are cars around and we hear voices but we sleep deeply and are not much bothered.
We get up early on Sunday because I do not want to be late at the Visitor Center. It is just a 5-minute walk so I’m too early, 50 minutes. At 10 am sharp the ranger arrives and four of us take the steep slope down into the Valley. Not many people want to do this walk.
Regularly our ranger, a Navajo, tells us about the plants around us and also give us an insight view into the life of the contemporary Navajo Indians. After an hour descending we arrive at the cliff dwellings. Unfortunately we are not allowed to walk between the ruins but we are close by and hear the stories of the Anazasi who lived here until 1300 and then, probably due to a prolonged drought, left everything behind and went away.
It is impressive to see the ruins close by. Finally we climb up again. Each in its own pace and that takes quite some strength so it’s better that Dick did not go.
At 1 pm I’ll back and we drive straight to Page to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Our friends Riley and Karen, volunteer in this park, have their RV somewhere. At 3 pm we see an RV that looks familiar, it turns out to be the living place of Riley and Karen. Despite the fact that we have not seen each other for 3 years, it was in Big Bend National Park that we said goodbye, it feels like we met yesterday. There is a lot to tell and time flies.
Riley’s offer to join a delicious piece of meat (there are only two of these parts to a cow) we cannot refuse and a little later we enjoy a delicious meal and enjoy. Around eight pm we say goodbye to each other. We drive to the parking lot of Walmart in Page, 7 miles away. Tomorrow we try to find a place on the campground nearby. And we’re lucky because Monday morning there is a dry camp place on Wahwaep campground, only 2 miles from Riley and Karen. After doing our laundry in Page, really necessary after 9 days, and shopping for a meal tonight we drive to our spot on the campground.
Everywhere the flags are at half mast. There was a horrible shooting in Vegas with a lot of casualties. When we arrive at the campsite, there is also Wifi, we see a lot of emails of anxious friends so we answer our mail in the afternoon. Dick manage to publish and then Riley and Karen arrive.
For half an hour we can still sit outside but soon we have to go inside, there is a cold hard wind and you almost freezes. Only Riley and Dick remain outside to grill the meat. Again we enjoy a good meal. Although it’s a little tight with four people we succeed to have dinner inside our RV. We chat and chat and chat and late in the evening we say goodbye.
Here at Lake Powell we have a wonderful place so we will stay tomorrow. There is only one con, the time zone goes across the campground so we don’t know what time it is.
Oh well, tomorrow we see each other again and for us time is not important. Tuesday morning, October 2nd, the sky is steel blue again and the wind still blows very strong, so in the morning, the temperature does not rise above 50 degrees.
Fortunately, it warms up during the day so, sitting outside in the sun I can translate our website story. That takes always more time than I thought so almost the entire day we stay near the RV.
Dick is peeling the last apples from the orchard in Fruita so we can make apple sauce and he disassemble our broken headlight. Our Friend Rien like to know the specifications so he can figure out where to buy this unit. It’s great to have friends helping us with this. Hopefully we can take a new light unit back from the Netherlands. Ofcourse we also walk around in the area.
Especially during the summer it’s very hot here so everywhere are warning signs that you always bring water with you. And modern times arrived in the National Parks and recreation areas because drones are not allowed.
Ofcourse we also talk with other people on the campground, they all want to know everything about our RV and the transfer to the US (we tried to learn it swim). We agreed with Riley and Karen to have pizza tonight. Luckily, the wind stops blowing so at 6 pm we enjoy our delicious pizza outside at the harbor.
Again, we have too much to talk about so end of November we have to meet each other again. Than Riley and Karen are back from a trip to Botswana and Namibia and of course we want to hear everything about their trip.
Besides, they love cheese so we have to bring them a piece of Old Amsterdam, real Dutch Cheese. Wednesday we leave Wahweap campground after dumping our grey- and black water and filling up with clean water. We intend to drive to Kanab. But when we do our groceries at Walmart we meet Coby and Peter from Holland, looking for parts to charge their camera’s and phones. Their rental RV does not give power and their phones and tablets are empty. Dick inspect their RV and give a call (via skype with his phone) to the rental company. It helps because moments later they find a reset button, press it and there is power.
It is 2 pm so we decide to stay here, search for some geocaches and take a look at the Colorado river near Horseshoe Bend.
When the Sun is high in the sky and you dare to climb on the verge of a boulder you see the Colorado River flowing around the rocks below you. It’s hot, 86 degrees, when we walk in a huge crowd to this viewpoint over the river. Large groups of Asians walk behind flags on poles. They have no fear to climb the boulders and sit on the edge of the rocks to have a look at the river. Dick and I are not such heroes and with a lot of effort we look down. Fortunately we have a selfie stick so we can make a picture from the river below us.
End of the afternoon, after a long walk to find some caches, seeing again a Roadrunner cross our path (we like these funny birds) we are back at Walmart.
We have dinner and then Coby and Peter pass by to drink some coffee. Till late evening, we talk to each other about this beautiful country. The next morning we leave Page. Dick and Riley found out that the road to “the Wave” is only suitable for four-wheel drive cars or ordinary cars with high clearance so it makes no sense for us to participate in the lottery for a ticket. We first need another RV or Jeep. So we drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes state park, where we have the last available spot.
To reach this State Park we have to pass Kanab, a village located amidst a beautiful, wild, mountainous landscape. No wonder that many films were shoot here from the 1920th.
Still there is a film studio, “Little Hollywood”. We can’t resist to take a look and walk around the houses, bars and jail used in the movies. There are only fronts, supported by girders and the jail has bars made of plastic tubes. Sitting on a Director chair, we see a documentary about the making of films around this place. It’s better to imagine cause you’re in the same spot. We walk around some time and make a lot of pictures but then we really have to go to Coral Pink Dunes State Park, 25 miles away.
The weather is great so we walk around, find caches and ofcourse we look at the many off road cars crossing the sand dunes. In the evening we enjoy a nice wood fire. During daytime the temperature is pretty pleasant, 72 degrees, but after the sun disappears it’s becoming cool and without a wood fire not really nice to stay outside.
This State Park has great showers, warm and no trickles of water (inconceivable amidst sand dunes) so after waking up on friday October 6th we shower there. We have a good breakfast and then drive to Kanab where we find a place in the library. Now Dick can log our found caches. That is important because the State of Utah give a souvenir for every three found caches in a district. And around Kanab we found three Geo-tour caches.
Meanwhile, I walk around in Kanab, search for caches and I am surprised at finding balls around recreation places in this town where everyone can play. In the Netherlands they would disappear within half a day. Around 1 pm we leave Kanab.
It’s beautiful weather and we don’t want to drive far so we stop in Pipe Spring National Monument on the campground. It is a beautiful campground, $ 20 not expensive, few people, great showers, Wi-Fi, no trees and a magnificent view over the plain to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Again we walk around the orchard of Pipe Spring. Ofcourse I cannot resist to walk to the livestock, the funny chickens, even their legs are covered with feathers, the Texan Longhorns and the horses. Meanwhile Dick talks to a ranger sitting next to one of the Mormon wagons at a fire place. Finally, end afternoon, we are back at our campground where we still enjoy the last rays of sunshine.
As soon as the Sun is gone it directly cools off till 50 degrees and at night we see a beautiful starry sky and an almost full moon. Saturday October 7th Dick celebrates a special birthday, he‘ll be 70.
Actually you cannot speak about a celebration as there are only two of us but we drive to St. George in Utah and hope to find a restaurant where we can celebrate. Dick says there also should be a cake with candles but I don’t have the ingredients nor a recipe on hand (Susan, I miss you) so when we arrive in St. George we look for a cake to buy. There are cakes but incredibly large and only Halloween ones and to give Dick a cake with a spider? Susan directly should bake one and put candles on it, but Dick will have to do with a muffin. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to spend the night in St. George at Walmart so we drive to Washington, Utah and find at Walmart signs “No Overnight Parking”.
The Walmart employee says that no one cares about the signs and the police rarely intervene so we stay. On the other side of the road is a Royal Thai Cuisine restaurant where we want to have dinner. A good choice because the food is more than excellent. Despite the noise, there are 18 RV’s on the parking lot and some trucks with a humming motor, we sleep well and wake up at 8 am. We are back in Utah so we have mountain time again. And ofcourse I forget to put our clock forward. Over the US-18 we drive North. It’s really quiet on the road but it is Sunday morning. Regularly we stop to search some caches (also in St. George, we want to have the souvenir) but further on we see nothing than endless plains bordered by mountain ranges. This corner of Utah is not really inhabited. Then we are back in Nevada, where we instantly win an hour (we don’t do anything but criss-crossing time borders).
We stop in Panaca, Nevada at a beautiful State Park “Cathedral Gorge”. Despite the fact that tomorrow it’s Columbus Day, so a long weekend, there are places in abundance and at # 13 we put our RV. Sitting in the sun with my laptop I write something for our website but after an hour we take our backpack, GPS and water and walk some trails. There are beautiful rock formations and canyons.
During our walk the wind is rising and a sand storm forms so when we return after 2 hours we cannot see anything and are covered with a layer of sand. But the walk in this beautiful park was more than worth it. Fortunately, this state park also has good hot showers so we can strip off our sand and have dinner. On Columbus Day, Monday October 9th, there is less wind and we clean the RV from dust and sand. A sand layer formed so it’s necessary. It is very cold and the temperature is 49 degrees. We fill up in Panaca, Nevada because the next 160 mile there is no gas-service, and then drive into the desert over inhospitable terrain and through barren plains, until we arrive in Crystal Springs, an oasis in the desert. Here it’s green and there are some tall trees, the effect of water.
The Extra Terrestrial Highway, ET-highway, start in Crystal Springs, and this road is a Mecca for Geocachers because about every 500 feet is a cache hidden. Unfortunately all caches are film canisters under a pile of rocks along the side of the road, so after some pickups we are bored. In Rachel, NV, a couple of houses in the middle of nowhere, we also find only film canisters between the bushes in the desert so we decide to go on and drive to Tonopah. Every now and then we stop to get a cache. After a 215 miles drive, a lot because normally we drive no more than 100 to 110 mile a day, we stop in the Centre of Tonopah at a casino where we can stay overnight in the parking lot.
Dick tries a slot machine in the smoky and dark casino, quite a different with the luxury gambling places in Vegas, He wins 94 credits, will not collect, and eventually lose one whole dollar. The casino has a Chinese restaurant and the food smells delicious, so we order food but have our meal in the RV, it saves us a doggie bag. Even though it is fairly quiet in Tonopah and on the parking lot of the casino, in the course of the evening some trucks arrive. They decide to start their engines at 2.30 am and have them running for an hour before leaving. So we don’t have an undisturbed sleep but nevertheless we wake up early and I can Skype with my auntie Ank in time. My sister Hannah has reset her computer so Skype works again and over an hour we have a chat. We talk about her upcoming anniversary (93 years old) and the guests invited. After finishing our breakfast we leave Tonopah, Nevada.
The last few days it’s so cold, despite the steel blue sky and sun, that we decide to drive to Death Valley to warm up. Unfortunately, 2 years ago there has been a mudslide at Scotty’s Castle and the road and part of the castle disappeared so we have to go to Beatty, Nevada, to enter the National Park. From 4220 feet altitude we descend in chilling tempo but we have a magnificent view of Death Valley below us. Our descent stops at 259 feet below sea level. No wonder it is warm here. It is bone-dry so the adiabatic temperature increase is almost 2 degree per 300 feet. At Furnace Creek, it’s 97 degrees and only one campground is open. High season did not start yet. But there is enough place. After driving around a few laps on the campground, we find a large place with a view, only no shadow (the small sagebrush hardly give any shelter from the Sun) so Dick lowers the awning as soon as possible. We walk around and at the General store, near the Visitor Center, we have an ice cream. The temperature drops when the sun disappears behind the mountains so in the evening sitting outside, we have to put on long pants and a hoodie. It is 76 degrees but it feels colder after the heat of the day. Wednesday October 11-th we decide to stay another day.
After breakfast we drive to Badwater Basin, the lowest spot in Death Valley, 285 feet below sea level. The salt flat is dark and we need to walk at least 1,5 miles before we walk on the white colored salt. There are too many people walking on the salt plains.
Our RV is 24’5” feet, so finally we may enter the Artist Palette drive, a narrow road twisting through the mountains with stunning views on the different colored rocks in Death Valley. Around 1 pm we are back on the campground. Once again I write some while Dick search for pictures and make coffee. Fortunately, there is a small breeze blowing so the temperature feels slightly less hot. It is 89 degrees. We are definitely warmed up.