Wednesday September 20th until Saturday September 30th 2017
Nevada and Utah
On Wednesday september 20th we wake up before seven am. The time difference did not dawn on us. Again it’s warm when we wake up, not colder than 77 degrees. And then to know that the three digits (over 100 degrees) are over. While Dick cleans the front and rear of our RV (it’s going to shine) I’m working outside on my laptop. Again we have to publish. Around noon we are both ready with our tasks and after a nice and refreshing dip in the pool (the water is cold but there is also a “Hot Tub” we take the bus to the strip.
As the two of us has reached the age of “pensionados” we may buy a senior card that provides a 24 hour access to the bus from our campground to the Centre of Las Vegas and of course we also have unlimited rides with this $ 2,50 card over “the Strip”. Not a bad deal. At “The Venetian”, a casino in the style of Venice, we hop off and mix up with big crowds of tourists. There are many groups of Asians who faithfully walk behind a flag on a stick. They never ever, walk alone. It is thirsty weather so soon we have a delicious cappuccino and after that we walk from casino to casino to avoid the heat, covering the strip like a blanket. It’s 95 degrees and too hot for a walk.
Despite the fact that my Auntie Ank gave us some money for gambling, she knows we are no gamblers, we have no fun in putting money in the slot machines. We only look around and that is fun, especially when people win. If you see them loose one after another dollar, swallowed by a slot machine, I don’t like it. Finally, late afternoon we arrive at MGM. We drink a bottle of water (thirsty again) sitting on a curb and watching people.
At 6 pm, still early, we walk to the Outback restaurant on the 4th floor where we see the sunset and as the last rays of the Sun lit up the New York casino at the other side of the strip, we feast upon our steaks and enjoy a large glass of Coors light, a Big Bloke. After our delicious meal Dick has to join me to the M&M shop. I have seen a beautiful yellow hoodie, irresistible. Even Dick doesn’t disapprove when I try this gorgeous yellow hoodie so, after some deliberation (I actually don’t need it but the color is so beautiful) I buy it and satisfied with my new purchase we walk on. It is getting dark and so time to walk over the Strip. The lights make this place special.
We see The Venetian gondolas, illuminated, and the dancing waters at the Bellagio and finally take the bus back to our campground. It’s still warm outside when we arrive at 9 pm. So we take our chairs and enjoy the evening breeze. It is “only” 77 degrees. Thursday morning it is significantly cooler with 70 degrees, there are also clouds. But this is good weather to do our paper work. Dick can publish and I can translate into English. As always it takes several hours before we are finished, so at 4 pm we board our bus, this time we get off at the Fashion Center. Of course, I like to look around the shops, even though I will not buy anything. I get tempted when I see a nice Calvin Klein down jacket (on sale) but buying this make no sense because at “Three Dog Down” in Montana I bought a beautiful down jacket (lightweight and very warm) and at home I have another nice down jacket.
Either the Calvin Klein sport tops cannot seduce me. Dick’s satisfied, he don’t want to buy anything, neither at Macy nor at another store. Though we look around, enjoy a cappuccino and look at the graduation of the Culinary and Arts Academy. Ofcourse we walk to the Apple store to catch a glimpse of the new I phone 8 (my I-phone 6 is three years old and has to be replaced). Unfortunately the I-Phone 8 is nowhere to see but according to Dick it looks the same as the others.
After some walking around we take the bus to Fremont, the older part of Las Vegas. The casinos here are in a covered Street with light shows, loud music and people flying above you. There is more entertainment and every few yards you see men and women, half-naked with beautiful bodies.
Quite a contrast with the thick, nude and big breast women also taking pictures with tourists. After all that naked we get hungry so we try to find something to eat. We look at the “Heart Attack Burger” where you can eat for free if your weight is more than 350 pound (even together we are much less) we decide to visit a buffet.
After walking through a smoky casino (absolutely not attractive) we arrive in a shiny, gold, old fashioned dining room where we have good food. Satisfied with our meal we walk around at Fremont before going through dark streets to the bus stop. There is a music festival so we have a diversion. An hour later, it is already 11 pm we are back at our campground. Our fridge is out of order and our meat is thawing.
It occurs again during the night so after breakfast we have to prepare our meat before we can leave to search for the Nevada cache from the series “Caches Across America”, hidden nearby. Dick make a call to our RV dealer, he says that such a fridge failure may occur when the electra is irregular. So we put our fridge on propane and fortunately our fridge cools again.
When we leave, we forget that our adjusting supports are out, so they break. As a result Dick has to unscrew them, a dirty job because there is sand and dust at the bottom of our RV. After Dick has a shower we can leave. We think the cache is nearby (for Dutch standards maybe far away) because we need about a 40 mile drive and a 3 mile walk, but at the end of a trail, near Red Rock Canyon, we find our second cache, only 48 States to go. As we are on the road now we refuel our propane and pick up some food. In contrast to the previous days it’s cold outside so that, coming back at the campground, we stay inside. It is really autumn and daylight disappears at half past 7. Saturday we leave our beloved Las Vegas. It is nice weather but the wind is cold.
Around noon we drive past Virgin River Recreation Area (Yes, Thecla and Thomas, here we stayed 6 years ago) and we stop. We don’t like driving today. There are plenty of places to empty so we go around before we find that one beautiful place. The rest of the afternoon we enjoy the sun and the view of the wild mountain world around us. At 5 pm we go inside because black clouds appear. Just in time because it starts raining. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long before the sun is shining again and we, standing in the rain, admire a nice rainbow over our RV. The clouds make way for the stars and it’s a lot colder so we put our sheep blanket on the bed.
Sunday, the sun shines again at a blue sky but it really is much cooler. Soon we leave Interstate 15 and drive inland. In Kaibab, Arizona is Pipe Spring National Monument. We have never heard of it so we stop. Pipe Spring was a source that irrigated the Plains North of the Grand Canyon for centuries, so plenty of grass grew everywhere. A beautiful area for cattle to graze. The Mormons who showed up here saw that right away and because the Mormon church needed always a place for their grazing cattle (every church member gave 10% of their income, often in the form of cows), in 1870 the Mormon Church built a fort over the spring. It gave them control over the water, a place for their livestock and a possibility to have a telegraph station, connecting this remote place with other Mormon settlements.
Because of the remote location, the fort could also serve as a shelter for the many wives of the Mormon man. That time polygamy was common in the Mormon Church but Nationwide people were horrified about it, called it slavery and so polygamy was a criminal offence. In a fascinating way the Park Ranger tells us the stories from this fort and old times revive. Two hours later we leave Pipe Spring National Monument and talk about all we have heard. We enter Utah again so we lose an hour and arrive in Kanab, Utah at 2 pm. In the Visitor Center we hear that the lottery for “The Wave”, a nature reserve to the South-East of Kanab, takes place every morning at half past eight.
We want to go there so we look for a campground in Kanab but the two campgrounds here are not tempting and expensive and we drive further and stop at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, with great camping spots. After our RV is levelled we walk to the sand dunes. Ofcourse I want to climb them, a tendency Dick can suppress with ease, so moments later I climb the Dunes on-and off. after one and a half hours, I return to our RV completely covered with sand. The pink sand dunes are beautiful but less impressive than the Great Sand Dunes in South Eastern Colorado.
Unfortunately I did not set the alarm clock on Mountain time so Monday morning September 25th we wake up too late to be able to participate in the lottery. That means that after a fantastic shower and a nice breakfast we drive to the North. Even though the weather is beautiful again and the sky steel blue, an icy wind blows and it is not warmer than 42 degrees.
We are to early to stay in Red Rock Canyon so we continue our way and in Bryce Canyon National Park we have a nice walk to a waterfall and an overhanging rock covered with moss. We have a magnificent view of the red rocks where Bryce is famous for. After our walk we drive further to Petrified Forest State Park (near Escalante) where we spend the night.
After paying for our stay we grab our backpack, water and the GPS and hike a trail along beautiful pieces of Petrified Forest, find a cache, and often have a stunning view of the beautiful surroundings of Escalante. The weather is good for walking and climbing, it’s 68 degrees. Unfortunately, end of the afternoon it’s too cold to stay outside.
The advantage of the State Campgrounds in Utah is that they always have hot showers so we don’t have to use our own shower and early next morning we leave. On our way over the beautiful Escalante Staircase, a wild area with a narrow road giving a great view over the beautiful canyons and rock formations around. Not for nothing we see painters trying to capture this imposing landscape on canvas. The road is improved and wider because the feeling that you may crash the steep slopes, while driving on the “Rim”, exist no longer. At noon we are in Fruita. We take a place on the campground of Capitol Reef National Park.
When I am in the orchard, picking apples, Dick beckons me to come to the RV. The people taken this spot originally have written down an incorrect date, but they arrived before us so the camphost is inexorable. We have to leave.
The campground is full so we drive on (with a bag of apples) and later along the way we find a scenic spot at Factory Butte, amidst an alien landscape with sand dunes. There are only 3 RV’s, whose inhabitants racing around with motorbikes in this abandoned sand desert. There are quite a few caches hidden so we walk around between the sandy formations until we have found our caches and at 5 pm we are back. Just in time to see the latest stunts of our neighbours on their bikes. Impressive how they ride the sandy slopes and jumping over it.
We enjoy the rays of the sun but when the last sunbeams disappear behind the mountains it’s really cold. Wednesday September 27th, for the first time in weeks, it’s really cloudy. In a cloud covered landscape we drive further north and after checking our mail in Hanksville it starts to rain. Sufficient to get wet so we stop geocaching and drive further.
Fortunately the rain stops and when we enter Goblin Valley State park it’s dry but the clouds remain. We occupy the very last place in Goblin Valley State park and walk through a narrow canyon to the open plain where the Goblins are located. Again we are surprised by the different formed rocks. We have a goal, somewhere in the middle of this stone landscape is a cache hidden. It brings us further into the Valley than we have ever been and apart from a huge hare, running away when he sees us, there is no living being here. Far away in the valley we find our cache, write the logbook and walk slowly back, admiring the rock formations and taking many pictures. Around 4 pm we are back. Walking was good but sitting outside is too cold so we stay inside.
After washing our dishes (the meal Dick prepared on the grill was great, but Dick was freezing to death), it starts to rain and it keeps raining all night long. Thursday morning rain stops every now and then but in this weather and with this amount of rain we will not be able to visit the “slot canyon” (a colorful narrow canyon) in this State Park. So we have to come back to this fascinating place. Before we leave we dump our grey and black water, and fill up and then we go back to Hanksville. We forget to notice a code of a geocache. When we fill up with diesel, Hinke from Groningen knock on our window and ask or we want to have a cup of Coffee.
We love to come and after finding a quiet spot at the end of the village we meet Hinke and her husband Hans. We have a great time and talk to each other about our experiences in travel all over the USA. Years ago Hinke and Hans bought an American camper and since then, whenever they have the opportunity given their work, they travel around this beautiful continent. Two hours later, we say goodbye to each other. Hinke and Hans remain here and we go further South because we want to visit Riley and Karen, working in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Page. Through a beautiful valley with smooth towering red rock walls we drive to another part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
From a high viewpoint we see Hite. Everywhere along the waterside are RV’s so after crossing the Colorado river we find a beautiful spot above the river in Hite. We stay there. We’re lucky with the weather as most clouds disappeared and replaced by blue sky so in the lee of the RV we enjoy the views over the river and the surrounding mountains. At 7 pm it cools down. The next morning we leave early. Over quiet roads through beautiful rock landscapes to Blanding. In the Visitor Center we check our mail and after filling up we continue our drive.
It is too far to drive to Page directly and in Indian country (Monument Valley) we will not stay overnight so we stop at Bluff. Next to the famous Navajo Twin Rocks we find a cache from the UTAH series.
Just past Bluff There is a nice campground on Sand Island, on the San Juan river. Unable to swim in because of the strong current and muddy waters. Despite some clouds the Sun burns on our skin. We like it here so decide to spend the night. After months without a Campfire (always a fire danger) at night we finally enjoy a good wood fire.