Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The longest day..

Continuing east through Colorado on I-70 the elevation gain is significant as you approach the continental divide and the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel. Our Chrysler Pacifica usually does a fine job pulling the Shasta but it was in this stretch that I saw the engine temperature gauge soar higher than I had ever seen before. In need of letting the car cool down we stopped in the small town of Frisco and had some ice cream, this town has a good thing going with Breckenridge just down the road and both a summer and winter tourist season. After taking a break the car did fine for the rest of the day but this stretch of road was definitely the toughest of the entire trip. Late in day after passing though Denver when we encountered serious thunderstorms in the very flat eastern part of the state, it was pretty scary with spectacular lightening visible all around us and torrential rain. We stopped briefly at a Target at the eastern edge of Denver's suburbs to stock up on food supplies then a a few hours later we stopped for the night as planned at North Sterling State Park just as the storms finished up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More highway and Green River, Utah

Continuing home our first nightly stop was Green River State Park, right off I-70. Hard to believe we were still in Utah, as this campground looked more like those we are used to back East complete with trees, grass, and a river. Definitely a good stop for those traveling through, our neighbors at the next site were from Toronto area and were on a tour similar to ours. The campground was fairly empty but there was a large group of kids that were prepping for a week long guided canoe trip starting from the park. The leaders were having them run laps in the park which made for some good entertainment. When traveling through this part of the country be sure to stop at the occasional rest area as the scenic view above is not at a national park it’s just on the side the road! Sometimes the rest areas are also good for photo-ops that can remind you that your vintage trailer is not even close to being the largest vehicles on the road. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cove Fort - a.k.a. an 1867 motel

On our first day headed back east we were looking for a place to get off the road to make lunch, we stopped at Cove Fort near the junction of I-15 and I-70 in Utah. We decided to take one of their tours which made this quick stop into nice history lesson. Cove Fort was built by the Mormons in 1867 as a safe place to stop overnight when traveling though this region. The construction of the fort is quite unique as is built using volcanic rock and limestone. To me the outside looked somewhat familiar to early forts back east, but once inside the courtyard you find something quite different. It's more like a family home with a bunch of attached motel rooms, just circa late 1800's! Quite a few important guests stayed there including Brigham Young. Near their modern visitors center we also found that they had the most impressive hollyhock garden that we've ever seen. If you're passing through the area you will find this a welcome break in the day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah

Working out of our campsite at Zion we also made a day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. It is amazing to me how different the landscape is at these parks in Utah. I felt like we had visited several different planets, each with it's own type of terrain. We didn't see this park at sunrise or sunset which are claimed to be the most spectacular, but it was still one of the highlights of our trip. At Bryce we wanted to hike down into the canyon to to experience the hoodoos up close, but given the July heat and our time constraints we pretty much kept to the paved trails at the rim.

Here's a travel trip that I wish we knew about during our visit.. since there are no showers at the Watchman campground in Zion, take your towel and soap so you can use the showers near the campground at Bryce. Also if they let you, drive into the park instead of parking outside the main entrance and taking the shuttle, this will save time and you won't have to carry as much stuff around with you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Coral Pink Sand Dunes in southwestern Utah

While staying at Zion we made side trip to check out the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The photo's don't do this area justice and the kids talk about this as being one of their favorite places on the trip. The sand is super fine and very very pink. I've been to White Sands in New Mexico and this is an interesting contrast. Definitely worth a quick trip. Also worth a stop is the Thunderbird Restaurant which is about halfway between the Dunes and Zion.  This would have been a good photo-op with the Shasta but unfortunately it was having a much deserved rest back at the campground.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Driving on to Zion!

After a few days at Arches we spent another full day driving west, this time headed to Zion National Park. For this we kept on Interstate highways for time efficiency and easier roads, but we still saw some nice scenery. Along the way we also saw a group of about 20 Smart Cars traveling east, different yet similar to group of Model A's that we saw earlier in the trip. Looking it up later I'm pretty sure that they were heading to the Smart Car National Convention in Denver. At a gas station along the way we thought it is funny that they were selling used license plates from a variety of states that looked like you could just buy them and attach them to your car.  We also saw the thermometer hit 104 F, making it our hottest day so far, later we heard that it had been 112 at some places in the park. Our last stop along the way was to stock up on groceries at a nice supermarket in Cedar City. Watchman Campground at Zion is just inside the southwest entrance and adjacent to the visitors center making for easy access to the shuttle busses. The landscape at Zion is just spectacular. At Arches we felt like we were camping on Mars, but here it was like we were camping in some famous 19th century American landscape painting that is too perfect to be real. We also took in several ranger naturalist programs at a small amphitheater just steps from our campsite, and a great one about hummingbirds one evening at Zion Lodge. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Arches National Park, Utah!

Crossing into Utah we soon got off the Interstate again and headed for Arches National Park via Route 128. We spotted a few old trailers passing through Cisco, but everyone in the family agreed that it didn't look like someplace we were supposed to be. (According to our kids we've found ourselves in several places that don't look like someplace we should be lately). According to Wikipedia, Cisco is a ghost town in which scenes for Thelma and Louise and a few other movies were shot.

Once we were a bit further south the scenery really began to change and it was obvious we were someplace unlike anywhere we have been before. If you have the option to drive south on route 128, it's worth it and its an easy drive with a trailer in tow. You might also consider camping at one of the first-come first-served BLM campsites along this road. After a number of stops for sightseeing along the Colorado River we arrived in Moab and entered the National Park. Devils Garden campground is at the end of the scenic drive so you get to see a lot just in getting to the campsite. The campground itself was minimal, but it's just spectacular being there and it puts you in the middle of everything. We didn't see any other vintage trailers, but the Tab trailer on the site across the road looked right at home with its orange trim. Oh.. and yes Utah in mid July is hot, 101 F on the thermometer had all of us drinking more water each day than we thought possible.