This is the first email from my travels into the national parks of the west. I have not been able to connect with my Verizon wireless connection to send a message before now. Fortunately, the Wahweap Resort and Campground, where I am now located, has wi-fi and I can get this first installment out. Wahweap is located on Lake Powell in northern Arizona. I’m writing this at pool side which overlooks beautiful Lake Powell. This morning I witnessed the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen. I looked out of the teardrop camper at 5am this morning and saw this incredible site. I hurriedly pulled on a pair of shorts and headed to the lake shore. The sun was still below the mountains to the east, but the light that it cast off of the clouds was indeed stunning. I have taken several pictures. However, I have not downloaded them as yet so, I’ll attach one on my next email.
I got started on the trip on 3 May. The first 3 days involved getting to my 1st National Park. Overnight camping was spent at Henryetta, OK where I stayed in the parking lot of the “Pig Out Palace”. Hey, it was free other than the cost of my pig out buffet dinner that night. Despite the name it wasn’t too bad. The next night was spent in Santa Rosa, NM. I had been in Santa Rosa about 30 years ago. I had been traveling along I-40 about lunch time and pulled over here. I ate at a small drive-in style restaurant and had the best Mexican meal I ever had, even to this day. I remembered that I had Chile Relinos. I was hoping of course, that this little restaurant was still in business. I couldn’t remember the name, but knew that it was a drive-in that had indoor seating. I drove up and down the main street, but couldn’t find it. I finally stopped at the city hall and ask if anyone remembered such a place. I was told that it had burned down a number of years ago. However, it had been built back and was no longer a drive-in, but now a regular cafe and owned an operated by the same family. The old man was now about 80 years old and supervised his children and used his same recipes as always. The Chile Relinos were as good as ever much to my delight.
I camped that night at Santa Rosa State Park which was very nice. I met Mark and Holly, a nice couple from Albuquerque. Mark persuaded me to go on to
Durango, CO for my next stop instead of Cuba, NM. I’m glad I did because Cuba is nothing more than a blink as you go through. My plan had been to camp in the National Forest there which would have been fine except I would have had to shovel snow to make a spot to camp. I went on to Durango, but couldn’t get a camp site along the river as Mark had suggested. Instead I went to the WalMart parking lot. WalMart always welcomes RV’ers for overnight camping, BUT, not in Durango. I had been there about an hour and having a nice sandwich for dinner, when along came a Durango police officer who said, “You’re not planning to spend the night here are you?”. I told him I was and had gone inside the store and was told that there is a city ordinance against camping overnight there, that no one is ever bothered by the police in enforcing the ordinance. Well, I show up and the cops decide to enforce the ordinance! On to scout for another place to stay. I finally, ended up in a factory parking lot which is another story in itself, but too much to go into it now. At any rate, I ended up back in the WalMart parking lot at 4AM. I figured I had left earlier and coming back at 4AM didn’t constitute staying overnight.
On May 6th I went on to Moab, UT and had arrived at my first national park destination, Arches NP. I stayed in a campground called Hittle Bottom along the Colorado River. The location had an excellent view overlooking the river with mountains in the background. There is more story here regarding the wind and dust. I’ll just say that on the morning I left, May 9th, I was awaked at 4:15AM with the wind blowing so hard, I thought the camper was going to blow over. I hurriedly got the camper hooked up to the truck and latterly blew out of the there.
In spite of the wind and dust at the campground, I did spend two great days in Arches NP. This is a magnificent park with huge mountains, monoliths and arches of sandstone. On May 7 I hiked to Delicate Arch which is about a 3 mile round trip and well worth the hike. The next day I had a permit to hike the Fiery Furnace, which can only be done with a group led by a ranger. This hike required a lot of rock scrambling and squeezes through slot canyons in the sandstone. Some of the slots were so tight I was concerned about getting through. However, the ranger leading the was larger than me so, I figured if the ranger made it, I could to. I have a lot of great pictures of Arches and will attach a few here.
On 9 May I left Arches for Zion NP. I made a half day stop at Canyonlands NP on the way to see Mesa Arch which is another stunner in its beauty. I got back on the road to Zion in early afternoon. I got to wondering, in my haste to leave the Hittle Bottom campground, if I had closed the one window I had opened overnight on the camper. Since it is now a mixture of precipitation including rain, sleet and snow that I’ve been driving through for the past 3 hours, it might be a good idea to check. Well you guessed it… the window was open and quilt, down comforter, sheets and mattress were soaked. Nothing I can do now but close the window and go on. I arrived at Zion in early evening and explained my predicament to the ranger as I checked into the Watchman Campground at Zion. She informed me that there was a Laundromat in the town of Springdale, UT which is on the very edge of Zion. I got into the my designated camp site, for which I had made reservations a few months ago, and proceed to strip the bed and head off to the Laundromat and dried the wet items. Of course, it took the next two day of propping the mattress up inside the camper with windows open and roof vent fan running to get the mattress dry. Fortunately, it dried and there is no sign of mildew.
I did several hikes at Zion including the strenuous and difficult Angels Landing. This trial is featured on Youtube for those interested to take a look. I have no adjectives to describe Zion. You just have to see it for yourself and decide. To me it is incredible!
I left Zion on May 13 and arrived here at the Wahweap Resort yesterday evening. Lake Powell, as I mentioned earlier, is beautiful. I leave here tomorrow for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.