Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Arches National Park, Moab, UT

Monday, June 22nd

Are we there yet? Wait. Where are we going? Ah, who cares, as long as there is food there.

We were supposed to be heading towards Zion National Park on our way to pick up Calli today, which was going to be quite a long drive. We were planning to get up early and get on the road, but now that plans have changed, we can actually take a morning to do some stuff. We have a ton of laundry to do, so why not get some done in the FREE laundromat at Neil's parents' house? Score! Also, Neil has wanted to wash the RV for like 4 weeks, and he has been targeting Eagle. Most campgrounds specifically tell you not to wash your rig in the park, so we are excited to have a place to do it. Neil and his dad use the big brush and the power washer and get Ronald Vincent Vega to shine again! In between chores, we (mostly Anne) plays some games with the nephews.  Her cousin, Bethany, got us a new game '5 Minute Dungeon' and it's a hit with the boys. After finishing our chores and games, we hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Thompson Springs, UT.

The drive west through Glenwood Springs canyon is one of the most beautiful drives, especially this time of year when everything is green and the river is flowing.  As we hit Grand Junction, we recall that this time last year, we had done the same drive from Eagle to Grand Junction, but turned south for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival - sadly, it is cancelled this year due to covid. We are so glad that we got to go last year! As you head West in Colorado, there is literally NOTHING after you go through Grand Junction. There is a sign that says there are no services for over 80 miles. Good thing we got gas in Grand Junction! After a beautiful drive through Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, we arrive at the RV campground in the booming metropolis of Thompson Springs, Utah. We pull into the park, and it is HOT. We get set up at our campsite, and it is just fine. We have a good spot with electricity and water, even if we are a bit exposed to the hot sun in the Utah desert. 
A view to the North from our site...

A view to the East?

Not too much in any direction at this campsite... boy we are in the middle of nowhere!
Neil can't stop commenting that it reminds him so much of the town, Radiator Springs, in the movie 'Cars'. Although Lightning McQueen hasn't shown up yet to fix the town. We decide to venture out on a little walk around town with Hamilton. And, as the sun sets, it is a bit creepy. This town has definitely seen it's heyday come and go. It feels more like a ghost town than a real town, with some small exceptions. It seems that a large number of residents showed up in a trailer or RV and just set up shop. Quite different than the places we have stayed so far, but we are totally looking forward to Arches National Park tomorrow. After the walk, we head to bed to get ready for a long day at the park tomorrow.

Main Street in 'Radiator', I mean Thompson Springs. Looks like that cafe's been closed for a while.
We find a kiosk on our walk with a map up to a ghost town... maybe tomorrow?

This parcel of land is for sale! Only $75K for 200 acres...

The one room schoolhouse that was moved down from Sego, the ghost town on the map. From one GT to another.

Not sure if the Thompson Motel has any vacancy...
Tuesday, June 23rd

We get up, have the usual breakfast of eggs, sausage and toast, and drive about 45 minutes to Arches National Park.  It is supposed to be 100+ degrees today and as per usual, we'll be starting our hiking adventures at noon, the hottest part of the day.  Maybe one day we'll learn to get moving a little earlier on these hot days!  We have 6 bottles of water and lots of snacks and the a/c is cranking for the animals back at RV.  We decide to start the day with some of the scenic stops and shorter hikes, and then end the day with the longer, more difficult hike to Delicate Arch (the iconic arch) when it is hopefully a little cooler. 

We enter Arches and drive the main road through it, stopping at all of the scenic stops - Tower of Babel, Three Gossips - each of these giant, unique rock structures have a name.  We pass the "petrified" sand dunes. And we walk around Balanced Rock, which is a huge rock that looks like it might fall at any moment. Alright, we're ready to see some arches, this is Arches National Park after all. The next stop has a few short hikes where we can see several arches.  There are a number of people here, but fortunately it's easy enough to maintain our social distancing.  After 3 short hikes and 5 arches (see photos below), it's 3 pm and 106 degrees. We've walked about 2 miles and we are HOT and are running low on water. So we decide to head into the town of Moab to enjoy some car a/c, replenish our water supply and re-energize. We debate running back to the RV to check on the animals, but we figure that with the a/c running they will be ok - fingers crossed there are no issues with the power or a/c!

Arches - our 2nd national park!

Three Gossips behind us - wonder what they are talking about?!?

'Petrified' sand dunes

Balanced rock - how is it staying up there??
Another angle...

And yet another angle...

Oh - that's how it's balancing! (So original. Like everyone else...)
Neil - don't tear the trees out of the ground like Incredible Hulk!

Yet another awesome view. Is this Mars?

Hiking up to our first arch - Turret Arch!

Turret arch

Windows arches
A much prettier view of the arches without Neil's gut.

To the windows... To the walls!

Selfie at North (or South?) Window arch

There were a lot of people under the Windows arches, so we took the primitive trail back to the parking lot.  There was no  hiking path, just follow the stacks of rocks.  Hope we don't get lost in this desert!

A waving gnome?  A protester for Black Lives Matter?  Either way... pretty cool!
See it in the distance?

Double Arch - favorite arch so far!

Check out those arches, not the chins! - Still working on taking these selfies 
Underneath Double Arches

Looking up at Double Arches

We drive into Moab and find a coffee shop and each get a tall iced coffee drink - yum!! We haven't had one of these in a while. We walk around town with our drinks, doing some window shopping and enjoying the art sculptures that are set up on each corner, which apparently are for sale - What a cool idea.  

Cooling down in Moab

We buy several waters and head back to Moab. We drive to the end to check out Devils Garden, stopping at a few scenic stops. There is a 1 mile hike to see 2 more arches and we figure, we're here, so why not.  

Scenic overlook

Fiery furnaces - apparently you can take guided tours through them.  Bet that's pretty cool. 
The Fiery Furnace area

Drive-by photo of this arch - we are saving our energy for the hikes

Devil's Garden hike

Tunnel Arch - So many cool arches!

End of trail leads to Pine tree arch
Pine Tree Arch

Now it's 6 pm and it is still 100 degrees!  We figured it would have cooled down a bit more by now, but looks like we'll be doing our final hike in the heat despite our best efforts. The hike to Delicate Arch is about 1 1/2 miles, climbing uphill 480 feet with no shade. We duck behind every small shrub we pass for the little bit of shade it offers, catch our breath, and gulp some water. It's a long climb up and as we are getting closer to the top, Anne is asking everyone we pass, are we getting close?  At the very end, the trail follows a narrow rock ledge (don't look down!) and as we round the corner we see it!  Anne cheers and a few others there at the top cheer along with her.  We finally make it and wow, what a view of the arch!! Totally worth it! 

We can do this...

This is where someone decided to settle because they couldn't finish the hike. JK, cool old settlement!

The long trek up to Delicate Arch
Wait, where's the trail?
Almost there - it's quite a drop off to the left...

We made it! What a view!

Delicate Arch selfie
Delicate arch selfie #2. We are total nerds.

We sit, catch our breath, and enjoy the view for a few minutes, taking the obligatory selfie (or 2) before we start the trek down. As we are going down, we notice that there are a lot of people hiking up! The weather is cooling down a bit but if we had waited until now, it would have been so crowded at the top.  Also, the sun's starting to set, so we are not sure how some of the last groups are going to make it up and back down before dark. Even though it was hot, we're glad we did it when we did.  We are starving, so we hop in the car and head back into Moab for some Wendy's. There's a long drive-through line, so apparently everyone else is thinking the same thing we are - We've earned some fries!  We get back to the RV and everything is all good. The a/c is still going strong and the animals are very excited to see us.

Wednesday, June 24th

For the first time in a long time, we set an alarm for 7:45 am MT! After a long day of hiking yesterday, it feels especially early, but we roll out of bed and start the coffee and log onto our computers.  We are hoping to go to Yosemite National Park but due to covid, they are restricting the # of visitors by requiring reservations. 2 days prior they release about 300 day passes at 7 am PT.  Once the clock says 8 am MT, we hit refresh, select day pass for June 26th, hit purchase and then recreation.gov requests our user name and password. What?!?!  We need an account?  We set up accounts but by the time we do (less than 3 minutes later) they are sold out!! Grrrr!!  Well, we guess we'll try again tomorrow. 

Since we are up so early, we figure we might as well check out the ghost town and petroglyphs (rock art) that were on the map.  We drive through Thompson Springs  (a short 1 minute drive) and the road quickly turns to gravel.  There is a marker for the rock art, so we pull into the parking lot and walk along the short path. The rock art here is from three different Native American cultures and some goes back thousands of years.
Ute rock art on the cliff beyond the sign (19th century).
Fremont Indian rock art (600 - 1250)
Rock art from 6000 BC - 100 BC. Are these aliens??  Are we near Area 51??

We then continue down the gravel road to find the ghost town. After driving about 10 minutes, we feel like we may have missed a turn though it's hard to tell from the picture of the hand drawn map, which isn't exactly to scale. We turn around and find the road we were supposed to turn on.  The ghost town, consists of a graveyard, an old mine, an old brick building which used to be the general store, a collapsed wooden house and a burnt, rusty car. It was a coal mine used to support the railroads back in the day. The remains were a little underwhelming, but the history is fascinating - apparently there are towns like this scattered all over the West.
Apparently this was the store in town

Another view of the store

The only house we could find - and the car as well - not much left

Here is the old mine we think - we decided not to go in...

The old graveyard. Pretty crazy, and out in the middle of NOWHERE.
We head back to the RV, as it is time to hit the road again. We are driving to Ely, Nevada today as a stopover on our way to Yosemite.  The drive is mostly uneventful. There are some scenic passes and miles and miles of nothing (no services, no cell service). We cross into Nevada and get gas.. Or is it a casino?!  Or both?! Gotta love this state.

Scenic mountain pass in Utah

Hamilton enjoying the view

We saw a lot of this in Utah and Nevada - valley, mountain range, valley, mountain range
And we saw this Clown Motel - Wonder if the inside is as creepy as the outside. Not stopping to find out!
We get to the KOA in Ely, NV and it's a fairly large RV park and it is quite packed.  We get set up, start grilling, and Neil logs in to play poker.  However, the site won't let him play for fun (i.e. no money)! Figures that in Nevada, they want you in their casinos gambling with real money! After figuring out the VPN with a little help, he was able to get the tournament in. It's off to Yosemite area in the morning, and hopefully the weather and the campsite are ok! Until next time...