We travel along UT 12, probably the scariest road ever. At several points the land drops into canyons on either side of the road with just us and the car on a tiny spine of land. I do not take pictures because first of all, I do not want to look and second, because I have tried to take pictures before and there is no way for the camera to capture the depth of the canyons.
We finally make it to Escalante, UT and find a place to eat some breakfast. The Escalante Outfitters is part serious hiking place and part eco-driven and hippie snack bar. We opt for a crustless egg and vegetable soufflé which turns out to be quite delicious.
As we get nearer to Bryce Canyon we can see the Aquarius Plateau in the distance.
It is our plan to just make one stop in Bryce, at Fairyland Point. We figure with it being the weekend the park will be overrun with tourists. Plus the sky is looking pretty ominous.
We change drivers when we get to I-15 and I end up driving through some of the worst rain I have ever experienced. It is coming down in sheets and the road is hard to see with all the spray from the other cars and trucks. Plus the speed limit is 80 mph!! When we reach St. George the weather miraculously clears up and we stop at a favorite of ours for lunch, Mad Pita Express.
We check into the Inn at Entrada, get ourselves settled, and go shopping at Harmon’s for sushi and lentils for dinner.
After having our sushi hors d’oeuvres we make a lentil stew with mushrooms, carrots, and chicken sausage.
Today we are driving to Boulder, Utah with a stop for a picnic lunch in Capitol Reef National Park. As we drive along the rocks change color and formation. Here is what we saw along the road.
We finally reach our hotel in Boulder, UT. The wind has really picked up and is howling. Our room is not quite ready so we spend some time in the hotel’s common area. Later we go out for a very fine dinner in the only place open in this tiny town.
Today we spend the day at Arches National Park. We go early to make sure we will get to see everything we want. As is by 11 AM our last stop is so crowded that we are unable to find a parking space. By the time we leave around noon the park is closed because it is at capacity.
I have a ton of pictures that I will just caption.
The last thing we are planning on seeing is Devil’s Garden where there are several arches. But the crowds and traffic make it impossible so we decide to leave and let someone else have a chance to get into the park.
We go to downtown Moab and have an excellent pizza at Antica Forma.
The rest of the day we spend shopping for the next day’s picnic and at the hotel watching some TV and planning our adventures for tomorrow.
Friday is mostly a travel day. We decide it will be more fun to take an interesting route and have a picnic along the way than just get back on I-70 and turn left at Green River.
On our way to Gateway, CO which surprisingly has a fancy resort in it, we travel through the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area following along side the West Creek until Gateway where it joins the Delores River. Such a little creek has created beautiful canyons.
After the turn southeast at Gateway the scenery changes and the rock turns red. The Delores River has fashioned these canyons.
We stop at a Point of Interest where the red walls tower over us on one side and the Delores River rushes by far below on the other side. Hanging off the walls above the river is a wooden flume, now in disrepair, that was built in the late 19th century to carry water. The water was used in the extraction of minerals.
These three pictures show where the flume was and a close-up of the wooden construction.
Now we are headed towards the LaSal Mountains. We zigzag up the mountains and head through a pass all the while searching fruitlessly for a picnic spot. Coming down the west slope of the mountains we turn onto US191 and head for Moab, UT. Once again the scenery changes dramatically and we are surround by red walls, columns, and hoodoos. We have our picnic lunch quickly at a rest stop where the wind is blowing and the temperatures are in the low 50s. Brrr.
We get some excellent Thai take-out for dinner and spend the rest of the evening watching tennis and planning our adventures for tomorrow.
Today was a travel day that started off with mundane scenery and ended up with the spectacular San Rafael Swell. For most of the morning we drive through the uninhabited parts of dry Nevada and the salt flats of Utah. At lunchtime we find ourselves in Salina, UT where in 2009 we had stopped on one of our cross-country trips at Mom’s Cafe.
Last time we ate there I got their homemade chicken soup which included a chicken-made bone. Today I order a chicken sandwich sans bones. The weirdest thing is that no one there is masked. Not the patrons or the servers. It is a little scary.
Then we are back on the road heading towards the San Rafael Swell. I really wanted to see the amazing geologic feature again as we had gone through it quite quickly last time. Today we stop at the overlooks and read the explanations. It is so grand!
The San Rafael Swell is a section of the earth’s crust that has been eroded and exposed by the upward tilt of the land so that you can easily see millions of years of the earth’s history. In fact in one section you drive right through it. The pictures cannot totally catch the colors and depth of the formations.
Our first stop is at Salt Wash.
Our next stop is at Devil’s Canyon.
As we are approaching the gap in the San Rafael Reef I take a few pictures out the front window of the car.
Our last stop is at the Spotted Wolf Overlook.
Finally a view from the car as we descend.
Soon thereafter we arrive in Green River, UT. It looks like there are only two places open for dinner and the commentary on the reviews say how crowded they are and how you have to wait a long time to get a table. The pictures show communal type tables. I am not ready for this with a bunch of unmasked strangers. So we decide to shop for something to eat at their one small grocery store and make dinner in the room. It is no worse than the dinners we have had in Carson City or Ely.
After a weekend of thunderstorms which included a lot of lightning hits, California is ablaze with wildfires. The town next to ours is under an evacuation warning and we decide to get out of the fouled air and scary circumstances for a week in St. George, Utah. We rent a two bedroom “villa” in the complex where we used to have our vacation home.
Since Sarah is coming with us we have three drivers for the long trip. This is the first time we are on the road since the pandemic started and it is a little scary to be finding bathrooms and take-out food on the road. But it all goes smoothly and we reach St. George around 6 PM after a very early start.
We have had to make two reservations – one for the first night and then move into our digs for the the other six nights. The first one seems nice but we are so tired that we hardly notice it. The second one is unfortunately less nice and has many corners cut which seem like false savings for the owners. Polished concrete floors, terrible paper products, bad noise insulation, and no non-stick cookware are nits that really effect the quality of our stay. We even go out and buy a non-stick frying pan so we can cook eggs!
Sarah spends her time moseying around, taking some pictures, accompanying me to the grocery store, and reading. John and I get up really early several days to play tennis. We walk over to the courts in the semi-darkness at 6:45 AM. St. George is really far west in the Mountain Time Zone. Although we can use the tennis courts, we cannot reserve one which makes me quite nervous as to whether our getting up before dawn will come to naught. However, although some other people use one of the courts there is always one open for us. It is warm early in the morning, usually in the low 70s but the sun does not emerge from behind the cliff until about 7:45 so the weather is tolerable. Later in the day it will be over 100F.
Our other major activity is figuring what to make for dinner without our usual pantry to help out. A trip to our local grocery store, Harmon’s, is a daily activity. It is a beautiful, well-stocked store. Even Sarah is impressed.
We also take a trip down memory lane and take a walk over to our old house. The landscaping has really grown. It definitely needs to be cut back. We look from the front and the back. We are afraid to get too close. While we are in St. George I am nostalgic for our old house and even look at real estate listings but everything is too expensive! Plus taking that 10+ hour drive is beyond what our old bones want to do.
Fortunately the fire does not reach our town and the fire teams do a great job getting it under control. By the time we get back the danger is passed and even the air has improved. I think we will consider taking another vacation to St. George, though.