Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Canyons within canyons within canyons

Canyonlands National Park is huge and not really a see-it-from-your-car kind of place. It's great, though, for hard core hikers and backpackers, off-roaders and river rats. Being the squishy old fart that I am, I just drove around and looked at it from the view points.

I am not going to take that road

Wakey wakey

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hike to Landscape Arch

I entered Arches National Monument at about 7:30, beating most of the crowd. First I made a stop at Park Avenue.

I continued on to the north end of the paved road, at Devil's Garden. I grabbed my backpack of water, by hat and walking stick, and headed off.

Ta-dah, Landscape Arch

On the way back through the park, I stopped at Skyline Arch.

And then joined what was by then a zoo at Double Arch.

And my last stop was at the Golden Arch. Nyuk-nyuk.

Rise, set, rise

First the moon rose Monday night

Just before the moon set Tuesday Morning

The sun rising behind clouds

Monday, September 28, 2015

Desert sky

Just sittin' in my folding chair, watching the sky get interesting.

Who says you have to photograph arches at Arches?

I took a drive through Arches National Park this afternoon to orient myself. Frankly, I was more awed by the sheer rock outcropping than the arches. Besides, I usually favor the underdog. It's not like the world needs more arch pictures.

On the rocks

There are many camping options abound Moab. I decided to start off with a free boondocking area. Willow Springs Road runs east from Highway 191, about a mile north of the junction with Highway 313 that goes to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park.

The dirt road has a few rough patches, but it was just a matter of slowing down and letting the Rolling Steel Tent "walk" over the bumps. Most of the camping spots (like mine) are on slick rock—though it's not slick at the moment. There's a good 4G signal here. Yay!

I won't be driving any stakes here

It's about seven miles to the entrance of Arches National Park. I haven't gone in yet because the lines at the entrance were long when I drove into Moab for groceries (and a bungee cord). I'll see if first thing in the morning is better, though that probably isn't an original idea. There could be even more traffic then. If so, then late afternoon, which also might not be an original idea. Oh well.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chet loves swimming

Take that closer look

The first time I ever passed through Green River, Utah, about fifteen years ago, I was angry with myself for taking I-70 east instead of a more scenic route. To my eye at the time it was only hellishly hot, barren and ugly. I couldn't fill my tank and get out of there fast enough.

The next time I was in Green River, I stopped for the night, pretty much out of necessity. It was either that or push on for a couple hours more. I spent the night at one of the truck stops (it is eventually possible for fatigue to win out over the constant drone of idling big rigs) and left at the crack of dawn.

Since then, I'd heard some good things about Green River, so I went back on purpose. Once I got away from the truck stops and the sadness of a main drag in decline, it became a different, better place.

Dawn and ducks on the Green River

There are a lot of places like that. I've had to retrain myself the past couple of years to look beyond first impressions. There have been pleasant surprises. And, alas, some places really were just disgusting hell holes.

They say you won't know if you don't go. So I've been going. Off the Interstates, away from the business districts, up the canyons, along the rivers, down that sketchy dirt road... And now I know more of the story.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

On the river

Spent some time practicing my action photography.

Workin' it like the pro she is

So I did

Insulation, thermal mass and acclimatization

It was somewhere in the mid-50 when I walked to the campground toilet shortly after sunrise. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The air felt fresh and clean, not cold. Along the way I talked with a couple who were all bundled up in down jackets and wool caps. They said they were going to head south before it got any colder. I shrugged, having just come from considerably cooler places.

Part of the story must be what one is used to. But another is what one sleeps in. They were in a tent. They depended upon their clothing and sleeping bags for warmth. I depend upon the Rolling Steel Tent.

Daytime highs here in Green River, Utah, have been in the low 90s with humidity in the teens. So I keep the doors and windows open for ventilation. The insulation reduces the transfer of radiated heat through the roof and walls. According to my thermometer, it's about ten degrees cooler in the van. It's like a very comfortable place in the shade.

The air cools quickly when the sun disappears behind the mountains, but the mass of the Rolling Steel Tent (and everything in) it is still warm, giving off some of the heat it absorbed during the day. I can keep the doors and windows open past midnight, sleeping without covers, in just a t-shirt and shorts. (Well, maybe socks to keep my feet from being chilled.)  Then, sometime in the middle of the night, I close the doors, keep a window partly open and let my body heat warm the air inside the van. Exhaled breath raises the humidity a little, so I'm happy to step out into the fresh, clean morning air.

The game changes, of course, when the day and night temperatures are fifteen to twenty degrees lower. I dress warmer and the windows and doors spend more time closed. However, being a full-time camper rather than a vacationer, I've become less sensitive to temperature flutuations, even though I occasionally whine about the cold. At least when I do I'm probably less bundled than those around me. (I'm certain my layer of insulating fat has nothing to do with it. Right?)


There are campground-style electrical hookups all along two sides of Green River's park. How nice for the RV population. However, there are also these signs:

So, what's the thinking? Come use our electricity but get out by sundown? Or are the hookups meant for vendors at events, like the recent Melon Days? At least they aren't parking meters.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Lower Gray Canyon Recreation Area

A couple of years ago, back when I was new at this van dwelling thing, I stopped in Green River, Utah. Not knowing what was available in the area, I spent the night at one of the truck stops. At least a shower was handy.

Sometime later, full-time RVer and blogger "rvsue" posted that she had stayed at a nice spot on the river, just north of town. I made a note of it. Now I'm there.

Lower Gray Canyon has a boat ramp that gets used by rafters/kayakers/canoers, a beach (which is why locals call the place the Beach), and a campground.

My site, among cottonwoods, is about twenty feet from the river. There are some mild rapids there, so there's the constant sound of rushing water. It's a nice noise to zone out to. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

The headwaters of the Green River are in Wyoming's Wind River Range. After flowing past me, it joins the Colorado River south of Moab, Utah.

The Green (which is actually brown) meets the Colorado

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Totally alone

This is a patch of BLM land near Caineville, Utah

Capitol Reef

Looking down on part of Capitol Reef from Highway 12

Diverging from the paved path

Unpleasant behavior

But it's okay to enter if the storm is only ill-tempered, unfriendly or making vague innuendos