Friday, October 31, 2014

Virgin Utah to Las Vegas Nevada

Our stay in the Virgin area exceeded expectations.  We liked the hiking and the biking.  We liked hanging out with Debbie, Jim and Gayle, Bobbie and Mark, and Laurelee.  It was an excellent meeting up with fellow RVers.
The first half of today's drive from Virgin to Las Vegas on I15 also exceeded expectations.  We have not gone this way before. There's quite a bit of downhill in the beginning, but none of it rated a mention in the Mountain Directory West.  It's not as red as the area around Zion, but it's still pretty amazing scenery.

And then you get to Las Vegas.

We're here for two nights.  Then it's on to Needles, and then to Tucson.  We were going to go to Blythe, bur the next to the last F1 race is on Sunday at 1:00 PDT (NBC) and we want to be sure we're in early enough to watch it.  They're running it in Austin, TX of all places.  Lewis Hamilton is leading the points race over Nico Rosberg and we're really really hoping he hangs on to the lead.  Nico and Lewis are team mates, but their rivalry this season has just been riveting.

Zion River RV Resort

While visiting Zion NP and surrounding areas we stayed at the Zion River RV Resort.  It's a nice park, for the most part. The power is clean and the water is not terrible.
Interior streets are paved, RVs go on a concrete pad.  The space between RVs is a combination of gravel and grass.  Fire rings are placed on the gravel part of the site.

This is our neighbor.  You can see the fire ring on the ground, the picnic table, and chairs in the background.

Sites are a little narrow.  We had to drive over some grass to make the turn in to the pull through.  They're fairly level.  We did use the HWH to level.  I doubt if it would take more than one board to level a trailer or 5th wheel.

Here are the negatives.
This park is expensive.  It's so expensive I don't even want to discuss how much we paid for two weeks in October.  The deal comes in November with the monthly rate.  At that point, winter rates are in effect and the park becomes reasonably priced.
Given what we paid for the two weeks, I would NOT expect to be paying for showers.  Yes, they charge for showers.  We didn't use them, but I find it irritating to be charged 50 cents for 5 minutes.  Laundry is expensive.  It's $2 for wash and $2 for dry.  The laundry room is nice, although small.  They do have laundry carts.
Park internet is ok.  It's good for awhile and then it's not.
If you have Verizon you will not have any cell service in the RV park.  They did install a cell phone repeater in the admin building, so you can make calls from there.  If you go up or down the road a little, there is voice, but no data.  Data can be found in La Verkin or Rockville.
The entire time we were at the park we could not leave doors or windows open in the evening, or run the vent fans, because of the fires.  The trees prevent good air circulation and the smoke was just awful.  If you don't mind that smell, then you'll be fine.  Jim and I just hate it and it was making us extremely cranky, especially the people who would let them smolder.
Make sure you know when UEA weekend is, and other weekends where children are likely to be out of school.  On a couple of weekends there were kids everywhere, and of course there were fires for them.

If you're going to Zion, it is convenient to the park.  It's about 12 miles from the west entrance.  If your rig can do it, I think you'd be better off boondocking or going to the state parks in Hurricane.   You'll have more scenic vistas and less smoke.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wildcat Canyon and a Cattle Drive

Today's hike was on the Wildcat Canyon trail.  One drives up the always scenic Kolob Reservoir road to the trail head.  It's just spectacular out there.  If you're in the area, don't miss this drive.

It's a nice hike.  One sees scenery that is different than in Zion NP, but it's no less impressive.  It was eerily warm.  Yesterday when we started up toward Hidden Canyon, it was pretty chilly.  Today at 7,000 feet it was very warm.  Very nice!

There is a big pile of volcanic rock to stand on, so you can look down into a canyon.

More scenery.

This was great.  We've been seeing cows all over the place.  There was a cattle drive in process.

These two young women were very good at getting the cows to move into the left lane so cars could get around them.  One of them looked to be about 13, but she was definitely in control of her horse and the cows.

This is one of the cowboys.  Other people on horses had gone off into the brush, looking for missing cows we suppose.

Cows on the road.

Where there are cows, there are cow by products.  After getting home from the hike, we headed into La Verkin to find a coin operated car wash to clean out the wheel wells.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Return to Hidden Canyon

As you no doubt recall, last Friday we hiked the Hidden Canyon trail, but were prevented from entering the canyon by the boulders on the right.  We noticed the chain on the rock to the left of the top boulder, but failed to appreciate its significance.

To get past the boulder one must climb up the rock face on the left and then down the other side hanging on to the chain for balance.  It was good to do the hike with other people.  They do a fair amount of hiking that requires scrambling and were excellent route finders.

It's pretty in there, the rocks have a lot of color.

This is the arch.  It's easy to walk by it and miss it entirely.  Gayle is in the arch providing perspective on its height.

This is behind the arch, it's still pretty close to the canyon wall.

We made several successful scrambles up dead trees leaning on rocks, crawling through rocks and tree roots.  However, this stopped five of us. We had to walk up those ramps, which were narrow, there was no leaning in, and they were sandy.  I felt like I could make it up, but wasn't confident in my ability to get back down.  So, that's as far as we went in the canyon.

There is spectacular color.

The hike really exceeded expectations.  It's not that far of a distance, but it provides climbing, exposures, chains and scrambling.  Everything you need, nothing you don't.

For reasons that are not clear to me, the park service has quit running the shuttles in the park.  Therefore everyone must drive to their trail head.  There is not enough parking.  Farther up the road in the park, people weren't even pulling off the road, they were just parking everywhere.

Is this not one of the prettiest places there is?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The JEM Trail

Today was mountain biking again.  The weather has cooled off some, which is good.  The sun is still out, however.

We went up Sheepbridge Road and turned right on to the JEM trail.  We rode this trail four years ago. I still do not like it.

We did notice that Cryptobionic crosses Sheepbridge and continues towards the river, so we might give that a go if we're back out there.
In other news, we have learned that this weekend is the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow.  It's a 25 hour mountain bike race. They ride all night, over terrain that is way worse than what is above.  That sort of thing just does not call to me.  Anyway, Thursday the vendors set up just off Sheepbridge Road and Friday the riders start coming in and pre-riding the course.  We checked with the front desk of the RV park, and they have 22 people checking in Thursday.  When we were here in 2010, we were after the race, but did hear stories about the crazy mountain bikers setting fires in the dumpsters.  We're trying to decide if the people watching opportunities will out weigh the aggravation of smoke from the fires.  We're scheduled to leave here Friday morning, so it's probable we'll miss most of the festivities.
Other than that, maties, there is not much to report. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014


We drove out to Grafton today to see what we would see.  The first Grafton was settled in 1859.  Three years later the settlement was wiped out in a flood.  They rebuilt and continued farming.  Originally they had planned to grow cotton, but soon realized that all of their arable land would be needed for food to keep them alive.  It was a difficult existence.  This chart is from the plaque in front of the cemetery.  Look at the deaths from diphtheria, which is now a totally preventable disease.  The anti vaxers never cease to confound me with their logic.

This is the cemetery.  We're not sure why Joseph Berry has the tallest headstone and his very own fence.  He and his family were killed by the Navajo.

These are the remaining buildings.  This was the combination school/church.

The Alonzo Russel home.  It's beautifully constructed.

Alonzo built this house for his wife, Louisa Marie.  She had one of the first weaving looms in the area which she had brought from Connecticut.  Since they had the other bigger house, I'm guessing this was her studio.

The wood is hand hewn.  The wood pieces are chinked with something that looks like mud.

This is irrigation Utah style.  The property owner has opened up a really high pressure pipe and is letting it flood the field.  It's putting out a lot of water.

It's pretty out there.  But it's out there.  People are still living in the area farming and ranching.  There are multiple signs pointing out that the dirt roads are impassable when wet.  I guess they watch the weather reports and stock up before it rains.

We were pretty excited this morning when the two RVs with 9 children between them packed up and went home.  They had been setting many fires.  However, our joy has been dashed by the arrival of a rental Class A and their pyromaniac daughter.  The winds are not going to be in our favor for the next few days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hidden Canyon Trail Hike

Yesterday we really were tired.  We went into Springdale and walked for awhile and then came back and did mass quantities of laundry.  We did see wild life.  These are ostriches in a field next to Hwy 9.  There are also some Texas Longhorns in another field, but I have not gotten a picture of them yet.

Today we hiked the Hidden Canyon trail.  It shares its beginning with the Observation Point trail.  The bees are still there.  What are they doing?  Why are they here?  What will happen when the weather gets cold?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I looked on the web and it says they did not swarm, they absconded.  Apparently things in the hive were so bad the bees just up and left.  They won't survive the winter.  I can't judge the credibility of the site.  Maybe my favorite apiarist will weigh in on this.

The Hidden Canyon trail was fun.  It starts out with switchbacks, and then there are stairs.

After the stairs there is exposed side hill trail.  Fortunately there are chains in some sections.  It was good to have something to hang on to.

I took this at the top, of two ladies who were on their way down.  If you look carefully you can see them holding the chains.

The official trail ends with this pile of boulders closing off the entrance to the canyon.  It was somewhat disappointing.  The boulders are about 6 feet high.  We thought about trying to get over them, but not knowing what was on the other side, we decided not to.  It's that whole thing about making the evening news after needing rescue.

We continued on up to the overlook, and looked over.  I love this view.  On the east coast, everything is fenced, whether it needs it or not.  Out west, we don't need no steenking fences.  Try not to fall to your death - your safety is your responsibility.  That's what they say on the shuttle rides into the park.

This was taken down lower, where you could see the foliage.

It was a good hike, it was not too long but I can tell we got some exercise.  Then we had to come home and defrost the steenking freezer.  Jim had to run out and unplug the ice maker last night because the ice could no longer be ejected because the frost build up was in the way.  We're still thinking about a frost free residential freezer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Biking and Hiking

Greetings!  It's been an active two days in the area.  Yesterday we rode the mountain bikes out Sheepbridge Road.  We climbed up the road for about 4 ish miles to where the JEM trail crosses the road.  At that point we stood and talked to three other riders who recommended we go left on JEM, and take Goosebumps down to Cryptobionic, which would then return to Sheepbridge Road.
It's just lovely out there.

This is Goosebumps.  It trends generally downhill, and is full of  whoop-de-doos (a series of up-and-down bumps, suitable for jumping).  They're fairly abrupt because they go through a lot of water courses.  It was fun for the most part, I walked a couple of off camber side hill trails.

When given the choice, take the green trail.  Cryptobionic was very fun.  It's smooth and swoopy and down hill.

This morning we were tired.  We decided to take the shuttle in to Zion and walk up something. We picked the trail to the Observation Point.  Brilliant!  Eight miles round trip, over 2,000 feet of climbing.  What an excellent recovery tool.  Idiots.

We saw this on the trail.  It's a swarm.  Look in the lower right hand corner of the photo.  That brown blob is composed of bees. Bees!  I hate bees.  We walked away quickly.

This is off the trail. It's really pretty.  This must have been very impressive during the last two tropical storms.

Here we are just over two miles up the trail.  We stopped and ate lunch and calculated what time we would probably get back if we continued on.  Since we'd left late, didn't really have enough food, and didn't have any additional clothing for when it cooled off, we bailed.  We both have a goal to never require a medi-vac or to be on the evening news.

Going down is just stunning.

This is the first section of the trail.  Steep!

In other news, the wood burners from California left this morning.  Happy we are to see them go.  They've forced us to keep the RV closed up since we got here because of their incessant burning of wood.  The kid count is now way down, as is the population in the RV park.  Good!