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2014 Adventure Wrap-Up

image_map.gif We’ve now wrapped up our 2014 Adventure.  Our destination was the great northwestern United States with a focus on the Pacific coast.  It was a wonderful trip – really, everything we hoped it would be.  Early in our journey we found southeastern Utah to be a pleasant surprise.  We’ve heard so much about the vicinity of Moab; especially Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  These were even better than we expected and some of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever been.

P8019712.JPG We spent a couple of months visiting different places along the Washington coast and then another month along the Oregon coast.  We loved it all and I especially enjoyed the splendor of the Oregon coast.  If a person loves nature they will love that area.

We continued into northern California and soon moved inland to the Sacramento area and points east and south.  After wearing jackets and even needing heat in the camper the warm temperatures were a shock to the system.  Still, camping along the whitewater of the American River and then staying in the high country of Yosemite was a real pleasure.

P9259743.JPG It was with some sadness that we turned east and headed for Arizona because that meant we were now winding down our big Adventure.  Still, we’re talking about Arizona here; long one of our favorite states.  We spent a month there, working our way from the northwest corner of the state to ultimately exit at the southeast corner.

Before long we were back in Texas – enjoying the splendor of the state’s southwest.  We’ve always liked the Texas State Parks and it was a pleasure to visit three of them, especially Davis Mountains State Park, as we worked our way east.

After almost seven months we’ve now arrived back where the Adventure began: Lake Conroe Thousand Trails. We towed the 5th wheel about 6300 miles and then drove about the same distance sightseeing and “just living.”  We stayed in about 40 different campgrounds, generally for a week and a half at a time with several shorter stays when we were in “repositioning mode.”  In January I’ll release our budget figures but we pretty much stayed on target through the year.

It was a great trip and I’m already looking forward to return visits to and through these areas.

Shortstop: Wasatch View Estates

Our stop in North Ogden, UT was just a couple of nights. This is a mobile home park that has converted some of the spots into RV sites. The streets are wide and the sites are the size of a mobile home site – in other words, pretty big. The park itself is just minutes off of I15 and there are several fuel stops and fast food restaurants nearby. The restroom/shower is actually a manufactured home that is being used for this purpose – in other words, using the restroom or shower is like using one at someone’s house. There’s one especially nice feature – it’s the view to the east. I’ll include a photo of that view here – sorry to say our stay was brief and I didn’t get any other photos.If you need an overnight stop this one will do.

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Campground review: Dead Horse Point State Park, UT

PHOTO_20140508_195308.jpg Everywhere I looked on the internet people recommended Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, UT. Now, I’m happy to add my recommendation for this beautiful park. The “point” in this case is a point of land looking out over the canyons that include Canyonlands National Park, as much as 2000 feet below. Many have compared this view with that of the Grand Canyon, high praise indeed. Every day this state park is filled with people who include the superlative view at the “point” in their trip to the national park.

P5079430.JPG The campground is very popular and a prospective camper will want to make reservations well in advance of arrival, although there are just a few drive up sites available. Generally speaking, the campground is full night after night. There are only 25 sites and only around a third of them will accommodate a larger camper. I saw one 40’ motorhome arrive about dark. They looked at their site, realized they would never fit, and drove on out of the park. (Hopefully, they knew about the BLM Horsethief Campground nearby.) Also, the sites aren’t especially level. Most of them lean to the front or to the back but are okay side to side. Our 35’ 5th wheel pretty much used all the room available in our pull through site.

My Verizon phone worked, but data was intermittent and at times neither 3G nor 4G worked, even using a signal booster. At other times, I had a fairly decent data flow.

The sites all have 50 amp power, no water, and no sewer. Also, there is no water for a RV’s fresh water tanks in the campground. The nearest camper water tank fill up is available at the Shell station/RV park 20 miles away at the intersection of Highways 191 and 313.

P5079421.JPG However, I’ll add that there are modern, flush toilets in the campground. Also, there’s a sink with running water where dishes can be washed and drinking water containers can be filled. There’s also a dump station with a water faucet that can be used to rinse hoses, etc.

If you can get a spot that you can fit in, Dead Horse Point State Park is a terrific base of operations for visits to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and the Moab area in general. It’s not only handy for touring the area, but it’s a destination in its own right.

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2014 Canyonlands National Park, Utah

100_2688.JPG We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Canyonlands NP although we only saw the Island in the Sky and not The Maze or The Needles. Island in the Sky has good roads and is relatively easy to access. The other two are more remote requiring hiking and 4-wheeled vehicles. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and looked at the displays and watched the video introducing the park. I was surprised that in spite of it’s beauty Canyonlands was not made a National Park until 1964.

100_2698.JPG We followed the main route and took the short hike to Mesa Arch. While we were driving and talking about the park I accidentally said it was an “abunderful” place and it truly is both abundant and beautiful.  Each overlook is breath-taking and the main stops are easy walks. Canyonlands National Park has been called the Grand Canyon of Utah.  I can see the resemblance with its amazing canyons, beautiful colors, towers, and views of the Green and Colorado Rivers.  We hope to visit this “abunderful” place again someday.

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2014 – Arches National Park, Utah

100_2653.JPG We arrived at this amazing park about noon, stopped at the visitor center, picked up a map then headed out. Be sure to bring drinking water or empty bottles and fill them at the visitor’s center.

P5029315.JPG We drove the 18 mile road and stopped at every major pull out. We saw arches, windows, sandstone fins and balanced rocks. We enjoyed seeing every thing and tried to capture it all with photos. One of the last stops was Delicate Arch.  Our view from the lookout point was wonderful.

P5029277.JPG At one stop we took a free Ranger tour and learned the history of the park, the geological history, and how plants such as the yucca and Juniper  and piñon trees were used by the indigenous people. It was very interesting walk although one place was a scramble and I need a hand to climb up it. I recommend taking at least one Ranger led tour.

An exciting moment happened early on as we were chatting with a Canadian couple when someone glided off some rocks across from us which is illegal here in the park.

It did get warm in the afternoon so I would recommend an early start. Every one should visit this park at least once.

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RV Park Review – Horsethief Campground – Moab, UT

100_2572.JPG Our move day was expected to be 110 miles or so. We ended up a bit more than that. I generally like having reservations for our various stops. That’s not always possible as was the case in this move. Our plan was to camp in one of the public (BLM) campgrounds along the Colorado River, just north of Moab, UT. Most everyone assured me that since we were arriving so early in May and on a Thursday afternoon rather than on Friday that we’d have no problem finding a campsite. That didn’t work out for us. We drove up the river canyon seeing one “campground full” sign after another. I finally found a camp host and asked him what the chances were that we’d find a spot if we continued up the canyon to one of the more distant campgrounds. He didn’t offer me much hope, especially for a larger 5th wheel. Then he suggested the BLM Horsethief Campground which is on the road to Canyonlands National Park and near Dead Horse Point State Park. He was fairly confident that we’d find a spot there.

P5019237.JPG Since we already had reservations for the state park starting Monday we decided it was the best option, even though it put us 30 minutes north of Moab. Off we went, climbing one 8% grade of switchbacks, over hill and dale, searching for a place to “land.” We found a nice campground with large, level sites, and a very nice view of the distant snow-capped Henry Mountains. There are over 50 sites and, in spite of what I was told about there being a high likelihood of there being plenty of vacant sites, the campground filled to capacity three of the four nights we were there.

P5039338.JPG We settled in for our first “no hookup” camping experience in this particular camper. My biggest concern is water. We stopped and filled up with 80 gallons of fresh water in Moab. A side note on that: everyone told me that we could get water at old Lion Park on the northern edge of Moab. We found the spot, but there was a brand new chain and padlock on the water outlet. When I mentioned that to the fore-mentioned camp host he was surprised as he had just gotten water there the day before. We ended up going across the road from the park to a RV Resort and paying them $5 for water.

At Horsethief we are a long way from water. Not only that, but our next move is just down the road about 10 miles and there is no water available there either. It is certainly doable but we need to be sure our fresh water supply holds out. Fortunately, we found some places where we could fill the 5 gallon or so supply of water containers we have stashed away. That allows us to use our “on board” water for quick showers, toilet flushing, etc. During our stays at the two “horse” campgrounds every trip will include emptying our water containers into the fresh water tank and then refilling them as we travel.

Another concern is camper battery power but that’s not as big a deal as we only need the batteries to last while we are at the BLM campground. Once we move to the state park we’ll have electric, just no other hookups.

P5019257.JPG Horsethief Campground is a great campground for people who don’t mind being off the grid, who want a very quiet campground, who enjoy beautiful sunsets and star lit nights. My Verizon phone managed to get a few bars of cell service but data limped along with an occasional 1X connect. The roads and sites are all good gravel and the pit toilets are clean and have no “outhouse” odor. On our senior pass we stayed for $7.50 a night (others pay $15). It’s about 30 minutes into Moab, but the entrance to the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands is nearby.

While Jackie and I would prefer full hookups with maybe a pool, we found this dry camping experience to be an occasional acceptable alternative, especially when it is being done for a good reason (like visiting two awesome national parks). We’re not ready to join the solar-powered boondocking crowd on a regular basis, but staying at Horsethief does allow us to see a bit of what draws them to this style of camping.

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