Saturday, November 22, 2014

On to Bryce

While it was lovely to see the two National Parks in Moab again (Arches and Canyonlands), the true excitement about planning this year’s visit to Utah would be finally getting to see 2 new National Parks that had long been on my bucket list—Bryce Canyon and Zion. 

I originally thought I’d fit in visits to Capital Reef, Escalante, and drive the entire scenic Highway 12 byway all within the one week I had to get from Moab to Zion.  But, I quickly realized I’d made the classic “new full-timer” mistake of trying to cram simply way too much into too short a timeline.   So, most of those plans got tossed onto the “next time” list, and I focused solely on Bryce for the next few days (with a stop beforehand to “Camp Wally” in Richfield to take care of boring life stuff like grocery shopping and a hair cut!).

The last week of October at Bryce Canyon had a few sunny days forecasted in the low 60’s (with night temps dipping down below freezing).  But it was “now-or-never” as the following week’s temps would go even colder with some first snows predicted.  So, I topped off the propane tank, bundled up, and headed up to 8,000-feet!

As I turned onto Scenic Highway 12 towards Bryce, the sun was beginning to set onto Red Canyon.  The views were getting better and better!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My 1st Slot Canyon – Didn’t Make It Very Far!

Moab graced us with a final glorious sunrise as Suzanne and I prepared to pack up our Winnies and head off to separate canyons.

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Suzanne was headed back to her special place, Snow Canyon, near St. George.  While I had my compass pointed towards Bryce Canyon National Park before cold would make it unbearable.  But on the way, I was determined to visit a little canyon that Box Canyon Mark had once described as “a trip to Disneyland” (with the exception of their most recent ill-timed visit).  I had never hiked a slot canyon before, and was “chomping at the bit” to give Little Wild Horse a ride!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My “Skinnie” Solar System

I’ve added a new tab to my blog’s home page called “Skinnie Solar” which shows pictures and product links to the 300-watt MPPT rooftop bendable solar panel installation on my Skinnie Winnie’s roof.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Off-Roading to Canyonlands, Part II

Looking at Canyonlands National Park’s Island of the Sky District from the mesa-top is a breathtaking and frustrating experience all at the same time.  Breathtaking for the vast Colorado and Green river canyons that envelop the mesa from both sides—each a “canyon within a canyon”, and each appearing even larger than the Grand Canyon.

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But frustrating too—one never seems close enough to get a really good look at these canyons when looking at them from the mesa-top.  I remember that same feeling during my previous visit in 1998, and also remember watching with envy as Jeeps as small as Matchbox cars went crawling down a curvy, steep dirt road to get into the canyon.

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It may have taken me 16 years, but on this visit, I finally got to drive this road and experience Canyonlands below the mesa-top.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Off-Roading to Canyonlands, Part I

Moab is home to some of the most radical and difficult 4-wheel-drive Jeep trails in the U.S.  With trail names such as Cliff Hanger, Hell’s Revenge, and Metal Masher, it’s no wonder the trails provoke a rush of testosterone from every young male with a comically-oversized Jeep who reads about them, and more rational “forgeddaboutit” decision-making from everyone else. 

It had been over a year since my little yellow Tracker had done some off-roading, so I was eager to find a few easier (sane) trails to explore.  There looked to be a few around Canyonlands National Park, and since this was Suzanne’s next park to check off her bucket list, we decided to take a few trips to the park via dirt backroads rather than the paved highway.

First up was Gemini Bridges Trail, an easy 13 1/2 mile 4WD road that connects Moab’s main Hwy 191 to scenic Hwy 313 running through Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district.

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