Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

On our second morning camped on the Edge of the Abyss at Goosenecks State Park, Millie starts getting a bit more curious to snoop over the edge…

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That’s all the convincing I need-- Alright, we’re outta here!  I pack up camp and head north towards Bluff, UT.  There’s a nice little BLM campground right on the banks of the San Juan river (upriver before it snakes its way through the canyons of Goosenecks).

We roll into the boat launch area and see a couple rafts awaiting new customers.  Not us today, though!

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I see a free water spigot and begin filling a few of my 5 gallon jugs to replenish the Winnie’s empty tank.  A lady BLM ranger comes to chat: “Are you wanting to camp here tonight?”, she asks.  “Yes, I was thinking about it,” I respond.   She then tells me they plan to start some earth-moving project in the campground the next morning—lots of heavy machinery, lots of red dirt, lots of noise.  “Well, thanks for the heads-up!  I think I’ll try somewhere else!” 

My original plan was to visit Monument Valley, but the morning has not one single cloud in the sky, and no clouds predicted for the next few days—I have zero desire to fight the crowds, pay the fees, and endure the bumpy roads just to get “boring blue sky with red rocks” photos!  So, I  defer Monument Valley for another trip when the weather might make it more interesting.

So, I’m now down to my final tourist attraction before heading back to Moab—the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  Even though the campground there is “first come, first served”, it looks like there might be some boondocking areas just beyond the park borders that I can stay at overnight, so I decide to head on down the 35 miles of Scenic Hwy 211, beyond the signs saying “No Services” (as in no fuel, no food, no water, no cell signal, no Internet!) all the way to the Needles Visitor Center.

I finally arrive around 3:30pm and am greeted as soon as I open my door by Jim, a fellow View-Navion owner who is a volunteer camphost.  What service!  We chat a bit about our rigs and the park, and then I hone in for his expertise on how to best snag a camp spot the following morning— “get here early!  the sites usually fill up by 10 a.m.!”  I thank him and head into the VC to chat with a ranger and get a park map.  The ranger gives me a list of boondocking places to try for the night and I head to the nearest one 5 miles away, Indian Creek BLM.

Lockhart Basin Road is a 50+ mile 4-wheel drive road that leads all the way down Indian Creek canyon to the Colorado river (and becomes a very difficult 4WD road too)!  But luckily, the first few miles of it (up to the BLM’s Hamburger Rock Campground) is relatively well-graded.  According to the ranger’s sheet, the campground spots are $6/night and sites along the road are free.  Cool!

By now, though, it’s past 4:00pm and I find that not only are all the sites at the small campground now taken, but all the sites along the road seem filled as well.  As I head back down the road fearing I might not find a place to park for the night in this vast gorgeous area, suddenly I see a small driveway!

The site has no visible entry from the inbound direction, so I had completely missed seeing it on my way in (and apparently, so had everyone else!).  But within a few minutes, I am unhitched and parked as the sun is beginning to set, in perhaps the most gorgeous boondocking spot I have ever had!

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Yeah, I think this spot beats scrambling for a $15/night postage-stamp no-hookup site at the National Park in the morning… I’ll stay here!

“This calls for a happy hour celebration!”  Millie looks at me with nervous anticipation, wondering if I’m playing a joke on her after the stressful drive down the bumpy road.

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But soon, the happy hour treats are flowing.  Heart-shaped, organic biscuits for Millie--

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and a nice cold beer, with some hummus and crackers for Mama…

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Life is Good!  Very Good!

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11 comments:

  1. I love it when that happens. I'm often in a better FREE spot than the people who are paying for a small site without my view. Happy, happy, for sure! :)

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  2. You ended up in a great spot! Nice of the ranger at Sand Island to let you know about the construction.

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  3. YAY the boondocking gods were with you for sure. What a lovely spot to relax!

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  4. I'm getting inspired and realizing that I too could be doing this, even if I don't have a camper. Just in my Pathfinder with a sleeping bag in the back..........at least for a while! Hmmmmm.

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  5. Whenever you get lucky with a great boondocking spot like that, do you save it in your GPS?

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  6. Miss Millie looks like one very contented canine!

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  7. Great spot....I think Millie approves too. Enjoy!

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