Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BIRTHDAY/ANNIVERSARY TRIP- UTAH

Howdy Folks!

Well, we just returned from an epic adventure to N. Arizona and up into Utah. It was the most adventurous trip we have done in the little 1962 Shasta trailer, but everything went swell, and we really had a blast. Ourmain goal was to make it up to the petroglyphs & pictographs at sego Canyon, something I had wanted to see even before I was a teenager. We mixed in a few days & nights at Monument Valley, as well as visiting Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in Southern Utah. I had recently celebrated my 50th birthday, and we began our journey on our 6th wedding anniversary as well.

Our trip began at a funky place in Flagstaff, Arizona, called Black Bart's. It's a strange combination of RV park, and western themed steakhouse/restaurant! There's not all that much to the campground, but the restaurant sure made up for that! It's a casual, yet expensive restaurant, where the servers, all students from N. Arizona University, dress up in costume and take turns getting on stage and performing, mostly singing. It was very entertaining, the food was absolutely terrific, and the service was outstanding! Like I said... It 'aint cheap, but it was 100% worth it, every step of the way.








Next morning we left for Monument Valley. Although I had been there a few times before, I was very much looking forward to taking lots of pictures there, and exploring some of the off-road trails I'd never experienced before. Got there mid-afternoon, with plenty of time to take the off-road tour on The Valley. It was really funny to see a lot of people in their passenger vehicles treating them as if they were 4x4, off-road jeeps or something. Buicks, Volkswagons, sedans, luxury cars... Traversing the rough, back roads with steep hills and rocks! No doubt- All rental cars!


















Then it was off to Moab, Utah. This part of the journey brought about the longest drive we'd encounter: About 4 hours through Bluff, Blanding, and Montecillo. We took our time, enjoying the red-rock scenery along the way. 

Moab is a funky little town, totally geared towards tourism. We stayed at the Canyonlands Campground, right on the main highway through town. Although it's not the most beautiful and pristine place I've ever camped, it was super convenient with a gas station/store right on the premises. Need a bag of ice? Cup of coffee? Toothpaste? It's a 2 minute walk around the corner. Place comes complete with swimming pool, laundry facilities, bath houses, etc. etc.




Arches National Park was VERY crowded. This took away from the exploration and beauty of the place. It was difficult to even find a parking space at photo op-stops, and hiking trailheads. Seemed like it was 90% European tourists, just by listening to the languages being spoken, and looking at the goofy clothing they were sporting! Nonetheless, it's a spectacular place, and I'd really like to return not  only in the cooler months for hiking, but not in August when it seems all of Europe is on Holiday.










After a few hours at Arches, it was time to check out Canyonlands. Now, I don't want to go so far as saying Canyonlands was disappointing, but it was, well... disappointing. I guess if you'd never seen the Grand Canyon before, you'd think this place was magnificent, and in it's way, it is. It's more of scenic drive type of place, rather than a "Hands-On" National Park experience.

Next day is was off to complete my pilgrimage to see the "Space Man' Pictographs of Sego Canyon. Back in 1972 (or so), when (Erich Von Daniken's) "Chariots of the Gods" became a film, and I saw it in the theater, I became aware of the "alien" pictures drown on the rocks by native americans, a long, long time ago. I had always wanted to see them and became interested in these rock drawings almost 40 years ago.

It's about an hour's drive or so from Moab to the creepy, Twilight Zone," almost abandoned town of Thompson Springs, where the pictographs lie 5 miles north of town. Talk about a "Hills Have Eyes" type of place... Yikes. But, a well marked road takes you back into the canyon, where there's a pull-off to park, get out, and explore the petroglyphs and pictographs. (Petroglyph- Drawing etched into the rock. Pictograph- Painting on the rocks).

I guess there are theories as to what these pictures represent. But it was very clear to me, that the indigenous people that lived here and drew these figures, wanted us to know that they were visited by creatures in space ships. I got the memo. There is an eerie atmosphere to the whole place as well, as we spent a few hours gazing at the drawings and discussing their meaning and significance.
















One the most enjoyable and unexpected parts of our trip was the route back to Moab along the Colorado River, on highway 128. I had neither heard nor read anything about this scenic byway, as we simply decided to take another route back to town different than the one we came north on. What tear! Nearly the entire way you cruise parallel to the River, along a windy, narrow road. We must have pulled over 5-7 times to catch a better view of the canyons, river, bridges, and campgrounds along the way. If you ever make a trip to Moab, don't miss out on at least a part of this spectacular journey on Hwy. 128.

Just northwest of Moab, along Hwy. 279, and past the Uranium Mine, there are more petroglyphs on steep walls just across from the Colorado River. You can drive right up to these drawings & check them out. It's also a popular place for rappelling, as there were a few guys traversing the steep rock crevices. Looks there were overweight folks even back in the day of the ancient Ute Native Americans! That, or either they worshipped little bloated deities.





Just to break up the drive and not cruise all the way home back to Scottsdale, we reserved another night at Monument Valley, and I can honestly say, I'd never get tired of this place!