Freemont Indian SP to Moab, UT
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Sunny & gorgeous, mid 30s morning up to 80 degrees

It was a chilly morning, the price to be paid for clear night skies the time of year. We got on the road about 8:30, headed for Moab.

Parts of the drive were studies in contrast, with agriculture on one side of the road and rugged, dry hills to the other. We were beginning to see more patches of golden leaves and hillsides splattered with shades of yellow and gold, signs of a rapidly approaching fall season.

This drive crossed over a formation known as the San Rafel Swells. There are several neat scenic overlooks along the way. Among them was Castle Valley where Mormons tried to settle in the 1870s. How they ever thought they could graze cattle in this arid valley was beyond us. They failed in this endeavor because it simply was too tough to survive.

Interesting Rock and Plants Share Canyon Views of Castle Valley on West Slope of San Rafael Swell

Another overlook was at Devil's Canyon where I-70 descends into a valley. The canyon was a mere six feet wide until it was blasted into submission for the highway. As we looked over the view, we saw smoke at the bottom of the cut. When we drove by we saw a large motor home that had been completely consumed by flames. The occupants apparently got away because the vehicle was pulled off the highway and the car that they were towing had been moved away from the fire scene. Not a fun way to start your day!

The tiny town of Green River is known for the melons they raise. We got off the highway, found a good stand just off the interchange and bought a couple of melons.

This day marked the second day of the government shutdown. That meant that all national parks were closed. We saw evidence of the closures as we passed the entrance to Arches National Park. There we saw a blockade at the park entrance. People who were already camped inside the parks had been given 48 hours to leave. Rangers were allowing only people camped inside the park to return to their campsites.

Fortunately, our plan for the Moab area was not much to do with the parks since we'd visited them before. This time it was our intention to do other things. Lucky us!

We camped at a nice place, Moab Valley RV Resort, which was the first place we came to on our way into town. We then explored the town and inquired at various vendors about Jeep rentals and river float options.

Back at the campground, we availed ourselves of the pool and hot tub. Hot as it was, Bill enjoyed a long soak in the hot tub.

Dinner was grilled pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, Brussels sprouts and applesauce. It was a beautiful evening!

Moab, UT
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Sunny & gorgeous, high of 84 deg

Yesterday afternoon we'd signed up for a half-day seven-mile float down the Colorado River with Adrift Adventures. We showed up mid morning, as requested, and met our raft mates. They seemed like a nice group with ten participants in all. We boarded the van and drove up the river to meet our ride and our guide, Chris. The day was beautiful with clear skies and temps in the low 80s.

Guide, Chris, Mans Oars on Half-Day Float Trip down Colorado River

Wide-Brimmed Hats were Handy on Sun-Baked River Trip

The float, itself, was somewhat anticlimactic for us. Though beautiful, we'd seen similar scenery many times, just not from the water. The boat was set up to be rowed by just the guide so there wasn't much to do. And the rapids were only class I and II, so they weren't very exciting. The group of people, mostly around our age or nearing retirement were interesting and fun so the trip was certainly a success in that regard. The stop at a local winery along the river, including a free tasting, added to the joy. And the lunch stop along the way was a treat even though it was only cold cuts and salads. Verdict? Next time we'll opt for wilder water and the chance to help paddle.

Afterwards we headed for the campground pool to relax and read for a couple of hours.

Then we headed into town for dinner at Eddie McStiff's, self proclaimed "King of the Moab Restaurants". They also have a gluten free menu. So, how'd they do? Pretty well. Bill's fish taco was great as was the rice and beans sides. The pulled pork taco, however, was only fair. On the other hand, Sandy was able to have their fish 'n chips! They have a dedicated fryer for gluten free foods. But best of all, all their fish & chips are now gluten free. Preferring the new, GF, tempura-type batter they developed over their old recipe, they now use it for ALL their fish 'n chips. Sandy was in heaven; she hadn't been able to order fish 'n chips for years!

Moab, UT
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Mostly sunny & breezy, mid 70s, rain late pm into night

This was to be our four-wheelin' day. We rented Jeep Wrangler from Moab Tourism Center and picked it up in the morning. We had three unpaved roads in mind to drive, all rated easy to moderate.

Rental Jeep and Sandy Not Yet Covered with Dust from Day's Drive

The first was Gemini Bridges Road, beginning on Rt-191, a few miles north of town and running west to Rt-313 north of the entrance to Deadhorse Point State Park. The eastern part of the road climbs steeply on twisty gravel and slick rock with a few corners precariously close to deep drop-offs. Fun! About half way you come to the Gemini Bridges, actually a pair of water-eroded natural bridges, side by side, that you walk to, about 300 yards from the road. There were a few other people there, mostly mountain bikers who ride trails that also feature the bridges.

Road Section at Beginning of Gemini Bridges Road

Hikers Walk Top of Gemini Bridges

Completing that drive, we headed to Dead Horse Point State Park. This place was unusually crowded, probably due to the closure of the national parks. There are several short trails that follow the rim and can make loops from a visitor center. But we opted to simply drive to the point. The view is really neat. And, looking across the canyon, you can see the end of Chicken Corner Road, where the spectacular conclusion to the movie, "Thelma and Louise" was filmed.

View of Colorado River Gooseneck from Dead Horse Point

Blue Dye, Added to Potash Evaporation Ponds, Aids in Absorption of Sunlight

To return to Moab, we drove the Long Canyon Road. This road was pretty straight and flat for the first half of the drive. Then it dove down the steep, narrow confines named Pucker Pass. A highlight of that portion of the road is the huge rock that bridges to road leaving just enough space for a 4-wheeler to drive through. It ends at Rt-279 that follows the north side of the Colorado River back to the main road into town. We really enjoyed that drive.

Fallen Rock in Pucker Pass on Long Canyon Road Looks Impassable at First

Finally, Kane Creek Road begins at the south end of town and leads, Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corner Road. The first part of the road is easy, following the south side of the Colorado River. It then heads through side canyons and past some really neat BLM campgrounds and campsites along the way. Then the real fun begins as it climbs the hills up to Hurrah Pass. Unfortunately, we had a deadline to return the Jeep and we had to turn around about halfway up to the pass. Next time?

View Back Road that Climbs into Hurrah Pass from Half Way Up

Returning to the rental agent we reinstalled the tee top and I made the mandatory trip to a car wash to remove the worst of the road dust (there was a LOT) so a paint inspection could be performed.

Back at the campground we both took badly needed showers. By then it had started to rain. Glad the rain didn't catch us out on those dirt roads!

Dinner was grilled Italian chicken sausage, steamed green beans and pickled red beets. Later we got a visit from campground neighbors, Dave and Nancy, who live full time on their sailboat, cruising the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They were tent camping their way through Europe and the US for the summer with sons, Josh & Chris. Nice folks with lots in common!

Moab, UT
Thursday, October 4, 2013
Cloudy and chilly morning with ice on the car; breezy and low 50s in the afternoon

We began the day by saying goodby to Dave and Nancy next door. Then it was work day time! With the chilly weather and lots of chores to do, we decided to buckle down. Bill wrote and edited pictures while Sandy took care of some shopping and did the laundry.

We returned to Eddie McStiff's for dinner. Sandy had a delicious turkey burger while Bill opted for pizza.