Thursday, September 17, 2015


It’s time to start thinking about heading southwest and since we had such a great beginning this year, why not retrace our steps… First stop Capital Reef National Park.  At sunset we check out the Goosenecks and Sunset Point.

The weather is cooler now (mid 90s as opposed to the low 100s.)  The baby fawns have lost their spots and the little turkeys are now almost as big as their moms.  The stone fruits have all been picked. Apples and pears are now in season.

Pleasant Creek
Cougar Tracks
Two Thousand Years
of Rock Art
We get in a great hike along Pleasant Creek.  The trail here changes with the rains.  It seems to be more of a suggestion rather than a maintained trail.  It’s hikers choice: we can hike alongside the creek and walk up over a desert landscape or just plow through the water.  We do a combination of both.  Along the way we explore the largest panel of pictographs and petroglyphs in the park.  There is over 2,000 years of art here attributed to archaic hunters and gatherers, the Fremont culture, Ute tribes and Mormon pioneers. For the entire hike we never see another person… but we did come across Cougar tracks… hungry cougars?  hmmm...

Next back track is to Escalante and the Shooting Star RV Resort.  It’s great to catch up with Troy and Michelle.  They’ve been working hard over the summer moving rocks and planting trees. The Airstream Motel is booked solid while we’re here. Couples, families and friends living riveted for a few days and catching a flick on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Shooting Star Drive-in.

During the day we catch some of the sites we missed last spring:

Hole in The Rock
Lake Powell at the

We finally get to the end of Hole in the Rock Road and walk up the wagon trail to the top of the ridge and look straight down to Lake Powell. It’s hard to imagine anyone willingly driving a loaded wagon down this slot between the rocks… we don’t even want to climb down this rubble trail… when does the line cross from courageous to crazy?

A Beautiful Day for a Hike
Across the river from the Shooting Star is the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. The sun is shining when we start up the hill to the Petrified Forest trail.  At the top of the mesa we take the trail of Sleeping Rainbows down into the canyon and back up.  

Petrified Logs

The Juniper and Pinion Pine forest is littered with chunks of petrified wood. By the time we get back to the trailhead, the weather has changed.  Thundershowers are on the way; time to seek shelter.  Storms in this area are not to be underestimated.  This storm takes the lives of 7 hikers in a slot canyon in Zion N.P.
Time to seek shelter

Box Death Hollow Wilderness
Lower Box Death Hollow is a scary name for a pretty green canyon surrounded by desert. . We work our way up the canyon, zigzagging across the creek.  After a couple of hours we stop for a creek side picnic lunch and then head back down the canyon.

Saturday morning we shop at the Escalante Farmer’s market.  It’s a small market from 9 AM to Noon, with only a few vendors but we find everything we want and more.  Great baked goods, heirloom tomatoes, wild mushrooms, green veggies, melons etc…

Next it’s onto the park we missed last spring… Bryce Canyon N.P.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Abandoned Mine
Heading to and from Littleton we cross over the Vail Pass Summit (elevation 10,662 ft.) and the Eisenhower – Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel (elevation 11,013 ft.)  Highway 70 is challenging, steep, winding and bumpy. The trip to Littleton is uneventful, the trip back not…

Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel
Under the Continental Divide

Serious Curves and a steep Runaway Truck Ramp

They really mean this!

Vail Ski Runs

Just past Vail, right before the off ramp to the town of Avon we hear a loud clang bang and Dave looses power.  Fortunately we can get to the off ramp, pull over and push the On-Star button.  The On-Star rep runs a diagnostic, but it shows nothing wrong.  They call the closest GMC dealer in Glenwood Springs, but they can’t get Dave in until the middle of September. The GMC dealer back near Denver (just around the corner from Camping World) can take us, so they connect us with a towing service. Because of our remote location we were not given a time frame, only that it would be awhile.  We also have to make additional arrangements to have Dimples towed.  Fortunately we have cell service so we start to research.  While I’m working Dimples logistics, Chris pops the hood and looks to see if he can see what’s wrong. 

The hose to the turbo has come off.  As an experiment, he zip ties the hose back on and starts up the truck.  It runs!  We call and cancel the tow truck and look for an auto parts store to get some hose clamps to replace the zip ties.  There’s one about a mile away.  We head around the corner and right there is a Home Depot.  We pull in & Chris buys a couple of hose clamps and installs them in the parking lot.  Once back on the road, we call the GMC dealer in Grand Junction, where Dave had his last service, and get an appointment for the next Monday morning. Excellent! We have a reservation at the James M Robb Colorado River State Park Fruita Campground until Tuesday and it’s all down hill from here… This should work out just fine.

We get to Fruita late afternoon and have a nice spot with full hookups near the laundry room.  With a sick truck we don’t venture too far.  We take the time to empty out the truck, do some housekeeping & laundry.  Not all that fun. We talk about the things we missed on our last two trips to the area.  We have not gone wine tasting (SHOCKING!) and this is a premier Colorado wine region.

The Two River’s Winery is just down the road not too far. No steep hills to tax Dave.  They have a nice tasting room with free tastings.  We try all of their vintages.  Their Chardonnay is quite nice, buttery with a hint of oak and ready to drink now. Their Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are both bold and flavorful but a bit rough around the edges.  If we had a cellar these would definitely be stored for a bit.  The Vintner’s Blend (60% Syrah-40% Cab) is a good choice for immediate drinking with time to breathe and maybe the Vinotemp. Their ruby port has good body and flavor.  A big plus here is their prices that run from $12 - $16. (Excellent quality to cost ratio.)

Monday morning Dave goes into the shop.  That afternoon we get the call.  Dave’s turbo is blown and needs to be replaced.  Fortunately this is covered under warranty, they have the part in stock and the diesel mechanic can work Dave into his schedule, if we can leave him until the end of the week. One Problem: Our reservation is up tomorrow and the tag on our campsite tells us that it is reserved for the rest of the week.  We need to move Dimples, so the dealer sends a shuttle to pick us up to collect Dave.  We check in the visitor center and the park is 100% booked through the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. 

Fortunately the Monument RV Resort across the road can accommodate us.  So Monday night we get Dave and pack everything up so we’re ready to move bright and early the next morning.  We’re checked in and unhitched by 8:30AM; Chris gets Dave to the dealer before 9:00 and returns in a loaner car before 9:30.  The loaner is a cute little Chevy Cruz, it gets us around, but it’s no Dave.

The weather is sketchy with a series of heavy thunderstorms.  It’s a perfect excuse to catch a movie or two.  A Walk In The Woods has just been released.  We enjoy seeing the scenes that were filmed up at Amicolola last year.  It’s always interesting to see the finished product when you know what was going on behind the camera.  We also catch Ant Man – for mindless fantasy entertainment you can hardly go wrong with the Marvel franchise.
By the end of the week Dave has his new turbo. It’s Labor Day weekend and we know how difficult it is to find camping spots over holidays so we stay in Fruita until Tuesday.  This gives us a chance to test drive Dave a bit.  We also celebrate Chris birthday and the 5-year anniversary of the great traffic jam that changed our lives.

The chef at No Coast Sushi remembers us when we sit at the sushi bar.  After a brief rundown of our summer, we start with a bottle of Haiku Sake and proceed to order our favorite appetizer, the Shishito Peppers: deep fried, salted & tossed in a spicy sesame sauce with bonito flakes and a trio of exotic nontraditional rolls.  (Technically all of their rolls are non-traditional as they use black rice seasoned without dashi – so vegans can partake.) Our first roll: the daily special is one of our chef’s creations.  Smoked mackerel (the sustainable alternative to smoked eel) topped with slices of Palisade peaches. The peaches are a sweet counterpoint to the salty mackerel and would please mackerel fans… unfortunately no mackerel fans here. It’s not horrible but would definitely be better with eel. The Tai influenced, Coconut Curry Lobster Roll:  fried yam, lobster, Roma tomatoes and basil with a coconut curry sauce is a real treat for the taste buds.  BUT H.I.C. is probably one of the most delicious sushi rolls ever!  Smoked Oysters, soft shell crab, avocado and cream cheese with eel and dynamite sauce. Dinner is finished with an order of green tea ice cream (with a request for sliced lemon wedges) and a fresh house made peach sorbet.
No Coast Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

By Tuesday morning, Dave is running great, he’s all packed up and hooked to Dimples… time to hit the road..

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


A Drop from Rifle Falls
Dropping your IPad on the power connector while plugged in is bad, doing this when we’re 300 miles away from the nearest Apple Store is also not so good… but buying Apple Care Plus at the time of purchase guarantees a replacement (even if dropped) for a modest fee, not so bad.

We check the Colorado State Park reservation system and find a spot in Chatfield State Park, close to the Aspen Grove Apple Store in the Denver suburb of Littleton.  Working backwards, we book five days at Rifle Falls State Park and one night back in Ridgway. Then we call the Apple Store and set up an appointment to swap out the IPad.  (This is too much like work… argh!)

A nice pull through
along the creek
After an overnight in Ridgway, we arrive at Rifle Falls State Park.  This is a tiny 13-space campground and is very popular.  When we check in, the campground host tells us that we only got our space because of a cancellation and we probably booked within the hour of cancellation.  WOO HOO Lucky us.

The campsites are along the main park road, so there’s some foot and vehicle traffic during the day but the nights are really quiet. The sites have water and electric. The closest dump station is down the road at Rifle Gap State Park.  It is an easy walk to the falls and hiking trails from our spot, so Dave gets to park it while we’re here.

One of these falls
is not like the others

Rifle Falls is one of the few triple falls in the country and the only one in Colorado but this is not a natural occurrence.   The original falls fell in a single, wide arch over the limestone cliffs.  In 1910 the town of Rifle built a hydroelectric plant, which changed the flow of Rifle Creek into three separate falls. One of which, flows out of a large metal pipe.  So the falls may not be natural; but they are nevertheless, stunningly beautiful, a rainforest oasis in the high desert.

Caves and alcoves dot the limestone cliffs around and behind the falls. There are hiking trails to the top of the falls, with a walkway along the cliff edge over the falls.  A loop off this trail winds across a meadow with artificial fishponds that are stocked and open to fishing. These ponds are part of the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery.

Trout ready to be planted
There is a trail from the bottom of the falls to the fish hatchery.  We hike to the hatchery from the ponds and return on the Hatchery Trail.  When we get there the hatchery office is locked, so we just walk around and check out all of the trout in the tanks. And read the displays about how the fish are planted: pumped out of trucks, dumped out of planes and back-packed into inaccessible lakes and streams.

View from the Ledge
Behind Rifle Falls
After five days in this park, we’ve pretty much seen it all and hiked every trail. (Some more than once.) Now it’s off to Littleton.  Chatfield State Park is on a high grassy plateau.  Besides being just outside of Denver, the park boasts a 1,450 surface acre lake for fishing and water sports, 26 miles of trails, picnic areas, a balloon & remote control model plane area and horse back riding. The RV campground has full hookups and free WIFI. (No wonder we could only find one spot for a couple of days this time of year!)

We take care of business at the Apple store – New IPad for Chris .  We also visit the nearby Camping World and pick up a few supplies.  Now it’s back to Fruita and start thinking about heading southwest.