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Paria River Valley, Utah

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park - Day 1

Saturday, September 30th

Ray wanted to get some pictures of Bryce Canyon's Amphitheater at first light. We were out the door with coffee in hand at 6:15 am driving through the park in the dark. Wahoo ... missed the entrance  to the viewpoint and had to turn around. That made the difference of being exactly where Ray wanted to be standing and about 4 feet that was not in the "right spot". Unbelievably, there was about 20 people all standing at Bryce Point at 6:30 in the morning.

Unfortunately the sun only made an appearance for about 1 minute as the skies were pretty cloudy. Oh well, Ray is going back tomorrow without me. lol I did find him an alternative spot though for the shot he wants to get if there are too many people again.

Here are some of the pre-sunrise pictures of the Amphitheater.

Bryce Amphitheatre pre-dawn. Still pretty awesome.

Here comes the sun!







All these sunrise shots happened in about 90 seconds then the sun went behind the clouds. After that we carried on to a couple of other view points to scout them out with the early morning light. Here are some pictures of Sunrise Point showing the trails down into the canyon.




Here's the horse trail to the bottom of the canyon.



Next up was the Fairyland Viewpoint


Forming Hoodoos
Sunrise at Fairyland Point

Sunrise at Fairyland Point

Sunrise at Fairyland Point
Ray and I stopped at the Visitor's Center on the way out as we didn't get the park info as the booth was closed when we came through early this morning. Then we saw this! Holy Cow!, now that is a solar panel! There are actually 2 of them but the second one is hidden in behind this one.

Think this would fit on the top of our motorhome?
Just before coming back to the campsite we toured Forest Service Road 090, which is right outside Bryce National Park's boundary that I had noted on Freecampsites.net. There are several spots that would fit our size.  This is where we may go for a couple of days when we leave here Monday morning if there is some more pictures Ray would like to take. Most of the campsites are within .4 miles from the turnoff and the road gets rough after that.  There is also another road a little closer to Ruby's Inn and Campsites, FSR 1173 that has a couple of spots too. Best part it is only 1/4 mile from Bryce Canyon National Park entrance.

We saw a herd of pronghorn antelope in the meadow down FSR 090.

Having a morning rest.


We were back home by 9:30 am to let Freya out for a walk. Once we had breakfast I took off into Panguitch, a 30 minute drive back to the turnoff at Highway 12. We need some groceries as we are going into smaller places for the next 2 weeks and nothing here in Bryce was worth the money. The grocery store there had something of everything, including fresh meat at good prices. They also have a limited selection of beer. Unfortunatey the liquor store was not open until noon, so I decided not to wait 1/2 an hour for it to open. On the way there, I stopped to get a picture of the "tunnels" we had to drive through with the motorhome to get to Bryce. 5 years ago, with our big fifth wheel we chickened out and stayed in Hatch.  They have a limit of 13'6". We did it with no problem ... I did not even duck!



Also fuel was much cheaper here! Bryce was $3.10 for diesel and $2.85 for gasoline. Here in Panguitch $2.61 for gas and $2.71 for diesel. They even had propane.


On the way back I took a quick drive through the National Forest Campsite, about 10 miles south of Bryce. Loop A has several sites that would fit our large size and the road around was okay although narrow. Not too bad for $18/night.

Back home it was time to change our bed and wash the bedding in preparation for the next 2 weeks of probably dry camping. After an hour or so enjoying the sunshine outside, Ray and I jumped back in the car and headed to the Fairyland Overlook. We had scouted it out earlier this morning and thought that afternoon shots would be better.

Here are some more shots of the Fairyland Overlook taken at about 3 pm. Just a really short drive as it is the first turn even before you get through the park gates.





Back home again ... by 4 and time for a "toes up" for Ray and I sat outside for awhile. Although the temps were hovering around 68F there was quite a cool wind so I came inside for the rest of the day. We did do a lot of walking today, especially this morning so time to relax for the evening.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Yuba Lake State Recreation Area to Bryce Canyon NP

Friday, September 29th

We had a much more leisurely morning, allowing time for coffee and breakfast before heading out to Bryce Canyon. A beautiful sunny morning awaited us as we left at about 9 am. Traffic was light all the way on I-15 to our cutoff, Hwy 20 over to Hwy 89. Here are a few of the pictures of Hwy 20. It did have some steep sections coming down but no problem for any size rig.

Pardon the streaky pictures ... yesterday Ray cleaned the windows from all the bugs at the truck stop but unfortunately the water made huge streaks on the window.

Going around this corner he could actually see the car in his side mirror which rarely happens, as we snaked our way down to the valley bottom.


Once off of Hwy 20 it was onto Hwy 89 towards Hatch and then onto Scenic Highway 12 to Bryce.

Yes, we are back in the land of the "red rocks". Although these were taken with Ray's camera .... they were taken by me through the front window!!! lol (not up to his usual standard!)




I 'd called 3 days ago to make a reservation at Ruby's Inn and Campground after I tried on-line to secure a campsite and everything was full ... did we ever luck out. I told them yes ,we have a friendy german shepherd, a 40 foot motorhome with a tow car and they gave us the best pull-through in the park, I believe. We have lots of space. Talk about lucky. I guess it pays to have a "Behemoth rig and car". We also have the "dog park" right across from us and a trail on the  hill on the other side of us so great for Freya. On her first walk she scared up a three point mule deer, good thing she calls off easily.  Looking down the road from us, they are packed in pretty good.

Side view, lots of space and across the road a trail for Freya.

Dog relief area ... there was a lot of deer poop in that spot too.

Looking out the front window! Yikes that is packed in.
 Yes we are very fortunate getting this spot even though it is pricier than we like. Speaking to the cashier, it has been very cold and cloudy this past week so we are also lucky that the weather has changed.  It's forecast for sun for a week with lower 30's for temps overnight (0-2C) and afternoons of 68 - 70F (18C). We need to be close to the area Ray wants to take pictures. He only has "so much gas in the tank" and if the time is spent just getting to the spot he has less time to mess with his photography. The days of camping 1/2 hr to 1 hour or more away of the attraction are gone.

Once set up we went for lunch at Ruby's Inn Cowboy's Buffet & Steak Room. They had a great buffet so we decided to partake at $14.95 per person. Well worth the money. Back to camp for Ray to have a "toes up" and I sat outside throwing the stick for Freya. A great travel day. Dinner tonight will be left over lasagna I made last night at Yuba Lake.

Tomorrow off to tour Bryce Canyon early. It says sunrise pictures are the best!







Yuba Lake State Recreation Area, Utah

What's with the constant sound of big trucks!  Unfortunately, the I-15 is a short distance from the campsite at Willard Bay State Park. Yup that was it .... up and at em. I wanted to get through Salt Lake City before the rush hour started. Of all the major cities we have travelled through for the past 5 years I hate this one the most!  Seattle is next on the list.

Anyways, we were ready to go within an hour and on the road at 6 am. The traffic still was unbelievable, but it was steady going at about 65 mph for the hour that it took to get to the other side of Salt Lake City. Good thing that we were not going north ... there were 3 accidents that had that side of the I-15 in gridlock at 6:30 am!!!!! Did I say how much I hate going through Salt Lake City! Last year we got stuck behind a major accident on the I-15S that completely closed the freeway and had everyone detour over to the Hwy 215 beltway. Took us 2 hours to get through a 30 minute drive. Needless to say, neither Ray or I were happy campers that day!

After making it through, we continued our drive to Nephi and stopped to take on fuel and fill our in-house large propane tank. Diesel was $2.85/gal at the Exxon so that is where we stopped. They also had propane at $2.89 per gallon. After fueling up we went to the other side of the freeway and had breakfast at Denny's at the Flying J. (Their fuel and propane price was $3.10/gal.) After all, we needed to fuel up too as we had been on the road for  over 2  hours with only 1 cup of coffee to sustain us. I was a hard task master this morning, but so worth it to get past that huge city.

Our destination today was for Yuba Lake State Park. The turn off is only 1/2 an hour further down the road from Denny's. Driving through the park 's full hook up sites we found the few sites left were so small or unlevel and for $30, NOT!  We decided to go retrace our path to the Yuba Lake State Recreation Area to the north which is a boondock area. Arrival time, just before 10 am. Took us a short while to set up and then we relaxed outside in the sunshine.  A good rest for Ray after the longer trip yesterday.

This area is an OHV area and for $20/night you have access to garbage and if you go down the road towards the State Park you also have access to the sani-dump and fresh water. The sand dunes and OHV area were closed at this time, probably because there are minimal staff around to police it. Only one park truck drove by ... once in the morning and once at dinner time. Our kind of place. We were the only people there with a great view. Freya had a blast, managing to scare up a few rabbits to chase. There was one other camper on the beach when we arrived, but they left an hour or so later. The lake level is real low at the reservoir, allowing for lots of "beach camping" space. The main access road parallels the paved road and there are many branches leading off to the beach.  There are pit toilets everywhere along the road.  It rained a little before we arrived and some of roads were packed sand mixed with surface mud. I did not want Freya tracking all of that in the coach so we went a little further and found a good hardpack gravel road and site.

Here is an "old" unit. I have never seen a Class C with a dual axle? It sure was noisy growling coming up from the beach.

PS:  No mosquitos!

Later in the afternoon a truck and fifth wheel showed up and went down to the beach to camp. Ray and I had quite a laugh as they had 2 small kids who were running around in circles, so much  so that I thought they had dogs until I checked with the binoculars! lol Then the process of "ejaculating" all of their stuff outside from every nook and cranny so they could actually get in the fifth wheel. It sure reminded me of our early years camping when Garrett and Kristi were small and all the parafanalia that you brought to keep them occupied.




After lunch Ray took Freya down with the car to the beach to play on the sand for awhile. I did not want him to walk that far as I knew he was pretty sore and it's uphill all the way back!

I took the picture on my phone from my chair.
Just after he left this truck looked like he was going to crash the gate and come into our campsite! I think he rammed his trailer into the bank across the road to get turned around.


When he got back it was time for him to have a "toes up" as he was still recovering from our longer drive yesterday. The clouds came in and it looked like rain, but it seemed to pass us by. I put on a batch of bread in the bread machine and if it smartens up again we might sit outside again.

After dinner we went for a walk and Ray took some sunset pictures. We'd love to stay another day but unfortunately we have reservations at Ruby's Inn and RV Park in Bryce for the next 3 days. (Had to call and reserve because online it said they were all booked up and I was afraid we would not get a spot!).  Funny, their website says save 30% booking online, which shows all sites reserved, but you get a spot by calling.... hmmm.

We're still having a few problems with our satellite TV, missing channels and Ray thought it might  be the wiring again.  After a call to ShawDirect after half an hour the techie finally asked where we were, oh oh!  Turns out a bunch of our HD channels do not work here as Shaw is migrating to a new satellite, which you can't access from down here . By 2020 all of the HD channels will be moved to the new satellite. I spent a half hour changing a whole bunch of my taping to non-HD channels with no time shift to be able to record. Bummer. 

Our campsite with lots of space. The rabbitbush is all in bloom.

Our View, bit of a deluge in the back.





Destination tomorrow ... Bryce Canyon

PPS: Just looked at the Weather Network and as of Friday/Saturday Yellowstone area, the snow ceiling will drop from 9000 feet to 5500 feet. At our last campsite we were at 6800 feet. We would have been in more snow!!!!! Made the right decision to get outta there!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Yellowstone to Willard Bay State Park Utah

Wednesday, September 27th

On the road by 8:45 am. We were both anxious to get a move on as we have a bit longer drive than we like to do today. Destination Willard Bay State Park, close to Ogden, Utah. When we left Baker's Hole Campground at West Yellowstone it was -4C, the coldest morning yet. When we arrived at Willard Bay it was 20C ... from long johns and scarves to shorts. Freya does not know whether to grow hair or shed!

We stopped only once after 2 hours to have a stretch and a bite to eat and then back onto the road again. Ray and I were in 3 states today!!! Montana, Idaho and Utah. Lots of farming, cows and horses. Here are a few pictures of our travels today. The first picture I took out of the motorhome window ... as close to the Grand Teton's I was going to get!



 Fall colours are showing up down here now.



Lots of snow on the top of the mountains from the storm that we missed a few days ago.


Getting close to the Utah border.
 We noticed that the roadsides in Idaho are pretty clean of garbage but not as good as Montana. Highways were in great shape though with a little road construction that did not slow us down very much.

Arrived at the park early afternoon and quickly set up. $30/night for full-hookup so I took advantage and did about 5 loads of laundry in the coach. It would cost me that at a laundromat anyways.

While I was setting up and getting the laundry going, there were some very large bangs quite near us. Ray went out to investigate as it almost sounded like gunshots. Freya certainly was not impressed. It turned out the parks guys were putting compressed gas into gopher holes and blowing them up. Who knew we were in "Caddy Shack"! Ray did not get a picture though as they were packing up.

While the washer was running we took a short drive to investigate the rest of the park. I am sure it is very busy here in the summer. Ray got some great pictures. He even went out at sunset for a few more shots just down the road from where we were parked.

Eagle Beach


Pelican Beach

Willard Bay Marina
We set ourselves up in the sunshine for an hour or so before heading inside as the mosquitos came out in droves.... there was a sign coming into the park that they spray mosquitos at night!


After dinner, Ray went out for a few more pictures ... stunning.






A longer but satisfying day. We thought about staying one more day to see the Bear River Migratory Bird Santuary about 30 minutes away for great shots of birds and fall colours but this mosquito thing is too much so we will carry on tomorrow to Yuba Lake State Park.