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Sunrise at Tombstone, AZ

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah

Thursday, October 26th

We left Sand Hollow SP by 9:30 am after dumping and taking on fresh water. It's a two hour drive on Hwy 89A to Kanab and then up to the road into Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP. So pretty looking at the back side of Zion National Park on the way. We managed to snag the only campsite available for our length but only for the one night as they were full for the weekend. Driving through this small park was quite tight for the coach and car but Ray as usual, drove it beautifully and managed to miss every tree and rock to not scratch the coach.

This is one big Juniper!
Once we set up and ate some lunch, we took a short drive to view the dunes so Ray could plan where to go back at sunset for the best pictures. The dunes are a much lighter colour than Sand Hollow and much taller. Walking in the very fine, deep sand provided quite a work out so we did not do very much of that. Several people coming back from hiking on the dunes and they looked pretty tired and were huffing and puffing climbing up the last hill to the parking lot. They were much younger than us too. There are quite a few boondocking sites for OHV's along the road from Hwy 89 into the park for people to access the dunes. With not a lot of time available, we just took a campsite instead.

Kids sliding down the dunes after walking (what looked like) a mile to them.

Staging area across from the day use area. The campsite is among the treees.

Viewing platform for the dunes.

View of the Park entrance office from viewing platform.
Freya had a blast at this campsite as she loves playing in the sand and this particular campsite had a huge "yard" as it was a double site. We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine.

As we were only staying one night I utilized the Habachi and used charcoal to cook our hamburgers instead of dragging out our BBQ. Yummm.

While I was preparing dinner, Ray went out to take his sunset pictures.

Venture onto a shifting sea of red sand. Changed by winds, these mountains and hills of sand can move as much as 50 feet per year. With areas for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and those with non-motorized pursuits, the dunes offer adventures for all. The geology of the sand dunes is an intriguing subject. The sand comes from Navajo sandstone from the geologic period call Middle Jurassic. The same iron oxides and minerals that give us spectacular red rock country are responsible for this landscape of coral pink sand.

Sand dunes are created by three factors: Sand, high winds, and a unique influence upon the wind. The notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains causes this unique influence. The wind is funneled through the notch, thereby increasing wind velocity to a point where it can carry sand grains from the eroding Navajo sandstone.

This phenomenon is known as the Venturi Affect. Once the wind passes through the notch and into the open valley, the wind velocity decreases, causing the sand to be deposited.These dunes are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 years old.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes support a diverse population of insects, including the Coral Pink tiger beetle that is found only here. Melting snow sometimes creates small ponds in the dunes that support amphibians such as salamanders and toads.

You can definitely see the "coral/pink" colour with the setting sun.

See the blowing sand?

Another lovely day. The only "ding" for us at this campsite is that you cannot start your generator until 9 am in the morning. but you can run it until 10 pm at night. As we are early risers and usually out the door by 9 am to tour or move on this did not work very well for us. When we added our solar system and battery bank we no longer are able to charge our batteries via the engine on the coach while travelling so we either hope the solar charges it up enough while driving or we need to run the generator while driving. Not really a big deal but I usually top up the batteries with the generator between 7 and 8:30 am so we are good for the day.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah

Saturday, October 21

Slow start this morning, finished the last of the laundry and did a good clean of the bathrooms in preparation for another 2 weeks of dry camping. Left the RV Park the latest yet, 11 am. We only had to drive 1/2 hour to our next destination, Quails Creek State Park.

Ray and I arrived, got our site pass and unhooked the car. I drove ahead to scope out the site that we had reserved.  Oh oh! Although the driveway is long, it is way too veed for us to get into. Ray tried a couple of times but was bottoming out, so now what. I drove back to the entrance while Ray pulled into a parking lot, and the lady told me that there were no other options for us. She did call over to Sand Hollow State Park, about a 15 minutes drive away, and they agreed to save us one of their few walk-up sites in the OHV area as we had paid the reservation fee already. Quail SP refunded us 3 of the 4 days we had paid for and said that Sand Hollow may give us today free and then we would pay them for the 3 days extra.

I hurried over in the car and left Ray to follow at a slower pace. As it turned out they gave us their last walk-up site, but I still had to pay the $18 for today. (I only paid for 1 day to make sure Ray was okay with this) So our spot cost $23 plus $18 .... not too happy. Ray will go see the supervisor tomorrow when he pays for the extra days and see about getting one free. (They did give us the full refund for Quail SP)

As we were served "lemons" today, this campsite we ended up turning them into "lemonade" with fabulous,views and much better site than at Quail Creek anyway. We are close to the garbage, water spigots and bathrooms which have hot showers if you need them. The site is gravel with sandy dunes all around. Lots of space for Freya and she love loves the sand.

I'd originally intended to go into town shopping, but with the screw-up over the campsites I just wanted to sit outside and enjoy the day. The only down-side to this spot is it's really noisy during the weekend with the OHV's. Fortunately, we seem to be out of the "dust zone" for the most part. There is also primitive camping for $15 instead of $18 down at the beach, but the traffic there is much worse and very dusty. We drove down to check the areas out and noticed a lot more bugs, and the soft wet sand was kinda smelly ... note keep Freya out of it. This area is at the end of the lake with lots of reeds etc and birds so it could be bird poop in the sand that smells???

We had a lovely campfire before dinner so I could cook our potatoes.  We then ate our pork roast and veggies outside at the picnic table enjoying the evening. Generator hours here are from 6am to 10pm and you cannot hear anyone's genie over the OHV noise anyways. Quiet time is at 10 pm although I still heard some OHV's barrelling around up until 11 pm. Overnight it was quiet though, which was great for sleeping. Ray needed to have a "quiet day" as his back is still quite sore from our touring in Zion National Park.

Sunday, October 22nd

Up by 6 am as usual. Ray's back is still giving him grief so instead of touring today, off to bed for him to watch Sunday football. I will go into town and do our shopping for several hours. They have a Costco here !!! yeah. Back home after getting the shopping and a hair cut by 2 pm. We spent the rest of the day sitting outside enjoying the view. Ray did snap a few pictures while I was gone.

The dunes behind our campsite.

View towards Zion National Park

The beach on the other side of the road from the campsite.
While we were sitting outside there was a comotion behind us ... a motorhome pulling a ATV trailer turned where he should not have and ended up with his back end in a deep ditch. After several hours of monkeying around with friends to get him out ... they finally took my suggestion they call road side assistance sooner than later as it was a Sunday afternoon. The tow truck came and he was out in minutes.

Notice his back end is touching the road.
 Monday, October 23rd

Ray went to town to pick up fluids for the coach and car and I spent the morning making bread and doing the dishes. Once he came back the wind came up so we decided to stay inside with the windows open on the leeward side for air ... mistake ... The wind kept ramping up all afternoon into the night, stronger and stronger, the satellite dish came down by 6 pm.  Had to close the windows, later in the evening on the leeward side due to the sand blowing into my house. It was hot inside all night around 75F with just the roof vents open for some air. Way too hot for me to sleep well even though I was using ice packs on my face. The wind did not quit until around 4 am.

Tuesday, October 24th

Managed to fall back asleep when Ray got up at 6 am until 7 am with my window open. It was finally cooling down in the coach. Last night was the first night I did not have to turn on the heat overnight and instead cooked. What a change. Once the wind died down the temps outside came down to around 60F. By 8 am the sand was blowing again. Ray and I decided to go for a drive and explore instead as there was no point just sitting inside with the sand blowing again. I need to get the vacuum out but will wait until tomorrow when the forecast is for minimal wind. Hate to vacumm twice. lol

We drove out to check the Red Cliff Recreation area. OMG the single lane tunnels you have to go through under highway I-15 were quite small. No way anything other than a small trailer would be able to access the camping area. A gorgeous place none-the-less.

First up was the "Orson House". It certainly explained why there was a settlement in the middle of nowhere.

Orson House

Other town remains.

View from the Silver Reef Trailhead.

One of the small campsites.
The next area we checked out was Snow Canyon State Park. They have limited camping options for larger rigs but if you reserve well in advance you could snag a site for a few days. The place reminds me of Valley of Fire State Park with all of the gorgeous rocks. We will put this on our list for another time as Ray said it would take him 2 days to get all of the pictures he would like. The area has lots of red rock cliffs with lava rock interspersed, limestone mountains and orange sand dunes. Very interesting.  We only checked the campsite and thus no pictures... but here's some from Google to get the idea.

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Picture from Google
moqui marbles in snow canyon state park, Utah
Thousands of moqui marbles, concretions of iron oxide minerals, accumulate in small troughs eroded into the Navajo Sandstone, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon State Park also offers visitors a 35-unit campground, modern rest rooms, hot showers, electric hookups, sewage disposal station and covered pavilion. Snow Canyon attracts many rock climbers and other adventure seekers to its towering cliffs. Also found in Snow Canyon are lava caves which attract hikers from around the park. The caves are located in a field of lava and are open to those who desire to explore their passages and cavernous rooms. Ancient Indian petroglyphs can also be found throughout the park.

As you can see we definitely want to spend some time there instead of just a quick trip like we took today.

By 3 pm the wind has finally died down to just a breeze so much more comfortable and I can open all of the windows again. Temps today should be around 80F. Tonight Pork Belly in my Instant Pot, Yumm. We are staying for one more day and then will move on and hopefully catch up with Steve and Dianne within the next couple of days. Ray and I drove to the beach to give Freya a chance to get her belly wet and Ray snapped these pictures. The sand has been blown into waves of sand again, erasing all of the foot and most vehicle traffic from the weekend.

Tonight I made Asian Pork Belly in my instant pot, served over rice and stir fryed veggies. Ray said it was one of my best meals. Definitely worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 25th

Woke up to another sunny (and not windy) morning. Today my job list is to vacuum the entire coach to get rid of all of the red sand. Tomorrow we are on the road again.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Zion National Park - Taking the Shuttle Bus

Friday, October 20th 

After babying my foot for 2 days, this morning I'm able to walk, almost normally. Yeah! I did not have to miss going into Zion NP and was able to take the shuttlebus with Ray. We left, leaving Freya with the A/C on, by 8:15 to miss all of the traffic going into the park. They have about a 2 mile stretch of road dug up, so one lane only with traffic control. It seems to take forever to get through that stretch. Wasn't too bad at 8:30 am. Yesterday coming back we were stopped for 15 minutes before continuing.

We were able to park at the Museum for Ray to get some sunrise pictures of "Towers of the Virgin".  Also by parking there, we avoided a long walk to the car at the end of the trip. (By the afternoon the parked cars line the street right through Springfield). We carried on after that to the next stop, Canyon Junction but realized the sun was not up enough yet. We boarded the next shuttle and went instead to the end of the run, the Temple of Sinawava. It was a might chilly at first until the sun came up higher in the sky so we just walked faster. lol Glad we came early as every bus load after us was full. Ray and I spent only a few hours in the park (you could have spent hours and hours if you did all of the hikes) and only walked short distances on the trails. More than enough for my foot and too much for his back, but what can you do. It's short-term pain for a lot of great pictures.

Towers of the Virgin, behind the Museum - Stop #2 of the Shuttle System

Temple of Sinawava - Stop #9

This is the last stop on the shuttle bus run, where you would go to walk up The Narrows if so inclined. We noticed that lot's of people carried on with rented waders, boots and walking sticks. To go up the narrows you walk in the Virgin River itself. Water levels appeared to be up to a foot deep. Have fun people!.  Not for us.

The Narrows is the most popular hike in Zion National Park, and one of the world's best slot canyon hikes. It is pure fun and can be tailored to suite any ability level. The trail is basically the Virgin River. The canyon is so narrow, the river covers the bottom in many spots, which means you have to wade or swim to proceed. Plan on being wet. In fact, the cool water makes this hike particularly pleasant during the hot months of summer. The best way for first-time river hikers and those with only a short time in the park. Depending on water flow, this hike is easy to moderate in summer and ok for most kids 4 feet or taller. You can hike in as far you would like and turn back at any time. From the parking lot, it is usually only 2-3 hours into the section of Narrows known as Wall Street. Return hikers find it takes 2/3 the time to hike back as it did to hike in. Early Spring yields higher water due to snow melt. October and November visitors find less people in the river. Best light for photography is between 10 am and 3 pm, May-Sept. Average hikers travel 3-4 miles up canyon and then 3-4 miles back. Bottom-Up hikers are only permitted to hike as far north as Big Springs. Accessible almost all year. Starting point is the Temple of Sinawava.

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Picture from Google .... no thanks, we will pass on this!

Firstly, we turned left out of the parking lot, and viewed the river going downstream.  The sun was just starting to come into the canyon and the fall colours are spectacular. 

The "Picture Taker"
 There were quite a few mule deer along the trail. They seem to like the yellow flowers.

Looking towards the "Narrows" and the Temple of Sinawava.

Ray and I walked up the trail and stopped before it went into the canyon/Virgin River to get some pictures. A lovely paved walk with spectacular scenery.

Along the way we noticed "hanging gardens" along the cliff walls where water seepage is making pools and streams. There were even baby fish.

These mosses were dripping water.

We even saw water bubbling up in a puddle amongst tree roots.

Big Bend - Stop #8

The walk down to the river here was quite steep and a long way down so we passed on getting closer to the river.

Great White Throne
Weeping Rock - Stop #7

As we'd walked up the steep hill to the weeping rock and took pictures of the hanging garden last time we were here, 6 years ago we decided to give it a miss this time. Here is 2 great pictures Ray took from the last time.

Hanging Garden hundreds of feet up.

Weeping Rock

The Grotto - Stop #6

This stop is where you can take a trail to the Upper and Lower Emerald Pools and end up at Zion Lodge.  We took some pictures by the bridge that you cross to access the trails and went back to the road. Saw some of the hikers coming back from the trail ... they looked pretty tired.

Zion Lodge - Stop #5

While Ray wandered over to the river, I went into the cafe and ordered a hot dog ... starving! Apparently the views from here were not too picture worthy as we did not go onto the trails.

Court of the Patriarchs - Stop #4

I took this picture with my phone ... not too shabby.

Canyon Junction - Stop #3

 We did stop at this spot on the way up the canyon but the sun was not up enough yet, but Ray did try for a couple of shots anyways.

Good morning sunshine.
 The next two pictures were taken later on in the morning on our way back to the car.

Where's Ray ... setting up for the "best" picture?

Much better pic with the sunshine.

and then back to the Museum and the Towers of the Virgin - Stop #2

Our lovely morning at an end. Back to the car. We lucked out on the way back, the traffic was moving through the road work section this time, instead of having to wait 15 minutes. Once home it was "toes up time" for Ray in bed, with extra pain meds and I hooked myself up to my Dr. Ho to help with my feet. Tomorrow, our next destination is only 1/2 hour away so Ray will have another easy day to recoup while I restock the larder. Costco and Walmart less than 15 minutes away from campsite. lol

We had a fabulous time here.