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Showing posts from April, 2012

Apr 30 - The Biggest Hole in the World

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At times it seems that we've got a fascination with holes in the ground. The Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon, Hells Canyon, and, more recently, The Goosenecks are just a few of the larger ones we've visited. The common thing about all of them has been that they were created by nature. Mankind is a distant second to nature in the ability to excavate (erode) earthen material and move it from one place to another.

But when we're camped so close to a notable example of man's work in this category, intrepid explorers really should make an attempt to see for themselves just what people can do. Well, mankind's premier work, in this regard, is the Bingham Canyon Mine... about a 30 minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City. The statistics are staggering by themselves... a hole 3/4 of a mile deep, 2-1/2 miles wide. But when you actually see the place it's hard to comprehend... the scale of the it makes comparisons futile. This is the largest man-made excavation in the h…

Apr 30 - Temple Square in Salt Lake City

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"Well, at noon there's an organ recital in the Tabernacle... you know... the Tabernacle... the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir"

"Oh, that Tabernacle"

"Yes, it's the 12th largest pipe organ in the world... almost 12,000 individual pipes. They like to show off the organ's range and power at these recitals... it's really quite impressive... and you really should go."
So, on the advice of the knowledgeable one at the visitor center, when we finished our State Capitol exploration we slid down the hill a few blocks, and found a street parking spot on South Temple Street. It's easy to know that you've homed in on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City as the street that runs along the south side of the Square is named "South Temple"... the street that runs along the north side is "North Temple"... and the street that runs along the west side is (all together now...) "West Temple".  Unfortunately, the s…

The Utah State Capitol

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It's easy to find Utah's State Capitol. Perched high on a foothill on the north side of downtown, it's visible from all over Salt Lake City and the surrounding valley. Our approach was from the West, on a narrow neighborhood street that was so steep our Ford Focus Toad was straining in first gear to make the hill. Coming from the South, from downtown, the approach is less steep but still significant. Once atop the hill we found a stately building that fits right in with the Capitols of many other states. Columns, broad stairs leading to the "front doors" on the second floor, a large dome... it looks like a Capitol. This will be the 22nd of these grand buildings we've explored.

Some other states have filled their Capitol grounds with trees... in some cases, so many and so mature, it's hard to see the building (Nevada comes to mind.). But not Utah. The building stands alone, without trees, on the acreage that contains it. The open feel of the setting is ap…

Apr 30 - A Big SLC Exploring Day

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Explored: The Utah State Capitol; Mormon Temple Square; Bingham MineToad Miles Today:  77Total Toad Miles Spring12:  906Tonight's camp: Pony Express RV "Resort"  elevation: 4,200Weather: morning low 46f  afternoon high 74f;  more clouds than sun todayNotables: 1. The Utah State Capitol Building is awesome... right up there among the best.  2. For the second "awesome" of the day... the Mormon Tabernacle Pipe Organ.  3. Visited the largest man-made excavation ever... the Bingham Canyon Open Pit Mine.  Three "awesomes" in one day.  May have to take a Valium tonight to settle myself down.Link to photos from today... 3 different albums:State Capitol photos.... Temple Square photos....   Bingham Canyon Mine photos =====

It was a big, full day of exploring. And, once again, there's much more to write about than I have time or energy to do tonight. Over the next day or two or three, I'll get them uploaded.  Oh, and Dar's got a big problem with pho…

Apr 29 - A Sunday Drive to SLC

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Move from Yuba Lake St. Park to North Salt Lake CityRoute: UT-28 to I-15 (Nephi) to I-215Miles Today: 117Total Spring12 bus-house miles : 1,763Total Spring12 toad miles :  829Tonight's camp: Pony Express RV Park in North Salt Lake, UT.  elevation 4,200Weather: morning low 34f, high 60f,  a sunny bright day.Notables:  An enjoyable drive followed by a relaxed afternoon.Link to photo album for today. =====

We're packed into the Pony Express RV "Resort" (I guess a gate, a pool, a playground, and a horseshoe pit qualifies as a "resort" to some people?) in the community of North Salt Lake, UT... just a little north of downtown Salt Lake City. We chose this place strictly for location... and some reports that it's a relatively neat and clean RV park. Not wanting to blow the budget, I opted for a second level site ($35 after discounts and taxes per night... ouch!) which is smaller... shorter and closer to neighbors than the premium sites. We'll make it work…

Apr 28 - A Stay At Home Pair

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Tonight's camp: Yuba State Park, Painted Rocks Campground near Gunnison, UT    elevation: 5050No traveling or exploring todayWeather: morning low 30f (brrr);  high 57f; sunny calm morning; sunny breezy afternoon Notables: Just soaking in the view from our camp. =====

We're truly enjoying our day at this Utah State Park Campground. Did very little today... a couple walks around the grounds to get the blood flowing... Dar's working on some family tree research... I'm readin' and writin'.  The cooler temps than what we've been used to, together with the brisk wind this afternoon limited our outdoor time. But the view out the windows tells us this was the right place to stop for a couple nights.

Tomorrow, we're heading for Salt Lake City. About a two hour drive, we ought to be settled early and should have a strong Verizon signal to update the Journal.

Hope you're all having a great weekend.

Sabbatical Journal Stats Curiosity

Just in the last 24 hours, the RV Sabbatical Journal has had the following pageview activity according to the statistics gathered by Blogger and Google...

9 from Russia
7 from the Philippines
5 from Malaysia
3 from Latvia
3 from Slovenia
2 from Israel

Would any of you from those countries be so kind as to send an email to me, using the link provided on my site??  I'd love to hear from you... to find out who you are and why you stop by this website.

I'm just curious.

Thanks.
Thom

Apr 27 - Out of Moab

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Move from Moab, UT to Sevier Bridge ReservoirRoute: US-163/191 to I-70W to US-89 (Salina) to UT-28 (Gunnison)Fueled (diesel) at $4.159Miles Today: 194Total Spring12 bus-house miles : 1,646Total Spring12 toad miles :  829Tonight's camp:  Yuba State Park, Painted Rocks Campground near Gunnison, UT    elevation: 5050Weather: morning low 54, high 59, brisk north wind, mostly sunnyNotables: 1. Finding a great campsite, on a hill, with a view of snow-capped mountains and a lake.  2. The scenic drive.  3. Dar drove much of the way... so I could take a nap.Link to photo album for today =====

Woke to a dense cloud cover early this morning. But as I enjoyed my first cup of coffee and read the news, a stiff northerly breeze blew the clouds... somewhere to the south... which was just fine because that's the direction we're NOT going. After a light breakfast including hard boiled eggs, we had the bus-house ready to roll, toad attached, by 8:30am.

The destination today remained unknown …

Apr 26 - Well, That Didn't Happen

Tonight's camp: Portal RV Park near Moab; elevation 3900 feetNo traveling or exploring todayWeather: morning low  62f;   high 82f;  morning partly sunny, afternoon mostly cloudy with a good old thunderstorm about 3pm.Notables: Enjoyed watching the thunderstorm as it approached and passed through.No photos for Today =====

We originally planned to move today, to push a little closer to the Salt Lake City area. But that didn't happen. The weather service was forecasting a chance of rain for a few days in here... with the highest risk being, of course, today...the day we wanted to move. So we decided to go with the flow and extend one more day. I've said this before, (so pardon the repetition)... it's not that we fear driving in the rain or slick roads or anything like that, it's just that wet highways have a way of converting the Ford Focus toad into a grimy, gritty messy toad... with warts and more.. If we can easily avoid rainy days, we do it. There's no rush, s…

Apr 25 - More Arches (Day 2)

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Explored: Arches NP for a second dayToad Miles Today:  52Total Toad Miles Spring12:  829Tonight's camp:  Portal RV Park near Moab,    elevation: 3900Weather: morning low  60f   afternoon high  87f;  increasing cloudinessNotables: 1. The hike to Delicate Arch.  2. Fell into a Ranger-guided hike and learned a bunch about the Park.  3. Standing under any arch produces a wave of anxiety as you wonder what could possibly be holding those loose-looking chunks of rock up there.Link to photo album for today. =====

Arches is a big enough Park that even for a relatively quick "survey course" overview visit, it really takes two days. Our first day was Sunday and the crowds crimped our plans some when we couldn't find legal parking at the Delicate Arch trailhead. But knowing we'd be back for a second day, it involved only a minor re-shuffling of the plans.

Today's climb up into the Park from the front gate was a different kind of enjoyable than the first, as the camera…

Apr 24 - An All-Nighter

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Explored the backs of my eye lids this morningTonight's camp:  Portal RV Park near Moab, elevation: 3900Weather: morning low 54  afternoon high 92; warm sunny weather continues; a little more wind today.Notables: 1. Slept in this morning... it felt so good.  2. Getting caught-up on tasks is also a good satisfying feeling.  3. As warm as it's been, we're OK with being in an RV Park... with full hookups that make it possible to run our A/C without running the generator. =====

Today was one of those days that fulltime RVers must have once in a while... a day for chores, getting caught up on photos, writing, and emails, paying a bill or two, restocking the larder with supplies, and a little R&R... you get the idea. Even fulltime explorers can't explore full-time.

Dar says that by the time she hit's the hay she'll be caught up with uploading  photos into our online albums, right up through yesterday's trip into Canyonlands NP. Considering the hundreds of pho…

Apr 23 - Canyonlands National Park

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Explored Canyonlands National Park, Islands in the Sky unit.Toad Miles Today:  102Total Toad Miles Spring12:  777Tonight's camp: Portal RV Park near MoabWeather: morning low 46, afternoon high 92; (yes, a 46 degree spread); Sunny... Intense sun... SPF-99 and a big dumpy full-brimmed hat needed.Notables:  1. An awareness that the more we explore... the more there is to explore.  2. Canyonlands is very different than Arches... but no less stunning.  3. Getting our boots on the ground and walking, hiking, increases intimacy with our environment... by a lot.Link to photo album for today.  =====

The past few days we have run into a bunch of friendly and sociable people. Starting when we were down at Goosenecks State Park almost a week ago now, and continuing up here in Moab... almost everyplace we stop... trail head, pull-out, scenic overview, along the trail... we've had enjoyable chats with folks from all over the country.  Of course, when we run into someone from our home state…

Apr 22 - Arches National Park (Day 1)

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Explored Arches National Park... our first full day in the ParkToad Miles Today:  69Total Toad Miles Spring12:  675Tonight's camp:  Portal RV Park near MoabWeather: morning low 48,  afternoon high 91; no humidity, cool mornings, intense sun and heat in the afternoon.Notables:  1. a pleasant, intimate experience with Pine Tree Arch.  2. walking amongst the fins.   3. Being up-close and personal with the fragile Landscape Arch, the largest arch in Arches with a span of 306 feet.Link to photo album for today. =====

Having already done the Arches visitors center thing yesterday, we headed right into the Park this morning. As it was Sunday, and as it's another National Parks Week when the Parks Service waives entrance fees to all the National Parks, I suspect more people were in the Park today than usual. I have no reference for judging the crowd, except that as the morning wore on, finding a place to wedge the car into a parking spot at some stops became a challenge.

From the entr…

Apr 22 - Arches National Park (pooped edition)

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Today we explored Arches National Park. It was a full and long day for us... miles of hiking, intense sun, temps in the 90's, and some muscles used that maybe hadn't been used much lately. So I'm tired... and Dar's tired... and we're going to bed. The full journal post for this exploration will come along in a day or two or three... if I get around to it.  When it's done it will replace this weak excuse for a blog update. So, Please Stand By.

In the interum, this photo of Delicate Arch that I pulled from cyberspace might provide some idea of what we saw today.

Tomorrow, we're going into back-to-back exploring mode... this time down into Canyonlands National Park. It's a rough life... but somebody oughta' be doin' it.

Life is NOT good... it's great.

Good Night All.

Apr 21 - Up a Lazy River... with You

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Explored: The Colorado River, upstream from Moab. Also, the Visitor's Center for Arches NP.Toad Miles Today:  48Total Toad Miles Spring12:  606Tonight's camp:  Portal RV Park near Moab, UT.Weather: morning low 44, afternoon high 88, the sun is intense this time of year.Notables: 1. The red rocks of the Colorado River Gorge are stunning.  2. Did our orientation to Arches at the Visitor's Center this afternoon. Link to photo album for today =====

Our original thought when selecting this RV park from the many in and near Moab was to secure a place for the weekend (assuming the weekend would be busier than the rest of the week) that we knew (based on online reviews) would work for us for a couple days. We would then use that time to scope out a lower price alternative... maybe even something a little more rustic and more to our liking. That didn't work for two reasons.

First, the Moab area is busy from March to October... weekends, weekdays... it doesn't matter. RV pa…

Apr 20 - North to Moab

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Move from Goosenecks State Park to Moab, UT.Route: US-191 north direct into MoabMiles Today:  128Total Spring12 bus-house miles :  1452Total Spring12 toad miles :  558Tonight's camp: Portal RV Park in MoabWeather: morning low 55; afternoon high 85; clear skies, warmNotables:  1. A lot of elevation change today... a high of 7300 feet... a low of 3900 feet (here in Moab)  2. Found Moab a busy and touristy town.  3. Gorgeous rocks everywhere.Link to photo album for today. =====

Our last night at Goosenecks State Park had the bus-house really rockin'. The wind came up with a vengence about 9pm, rattling and shaking us to sleep. By dawn it was pretty much quiet again. I walked around just after sunrise to snap a few photos in the morning light.

We got rolling by 9:30. With good weather we made decent time on US-191... traffic was light until we neared Moab.  But there was no rush anyway and I'm really trying to slow down and live in the moment... and not get wrapped up in the &…

Apr 19 - Quiet Day at Goosenecks

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Tonight's camp: Goosenecks State Park in UtahNo traveling or exploring today; one short hike from campWeather: morning low 55;  afternoon high 79; light morning shower, clouds break to give us some clear afternoon sky; wind out of north Notables: 1. A Writer's marathon this morning... punched out 4 posts (including this one).  2. Still in awe at being camped next to a 1,000 foot dropoff into the Goosenecks of San Juan Canyon.  3. We hiked to the end of the Gooseneck bluff we're camped atop. Incredible views and some neat photos.Link to a few photos from today. =====

Hey a treat!  A short post tonight. Today was a day we had few objectives. First, to write and process photos from our last few days of exploring. And second, to just enjoy the place we're camped... to perhaps take a hike out to the end of the bluff we're camped on.

I'm happy to report we nearly, almost completely accomplished what little we set out to do. The hike was the highlight of the day... a…

Apr 18 - Four Corners to a Gooseneck

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Move from Cortez, CO to Goosenecks State Park in SE UtahRoute: US-160 to Four Corners to CO-41 which becomes UT162 to US-163 (Bluff) to UT-316 near Mexican HatMiles Today:  114Total Spring12 bus-house miles : 1324Total Spring12 toad miles :  520Tonight's camp: Goosenecks State Park (Utah). Free drycampingWeather: morning low 34, high 79 , half clouds, half sun, brisk southerly gusts.Notables: 1. Fulfilled a nearly 50 year "to-do" by stopping at the Four Corners Monument. It wasn't especially notable, except to say I've done it. No need to rush back anytime soon.  2. The scenery along the San Juan River and UT-162 raised the "lookey-wow" bar another notch.  3. The Goosenecks along the San Juan River, where we're camped, is simply stunning.Link to photo album for today. =====
Like so much of our existence... it's all about theory and reality.

In theory, the Four Corners Monument is placed exactly at the point where the four states meet. And after…

Apr 17 - Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

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Explored two Pueblos (villages) in Canyons of the Ancients National MonumentToad Miles Today: 70Total Toad Miles Spring12:  520 Tonight's camp: Sundance RV Park in CortezWeather: morning low: 33  afternoon high: 78, mostly sunny and warmNotables: 1. I don't get the same feeling exploring ruins that have been extensively reconstructed for tourists that I get from the original, undisturbed article.  2. Like folks in all cultures, most of us are just trying to get through the day while striving for as much happiness as we can find. 3. A picnic lunch on a flat rock at Lowry Pueblo, listening to nature and pondering this native culture.Link to photo album for today. =====

West of Cortez is a large area of public land known as Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Established in 2000 by Presidential Proclamation, the Monument exists to preserve more than 6,000 archeological sites of the early Puebloan culture.

At about the same time as the Mesa Verde cliff dwellers, there were…

Apr 16 - Mesa Verde National Park

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Explored Mesa Verde National ParkToad Miles Today: 70Total Toad Miles Spring12:  450Tonight's camp:  Sundance RV Park, Cortez, COWeather: morning low 31  afternoon high 60; Mostly sunny and cooler... especially at the higher elevation of the ParkNotables: 1. Impressed by the building expertise, the creativity, and the advanced nature of this early Puebloan culture that blossomed almost a thousand years ago.      2. Wondering and pondering about the ways of the Ancients as reported by their current descendants... the lack of the concept of ownership... living in the "now" but wrapped in their verbal history, with minimal thought or concern about the future.   3. It all reminds me that while we may think we have the answers to life's most important questions... we probably don't.Link to photo album for today.
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So much has been written about the Ancient Puebloans (also referred to as Anasazi) that I won't attempt another version. Instead, let me try to tou…

Apr 15 - Anasazi Heritage Center

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Explored the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores, COToad Miles Today: 24Total Toad Miles Spring12:  380Tonight's camp: Sundance RV Park in Cortez, CO.Weather: morning low 33;  afternoon high 54; morning clouds and showers gave way to more sun in afternoon.Notables: 1. Studied Ancient Puebloan Civilization at the Anasazi Heritage Center this afternoon. 2. After two pretty dreary days, seeing the sun again.Link to photo album for today =====

After a slow Sunday morning and a few more rain/snow showers, things started to dry out about noon. There were still a couple showers visible off in the distance, looking like misty waterfalls under dark clouds surrounded by a sun-lit landscape... but it wasn't enough to keep us confined to quarters any longer. Starting tomorrow, the rest of the weather week looks great.

Late morning we drove north about 12 miles to near the town of Delores, CO. where we found the Anasazi Heritage Center. Built as part of the McPhee Reservoir Project in the…

Apr 14 - Snowy Weather Delay

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Tonight's camp: Sundance RV Park in CortezNo traveling or exploring todayWeather: morning low 45; afternoon high 34 (that's right, 34); cloudy, snow showers Notables:  1. Snow;  2. Only left the bus-house once... to snap a photo or two of the snow; 3. Developed an allergy to snow.Link to today's photo album. =====

From the weather service for Cortez, CO:
Mostly cloudy with snow and rain, then snow after midnight. Low of 27F with a windchill as low as 19F. Winds from the WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Breezy. Chance of snow 70% with accumulations up to 1 in. possible. Today was a day of rest and hunkering down against a bit of unsettled weather. Dar has a ton of photos to process and I'm behind on my journal updates. So all the elements came together nicely to provide us this day of working inside the camper and not feeling guilty at all about not being out exploring.

I woke this morning to an itching nose and a building sense that this was going to be one of "those" d…

Apr 13 - Mesas, Buttes, and Bad Roads

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Move from Santa Fe, NM. to Cortez, CO.Route: I-25S to US-550N to US-64 (Bloomfield) to US-491 (Shiprock)Fueled (diesel) at 4.019 (a real bargain for the area)Miles Today: 271Total Spring12 bus-house miles : 1,210Total Spring12 toad miles : 356Tonight's camp: Sundance RV ParkWeather: morning low 34, high 58, mostly sunny day, brisk SW windNotables: 1. Spectacular colorful mesa landscape along US-550; 2. Saw nothing appealing in the Bloomfield to Farmington corridor along US-64; road was horrible too. 3. First time in Colorado with the bus-house since we started the Sabbatical.Link to photo album from today. =====

The weather forecast for the weekend didn't look good for our intrepid explorers, and we had to decide whether to ride out a day or two of rough conditions down in Santa Fe, or up in Cortez, CO., our next planned stop. A short window of calmer conditions seemed to exist on Friday and, if we were up to the task, we could make the drive into Colorado, wait out the Saturd…