Welcome to Bedrock
Our stay in Utah was unbelievable. It is the land of rocks and rivers. Climbers, bikers, hikers, boaters, runners, geologists and all rock lovers will find nirvana in Moab. Every single bend in the road brought another "Oh wow" moment from both of us. And the dogs had a blast! We went to Arches National Park which was completely amazing. The national parks system in this country is worth every tax dollar that goes into them. They are wonderlands and that's an understatement. Picassa has made it a real chore to upload photos, especially if I'm not in a great spot for an internet signal (which I'm not at the moment) but I will get some sort of a web album up for those people who don't do Facebook. If you do Facebook be sure to check my albums for all of the photos. I was in photo heaven!
In Hidden Canyon
We also took a short hike up Hidden Canyon in Moab. It is a box canyon with a small creek running through it. No one was up there so we turned the dogs loose and they had an absolute ball. Ransom would disappear to the right or left of the trail and then reappear way up the trail ahead of us. It was warm out, in the 80s so Breezy, who loves water, went for a swim to cool off. Ransom, who hates water, waited until he was near overheating before he made the plunge. I was on the trail by the creek and heard a huge kersplash! I looked over and there were ripples in the water and then he came barreling out of the bushes soaked to the ends of his ears. The only time I've seen him happier was the first time we turned him loose down at the Oregon coast two years ago. He has has such fun on this trip because he FINALLY learned to come when we call ... most of the time. He disappeared this morning (we are at Arcuri's farm in Springfield now) and John asked me if I'd seen him. I said, "He's in the back pasture eating horse shit, I'm sure." There were some people here working on the annual laundry list of repairs on the coach, and one of the guys cracked up. It turns out he was across the driveway sunning himself. But he's usually eating horse shit.
In Hidden Canyon
We ate out one night in Moab at the greatest little restaurant! It's called Desert Bistro and the food is wonderful! It was a second to the Santacafe in Santa Fe, but delicious none the less. I told John that after this trip we could write a dining guide to the west. Desert Bistro is situated in an old ranch house with a view of the river portal. The menu is gourmet southwestern cuisine and they did everything right, from great wine, local fresh ingredients and a delightful waitstaff.
View from Dead Horse Point State Park
On our last day there we drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park. We decided to hike the circular trail, which is about six miles. The state parks allow dogs on leashes so we took the kids with us. On the map the trail looked well marked with spectacular views. Being as neither of us has been able to find our ass with both hands this trip, I was a little concerned about navigating by map. For some reason we both seem to have lost our map reading skills simultaneously. But we set off on foot, oooing and ahhhing over the views. They were spectacular. It was very open and desert like up on the rim and when we started we were on a paved path. Impossible to get lost, right? Wrong. They rarely get rain in the summer up in Moab but when we went to dinner the night before I noticed some weather up in the state park area (about 30 miles from Moab). Sure enough, it rained and it washed out some of the cairns, which are small stacks of stones that mark the trails. Once we got off of the paved path we started watching for the little stone stacks but about a mile into our hike they disappeared. We ended up wandering through the desert (I'm making this dramatic but really the paved road was a stone's throw away from where we were) where I managed to get stung by a small, innocent looking little cactus. The little bugger went right through my shoe! I howled and jumped around while Breezy, Ransom and John looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I peeled off my shoe and sock and pulled the little stinger out and then we trekked on. We finally found the rim trail again and probably only went a half mile out of our way (through the desert). We found a shady spot and watered the dogs and ourselves and then hit the trail again. We walked about two miles and came on the Visitor's Center where we were able to use the bathroom and attempt to find the trail again. Funny. We wandered around the parking lot for five minutes looking for it and finally John went into the Visitor's Center and asked. Finally we were on our way again. And it was getting hot. We had three more miles to go, which we turned into four by getting lost in the desert again. By the time we got back to the car it was 90 degrees and we were all beat. We ate in that night and got up the next day to begin our trip to the Redwood Forest in Northern California.
We took off on Highway 50 through Nevada. It's known as the loneliest highway in America. And it is. There are three or four tiny towns out there and a lot of mountain passes but not much else. Thankfully we had a full tank of fuel. We stopped in Ely, Nevada for the night. I expected this tiny town to be in the middle of the desert with nothing but a gas station and a bar. We had a reservation at the KOA which was right on Highway 50, which was no problem because it is after all, the loneliest highway in America. We found a pretty little valley with a nice KOA to park Mary.
Ely, Nevada from the KOA
The people at the KOA gave us some information about what was in town, including restaurants. John looked and said, "There's a Basque restaurant in town. Let's go!" Okay. We got Genius and put it in the car and headed to town. Now keep in mind that this town is bigger than I thought it was but was still just Highway 50 with one cross road. We followed Genius's instructions and ended up at a Chinese restaurant. We drove around and came back to the Chinese restaurant again. Then we did it again. As we were driving around in circles we noticed a Mexican restaurant on the main drag. After the third pass by the Chinese place we were in hysterics, and decided to have Mexican. It was great! We had margaritas that were kick ass (literally) and a wonderful meal. Score another great restaurant experience. It's called La Fiesta, if you ever happen to be in Ely :)
The next morning we drove the rest of the way through Nevada and on in to Placerville, California, which is on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Being from the west I have a healthy respect for the Sierras. People always think of the Rockies as being the tough mountain range but consider what happened on Donner Pass in the Sierras. They are beautiful but can be treacherous at times. So my advice was to take the split before we got to Carson City and head over Donner Pass on Interstate 80. We could buy Nevada fuel before we got into Califor$$$$nia and travel on a four lane highway instead of Highway 50 over the pass by South Lake Tahoe. The problem was, we got lost and ended up staying on Highway 50. When it came time to take a cut off to Interstate 80 John opted out. I think he was thinking that at least we knew that Highway 50 went all the way to Placerville and if we took a cut off God knows where we might end up, given our track record for the trip. So we ended up going through every little town along Highway 50 and around to South Lake Tahoe (spectacular spot) where we got really lost. Genius was telling us to take a shortcut. I couldn't tell from the map (those skills went into the toilet between the last time we traveled and now) if it was lying to us or not so we took the turn and ended up in a residential neighborhood where they had closed the road. Thankfully John can drive Mary through the eye of a needle now, not that he likes doing it. On the contrary. It was a bad day at black rock for him. Once we got out of the neighborhood (sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh ... you have to be f*cking kidding me's, and all) we got on the road that Genius wanted us on and immediately stopped due to road construction. They were repaving this road. It took us a half hour to go seven miles. Finally we got on the right road, which we discovered was the same road we turned off of to take the blasted shortcut. Then we had to stop at the agricultural station on the border. For the first time we were boarded by an agent to check for fruit. FRUIT. Not drugs, bombs or illegal aliens. FRUIT. Really, FRUIT. Anyway, the woman was pleasant and when John complained about the road she said, "You took that road?" and shook her head. We have had that happen a lot on this trip. They say, "You came in on (fill in the blank) road?" and shake their heads. We are going to have an official ceremony when we drop Genius into a toilet and drown it. I'll take pictures.
So the next part of our adventure entailed getting over the pass. That involved hugging the side of a narrow road with a sheer drop off on John's side of the road that was so far down that I got nauseous when I looked over the edge. So I didn't look again. It was a slow, twisting, winding, grind up the eastern side of the Sierras and a slow, twisting, winding, grind down the other side into Placerville. The KOA in Placerville is run by an idiot and it sits on Highway 50 where it sounds like the cars, which go (fast) 24/7 are driving right through the coach. It was a scotch night.
I'm going to stop here and do another post on our trip to the Redwoods (wild), our time there (wonderful) and the crown jewel of our sightseeing trip, Crater Lake.
Book update: Silent Partner is available on Amazon.com now. I've been struggling with the Kindle upload and finally turned it all over to someone who had a clue what to do. When he finishes I will have files that I can upload and that you will be able to actually read on all of the electronic readers. If you want to order the book click here. You can get updates on the Silent Partner webpage at silentpartneronline.com and the on the Facebook page.
If you read it or have read it and like it please post a review on Amazon.com. Click here to go to the Silent Partner page and scroll down to the bottom where it says "Create your own review". It's a simple process after that.
Thanks and happy reading!