Sunday, September 27, 2015

Changes in Attitude

These little guys are squirrels indigenous to the southeast part of Utah.  Nothing to do with this blog subject, but they were cute.  Refused to pose - almost had to get them on the run.

I recently did a longer-than-usual trip toward Albuquerque, New Mexico for the balloon fiesta next week. Along the way, I was thinking about how my habits have changed when I'm towing my 5th wheel.

Instead of checking Gas Buddy for the most reasonably priced fuel in my area, I drive through the area trying to figure out which gas station would be the easiest in and out when I'm pulling my rig. With the truck alone - no problem. I must have passed half a dozen stations before I found one that was easy in and had a vacant lot attached where I could park and go in the store. I've found that it's best to start looking for a station before I hit the half-full mark, depending on how populated the area is - or how desolate it is.

Another thing I've noticed is that I drive at a speed that I'm comfortable with, depending on the road conditions, grades and traffic. Just because the speed limit is 80 does not mean that's what I'm going to do. I try never to get over 60 when I'm towing. If I'm going down a steep grade and the speed limit is 60, I don't feel comfortable doing that. If it's steep and long enough, I'll put the truck in a lower gear. You don't want to wear out your brakes or burn them up trying to stop on that kind of a grade, if you happen to need to.

I'm always aware that I could have a blowout, and that keeps my speed down. I always look at my tires before a trip and check their air frequently. I've never had a blowout, but I've always made sure I have good tires and take care of them. My truck gets anything she needs to make her happy. Of course, she's good at letting me know what she wants. I believe in preventive maintenance, unlike some people who say "if it isn't broken, don't fix it!"

I've had huge rigs pass me going way faster than I am -hope they feel safe. I'm always glad it's not me.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Code Talkers - World War II

It's surprising what you learn visiting National Parks and Monuments. I have no recollection of learning anything in school about the Navajo Code Talkers who played quite an important role in the second World War. If it was mentioned, maybe they just glossed over it. Possibly, I could have just missed the whole thing by not paying attention that day.

During the beginning of the war, a non-Navajo man who had grown up on the Navajo reservation, suggested to the military that they should use the Navajo language for code during the war. The demonstrations were so successful, they immediately started enlisting the Navajos.

This proved to be the most accurate, fast and secure communications in the Pacific. No one had ever broken the code, the only one in military history.  This resulted in communication that was reliable and kept the enemy from learning the U S (and allies) actions .

The Navajos who were recruited went to boot camp, then communications training. After that they went to learn the specifics of the Navajo Code.

There was a network of 400 Code Talkers by the end of the war, all Navajo, all Marines. Initially, they recruited 29 Navajos and developed over 200 terms and vocabulary to cover countries involved, equipment and other categories. When the war ended, the Navajo Code consisted of almost 800 words in their Code.

During the war, there were special trips to the reservation to recruit more Navajos because the code was working so well.

It is said that the World War II might have had a different outcome had it not been for these Code Talkers and their language that is so unique.

The photo above was taken in the Navajo Reservtion at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Since Moab is known for rocks, I had to visit the local rock shop. It's a really cool place with petrified wood (sometimes polished shiny), fossils and rocks both polished and not. Since mining goes with rocks, there was some old mining equipment in the front. Inside, they had relics from the mining days, old lanterns and tools.

This clear substance is more of a crystal than rock. Actually, lots of crystals and agates are prettier than some rocks.

This stone actually has little things growing in it, making it look like little branches of matter.

Below is a specimen of sandstone, one of my favorite rocks. It comes in many shades, all within one rock.

This is another great example of sandstone - this was a small piece, about 3 x 6", but gorgeous.  They call this picturestone. 

This is a great piece of semi-polished petrified wood.

This is a piece of rock that has a fossil of a fish in it.

As you can see, buying these special rocks can get expensive. So, all I did was look, and take some photos to share.

More rocks.....




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Return to Moab

After a visit to Capitol Reef National Park and a short stopover in a little town off Interstate 70, I came back to Moab to relax before heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet up with a few other solo women RVers and to see the Balloon Fiesta. That should be a fun get together and a colorful display of balloons rising slowly in the early morning.

Moab had been having a music festival here the past week, and I wanted to miss those crowds. Also, I knew there wouldn't be any reasonably priced place to stay during that time. So, after I knew it was all over, I drove down one overcast, drippy morning. My first choice for camping was the BLM camp I stayed at last time - Goose Island. When I drove up, it looked pretty well inhabited, so I was extremely happy to find a spot that backed up to the river and I'd have the huge rock wall across the river as my view.

I find it extremely interesting that these spots all seem to be pretty much level. Both of the ones I've been in were totally level, all the way around - and it's just gravel and sand. I've been in paved RV Parks where sites are so off level, you need to drive up on blocks just to feel comfortable inside. Nothing makes me more irritated than to pay sometimes over $30 for one night and have to do all that extra work to get it level. And some of the cheaper parks have very level sites - go figure. In contrast, most of the boondocking sites I've been at are almost perfectly level, or close enough. One more reason for boondocking!! RV Parks - pay attention!

Boondocking doesn't always mean free, although those are the best, but it always means no hookups.  On BLM land and in some of the National Forest land, there are fees if there are improvements such as dumpsters, fire rings, picnic tables, etc.  However, they usually are at minimal costs compared to commercial campgrounds.  Fees range anywhere from $5 to $20.

As I was sitting, staring at the rock wall yesterday evening, I took a couple shots of portions of the wall - small portions, considering the size of the entire wall. This area has an arch-shaped portion that has fallen down into the river.


Another shot shows a tiny alcove that plant life has been able to grow and receive enough rainwater to thrive.

At the top, it looks like there was a huge chunk that has fallen off, and other giant chunks that are cracked and may or may not fall off in the future.

The dark portions of rock is called desert varnish.  It's from the weather, rain, and deposits of iron and manganese.  It's usually where the pueblo people carved their petroglyphs. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Route 24 in Utah runs right through Capitol Reef National Park. Most of Route 24 from Interstate 70 is uninhabited and west of the town of Hanksville, it becomes a convoluted, twisted road that must be taken at lower speeds. However, the trip is worth the drive. The campground is spacious and paved, even though my site wasn't level - but don't expect any cell signal out here.

The scenery here is spectacular, with red rock walls that seem to be the norm in this area. There are some other formations I haven't seen before, such as the photo below. I think these formations look like they're melting, causing the piles of sand at the bottom of them. In a way, it probably is, since it's from the weathering of the rocks.

I took a hike one morning to reach a natural bridge.

On another day, I took a couple short hikes, one to an overlook of a gooseneck canyon with a small river at the bottom. It's 800 feet to the river down below.

On one of my hikes that day, there was a huge rock formation, and at the bottom there were a couple entrances to an abandoned mine that have been closed off. If you look between the bars, you'll see the universal warning sign for radiation. They were mining for uranium in the early 1900s. Back then, it was consumed as a "health tonic". In the end, very little was found here, very little profit was made and the mines were closed.

In another area, there was one of the many tall rock walls with petroglyphs carved into them.

More photos are below.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fruita, Utah - Capitol Reef National Park

Back in the 1880s, a few Mormon settlers moved into the canyon in the area that is now the campground and Visitor Center of the Capitol Reef National Park. They created a small settlement of about 10 families and farmed the land. There are still thousands of fruit trees in this area, including apples, plums, cherries, pears and others. The trees are still being taken care of by the Park Service and residents of the campgrounds can pick and eat whatever is in season while they're here. I had to try them and had apple cobbler and apple pancakes while I was here. Yummy!

A small schoolhouse was built in 1896 that would house between 8 to 25 children, depending on the population that year. Of course, school was held in winter, and only after the farm chores were completed. The schoolhouse was also used for socializing. Behind the school, is a large rock which was carved with the school name. The school closed after the 1941 session and children were bussed to schools in nearby towns.

This area is great for farming and there are lots of large trees and grass, as well as the fruit trees. When I got home one morning after my hike, I found a few mule deer trimming the grass in the campground. Apparently, they were unafraid of me, I got to sneak up pretty close to them as they were around my neighbor's tent. There are also wild turkeys that wander around the area.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Arches National Park - Part 2

For the next trip to Arches, I picked a nice sunny day - love the blue sky in my photos. It may have been hotter to hike, but I like the pictures better.

Not everything in this park is arches, as you can see by the balanced rock below. This one stands 128' tall, and there used to be a smaller balanced rock, but it tumbled down.
The broken arch has a very small crack at the top, which means it is subject to weather and erosion.

The Landscape Arch is very thin and if you look at the left side, you'll see a long horizontal crack in it. In 1991, there were other cracks like this and the weather finally chipped away a few parts of it. Before that happened, the trail went under the arch - but since it's so fragile, no one is allowed under it anymore.
This next rock formation is called "The Gossips" because it looks like people gathered together telling stories.
Just a few extra shots I like.....



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Arches National Park, Utah - Part 1

This park is so big I had to spend the better part of two days to see most of what I wanted to see.  It's the hiking part that slows me down, you can drive through it all in less than a day but you don't get to see everything.  The photo above shows me under the Delicate Arch, an hour's hike mostly uphill on sandy trails and slick rock. Slick rock isn't really slick, it's rock covering a massive area that's been shaped almost smooth by wind and weather. It's usually good to hike on as long as you've got hiking boots with good traction, since it's not really slippery. The first day I was there, it was totally overcast the entire day, great for hiking and keeping cool - but not great for pictures.
This area is full of gigantic red rock formations shaped by changing geological conditions and weather for millions of years. The scenery here is spectacular, within a few short miles you are surrounded by these rock formations and then you'll come across a valley area with mesas at the horizon.  This arch is the iconic one shown on license plates and other advertising for the area.

I hiked to several other arches that day, most of the other hikes weren't as strenuous or as long.