It was close to a 300 mile drive north on route 191 from Luna Lake Campground to Monument Valley, number 4 on the map. That’s twice as much driving as we like to do when we move. Ya I know, we’re spoiled. We would have loved to break the drive in half by stopping at Canyon de Chelly but it was closed due to Covid. You might remember that Canyon de Chelly was one of our rare Streamin-In-Shiny Gems.
We decided to use private campgrounds as our weather app predicted rather warm temperatures. The weather app was correct. We talked it over and decided if it got too hot we’d get a motel room with air conditioning. It never got “too hot”.
We decided to stay at Goulding’s Resort RV & Campground. Local Airstreamers from the Apache-Trout Airstream Rally recommended it and the campground had good online reviews. As far as private campgrounds go Goulding’s is pretty good. They have everything a nomad needs, laundry, full hookups (electricity, water, sewer), grocery store, gas station, and a very nice view.
In the last picture you can see the Smoky air from the wildfires further west. The smoke from wildfires would harrow us all the way across the country to New Hampshire. One of our dispersed camping sites in Colorado would be destroyed by fire after we left. Oh dear, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Susan does a good job of keeping Shiny as cool as possible in the 105 degree heat. Those trees don’t look like much in the picture but they gave us some luxurious shade in the afternoon.
Something happened here when we first arrived that Sue and I still talk about. We were getting Shiny set up and right behind us was a feller in one of those Aliner campers with a pit bull like dog. It was chained to the picnic table. I noticed it was a heavy chain. The owner told us not to pet the dog. Hmmm Ok I thought. Weird.
I little while later when we were inside we heard an unholy racket. Apparently the dog somehow got off the chain. It had run over to a smaller dog being walked on a leash by a women and started attacking the small dog. The woman was putting herself in-between the two dogs. Not good! The pit bull owner ran over and got his dog away. OK shit happens. But later I looked outside and the pit bull was not on a leash at all, just sitting in the shade. Neither Sue or I felt safe walking around outside with that creature unleashed. I kept my baseball bat close at hand.
Ok, back to the main story. Have you every heard someone say “but it’s a dry heat”? It’s true to a certain extent. Hot is hot don’t get me wrong. But 105 with 9% humidity is better then 90 at 75% humidity as far as I’m concerned. Our friend John Beland back in Sierra Vista likes to say “it’s a dry heat—like an oven”.
The unthinkable happened here at Goulding’s when, during the heat of midday, the power went out. 😓 We thought it might be out for some time when we noticed the cell towers were out as well. My first thought was go find that motel room.
Susan calmed me down and we opened up Shiny and sat outside in the shade under one of those trees. There was a nice breeze and in about 3 hours the power came back on. During the outage a office worker came around with a tray of half melted ice cream sandwiches, handing them out to the campers. Susan grabbed 3 of them and put them in our freezer, which was still cold because it works on propane as well as electricity. I have to admit I later regretted not grabbing a couple for myself.
One of the attractions in Monument Valley is the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Unfortunately the Tribal Park was still closed while we were there due to Covid. The Navajo were hit hard by the virus. As a result they take Covid very seriously. For instance the Navajo people are seldom seen, where ever they my be, without a mask on.
We found other things to do. Have you ever heard of The Valley Of The Gods? We had not until one of the Goulding’s Campground maintenance workers recommended it to us. It’s a 17 mile scenic dirt road drive. High clearance, 4W drive vehicles are recommended but the day we were there we saw a couple passenger cars driving it. We were told that it will be impassible when it rains though, so beware.
Pictured above are a few of the rock formations along the drive. It was fun to have a list of the rock formation names and then try to figure out which was which along the drive. My favorite is Lady In The Bathtub.
And for our dispersed camping friends, there are lots of places to set up camp along the 17 mile stretch. I would not take Shiny the full 17 miles but if you start the tour from Highway 163 there were plenty of spots within a mile or two. If towing a trailer I would unhook at the pull off just off of 163 and then drive in to find a spot. That way you can check out the road first. The road was good the day we were there but…
My oh my I can get side tracked.
We took a day and drove north to Bluff, Utah with the sole purpose of exploring the petroglyphs at Sand Island Recreation Area. The recreation area is located on the north bank of the San Juan River about 3 miles west of Bluff, Utah, on the south side of Highway 191. It includes a campground which has 27 first come first serve campsites, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, pit toilet, and a boat launch. Some camp sites are right on the river, just a gorgeous place to set up camp. If it hadn’t been so darn hot we would definitely have camped here. But with the heat we thought it better to have electricity. Regretfully we did not take any pictures of Sand Island Campground. But we did get some pictures of the petroglyphs of course.
Sue finally got her petroglyph fix, and it was a good one at that.
Of course, while we were in Monument Valley, we had to take the obligatory picture at the famous spot where Forrest Gump ended his run. This turned out to be harder than we thought as it was always crowded with people trying to do the same thing. But as we left Monument Valley for Moab we found an opening!
We’d like to go back to Monument Valley when the Tribal Park reopens. For now we will leave you with this beautiful sunrise picture that Susan took from Goulding’s.
Moab has been on our bucket list since the day we decided to lead this wandering way of life. We said damn the heat and continued ‘head first’ into the inferno.
But first, just before Moab in Monticello, Utah, near Canyonlands National Park, and along highway 191 is an odd rock formation worth mentioning. Apparently local lore has the opening at the base of the formation being carved out by a religious group to make a church. Hence it’s name, Church Rock. In fact it was dynamited and cut out of the stone by the property owner during the 1940s to store salt licks and feed for cattle.
After passing another big wildfire just south of Moab, we drove through Moab and set up camp at Archview Campground just north of the town. We turned Shiny’s air conditioner on high.
This is the hottest Shiny has ever experienced. Again we were blessed with two shade trees. Then we had a tall bus park beside us that shaded us even more!
I think that what surprised me most about the heat was all the people still tenting and hiking and rafting like it was a normal 75 degree day. Sue and I did not stray far from the air conditioner, you can be sure about that! Yet thousands of people were outdoors with no break from the heat. Ah the resilience of youth!
116 degrees is too hot to be playing outside for this NH boy. But guess what! Moab has a rock art auto tour! Yes, yes, I got to stay cool in Blue while Susan got another fix for her rock art obsession. Here is a little slide show of what we found on the auto tour.
I gotta say I had almost as much fun as Susan did. I think the Moab Rock Art Auto Tour is worth the effort, heat or no heat.
Our National Parks are so overcrowded that Sue and I tend to avoid them. The Arches National Park was no exception. We drove pass the park entrance every day we were in Moab. It was amazing to see the long line of cars and campers entering the park each morning. By 9 or 10 o’clock touists were turned away as the park reached their ‘people quota’ for the day. Not much fun in my book. It’s a game we have no interest in playing.
All the pictures above were gleaned from the Internet.
Another activity one can do in the heat of Moab, or anytime, is to drive one of the scenic byways. One afternoon we drove the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway which is Route 128. The first ten miles or so follows the river within a gorge supplying us with some fantastic views of the surrounding cliffs. Further on the drive opens up into a valley with campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Further still and it’s desert country. Some western films have been shot here.
Actually, Moab has Three Scenic Byways. The rock art tour encompassed one of them, Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, Route 279. The third is Dead Horse Point Mesa Scenic Byway, Route 313. Number 3 we are saving for our return to Moab, hopefully in a more pleasant climate.
One last thing about Moab. It is a Mecca for rafters!
Next up on our agenda is Nine Mile Canyon, just outside of Wellington, Utah. Nine Mile Canyon turned out to be one of our all time favorite places on this magical mystery tour. In fact Nine Mile Ranch, where we camped, turned out to be the next, very rare, Stream-In-Shiny Gem. And the setting for our, not to be missed, Shotgun Man story!
Love seeing Susie in her happy place!
Thanks Marcia! And thanks for your tips on places to go.
Thanks for the details of the trip. I made some notes so when we return to the area we can do some of the scenic drives. We have stayed at Gouldings and liked the bit of shade most sites had, as well as the tulips in bloom. We were there earlier than you with cooler temperatures. We did the 17 mile drive through the Navaho National Park at Monument Valley and hired a guide for a photographic tour in the late afternoon. Well worth the money, since they take you to places you are not allowed to go unless with a guide. He also showed us where to get some creative shots. We used Phillips out of Kayeta, AZ. I strongly recommend you make reservations to stay at Dead Horse Point State Park for three or so days. You do have to book 4 months out. You have views of Canyonlands – Island in the Sky Section and that park visitors center is just down the road from the turn off the Dead Horse Point SP.
Thanks for the great ideas, Nancy. Much appreciated.
Great post Larry! I could relive some of our trip to Moab / Arches in 2018. Thankfully, we didn’t have the crowds to deal with then! I hope you made your way through Bryce – my favorite after Crazy Horse 🙂. We’re heading to Utah in Sept., but flying this trip. Best to you and Susan
Hi Pat. Great to hear from you. We didn’t make it to Bryce this time but it’s on our list. Have fun on your trip
Living vicariously through your posts! Glad you are still enjoying the nomad life.❤️
Doesn’t Larry do a great job? I’ve got to get in the groove
Fascinating commentary and sublime images! One day I will broaden my western horizon to points beyond Tucson.
Thanks for the comment Buz. Maybe we’ll see you in Tucson in March!
That’s such a gorgeous part of the country. We’ve spent a lot of time traveling and exploring the Southwest, and the area around Bluff has some of our favorite petroglyph sites. Most of them require a hike to get to, which you definitely would not want to do in 100 degree temps! Or even 90 degrees. That’s too hot, even if it’s a dry heat.
Makes me sad to see Arches so overrun with people. We’ve been several times, but like you, we have no interest in going and being in a herd of people.
Keep on enjoying your travels, and I hope you’re finding cooler temps!
Great to hear from you, Laurel. We are indeed finding cooler temps here in NH where we will be attending my Dad’s funeral in a few days. Then we are off to the heat again in SC where we will be helping a dear one who will be having surgery. We are so fortunate to be able to travel like this.