Another one of our favorite places to camp at and explore.
Another one of our favorite places to camp at and explore.
Lunar Crater has been one of our favorite places to camp and hangout on this trip.
As you might imagine Jenny and I spend almost all of our time on public land. BLM land, National Forests, National Wildernesses, State Parks, and National Parks. In the beginning of the shutdown there was not much impact. Each day, however, that seems to change a little. It seems that you can still walk anywhere you want in the National Parks but driving is becoming more restrictive. The other types of land we use remain unchanged for the most part. We just do not expect any services. We tend to be self-contained so lack of services has not been too much of a problem.
December 20-21, 2018
I’m starting to wonder if someone should revoke Joe’s internet privileges. He has a talent for finding off-the-beaten-track campsites. Our final destination of the day was Goose Neck State Park. As we followed the directions broadcast by our good friend, Ms. Google, Joe turned to me and said, “Does it seem like we’re about to drive off the edge of the world?”
Looking out into an empty landscape painted only by moonlit, I answered, “Yes!”
“There’s nothing out here,” said Joe.
“I think the road ends at the state park,” I answered.
The campground hugs the edge of a deep canyon cut into the rock formations by the San Juan River. Tonight, all the sites were empty. Spotting a picnic table a few feet from the canyon’s edge, Joe asked, “What about here?”
I wanted to say, “Are you out of your mind? What if we forget where we are and walk off the edge?” But instead I said, “I’m not sure that’s a good choice for Molly.”
Joe agreed and we opted for a spot on the far side of the parking lot, giving us about 200 feet of breathing room. We both voted to hold off on exploring and hiking in the park until daylight.
The next morning both Joe and Molly got up to catch the sunrise over the canyon. Not in hurry to acquaint myself with our new surroundings, I waited until the sun was over the horizon to venture outside. With the campground to ourselves, Joe opted to brew our morning coffee and cook breakfast at a canyon side picnic table. He handed me my steaming bowl of oatmeal with a big grin on his face and said, “It’s this the coolest?”
I had to admit he was right. From an information sign in the park we learned that the goosenecks are “entrenched meanders” cut by the river now situated 1000 feet below the campground. At the park entrance there was a small warning notice added to welcome sign that announced: Uneven terrain and steep long drops ahead. USE CAUTION!
Perhaps an understatement?
December 18, 2018
Life seems to happen to me, mostly by accident. I’m the kind of person that opens up the photo app on my phone, hoping to find the correct spelling of a word in the geographic data and unintentionally learns how to create a video montage with all the pictures I took that day. The app does all the creative work and even adds a title and music. The end product is one day in our life compressed into a minute.
This morning, Joe asked me to turn off the van’s lane assist feature. A job I do daily. Afterward, an odd warning light popped up on the dashboard. At the time Joe was winding up a canyon — a road with a series of back-to-back, 180-degree turns. At the rim we pulled over at the Oak Creek Vista to read the van’s manual. It was a false alarm. I inadvertently turned off the van’s break assist feature. No need to start looking for service center.
Since we were there, we hopped out of the van to walk Molly and enjoy the view. At this popular spot, the National Forest Service allows local Indian artists to showcase their work and jewelry. I fell into a conversation with a young Navajo gentleman that suggested we visit the Navajo National Monument. We were headed to Utah and he said we would be driving in the area.
As we drove north we saw signs for Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. We had monuments on the brain so we followed the signs. In one afternoon, we walked on a cinder path along a basaltic lava flow, and then visited the 100-plus room Wupatki Pueblo ruins. It was hard to envision a farming community thriving in the area 700 years ago in what is now a desert.
Just as the sun was sinking over the horizon, we pulled into the Sunset Campground at Navajo National Monument. It’s a free campground. Joe did some research and learned sites are available to campers on a first come first serve basis. I was worried that all the sites would be taken. In this high desert environment, you can see for miles. From our campsite we see a landscape dotted with lights — off in the distance, but we’re the only souls in the campground. A quiet ending to a travel day, thanks to my button pushing mistake.
December 21, 2018
I married Joe just after his Buick Skylark days. At a time when he was driving a four-door sedan in attempt to seem mature and settled. I didn’t know him in his dirt bike days, but I’ve heard stories. Joe fell into the category of “You don’t think I can ride through the mud up that hill? Watch me!”
Joe’s dirt bike days come to mind, when we encounter road warning signs. The big yellow sign for Moki Dugway we saw this afternoon read: 3 MILES OF UNIMPROVED ROADS, SHARP CURVES, STEEP GRADES, 6 MILES AHEAD. A sign that seems to shout out turn around! Go back, or fear for your lives.
I did notice a road grader parked where the pavement turned to dirt. Warning signs aside, the road was well maintained and it was a smooth ride to the top of the mesa. We stopped more than once to take photos. I could hear drivers tooting their car horns as they drove around blind curves. I did wonder why is this road here? A question that I’m asking myself on an almost daily basis as Joe plans our routes.