Friday, October 23, 2015

A month to roam....

And so it was that with a blank calendar for the next month we decided to take off for a road trip.  Our destination was St. George, Utah, more specifically Snow Canyon State Park, about 720 miles from Petaluma, an easy 2-3 day drive.  We discovered Snow Canyon SP a couple of years ago when Howard was running in the Senior Olympics held every October in St. George.   And as is always the case the journey proved to be as beautiful and interesting as the destination....Well almost!

Our first stop was a small RV park in Eureka, Nevada on Highway 50, the Loneliest road in America!  Lonely indeed, and barren for the most part, but it is a slice of Americana, sparsely populated with little towns, many boarded up, with light traffic.  This route also leads the way to Great Basin National Park, located in Eastern Nevada very near the border with Utah.  We had not visited Great Basin since our early days of RVing in our Dolphin MH, circa 1996!

Great Basin National Park:  A vast region of sage brush-covered valleys and narrow mountain ranges stretching from California's Sierra Nevada to Utah's Wasatch.  A must see, the Lehman Caves was our first experience in cave exploring with a ranger leading the way and explaining what we were seeing.  Though quite small it is beautifully decorated and well worth the tour.  Another plus is the drive to the base of Wheeler Peak which stretches to an altitude of over 13,000 feet.  There are many trails, some leading to Bristlecone Pine forests.  We were limited due to a much needed rain storm passing through.

Highway 50, The Loneliest Road in America


The Great Basin from along the road to the base of Wheeler Peak

Cathedral Gorge State Park:  We backtracked a bit on Highway 50 to pickup Highway 93, a scenic byway taking us south in the general direction of St. George, UT.  Just as our day of driving was winding down, according to "The rule of 3s - 300 miles per day, 3 o'clock in the afternoon"....we see a welcome sign near Panaca, NV announcing Cathedral Gorge State Park.  Having never taken this route before and not being familiar with Cathedral Gorge, we rightfully decided to stop for a day or two of exploring, and what a bonanza of exploring we found.

As the park brochure so graphically put it, if you had been here 2.5 million years ago, you would have needed gills.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, water, and erosion created the "hoodoo-like" spires, and buff-colored mud cliffs. Narrow slot canyons are cut deep into the old mud formations.  Adventurous visitors can crawl through tunnels to discover hidden chambers through the network of canyons.  We did no crawling but did enjoy many tight squeezes!  With the temps in the high 80s, the coolness of the slot canyons made for a more pleasant walk, with many photo ops.

Snow Canyon State Park:  We pulled in to Snow Canyon SP not sure if we would be able to get a site.  Being on the reservation system and on the venue of several Senior Games, we lucked out by being amenable to moving around a bit.  They hold 2 sites as first come, first serve and we managed to snag one for 5 days thus giving us a full week.  

The park is spectacular...period!  Located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a fragile desert environment, we marvel at the majestic views and subtle interplay of light and shadow across the canyon walls.  There is a great multi-trail system accessible right across the street from the park offering miles of red rock splendor!  

We spent a day visiting nearby Zion National Park amidst a crowd of like-minded people.  Both sides of the approach road, Highway 9, were jammed with parked cars vying for access to the splendor surrounding us. We did our sightseeing from the car windows!

The temps were still hot throughout the southwest as we were putting together an itinerary for our departure from St. George.  We had our sights on Marble Canyon, maybe a quick ride to the North Rim to say hi to Gaelyn, and on to Safford in eastern AZ and Roper Lake State Park.  But we soon scratched these plans as we didn't want to be dependent on staying inside running the generator and air conditioning.  So we headed to Barstow and turned right for the Pacific coast.

We're now winding down our road trip and heading back to Petaluma where I start the process of cataract surgery for both eyes.  I'm looking forward to the end result as I hear it greatly improves vision!  It's been a great month!

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