Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ahhhh….Those “Jell-o” Plans!

We did it again – after spending about 6 weeks in Amarillo, we decided at the last minute to go West instead of up to South Dakota as we’d talked about earlier.  I’ve been nagging Jim for awhile that our travels have mostly settled into revisiting places we’ve already been.  Oh, we love those places and the people we’ve met there, but there are still a lot of nooks and crannies of this country that we haven’t seen.  We decided that Southern Utah would be a great place to see while we have a few free weeks before the wedding.

So, last Thursday, we rolled up the carpet, hooked up the car and headed west on I-40.  That night we stopped at a small RV park just outside Albuquerque, the next night we stopped at the KOA in Flagstaff (won’t do that one again, sites and roads are much too tight for a rig our size), and Saturday we stopped at Wahweap Campground at Lake Powell.  That’s where the new header picture was taken.

This was our site:

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This was our view from near the camp site:

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From the road above the campground:

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Looking back at the lake from the dam:

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The lake is about 60% full right now.  With all of the snowfall in the Rockies this year, the level of the lake is currently rising nearly a foot a day.  We took a tour of the dam and got to go down to the power plant area, brought back some memories for both of us!

We will definitely need to make a return trip to this area, we’d love to rent a pontoon boat for a day (or more) and go exploring some of the canyons!

Sunday morning we went to breakfast in Page, then went to the local Walmart and stocked up on supplies for the next part of the journey – on to Zion and Bryce in Utah!

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We got settled in at a little RV park in Glendale, Utah early Sunday afternoon.  Bright and early Monday morning we loaded up our picnic lunch, the dogs and our cameras and headed out towards Zion National Park:

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I have to say right now that we were both left speechless and breathless more than once on our short drive through the part of the park still open to private car travel.  Yes, we took pictures, but there’s no way they can even begin to show the spectacular quality of this place.  We both agreed that this is one of the most impressive places we’ve visited yet.  The road, Utah Highway 9, winds it’s way across the very southeastern corner of the park.  It’s a through road, but everyone has to pay the park entrance fee.  It is a very twisty-turny road that goes up and down and features a small tunnel and one very narrow, very long tunnel.  The park’s website warns that large vehicles must make arrangements to be escorted (at an additional fee) through the tunnel.  They have a system to allow only one lane of traffic through at a time, so there is a wait going both directions.  But, both times through, we only had a couple of minutes to wait.

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This is Checkerboard Mesa:

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Some of the views:

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This is the one trail in the park where dogs are allowed:

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We will be going back to the park later this week and another time next week to take the shuttle to the areas where private vehicles can’t go this time of year.

This morning we got a few things done around the Castle, like debugging the front end and windshield – many, many bugs gave their lives in support of our trip West!  I washed the windows too, but then the day got warm and we decided what the heck, let’s go for a drive!

This time we decided to see what Utah Highway 14 is like – it runs from US 89 over the Cedar Breaks Monument area (which is still closed due to snow!) and in to Cedar City on I-15, about a 55 mile trip from here.  Another beautiful, but twisty-turny road!

This is Navajo Lake, formed from lava flow, and yes, that is snow on the far bank!

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More of those red rocks and snow:

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Vista from near the summit, looking South towards Zion:

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And more rock formations highlighted by late afternoon sun:

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And that’s just the first two days here, whew!  We don’t have a specific plan as to how long we’ll stay in this area, there are a lot of places to see!  I’d better go plug in my camera battery…


JB said...

We will be heading through that part of the country sometime in the first couple of days of July and hope to see some of that great scenery ourselves.

Leno said...

Simply beautiful! Thanks for sharing..Look forward to more.

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Pictures are great, Thanks for the tour. Sam & Donna...

Darrell and Judy Patterson said...

Wow, Nice pictures. That area is on the top of our "Bucket List". We'd love to visit Bryce, Moab, and Zion National Parks. Keep posting pictures so we can visit vicariously through you this year.

Janna and Mike said...

Great photos Jim and Ellie--glad to see you blog this morning when we got up!

Debbie and Rod said...

Nice pictures! Beautiful area! Miss you guys!!

Deb & Rod

test said...

Great photos and glad you are enjoying the area; southern Utah is one of our favorite parts on the country. Take Care and Hugs!

Peggy N David said...

Hey you two - glad you posted :) David and I did Zion, Bryce, the Parawon Petroglyphs (just outside of Cedar City)...we saved Arches and some others for the next trip...Loved it ALL!

Great to hear from you - hope you continue to have great weather!

Sue Malone said...

Beautiful blue sky and red rock photos, my favorites. We camped at Navajo lake last October and it was gorgeous with the changing aspens. So glad you didn't miss Southern Utah, red heart of the world.

Fred Wishnie said...

It only gets better as you go a little north and east. Wait till you see HWY 12, it's gorgeous!
Hope to see you soon.

Margie and Roger said...

That's our trip from last summer, including staying at Wahweap. Absolutely gorgeous. Each place is so beautiful and so different. Enjoy every moment!

Margie and Roger said...

That's our trip from last summer, including staying at Wahweap. Absolutely gorgeous. Each place is so beautiful and so different. Enjoy every moment!

Margie and Roger said...

That's our trip from last summer, including staying at Wahweap. Absolutely gorgeous. Each place is so beautiful and so different. Enjoy every moment!

dreamjosie said...

Speechless and breathless is how we feel every time we venture out here. An apt description.

We drove Hwy 14 to Cedar City 2 weeks ago and at that time Navajo Lake was still completely covered with snow! And lots of snow on the sides of the road (hwy 14). Isn't this area absolutely amazing?

See you soon.

Rod Ivers said...

Wow, its gorgeous thanks for posting and taking us along!

Randy said...

Lake Powell is a family favorite. If you are back in the area after Labor Day you can rent the houseboats for deep discounts and spend 3-4 days exploring the lake, it is well worth it.

squawmama said...

Utah has so much to offer... it is one of our favorite states. We stayed in Zion a couple of years ago and loved it! Good thing for digital cameras because you can take thousands of pictures... Enjoy Bryce and hope you make it up to Moab!
Have fun & Travel safe

Molly and Bob said...

Love the photos and it was great to see both of you!! This is a gorgeous area for certain! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

photos great!
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