Ok. We’ve not done a blog post series under one title that’s lasted more than 2 posts except for the Stories Behind the Pictures. But, as I mentioned in Utah Rocks: Part 2, there was a TON of things to do in Utah. So here we are at the beginning of a third post about Utah.
It might seem odd that I am starting off a blog post about Utah with our stop off at Grand Junction, Colorado, but it was a necessary detour. And we didn’t regret it. We stopped at Grand Junction because we couldn’t stay at an RV park in Moab, Utah for the amount of time that we wanted. So, we headed to Grand Junction. Grand Junction, Colorado was the largest city we’d been to since St. George, about a month previous, and it had 2 National Parks within 1 1/2 hours from where we were staying: Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat’l Park, and Colorado Nat’l Monument. Colorado National Monument is a massive plateau, providing views of the surrounding area, and of huge monoliths protruding from the ground. We did the 26 mile loop drive around the Monument, and we really enjoyed our whole experience there. Plus, Nate was able to get a Junior Ranger badge. He had to fill out a booklet asking questions about the National Monument, complete activities, and then meet with a Ranger. The Ranger asked him questions to see what he had learned during his time in the park, and then had Nate repeat the Junior Ranger oath. After all this, Nate received his Jr. Ranger Badge.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is home to a very deep, very thin canyon. Here we were provided with amazing views of landscape stretching for miles, then a small (or so it looked) fissure in the ground, which turned out to be a great depth down. Black Canyon has the world’s 3rd largest vertical cliff, the Painted Dragons. We also really enjoyed hiking a little ways into and around the canyon. Nate completed a Junior Ranger Badge here as well.
After our time in Grand Junction, we traveled to Moab, Utah. Moab is a tourist town, and is close to both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Canyonlands National Park has 3 sections to it: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. We visited only the Island in the Sky part due to our shortened time in Moab. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and were able to see some amazing views of the vast canyon. It was here that we were able to hike to an amazing arch, Mesa Arch, which you can get within about 5 feet. The reason you can’t get all the way to it is because of a drop straight down of about 1500 feet (with no railing!) under the arch. Another hike we did was Upheaval Dome trail, which gave us some amazing views of what scientist believe is a crater. This was a fairly moderate hike that involved us climbing a few hundred feet to get to the overlook. This is a hike that I’d definitely recommend. The last hike that we did was the Whale Rock trail. This was a fairly easy 1 mile round-trip hike that took you to the top of a dome shaped rock that looked uncannily like a whale. We enjoyed scrambling up the whale’s back, and had a good time on this hike as well.
Arches National Park also had a lot of hikes to choose from. One of our favorites was the Balanced Rock Trail, which was a very short (0.3 mile round trip) hike. It took you around a tall thin structure of rock that is holding up an even larger chunk of rock. This Balanced Rock will likely not be around for much longer because of erosion. So, if you’re going soon, be sure to check out the Balanced Rock! Another great hike at Arches was the Windows trail. There are 2 “window” arches, the North and the South. We saw the North one, which was stunning, and also hiked to some other lesser known arches in that same area.
While in Moab, we rented a Jeep. Yes. A Jeep. We took what was supposed to be an “easy” trail, and we really enjoyed it. Except for one part. It wasn’t an easy trail. It turns out, the people who rated the trail had the definition of easy being that there were no uneven surfaces where you car frame would bend and contort to the surfaces. Nope. There was nothing that said "Major Drops Ahead". We had heard that there were switchbacks on this trail going into the canyon, and didn’t really think much about it. Let me tell you this. Don’t ever underestimate the power of switchbacks. We got to the edge of the canyon where the switchbacks began. In the course of about 20 switchbacks, we descended over 1500 feet. And of course, we did end up passing people. And it was on a 20 foot wide road with serious consequences if you go off of it. If all that I’ve told you isn’t enough, this trail made it on “dangerousroads.org”. And we made it! It was really fun, and we had a whale of a time. However, I’d like to warn anyone that is wanting to try it that I would not at all recommend it for anyone with a fear of heights, a distrust of their car, a car without a 4-wheel drive, rowdy kids who can hijack the “kid lock” on your car door, or anything that may be designated under “phobia”. This is a dangerous trail!
After having visited Moab, we traveled to Heber City, about 1 hour away from Salt Lake City. We met up with my paternal grandparents and really enjoyed our time catching up and hanging out with them. We're missing them already! While staying in Salt Lake City we visited the Museum of Natural Curiosity. This was an amazing museum with things for all ages. It was obvious that it was a kids museum, however many small exhibits were for older visitors, including one bigger exhibit called “American Adventure”. It puts you in the place of an early American settler, and gives you multiple choices of survival as you navigate a maze. We all enjoyed this one, and learned some cool things about the early settlers as well. Also while in Heber City, we took a day to visit Salt Lake City. Here we visited the Mormon Temple Square. We were able to learn more about Mormon culture, and see their world in a new light. The last place we visited while in Heber City was the Winter Olympic Training Center, where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held, and where the American team practices in the off seasons. We saw where they do the ski jump. If you don't think that the ramp that they ski down is steep, then you should go to the Olympic Training Center to look at it. It's almost a sheer drop. You can see the picture of it below. Our campground in Heber City was a very nice one, and I personally enjoyed playing ping-pong with my grandfather in the game room. We all enjoyed the nice sites and clean facilities.
Overall, our time in Utah was absolutely incredible, and was definitely one of our favorite states so far. We are looking forward to seeing friends, family and home again, but will definitely miss the experiences that we’re having today.
So we've lived in the RV for just under 1 year now, and I think we have earned the rank of "experienced RVers". Yes, it's debatable, self appointed, and could possibly be viewed as haughty, but I believe you could agree with me that the Merchant family knows a good amount of RVing. We've picked up lots of RV vocabulary, and I'm here to share the with you. So here they are:
1. "Dumping Tanks"- We have gotten so used to this phrase because we use it at least 2 times a week. It basically means opening the valve to let all of the sewage drain into the RV park's sewage pipes. We have to empty our sewage tanks about 2-3 times a week. This is because our grey water tanks (the tanks that hold our shower water and sink water) get filled up pretty fast. To put it this way, how often do you call the water company to pump out sewage?
2. This will be a group of RVing vocabulary about different types of RVs.
"Class A, or Motor Coach"- This is a large RV that looks a lot like a bus. It's driven from the coach itself, and is common among retired folks.
"Class C"- A Class C RV is also driven from the front, and isn't towed, but is shorter than the Class As. This type of RV is generally known for its connection with RV rental companies such as El Monte, Cruise America, and more.
"Travel Trailer"- A travel trailer is, as is said in the name, a trailer, generally the same size or smaller than a Class C. It's pulled by a truck with a ball hitch. Travel trailers are the smallest RVs out there, some getting to be less than 10 feet long!
"Fifth Wheel"- The fifth wheel is the type of RV that we have. They generally range from between 30 and 40 feet long, and are between 12 and 14 feet high. They're towed by a truck with a hitch in its bed.
3. "Full Timers"- As you might expect, this phrase describes RVers who live in their RV year round. We are probably considered "Temporary Full-Timers" because we're only doing this for a year.
4. "Boondocking" This refers to when an RVer will live in their RV for (generally) 1-3 days without electricity, water, or sewage hookups. They rely on their RV battery which makes those who boondock pretty conservative with electricity and water. We have never boondocked (our fridge takes too much power to do this). .
5. "Overnighting it"- Ok, this one's fairly self explanatory, but this phrase is used when someone is staying at an RV park for only one night. It's usually obvious is someone's overnighting because they will usually not hook up their sewage lines, and, in the case of a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, will stay hooked up to their tow vehicle. Why would someone stay for only 1 night? Usually it's because they're going some place else to stay for a while, but to get there from their previous destination would've been too long of a drive, so overnighting in the middle doubles the days of travel, but halves the time of travel.
So as you can see, we have to learn these "vocabulary words" to truly communicate as full time RVers. We've really enjoyed the trip, and have bittersweet feelings of returning home in a little over a month.
Before you go, I will announce that nearer to the end of the trip, we'll be posting a "Q and A Session" post, where questions that you ask to us will be answered. To ask a question, scroll to the top of the post where you see the title of the post. To the right of the title, you'll see small blue letters that will give some number, then say "comments". Click on this, and you'll be brought to a comments page. Here, you'll give your name (or a made up one!) and then write your question in the big bottom box. Hit Submit, and we'll have your question!
We spent a lot of time in Utah, and did a lot of things there. Following Glendale, we were going to visit the town of Escalante, but realized that the RV would have a tough time getting through the mountainous, windy road to get there. So we improvised, and spent the week in Circleville. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of it. Although if you have, it was probably regarding the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy. Cassidy spent his childhood in Circleville, and we were able to visit his home. It wasn’t much, especially considering he had 12 siblings!
Something that made Circleville memorable for all of us was the RV park owners, Mr. Glen and Mrs. Tanja. They’re very hard working folks, and they were extremely nice to all of us. Mrs. Tanja even arranged for two girls down the road from us to bring their pony for Nate to ride! Circleville RV Park will always hold a place in our hearts.
While we were staying in Glendale, our plan was to rent a UTV for a day. However, I had been fighting a stomach illness and we were unable to go. Circleville was a reasonable distance from Glendale, so we decided to rent the UTV while staying there. This was an incredible outing that we all enjoyed. We drove on back trails to Peekaboo Canyon, an amazing slot canyon accessible only by foot or UTVs. The 18 mile in-and-out trail was great for all of us, and we really enjoyed the experience.
Also while in Circleville, we took the day to travel Scenic Byway 12. Scenic Byway 12 is a 123 mile byway that begins at Capitol Reef National Park, and ends at Bryce Canyon National Park. It cuts through Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Dixie National Forest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and a whole lot more! We were able to see Native American pueblos at Anasazi State Park, snow covered mountains, petrified wood, and lots of breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
We did a lot while staying in Circleville, and we thoroughly enjoyed our whole experience there. However our time in Torrey was also highly enjoyable. Torrey is only 10 miles away from Capitol Reef National Park, so beauty surrounded us. Capitol Reef is known for its towering red cliffs and monoliths. We loved the entire thing. One hike that we did was called “Hickman’s Bridge”. It was here that we were able to get some awe-inspiring looks at a natural arch. We really enjoyed our views at the end. Another incredible hike was one that led us through a dry creek bed, and up to what were called “tanks”. These tanks were pools of water on a hill. This was pretty cool, especially since you could climb around in that area.
Something that was not as near to our RV park, but was totally worth the drive was Goblin Valley State Park. Goblin Valley gets it’s name from the hundreds of boulders in the state park that are stacked on each other, giving them a look of little “goblins”. It’s slightly difficult to picture this in your head, so look at the pictures for a better image. We all really liked climbing on these rocks, playing hide-and-seek, and enjoying the beauty of it all. I’d definitely recommend this State Park.
We had a blast while in Torrey, and really liked Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley. Heading to Grand Junction, Colorado was a strange transition. For more details, stay tuned!
Welcome to Stories Behind the Pictures: Part 3! This picture was taken only a few days ago at a rodeo we visited in Jackson, Wyoming. In this particular photo is a cowboy attempting to survive the ferocity of a bucking bronco. This was one of multiple events in the rodeo, which included bucking broncos- bare back and saddled, bucking bulls, calf roping and barrel racing. For the bucking bronco competition, the rider comes out of the gate on the horse, and attempts to hold on for 8 seconds, while keeping one hand in the air (without touching any other part of his body or the horses) and attempting to look professional while he's at it. This particular rider made it through the 8 seconds. You can see in the picture that he was at 6.61 seconds (see top right corner). We really enjoyed the rodeo, and would recommend the Jackson Hole Rodeo if you ever go to Jackson, Wyoming!
Will is 15, and enjoys running track, writing,