The Colorado River at Island Acres State Park in Colorado
I think the easiest way to share some of the things we experienced is by sharing my journal entries during the trip which began June 2 and ended June 20.
Thursday, June 2, 2005
Island Acres State Park, just East of Grand Junction Colorado.
We checked into the park about 2:30 p.m. having left Denver about 8:30 a.m.to arrive at our favorite rest stop at Glen Canyon for lunch. We double-checked the water heater, water pump, and gas grill. All worked properly. We leveled the motorhome and opened some windows and then walked a wonderful trail along the Colorado River. Wow! The river level is the highest I remember in the six years we’ve been stopping here--and the introduced tamarisk plants, as always, are crowding out the native plants and sucking up water much-needed elsewhere. Over the years we’ve developed an efficient routine for managing meals. At 5:30 p.m. Bob started the gas grill attached to the LP gas of the motorhome and, when hot, added the Casual Gourmet Chicken Pesto Brats while I fixed corn on the cob, steamed Normandy veggies and some fresh greens with tomatoes and basil. We toasted the first meal and the beginning of our trip with a Yellow Tail (Australian) Shiraz/Cabernet blend. It is a wine I definitely will buy again. Bob then made the first of his one-match campfires for this camping season. I’m now outside writing in my paper journal until it gets too dark to see,
Friday, June 3, 2005
We’re up with the sun and each have a hot beverage in hand: coffee for Bob and green tea for me. Bob ran an hour; I walked 45 minutes along the river, picking possible sites for next year. I note my choices: #1 and #23 for electricity only and 57 and 58, by the river, if we wanted to splurge on full-hook-ups. We rarely get the hook-ups as we fill everything in Denver and aren’t ready for dumping the holding tanks yet. Electricity is enough of a luxury. It means we can use our electric coffee maker, hair dryer, computer (off-line)and, if needed, the air conditioner--which we’ve never needed here in early June. On my walk today I got some amazing photos of magpies in tamarisks and other trees. They were busy fussing over which of them got the rabbit carcass in the trail and were not paying attention to me.
After our walk/run we finished off the coffee, rolled off of the leveling blocks and completed our rattle-abatement checklist:: towel wrapped around the stove burners to prevent noise on bumpy roads, all rolling shelves stored and locked, microwave rotating pan wrapped, toilet lids down and shower nozzle stored.
We were off by 9:00 and gassed up both Lib and motorhome in Grand Junction as we want to have a full tank on the Lib to spend the day driving Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park. Just outside Grand Junction we stopped at a State Rest Stop to enjoy the Book Cliffs as the wetter-than-usual Spring has produced a landscape lush with vivid colors: green, blue, deep purple, yellow, red and orange desert plants. Absolutely stunning!
As we left Hanksvillle, Utah for the 40-mile scenic drive to Capitol Reef NP campground, we realized that it was going to be different this year. For seven years we’ve visited this park the first week in June and we’ve not seen the high-desert landscape so green or the Freemont River running so high. We arrived during the last rain-shower of a two-day soaking rain and stopped at the Visitor Center to ask about Cathedral Valley and Striker Valley/Burr Trail. Neither is recommended for tomorrow. Capitol Gorge drive and trail? Closed! Grand Wash? Closed! The ranger explained that this year they have had more spring moisture than in any year since 1983. Since the soil in the area contains a large amount of Bentonite, a clay-mud mixture which makes it almost impossible to drive when the roads are damp, he suggested we check in tomorrow and Sunday to see if it is dry enough to open the roads. We will choose a hike for tomorrow and then decide later regarding plans for Sunday. There is always something new to see here so we’re never disappointed.
We found a camping space in Lot C of the Orchard Campground inside the National Park. We settled in, leveled the MH, then went for a late afternoon drive on a beautiful scenic road (paved, so not muddy). As always, I took too many photos as the slanted sunlight off the many colorful formations was simply irresistible despite the fact that I have countless photos taken each of the past six years on this same scenic drive.
Tonight’s meal: Grilled steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, romaine salad with blueberries and tomatoes with Nagano Rice Vinegar & fresh basil with just a touch of olive oil--and another Yellow Tail Reserve wine, this time a Shiraz. As we ate outside, a small herd of deer rambled through the meadow next to our campsite, oblivious to our presence: a fitting end to our first day among some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southwest USA.
Saturday, June 4, 2005
Cohab Canyon Trail, 3 1/2 miles round trip
Around 9:30 a.m. we walked across the road from the campground to the Cohab Canyon trailhead. It begins with ¼ mile of switchbacks straight up to a shelf which opens into beautiful Cohab Canyon with its many adjoining slot canyons. Walking through time, we came first to tafoni-pocked sandstone then white Navajo sandstone domes and breast-like formations. We passed wind-and-water-formed sculptures resembling Easter Island Moai and ethereal unidentified space-like creatures. On the trail we met people in their 60’s and 70’s as well as young couples with kids in back-pack carriers, all walking the almost 4-mile hike. We all marveled at the breathtaking views, both close-up and distant.
Back at the motorhome we had a light lunch then a nap. The afternoon was spent with sketching and painting in watercolor, first practicing by drawing models from high-fashion photos in magazines and later sketching Bob while he read.
Late afternoon we checked in with the Rangers and all the long drives are still closed—even to 4x4 vehicles—so we’re planning another hike that we’ve never taken: The Chimney Rock Loop, strenuous but only 3 ½ miles. The one today was marked moderately strenuous and I did fine. My knees did not bother me at all. I will, however, take my hiking stick tomorrow as some of the trail is through loose rock.