Canyonlands, Utah, was a discovery for us yesterday as we had never been here, even myself many moons ago on another Voyage that I took for a couple of years in the 70’s. You know the 70’s! The good old times with no GPS, laptop, cell phone… just a map and a lot of talking "live" to the locals to get invaluable information. We still do a lot of talking! But everything else has changed. Yesterday, the skies were of a shade of gray, overcast, not conductive to great pictures as the reflection of the sun and bright blue skies are always a welcome enhancement, but, we take what we have been given and we will just have to go back again when the conditions are more favorable for the camera.
The Park itself has different entrances as it is divided in different regions each cut off by the Canyons. We took 191 north, left on 313 and entered it on the "Island of the Sky" region, the other regions being the "Maze" (west) and the "Needles" (east). 527 square miles makes it the largest National Park in the USA and what surprised me is the fact that till 1964, when the Park was established, only few Indians, Cowboys, river explorers and uranium prospectors had dared enter this rugged corner of South-Eastern Utah.
The roads are smooth, curvy, fun to ride without a doubt and well maintained. Monitor and Merrimac welcomed us on the way up and with so many stops just trying to get there, I have come to the conclusion that we will need to go and camp in proximity of each third of this Park. There is much BLM free camping before reaching the gate, it is above 5000 feet, and even though it has warmed up a bit, it is 22 degrees at 6am instead of 20!!!… that move will have to wait a bit.
Once inside the Park, the road with guard rails on each side is called for a short while "the neck", as it is the only flat surface that has not been subjected to the erosion and unlike other Parks, the Canyons lay on each side for some spectacular sights. Views as far as a 100 miles on each side, silence prevails, uncrowded times yet makes it so conductive to just sit there for hours when I personally reflect on so much of the rest of the world buzzing around, missing out on what it is here, "now".
I have been trying to study the map of the Park since yesterday, as there are many trails accessible as written with four wheel drive but doable with my rig. We stopped at the Visitor Center and talked to a very knowledgeable Historian of the Park, Jerry, who turned us on to some great maps which we did not buy yet thinking I will find them on the Internet… but no luck on that. At $12 a map we thought about holding off… that is not going to happen! The one trail I would like to ride would be Schaffer Trail which can be done either way from Potash near Moab or from the Park to Potash. Below is the start of the trail from the Park… the views are incredible!
The trail, from the Island in the Sky drops below 1200 feet, called the White Rim, a continuous sandstone bench and goes all the way across to Potash which is only 16 miles from 191 which itself is a couple miles from Moab. Another 1000 feet below the White Rim are the Colorado and Green Rivers, shadowed by its narrow Canyons. To the south lays the Maze and the Needles. That is the scenario!!!
Actually the ultimate would be to take Schaffer trail and fork out onto the White Rim trail which goes on the Mesa for 103 miles, inside the Park and requiring a permit. No dogs allowed even in the vehicle, I could not even contemplate doing it without Spirit. Maybe another rider will come by sometime when Shaffer trail opens up soon, somehow I am not finding myself quite as daring to travel the rougher roads alone. Maybe it is called being "smarter"!
We stopped for lunch by this overlook. There is a great Market in town that is furnished by Kroger, they looked stocked up for the Jeep Safari (big crowd!!!) that will start Saturday, and a 3 cheeses bread loaf, some olive tappenade, spicy green olives, roasted garlic and marinated in balsamic vinegar little onions with some great water did the trick… bread for Spirit also of course! Spirit is like waking up from the past weeks in more urban settings. He is alive!!! Back to his old habits of barking when I am not in sight of the sidecar and someone approaches, I can always hear him and listen afterwards to the comments of the ones that passed by him! "great security you have"…
Could not help the sticker when I saw it!!!… at the "Barkery" in town, an overpriced Pet store… We only scratched the surface yesterday, fortunately we will be here for a while even though… I did not get the job I applied for! Center Cafe, a restaurant owned by a couple for the past 13 years… I think I intimidated her with my 40 years of experience, will find out today as he is going to turn me on to other restaurants in town that need some help. They have a great Menu, but for the same hourly wages (peanuts literally!) I could make my Life much easier by maybe just flipping burgers!!! If you enjoy reading this Blog and the pictures… we can use your support now, I can only say it the way it is! Check out the T shirts and Mouse pads we have in the merchandise area. I am not a promoter!… neither a businessman… but I think they will put a smile on your face and brighten up your day and others too that will see them.
Will take these pictures again on an early morning or late afternoon in sunny conditions, definitely looking forward to it.
Till next time… you be well, always.
Ara & Spirit