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Autumn in Utah

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4 Oct 11: On to Utah. Actually last night, at State Line Cove CG, we were literally on the Wyoming-Utah border. Just south of the line is the little town of Manila, where we stopped at the local US Forest Service office for the latest in campground information - they're closing them daily about now. A handful are still open and we inquired about boondocking rules - essentially you can camp anywhere you want.

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 So then it was on down UT Hwy 44 to see more of Flaming Gorge. We were uncertain of what the weather gods had in store for us; heading towards Manila there were some incredibly dark clouds. When the rain hit us, the temperature dropped 18 degrees in just a few minutes.

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But the rain didn't last too long.

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Now we see why it's called Flaming Gorge.

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Red Canyon Overlook

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Red Canyon Overlook

 Rather than spend a few dollars for a campsite at an organized campground with no amenities anyway, we decided to boondock off the highway. We found this pleasant spot at the entrance to an old stone quarry. I guess we'll see whether or not the powers-that-be will have a problem with us being here.  ut054

5 Oct 11: It appears thart our 4-week stretch of most-excellent weather is coming to an end: there is a winter storm warning for the mountains of northern Utah, including our location, calling for up to two feet of snow at our location! I tried to talk Liz into staying another night, but she wasn't interested. <G>

Our night at the quarry was quite peaceful. When we awoke at dawn this morning, there was a small herd of muledeer right outside our back window. While eating breakfast, we debated our plans - which way to go, how far to go, etc. That's what we love about our Semper Gumby mode of travel - the freedom to modify the itinerary whenever we want. Although we had considered visiting Dinosaur NM, we decided to forego that and boogey a little further south to Price,UT, and sit out the rain/snow spell for a couple of nights.

ut056 As we pulled out onto the highway to start the day's travel, we found ourselves right at the bases of the clouds. And yes, there were snowflakes.
Our route was down Hwy 191 through Vernal, where we picked up some forwarded mail. The road down into Vernal is rather steep and winding - at the top are signs advising that the grade ranges from 8% to 10% and there are ten switchbacks. Then as you descend and come to each switchback, there is sign at each one saying how many more there are to go.

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As we descended into the valley on our way to Vernal, we found some blue sky and sunlight. Simplot Phosphates Mine is located north of Vernal.

As we entered Duchesne, there was a sign for a visitors information center, so we pulled in.......sorry, closed. But we stayed a spell and ate our lunch before continuing on down 191 to Indian Canyon Pass.

ut071 There were some picturesque old abandoned farms/ranches as we climbed up through the canyon; it sure must have been a tough life. As we neared the summit at 9,114', the rain turned to snow, but then it went back to rain fairly quickly as we began the descent.

Arriving in Price, we nabbed a site at a private CG (Legacy Inn RV Park) - there are no public campgrounds anywhere around this part of the state with hookups, which we wanted while we sit out the cold rain. So here we are in what amounts to a parking lot behind a motel. But there's a restaurant next door where we went for supper.

7 Oct 11: My fellow weather-guessers did a pretty good job - there most definitely was a winter storm with lots of snow on the mountains. We hunkered down for two nights in Price UT behind the motel and enjoyed a travel-free day and got caught up on various projects. The brunt of the storm was over by early afternoon yesterday and we could see the surrounding mountains all white. We even saw a few flakes mixed in with the rain late in the morning before it ended.

This morning we were on the road about 0930, heading for Goblin Valley State Park.....or so we thought.

As we headed south from Price, the mountains glistened with their new white coating. ut079

We made a quick stop in Green River for gas and to pick up some milk - not much to Green River and not too prosperous a looking community.

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We had to go about 10 miles on the dreaded interstate, and then headed south toward Hanksville and Goblin Valley. As we approached the turn to Goblin Valley, however, we stopped at a little kiosk with some local BLM camping info on it and saw that there were lots of dispersed camping spots in the area. Hmmm....$16 for no hookups at the state park...or....free for no hookups outside the park. That was an easy decision.

south temple23 So here we are for the long holiday weekend at a place called South Temple Wash. It's a gathering spot for a bunch of older jeep-driving folks, who have already welcomed us. One fellow loaned us some books about the local area, with info about history and some local hikes. He also told us that he expected some folks from CO with an LD to be showing up. Should be an interesting weekend.
Temple Mountain was mined for uranium for many years. ut097

8 Oct 11: Well, so much for my kind comments regarding my colleagues yesterday - they were off the mark today, as it did NOT turn sunny and warmer as predicted. We awoke to rain, which did end mid-morning, but we remained pretty much under the clouds and on the cool side - it made it up to 50.

Despite that, we ventured out after lunch for a little hike up to the foot of Temple Mountain.

That night we were treated to the nightly corn bomb event: Yeap, corn bombs. As soon as it would start to get dark in the evening, some guys would climb high up on a rock hill near the camping area. With them they had charcoal and cans of corn. They'd stuff the charcoal into large holes in the side of the hill, light the charcoal and put a can of corn on top of each pile of charcoal. About half an hour later, after the charcoal got nice and hot and heated up the corn cans, the can cans would explode. The force of the explosion would send the charcoal embers showering down the hillside. From a little distance away, it looked like fireworks going off!

south temple028 Along the road up through the wash was this interesting formation with little pillars left between the rock strata.
Near where the trail turns off toward Temple Mountain we found the remains of an old stone miner's cabin. Temple Mountain was mined for uranium during most of the first half of the 20th century. Below are two views of Temple Mountain.

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We were a bit surprised and chagrined to find how some visitors to this beautiful area treat their surroundings. Here and there is litter strewn about and we came across one dispersed campsite that was vacant except for a still-burning fire! Not just smoldering, but in flames.

south temple025 Then there's the fellow with a sense of humor: he sets up a fake utility post with water, electric and CATV hookups and connects them to his rig. And he says the black fan provides wind energy to keep his engine battery charged. Yeah, right.
9 Oct 11: Aha - awoke before sunrise, lifted the shade a bit and voila - clear sky, soon brightened by the rising sun. south temple41

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I decided to scale one of the large rock hills across from the camping area, which provided this panorama. Off in the distance is Molly's Castle, which we will visit tomorrow when we move to Goblin Valley State Park for two nights. A tough travel day tomorrow - 10 miles.

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Everywhere one turns there is some new, interesting sight. Liz found this pile of rocks leaning on a nearby hillside. south temple57

10 Oct 11: Moving day - on our way about 0930. Just a short drive over to Goblin Valley State Park, where we plan to spend a night or two, mainly to dump our holding tanks, fill with fresh water and take some serious showers.

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As we approached the park, Wild Horse Butte dominated the skyline.

Before entering the park, we took a side road out around the back side of the butte about 5 miles to Little Wild Horse Canyon, where we did a little hiking.

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After our little morning excursion we arrived at the park shortly before noon. Had no problem getting a camp site, and after lunch, we headed out for another hike to check out the goblins.

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After this expedition, we headed for the showers and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

11 Oct 11: Although it had gotten cloudy late yesterday afternoon, we awoke to clear skies about half an hour before sunrise. I grabbed the camera and stepped out outside:

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After breakfast we attempted the same walk we tried and failed at yesterday, the Entrada Canyon Trail. Yesterday we missed the beginning of the trail; we found it this morning and off we went, wending our way down a narrow canyon. But again we managed to mess up, missing a turn and going about half a mile too far. We retraced our steps and found the turn and soon were at our destination, a viewpoint that looks out over Valley One of the goblins.

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ut153 A much nicer sunset today what with just a few clouds about. I took this picture of shadows on a nearby butte and didn't even notice I had captured the moon until after downloading the day's pictures to the computer.

13 Oct 11: After the winter storm of a week ago, the weather here in southern Utah has been just delightful - back to bright blue skies, wearm day and cool nights. Can't complain at all!

Yesterday we departed Goblin Valley SP heading for Capitol Reef National Park. Approaching Hanksville, the ever-present (or so it seems around here) Henry Mountains loomed over a green valley. The river is called the Dirty Devil. ut159
ut161 As we drove through the sleepy burg of Hanksville, we decided it might be wise to fill up with gas, even though we were down only a quarter of a tank. Pulled into a gas station/store at the intersection and found that the store had been carved out of the hillside! It reminded us of Hole-in-the-Rock that we discovered some years back on the way up to Moab.
Out west of Hanksville we paused at a sign that indicated a historic site. This is what we found, with nothing to explain what it was all about. We did see a reference to Od Giles Town, which we'll have to look up sometime. The sign in front of the figure says Outlaw Blue John, 1888-1889. ut167
ut171 Shortly after saying farewell to Blue John, we passed this duo of cyclists. I don't know if I could face such wide-open spaces on two wheels or not.
After entering Capitol Reef NP, we spotted the Behunin cabin, built in 1882. It was home to Elijah Cutler Behinin and his family of ten. Only Mom and Dad and the two youngest slept inside - the boys slept in a dugout in the nearby cliff and the girls bedded down in an old wagon box. ut194
ut204 Since it was about noon, we went to the Fruita CG to secure a site for two nights. After lunch we drove back a couple of miles and hiked about a mile and a quarter up to Hickman Natural Bridge.
Today's effort was a 2 1/2 mile (round-trip) hike out along the Fremont River and then up to the top of the canyon wall. We took our lunch with us,eating it with our legs hanging over the edge. ut223

14 Oct 11: Being a Friday and with a beautiful weather forecast for the weekend, we decided had better not waste any time this morning and get rolling quickly. Our route took us back into Hanksville and then down UT-95 to the upper reaches of Glen Canyon, crossing the Colorado River at Hite.

Here's a vehicle I've never seen or heard of: - a Goliath 1100. It was parked at a gas station in Hanksville. A little research reveals that it is of German manufacture (the Borgward Group) and dates from about 1957. In 1958, the name was changed to the Hansa 1100. Couldn't tell if it still runs, but there was air in all four tires.

Below is our first view of Lake Powell, while below right is the bridge over the Colorado River.

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Our destination was Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah and we wanted to get there by noon. We just made it and it was a good thing we had hustled a bit - it has a small campground with only 13 sites; there were only 4 sites available when we arrrived and within an hour, there were none.

Our last stop in Utah was at Hovenweep National Monument, site of a once-thriving Native Amercian community in the 13th century.

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A short trail leads from the campground to a 2-mile loop trail around and through the canyon, where you'll see some amazing ruins dating from 700 years ago.
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Next stop: New Mexico