Sorry for the long break between blogs! I have been taking notes along the way, this entry is our trip from Mesa Verde to Moab around mid-October…
Our site in the Mesa Verde RV Park had full hook-ups which is really cool when you get the trailer all lined up to hook in to the hook ups. Or you’re a rookie and you just park her. Then when it’s time to check out, you can roll it forward to actually connect the sewer. Since we still haven’t officially fully christened her yet (you know, with #2) it wasn’t a big deal to drain the tanks.
I also thought it would be a good idea to get the propane tanks topped off after camping for about a week. But um,well, see, you don’t actually need to get them topped off every week because they are 50lb tanks each, 2 of them, and that’s enough propane to last more than a month!
Anyway, on the way to Moab whenever we would stop, I would smell propane and think, “Oh, crap! This is bad!”
No, this is just what happens when you overfill the tanks…the propane slowly seeps out and it smells. Rookie mistake number…already lost count.
Before we went on the trip, I asked the kids where they wanted to go…on Summer’s Bucket List was to visit the Four Corners. I decided that if we were headed all the way down there, then we would make a stop at Mesa Verde, so we will have already checked off 2 boxes!
The Four Corners is on Native American Indian land and you go through a gate to get to the Monument. You have to pay a fee to stand in 4 states at one time!
Here’s a tip for those wanting to check it out…they only take cash at the entrance, but if you scramble around in your brand new truck, no scratch that! There’s no loose change in a brand new truck! If you get all of the change out of the bottom of your purse and pull the quarters from your laundry stash, you can get in. (Or you can backtrack 4 miles to the nearest ATM.)
The monument is in the middle of a plaza of sorts, surrounded by vendors hawking their wares. It saddened me to see all the plastic Indian jewelry and touristy tchotchkes. If you’ve ever been to Santa Fe or Albuquerque, it was something like a cheap imitation of that. But, there was one guy who did have some beautiful hand-man jewelry, a true craftsman. Jesse picked out a cool pendant from him.
After all the ceremonious picture taking, we had lunch by the RV in the parking lot, then hit the road again.
The drive from four corners to Moab started out on a really flat road but then turned into a curvy, windy 25 mile an hour type stretch. The kids were of course sleeping and so they didn't even notice their mom having a nervous break down!
When we finally got back to US191 north (a normal road with nice wide shoulders), I was so excited! Now I just needed to keep it together back to Moab and make it to our next campsite.
When trying to decide where to camp… (I use Campendium.com, RVreviews.com, Campsitephotos.com, etc) I pick out a place online and then I see another place and then I wonder which place would be better and go round and round and round…that's just my process, it's how I work. So after much deliberation and lots of yummy choices, I decided on Kane Creek Road. I've camped out there before but that was about 20 years ago so I was nervous as to what to expect.
Actually the dirt road was in great shape, no problem except for the 2 - 180 degree curves that went straight downhill…felt like I needed a team of mules holding the trailer from behind so it wouldn't roll down over us and crush us to death. Other than that, no worries…yet.
(These were photos of us leaving Moab...just imagine it in reverse. And, of course, the pics don't show how steep the road actually was.)
I continued on the road about 9 miles to some new camping areas out there. We stayed on the loop called ledges A. I was pretty psyched just to make it there, and so I chose one of the first sites, number 4. If I could have thought about it a little more, I would've tried to get a site next to the rocks to block the wind. It ended up being really windy out there and that red Moab sand is still with us in the camper and all over everything even now (more than a month later).
The best part about this set up was that is was in the daytime…woohoo! Back’er on in…I got this! Unhook the stabilizer bars, unhook the chains, unplug the trailer from the truck…now we just needed to unhitch the trailer from the truck (ball out of the socket).
The camping spot wasn’t exactly level, it slanted upward towards the back of the site. Since we were at such an angle we decided to put down about five leveler blocks underneath the jack. The jack goes down, makes contact with the blocks…awesome! The hitch goes up and detaches from the car…great!
When the hitch so easily detached, the whole entire camper rolled backwards off the leveling blocks! In that split-second, all I could see was my brand-new 6000+ pound camper rolling down the hill and into the dry creek bed crushing Summer and Pixie (who were playing near the rear of the camper)! Luckily, the bottom of the jack slammed into the ground and stopped the backward momentum saving my babies lives and protecting our homestead!
Rookie mistake number…
Here's a tip…try putting wheel chocks underneath the wheels before you unhitch the trailer, eh?
After resuming a normal breathing pattern and being sure that I did not literally “shit my shorts”, I expertly placed the wheel chocks into position. We also decided to go ahead and hook the trailer up again to get the front end back up on the leveler blocks (otherwise you would be sleeping clutching on to the top of the bed or risk ending up in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the bed in the morning).
I went inside the camper to set things right while Jesse starts working on the hitch.
And then…the dreaded words escaped my co-pilots mouth…”Um, Houston, we have a problem”.
Since the jack was now firmly planted in the red earth, the hitch on the trailer was below the ball hitch part on the truck. Even when we raised the jack all the way up…still below the truck. This was not good. So I did what any sensible person would do…we went in town to get some dinner and wine 🍷
I'll deal with this problem tomorrow (said Scarlett O’Hara). We can sleep in a crooked camper tonight.
The next day, I went to a local RV repair shop got the name of a traveling RV repair guy who was happy to meet me by the Moab library and work on the truck in a parking space. The one armed repair guy had blond hair that had been shaved on both sides but was still long on top and hung down a few inches for a party in the back (a shaved mullet-type do). Jack was a nice guy and very quickly lowered the ball on our hitch down a couple spaces which should make it low enough to hook up the trailer. (Jono would move it back up when he came the next day)
Another crisis resolved.
After, we hung out at the library for a few hours…free Internet and free air conditioning, now that’s a good combo! Especially since it was well over 80 degrees outside. This mountain girl melts in that much heat!
Once all our equipment had been charged, I had set up my blog, and cruised FB and the net for a bit, we headed over to Mill Creek to see if there was actually any water in the creek. (A lot of the creeks only flow in the spring or after a hard rain.) I had been there once before with the kids on spring break but the water was freezing…it was a cold and windy April break that year. We wanted to see if this might be a good spot for the dogs when they came on Saturday.
It was a great spot! I think the water runs year-round. It was nice and cool, a welcome relief from the Utah heat. There is a swimming hole not too far up the trail, maybe a mile or so. But we didn't make it that far because I didn't actually know at the time that it existed. I finally asked one of the many people walking down the trail with bathing suits on and got the beta.
Do you know what the sweetest sound of the desert is? Jesse and Summer hanging out in hammocks just talking. This never happens at home. Be still my heart! It's such a simple thing, my kids hanging out together talking about nothing special, but it is these moments that really make the trip worth it! (Sorry, no photo. Didn't want to disturb them.)
On Saturday morning I got up around 8:30, went outside the camper and just sat...aaahhh
Nothing to run off and do, just time to sit.
I really needed this!!
I sat there for about a half hour and watched the sun creep up over the cliff/canyon walls into the blue sky filled with only thin wisps of white clouds. How do you describe the color of the blue framed against the red canyon walls? Can’t. The wind was blowing steadily and the trees by the dried up creek bed were rustling, not quite the same sound as Aspen tree leaves, but still reminded me of home. The leaves here were just starting to change...yellow mixed in with plenty of green. The breeze was welcome, hoped it would keep up all day to cool things off. Yesterday was waaay too hot!!
Finally on Saturday afternoon, Shane, Jono and the pups arrived. Yay!! I had been missing all of my babies!!
(These are some photos of the campsite at sunset)
On Sunday, the boys went into town and rented one of those four wheeled dune buggy razor type things. I think they are called UTVs. They drove it back to the campsite. It only had room for four so I elected to stay with the dogs while they tore it up on the slick rock. After taking a short drive with her dad, Summer decided to stay with me as well…smart move girly, those boy drivers are crazy!!!
(If you haven't already done so, check out Jesse's YouTube Vlogs. The one showing their 4-wheeling adventures is called "Hell's Revenge")https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5WJ2jhbxN0&t=325s
We took the both dogs back to Mill Creek. But again, we didn't make it to the swimming hole. We had made it maybe a half mile down the trail when the he boys called us back to the truck to have lunch. That's okay, hanging out in the creek, cooling off was good enough.
Not much else to report on this leg of the trip, thankfully. Just time spent with family…
A few side notes…
Shane just loves camping out in the middle of nowhere in Moab with no cell service, no Internet and nothing to do. Poor muffin! He threatened to get on his bike and ride the 9 miles back into town just so he could have cell service! Oh Lord, Shane, coming out of the bubble is hard!
And here's another tip geared towards camping out on Kane Creek Road in Moab…
Don't use the vault toilets if at all possible!!!
They smell so badly and when you exit the toilet stall, so do you!! You actually smell like a Port-a-potty, ugh!
But at this point in the trip, I was still afraid to actually Christen the toilet in the RV, especially since there were 5 of us off-grid for six days. I didn't want the black tank getting full and having to pull the trailer out to dump it mid-stay. So go in town if it all possible or make sure you go really really fast if you have to use the vault toilet!
That's about it for Moab… I really really love this place! It is so beautiful and peaceful. Other than the vault toilets and the prickers everywhere getting into everyone's feet, paws, fingers, shoes, socks, clothes…you get the picture, I really do love it here! Fell in love with Moab all over again!
P.S. A great place to take a shower is at the Rec center…cheap ($5) and if you want, you can to use the pool as well.
Favorite place to eat in Moab is the Moab Diner…soooo yummy!
Next stop, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
After a quick trip to target…ha! Does anyone ever really do a quick trip to target? Well, we finally get on the road sometime much later than I had planned. (Seems to be a pattern…) It’s about a 4 hour drive to Mesa Verde. Originally, I wanted to take the scenic route through Telluride, but snow is in the forecast and I don't think this rookie is ready for driving the rig in snow just yet! So we decided to drive out to Moab, Utah and then head down from there.
We stopped in Moab to stretch our legs and get some supplies at City Market. Right now, driving for two hours straight seems to be about my limit. My hands get tired from clamping on the steering wheel with the death grip!
But back on the road again…
I've never traveled south of Moab. First, you drive through the red rock scenery but eventually it changes and turns into rolling farmland with towns far and few between, sometimes with just a name marker to let you know that you are actually in one. The storm clouds can be seen over the mountains in the distance... thankfully we are not over there, too. Clear skies/no rain for the drive for us. I am just admiring the beautiful sunset with all the colors of pink, orange and blue. All of a sudden the truck lets out a loud "Beep!"
Low Fuel!!! I wasn't paying attention at all! I looked down at the fuel level, then looked up...and a gas station appeared out of nowhere! Whew, crisis avoided!
So we roll into the Mesa Verde RV Park...well, actually, I rolled past the Mesa Verde RV park, down the road a few miles until I could find a spot to turn around and come back, and roll into the Mesa Verde RV park. First time backing in and I get to do it in the dark! That's how we Ridler's roll...set up the RV in the dark. It only took me about 20 tries or so but I got her in the spot! Maybe a little crooked, but did not hit the tree or have any branches take off the air conditioning unit, so I call it good! (Actually, I was very lucky with this site because I was able to pull all the way forward, and all I had to do was back it in straight. Yeah I don't really know how to back it in straight, easier said than done!)
The site itself was very nice, pretty trees around and good separation from the neighbors. But the highway noise was VERY loud and constant. (Don't do our site #5, or any of the ones on the road.) I think one of the sites towards the back of the park would have been much better. The bathrooms were super clean and the showers nice and big and hot! Also, the RV park attendants were very welcoming.
Monday, we just spent the day running errands in town, Cortez, about 10 minutes away. Hung at the library for a few hours…very good/fast free wifi! Did some school work with Summer, first attempt at math homeschooling...it's going to be a very loooong school year!
Tuesday, we hung out for the day in Mesa Verde National Park. We did 2 tours, but should have only done 1 per day. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and informative, but the tours are about double the length that we would have liked, lots of standing around, not much moving. (We stopped and took a quick look at the Cliff Palace...really cool/impressive!)
We went to the Balcony House tour first...very fun tall ladder climb up and then crawling through one of the narrow passageways inside the cliff house. Loved those parts!
There is a really long drive between the Cliff House Tours. About midway, there is a nice little museum. Summer got her first Junior Ranger book and we went hunting through the museum for answers to fill in the booklet.
After lunch, we headed to our 2nd guided tour which was of the Long House. The day had warmed up quite a bit and the ¾ mile walk down and then back up for our tour was hot! This cliff house is much larger than the other one with tons of kivas. I really liked seeing the seep spring at the back of the cave. Water was such a valuable resource for the Ancient Puebloans. (There is a 5 mile bike loop (paved path) that seemed like it would have been fun to do, but our bikes had flat tires and needed some servicing before riding) At the end of the tour, we were too hot and tired to do the short hike to Step House. Overall, I really enjoyed visiting the park, especially at this time of year (way less crowds and cooler weather).
Mesa Verde is in the PJ forest...Pinyon Pines and Junipers.
The Ancient Puebloans used the Yucca plants to make all kinds of things...shoes, rope, clothing...
Next stop, Moab! Meeting up with Shane, Jono, Pixie and Scout!! Whoohoo!