There was an unexpected frost covering the ground this morning as I walked Pixie around the RV park. Quite a change from the heat of Moab. The grass crunched beneath our feet in the wee hours of the morning (8am) as we cruised the campground checking out the various types of campers...big fancy fith-wheels, CruiseAmerica Winnebagos, all shapes and sizes of travel trailers (but no Creekside models), and an interesting camper-minivan rental called "Jucy". At the far end was a fenced field with some horses in it. Pixie had never been this close to a horse before and of course, she was afraid. She cowered and pulled away and wanted nothing to do with the black oversized dog-beast! So we moseyed on back to the camper for breakfast.
Since we left the trailer attached to the car, that took a big chunk out of our morning prep to leave. But there was one very important task to undertake…emptying the black and grey water tanks. Yes! We have officially christened the camper’s toilet! After a bit of wrestling with the pieces (trying to get the elbow on the poop tube and then screwing the tube into the sewer hook up), I successfully emptied the tanks! Now it’s official…we are real full-timers!
Having Pixie on this trip is not always the easiest thing. Most of the National Parks do not allow dogs to hike on any of the trails and there is the slight issue that Pixie actually HATES riding in the car (combination of motion sickness and just plain fear). But, she was part of the deal. As Summer would say, “If Pixie doesn’t come on the road trip, then neither will Summer”. So, I found a series of books called “Hiking with Dogs” and they have one for nearly every state. I found a hike in the Dixie National Forest at Singletree campground, so that was our first destination today.
We headed out on the Scenic Highway 12 around 11am. I am so glad that we didn’t try to do this drive yesterday in the dark. I mean what’s the point of driving a Scenic highway if you can’t see anything?
The landscape had changed from the red rocks of Capitol Reef into rolling farm land and then into pine forests as we started to climb up Boulder Mountain. Only about ½ hour into the drive, we reached the campground. I had taken special care to look this campground up online with google maps to be sure that we would be able to turn around. I wasn’t entirely clear where we were going to park, but it looked like the map showed a couple different options. As I turned left off the winding mountain road into the campground drive, I stopped hard! The gate to the campground was closed! Closed for the season! Ugh! So now the camper was fully committed facing the gate and with no way to turn around. I was going to have to back it out of here. Fun!
But in my usual fashion…we will worry about that later. For now, we have a hike to do.
(Not sure if you can see it, but there is a forest service gate/bar preventing us from driving into the empty campground)
It was very peaceful walking through the beautiful pine forest deserted campground. We found the trail head easily and began the just over a mile hike to some waterfalls (hopefully). We crossed a stream on a small wooden bridge, got awesome views of the broad valley below the mountain, and then descended down the rocky trail…our own private paradise! Pixie loves hiking off the leash! She sniffs and “hunts” and leaves her mark. Good to wear her out before the rest of the car ride.
When we got back to the truck/rig, backing it out wasn’t too big of a deal. The entrance road was actually pretty wide and so I was able to partially back it up and then pull forward…and we were on our way again.
We continued the drive up Boulder Mountain…this is Utah?? It looks just like home…pine trees and empty Aspens, except for the stunning new views at each (and every single one) of the pull over spots! There were also placards telling the history of the land and info about the plants/trees/etc. It’s road schooling at it’s finest!
The descent was somewhat steep and required a bit of focused attention from this newbie. But we made it to the “town” of Boulder and decided to stop for lunch. After doing a 3-point (well okay, I am sure it was more like a 21-point turn), I actually managed to maneuver the trailer around to park on a side street next to the restaurant. A truck with a pop-up trailer passed us as I was attempting my turn around and came back facing the direction I was maneuvering toward. I asked and sure enough there was an easy turn around spot just down the road. OMG! Well, chuck it up to much needed practice.
The lunch spot was expensive, and the waitstaff bored and bothered by actually having to serve food. Even though this was recommended in one of my travel books, I would skip it next time. Maybe just grab some coffee/tea at the little cafe next door.
And so, we continued on...
(The lunch spot was very picturesque.)
After winding through some more more typical Utah scenery, we made it to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument...it is amazing!!! The landscape is covered in rolling hills of rock. I don’t think these pictures do it justice at all. On one part of the road it was super narrow with steep drop offs on either side. I was thankful again that I was not driving this at night.
Most of the ride the kids just have their heads buried in their computers, racking up data usage. Hey! This is a Scenic Byway…look up and check out the incredible scenery!!!
We drove through the very small town of Escalante to our RV park, the Shooting Star. I was so excited to stay here based on all the reviews that I had read online. I had big expectations and was sorely disappointed. This RV park has an airstream vibe thing going on. You can actually rent one to stay in, like an airstream hotel. But, I was the ugly stepsister trailer and banished to the other lot. It was basically a gravel/stone parking lot right along the highway with no trees or anything. To be fair, just when I had finished setting up, there was a message on my phone from the RV park owners that said if I still wanted a lot among the "cool kids", one had just come available. Um, no thanks. Once we're set up, there's no moving.
(My thoughts on airstreams... My first introduction to an airstream was about 15 years ago. A friend of my exs had one, but it had lots of unwelcome critters running through it and it needed a lot of TLC. So first impressions, not so good. When looking to buy our first camper, we never even considered it. We were looking for a pop-up. Since then, after reading many blogs of travelers, I realize that the airstream is a "thing". There are actually airstream conventions and meet-ups and groups to belong to and dedicated RV parks...I never knew! I could have been in the "in" crowd! But...no. New airstreams are very expensive! Like more than double what I paid for mine. And I was pretty set on having something new because I am not very handy and hope to have less things to fix on a newer model vs. used. I could have bought a used/old one and spent a year remodeling it (with lots of help/guidance) but I hatched this travel plan around July and was on the road by October, no time for remodels.
But I do think airstreams are cool! So, if you see me out on the road, please don't leave me out just because of the way I look! Can't all we different kinds of trailers just be friends?)
It wasn't all bad though...parading down the main highway were real live cowboys driving cattle! Real-life entertainment at it's best!
More from Escalante next time...