Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Tourista!”

Jefferson, Colorado

Jefferson, a likable little town.

At the Junction of US Highway 285 and County 77 or Tarryall Road lies Jefferson. In spite of its ultra-Spartan nature with just a few businesses and a church, it’s affable. One shop I stopped in was a catch-all similar to what gas stations now sell, with the addition of some dinette tables and chairs to make a cafe of sorts – and there were quite a few people seated. The cheif cook and bottle washer had to handle all the cafe and the front counter as well, but seemed relaxed about it. Everyone seemed to know everyone.  Next door was a sort of Read more…

A Change of Heart

This is a long post, but it’s an account of the exploits of one 24-hour period.

All it took was one full day of 98-degree temperatures at Valley of the Gods, followed by a 10 PM reading of 93 to convince me that this tourist business ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. By 5 AM, it was 69 degrees. The rest of the week was forecast to imitate that. That’s the time when you do a little soul-searching. About 30 seconds’ worth is plenty, I’d say. Oh, I was careful to get a quasi-group thing going. After all, it wasn’t just for my comfort – such heat makes bread get moldy quickly, and badly shortens the overall service life of batteries like mine. And the fridge was not holding temps very well.

A planned overnight north of Moab followed by a half-week a Grand Junction, Colorado was to be the last of the sightseeing. After that was to begin the eastward “commute” to Illinois. Unfortunately, those two stops would be no cooler at all. A solution was needed, and fast. A look at the next stop after Grand Junction, an overnight in Evergreen CO, involved driving through Dillon, a high elevation area I’d had to resort to on my way out west last year, due to a prolonged heat wave then. I’d be trading away heat for Read more…

Valley of the Gods

Due to a misunderstanding with my GPS, I entered the west end and saw this. Okay, but not that exciting.

[This post contains 22 small photos. The larger versions are available when you choose to click on them.}

My plan had been to enter the east end of Valley of the Gods, Utah, a gravel road that spans two highways. This was because there were cautions online about having to charge through sand in order to begin the trek at the east end, and I wanted to see just how intimidating it was, given my sporadic difficulties with thick dust at Monument Valley. It was supposed to give the willies to larger and heavier towed rig owners. Instead, my GPS, set for the “fastest route” to get to the east entrance, felt that beginning at the west end would be the quickest way to get there, and I, not realizing the subterfuge, blindly obeyed. The west end is a short jaunt from Goosenecks State Park, so I feel that my GPS was either deluded about the nature of that roadway versus the highway, or perhaps didn’t even care. We’re working through this issue together now. Its conversational ability is somewhat limited, but then, I”m not in a position to point fingers.

But eventually, you see things like this.

I can’t claim that the west half is no great shakes, mainly because of aggressive washboard. Too many vehicles going too fast. Five miles in to what is purported to be Read more…

Into the Abyss

A word on the near future: The cell signal strength at Goosenecks frequently cuts out to zero, and next up is Valley of the Gods, which is reputed to have a weak or zero signal as well. So blog updates on this journey may be delayed for awhile. One thing’s for sure. Pretty much the rest of the trip is forecast to hit daily highs in the mid-90s due to the lower elevations involved (about 4,000′), so it’s going to be one sweaty and lethargic tour from here on out, most likely! Only the fridge and the new battery pack will be more challenged than me. I’ll post when I can…!

Monument Valley & Goosenecks

There be plenty of places to pull off and park.

[Caution: This post offers some 48 photos, so if you are on a restrictive cellular plan or simply have an aversion to looking at bad photos, go somewhere else now. The photos are small, but they add up.]

This action-packed day was also packed with goodness, the itinerary being a tour of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park’s 17-mile road before camping at Goosenecks State Park. The one-hour jaunt from Sunset View Campground was pretty and uneventful, and I broke out the twenty bucks it took to breach Monument Valley’s entrance gate.

I’m not giving out the names of these for identification, since to me there’s no benefit in doing that. If you need to read a sign to figure out what some demented English-speaking soul thought each one looked like, there’s no gain here. One is named “elephant”, which doesn’t do much for its historical authenticity in ancient tribal land.

A quick stop and wander through The View Hotel netted a sandwich, lots of gewgaws for sale, and some impressive historical photographs and artwork on the walls. The place was crawling with shiny tour buses packed with Chinese tourists, whose economic powerhouse has enabled them to see the world. From what I could tell, they liked it. From the hotel, they then tended to descend on the plethora of tour guide vehicles, waving and smiling at passersby. At least the ones without surgical masks were smiling – they were sensibly protecting themselves against the dust clouds that were created by their vehicles and all those who passed them coming the other way. Those tour vehicles were all flatbed pickups equipped with rows of bench seats facing the sides. On the rougher sections of trail, they didn’t bounce nearly as much as the Mighty Furd did, so maybe they were half-tons loaded to the gunnels. The Furdster would have lifted them clear of their seats, guaranteed. Remember school buses?

Ah, the road! There’s always the question of, “Can I take my car on that road?” It started out as a mix of dirt and gravel, descending sharply through hairpin turns. RVs and similar large, heavy vehicles are prohibited from using the Monument Valley Road, and that’s a good idea. Fortunately for me, the Intrepid is Read more…

Sandal Trail

Dinosaur tracks, which mean I’m not the first being to walk around in this area.

Yesterday was a bit of an off-day physically, so it was just as well I had decided to stay put an extra day. Didn’t stop me from walking the mile-long Sandal Trail to view the Anasazi ruins in the Betatakin Canyon. Three trails begin behind the Visitor Center, and Sandal Trail is the only one that’s paved and offers such a view.

This is a Navajo hogan. It has a hole at the top to allow a small fire inside when needed. I would think the insulative properties work year-’round.

I rode the e-bike there from camp and, neglecting to bring a lock, decided to walk it beside me. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision, because the trail descends several hundred feet as it wanders along. That posed no problem on the stroll to the viewpoint, but the bike proved invaluable on the return lurch back. After some distance, I lowered the seat and let it carry me along, and the degree of uphill slope in a couple of places was all it could handle in its lowest gear! I still got my exercise aplenty, since I dismounted and walked it each time I encountered others on the trail. That wasn’t only from courtesy, but was for the sake of self-preservation. It’s a narrow trail to ride, with steep drop-offs, and that astonishing sense of balance that I once had on a bike has long since gone the way of all things. Especially when crawling along in low gear. In a situation like this, it’s a bad idea to impose upon anyone, or there might one day be a new sign added in the future about bikes being prohibited. By nature, it’s a walking track, not a cycling trail. By the time I reached the visitor center again, I’d had a pretty good workout.

A sign labeled this a sweat house, and it’s tiny. The people carried in heated rocks, and you can figure out the rest. According to a sign, they used it as an alternative to bathing when water was scarce, which it usually was. Here, a small child visiting from China has taken up residence. Don’t let your kids/grandkids see this photo, or they may develop plans for the backyard. “That? Oh, that’s just a Navajo sweatlodge the kids made themselves, but they just use it to camp in and stay cool.”

I then mounted up and headed for Canyon View Campground, the other free camping area here. That road descends a bit too, but it is smoothly paved as well. Once in camp, it changes to Read more…

2018 Overland Expo, Day 2

Multiple rows like this can make for muchly exercise!

Here’s Day 2, and the last of the Expo’s 3 days that I’m covering.

This cute little trailer is perhaps intended for motorcycles. Made by Glass Action Fiberglass Specialists in Prescott AZ, it’s available in kit form or ready to go.

Another variation on the theme. With a 1,090-lb cargo limit, a cooler, chairs and a canopy are a cinch.

Muy macho. This old Jeep Gladiator shared the Wagoneer’s frame, but they are also now an attention-getter because they were comparatively rare. Like VW Beetles, most have long since been used up and crushed. I once rode in a 3/4-ton version as a passenger, and across an open field, the springs were stiff enough to rearrange one’s internals. A no-nonsense workhorse.

Read more…

2018 Overland Expo, Day 1

This little guy was toddling around holding a pine cone in the Four Wheel display area, and was just so cute that I couldn’t help but take a picture (with parental approval). He looked to have just started walking a week or so ago, and had that hesitant high-step that makes you smile.

Friday was the start of this event, and this post is only a “photo essay” of that one day. Day 2 will follow, but that’s how it usually is, with Day 2 following Day 1. Some smart alack may argue using quantum physics or some such gibberish, but that’s how it is in my book.

The aisles were long, and the vendors plentiful.

The B.F. Goodrich test track was there to convince people that their KO2 all-terrain and new KM3 mud tire were capable performers. This is an interactive display: you sign up, and they let you get behind the wheel!

I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to do this. The guide has them stop right here, and then ease up and over. On one of three vehicles, the front tires were slipping a bit on the hard-pack dirt, letting the front end shift very slightly sideways under power. Anyhow, I don’t like to go over what I can’t see, despite the poles and flags. Too big a dose of adventure, I guess, and no roll cage. Are you up for it?

Read more…

The Day Before

And I thought the Intrepid was a bit large. This Dodge Ram with XCamper was in the Little America Truck Stop in Flagstaff. It’s for sale, and no doubt they too are headed for the Expo.

Errand day went fine in Flagstaff, at least until I finished and parked in a Conoco lot north of town on US-89. A local fishing guide stopped by to ask about the Four Wheel and how difficult it was to lift the roof, so while his small child slept in his SUV, I explained the standard setup, explained the Grandby’s optional setup to support the old-school framed solar panels on it, then put him to work to lift the rear up. “Oh! That’s not bad at all!” he said, being young and fit. During our conversation, he told me that he grew up in Flagstaff and lamented the complete change in aura and events, going from lumberjack contests to politically correct eco fare. It’s always painful when a town loses its authenticity and differentiation, which in this case he blamed on transplants from Californistan.

Right after he took off, a guy pulled up and wanted to know if I’d like a TV. He had a smallish television and antenna that he claimed would pull in a station 35 miles away. Now, I desire to watch television about as much as I love going to cardiologists and dentists, so I politely declined. I was tired and figured a nap was in order, but the highway Read more…

89A North of Sedona

If you have nothing better to do, take a look at the 12-minute video below. It shows parts of the drive through a deep valley, and up some paved switchbacks to get to Oak Creek Scenic Viewpoint and my campsite on NF-535. On my hike today, I discovered that I have the choice location for solar exposure. If you crave cool shade though, this road is for you. Yesterday and today, quite a few spots have been taken by local weekenders, and I wonder what percentage of the total, if any, are actually staging for the Overland Expo like me. Overlanders tend to move around, not plant, and I’m not seeing any identifiable overland rigs. Lots of car-based tent campers are here, including a troop of Boy Scouts. There’s even one 26′ travel trailer set up for the long run. My advice for the video is to view it fullscreen. Enjoy.

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