Monday, October 29, 2018


It was time for standby roulette. This time I got to watch the sunrise from inside the plane! The destination was Anchorage which this time of the year means double the challenge with a plane change in Seattle.

It's been waay too long since we've visited the family in Alaska. BJ decided that she wasn't willing to risk her back with the long flight, so I headed north to spend a week with the grandson and his dog.

The learner's permit had to be demonstrated. I was really impressed! I'm sure I didn't do as well when I was his age.

The weather called for rain each day, but we had an amazing amount of sunshine mixed with the occasional shower. Overnight temps were starting to flirt with freezing, with daytime highs in the mid 60's most days.

There was essentially three parts to life in Alaska. School, hockey (games & practice,) and other stuff like homework, eating, and sleeping. We spent a bunch of hours at the local arena as well as a trip to Anchorage for a game.

I don't know much about hockey, but I recognize effort and hustle. He played three games while I was there.

At times I wondered if he was the enforcer.

They were the home team in white for a couple games, and wore black as the visiting team in Anchorage.

He was even selected for an opportunity to chill out once. :-)

I got to spend some quality time with the granddog as well. Winston is really smart and quickly had me trained!

I'm looking forward to the family visiting Arizona over Thanksgiving, and Winston gets to come along.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

New Roads Home

We drove a little ways out of Moab before taking a left turn. We've always taken the shortest, fastest way home, but this time we stopped to check the maps. The office was closed, but we were on the right route to cut up and over the southern side of the La Sal Mountains, headed for Colorado.

We hadn't gone far when we noted a Sheriff's pickup with lights flashing coming the other way. Turns out, the deputy was running lead for a cattle drive. Some of the cows were apparently hungry, one seemed to want to face off,

but most wandered down the edge of the pavement, headed towards lower country.

It gives you the impression that the three cowboys were riding drag, but around the corner was another sheriff's vehicle providing support. A couple miles up the road we spotted a cow/calf pair that apparently escaped the cowboy's attention.

I had a few spots picked out to stop along the way so BJ could stretch her legs and I could look for geocaches. I wanted to pick up caches in three new-to-me counties but I didn't find the caches at the first two stops. I did find a really nice view, however.

The big town of Bedrock was my last chance for a cache in Montrose county. Choices were limited for caches that also had enough space for us to park safely.

Found it - an ammo can under a rock.

The views were pretty special.

We stopped at a cemetery in San Miguel County and then continued on to one of many fishing spots along the highway where the hint was vroom, vroom, CRASH.

All the markings were gone, but I think it may have been a Hudson at one time.

As we got higher, the aspens were starting to lose their leaves.

We made a quick stop in Rico to find a Dolores County cache which meant I've now found caches in 10 Colorado counties. I still need two more states with 10 counties before I can claim a "find" on a challenge cache in New Mexico.
We made another stop in the town of Dolores where I wanted to check out the old hay bailer. Three years ago, I was unable to locate the cache here. This time it took less than 3 minutes.

Home for the night was the Wally World parking lot in Cortez where we crossed paths with geocaching friends who winter in Apache Junction.

We really wanted to make time for a side trip to Durango but decided that would have to be another time. Instead, we headed to Four Corners. Initially our plan was to overnight at Canyon de Chelly but we decided it was early enough that we would keep heading south.

By late afternoon, we were home again, with proof that the roads between Four Corners and Holbrook were some of the roughest we've seen since our Alaska trip five years ago!

Friday, October 19, 2018


We took an extra day in Moab to visit Arches National Park. In spite of the many times we've been to and through Moab, we'd only visited Arches once - 10 years ago. We'd observed the lineup at the toll booth going to and from the river so we decided to get a reasonably early start. It was approaching 8 a.m. when we stopped at the viewpoint to look down on the highway and the Moab fault.

While the cliffs in Arches look similar to the cliffs lining the Green River at first glance, they are from a very different rock layer and much more prone to erosion and arch formations. (The canoe made the truck easy to pick out in the parking lots!)

Our initial destination for the day was the Delicate Arch hike, but we had to check out the petroglyphs on the way.

The Delicate Arch trail is 3 miles round trip with 480 feet of elevation gain. Early in the hike there was a section with built-up stairs.

And later, a short section with stair carved out of solid sandstone,

but the majority of the trail was across sloping slickrock, complete with occasional trail signs in 5 gallon buckets of rock. The signs made a great spot to take a breather and eyeball where the trail went next. There was one section where the trail was on a (wide) ledge blasted out of the cliff.
My first view of Delicate Arch was through a window a short scramble up from the trail. In spite of widespread reports in 2011 (mostly dated April 1), the arch is still standing!

We took the obligatory selfie to claim the virtual cache,

and did the necessary research to claim the earth cache associated with the arch. Ten years ago, I didn't make the effort to do the hike, but by getting an early start, the temps were comfortably cool and the hike was well worth it.

From a photography perspective, it seems that sunset might be optimal since the arch is backlit in the morning.

On the way back down you could look out across the valley to see where we'd parked.

It always amazes me where junipers can gain a toehold!

I'd hoped to do some other short arch hikes, but we'd spent a couple hours on the Delicate hike and by 10:30, it seemed that every parking spot in the park was full. We drove out to the end of the road at the Devil's Garden trailhead thinking fewer people would be there but it was just as insane, complete with tour bus loads of people,

We made a pass through the Windows section of the park in time to join the traffic jam.

We snapped a few pictures through the truck windows and by noon decided it was time to call it quits. We could hear Edward Abbey flopping around in his grave!

My takeaway was to plan on doing one hike a day, and plan to be at the trailhead by 8 a.m.

We did enjoy our hike and wonderful wood fired pizza at Antica Forma (not cheap, but oh so good!) so the day was definitely not a bust!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Buzz Job

It was only after we had the boats loaded and we were a mile or so downriver from our camp that the dark clouds decided that they actually did contain some rain. I thought about digging out my rain gear, but it was warm so we paddled on.

Within 20 minutes or so, the skies cleared and the sun came back out. It seemed only appropriate with with 8 nights of camping on the river, we should have a few minutes of rain.

We arrived at Mineral Bottom a day early, simply because it is easier to avoid the hassle of a busy ramp and risk of upstream winds for the last morning.

A group of paddlers from Phoenix camped about a mile downstream of us last night but hadn't broken camp when we passed this morning. We had our boats cleaned and stowed when they starting arriving at the Mineral Bottom boat ramp.

We'd been buzzed by a Mooney M20 at our last camp, and then by a Husky and a Super Cub during our paddle from our RM61.5 camp. In the afternoon, a couple different planes flew over, checking out the Mineral Bottom airstrip.

A Super Cub landed first, followed by a Maule 180. Later, a couple Kitfox homebuilts made multi passes at the airstrip. Finally, one of them attempted to land, but was downwind. We couldn't see the landing, but we could hear it. Some of the sounds were not congruous with normal landing sounds. A bit later, the other Kitfox landed.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, I walked over to the airstrip (about 3/4 mile from the boat ramp) since I had a couple decent pictures of the Maule on approach that I thought the pilot might like.
The signage for the airport is pretty tired, but the strip looked great - at least when it's dry. It's 2000' long, and wider than I expected. It would be really soft and slippery when wet. Turns out, all the pilots were planning to camp at the airstrip overnight.

The pilot of the Maule was making his morning coffee when I got there. We had a very interesting chat about his flying trip to the southwest, specifically to visit some of the back country airstrips around the Four Corners area. He was heading to the area around Page, Arizona next.

Turns out, there was a reason for the incongruous landing noises from the first Kitfox. Somehow, the pilot managed to avoid any apparent wingtip damage, but was very successful in removing the main landing gear in a manner that wouldn't be considered appropriate by the aircraft designer. The question the pilot asked me was could a 20' trailer be towed down the road to Mineral Bottom. Looks like this one is going home in a different manner than it arrived.

After the shuttle back to town, we ended up back in the very same site at Pack Creek Campground that we'd been in before we left for the river. Pack Creek was willing to allow our trailer to stay in their overflow area while we were on the river.

The parking lot was full to the brim at the place that we normally enjoy our after trip dinner so we headed to the Moab Diner which has wonderful green chili and amazing desserts at very competitive prices.

When was the last time you saw a real (and BIG) banana split for less than $5?

There were only three desserts - apparently someone who will remain unnamed was still on a river diet.