The Loneliest Road, Capital Reef National Park

Monday July 6, 2020

I woke up at 2:30, wide awake, got up, made coffee and caught up on the blog, thanks to my new favorite laundromat. I did a search for campgrounds near Capital Reef National Park, since theirs were full. I found Sand Creek RV Resort on the other side of Capital Reef, just past Torrey, Utah.

As it began to get light, I loaded the cameras to get pictures in better light at Window Rock. It was cool with a moderate breeze and perfect light. I only saw one person, a lady who walked the trail on the edge of the cliff. She was just grinning when she passed me.

The Kissing Couple

Colorado National Monument is a great park. You can drive it in an hour, or you could explore it for a week. There are many canyons, all with different features, and they look different in different lights. What John Muir did for Yosemite, John Otto did for Colorado National Monument. Moving to Grand Junction in 1906, he began exploring the mesa. It became a lifetime obsession. He built and maintained trails when everyone else thought inaccessible. Then he fought to make it a national park. It’s an incredible story. I missed so much – hiking the trails, exploring the canyons below, taking pictures of the night sky and going to Glade Canyon where there are almost as many arches as Arches. But I must go. What I learned is that nights are wonderfully cool, and the mornings are great until about 11:00. Then retreat if you can and come back out at dusk. Now I head back to the Loneliest Road and then Capital Reef National Park.

I have 3 GPS’s: Google Maps, a Garmin and the GMC GPS, and the quality is in that order. The problem with Google Maps is I burn data while I drive. I cut it off, then back on when I approach a turn, but it quickly burns data. i have upgraded to a 10GB plan, but if I have to upload photographs of very diminished quality, I quickly run out of data. 

So today, I went for #2 Garmin, which has some nice features. It will look ahead and note distance to a rest stop, which can be important at my age. It will tell you the next town and how far it is, or where the coffee houses are. Its critical role is telling me the speed limit and speed I am going, and it’s amazingly accurate. It also gives me the elevation. I’m often curious about that, but it makes a big difference in temperature. I love cursing at the GMC GPS. She is so polite, and well-spoken, but utterly useless! 

As I drove west on 50, which merged with 70, I set the cruise to 69 mph, though the speed limit is 80!. I had it at 70 for a while, but it’s hot, and heat  and speed are what gets your tires. Besides, I was enjoying the scenery and I am retired. Why hurry? It’s not a desert as we think of it, but it is very dry. I crossed the Green River, and it was in fact green and looked good. Crossing into Utah, I saw a sign welcoming me to the gateway to Utah’s five national parks! 

Yes, it’s arid, but not quite desert, and there are these unusual mountains and mesas. When I have flown over this area, I marveled at how the mountains remind me of Peter K. Thomas’ molar occlusal anatomy with all the primary and secondary grooves and ridges. These sandy mountains look the same. 

Leaving Rt. 50, I turned southwest on 24, heading for Capital Reef National Park. The landscape changed constantly. Then came all these huge rocks and strange outcroppings of all different colors and materials. Like castles, they grew all around me. There was s sign for Goblin State Park. What?! I put on the brakes, but it was too late. Later my neighbor, Dan, would tell me Goblin Valley State Park has rocks that look like Disney characters. I stopped to take pictures at a pullover with signs labeling the different, strange rock formations.

Soon enough I entered Capital Reef National Park as it follows the Freemont River. The Mormons followed this route and settled the area, but it wasn’t easy here. Once in the park, I passed a huge wall where ancient drawings hail life here thousands of years ago. 

I stopped at the visitor’s center, but similar to Colorado National Monument, the exhibits were closed. It was crowded, so I quickly left. A bit down the road, I caught a picture of a mother deer with her baby.

The Garmin took me to within a mile of the designated campground. After driving in a circle several times, I knew the neighbors were saying, “\Ah, look, another Garmin user!” 

I stopped, trailer in tow. and entered the address in Google Maps. neither of the other GPS’s recognizes the name of the campground. They just want an address, but Google immediately picks up the campground name and promptly takes me to the exact spot – amazing!

Pulling into Sand Creek RV Resort and Campground, I tried to find a place where I wouldn’t block others. Getting out of the truck, a voice hailed me from the upper deck. “You must be Greg”, he said. I had registered a 25’ Airstream, so it was a good bet. in perfect social distancing, Harry completed the transaction from the second floor porch. “Go ahead and pick #6 or 10. 10 is closer to the mountains.” 

I chose this campground because it’s hot, very hot. It was 96, but I saw 100 earlier. Harry told me all the sites have all the hookups and TV. “What?”, I cried. “It’s true.” he said. I don’t need TV, unless it’s Grit TV, but I sure do need air conditioning! It’s that, or I am going to have to gain altitude, like in Stanley, Idaho. 

I chose site 10. #12 would have been better, with an unobstructed view of the cliffs, but hey, I was happy. My truck has been alerting me all day I need DEF, the stuff that prevents diesel engines from polluting, so I unhooked, leveled the trailer and filled the DEF tank, which is not such an easy job. 5 gallons should take me 5,000 miles, which should be enough. I do need to change the oil though. The GMC has been working hard.

I deployed all the awnings, shook out the rugs, swept the floor and used a Mr. Swifter to dust the entire trailer. It’s nice to open windows, but then all sorts of things enter, like sand. The wind blows hard here, blowing a lot of dust and sand. I hooked up water, electric and, yes, sewer. I don’t normally like doing any of that, but I needed air conditioning, which meant power. Water was a nice bonus, since Harry bragged that it come from a spring. I didn’t really need sewer, and don’t like to mix the bunch, but my water  tank’s water temperature is probably 80 degrees. I didn’t hook the TV….yet. 

I said some pleasantries to my neighbor, Dan, and we got into a conversation. He was from Ohio, but has been in Utah for a long time. We talked about how to get around Salt Lake City. The geology of Utah prevents you from going too many ways without going through Salt Lake City. He talked about the growth of the city and how it has all merged together. i said I hated driving the trailer through that city, but he knew a special route. He told me a town, but I’ve already forgotten. 

He talked about Brigham Young and how he wanted the railroad to come through Salt Lake City. He asked if I had seen any steam engines, as there was a celebration going on about the trains meeting near here when the tracks were laid from California and the east. 

I began excusing myself to take a shower, when he said UVA stole his coach. Bronco Mendenhall had coached Brigham Young and done well, but he was underpaid and following a legend. I thanked him, because Mendenhall is improving our Cavaliers. 

A shower felt good. I had been showering in the Airstream, trying to conserve water the best I could, but it was imperative in that heat. I came back and fixed some dinner. The sun was still beating on my back window. The air conditioner blew a circuit breaker three times. I remembered reading that there is a problem if the breaker keeps going off. Finally, I unplugged the surge protector and happily, it all worked well. The sun went down about 9:30 and the outside thermometer still said 86 degrees. I felt lucky to be comfortable in such heat. 

There is a lot of media in this post, especially with the videos. Give me some feedback about how you like it, and how well it loads on your computer.

  10 comments for “The Loneliest Road, Capital Reef National Park

  1. Ron Lowry
    July 9, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Everything loaded well for me………..things will be hot near Boise Friday and Saturday…..but cooling down by the time we get to Stanley.R

    • July 9, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks Ron. pretty pleasant here today, but I am trained now to hibernate in the middle of the day and go back out about 7:00. I put everything together before I left Charlottesville, but I will use one of their bags to put it in when we get to Stanley.

  2. patrick Long
    July 9, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Great pictures Greg. Those temperatures certainly tax your air conditioning system.

    • July 9, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Pat. Great having you along! Yes, I blew the circuit breaker twice and began to get worried, but seems good now. 50 degrees this morning – perfectly delightful. Now into the 90’s and getting ready to turn it on. Nice breeze and 18% humidity helps a lot.

  3. July 12, 2020 at 12:32 am

    Fantastic posts Dr.
    All loaded fast and well, dilly dilly!

    Love the hum of that engine on the video. Not sure Martha would appreciate you filming and driving though? Just don’t tell her. You need to get some kind of mount for the iPhone to entertain us followers more. Really like the “Greg live view”.

    What great country your in! Can only imagine the poor souls who first ventured there. The stone drawings are like windows into the past. One small request, in the future when photographing the Big Horn sheep, can you get closer ? I know it’s hot and a bit of a punky hike but I had a tuff time seeing them. Plus you really shout get out and about more. Thanks for sharing.

    • July 12, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Good morning Dr. Evergreen,

      You are right. I can hear Martha yelling at me now. I am going to order a bigger card for my Transcend dash camera. It is there for safety in case of an accident, it records the event. I have used it videos, but I don’t want to use it all up with that. Its main purpose is important. I did record going through the tunnels in Colorado Monument that I will have to put up.

      Just testing your vision PG, but your point is good. I did have some closeups though. Thank you so much for coming along, and thank you so much for your comments. It lets me know you are here 😊

      • Pam Grobmyer
        July 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

        It is so fun to follow your travels! Stay safe.

  4. July 26, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Thank you for coming along Pam!

  5. Lucius Bracey
    August 3, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Spell binding. Hope you write a book with photos. Pioneering spirit I admire and envy. Lucius

    • August 3, 2020 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Lucius,

      So happy you are following! You don’t need to pioneer, as you live in paradise! Have a great summer, and all the best to both of you.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: