Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011, Sunday Road to Goblin Valley SP to Goosenecks SP & Blew a tire!

July 31, 2011, Sunday
Road to Goblin Valley SP to Goosenecks SP
Blew a tire, had it replaced, picked one boondocking site & moved to another.  What a day!
After coffee & b’fast as noted in yesterdays post, I got on the road.  Stopped in Hanksville for gas.  About 9am I was driving at 55mph, outside temp about 73 degrees, almost exactly 20 miles S of Hanksville, the left, rear, inside tire blew.  Kaboom!  No cell phone signal, none, nada, zilch!  Fortunately the tire was still intact, not shredded to pieces & no damage.

I don’t have a spare tire on a rim, nor do I have the tools to replace the tire. I decided to just drive the 20 miles back to Hanksville.  If the blown tire had been shredded I probably couldn’t have driven with the rubber flapping all over the place.  One hour to drive the 20 miles, i.e 20mph, to be sure I didn’t stress the one overloaded tire left on that side.  Got to Hanksville, found a very nice couple who do tire, wheel & bearing work and bought and new tire and they installed it.

I did have a used spare tire but not mounted on a wheel (rim).  It was wrapped it up in an old blanket and tied it on the roof rack of BF.  This way if I needed a new tire and I was in a place where they didn’t have a tire, they could mount the used tire and I could go on my way.  Since I was still more than a thousand miles away from home, I bought a new tire, just in case I needed my spare before getting home.  And it is a good thing I did as you will see later on!

Back on the road about 11:30.  Nice drive through the sandstone country.  I stopped at the overlook to view the very northern end of Lake Powell, some 150-200 lake or river miles N of the dam. I was surprised to see the lake looked to be almost full.  Looking online I found out it was “only” 39’ low.  For a lake that is 60’-80’ low much of the time, only 39’ low is pretty good.

I initially decided to spend the night at a BLM boondocking site at the intersection of SR261 & SR95, about 2 miles from the turnoff to Natural Bridges Nat. Monument.  After getting set up I spent about 20 minutes there and decided to move on to Goosenecks SP. The BLM area didn’t make me happy.  The ½ mile road leading to the BLM area, at one time, was nicely graded & covered in gravel. Now there is about 200 yards of rutted downhill (uphill going out) red dirt. A nice thundershower will make it nice and slippery & muddy, with a chance of slipping down into one of the ruts. 

Actually I had thoughts of spending the night at Mulie Point, about 10 miles before the turnoff to Goosenecks. Mulie Point is about 1300’ higher (6300’) and cooler than Goosenecks.  But as I turned onto the road to Mulie Point, there was a sign saying “Road is impassible when wet”. There was about a 40% chance of thunderstorms in the area.  On to Goosenecks, that has a paved road to the camping area.

At Goosenecks I got set up at an nice spot about 25’ back from the cliff dropping down to the river and had a very nice view of one of the goosenecks.  I had a nice place to put my reclining lawn chair in the edge of the cliff with a nice view. I had a quiet night. One other camper a 36’ diesel pusher motorhome setup camp about 200 yards away. 

Goosenecks SP is free.  No defined campsites.  Just drive along the rocky road following the cliff overlooking the gooseneck and stop wherever you want along the edge of the cliff. There is about 1 mile of road and probably 10 or so sites right on the cliff and a few more back a ways from the cliff.  

On the road to Hanksville, UT
A "fixer-upper" camper, not far from where the tire blew on BF
There was a lot of rain last night about 50 miles from where I camped last night.  If that had caught me 20 miles back on dirt/gravel roads I would have been stuck for a couple of days until the roads dried out
Look at the mud which had been scraped off the pavement.

 Someone started down this dirt road and then thought better of it
Lake Powell, near the north end where SR95 crosses

Goose Necks SP
My front yard for the night

Pretty colors in the cliff

 Rain in the distance, probably evaporating before it reaches the ground

If you click on the two pictures below you can see a couple of white dots along the rim.  One is our Born Free and the other is my neighbor. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30, 2011, Saturday Cedar Mt to Family Butte area (day camp) & on to near Goblin Valley SP

July 30, 2011, Saturday
Cedar Mt to Family Butte area (day camp) & on to near Goblin Valley SP, boondocking overnight.
Left Cedar Mt about 8:30. My original plans were to drive out to Wedge Overlook to view the “Little Grand Canyon” carved by the San Rafael River, I decided to do that another time.  I have seen pretty view of canyons many times, and they are nice.  However driving to the rim and looking down and then leaving, is not nearly as nice as parking overnight right on the rim so you can see the shadows & colors change with the evening and morning sun.  I had about 55 miles of gravel road to drive today and I didn’t need another 20-25 miles added to it. 

It was a pleasant drive down from Cedar Mt and then a beautiful drive down Buckhorn Wash.  Buckhorn wash is about 6-7 miles dropping about 500’ through a Navajo Sandstone layer.  The next 17 miles to I-70 was through mostly non-descript open country.  Some of it was a little bumpy, but not bad.  I averaged about 20-25mph. 
At I-70 I continued S on Temple Mt Rd at exit 131.  A lot of the material I have read about the road N & S from exit 131, describe it at exit 129.  Sometime since 1970 they may have changed the exit from 129 to 131.  It is marked 131 on the road signs on I-70. 
I stopped twice along Temple Mt Rd and got out the laptop to be sure I knew where I was and where to turn.  Once I got out the GPS sensor and attached it to the laptop/mapping program to be sure which road to take. 
I had thought I would stay at the base of Family Butte, but the boondocking areas there did not appeal to me.  No distant view.  So I continued about 2-3 miles down Red’s Canyon Rd and found a nice place about 200 yards off of the main road.

About 2pm I some darker clouds forming far to the SW. Not dark thunder bumpers, but just a dark sky from the horizon to about 45 degrees up.  About 4pm the dark sky extended to about 75 degrees up, and  I saw large cumulus in the sky in other directions.  By about 4:20 things didn’t look much worse, but they were not getting any better.  It is about 18 miles of gravel road to get to paved road. There are many areas where it is not gravel but dirt and you can see the ruts where people have driven on the wet road. Add to that to get out of where I was parked/camped I had about a 7% grade on dirt which would turn to slick mud for about ¾ mile.  I didn’t want to get stuck here or slip off of the road. When I left Red’s Canyon at 4:30pm I figured I would be at Goblin Valley SP by 5:30.  I based that on the gravel roads I had been driving on all day.  Not to be, the bumpy roads took about 1.5 hours to get to the paved road & had I gone all the way to Goblin Valley, it was another 7 miles, but on paved road.  Goblin Valley SP charges $16 for the night, no hookups.  Nice paved sites and covered picnic tables & I think showers, but no elect.  Lets see 7 miles down, 7 miles back, that’s almost 2 gallons of gas at $3.70/gal at least, or about $7 plus the $16, or I can boondock just after turning from Temple Rd onto the paved rd going to Goblin Valley. Still no elect, but at least I don’t have to pay.  I pulled off on a gravel hard packed road, actually a 2 track, and not a graded road and park just off of the road.  Where I parked was on some softer ground, not very soft, my tires only sank in about ¾ inch.  A little sporadic  light rain started near dark, not enough to get the dirt more than damp.  After I went to bed, it started raining a slight bit harder, so I got up and moved BF off of the softer ground onto the hard packed road.  All was good.  By now the generator & a/c had been running for about 1.5 hours.  It was warm, low to mid 80’s and humid but it was cooling down.  When I had the windows open the light rain would blow in.  About midnight I woke up and saw it was cool enough to open up, but not fully because there was still some light rain.  About 4am, it started to rain a little harder and I got concerned that the hard packed road would soften by morning.  I got up and drove to an unlevel paved parking area next to a BLM information sign and went back to sleep.  Slept to just after 6am when it was getting light.  Got up and drove a few miles until I found a level spot to park and have coffee and breakfast.    

Morning view from campsite:

Wild horses at Cedar mountain, a mare and her colt:

Drive down Buckhorn Wash:

 Pictographs in Buckhorn Wash:

Afternoon campsite before the threat of rain chased me off:
 Views from campsite

 Approaching clouds:
 Dirt road which would be muddy if the rains came

Boodocking area near Goblin Valley SP
 Rain in the distance

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29, 2011, Friday, Day 2, Unicorn Ridge to Cedar Mountain

July 29, 2011, Friday,  Day 2
Unicorn Ridge to Cedar Mountain
From Unicorn Ridge, back to hwy 6, a stop in Price, UT for gas & a couple of grocery items I forgot yesterday, then S to Cleveland, UT where I picked up county rd 206.  CR206 is 20 miles of a very good gravel road to the top of Cedar Mt.  Only 1 area of washboard and that was only about 50 yards.  Cedar Mt is really an anticline (I think).  The Mountain slopes from about 5800’ to 7600 feet in about 13 straight line miles.  The mountain ends in a 5-8mile long bluff or cliff dropping off from 1300’ to 2000’ facing south & east.  For about a 2-3 mile stretch the road runs about 100 yards to ¼ of a mile from the edge of the bluff.  You can’t see the view from the road.  There are about 6-7 places where you can drive to the edge, and camp for the night on the edge of the bluff.  
There are also 2 fenced overlooks and a Picnic area along the ridge. Beautiful views anywhere you can get to the edge. 
I backed BF about 100 yards down one of the roads to edge, and was able to turn it 90 degrees so my front door was right on the edge of the bluff.  I had juniper (cedar) and pinion pine trees shielding me from the main road, so I had good privacy.  Wonderful views to the S & SE.  In the far distance I could see the dark gray outline of three mountain ranges.  The Henry Mts 80 miles due south, Abajo Mts 110 miles SE, near Monticello, and the southern slope of the La Sal Mts 90 miles E, near Moab.  If the weather had not been so hazy I could have seen the Mts very distinctly.  Great views of mesas and canyons and a big chunk of San Rafel Swell from my front door.  Only one vehicle came by on the road all afternoon and night.  About 7am the next morning (Saturday) about 4 cars & truck came roaring by.  I’m not sure they even saw BF parked here, they were going so fast.   

Great info about San Rafael swell & Cedar Mt:

Gravel road leading to Cedar Mountain:

Afternoon views from my campsite:

This rock formation in the distance looks like mule ears peaks in Big Bend National Park.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011--BF converted to 4x4 and 1st day travel. ome

This is a late addition to this blog detailing the upgrade of our Born Free (BF) to 4x4 and Al's trip home from Salt Lake City (SLC).  Start with this entry and continue to newer posts to follow my trip.

July 28, 2011, Thursday, Day 1
Pick up BF after 4x4 conversion.
I got up at 4am (3am SLC time) for a 6:30am flight.  Our son, Brett, picked me up at 4:45am and dropped me off at the airport.  Very nice of him to get up that early.   My flight & connecting flight in Denver were both on time and I arrived in SLC at 9:44, and got to Advanced 4x4 a little before 11am.  I spent an hour with Randy the owner, going over all the hardware they installed.  Randy & I slid under BF on creepers so he could show me all the parts & pieces.  I filled up BF with fresh water at their shop & took off.  First stop was gas at Sam’s Club & food at Walmart.  Then it was on to my first nights stop, about 80 miles from SLC.  I spent the night at Unicorn Ridge CG, 7 miles up Sheep’s Creek Rd, about 8 miles E of Thistle, UT on US6.  Elevation about 7600’.  Unicorn Ridge CG has 5 large, mostly level, well spaced apart with picnic table, grill & concrete fire pit. One concrete vault toilet.  A very nice free CG.  I am pretty sure this is a winter staging area for snowmobile riders. There was a map on the information post showing the groomed snowmobile roads.

Pictures of the new front axle:

Pictures of Unicorn Ridge CG

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 2011, Trip to Salt Lake City to have our Born Free converted to 4X4

Al is driving our, new to us, 2005 Born Free motorhome to Salt Lake City to have it converted to 4 wheel drive.
July 13-18, 2011, Wednesday-Monday
Day 1, Home to near Carlsbad, NM
Heading west on I-10 a quick stop at the picnic area on I-10 a little west of Kerrville. Nature was calling after the morning coffee. It is nice having your own bathroom with you. I can stop anywhere anytime.
It is so dry west of Ozona the cedar trees are turning brown.
But the mesquite trees are still green and looking good.
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It was good to be in the wide open spaces of west Texas.
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Driving through Pecos, I started saying bad things about Ford’s design of the temperature display (our BF chassis is a Ford). The radio station weather report was saying the high in Pecos was going to be 108*. However the temperature display on the rearview mirror was only reporting 99*. I figured they programed the sensor or computer to only go as high as 99*. I had to eat my words about 20 minutes later when it was displaying 102*. Ford is forgiven!
I spent my 1st night at New Mexico’s Brantley Lake State Park (SP) about 12 miles N of Carlsbad NM. The SP is nice with good view of where the lake is supposed to be, but the lake is almost dry.
There is supposed to be a lot of water out there, not just this little puddle!
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Day 2 was Artesia, NM to Grants, NM.
I was on the road by 5:15 am, it was just starting to get light.
Today was driving up hwy 285 through the wide open spaces of eastern New Mexico then W on I-40 through Albuquerque to Grants.
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Tonight was at very quiet & scenic BLM (Bureau of Land Management) CG near Grants, NM. The price was right too. Free! However, no water, electric or sewer. Directions: I-40 Exit 89, S 10.8 miles on the left.
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Day 3, Grants, NM to boondocking near Canyonlands NP
First was a drive up US hwy 491, which used to be US-666, but was re-labeled to 491. The reason: “666” is the sign of the devil and the highway signs were continually being stolen.
A view along hwy 491 (666).
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I had thoughts of spending the night at about 9,000’ in the Abajo Mountains near Monticello, UT. However a combination of not finding a camping site that I liked and a concern of altitude sickness, sent me down to only 6800’. Only 2 1/2 days ago I was at 700’.
The Abajo Mountains. The peaks are about 11,000’. The bench on the very right hand part of the photo is where I would have stayed.
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Instead I drove down from the 9,000’ level to about 6,600’ to spend the night on this little knoll with a wonderful view of the La Sal mountains in the distance and the country side all around.
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If the dirt on the trail to my campsite gets wet, it turns almost as slick as ice.
A short steep little climb to get up on the knoll. Any wonder why I want 4 wheel drive and higher ground clearance!!
Another view of the La Sal Mountains and my campsite
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It was warm here, about 93* but a strong breeze kept me cool. Also looking at the weather in Moab, about 50 miles away, the humidity was 4%. Talk about a dry heat four percent, wow that is dry, dry, dry.
It was a very peaceful night. Only one other vehicle drove up the road all night. About 8pm another MH drove by and spent the night somewhere up the road.

Day 4 was from Grants, NM to near Price, UT
The last night on the road I stayed in a very pretty little campground, in Price Canyon BLM Recreation Area, about 12 miles N of Price, UT.
My campsite
A couple of pictures of the road climbing 1,000’ up the side of the canyon to get to the campground.
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Looking in the convex mirror to the rear
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I did have a bit of an “oops” as I turned off of the highway on to the road to the campground:
BF is 26’ almost 27’ long. I figured they always are very, very conservative on vehicle lengths they recommend in the campgrounds and on the roads leading to them. Besides once I turned onto the road to the campground, there was no place to turn around even a 24’ vehicle. I would have had to back out onto the busy highway which was in the bottom of the canyon. I would not have been able to see if traffic was coming as I backed out & the traffic coming on the side of the road I was backing into is coming around a bend so they wouldn’t see me until the last minute. Yesterday when I looked at the government website for this campground, there was no mention of a length restriction. It would have been nice I they listed the restriction on the website. Not that it would have mattered. I would have gone up the road anyways.
Day 5 Price, UT to Advanced 4X4 Systems in Salt Lake City (SLC)
It was about a 100 mile drive to Salt Lake City to Advanced 4X4 Systems. I left camp about 9:30am and spend most of the day parked just off of a paved mountain road, part way to SLC. I had a good Verizon cell phone signal so I had a good internet connection. I did have quite a surprise when I logged on to the internet. I had an email from Frontier Airlines stating my flight back to San Antonio tomorrow, had been canceled and I would need to reschedule. There was a major hail storm at the Denver airport which is a major hub for Frontier and the hail damaged a lot of their planes so they had to cancel a large number of flights.
I looked online at their website for some way to reschedule, but there wasn’t any. Trying to book another flight showed the next available flight was not going to be until Wednesday afternoon. The website warned that there would be a very long hold time if you called to reschedule. Well I didn’t have much choice, so I called. Yep, the recording said a 54 minute hold time. I quickly checked my Verizon cell phone minutes to make sure I would not go over our minutes. No problem we had only used about 280 minutes of our 700 anytime minutes and there was only a week to the end of the billing cycle. The vast majority of our calls are to other Verizon cell phones and those minutes don’t count against our anytime minutes. Anyways my hold time was only about 40 minutes and they got me on flight on United Airlines arriving in San Antonio about the same time I was originally scheduled for.
I arrived at Advance 4X4 Systems about 5:30pm and parked where they told me to, in the loading dock area. It was about 93* out, so I started the generator and cranked up the air conditioner. Got all the curtains closed so people passing by would not realize some was staying in the MH.
That night the I experienced the first problem we have had with the MH. Sometimes when the a/c compressor turns on it causes the generator to stop putting out electricity for about 30 seconds. Then the power comes back on and the a/c runs normally until the problem occurs 20-30 minutes later. That sure made it hard to get a peaceful sleep that night.
Other than the generator problem it was a quiet night.
Day 6, SLC to Home.
Monday morning, I spent an hour or so talking with the owner about his shop and what they were going to do to . I got to the airport about 10:30am and boarded my flight at 3:40pm and was home about midnight.
That’s all for now. Next will be my trip bringing BF back from SLC July 28-Aug 3, Thursday-Wednesday.