Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Utah or Bust: Moab Part 2

After an amazing night at the Sand Flats and a morning spent mountain biking a portion of the Porcupine Trail with our kids, we decided to head into Moab and take a look around.

Utah Road Trip Instagram Diaries: Day 7 continued with a repair de jour: Daniel had to replace the black water and gray water tank valves, and clean out the black water tank. This is not a job you want to do on vacation, or ever.
We needed to restock our groceries for the next few days and find a dump station to take care of some of the less glamorous parts of camping.

This was the day Daniel discovered that our black and gray water tank valves needed to be replaced. Just so you know, this is NOT something you want to have to do on your trip. After nearly shaking the camper apart in Oklahoma and New Mexico, we didn't want to take any chances of not making repairs while we were still in civilization.

94* after dark!

Thankfully we found a locally-owned shop that sold the parts we needed and they also had a dump station onsite.

It was Wednesday and we didn't have a place to camp that night, so I started calling around to see if we could find a campground with wi-fi (Daniel needed to get online to complete some work) and we also thought it would be nice to have full hookups again.

This is when we discovered that everyone and there dog was in Moab. On a Wednesday.

We had been expecting hoping that a trip in off-season and midweek would mean we wouldn't have a problem finding a place to stay in Moab. Turns out we were wrong.

The temps had recently dipped under 100* and it seemed that everyone wanted to take advantage of the cooler temps to go camping in this outdoor mecca of the west.

In the end, we went back to the shop that sold us the valves we needed and Daniel asked if he could do the repair in their parking lot. This ended up being the best place for us because the repair took all afternoon (much to our chagrin) and it was messy (ahem, black water tank messy). I don't think the expensive, manicured, privately-owned campgrounds would have looked kindly on this kind of repair.

Since we had had no luck finding a private campground, we decided to find BLM land to boondock on instead. We wanted to be close to Arches National Park so we could have an early start the next day. Using our AllStays app, we realized there were several public campgrounds next to the Colorado River right outside of Arches NP.

So we drove along the Colorado River hoping to snag a spot. Unfortunately for us, spots were already filling up. We drove as far as Drinks Canyon before turning around, debating if we should gamble and go back to the Sand Flats. But we really wanted to be close to Arches so we opted to drive further along the Colorado River in hopes of finding a site.

We drove, and drove, and still no sites. Finally we reached the Upper Big Bend Camping area and a man flagged us down to tell us that there was an unofficial overflow area across the road.

It was dusk, so we thanked him profusely and drove across to a parking area where a couple of other rigs were already set up. The boys helped Daniel get the camper unhooked and leveled while I made us dinner. In the canyon we learned that it gets dark quickly.

It was a bit frustrating because many of the spots we came across, which are all first-come first-serve, were being saved with camp chairs. Meaning people weren't actually there, they just had a someone drop camp chairs on their behalf to hold the spot. For the record, I think if you are going to hold a walk-in site, you should be there in the flesh.

We ended up parking next to a group of young hippies in the overflow area who actually happened to be from Chattanooga. They had converted a small bus into a camper and had been traveling for several years. They were an interesting crew.

The stars at Upper Big Bend were amazing. After supper we went and laid on a blanket and I even saw a couple of shooting stars. The night sky here was truly spectacular. In the morning we would see how beautiful the area was as we realized we were surrounded by canyon walls.

After we were situated and the kids were asleep, Daniel drove back into Moab to do laundry and do some work for his company using the laundromat wi-fi. It was the only night of the trip I felt afraid. I had no cell service in the canyon. I had no car since Daniel had driven into town leaving us in the camper, no wi-fi, and no one really knew where we were. If something happened to Daniel, I don't know how they would have found us. And if something happened to us, I'm not sure how they would have found him. Thankfully nothing happened. I didn't sleep until Daniel came back in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day we woke up, had breakfast, explored a bit, and the made our way to Arches National Park, leaving our camper in the overflow parking spot. Our first stop was the Visitor's Center to get the packet for Jack to become a Jr. Ranger.

At this park our first stop was Balanced Rock. The kids idea of hiking is really running, even in the 100+ degree heat! We walked/ran all the way around Balanced Rock and then they announced that it reminded them of Mushroom Rock back home.

We drove on to the next big area to see arches  with parking for Double Arch and the Window and Turret Arches. We all hiked to the North Window Arch together. The thing that surprised me most about all of the arches was how windy it was when you reached that opening, even in the big arches!

After North Window, Daniel headed back to the car to sit with Sophie. Dogs aren't allowed on most trails in National Park, so we planned ahead and brought a spare key so we could lock her in the car with A/C when we couldn't leave her in the camper. Since it was 110* that day, we couldn't leave her in a camper that was boondocked without electric hookups. So Daniel hung out in the car while the boys and I hiked proceeded on to Turret Arch. Isaac really surprised us with the amount of hiking he did with us while in this park.

After Turret we headed to meet Daniel in the car. Isaac was worn out and hungry so he stayed with me and Sophie while Daniel took Jack to hike up to Double Arch.

Jack was so enamored with Double Arch that when he and Daniel came back, he asked me to go back with him a second time. Isaac had fallen asleep so Daniel stayed in the car this time while Jack and I made the trek back to Double Arch.

Double Arch was really impressive! We will have to come back when Isaac can climb up to it, it was definitely one of our favorite spots.

Jack convinced me to climb up into the arch with him. Climbing up was no problem, but coming down was actually pretty scary. Jack helped talk me down the right route – he had confidence since he had already done it with Daniel.

After all of our hiking we decided to call it a day. I was sad that we didn't go on to see Delicate Arch, but the arches we did see were fantastic. We made a final stop at the Visitor's Center so Jack could get his second Jr. Ranger badge of our trip.

 The little yellow-green dot in the middle of the red circle is Daniel and Jack. I took this photo, zoome din from the car. But wanted to offer perspective of how big those arches are.

Arches National Park was our second National Park that we visited on this trip. Each subsequent stop, the kids would inform us was their favorite. So on this day, Arches was the favorite!

After Arches we went to hook up our camper and head on to Goblin Valley State Park, again hoping we could snag a camping spot there. I will be posting about that portion of our trip in my next post.

Utah Road Trip Instagram Diaries: Day 8
Visiting Arches National Park today was a big highlight of our trip. Isaac enjoyed the hike to the North Window and Turret Arches. Jack especially loved the hike to Double Arch — he did it twice, once with Daniel and once with me while Isaac napped in the car. Balanced Rock was another cool sight, Jack thought it looked like Mushroom Rock at home. Jack completed another Jr. Ranger program and is proud of having earned 2 badges. We are now headed toward Goblin Valley. 

Trip Stats
Camping Locations: Pickwick Landing State Park in Tenn., Gore Landing City Park in Okla., Wallydocking in Guymon, OK (FREE), Family Base Camp in Alamosa, Colo., Mesa Verde RV Resort in Mancos, Colo., Sand Flats Recreation Area outside of Moab, Utah, Upper Big Bed Overflow on the Colorado River outside of Moab, Utah (FREE)
States Covered: TN > GA > AL > MS > TN > MS > TN > AR > OK > NM > CO > UT
Significant Stops: Black Mesa in OK (highest point), Mesa Verde National Park in CO, Wilson Arch in UT, Sand Flats Recreation Area and the West Rim of the Porcupine Trail in UT, Arches National Park in UT
Daily Miles Traveled: 227 miles ⎮ 445 miles ⎮ 403 miles ⎮ 325 miles ⎮ 191 miles ⎮ 125 miles ⎮ 14 miles
TOTAL Miles Traveled: 1,716 miles
Days on the Road: 8

Upper Big Bend Overflow, next stop Goblin Valley

Previous Trip Posts:
Utah or Bust: Mesa Verde 
Utah or Bust: Moab Part 1 (Sand Flats Recreation Area and Mountain Biking the West Rim of the Porcupine Trail)

Utah or Bust: Moab Part 2

After an amazing night at the Sand Flats and a morning spent mountain biking a portion of the Porcupine Trail with our kids, we de...