If you didn’t read the last blog, I talked about how we got closed out of Arches National Park. We arrived and a sign turned us away saying that the park was closed and asking us to return in 3 to 5 hours. This kind of left a bad taste in our mouth and we were pretty much going to throw in the towel and just forget about seeing Arches for this trip. We decided to spend the morning at the Lions Park, refill our water and possibly go on a bike ride. The lions park is a fairly new park. It’s got bike trails and rock climbing training areas. A lot of van dwellers and mountain bikers hang out at this park.
After a relaxing morning at the park we were going to head over to Canyonlands National Park. In order to get there, we had to drive past Arches National Park. As we were driving past, we noticed that there were cars heading up so we took a chance and headed in. The park was not closed and we were able to drive through. We didn’t want to get too excited though because they may have closed the parking area to Delicate Arch if it was filled up but we drove in anyway, hoping for the best. We got lucky, we got a spot in the lot. We had a little lunch in the van and then headed out on the trail. It truly is one of the most amazing hikes that we have both been on. Even with the increase in the number if hikers in the trail, it didn’t really matter because the trail is so wide open. And the end result of the Arch is just breathtaking. It’s unbelievable. We took waaaay to many photos here but it’s hard not to.
There was a short petroglyphs trail back from the arch that we stopped at to check out.
I am so glad we took a chance and drove into the entryway of Arches. It was so worth it. From there we went back to Willow Springs Dispersed Camping. This time I remembered to take a photo
Woke up to a Hot Air balloon in the sky with the La Sal Mountains behind.
Next day we headed to Canyonlands. Another stunningly beautiful southern Utah National Park. We waited on a pretty long line to get in, another indicator that this park was pretty packed out. Happy that we have the annual America the Beautiful Park Pass because even Canyonlands was a $30 entrance fee. We stopped at the very first overlook for some lunch with a view.
After lunch we walked down to the edge of the canyon for some really amazing views.
We headed back to town to take showers at the Aquatics Center which is a fancy way of saying “the pool.” Then I went to Mass across the street and after that we headed to get some dinner in town. Saturday night dinner in Moab is pretty much a mad house so we decided against it and headed back to Willow Springs and made tuna sandwiches.
Woke up in the morning to another wind storm and got out of there before the rain started. Didn’t want to deal with another muddy drive out. Came to town to get out of the wind and get our laundry done. The laundromat we went to is brand spanking new. It’s absolutely beautiful.
We found this amazing donut shop in town, we picked up a few and headed to the Sand Flats Recreation area. They have several dispersed campgrounds throughout the area. Some are up close and personal to the red and white rocks in the area. We decided to check out the G campground which requires 4 wheel drive. It was CRAZY and TERRIFYING!!!! We white knuckled our way through and made it out alive. We have no pictures of that as we were both completely filled with anxiety and fear. From there we went back to the more calmer campsites and landed ourselves in the B campground which was right across the street from the Slick Rock area.
The slick Rock Trails is for bikers, dirt bikes and hikers. We hiked up and over the slick rocks. The views were amazing and seeing the bikers and dirt bikers riding up and over these rocks was pretty inspiring.
Next morning was a beautiful day. Blue skies and 72°. We decided to do some bike riding to check out the area where the jeeps and side by sides go driving up these steep hills. Greg also wanted to give the bike trail a whirl with his road bike. He did amazing!
After our adventures we headed back to Moab to resupply food and gas and then head south to some Public Land called Behind the Rock. We got a great spot, had some dinner and called it a night
Woke up to yet another beautiful sunrise. However, not soon after we were hit with some crazy winds and a pretty bad dust storm. That red sand somehow makes it’s way into the van and I am constantly wiping down counters and the dashboard. It gets everywhere even between our teeth and in the eyes is the worst.
From there we headed further south to see the needles section of Canyonlands National Park. It was a 2 hour drive but totally worth it. This section of the park is not as crowded as the Islands in the Sky section. We explored the scenic drive and did a couple of hikes as well.
After we got our fill of this section of the Canyon lands, we headed out of the park to a dispersed Campground. We had checked the National Park Campground first but were not surprised to find no available sites. Like I’ve said before, it’s pretty impossible to get a site at a National Park Campground. So we drove maybe half an hour and landed at Creek Meadow BLM campsite. We found a great spot for$15.
Woke up again to cold and wind so made the decision to start heading south again instead of going east on 70 we are going to head east on 40. Along our drive today we came across some ancient ruins. We drove the 9 mile gravel road in to check them out. Besides the bitter cold and wind, I’m glad we took this little side trip.
Continued down the road and decided we were feeling lucky so we saw a casino along the way. The Ute Mountain Casino (NM) and they even had an RV park that was on our Passport America Membership so it was 50% off which is a bonus. It was a nice little campground, nice hot showers and a short walk to the casino. The wind was still pretty horrible when we arrived so we had an early dinner at the casino just so we could get out of the wind. I won on the Tarzan slot machine. That’s one of my favorites. I wound up donating my winnings back to various other machines but all in all it was a fun time.
We woke up to more wind and continued on our journey east through New Mexico. We stopped at a Cabelas cause why not? We love that store. Greg got a new shirt to match the manikin. I was tempted to buy the moose hideout and sit inside it at Mindy’s Place but then I thought I might get shot by an ambitious hunter.
From there we continued on to the nearest Cracker Barrel for the night.
We continued on, we have been putting in some longer days of driving now that we are heading East again. We stopped at a Disc golf park for lunch and then kept on driving to Russell’s Travel Center. This place is one of the best travel centers we have been at. They have a car museum inside with other various Hollywood type memorabilia. Plus an old school Route 66 type restaurant. We both had the all you can eat Catfish. Not exactly something you want to keep eating after the first portion.
Woke up to yet another wind storm and headed further east a couple more hours to some grasslands that were not too far off the highway. We got a great spot for 10 dollars and they even had “hottish” showers. Super windy on the grasslands but with a high of 88 degrees we weren’t complaining.
The temperature has been a little too high for us so we will begin to head north. Drove to Oklahoma City and stayed at a Cracker Barrel. The van was definitely a hotbox so sleeping was a bit rough.
From there we headed north east for an easy two hour drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We decided to stay at a Harvest Host Location. This location was a Will Rogers Museum. It was really nice. I knew nothing of Will Rogers. Greg knew everything about Will Rogers. Now we both know entirely way too much about Will Rogers.
After checking the weather, We decided to stick around this area here for a few days. there were tornados touching down all around us so we didn’t want to go driving anywhere near them. Arkansas, like two hours from us had baseball sized hail and I think 5 tornado touchdowns. We check the weather radar like 50 times a day to make sure we are in a safe zone. Even though with these kind of storms, they just randomly appear. We figured if we’re gonna kill some time, while waiting for these storms to pass, what better place to do that than a horse track. We had a great time at The Will Rogers Cherokee Downs Racetrack. We even won a few bucks on the horses.
Later that afternoon, more storms and more tornadoes all around us. Our plans were to stay at a state park but with all the storms we decided that being around trees with 50 mph winds is probably not a good idea so we headed to the Loves Truck Stop for the night. We also figured it would be a better place to be in a Hail Storm. We would be able to park under the gas pump roof. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I checked the radar and noticed a pretty bad storm heading right towards us. I woke Greg and we drove 30 minutes north to avoid the center of that storm.
Back to wasting time. We are getting really good at this. We found another casino in a town called Coffeyville. We did really well at this casino and managed to win all our money back that we lost at the last casino that was by the Horse Track.
We decided to go exploring the Town of Coffeyville. It was such a cute down. We had lunch at an old school malt shop and walked around the college campus for a bit.
Coffeyville even had a County Park with two large campgrounds in it that run on the honor system. We found a great spot and put our $15 in the Iron Ranger. we are right next to a Rodeo sight and also a ball field where the college baseball team plays. There’s only three campers in the entire park. The park is lined with Old Growth Pecan Trees. It’s a pretty great find.
Next day, we headed to check out a cool waterfall. I think it was in Missouri but we have been traveling in between the three states here, in and out of each and then in and out again dodging storms. I think the name of the waterfall was Grand Falls.
The storm fleeing has been a little tricky because these major tornadoes don’t give you any warning and all of a sudden a regular storm turns into a tornado. When you flee it. It seems to be when the heat and cold meet, that’s what triggers the tornadoes. So even though we hate the cold we had to drive toward it to avoid the storms so further north we went.
We stayed another night at a different Cracker Barrel
Next day we found a nice county Park with $9 campsites right on the lake. Such a great spot.
Well today is April 16th. The blog should have went out yesterday. However, my cell signal at the County Park was pretty weak. We drove about an hour to Kansas City Missouri, had some lunch and then headed to Bass Pro Shops where I am currently finishing up the blog and sending it off to the World Wide Web for you all to enjoy.
One more blog after this one for the final 2 weeks in April and then that wraps up another amazing Traveling Journey for us. We should be back to our home base of Raquette Lake, NY by May 1.