Sunday/Monday, May 9&10: Band-Ass Lands

Our neighbors, the paragliders, started flying around 6 am. As soon as we heard the engines fire up, we were out the door to watch. What a perfect place to fly low and slow.

Sunday, 5/9/21: Lazy Day

With no cell phone signal at our campsite, I didn’t get a chance to research our next move. I am aiming for the gigantic Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. There are lots of BLM sites, but only a few are easily accessed. I need the internet to narrow down which sites are the most promising.

Plus our laundry monster was growing again and demanding attention. One negative about extreme boondocking is that we can’t do the laundry with our little camping machines. We need way too much water to do that, and boondocking in the desert requires us to be very miserly with water.

Lastly, I haven’t played my guitar in a month. My calluses have wilted. I have a craving to play.

This all spelled R-E-L-A-X D-A-Y! We had previously noted that the town of Bluff had a laundromat, and we had previously noted that Bluff had a strong cell phone signal. So, we took our bags of dirty clothes to the laundromat. While the clothes were tumbling with another couple of fistfuls of quarters, we got on the internet.

I was able to nail down five possible BLM campsite candidates with two very promising spots. The pucker factor is always the availability of the sites. For instance, Paria Road is a 6-mile long gravel, washboard, rutted, boulder-strewn, nightmare of a road. It has about a half dozen sites along the road. The first spots require the least amount of punishing road to drive over. It they are taken, we really don’t want to go any further.

So, we have to rely on my strategy. Tomorrow will be Monday, a great day to move on. We will leave around 6:30 am and reach Paria Road sometime around 11 am.

Once the laundry and planning were completed, we headed back to the Valley of the Gods and V-Jer. I got my guitar, Sparky the amp, and my song tracks out. It was wonderful.

It was time to hitch up and move ‘em out!

Monday, 5/10/21: Bad-Ass Lands

We said goodby to the gods in the vast Valley of the Gods precisely at 6:30 am. Our route took us down to Arizona through the heart of the Navajo Nation on highway 163. We skirted Monument Valley. All I can say is, “WOW”. The early morning lighting accented the multi-colored giants in a way that turned them into true masterpieces. It is so sad that we couldn’t drive down into the heart of Monument Valley. The Navajo Nation, due to COVID, has closed access to it. Still, even from a distance, they were majestic.

Our route then swung back up north into Utah where the brand new city of Page, established in 1957, is located. Sitting next to the dam holding back Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the US, Page is a marine town. Boating and tourism have given Page the means to build a modern and clean city. I am sure that we will return.

Halfway between Page, on the southeast corner of Grand Staircase, and Kanab, on the southwest corner, was our target campsite, along the gravel Paria Road. We found Paria Road easily enough, and the road was as rough as we expected. One mile down the road was the first campsite. It was open. We took it.

Getting into the site was tricky as the access driveway is nearly 60º vertical. Getting V-Jer up that incline took some fancy driving to keep it from bottoming out. Getting V-Jer back out will prove to be just as scary. But that won’t be for several days. No need to fret over it now.

Our new home base on Paria Road, in the vast Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Paria Road, being right in the middle of Grand Staircase, is a great location to explore the national Monument. We have easy access to Johnson Canyon Road, Cottonwood Road, the Toadstools, Page and Lake Powell, Kanab and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and so much more.

After setting up, we started our exploration with Paria Road itself. Several western TV shows and movies were shot near the end of the road with Outlaw Jose Wales (1976) being the most notable. There is also the remnants of a ghost town past the very end of road on a hiking trail.

As we picked our way up and down the road ruts, we were blown away by the alien landscape. That is saying a lot after experiencing the Valley of the Gods. Tall steep oddly-shaped maroon mountains accented with layers of colors ranging from pure white to chocolate brown, didn’t mimic the Badlands of North Dakota. These are the original Bad-Ass Lands of Utah.

The movie set was pretty much gone. And the ghost town consisted of one stone shack kind of standing. That didn’t matter, the alien planet landscape was all we needed to sustain our lovely bewilderment. How could such a place exist? Is that volcanic ash? Is that oxidized iron? Where did that oddly colored boulder fall from?

The Paria River was even alien. The river itself was a clear running creek over a large gravel bed. Nothing too alien about that. But the flood plain was pure white mud. Where did that white come from? And how out of place did it seem to be?

Two lonely hoodoos.

The Paria River. Notice that white mud in the river’s flood plain.

The only semi-intact building at the ghost town of Paria.

Wanda getting ready to set up housekeeping at our new home.

The view out the living room picture window.

I am half finished with that front wall. I just have to scrounge up a few more rocks. Actually, this was the only other remnant left from the ghost town.

We were getting low on gas, so we took a drive into Kanab. Kanab is small but surprisingly mid-western looking, with grass lawns and homes that looked like Wisconsin homes.

All-in-all, I think we are going to enjoy this spot for the week.

Glossary of terms used for newcomers: 1) V-Jer. The name of our camper. 2) Saturn. The name of our Van. 3) Duende. Our mischievous gremlin that breaks things. 4) Tata. The good gremlin that helps us fix Duende’s dirty work. 5) The Black Hole. This is what we call Walmart because every time we go in for just a couple of items, we come out spending way more than we figured. 6) QT. Quaint Town.

Dave and Wanda

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