RV trip part 2: getting to Utah

In yesterday's post I condensed a couple of days worth of travel into a lot of words and few photos. That will eventually change today, as we made our way to eastern Utah and we saw things like this along the way:


But first I have to catch you up a bit more, without photos.


***


We left off yesterday finally getting to I-80 after the eclipse. Our goal tonight (Aug 21) was a campsite near a small town in Colorado called Walden. The trip would take us through Laramie, Wyoming -- with which we are very familiar having been there half a dozen times before -- and then into new territory. Very exciting!

Some "highlights" of this part of the trip:

  • Missed the "good" exit in Laramie -- the one that would have led us to spacious parking lots -- so had to squeeze into a crowded gas station and wait "forever" for the car of kids in front of us to take turns going into the store.
  • I love the way that east of the Rockies it's quite flat, or at least there are vast flat areas, before you make a fairly steep ascent.
  • We took highway 230 out of Laramie, in case you want to follow along.
  • RVs are not the best on winding roads that climb mountains. I got to take a quick look at the scenery once in a while, but not often enough.
Once we got to Colorado route 125 we were racing the daylight a bit. It was still early evening, but we had 45 minutes or so to travel. Things got trickier when we saw a road sign that named our campground (Big Creek Lake Campground) but it was much earlier than Google told us to turn. We trusted Google, which was probably the main mistake, although there were probably others. I think it turned out for the best though, as you'll soon see.

A brief stop at the Family Dollar store in Walden and we were back on the road. Soon on a gravel road, then on dirt. Hmmm.

At one point the road that Google said to take had a gate on it (not a public road), and with the light starting to fail and us climbing a dirt road up the side of a mountain, I made a judgement call and turned the RV around. The prospect of driving on unknown dirt roads in mountain darkness was not appealing in any way. Plus when we stopped to do the multi-point turnaround on the road the mosquitoes were swarming against the windows. We have mosquitoes at home, but they don't swarm!

(Looking at the map now, we were on County Rd 12, making our way up and around Sheep Mountain. It looks perfectly fine on the satellite view and probably would have been during the day. Did I mention that there's no cell reception there? We were going off screengrabs that we had taken earlier. Who needs paper maps?! Oh, and it was still about an hour from where we turned around to the campground I just found out. Fail.)

Retracing our route, back in Walden I was just going to find a safe spot to park for the night -- my brain was so tired! Luckily there was a motel/RV park right in town there, so I pulled in front of it and called them. 

"Hi! I'm sitting in front of your office and we need a place for the night. Do you have any spots for a 23' RV? I don't even need to hook up, I just need to park."

"Technically, our office is closed today and tomorrow, but let me check... [5-second delay] He (the owner I assume) said that there is an open RV spot that you can pull into for the night."

"Is it next to the dumpster? I see some room there..."

"No, it's in back, in the corner -- you'll see it. [another 5-second delay] He says you can go ahead and hook up too, that's fine."

Amazing. So nice! They didn't even charge us! I have to give them a plug: Hoover Roundup Motel & RV Park. (I know at least one reader who will like that name...)


Jump ahead to pre-dawn the next morning when we woke up freezing (43ºF/5ºC) and turning on the heater set off the smoke detector. So soothing. We were able to fall back asleep for a few more hours. Thank you driving exhaustion! (I learned later when I returned the rental that the heaters in new units -- which this was -- always smoke and set off the smoke detectors. Thanks for the warning.)

The positive side of waking up in town instead of at the campground? We have cut an hour off our driving time today! 

It is now the morning of August 22, and our destination is a campground in eastern Utah in Dinosaur National Monument. We left Walden on 14, and saw lots of this sort of thing:




The late season wildflowers were really amazing, yellows and purples and whites to go with the sagebrush grays and grassy browns. (Those photos were taken at a construction stop, where the road was down to one lane. We saw a lot of those on this trip, but only a minor inconvenience.)

After highway 14 it was 40, which we took through Steamboat Springs (that's a huge climb and descent!), then west through Craig. Out there in western Colorado you see a lot of this:







(All of these taken through vehicle windows while driving)

And then, a sign indicating the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument! Wait, we still have an hour or more to drive?! That's because DNM is huge: over 210,000 acres (853 square km), and the entrance we want is way at the west end.


That's the view approaching the Utah border on 40 (after passing through Dinosaur CO. Google it and check out the street names. They really embraced the dino theme). That may be "blue mountain" based on some signs I saw, but I can't confirm. It's impressive, whatever it's called.

You drive around that mountain/bluff/butte, then you see...


...our destination: the west end of Dinosaur National Monument! (Near Jensen, Utah)

You'll notice that it is still daylight, which is a nice change from the day before. I planned on arriving in the middle of the day so we'd be able to visit the "Wall of Bones" before driving on to our campsite. (You'll see that in the next post)

Out of the RV I had my first chance in a long time to take some real photos, and I just couldn't get enough of those rock formations!

You can't really tell from the photos, but this is layer after layer of hills, seen from the parking lot:


Does this wider shot do a better job?


So much color variation of texture!

Here's more from just outside the Dinosaur Quarry building, which you have to take a shuttle bus up to:





That "spine" of rocks that's tilted and exposed is rather important, as it's the sort of layer that contains the dinosaur fossils (unless I misunderstood), and what makes this place so special and exciting.

But I'll show that in the next post.

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Studio Maywyn  – (September 26, 2017 at 5:53 AM)  

Looks great, even without mountains in places.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 29, 2017 at 11:02 AM)  

Dinosaur NM sure is pretty. That's one part of Utah I haven't been to.

Google Maps is remarkably accurate but I've run into situations where I couldn't go on. Not often, but it does happen. (Like following Google to Annie's Annuals nursery in Richmond, CA :-)).

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