Tuesday, October 20, 2015

usbackroads destination--Warren Recreation Area, BLM, Pinedale, Wyoming

usbackroads destination--Warren Recreation Area, BLM, Pinedale, Wyoming

Heading north from Rock Springs we started looking for a site for the night somewhere around Pinedale, Wyoming.  We were looking for a campground with a dump station.  A quick internet search brought up the Warren Bridge Campground managed by the BLM.  It had a dump station and from the photo nice widely spaced campsites. It all looked good. Except when we got to the campground we noticed a gate across the entrance road. It was closed for the season.

It is a nice campground.  Here are the reviews on the RV Park Reviews site.  If your traveling in the area during "open season" it is a nice campground and a good deal.

Here is the BLM information on the campground.  Scroll down for Warren Bridge Campground.

Fortunately, for us the better deal was just across the road.  The Green River Warren Bridge Access Area. This is a "dispersed" camping and recreation area managed by the BLM.  And a well designed, managed area it is.  It quickly made us forget the closed gate at the campground. No dump station or water, but everything else and the price is FREE. Well, you paid for it with your tax dollars, but the add-on cost is ZERO.  Senior pass holders, of course, get 50% off of ZERO.

The BLM has a couple of brochures with information on the area.  This link provides an overview map of the area. We only camped in area one and had it to ourselves. Another camper did come in during the night, but turned around. Must be that Wyoming ethic about not crowding people!

This  link give more information on the area. Nice spot and we intend to return in the future and explore the area further. The BLM web site also gives an excellent overview of the entire area: Green River-History-Access-Recreation.

If you want to float this section of the Green River this is worth reading.

The only warning is check the steepness of the access roads in the dispersed area section.  Parts are steep.  Be sure you have enough truck and traction to pull your trailer back out to the highway!!  In our case, I did slip the truck into 4-wd just to maintain traction.  I don't think the Dodge Ram has realized that it is towing the Casita, yet.

Monday, October 19, 2015

usbackroads destination--US Highway 191N, McClines National Conservation Area to Dinosaur National Monument, Utah. and beyond.

usbackroads destination--US Highway 191N, McClines National Conservation Area to Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and beyond.

This was another long day running on 191 North., except we did it on 139 North.

191 North  past Moab goes through some fairly developed landscapes so we decided to head east into Colorado and avoid people.  US Highway 139 does that very well.

It was a fairly short day.  We were looking forward to a quiet day at Green River campground inside the Monument.  We visited the area several years ago and vowed to come back.  It was a good decision.  Great sunny weather and I even got to watch a Raider game on the television.  The Casita TV also works on 12 volts and with a solar panel you get watch the game without all that generator noise.

The campground has a nice two mile hiking trail at the west end.  Don't miss it.

There are also wild turkeys running through the campground in the morning.  We also heard Sandhill Cranes at the farmers field across the river from the campground, but did not see them from this vantage point.

You can set up a chair on the riverbank and watch the river flow  through the Monument.  The National Park Service information on Dinosaur National Monument is on the highlighted link.

Our Garmin GPS routed us through some county roads rather than back on the main highways.  That was a good choice, we saved lots and lots of miles and had a pleasant drive where we got to see the Sandhill Cranes we heard, but did not see in the campground.

The drive north went through interesting country until we reached Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Rock Springs is a  crowded, traffic infested small town on Interstate-80.

The good news is that we were headed to Pinedale, Wyoming and the high country of the Yellowstone Plateau.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

usbackroads destination--Highway 191N, Cline, Arizona via Moab, Utah to I-70, Colorado

usbackroads destination--Highway 191N, Cline, Arizona via Moab Utah  to I-70, Colorado

The Ram pulled out of Cline, Arizona heading north to Moab, Utah.  The ups and downs of 191 North were still evident and the cushions of the Casita were on the floor once again.

Turned on the radio and found the radio station of the Navajo nation.  AM frequency is 660 and in the evening you will find Navajo songs and chants, but this Saturday morning we were listing to great western music.  The commentary, however, was provided in the Navajo language.  And just like the Nazis and Japanese in World War II it was impossible to figure out what they were saying.  Navajo Code Talkers..  Great western music and many thanks to the NAVAJO Nation for their invaluable service.

We went through the small town of Bluff, Utah.  Now this is one of those places that when your trying to make time traveling your thought is....."I will be back".  Lots of interesting BLM land and campground along the San Juan River.  Town is interesting.and looks like it would be worth at least a days stay.

However, we were on a road trip to get home in time for pheasant season.  Lunch was to be in Blanding, Utah.  I believe their motto is "Base Camp for Adventure".  Blanding is worth at least a lunch spot.  There is a wonderful visitor information center in the middle of town, with an attached historical history of the area.  Worth a quick stop.

Right across the street is the Patio Restaurant.  It looks like all appearances as a fast food stop, however, it is slow food.  And it is good.

Blanding, Utah.  We will be back to visit them and their neighbors in Bluff. But 191 North, called us to Moab.The scenery south of Moab, hardly gets any credit due to all the famous stuff west and north of town. Anyplace else this scenery would be noted and exploited!!

From Blanding we were racing up 191 North for Moab, Utah .The scenery south of Moab, hardly gets any credit due to all the famous stuff west and north of town. Anyplace else this scenery would be noted and exploited!!

We were looking forward to a couple of days stay in Moab.  The BLM has a great series of little campground along the Colorado River along Highway 128. Here is the link to the BLM sites: Highway 128 campgrounds.

From the lower two units you can actually ride in on a bicycle trail to Moab.  Moab is booming. It has surpassed Reno, Nevada as the biggest little city.  In the middle of October, the town was booked solid and so were those special little campgrounds.

So we kept going running of daylight and places to camp. At some point Highway 128 hooked up with I-70.

There was a BLM conservation area off EXIT 2.  Here is the link to the McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area.

We took it and camped in the staging area.  Home for the night.  Four or five other rigs joined us for the night but left much earlier than we did.

We are hopeful that tomorrow will have a slower pace. Highway 191N goes through some rather developed areas of Utah, so we headed north on Highway 139 in Colorado.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

usbackroads destination--Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Navajo Nation, Arizona

usbackroads destination--Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Navajo Nation, Arizona

From Hubbell's Trading Post it was a hour drive to Canyon De Chelly.  I had visions of the National Monument being out in the middle of nowhere.  Instead it is JUST out of town.  The distance to the visitor center is the same from the campground as it is from the Holiday Inn.

There are two campgrounds within the Monument.  One is run by the Navajo Nation and the other is out by Spyder Rock on private land.  Both are rather poor.  No hook-ups at Cottonwood Campground that is run by the Navajo Nation.  Spurs are short and rather haphazard in their design.

The worst part of the campground were all the noxious weeds growing in the campground. The carpeting in the Casita was soon totally covered by every seed found in the campground.  AND there were many!

The dump station was fine if a little crowded for large RV's.  All that said, you don't go to Canyon De Chelly for the campground.

It is a very scenic and special space.  There is only ONE trail that you can take to get down to the valley floor.  Otherwise, you must hire a Navajo guide or be escorted by a National Park Service ranger.  So this is not your typical National Monument, but one managed by both the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation..

The canyon is spectacular and well worth seeing.  For some reason, most of my pictures looked much better in black and white.

Ansel Adams did take a similar picture.

 I do need to do a little more "darkroom" work on my version of the picture.

Here is the National Park Service link for the National Monument:  http://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm

Saturday, October 10, 2015

usbackroads destination-Hubbell Trading Post, Navajo Nation, Arizona

usbackroads destination-Hubbell Trading Post, Navajo Nation, Arizona

We pulled out of Alpine, Arizona and started heading north on Highway 191.  The early part of the drive was very scenic and highly recommended.  From Springerville, it was high desert for the rest of the trip.  Don't get me wrong.  High desert has its own scenic beauty, but I think we have been saturated with it on this trip.

We did pass Lyman Lake State Park.  It looked like a real nice stopping stop if you have a large rig or need full hookups for the night.

From here Highway 191 has it ups and downs.  Literally.  Everything bounced more than once.  Road speed was limited at times.

The scenery was high desert.  Most of the land was in private ownership so boondocking opportunites were limited.

The road headed north and the first stopping point was the Hubble Trading Post.  This site is a National Historic Site. It still operates as a trading post.  Except now, the roles of reversed.  Navajo goods are the attraction and are traded for the white man's dollar.  It is a good deal.  The items are the real "McCoy". Pricy, but the real stuff as certified by the National Park Service and the National Parks and Recreation Association.

As on all National Park Service managed lands Bugaboo just goes to sleep in the back of the truck.  Yes, the National Parks might have been America's third or fourth best idea after the National Forests and BLM managed lands, but they definitely NOT for America's dogs.  Snowpatch, has not learned this yet.  For him, hope is still in the offing.

See that little white spot in the Ram window??  Click to enlarge photograph.

The real advantage to trading posts is that they photograph best in black and white and at high noon.  

Every trading post needs a rattlesnake to give it the feel of the old west.  So I imagine the National Park Service must let out these baby rattlers every morning to give modern day visitors the feel of the old west.  Not sure where mama was hiding out.

Hubbell Trading Post is famous through western history. Well worth the stop for a few minutes of your time.  Of course, it does look better in black and white than color.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

usbackroads destination--Arizona HIghway 191, Clifton to Alpine

usbackroads destination-Arizona Highway 191, Clifton to Alpine

I was warned by a friend not to take this road since it was so "curvy".  If you search "Arizona Highway 191" you discover that it just might be the slowest state highway in the United States due to all the "curves"  The good news is NO TRAFFIC.

When I first started my professional career my boss described Alpine, Arizona as the end of the earth.  Be on notice that if you start from Clifton......you are traveling to the end of the earth at Alpine.

At Clifton you start out at the largest copper mine and reserves in the continental United States.  You actually do get to drive through the copper mine for almost an hour.  This copper mine will be one hell of a reclamation project once they are done mining the area.  I hope the company is setting aside money for the reclamation project.  There are several "scenic" viewpoints from which you can view the mining operations.  I am not sure "scenic overlook" is the correct term.  Maybe "interesting viewpoint" instead.

Note there are two tunnels with a  height restriction of twelve foot and seven inches.  Not that you would want to drive a large RV on this road.  We drove it in our brand new Casita trailer and it was fine.  Actually, a great test for the first trip in the Casita.

If you do the internet search you will find that Arizona 191 from Clifton to Alpine is one of the great motorcycle rides in the United States.  Our Garmin GPS showed the speed limit ranges from 20 mph to 30 mph.  That is accurate.  Some parts of the road do include a "pucker factor". It is a long way down if you depart the road by accident.

If you do not ride motorcycles....be sure to take a camera along this route.  You will NOT be back.  So take all the pictures just in case you have a question in the future.

Most of the route passes through scrub forest, then a burned over Ponderosa Pine forest, and then finally a high alpine area..  I had visions of a mature Ponderosa Pine forest with widely spaced trees.  The stretch from Hannagan Meadow to Alpine is worth driving.  Take the scenic drive along the scenic byway from Alpine to Hannagan Meadows and save yourself lots of twists and turns.

We did not stop, but Hannagan Meadow Lodge has breakfast and lunch for the perfect turn around spot to head back to Alpine. We filled our diesel tank in Alpine.  Interesting spot, but with 8000 current population definitely not the end of the earth.

We did not stop in town, but maybe next time.  It does look like an interesting place to visit.

Instead we headed out of town to a Forest Service campground.  Alpine Divide four miles from Alpine.  Six or seven units.  A couple that were even level!!  The fee is $10/night at full price.  When we got there, no water, no garbage service and a tight sites. As noted in previous postings Forest Service campgrounds are priced well beyond fair market value!  No over the air TV service, but the internet was at three bars with Verizon and speeds of 13.36 Mbps downloads.  You can hear the highway noise, but that is what you get with a campground close to the highway so this is not a fair complaint. On October 8th we were the only people in the campground.

This is an interesting website that provides another perspective on the road: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/drives/Coronado-Trail.htm

Saturday, October 3, 2015

usbackroads event--Total Lunar Eclipse

Late September found us landing in Benson, Arizona.  Just in time for a total lunar eclipse.  This was the third in a series.  Seems like we have had a lunar eclipse every six months.  The next lunar eclipse is in 2019.  So I hope everybody got to view this one!!

The next big event is on August 21, 2017 when North America finally gets another total solar eclipse.  Don't miss that one.

The picture above is the moon rising over the Dragoon Mountains just at sunset.

There were a few clouds in the sky and it did present a dramatic effect for a few minutes.  This is probably my favorite partial eclipse phase photograph.

Lunar eclipses are rather leisurely events.  So this is plenty of time to take photographs, drink a beer, visit with friends and just enjoy the evening sky.  The timing of this event was perfect.  A warm late fall evening.  By the time it reached this phase the Milky Way was clearly visible and the moon was a ghostly apparition high in the sky.

The total phase was fairly dark.  Not as dark, as the lunar eclipse in 1979 but a lot better than some recent ones in which the moon was very bright.

Of course, Benson is the center of lots of astronomical activity and was made famous by a country and western song written in the early 1970's as a movie score. The song is unique as it is one of the few country and western songs with a scientific basis for the song lyrics.  Yes, the theory of relativity works with memories as well as space travel..

Here is the link to the song on UTUBE with scenes from the movie:


All photo's were taken with a Canon 6D and a 70-300 mm zoom lens.