Sunday, October 31, 2010

Schafer Switchbacks

These were a lot of fun.

If you are afraid of heights, then I strongly recommend that you not look out your car window.

They were performing some road maintenance near the bottom so I had to wait a few minutes for the tractor to get clear. The weather was great and I visited with the man holding me there. There were a few wide sections up on the switchbacks where you can pull over and take photos. This is trail #45 (rated easy) in Wells' book and trail #1 in Massey's book (rated 3).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bartlett Overlook Trail

The Bartlett Overlook Trail is #7 in Wells' book (rated "difficult") and trail #13 in Massey's book (rated 4). It was very remote and would have been less enjoyable on a hot or windy day.

There's only one tough spot where you have to get up a large step of rocks. There's no alternate route, and it's clear that people have tried to find one. I placed a map and DVD case in the next photos to show scale. I moved a few boulders and then just drove right up and over on the right side.

I was most worried about lack of traction due to my tire tread being filled with red mud. It worked out fine though. For grins, I setup a video camera beside the step to record it and see how much my tires slipped. This way I can correlate the feeling and sound I experience while driving with the actual amount the tires slipped. Here's a screencap of that video (the video itself is boring).

The views along this trail were stunning. No singular rock formation or object to focus on. Instead, you're treated to beautiful vistas with all nature of interesting formations for the eye to focus on.

Since it rained the previous night, there were a few puddles to drive through - properly coating the rover in red mud. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lions Back

Here's a photo I took of Lions Back. It hasn't been open for years. From this angle, it doesn't look very impressive. I've seen enough videos on youtube of people driving it to know that it's very scary. I'm sure my truck could handle it. But I doubt the driver could.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Moab Hotel

I stayed a few nights at the Best Western Canyonlands hotel in Moab. It turned out to be an excellent choice. It's in the center of town and I could walk to a lot of places. After off-roading all day, I don't look forward to getting back in the car to drive just to eat dinner. This hotel has renovated the interior in recent years and it's much nicer inside than the exterior would suggest.

A visitor from NY had some nice car decorations. Probably from their kids. The rain that night washed it away.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gemini Bridges Trail

The Gemini Bridges 4wd Trail is pretty easy and it's a nice introduction to driving on slick rock for anyone who's never done that. Here's the BLM site for this route. This is trail #16 in Wells' book (Guide to Moab Ut Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails) and trail #51 in Massey's book (Backcountry Adventures Utah). Wells rates it "easy" (I agree) and Massey rates it 5 (it's far easier than that).

When I left the highway north of Moab, it was raining lightly, but it didn't last long. It turned out to be a great day. The short rain fall kept down the dust for the rest of the day.

Here's a spot where the slickrock has been ground down to make it easier.

Here are a few of the photos I took around the arch formation.

An 18yo boy scout from Wisconsin died this summer after falling from this arch.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunset Grill

I dined once at the Sunset Grill during my stay in Moab. I'd been wanting to do that since reading about it in the book Uranium. The Sunset Grill restaurant is formerly the mansion of the famous Uranium millionaire Charlie Steen. He was such a colorful character, I thought I'd make the tiny pilgrimage to this small shrine to his success.

Diners are treated to a terrific view across the valley and the town of Moab. I had secured reservations using their online form, but that wasn't necessary. That Tuesday night, there was no crowd. Here's a photo I took while driving on the highway below the restaurant.

I highly recommend the Sunset Grill. I had the filet and it was very tender and tasty. Their menu is online and it's not too pricey.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Packing for Mars

Mary Roach's new book, "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void", is pretty interesting and I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about some of the prep work that goes into space missions.

I got it entirely because I enjoyed her previous book, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers."

Here's the author's site for the book. Rather than write my own description of the book, I'll just point you to the NY Times review. Newsweek liked it also. That should about cover it.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Moab Camping

I found a great campground very close to Moab. The Oak Grove Campground is located about 7 miles up highway 128 just north of town. It's run by the BLM and costs a mere $12 a night. The camp sites on the left side are sheltered by a group of oak trees providing nice shade from the hot sun. The campground is beside the Colorado River with colorful red rock cliffs towering above.

The BLM operates several campgrounds along highway 128, so I had many choices. I liked this one because of the shade and privacy. I also liked the sites at Goose Island Campground, but it was more crowded.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Arches NP

I spent a week in Moab, Utah this summer and it's time to start posting some photos. I'll start off with Arches National Park. I stopped off there to get a new annual pass.

This park presents new hazards. The one road through it has plenty of visitors gawking at the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately that means they're not watching the road. Several cars in front of me, as well as several coming head-on, crossed the center line endangering me, themselves and many others.

Here's my obligatory shot of Delicate Arch. This first one uses my camera's 12x zoom and image stabilization. I framed the second one to give the impression that I could simply walk over to the arch (impossible from where I was standing).

Here's a nice shot taken while driving east on I-70 as it descends toward Green River. That is one of my favorite stretches of highway.