Category Archives: Utah

We are in Kansas Dorothy!

September 3, 2007

We are in Kansas Dorothy! And boy is it flat.

OK, here are the subject lines if I had written an e-mail every day.

Friday: I am so stupid, stupid, stupid

Saturday: This is absolutely mind blowing

Sunday: I just want to get home

Monday: This is a small world/what does it mean

Let me explain. On Friday I continued to drive on the loneliest highway in the US, hwy 50, to Utah.

Highway 50 looking east towards the Snake Range, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Highway 50 looking east towards the Snake Range, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

East of Ely the mountain ranges changed. They used to run mostly parallel to the highway, but now they ran perpendicular to the highway. Once I drove thru one, a valley opened up and the next range was just a few miles away. Amazing, you just can’t get bored with stuff like that.

Once again I was hunting down a ghost town. What a disappointment. Luckily, it was not as creepy as the last one. I would not call this place a town. All that was left were some mining shafts and the usual rotten car. All that after driving up a mountain for a few miles on a dirt road at 10-15 mph.

Ghost Town - old mining hoist

Ghost Town – old mining hoist

I did make it into Utah. I can’t remember exactly how the mountains changed, but they did. Might have been the color or the shape, it seems so long ago. I think the mountains moved further away. There is really not much going on along this highway, towns are tiny and it comes as a surprise when they are bigger, like Delta. All of a sudden there were trees alongside the road, hadn’t seen those in a couple of days. The trees changed into a little green oasis and morphed into cultivated fields.

Fishlake National Forest north of Holden.

Fishlake National Forest north of Holden.

At the beginning of the day I had thought I make it to the KOA in Green River, near Moab and Arches National Park.  Later in the day I had settled for Richfield, about 100 miles west of Green River. Highway 50 merges with interstate 70 soon after Delta all the way to Grand Junction, Colorado. I asked a lady at a gas station in Delta when the sun sets; at around 8:30 – 9 PM. It was only 7 PM and according to the guy at the KOA in Green River it would only take two hours from where I was to Green River. If I get to Green River that evening, I could photograph the arches in good morning light. If I stay in Richfield, I would get to the arches by noon and the light would be very harsh. What do I have to lose, it’s only interstate driving. Nothing ever happens on the interstate, it’s boring. At most I would be driving for ½ in the dark, not bad. Well, this is where the “I am stupid” comes in.  Not too long after I got on I-70 I realized that this was not your usual stretch of interstate. By 8 PM! It was dark and all I could see were silhouettes of some mighty big mountains. Turnouts were marked as “Devil’s Canyon”, “Ghost Rock”. I couldn’t turn around, there were only few exits and I was too far along. I made a mistake! I could kick myself. I made it to the campsite by 9 PM. Setting up tent in the dark is a piece of cake, especially with a headlight.

San Rafael Reef, off exit 149 of I-70

San Rafael Reef, off exit 149 of I-70

Saturday morning I was debating for some time if I should drive back and see what I had missed. I stopped by the visitor center and decided to drive back 50 miles and than drive on to see the arches. I set a new record; it took me four hours to drive the 50 miles going back west! That’s how much there was to see and I didn’t miss a turnout to take pictures. Going back east took only one hour. This area is absolutely mind blowing, amazing, unbelievable, fascinating, did I mention mind blowing? Only Mother Nature can create something this beautiful. The mountains were white with red, yellow, green, round or rugged, some looked wind blown in one direction, just unbelievable. Never mind the canyons. Great area for hiking and rock climbing. I am sooooooo glad I went back.

I-70 east bound thru the San Rafael Reef.

I-70 east bound thru the San Rafael Reef.

East of Green River, the mountains got smaller, more like big sand piles with little bushes.   I turned south to go to the Arches National Park. Without much notice, the earth turned red and the mountains and rocks were deep red. The sunlight was perfect afternoon light when I got to the park. I had little more than 3 hours until sunset. I picked up a map and brochure at the visitor center. The brochure indicated which areas would be best photographed in the morning or afternoon, very helpful. Unfortunately, some of the arches could only be reached on foot. Two hour round trip hike, considered strenuous. It was 95F/35C and I was not up to the challenge. So I did the car thing, stopped where possible and walked in some cases. I

Horseshoe Bend, detail, in the San Rafael Swell north of I-70 west of exit 131.

Horseshoe Bend, detail, in the San Rafael Swell north of I-70 west of exit 131.

would like to come back to this place and spend more time exploring. Some of the rocks looked perfectly round, others looked like skinny walls. Do you remember making sand castles at the beach out of very wet sand? Letting the sand drip through your fingers. Some of the rocks looked like that. If you didn’t make those sand castles, cow manure drops in a similar fashion. All of the rocks, pinnacles and mountains were really, really red. I had only enough time to see one of the arches and a place called Windows. Rocks with giant holes. Unfortunately, there were again those people around. Luckily, not anywhere as bad as in Yellowstone.

Eagle Canyon - San Rafael Swell, I-70 exit 116.

Eagle Canyon – San Rafael Swell, I-70 exit 116.

Spent the night at the KOA in Moab. What a lousy night it was, couldn’t fall asleep and than woke up at 3 AM with the wind howling. The tent held up well, but when you are laying there and the wind is pressing against the walls of the tent you feel a little vulnerable. It was otherwise a beautiful night, the noon shone brightly, the stars were out in full force and it was warm, even at 3 AM.

Well, the next morning I was dead tired, coffee helped only moderately. I decided against seeing anymore of the sites in the area, would have been a waste on me. I headed for the Colorado border. After seeing so much amazing landscape, Colorado just couldn’t hold a candle to it or is it a light?

Arches National Park - Park Avenue

Arches National Park – Park Avenue

The mountains had moved closer to the road, no more wide open spaces. It is almost a blur to me, I was too tired and all I wanted was to get to a campsite and even more so, I want to get home! I remember a line of trees on top of a mountain ridge, looked kind of neat. The western part of Colorado was not anywhere as green and lush as I thought it would be. Still looked a little rugged. I had to drive over two major passes, one was around 7,000’ high and the other, Monarch Pass, measured over 11,000’. Coming down the first pass I looked down onto the Blue Mesa Reservoir, sunlight hitting the surrounding mountains, wow. No pullover possibility, no photo. The skies were gray and it rained from time to time. The drive along the Arkansas River was quite beautiful.

Arches National Park - Garden of Eden

Arches National Park – Garden of Eden

That night I was asleep at 9:30 PM. Unfortunately, I woke up with a nasty headache. I had no interest in seeing much of anything. I was in Cañon City, known for its Supermax prison…

After an amazingly good breakfast, veggie omelet with fresh! veggies I drove towards the Kansas border. I will be taking highway 50 all the way east.

Monarch Pass, Continental Divide

Monarch Pass, Continental Divide

The landscape started to flatten out, no more mountains and that even before I got to Kansas.

The old St. Cloud Hotel, Main Street

The old St. Cloud Hotel – Cañon City

Highway 50 sign

Highway 50 sign – Kansas

This is a really small world. In Rocky Ford, Colorado I managed to get stuck in a ditch, nothing serious, but I knew I wouldn’t get out of it by myself. I walked to a farm stand around the corner and they pulled me out. We got talking and it turns out that a friend of the owner’s daughter went to New

Old Coca Cola bottling building.

Old Coca Cola bottling building – Rocky Ford

York this summer to take ballet classes at the Joffrey Ballet School. She more than likely participated in the performance which I photographed. What are the odds?

Ingalls feed yard

Feed yard

Now I am in Dodge City, staying at the Holiday Motel. No camp grounds around. Not much happening in Kansas. Lots of feed yards around, not a pretty site and very smelly. This place is flat as a pancake.

Fields along highway 50

Fields along highway 50 – Kansas

Here are a few stats. miles driven: 10,000, nights in a motel: 11, nights with friends: 13, nights camped: 20, oil changes: getting ready for the third.

Sorry, that this is such a long e-mail. I just had to get it all down before I forget even more.

I’ll be home soon,

P.S. Leaving Lawrence Kansas in a minute, had to pay credit cards first, thanks to Starbucks & T-mobile.

A year in review

The past twelve months have flown by faster than any other that I can remember. It is hard to believe, but it has been a year since I left New York City that cool rainy day in March. And now I am here in Nevada basking in the sun. I once again drove out onto the Mormon Mesa to find a tranquil spot to soak up the sun and to read. Unfortunately, I left my book at home (check out by my friend J.D. Fox. A legal thriller for a good cause). Fortunately, I brought pen and paper.
Overton is a very quiet place; however, up on the mesa it is even quieter. I am looking over this big flat covered by sage brush, creosote and other desert shrubs, no humans. The desert is starting to turn green with lots of new growth. I am surrounded by mountains, the Virgins, Muddy and Mormon Mountains are the large ranges.
Last February I was in the final stages of getting everything organized for this journey. I was going crazy. Overwhelmed by everything I felt I needed to know about the camper. Dealing with insurance companies was another big headache. One company for the truck and my apartment, another one for the camper. Who would insure what? The homeowner’s insurance or the camper policy? I got as many different answers to the same question as people I talked to. It was a nightmare. That on top of figuring out how many watts my inverter would need to run my computer on the camper’s DC power. Watts, volts, amps, AC or DC power, all very confusing. If you are drawing a blank here, then you know how I felt.
I drove a little over 25,000 miles in the past twelve months. I haven’t done much driving since I returned to Overton from my southern Nevada excursion in January. 25,000 miles of very different terrain. I don’t remember every road I took, but when I look at my maps and especially my photos (11,000+) I do remember little details, the smell of the Juniper trees up in the Dalamar Mountains or the smell of celery near Oxnard. There are not too many countries where you can drive that many miles and never really see the same thing twice.

Bryce Amphitheater

I haven’t written anything in detail about what I did or where I was in October. Most of the time was spent in southern Utah. It is one of the most amazing places I have seen so far. The area is “littered” with National Parks: Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce and Zion in addition to magnificent landscapes in between. I hiked almost fifty! miles throughout October. It gave me a very different perspective from just driving through. None of the parks were crowed at that time of the year, especially on the trails that were more than one mile long.

Zion - so much beauty

Every time I left one park I asked myself how could the next place possibly get any better. Amazingly they always did. The geology in this part of the country is fascinating. Parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado were covered by water millions of years ago, that combined with volcanic eruptions has made for an incredible landscape.
What is my favorite place?


I have seen the beautiful beaches of Alabama, the pancake flats of Texas, the Pacific Ocean coastline, the mountains of northern California, the

Bryce - rainbow colors

rainforests and desert of Washington State, the spires and hoodoos of southern Utah and Arizona and much much more. It is very difficult to name one place. I did like Etna in northern California a lot.

Scott Valley

Scott River

Etna is situated in the Scott Valley and has a population of less than 800. Surrounded by mountains and golden fields. When I visited the fields were harvested and the colors were stunning. To me the town just had a very nice feel to it.


But if you ask me what will I remember the most, it will be the kindness of complete strangers; like Kate in Texas who runs a Bed & Breakfast. She prepared lunch for me despite the fact that she does not serve lunch and that she is not allowed to sell food to people who are not guests. We spent almost two hours talking and eating. I made a donation. Or Kinsey, a fellow traveler in Montana, one of only two solo women travelers I have encountered, who left fresh tomatoes and some potatoes at my door before she headed out. The campground manager who gave me scallop squash and cherry tomatoes because I couldn’t find any veggies at the small supermarket. The store keeper in Augusta, MT, who made me a cup of hot chocolate (with milk) on a cold and rainy day.
The RVers in Oregon who first watched me put my camper back on the truck and then invited me to dinner. My neighbors here at the campground who invite me over and always make sure that there is at least one non-meat dish for me.
The couple who invited me to Christmas dinner, Henry and Tyann, who have become friends and had me over for dinner several times since. They have made sure I don’t run out of my special dark rye bread which they bring back from Mesquite. They even have given me a ride to Whole Foods in Vegas so that I could stock-up on some good cheese. My hiking buddy Ron makes sure I have enough fresh coffee in the house. You have to know there is only one supermarket in Overton. Which is fine for all the basics, but they don’t carry things like good cheese or a wide variety of produce. Vegas is sixty plus miles away and Mesquite forty miles, ONE way.
Never mind all the friends and friends of friends who let me stay with them. Some I hadn’t seen in decades.
It is these and many more encounters that I will cherish the most.
Thank you all!!
As much as I was frantic and crazed before I left New York, I am now panicked that I have to be back in New York City by June. It is not so much that I will be back in the big city, I do love NYC, it is more that I have to sell my truck. As mentioned in a previous post, NYC rent plus truck payments on a minimal part-time job are just not feasible. I am still hoping for a miracle.
Maybe now you understand why I want to continue traveling. There are so many more people to meet and places to discover. I have only been to twenty three of the lower forty eight states and some I only quickly drove through.

self portrait at sunset

Stuff I had to “deal” with

Sunrise! over the San Rafael Reef

Room with a view – San Rafael Reef

Goblin Valley – Goblins

They really made us walk down this way – Arches

Arches Nat\’l Park

Moon over rock at my camp spot


Needles at the Elephant Hill trail

Road side art

I am so sorry that it has been a really long time since my last full fledged post. It is not that I am sitting around twiddling my thumbs, I do that too, but that’s not the reason for the lack of posts. I am in the middle of writing about my time in Colorado when I realized that it is getting late and I won’t be able to finish tonight. Since I wanted to post something tonight, you can take a look at what I have been privileged to see. I save Bryce Canyon for a later post.
I have been waking up in the most incredible places, just turning my head and watching a sunrise from bed. Utah is an incredible place. There might be plenty wrong with their politics, but everything is right with their scenery. I have been going on 6 to 8 mile day hikes which is another reason (excuse) for the lack of writing.