Saturday, May 27, 2017

Thanksgiving No.37, give or take-Waterpocket Fold

Thanksgiving 2016 was my wife, Lynn, and my 37th Thanksgiving spent camping. Yes indeed, we've always camped on Thanksgiving and used to take our girls out of school the whole week to go camping.

Lynn and I started camping at Thanksgiving out of our Ford Bronco and buried game hens wrapped in tin foil on coals in the sands of the Anza Borrego Desert. We migrated into trucks and campers for a few years and then into a motorhome with kids, towing a Jeep. Now for the last ten years we've gone back to a truck and camper, this combo being our favorite for where we are at this time of life.

We live outside of Boise, Idaho, now after twenty plus years in Arizona, which gives us a whole new section of the U.S. at our doorsteps, camper steps that is. But once or twice a year we'll go back to 4wheel and camp the Colorado Plateau area we love so much. It's roads and trails are never-ending, pretty much, sometimes, well used to be anyway. Look, it's too early for me to get my blood boiling, give me a few more paragraphs...

We were going back to a place we had been a few years ago with our dog Bear before he passed away suddenly. It was a place hard to photograph without a wide angle lens, a lens I now had for this trip.

I hear Clint Whazwood saying "A man has got to know his tipping point." I felt we were close, and can I tell you how hard it is to get in and out at that angle. Well you fall out while trying to keep the door from breaking the hinges, and fight to climb in while upholstery tries to depant a guy. Ah the pratfalls of life. (Depant, surely a Scrabble word)

We were going back to camp and hike the Cosmic Ashtray, not named by yours truly yet a truly amazing place to see. I always get a little apprehensive when heading to places controlled by the BLM, but then most places we love are. It seems that every time we go back to a place there will be a road closed, a trail closed, and I get a fit of spitting nails. This time was no different. Instead of camping where we did a few years ago we would now have a six mile roundtrip hike, along a perfectly good dirt road right passed our old camp spot. Six miles is nothing if not a good walk yet  my anger stopped me that day, as it has many times before.
I'll add the link to that earlier trip report here.
Thanksgiving at the Cosmic Ashtray and Golden Cathedral
I get so upset, quite honestly, and a little sick to my stomach to know that someone has decided with a stroke of pen that we the people can no longer use what has been there for many many years, as in roads and trails, or even sometimes the land itself, as in "Wilderness Study" area. So we left the area and went somewhere else. I'll make it through this trip report, and let a little rage out in the final paragraph, not that it matters.

We did find another "to-die-for" spot close to another hike I've done solo, and thought to take Lynn and the dogs since we won't be going back to the Cosmic Ashtray.

Now fellas, gals too, did I get lucky or what 37 years ago when I married her. I mean talk about multi-tasking, she can drink a Mikes and tug with Duke at the same time. She was probably chewing gum too, which makes two more things than I can do at the same time.

Good morning world, we have a hike to make.

I'll call this a trip report post. Funny how that worked out for me.

Yes Dear, we do go down this steep slab of sandstone.

Just don't sneeze, or cough, or trip. Even though it is still Fall.

Nature will always amaze me, especially the plants. With no brain that we know of (did you see "The Day of the Triffids?!), this plant knew enough to grow it's tap root to the dry creek bed for it's ocassional supply of water.

Dad, please don't kick me in the ice hole!

In small pictures you sometimes have to look close, to see Duke and Bailey exploring a side canyon.

I don't know for sure, but I think Bailey is lichen this picture. (Yes I know, it's an old one.)

The sand was completely frozen that morning, and much much easier to walk on.

I'll lichen this rock to Mother Nature's graffiti, as colorful as it was.

No those aren't myriad footsteps in the sand but ripples left from a recent storm that dumped enough water to make them. You should see the full size picture, it makes me a little dizzy whoa.

A different area showed us a different color of frozen sand. It looked like one of those glass bottles of multi-colored sand. How does it do that?

Geez, where did the water go? "Well Dad" says Duke the Wonder Dog, "It's called sublimation where a solid becomes a gas without ever going through the liquid phase."  Duke you're a chemist? And all this time I thought  Duke was into anthropology, you know. digging for things.

Feet for scale...

Another fantastic side canyon had a pour-off and a very cold swimming hole.

What with all the winter-dead trees I was very surprised that one seemed to want to grow in the off season. Wait, is that a bud? Weiser people would say no, it's a photoshopped picture of a tree with beer cans. But I can tell you, there were buds.

First view of an arch I wanted Lynn to see.

If Duke and Bailey didn't get along, would they be arch enemies?

It was quite a scramble to get the dogs up the sandstone cliffs to the arch. Not so much of an issue going down, but you know that.

As with my last time here the quick sand was, well, quick. If you didn't move fast enough you'd be like that 401K in 2008. I didn't get the picture of Lil Bailey as she sunk up to her chest. Not knowing what the sam hill was happening she squealed, or was it me?

Lynn has in her hand an iron concretion. Smaller versions are called Moki Marbles. We as a family, look it was me ok, nicknamed them many years ago, we call them Donkey Balls. My wife has a collection of small Donkey Balls, I have two big ones. Wait, what?

If I'm lying I'm dyin...hard as rock

Being in the worst shape of my life, I was glad to see the horizon.

I call them sandstone florets, the crusted remains of ages old lichens. 

This type of rock is called "brain rock". I hope I never see "intestines" rock.

Come on Grand Ma, just ten more minutes.

Fact is, getting back to the camper my rear end was whipped, and she still made dinner and tucked me in.

The next morning Bailey Basqued in the sun. And here I thought she was a miniature German Shepard.

We're driving, we're driving...

More incredible sights of nature doing what it does best, surviving where it's least likely.

We were behind schedule, isn't that a drag? I wanted to be here about three or four hours earlier but I'm having a hard time getting up and going. The mattress and sleeping bags in the camper are like a warm cocoon. And that iPhone app that sounds like I'm camped next to a frog/bird/rain/thunder forest adds to the weight of my aging eyelids. The full nine mile hike wasn't possible that afternoon so we took an abbreviated version to look over the Waterpocket Fold as it unfolded it's way to Glen Canyon and Lake Powell.

When they call, do you decline?

Being late as it was we took the first dirt road we found for a quick overnighter. But then they all seem to be just that, quick overnighters. I'll call them QON's.

Personally, I'm taken with the dead Junipers that have so much character left to show while still standing.

Meanwhile I have very little character to show while standing, er, squatting. For some reason I don't like that word. Do you like squat?

That night we had a meating. And I'll tell you this, no more lean beef for this dude. Yes a nice juicy fatty burger will add to the flame but I'd forgotten how much better they are to eat. 

I've used a hot glue gun to stick some AAA battery powered led lights to the ceiling. I am so glad I did, it adds a whole new atmosphere to the interior, doesn't use the camper batteries and except for reading gives off plenty of light for everything else. Now all I need is my old disco ball and a Saturday Night Fever dvd.

Out in the morning, is Bailey telling me to kiss her ice and give her something she can actually drink?

I know the feeling Bailey, maybe I should thaw out my donuts too. Although, I do like a good frozen Snickers bar, would frozen donuts be the same?

I've read that good pictures need something in the foreground, so I made a special hat...

Leaving the area, there were more things to see, and I shuttered a little at the thought. Shuttered a little, camera, shutter, well ok then, my game is off a bit and I need to re-focus.

Ah, now you'll be looking won't you?

This was Thanksgiving Day, and it looked like some were giving thanks-a-plenty as I dodged the "givings."

This is one of several places I won't divulge location. After all the BLM closings I've seen over the last thirty years, specifically the last 4-5,  I fully expect this area to be closed soon. Why?  Those of us that are "users" can only wonder. And because it is a wonderful spot. If there were signs of camping I know it would be closed. We leave no signs but tire tread that is quickly erased by wind and weather.

When I look at this picture I feel like saying "This is your captain speaking, we're about to land, please get out your cameras and prepare to run around like crazy taking pictures."

What follows will be too many pictures of one camp spot. Not great pictures mind you, but the scenery was over-the-top fabulous as the weather moved around us. We seem to always be lucky that way.

The Duke looks over his domain and says "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse." Well, maybe he just thinks it.

Really Dad? I have to chase the ball down there?

That night was Thanksgiving, and we were so thankful. Thankful to have this truck and camper, to have this view, great weather and so so many other things not necessarily physical. Well there is the heater!

Thanksgiving dinner in the camper, a movie in the dvd player, I'm a bit jealous as I sit and write. Was that really me there having such a wonderful time? Do I really deserve to have it all? Lucky for me Clint Eastwood says it well, "Deserves got nothing to do with it." In that case I'll just go with it, thank's Clint!

What was the movie you ask?

Had to be Killer Klowns From Outer Space, the best Thanksgiving movie of all time.

Suck it up Whazoo, you still have pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

Yes, of course the dogs really make out at dinner too, making Duke pass out in front of the catalytic heater. The furnace vents are in front of his head, he knows how to stay warm in the camper.

I was sleeping in the next morning when one eye opened all by its little self. There went sleeping in...

One of the most glorious mornings I've ever seen. I couldn't take pictures fast enough.

It's hard to leave a beautiful place, but we had to be like a Disney princess and "let it go, let it go." Besides, there was another area from a previous trip that I wanted top go back to, with that wide angle lens.

Let me introduce my photographer, she takes the best pictures you see here, I take the rest.

Hey there horse, is one of you Charley?

Sad but true, I forgot why I stopped here for this picture. Maybe I needed gas for my cattleitic heater?

Driving across the Little Sahara and I noticed how the sand, moved by wind, reminded me of waves, moved by wind.

WOW, this is one long trip report! Should I offer an intermission? Hah, well I've been intermissioning all along, you just didn't know it. Well feel free, and if you don't make it back I'll never know, but I will understand.

Driving along I was surprised by the sight of reindeer in the desert. However I knew right away they weren't really reindeer but caribou. I named the big one Bullwinkle, I don't know why.

Oh good, charades, my favorite game. Let's see, I'm flat tired? Rubber necking? Or just showing off my atire? Any guesses?

You know, right? That with a truck and camper you can call anyplace home, even the rocks will know where you tread. Hmm...

Another disgusting display of authority in a place of few people, rocked off parking. It took away the awesome feeling of watching the magical weather as it stormed the desert all around us. AND, those rocks weren't there three years ago.

Another attempt, successful, to keep us from driving good roads that predate the BLM. I tried not to choke on my own spit as I walked, and now write.

First peep of Colonade Arch, also known as the Five Hole Arch.

He's a pointer, or is he just being a hound dog?

Here's how it works, in case it's confusing. Main opening=1, 2 ceiling holes=2(one of them is upper left, hard to see maybe), and 2 side holes makes 5! Aren't you glad I helped? Well, it had to be explained to me, by Duke.

The trip is over,  Duke and Bailey bid you adieu.

We bid you adieu as we have a long road home. If only it was a dirt road all the way.

Thanks for reading,
Dave, Lynn, Duke and Bailey

PS. I have never ended a trip report with a rant, and I won't now despite my feelings towards the bureaucrats that run the Forestry and BLM.  Just know that we actually have, and will have, less and less area to choose from as time goes on. Forestry and BLM have become unfriendly to us that use the back country in many ways. If I had advice to give it would be this...Go now, and see what's left, much of course, yet see as much as possible before the West is homogenized into sour cream. Between beetles and heat killing our forests, and powers beyond most of us that close areas to our use, I'm afraid more and more regulations will be in the future and less and less land available to get away from it all.
Hey, have you ever tried spitting nails before? It's hell on your teeth...

Disclaimer: We did miss one year, for sad reasons. Loaded up to go out on Thanksgiving we had our dog Little Anne pass away the night before we left. Heart broken I went camping alone while Lynn stayed with our daughters. We lost three animals that year, two dogs and one cat, it was a rotten year.

No, it's not photoshop., it might be better if it was. Water on a pane of glass over a picture of truck and camper on white background. So yes, those are drops of water reflecting the image. It's winter here in Idaho and very cold with snow. Like the summers of Phoenix I'm indoors a bit, and bored. I mean a guy can only watch "The Benefits Of Fish Oil" on tv so many times. And for that we pay beaucoup bucks, argh. I'd rather play with bubbles...


  1. Another amazing trip and humorous commentary. Keep on truckin'

    1. Thanks a bunch Brenda, we be truckin and hope you are too!

  2. As we all go along your travels vicariously, and wonder at the lovely, and sometimes stunning views you seem to find. We too find beauty in some of the most mundane things all around us. Like the nicker of my Arabian mare first thing in the morning, or the snorts, and grumbles when I am late to feed the three dogs and "Goatee", the goat.
    As the sun rises over my butte here in East Palmdale/Lake Los Angeles. ( There is NO LAKE!)

    1. A big hello Steve, Let's hear it for mundane things, they keep us grounded.'s a dry lake lol.

  3. Hello Dave and family. The second post :) trip report of yours and just wanted to say thanks. Was a nice way to spend a few moments, looking at beautiful vistas. Please stick to writing and ease don't venture into the Millinery trade.

    1. Haha Russ, you got me there as I had to look up the definition of Millinery. No worries there Russ, I can only wear one hat at at time. Thank you thank you Russ, I hope you make that ride to Alaska!

  4. Well, now I'll be wondering about that foreground/background/sideground scrub when I'm out in the it Dave and his hat? Great report and fantastic photos - especially the dogs.

    1. Thank you SDR, coming from a wanderer and writer like yourself it is a pleasure to read your note. And yes watch out, you never know if I'll pop-up from the scrub with a seriously funny looking hat on. You should see the looks I get at the grocery store!

  5. Another amazing tale of high desert adventure and wanderlust. Your photos are fanatic,a visual plate of food for one's eyes that keep on coming.