Another Week Already?

Well, I had planned on catching up on our travels before now, but computer problems a week ago changed things. After posting last Thursday, we put the computer to sleep, planning on doing more in the morning. Unfortunately, the top was not closed properly, and it didn’t go to sleep. In addition, the plug got pulled out so that by morning, the computer was drained. No problem, I thought. I’ll just plug it in and all will be well. Not quite. It did wake up at first, but immediately shut down when the plug got yanked out again. This time, I had to restart. When I did, it began it’s start-up routine, but just started cycling between two different blue screens. Restarts had no effect. None of my repair disks had any effect, so I was pretty much hosed. I have a complete Time-Machine system back-up on a separate hard drive that I had just updated the day before, as well as the system software with me, and the easiest thing to do was probably just reinstall the software and restore the hard disk from the back-up. But I wasn’t sure what had caused the problem. It could have been a virus or bad hard drive, or motherboard or one of many different things. I didn’t want to chance corrupting the back-up disk, so I decided the best course was to take it to a repair shop here in Moab – who kept it for 5 days and really didn’t help much. They kept trying different things to no avail until I couldn’t stand to wait any longer and demanded the computer back. They did determine that it wasn’t a virus, then reinstalled the original system software (something I could have done myself). Since I had never had to restore from a back-up before, I was a little reluctant to do so. I wanted the computer fixed – all of the photo work we have done was on it and I was just too nervous to take a chance of loosing everything in a failed restore attempt. Turns out the restore went quite well. Apple’s Time-Machine software works really well – although they really don’t make it clear how to restore the entire system from a back-up. It’s more geared towards restoring individual files, and I had to do a bit of research on the web (using my iPhone) to find out the procedures. But once I found the info, the restore was totally successful and I and up and running again – but with a ton of updating to do on the blog. So here goes.

On our final morning in the Squaw Flat campground in Canyonlands, we got up a dawn to climb elephant hill – a giant slab of contoured sandstone that the campground sits at the base of. From the top, there is a spectacular view of the Needles formation as well as views all around. It was a beautiful, nearly cloudless morning and sunrise was very nice. More clouds would have been nice photographically, but we still enjoyed the peaceful moment up on top.

When we came down, we got ourselves together and left the campground. On the way out, we stopped for one last hike at Cave Springs. This is a short hike around the base, then over the top, of another sandstone formation. It is a pleasant walk that showcases some early cowboy camps and more pictographs, and more nice views of the surrounding area.

It was then off to our friends Don and Janet in La Sal where they have their home. We stayed with them for two days enjoying their hospitality. We went out together on another drive to Buckeye Reservoir near the La Sal mountains, then through the Paradox Valley. Don wanted to check out the many changes that were coming to the campgrounds up there over the past years. It used to be a rather rustic camping area the locals would come to for fishing and such. The reservoir itself is for agriculture purposes, not drinking water, and typically is mostly dry by summers end. The BLM have completely redesigned the entire area, taking it from rustic to way overly improved. They have cordoned off the entire lakeshore with wooded posts and made it difficult to reach the water. Don was very disappointed with these developments. It is recovery money at work, but really put to an unnecessary use. Our parks are in dire need all over the country and to see so much money wasted on “improvements” is hard to understand. We stopped for lunch in one of the campground sites and discovered an Osprey sitting on a branch above us. We expected him to take off when we approach, but he stuck there through the entire hour we were there. Pretty odd bird behavior.

Next morning, we headed up to Moab for an extended stay. On the way, we stopped at “Hole in the Rock”. It is just that – a hole carved out of the enormous sandstone blob of rock by the road. It was an amazing endeavor undertaken by Albert and Gladys Christensen to create 5,500 sq. ft of living space inside the stone. We took a tour on an earlier trip, but this time we just stopped to look around at the odd assortment of things on the grounds. It is strictly a tourist spot now, but I was thinking it might fit in with another project I’ve been working on.

The weather was getting a bit wet, windy and cold, so we decided to spend a few days hooked up at Portal RV park in Moab. This one is just north of town and not in any of the camp books we’ve seen. We like it because it is very close to town, well maintained with good WiFi. It’s not cheap at $40 per night, but we decided to splurge for a few days to wait out the bad weather. While it never really rained while we were there, it was mostly cloudy and very windy much of the time. It was still a good decision. We had actually planned on camping in Arches National Park, but discovered they no longer allow for first come, first serve camping spaces. Everything is by reservation only form March to October. Checking online, we found only about 2 open campgrounds on 2 separate days available. No camping in Arches for us this time. We took a drive into the park in the afternoon, then later met our new Lazy Daze friends, Don and Dorothy Malpas for dinner in town at the Blu Pig BBQ restaurant. The ribs were good, but other dishes fell short.

Saturday was spent doing wash, shopping and general relaxing. We took a little drive up Kane Creek road out of Moab and saw some nice petroglyphs. The light was pretty gloomy though. Sunday we moved to a BLM campground called Goose Island located along the Colorado River just outside of Moab. Don and Dorothy were saving us a great spot by the river, and at the price of $6 per night, a better spot cannot be found.

We had managed to get a reservation to take the Fiery Furnace hike in Arches at 3:00 PM. This is a ranger led hike through a maze of sandstone fins. Many people have become lost in this area so that is why hiking is by permit only. In 2009 when we tried to do this hike, thunder clouds came over at just the wrong time and the hike was canceled. They will hike in rain, but not lightning. This time around, as we approached the area, storm clouds once again gathered. We expected the worst, but fortunately all we got were a few drops at the beginning and end of the hike, with some actual sunshine in between. Our ranger hike leader was a young lady who truly seemed to love what she was doing. She was patient with the slower hikers in the bunch and demonstrated various hiking techniques for getting through tight spots.

Back in the campground, we met the host. He is a full-timer who retired from his medical job a couple of years ago and travels with his dachshund, Oscar Mayer. He had equipped his trailer in some really unique ways with a comfortable easy chair, modified bunk bed, hanging lamps, and a buddha head. On the drop-down gate of the trailer, he had created a very pleasant veranda with table and chairs. I explained my current project and he agreed to be photographed for it.

Come Monday, we were in the mood for a longer hike and chose the Negro Bill Canyon trail. This canyon used to be named in a slightly more disrespectful way and unbelievably has only recently been renamed. The trail is a 2 1/4 mile meander through the canyon and parallels a very nice creek the entire way. Lots of photo ops along the way. It eventually dead ends at spectacular Morning Glory Arch. While having lunch, we noticed a number of people on top of the arch. They proceeded to repel down the several hundred feet of thin air between us and the arch top. To do this requires a several mile hike over the top of the mesa, and requires a couple of shear wall repels – then hike out the 2 1/4 miles and figure out how to get back to your car. More fun just to watch from the bottom.

Tuesday we hiked in Arches again. This time to Navaho Arch in the Devil’s Garden area. This has become a thing with me. In 1983, our first time in the park, we hiked to this spot and I made probably the best photo of an arch I’ve ever done. The light was reflecting off a sandstone wall right behind the arch and created a warm glow that was something to see. I’ve tried to reproduce those lighting conditions ever since – and never succeeded. Either the time of day was wrong, or season, or weather – always something! This time was no different. Clouds had come over at just the wrong time, turning the light flat and much less interesting. I made a couple of images from different angles, but it wasn’t working. Of course, after finishing the hike and returning to the car, the sun came out again. The quest continues.

I got the computer back late Wednesday and instead of heading up to the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands on Thursday, as we had planned, we decided to go back to Portal RV for a night to take advantage of the WiFi for quick updates to the blog. Also needed to dump, shop and wash again.

Friday we made it to the park, but the in park campground was full. We are camping for the next couple of days at Horsethief campground. It’s another BLM campground about 15 miles from the park, but it is quite nice with 60 large sites – most able to accommodate our size.

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