Monday, March 30, 2015

Yuba State Park

Click pictures to enlarge
Like many teenagers, when I was a young I thought my parents were stupid…. It was not until I was in my early 20’s that I started to really appreciate my parents for all their hard work and everything they did for our family. One of the things that really drove me nuts was when they did not know how old they were. They would usually guess a 2-3 year age gap. I mean really, how could you not know how old you were? I knew exactly how old I was at all times usually down to the ½ year.  At 13 you were finally a teenager, at 15 you got your driver’s permit, 18 you were an adult and of legal drinking age, (in Wisconsin) each birthday marked some milestone and was precious.  What reminded me of this? During a recent conversation I had to ask Barb how old I was! So I started thinking about other significant ages in my life and was only sure when I did the math……“Let’s see, I was born in ‘62….Jessica ’81, Forrest ’87, Barb…..really? I am not that stupid… really think I am going to put that in print?
Apparently this affliction is contagious as just last month Barb and I work up bright and early and celebrated our wedding anniversary. About ½ way through the day when I was on the computer I noticed it said it was February 6th so I asked Barb what the date was. “The 7th, our anniversary” she replied. When I showed her the computer for a brief moment we both thought that the computer was wrong!

On other occasions we will pull into a campground and another RV’er will asked where we just came from we would sometimes name a place we were a few campgrounds ago and have no clue where we just came from. I guess retired life will do that to a person!

There is no mistake in the most recent campground we came from however. We spent this past weekend in Yuba State Park about 100 miles south of Salt Lake. We had past the sign for this campground multiple times on our way up and down I-15 and when our son Forrest said that he wanted to meet up with us for the weekend we knew just the place!
The park itself surrounds the Sevier Bridge Reservoir and has 4 different campgrounds. We stayed at the Oasis Campground and our site (#4) sat on top of a ridge overlooking the reservoir. The main attraction to the area is the lake for its fishing and water recreation but the surrounding recreation land has miles and miles of 4 wheeler and jeep trails.
Site #4 overlooking the lake

We took advantage of both during our 3 days in this area. The OHV (off highway vehicles) trails start right across from the campground and we took several adventures out in the hills. The trails range from very easy to “there is no way I am going up there!” Driving both the 4 wheeler and jeep we explored much of the area taking advantage of the trails and scenic overlooks. Forrest and Somer had brought their jeep as well so we headed off in different directions much of the time. On one such adventure Barb and I got off the main trails and headed up eventually reaching a valley on top of mountain above snow level.  On our way down we saw some animal tracks in the middle of the dirt road, after getting out to investigate and they were mountain lion tracks! This was a first for us, neither of us have ever seen mountain lion tracks yet.
Headed up........

and up..........

Finally at the top!
Somer and Lily admiring the view

Headed back down


There was plenty of wildlife to see in the area as well; mule deer, huge jackrabbits, snakes and plenty of waterfowl showing off their spring plumage. Forrest did an awesome job photographing the birds!
Not sure what kind this is....

but it was about 4 feet long

Mule deer doe
Grazing in the morning sun

The jackrabbits were huge!

Cinnamon Teal

North American Shoveler (Spoonbill)
Green-wing Teal

You have to enlarge this one to really see it
Everyone had fun on the water as well…..Forrest and I went also got out fishing twice landing 3 walleyes for our efforts. As we were packing up a DNR truck pulled up to our campsite to do a fishing survey,  when we told him that we landed three walleyes he said that was the best he had heard and that the other campers were telling him that they had no luck but the guys in site #4 were catching them!
Forrest, Lily and Somer hitt'in the water

In search of the elusive walleye

Overall it was an awesome weekend, we had not seen Forrest and his family since leaving last December it was great to see them and catch up.
For anyone looking for a scenic getaway while in the area I would highly recommend Yuba State Park, I have never been to a place where we could ride the trails and fish walleyes all while overlooking snowcapped mountains all within one park. We will definitely be back.

Next up.......headed up to Salt Lake to see Jessica and her family!

BTW…..I am 52 ½ …..or is it 53 ½?....I can’t remember!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Moab........ by Foot, by Jeep and by Kayak

Click Pictures to Enlarge
We are finally back out west! Although we enjoyed our trip out to Florida and then back up to Minnesota/Wisconsin we were always longing to be back out west. One of the goals of our RV’ing adventure is to find where we might want to live when we settle down again. Leaving Colorado and entering Utah we started to see the open buttes, mesas and the open range country….second to Wisconsin, it felt almost like coming home.
Our destination…….OK RV Park in Moab. We had chosen this location because our friends Dino and Lisa are workamping there for the next few months. We had met them at the boondocking rally in Arcadia Florida. Dino and Lisa are from Fergus Falls Minnesota and are in their first year of full-timing. They are an incredibly nice couple who travel with their newly adopted cat Moose. It was great seeing them again and catching up on our travels.

First impressions was that the campground itself was OK (get it!?) The location is awesome but the campground itself could use a little TLC. As the week went on the place started to grow on me. A great place to stay if you just want a relaxing few days without a lot of frills. It was a very quiet park with nice owners and they even let us wash our rig for $5.00. That is a deal! It is a Passport America campground so the price was right at ~$20/night with free Wi-Fi and good showers.
We had a great stay and were able to put together two videos of our adventures which I posted below or can be seen on our YouTube channel. The video on the Jeep trips is a bit shaky as the roads were pretty rough.

After settling in, setting up and showering we headed out for dinner with Dino and Lisa to the Moab Brewery a good restaurant within the town. They have about a dozen local brews to choose from and a large menu with good food. I tried two of their brews; Derailleur Red Ale and Moab Especial. The red ale was a little dark for me but the Especial was good. Barb had a Long Island Iced Tea which she later confessed was quite strong.
The Moab area is known for many things; Arches National Park, Canyonland National Park, Dead Horse State Park, not to mention their miles of off-roading trails and biking and hiking trails. Our first order of business was to hit the hiking trails, we had been missing our hikes since leaving for Florida in January. Along with Dino and Lisa we hiked Negro Bill’s. Here is a brief description of the trail from

On a politically correct scale of 1 to 10, Negro Bill Canyon gets a 1. It has kept its name for historical reasons and a reminder to current and future generations of the climate and insensitivity of the early 20th century here. The canyon was named for the early 19th century African American pioneer William Granstaff who grazed his cattle here.

This is a very popular trail in Moab. It follows a year round stream through a deep sandstone canyon among willows and cottonwoods and sandy trails for several miles until you reach a natural stone arch called Morning Glory Natural Bridge. The arch is 243 feet which makes it the sixth largest span for an arch in the country. However, it is only about 10 to 15 feet from the canyon wall. The hike to the arch is about 4.5 miles round trip

I have to say that it was good to get back on a trail! We had a great hike with high wall canyons on both sides and a small river flowing down the middle. We had several river crossings on our way to the Morning Glory Natural Bridge. We continue to be amazed by the rock formation created by both wind and water. Although it was a fairly easy hike, having not hiked in so long, we certainly felt it at the end of the day!
Barb, Lisa and Dino ready to hit the trail!

How are formations like this created?!?!?

Spring means the flowers are blooming
The bridge from afar

Again, how are these created?!?!
The next day we gave our legs a rest and went for a Jeep adventure to Gemini Bridges. Gemini Bridges are two large parallel natural spans that bridge a deep canyon cut in the sandstone. The bridges are 89 and 70 feet long, each having a width of 26 feet. The trip to the bridges is pretty easy navigating up the edge of a bluff, down into a canyon and then up a long slope to the bridges themselves. Barb and I (and Daisy too!) made our way to an area overlooking the bridges and walked out to the ledge to have a picnic lunch. The views were awesome!
Daisy, ready for her adventure!
Goony Bird rock along the way
Our view of Gemini Bridges from our picnic location
The three of us just hanging out
After finishing lunch we made our way over to the bridges themselves. These unique formations are named after the Gemini twins of Roman mythology. You can walk right out on the bridges. There are no guardrails and one can get as close to the edges as you dare to get. You used to be able to drive your Jeep out and across the bridges but there has been more than one death resulting in a change of these rules. I had dared Barb to jump the crevasse between the two and later found out someone died attempting this in 2010. 

View from along the edge

The crevasse separating the bridges
This guy was just hanging out on the rocks
There is so much to do here there is just no way to even get a taste of it in 5 days. Day 3 we decided to hit the water. We have been itching to get on the water since reading the recent adventures of fellow FT’er Take To The Highway. She had recently spent several days kayaking down the Colorado River in Arizona. As luck would have it, the Colorado River flows right through Moab! Although we did not do a 3 day’er, along with Dino and Lisa, we did do a 4 hour trip from the bridge in Moab to Gold Bar Recreation Area 10 miles down the river.
Dino and Lisa floating down the Colorado

Daisy and Barb admiring the view
This stretch is pretty quiet and has beautiful scenery as the river flows along high rock walls on one side and rugged rock formations on the other. The water in this section was running about 2.5-3 mph and has no rapids. We paddled at a leisurely pace taking in all the sights and sounds (or lack of) of the river. It was a great day on the water and by the end of the trip we were actually whooped from the paddling and spending the day in the sun.

 We had strategically planned our activities …..physical day, Jeep day, physical day, Jeep day. Day 3 was a physical day on the water, which meant day 4 was a Jeep day! Based on recommendations from Pam and John as well as Steve and Joan we chose Shafer Trail. Although there are a few hairy spots, it is not a difficult trail but is known for its outstanding scenery which has been used in numerous commercials and movies. It starts out fairly flat slowly rising up to an area above the Colorado River where we stopped for lunch.

 Shortly after the trail enters Canyonlands National Park where there are numerous switchbacks as you ascend the mesa on a narrow trail. As we were coming around one of these switchbacks we noticed a Ranger parked in the middle of the road. Upon closer inspection there was a car that had gone off the trail and was stuck against the wall. What this person was doing out here in a car was a question in itself, how she got off the road is another! We were able to skinny by with inches to spare on both sides and continue on our way. Shortly after we pasted a tow truck heading the opposite direction. I wonder what that tow bill cost her!

The views from the top were awesome! Once we were on top the trail came to blacktop (Hwy 313) which we traveled on for a few miles before turning towards Dead Horse State Park and then taking an offshoot down Long Canyon whish descended steeply on multiple switchbacks. At one point we even had to drive under a rock which had fallen on the road! I cannot begin to describe the varying rock formations you can see from one spot; mountains, red rock fins, buttes, mounds..... all in one area.....incredible!

These day trips are just but a fraction of what is available in this area. We definitely need to return to hit more of our Moab bucket list adventures!