We woke to another lovely sunny day in Durango. The Animas River which runs along the bottom of the campground was bursting its banks in places; fortunately it’s further downhill and a few hundred yards away. It seems that due to the very hot temperatures over the past couple of days the snow on the mountains has started to melt faster than usual, running down to the river which is now struggling to cope. While I was busy videoing a train coming through the campground, The Chef got chatting to a lady whose husband works on the trains and she said he'd noticed a marked difference in the river from the time he went up to Silverton yesterday morning and returning to Durango in the afternoon. Apparently if the river rises too much they stop running the trains on safety grounds as the track at some points runs very close to the river, so perhaps we were lucky to get our trip in when we did.
We departed Durango at 09:30, just after the 09:00 train ran through the campground in fact. We’re getting much slicker now at setting up and ‘breaking camp’. I vacuumed through the RV last night and bought the slide-out unit inboard so that I could get easy access to all the exterior lockers this morning. I dumped all of our waste water and most of the fresh to further reduce our weight for the journey. Our amended route today took us back to Cortez on US160 where we picked up US491 to Monticello,Utah, there we hung a right on to US191 to Moab. We were right to amend our original route on the grounds of safety but it had denied us the opportunity to drive up scenic US505, known as 'The Million Dollar Highway' getting its name from the value of the low grade gold ore mined locally and used in the construction of the road bed.
The vehicle ran really well today, I think probably due to the fact there was no wind at all, not even from the side which made a nice change. She was quite happy to cruise along at 65mph rather than the 55-60mph I tend to try and keep her at. The area between Cortez and Monticello was a very picturesque. There were lots of rolling hills with crops and cattle grazing in the fields, much like home really, only here there’s so much more of it.
Since having the RV tyre pressures checked in Santa Maria, California, I have been aware that the rear right side chrome wheel trim is being held on by just one nut instead of two, both of which should be covered with a fancy chrome nut-cover, but now neither are. I think we lost the securing nut and cover back on I80 with its winter-damaged potholed surface, whilst travelling west to San Francisco. The road surface across the Sierra Nevada Mountains was dreadful and probably vibrated it loose. Ever since then we’ve been trying to keep our eyes out for a Ford Dealer in the hope they could supply us with a set, or at least one. I’m fearful that if we lose our one remaining nut then the wheel trim will fly off and be lost and costly to replace, that’s provided it doesn’t fly off and cause damage to somebody else or their property. The problem is we always miss the Ford dealers who are often located along the front of shopping malls, entrances to which tend to be from the ramp (slip road) we passed further back down the road.
The Chef was struggling to find a clear piece of windscreen through which she could take pictures due to the bugs plastered all over it. As it was about lunch time I did eventually find a spot to pull over, and whilst Rosina laid out lunch I drew off some hot soapy water and cleaned the windscreen using my ‘Kamikaze Bug Brush’ from ‘Camping World’.
We arrived at Moab www.discovermoab.com at around 14:30 after a nice steady drive and booked in to the Canyonlands Campground www.canyonlandsrv.com . The Chef returned from the office and asked if I was aware I’d booked in advance for 6 nights, I said that sounded a lot and to book for three and we’ll look at extending it once we’d formulated a cunning plan for what we’ll do with ourselves whilst we’re here. Once pitched I wound the laptop up to take a closer look at Arches National Park www.nps.gov/arch regarding access of vehicles etc and the local cost of jeep hire. The Jeep hire was more expensive than we’d anticipated – about $160 (£80) a day, on top of which there would be state taxes and vehicle insurance which is often a rip off. We decided against it and instead go for a car. I booked a compact car with ‘Thrifty’ on the internet for the next three days. We then went up to the office to extend our 3 night stay at the pitch to 4. It couldn’t be done, unfortunately we had the option up to the 6 nights but that’s gone now, we’d lost it in the intervening 90 minutes, it seems their reservations phone hasn’t stopped ringing. We had to settle for the only alternative, a smaller, cheaper, shorter, different pitch for our fourth night, so we’ll have to up and move a couple of rows across on Friday morning before we go out anywhere.
Once we were settled we went for a bike ride to the Visitors Centre to get more information on white-water rafting, clarify the access point to Dead Horse Point State Park, and then to the local ‘City Markets’ supermarket for a few bits. On the short ride down there we passed a Ford Dealer and an Auto Parts dealership, so things are looking up. As we hadn’t bought the bike lock with us I stayed outside with the bikes whilst Rosina popped in for the shopping.
When we got back to the campground we waded through the literature about white-water rafting, picked a favoured company and then prepared the evening meal. This was to be the remainder of the rack of ribs from last night’s purchase in Durango. We’d marinated them in a watered down marinade mixture all day in the hope it would introduce some moisture back in to the meat and would also adjust the ‘Texas’ flavour. I fired up the BBQ grill and then put the ribs on to continue the cooking process which on closer inspection was not finished off last night. I also spread further fresh marinade on the ribs and must admit they did smell good. Anybody watching would have wondered what kind of BBQ we had, as we could turn out cooked, good smelling ribs so quickly, not realising that the process was started at a greasery in Durango yesterday by a purveyor of rubbish cuisine. I couldn’t eat all of mine; never mind they filled a gap and were a good excuse to drink more wine.
Moab is full of ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles), Jeeps and other 4x4’s, rafts, kayaks, mountain bikes, scramble bikes and all manner of adult toys. If they aren’t hired from one of the many companies on the main street through town, they arrive in the back of pick-up trucks, towed on trailers or driven here. Moab and the surrounding area is really a huge outdoor adventure playground for adults. Tomorrow morning we pick up the car at 09:00 then we’ll probably visit Dead Horse Point State Park www.utah.com/stateparks/dead_horse.htm .
LOCATION TONIGHT: Canyonlands Campground, 555 South Main Street, Moab, Utah (GPS: N38.564600 W109.549480).