We both had a rough night last night, it was just so hot. I opened the roof vents but it was still too hot to sleep properly. Eventually I had to turn on the air conditioning unit, which is excellent for cooling the vehicle interior but is also noisy, not alarmingly so, more of a distraction, but best avoided if possible. Rosina was first away for a shower, we had expected the shower block to be very busy here and agreed if it was, then we’d return and shower in the RV.
Just as I was leaving for the shower block the mobile phone rang. It was the ‘Thrifty’ car hire office down the road to let me know they’d received our booking but unfortunately they were all out of compact cars but would provide us with a replacement car at the same rate just as soon as one was returned to them.
We skipped breakfast in order to ensure we arrived at the Thrifty office by 09:00. After filling in some of the paperwork we were shown our alternative car through the office window – a Jeep Liberty 4x4. I had a job keeping a straight face whilst finishing off the paperwork. It was the equivalent of getting a jeep at less than half price, and nicer than the Wrangler model advertised elsewhere. We bought the Jeep back to the RV, had breakfast then loaded her up with bits and pieces including plenty of water and the cameras. We’d decided that now we had the appropriate vehicle we’d take a trip along the Potash Road Jeep Trail which would take us to the location featured at the end of the ‘Thelma & Louise’ movie where they drove their Thunderbird car over the cliff.
The weather forecast was not too good, the temperature is 40F cooler than yesterday, but we try not to let such things stand in our way of getting things done, we’ll juggle the days around to suit the weather as necessary. After driving down Moab Main Street we turned off US191 on to the 279. Eventually the paved road came to an end and the jeep trail started. We kept our speed down, firstly I didn’t want to damage the car and secondly I had no experience of off-road driving. Once I got the feel of the car it really was great fun.
We passed a number of man-made lakes up in the mountains. The water in them was the most amazing turquoise blue. We had no idea of their purpose but decided we would try and find out before we left Moab. In our opinion they spoilt the look of the otherwise unspoilt mountainous area. We later found out that the ‘lakes’ were evaporation beds. It seems it’s how they mine the Potash here. First the mine is flooded with water pumped up from the Colorado River below then it’s pumped out again in to the beds where the solution of water and Potash is left to the mercy of the sun. Once the water has evaporated the remaining dry Potash is removed from the bed.
We found the ‘Thelma & Louise’ spot we were looking for and beyond it there was a dramatic view of a bend in the Colorado River beneath steep mountains (including we were to discover later - Dead Horse Point). Soon after this there was the potential of spectacular views and photographs but by now the cloud base was low, we were experiencing showers and the sky was dark and rain could be clearly seen leaving the base of the clouds. At the same time the wind had picked up and we had dust and sand blowing across the ground. Whilst we sat it out for a while to see if the weather would improve we were able to take photographs with orange dust and sand blowing in the bottom of the photographs and black clouds releasing rain at the top. The weather showed no sign of improving and so we climbed out of the jeep and took a few pictures to capture the moment. At one point I really spooked myself. I often get quite close to the edge of cliffs and rocks to take pictures, and up here it was a very long 1000ft non-stop journey to the Colorado River below. Standing at the edge I suddenly realised I had the wind behind me, rather than ahead, I could very easily have been blown over the edge. I immediately stepped back, thankful I’d spotted what I’d done in time, so no more being careless, well not today anyway.
After this point we entered the Canyonland National Park, and the condition of the trail deteriorated markedly. Parts of the trail were very narrow and bumpy with deep ruts and rocks. At one point we had to get over a large wide area of smooth but uneven rock. The best route over it was to present the front of the Jeep against the face of a wide piece of rock about 12 inches high, then ask the vehicle to climb on to it. This was the point I was considering turning around as I was out of my depth and I didn’t know what the vehicle was capable of. I fully expected to lose the front bumper or valance, or both, but up and on to it she went, brilliant. There was one point that The Chef liked the least and that was a sharp right hand bend on a narrow track with a rock cliff face right against her side and a 1000ft sheer drop on mine. I have to say that I was quite pleased when we eventually arrived back on a public road; we’d been travelling off-road for about 5 hours, and for a novice off-roader that was long enough. It wasn’t until we got to the end of the trail that we realised we’d done it the hard way. The three or four other 4x4’s we’d seen had been travelling in the opposite direction having entered the trail at the top and travelled downhill all the way whereas we’d climbed it from the bottom. On the occasions we needed to pass each other on the track we held our breath as our wheels were so close to the edge.
This evening we walked down to Pizza Hut for a quick evening meal as we didn’t feel like preparing anything on our return. We had to run back part of the way to avoid very black skies and a triple rainbow. We were back in the RV before it rained, fortunately we were on the edge of whatever it was as it didn’t rain too heavily.
Tomorrow we are planning to visit Arches National Park. We would have preferred to visit in bright sunshine but unfortunately the weather forecast is for cloud and thunderstorms the whole time we are here and so we’ll just get on with making the best of it.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Canyonlands Campground, 555 South Main Street, Moab, Utah