Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Monday, or first Saturday if you will, came up clear and cold! The winds of the previous day had swept the skies clean. Our goal for the day was to drive 130+ miles up to Monument Valley to spend a couple of days.
We were out of our campsite by 9 am, but still had to spend some time at the dump station to unload 10 days of black and gray water, and take on fresh water....we were down to 20 gallons after 10 days.
By 10 we had merged our 62' on to US 89 back south to Page where we parked at the local Walmart so we could do some shopping before we headed into Utah and Monument Valley. We hadn't put the VW in the trailer yet for this very reason. Our first stop in the VW was the Post Office to put some tax stuff in the mail, then the local Safeway supermarket to do our shopping and rack up some more fuel points.
By 11:15 we had the car stowed away in the trailer and were on our way east on SR 98 to US 160 and eventually US 163 through Monument Valley.
Our Jello plan this day was to find a spot in the RV park not far from the main vista point. This is where Mr. Jello reared his head and said....."not so fast there"......there is a kiosk located just 1 mile from The View Hotel where you pay $5 per person to enter the Navajo owned and run facility. We were advised by the very nice lady in the kiosk that the RV park was not open due to renovation and upgrades they were doing for the coming summer season, but we were welcome to stay in the more than adequate parking lot at the hotel for free.....hmmm....this is where we get burned sometimes by our policy not to make advance reservations. "Okay" we thought, this may still work. We made our way up to the hotel parking lot and found a decent spot in the bus section, leveled the coach, got dressed, and walked into the hotel to get some information about tours, etc. By the way, you can drive your own vehicle on the dirt road through the valley, but you are competing with many other private vehicles, plus all the tour vehicles. It costs up to $100 per person to take a guided Jeep tour, and even as much to take a horseback riding tour.
When we got out of the coach we were in for a rude awakening.....it was very windy, and if it was as high as 45 degrees I would be surprised. This is a very beautiful setting to dry camp, and would have been just fine if our batteries were fully charged, which they weren't, even after the 130+ mile drive. In addition we had a bad angle to pick up sun on our solar panels. The final straw was we knew we would have to run our big generator at some point as that night's temps were forecast to drop under 30, and there was a cute little travel trailer right next to where our exhaust pipe for the generator is located....we didn't want to "smoke" them out. To even move the next day we would need the generator to run the block heater so we could start the DD. So, ultimately, with the forecast of more wind the following day, and just slightly warmer temperatures, we decided to take some pictures and move on up the road to Bluff, UT where we could get an inexpensive electrical hookup for the night.
The views up the valley from the deck of The View Hotel are spectacular, and well worth the trip, however US 163 that you must drive up to Monument Valley is narrow, has no shoulder, and is seamed with cracks that have been resealed with tar.....not the ideal highway for our 62' length. I often felt I just had enough room to pass semi trucks coming the opposite direction, plus there are no passing lanes for those vehicles who would loved to have passed us. Additionally, there were no places for us to pull off, or we would have used them to let traffic pass us.
This is the dilemma we face as we move north....it is still cold where we ultimately are headed, and we are trying to pace ourselves to avoid the below freezing temps, but occasionally we run into very cold temperatures, and have to alter our plans based on our current circumstances.
We left Monument valley around 4 pm and headed another 49 miles north to to Bluff, but within 25 miles as we were passing through a little village named Mexican Hat we found a little RV park called Valles RV Park with a sort of view of the canyon through which runs the San Juan River.....when Miss Serendipity presents herself you must acknowledge her, and we did. Of course, the main attraction is the rock formation for which this little village is named.....it is actually quite spectacular.....I don't know how that rock stays balanced. The park itself was adequate for our needs Monday.....it is definitely not a destination resort. They offer only 30 amp hookups, and have no amenities, but they do have full hookups if you need them. It was a great overnight stop for us, nevertheless.
Mexican Hat Rock in the distance
It was just before 5 when we parked to go into the office, and we just caught the owner getting ready to shut the office for the day. We quickly paid$27 for one night plus 30 amps of electricity, which we knew we would need this night. We'll move on to Blanding, UT Tuesday and decide where to go from there.