2013-March-April-Southwest-Trip Research Archives

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Henry Keeps Rolling

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2013 March/April Trip (Ordered by Date) to The FC-Roundup and the Southwest

Henry’s Performance (2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo All-Wheel Drive)


Henry at overlook of Moab and La Sal Mountains

Gerald asked about our 2012 Grand Cherokee’s performance during our trip. He also asked if our jeep had a name yet. Yes, the jeep has a name: Henry. It was Ann’s idea, since most of her life she’s owned a Ford. We even traded in her Ford Mustang for the jeep (now there’s a great wife — willing to trade in her car to get a jeep!)

Henry has the basic Laredo GC with the 3.8 with the towing package upgrade. It has fulltime all wheel drive, but doesn’t have low range. We bought it with approx 4k miles for $28,500. Our goal was to have a mildly off-road, a snow, and a camping capable vehicle.

Having put 6,000 miles on Henry in the last five weeks we have found the jeep has exceeded our expectations. Rated at 23mpg we regularly get 25mpg at 75mph without air conditioning (it hasn’t been warm enough to run the air). The jeep handles well enough that I don’t miss touring with my BMW 540i. My BMW has better passing power, but I can live without that.

The jeep is well equipped for working in the passenger seat. Two electrical outlets allow me to keep my computer / phones/ broadband device powered. The windows could use some tinting to help reduce computer screen glare.

Not only are their cup holders in the middle, but the doors have auxiliary cup holders, which work well for bottles of water or empty cans. We really appreciate the door cup holders!

The jeep has the push button starter, which I’d never used, but really like! I keep the key in my pocket and Ann keeps one on her. There is no fumbling with keys to open doors or start the jeep. As long as the electronics and computer work over the long term I will continue to like this feature!

The packing capacity seems good. We’ll know just how good it is when I try to pack 2 terra tires into the back. My wife is convinced they won’t fit. I am convinced I can make them fit!

Here are a few pics of Henry offroad.


Testing Henry out in the sand. We didn’t want to get into sand that was too deep, but it drove through without issue.


To get here I had to drive over rocks and branches. Even without low range there we encountered no problem.



Of course the hill doesn’t look steep in the picture, but it was. We went down and up without any slippage. Now, if it were wet at all, we would have had problems.


Waiting for us at White Sands.

2013 March/April Trip (Ordered by Date) to The FC-Roundup and the Southwest

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April 3: Burgers and the Terra Tires Challenge

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 15 – April 1: From Cathedral Valley to I-70 | Overview  –>


Checking out Jack’s M-38A1 and Randy’s CJ-5 at the Boise Fry Company in Boise, ID.

Day 16 April 2nd: We spent Tuesday night, April 2nd, in Salt Lake City.

Day 17 (final) April 3rd:  On Wednesday April 3rd, we arrived home in Pasco after 5,198 miles of adventure. However, earlier in the day we had one last meeting and a large bet to settle. A little history . . .

In February of this year I spotted a set of mounted Terra Tires in Boise for only $50. Since he lives in Boise, I asked Josh if he could pick them up for me, but he told me his wife was having a baby that day. I asked if they could reschedule the whole baby thing since the tires were a great deal, but for some reason they didn’t think that was a good idea.

So, I asked Jack if he could pick them up, which he did for me (thanks Jack!). It just so happens that my darling wife was listening to me as I made final arrangements for the tires. I told Jack that we’d pick them up in early April on our way back from our Southwest trip.

After finishing my phone call, I hung up, only to see Ann giving me an odd look. She asked why we were going to Boise on our way back when we were supposed to return through California from the FC event. Well, that didn’t register with me. My brain suddenly kicked into high gear, sorting through thousands of jeeps posts and other useless information in an attempt to remember any conversation regarding a trip through California. Finally, there was a brief hint of some conversation months ago about us celebrating a honeymoon by driving north up highway 1.

Now, having been in several relationships with women one thing I have learned to do is fess up right away if you think you’ve screwed up. So, I told Ann that I had forgotten about the honeymoon trip. While you can imagine that went over well, I countered by explaining the value of getting the tires for only $50 and how important it was to meet with Jack and his friends.  While not swayed by my arguments, she did agree that it wasn’t practical to go through California on this trip. I breathed a sigh of relief!

But then, she threw down the gauntlet. She told me she didn’t think the tires would not fit in the back of the jeep since we’d be full of camping gear and clothes.

And thus, for the weeks before and during our trip, every time I mentioned Boise or the tires she teased me about having to rent a uHaul trailer to bring them home. I replied, confidently, that one way or another I’d get them into the jeep, even if I had to tear out the seats and ship them home. I really hoped I didn’t have to do that.


Our jeep before we tried packing the tires. It was pretty full. I was confident though.


Could I fit these tires into the back of our full jeep?

At 1pm on Wednesday we showed up to have lunch with Jack, Randy and Josh at the Boise Fry Company (they have great burgers and fries)!  Jack beat us to the restaurant. In the back seat of his M-38A1 were the tires. One look at them and Ann was sure she would win the bet. Ever confident and cocky, I began to unpile everything from the jeep.

I’m pleased to report that after re-arranging, packing, pushing, flattening, twisting, praying, and jumping up and down, I successfully managed to get the terra tires into the back of the jeep. They are now in Pasco awaiting transport to be tested on Biscuit in Renton. Yeah!


Victory! By dropping down the seats I was able to push stuff farther towards the ceiling. My wife lost graciously :-)

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April 1: From Cathedral Valley to I-70

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<– Day 14 – March 31: From Wolverine Loop to Cathedral Valley | Overview | Day 16 & 17 – Burgers and the Terra Tires Challenge –>


The rising sun at Cathedral Valley Campground.

After a night of light rain, we woke up to sun and clouds.  I wished we had a few days to relax, jeep and hike, but we had to return to Salt Lake to have  an April Fools’ dinner in the evening with my kids, so we broke camp early in the morning.


Cathedral Valley in the morning. Capitol Reef National Park.


To leave Cathedral Valley we had two options. We could go back the way we came (drive south then take the highways north) or head north towards I-70 and hope we could make it. The day before I asked the National Park Ranger if the roads led all the way to I-70. He said we could make it if we knew what we were doing and had a map of the area.

I felt we knew what we were doing, but we lacked an accurate map. Still, I figured we could make it without a map, because we had tall mountains on our left and the San Rafael Swell on our right. And, we had a compass. We had food, gas and water. All we had to due was keep heading north.

As we packed up camp for the drive north, a miracle occurred. I had thought I packed only one map: a general map of the US. It turns out that I had packed a second map: a map of the San Rafael Swell area. That map showed all the roads we needed to take in order to reach I-70. With the guess work out of it, we could relax and enjoy the trip a little more.


Our drive through Cathedral Valley.

Before we left the park, we stopped at a spot called the Gypsum Sinkhole. I didn’t see any gypsum, but there was a big hole. You can just see Ann’s shadow at the edge of the shadow.


Gypsum Sink Hole in Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef National Park.

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March 31: From Wolverine Loop to Cathedral Valley

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<– Day 13 – March 30: From Cottonwood Canyon to Wolverine | Overview | Day 15 – April 1: From Cathedral Valley to I-70  –>


Sunday March 31 day break at Horse Canyon.

Technically, the March 30th night we camped at the Horse Canyon trailhead wasn’t allowed by the NPS. However, had we walked through the gate to the wilderness study area we could camp legally. Besides, it wasn’t like we hadn’t tried to find a camping spot in other places. Since we were all alone, we didn’t think it was a big deal. We didn’t make a fire and we left no trace we were there. Just the same, we broke camp at sunlight and began our second day in Utah.

We’d planned to return to Highway 12 once we got back to the Burr Trail. But, one thing I’d never done was cross Capitol Reef NP on the Burr Trail and then head north (normally I’ve driven south to Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell). Ann was all for the impromptu route, so we drove north on the Wolverine Loop and headed east. Along the way we took a few photos (surprise, surprise).



Wolverine Loop Trail


The western entrance to the Wolverine Loop from the Burr Trail. This is all within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.


Looking West on the Burr Trail Road. The early morning sun was lighting up the hillsides.

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March 30th: From Cottonwood Canyon to Wolverine Loop

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 12 – March 29: Holbrook, Arizona, and Route 66 | Overview | Day 14 – March 31: From Wolverine Loop to Cathedral Valley –>


The southern entrance to Cottonwood Canyon Road

Last night we put together a plan to drive north from Williams on highway 89 and then take a little known dirt road short cut called Cottonwood Canyon Road that links highway 89 with highway 12. I’d driven that road more than a decade ago and wanted to tackle it again.

So, on Saturday March 30th we took off on an adventure. The first thing we encountered was a road closure. Highway 89 was closed near Page, AZ, due to some gaps in the road caused by moving earth. However, a detour of thirty miles got us around that issue.


This shows our entire route on March 30th from Williams, through Page, and ending at the Wolverine Loop Trailhead.


This is a closeup map showing the latter part of our drive.

By noon we were in Page, where we suffered an unexpected tragedy (the death of a wine bottle).

As I explained to my wife while picking up the glass from the broken wine bottle in the Safeway parking lot, it wasn’t my fault. Really, it wasn’t. Instead, it was the little crazy four-year-old who was riding like a mad-man around the busy parking lot while his father panhandled while riding a skateboard. The kid’s father had just asked us for money when his son crashed about three feet behind Ann. Meanwhile, I was in the process of opening the back door of the jeep. It happened like this:

1. I began to open the rear hatch door.
2. The kid crashed
3. As the door swung slowly upward, Ann yelled “no, no, no”
4. Ann’s attempts to stop me from opening the door bounced off me as if they didn’t exist, because I was wondering if the stupid kid was hurt.
5. I continued to lift the door.
6. Ann continued to yell “no, no, no”
7. I continued to ignore her (she was two feet away right in front of me)
8. I heard a noise of something sliding.
9. I heard the sound of glass breaking.
10. I heard the sound of me saying . . . “it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my fault. it was that kiiiddd!”

Well, it went something like that. No matter how it happened, I was soon buying her another bottle of wine. Actually, 2 bottles. Happy wife, happy life.

Once that adventure was over, we were off to Cottonwood Canyon Road, which turns north from highway 89.  I won’t bore you with details. The road is dirt and the terrain varies wildly. Lots of tight turns, hills, and dust. Don’t drive it when wet. It is just under 50 miles. It rocks! Here are some pics.


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March 29: Holbrook, Arizona, and Route 66

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<– Day 11 – March 28: Petroglyph Rocks and Tent Rocks | Overview | Day 13 – March 30: From Cottonwood Canyon to Wolverine  –>

Our goal was to drive to Williams, Arizona, then drive to Prescott, before returning to Williams for the evening.


Our drive Friday from Holbrook to Williams

We had a busy day that started in Holbrook, AZ. If you have ever seen the movie CARS then you will recognize many of the sites in Holbrook. It’s a fun place to step back in time and cruise the old Route 66.  Here’s a picture of the Wigwam Motel. The prices on these run around $55. I wish I had known they were in Holbrook, because we would have stayed there. Note the old cars parked out front of some of them.




While looking around the town we came across this poor CJ-5 hiding sadly behind a mixer. It’s a project!


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March 28: Petroglyph Rocks and Tent Rocks

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<– Day 10 – March 27: Caverns & Aliens | Overview | Day 12 – March 29: Holbrook, Arizona, and Route 66 –>

Today we drove north from Tularosa to explore Santa Fe and “Tent Rocks”. Our final destination was Holbrook, Arizona.


Thursday’s drive from Tularosa to Santa Fe.


Part of the slot canyon at “Tent Rocks” National Monument

There is no way you can start off a morning wrong when you have hash browns smothered in green chiles and cheddar cheese. It was delicious dish we enjoyed at the local Tularosa gas station restaurant.

Following breakfast, we trekked north for a stop at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site run by the BLM. Within a relatively small area 21,700 petroglyphs have been identified. Within five minutes of hiking we were surrounded by petroglyphs of all sizes and shapes. It seemed every rock was marked.


2013-03-28-three-rivers1 2013-03-28-three-rivers2

After Three Rivers, we renewed our drive northward. On the way we discovered that Tinkertown wouldn’t open until Friday. Moreover, not too far from Tinkertown is Madrid, the town made famous by the WILD HOGS Movie. After pondering our options, we decided that we would have to save Madrid and Tinkertown for some other time.

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March 27: Caverns & Aliens

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<– Day 9 – March 26: Space History and White Sands | Overview | Day 11 – March 28: Petroglyph Rocks and Tent Rocks –>

On Wednesday March 27th we spent the day exploring eastern New Mexico.



We began the morning with a beautiful drive east up to Cloudcroft, a town that sits at 9000 ft, making it popular destination for folks looking to escape the heat of the Alamogordo valley.  It was early, so not much was open. We continued until we reached the dusty town of Artesia, NM. My oldest son Karson had been ‘stationed’ in Artesia to get his final training for Fema Corps, but left Sunday (only 3  days earlier) for Brooklyn, where he will spend two months helping the Hurricane Sandy clean up process.  So, we just missed him!

From Artesia, we went south on Highway 285 until we reached Carlsbad Caverns National Park.


After entering the Carlsdbad’s visitor center, we had a choice. We could either take an elevator down or walk down to the caverns themselves. Ann thought it best to take the elevator, but was perfectly happy to let me walk down the winding pathway through a massive cave entrance, which leads to the caverns.

So, I started towards the entrance. At first the switchbacks were relative gentle…


But soon they got steeper. As the path led into the cave opening, moisture from the walls and ceiling bled onto the path, making it slippery in spots due to the angle of descent. 2013-03-27-carlsbad-cavern4

Eventually, I reached an intersection. I was uncertain which way to go until I spotted a sign I thought would get me to the elevators. So, I turned right, unaware that I was actually heading into the cavern system itself. Once I realized my mistake, I then had to figure out whether it was quicker to head back the way I had come or venture forward until I returned back the the intersection starting point. Poor Ann was left waiting for me. I think it took me about 15 minutes to complete the entire circuit through the caverns at a slight job.

One I found Ann again, we I took my second stroll around the caverns, this time at a much slower pace. My photos of the cavern were mostly blurry, but this was turned out reasonably well.


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March 26th: NM Museum of Space History & White Sands NM

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<– Day 8 – March 25: Tucson, A Titan, and Tombstone | Overview | Day 10 – March 27: Caverns & Aliens –>

On Tuesday March 26th, we touristed several spots around the Alamogordo area.


Our trek to several Alamogordo spots from Tularosa and back.

Be began the day by driving a short distance south of Tularosa, stopping at a Pistachio Farm and, possibly, the worlds largest pistachio!  We also found this Mad-Max-like crazy car.

ann-david-pistachio-farm jalopy-car-near-pistachio-farm

Next we toured the city of Alamogordo and the New Mexico Museum of Space History. At the museum Ann spotted two pictures of jeeps.



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March 25: Tucson, A Titan, and Tombstone

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<– Day 7 – March 25: Jeep Signs in Tucson | Overview | Day 9 – March 26: Space History and White Sands –>

Today we had multiple stops planned. Overall, our goal was to drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Tularosa, New Mexico.


We had a very busy day on Monday. A long drive coupled with multiple stops.

After posting the picture from Moab of the CJ-2A mounted on a sign at Ivan’s, Joe pointed me to two similar places in Tucson, AZ. He even included addresses, which saved me time (thanks!). The first place, Willy’s works was a parts store and focuses on civilian and military jeeps. The ‘jeep’ yard held a variety of jeeps. The second place was Jack’s Government Surplus, which naturally focuses on military items. Around Jacks were all kinds of great parts’ yards. I wished I had the time to explore all the different yards!

We did not have time to explore either place. We stopped, took pictures and drove off. So, call or check them out the next time you are there.

Willys Works: 1933 W Gardner Ln,Tucson, AZ (520) 888-5082

willys-works-jeep-cargo-container-sign3 willys-works-jeep-cargo-container-sign2 willys-works-jeep-cargo-container-sign1

Jack’s Government Surplus5181 E Drexel Rd, Tucson, AZ 85706 (520) 574-0300
Below are my pictures. You can see some ones from 2010 on Flickr. In the pictures you’ll see a M-38A1, a FC, and a M-151. I’m sure there is more.



Inside Jacks were several different jeeps. jacks-government-surplus3

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March 24: Bernie’s Hotrod FCs and A Train Stop

• CATEGORIES: Builds, FC150-FC170-M677, Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 6 – March 23: Bernie’s Hotrod FCs and A Train Stop | Overview | Day 8 – March 25: Tucson, A Titan, and Tombstone –>

On Sunday March 24th, we made a quick visit back to the FC Roundup to get some better pics of Bernie’s rig. After that, we spent the afternoon exploring the Phoenix area. That evening, we drove south to Tucson.


Our evening drive on Sunday was a short one.

We began the morning at the FC Roundup. Yesterday, I posted a couple pictures of Bernie’s FC. Here are some of the more interesting details:

1) This uses only aviation fuel
2) The engine’s exhaust is partially vented inside the boxed frame
3) The rear and side windows still need completing
4) The cab and the bed both tilt
5) There is no driveline. The transmission is coupled to the rear pinion using a drag racing coupler





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March 23: 2013 FC-Roundup Saturday

• CATEGORIES: Event, Features • TAGS: , This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 4 & 5 – March 21 & 22: Joe and Joe in Mesa, FC Roundup Part I | Overview | Day 7 – March 24: Bernie’s Hotrod FCs and A Train Stop –>


Just a few updates today (Sunday). Saturday was busy and a lot of fun at Jesse’s house. People were coming and going all day. There was plenty of good food, with hot dogs and beans at lunch and some delicious midday ribs from James in the afternoon. Blue sky and temperatures in the high 70s created perfect temperatures whether you were in the sun or the shade. Below are some of the day’s events.

After a group trip to Mother’s for dinner, we returned to find Bernie’s stunning FC combo:



Colin, George and I spent some time checking out Colin’s Jeepster:

Bob restored this beautiful column shift CJ-2A:

The ladies all jumped into Jesse’s refurbished Tour Jeep for a picture. He’s almost finished with it.

We celebrated Jesse and Andrea’s 50th anniversary and the FC-Roundup’s 10th anniversary.

<– Day 4 & 5 – March 21 & 22: Joe and Joe in Mesa, FC Roundup Part I | Overview | Day 7 – March 24: Bernie’s Hotrod FCs and A Train Stop –>

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March 21 & 22: Joe and Joe in Mesa, FC Roundup Part I

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 3 Part II – March 20th Part 2: Canyon De Chelly National Monument  | Overview | Day 6 – March 23: 2013 FC-Roundup Saturday  –>

Thursday March 21: We spent Wednesday night in Flagstaff, slept in, toured Flagstaff, then drove to Phoenix. It wasn’t all that interesting, as the only thing we documented was a stop at Pita Jungle in Flagstaff.

Friday March 21: 


Left to right: Joel, David, Joe-in-Mesa

Ann and I dropped by Joe’s house in Mesa on Friday morning before heading off to the 2013 FC Roundup. While Joel has been around jeeps much of his life, Joe is newer to them.

Joe’s initial jeep goal was simple: militarize an old CJ-2A. So, he bought a running CJ-2A with a rough body. Then, he found a GPW body with a great body and frame. His plan was to put the body onto the CJ-2A frame, but his plan was thwarted when he discovered the frame and body matched. With Joel preaching “thou shallst not separate a matching body and frame”, Joe decided to focus on building up the GPW to an originalism state and just patch the floor of the CJ-2A.


As Joe began looking for parts, he found a T-84 transmission and transfercase. Though Joe only wanted the tranny and tc, the seller gave him a price on that plus CJ-3B parts that he couldn’t refuse.

So, a story as old as time, Joe’s one project has turned into three 🙂

The GPW has a few interesting items of note. First, the passenger side was cut and replaced with a swinging door. The door is better than bubba quality and looks like, based on paint comparisons, that it has been with the jeep a long time. Joe has decided to keep it as a conversation piece.


Also of interest is a hinge welded to the bottom of the Ford script seat frame. I suspect that’s a mystery which will never be solved.


After a great time with Joe and Joel, we headed west to central Phoenix and the FC Roundup.


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March 20th Part 2: Canyon De Chelly National Monument

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<– Day 3 Part I – March 20th Part I: Dead Horse State Park | Overview | Day 4 & 5 – March 21 & 22: Joe and Joe in Mesa, FC Roundup Part I –>


Almost to the observation point at Spider Point, Canyon De Chelly, just before we dodged Craig . . .


This post covers our time in Canyon De Chelly, after which we drove to Flagstaff to spend the night.

For more than a decade Canyon De Chelly National Monument has been on my bucket list of places to visit. I’d read about the beautiful canyons and seen pictures of the Puebloan dwellings perched high within the walls. Yet, I had never visited the place, because its location deep within the Navajo Reservation has kept it from being a convenient side trip. In fact, if you do a search of the web, you’ll find a variety of potential visitors asking if it is worth the trip. While many of the responses gush over the place, Ann and I were deeply disappointed.

We arrived at 4pm under a cloudy sky, having driven through hundreds of miles of Navajo Reservation land (an experience in itself). The winds were blowing pretty good, adding to an already cool day. Fortunately we had plenty of warm clothes, so cold temperatures couldn’t stop us. We entered the visitor center to pay our park fee and learned that the park is free. We thought that strange, but took it as a sign of good fortune.

We told the ranger we knew little about the park and asked if he could make some suggestions on what to see. He described a north tour and a south tour, with the coup-de-grace being Spider Point, the farthest vista along the south drive. We chose to save the best for first and began driving along the south drive.

As soon as we entered the park, we saw the jeep tour sign. Then, there was cowboy woman’s coffee shack, and the term shack might be stretching it, for it wasn’t that nice. But, it was local flavor so we just mentioned it and moved on. But, the local flavor never disappeared. As we drove up the park road we’d see view points for the canyon on our left and Navajo homesteads on our right. As we talked about it, we realized we weren’t in a park, but in the Navajo’s back yard.

After twenty minutes of driving we rounded the Spider Point access road when we saw an unwashed filthy old man wearing a dora explorer pink backpack. He popped out of the bushes some distance in front of us, crossed the road, and was walking off into the middle of nowhere. Ann looked at me and said, “Well, that’s not odd . . .”  Several hundred feet later we saw these two young men of Navajo descent digging with a couple shovels on what seemed to be park land. It just seemed odd.


Spider Point Parking Lot Overlook at Canyon De Chelly. I liked the simple tubes for viewing. They really helped.

Ten minutes later we were standing at the parking lot at a fence with a beautiful view of the canyon. There was one other car, so it was very quiet. I particularly liked the low budget pointers used to direct visitor’s eyes to different Puebloan ruins. Just as I was beginning to think this might be a cool place, Craig showed up. Well, I guess he didn’t just show up, rather he jumped out of a plateless mini-van that barely slowed down before it sped off again.

It took all of thirty seconds for Craig to amble over to us and introduce himself. Craig’s high pitched  feminine voice was unexpected; so was the smell that followed him. Craig claimed that his grandmother owned the hogan that just happened to be located at the end of the walking path off of Spider Point. He asked if we like to see that? I said yes, just to see what his response was. He took off excitedly down the path to the observation point. Meanwhile, Ann saw two men of apparently Navajo descent disappear into the bushes nearby. We never did figure out where they went.

Given our location, Ann joked that her Spidey senses were on full alert. I had to agree with her, as something felt completely wrong with the situation. Yet, feeling intrepid, we decided to walk down to the observation point path so we could see the view. We found a cool spot and took some photos, lingering to let Craig disappear.

Eventually we made it to the observation point itself, though I could see Craig lurking at a point beyond the view point. After a few quick photos, neither of us were enjoying the view. It just felled odd. So, we decided to get out of there.


Spider Point at Canyon De Chelly

About a mile passed Spider point was another view point. Parked just to the side of the parking lot was the same van that dropped off Craig. Someone sat inside, waiting for something. So, we sped off to the main road.

At the main road, we began to weave our way back to the park entrance. We saw another spur road that led to another view point. What the heck, we thought. We drove to the parking lot, only to find a peddler of trinkets and necklaces waiting for anyone to appear. We’ve run across similar peddling at Four Corners and Gooseneck State Park in Utah, but never in a national park. That being the last straw, we decided to leave the park.

It turned out we couldn’t leave the park fast enough. The road back to the entrance had a speed limit of 45mph. The road had no shoulders. It bobbed and weaved down a hillside. I was traveling 50mph. A white car behind me was following at a reasonable distance. At one point I looked back at the car and, out of no where, a yellow school bus appeared. It was riding the rear of the white car. The bus was aggressive enough that it caught my attention.

We were halfway down to the park entrance when I saw the white car pull off at a view point. If I were the white car I would have done the same thing. In fact, because the bus was going to be behind me, I sped up to 55mph, figuring that would keep me ahead of the bus. It seems I thought wrong. I watched the bus round two corners behind me, the weight of the bus would cause it to lean. The driver compensated by veering multiple times into the opposing lane. It took several shifts of the steering wheel before the bus driver got control. Once the driver found a straight away, all he/she knew how to do was go fast, because even at 55mph, that driver caught me quickly .

I had two choices, I could remain at 55mph and have some freaking careless driver riding my butt, or I could pull off and let the driver go by. I chose the latter course, because I didn’t need to put our safety risk. Sure enough, that bus roared passed us and we never saw it again.

We thought about stopping at the Visitor’s Center and complaining, but it was closed by the time we arrived, so we bolted. Heck, we wanted our money back, even though we hadn’t paid anything!

As we were about to leave Chinle, the town where Canyon De Chelly is located, Ann noticed the High School had double perimeter fencing, an outside fence consisting of a security fence (barbed wire) and an inner fence. Between the two fences was a security car patroling the area. To enter the school a person had to go through a security booth. Given Chinle is in the middle of nowhere, it was surreal.

That was our image as we left the area. That school bus might as well have followed us out of town, because we weren’t wasting anytime leaving. Besides, there was nothing there that we hadn’t seen at Mesa Verde, Zion, Canyonlands, or other parks in the NPS or Utah State Park system.

We left Canyon De Chelly and drove to Flagstaff, where we spent the night. Tomorrow, March 21st, we will spend a little time in Flagstaff, then leave for Phoenix.

<– Day 3 Part I – March 20th Part I: Dead Horse State Park | Overview | Day 4 & 5 – March 21 & 22: Joe and Joe in Mesa, FC Roundup Part I –>

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March 20th Part I & Part II: Dead Horse State Park

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<– Day 1- March 18th-19th: Phoenix Az or Bust! | Overview | Day 3 Part II – March 20th Part 2: Canyon De Chelly National Monument –>


Exploring just northwest of Moab, Utah, with the La Sal Mountains int he background.

We began the morning in Moab. Our goal was to explore Moab some, then head south for Canyon De Chelly, then onward to Phoenix.


This post covers the first part of our drive, from Moab towards Canyon De Chelly. Canyon De Chelly is covered in follow up second post.

Our first stop of the day was north of Moab along Highway 313. It’s BLM land were I used to camp when visiting Moab. I’d throw a sleeping back on the slick rock and sleep under the stars. That was back in 2000-2003. Now, this area is closed to camping.  It is one of the downsides of the rise in tourism in the area.


henry-lasalmountains-moab7 2013-03-20-blm-old-camp-site2

Next, we continued along Highway 313 toward Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s has amazing vista overlooking Canyonlands National Park, with it’s twisting, turning rivers wriggling amongst a vast rocky landscape. The views are incredible, even on a cloudy morning. I’m sure on a sunny, cloudless morning, the rock would be a bright reddish-orange.


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March 18th-19th: Phoenix Az or Bust!

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<– Trip Overview | Day 3 – March 20th Part I: Dead Horse State Park –>

Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Tuesday, March 19th.

Over the next two days (March 18th and 19th) our goal was to drive to Moab.


Early Monday morning (March 18th) Ann and I headed for Phoenix for 2013 FC-Roundup this coming weekend. We stopped Monday evening in Salt Lake Monday Night for dinner at Rodizio Grill with my kids.


David, Kasia, and Colter. Karson was away at FEMA Corps during our visit.

The next morning, we began our drive to Moab. On our way out of Salt Lake City, near Point of the Mountain, we met up with a reader named Jake. He and his father have refurbished two jeeps, a CJ-2A and a CJ-5. They are now on their third, a CJ-3B. The 2A and 5 will be down in Moab next week for the Easter Jeep Safari. If you see them say Hi! Thanks for taking the time to meet with us Jake!


Jake’s CJ-2a


His father’s CJ-5

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2013 March/April Trip to The FC-Roundup and the Southwest

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<– 2013 March/April Trip (Ordered by Date) to The FC-Roundup and the Southwest | Day 1 – March 18th-19th: Phoenix Az or Bust! –>

On Monday March 18th Ann and I left Pasco for a trip to and through America’s Southwest. Our initial destination was the 10th Annual FC-Roundup in Phoenix. From there, we drove for another week through Arizona, New Mexico, and back through Arizona, before we began a fun offroad adventure north through Utah. Our total trip was nearly 6000 miles and lasted three weeks.

Here’s a map of our trip.


Below are the pages related to the trip:

<– 2013 March/April Trip (Ordered by Date) to The FC-Roundup and the Southwest | Day 1 – March 18th-19th: Phoenix Az or Bust! –>