The next morning, despite our vow to sleep in a little, Lee woke up early and went to do laundry. There are four laundry places in Moab and two have 5 star ratings, one of which he decided to go to. We don’t always look at Yelp ratings when we travel, but for laundromats we almost always do, because the experience can vary so much. They had lots of big machines though and he spent the time talking to a young man who is full timing with his wife and two kids and he had a pleasant enough time.
I, on the other hand, woke up really sore for the first time since we have been in Utah. It’s not surprising really since I was climbing on rocks like I was a 20 year old and even though it was totally worth it, I was definitely paying for it today. Lee had said before he left that he wanted to do something today, so we settled on what we thought would be an easy scenic drive.
While Lee was at the laundromat he walked over to a local outdoor retailer called Gearheads
and saw they had my brand of Merrell’s. This winter I had noticed at Amazon that my hiking shoes were pretty much done, but hadn’t had the foresight to buy a new pair since we hit Utah. Since I really don’t like to buy shoes online I was making do, but yesterday had really brought home they needed to be replaced. His timing was perfect then in finding a store and once he got back we had some lunch and then headed out. I was thrilled by both the selection and service in such a relatively small store and they not only had my exact model, but also in my size and at the very reasonable price of $109. Coincidentally, I have been wearing Merrell’s Moab
this entire time and replacing them in Moab itself seemed fitting.
Lee going into Gearheads
I tried them on and they immediately felt good, which is why I am such a big fan and several days later as of this writing there was no “breaking in” needed. For the record I also buy the ventilated version rather than the waterproof version and prefer these because I don’t like for my feet to sweat when I am hiking. After Gearheads, we also went down to Shopko where I looked for a shower curtain. My friends Pam and Vicki both have shower doors like mine and as with mine over time they get cloudy. Their solution, which I thought was brilliant, was to add a shower curtain, and although the selection was limited in town I wanted to give it a try. When we got home later and put them up I was really happy with how it looked. Lee is still on the fence about whether he likes it or not, but when it’s just us we can tuck it out of the way.
While we were out I also bought some new socks since the last time I bought any was in Quartzsite two years ago. The price there was great and I kept thinking we would get back, but finally broke down and bought 6 pairs of socks for around $3 a pair. I also have had the same $10 pair of sunglasses that I bought in an airport over 5 years ago. The sand and blowing wind had scratched them up and it was definitely time for a new pair. I made Lee crazy trying on every pair in the drug store, until I finally found a pair that might work. They only cost $11.99, so if they don’t work for me I won’t feel too bad about it.
You may be noticing a pattern here, and it is true that on certain things I like what I like, and
want a bargain to boot. Lee of all people should understand that, because our next stop was the camera store, and he is a sucker for old-fashioned camera stores. They are pretty rare in most cities now, but we still find them in smaller touristy towns and Moab was no exception. He went in looking for lens cleaning paper (which he got), but came out with a rotating, polarizing lens
. Several people had recommended that we try a polarizing lens to cut down on the amount of post work we would need to do after taking pictures, so Lee bought one. He’s going to try it out and see what the results are, and then I may decide to get one as well. I’m going to wait and see how different his pictures look with it.
The good news is he did NOT buy the wide angle lens the guy was trying to get him to buy, which I appreciated, but we had talked about what we are going to get in the future. When my camera dies, which I am sure it will eventually do, I’ll take his and then he can invest in a higher end one. We’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth out of these cameras, and I don’t mind at all investing on something more expensive in the future. See I am weird like that. (The problem with me buying any new lenses for our either of our cameras (they’re the same model) is that lenses are expensive, and our cameras have a pretty heavily cropped sensor. You can poke around the internet to find out what that means, but basically our sensor is cropped at 1.64, which makes a 10mm wide angle lens take pictures as though it were a 16mm lens. Not really much point in spending the money on a lens if I’m not really getting my money’s worth out of it. – Lee)
On our way back to the campsite we took the scenic drive 123 along the Colorado River. It was a beautiful drive with several BLM campsites right on the river, that I wanted to check out. The first was Goose Island Campground and had several sites that would work for a big rig. It was all first-come, first serve and internet was pretty spotty, but still very pretty along the water and much cooler than out in the open. There is also a really nice bike trail that goes along the river for several miles.
Beautiful red rock cliffs all along the river
Farther town there was also Upper Big Bend campsite, which despite stating had no spots for big rigs, we saw several we could fit. Sites 18 and 19 were tight side to side but would work as would 20. We also liked 9 and 10, but site 3 was absolutely fantastic. Again all these sites are dry camping with only one bar of ATT, plus first come first serve, but they would be a great place to stay.
We also discovered that there is a large group campground “C” at Big Bend that is across the street from the river. It’s a really big parking lot in a canyon and from what we could see looked really cool and could hold several rigs. I am sure there is no internet back in there and I am not sure what the cost is, but it looks like a great place for a group of friends to gather and is close to Arches and Moab.
After driving along 123 for awhile, and again great canyon and water views, we decided to turn onto the La Sal Loop. We had read about this loop in a couple of blogs and since they said the road was OK for 4×2 we wanted to give it a try. Lee was particularly excited because a lot of exteriors in the show West World
were shot in Castle Valley, and we recognized several of the views from that show. The valley was cool, and the road was newly paved, but as we started up the mountain I started to get a little nervous because the climbs were steep, the road winding, and we suddenly lost pavement and it went to gravel.
There were even trees down in some sections and although the road was partially gravel and partially paved it was pretty scary. No good way to turn around though so we stuck it out, but even Lee said at the end that in parts it was terrifying. Lee loves scary roads, so that is really saying something, and I really didn’t like it at all. If by the time you get there they’ve finished paving it, it will probably be OK, but if not I would definitely give it a pass. Not a fan! (The problem (IMO) with roads like this, particularly going up) for a 4×2 rear wheel drive is the very thick layer of loose gravel and washboarding. Washboarding is fine at 35+ mph, but at slower speeds, which are required on hairpins and switchbacks, you bounce a LOT. Going up a steep grade in that stuff the rear tires will occasionally spin, which is no big deal, but this road is very narrow, with sheer drops of hundred of feet on the passenger side with no guard rail or even trees to stop you. With our wide dually and the terrible washboarding, the back end would frequently bump a foot or more to the right (the cliff edge) as we climbed, WAY closer to the edge than is safe. It’s the jumping that freaks me out because it’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. Everything would be fine, I would be maintaining a good 4-6″ from the edge, and then BAM, we would slip, hit a bad washboard and my right rear outside tire would be just over the edge. I don’t like my safety margin evaporating like that, especially since all takes is another bad washboard to bounce me a little farther so that the whole tire is over the edge. – Lee)
We saw these rocks in Westworld in several scenes
This small hill (?) in front of the mountains was really coo,l unfortunately too cloudy to get a good pic.
What you can’t really see he is this is the edge of the road, which goes to a very steep, yes you would die, drop-off.
The higher we got the more snow we saw
And even ran into a group of yellow pines
In all fairness I might have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t such a cloudy day. And it was pretty popular as we saw several mountain bikers and rock climbers while we were out, but for me it just wasn’t worth it. It was much cooler up there though, and I could see why it would be a popular destination during the summer heat. We saw some tent campers and even a couple smaller popups and tiny travel trailers, but I personally would not want to take my RV up any section of the road.
The newly paved road was nice
But a huge piece of it was dirt like this
And the older paved sections had huge potholes in them
We finally made it to Ken’s Lake and we checked out the campground there. They are reserveable, had 3 bars of service, and lots of big sites. We liked 37, 34, 29, 27, in first loop. And in the smaller second loop that is closer to the mountains we liked site 45.
Even saw a camper with some horses
After what was supposed to be a relaxing drive I was stressed out and said I simply needed a full day off. Lee agreed, because the drive was tough on him as well, and he admitted he couldn’t keep up the pace. At almost 50 he doesn’t have the energy he used to, but I told him he had been the energizer bunny for 15 straight days and he should give himself a break. He seemed a little bummed, but I promised we both had more in us, we just needed one day to rest and recuperate.
The next day I went out for a little while and got a haircut at Parriot Hair Salon, which I highly recommend. I really enjoyed talking to Mallory about how much Moab had changed and the price at $20 was more than fair.
I also went to the Grocery store and Pizza Hut and got to experience the town a little. The layout was a little rough though, everything on two sides of one long street, and not great parking for the dually, so I headed back and just enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing.
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I have done that route in a pickup and it may have been better back then, who knows. But I found it kind of boring. No red slickrock, which is the main reason I go to Utah. I think your review will be good for folks who want to spend quality time in that part of the country.