July 11, 2011
Today is our last day without Shyla. It has been strange not having her here with us the past few days but we have experienced some amazing sights and places. We did check in on her and were told that she seemed happy around the locals. We are heading into Escalante early to pick up the ATV we have rented for the day from High Adventures ATV Rentals. We are very excited about this particular rental because we will be able to explore the back country that our truck usually cannot get to. We arrive around 8 am to find our vehicle ready and waiting. After a brief demonstration of both the vehicle and the gear we are handed the maps and GPS system and sent on our way. This is the only company I found that does not do tours. Instead we are handed a map, a directional GPS and an emergency locator and told to go have fun. That is just after the owner just finished telling us about a previous customer a few weeks back that had to be rescued by helicopter after getting lost deep in Escalante Staircase with his 60 year old mother. I am a little hesitant as always (always worried about the dangers that lurk around each corner…hahaha) but I am looking forward to today. It is a bit of a thrill knowing we get to explore parts of the country that are not for the casual traveler. We were given four choices for today and of course Andrew has decided that we should take the path that is the least traveled and the most challenging as much of it is not on maintained roads.
After making sure the tank and spare canister is full we head off south. We are navigating with a crudely drawn map and a GPS that only has arrows pointing in the desired direction of the location. The owner has given a quick lesson with the GPS but I am thinking we need pictures. We purchased a new navigation system for this trip for the truck and it has special lighting for night driving, shows green and blue to represent forest and water, changes views at major freeway junctions and talks to you in 3 languages. This thing I now hold in my hand points an arrow…..HUH! Quite honestly I am not quite sure if the arrow that keeps moving means that is the direction we are going in or the direction we are supposed to be going in. What happens if the arrow takes you right off a cliff???? We head out in what we hope is the right direction for our first destination. Hard to tell, not as though we have street signs to let us know we are on the right paths.
About 15 minutes out we believe we have located our first destination, a bridge arch. It takes a minute or two to locate the trail but eventually we find our bearings and our arches. The arch itself is not spectacular, the one on Lake Powell by far is the best Arch I have ever seen, but what I think we both appreciate is that one is not visited by every tourist passing through the area and so we take a few moments to take this in.
Back on the road again we continue heading towards Devil’s Garden finally making it to Hole in The Rock road. Got to love the names around here. The journey down this part of the road is very easily traveled by any vehicle and so I decide that maybe this might be a good time for me to take a turn at the drivers wheel. I know that later in our travels as we venture deeper cross country that I am probably going to be less likely to take over.
Devil’s Garden is comprised of several Hoodoo that have remained since their formation in the Jurassic Age. It is located off the beaten path but still a very popular spot. It has a few picnic tables and provides basic restrooms (no running water). We are lucky and get to spend some the next 30 minutes here in solitude. Of course we spend it like all mature adults do…..We spent it climbing from one formation to the next like little kids in the playground and of course taking plenty of shots.
Here is Andrew showing you his brute strength….
I thought the formation on the right looked a little like a lion head in this shot….however in some of the others he looked more like a birds head….
With our need to romp fulfilled for the moment, we jump back in our cruiser and head towards our next destination……Dinosaur footprints. We are staying at Petrified Forest State Park so it is only fitting that we step back in time to see the existence of the critters that were present at the time of the forest…..or within say a billion years or so. We are finally getting a knack for the navigational tool and even find ourselves parked smack, dab in front of the sign that says we are in the right location. Now we just need to find a way up this large rock mass in front of us and locate the prints. It took a while for us to find the first set. We weren’t actually quite sure what we were looking for at first. But once we, or I should say Andrew, located them we found several other sets. It was pretty amazing to witness signs of those amazing beasts from eons ago. Maybe Fred and Wilma Flintstone passed by here too?
With so much more to explore we head back down, buckle back up, and head on west to visit some ancient ruins.
To Be Continued….