Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Last Corner: Utah! Cave Towers and Mule Canyon near Blanding.

 As we drove towards Utah from Canyon de Chelly, I looked at Jeff's face. He was breaking down. He had driven almost the whole week, and none of us was sleeping as well as we do at home, although the tents and sleeping bags were doing their job pretty well. Another thing? My roots. I had like 1/2 inch white/gray roots all along the front of my face, and with greasy hair they looked so so much worse! Jeff asked if he should just drive straight home. The kids were kind of burned out with hiking, Should I give up the dream?
"Well", I said, "What if we rent a jeep in Moab, and tour Arches or Canyonlands that way?" Jeff got pretty excited. He called all over Moab trying to rent something, but everything was booked. We were getting close to Blanding, Utah (never heard of it? it's the next big thing :) ), and I mentioned that maybe there would be something there.
We found Four Corners Adventures there (looks like they only have a working FB page, but they do have a brick and mortar in downtown Blanding), and they had one jeep left for us the next day. We checked into a seedy, but mostly clean motel, and I got my shower. My roots? actually still looked pretty bad. I guess I was kidding myself with the oily being the problem. It felt so good to be clean though! We slept in beds. It wasn't that great.

The next day, we went to get the jeep, and asked the guy where he recommended that we go. I had planned Canyonlands, but it was 40 plus minutes away, and I didn't want to waste time getting there. The guy said that there were close places that were just as cool, and showed us how to get to Mule Canyon, and Cave Towers. 

Jeff had a blast driving that thing offroad, and the kids had so much fun bouncing around, that they declared it better than the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. 

The first stop was Cave Towers. So many ruins! Just to clarify, in a lot of these pictures it looks like we are climbing on, or touching the walls. We are not. Sometimes they are built on a slope, or we are leaning over the edge of windows etc. I know that these structures are delicate and precious. 

The canyon itself was gorgeous too. We looked over the edge, and saw cliff dwellings all over the place. 

It's hard to convey the size of this place!

One ruin we saw was just over to the side of us and down the cliff. Jeff states that he thinks we could get to it. "No." I said. "We're not going over the freaking edge of a cliff! Forget it!"
But, he finds some stairs kind of carved into the rock, and a sort of path that looks like it leads over to these ruins. I get brave and we go for it. 

This ends up being one of the most cool experiences we have had on the whole trip. It feels like we are going where nobody else has been for hundreds of years. I'm sure that isn't exactly true, but it feels like a real adventure. 

When we get there, the kids look inside the dwellings, and discover pieces of ancient corn cobs, and old piñon  shells.

We made our way back to the Jeep (haha --the kids had a major hike after all!), and wound our way to Mule Canyon next. 
 We drove the whole road, then went back to the trailhead for Burning House, which I had seen on pinterest, and really wanted to see in person. We followed a pretty stream bed through the canyon (ha! two major hikes for the kidsies).
Lots of little wildflowers blooming.

When we reached the ruin, it was as spectacular as it was in the pictures. I thought those pictures must have been photoshopped, but the cliff that the house was built into really looked like flames coming off the roof of the little stone building.

As we looked into all of the rooms, I noticed that it had started to rain. I worried about Ari and her processors getting wet. I heard her yell something, and then I didn't see her anymore. I was sure she had run for the jeep --about 2 miles back. I really felt I had let her down not having a bag for her to put the equipment into. I hurried after her with Kai (while Jeff explored a bit more), watching for her footprints. By the time I was about a mile and a half away, I was frantic. It was raining so hard! If these things get wet, they can be damaged pretty quickly. Her jacket wasn't very waterproof. 

When we got almost in sight of the Jeep, Jeff came running up behind me...with Ari! She hadn't left at all. Her hood was over her processors, and they weren't too damp. I dried them in the blower on the jeep while we went to look for lunch/dinner.

We were so cold and wet! This is my cold face. We ate at a little burrito place that wasn't very good, and then got gas station hot chocolate on our way out of town.

Blanding was a good call. If I had a million dollars to invest, I would build a nice hotel or RV park there. So many beautiful places off the beaten path. We however, were very ready to come home!


belann said...

Another cool adventure. Glad you took the time to make it happen.

CowanTravels said...

Hooray for hotels! Evan seedy ones! I'm glad you persevered!