We went comet hunting last night. Around 10:00, we drove down the highway about 1 mile to a place that we had scouted out the day before where the skies are dark. The skies were very clear and there was a 1/2 moon. The moon was so bright it even created shadows. We sat out there, each with a pair of binoculars, scouring the sky for the elusive comet, that was nowhere to be seen last night. The skies near the horizon where the comet was supposedly said to pass were less clear and with the brighter moon, maybe that was an issue. Either way, we hung out there for awhile checking out Jupiter and Saturn, the Milky Way, and the craters on the moon. After about an hour, we gave up and headed back to the campground. As we have aged, our night vision is not very good and this was probably the first time I’ve driven at night since last fall, so it took some getting used to. After being in the pitch black looking for stars for an hour, my eyes were used to the dark and the drive back was a little easier, except for the deer near the side of the road that scared the crap out of us. He got scared too and ran off in the other direction, thank goodness. It just confirms the fact that driving at night in the country is not for me!
Today was a beautiful day with temps in the mid 70’s and sunny. We took our time to get going this morning. Bob wanted to clean the inside of the Jeep and I brushed Auggie’s teeth. We got ready and left around 11:00 with a few stops in mind on our last day here. We packed a lunch in case we found a nice place to have a picnic. Our first stop was the Visitor Center right across the street. We were looking for some information on 4WD roads in the area. The lady was very helpful and sent us off with a map and some good ideas. Our next stop was to check out the town of Torrey. It is a town of about 200 people and we heard it had a few nice restaurants for such a small town and an interesting grocery store.
We kept going on Highway 24 out of town looking for a 4WD road she marked on the map, but we couldn’t find it, so we turned around and headed back toward the campground. The drive had some nice scenery.
Near the entrance to the campground is Scenic Byway 12–also called the All American Road. The highway runs between Capitol Reef NP and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
It is a scenic highway and we did get to see some beautiful views of the “white rocks”. That was another item on my list of things to check out today.
We can see them from my window in the campground, but wanted to see them up closer.
On the map she gave us, we found another 4WD road we could access from Highway 12, so we searched it out. The map didn’t have much detail on it, but we kind of found it by accident.
We weren’t even sure it was the right one until it intersected with another road that was labeled on the map. It was Highway 179 to Fish Creek Lake.
The road was gravel and wide, lined by pinion trees. We were in the Dixie National Forest.
As we started our climb, we noticed rain over Torrey.
The road climbed up and up the mountain through the forest. We were on a road that was part of the Great Western Trail.
The views of the valley below and Capitol Reef National Park were amazing.
We could see more rain clouds over different areas at different times and wondered who was getting all this rain.
Occasionally, the sun would break out from behind a cloud and shed light on different parts of the canyon or rocks nearby. It painted a beautiful picture of lights and shadows.
We kept climbing and climbing for about 4 miles until we reached an elevation of just under 9000 ft. The clouds seemed to be hanging over the mountains, but moving towards us.
We pulled off into an open area in the forest and ate our lunch there.
Bob spotted these vertebrae bones near the base of a tree. They must be left over from some animal who died there.
As we finished out lunch, we heard the crack of thunder and decided it was time to head down. We didn’t want to be caught on the top of Cooks Mesa in a thunderstorm.
As we headed back on Highway 12, it started to rain hard, but by the time we drove the 7 miles back to the campground it had pretty much stopped raining. Pulling into the campground , we noticed white stuff lining the roads and driveways. It was HAIL!!!
They must have had a hailstorm down at the campground and in Torrey while we were up in the mountains.
There was lots of it piled around the campground and a huge pile right by our door.
There were lots of leaves blown off the trees and pea-sized hail, so it didn’t create any damage that we could see.
Bob made a snowball with some of the hailstones.
It started to rain again, so we hung out inside until it stopped. In the lull between storms, I did a load of throw rugs in the laundry at the campground. They were so dirty from all the red soil that we had tracked in. When I returned to the bus, that flock of ducks (which had now grown in size to 6 adults and the original 11 ducklings) descended upon me at the door of the bus.
They started quacking and pecking lightly at my legs begging for food, so I gave them some bread. It was a fight to see who would get it, but I tried to be fair so everyone got some.
Auggie looked on from the steps inside the bus and wanted to go outside in the worst way.
When I went inside, they moved on to the next unsuspecting camper. The rain continued on and off all afternoon. Maybe it would wash off all the accumulated dust from the Jeep and the bus. The horse in the nearby farm field that hangs around the fence by the campground (that I’ve come to call Black Beauty) stood under a tree to get out of the rain.
It thundered and there was lightning and even the ducks took cover during the hard rain. They came back out to splash in the puddle when the rain let up. Luckily, we got our sightseeing activities done early before the rains came today. It was not in the forecast. It continued to be windy and rainy, so we adjusted our meal plans from chicken on the grill to spaghetti inside. Finally, the rain stopped, the skies cleared, and the sun came out right before sunset. We are moving on tomorrow to Monticello, UT about 20 miles from the Colorado border. We’ll do an overnight there and then head over to Durango for a few days.