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Old 06-12-2012, 10:18 AM   #61
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May, 25 (Day 28)


Date (day): May, 25 (Day 28)
Source: North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ (Toroweap Overlook)
Destination: NRGC, AZ (150 Mile Canyon?)
Travel Miles: 220
Resources: Toroweap/Tuweep Area


Deviation from plan: Today would end up to be a very long and stressful day and include a significant deviation from plan. Seemingly trivial tasks that I had failed to complete prior to departing on this adventure would come back and bite me four weeks into this trip. We would forge ahead, lose parts, make marks, and experience disbelief and sadness when connecting back to the rest of the world. It all started out innocently enough…


Moment(s): Woke up at 7:00am, packed up our campsite and then drove down to the main Toroweap overlook. We were the only ones there. My wife had yet to see the overlook in its full glory so we took a few minutes so that she could look around. Being afraid of heights, she was both amazed and terrified. Later on she would say that the Toroweap overlook was one of her most memorable parts of our trip.


We then jumped back in the van and headed back out the way that we had come in. This time we were looking for remote access roads to other overlooks. Specifically, I was interested in finding SB Point and Kanab Point. The problem was that in my haste to leave our driveway four weeks ago and having more jobs to complete than I had time, I failed to add GPS waypoint locations to either of these two remote destinations in MapSource (the Garmin software that combines/overlays map files with GPS locations). Navigating MapSource is trivial to do when viewing on a 35 inch ultra high resolution color monitor. Navigating MapSource and looking for a couple of unidentified remote overlooks within a spiders web of access roads was significantly harder to do when viewing the 3.8 inch Active Matrix TFT Color LCD on my Garmin 276C GPS (running Topo US 24K Southwest software). Failing to establish a waypoint on the GPS meant that we were not able to utilize the GPS to calculate a route from where we currently were to where we wanted to go. As such, I tried using a combination of the GPS and printed maps to approximate the correct route. The printed maps I had along did actually identify the names and locations of SB Point and Kanab Point. The software I had loaded on my GPS did not name these points (at any zoom level). As it was early enough in the day, I chose to continue to search for our day’s pre-planned destination, SB Point. At each intersection, I would study and compare these two contradictory mapping tools and then basically make a best guess as to where we would go next. We went from open plain, to dispersed forest, to severely overgrown forest. I got out more than a few times and walked up the road a ways to see if it was even possible to continue. Each time I thought that we could go no further (because of the overgrowth) I would find that if we could get past this one obstacle we could travel unencumbered a little ways further. This went on and on. The GPS indicated that we were close to the end of our route but it was really slow going. One or more vehicles (and a bicycle) had gone through recently as tire tracks were still visible at times. There were three spots where it was clear that someone had enough of this branch bending route and made places of their own to turn around and retreat. Someone else had continued to push on as was evidenced by some branch work. Carefully and slowly we pushed on (dragging branches down both sides and the top of the van, all at the same time). Our van really did not belong here but it was too late to change any of that now. As we kept looking for a suitable place to turn around we also kept getting closer and closer to end of the trail. At some point, we were just too close not to try and finish the trail. And finish we did. The view was not all that spectacular and it definitely did not look anything like what I had seen of SB Point. We stopped for a short while, at lunch, and then started our own retreat. This time the branches were aimed slightly against our direction of travel which made it even more trying to get through. I would get out of the van and try and hold some of the larger branches back so that our van did not incur permanent body damage. This was a slow, hot, and laborious task. About half way back we encountered one of those Razor side-by-sides hauling ass right toward us with three people aboard. You should have seen the surprised look in their eyes as they watched our van suddenly appear from out of the overgrowth. We might as well have been a family of Bigfoots tooling around in a convertible UFO. The driver of the Razor stopped, got out, and approached us. Turns out, he was the ranger on duty. We told him what we were up to (exploring and looking for SB Point), proactively showed him our permits (that allowed us to stay overnight in the area), and then politely asked him for directions. He was very accommodating. Turns out we ended up between SB Point and Kanab Point at a place called 150 Mile Canyon. He marked up the printed copy of our map, showed us the roads that he had recently closed, informed us that the road to SB Point was also severely overgrown and the road to Kanab Point not so much. We thanked him for the info and proceeded on our way. My wife and I talked about trying to get to SB Point based on what the ranger had told us. Ultimately, we decided against it as we did not want to encounter any more overgrowth that continually required one person to be outside of the van attempting to hold back the encroaching vegetation. Kanab Point seemed more interesting but we would then be a day ahead of schedule if we did that. Last minute, we chose to drive back to Fredonia, check over the van, get some groceries, and then possibly drive back to Kanab Point.


Once in Fredonia, we pulled into a car wash and pressure washed the van. I was particularly interested in looking for body damage that may have occurred earlier in the day. Other than a roof top full of tree branches and dripping tree sap smeared all over anything that stuck out (mirrors, boxes, awning, fender flares, ladder, door handles, bumpers, etc…), the only real damage looked to have been a snapped off radio antenna.


From Fredonia, we traveled onto the town of Kanab. We stopped in Kanab to get a bite of fast food lunch and then we talked about where we were going to spend the night. During our lunch, my wife just happened to check her cell phone (as we now had cell service after spending the last few days in the dark). My wife had more than a normal amount of phone calls, text messages, and emails. Turns out while we had been off of the grid my younger cousin had passed away. The first messages indicated that there was an unknown but very serious problem followed shortly thereafter by a message that said Andrea had passed away. Andrea was 31 years old. I immediately made a call back to my mom to verify that what had been communicated to us had actually happened. It was all confusing and surreal. My wife indicated that she did not feel comfortable going back off-grid right away as we tried to figure out the best way to absorb this new and tragic development. We looked around Kanab for a place to stay; we made a few phone calls; drove past a few hotels; but in the end we decided to drive to the much larger Page, AZ where we could expect to find a better selection of places to stay. Page was also where we were scheduled to stay in a couple more days anyway. After a few more stops and a 75 mile drive, we ended up arriving just after dark at a Days Inn - Page, AZ. This is where we would call home for the next four days as we recharged our batteries, cleaned-up the van, and connected back with the outside world.


Takeaway(s): We don’t all make it to tomorrow.

Andrea, you are truly missed by the West Coasters. Your kindness, self-confidence, and positive attitude were contagious. Your capacity to help others was boundless. Your achievements were significant, genuine, and from your heart. Oh, and your quick wit and sharp comebacks always made us crack up too. Thank you for touching our lives in the way that you did. Anytime I think of you, I smile. To me, that is both an incredible gift and a beautiful life lesson. As has been evident in these days after, you left those you touched with much more than just fond memories… you left us all with inspiration and aspiration – to do better and to be better. These are all qualities that I would love to pass on to my own daughter as well. Cheers.




Sportsmobile Note(s): Somewhere in the dense overgrowth we managed to break off our vans radio antenna. I think I paid something like $55.00 for a new one (after we got home).


Prior to departing on this trip, I had the outside of our van detailed. This auto detail included a full exterior wax. This has been something that I have done before any of our extended trips. Knowing that the van will likely get very dirty, I found that it is much easier to clean with a simple high pressure washer while in the midst of our trip if there was a fresh coat of wax on it. This was no exception. With all of the bushwhacking we had just been doing this wax job may have helped save the clear coat/paint. While some pin stripping remains visible in the right lighting conditions there is remarkably very little. Other than some stubborn tree sap on the awning, door handles, and fender flares, a good wash makes the van appear to be like brand new. Regardless, I would not willingly attempt that kind of overgrowth again. Some is inevitable. This was a little over the top.




Toroweap Road (inside Grand Canyon National Park boundary)


Toroweap Ranger Station


Toroweap Road (at Grand Canyon National Park boundary)


Unknown Road








End of the road (overlook)


Relics found (and left) at old ranch site




Blue ink XX is where GCNP Ranger indicated to us the roads he was closing (permanently). Solid blue line is ok to travel.


Left to Right: SB Point, 150 Mile Canyon, Kanab Point. XX are roads that are closed.


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Old 06-12-2012, 07:19 PM   #62
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TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report

Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoHauler
It's been recommended to me by a few people, that you need to go with a chainsaw, axe, or saw in case trees are blocking the road. Might be easier to drag the tree out of the way though.

Herb
The NRGC ranger I spoke with very specifically asked if we had the capability to remove downfall. The context of the conversation was that due to some anticipated high winds in the area - we might find ourselves having to remove new downfall from our path of travel to avoid being trapped. The ranger's concerns were spot on.





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Old 06-12-2012, 07:25 PM   #63
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May, 26 (Day 29)


Date (day): May, 26 (Day 29)
Source: Page, AZ
Destination: Page, AZ
Travel Miles: 0


Deviation from plan: Today was a decompression and recovery day. We used our time to get cleaned up (showers and laundry) and deal with all of our ailing electronics. By this point in our trip, my daughter’s iPad had just about been wiped clean as she figured out how to delete apps and content. My wife’s iPad still failed to power on. I was locked out of my own Windows tablet, my GPS was not configured the way that I wanted it, etc. As part of today’s recovery I spent my time cleaning camera, gear, uploading photos, and recharging every battery that I could think of. Once we had my wife’s iPad connected to AC power for a while, it came back to life. My - now gleeful - wife connected each of the iPads to the Internet, downloaded updates, added new applications, and refreshed all of the missing content. If I had to logically summarize today I would say that it was filled with non-critical busy work. However, I have to admit that by addressing many of the electronic glitches we were carrying around with us day-after-day… we were able to derive some satisfaction knowing that we were getting back to a fully functional baseline. Other than to take a break and go for an occasional walk around the grounds - I don’t recall actually going anywhere. My travel notes even say that we had Pizza Hut deliver a pizza to our room for dinner. In the context of what we had done all day... that is pretty weird (even for us).

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Old 06-12-2012, 07:27 PM   #64
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May, 27 (Day 30)


Date (day): May, 27 (Day 30)
Source: Page, AZ
Destination: Page, AZ
Travel Miles: 50
Resources: Horseshoe Bend; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Map


Deviation from plan: Today we started to stir around a little more. After breakfast, we found a nearby car wash and spent a couple of hours cleaning the van inside and out. This included re-packing some things that just needed to be stored better as well as throwing out things that were just not being used.


Moment(s): We had never tried a Sonic Drive-In before. At first, we just went through the drive through and ordered a few large blended iced drinks (like giant Slurpee’s from 7-11, but with far more flavor options). It was hot and I was thirsty. Still, I don’t think that I ever found the bottom of the cup. Besides the very large portion size... the pictures of their food on the drive through menu looked ridiculous. This required more research. I knew that we would be back.


There were a few geologic features that I wanted to see while in Page, AZ and one of these was Horseshoe Bend (located 5 miles south of Page, AZ on Hwy 89). After getting our fill of iced drinks we made the quick drive out to the Horseshoe Bend parking area. The designated parking area was already full to the point where any newcomers started parking along the highway. As people were constantly coming and going, we found a safer spot to park off of the highway but not quite up into the main parking area. Our daughter was pretty wiped out so I left my wife behind to tend to her and I alone walked the half mile sand trail over a small knoll and down to the edge of the canyon to the viewpoint. The geology itself did not disappoint. The viewpoint is basically the side of the canyon and there are no railings. At the time we visited, there was more than a couple hundred people milling about (it was a Sunday afternoon). I stepped to the edge of the canyon with my camera to get a basic shot of the extreme bend in the river, click, click, and then... nothing. Two shots in, my camera battery was dead and all of my spare batteries were back in the van. Oh well. I walked around for a few minutes dodging people and cameras and the retreated back to the van. Once back at the van, I failed to convince the other two to come with me on a second trip to the viewpoint (100+ degrees outside, navigating through hundreds of people, etc…) so it was decided that we just get back on the road and get some wind blowing on our faces.


We spent the remainder of the day driving around the area – which included sites like the Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (which cost $15.00 to enter), Wahweap, and meandering along Lakeshore Drive. The whole time we were driving around it felt as if we were on the outside of a painting. Inside the painting, awaited a totally different world. This would have been an entirely different experience if we had access to a boat. From the outside looking in, Lake Powell is obviously a recreational boater’s paradise.


After we had enough of driving around, my wife insisted that we go back to Sonic for dinner. I was in no mood for an argument. :-)


Takeaway(s): I will either be the first to purchase a Sonic Drive-In franchise near my home and then see if I can make it all of the way through their menu before I gain 1,000lbs and die... or I will disavow eating at any Sonic Drive-In again and see if I can live to be 100. I am still weighing my options.


Sportsmobile Note(s): All pavement driving today.


Horseshoe Bend


Glen Canyon Dam


Lake Powell


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Old 06-12-2012, 07:47 PM   #65
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May, 28 (Day 31)


Date (day): May, 28 (Day 31)
Source: Page, AZ
Destination: Page, AZ
Travel Miles: 0
Resources: Overland Canyon Tours Canyon X Photo Tour


Deviation from plan: None. Today, we catch up to our pre-planned schedule.


Moment(s): This would be the first and only day of this trip where I ventured out on my own for half the day. During the planning phase of this trip (months ago) I had made solo reservations to try and photograph one of the area’s slot canyons. Not knowing anything about what I was getting into, I tried to choose a lesser visited canyon so that I had an opportunity to spend more time figuring out what I was doing, under less pressure. I ended up selecting a photo package called Canyon X Photo Tour offered by Overland Canyon Tours; Page, AZ. The Overland Canyon Tour guide picked me in a beat-to-tar Chevy Suburban around 7:00am from the hotel. There were four other photo guests along as well. We drove out of town on a paved road about 30 minutes and then drove off-road an additional 15 minutes to our private location. It was a short steep hike down into the canyon. The geography did not disappoint. Each slot we visited was tall, narrow, and long enough to capture images without any competition for space. We moved as a group through the canyon as the sunlight overhead continually changed the temperature of light within these spectacular natural pathways. I think that we spent about two hours each in the two neighboring slot canyons we visited. We were provided a bag lunch (sandwiches) as well as provided with ample amounts of water. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly. This was a great experience for me as I was able to try something that I had never done before; I learned a great many new things (culture, history, and optimal camera operation); I met interesting people; and I was able to immerse myself in attempts at capturing a subject without any real external pressures or distractions.


Takeaway(s): If I was in Page, AZ at some time in the future the Canyon X Photo Tour is likely something that I would chose to do again.
  • My general notes for next time:
  • I switched back and forth from a 16mm to 35mm lens and a 24mm to 70mm lens (depending on the subject).[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • I shot with an ISO of 100 to 250 (pretty consistently).[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • I used and aperture from F11 to F16.[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • Exposures were all over the map (everything from less than a second to 30 seconds or more).[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • Tripod and lens cleaning wipes were mandatory.[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • The range of texture, detail, and passageway layers/depth had me shooting for the entire tour.[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • The real action happens closer to noon+. The images I first captured in the morning were (by comparison) cold and drab. Once the sunlight gets overhead, the range of color really started to heat up the internals fast.[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]
  • Interesting light on a subject may only last from 5 to 15 minutes (then the interesting light may be gone for the day or it may transition into something even more interesting a little later on). As everyone became more in-tune with what they wanted to capture, they would select a subject, get all setup, and then wait a few minutes for their light to arrive.[/*:m:3ik3ds4w]

Sportsmobile Note(s): I mistakenly left our fabric cooler (full of ice) in the van overnight. When I went out to collect my photo gear in the morning, the ice in the cooler had all but melted and leaked out onto the floor. Luckily, I had placed the cooler very near the foot-well behind the passenger seat so the majority of the water simply exited the van out the side door without making much of a mess inside of the van.


















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Old 06-12-2012, 07:52 PM   #66
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Though shots from the Page area are your best yet. I bet you're proud of those.


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Old 06-12-2012, 08:21 PM   #67
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

I've always meant to buy one of these collapsible bow saws. This one is a 24" bow saw that I think fits completely in the long tube.


http://www.amazon.com/Trail-Blazer-TBS- ... C447W7V15Y


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Old 06-12-2012, 09:39 PM   #68
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TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report


Thanks Herb. I always wanted to try shooting a slot canyon because of all of the amazing pics I had seen from various photo forums on the Internet. This was my first ever attempt. I think I shot around 200 total pics in the six hours I had available. The ones I posted here are meant to showcase the range of color this slot canyon went through as the sun tracked overhead. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone with a long exposure camera. I will post all of the relevant information in the FAQ that I will add to the end of this thread.

As for the saw, that looks to be the tool to have because of its small storage footprint.


Cheers,
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:22 PM   #69
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

A few friends and I recently did a trip out to Kelly Point (Southwest of Toroweep) and having a bow saw (and lack of respect for your paint) is definitely needed in the area. I keep a collapsable bow saw I bought at REI and have used it many times. I'll get around to organizing a trip report as well one of these days. Need to sort through the photos.

Twolost + 1 ... exceptional trip report. Loving the photos and jealous of the trip! Thank you for sharing.

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Old 06-13-2012, 08:09 PM   #70
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May, 29 (Day 32)


Date (day): May, 29 (Day 32)
Source: Page, AZ
Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Travel Miles: 200
Resources: Vermilion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site; Vermilion Cliffs Map; Vermilion Cliffs National Monument; Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument; Cottonwood Canyon Road; Kodachrome Basin State Park; Bryce Canyon Maps; Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel; Bryce Canyon Pines


Deviation from plan: Per our original plan, we had arranged to camp these next two nights near Bryce Canyon at a campground called Bryce Canyon Pines Campground and RV Park. The campground charged $100 for two nights. Even though we had reservations, the campsite staff had a very difficult (lengthy) time finding our reservations. Only after we paid the $100 and were assigned our campsite did we venture into the campground and check it out. Yea... no thanks. We would have been pinned between two significantly larger RVs with barely enough room to open our doors. Among the stares of the campground tenants we drove out just as fast as we drove in - and never looked back. Unanimously, we headed onto Bryce Canyon City to check on other overnight options. We scored (keep reading).


Moment(s): From Page, AZ our route took us past the Vermillion Cliffs, Cliff Dwellers, and then north up the gravel House Rock Valley Road where we had planned to stop at the Vermilion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site. On cue, two condors were circling a couple hundred feet over the viewing area when we arrived and we were the only ones around. By the time I got out of the van and setup my long range camera gear (which took less than four minutes) there was no sign of these amazingly large birds (think 10 foot wingspan). We stayed for a little over an hour with no success in locating the missing birds. Using all of my longest range camera gear (800mm), I was able to zoom-in on a spec that was flying just above the cliff face way off in the distance. This condor was barely visible by the naked eye and it was content just sail back and forth over the cliff. We waited around for a little while longer to see if it would drift our way. It didn’t. With limited success I just snapped off a few pics to record what we had seen and then we moved on.


We continued up House Rock Valley Road passing over the AZ/UT border. While we did not stop, there looked to be a really nice picnic area/campground called Stateline Campground right on these bordering states (empty, clean, looked great). We exited onto Hwy 89 where we turned back toward Page, AZ for a short distance before connecting with the gravel Cottonwood Canyon Road. The initial few miles of Cottonwood Canyon resembled that of the bottom of an ash tray. However, as we navigated further north, this turned into one of the most scenic parts of our trip. I think that I could easily spend the better part of a week with a camera along this 30 mile stretch of dirt road.


We only did a drive-by through Kodachrome Basin State Park, but it looked like a very nice place to camp in an established campground.


Per the above in the “Deviation from plan” section above, we attempted to camp close to Bryce Canyon National Park. When this fell through, we headed into Bryce Canyon City to check on other overnight options. We ended up at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel (Best Western Plus). My wife ran into to check on the price (just for kicks). She came back out to the van, told me the price, and then told me that there was only one standard room left. I caved in and said that we could pop for one night as we were so close to the end of our trip. When my wife went back in to pay for a room, she was basically elbowed out of the way by another customer who just had to get to the counter first. This pushy customer got the last available standard room. One of the other hotel staff members (that had been helping my wife only minutes before and who watched this lobby hockey match go down) felt horrible for my wife (who was disappointed for sure but also content to just leave the premises empty handed). This hotel staff reservations person who witnessed this ended up putting us up in one of their suites for two nights (same rate as a standard room). My wife took it. Wow, our room was almost as big as our house and far more elegant. I was still trying to figure out how we went from the lousiest campground in the state to one of the most palatial rooms I have ever stayed in – all in the course of about 30 minutes?? In any case, a big thank you to the Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand hotel reservations staff for their kindness. If in the area, we would definitely stay there again.


Takeaway(s): This was a great travel day. Nearly half of our day was spent off-pavement on easily navigable 2WD roads. The scenery was diverse and interesting and we rarely encountered other people/vehicles until we arrived in Bryce.


Sportsmobile Note(s): Ran like a champ all day.


Cliff Dwellers














At 2+ miles away, this was as close as I could get to this California Condor.


Cottonwood Canyon Road






Grosvenor Arch






Chimney Rock Kodachrome Basin State Park








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