Adventures at the Grand Canyon, Spring 2022

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swalker

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We had scheduled various spring and winter trips to the Grand Canyon in 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, due to Covid and issues with our motorhome, we had to cancel each of those trips.

Being the optimists that we are, we went ahead and scheduled a trip to the Grand Canyon for spring of 2022. We made the reservations about 9 months in advance, hoping that Covid, the motorhome, and my abilities would all be in a state that would make the trip possible.

As our departure date neared, it appeared that Covid was under control sufficiently for us to be able to attempt the trip.

Despite some issues that progression has caused, it seemed like I would be physically able to do the trip.

The motorhome was another story! When returning from our February trip to St George, Utah, we had dropped our motorhome off at the shop for some repairs. All the items seemed pretty minor, so we did not think there would be any issues getting the essential items fixed in time for the trip. As the days and weeks passed by, the motorhome work was still not done.

In the end, all the work except and essential repair to the charging system had been completed. Unfortunately, they were having trouble diagnosing the charging system and when they thought they had it diagnosed, they could not find the part they thought was necessary to repair it.

They had already replaced the alternator under warranty, but concluded it was another part causing the issue. Due to supply chain issues, they could not get the other part.

I searched all over and discovered exactly one of those parts in the entire state of Colorado. It was in a small town just off the highway between our house and the repair shop in Grand Junction.

So, on the day we were to depart on our trip, we left home, stopped by the store to purchase the part, delivered the part to the repair shop in Grand Junction and supervised while they installed it.

After they installed the part, we took the motorhome on a few test drives and proved that the part they replaced had not fixed the problem.

The problem was that the alternator was getting too hot. I thought I knew why (and had mentioned this possibility to them 2 weeks earlier). I brainstormed with the repair tech to come up with a test to prove my theory. The test indicated that I was right. The root cause seemed to be that they had depleted the large battery bank in the motorhome to a point where the alternator overheated trying to charge it up. The solution was to run the generator while we were driving to remove most of the work from the alternator.

With a successful 10 mile test under our belts, we decided to head out for our first stop in Moab, Utah.

The weather had been frightful, with high winds and subsequent high profile vehicle advisories. We spent so long at the shop that the worst of the winds had abated by the time we headed out. It was raining, but at least the wind was not blowing at 50 miles per hour!

By the time we stopped and topped off the propane and fuel tanks, it was much, much later than we had anticipated. Moab, Utah was only about 90 minutes from Grand Junction and we drove there in rain as the light faded. We pulled into our site at the RV Park and I pretty much collapsed. My wife did a lot of work organizing the motorhome so that we could head out the next day for Monument Valley.

It was an eventful day. For most of the day I was pretty convinced we would not be able to make the trip. But, in the end, enough things came together to make the trip possible.

Steve
 

gnat

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Well done with your perseverance!
 

swalker

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There is a funny story about our first night's stay in Moab.

The RV park was in the process of changing their reservation system when my wife made our reservation. Somehow, we wound up with 2 reservations. The first was for a delux, pull-through site. It was more expensive, but we decided to splurge for the better site. Unfortunately, their system also made a reservation for their worst site. This was a gravel site in a depression requiring the motorhome to be backed in.

Since we arrived late, after the office was closed, we did a late check in. That means we picked up a packet they had left for us with our site number, etc. Of course, we got the packet for the bad site.

It was raining, so we had to back the motorhome into a site that resembled a small pond.

The next morning my wife went to the office to request a partial refund since we were not placed in the deluxe site. It was there that the RV park realized there were two reservations for us.

It is a pretty nice RV park and we spent 2 additional nights there on our way home from the Grand Canyon.

Steve
 

KimT

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Steve, your trips are always so interesting. Your narrative reads like an adventure novel. I still watch your adaptive skiing and recommend it to PALS who love the slopes.
 

swalker

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We left the RV park in Moab, Utah at about 11 in the morning and did the beautiful drive to Monument Valley. We stayed at a KOA in Monument Valley, which was spectacularly beautiful. The drive was amazing. After all the troubles of the day before, it was nice to be driving on a beautiful day in beautiful scenery.

When I say the scenery was beautiful, I have to emphasize that you really can't imagine just how beautiful that part of the country is unless you have been fortunate enough to make a trip through there.

It was a short drive. After we got settled into the KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) RV park, I rested for a few hours. Then my wife drove me in our van through the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This is a very special park in the Navajo indian reservation. It was an hour or so before sunset and the colors were absolutely spectacular.

I have attached a couple of pictures to show you the scenery. The largest (closest) formation is the West Mitten Butte.

Steve
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DS1_1447_00003.jpg
 

swalker

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We made it to the Grand Canyon without any unexpected motorhome drama! All critical systems seemed to work OK for most of the trip. We did discover that our toilet would not flush when we were running off the motorhome's water pump rather that from city water.

A bit of research revealed that we needed to increase the water pump pressure. This was mechanically very easy to do, but was a bit fiddly. We were able to adjust it and all was well.

We spent our first two days in the Grand Canyon recovering from the trip there. We did get out for a walk each evening, but the canyon was filled with smoke from fires to the west. So, the views were not quite what we were hoping for (still spectacular, though).

I rode in my wheelchair as my wife walked with me along the rim trail. It is a great trail for a wheelchair ride!

We then spent a day driving to Flagstaff. We used to live there and it is always fun to return and see how things have changed. It is a beautiful place, but it sure has grown since I first moved there in 1975.

My wife was able to do 3 hikes into the canyon. I am glad she had the opportunity to do those hikes, but I sure wish I could have gone with here. We have spent many days hiking in the canyon together. Now I sit at the top and watch her with binoculars when she occasionally pops into view. I accept the limitations that prevent me from venturing into the canyon and enjoy rolling along the rim trail reminiscing about the great times I had hiking the various trails in the canyon.

On our last full day in the park my wife did a pretty long hike on the South Kaibab trail. It was the day that the canyon had the least smoke in it. I took a few pictures of the sunset as she was making her way up the last part of the trail where the wheelchair van was parked.

Here are a few shots of the canyon from our time there.

Steve
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2022_04_22_GCNP_00170.jpg
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wishmobbing

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The landscape is just stunning and I can't imagine how it feels to be there in real life.
 

KevinM

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Steve, I am finally able to post again after some weird site access issues for me, LisaG, and a couple of others. I’m loving your stories and photos as much as ever, and so glad that your technical acumen solved the alternator issue. Also glad you got the pressure right with the water pump.

Southern Utah is indeed stunning and a great intermediate stop to and from the Grand Canyon from where you live. We have been twice before to both great places before we owned the motorhome, and once more to the Grand Canyon in October 2019 after we sold it, a few months after my diagnosis. We also really enjoyed Flagstaff, great little college town, but we had no previous frame of reference to compare growth over the years.

Thanks so much as always for these uplifting, amazing stories.
 

swalker

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We had an interesting incident happen the seond night of our trip, while we were camping at the RV park in Monument Valley.


Our heater had stopped working properly on the last morning of our previous trip. Since the motorhome was In the shop until the day we left on this trip, we had not had a chance to address the heater issue.


It was supposed to be below freezing that night in Monument Valley and substantially below freezing for our first three nights in the Grand Canyon. So, it was critical that we resolve the heater issue.


Our heater burns diesel fuel and I was pretty sure the problem was with the fuel filter. I had a spare filter and we replaced the old one while in Monument Valley.
I briefly tested the heater after replacing the filter and it seemed to work fine.
That night I went to bed much earlier than my wife. Monument Valley has a large dirunal temperature range, so it had been warm enough during the day that we had not needed to use the heat. So, when I went to bed the heater was off.
My wife turned the heater on when she went to bed. She then woke me up at 3 AM to tell me the heater was not working. Rats.


I stayed awake for the next 90 minutes wondering what could be wrong, what we should do about the next few nights of the trip that were supposed to be cold enough to damage our motorhome, and what the options were for fixing the heater.


I thought of all the heater's components and what could have caused the problems my wife reported. Eventually, I realized the symptoms she had reported might be consistent with having not turned on all the heater's switches.
To run the heater, three separate switches must all be in the on position. In addition, the smart thermostat must be in the "furnace" mode for both the front and back zones of the motorhome.
We investigated and, sure enough, we discovered that one of the switches was in the off position. We switched it on and 5 minutes later the heater started putting out hot air.


What a relief!


Steve
 

lisa g

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Steve, all I can say is that you are a true warrior. I love hearing about your escapades and the beautiful pictures. Keep them coming.
 

swalker

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Our last day in the Grand Canyon came way too fast. We had enjoyed the beauty and granduer of that area tremendously.

As we made final preparations to head home, we realized it was a bit windy out.

Large motorhomes and wind are a bad combination. I checked the weather, and the winds at the campground were predicted to be 27 mile per hour and the winds at our destination in Monument Valley were predicted to be 24 miles per hour.

So, we knew we would have to deal with a bit of wind, but not so much as to be a concern.

As we headed east out of the Grand Canyon National Park, the winds inreased. By the time we arrived at Cameron, Arizona, the winds were quite strong. That area has a lot of sand and there was a sandstorm from all the wind.

We turned north on US 89 at Cameraon and drove through the sandstorm to the turn off to Tuba City and Kayenta, Arizona. The winds along that stretch were fierce. The winds were variable, but primarily from the west, which was mostly perpindicular to our route. The wind was constantly trying to blow the motorhome off the road.

I have spent a lot of time in northern Airzona, and estimated that these winds were betwen 50 and 70 miles per hour.

We eventually made it safely to Monument Valley, where we found that the wheelhair van and motorhome had windblown dust all over their interiors.

We arrived safely at Monument Valley pretty early in the afternoon, expecting to be able to go sight seeing. Unfortunatly, the high winds kept us virtual prisoners in the motorhome until about 10 PM.

We were able to check the news and found out that indeed the winds we had driven through were well over 50 miles per hour.

What an adventure. My wife and will both remember that drive for awhile.

Steve
 

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swalker

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After the wind storm of the previous day, we were pretty concerned about what the conditions would be as we drove from our campsite in Monument Valley to our next destination in Moab, Utah.

We were delighted to see that the sky was completely clear the next morning. There was not even a hint of dust or sand in the air and there was no wind. The magnificent views of Monument Valley had been restored, as if by magic, overnight.

So we headed out for the relatively short drive from Monument Valley to Moab. It is a spectacular drive full of natural wonder. The red rock country is just so varied and colorful. We both really enjoyed it.

We made it to Moab without issue and checked into the RV Park. We were in a wonderful site with absolutely spectacular views.

Once settled in, we decided the site was so nice that we should spend an extra day there! We both like Moab, so it was not hard to talk each other into it.

We spent the afternoon resting and recovering, then we went for a drive through Arches National Park. That park now requires reservations, which are almost impossible to get on short notice. However, their experimental reservation system allows for unlimited entry after 6 PM.

So, we entered the park just after 6 PM. As always, the views were wonderful. There is not much to do in Arches in a wheelchair, so our visit was limited to driving around and admiring the wonderful views.


The next day, the weather was overcast and a bit cooler. We visited Dead Horse Point state park and Canyonlands National Park. Both were spectacular. They are very hard to describe adequately. Unfortunately, I was not able to take any pictures (still recovering from the previous week of activities), but the views were stunning.

We spent a very pleasant evening in Moab and then headed for home the next day.
We drove from Moab, Utah through Grand Junction, Colorado. Fortunately, our motorhome was behaving well enough that we did not need to drop it off at the shop in Grand Junction for urgent repairs.

Instead, we drove straight home, where I spent a couple of days recouperating while my wife dealt with unpaking the motorhome, etc.

Overall, it was a magnificent trip. At the start, it seemed likely the trip would not happen. But things came together and we really had very few significant issues on the trip.

Steve
 

bhg

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When you first mentioned Moab, my first thought was Dead Horse Point. Loved seeing where those final scenes in Thelma and Louise were filmed. Loved that movie.
 

KevinM

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Hi Steve. Knowing how much you two love Yellowstone, I have been watching with dismay the historic flooding that has closed the park and created havoc. Impossible to ignore the increase in extreme weather events.

First time in 34 years all five entrances are closed. Hard to imagine the northern portion of one of the most beautiful and iconic parks in the world being closed during the main tourist season.
 
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