Adventures in Utah: Winter 2022

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swalker

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I have been out of touch for the last month because my wife and I were on a trip to southwest Utah. We just returned today and it will take me a few days
before I am able to start posting details of the trip.

It was a wonderful trip and we had a great time. We have never done anything quite like this trip, so it was a very new experience for us.

We went in our motorhome and wheelchair van. Those who have followed my earlier thread on our spring trip to Yellowstone in 2021 know after that trip our motorhome needed a bit of work. It spent over 7 months in the shop before it was ready for us to pick up. Things drug out until the very last minute. We picked up the motorhome from the shop on our way to Utah!

We stayed in an RV park in St George, Utah for the entire month of February. The RV park experience was very new to us and took a bit of getting used to. It worked out well enough that we may do it again sometime.

Here are a couple photos from the trip. The cats had a great time too!

Steve


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KevinM

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This is so awesome, Steve! I was beginning to worry about you, but I should have known you and family were off on a grand adventure. That area is gorgeous and so close to the amazing NP’s and other public lands. Cant wait to hear more.
 

Hal

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Nice .... I was in MOAB last year .... and just back from 3 weeks in SE AZ .... does the cold weather make your symptoms worse? It really messes me up
 

Jlynn

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Love the pics! My daughter just moved to Salt Lake City so I’m looking forward to visiting and going to Zion. Looks beautiful!
 

swalker

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I think I have recovered enough to start posting a few stories about our trip.

First, I will answer Hal's question about cold. I used to be pretty immune to cold. I did a lot of cold weather camping and enjoyed winter mountaineering. I loved to go skiing when it was cold (perhaps -20 F or -30 C). The skies could be spectacularly clear and there were few people out on the slopes with me.

Unfortunately, that is all the past. Now, I am very sensitive to the cold. We keep the house warm and I wear a down jacket just about all the time indoors. When I get cold my body just does not function very well. I have much more trouble controlling my movements in cold temperatures. Part of this is due to also being diagnosed with a rheumatological condition that has led the the development of Raynaud's syndrome. This is a form of vaso spasticity that limits the flow of blood to my extremities when I get even a little bit chilled. So, now I have to keep myself warm at all times.

Our trip got off to a more adventurous start than we had hoped for. We had booked the entire month of February at an RV park in St. George, Utah. We planned to leave Colorado on January 31 and spend a night enroute to break up the 8 hour drive. I would be driving the motorhome and my wife would be following in the wheelchair van.

After our spring 2021 trip to Yellowstone, our motorhome needed some pretty major repairs. Due to Covid and supply chain problems, the repairs really took a long time (7 months). Every time we thought we were about to get the motorhome back, some new delay would crop up.

Our original plan had been to get the motorhome back weeks (or months) before our trip so that we could test it thoroughly and take care of a few maintenance items on it before we left on the trip. Due to all the delays, we had to test it on our way to Utah.

The delays in getting the motorhome back continued right until January 31. So, we changed our plans and picked up the motorhome from the shop late on January 31. We spent the night in our motorhome in Grand Junction, Colorado, right across the highway from where it had been worked on. Fortunately, this is on the way to Utah, so was not out of our way. At this point, we were already two and half hours closer to St George, Utah.

We got up the next morning and headed out to Utah, hoping that the motorhome would behave well enough to allow us to complete the trip. It did! What a relief that was.

It was a pretty uneventful trip. We got on the highway in Grand Junction and got off the highway in St George, Utah. Except for stops to fill up with gas and take breaks, it was a completely highway drive. I had never done that in the motorhome before.

We got checked into the RV park and parked the motorhome in our designated spot. All the setup went fine and we slept very well that first night.

Steve
 

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Looking so forward to the stories that follow, Steve.
 

swalker

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It was such a change being in southwest Utah rather than the mountains of Colorado. When we left Colorado, a major winter storm was moving in with temperatures expected to drop well below 0 F (-18 C). While it was unseasonably cool in Utah, the daytime temperatures were still in the upper 40 F for the first few days and then warmed up after that.

Various systems worked well enough that we were able to enjoy the first few days of the trip as a real vacation rather than just working on the motorhome. We had selected St. George, Utah as our destination because of the wonderful trails it has. We were not disappointed!

From our RV park I could ride the wheelchair on sidewalks for a few hundred yards and then pick up a dedicated bike path that connected to a wonderful trail network. We were able to explore a lot of the trails, but not all of them. They were all quite nice.

I rode in my fastest wheelchair (Permobil F5 at 7.5 mph) while my wife rode her bike. It was great to have escaped winter and to be where it felt like spring.

We had an amazing experience on one of our early rides. As we were riding along my wife spotted some movement off to the side of the trail. It turned out to be a bobcat. That was really special for both of us. I am a lover of wildlife and have seen an amazing variety of wildlife on my various adventures. But, I had never seen a cat in the wild. Cats I have dreamed about seeing someday include the bobcat, lynx, and cougar.

To have seen a bobcat in Utah was just beyond anything I could have hoped for. Apparently, they are rarely seen there, so we were truly fortunate.

I took a few snapshots with my phone, but the bobcat was far enough away from us that there are no useable pictures to share. You will just have to trust me that it was a bucket list moment for both my wife and me.

Steve
 

KevinM

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That’s a great story, Steve, and a wonderful start to the trip. I get the feeling that there are a few bumps in the road ahead, though.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen two bobcats in my life, one in California and one here in Florida.
 

swalker

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After graduating with my undergraduate degree in Forestry in 1979, I spent the summer doing field work before heading off to graduate school. The first assignment that summer was to cruise timber on the north rim of the grand canyon, which is a very remote place. While we essentially lived on the north rim of the grand canyon, camping out during the week, our official base of operations was out of Fredonia, Arizona. This is a very small town at the very northern edge of Arizona. We would drive there once a week to get our mail, but it was such a small town that we would then drive a few miles further north to Kanab, Utah to do our shopping. Kanab is also a very small town, but was bigger than Fredonia.

Both of those towns are in stunningly beautiful locations. I had driven through them a couple of times over the last 40 years, but had not been able to spend any significant time there since that summer of 1979. So, on our February trip to southwest Utah, I was very anxious to visit these two towns.

Fairly early in our trip we were able to do a long scenic tour from St George, Utah to Fredonia, Az (about 90 minutes of driving), then up to Kanab, Utah. The places were just as beautiful as I remembered and it was really wonderful to see them again.

We then made the detour to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. I had never been there before, but was very glad we went out of our way to go there. There was only one short wheelchair accessible trail and it did not go out into the dunes. But, it did lead to an overlook where I had a magnificent view of the dunes. I was really glad we went out of our way to stop by there.

We then drove north on Highway 89 to Mt Carmel Junction, which is the turnoff to the main eastern entrance to Zion National Park. We did not take that turn, but instead continued north on 89 through the towns of Mt Carmel, Glendale, and drove all the way north to Panguitch. There was stunning scenery for the entire drive.

Along the way I was able to see a magnificent California Condor soaring to the east of the road. They are extremely rare birds. A few typically hang out around the Zion area that time of year and I felted truly blessed to be able to see one in flight.

We then turned around and backtracked south on 89 to the turn off for Bryce Canyon National Park. We took that and did the drive to the park, passing through higher terrain that still had a lot of snow on the ground. We arrived at the park near sunset and I was able to get the wheelchair out and take a few pictures. It was absolutely magical.

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We then loaded back up and retraced our route all the way back to Mt Carmel Junction, where we took the turn to Zion National Park. While we technically drive through Zion, we did not see much of it that day because it was pretty dark by the time we got the the park.

We made it safely back to the RV park after a long and tiring, but absolutely fantastic day.

Steve
 

ShiftKicker

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We did a road trip from Vancouver down through Washington, Idaho and Utah (and onwards South and West). We turned left at Bryce Canyon and found some of the most beautiful, challenging and scenic driving we've ever encountered there. I am so thrilled you drove through here, and live vicariously through your posts.

The snow on the red canyon walls in your photo is such a fabulous contrast and similar to when we drove through here- I can remember the snow squalls, sunlight and clouds moving through rapidly, all while the calls of the ravens echo from the canyon walls.

Thank you
 
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swalker

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We did a lot of riding on bicycle trails during our trip to southwest Utah. One of the great destinations was Snow Canyon State Park. It is named after someone named Snow, not after the kind of snow that falls in the winter.

It is a spectacular redrock canyon topped in placed by lighter-colored limestone. There has been volcanic activity in the past, so all of this landscape is interrupted by various volcanic features, such as basalt lava flows and cinder cones.

The canyon cuts a slice through all of this and there are miles of bike trails that are very suitable for wheelchair excursions. It was a short and very scenic drive from the RV park to the state park. We did the trip often and I really got a better feel for the area by doing this. It really is lovely.

It is theoretically possible to ride the wheelchair from the RV park we stayed in all the way to the park using a combination of sidewalks and bike paths. But, that would require a wheelchair with a very long range (perhaps 40 or 50 miles). I doubt my body could handle a ride that long and I need to remember that my wife will be on a bike, so doing rides of that distance are not really practical.

There is a main path that goes from one end of the park to almost the other end. The path then joins the shoulder of the road through the park. We did not do that part, limiting ourselves only to places where there were no cars.

The paved bike path was really beautiful. I tried to to take pictures of it, but the pictures just don't do it justice. I will share a few here anyway. There is a dirt trail that foks off into a side canyon. It is actually a service road, so is very well maintained. There were a few spots that were challenging for my Permobil F5 wheelchair, but nothing that was particularly tough.

Our typical ride was about 10 miles long. That was largely because I was using a wheelchair with lead acid batteries and they have limited range to start with. And, on this trip, I discovered those batteries are at end of life, so the range was 10 miles if I really pushed things. It was not practical to install new batteries on the trip, so I waited until we returned home to have a fresh set of batteries installed. Ten miles was a pretty good distance, given that my wife was riding her bike. It was flat, easy riding, so she could have done much more, but 10 miles was just fine.

I have been investigating replacing the lead acid batteries with a set of of lithium ferrous phosphate cells to extend the range of that wheelchair. Perhaps that will be a project for this summer.

I had the Magic Mobility X4 wheelchair with me, which has lithium ferrous phosphate cells. It has a range of about 30 miles, but is so slow it is not practical for my wife to ride her bike along side it (max speed is 4 miles per hour).

We saw all sorts of wonderful birds during these rides, but the only mammals we saw were jackrabbits.

There are many wonderful places to rock climb in the canyon and there is one established climbing area that is easily viewed from the bike path we were on. I used to climb a lot and it was wonderful to see groups of folks climbing. I could have watched for hours, but I think that would have tried my wife's patience.

So, Snow Canyon State Park was a wonderful destination and I can highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Here are a few pictures of it.

Steve

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lisa g

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Looks beautiful Steve
 

bhg

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We’ve also done Zion, Bryce, Kanab, etc. but not the St. George area. Utah is amazing. How neat that you got to work along the North Rim. It is so different from the touristy South Rim. Thanks for sharing. Brings back good memories.
 

Bestfriends14

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Oh, Steve, that looks like an an amazing trip. We both love Utah, and the weirdness/coolness of the landscape is what gets us every time we go through. I'm so glad you got your getaway.
 

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Thank you of taking us with you on this trip! I very much enjoy your adventures and the photos.
 
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