Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Wending our way through the Canyons

4th February 2011 by Helen


After our visit to the Island in the Sky we hung around Moab for a few days largely because the weather forecast had been for so much more cold weather.  With our water tank already frozen there seemed little likelihood of it defrosting anytime soon and it’s not only tedious having to defrost all your water for cooking, drinking and washing, it’s not that sensible to be camping out in isolated places when temperatures are below -15C.

Moab itself is a bit of a one horse town.  Because of the vast areas of canyons in this area it caters mainly for the summer tourist industry.  This time of year many of the stores that rely on a tourist presence are closed.  There remains open the usual plethora of fast food joints, along with a much recommended Moab Diner.  Jim, the man we met at the rest area when we first arrived in Moab recommended it to us and I’m ashamed to say we left it rather too long to try it.  Would happily have spent more time there.  Liver & onions, roast beef dinner – much better than the fast food stuff, and just as cheap if not cheaper.

rest area at night

rest area at night

Wednesday (2nd February) we debated long and hard where to camp tonight.  Should we return to the delightful little campsite we’d discovered previously, William’s Bottom, or opt for a cab sleep at the rest area just south of Moab.  If only we could combine the two – the beautiful scenery and peace and quiet of William’s Bottom, with somewhere to sit in the warm and facilities to have a warm wash in the morning of the rest area.  Eventually the rest area won, but it was a close call.

Kane Creek Road - the view ahead

Kane Creek Road - the view ahead

Thursday (3rd February), with the weather forecasts improving, we stopped in Moab to fill up on breakfast and fuel before setting off for the canyons again.  This time we are taking the 4×4 off-road route down through the canyons, starting off along Kane Creek Road and following the line of the Colorado River, before turning on to Lockhart Basin Road. 

icicle along the road - Kane Creek Road

icicle along the road - Kane Creek Road

Why am I here I wonder?  Heights are not my favourite thing.  I peer out of the window to see huge massive drops one side or the other for much of the time (Paul thinks this is a bit of an exaggeration).  Paul is driving oh so sensibly.  We are not racing madly round corners or doing anything daft but it suits me well to be peering carefully at the map and the GPS screen, comparing the two so I know exactly where we are, and negating any necessity to look at the scenes outside the window.  At other times I’m quite happy walking along taking photos of Paul driving, or the scenery from the vantage point of terra firma.

Here we are at Hurrach Pass

Here we are at Hurrach Pass

One of the marvels of this place is the lack of thoughtless desecration.  When we came across an abandoned beaten up camo style painted old caravan that had obviously been dumped in the canyon it was quite a surprise.  And I’ve seen no more than maybe half a dozen empty bottles or cans over the whole of the drive through this canyon.  There seems to be a pride here in looking after the land.  When graffiti does appear (such as at the rest area we visited), there’s someone around who will clean it off pretty quick.  What is evident however, is that any sign or marker (or abandoned old caravan), is used for target practice.  We’ve seen bullet holes in pretty much anything that’s not moving.  On the Pony Express trail many of the signs had bullet holes, as did an isolated mail box sat right on a T-junction, and all the signs at the Bonneville Salt Flats, to name just a few.

morning campsite - Lockhard Basin Road

morning campsite - Lockhard Basin Road

But back to today’s story.  Finally, the day is drawing to a close, signalled by a setting sun.  We are still well and truly in the middle of this canyon.  We are not legally allowed to camp anywhere along this road but there is no way we want to continue driving in the dark so we set up camp anyway.  Far enough away from a cliff edge to keep me happy of course.

Friday (4th February) we woke to beautiful sunshine again.  Frozen water, but beautiful sunshine.  Paul cooked up a luxury breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes, while I slowly built up my resistance to the cold air outside my nice warm arctic sleeping bag.  We again admired the scenery here in the canyons before setting off.

Once again we are startled by the magnitude of the canyons.  We debated the geological history, the marvel of the creation of the canyons over such a vast region, the height and depth of them, the wonder of the layers of rock that have been a part of their formation.

firepot cookin - Indian Creek campsite

firepot cookin - Indian Creek campsite

We saw a few small rodents (a bit like voles or marmots, not sure exactly, they run so fast), the first creatures other than a few birds we have seen since entering the canyon.  Later we saw some deer tracks, and possible some cattle tracks.  And that’s pretty much it on the animal side.

By the middle of the afternoon we had reached the end of this stretch of road and arrived at the Visitor Centre in The Needles National Park.  Paul in particular was disappointed to learn that parts of the road he had wanted to drive are closed.  Elephant Hill had been recommended as a good piece of off road driving and a definite must for anyone visiting the area.  Except the park authorities say it is too dangerous still as there is still some snow and ice on the road.  With that section of the road closed it effectively cuts off the whole road and so we turned back to camp at a lovely little campsite we’d just passed, called Indian Creek campground.  Rather like the previous one we stayed at it’s quiet and peaceful, this time with a small brook running nearby.  The surface of the water is all frozen over but we could hear the water running underneath.  Paul got a good fire going in the fire pit that we used to cook up a stew for dinner. The stars came out and littered the sky with sparkling lights.  And so another cold night began.


Campsite – Indian Creek campsite – Indian Creek Reservation

Distance travelled – it’s taken us two days but we’ve covered about 90 miles since leaving Moab

Heading North

29th July 2010 by Helen

Wednesday 21st July

We certainly know we are heading north now.  It’s getting much cooler (more reasonable really) and we are beginning to see more2010 07 21 - village scenes on the way north from Almaty (2) - donkey & cart rain clouds (and even some rain).  Basically for the next couple of days we are just pushing on to get to Semey as soon as we can.  We want to take a break just outside Semey so Paul can download all our videos so far on to the new laptop, get them edited ready for uploading somewhere in Semey, and do some general camp and car maintenance, before we head into town and an Internet café.

We did manage to stop at a bazaar in a small town where I bought what we’ve dubbed an S&M dress – a hoodie dress that zips up right over the face!!  Still, makes a change from camping clothes.

2010 07 21 - roadside cafe on the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (2)Also paused from time to time to take photos of some of the scenes we have been passing – typical villages along the way, plants and insects, that sort of thing.

Health update – rather boringly for the doom-mongers we have not suffered much.  I’ve had a couple of very mild doses of food poisoning (dodgy egg served in the hotel restaurant in Stavrapol, Russia, and leftover meat eaten the next day after Aqtobe, Kazakhstan), Paul picked up a rather nasty bug just short of Shieli that left him feeling rather poorly for a couple of days.  Apart from that my histamine levels have shot up in response to the mozzies and I long ago gave up on short sleeve tops, skirts and shorts when there is any sign of them being around.  Unfortunately, unlike Paul, I don’t actually hear or feel them, I only know they’ve been attacking me several hours later when the bumps appear.  Fortunately, here in Kazakhstan, it has been so dry I’ve managed to continue relatively unscathed.  Not looking forward to what I know is likely to be mozzie land in the Russian Far East.  And for some reason we are both permanently on the Bristol Stool Scale number 6-7 whilst feeling quite well!!

2010 07 21 - flowers and insects beside the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (15)2010 07 21 - scenery on the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (29)Something short of a small health miracle has happened to Paul.  Continuous pain in his right hip and across his lower back, from which he has suffered for the last 6 or 7 years, has somehow miraculously disappeared.  Must be something to do with the hard bed, clean air, and the fact that he has lost a stone and a half in weight.  Actually, we’ve both lost weight as I’ve lost about a stone myself.  Paul says he feels fitter and more flexible, although I’ve only noticed that I need to buy a belt to hold my jeans up.  Must be the lack of sugar in the diet!!  Certainly not the lack of fat as much of Kazakhstan is barren which means meat and pasta form the staple diet, and cooking in butter or animal fat is universal.

Distance travelled 379 km

Overnight campsite – just past town of Sargan

Visas and Volcanoes = revised departure date

7th May 2010 by Helen

Most of you will know that we should have left the UK this week, even to the point of missing the election.  But we didn’t.  The reason?

Visas and Volcanoes

Unfortunately our Russian visa is not yet sorted.  And some delays in work being completed on the car due to the unusually inclement weather earlier in the year has been exacerbated by a critical piece of equipment being held up in America thanks to a certain volcano not so long ago.

However, all things work together for good as they say.  This development is probably fortuitous as the winch motor has developed a problem and this really is something we would not want to be without once we depart.  So Paul now has the time to get to grips with an angle grinder to remove the strategically placed security bolts holding on the winch, in order to remove the winch from the winch bumper, in order to remove the winch casing, in order to get to the winch motor.  All with the permission of the manufacturers who do not normally allow this sort of thing.

Revised departure date = first week of June.