May 9, 2022
For our last few days camping in Mt Carmel, we packed in some good stuff. We made the drive to St. George, Utah to stock up on our sensitive tummy dog food that we could not find at smaller local stores and to visit some hiking outfitters where I bought a quality pair of hiking sandals. After doing a couple of short hikes in sugar sand, I realized these would be a nice thing to have for the summer as hiking in boots is not always the most practical or comfortable solution in the Southwest. On the drive out there, we went through some interesting landscape (which I didn’t take pictures of 😕). The drive took us through Duck Creek Villkage in high elevations where we saw lava fields partially covered in snow, towering pines, and frozen lakes. To add a magical touch to the day we stopped at a Culver’s for some steakburgers and frozen custard shakes which are so very yummy. Here’s a picture of the lava flow that I grabbed off Google.
Luke and I took some separate adventures this week. I went to Zion National Park for a day and did lots of beautiful hiking there. Zion really is a majestic place that is aptly named as Zion means majestic kingdom. There are towering cliff of red, orange, and white all nestled around the turquoise clear Virgin River. While we gazed up at the cliffs above us we marveled at the awesome power of water to have carved out this canyon. Luke stayed up all night and slept during the day so he could capture the Milky Way at the Toadstool hoodoos. We rejoined each other later in the week to share photos and stories. I hiked in Zion with my friend Cindy. We started out at about 8am with the classic riverwalk, but we mixed it up a bit by getting off the path and down along (and sometimes through) the river. I was glad to have a trekking pole with me as the current was strong in some parts and the rocks in the riverbed were slippery. We also found some paths to hike along the river somewhere around shuttle stop 9 I think, but I don’t know what this trail was called and it disappeared on us at times so it may not have been an official trail at all.
We also hiked the trail for the Emerald Pools. I think only one of the pools looked Emerald green to me, but the gentle falls coming down off the cliffs was really beautiful and refreshing to walk under after we had been hiking all day. We hiked for over 8 miles that day so when I got back to camp I took off my wet boots and collapsed. I forgot to tell Luke that I left the trekking poles on the running board of the truck on the passenger side so we lost those when he went out at 1am to capture the milky way. I had him wake me up thinking I would go with him, but I was very deep in sleep and not going to get up for anything so I missed out on that adventure.
The dogs enjoyed playing in the Virgin River which also ran right through our campsite. It always seems to take a week before they are really comfortable in our new territory and enjoy running around and playing. Luke bought me a gold pan so I watched some YouTube videos to learn how to use it, but haven’t tested it out yet. I did make our logo rock art again though which is pretty much a requirement for me now.
For our last day in Mt Carmel, we worked, but also had a wonderful adventure. Luke was hired by Loop SxS Adventures to shoot a commercial. The owners of this business are named Cody and Nancy. They have a fleet of side by sides that they rent out in Kanab for half the year and Silverton, CO for the rest of the year. They are friends with Chad and Cindy who are camped next to us and are the ones who introduced us. Their business model is really awesome as they provide rentals transported to and from the trailheads that include a GPS satellite phone and linked iPad. On this iPad they have preloaded maps that they created of the trails including points of interest or photo opportunities along the way. They sell the tourist experience for people that want something different and literally off the beaten path. They are both passionate about being outdoors and love nature as well as off-roading. We went to their business in the early morning knowing we would be riding with them all day. The unexpected surprises for me were when Nancy served us a hot breakfast when we arrived and then our friends Chad and Cindy showed up as well so they could join us all for the day. We loaded four machines onto trailers and drove to the first trailhead. Luke rode with Cody while I rode with Nancy. Chad and Cindy each drove a SxS as well and we zipped through lots of twisty trails to come to an amazing overlook.
For the second half of the day we loaded the machines back on the trailers and drove to another trailhead which brought us into a beautiful canyon. By then everything including us were covered in orange dust and sand so I kept my camera safely in the bag and helped Luke shoot video with the 360 cam instead. I will be able to share this footage soon I hope once the owners have signed off on the completed commercial. We didn’t get back to camp until after dark. I don’t think I have ever been that dirty in my life. Thankfully, we had just enough water left in the tank for us both to rinse the dust off.
The next day we moved the rig to our new home for the summer where I will be working part-time at Yonder Escalante. This is by far the most luxurious campground either of us have ever been in. This place has lots of amazing amenities and is situated between Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef national parks as well as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The first night here I used the bathhouse which has spa-like showers with wonderfully scented soaps and hair products. Some of these showers are even outdoors and have optional heaters for outdoor showers enjoyed at night. I also took advantage of being able to do my laundry…for free! Sunday was my first day at work. It was fairly busy as it was Mother’s Day so many people had treated the moms of the family to a fancy weekend away here. I learned some of the computer systems for selling items in the lobby, booking reservations, and paying the bill. I was given a cell phone to carry while on shift that the team affectionately named “Baby”. I stayed by my new managers’ side most of the day while she walked me through the shift responsibilities and helping the guests. Though I was sent off on my own a few times with the golf cart to help guests bring luggage to the parking area when they were ready to leave. I even got to take a couple of people for tours of the campground and apologized for taking the long route a couple of times while I learned the layout of the place. My supervisor and all of my coworkers seem very happy and friendly. She even treated me to a breakfast burrito from the food truck we have on site which was delicious! The job is busier and more active than I anticipated, but the day went by quickly and the only part I didn’t love was washing windows. At least I haven’t had to get on a ladder yet to do this task. There seem to be some interesting “regulars” who stay here often including a local author so I look forward to getting to know them. Here are some photos taken from the gallery on the Yonder website to give you a sense of it’s awesomeness.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents the journey through her photography and blog to share with others.