April 18, 2022
Happy belated Easter for those of you who celebrate this day. I grew up with Easter being one of the big holidays. My parents were religious and my stepfather was a minister so we always went to church and made this day special. My step-sister Julie and I insisted on Easter candy hunts way past the age we should have and our parents were great about playing along. My step-father was always really good at finding unique hiding spots. Sometimes, this was to his detriment as we would find a piece of gross melted candy months later. My mother always cooked a big meal and has the rest of the family over. The most treasured dish was the bunny cake she would make and all the kids would help decorate. Here’s an example of me trying to carry on this family tradition a few years back.
We did experience a few more days with high winds which kept us indoors for part of this week. It’s OK though as there’s always something to be done. Luke fixed a cupboard with a broken hinge…the perils of a house on wheels. I fixed a leaky toilet seal (again)…we will have to replace that eventually. We are still getting used to dealing with high winds like these and have had some casualties as a result. We busted another solar panel. It blew away from our rig just like a tumbleweed and smashed on one side. We also have some slide toppers that got bunched up in the wind and will need to be straightened out. Hopefully that will be easy to fix.
I finished my latest cross stitch of Joshua Tree National Park. I was going to do Bryce Canyon NP next, but a nice photographer we met this week asked if he could buy one and wants Monument Valley (which I already sold) so I’ll be making that one instead. I’ll use different shades to make it feel like new again. I also busted out a new miniature kit of a flower shop and started to build tiny furniture for it.
Our parking spot is still swell and we have a beautiful view every day of the Vermillion Cliffs. The campsites here are spaced pretty far apart so sometimes we see neighbors driving or biking past, but we rarely ever hear anyone else. The other project that happened this week was replacing a toolbox. We had a nice metal one in the back of the truck for the past six months, but it didn’t really seem to like bumping around on all these dirt roads we love to go exploring on. The thing was a mess and there were tools scattered everywhere in the bed of the truck so we finally replaced it with a heavy duty plastic one. Good riddance to that twisted hunk of metal.
The real magic of this week though was our adventure to White Pocket. This was a place made famous partly by Apple who used a photo of this place as a wallpaper for Mac OS Big Sur. NatGeo magazine also did an article about this place in 2012 featuring photos which really began to popularize it. Now it is a popular place for photographers and adventurers and does not require a permit with a lottery process to enter as The Wave does just a little further down the road. We did a good deal of research before going. When we learned that the best time to take photos here would be dusk or dawn and that the dirt road to get there is long and treacherous, we decided to make this an overnight trip. We were excited to use some of our new camping gear! This place is dog friendly so long as they are on leashes within the rock area to ensure that they do not break any of the fragile sandstone areas. This meant we could both go and bring the dogs with us. I took on the challenge of making a list and getting us packed so we would have food, plenty of extra water in case we got stuck, practical things like TP, a shovel, and waste bags, and comfort things like layers, blankets, and the propane heater. We checked the weather and saw there was no chance of rain so we were clear to travel, but it would get down to 30 degrees that night. If it rains, the sand turns into a quicksand, that is escapable, but mat be very difficult if the truck were stuck. Luke took on the task of learning how to navigate us there as well as learning how to drive on roads that had deep sand in some spots. We both had read several warnings about people getting stuck on the road to get there which could result in paying up to 2k for a tow and waiting for days for someone to come pull you out. We were glad to have the HAM radio and the new satellite phone/GPS device we got last week as cell service out here in unreliable. Also glad that we made it there without too much trouble. At one point the GPS sent us down an incorrect road with a sandy hill we could not make it up even in 4 wheel drive. We were able to back out of there though and get back on the correct road.
When we arrived there, it was a bit windy, but the weather predicted it would die down in the evening. Setting up the tent in the wind was a pain, but we managed. As we were unloading the truck, we discovered that all of the extra gallons of water we brought had broken during the very bumpy ride here. Our water reserve was gone and the stuff in the back including our air mattress and a sleeping bag were wet. We assessed what water we had left as well as Luke’s collection of diet sodas and decided to stay as planned. We laid the mattress and sleeping bag out to dry while setting up and by the time we were set up it was all dry. The next challenge when Luke took out his hiking bag and saw that his water bladder had leaked getting everything in his bag wet. By this point, we were unfazed. There was still plenty of water in his bladder and we were unstoppable. We had done a quick hike into White Pocket to see what it looked like in person and we were mesmerized and not going anywhere unless we really had an emergency. Here’s a glimpse of what we saw as the sun began to set as well as some of the fragile bits in here.
White Pocket is an area of primarily white, grey. or tan sandstone within the Vermillion Cliffs area. Mixed in with this are vibrant areas of red, orange, and yellow that make this place so beautiful. Some describe the white areas as cauliflower. They made me think of brains. Every turn I took or nook I looked into showed me something else wondrous here. We walked around the area snapping photos and enjoying ourselves until the sun went down and then made our way back to the tent for the night and had a delicious dinner of PB&J sandwiches and granola bars. Before bed, I learned how to manage the need to do #2 when wilderness camping. It wasn’t really that big of a deal though Luke teased me about it all in good fun and took video of me returning to the tent that he posted online. I’m a good sport and why should I be embarrassed about something everyone who camps has to do at some point. We were able to fall asleep fine with our portable propane heater going and in our fancy sleeping bags. At about 2am though, we ran out of propane and I got cold. I doubled up on the sleeping bags and pulled it over my head to keep warm and snuggled back in. At about 4:30am, we got up for sunrise. It was tough getting out of the sleeping bag. I couldn’t find my gloves anywhere and Luke’s gloves were wet so we put our spare socks on our hands and forged ahead. Luke asked if I still wanted to go out for sunrise as we both layered up and worked on psyching ourselves up for the cold and my response was, “I shit in a hole for this. We’re doing it!”.
Oh wow, it was absolutely worth it. While this place looks amazing at any time of day, photos during mid day or late day just don’t do it justice. The light is harsh in some places washing it out and drowning the color while causing dark shadows in other spots. All these amazing contours are just hard to capture evenly in this type of light. However, during sunrise the light is just right and we came away with several photos we were very happy with. We had wanted to make a video as well and shot some footage, but more as an afterthought. As we had our dogs with us, had to set up and break down camp, deal with a difficult journey to get there, and shoot excellent photos, making a video was just too much to also do. Perhaps we will go back again to do so before we move on. If you are ever in this area, I absolutely recommend a visit here. However, you should only go after doing some research on how to get here and have acquired the right equipment to get here safely. Alternatively, there are a number of tours in the area that will bring you here and guide you.