Monday, June 15, 2015

Seven Things I Learned About Escalante

I have a very brief interlude of wifi here at the visitor's center. Our backpacking and sight-seeing plans have been a little up-in-the-air due to weather. However, we are making the best of it - as always. In the meantime, here are a few things I have learned during our time here in the greater Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area.

1) Have a Paper Map
No thanks Amie - my phone has GPS, I'll be fine. Google Maps will tell me everything. Well guess what - your fancy phone won't work here. No wifi, no email, no web-enabled anything. You will be very lucky if you can make an old-fashioned call on your cell phone. So be prepared and buy a very good $6 map of Utah, trust me.

2) Have a Full Tank of Gas
That may look like an actual town on your paper map, but guess what - it is just a few houses and MAYBE a scary restaurant. There will be no gas there, or anything else for that matter. Fill your tank whenever possible, even if you have a half-a-tank and you think that next town is only 40 miles away. Again trust me, just do it and save yourself some worry.

Seriously.....lots of it. I needed half-a-cup of white wine for a meal I was planning to cook (yes white wine - we take our cooking very seriously while car-camping, dehydrated meals are for BACKPACKING only). Just try and find a state-run liquor store in rural Utah (the only place to get wine is a sate-run agency). I dare you. We managed to find a liquor "closet" with a very limited stock of about 10 bottles of wine for sale at a small camping store. Thank the maker! We also stocked up and bought a case of "real beer" (not that dirty 3.2% stuff) because we knew there was nowhere else to get booze within about 250 miles. For the love of god people, be prepared.

4) State Route 12 is the Most Beautiful Drive in the U.S.
The brochure says it is the second-most beautiful drive in the world - and I had never even heard of it. Dave the Utah "expert", you are holding out on me WTF. This drive is spectacular. Stop at the Kiva Coffee House on the way. You will not be disappointed.

Random roadside beauty, the photo does NOT do it justice.

5) The Food is Pretty Bad
Universally, the food in this part of Utah has been a step above dog food. All the restaurant reviews from Bryce Canyon to Escalante get about 3 stars with the average reviewer saying, "well - I didn't leave there hungry". And there are SO many French tourists, they must think we are Neanderthals. One notable exception was the Burr Trail Trading Post and Grill (with REAL beer) in Boulder, Utah. A lamb-burger to die for!

One of our many roadside picnics because the restaurants were total crap.

6) Everyone is Really Friendly
More friendly than anywhere else in Utah. We went for a walk around Escalante one evening and ended up meeting a couple that had moved there from Sebastopol. We chatted away on their front porch for an hour. When driving anywhere in this area, everyone waves or throws the peace sign. Be ready for niceness. We were even besties with our innkeeper at the kick-ass Slot Canyons Inn.

Yes, that is the road under 3 feet of water.
7) Don't Ignore the Weather Forecast
Apparently a 50% chance of heavy rain means lots and lots of heavy rain. Pay attention because roads can wash-out in the blink of an eye and your camping plans are not feasible, or worse - you are stuck on the wrong side of a washed-out road or canyon. All our camping options along Hole-in-the-Rock Road in Escalante were quickly off the table because the road had washed out.  Poor us, we had to enjoy the thunder and lightning show from our warm, dry hotel room in Boulder, Utah (not to be even remotely confused with Boulder, Colorado).

The rain does create spectacular impromptu waterfalls along the roadway though.

As I mentioned, we are making the best of things. The weather has mostly cleared out and get area getting right back on the camping track. More to come from Capitol Reef and Canyonlands soon!


Erin Marsh said...

Hope all the rain has at least brought out the wild flowers. Looks like an amazing trip kids.

Helmut said...

REALLY enjoying the backpacking and hiking updates!