4. Explore Utah Spring Road Trip…April/May, 2021

day 16 5.5
It’s really warming up now, so I was back on the road early & headed to another new to me state parkValley of Fire.  The temp was supposed to hit 99 degrees today, so I was on the first of several trails early.

This formation is called Elephant Rock.

As I turned around to walk back down the trail, look what was posing for me?

hiked up to the imprisoned’ (surrounded by high fences) Petrified Log. I’m always amazed by these trees turned to stone wonders of nature.  

Then I went down the road to hike Mouse’s Tank.  The TH sign said Mouse was an outlaw & would hide out in this area, surviving off the water that accumulated in this tank.  Lots of Petroglyphs along this hike.


Mouse’s Tank is more like a slot than what you generally see referred to as tanks.

The Fire Wave was the hike I was most excited about.  It was really awesome to see these stripes of color in the rocks.  I imagine during the right kind of lighting they are even more spectacular.


At the end of park, is the hike called White Dome.  A fun hike, the trail goes way down to an old movie set...

…then through a slot canyon...

Then back up & out.  The colors in these rocks are so beautiful!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I finally found a really yummy margarita in the tiny town of Overton.

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I left Valley of Fire State Park & Overton & almost immediately entered Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  I drove all the way through it & stopped at the parks campground called Boulder Beach Campground.  This would be my first paid camping in 16 days.  Because I have my lifetime National Park Pass, my camping only cost me $10 a night.  It was super hot, but the campground wasnt crowded.  There was a picnic table, water, trash cans & bathrooms but no showers.

It was so hot, so I drove the short distance to the lake.  It had a super not so great smell from the parking lot, but once you actually got the lake, there wasnt any more smell.  I waded out to what felt like was far, but it wasn’t even knee deep.  Somehow I felt like I wouldn’t be any cleaner if I went for a swim.  I left after a bit & went back to camp.

I set up my new shower & enjoyed soap, cold water & feeling clean again.

Then I found a little bit of shade & just sat, read, had a beer & enjoyed my view of the lake.  Then went to bed.

day 17 5.6
Today is my Mother’s birthday…what an awesome Mom she was. I always think of her when I read this quote: 

“She changed me in a profound way by her presence. And, she changed me in a profound way by her absence”.  

I miss her so much…even after all these years. 

It was going to be another scorcher, so I hadn’t planned on hiking.  I was in ‘overthink’ & ‘over prepare’ mode for my next big adventure which started tomorrow.  I made coffee & enjoyed the coolness of the morning air & the view of Lake Mead.

I decided to rent a kayak…but only for an hour.  The winds were supposed to pick up soon & the rental place suggested a short time frame.  I have to admit…it was probably my least favorite place I’ve ever kayaked.  I was super glad it wasn’t a weekend & crowded.  You had to start at the dock & paddle down the marina past about 50 or 60 big giant boats…none of which I thought could probably see the bright yellow kayak if they decided to back out…& it’s not like I could just swerve out of their way.  But I turned on my music & paddled around a bit.  I’m sure there are amazing places to put in your own kayak on Lake Mead & take all day enjoying quiet & tranquility, but this isn’t the spot.  I gave it a go & my time was up quickly.  I wasn’t too sad about it.

I checked in for my flight for tomorrow, did some packing & getting Camper ready, then decided to drive the short distance in to Boulder City (this one in Nevada) for some lunch.  And it was sooooo good!  I did a bit of research & chose to eat at the Southwest Diner.  It was cool enough in the shade so I could sit on their nice patio.  The avocado BLT & crispy onion rings hit the spot.  I ended up drinking two giant glasses of iced tea & taking one to go.

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Then I noticed my neighbor getting a piece of pie.  My super nice waitress told me they are famous for their pies.  So, I got a piece of apple to go…think this one would take me awhile to eat.  It must have weighed a pound!

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Temps were 99 degrees when I got back to camp & the wind was blowing hard.  For once I was grateful I wasn’t camping on dirt.  I took another shower, had a beer & continued to “overthink” leaving my go-mobile all alone filled with cameras, fuel & all my stuff in 100 degree temps, while I flew off west tomorrow for the long weekend.


As darkness fell, my night became super mellow & I was brushing off the worries of leaving Camper & the heat of the day.  I pulled out my twinkle lights, turned my music on low & hooped a bit.  Then I just waited to watch the stars pop out one by one.  I would get to see Luke & Pete tomorrow & I was really excited about that!


day 18 5.7
I woke up with the sun risingsuper beautiful!  It was 5:15am. My alarm was set for 6am, but at 5:15am my happy/excited alarm was silently ringing inside me.  I changed my clothes then took off to buy a coffee & 10# of ice.  

I packed my cooler full of ice, stuck all 4 fuel canisters in sealed plastic bags & set them inside the cooler on top.  I had been concerned about the heat in the car or even if Id left the canisters in the Thule, exploding the fuel.  So, this is the plan I came up with.

I drove to the airport, super super super early.  I am ALWAYS one to get to airports early, but I seriously wanted to avoid the nasty traffic in Las Vegas & take the time to make sure everything was as good as I could get it inside Camper when I left her in the the Economy Parking lot.  Once she was good to leave, I finally finished off the pie, then ate my last bit of salad that had been in the cooleryes in that order.  I was willing to give up the salad if I was too full from the pie, but not willing to give up the last bites of apple pie.  That crust was the best crust Ive ever eaten other than my own.

I said goodbye to Camper, hopped on the bus, masked up & then was airborne through the clouds for the short flight to Sacremento.

Luke picked me up at the airport, then we met up with Pete & Leia.  Soon we were at a yummy brewery—Dark Heart-- (yay!  Choices of good beer since we’re no longer in Utah!!) with lots of awesome conversation, laughter & hugs.  Wow…I love these three wonderful people!

They had rented a sweet AirBNB for the weekend & we stayed up late into the night just talking…I love love love that!

day 19 5.8
I was up before 7am & they all took advantage of the weekend to sleep in.  There was a Starbucks about a mile away, so I made the nice early morning walk to get me & Luke coffee  (Leia & Pete don’t drink coffee).  We spent the morning just hanging out & visiting, then went for a super yummy brunch at Cafe Bernardo.

Luke had been scheduled to get his 2nd vaccination shot today, but then they changed it to tomorrow.  He knew he wouldn’t be back home by then.  But within about 15 minutes of a phone conversation, they scored him an appointment in Sacramento within the hour.  

That was interesting!  Luke noticed the problem right off the bat…what’s wrong with this picture?  The guy is not wearing gloves & that needle is bent like crazy…YIKES!!!  But, now the whole family is vaccinated & that is something I really grateful for!

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We spent the rest of the day going from brewery to brewery.  The boys had asked me what I wanted to do when we were all together.  My #1 thing of course, was to spend time with them & Leia.  #2…breweries & #3 … eat an It’s It ice cream bar (I’m not a big ice cream fan, but I love these California made bars.  Oatmeal cookies with yummy vanilla ice cream in the middle surrounded by chocolate on the outside.  Yum!)

Drinking some yummy beer at Track 7 Brewery.

We ate dinner & had another beer at LBB Gastropub in a really cute part of Sac.  After dinner we tried to find seating at Moska brewing, but instead we just bought some beer to go.  Noting that the bartender wore gloves while he filled our growler…no gloves for giving an injection but gloves to pour beer?.  Let’s just move on.  Luke wasn’t having any side effects, & that was a good thing.

We FaceTimed Danny when we got back to the house, then continued to talk into the night.

day 20 5.9
I made my morning walk to Starbucks catching up with Danny on the phoneit was Mothers Day today.  A bittersweet day for me alwaystotally thankful & grateful & knowing the best part of my life has been being a mother to my three great kids, but also knowing how much my own Mother missed out on lifeshe never met my kids, much less her great grandaughters.  So many moments I wished she was here over the years to talk with, laugh with & to hug.  

Today was Dannys first Mothers Day without his Mom.  He would end up spending it with his Moms best friend & her son who is also Dannys long time childhood friend.  I know he misses his Mom very, very much.

We FaceTimed with Sara & her girls briefly but for a minute or so, the girls got to see her Uncles & we all wished Sara a Happy Mothers Day.  They were in Naples visiting Kevins family & celebrating Mothers Day with his Mom.

We went for a scrumptious brunch at Zocaloa really beautiful restaurant.  The layout, the furniture, the lights, the artworkit was gorgeous.

We said goodbye to Pete & Leia with lots of hugs as they started the 5 hour trek back home.  Luke drove me to the airport, stopping a few places to see if we could find an Its It bar.  Then it was time for my last hug & a wait at the airport for my flight.

I managed not to cry at leaving them all.  It had been a year since Id seen them& I never want it to be that long again.  (Lets face itIm running out of time.)  I loved loved loved our visit!  They are so much fun, so smart, so delightful to be around.  Happy kids make a happy Mom for sure!

I landed in the LasVegas airport after a short easy flight, then managed to get on the wrong bus, then had to wait for the right one, then wasn’t sure where the drop off was nearest where my 4Runner was parked.  I got off at the first stop (the same one I’d walked to when I left the parking lot).  It was dark out & the lot wasn’t lit up as well as it could be, so I followed another couple until I came to my row.  

I would tell Danny later, what a huge since of comfort I felt at seeing Camper (she didn’t melt, get stolen or blow up).  She is my beast of a girl!  She takes good care of me, sees me through thousands of miles of adventures, lets me live happily in her, listens to me when I’m scared, when I get sad, when I’m super excited at the sights I’m seeing & the worst…listens to me sing loudly to all my hundreds of songs.  I was sooooo happy to be back with her.

By the time I paid for parking, it had taken me longer to get to my 4Runner & leave the lot than it had flying from California back to Nevada.  Mapquest took me down the strip which was pretty all lit up at night, but had the strangest smell…grainy.  For awhile, I thought the smell was in Camper, but about 30 minutes later, after I’d left Vegas, the smell, the lights & the late night traffic was gone.  I just wanted out of Nevada.

I got sleepy driving but was trying to find a boondocking spot.  At 11:30pm, I crossed the Arizona state line & found my dirt spot for the night.  It seemed tiny bit sketchy at first…I could see signs so I knew it was a legit spot, just wasn’t sure what the area was like.  But, I was so exhausted. I locked my doors & fell quickly asleep.  What a wonderful weekend it had been!


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