Prescott, Jerome, and Sedona

USAPosted by Espen Fri, October 29, 2010 05:09:46

Drove south from Las Vegas to Arizona and Prescott. Rumours had it that there was supposed to be a BBQ event arranged by Overland Journal and Adventure Trailers, and we decided to go for it. At the BBQ we met several of the people behind probably the best overland travel oriented magazin in print (yes, that would be Overland Journal), and had a really great evening with good food (prepared by AT and "Overland Gourmets"), and hours of travel- and equpment-chit-chat into the night.

And after the weekend Chris from OJ took us to play around in the trails around Sedona. The first trail was Soldiers Pass, and the tralhead was just minutes from the
city center. Short but fun trail, and it seemd to be peacefully shared between hikers, bikers, jeep-tour companies, and 4x4'ers.

The trail lead us up to a huge sink hole. Water has washed out the rock underneath the surface, and eventually the roof caves in. I wonder how many caves like this we
have driven over without knowing what is under the surface....??

The next trail we drove into was Broken Arrow Trail. Both of these trails are rated difficult in Charles Well's guide book, but we definitely have the feeling that the trails in Moab (guide book from the same author) are rated a little bit harder! Still, there are defintely challenging obstacles on these trails too.

However, the biggest challenge we encountered on this trail was heavy traffic! For a while I was wondering if the hangover from the BBQ still was playing tricks on me,
as I thought I saw pink jeeps all over the place....

The high light of this trail was The Stairs. Not too difficult, but the ride down was quite bumpy. Note that the Nissan Patrol has a slightly wider track than the jeeps
that have been down here over the years.

Our day in Sedona ended at a fantastic camp site overlooking the Sedona and the valley. Drove up on Schnibley Hill Road and took off on a rough trail going all the way over to the cliff edge, and we parked and popped the tent about three feet from the edge. Beautiful views!

The next morning we were ready to head north to Flagstaf and I-40, and on our way back down to Sedona (we wanted to take the scenic route a little bit further to the
west) we came across a guy that wasn't too happy about his GPS software....

In all cases the road was going to be closed for a while, so we had to turn around and drive back up and over the mountain. Finally back on the highway, we said goodbye to Chris which headed back to Prescott, and we pointed the Patrol west towards Death Valley!

More soon!

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Las Vegas

USAPosted by Malin Mon, October 11, 2010 05:10:07

Las Vegas... what can we say about that place? Hmm … You are driving through the desert and then you get to this big city in the middle of nowhere that should not really exist in a desert. Walking around the town feels like a Disney Land for grown-ups.

Still, we felt we had to stop and experience it. We got to Vegas on a Monday, and in the weekdays some hotels have a decent price on their rooms to attract people so they can spend their money on gambling. For us it was our first night in a hotel since 5th of May and we cannot say anything else than it was good. However, we cannot make a habit of staying in hotels, because then our trip will be a short one.

Before arriving in Vegas, Espen had talked about doubling our travel budget, but luckily he had some statistic classes at the University and steered away from both slot machines and the roulette. Our dollars were not spent in the casino, but on nice food.

In the Paris hotel we had some

amazing cakes, and dinner one night was

scallops and cauliflower purè.

Eaten while watching the fountain in front of the Bellagio, mmm…

The rest of our time we walked around looking at the different hotels and casinos, and it is crazy what they build. After three days in Vegas we felt it was enough and time to get out of the city. Leaving Las Vegas we drove to Lake Mead and across the Hoover Dam. Impressive structure, and also strange to see how much the water level has gone down there in recent years.

Wonder why… Vegas?

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Four days and four National Parks

USAPosted by Malin Thu, October 07, 2010 08:44:54

After driving the Lockhart Basin Trail from Moab we drove to Lake Powell. Arriving at Halls Crossing, we had planned to take the ferry across Lake Powell the same day to Bullfrog. Then we learned that it was no longer summer, but fall, and that the ferry now operated after the fall schedule. The last ferry across left at 2 pm, and we got there at 3 pm... The result of this was that we had an afternoon off with no driving. So instead we had a swim in the lake, Espen fixed something on the car, I cooked dinner, and we shared a bottle of white wine while we looked at the sun set. Changing of plans is not always bad J

The next day we managed to get the ferry across Lake Powell before we drove north-west on Burr Trail.

On our way we crossed Capital Reef National Park, and after crossing the Reef we took a detour on narrow trail going up a dry river bed at Upper Muley Twist Canyon. From the end of the trail it was a short hike up to a view point with excellent views over Capitol Reef.

After having lunch on the Reef we drove on to Bryce Canyon.

And even driving between the different National Parks in Southern Utah are pretty spectacular as the landscape is just amazing. Even in short distances the scenery change a lot, and somehow the “rocks” always look a bit different.

We spent the night in a campground in the National Forrest just west of Bryce National Park. In the morning we were woken up by gun shots at 0630, the hunting season has obviously started. But for us it was time to get up and see Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce was again different from all the Parks we have seen so far, and really impressive. After looking at the major sites, thunder clouds were closing in on us, and we felt we had seen enough. We turned the car around and drove to Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon was definitely Grand looking down at it from the North Rim. After stopping at different viewpoints the thunder clouds were catching up on us when we were at Valhalla, and we felt it was time to leave. On the road back to Kanab we passed through an area with fresh snow. It is fall.

We headed for Zion National Park, but the road was closed at night because of road work and we had to camp just before the park.

Next morning we drove into our fourth National Park in four days. Had planned to have a good look around in Zion because we had heard the park is beautiful and again different from all the other Parks in the area. Clouds were hanging low over the mountain, and rain and thunder were getting more and more intense. After speeding through all these different national Parks we felt we had seen enough rocks in different shapes, and we did not feel like camping in thunder storms for the next two days. So our stay in Zion went down the drain.

It is always a next time…

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Lockhart Basin - Moab

USAPosted by Espen Wed, October 06, 2010 10:20:43

Have mentioned some trails in the Moab area that we have been discussing, and the Lockhart Basin Trail was one of them. This is a trail graded "difficult", but after trying out some of the trails in the area, we believed this should be just fine.

So when the new tires were fitted, we packed up the Patrol and hit the road going up to Hurrah Pass and Chicken's Corner (see blog post from April)

Just as we were to leave Moab, we met a swiss couple in a Land Rover Defender that we stopped to talk to. It was past 4 pm when we left Moab, so we were definitely a bit late. Discussed if we should camp for the night before hitting the trail, but as we were "just going up the hard part of the start of the trail" before we had planned to camp, it shouldn't be a problem. It was only about two miles.... And we had at least an hour and a half.... We obviously learn VERY slow on this matter...

The start of The Lockhart Basin Trail

What we didn't realize/remembered before we started driving the trail, was that we had seen a lot of muddy jeeps the last couple of days. Also note what kind of weather we had in our post from Imogene Pass (abvout 100 miles away, but it had also rained quite a bit in Moab). The Lockhart Basin Trail starts relatively hard with a trail going up through a narrow canyon. The probalem, as it turned out, was that some of the road was missing, and what was left was a river bed and some big rocks. However, it didnt start too rough, so the "alarm" didn't really go off until we were way up in the canyon, and we realized that ew were running out of time. It was too narrow to turn around, and it was getting dark. Good for us, it takes a lot to stop a Patrol with diff lockers, 3,75 crawl gear, 5" lift, and 37" tires. So be it that I scartched one of my new wheels (4 hours old!!!) and my rear ARB bumper.

Still just fun, and we could also see some other tracks going up ahead of us...

Facinating road, but getting harder and harder to turn around!

Still some daylight, but we have started to worry about getting up the canyon before dark...

But we were going too slow, and it got dark. Slowly worked our way up, but in one spot it almost went wrong. A bad choice of line caused the rear tire so slid down from a small ledge, the oposite side front wheel went up, and we almost rolled the Patrol! An agressive reverse got all wheels back down on the ground, but it was uncomfortably close to a long walk.... New line, and the obstacle went fine! At this time it was almost completely dark, so we didn't manage to take pictures of all the action. And as we had seen traces of how much water that could come our way down the canyon in case of rain, we really had our focus on getting up, and not spending the night...

Eventually we climbed up the last hill, and the reward (even if we didn't see that until the next morning) was a spectacular view of the area. The canyon we came up is down to the right.

After waking up the next morning, and after the vital shots of coffee, it was time to inspect the equipment after the previos day's fighting with the trail.

One of the rear wheels had some scratches, and there were also some marks on the rear ARB bumper. No problems at all, as this is a looong trip, and I'm pretty sure there will be plenty more... A matter of time...

And before we set off for driving the rest of the trail, we walked the couple of hundred yards back down to have a look at the "road", and I have to say I'm quite impressed about what a 7200 pound Patrol can do!

The last hill. And this IS actually quite steep!

The way we came up. Got a bith rough on the last part up through the canyon.

The rest of the trail, on the other hand, was an excellent drive, and the road wasn't too badly affected by the wash-outs from the last rainfall. Didn't see a single vehicle on the trail all day.

The co-pilot is out looking for the best line up. Most of the trail was relatively easy, but it had a few sections with some intersting climbs.

...and a riverbed to avoid a big drop.

But the view was fantastic! Had a long day of driving, and we spent quite a bit more than the 6 hours the guide book suggested for "normal" conditions. Camped at the Hamburger Rock at the end of the trail, and the next day we
headed for Lake Powell and Grand Canyon!

More soon!

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Mesa Verde National Park

USAPosted by Malin Tue, September 28, 2010 06:59:21

Mesa Verde was inhabited by Ancestral Puebloan people from 550 AD to about 1270 AD. First they built pit-houses on the mesa top and started farming the land around them. In 1200 AD they built cliff dwellings under rock overhangs along the canyons that split up the mesa top. It is these cliff dwellings Mesa Verde is famous for and that we have seen photos of. Now we wanted to see them in real life.

Some of the cliff dwellings are open to public and one can do self-guided tours like at Spruce Tree House. Other was only possible to have a closer look at if one joined a guided tour by the Park Rangers. On our day in Mesa Verde we joined in on guided tours to

Balcony House

and to Cliff Palace. Cliff Palace is the largest one of the cliff dwellings with 150 rooms and 23 kivas. Kivas were ceremonial rooms. It was nice to have the history explained by the rangers and learn about the people that used to inhabit this area more than a thousand years ago.

The Ancestral Puebloan people must have been really impressive climbers to move up and down over these cliffs with their harvest from the fields above.

For the tourist the Park Rangers had made ladders to climb and for some of the modern people it was still a struggle to get up and down. Mesa Verde was really worth the visit and it was impressive to see this villages built up underneath overhanging cliffs.

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