Now I’m not big on traveling huge distances fast (most of the time anyhow), so on the second night (April 21, 2015) I only made it about 88 miles outside of Steamboat before I was ready to crash for the night. On a whim I drove down BLM Road 53, and found a beautiful little spot for the night. The only noises I heard other than the wind and rain, were birds singing and a couple of cows mooing in the morning. Not even a plane flew overhead. When I did wake up, I made tea and drove down to the Yampa River, where I watched a bald eagle catch his breakfast, along with several ducks and a plover. There were some hot springs there too, but they were far from hot, and looked rather gross, so I chose not to dip for fear of ending up even dirtier than I was after the mud shower.
Onto Dinosaur National Monument after stopping in the town of Dinosaur to use the WiFi at the Visitor Center. If one drives all the way through the monument, you can drive up Blue Mountain Road into BLM lands and camp for free. On April 22, I had the most breathtaking spot with a view. In April very few people are using our public lands for anything, and I had the place all to myself. I climbed to the canyon rim and took in the view of Split Mountain. It’s actually very easy to imagine dinosaurs roaming these lands, even though they were very different then.
Before leaving the monument I just had to visit the dinosaur quarry again. It really is quite spectacular. I think its easy to imagine that dinosaurs are just some fairy tale creatures until you actually see the bones, and the SIZE of them. Wow.
One of the things I like about traveling in areas like this, is the fact that any time I’m on a back road, other drivers still wave, nod, or tip their Stetson.
Onto Vernal…If I every muster up the courage to think of Vernal again, it will bring images of signs on the corner of the street that read something like ‘Drill on American Soil! or I will think of huge bubba rigs driving down main street with their glass packs (extra noisy exhausts) resounding into the canyons a hundred miles away, and their over-size tires burning rubber as though leaving two streaks in the blacktop was the coolest thing in the world to do. I will also remember that there seems to be a gas station on every corner, and despite the fact that this is an oil town, gas was more expensive than in Dinosaur just over the border in Colorado. Probably because from here it has to go somewhere else to be processed, then shipped back to here again. What an incredible world.
I asked at the visitor center for potential places to camp that night, but she was hesitant to recommend anything, she said because the national forest areas were still closed, and there was probably more ranch land here rather than BLM land. I finally found a place to camp outside of Vernal up Dry Fork, and came to the conclusion that she couldn’t really recommend anything because the dispersed camping was just plain scary. I think homeless people had camped there all winter and even cut down trees for firewood, and in other spots it looked like kids from town had partied there leaving all the usual debris that such Neanderthals tend to leave behind, like bags of trash, scattered beer cans (Bud, & Bud Light, which by the way wont help with weight loss), diapers, etc. (Actually I’m 100% sure that Neanderthals were much cleaner and respectful of the land). What I’ve never understood is why these brainless morons take the time to put their cans in a trash bag, then leave the bag in the fire pit???!!! What the…??
Anyhow, I finally settled on a spot near another vehicle that looked decent. The vehicle was newer looking, was clean, and there wasn’t a pile of trash around it or five 24 packs of beer stacked up in preparation for the night, and it had some sort of official looking license plate.
I ended up having a wonderful night with my two neighbors and their dog. They were from Salt Lake City, and just getting away for a few days. Ex climbing ranger for Mount Rainier (he), and a fire fighter (she). I was spoiled rotten by another woman handling the fire all evening, and cooking a stew in a Dutch oven while their dog snoozed at my feet. In the morning they cooked breakfast which I contributed to. Great company, great conversation, and lots of laughs. Thanks guys.
After that I re-visited the petroglyphs I’d visited the day before, because there was a trail I’d missed, and it was bugging me. The McConkie Ranch has some of the best petroglyphs anywhere (Dry Fork Petroglyphs), and they are kind enough to allow people to visit them. They don’t charge, but ask for a donation to help them maintain the parking lot, the picnic tables, the trail etc. It is wonderful to find such generosity in this day and age…a true rarity.
Life is a journey, it is not the destination that matters but the journey itself (who said that?)…
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature