2017 Eclipse

Monday August 21st 2017

I got a little caught up in the hype about the total eclipse. Back in the spring, I had an opportunity to make a reservation in the area of totality for the eclipse. I just wasn’t interested and I stand by that decision. I’m located in south central Utah. The eclipse is about 80% of total in this area. Television coverage from Salt Lake City is in an area closer to 90% coverage and each of the stations has traveled to Idaho and Wyoming to be under the path of totality. I’ve been inundated with Eclipse coverage.

I didn’t have any glasses or pin hole contraptions to watch the sun, so I watched for other indicators. If I didn’t know an eclipse was happening I wouldn’t have noticed anything strange. The brightness outside went down, but the sun still shined from high above. Looking at the light pattern filtering through the leaves on the trees a regular pattern of curves was visible on the patio cement. The usual irregular pattern of light was gone. I’m attributing this to the eclipse, but I’m not going to bet money on it.

md1

Light pattern coming through the tree leaves onto the concrete patio. Is this the result of the partial eclipse? Probably.

The television coverage was intense. The weather channel correspondent in Oregon was sobbing with emotion after the eclipse. Other commentators were gushing with superlatives. I did feel sorry for the meteorologists and scientists that were in cloud covered locations like Nashville, TN, but they seemed to take it in stride.
They probably understand that another total eclipse with a greater period of totality will occur over the US in seven years during April of 2024. Many of the reporters were incorrectly reporting the next total eclipse over the US to be in 2045. That is the next eclipse to pass over the western US from northwest to southeast. The 2024 eclipse will pass from Texas to Maine.

I think my lack of passion for about this eclipse is because this isn’t my first “rodeo” so to speak. The March 7th 1970 total eclipse got a Junior High School kid really excited. The path of the eclipse came up the east coast of the United States. From my home in Worcester, MA the nearest point of totality was the waters around Nantucket Island, about 100 miles to the southeast. I spent the days leading up to the eclipse building a pin hole camera and watching the weather forecast for a clear day. On the actual day of the eclipse, my pin hole camera didn’t work. I had to fashion a new one on the fly out of a cardboard packing box. I got to see the crescents reflected in the box, but the pictures taken by the professionals shown on TV were more impressive. I continue to believe to this day that having good optics and high definition cameras are necessary to really enjoy the eclipse. Maybe the folks using the correct blackout glasses have a better experience. I really find the emotional experiences I observed on TV hard to understand.

RobEclipsce1970-1

Carefully built pin hole camera that didn’t work.

RobEclipse1970-2

Sticking my head in a box with a hole in one end worked.

Living this mobile life style keeps the possibility of viewing the next eclipse a viable option. Maybe I’ll have a different view on watching the eclipse in person in seven years, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

I’m writing this entry in the middle of the afternoon rather than late evening. The weather clouded over and threatened to storm shortly after the eclipse passed. Right now the sun has broken back through the clouds. I decided against taking a scenic drive and instead have been getting ready to move tomorrow.

When Plans and the Weather Don’t Agree

Sunday August 20th 2017

The weather got in the way of today’s plans. Last nights forecast for this area was possible thundershowers late in the day. That forecast held trough the morning. I sat outside in the sunshine, with the TV on, reading, finishing my morning coffee and watching the weekend residents depart. The park was alive with little kids all weekend. It’s amazing how quiet it got after they all departed.

sn1

Another of the interesting flower plantings at this campground.

Around 1PM I came in to get a bite of lunch in preparation for taking a drive to the southwest. While I was inside the clouds moved in and the wind began to howl. The change was sudden. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes from full sun to gray and cloudy. A minute long cloud burst that didn’t do much more than wet the ground followed about 5 minutes later. It then went back to just wind and started to lighten up a bit. When I went outside to assess the impact of the cloud burst, I saw the main area of rain less than a quarter a mile away. There is a school next to the campground. The far side of the schools athletic field was getting drown in rain. It continued over there for fifteen or twenty minutes, but nothing here. I just don’t understand the way weather works in this area. The combination of mountains and desert seem to generate some interesting weather behavior. You really need the local knowledge that comes from past experience in the area.

The cloud cover continued and it threatened rain all afternoon. My cell phone weather radar showed the whole area covered in storm conditions.  I found the RedSox game on TV and settled in for a good outcome. The Sox won five to one over the Yankees. I may move today’s plans to tomorrow after the eclipse. This area has an 80 percent coverage and will peak around 11:30am. I don’t want to be on the roads during the event. People seem to be going crazy about the eclipse.

Thoughts on Capitol Reef National Park

Saturday August 19th 2017

It was a mostly sunny day with highs in the mid 80s today. One brief shower kept it from being a perfect day. After lots of driving yesterday to visit Capitol Reef National Park, I stayed at home and enjoyed the weather. I’m including a few more pictures of the National Park in this blog entry.

st1

st2

st3

Capitol Reef National Park is less developed than Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. There are fewer paved roads and big parking lots than the others. The vast majority of the park is only accessible on gravel roads best traveled in a four wheel drive vehicle. The main scenic drive runs south in the Watershed Divide from the historic community of Fruita for about 12 miles. For the first 9 miles the canyon is wide enough that there is high ground for the paved road. You are still very close to the steep side walls as you pass over the river and washes. To continue south the road transitions to gravel and often runs in the bottom of the washes. There are many signs warning not to proceed if there is rain in the area. You can see were the road has been regraded many times after water has run across and along the road. In this area the rock walls are right beside your car doors.

st4

st5

It’s the fact that you are so close to everything in your car that makes this park different from the others in the area. I really liked this aspect of the park. There were a couple of other gravel roads off of the scenic drive that I could have explored and a couple of trails I considered hiking. I also didn’t spend much time in the Historic Fruita town displays. Touring the Gifford house, blacksmiths shop and orchards would have added another dimension to my visit. The tension of driving the narrow gravel road between massive rock walls with on coming traffic that had no business on the road (wide rental Class C motorhomes), wiped out my enthusiasm for more adventure.

st6

Taken out the window while navigating the narrow road in the wash. 

st7

Taken through the windshield. 

The park has fewer visitors than the other parks in the area. It is a long way from the Interstate or any significant towns. There were a few places with lodging and food in the town of Torrey Utah about 11 miles away, but the town hasn’t really developed into a tourist attraction town. I think these are some of the things that make the park more enjoyable to me. I look forward to another visit during a time of year that doesn’t pose the same level of flash flood risk that the current monsoon season presents.

Capitol Reef National Park

Friday August 18th 2017

Today I made it down to Capitol Reef National Park. It is about seventy five miles from by campsite in Richfield UT. I climbed over several areas of high ground to get there. The highest was 8200 feet. Most of high ground was range land and the valley before you get to the park was farm land. It was a nice scenic drive. I made the right decision not to take the RV closer. I passed a coup le of possible campgrounds, but you had to climb a two plus mile eight percent grade.

This blog entry will be all pictures. I will provide a link to all 140 plus pictures once I get them uploaded.

ri01

As you drive across the valley with farmland and range land you approach a high red wall of rock.

ri02

Twins Rocks.

ri03

ri04

ri05

Panorama Point

ri06

Panorama Point

ri07

The Fluted Wall

ri08

ri09

Layers of rock slanted over time.

ri10

View from Slick Rock Divide

ri11

ri12

The gravel road continues between the rock cliffs.

ri13

Closer view of the rock cliffs.

ri14

ri15

ri16

ri17

Many of the pictures from here forward were taken from the moving car. Some were through the windows.

ri18

ri19

ri20

ri21

ri22

End of Capitol Reef Pictures.

Where did I store that … ?

Thursday August 17th 2017

I live in a box that’s around 200 square feet. Why do I have more trouble finding things than I had in a much bigger house? This morning after breakfast I started a search for my RV road service membership card. I wanted to confirm that I had another year on the membership. It wasn’t in any of the places I thought it should be stored.

th1

One of the valley walls surrounding Richfield Utah.

I emptied and repacked three cabinets and three draws that were the most logical place for me to store the card. The good news is I decided to get rid of more junk that I don’t need to carry around the country with me. The bad news is I didn’t find the membership card. It will turn up eventually, but it’s going to bug me until it does. I was able to confirm the expiration date by finding the statement for the renewal from last fall in my records.

This is not the first time I’ve misplaced small things in this small space. I made a similar search for a backup camera battery last year. It finally showed up in a container with similar things about six months later. Why I didn’t find it when I was looking for it is a mystery. I have around 12 cabinets and 3 draws not dedicated to food or cooking. They aren’t big spaces, but they manage to collect a lot of junk. Keeping it organized is a challenge that I’m apparently having difficulty with. The larger of the cabinets have several small plastic bins each filled with similar stuff.

th2

Two of the many places explored in my search this morning.

I sent over 3 hours in my search for the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. It was too late to drive the seventy miles to Capitol Reef National Park and still have enough time to enjoy the place. I’ll try again tomorrow. I used the time to run a couple of errands and to get the laundry done.

The Laundry facility at this campground is cheap, but not ideal. A load of wash costs $1.75 and forty five minutes in the dryer costs $1.25. The machines are squeezed into a small room that doesn’t have any real space for folding. I needed to use the tops of the washing machines to fold and stack my clean clothes.

Random Thoughts on Travel Planning

Wednesday August 16th 2017

Today was very similar to yesterday. The weather was just as great. It might have been a degree or two warmer, but it was an overall nice day. My activity level was very similar as well. I did various odd tasks around my RV home and generally just enjoyed the day. This blog entry is today’s set of random thoughts. I won’t be offended if you stop reading now. I won’t even know.

wd1

Sky above the mountain to the north of the campground.

Since we are now in the second half of August, I took another look at my travel plans going forward. I’ve had a reservation in Florida starting March 10th since April 10th. That was the start of the reservation window for that particular park. The window for the park I want to stay in for the two weeks prior to March 10th opens on August 24th. I’ve been looking at the current status of that park to see what I’ll face at 6am on the 24th of August when I try to beat the other mouse clickers for a site. It isn’t looking real promising.

Florida in February and March is prime season. The end of March this year has a little less competition. Easter is on April 1st and many Snowbirds want to be home in the north for the holiday. I see plenty of opportunities after my current two week reservation ending on March 24th. My rough plan is to stay in Florida most of April, before heading for the Mississippi River area. Next year I plan to start the summer season in the Midwest and end in the Northeast next fall. I’ll return to Florida for most of the winter of 2018-2019.

Between now and February I have an outline of a plan. I’ll call it a plan when I get more of it reserved. As of now, I have reservations through September 13th. I’ve figured out where I want to stay through the end of October. I just have to commit and make the reservations. The open questions are November to January. Do I stay in one location for all three months? Unlikely, but maybe the months of November and December. A couple of more days of contemplation without major changes and I’ll start locking in reservations.   I don’t mind researching travel and places to stay.  It’s the actual planning that I don’t like.

wd2

Another of the decorative planters around the campground.

For some reason this campground hasn’t filled up as much tonight as it has the last two nights. I don’t have neighbors on either side and one of the rows in front of me is mostly entry. I don’t understand what governs the volume of overnighters. I wonder if the campgrounds know.

Getting Comfortable in Richfield UT

Tuesday August 15th 2017

A cold front passed through the area last night. What a pleasant change it made. Today was the first day since June that I didn’t have to run the Air Conditioner. I actually sat outside for a little while and enjoyed the day for a change. It didn’t break 80 degrees today. The sun was out off and on, but it was primarily a cloudy day. It even rained for a few minutes, but it didn’t take away from the quality of the day. Tomorrow will be a little warmer and then the heat returns by the end of the week.

tu1

One of many beautiful planted flower arrangements at the campground.

I didn’t do anything major today. Many little things kept the day full. After breakfast this morning I moved the motorhome back about ten feet. My goal was to find an opening in the trees to allow my satellite dish to lock onto the satellites. It didn’t work. This campground has many trees for shade. Moving to another site would likely have the same issues. I’ll settle for the campground cable TV hookup. I’ll miss some of the channels, but it’s only for a week.

After the unsuccessful move I finished setting up camp. Knowing that I was going to move the rig, I didn’t fully setup yesterday. I needed to hook up the sewer hose and the cable TV wire. I also took my bicycle and rack off the car and locked it to the RV ladder. It’s a lot easier to park the car if I don’t have to worry about the bike on back.

Perhaps the most important task was replenishing my food supply. A trip to the Walmart Supercenter filled all but one item on my list and more. I haven’t refilled the freezer to the same level yet, but I will be in areas with major stores until after labor day. I still find grocery shopping every two or three weeks a bit strange. Throughout my life in a fixed location house, I went shopping two or three times a week. I’d buy a few items and get out of the store for twenty or thirty dollars. Now I usually have ten to twenty plastic bags and spend from eighty to one hundred dollars.

Back at the campground, I celebrated having food in the house again. I cooked a steak on the grill along with a baked potato and can of corn for dinner. That’s what I get for shopping on an empty stomach.

Travel Day to Richfield Utah

Monday August 14th 2017

Today was a short travel day from Green River UT to Richfield UT. It was only one hundred and thirty miles, but it had more than three thousand feet to gain followed by two thousand to loose.

Check out time was 11AM and I managed to time my departure well. I left at 10:45am. If I left any later I would have gotten caught in some kind of parade or motorcycle demonstration. At the main road I had to work my way through crouds of people that seem to all have motorcycles. The police were stopping traffic on the road, but they saw me coming and cleared a path to get me out. I think I was the last vehicle on the road until after the “event”.

mn1

San Rafael Swell in the distance. The road climbs into and up the side of the swell. It is an abrupt rise in the ground associated with a geological event in the past.

My route was the reverse of the path I took to get to Green River. Today I went west on Interstate 70 over the San Rafael Swell and the southern part of the Wasatch plateau. Green River is the low point at a little over 4,000 feet. The first peek at the top of the San Rafael Swell was around 7,200 feet. The second peek was the Salina Summit at 7,900 feet. The road only went down around a thousand feet between the two high points. I probably sound obsessed by these altitudes, but I’m still learning how to handle the RV on the climbs. I’ve got a better handle on the descents; gear down and apply the breaks hard a few times.

The one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s not always possible to tell if you are going up, down or on the level. A couple of times on my trip out to Green River and again today I was trying to figure out why I had to apply additional gas to go down hill. The answer, confirmed by the altitude readout on the GPS, is that I was actually going up hill. The brain needs to use the horizon for clues, but the horizon in these mountains is often sloped in the opposite direction to the roads slop. In a car, adding a little gas, or having the transmission down shift isn’t a big deal. In the RV, sitting almost on top of the engine, you are very aware of the changes.

mn2

Site F2 at the Richfield Utah KOA.

I arrived at the Richfield KOA around 1:15pm. I have a nice pull thru site in the trees. Except for the few days I spent in Salt Lake City, I haven’t been in a campground with trees since June in Idaho. I really don’t count the Salt Lake City location, because I was away for five of the 9 days I was on the site. The bottom line is I’m glad to be in the shade for a change.

Preparing for Travel Tomorrow

Sunday August 13th 2017

Today’s weather pattern was consistent with the last few days. It starts off cloudy, clears up and warms up only to threaten thunderstorms late in the day. Strong winds and thirty seconds of rain was the extent of today’s thunderstorm. The bottom line is it has been cloudy overnight since Wednesday. I’ve tried to see the Perceid Meteor shower each night, but the clouds have had other ideas.

Today was my last full day in Green River Utah. I’m looking forward to a full blown grocery store or a Walmart Supercenter. The little grocery store here is OK, but it is expensive and not open when I want. For example, it wasn’t open today because it’s Sunday. My freezer is almost empty and there isn’t much in the refrigerator. I had to make a package of blueberry muffins for breakfast.

su1

Ms. Ears came to my site to say goodbye. I’ll miss the entertainment the rabbit families provided.

Most of my day was spent watching sports on TV and getting ready to travel tomorrow. I’ve only been here ten nights so far, but I seem to have gotten more stuff out than usual. Most of the extra stuff is related to cooking. The stuff I’ve been getting out of the freezer is more complicated to cook than the frying pan and sauce pan I use for most of my cooking.

Around 5 this afternoon the air conditioner shut off. Upon investigation I found the power was out. Unless I can see the clock on the microwave I don’t know what’s going on. Everything but the AC and the Microwave run off the inverter and the batteries. I checked the outside breaker at the campground hookup and everything was OK there. That’s when I got to meet my neighbors. The power was out for the whole campground, in fact the whole region. It’s only when something goes wrong that everyone comes out of their air conditioned comfort in this hot weather. The power was back on about forty five minutes later.

Additional Thoughts on Canyonlands National Park

Saturday August 12th 2017

I spent the day reading, watching TV and reflecting on yesterday’s trip to Canyonlands National Park. I’ve included a few more pictures of the canyons in this blog entry.

sa1

There are strong winds on the edge of the canyons. Dead trees finally give way to the wind. (Note: Picture taken with cell phone.)

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are only about 30 miles apart so it is tempting to compare them, but they are very different. At Arches National Park you are in the middle of the rock formations. It is an immersive experience. Most of the time there is something interesting to see in every direction. The Islands in the Sky unit of Canyonlands National Park is on the top of a mesa at around six thousand feet. This is high desert land that isn’t very interesting. The beauty at this park are the views from the edge of the mesa. Some of the viewing areas are a few hundred feet from the parking lots and for others you need to hike a half a mile or more. Either way its well worth the effort.

sa2

The Colorado River is at the very bottom of this canyon. The area is known as Grand View Point for the original name of the river. Originally it was only known as the Colorado after it merged with the Green River.  (Note:  This picture was taken with the Canon camera. )

sa3

View from Grand View Point.  (Picture taken with Canon point and shoot camera.)

Yesterday I was very frustrated taking pictures with my Canon point and shoot camera. The cloudy day didn’t provide enough light to get good sharp pictures. I was getting much better results with my cell phone. I like the Canon for its 12x zoom lens in a very small package. The zoom is very helpful getting a nice shot of distant objects. The cell phone is very good for wide shots and panoramas. At both Arches and Canyonlands I used the Canon point and shot on my way out on the trails and used the cell phone on the way back to the car. Comparing the images on my computer the cell phone pictures have more vivid colors and are generally sharper. I’m going to start looking for another small camera with a good zoom lens. I’ll probably have to replace the phone soon too. The screen is developing a crack in one corner.

sa4

Another view at Grand View point. (Picture taken with Cell phone.)

Tomorrow is my last full day here in Green River UT. I will be moving back to the west on Monday. From Richfield UT I’ll visit Capitol Reef National Park. I expect to see a different take on canyons and rock formations, but still no real forests or dense vegetation. After more than a month and a half in high desert, I’d like to find a nice wooded area.