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Old 04-02-2024, 05:59 AM #781
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Day 41:

Starting point: Page AZ
Ending point: Page AZ

Distance driven: 124 km
Distance hiked: 15.2 km

Flouch, flouch, flouch, twelve times rather than one! Our only activity for the day was a long hike in Paria-Hackberry Wilderness. The hike begins on Cottonwood Canyon Road and quickly reaches Paria Box, a narrow canyon running through The Cockscomb and carved by the Paria River. The river flowed at a certain rate and the water level approached 25 centimeters in places. A bit disappointing because we had to cross it six times because it runs along the cliff in several places.

The geological layers of The Cockscomb have formed an inclined plane which can be climbed quite easily.




Arriving at the summit, we took a short break to dry ours socks and boots, under the morning sun. Next, we hoped to reach a ridge overlooking Paria River Valley, but the terrain seemed much rougher than expected. We continued on a track towards the northeast and reached a promontory after a few kilometers. From this point, Yellow Rock was visible, and also Cottonwood Hoodoos. Unfortunately, the clouds had also appeared.








Retracing our steps, we headed to a place called Red Point. We had some difficulty finding a passage but we finally succeeded, and our efforts were greatly rewarded by the grandiose spectacle stretching out before us.




















After some time, we began our return, this time using another path that we had spotted on the top of the yellow rocks and proved to be a lot easier. At this moment, a huge, very dark cloud was approaching. We even heard two claps of thunder, reverberating off the surrounding hills. A few minutes later, small hailstones began to fall, once again.




This only lasted as long as the cloud passed, without much consequence for hikers because the ground was mainly composed of rock, pebbles and sand. We then reached the top of the slope.




Then a long clearing came, warming us up a little and drying our clothes and the ground, until the fateful moment when we had to cross the river again six times, again... Flouch, flouch, flouch was the sound of my boots filled with water!








Very close to the starting point of the hike, a welcoming committee seemed to want to hold us back a little. The presence of several small calves probably made the mothers a little worried, but it was the one with its long horns that intimidated us a lot more. We walked around them under their watchful gaze, until we were a good distance away and they ignored us.




Arriving at the 4Runner, another big cloud was approaching and we didn't stay there. We picked up Cottonwood Canyon Road again, riding long stretches over bentonite clay. The cliffs along the road had concentrated the hailstones and as they melted they had made the clay very slippery in places. We skidded slightly a few times but fortunately, without consequence. Then we noticed with joy that the cloud had not passed the worst place on the road, where it winds between clay hills. We reached the safety of paved US 89 and returned to Page for our last night.

Tomorrow we hit the road again towards Blanding, Utah, with a few small visits along the way.
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Old 04-02-2024, 08:46 PM #782
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Day 42:

Starting point: Page AZ
Ending point: Blanding UT

Distance by vehicle: 396 km
Hiking distance: 1.6 km

This morning, we left Page under a cloudless sky, after a very nice stay during which we were able to do many activities that we had dreamed of for some time. Since there aren't many options in terms of roads, we traveled the UT 98, then the US 160.

Our first stop of the day was the Navajo National Monument protecting some Ancestral Puebloan village sites. For reasons related to COVID, access to sites located in the canyon is still prohibited. So we hiked the short Sandal Trail to Betatakin Overlook, overlooking the village of the same name.






The visitor center has a small museum displaying artefacts discovered during archaeological digs, including magnificent pottery.




Continuing our route, we made a short stop at the foot of Skeleton Mesa, part of the immense plateau of which Comb Ridge consists of the eastern end.






As we have often traveled US 160 and US 163 (through Monument Valley), we opted instead to travel two maintained dirt roads located in Navajo Reservation. The condition of these was exemplary.

So we left US 160 and took Navajo Route 6440, named Cane Valley Wash Road. This crosses rocky areas of ancient petrified dunes, as well as fields of peach-colored sand dunes.




What was our surprise, as we arrived at the summit of Comb Ridge, to see Monument Valley nearby, with Navajo Mountain in the background.






Then, we began our descent from Comb Ridge among several very photogenic rocks.








Further on, we took a short diversion onto Poncho House Road along Comb Ridge.




After returning to Cane Valley Wash Road, we headed onto Gypsum Creek Road. This crosses Gypsum Creek in a place where water seems to be generally present given the vegetation. However, a strong smell of sulfur emanated from it, somewhat breaking the charm of the place.




Continuing on Gypsum Creek Road, we finally crossed the last buttes related to Comb Ridge, at least for this moment. At the top of the mound, we saw a small natural arch.




Next, the road travels through a large plain cracked by deep dry washes. For movie buffs reading this post, the sheep farmer's farm from the movie "A Million Ways to Die in the West" is certainly located in this valley. In the distance, the two hillocks forming Bears Ears rose. We will see them again during our stay around Blanding.



The forecast for the Blanding area is for a lot of sunshine for the next few days. We will determine probably tomorrow what we will do.
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Old 04-03-2024, 09:55 PM #783
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Day 43:

Starting point: Blanding UT
Ending point: Blanding UT

Distance driven: 158 km
Distance hiked: 6.4 km

We had another superb sunny day and a very summery temperature of 22C. We took the opportunity to explore several places in Bears Ears National Monument.

Our first destination was Posey's Trail Road running on a ridge overlooking Upper Comb Wash. I had visited this site alone during our winter 2023 trip, while Nancy was sick in bed.






At the end of the road, at Posey's Trail Overlook, UT 95 crosses Comb Ridge and passes directly at the bottom of the bluff before climbing back toward Cedar Mesa.




Then we retraced our steps and reached the Mule Canyon area to hike to the famous House on Fire, an Ancestral Puebloan site whose alcove appears to become ablaze when indirect lighting conditions are right.






When we arrived at House on Fire, there were about fifteen people waiting for the right conditions, as if all of a sudden the ruins were going to suddenly change color. Over a period of about twenty minutes, no one was taking photos except me. Then, around noon, the site became much more congested. There is no magic hour, like a whale jumping out of the water. What gives this striking effect is mainly the contrast between light sandstone strata and more orange ones.




A little disconcerted by the crowd, we went back to the trailhead, choosing not to continue further into the canyon towards the other sites.

Back at the 4Runner, we continued on the same road towards Arch Canyon Overlook. The road then climbs Cedar Mesa, offering some views of the surrounding area. Otherwise, the view is obstructed by the cedar forest but the sandy road is very easy.




We eventually reached Arch Canyon Overlook, offering a great view of Arch Canyon. During our winter 2023 trip, we were forced to turn around while trying to reach a point below for a hike in the canyon.








We walked along the cliff to the northwest to try to see one of the arches in the canyon. We think we saw Cathedral Arch.






Back on UT 95, since we still had about two hours left, we decided to improvise by going to explore the Cedar Mesa area of Bears Ears NM a little. It is located on a plateau and contains countless sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans. We randomly chose to go to nearby Baulie Mesa. A very well-maintained dirt road leads to three viewpoints. The first one we visited had a truly extraordinary view of Comb Ridge in the distance.








When we arrived at this site, a group of three campers from Colorado were already there setting up for the night. They kindly pointed out to us the presence of numerous ruins around us, including one immediately next to the viewpoint, with some buildings on the point and others a little below.






In the distance, along the cliff, other buildings were visible. This reminded us a little of our somewhat grueling hike to Moon House in winter 2023.




Then we joined a second point of view. However, the view from this one was a little less spectacular than the first.




Tomorrow will be our last day in Utah, already... We are thinking of heading towards The Needles sector of Canyonlands National Park.
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Old 04-04-2024, 10:17 PM #784
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Day 44:

Starting point: Blanding UT
Ending point: Blanding UT

Distance driven: 232 km
Distance hiked: 13.2 km

For this last day in Utah for this trip, we treated ourselves to a spectacular hike in The Needles sector of Canyonlands National Park. The relief of this sector, as its name indicates, is composed of a multitude of columnar formations, created by erosion while the column is protected by a layer of harder white rock, a concept similar to hoodoos.

The hike follows a long loop beginning in Woodenshoe Canyon (formerly known as Squaw Canyon) and continuing into Big Spring Canyon. It crosses a few passes between the canyons, offering splendid views. As the temperature at the start of the hike was already 17C, we were quite warm under the sun barely veiled by thin clouds. Luckily there was a bit of wind to cool us down a bit.

At the start of the hike, after a short segment in a plain, we reached the first passage of a ridge.




After descending down the other side of the ridge, we entered Woodenshoe Canyon. To our surprise, there were several water sources forming pools. Apart from a few insects, we didn't see any fish as these pools are probably dry during the summer. On the other hand, there was a lot of vegetation, a sign of the frequent downpours.






After several kilometers, we began our climb toward the ridge separating Woodenshoe Canyon from Big Spring Canyon. As we gained altitude, the view became more and more grandiose, with the peak of one of the Six Shooters visible in the distance.








Continuing our ascent towards the ridge, the route runs along shelves on the white rock layer. In several places, we could see the action of erosion attacking layers other than that of the white rock.






As we approached the final climb to the ridge, visible on the far right in the next photo, a group of hikers were just coming down from it.




One last look back at Woodenshoe Canyon with the hiking group walking along the white rock ledge we had just hiked through.




The passage of the crest requires some attention because we were walking on an inclined surface. On the other hand, the sandstone offers very good grip and at no time did we felt uncomfortable.




On the other side of the ridge, Big Spring Canyon revealed itself to us. Without too much surprise, the landscape is similar to that of Woodenshoe Canyon because it is composed of the same geological layers.




Although the descent to the bottom of Big Spring Canyon is less significant, it is done more quickly and includes some small challenges such as this descent into a fairly steep channel.




Just below, the presence of water seeping from between the rock layers allowed plants to grow in a hanging garden, under a small ledge facing north. Oddly enough, some plants had their roots hooked under the ledge and seemed to be growing downwards.






We continued our slow descent of the canyon along a dry wash, with other beautiful landscapes. At this time, the heat of the afternoon was well felt but the numerous shrubs offered us shade for our numerous breaks.








As we neared the end of the loop, we crossed another ridge to leave Big Spring Canyon. We then circulated between two needles forming a sort of tunnel. Shortly after, we returned to our vehicle.




Getting back on the road, we stopped at a viewpoint on Woodenshoe Arch, having inspired the canyon's new name.




Tomorrow we will leave Utah to reach New Mexico. Although the weather forecast doesn't look really good for seeing Monday's eclipse on April 8 in northern Texas, we (actually Nancy...) decided not to change our itinerary. Hopefully the forecast improves over the next four days.
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Old 04-05-2024, 10:18 PM #785
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Day 45:

Starting point: Blanding UT
Ending point: Roswell NM
States traveled: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico

Distance driven: 860 km

We sadly left Utah this morning, with great memories and some photos (!!!...). We headed toward Farmington NM, then took US 550 southeast. Along the way, we took a short detour to see the Gilman Tunnels in Santa Fe National Forest. The road leading to these tunnels winds through a beautiful canyon with reddish walls.




The further we went, the narrower the road became. What we didn't know is that the road is now closed to all motorized traffic. Although we could have reached the tunnels by a short walk of just under a kilometer, we did not have enough time planned and we would have arrived at our hotel a little too late that evening. So we put that off for another trip.




So we continued towards Albuquerque NM, then took the I-40 Interstate. After leaving the immediate area of the city, we hit a huge traffic jam, probably due to roadworks. Luckily, we were able to quickly reach an exit, and headed onto country roads south of I-40.

The lack of relief and vegetation did not succeed in cutting off the strong winds coming from the south. These were very lightly traveled roads, and overall pleasant to drive, passing a few tiny villages but above all immense expanses of desert practically uninhabited apart from a few ranches. The cholla cactus were beginning to bloom.






When we say we're in the middle of nowhere, it must be similar to the places we've been.




Tomorrow will be a very relaxed day. We had originally planned to leave Utah only tomorrow, but the very strong winds would have limited our activities too much and we preferred to explore the region in which we are and which we know very little about.
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Old 04-06-2024, 08:35 PM #786
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Day 46:

Starting point: Roswell NM
Ending point: Post TX
States traveled: New Mexico, Texas

Distance driven: 414 km
Distance hiked: 1.9 km

Since we only had a few hours of travel planned today, we visited a few sites near Roswell NM and Lubbock TX.

Our first visit was to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Roswell NM. Although we knew that the majority of migratory birds are present between October and February, we were still able to see several species.
















As we were moving toward our second destination of the day and driving along the Pecos River, we also saw a snowy egret, a very shy species.




Our second point of interest was Bottomless Lakes State Park protecting sinkholes created by the dissolution of limestone in rock layers by water. We walked a short trail running near some of these sinkholes.






We had to be very careful because the action of the rain on the limestone rock made them very sharp, even dangerous in the event of a fall.




We then hiked another trail on a raised boardwalk running between smaller sinkholes. On the other hand, the water level was very low and we saw very few interesting things. It's probably very different earlier in the year.




Then, we entered Texas and went to the city of Lubbock to visit the American Windmill Museum, exhibiting a host of wind turbines, including several old ones. When we arrived, we were surprised by the crowd of vehicles present. The parking lot was overflowing and we were shown a field to park. Later we learned that there was a local wine tasting fair.




We quickly toured the indoor section and its huge miniature train, where the event was held, then headed out to the outdoor exhibit.




The oldest had wooden blades, and the most recent metal ones. They were controllable depending on the strength of the winds. As today's winds were very strong, most were in stationary mode. It's a shame, but these wind turbines were once used to pump groundwater to animal ponds. There are fewer and fewer left, replaced by electric pumps powered by diesel or solar.








There was even one similar to those we see in the Netherlands.




Finally, we reached Post TX for the night. Tomorrow we have about five hours left to reach our hotel on the edge of the path of the eclipse on Monday April 8th. For the moment, the forecast is pretty bad with risks of rain or storms. Fingers crossed...
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Old 04-07-2024, 07:59 PM #787
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Day 47:

Starting point: Post TX
Ending point: Madill OK
States traveled: Texas, Oklahoma

Distance driven: 654 km

Today we continued our slow drive home through beautiful country roads, mostly in Texas. Contrary to what we had imagined, especially after yesterday's sandy part, we quickly reached a region where greenery is abundant, with the buds of the trees mostly in bloom and the field flowers displaying their beautiful colors.

So why not celebrate my birthday by traveling through these regions and letting Nancy dictate our frequent roadside stops so she can take all the flower photos she wanted! Happy birthday Jean... So I'm sorry for canyon, rock and 4Runner fans, this is not the right day for you!!!

So, it’s time for Mother Nature’s show:
































Following the directions of a waitress at this lunchtime restaurant, we headed to two lakes, one in Texas and the other being Murray Lake in Oklahoma. The fact that we are used to the many lakes of Quebec, the ones we saw appeared to us to be just ok.

We are in Madill, Oklahoma for the night, just on the western edge of the path of the total solar eclipse. Tomorrow, we will try to find a suitable place on the central trajectory to maximize the duration of the shadow, hoping there will be a shadow given the forecast clouds.
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Old 04-08-2024, 09:08 PM #788
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Day 48:

Starting Point: Madill OK
End point: Post OK
States traveled: Oklahoma, Arkansas

Distance by vehicle: 452 km

Total eclipse day!!! We left Madill OK with skies having just a few clouds. We were optimistic. Headed towards the Oklahoma-Arkansas border on US-70 located directly in the central path of the eclipse to maximize the duration of the total phase. We had about 2.5 hours of driving to do. Little traffic, we were making good progress.

About an hour before arriving at our destination, we reached the clouds whose thick layer does not leave much hope. We decided to continue anyway, knowing that we could still benefit from the darkness of totality, clouds or not.

Once at the border, we decided to go to De Queen in Arkansas to modify our hotel reservation for the night, as we were not going to the area we had planned before the trip. Reservation changed, we will go north rather than south after the eclipse, saving us some distance for our return home.

Nancy found us an isolated place, without congestion or traffic, on the edge of a railway line. We said to ourselves that if we couldn't see the eclipse we might be lucky enough to see a train!!! The sky was still cloudy and a fine drizzle was even falling... Not optimistic...

Tchoo, tchoo... A train! And not just any train, a Canadian Pacific train, having purchased the Kansas City Southern Lines Company last year. A train from home, here!!!




Then two more trains. Definitely, a little lucky in that respect...

Then 12:30p.m. arrived. The partial phase began, still under the clouds. We didn't even know where the sun was...

Then 1:16 p.m. Hey, we sew shadows!!! Although there was a thin layer of clouds, it was enough to at least see the sun and the moon. We got out to enjoy the spectacle... Be indulgent, camera without tripod, lens of only 200mm, and solar filter held at the but in front of the lens...




Then 1:46 p.m., less than two minutes before totality, the clearing in the clouds still persisted!!! Woohoo, we would be able to see the total phase!!!




1:48 p.m., diamond ring, then the total phase!!! We can't believe it! We think of our benevolent angels, Rita, Louis, Laurette, Ernest, Délina, Maurice, Pierrette, Julie, and the others!!! THANKS!!!!!!! The temperature drops, the birds sing, the rooster continues to crow, we see stars and probably the planet Venus, ha the beautiful halo, the solar flares, the beautiful crown, the sunrise all around us. We hear screams coming from around us, everyone is amazed!!!







At 1:51 p.m., already the second diamond ring after a quick 4 minutes 20 seconds of totality!!!




Then, shortly after, the clouds returned, putting an end to the show. So we left, still surprised that we were able to witness this grandiose spectacle despite the weather forecast.

We had about an hour and a half drive to reach our hotel. At first we didn't notice much traffic, but as we progressed it became denser. Then, at a detour, we joined a long line of vehicles, practically stopped. Nancy put together a beautiful detour for us in her own way, avoiding all the traffic and going through very picturesque places! We didn't save time, but we saw part of the country we didn't planned!




We finally arrived in Poteau, Oklahoma. Nice french name, huh!!! Tomorrow we begin our return proper, putting an end to our visits.
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Old 04-08-2024, 11:50 PM #789
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MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold MAST4R is a splendid one to behold
Phenomenal pictures from familiar routes. Looks like you have been having a great trip! Unfortunately, I completely forgot to follow along!
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Old 04-09-2024, 07:40 PM #790
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAST4R View Post
Phenomenal pictures from familiar routes. Looks like you have been having a great trip! Unfortunately, I completely forgot to follow along!
Thanks! We did have a great time and mostly an superb weather, plus this incredible solar eclipse yesterday.

Next time, you should do better!!!
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Old 04-09-2024, 07:45 PM #791
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Day 49:

We had a good day of driving on dry roads and mainly under the sun. We had a first slowdown on I-49 which caused us about 15 minutes of delay, probably caused by an accident. We took an exit then small roads and joined I-44 further.

Afterwards, Nancy insisted on passing through St. Louis to see Gateway Arch up close, along the Mississippi River, but without stopping. Construction caused us another 30 minutes of delay leaving the city. But we had time to see this magnificent arch again, symbol of the gateway to the west.

We are in Brazil, Indiana for the night. Tomorrow we will continue our return journey to reach New York State.

Starting point: Post OK
Arrival point: Brazil IN
States traveled: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana

Distance by vehicle: 998 km
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Old 04-10-2024, 06:11 PM #792
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Day 50:

We drove another long stretch of Interstates, under mostly cloudy skies, but without any notable precipitation. Tomorrow we will finally reach home.

Starting point: Brazil IN
End point: Victor NY
States traveled: Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York

Distance by vehicle: 1007 km
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2016 Trail Edition Classic Silver Metallic with KDSS, sunroof
ToyTec BOSS lift, SPC Light Racing UCA, RCI sliders, RCI aluminum full skids, RCI Cat Guard, Eezi-Awn K9 2.2m, BFG KO2 275/70R17E, FN Wheels f(X) Pro, ARB Breather kit, Husky WeatherBeater Mat and Cargo, XPEL window tint, 3M wrapped hood
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Old 04-11-2024, 03:32 PM #793
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Day 51:

We are finally back safely home, after driving most of the time in the sometimes heavy rain. By chance, the traffic was really light today.

We took a short detour to go through Massena NY to pick up a few goodies purchased during the trip for the 4Runner. I will update my build thread when installed.

Starting Point: Victor NY
Arrival point: Montreal QC
States/provinces traveled: New York, Ontario, Quebec

Distance by vehicle: 488 km
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