Beautiful Day

Things are finally happening! After breakfast at the hotel in Craig we drove about an hour and a half to Dinosaur National Monument. Our first stop was checking in with the ranger to find out about the availability of camp sites and road conditions. Everything seemed to be fine so we filled up the tank one more time and bought a couple bundles of firewood in nearby Dinosaur, CO. Our plan was to take our time driving in to our camp site so we stopped at several little overlooks, trails, and sights along the way. Eventually we reached the point where we would be leaving pavement for the 13 mile descent to Echo Park.

Last year we wrote a lot about, Bob, our reliable companion. He served us well for the 11 years and 130,000 miles he was with us. We knew though, that at his advanced age he wasn’t up to the challenges and space demands that we would need him for this year. His replacement, Fred, a four wheel drive Honda Pilot has filled in admirably so far. We have more gear than last year and plenty of space to spare. He crossed a river three times today and didn’t show even a sign of struggle going over loose rocks.

Along the Echo Park road we made stops to see the Chew ranch, a now abandoned site with several remaining buildings. We also sighted petroglyphs along a creek and cooled off in Whispering Cave. Upon arriving at Echo Park we choose a campsite and made our customary lunch of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pitched the tents, and decided to go for a little hike to get that part of the trip going. The rangers we had talked to earlier both recommended the Mitten Park trail. It turned out to be a narrow path along the side of a cliff with a beautiful view of the Green River below.

Unfortunately, we were hiking at the absolute hottest part of the day. Fred claimed the temperature was 106, but we’re pretty sure he was exaggerating by at least 10 degrees. In any case it was hot, so we only made it about a mile and a half out before deciding to turn around.

After getting back to camp we took a quick drive to see the boat launch, played some games, and are now enjoying our last cold beverage until tomorrow. Raspberry sparkling water for the girls, a mountain dew for me, and amaretto coffee (with extra amaretto) for Molly.

It turns out there really isn’t a whole lot else to do at Echo Park. We’re kind of all ready to head to bed, at least we’ll get plenty of sleep tonight! We have a camp site in the shade and with all the bug spray we’ve coated ourselves in the mosquitos seem to be staying away now. Molly gave me a star for my excellent hotel picks the last two nights, but I’m a bit concerned that I may lose it when we get back in the car tomorrow.

We really are hitting both extremes of luxury on this trip and today is the low end. We’ve got brats leftover from our going away party for dinner a bit later and a mat on the ground. We’re going to be really ready for the other extreme when we make it to Kimpton’s Monaco in SLC on Monday. Fingers crossed for a huge tub to wash all the grime off of ourselves. Also liquor and cake. In any case, we’ll get through this day by focusing on Monday, which is sure to be a beautiful day.

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