Western USA – October, 2018

We were delighted to have the chance to visit the western USA once again, having made two pretty extensive visits there in 1975 and 1981 when we were young and restless and had a base in Orange County :-). But we’d missed a few places, and really wanted to revisit some fantastic places we’d already been, so off we went again!

We hired a truck camper and headed north first into Oregon. We wanted to avoid snow driving and camping, and the weather to the east in Wyoming and Colorado had already become very wintry, so we reluctantly gave up the idea of visiting those states. We will try to get to Yellowstone and the Rockies again another year. As a result we were able to spend more time in Utah, Arizona and California, managing to drive 5400 miles (8690 km) in four weeks.

We had fantastic weather almost everywhere. Nights were often very cold, but our camper was pretty cosy, and we loved being able to camp in the campgrounds at National and State parks, where we usually had plenty of space to ourselves (and the bears thankfully stayed away).

Our trip began and ended in San Francisco, the only city we spent any time in, and an interesting place to visit. Highlights were just about all the parks we visited but if we had to choose, I’d say Yosemite National Park followed by Zion, and Pete would say Bryce Canyon followed by Yosemite. The landscapes are just so grand – we’d forgotten how beautiful and impressive that part of the country is.

photo Photos

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Our Truck camper, which we picked up and dropped off near San Francisco. First night! Our trip, which covered 5,400 miles or 8690 kilometres. Looking  from near the back. Very cosy layout. Table and seats to the right, fridge is on the right next to the double bed (straight ahead) which is above the dual cab of the truck. Entry only from the rear. Looking from the bed to the back door. Sink, cupboards. 2 hotplates and microwave on the right. A wet shower and toilet to the right of the entry. We used it for storage. Kept our suitcases and backpacks in the back seats of the dual cab. Day 2, the northern Californian coastline  near Jenner. Coast Redwoods at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Coast redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. Base of a coast redwood. Our little camper gives some idea of their height. Rogue River in Oregon, autumn colour. Beautiful forest! Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon. A volcanic landscape. The Deschutes again. Lovely river! Multnomah Falls on the Columbia River Gorge. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. A collapsed caldera, full of pure rain water. Crater Lake. It was pretty chilly there! Coming back down into California. This is Mt Shasta and its side cone, Shastina. We spent a day exploring along the Tioga Pass Road through Yosemite National Park, across the Sierra Nevada range - beautiful! Tenaya Lake on the Tioga Pass Road. Tenaya Lake They take their bears seriously around here. They even recommend taking child seats out of the car and leaving them beside the car as their smell might attract the bear enough to break into the vehicle. Tuolomne Meadows - beautiful name for a beautiful place! View NW from the top of Pothole Dome View to the east from Pothole Dome. This whole area is snowbound and the road closed in winter. The park entrance at the pass is at over 3000 metres. Silver Lake, on the western side of the Sierra Nevada. Lovely autumn colour. Aspens in glorious yellow. Lake Tahoe. And now we're near Moab in Utah, after a long long drive across Nevada and much of Utah. This is the view to the La Sal mountains to the east from Arches National Park. The imaginatively named Balanced Rock, Arches National Park. One half of the Spectacles at sunset. Canyonlands National Park, also near Moab. View down to the eroded canyons of the Colorado River. Imagine trying to cross this country in the pioneering days! (They went around). The Green River, which flows into the Colorado at Canyonlands National Park. View through Mesa Arch to the La Sal mountains. Approaching Monument Valley in SE Utah, in stormy weather. Low cloud, but you can see the Mittens! Then it was off to Bryce Canyon National Park in SW Utah - like nowhere else on earth. Beautiful days and clear skies here.  Bryce Canyon National Park.  Bryce Canyon National Park. We did a round trip walk down into and then back out of the canyon. Friendly blue jay,  Bryce Canyon National Park. Stayed at Kanab and from there spent a day the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Drove through a storm to get here, but then the weather got progressively better. The North Rim is higher and more isolated than the South Rim, and closes in winter. The canyon is very narrow here and widens out as the river flows downstream. Back to Kanab and off to Zion Canyon the following day. Again a rainy start and then a perfect day and evening. Zion Canyon with some autumn colour - lovely! We walked a section from one shuttle bus stop to another. Cacti here! The National Park campgrounds are great. Every site has a table and a firepit and loads of space. Driving back out of Zion, eastwards towards Kanab again. Then a long drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Got to Desert View in time for the sunset. The river is about 1500 metres below. Then early morning light near the Village. Noon light with no shadows, the river a rich brown.. Every few steps you have a different perspective. We ventured for a distance down the Kaibab Trail. It's possible to hike down to the river and come back up, or go across and climb up to the North Rim. Two days are recommended and it is pretty punishing, judging from the hikers we encountered coming up! Note the mule train below. Aptly named, Ooh Aah Point. We went back up from here - it's still a hell of a long way down! Squirrels abound. Sunset from the Rim later that day. A lot of driving over two days took us back to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is in Sequoia National Park, home to the largest living trees on earth. The largest of all, apparently, the General Sherman tree, estimated to be 2,200 years old. And from there back to Yosemite National Park. This sublime view is from Glacier Point. Taft Point. A tiny railing right at the edge of the highest point, but plenty of opportunity to get perilously close to the edge! The vista of the Valley at Tunnel View. Bridalveil Falls just visible in the notch. It being autumn, the waterfalls were not at their peak! El Capitan, mecca for rock climbers. Autumn colour along the Merced River. Love those reflections! Vernal Falls. Quite a climb on a good but steep track. View to Nevada Falls from the pool above Vernal Falls. Sadly, Yosemite Falls were just a trickle down the rock face. We had seen it in full flow on two previous visits, so we were philosophical. :-) Our truck and its rear decal, featuring Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. Entrance to Chinatown in San Francisco, quite close to our hotel in Union Square. About  20% of the city's population is of Chinese origin. They have some pretty steep streets! Zoomed view of the city from just over Golden Gate Bridge. Zoomed out view from the same spot. Another beautiful day. We were lucky!

Posted on January 19th, 2019, tagged with travel

One response to “Western USA – October, 2018”

  1. Sue hewett says:

    Absolutley sensational photos!! Makes us want to go back. Lovely to rekindle some memories of the places we share back in 1981 xxx