Capitol Reef – Day 1

Some neighbors were having trouble with a cranky kid who kept crying and shrieking from 4:00 am until close to 6:00 at which point they were all packing up to leave, banging things around and slamming car doors. This is the first time we have stayed at a KOA. Seems pretty family friendly, lots of kids, quiet location. No added charm. For us it was just a quick overnight and we were back on the road in the morning.

Rest stop on U-24
Driving up the highway towards the junction with I-70, the check engine light decided to come on again. I know from the experience coming into San Diego a few weeks ago, that it is probably an evap code from a sensor on the gas tank. The first time I was afraid the engine was going to blow up, but my friend Red talked me off the ledge and when I finally arrived at his shop, he reset the code and things were fine. This time, the RV was running fine and all the vitals were normal, so I drove an hour or so until we reached Richmond without too much stress.

We stopped at a Walmart where PJ disappeared for an hour and came out with a bunch of rugs, mats and housewares, stuff that I had jettisoned when leaving Nayarit. I guess we had uses for some of it. We loaded it in the motorhome then drove down a few blocks to an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store. I bought a decent little Bosch code reader that was on sale and went out and checked the engine codes. Sure enough, it was the evaporation problem. I erased the code and bought a new gas cap hoping that will take care of the issue. 

Back on the road we had a day of climbing. We topped out at 8385 feet on the road over the mountain to Capitol Reef National Park. Lots of wind and a bit of strain on the motor. Lexi acquitted herself well never going over 210 on the temperature, but we were pushing hard on some of the steeper parts straining to max out at 40 mph on a few of more vertical stretches of road. 

My friend Mark H. pulled me aside last Wednesday at a gathering and sang the praises of Capitol Reef National Park. We had bypassed Bryce and Zion as being a little too far off our route and since they are overly popular and hard to find campsites, but we’re going to give Capitol Reef a shot. Their campground is first come, first serve and they are a little out of the way, so we figured to try our luck. 

Before we even got close to the park, the landscape was amazing. Red rocks and massive cliff walls. We drove through several quaint small towns where the Mormon populace was just getting out of Sunday services. Large fields of green agriculture lined the valley floor.

We were a little anxious about getting a spot since we expended a lot of time shopping and messing the van. It was after two when we pulled in and most of the spots were taken. A few people like us had just pulled in and were scouting around to see what crumbs had been leftover. We got one of the last open spaces, on a bit of a slant but I pulled in forward and stacked up all of my plastic Lego blocks. The rear end of the RV is lifted three inches, so between that and the blocks we are almost level. It is just a doozy of a first step getting into the RV door.

This place is awesome, an old homestead area from the early Mormon settlers. There are orchards of fruit trees that you are able to go pick as much as you can personally eat while camping here. The camping area is in a grove of old cottonwood trees and we are surrounded by tall rock faces on all sides with a little creek running through the camp. We set up camp and sat around in beach chairs on the large mat out front watching late comers circling around looking for non-existent open campsites.

PJ did some yoga while I watched a couple of ladies pulling small trailers struggling to get them backed in together in a small space. They must have spent a half an hour backing in, pulling forward then repeating without quite getting where they wanted to be. If I knew anything about backing up trailers, I might have helped but they already had a couple of good samaritans waving their arms around so I stayed in my chair. 

PJ gives a lecture on Capitol Reef natural history……

… and the crowd goes wild
We went for a hike in the areas nearest the campground. Such a peaceful place to be. On a large grassy area, deer were grazing and wild turkeys were scratching around for bugs. We hiked to the base of one of the rock walls and looked up in awe. We laid down on a picnic bench and stared up at the trees moving in the wind and listened to the sounds of birds singing in the canopies and the water riffling down the stream. 

On the walk back to camp, three of the not so wild, wild turkeys chased a woman and her child across the lawn. She barely had the chance to dive into her car and escape their attack. Feed the animals at your own risk. A pack (?) of yellow marmots (what do you call a group of rodents?) had a warren on one of the rocky hillsides and they were going in and out foraging for whatever it is marmots forage for.

We hung around camp, walked dogs, ate cold pizza and watched as a troop of kids headed off to attend some kind of ranger program. A cool mix of people: families, serious hiker types – everybody is sporting a camelback style water bladder on their backs, lots of euros and general nature lovers. Really chill vibe and magical feeling place.

4 thoughts on “Capitol Reef – Day 1

  1. loving your blog – it’s my daily meditation so keep ’em coming! A madness of marmots or a sprawl of marmots 🙂


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