It rained pretty steady our last night in Kodachrome Basin, but by morning it was quiet and Jackie poked me “look out the window.” Oh my! Winter has arrived … there was a big coating of snow on the trees and ground, probably over an inch. I jumped out of bed, put on shoes and grabbed the camera. What a wonderland surrounded us. It was quiet except for the tinkling of the flakes that were still coming down. How wild and crazy.
Yep, that excitement was soon replaced by a bit of dread at the thought of the climb up 1,000 feet to Bryce and down through the Red Canyon. But for now it was up and at ‘em, let’s go dump the tanks and then see what’s out there. Well, not so fast there guys, we’ve got the famed “Cows in Road” blocking our way. Oh, and a little further along there were a few mule deer on the shoulder thinking of how to cross the road. But soon we were starting our ascent of 8% grade upward to Bryce. It was a slow go, of course, but at least we had a nice cold 32 degrees outside, no – make that more like 23 by the time we got to the top. Made it to the top and as we approached the Red Canyon descent a snowplow pulled onto the road ahead of us, so we had that to help clear what looked like more than 4 inches of snow.
The drive to Richfield was pretty wonderful, too. We seemed to drive out of the snow for a bit – stopped to see Butch Cassidy’s childhood home – then we were back in the snowstorm. One of the really cool mountain passes was through the Big Rock Candy Mountain, a winding path beside the Sevier River that just kept turning left and right between huge, sloping mountains. Neat.
In Richfield we found our first Wal-Mart in weeks, so loaded up on groceries, jumper cables and another jump start battery for the Jeep (just in case). We originally expected to reach Salina, but the planned campground stop was not taking reservations, so we are doing a KOA. As we pulled in we saw that the load of wet snow on the trees had left broken branches all over the camp. It was still in the 30’s with plenty of snow up the mountain sides and a low ceiling of clouds. Predicted overnight low is 20. We head to Grand Junction, Colorado in the morning with various predictions for rain, snow or nothing. We shall see what tomorrow brings. Oh, and yes, the battery in Jeep has run down again, so it is on the charger. Have to figure this one out.
So it only got down to 34 overnight, which was a relief. We got underway for what was a 5 hour drive to Fruita/Grand Junction, Colorado area. I thought it would be a simple drive across I-70 through flatlands, but was I mistaken. The trip was another amazing drive – we drove through areas where the snowfall was still very evident on the mountains and mesas and we passed through some mountain passes and cuts that were mind-blowing. One long cut was maybe 5 miles of a 6% downhill grade that wound between cliffs that towered above you.
Every flat expanse was followed by a drop down into a canyon. Finally, after many elevation changes we dropped down into the valley where the Colorado River winds through and the town of Fruita. We made camp in the James Robb State Park along the river and relaxed just a bit. Of course we had to jump start the Jeep – grrr. But we are in Colorado now, so breweries were on the list!
First stop is Monumental Beer Works, where we are having a flight each and I am posting to the blog. More about our brewery escapades here in town and our trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in the next blog, subject to wifi availability. Thanks for coming on the journey with us and thanks also for all the great comments.