Day 1: Prescott, AZ to Goosenecks State Park, UT
Packed the van, loaded up the parents, and hit the road to our annual stopover at Goosenecks (which now charges $10 to stay there, if you're an honest camper). Drove in at dusk to find our usual spot taken, so had to opt for the next spot down, which provided us with a table for a change. While eating dinner, beautiful moonrise was viewed on the horizon.
Day 2: Goosenecks State Park to Moab
Dad awoke at 2am to find another Vanagon parked up the road. Come to find out, it was Joseph's Syncro and Joseph didn't even see Old Blue when he and his wife left at around 6am!
During the night, woke up to hear the fridge trying to re-
Drove into Lion's Park to have lunch and fill the water tank. One problem: In walking over to look at the river, couldn't help but notice that the water spigot was locked up. Hmm, now what? The spigot over near the outhouses was still operational and it appeared that there was just enough room to drive the van through the "park" over to it. So I did!
Arrived at Lone Mesa Campground to find a handful of vans already there. Parked in the B Group area since there was a good pad for the gear tent. One by one, vans rolled in.
Day 3: Tusher Tunnel/Mill Canyon and Dead Horse Point State Park
While checking out Jeffrey C.'s Syncro in person, Johnny gave me the Syncro Solstice gear and recommended a few places to go see, one being Tusher Tunnel. We decided to go check it out since it was relatively close and sounded interesting. Drove down Mill Canyon Road to the ATV unloading area where there was a map of the region, which was rather cryptic; no pinpoint of where the tunnel was. We continued on, arriving at the wash fork where Johnny said to hang a left. I looked down there and saw nothing but boulders and deep red sand… not a route for Old Blue. Took the right-
Once back at the unloading area, we continued on down Mill Canyon (with Determination Towers in the background) to see the fossilized dinosaur bones, an old stage stop, remnants of an 1800s copper mill, and to eat lunch. Funny, the van was filthy after this jaunt, but still looked pretty!
We had just a few hours until sunset, so we decided to spend them out at Dead Horse Point where we spotted a Vanagon Syncro headed up to the Shafer Trail, as well as a motorhome parked out at a viewpoint off Potash Road.
Back at camp, it was apparently van tour time ~ a dozen or so vans had crowded together in the Group D area with their doors open and engine covers off (sorry, no pics). Awhile later, Bob S. walked up, jokingly tossing me his keys, but seriously asking again, this time in person, if I wanted to drive his van. I told him, "Something easy!" and we decided to hash out the details in the morning.
Day 4: Tusher Tunnel/Bartlett Wash & Dead Horse Point
While eating breakfast, Bob returned, this time with maps in hand. He suggested going back to Tusher Tunnel, but via the Bartlett Wash road. An hour later, I was handed the keys and told to hop into the driver's seat… away we went on my first ever Syncro drive, one with a Subaru engine at that, with Joseph and his wife coming along in their Syncro too (to capture any of my screw-
Once back at the vans, there was a big decision to make: Go back the way we came, or go out via the main road in. I decided to take the main road to see what we didn't get ourselves into yesterday. Upon driving down this road, I realized the right decision had been made the day before: The whole road is nothing but sand hills, deep in some parts. Reaching the end, there was a fork in the road; I made the wrong decision to go left, which ended with a few big boulders blocking our way. Thankfully, to the left was a go-
Very special thanks to Bob and his awesome rig for the incredible opportunity to see and feel what a Syncro can do.
After an ice cream treat, we all headed back to camp. Bob took a nap, while we ventured back out to Dead Horse Point where I took a walk and the parents went for a bike ride.
Day 5: Moab to Goblin Valley State Park
A lot of folks left late last night and during the early morning hours, so the campground was was pretty sparse by the time we got up.
Said our goodbyes and were the last ones to leave, behind Jeffrey, Dave, and Rich, who were destined for the Shafer Trail. We headed for Goblin Valley, since we had never been there (drove right on by two years ago when we went to Capital Reef). We had a nice tail wind going up highway 191, but once on highway 70, the wind was all over the place: tail wind, head wind, cross wind at any given mile. At one point, I had to turn the flashers on since my foot was on the floor doing 47… on a highway whose speed limit is 75! Watching the GPS, I was counting the miles until the turnoff to highway 24. Highway 24's wind wasn't much better, but at least there wasn't much traffic and the speed limit was more reasonable for an old VW.
Pulling into the State Park, the ranger station was closed, so we headed straight for the campground, thinking that we might stay the night. All of the individual sites had reserved signs, while just a couple of the walk-
After wandering among the sandstone "mushrooms", we returned to the ranger station. The law enforcement officer on duty stated that site #6 was already taken and that there were no sites available. Oh, really? Then why not put "claim tags" on the signs, you lazy, good-
Day 6: Goblin Valley to Sand Island
The young lady in site #6 left just as dawn was breaking (thank you very much), so we were awake rather early, but remained in bed drifting back to sleep among all of the car alarm beeps, car doors slamming shut, engines, and generators. At around 8am, an older retired couple from Montana arrived and back into site #6. The old guy was having a hard time disconnecting the trailer; I made mention of it to Mom, who in turn told Dad to go help him out. Just as he walked up, the ball broke loose. Dad took a look and the ball was close to falling off the guy's hitch. He dug out my wrenches, since the 'ole guy didn't have any, and tightened up the ball. Later, as we were packing up, the old guy came over and said, "Before you leave, I want to give you something." Long story short, he's a photographer who had recently gone on an African photo safari and had a pile of beautiful photos of numerous African animals. After looking at them all, Darrell said, "Pick one, it's yours as my way of saying thanks". No, Darrell, thank you for being so generous!
On our way out of the park, we went down a dirt road that wound into the Swell. There were no signs anywhere saying so, but there were a bunch of free camp sites down this road. We went as far as Temple Mountain, where uranium and vanadium were once mined.
We ventured on, stopping at the Philips station in Hanksville for gas and refreshments, which was built into a giant boulder.
The drive on highway 24 took us through a gorgeous sandstone canyon, through which North Wash flows, making its way to Lake Powell. Speaking of Lake Powell, we stopped at the official viewpoint to see what the upper end of Lake Powell looks like now. What a shock from what we saw back in the mid '80s. Hite Marina is no longer a marina; its launch ramp ends where a couple hundred feet of silt begins. Very sad to such a beautiful canyon, that had once been flooded with blue water, now filled with silt. In fact, there is so much silt, it is creating a dam at North Wash.
Driving on, I couldn't help but notice that the GPS was still showing a lake where water hasn't been seen in years, and the old shoreline outhouses now serve hikers rather than boaters.
Although it was late in the afternoon, we decided to give Natural Bridges a try for a camp spot ~ we lucked out last year, perhaps we'd be lucky this year too. Nope… missed it by two hours. After driving the bridge loop anyway, we drove through the campground thinking that if there was a Vanagon, we could stop and ask if they'd be willing to share with a fellow Vanagon. Amazingly, there was indeed an Orly Blue Carat across from where we camped last year! We waved to each other and drove on (the parking spot wasn't quite wide enough for two vans) to Sand Island, a launching point for San Juan River trips, where there happened to be a couple of spots available right on the river (and just up from the highway 191 bridge… yes, it was a Z-
Day 7: Sand Island to Prescott, AZ
Just as we were getting ready to make breakfast, Colorado River friends went floating by on rafts! What are the odds?!
After bacon and eggs, we were off towards home with another windy day ahead of us. We stopped in at Mexican Hat for SlushPuppies, where the fuel gauge read above 1/4, but below 1/2… plenty to get to Kayenta. Hmm… driving down the road towards Monument Valley, the gauge quickly went to 1/4, then to "reserve" line, then dropped into the red zone, and hovered around the "empty" line for miles. And, of course, the wind is raging, red dirt blowing. I kept the speed at 55, hoping to make it to Kayenta, keeping one eye on the GPS-
Driving on to Tuba City, we witnessed some insane passes by a few idiotic drivers: Nearly a head-
Out on 89, the wind calmed down; just a couple of sections with a head wind, and a cross wind just here and there. Made it to Flagstaff where it was still windy; because of that, it was decided to take 89A down through Sedona and up through Jerome. Bad idea. On I-
Aside from the wind and pound of dirt inside the van, it was another fun trip. A total of about 1200 miles traveled with just a bit of coolant added. Waved to two other Westies on the road (who weren't in Moab), but didn't get any waves back.
Total miles: 1,536
Avg. MPG: 17.1
|Solar & Fridge|
|Hitch & Accessories|
|Bringing Old Blue Home|
|South Arizona 2010|
|Park City 2010|
|Syncrofest I 2011|
|Palm Springs 2011|
|BBB XVI 2012|
|Woods Canyon 2012|
|BBB XVII 2013|
|Blue Ridge 2013|
|Santa Fe 2013|
|BBB XVIII 2014|
|Lee's Ferry 2014|
|BBB XIX 2015|
|Lake Mohave 2015|
|BBB XX 2016|
|Lee's Ferry 2016|
|BBB XXI 2017|
|Electrical & Mechanical Projects|
|Sliding Door Screen|