|As I left Grand Teton NP, I made a slight alteration to include a place called Fossil Butte in my itinerary. It was slightly interesting but the nearby town was definitely a "missable" place and the RV park was definitely NOT memorable. I had asked a ranger at Grand Teton about my route and she had assured me it was pleasant, scenic and included no "awful" mountain driving. She was right. Here is a view from my lunch spot.
PIC and here are a few shots from the monument itself. For my fellow flatlanders, a butte is a mountain that is flat on top like this.
There was no entry fee and I needed a stretch so I spent a few minutes browsing the exhibits inside.
But since I really don't believe in evolution nor their theories of the earth's age, it wasn't very exciting. When I got home I was having a conversation with my friend Don which went something like this. I mentioned that when I read the information at such exhibits about how such and such was formed by such and such an event so many years ago, I always add in my head, "or God spoke it" He said, " or just went phbb" (and blew a little puff of air). I said I often wonder what some of those scientists will think once they die and finally get to see the whole picture. And Don said this, "Yeah, imagine how disappointed they will be. They could have know the Artist."
The next day I intended to drive a short distance in Utah, then back into the corner of Colorado to visit one more national monument, called Dinosaur. There are two parts to this, one in CO and one in Utah, but a sign posted at Fossil Butte had notified me that the one in Utah was closed for renovation. As faithful readers know, I've already had several mishaps on this trip and driven on lots and lots of mountains. By this time, I'm kind of tired of this kind of driving. Maps do NOT show such details and this day's route was a doozy. As I went up and down and around and around I told myself that if I had one more problem, I was just going to "chuck it" and head back home. I was trying to follow the advice I had been given to use lower gears in my transmission instead of relying on my brakes for the downhill portion but on one particularly steepish one I heard a clunky sound so I popped it back in drive. Immediately after I felt a bump, like I had another flat tire. I pulled over and checked all 6 tires but found nothing. Attempted to drive on but now in addition to the bumpy shaking I couldn't get any power. I found a nice pull off and decided to get expert help before continuing. After several calls I found a tire place that said they would send out a truck. I told them I was 5.4 miles from the town because that's what my GPS said. Like a dummy, I forgot that that was only the distance to my next CHANGE so it took the driver a while to find me. When he got there he also could find nothing wrong with any tire but agreed to follow me back to town. We didn't go more than a mile or two as it was obvious that something else was wrong. I found another spot to pull over safely and he began calling around to find a tow truck that could handle my size and weight. It took a few calls but we found one who would come and tow me to the local Ford dealership. The tire guy offered me and Eddie a ride into town which we accepted. Boy, oh boy! That last mountain into town had the worst drive of the entire trip!!! 10% grade and at least 6 or 7 very tight switchbacks! The service manager at Showalter Ford in Vernal UT was awesome and went far beyond the call of duty. First, he had his parts driver, a young man headed to college in the fall, take me to a local car rental agency so I could have transportation for the duration. Next, we talked about what his technicians would do and the timing. It was after 5 by this time and they close at 6 and the rig hadn't arrived yet. We talked about where it would be so I could have access to the items I would need for an overnight stay. Then, he made me a list of local budget motels. Vernal isn't a very big town, its population is under 10,000 but it has a fair amount of hotels and motels. Unfortunately for me, it is also the home of many short term type oil jobs, where the workers stay briefly and then move on. That means that the availability of rooms is often scarce and therefore more expensive. After a few calls, I found a place that would allow Eddie, for a fee, of course. My sleep was somewhat restless as I imagined many "worst-case" scenarios. My itinerary called for me to travel a little further south and visit Mesa Verde National Park for a few days but I made the decision to cancel that portion of the trip and save it for another time. I wanted to explore the cliff dwellings there but I was heartily sick of driving in mountains, not to mention the extra expenses I was incurring from this latest event. Once the decision was made, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders so I knew it was the right one for me. I made a few calls to cancel both my campground reservation and the rental car. Unable to hang around all day in the motel, I decided I might as well explore the area a bit. In the motel lobby, I picked up a few brochures of local sights and set out for a scenic drive. Our first stop was a beautifully maintained city park with this structure.
which is the top of a previous temple. Remember, this is Mormon country.It was a very clean town and welcoming - here is a shot of their natural history museum - note the gorgeous flowers.
The red rocks here were truly spectacular, reminding me a bit of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Ed and I enjoyed a picnic lunch in a shady spot along a dry creek bed
Then I stopped to check out these petroglyphs even though the path up to them was a bit challenging.
This site seemed to be privately owned so it did not have the usual amenities found in state or national parks. There was a little shed with a guest book and donation jar. Our last stop was a tiny roadside park which features this memorial to the USS Maine, a naval submarine sunk in Havana in 1898.
Not sure why there was a memorial to it here in this remote corner of Utah, which had only been a state three years when the tragedy occurred. Soon I was back in town and in cell phone range so I called my buddy at Showalter to get what I figured would be the bad news. Instead, he told me that they were finished and it was NOT my transmission as I had feared. Instead, the drive train? or something like that was loose and they had tightened it. They had checked all tires, the transmission, and everything else they could think of and test driven it. Happily I drove the rental car back there, transferred my belongings back to the rig, turned in my rental car and settled my bill. Only $150 and change. Soon I drove the 30 some miles to Dinosaur National Monument
(CO) where I watched the movie, browsed the exhibits and bought postcards. I drove a little bit of the scenic drive and got out to admire the view.
Ed was somewhat less impressed.
but when it started getting steep and twisty I turned around and headed back to the campground for an early night.At sunset, the typical mountain storm rolled in and I got this shot.
Couldn't quite capture the lightning, but I think it looks pretty good. It was a very short driving day but since I didn't start until almost 2 p.m. I figured it was okay. I am also counting the night I spent in Utah for my map, although I technically did not sleep IN the RV, I was less than a mile from it. So that it 38 states for me since I began this journey in 2008.