Needles Overlook and Windwhistle Rock: It’s A Wonderful Life

Prince’s Plume and wind.
May 20: After a night in Blanding (because we had a cell signal for the first time in several days) we drove to the Needles Overlook on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land between Monticello and Moab, a place we had never been. On the drive out, our well-trained bush camp eyes saw what looked a likely spot near the overlook. At the overlook we reminisced about our White Rim bicycle tour, and a wonderful hike with Jack and Mary Lange in Needles District of Canyonlands, and a two day stay in the Maze District of Canyonlands; we could see them all from the overlook. Then we drove a few hundred metres down back down the road, plunged onto a bush track with our amazingly off-road-capable View and found another cliff-top bush camp for the night. The weather put on a show for us, varying light for the junipers and spring flowers, yet giving passable long distance views over our canyon country.

We keep coming back here. It remains among the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, place in the world, or at least the world as we have seen it, and that’s a fair bit.

We sat up, as usual so we could have a reasonable chance of driving off quickly during the night, if need arise; though the drop-off to the cliff was pretty close, Turtle has a good turning radius.

Darkness arrived with the fading of the rainbow; the wind is up and the lightning announced the odd thunderstorm somewhere to the South. We could get more weather during the night; if it clears we’ll have stars since the moon is still a sliver. Another billion-dollar view bought with the price of a little adventure. It’s a wonderful life.

May 21: Drove to Wind Whistle Rock and struggled along a double sandy track to find a bush camp with beautiful view of La Salle Mountains and red sandstone capped with white Navajo sandstone and vast expanses of grass, sagebrush and Utah juniper. We were expecting (courtesy our weather radio) high winds and perhaps rain in the afternoon, so we hunkered down, only to find reasonable, if breezy weather. We hiked around Wind Whistle Rock instead, of the planned mountain bike. Our walk gave us a close up reminder of what is so special about this part of America; you can be within a mile of a road, and never see or hear another human all day. We threaded slickrock, and drainages to avoid damaging cryptobiotic soil, saw several delicate spring flowers and a new (to us) blooming cactus.

We went in and out of sun and cloud shade, napped on a rock ledge and came back to Turtle for a warm shower. Then we took a walk, had a-little-something under a juniper, and came back to Turtle for another short nap.

Dinner was pasta with garlic, olive oil, onions, yellow and zucchini squash, and the second half of a bottle of Chilean Cab/Sav/Merlot (better after some mellowing). Evening is coming slowly under high thin clouds and the breeze is dying, unlike last night when Turtle shook until after midnight, unsettling when parked on the edge of a cliff. Tonight there is no cliff, and no wind and the temperature should be cool.

Had someone suggested to me when I was 25, that life could be so good past 60, I would have thought they were crazy. No more. It’s a wonderful life.

Sego Lilly

A Visit to Monument Valley, Arizona in our Motorhome

Bob and Claire's motorhome Turtle's campsite at Monument Valley, AZ

Three photo panorama from our campsite.



May 18. Monument Valley is a tribal park, and more reasonable with a $5 per person entry and $5 to dry camp in a spectacular spot. Late today we hiked the one trail open to unguided hikes, 3.5 miles around one of the Mitten buttes and arrived back at Turtle just before sunset. Took much of a 512 card of photos, and will probably do it again tomorrow when we bike the 18 mile loop tomorrow. With this park, it at least is fully within the control of the Dine; at least we are allowed to bike the same loop the guided tourists take.

We got a fantastic place to park Turtle (check the photo) though I had to make him/her act like a 4 wheel drive to get there and out, the sunset view was worth it. Had one of us been prone to sleepwalking, it would have been about a dozen steps to the edge.

May 19 Bicycling Monument Valley. We had a great mountain bike ride on a good dirt road today through some wonderful scenery. We left at sunrise and managed to do the loop at an easy pace, with lots of photo stops, and finish just as the loads of tourists began the loop, so we had no dust and we could hear the birds and smell the vegetation.