The plans for this trip had been taking shape since mid-summer. Cate proposed a joint trip to the Southwest in January with Mx and Kepler (aka- the kids). In a normal year we would fly back to North Carolina during the holidays to visit the kids and our friends but we did not feel comfortable flying in the time of Covid.
Our first order of business before leaving town was to re-skin the belly pan of the Argosy, which was a long arduous process, followed by a checkup on our tow vehicle, the old trusty GMC Envoy. The prognosis was not good however, the mechanic found that the transmission was on its last legs. Luckily we stumbled on to a 2004 GMC Yukon that was well taken care of and being sold for a fair price. December 30th was our departure date. We frenetically prepped, got our Covid tests, and packed as the days flew by, and before we knew it we were back on the road.
Our meeting point was to be Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell outside of Page, Arizona.We figured it would take 3 -4 days to get to our rendezvous. We pulled out of Grants Pass on Thursday (New Years Eve) and headed south on I-5. We traversed a sketchy icy drive from Shasta through Lassen Volcanic Highway towards Susanville. Just South of Susanville we stopped for the night in the parking lot of the Honey Lake Wildlife Preserve. The campsite was quiet and picturesque, but very cold.
The following day we rose with the sun and set out for Travertine Hot Springs on our favorite stretch of highway, CA 395. We cruised through Reno and Carson City and hustled along the East side of the Sierras. Unfortunately the road to the hot springs was impassible, so we recalculated! Next stop… Wild Willy’s hot spring just south of Mammoth Mountain California. Alas, as we trundled down the dirt road leading to the parking area, we became acutely aware of the overcrowding in light of New Years weekend. Attempting to avoid crowds (and Covid) we performed a miracle 500 point turn around in the crowded parking area and continued south. Our failsafe was the Alabama Hills, perhaps one of the most epic camping destinations ever! We would arrive in the dark, which we usually try to avoid, but are very familiar with the area. However, much to our chagrin, the hills were alive with…campers! Never had we seen so many people in our beloved escape! After searching the lands in the dark for what seemed like forever, we parked and unhooked on a small turnout.
As the sun rose and the Alpenglow bathed Mt.Whitney, we took photos and flew the drone. Shortly thereafter we took a short hike up into the rocks before returning to pack up camp and head towards Death Valley.
Ahhh, Death Valley! One of my favorite locales, but an arduous drive to say the least. We crested the mountains before beginning our long descent into the valley, and then climbed out and over the other side. We briefly stopped in the Rhyolite ghost town and then skirted Las Vegas, cruised through Overton, and made camp in the dark again on BLM land outside of the Valley of Fire state park.
The next day was a familiar trip along the Vermillion Cliffs and into Kanab. Just a couple of miles outside of town was Hog Canyon OHV area. Hog Canyon features several dispersed campsites, along with a great hike along Greenhalgh Trail.
We tucked in for the night…it was like Christmas Eve, knowing that the following day would bring a sweet reunion with my beloved children!