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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

New Playland

~Monday, April 11, 2022~

Day 666 (Travel Day)

Today we head to an unfamiliar place…….Canyonlands National Park. Neither of us have ever been before, so we’re excited to discover this new treasure together. We have a reservation at a private campground called Needles Outpost, just outside the park. Evidently the park service used to run it, subsequently taken on by a nature conservancy, and now run privately. Though rare, when I know we’re in for Tim-Buk-Tu land, I sort of stress out about how behind I’ll get on blog posts and social media updates, but at least I can do my writing “offline” and continue to edit photos from my laptop. I just can’t load anything. So thanks for being patient with us. I should just completely enjoy the moment of not being connected to all that stuff, and being more present on where we are. And who knows, maybe I’ll make a lot of headway on my cross-stitch project.

It brought back fond memories driving through a portion of Monument Valley today, to get to Canyonlands. Just outside of Monument Valley, there is the small, and I mean tiny town of Mexican Hat. In a blink, Mexican Hat will be in your rear view mirror. In all the times that Jeff has been to this portion of Utah/Arizona, he just never had the chance to hit Canyonlands before.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had so much change in elevation. Poor Hank was probably wondering why we weren’t making up our minds whether to go up or down. Ultimately, we went from 7,000 feet at Lake Powell down to 5,000 feet at Canyonlands.

The last 45 minutes of our drive, our GPS decided to do some weird wonky directions of its own. And there’s nothing worse than a bad map for Jeff. It drives him batty. Looking up the campground website, it actually tells you not to use GPS but to have the directions already loaded on your phone as you are promised to be out of cell-phone range. So we switched from Jeff’s phone to mine (maybe the software is more up to date with my newer phone). Who knows? But in the end, it was actually good to get a little lost, as it forced us to do one more fill-up of gas at the spot we turned around, stretch the legs, feed Sadie and get Jeff a much needed cherry coke (one of his favs on long drive days).

Just about 5:00, we finally arrived. 275 miles later, and quite windy, we arrived at Needle's Outpost for our next dry camping adventure, where we were greeted by Lisa. Nice to see they have a general store stocked with canned soups, bread and candy if desperate. Unleaded gas for emergencies……$10/gallon. Hey now, that’s a little too gougy!! Yes, you have to drive 30 miles just to get to the highway, then another 15 miles to the closest town. But I would like to think no one is ditsy enough to put themselves in that situation, driving to no-man’s land without a full tank of gas? Anyway, the scenery is lovely. They are surrounded by 20-story high red rock buttes and hearty desert landscape. Rock Creek (now dry), typically runs in front of the property. Lisa made us feel most welcome and proceeded to get our information. “Hmm, Latreille, you’re not part of the Gregory party?” “No”, I replied. “What about the Wagner party?” “No”, as I grew even more concerned. “I don’t see your name on the list”, she said. “Do you have an email confirmation?” which I had no way of opening since there was no service. She politely added, “Oh no worries, I’ll log you onto our Starlink wi-fi”. Thank you Elon Musk!! Hah! There it was! But my excitement would be short-lived. Yes, there it was, but a confirmation for a WEEK LATER. Oh my goodness. Not again. 😩The last mess-up was about 3 weeks ago at Zane Grey RV Village but that screw-up was at the end of a booking, not the beginning. Never have we shown up to a location, too early; very unsettling to say the least. Lisa was so sweet, apologizing non-stop for something that wasn’t even her fault. She really felt our pain as she’s done the same thing before. How is it in the last 22 months, we’ve managed not to have one slip up on a reservation but in the last month, have messed up 2? Honestly, booking as much as we do, it’s shocking that things have gone as smoothly as they have. We’ve booked more in the last 23 months than we ever have or will. I seriously think I jinxed us, when I posted and boasted about our positive booking streak. Since “things” happen in 3’s, we better check the remaining bookings to see if we’re on target.

So here’s what Lisa offered in trying to accomodate us the best she could:

  1. A site on the “hill” in a cul-de-sac that used to be a campsite and is now a picnic area (where we could actually stay the entire 7 days), or…….

  2. 1 night stay at a regular campsite. The remaining nights were booked up.

In either case, she was so sweet to offer both free of charge for tonight’s stay. She also suggested in the morning, just a 10-minute drive from the Outpost, we check out the Needles Campground in the National Park. Very nice, more campground like, $10 less/night but with one caveat…..first come, first serve. If you don’t nab a site by 10 a.m. you’ll be completely out of luck. Jeff looked into this campground before, but with our big mileage day today, he didn’t think we’d get there early enough to snag a spot. Good call. While Jeff scouted out a site he thought would work, I checked out the site on the “hill”. It was nice of her to offer but it just wasn’t going to work as our truck and trailer would have had to be separated from the actual campsite to fit. So we decided on Site #5 which was quite a challenge to back into, with its limited point of entry and our concerns of getting stuck in some deep sand. Thank goodness for 4 WD. And thank goodness the wind was at bay until we finished setting up.

Now to find out about our refund. Since we’re giving a week’s notice of canceling next week’s mistaken reservation, we hope the owner of the Outpost will give us a full refund. Even if she meets us half-way we’ll be happy. Let’s just hope we snag a camp spot in the national park tomorrow. At least we have “the hill” camp spot as a back up option.

O.k. I’m telling you people. We’ve NEVER experienced wind like this (I seem to say this everywhere we go). We have no idea the speed, but if it’s moving the trailer this much, it’s epic. Lake Powell was a minor experience compared to this. I shudder to think what it’s doing to Hank and Billie Jean’s paint jobs right now. Our tent neighbors are waiting it out, though, in their car. With all the sand and dirt being churned up at the moment, there is no way you could even cook. Now this is what I don’t miss about tent camping.

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