Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Camping in Goblin Valley

The vacation idea and planning started with John telling me that he had PTO that he need to use it or lose it by May. I said that I could take a Friday off and we could hit the road for some little R&R.
Camping down in Southern Utah would save us some money and keep us from freezing to death so we hit the road bright and early at 6AM.

We decided to take the longer, scenic way to Goblin Valley and stop at some rest stops because the world wide web said the views were worth it. Oh they were! Even though it meant driving down a dirt road for about an hour.

I can't remember what this rest stop was called, but it was a pretty spectacular sight. I do recommend stopping at the sights if you're not in a hurry.
The dirt road looked like this for like 30 minutes, but then opened up to some glorious sites.

We found our camp site and had it all set up around one.  I had been to Goblin Valley when I was a kid, but John never had, so after lunch we took the dogs to see it. Because it's a state park, the dogs had to stay on leash the whole time and they weren't very pleased, but we were a little naughty and dropped the leashes a few times while climbing up and down the steeper hills.

We stayed in the park for about two hours and then decided to go back to camp to relax.

Since we were on Bureau of Land Management land it meant that the dogs didn't have to stay locked up and they enjoyed to freedom. We also didn't have to pay any fees or deal with check in/check out times. It did mean no bathrooms, but that doesn't bother me. I decided to take a walk with them to 'splore our campsite.

 Those tracks are from either cows, big horn sheep or another type of large hoofed animal. There were lots of "pies" around that the dogs were interested in, but never decided to eat. Thank God!

We had a great time wandering, but picking out the prickles in their feet wasn't too great. Next time I'll be bringing tweezers to help.

The wind started to pick up a little when we were trying to start a fire so the smoke was out of control. Enna jumped up into my lap and buried her head in my arms to keep the smoke out of her face and wasn't happy when I put her down so I could roast hot dogs. I leashed her and tied her to my chair because I didn't want her to take off to get away from the smoke and next thing I know she's dragging the chair away from the fire! After that we decided to put the dogs to bed and tried to stay warm by the fire that had a hard time growing because of the wind. Once we headed to bed the wind didn't seem so bad.

About 2AM the wind picked up again and kept waking up with gusts every now and then, but when we got up it was out of control. We couldn't even make breakfast because the propane stove wouldn't stay lite. So we packed up the dogs and tried to find a better spot, but everywhere was just as windy and the rock formations seemed to be trapping it. We had full intentions of sticking it out, but when we got back to our site and our shade structure was all bent out of shape and sand whipping us in the face we decided it would be better to pack it up. 
The wind just seemed to be getting worse and there were times we just had to stand still with our eyes closed to make it through the gust. Nothing got put away nicely, since we knew everything would have to be set up again to get all the sand out and during the chaos John lost his keys. Looking for lost keys in the windy, sandy desert is probably the worst time to look for keys. We hoped that they were wrapped up in something and started our way home. 

By then it was 2 in the afternoon and we still hadn't eaten so we hoped to find a less windy rest stop to make some sandwiches. By 3 we gave up and just made and ate the sandwiches in the car and tried to make the best of it. 
Setting everything up to dust it out was just awful and then de-sanding the car wasn't any fun at all, but having the stew we planned to dutch oven for dinner made it a little better. We were sad we had to call it quits, but we seem to have bad luck while camping alone. 

It's a place we'll be going back to and hopefully soon. I loved how secluded and freeing it was. 

P.S. John's keys were rolled up in the tent :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A BRAND NEW CAR!!!! all Price is Right style!

John and I bought my little blue 1998 ford Taurus in June of 2007 and it has been a good little car with some minor fixes from my dad and husband from time to time. We had plans to buy a new car to replace it after we had paid off John's truck in 2015, but Lil' Blue had other plans.

It all started when someone cut me off and I had to slam on my brakes early 2013. Right after I couldn't get my car to drive again and it took some finagling with the gear shift to get it to go. Then I'd have some weird problems every now and then, but nothing that slowed me down too much. Then finally the transmission really started to die in about August and I'd have to turn the car off and back on to get out of first gear if I didn't stop slow enough for the car to change gears like it wanted while stopping.

The Monday I went back to work after we got back from New York my car died in the neighborhood and I had to call John so I could get to work. He then drove the car for the next couple of days and learned that if he shifted the car to reverse and then back into drive after stopping it would go back into gear.
I then drove it this way for a couple more weeks. We then had that major snow storm and my car died at the entrance of the neighborhood. I called John and my dad to have him help us push the car out of the way, but with the snow storm it was taking time for them to come save me. Of course even with my hazards on, cars piled up behind me honking while I tried to get the car to start. After numerous tries, the engine finally turned over and I was able to get the car to a church parking lot and I was able to cancel the 911 call to my dad. After that John drove the car and I took the truck.

Why did we put up with this nonsense for 5 more months? Because we were trying to save up as much as we possibly could for a down payment and prolonging having two car payments. Every week we'd ask each other if we wanted to keep waiting and we kept saying yes.
We had the same conversation last Monday and even though John said he could still put up with the car, I was done. It's not that I don't like driving John's truck, I just hate backing up, parking and changing lanes. I was tired of parking in Timbuktu because of my inability to park and weekends were tough if we both needed to go somewhere at the same time. I felt like we both had suffered long enough and had a good down payment for a new car.

We bought this cute 2012 Ford Escape on the 27th of February.

We got a tremendous deal on the small SUV and I couldn't be more pleased. It has a lot of bells and whistles and compared to Lil' Blue it's the Taj Mahal! The dogs will not be allowed on the seats even though they are leather so it'll be a little squishy in the back if all dogs come with us. But being able to have passengers and not be embarrassed about dog hair and dirt will be a dream come true!
Now I'm always thinking of a reason why I need to go somewhere so I can drive my new car.