After The Vortex spit us out…


We left Sedona and The Florers, neither of whom said they were happy to see us leave, but neither did they say they weren’t, and we know not to overdo it! AT least ONE creature was not happy we were moving again (note the feather wrapped around our WIFI antenna).

Friends from Chicago, the Schmiders, were living in their RV while looking for a new home; and at the moment they were doing this in and around Phoenix. We decided to head that way, and booked a spot at the Community they were at – in Mesa, Az.

Looking forward to some quality time, we shortly arrived at the park, which was more of a Mobile/Manufactured home community than a traditional RV Park. Proof of this: The laundry room did not have a change machine AND the office did not offer change. And, seemed surprised we thought this odd. Obviously not a community that sees a lot of transients who use park laundry! Anyway, Over beer, we decided to spend a few days hiking and biking with the Schmiders, who were by now well acquainted with such options in the area.

I operated the drain … and got a good, sturdy WHOOOSH of high-pressure air


First, though, I needed to address a lingering air system issue that had reared its ugly head in the freezing weather at the Grand Canyon. In a nutshell, the bus has redundant air brake systems, and the gauge for one of the two was showing NO PRESSURE. This would be a somewhat urgent issue if I was not 100% sure that there WAS pressure in the air system. Each system has a tank, and each tank has a “quick-drain” at the bottom, which I occasionally open in case there is any water in the system. I operated the drain for the system reading “0” and got a good, sturdy WHOOOSH of high-pressure air.

OK, I deserve the “full of hot air” cracks.


So, the Air system had air, but the gauge was not working! Could be a bad or plugged gauge or a plugged line. To diagnose, I opened the dash and took the line off the back of the gauge – NO AIR. So, I let all pressure OUT of the system. I planned to put a compressor hose on the gauge end of the line to blow any obstruction out and back into the tank, but it turned out all that was needed was the little bit of pressure I could exert by sticking the hose in my mouth and blowing into the hose. OK, I deserve the “full of hot air” cracks. But regardless, Air Gauge now reads correctly.

Hiking with Schmiders

So, air-system-repairs done, our first activity with the Schmiders was a nice hike up in the Scottsdale area.

Blooming Ocatillo

I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the public trails, but there were lots of cacti in lots of varieties, Ocatillo in bloom and nice views.

Next day, we took a bike ride up the canal system and into the Scottsdale Arts district, where we found an outdoor restaurant with beer. There, we sat and watched the Scottsdale life, which consists of a high percentage of Lamborghini’s revving their engines in a throaty “LOOK AT ME…I’M SOOOO COOL” Statement.

The cars don’t need to advertise, but the people behind the wheel apparently do. In Scottsdale, at least.

Patio-Dindin with Liz’s Niece

Also in the Phoenix area is Liz’s niece, Ellen, so we tee’d up safe, socially-distant patio dinner and conversation.

After Phoenix, we started our intended trip through Southern Utah…in the cards: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Sounds like a lot, but all within a couple hundred miles of each other, so a good chance to make a dent in the “places we’d like to see” list.

So much National Park, so few people – perfect for a pandemic!!

St. George Temple

Our entry to Utah was the City of St. George. Spent a few days there based on its reputation as an up-and-coming place with lots of interesting Mormon History. On the former, LOT’s of mostly unappealing (to us) housing developments for mostly California Expats (or so we were told). On the latter, there is a SPECTACULAR Mormon Temple, which was closed for MAJOR renovation, and a visitor center (also closed) and a dozen or so Mormon Churches.

Not in Utah

So, nothing to do or learn vis a vis the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

We DID discover the ZION CANYON BREWING COMPANY Satellite Pub, which was ironically a short bike ride on the other side of the Closed Mormon Temple. Ironic because I doubt the Church would appreciate a travel guide saying “for drinks, find the Temple (you cannot miss it on the skyline) and hang a left…”

Regardless of (or because of) the irony, we enjoyed a variety of brews there over a few days.

While in St. George, we had occasion to visit with my brother, who lives in eastern Tennessee. What? Bill had decided to take a road trip, picked the Grand Canyon as a destination, and concluded St. George was a good stopping point. Not really “on the way,” but no matter, and fun to catch up!

Zion Spot

And then, we were called to Zion! No, we are NOT getting religion OR rectifying the diaspora! We had a several days scheduled at an RV Park just outside the entrance to Zion National Park, and so our visit to “The Five” (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonland and Arches) plus one (Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument) began.

Each day we were there we walked to the park entrance and caught a shuttle to various points within the park and to various hikes therein. Each hike was spectacular. In fact, SPOILER ALERT! each of the parks we have visited has been utterly spectacular; though all within a 200 mile radius, the parks are all differently spectacular, as you shall see in this post and the next(s).

Zion Panorama

And at the end of each day at Zion was the Zion Canyon Brewing Company, standing like the Dogs of Cerberus guarding the gates…

Accidental icon

Safe to say, the days spent in and near Zion were on the order of a religious experience.

We did a LOT of hiking, but there were some iconic Zion Hikes we did NOT do…

Confused Cactus

One was “the Narrows,” where you walk for several miles IN the river. The other was Angels Landing, where you climb many hundreds of feet, and where some of the trail is on rock cuts with no railings and sheer cliffs adjacent.

Neither of these physical challenges were what stopped us – it was COLD AND SNOWY (this blooming Cactus was confused!), and the idea of doing either of those particular hikes under those conditions did not appeal. But for the rest of the trails, the weather was perfect and the scenery beyond describable.

Since it IS indescribable,  instead, I will just post a boatload of pics here!

While in Zion, we DID have the closest thing to a religious experience that does not happen in a Brew Pub. The SW Utah Dept. of Health texted me (I had registered on the COVID Vaccine Website) that there were doses of J&J Available in, among other places, nearby CEDAR CITY, Utah. I went on line immediately, and was able to grab two slots on St. Patrick’s day. I don’t know if that detail is relevant, but it adds a bit of spice to the narrative, and explains one of the things that happened to us!

You will have to wait for the next post to learn the connection!

3 thoughts on “After The Vortex spit us out…

  • Yes Zion is an incredibly beautiful hiking destination. Did a hiking trip there several years ago. Angels Landing was fantastic. If you visit again during better conditions give it a try.

  • Hi, Dan and Liz — we are about 6 weeks behind you… currently at the Grand Canyon, will be heading into Utah in the next few days. I think you got to Zion NP from the west… we are thinking that we will be getting there from the east. I remember that you asked about the accessibility of the tunnel on WOG or WOG-FB… I am sure our rig won’t fit. Anyway — would you mind sharing the names of the campgrounds you stayed in for visiting Zion, Bryce, Arches/Canyonlands, and Escalante? And… are there any routes that you would say, “Do not go this route in the motorhome!”?

    • Hi Patti!!

      At each park we.went to the visitor center on check-in day to get maps and suggestions from rangers.  We generally picked “moderate” hikes of about 5 miles and 700-1,000ft elevation change. 

      Zion: Zion Canyon Campground in Springdale. HIGHLY recommend because you can walk to the visitor center and take shuttles from there.   NO PRIVATE VEHICLEs ARE ALLOWED IN THE PARK, so it is really convenient to be able to walk in.  YOU HAVE TO BOOK Shuttles and they sell out…book online at 5:00 for the next day…cost $1. Pick a slot,  and you board a shuttle inbound during that slot.  We are early birds…and those slots were not as popular?

      I don’t think you can get to Zion from the east without traversing the tunnel.. I would not do that (though…you have to get a permit and the close the tunnel and escort you thru)… besides,  springdale is where you want to be.  You can Get there from the east by dipping down onto Arizona I think (north rim grand canyon).  We did not do this (we came from St. George)  so I’m am not sure. 

      Bryce Campground:  we stayed in Panguitch…nothing to recommend there… would actually recommend Ruby’s Campground right at the park (was not open yet for us).

      Escalante:  Canyons of Escalante.  Highly recommend.  Don’t miss the Petrified Forest State Park.  

      Capitol Reef: Thousand Lakes RV park in Torrey. 

      Moab (as a base for arches and canyonlands):  ACT Campground.  It was fine…there are others that are nicer.  Sites are very short…and we are 35′.  I think you might choose one of the others…

      A note on Arches:  it closed EVERY DAY by 10:30 am.  Plan to be in the park before 9. 

      Road between Bryce and Escalante and Torrey and between Torrey and MOAb are good roads but super steep (8-9%) and high (up to 9,500 ft).  We struggled with 210 hp and no turbo,  but made it…you’ll have no problem (turbocharger on your engine!)

      Hope all that helps!   Enjoy!!

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