May 2021: Utah, That’s a Wrap!

posted in: Road Trip, Utah, Van Life | 4
One of the tunnels entering Bryce Canyon

This was a busy month as we moved around more than usual exploring Northern Utah. We hit many new areas including Bryce Canyon-Manti-La Sal-Flaming Gorge-Bear Lake AND MORE! All of us has a wonderful time checking out what quickly became some of our favorite Utah locations. Enjoy the ride!

Dixie National Forest

After my solo bikepacking trip through parts of the Dixie NF (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3 if you missed it!), Eric, Grizz and I headed north with a goal to explore roads and areas we’ve never been to before. All I can say is—BEST. DECISION. EVER.

Bryce Canyon

Only Eric and I could go to Bryce Canyon and never actually make it to the National Park! Even before Covid, we were anti-social outdoors-people. There is so much more to Bryce than Hoodoos (although those were super cool), bright orange rocks, and MEGA crowds. So, we opted for the forest and absolutely fell in love with Utah all over again.

Day Rides

We all went on several day rides while in the area. Here are some photos from our favorites. One day ride lead to a bikepacking trip because it was just so beautiful!

Bikepacking

Our bikepacking trip was amazing! The only downside is that Grizz’s injury flared up again despite several shorter rides to make sure he was ok. Ultimately, we ended up cutting our 3-4 day trip short and did a quick overnight instead. Still worth it!

The rock and sandstone was so cool!
Can you spot Eric in the gap left center (just below the clouds)?
These jagged rocks shot up right out of the mountain.
Camp spot with a 360 degree view!
Our furry dishwasher. This comes in handy when water is sparce!
My love <3
Awe….my other love <3
Watching the sun go down around camp
So pretty!

Eric’s Solo Bikepacking Trip

Since our trip got cut short, Eric decided to take his solo trip here. It was beyond beautiful. Little did we know at the time of our “together trip”, it would get even better! I asked Eric if he wanted to say anything about his trip and he replied, “It was fun, it was hard, it was beautiful and there are way to many damn razors (ATVs) in the world.”

Here are some photos from Eric’s ride:

Day 1
Interesting layers of rock.
Seeking shelter from the pop-up rainstorm.
Several partial arrowheads, spearheads, and chipping tools Eric found near a stream.
Campsite
Filtering water the lazy man’s way (I mean SMART man’s way).
There ARE Cicadas in Utah!
Eric spotted them molting their shell.
Almost out!
Day 2
So beautiful!
ASPENS!!!!

Just as I was picking up Eric from our meetup point, we spotted the biggest dust devil we’d ever seen. In fact, it spouted from the sky so I’m wondering if it was a small tornado? Anyone know leave a comment below!

Hiking

Grizz and I love to find off the beaten paths and explore. We hit the jackpot twice and found great places to hike away from all the crowded trails.

Hike 1
Our happy pup!
Hike 2

This is what Grizz and I did while Eric was off adventuring on his own.

Hmm….a storm is brewing!
We know daddy is somewhere down there!
I love my hiking pal!

The Art of Hijacking a Treat By Grizzly Boulder Davis

Hi friends. I thought I’d walk you through what I do in order to get super special treats after Mom and Dad make me run a long, long way. Don’t feel to bad for me, I really actually LOVE our bike rides. It’s my favorite way to expend energy so that I can get these super special treats every once in a while.

Okay. Step 1.

This is the most important step. It all starts with a few soft kisses in Momma’s ear. She really seems to like that maneuver best because she giggles and gives me lots of belly rubs. Although I’m after the treat, I like the rubs so it’s a win-win. It’s all about patience you see.

Step 2

After enduring the belly rubs, place yourself directly in front of desired treat and stare intently into your parent’s eyes. They sometimes feel guilty for eating peanut butter filled goodies without you especially when you’ve been so, so good and running so, so hard.

Step 3

If Step 2 fails, Step 3 is to give a more serious, “I’m not playin’ around” kind of stare to let them know you mean business. I mean, I WANT THE TREAT. They say, “Sharing is Caring” MOM!

Step 4

If Step 2-3 fails, you gotta pull out all the stops, swallow your pride and go for the beg. I personally don’t like when they push me this far, but when it comes to peanut butter filled goodies, I have no pride!

Step 5

The last step ALWAYS seals the deal so Step 5 is basically to gently accepting the treat you’ve been oh-so-patiently waiting for. I stress gentle because this makes the human more inclined to give you more.

Step 6

This is what I call my “finishing touch”. The final step is to thank your human with a kiss. Start with a nuzzling kiss in the ear and finish it off with a loving thank you to the leg. I can’t stress Step 6 enough. This ensures that next time (and there will be a next time) you will for sure be treated again!

Fishlake National Forest

After feeling the heat and the dryness of South and Central Utah, we decided to start our trek northward in hopes of finding some water. Fishlake was an area we discovered in 2020, so we decided to back and enjoy a few days cooling off in the crystal clear creeks! We played, laughed, soaked, and thoroughly enjoyed our campspot—especially Grizz.

This is where Grizz spent all of his time!
Me, this is where I spent most of my time. Cooling off in the water and reading a book in the semi-shade.

Manti-La Sal South

A stunningly gorgeous drive!
A nice camp spot!
One of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen.
No, this photo is NOT photoshopped. It was just THIS green!
Proof you can eat healthy and live in a van 🙂
Opening the back doors helps to cool the van and keep the bugs at bay!

Manti-La Sal North

This was the absolute worst experience of all our national forest experiences. Trash, rude people, hundreds of ATVs, scarred trees from human ignorance, and a gunman. It’s quite unfortunate if you ask me, because the area is quite beautiful.

This is also where we got the van stuck (actually in the photo below). I wasn’t brave enough to take pictures as we were digging our way out and utilizing everything we had to get un-stuck because it just didn’t feel like the right time. lol But, we got Van out. Let’s just say, overall, this was a completely eventful afternoon!

The Story

Eric and I were sitting on our chairs, enjoying the peace and quiet (much less traffic up here) when this guy in a red truck came flying down the gravel road at at least 60 mph. We didn’t think too much of it at the time except that he should probably slow it down. The road went out of view and down a hill where we assumed he must have stopped because we never saw him leave (we did have a grand view of the entire area from where we were parked). About 25-30 minutes later, we started hearing gunfire. It was annoying but an all too familiar sound in National Forests. After a few shots, we started to hear whizzing noises that sounded extremely close to the van. It made the hair on my neck stand at full attention.

Grizz freaked out and ran into the van to hide. I freaked out because this random redneck was now shooting at us knowing full and well we were parked in the direction of his aim. There was only one other RV nearby (and it was a 1/2-3/4 mile back). So, ultimately, we were all alone with this wacko.

Eric, though I’m sure he was nervous, grabbed his gun (just for safety) and walked over to talk to the guy just to make 100% sure he knew were were there. I mean, our van was probably super hard to see as he flew by (sarcasm intended). Once Eric spotted the dude, he could see the man-child sitting on a cooler hiding his weapon. Eric got within 30 yards and yelled, “Hey, are you shooting at us?” He walked closer, tried again, “Hey…..Are you shooting at us?” The guy just ignored him. Didn’t even look his way. Not knowing the shooters intentions, Eric walked back to camp. Clearly, the man was unstable and we didn’t want any trouble. After much debate (not too proud to back down), we packed up and went back down the mountain to a spot we had found earlier that afternoon. Before we left, we saw the guy driving recklessly away and never (thankfully) saw him again.

View from our new camp spot.

Here’s what we saw for miles upon miles up here—tree after tree. We saw hundreds of trees in Manti-South, probably thousands in Manti-North. 🙁

The Ashley National Forest

This drive was gorgeous!

While on a lunch stop, we saw that someone had left a fire burning in one of the pits so we grabbed some water from the van and put it out. It was a windy day and people left a bunch of trash on fire with a creek not even 50 feet away with plenty of water to drown a fire! These are the kind of moments that make us question humanity. Humans can be the WORST!

The Flaming Gorge Recreation Area

This part of the drive was fantastic. A twisty, fun downhill towards the gorge!
The rock formations were other-worldly.
The southern portion of the Flaming Gorge
We scored a sweet campsite away from the crowds and enjoyed the creek and cooler temps.
Grizz was King of his little hill.
We went on some day rides
After a few days we hit the road for some more incredible views!
WOW!

Drive By: Southwestern Wyoming

I had to include a few pics from this fabulous stretch of road.

Bear Lake Utah

The most oceanic lake I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It looks like a sea surrounded by mountains in nearly every direction
The first day we opted to stay in the nearby mountains
We attempted some new roads and found them to be 4×4 only.
It doesn’t look like much of a drop, but 5-8 ft is a long way down when the van is close to falling in!

Yeah, the two photos above is where we had to back 1/2+ miles down this narrow road because the van couldn’t tackle the rough road ahead and there was just no options for turning around. Another lesson learned that afternoon! Now you can see why we scout spots by bike or on foot. It’s just not worth it!

After a long, stressful afternoon we found an easy spot and called it quits.
Grizz was super happy about getting to run around the rest of the afternoon!
I have no wishes left…I’m living my dream!
The next day, we went back to the lake and explored.

We swam, played, and swam some more! Totally worth the $25 for an empty (except for one other couple on far far end) campground!

Next Stop:

IDAHO <3

I’ve been looking forward to going back to Idaho since basically leaving Idaho! I can’t wait to explore some new places in my favorite state <3

Thanks for reading this month’s blog post! Happy adventuring and have a safe and fun summer everyone!

Until next time friends….

4 Responses

  1. Debbie

    Oh my gosh! As usual, your pictures are spectacular!

    I’m so thankful the gunshot episode wasn’t any worse. It had to be terrifying!

    Grizz is the most handsome pup ever! He seems to be living his dream as well!

    You look awesome Jenni! So happy and at peace!

    • Jenni

      Oh Debbie! I feel so happy and at peace. I feel so grateful to be able to do this while I’m young enough, healthy enough, and fit enough. It was worth every second of saving and purposefully sacrificing less important things to be able to live our dream! Yes, I am so thankful the gunshot episode wasn’t worse. It was scary though no doubt. Just unsettling really. In today’s world when all we hear is bad news and people going crazy—you never know with someone like that. You have to be a little not right to shoot at someone (in my opinion). I can’t imagine living a life where that is common. I know many people do. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. We found some real gems! Take care and happy adventuring to you!!!

  2. Aunt Louise

    I love reading your blog and those pictures are amazing. I am so happy you and Eric and Grizz are making these memories. I hope that crazy guy is the last one you encounter.

    • Jenni

      Thank you so much Aunt Louise! We are getting pretty good at not only making the memories but appreciating them as a precious gift never taking these moments for granted. I also hope that we never encounter such a fellow (or fella) again….ever!

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