.. Where angels fear to tread, as the saying goes. I’m fairly certain I’ve discussed my sometimes resemblance to this persona on the blog a time or two before 🙂
Idaho was gorgeous. I really enjoyed my time there, as well as the friendships that were formed. It’s nice to get missives and pictures about friend’s adventures. While I enjoyed Idaho I did not enjoy the route I chose to use for my descent back into Utah, via Wyoming. Nope. Wyoming was fine, and provided an excellent stop over night for free sleeping in a hotel parking lot, as well as the most luxurious bathing facilities I’ve ever encountered at a truck stop! Yes, folks, that is a soaking tub. I took full advantage of both shower and tub before hitting the road that morning.
Taking 191 south into Utah runs you through Flaming Gorge. It’s lovely as far as scenery. It’s not lovely when your antique van encounters 8% grades and one switchback per half mile. About the only thing I saw my first pass through there was the engine temp measurement and the gear shift indicator! Holey moley, I don’t want to do that again. And I’m pretty certain that the poor folks stuck behind me between passing lanes would rather I not attempt it again in this vehicle either, lol. It only added insult to injury as in the oncoming lane, nimble little rally cars whizzed by in alarming numbers obviously having a blast.
Thankfully there were many place to pull over and let Roamin’ Ruby take a breather. I still may have to change that seatcover though…
The heat wave that followed the next week forced a campground investment, though. Aside from the cost, that proved a nice break, with showers and a laundromat at hand, as well as shore power to run air conditioning when it got unbearable in the van. I later was able to revisit Flaming Gorge from an appropriate vehicle and enjoy the sweeping scenery, great vistas, and explore some lovely fishing holes off of the beaten track.
From Vernal, I move into the Uinta National Forest area and Strawberry Reservoir. This is a great place to use as long as you don’t mind horses and cows in your camp! I had some funny moments from inside the van as the horse herd investigated my gear. It’s still unnerving in the night when they use your van to scratch themselves even when you know what it is 😳
But the most hair raising adventure that I had,and the impetus behind the title, was my trip to find another camp and an encounter with Heber Mountain and its forest roads. As my two weeks neared an end, I started scouting for another spot. One referral was nice, but did not have signal for me to work. Then I spotted a review for the Heber Mountain area, which even had a video about the area. Cool! I located the basic area on my map and took off to investigate. The drive up was quite a climb but there were few vehicles on the road, so I could take my time and baby Ruby. I passed many deer and saw tent encampments on the climb up, but few vans or RVs. That changed as I got within eight miles of top and I started seeing a good number of fellow campers. But no signal in any places I saw to camp. So I kept going until I found the last forest road leg of the review area. Woohoo! This road was pretty good at the start. It was twisty though and you couldn’t see how it was very far ahead of you. Then the rocks started growing in size and frequency. My van is low to the ground like me, lol. And full, very full. But I could see the ridge at the top! And, for what’s it’s worth, I had just passed the last turn around point…
The rocks continued to get larger, and pointier. But you couldn’t see that from the turns! With less than a half mile ahead to the ridge, I heard a giant “POW” and a big whoosh. I stopped, nicely positioned on a good incline. And discovered I had blown a tire. Whee. Boy was it blown. I had managed not to damage the rim though. No camps lay ahead of me visually. So I got water, a snack, my cell phone (which, tada! had signal and 4G), some cash and humped it back up the way to the last camp I had seen. At 10k feet, this was a bit more challenging than I expected. I hadn’t acclimated to the elevation difference, coming up from about 7k at my other camp and the hike was mostly uphill. But I made it back to that camp and got lucky – the inhabitant was a Fish and Wildlife guy with a nice four wheel drive vehicle and a soft spot for ignorant, stranded folks. In fact, he said if he’d have seen me pass, he’d have stopped me as nothing drove that road but ATVs usually. Nice to know, if too late at that point.
With signal I was able to pull up tow services. One never returned my call, I’m assuming due to the “I’m at the intersection of forest road blah and forest road other blah” and thereby allowing them to determine, no asphalt, no go. Another service answered, but it was after hours and so the price was more than if I waited until next day and regular hours. I arranged to have them come out the following day after sharing a pin with them.
Then I had to make a plan because the following day was a work day and I had to be online to work by five thirty local time. I’d already had to take a half day earlier in the week when my data ran out unexpectedly – something I’d never encountered before either! Wildlife guy offered to drive down in the morning when he left for work and bring me up to his trailer so I could work out of the cold as I waited for the tow truck. So tip your hat to next Fish and Wildlife personnel you see, they are pretty darn helpful and I’m grateful.
The sunset up there was beautiful as were the views, and the dark sky made for incredible star gazing, but it was difficult to relax for sleep while on an incline in a disabled van that might go rolling down the hill in the middle of the night with all of my belongings, lol.
It’s good I was atop the hill for the tow truck guy. Once they had rechecked my location again before heading out the price changed, but it was still reasonable for the situation. And quite frankly, for the service, care and consideration the van received, I’d have paid more and still felt it acceptable (but shhhh, don’t tell Adam, lol). It was quite impressive to see someone get a flat bed tow vehicle turned around to back up to my van in that narrow space, although we did have to do a lot of rock moving to allow for that maneuver. We got the van on there with no further damage to the rim as well. It’s interesting to go down a mountain on a narrow road in a massive tow truck with your house on the back!
At the end of the day I was safe, the van repaired and no worse for the wear other than a lighter wallet and the lack of a spare. But I’ve learned now to stop and do a walking examination of a route, or go up and ask someone already there if it’s suitable to continue in my vehicle.
One point I’d like to make is that the care and concern of strangers were what made this unfortunate event less stressful. ATV folks stopped and offered rides, food and water, as well. There are many more good people in this world than bad. Always remember that, because they don’t often make the news in their day to day kindnesses.
~SE, on the road and on the lookout for a new rig (and currently mid new breakdown adventure, hey more on that after a good night’s sleep in a real big bed!)