The first time I came home from Southern Utah with what I thought were spectacular photos, my sister commented dryly, “Sure are a lot of rock pictures”. The next time, I took her with me and she came home with twice as many rock pictures as I had. My point is, amateur images scarcely hint at the grandeur of the landscape. So with that in mind, kindly view the following with uncritical eyes.
My frosty breath hung in the air INSIDE the trailer and the dogs declined to go outside to do any kind of business. Of course, it was still well before dawn. There was naught to be done but snuggle in bed and write in my journal.
When the sun came up I was able to crawl from under my down comforter and heat some tea on the stove, which took the chill off but also caused moisture to condense on the cold ceiling and drip onto my bed. Ah, the joys of camping! Later when the camp host came by, I asked him why I had no electrical power and he diplomatically pointed out that I needed to turn on ALL of the breakers at the post. He was nonplussed that I hadn’t bothered him after hours to help me. I guess the usual guest isn’t that considerate. My trailer has a new battery so I didn’t need electrical power but I did appreciate the WiFi as there was not much cell service.
A text from Tamera said she was about four hours away so I took a hot shower and broke camp. Kodachrome Basin State Park was just a short drive off the highway and looked like a great place to while away a few hours before beating cheeks to Escalante to meet MFN.
The park looked like I could have spent several days exploring the canyons and dirt roads, but I was too eager to get to Escalante and meet MFN Tamera to do more than snap a few images, cruise through the campgrounds and then turn east to Yonder Escalante.
After setting up our camp in a private-feeling space at the end of a row of RV sites, nestled in a copse of scrub oaks, we set off to explore our new neighborhood. A dirt road, just across the highway, brought us to a short canyon where the dogs could romp off leash and get acquainted. Tamera’s little Mini-Australian Shepard, Lucy, is about a quarter of the size of Sadie so she was cautious about initiating play. Each time she would entice Sadie to chase her, she ran and hid behind her mom.
Our first night in camp was a bit of a trial. I heated the chili relleno caserole with some brown rice and a nice bottle of pinot noir to set the mood. We then set up the larger bed at the back of the trailer for my two big girls and me, and the smaller front bed for Tamera and her little girl. Poor Lucy! She just couldn’t relax with two big dogs just a few feet away and Tamera finally gave up and moved her bed into the back of her car. This also allowed Molly to settle down as she was suspicious of the interloper who had usurped her bed. Neither of my dogs offered to move to the now empty front bed, but I was content to share their body heat.
In the morning I tried the heater again and voila! it fired right up without apology or explanation.
We all piled into Tamera’s new Nissan Pathfinder to hike the three-mile trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls, the iconic Escalante canyon trail. Lower Calf Creek is described as a heavily trafficked, moderate hike, but we didn’t find it to be at all crowded even though the small parking lot was full when we arrived. Though dogs are required to be on leashes, there were long stretches where we could let them loose, only tethering them when we saw other hikers approaching.
We retraced our steps and by the time we reached the car, we were ready for breakfast/lunch/dinner as we hadn’t had a meal all day. Even though it was cold and windy, Tamera agreed to drive up the Hogback https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCJB_Xa1nOs to Boulder to eat at Hell’s Backbone Grill. https://hellsbackbonegrill.com/ Thanks to Covid, the restaurant was serving only dinner and that was outside, on the patio. Still, people were lined up for their locavore cuisine. We opted to take ours to go and found a turnout on the Hogback that afforded a 360 degree view, Calf Creek on the right and another stark drainage on the left. We ate our dessert first, using the excuse that we didn’t want Tamera’s autumn fruits cobbler to get cold or her ice cream to melt. My chocolate chili cream pot would have been good at any temperature. Sorry no food pictures; we ate like starving refugees.
Returning to camp, we decided to go to the drive-in movie theater. Top Gun was showing. As Tamera recited the dialog from memory between and through mouthfuls of popcorn, I reviewed the day’s pictures and texted them to Sally to elicit her envy.
Yonder served freshly ground and brewed coffee on the patio, along with hot corn muffins and fruit every morning. Neither Tam nor I are big on food first thing in the morning but we tapped that coffee with enthusiasm. No powdered coffee whitener, but real half and half or oat milk for this classy place. I was quite certain this is what heaven would look like upon arrival.
Hike #2 began where Highway 12 crosses the Escalante River. We started off downstream and almost immediately were forced to cross the shallow but frigid stream. I switched to my already damp water shoes and never bothered to change back.
Once again, we left the trail, having hiked 8 miles without breakfast or lunch, famished. Now you may discount what follows, attributing it to exaggerated appetite induced by physical activity but seriously, the lunch at Escalante Outfitters was world class.
Like castaways, we described to each other the meal we were anticipating when we got back to town. Tamera craved fresh mozzarella with tomato on focaccia while I was more broad-minded in my fantasy, never imagining that Tamera’s dream would be realized in the teeny-tiny, back-road, cowboy town of Escalante.
And so, we again arrived at heaven’s gate. Tamera’s sandwich exceeded all expectation. The requisite buffalo mozzarella was enhanced by tomato, red onion, and pepperoccini, on grilled kalamata olive sourdough bread. I ordered a truly Italian style, thin-crust pizza glazed with olive oil and grilled garlic cloves, topped with grilled tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and red onions. World class is no exaggeration and I apologize for failing to photograph the pizza before devouring it.
Returning to camp with full bellies, we showered and joined our fellow campers (not pictured) on the patio to watch the full moon rise. The patio refrigerator was stocked with packages of marshmallows, Reece’s peanut butter cups and graham crackers for making s’mores along with sticks on which to roast the marshmallows. Packaged meals, ready to be grilled on the camp grills were also available for purchase. The heated pool and spa beckoned but we were already too tired for a swim.
After the first night, we agreed that we must extend our stay another day. We were hooked on Glamping.