Moving to Cambodia…How I got to Phnom Penh
January 12, 2018
Moving to Cambodia
I am writing this blog from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was not my plan for this winter, but I found myself open to opportunities and one presented itself. I have a 6 month teaching contract at the Canadian International School of Phnom Penh. (cisp) They use the Alberta curriculum and I have a grade 5 class with 24 students.
I will share more about the school in future blogs. This is how I found myself in Cambodia.
Winter in Alberta
December 2017 arrived with cold and snow. I had subbed at my previous school and helping my mom after hip replacement surgery complications. We had completed our house renovations and were waiting for it to sell. The downturn of the local oil patch-based economy meant we had only 2 showings since the summer.
We weren’t sure where we going to be next winter so we booked a trip to Panama and Medellin, Columbia for January to check it out for retirement potential. We also found the perfect for us mobile home just 5 km out of Rocky Mountain House. It’s on a rented lot surrounded by forest. Possession was January 10. Everything was settled for the winter…
Come to Cambodia
I awoke one morning to an email from my friend and former colleague, Bernice. A teacher at her school in Phnom Penh had to leave at Christmas break and was I interested in a short-term contract. After initially dismissing the idea since we had our plans already made, Pete told me to just go if I wanted and he would stay home for a while and get the new place painted and floored.
I sent in my resume with the required Alberta teaching certificate number and that day had what I thought was going to be a Skype interview with the principal. With 2 former teachers from Rocky already at the school, and the fact I had done a professional development session at the school last February while we were living in Thailand, she really only wanted to know where to send the contract. By Dec 14 I had agreed to teach and live in Cambodia for 6 months. I had 3 weeks to get ready.
Preparing to move to Asia again
This called for the “whiteboard of planning”. I needed a large visual to finish planning for Christmas, a visit by our children, and preparations for this newest adventure. I needed to pack for 6 months, and include some teaching resources. Knowing that our house could sell while I am away meant that I wanted to go through a few more boxes and purge some last items that won’t fit in our new place. It was difficult to stay focused.
I was able to borrow a few resources from grade 5 teachers at my previous school, scanned them on the copier and emailed them to myself. That saved a lot of weight in my luggage. A few key books came along with me since I didn’t really know what resources would be available.
I packed lots of dresses and skorts since I knew what the climate was like, having lived in SE Asia last winter. I also went through our camping box and selected a few kitchen items I suspected would be missing in my new kitchen, like good knives, cheese grater, extra cutlery etc. To ensure I had something for breakfast for my first days of school, I added Instant oatmeal packets, just in case. I tried to buy another pair of sandals, but the stores said they had put the sandals away to make room for boots. That’s such a Canadian problem.
The airline allowed two 50 pound bags to Asia, which sounds like a lot. It is until you add 6 months of contact lens solution that’s not available in Cambodia, 2 pounds of coffee requested by my friends, and some Septo bac ordered to help with the septic tank in our buildings. With a little creative balancing in and out of my carry on, Melissa’s expert rolling of clothes and the use of zip lock bags to compact clothes, I was ready to go.
Travel to Phnom Penh
I had a great family time over Christmas and said good-by to everyone. We spent the last 2 nights in Banff, Canada before heading to the airport. I flew from Calgary to Vancouver to Hong Kong to Phnom Penh. My flight left at 10 pm on Wednesday and I arrived at 10:30 am on Friday. My luggage took an extra day to arrive but that’s a story for another day.
After paying $35 for a business visa, a driver from the school and my friend Nancy met me at the door. I bought a cell phone card just outside the airport for $5 which included 3 G of data and a few minutes of calling. That was it and it’s good for a month. Sure beats my plan at home.
My new job included a second floor furnished apartment about a 5 minute walk from the school. It has a bedroom and living area with high ceilings and lots of windows. Two of them have screens so I can get some air moving on occasion. There are lots of kitchen cupboards , a kettle, a coffee maker, a toaster, a sink with only cold water and a 2 burner cooktop. It is like camping. I also have a good-sized fridge and freezer. That’s not like camping.
The bedroom has a wardrobe with a few built-in drawers, a desk, TV and the usual hard bed found in Asia. The bathroom has a shower, sink and toilet. It took me a few days and lots of questions to discover that the hot water is turned on by a light switch on the outside of the bathroom. Both rooms have air conditioning units.
There are 2 washers downstairs and a drying rack on the balcony. My unit is along the side of a large house that’s been converted to 6 suites. It is surrounded by other houses so I don’t receive any direct sun, which is a good thing in a hot, sunny country. The school provides a night guard who sets up in the front yard every night. The community itself is called Elite Town and there are some spectacular homes in this gated community. I’ll share more pictures of those another day.
Bernice and her husband live in a highrise about 10 minutes from here. They made supper for me the first night. On our way home, we stopped in the grocery store in their building for a few supplies. Milk is $4 a liter, but local beer is only $10.50 for 24. I was able to buy Shredded Wheat–made in Canada– for just over $5 a box, about the same as at home. I also got a papaya for a dollar, peanut butter, eggs, canned tuna, cheese, shampoo etc. It was enough to get me started.
As this is a wealthy neighborhood, there are not the little shops we had in our Chiang Mai streets. There is a mall about 15 minutes away (all are walking times). It has high-end products and could be in any city in the world. It has a movie theatre as well as a skating rink with real ice! There are a couple of “dollar” stores where everything is priced at $1.90. Since Cambodia runs on American dollars, that is about $2.50 Canadian.
There is also a department store with a large grocery store, liquor store and bakery where I could find most of what I need. A tuk tuk home is $2-$3. My Sobey’s shopping bags and backpack are very handy when shopping on my own.
I will spend some time in the markets looking for interesting things, but for staples, the shopping nearby has been very convenient and reasonably priced.
With working every day, I don’t expect to post as frequently as last year, but I want to share what this city is like and how I’m adapting to a new place. I will also share how it is the same and different teaching in an International School.
Travelling without a Plan…Houston to Nashville Road Trip
November 5, 2017
I love to travel to the deep south of the United States, especially in the fall. While winter is threatening at home, the weather in Texas feels like summer. The leaves are all gone in Alberta, yet the trees along the Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi are just starting to change colour. The beaches in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast are deserted in October. Flights are cheaper and accommodations are easy to find. And of course… the Houston Astros won the World Series while we were there so it was definitely a great time to travel.
This trip took many forms and in the end, was not recognizable from our original plans. We wanted to travel to North Carolina by way of Houston to see the fall colours in the Blue Ridge Mountains and visit our son and daughter-in-law who live in Texas. They have an old car of ours that we thought we could pick up there and drive through the Carolinas and be home within our 2 week time limit. We booked our flight to Houston which was only $180 each for one way.
Change of plans #1
The car wouldn’t start. It is old and not currently registered in the United States. My son and a friend spent an afternoon trying to boost it, to no avail. We priced renting a car in Houston and flying home from Raleigh, NC. but hat would cost about $1200 for 2 weeks because we weren’t returning it to the point of pickup. That meant we could only travel at most, one week away from Houston. I booked a flight back home, at $110 each. Peter’s plan was still to try to get the car running so he was not interested in making plans until he sorted out the car.
The Houston Astros were in the playoffs so we decided to make this a fall sporting trip. We looked online at the possible sporting events besides baseball. The Formula 1 was in Austin. University of Houston Texans were playing football at home and Ole Miss in Oxford, MS had 2 home football games while we were there. That sounded like a great plan. We would rent a car and attend some events we had only seen on TV. We booked a rental car for a week for $180.
If we stayed in Houston for a few days we could see the car race and the University Game. We might even get lucky and get a baseball ticket. Then we would travel to Nashville for a chance to hear some country music and come back through Mississippi to hang out at a tailgate party in the Grove in Oxford, then watch a home game. We would return to Houston for more baseball then fly home. We might even fit in a little golf along the way.
Change of Plans #2
The grandstand tickets for the Formula 1 in Austin were sold out on their website, although there were a few for some of the curves along the track. It would be a very hot day standing in the sun in one spot.
There was a Dynamos soccer game in Houston on Sunday afternoon with seats. That seemed a better plan. We decided to watch the start of the race on TV on Sunday then go to the soccer game.
That left Thursday to golf at Tour 18. It is an 18 hole course “inspired” by famous PGA courses including Amen Corner at Augusta and the 17th Island green at Sawgrass. I only had a few of my clubs tucked into Peter’s bag and no golf shoes, but it was fun to play with my son and husband, and I enjoyed the heat. Peter was 2 under through Amen Corner so he really enjoyed it. The Texas fairways are rough but very thick and fluffy so the balls sits right down in the bottom.
No Plans…Let’s see what happens
Friday was a day to tour around Houston. There were some neighborhoods with so much debris still piled up on the street in front of their houses as a result of Hurricane Harvey. It consisted primarily of demolition materials removed from flooded homes. Some houses were having roofs re-shingled. For the most part, though, it was hard to believe that they had been under so much water a couple of months ago.
We spent the evening at the Beer Market Co. The playoff game with the Yankees was on. It was exciting to watch a home playoff game with locals all cheering for their team, and then to have the home team win. It was almost as good as being at the game, but a lot less expensive. The quality of craft beer in the USA has continued to improve over the years we have travelled there. I had a delicious Lemon Ginger Radler.
Plans that changed me
Our kids were busy on Saturday so we decided to volunteer with a group from their church, Bayou City Fellowship. We met in an area of the city that was needy before Hurricane Harvey and even more so afterwards. The church had received supplies and donations from around the country for the past couple of weeks. They had made up bags of cleaning supplies and had many boxes of toiletries, bleach, garbage bags, blankets, towels, toilet paper and paper towels.
Other church members arrived with vehicles full of supplies they had not required in the flood clean up of their own homes. Mosquito repellent, brooms and mops as well as more bleach were common items. Someone had donated a couple of cases of new children’s backpacks which brought big smiles to those children who needed one. There were maybe 25-30 volunteers, including several children.
A large cube truck arrived about 8:30 am. It contained the donations, as well as some small tents and tables. A large speaker played upbeat music to try to make the day seem a bit more festive. Several people from the line came and helped unload the truck. We set up 4 stations and sorted everything. There were 3-4 people in each tent to distribute the donations. Those volunteers who weren’t at a station helped those in line with their things or just talked with them to see how they were doing. We had to be aware of family groups and give an allotment to each family, not to each member. This was difficult as several small groups claimed not to be together. Apparently the line to receive supplies had begun to form about 6:30 in the morning.
Many thanked us although several didn’t speak any English. One woman was thrilled to get a broom! The odd donated bottle of dish soap or laundry soap created great excitement and work gloves and masks were much appreciated. It was difficult to chat as the line was long and moved steadily. It was really hard when we ran out of supplies before we ran out of people after about 2 hours. I got to go home and sit by the pool in the sun. They had to go back to their damp homes.
Things that struck me about Volunteering
- Some of the volunteers had been flooded at home too.
- People are people whether they have or whether they need.
- I wanted to feel proud about offering to help in a place that needed it, but it wasn’t about me. I was honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve others.
- We were asked to see the change in us as a result of being part of this day, to see the world in a new way.
If you want to know more about the continuing relief effort of this group in Houston, check out the church link above. It includes some moving stories.
Our plans send us north
It was hot on Saturday, but Sunday morning began with a thunder-storm. When it rains here, it really comes down, even when it’s not a hurricane.
We had several recommendations about trying Airbnb home sharing service and decided to try it out in Nashville. We booked a private bedroom and bathroom, plus use of the living room for $118 for 2 nights. Since it was our first booking, we received a $53 discount after that. Last minute booking is much easier in October than in the height of the summer.
If you might want to try this service, set it up at home first as they want to send you an email and phone text to confirm your information. We had our phone plans set to just wifi so this was a challenge. The app made it easier to communicate with hosts over wifi. Here is a discount link to Airbnb
Finding the Natchez Trace Parkway
The roads out of Houston are much like the roads in Houston…filled with traffic. We chose to take as many backroads between Houston and Nashville as possible. It is over 1200 km so we planned two days to complete our journey. Our last-minute planning searches for things to do in Nashville revealed that the Calgary Flames were playing hockey against the Nashville Predators in two days time. What luck!
Natchez was our first stop. It is a small city on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. It looks to me like a cross between Vicksburg, MS and New Orleans, LA. as it is filled with old antebellum homes and has several walking tours for architecture or views of nature.
It is also the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the old trade routes from the SW corner of Mississippi to mid Tennessee, ending in Nashville, a distance of 440 miles. It has a slower speed limit, no signs or billboards are allowed, but there are lots of picnic areas and historical points of interest. We saw deer and wild turkeys along the way, but on the first section from Natchez to Jackson, MS, we didn’t see another car in our lane. October is a great time to travel in the south.
We spent the night in a hotel in Jackson, MS, of Uptown Funk fame, and continued on the second part of the trip towards Nashville. We had a coffee stop in a little place called French Camp, where we hoped to have a scheduled phone conference meeting with Alberta Golf. It just happened to be the place where all cell service ceased to exist.
Entrance and exit points to the Trace are limited, so we were lucky to find a little cafe in Dennis, MS, run by a woman and her sister-in-law. There were a few relatives and a couple of locals in for lunch but the chili and grilled cheese were only $5 and tasty. The service was so friendly and the stories were great. Small family restaurants are so worth a stop.
Last Minute Plans in Nashville
We arrived in Nashville with just enough time to check out our Air BnB and get to the hockey game. The Predator fans are serious about hockey! We saw so many jerseys, scarves, socks and jackets in Preds colours. We got tickets at the back of the middle bowl for about $50 each. It was fun to be part of this crowd since they had secret chants and cheers for different parts of the game. The game ended with a shoot-out and Calgary won. We were so glad that we hadn’t filled all of our time and were able to fit in the only sporting event that we hadn’t considered before we left home.
Our hosts recommended the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Trolley bus tour of Nashville. Both were well worth the time. The Hall of Fame was busy, but it had a great historical perspective on country music as well as influences from a large number of performers. There was a wall of gold records and the Hall of Fame itself is a round room with all the inductees arranged randomly on 5 line staves. The museum commissioned a painting for the room that included a variety of musical styles and transportation methods used as these styles were becoming popular. They really did a wonderful job in this museum.
Unplanned Hop On, Hop Off Tour
Bill, our driver, knew so many stories about this city. He told jokes and connected the past to the present in such an interesting way. He knew who owned most of the recording studios, where Taylor Swift just bought a new penthouse (and the rest of the building under it), how long the line up might be at Hot Chicken as well as the growth in the number of hotels in the city and why there is a full size replica of the Parthenon in Nashville. We were enjoying his performance so much that we decided to stay on the bus for the entire route and hop off on the second loop if we saw something we really wanted to see with more time. As it turned out, most of what interested us were within walking distance after we got off the bus.
It was well after 3 when we finished all the exploring and we wanted to eat some Tennessee BBQ. Jack’s had a combo plate we shared with ribs, brisket and pork shoulder and 2 sides. According to our trolley driver, mac and cheese is considered a vegetable so we had to check it out. They served the meat without sauce, which is served on the side. There was the choice of Tennessee sauce which is vinegar based and tangy, Texas which is think and tomatoey and St. Louis which was sweet and smoky. That was my favorite.
Unplanned Music…But what else would you do in Nashville?
Broadway is the main street in the downtown area. Even though the hockey arena has the same address, most of the buildings from the arena to the river are small bars that have live music from 11am until after midnight. Some are 2 or 3 levels with music on each level. Up and coming musicians perform for 3 or 4 hours. You can go in and listen for a bit then move on if the music isn’t to your taste. Most of the songs are covers of country stars with a few original tunes in the mix.
We listened to a couple of guys sing in Margaritaville after the hockey game. They were entertaining with their spin a song wheel to help them with their playlist.
The second night we went into Barlines Bar in the Omni Hotel. It is across from the convention Center and was really busy when we arrived, but they found us a table right at the stage. We listened to Hali Hicks. She had a session guitarist, Jeffrey Weaver, playing with her for the evening. With her voice and his masterful playing, it was great entertainment. The local craft beer was excellent and then the Flames vs St. Louis game was broadcast on the screen beside the stage. And then game 2 between the Dodgers and Astros started on the huge screen behind the musicians. Could we have planned it any better?
Back to Mississippi
Our son went to college and also got married in Mississippi so we have been there a few times before. The land near the river is a flat agricultural floodplain where they grow cotton and soybeans. Cotton was being harvested while we were there. They kill the leaves which exposes the cotton and makes for easier picking. It was strange for us to see bales of cotton as large as haystacks would be in Alberta. The eastern part of the state consists of large pine and oak forests.
We returned on the Trace towards the NW part of the state where Oxford is located. Our Airbnb hosts lived in the country on a beautiful acreage. They were so gracious and made us feel like family. If you want to learn about the people and get a real sense of the place, then this kind of accommodation might be right for you. We don’t have much experience yet, but it felt like an upscale hostel stay.
We also spent a couple of evenings with our daughter-in-law’s parents in Grenada, MS. They were so hospitable and even though we technically are family, they treated us so well. Those who live in the southern part of the United States really have their own culture and way of seeing the world. It made me think of the Canadians who live in Quebec and want to protect their language and culture within a larger country. Being kind and gracious to visitors is certainly part of that culture.
Change of Plans #2 Again
Our plans to attend the Ole Miss football game in Oxford seemed too complicated to be worth pursuing. Tickets were $90 each for a college game although the resale sites had better prices. We weren’t able to connect with any of our son’s friends to meet up and trying to find parking in this football crazy town (think The Blind Side) made our plan more energy than it was worth. We decided to change our plans and head south to the Gulf Coast.
Biloxi was a short overnight stop. The beach was white and the sunset spectacular. The Star Hotel was reasonably priced with friendly staff and the restaurant across the street had a nice wood fire, delicious seafood, local beer and the Astros playing game 6.
Even though we made our road trip based on our wish to attend the football game in Oxford, it was okay that our plans changed. If we hadn’t headed north, we would have missed out on Nashville, the Flames game, our wonderful hosts at Country Living BNB, visits with our Mississippi family and a wonderful night on the Gulf coast.
Being retired and having flexible travel time makes planning on the fly much easier than when I could only travel on school holidays, to the places everyone else wanted to visit. The fact that we have family living in the area helps reduce the anxiety of having a place to stay. Try it on your next trip. Leave some time open for opportunities to present themselves or people to come into your life. You won’t be disappointed.
White Rim Road… alone in the desert wilderness
September 3, 2017
Canyonlands, Utah–White Rim Road
To prepare us for this road trip, we took a side trip down the Shafer Trail when we visited Canyonlands, Utah in 2016. This road has to be seen to be believed. It heads over the side of the Mesa and in 8 km it drops 1400 ft. into the canyon. It follows the cliff with many switchbacks and is a single track gravel trail. We didn’t need 4 wheel drive that day, but high clearance is necessary. Once at the bottom, we turned on Potash Road and followed an interesting road out to Moab, with views of arches and the river.
There is another road that continues from where we turned off. It is 160 km and travels around a third of the park with the Green River to the west and the Colorado River to the east. There are a number of campgrounds available for booking along the way. Peter decided then he wanted to take this White Rim Road and explore the desert in his truck.
This was his trip so he did most of the research and planning. He read up on the regulations in the park. He watched YouTube on others who had done it and checked out the route on Google Maps. The campgrounds were analyzed and booked. The truck had all the fluids topped up and the tires checked. Extra water jugs were pulled out of the basement and the backup battery charger for the engine’s battery was prepared.
I was rather anxious about this kind of adventure, but I trust his driving and I knew the truck was safe, so I was in. Not ecstatic, but in. I thought of it more like a backpacking trip with our Coleman Instant Tent, where you needed to be self-sufficient for a number of days, in this case, 4 We had 2 coolers, 1 for ice and 1 that runs off the 12 volt. I checked the first aid kit and made sure we had all the necessary supplies.
After a pleasant journey through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, we arrived at Canyonlands National Park at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon. It is about 45 minutes north and west of Moab, Utah. We fully expected to have to camp somewhere in the Land Management Area in order to find a spot, but drove through Horsethief Campground just in case. It was almost empty! We couldn’t believe our good fortune. Our site overlooked the desert and although it didn’t have water, vault toilets were available and it was only $15.
It was hot and breezy, but the sky was so dark. The moon was almost new and I enjoyed working on my night photography skills without having to wear my toque and mittens. The MIlky Way was so clear and it was hard to see all the constellations for the stars.
Shafer Road to White Crack Day 1
We stopped at the information center at Island in the Sky to check in. The sites we booked were confirmed and after looking at the entire trip, we decided that 3 nights would be adequate for this trip and cancelled our final night. The fee for our back country permit was only $30 and was good for up to 7 days. It included our camping.
There was water available here and we topped up all of our containers. They recommend 4 liters per person per day when travelling in the desert where temperatures were usually 35 Celsius in the day and 18 at night. We had 47 L plus our filled water bottles. The cooler had a variety of canned drinks as well. There was plenty to drink, but I felt thirsty the whole time between the heat and knowing that my water supply was not unlimited.
We tipped off the top of the world onto Shafer Road. I felt okay since we had been down this cliff before. I had been in the back last time so hadn’t seen how many times the road seems to disappear at the corners. The road was smooth and a little more than 1 lane wide with amazing vistas. Looking back though, it is hard to know where you just drove. As we wound our way to the bottom, there are sheer red cliffs above you, and sheer drops below. Fortunately we didn’t meet anyone until the bottom.
We passed 2 tour vehicles ready to head up the trail. We also met a park ranger whose truck you can see in the picture. The info center told us they drive the White Rim Road daily, but this was the only official we saw in 3 days. We were also passed by a couple of Land Cruisers. They didn’t have any camping reservations and were driving the entire loop in one day. They could travel much quicker than us as they had a shorter wheel base, were not loaded with equipment and could reduce their tire pressure to go over the bumps and rocks more easily.
The road was primarily one lane wide. It was dirt or small gravel in lots of places which made for easier driving. The challenging sections were in the drainage and washout areas. Rain run off had washed away all the small rocks and left large rock or sometimes bedrock called sliprock. There were many large holes in front and behind these larger rocks that required lots of driver attention.
It wasn’t too bad in the flat areas, but the same thing happened on lots of the steep up and down climbs. Some climbs were so steep we couldn’t see past the hood of the truck. Watching for rocks sticking out from the side, holes in the road, drop offs and having no idea if the road turned left or right at the top of a climb made for full-time navigating for us both. Fortunately the 4 wheel-low works flawlessly. 4 high did a good job too when needed.
The advantage of being 1400 ft below the usual viewpoints is that you are that much closer to the canyons. We walked into Mussleman Arch and could look at the other hoodoos and formations and colours that are not apparent from the top. I took a picture of Mesa Arch from the top last year and was able to look at it from behind this time. The Washerwoman looks so interesting from close up. It is just a tiny formation seen through Mesa Arch.
There were a few campgrounds and picnic stops along the way. We had a picnic in the truck and completed 60 km to our first stop. It had taken most of the day as we were travelling between 10 and 40 km/hr. White Crack Campground was 2 km off the road and set on a rise overlooking the lower basins. We were at the very southern tip of Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands.
White Crack Campground
The camping area can be booked by a group of up to 10 with 3 vehicles. Since we were only 2 people with 1 vehicle, that is all they booked into this site. It is remote and silent. The sound of jets flying over were all there was to remind us that we were still part of the modern world.
It consisted of a vault toilet with the most spectacular view in the world, a large slab or red rock and a single juniper tree that we moved our chairs around to get a little shade. There was a short squall soon after we arrived but the wind died quite quickly and we didn’t lose any of our supplies over the cliff.
The sunset showed itself with clouds and lots of virga, although by true dark, the stars could be seen through the open windows of the tent, even without my glasses. We got up to watch the sun come up over the mountains and light up the canyon walls in the west. There was a short trail that took us neared the views to the south where we could clearly see the white rim of stone that was the uppermost layer in the canyons.
White Crack to Murphy Hogback Day 2
Our second day was much shorter than the first at only 15 km and about 1 ½ hours. We returned to the main road and travelled over several washout areas. We stopped several times to look at rock formations. Erosion is always at work here. We saw towers with harder rocks balanced precariously on top. There were some rocks that stood out from the canyon walls like fins.
Our first real challenge for the truck was driving up Murphy’s Hogback. It is a section of land raised up from the White Rim where we felt like we were driving straight up like those trucks you see in the commercials. It was very scary but the truck and driver did a great job. By the time I arrived at the top, I had a few tears of relief.
The camping area was right at the top of the Hogback at almost 1600 m. We were there by 11 am but I was glad for a break after all the anxiety of this trip. The steep section was a success, but I knew we had to go back down the other side. We did see one more truck go by all day, and that was the last of humanity that we saw until we completed our trip.
This campground had 3 separate sites, but we were the only ones there. Again we had a vault toilet with a view and a friendly juniper tree to give us so more shade. There were no tables provided, but we had a portable table top that unrolls and sits on a base.
We also had Coleman Instant Screen room. It was really handy on our trip to the Alaska Inside Passage. We set it up over the picnic table and used the propane fire ring in the doorway to keep us warm and dry in all the rain. Since we were encouraged not to exert ourselves in the heat of the day, we set up the room, covered the sunny side with a tarp, spread out our camping mat and had a day off. I worked on my blog and read. Peter read the maps and rested from the driving of the last week. We had lots of water to drink and finished the day with rib steaks on the grilling pan and wished we had brought wine as well. Those kinds of meals are definitely not backpacking meals. (Pinot Grigio)
The sky was very cloudy around sunset. There was rain and virga in the area, but we didn’t get moisture. I didn’t want to have to worry about slippery roads for the way out. After sitting and relaxing all day, we realized that we didn’t need another night in the desert so planned to drive out the rest of the way. We planned to stop at our last camping spot and check it out just in case. It was also the day of the North American Solar Eclipse so we needed to be somewhere open enough to see what effect an 80% eclipse had on the landscape.
Murphy’s Hogback to Potato Bottom and beyond Day 3
Getting up so as not to miss the Canyon sunrise meant we were on the road by 7:30. The trip down off the summit was like pointing your skis down a black run. You just have to go. It was steep and rough, but it was okay. Luckily no one was coming up at the time. We used the GPS more today to see which way the road curved before we got there.
The road today took us along several canyon edges and eventually down to the Green River. The weather was clear and sunny again and the views amazing. We could look up at towers and mesas. We got to our booked camping spot about 9 and decided to carry on to the Mineral Bottom boat lauch for the eclipse, just past the end of White Rim Road.
Or next scary section was up Hardscrabble switchbacks which very quickly takes you up and over a high section and back down to the river again. It really took 2 of us to get through this. I watched for rocks and holes on the right and Pete kept his eye on the left. I was also responsible for any big rocks jutting out from the right although there was seldom any room on the cliff side of the road to do anything about it. Neither of us looked down. There was one switch back that we had to enter a turn around area to get the right angle to continue up the hill.
We got back down to the river again along a narrow trail that caught us by surprise and were soon found ourselves at the exit to the White Rim Road, 3 days and 160 km of adventure later.
We got a chance to see the eclipse through some paddler’s glasses. The light seemed to glare less off the cliffs but it was really not that noticeable, considering how much of the sun was covered by the moon. We did notice some really interesting shadows on the sand and the temperature dropped from about 35 to 25 Celsius for a short time.
After watching the paddler’s prepare for their trip, we finished our trip on the White Rim Road by exiting up the Mineral Bottom Road. It was steep with lots of switchbacks, but it had signs for curves and reinforced corners and felt like a highway. It was time for a shower and dinner in Moab.
Canoeing the Green River
August 25, 2017
This post is for the people we met in Canyonlands who were heading down the Green River.