I pack up and stow the crew in the Perfect Tow Vehicle.
Lovely and peaceful as it is at our camp at Upper Kent Lake, I’ve got the urge to move. One of the papers given to me at the National Forest office shows a place to camp along a river. It’s popular with fishermen. We’ll go down the mountain and camp along the South Fork of the North River. Then I’ll unhitch and take the short drive into Beaver for some groceries.
Going down a mountain is easier than going up.
The last third of the way down the mountain, the road is paved. A river of clear water runs along it in a state of continuous rapids. There are a few places to pull off and camp, but they’re too close to the road for the crew. Once down to the lower elevation, houses are clustered along the road. A golf course and a racetrack appear. The turn to drive up to the North River is somewhere along here. Soon I realize I’ve missed the turn.
That’s when a strange thing happens.
I keep on going! I don’t feel like setting up a new camp here. I want to put some miles behind us today. I drive to Beaver’s main street, take a right, and look for a grocery store. Once found, I skip the parking lot – too great a chance of somebody blocking me in – and instead park on a wide shoulder on the side street. I leave Spike and a crying Bridget in the PTV and run in to get some milk and a few other items. That done, I quickly open up the BLT and put the food away.
Now where are we going?
I don’t have a clue. I look at my Utah atlas. Hmm . . . we could go up to Yuba Lake State Park. That’s a pretty big lake not far from Salt Lake City. Probably crowded. Might need a reservation.
Utah’s terrain makes it difficult for a person not well-acquainted with the state to anticipate good places to boondock. National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas look inviting on a map. In real life those areas may be sheer cliffs, deep gorges, high mesas, unreachable by vehicle, too exposed with no trees, or unsuitable for camping for other reasons.
I want to make progress toward South Dakota, maybe see the Grand Tetons . . . . I decide to continue north on I-15 and then turn east on I-70, avoiding Provo and Salt Lake City. If a camping opportunity doesn’t appear, I’ll push us all the way to Green River.
“Okay, Bridget, settle down now. It’s time for a long nap.” Spike is already spread out on the bench seat. “We may have some serious road ahead of us.”
Interstate driving can be monotonous. Surprise!
I do enjoy watching the gradual changes in terrain. Bridget and Spike sleep the 76 miles to Salina. Along the way I realize I’m not in the frame of mind to scout out a boondock, it being mid-afternoon already.
A billboard warns, “Last chance for services for 104 miles.”
I look at the gas gauge. A little over half-full. Probably enough, but I’d better not chance it. I drive down the exit ramp. Oh well, time to get a royal fleecing. The first station proclaims $3.89 a gallon. The second one, further away from the interstate, sells at $3.84 a gallon. I pump. The crew wakes up.
Once Spike and Bridget hear the hum of the wheels on the road, they go back to sleep.
Gee whiz. When they say no services, they mean no services. There’s nothing but annoying roadwork the first thirty miles or so. Long grades up and down. Only a narrow lane between the cones and that noisy strip they put on the edge. Uninspiring scenery. No signs of life.
About 50 miles east of Salina a rest stop appears in the barren landscape. I park the rig. Bridget and Spike wake up and commence barking loudly. I rush to let them out. “Okay, okay. Jump out. You’ve been such good, little travelers.”
We walk around the junipers in the dog exercise area.
The crew drinks from their water dish before we board the PTV. We share a snack of turkey slices, and get back on the road. The last fifty miles of Interstate 70 going east from Salina to Green River is spectacular! I recognize landscapes I’ve seen in photography books. No wonder there’s nothing on the road map in this area. It’s like landing on an uninhabited, desert planet. Breath-taking. Jaw-dropping. I take photos through the bug-splattered windshield . . . while driving. I can’t help myself.
Nevertheless, I’m getting tired.
Green River appears, an oasis in the desert. The state park is at the edge of town. I wonder what the fee is. A man sticks his head out of the entrance booth as we approach. We exchange hellos.
“How much for primitive camping?”
“That would be the tent area,” he responds. “Sixteen dollars, no hook-ups, if you can fit in a site.”
“And how much for a regular site?”
“Twenty dollars and you have electric. We have some pull-throughs open.”
Four dollars more for electric. I’m not going to search around and squeeze into a tent site to save four bucks.
I find a pull-through at the edge of the park next to a golf course.
Immediately I take the crew for a walk around the campground which is nearly full. The crew is excited to be around people again. Me? Not so much.