Wednesday, May 8
I say goodbye to Camp Goosenecks with its 1,000 foot cliffs, entrenched meanders, and zigzag mountains. Another great camp. I’d come back here again. I look back at the crew on the bench seat. Those guys enjoyed it here, too. The PTV gingerly picks her way through the sharp rocks and ridges of the campground road. The road at Valley of the Gods is a lot better than this.
We pass Valley of the Gods on the way to our next camp.
Our destination is Sand Island Campground!
A short, 20-minute hop from Goosenecks State Park, and only about four miles west of Bluff, Sand Island is a BLM campground ($10 reg./$5 with senior pass). I hope we can nab a river view site. Entering the river valley from the highway, the first thing that comes into view is the Sand Island boat launch ramp on the San Juan River.
There are two campground loops.
We discover Loop A is picturesque, but it’s for tents and truck campers only.
Cruising around Loop B I spy four empty sites.
And one of them is on the river! After an easy, straight back-in, I let Bridget and Spike out of the PTV. I’m glad I put their suits and leashes on this morning. That river looks powerful.
“Look! There’s a path down to the river! Let’s go!”
“Our own private beach!” Well, kinda. More like a mud bank. I study the water’s edge. Gee, that drops off fast. Dangerous current.
“Sorry, Spike. You don’t want to go in there. You’d float like a boat all the way to the meanders at Goosenecks!”
Spike seems to agree. At any rate, I’m glad I have him and Bridget on leashes.
I set up a complete camp.
I stake down the outdoor rug and set up the crew’s pen. (I don’t always bother right away with those two items at some camps.) The pen goes around the picnic table (not shown) so the crew has shade and so they can beg their fool heads off when I try to eat.
Then I do something I haven’t done in a very long time.
I write a check for the campground fee! Oh my! My hand trembles! Belle Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, California, was the last campsite I paid for and that was late last fall, over five months ago.
Bridget and Spike want to explore our new home!
They both trot happily as we walk around the campground loop to the self-pay station. It seems that every bush has a story to tell the crew, and Bridget and Spike have their own to contribute.
Back at our campsite, I cook up some hot dogs on the stove.
I take the plate of dogs with a glass of iced tea out to the picnic table so I can watch the river as I eat.
Wow, lots of song birds around here. I take their melodies as a good omen for this camp.
A rufous-sided towhee scratches around in dead leaves. A distinctive, yellow-breasted bird with a red head alights at the top of a cottonwood and sings heartily. (Later I look him up in my field guide. He’s a Western Tanager, the first I’ve ever seen.) Black swallows flash white under their wings as they swoop over the river, eating insects, no doubt. Two tiny birds I can’t identify hop from branch to branch on a bush growing out of the river bank.
Of course, Bridget and Spike get their share of hot dog. I’ve become accustomed to turkey dogs and chicken dogs. I eat hot dogs mainly so I have a reason to eat spicy mustard.
I carry my dish and fork into the BLT and retrieve my camera to take photos of floaters passing by our campsite.
“I love your trailer!” a woman calls out. “You have a great spot!” calls another.
“How long is your float?” I ask the man paddling a raft loaded with their gear. Probably a guide.
“Twenty hours on the water,” he responds. “We do it in seven days.”
This makes a pleasant home for us. We’ll take it easy around camp the rest of today. Maybe I’ll get back into that Jack London book. Tomorrow we’ll go to Bluff early so I can try some blue corn pancakes. It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted a pancake — of any color!