The things one sees on the way to Hovenweep

Sunday, April 20

The crew and I travel north from Bluff, Utah, on Highway 191 and take a right onto Highway 282.  It’s a beautiful Easter Sunday, an ideal day for a leisurely drive to Hovenweep National Monument.

I’m not much interested in the monument.

I know I should be.  It’s a special place.  I could pretend that I’m interested, but to be honest, I’m living too much in the present these days.  I’m interested in the landscape and what I see along the way.  Hovenweep gives us a destination.

The route takes us through the sagebrush of McCracken Mesa.

Oh, a herd of horses . . . what beauties!

1-DSC03759 - CopyI love taking photos of horses.

1-DSC03758 - CopyThere’s a foal with pretty stockings!

1-DSC03763 - CopyMomma watches me while baby has a little snack.

1-DSC03756 - CopySpeaking of snack . . .

I packed a sandwich of pepper jack cheese with spicy mustard on rye.  Not a traditional Easter dinner, but I’m happy with it!

More sage, lovely view, more sage . . .

Hmm . . . What’s that up ahead by the side of the road?


1-DSC03774A bell hangs on the neck of one of the sheep and clangs with every move.

Is this a fun ride or what?

We reach Hatch Trading Post.

This amounts to a few buildings and several head of black cattle in pens. Further along, at a small cluster of homes, these two curious pups race out to the road.

1-DSC03783I stop, bring down the window, take their photo, and scold, “What are you two devils doing out here?  Are you in charge of this road?”

The landscape changes dramatically as we drop down into Steer Canyon.

1-DSC03781One thing I enjoy while traveling is seeing how people live.

Here’s a home with a view and no close neighbors.

1-DSC03782My 4th edition (rev.) Benchmark map for Utah shows a stretch of dirt road.  Apparently it’s been paved since that edition.  Only about two-tenths of a mile is unpaved, making the drive to Hovenweep an easy one.

If you’re not familiar with Hovenweep . . . 

Here is a description from the website:

“Hovenweep National Monument protects six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread over a twenty-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border. Multi-storied towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders lead visitors to marvel at the skill and motivation of their builders.”

1-DSC03779By now it’s around noon and hot.

In order to view the ruins one must hike.  I look at Bridget and Spike.

“We don’t want to hike, do we, guys.”  Spike continues sleeping; Bridget stares.

“I’ll take that as a no.”

I drive around the campground. 

There are 31 campsites, most of them suitable for tents with a few large enough for rigs up to 36 feet.  The fee is $10 regular/$5 with senior pass.  Host on duty; water and flush toilets available.

1-DSC03778I’m often amazed at the size of campgrounds compared with the surrounding area.

Here in this vast landscape — so vast it’s incomprehensible — sits this squished-together little campground with sites practically on top of one another.  Kick off your shoes here and you’re liable to hit your neighbor’s tent.

Several happy campers stand around sweating in fashionable hiking outfits.

“Do I want to stop at the Visitor’s Center on this gorgeous day?  Noooo.”

Later, back at Sand Island Campground, it’s near dusk . . .

This is our last night at Sand Island.  We should take a walk on the other side of the boat launch.  See if we can find the other petroglyph panel.  Maybe there’s a place for Spike to soak.

“C’mere, nutcakes.  Get in your suits!”

We find the petroglyphs.

1-DSC03786The path is not near the river.  As we walk along I try to locate a way to reach it.

At the point where I figure it’s time to go back before the crew runs out of steam, I see an opening through the thicket of willows.

It’s narrow, probably made by animals.

We work our way through the brush.

Spike lags behind. 

Once through the thicket I see that there’s a cutbank on this side of the river.  No good.  And it’s muddy.  I spy a beach further upstream.  That looks really nice!  A gradual slope into the water, round river rocks, no mud . . .  .

I turn around . . .

Too late!  He slid down the bank!

1-DSC03787“Spike!  What are you doing down there?”  I laugh.  “What a crazy boy!”

1-DSC03788“You pick the ickiest place!”

1-DSC03790“Hey, mud-puppy!  How are you going to get back up here?”

Bridget and I walk along the river toward the rocky”beach” upstream. 

Spike follows in the mud below.  When we meet, I try to wash him off in the river.  The mud sticks like glue.  Bridget waits patiently on shore, perfectly clean.

1-DSC03793“Well, Spikey, you got your first soak of the season!”


Canine Corner:  “Opposites attract” by Spike and Bridget

1-DSC03796-001“That was so cool, Bridge.  Ya’ shoulda’ come in with me.  I feel great!”

“Are you kidding me, Spike?  That mud is disgusting.  You’re lucky RVSue didn’t get mad at you.”

“Aww . . . She was laughin.’  She loves it when I do stuff.  Ya’ know, crazy stuff.  She calls it livin’ life to the fullest.”

“More like living life to the dirtiest.  Shove over.  You’ll get mud on me.”

“Doncha want a lil’ cuddle, babe. . . heh-heh.”

“Spike! Get away from me, you dirty dog!”


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