Wow! What a week! Journey Through Time to Calf Creek in Escalante to a new campsite

Note:  This is a very long post which you may find tedious.  I want to have a record of our activities during this week past, so my focus is catching up this blog, rather than entertaining.  I’ve tried to help you through it with some photos.

Historic Nielson Grist Mill near Sunglow Campground and Torrey, Utah

Historic Nielson Grist Mill near Sunglow Campground and Torrey, Utah

Sunday, May 19

Rain!  It started last night and today it’s coming down steadily.  I buy another kindle book and settle into the pillows on the bed for a long read with Bridget snuggled up next to me.   Several times I get up to let Spike look out the door at the rain.  He decides he doesn’t have to go outside after all and climbs back into bed. This is the first full day of rain we’ve experienced in more than a year, maybe two!

Monday, May 20


Yellow flowers that look like a cross between daisies and sunflowers.

I wake up around 3 a.m. with a headache.  I take some ibuprofen which usually works for me, but this time — no good.

I awake at dawn with a worse headache.  I’m thankful no one else is at the campground so I can simply open the door and let Bridget and Spike out to do their business.  I force myself to drink a cup of coffee so I don’t have caffeine withdrawal headache on top of the one I’m already dealing with.

Nausea sets in around ten o’clock.

I’m still in bed.  Bridget is conciliatory, licking my arm and looking at me with wide eyes from an even more morose face than her usual mug.  Spike, on the other hand, is “all about me,” demanding as ever.  At one point he insistently barks at me with his yell-bark.

“Spike!  The door is open!  Get away from me!”  He will not stop until I get out of bed and walk outside with him.  Not cute.

By mid-afternoon the headache has faded enough that I’m able to drive us into Loa to buy some groceries.

The valley seen as one leaves Sunglow Campground

The valley seen as one leaves Sunglow Campground

Tuesday, May 21

An adventure!  The crew and I go west and turn right onto national forest road 3262 to Teasdale.  Our mission today is to explore Highway 12 to Boulder.  At Teasdale I pull over to look at the map.  Immediately a guy in a pick-up pulls alongside.

“Hello!  Are you lost?” he calls through the open window, a big smile on his face.  He’s about sixty-five years old.

We talk for about twenty minutes. 

His name is Dennis.  He tells me he moved here from Salt Lake City with his wife upon retirement and they love it.  Dennis suggests I take Highway 12 all the way to Boulder and beyond to hike Calf Creek Falls.

Okay, get out your Utah Benchmark maps!

You’ll see on page 76 that Route 12 is the “Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.”  We climb past Lion Mountain (8,858 ft) and I pull into Singletree Campground.  Only three campers are there.  Sites seem very close together to me.

I pull off at overlooks along the way.

Next we take a look at Pleasant Creek Campground.  Nothing special and empty. We continue on the dirt road past Pleasant Creek all the way  to Lower Bowns Reservoir.

That's Lower Bowns Reservoir as seen from the overlook.

That’s Lower Bowns Reservoir as seen from the overlook.

And let me tell you, it is one crummy dirt road.  Anyway, we get there and I let out the crew.  Spike, the virtual canine dowsing rod, heads straight for the water.

There he goes, the water dog!

There he goes, the water dog!

You know the rest of that old, familiar story.

Spike says, "Ahhh, nothing like a good soak with the sun in your face."

Spike says, “Ahhh, nothing like a good soak with the sun in your face.”

This is the classic Spike Takes A Soak photo I’ve taken in several western states.

Life is good when one enjoys simple pleasures.

Life is good when one enjoys simple pleasures.

A small campground at Lower Bowns is near the boat ramp.  This place is ideal for anglers.

A few people fish along the shore.

I wish one could camp along that beach.  Spike would love that!

Back on Route 12 we investigate Oak Creek Campground.  Tiny, tight sites.  Route 12 takes us higher and higher to the summit at 9,400 feet.  At 9,500 feet I pull over at a look-out.  The view is spectacular, of course, and too vast for me to capture well in a photograph.


I guess I shoulda’ put the focus on the mid-area. Oh well.

It’s a beautiful drive as we descend to Boulder at 6,675 feet.

We pass the junction of Hell’s Backbone which Dennis told me in strong terms not to take.  Now we enter Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  That’s when I do what I swore I never would do!

I drive on a road that’s nothing but road!

No kidding!  What do I mean?  Well, instead of ground on each side of the road, there’s nothing but air.   A cliff goes down about, oh, I don’t know, a mile or so on one side where the shoulder should be.  And then on the other side, the same deal!  I hate it!  Of course, I’m not about to try taking photos.

I white-knuckle it, occasionally peeking to the side and down to see canyons so mammoth it’s beyond comprehension.  You have to be there to believe it!  Not that I’m advising anyone to drive on a road through air . . . .

Finally we reach Calf Creek Recreation Area.

It’s a pretty campground, mostly tenters and truck campers in it.

The rocks by Calf Creek Campground

The rocks by Calf Creek Campground

I leave the crew in the PTV and go into the restroom.  I can hear Bridget and Spike barking and whining through the thick restroom walls.  By the time I get us on the trail to the falls the two of them are worn out already from pitching such a fit!

The trail to Calf Creek Falls

The trail to Calf Creek Falls

In addition the day has turned very hot.

View from the trail

Calf Creek Campground view

Here I have a nice picnic packed for us and water in my backpack with their collapsible dish and so on, and the crew is not in the mood to hike.  Bridget plops her butt down in the dirt and refuses to move. Spike walks the wrong way.

“I give up!”  My nerves are shot anyway from the last leg of the drive.  We walk around the campground a bit.

Pretty Calf Creek

The only falls we get to see at Calf Creek.

I let Spike get his feet wet.

"Spikey, that's far enough!"

“Spikey, that’s far enough!”

We climb back in the PTV and head for home.

Route 12 approaching Torrey, Utah

Route 12 approaching Torrey, Utah

When we get home, I turn on the laptop and see that my blog has been suspended and my email inbox is piled high with inquiries.

Wednesday, May 22

I go online and sign up with Hostgator.  The greater part of the day is spent answering emails and reading other blogs.

Thursday, May 23

The crew and I hike away from the campground up to a magical place overlooking a long, wide draw.

Every time I come to this place a spell is cast over me and I stand in silence.

Every time I come to this place a spell is cast over me and I stand in silence.

What a place!  No people, no sounds but birds.

I love the company of my crew on our daily excursions.

I love the company of my crew on our daily excursions.

We go for a drive through Bicknell, Lyman, and Loa and I take lots of photos of ordinary scenes, a pleasant departure after the past few weeks of non-stop grandeur.

Friday, May 24

Remember the group campsites next to ours?  The reservations say they’re arriving today for the Memorial Day Weekend.  Since I need to have internet during this blog crisis, I decide to stay at Sunglow  and simply move our camp to site #1 which is the most private alternative.

Great hiking behind our campsite!

Great hiking behind our campsite!

Spike and Bridget soon discover that they can walk past our picnic table, climb down the bank, and play around a little stream.


The water is very clear even though it flows over red mud.

Of course, once again, Spike goes for it!

Oh boy, Spike is gonna' love it here!

Oh boy, Spike is gonna’ love it here!

We're happy with our new campsite.

Coming back from playtime at the stream —  (Photo taken from our picnic table)

Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26

There you are, you little camera-phobe!

There you are, you little camera-phobe!

Bridget, Spike and I hike along the stream.  (An upcoming pictorial essay will show where we walk each morning.)

We lounge around in the afternoon and  I drive us on photo-taking tour.

Lovely weather, pure air, great fun.

Monday, Memorial Day, May 27

An outing to Mill Meadow Reservoir!  (A pictorial essay of Mill Meadow Reservoir will be posted soon.)

Tuesday, May 28

Off to Loa to do laundry!  On the way back home I visit with Tonya at the Fremont River Ranger Station.  She gives me free maps of Fishlake National Forest and Dixie National Forest.

We chat for quite some time about forest roads, camping areas, and more.  She’s a friendly, helpful employee and proud resident of Bicknell . . . .

The valley holds the small villages of Bicknell, Lyman, and Loa. Sheep are common in this area.

The valley holds the small villages of Bicknell, Lyman, Fremont, and Loa. Sheep are common in this area.

Wednesday, May 29

“C’mon, guys! Let’s go to Fish Lake!”

To be continued . . . .








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67 Responses to Wow! What a week! Journey Through Time to Calf Creek in Escalante to a new campsite

  1. AZ Jim says:

    great pics Sue. I KNEW Spike would be in the water. He’s a cutie…

  2. Rita from Phoenix says:

    A Navajo prayer says: In beauty I walk
    With beauty before me I walk
    With beauty behind me I walk
    With beauty above me I walk
    With beauty around me I walk
    It has become beauty again
    It has become beauty again
    It has become beauty again
    It has become beauty again
    This prayer is so appropriate for your beautiful scenic travels…you are walking in beauty.

  3. Alison ~ pacific northwest says:

    Such a beautiful camp site you’ve got! And its nice to see Sir Spike getting his soaks in.
    I’ve been on that road, and I know you’re not exaggerating! Drops down on each side like a knife edge!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      So you confirm that I’m not exaggerating about that road! I’ve heard it’s more of the same the further you go and some people pull trailers over that. Hell’s Backbone is another road with nothing but air on both sides according to Dennis. I’d never attempt a road with a name like that.

  4. Barbara B says:

    Hi Sue,
    What an amazing area! As I stated before, I have never been to this part of the country and I’m overwhelmed with the beauty of the desert. I can’t wait to join the RV world. Still trying to convince the worst-half, since I’m the better-half. By the way, this post may have been a little longer, but fantastic just the same.
    I think spike would rather have water than a bone. He is a hoot!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh my gosh…. Does your other-half see what he’s missing?

      Thanks for the compliment on the post. And yes, Spike would rather have water than just about anything.

  5. gingerda says:

    I didn’t get an email saying you had a new post, but just typed in and it said “did you mean” so I clicked on it and came up with this new post.
    Loved seeing all the beautiful pics you took. I’ve been to most of these places over the years and it brings back memories. Utah is a beautiful state.
    Ginger Las Vegas

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That route you took to get to my blog is weird. Hang in there until it’s time to discontinue the old blog.

      I do love it around here. I agree, Utah is beautiful.

  6. old fat man says:

    Great memories brought forth in my head by these pictures. I loved it around there. I even went there in Feb. once back in about 2005. WOW Thanks.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, I feel like I’ve finally returned the favor of you helping me with my start on the road! I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos, Barney. More to come!

  7. Michelle SLC,UT says:

    Lovely pictures!

  8. Dedra says:

    Hi Sue,
    I’m I still suppose to get emails of a new posting?
    Did not receive one, should I re- summit my email address?
    Thanks to you, I can say I have done a major trip in my Casita.
    Just think I was going to sell it and give up, then I found your blog.
    It was out of this world. Planning my next trip already.
    Thank you and your wonderful crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Dedra . . . I guess you do resubmit your email address. It’s hard for me to say from my side of the blog.

      You almost gave up your Casita? And my blog saved you from such foolishness? My life is complete! I have served my purpose on this earth!

      So happy for you. You’ve had a major trip and you’re planning the next one. The road will beckon you from now on. Go and be amazed!

  9. mockturtle says:

    Not the least bit tedious!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good to hear that. I saw it as a “on this day we did this and on the next day we did that “and blah, blah, blah. Thank heavens for photos.

  10. mary ann (pontotoc ms) says:

    great post, sue! that was the sweetest pic of bridget, and spike is so regal in the water! i hope you’re not still getting headaches.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Mary Ann. No more headaches. It was either the change in weather (barametric pressure) or something I ate the day before (too much dairy). I’m fortunate to have great health.

  11. EmilyO says:

    Oh boy, do I remember that road from 7 years ago going southbound – and no warning what to expect, wouldn’t have believed it any way. That was my very first real trip with the Casita and still learning how to drive with that thing following behind me and going down that 16% grade or whatever “straight” down it felt like. It is a beautiful area you are in. Glad Spike is happy now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Emily! You towed your Casita on that road? When you were still learning? I hear it gets a lot worse the further you go. Wow, you earned your stripes on that trip.

  12. Bev says:

    Did you see Biscuit Mtn in Boulder? We never got tired of this area when we worked at Ruby’s Inn and Otter Creek State Park. Our friend, Lance, is the Park Ranger at Otter Creek in Antimony. Sure missed your blog and am happy to hear you continue to enjoy all there is to enjoy about life… Stay safe!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Bev. Yes, I’ve seen Biscuit Mountain. I have so many photos, too many to share now that I’m far behind on my blog writing. And then there are all the amazing photos I could have taken if I weren’t trying to keep the PTV on the road. This area can make your eyes fall out of your head.

      • Bev says:

        Hahaha…our eyes fell out of our head every time we drove in that part of UT. We took the road from Boulder to Bull Frog…talk about interesting. We kid about 420 miles round trip to have a steak dinner.

  13. Steve says:

    I don’t care how long your posts are….they are always great reads and the pictures just top it off. It’s good to see the hounds having a good time.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh Steve, you should see the fun that Bridget and Spike have had these past few days. Playing in the stream, going on hikes in different places, meeting campground canines . . . . And I love seeing them happy. Thanks for the positive words about my long posts.

  14. Ladybug says:

    AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Another cliffhanger!! LOL

    That first photo is worthy of a calendar!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I do like that first photo, too. In person it’s even more stunning because that rock behind the mill extends waaaay up.

      I can’t help the cliffhangers . . . My life is a cliffhanger! There’s always something more around the curve in the road.

  15. Geri says:

    The longer the better! Hahahaha! You are never boring or tedious! I tried to warn you about Highway 12! Chuck had to peel me off the ceiling of the truck when we got back to the campground. Holy Moly! Scared me to death !!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I figured it didn’t get really bad until you get down into the middle of Escalante. Wrong! I know one thing for sure — I’ll never see the rest of Highway 12.

      • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

        You are on the east end of hwy 12. In your future travels plan to do the western part. No highway in the sky on that end, still lots to see and explore.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Good to know, as long as there’s a way to turn around before reaching the scary part.

  16. Chuck says:

    Tedious? Never! We warned you about 12, u must start listening to your elders!

  17. alison - pnw says:

    BTW I loved seeing that great picture of Bridget. Such a sweetheart.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I wish she’d get over being camera-shy. She’s wrecked a lot of photos ducking for cover!

  18. Sierra Foothill Mama says:

    Highway 12 was our destination with our off road trailer towed by our Suzuki in the company of our big brown lab. Could not touch all that there was to see in that area over 10 days in October a couple of years ago. Slot canyons, hell’s backbone, goblins and spectacular fall color in the high elevations — wonderful trip! Since we were self contained tent campers we could camp at low elevations when it was cold and high when it was warm and always miles off off road. Thanks Sue, you are bringing back wonderful memories.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re so welcome! I know what you mean . . . Even with our limited range of activity there is enough to see and explore for years. Your trip sounds fabulous, although I could skip some of the scary parts.

  19. Sierra Foothill Mama says:

    The yellow flowers on Monday the 20th look like they might be what we call Mule Ears in the Sierras.

  20. Jeff says:

    I must be blind. I can’t figure out how to resubscribe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I hope to replace the subscribe button soon. Until then I hope another reader will tell you how as I don’t know myself!

  21. You found a great spot!! We loved our ten days in Torrey. Of course, it helped that we had friends that live way up in the hills of Teasdale to be our local tour guides. What a beautiful area it is and Capital Reefs is so less crowded than other parks.

    Love that Spike has so much water to cool off in. Looks like he is really enjoying himself.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It really helps to have local tour guides who are also friends. You must have had a great time.

  22. Brian says:

    Hi Sue!
    Good to see you’re back.


  23. Susan in Dallas says:

    Ah, Spike, sage of the pond, stream, and lake. He is the picture of contentment. Now if he could just figure out how to get to that reservoir! Utah sure is varied and beautiful.

  24. rvsueandcrew says:

    Spike is a lesson in how to enjoy life with simple pleasures. To paraphrase the Carl’s Jr ad…. Spike “soaks like he means it!”

  25. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Glad your headache went away. Pollen?

    Spike’s yell bark was hilarious………demanding aren’t they! It’s dinner time! I have to go potty! I just want your attention…..are you listening to me? I’m gonna yell bark until you do………promise.

    Spike finally soaking…………….he’s a ham! Look at me…ahhhhh so relaxing.

    OMG that air road sounds scary! I don’t like roads that have sheer cliffs…AND no guardrails. Drove to Yosemite once……..didn’t know how I was going to drive out! Settled on tunnel vision….didn’t dare look to either side. Apparently there is a road to hell leaving Yellowstone….RV’s NOT advisable! I’ll take the long way around TYVM!


    • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

      We live 45 miles from Yosemite (married there 40 years ago). Only one really challenging road in or out – Tioga Pass is beautiful and okay for RVs with drivers who are used to mountain driving and who love high views. We frequently take our 33 foot 5th wheel trailer over Tioga pass when coming home from Nevada and points east. I have seen 40 foot buses and tractor trailer delivery trucks on all the roads in and out of Yosemite.

      Much more challenging and NOT recommended for RVs is Sonora Pass just to the north of Tioga. We went over Sonora Pass last weekend to some of our favorite eastern Sierra haunts.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      cinandjules . . . The contrast of personalities . . . Polar opposites, these two! Bridget watches me constantly to make sure she does what I want and that I’m okay. Spike sees me as his servant . . . and a very poor one who needs to be prodded along several times each day.

  26. Karen (Minnesota) says:

    Hi, Sue,
    Thanks for the update and great pictures. Hubby and I were reading your blog and both of us were wondering how long you drove on the road that was nothing but road. I can only imagine it must have seemed like an eternity.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t think it was more than a mile. It seemed like I drove across a continent (a very narrow one floating on air).

  27. Carol in OK says:

    Loved the post—the longer the better and never boring. You have convinced me to give Utah another look-see.
    I may be completely off my rocker, but it’s possible that Bridget is not a cameraphobe, but rather a flashphobe. I have noticed in some of your shots aimed at the BLT that the flash reflects off the running lights. With a point and shoot camera, the flash can fire in daylight as fill flash. Try turning the flash completely off and leaving it off. I believe that once Bridget gets accustomed to the flash not firing, we can all see her lovely face more often. When I was a kid, we had a boxer who was afraid of flashlights. Just a thought.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Sorry I’m late in my reply. Missed your comment somehow…

      Excellent clue re: Bridget and the flash. I don’t like the flash on anyway, yet I guess sometimes I push something that puts it on again. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind. Thanks, Carol.

  28. Sue says:

    I absolutely love the continuing saga of soaking spike! I chuckle each time I see him settle down in some lake or creek or stream or puddle. The more I see it the more I love it. I hope you continue to make it a regular part of your new blog site. Thanks for sharing your crew with us.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sue….

      Here I am thinking people must be tired of photos of Spike soaking. Ha! I certainly will keep posting his soak pics, if only for you and myself because I want to remember those times.

      It’s been suggested that these photos would make a great coffee-table book. “Soaking around the West with Spike the Rat Terrier Water Dog” or something like that.

  29. Pauline says:

    Photos are absolutely stunning!!!! I have seen some of these sites on TV or in books but here you are….up close and personal!!!!! So proud for you…. a southern phrase 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      And you know what? I never get to shoot the photos that are the most amazing because usually they appear when on a road where stopping isn’t allowed. I know what you mean, I feel like I’m living life from the pages of Photography magazine.

  30. Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

    Lots of “must sees” here to add to my “leap” log of RV tips. Seems like a place to spend many days if not weeks to see at least some of it. Amazing.

  31. Ed says:

    This was the day before our ride to Hites Crossing so that will give you a very good idea of how tough those two days were since you have now driven the same route. Oh, just a addendum to the journal entry of that day, Ray was over 70 years old when he crashed.
    18 Jun: Escalante to Bicknell
    Roads: UT12 & UT24
    Distance: 71 miles
    Camp: Some school
    Today was a very tough ride with over 7,000 feet of climbing and I was wore out when I got in today. The summit of all that climbing was at 9,400 feet then a fast downhill on which Ray (one of the original 1989 OFCers) crashed at high speed with some bad road rash and probably pains in places he didn’t know he had.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Incredible, Ed! Don’t mean to be offensive but bike people are nuts. There are easier ways to get up and down hills. 🙂

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