We finally made it to the paved road...I'd shaved 20 minutes off the drive. We stopped there, shared a cold one and enjoyed some cold pizza before we drove back to Torrey. We drove in and out of storms and showers most of the way. We talked about our original plan which would have us checking out of Austin’s in the morning and leaving for a night of camping at Goblins State Park. The idea of potentially camping in the rain as the storm front moved through wasn’t appealing. Our idea of hiking into Little Wild Horse Canyon had also lost it’s luster. After our experience earlier, we were ready for a break from canyons that might flood.
Here's some accounts of flash floods so you'll know why we are so cautious:
and here's some video of flash flooding in Utah
On the way back through Hanksville we passed the unique minimart in a mountain.
We stopped by the VC where we saw this bright young lady. We went inside to tell the rangers about the trail being washed out. We learned that Capitol Reef had experienced some flash floods as well and the scenic drive was closed until they could clear the debris. Finally, it was back to Austin's for a couple more beers and some relaxation after a very exciting and tiring adventure. We checked as soon as we arrived, but Austin’s was booked solid for tomorrow night. We called around and finally settled on the Best Western since it was closest to the park and had a pool and hot tub. They had a room for us and we took it ($89/night).
Since it was our last night at Austin’s, we figured we'd relax and enjoy it. The hot tub sure did wonders for our tired muscles and aching feet. We decided to hang out and try Austin’s Mexican take out for dinner. Take-out, in this case, would be to a table out on the large front porch. There were picnic tables on the lawn but we figured we’d enjoy people watching on Torrey’s main drag.
We pigged out and ordered a chicken tamale, shredded beef enchilada, pork carnitas quesadilla and enchilada. Black beans and veggies on the side and lots of fresh salsa and guacamole. We took our time and enjoyed the meal. It was far better than we’d expected (and especially delicious with the cold beers we grabbed from our cooler) and the portions were so large that we regretted ordering so much. Locals and tourists would park in front of the store and go in to shop. One even commented that our food smelled pretty darn good. We let him know that it tasted good too! “Good to know”, he said as he hopped into his pickup and drove off with his dog.
The traffic in on Rt. 24 was pretty constant but not so much or so fast that it was annoying to eat there. A group of about nine motorcycles pulled into Austin’s and idled to the office as we finished dinner. They later pulled over to the three cabins at Austin’s. We saw quite a few biker folks around in general. It was beautiful riding weather, and the scenery and winding Highway 12 are well known in the motorcycling world. We returned to our room and watched TV before falling asleep early. We’d rather be up early than up late, especially while on vacation.
Wednesday, Sept. 5
As was the routine, I went outside to perk the coffee while Sharon roused herself. Again we were in no hurry.
As I enjoyed the sunrise at one of the picnic tables, I noticed that the sky to the north was looking pretty stormy and felt better about our change of plans.
There’s an old log cabin at Austin’s with an assortment of rusting tools and wagon parts garnishing its’ walls and the fence around it. I’d asked earlier about it and found out that it was “an original settlers cabin”. The clerk in the store also volunteered that it was where Zane Gray stayed when he came to Torrey to explore and gain inspiration. While a tall tale, it seemed possible. Besides, nothing like a couple of weeks in a log cabin to inspire western noveltry. I took a few photos of the cabin while the coffee perked.
When I returned to the room, Sharon said that the storm front had wreaked havoc on the Salt Lake City area. We hoped Dayle from Fodor’s and a distant cousin from that area were OK. It looked pretty nasty. Lots of folks were without power. Some even reported seeing a funnel cloud. After coffee and showers we hit the store for sandwiches and another six pack of some tasty IPA. We drove to the park and stopped at the VC to check on the road. The scenic drive would remain closed until noon when the silt from the flash flood would be cleared away.
We drove over to the little cabin that was the Fruita School. I like the way the sky and cliffs reflect in the windows. I find the old log cabins very enticing. They aren’t the type of structure that would survive long in the climate where we live. This cabin would’ve rotted into the ground long ago back home in upstate New York. Just when we were getting ready to leave, a ranger pulled in.
Her name was Cyndi and she’d come to open the school for visitors as they do every day for a few hours. It was great to get a look inside. The school was all restored and gave you a good feel for those times. We asked Cyndi what hikes she might suggest since the road was closed. She asked if we’d been to Hickman Bridge. We told her that we were planning to. She also thought the hike up Cohab Canyon to the trail overlooking Fruita was nice. You park in the lot on Rt. 24 for both. We thanked her and headed out.
We found the parking lot and decided to try the Cohab Canyon Trail. We put on our hiking boots, loaded our packs with the water, strapped on the cameras and headed out. To get to the trailhead we crossed the bridge over the river and then crossed Rt. 24. The trail climbs right up away from the road but not too steeply. The ranger was right. Cohab is a beautiful little trail up the canyon through intricately carved colorful rocks and the vistas got better the higher you went.