Shorts, today I’ll wear shorts again! As I stepped out to drain our tanks, our Winnebago View neighbors dropped by to chat. They’re from Aspen and travelling for a few weeks. “I can’t be gone too long. I have twelve grand children. I have to buy lots of ice cream!”, one fellow said. They dropped by to help with our refrigerator. Ellen had mentioned it wasn’t working last night. One fellow had trouble with his propane valve and thought if my problem was similar he could fix it. Nope, my refrigerator’s display is dead. We chatted for a long while as the wind was picking up. I wasn’t dressed for the cold, but didn’t want to cut the conversation short. I froze. No more shorts for me today.
I’m getting good at dumping the gray and black tanks. There’s nothing to it really. The only bummer on my rig is removing the cover cap. One of my valves leaks a bit and liquid backs up in the drain. When I remove the cap I get a cup of yuck that splashes on the ground. It happens every time. One solution is to drive with the cap off. I’ve had people jumping up and down, waving, and pointing to the cap dangling in the rear. “Yeah, the cap isn’t connected, I’ll get right on that…”
With a partial water fill our tanks show water 2/3, propane 3/4, gray and black tanks empty.
Views Everywhere as we Rise from the Valley
We stopped for ice at the Chuckwagon. Their bakery (such as it was) was open, but not appetizing. With Ice and two cookies we headed off on U-12 to Boulder, Utah. “I Survived Route 12”, this popular on T-shirts. One of our Sand Creek neighbors told tales of driving U-12 as if it’s a horror show. I wasn’t looking forward to driving in this morning’s wind. Being buffeted on a high narrow road could be trouble.
There are massive groves of aspens in the high country toward Boulder. They must be magnificent at this time of year. This year they were bare. Cold temperature and high winds for a 36 hour period denuded the trees. Now and then a few trees held their leaves defiantly showing bright yellow in a sea of gray.
Stunning Beauty thwarted By a Cold Wind
With No Expectations We Couldn’t Be Disappointed, Right?
The road to Boulder is fine. There was little to no wind. Cynthia, a good friend, suggested we stop in the charming little town of Boulder and visit Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm for a bite. Boulder is a tiny little town. You have the visitor’s center, a gas station (diesel at $3.39 per gal.), a motel, cabins, a curio shop, and Hell’s Backbone Grill. There may be more, to the town, that’s what we saw. Blink and you’ll miss Boulder. I began to question Cynthia’s recommendation. It looked like there was nothing here. I imagined a chicken fried steak with reconstituted mashed potato, but I know Cyn better than that.
So we asked about Hell’s Backbone at the visitors center. “It’s about a quarter of a mile down the road by the rental cabins.” It might be a bit more than a quarter mile, but it was obvious as we approached. It was the only series of buildings along the road. There is a sign for the restaurant that would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. My parking was questionable, but I thought since the restaurant was closing in an hour and didn’t appear to be too busy it would be OK. Hell’s Backbone closes for lunch at 2 pm.
Walking toward the front door we knew we had found something special. A sign read “Help Rescue Escalante”. Another sign mentioned honoring all peoples of all races and colors. Inside were more signs and sayings about diversity and appreciating the outdoors.
Ellen ordered Jen’s Outrageous Potato, Bacon, Cheese Soup and a Kale Salad. I ordered the Boulder Patty Melt medium rare. Ellen loved her soup and the kale salad. My patty melt was served with caramelized onion, cheese, and a marvelous sauce. It was superb. It came with an amazing potato salad that didn’t try to be something else. This was fantastic meal. We had chocolate chili with whipped cream for desert. Not moose, the chocolate was thick, buttery, and melted in your mouth.
When I find something exceptional, I make it a point to point it out. Ellen and I chatted with our server for quite a while, about the food, the chefs (who are the owners), the quality of the food. “We’ve been discovered”, he said, “NPR and The New Yorker ran articles about our restaurant. We have people coming from all over the country .”
If you didn’t know to stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill, you’d miss out on an amazing experience. Who knew a restaurant of this quality and charm is nestled in such a small town in the middle of “nowhere”. It’s a beautiful nowhere to be sure, But it is really isolated.
High on Utah 12
I have never knowingly driven an 18% grade, never. There are at least two extended 18% down grades on U-12 headed west. We drove the knife edged ridge, the “horror story”, in awe of the panorama. That stretch of road was no problem. On the down grades, I used a lower gear and stab breaking and had no problem whatsoever. Turnouts are abundant. I’ll often let cars pass. In poor weather conditions or with snow and ice on the road, U-12 would be problematic. A clear road and perfect weather make for a relaxed drive.
Cottonwoods mark the Escalante River
Stopping for some Kiva Coffee
The View from Kiva Coffee’s Deck
A sign on the right announced Kiva Coffee. Instinctively i turned off the pavement, bumped on a short dirt patch, then rode pavement up to a parking lot. I really didn’t “need” a coffee, but the view atop the ridge was enticing. Kiva Coffee has glass windows overlooking a wide canyon. Cottonwillows in bright yellow marked the Escalante River below. We savored a cappuccino and latte from the back deck. We enjoyed our brief relaxation and left with a Vanilla Raspberry Scone and Escalante restaurant recommendations.
Ellen Loves to Scamper on Rocks
Cottonwoods along the Escalante River
The Long and Winding Road
Ellen and a Family from Munich
We met a family from Munich at the next scenic turnout. Two guys had climbed a knob. Of course Ellen put her hiking boots on and climbed up too. We saw them at the next turnout and at the market when we stopped for supplies. The checkout gal wore an “I’m With Creepy” T-shirt. We commented on it and she ushered over a co-worker, wearing an identical T-shirt. “I was married five months ago. My husband doesn’t want me wearing this T-shirt.” We were all joking around, having some fun.
Ellen asked where we might find a campground. She recommended the park just up main street. It’s close to restaurants in town. Or we could go about three miles out of town. There’s another one there with lots of room.
Canyon Escalante RV Park
We turned into the park just up the street, Canyon Escalante RV Park. We chatted with the manager as we checked in. She recommended we disconnect and drain our water hose tonight. “The Circle-D has the most raves. For pizza go to Escalante Outfitters a bit further down Main St.” “Would you like a slice of pizza?”, Ellen asked. We usually order far too much pizza and have leftover for the next day. “Oh, you don’t have to” “When do you close? We’ll bring a piece back with us.” “9 PM”.
We settled in, checked out the shower/toilets, started recording the JETS vs Patriots, and left for pizza. Escalante Outfitters was moderately busy. The log cabin is rustic and toasty warm. The outfitters side is to the left; the restaurant to the right. We weren’t sure they served pizza and had to ask. “Yes, you’re in the right place. Take a seat” It took a while to order and a longish time for the pizza to arrive. It was worth the wait. They make the sour dough themselves. The pepperoni was better than I can purchase in any market. It had fresh basil in abundance. We ordered an 18 inch pizza, enough for leftovers for us. We had one slice packed separately.
Back at the RV Park, we rang the doorbell (it was well before 9 PM). Debbie was surprised and happy to have a slice of pizza delivered. We do thinks like this. Random acts of kindness are fun to do.
As for the JETS vs Patriots, it’s not going well for the JETS. 24 to zero. Not well at all.