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The Great Northwestern Loop


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#1 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 02:56 PM

We've been back from our "mondo loop" for less than a week. All we'd seen and done is still soaking into our spirits, mixed in with the daily struggles and joys we experience. For example, yesterday was an MD Anderson day. I wrote in my journal...

21-Aug @ MDA

Edna has her semi-monthly CAT scan again today-- She's had so many that her body has grown allergic to the contrast, so she had to take steroids last night to try and counteract that, but the steroids create their own smaller discomfort. Sitting with her waiting for them to take blood from her chemo- shrunken veins (Chemo shrinks tumors sometimes, but it also shrinks other things as well.) I begin to feel the old familiar sense of dread ... that I would rather be somewhere else.

And then it dawns on me: We were! My mind goes to various unconnected memories of The Big Loop.

I read the above to Edna and she described similar thoughts that she had been having. Edna describes her way of thinking like this, "I try to let the good thoughts float on top of the bad ones."


May all of our good thoughts float atop the bad thoughts.

Back to the journal...

It is time, then, to begin the trip report.

Who would admit to thinking...

"I would rather not spend time with the people who love me most.
"What my business associates think is more important than what my handicapped son thinks.
"I know my wife is not going to live forever (nor am I); still, and all, I would rather risk future regrets than make present sacrifices to be with her."


But how do we behave?

Thank God for Edna's cancer. It is the lens that focuses our attention on what is really important.


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#2 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 03:29 PM

In Texas

Our loop didn't really get started for about a day and a half; that's almost how long it took to leave Texas. I journaled:

23-Jul (Finally) Left @ 5:45 p.m. for Palo Duro Canyon. Have heard thunder and seen lightning to the North.


We had to get to Utah for a business meeting by Monday morning, so that is why we left Thursday afternoon. Along the way, we had decided to stop off at a couple of Texas State Parks, Caprock Canyons
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and Palo Duro Canyon.
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(Palo Duro is described by TPWD as "the Grand Canyon of Texas." <_< ;) Well, we'll allow as how everything isn't necessarily bigger here, y'all!)

The main attraction for us is that these parks are close by and we're hoping to return for long weekends in the future.

Caprock Canyons was also Edna's first taste of covering rough terrain in the truck. Here's some video she shot:

Edna gets dirty
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#3 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 04:28 PM

Canyonlands, UT

We got to Canyonlands NP on Saturday evening, after the visitor center was already closed. Without realizing it, we were setting a pace that would continue throughout the trip-- It had only been 51 hours since we left Spring, TX!

Even before we made it into Canyonlands, the scenery was, shall we say, "enhanced" compared with Tejas...
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The road to the park entrance gave us no inkling of what the park was to look like...
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The lateness of our arrival, coupled with the weather...
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...made it somewhat difficult to accurately record the beauty that surrounded us, not that we didn't try. (Note Robert with his phone camera, below.)
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Here is one shot that gives the feel of the place, even though it was taken outside the park, I believe.
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One the way out I noticed a sign describing a short hike to see a Puebloan granary. Edna was a little nervous about leaving the safety of the truck, but decided to try. It was the first time in over a year she had ventured away from paved, level ground. Here's my brave soldier...
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...and what we saw:
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The excitement of the find trumped the fear of the trip and also set the stage for more hiking in the days to come. Our "Mondo Loop" would turn out to be even better than I had hoped...
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#4 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:32 PM

The Arches

We spent our first evening of "The Loop" in a non-photogenic way, in Canyonlands Campground, Moab UT. Edna slept on the "pull out couch" so she could be close to the "facilities" overnight. Robert stationed himself on the inside edge of the upper bunk, and I climbed over him to take the remaining space over the cab. Supper was a shared prime rib special in the restaurant next door.

Sunday was to be devoted to Arches NP.

The morning weather was a continuation of the dampness and occasional electrical discharges we experienced in Canyonlands.
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We saw arches...
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...and towers...
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...and balanced rocks...
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As the weather was pretty grim and we were getting a little restless stuck inside (we even ate our lunch inside the camper, as I recall) I began to survey the park map for something else to do. I thought I found a scenic loop to drive, like the one we found in Caprock Canyons...
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Since I was driving and trying to read a map (nothing wrong with that combo, right? :blink: ) I failed to read the fine print on the map--

Because of soft sand on steep grades, vehicular travel is recommended only from north to south through this area. Stay on designated roads.


No, Mark, this was NOT a dirt road...
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#5 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:35 PM

Arches, con't.

Here is a funny little video composite from my perspective, then Edna and Robert's, and then back to mine again. As you listen to the part Edna shot, notice that the usually taciturn Bobby got a little outraged by the loud banging noises coming from beneath the floor where his feet were. :rolleyes:

Arches Off-road Video

After that, Edna started coming unglued a little. I had to think fast, because there wasn't any real way to turn around and get out of there. I decided Edna (and Robert) was mostly feeling a loss of control over her personal safety-- if she could get back some control, she might do OK.

I had gotten out of the truck again to survey the terrain and thought, "Wouldn't Edna be able to do this?" She had already shown her ability to scramble over rocks the day before in Canyonlands, and she loves problem-solving.

I went back to the truck and said, "Sweetie, it would really help a lot if you could sort of go out in front and guide me over the rocks and stuff-" Out the door bolted Edna!
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Now Robert was able to move to 'shotgun' so he was happy, too. We spent the next four hours rock crawling through 'only' thirteen-and-a-half miles of jeep trail in our stock F250||Hawk combo. What an exciting afternoon!

The aftermath...
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One other thing that bears mentioning was this vehicle we saw in the Visitor Center parking lot:
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The fellow has a website; it's www.rigert.com

Edna swore she'd done her first and last off-roading. I thought to myself, "Not if I know Edna."
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#6 Barko1

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:13 PM

Very nice report :) , S Utah has to be one of the best places. Think I may stop there on the way back from the Alpine Loop event!
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#7 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:17 PM

Thanks, John. We had so much to see we need to go back out again soon. Next time we're going to see mostly people instead of things. ;-)
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#8 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:25 PM

Salt Lake City

We left Arches NP and beat a hasty trail to Salt Lake City, so I could be at work Monday. We hotel-ed it Sunday night so I could clean up before meeting with colleagues in the morning.
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After a long day sitting around jawing about antennas and such, we camped on Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake.
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Now we didn't need to be anywhere in particular for another three weeks.
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#9 realbtl

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 11:28 PM

Mark, Edna and Robert- Glad you all got home safely. Sounds like it was a good trip and it was nice connecting with you. Thanks for the pic of Palo Duro, it's been on my list for a while. Barney
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#10 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 01:59 AM

Mark, Edna and Robert- Glad you all got home safely. Sounds like it was a good trip and it was nice connecting with you. Thanks for the pic of Palo Duro, it's been on my list for a while. Barney


Spoiler! :P

If you're coming to P.D, you'd best not without letting us know first; to a Texan it's right in our backyard!
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