Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Wheel Bearing Chronicles, Part III

After Dinosaur, I headed back over to the Point of the Mountain to kill a few days before I headed south to the Santa Cruz Flats Race, and I was happy to be able to boondock on the South Side instead of staying at the RV park. It was just as windy over at the South Side, but at least I wasn't parked right on the edge of a cliff, so it felt a little safer.  

I was even able to get a flight at the North Side - my first and only North Side flight. I was still nervous launching into so much traffic, but I had Pat and Cory backing me up and checking for traffic and there were only a couple of gliders in sight when I actually did launch.  I got a nice little flight - although I can't remember how long it was, I was up for a while and made several passes along the lower ridge.  I never did bench up, but I was proud of myself for hanging in the crowded airspace as long as I did.  After I landed, I looked up and realized there had to be 40 or 50 gliders in the air - yikes! Had I realized just how many there were, I probably wouldn't have launched.  Most of them were way above me and therefore not an issue at all, so I'm glad I was blissfully ignorant in this case. 

On Tuesday, September 8th, I left POM and began driving south - I wanted to stop in Phoenix and see my cousin Monica on my way down to Casa Grande for the Santa Cruz Flats Race.  I was a bit nervous, still reeling from what I now refer to as my "Navajo experience", and would have preferred to drive in a caravan with others but I knew that no one else planned to leave as early or drive as slowly and over multiple days the way I did.  I considered routing through Vegas in order to avoid driving through the reservation, but decided that idea was a bit ridiculous.  So, after spending all of Tuesday morning attempting to find a grease cap that would stay on my wheel hub, I eventually just headed out and hoped for the best.

Tuesday was uneventful, but Wednesday morning as I filled up my gas tank before hitting the road, some guy did point out that one of the trailer's grease caps was missing.  I told him I knew that and thank you. I did know that one was missing, I just didn't know what the hell I could do about it.  I had gone through a handful of grease caps and felt like an idiot just slapping another one in there when I knew it would be gone in a few miles.  I thanked him and got on the road.  I probably made it a couple of hours before I heard a loud bang and knew that one of my tires had blown out.  

Well, yes, one of my tires was flat, and that wheel bearing was shot as well.  This time I was, thankfully, NOT on a reservation.  So already I felt ahead of the game.  I had just enough cell service to call Good Sam, which I did immediately. I felt confident I was handling things properly this time.  Several cars passed me but no one stopped, and I was actually quite grateful to be left alone while I talked to Good Sam and then waited.  I decided to get the tire off, figuring that would speed things along just a bit, and it wasn't like I had anything else to do at the moment.  As I removed the tire, I looked into the wheel hub and thought I saw a flame.  Holy shit.  I knew those things could get hot and there was a chance it could catch fire, so I ran around to the other side of the trailer, went inside and grabbed the fire extinguisher.  I gave the hub a good spray with the fire extinguisher and then stood staring at the wheel in shock, imagining the the entire trailer with most of my worldly possessions going up in flames.  Jesus fucking Christ. I just got really lucky.  

Good Sam sent a mobile mechanic to do the repair on the roadside and get me on my way.  This sounded like a good idea at the time, but I was about an hour north of Kanab, UT, so it was almost 2 hours before he arrived.  He got to work right away, but soon found out that he didn't have the right parts and he had to go back to the shop in Kanab.  I opted to wait where I was.  A couple more hours later, he returned with bad news.  The problem was not that he didn't have the right parts - it was that the wheel hub was so old and deformed that no parts would fit.  He would have to put the wheel back together so I could drive the trailer to Kanab, and they would replace the hub at the shop there.  OK, fine.  

The mechanic followed me to MD Auto in Kanab, and then I made a break for some food.  By the time I got back to the auto shop, it was dusk and they were just finishing up.  More bad news, though - they weren't able to find a replacement hub that would fit.  The axle manufacturer is out of business, so I would have to take the trailer to a shop in a city and either hope they could find replacement hubs or just replace both axles altogether.  They did replace all 4 sets of bearings though, and they taped up a couple of the grease caps.  The others seemed to be on there pretty good, so they were not taped.  By the time I had settled up (for what may as well have been a million dollars - 6 hours of labor), it was fully dark. The owner of the shop asked me where I was headed that night, and I told him I wasn't sure.  I asked him if he thought I could make it to Page and whether I could get there without going through a reservation.  He said I could definitely make it there, but that it was on a reservation.  In that case, I told him, I would be staying in town and leaving in the morning.  He recommended a nearby RV park managed by "a nice Dutch couple" and we swapped scary reservation stories.  From him I learned that there is a lot of gang activity on the reservation, and his Navajo friend has admonished him against driving through the reservation at night.  None of this has made me any more comfortable with the idea of setting foot on the reservation ever again.  

The next morning, I set out bright and early with plans of having dinner with Monica that evening.   I knew I would be holding my breath the entire time I was on the reservation, and I also knew there was no guarantee the grease caps would hold through that drive.  About 50 miles into the drive, I checked the grease caps and the same troublemaker was already gone.  I had an extra grease cap in the car, so I slammed that into the hub. I checked again after another 50 miles, and the grease cap was gone.  I happened to have one last Bearing Buddy in the car, so I jammed it in and continued driving.  After another few miles, I stopped for gas on the reservation, and the Bearing Buddy was gone.  Fuck me.  I didn't know what to do.  I was out of parts, but I knew I couldn't leave that wheel without a grease cap.  In the middle of nowhere on the reservation, I doubted I would be able to find another cap within 100 miles, and I also knew that it wouldn't stay in there anyway.  I just needed to cover it up so that the grease would be unable to spray out as I was driving.  I had a roll of Gorilla Tape in the truck, and I decided to MacGyver up a grease cap out of Gorilla Tape.  I figured the worst that could happen would be that it would blow off as I drove, which would be no worse than the metal grease caps disappearing.  

200 miles later, the Gorilla Tape was still holding strong.  I was dumbfounded.  All the time and money I had spent, running in and out of auto parts stores, and all this time all I'd needed was Gorilla Tape?!?!  WTF?!?!

Just call me "MacGyver"
I made it to Phoenix without any further issues and brought the trailer straight to an RV repair shop.  I left it there overnight, hoping they would find replacement hubs, but knowing that I might just have to pony up for new axles.  Then I went and had a nice dinner with Monica at 32 Shea.  The next day, I got my hair did while I waited for news of the trailer.

The repair shop was not able to find any replacement hubs or replacement axles.  They thought they could have someone locally fabricate new axles for a few hundred bucks each, which would come complete with brand new hubs...but they would need to remove the axles from the trailer and bring them to the fabricator.  So this would have to wait until after the Santa Cruz Flats Race, since I needed to stay in the trailer during the comp.  The guys put everything back together and replaced any missing grease caps. This time I only had an hour's drive, but when I got to Casa Grande I was missing two grease caps.  Out came the Gorilla Tape once again - honey badger don't need no stinking grease caps!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Dinosaur, Colorado is in the Northwest corner of the state, right across the Utah border. The name comes from its proximity to Dinosaur National Monument, which is so named for the mass quantities of dinosaur remains found in the area.  It's pretty remote - the nearest Walmart is about 45 minutes from town, and town is about 45 minutes from the location of the hang gliding launch.  Yes, I now measure civilization by how far from Walmart we are.  Read into that what you will.

To get to the hang gliding launch you actually drive through a good portion of the monument itself.  It's high desert, and there is no "civilization" in this area, but there is a LOT of wildlife.  Everyone had a hard time driving through without hitting any bunnies (the poor things were all over the road, jumping out in front of us at all times) and we saw many deer and birds as well...I saw a fox one night.  The launch itself is actually 4 launches along a cliff face at about 8,000 feet above sea level. There are two designated LZs, but they both kind of suck in their own ways, and it's an hour & a half turnaround just to take a sledder - the name of the game at Dinosaur is going XC. 
View from one of the launches at Dinosaur
Most of the pilots and crew camped out up top on launch, but my water pump still wasn't working so I checked into the ghost town - I mean RV park - in town.  Again, this place was pretty cheap and came with full hookups, but there were definitely tumbleweeds blowing through, mostly unimpeded by any structures.  I hooked up and went to registration, where I met up with a bunch of people I hadn't seen in months and received the first of many guilt trips for not camping out on launch. I also gathered a couple of people who were theoretically willing to help me change out my water pump, but in hang gliding terms it's not always easy to translate willingness into doingness...especially at a competition where everyone is on a tight schedule every day.  

Although I had gotten a couple of foot launches at Point of the Mountain, I still wasn't what I considered to be current and confident, and Dinosaur itself was pretty intimidating to me, so I definitely wanted a practice flight in smooth air before the competition started.  I made the mistake of asking Terry how late in the morning the conditions were likely to be conducive to such a thing, and I could see his energy towards me change immediately.  He was now nervous about me, and the only thing I could do to change his mind was participate in the launch clinic with Ryan Voight.  Terry would not even discuss conditions with me; he made certain I talked to Ryan and set up a time for him to critique my launch. This was fine with me, as long as I wasn't going to be forced into a peanut gallery situation.  I tend not to get as much out of a clinic as I do out of one on one instruction because I get distracted by so many different viewpoints, I'm not able to think through every single one of them, and I end up frustrated and not retaining very much.  

Saturday morning, I drove up to launch, caught up with several more people I hadn't seen in a while, and set up my glider.  There was a small issue with the sail, which Zac helped me fix, and then I got suited up.  I had assumed that there would be others flying, since the day before there were several people involved in Ryan's clinic. However, today there was only one paraglider pilot who flew long before I even suited up.  Hence, a crowd formed as soon as I started towards launch.  This, of course, compounded my nerves. To add to my crowd-related anxiety, as I walked up to launch, someone reached in and touched my hang strap.  I put the glider down and yelled, "What?!"  I couldn't believe someone would reach into my control frame as I was suited up and walking the glider to launch.  It felt disrespectful at a minimum - and since I didn't know who this person was or what the hell they were doing, it felt dangerous.  Turned out to be GW, who thought I had forgotten my secondary hang strap.  It would have been very dangerous to launch with only one hang strap.  Luckily, my primary and secondary hang straps are sown together, so that there is only one streamlined strap to hook into.  All was fine with my glider.  

At this point, I took a moment to collect myself and crouched in the control frame of my glider, taking some deep breaths.  I looked out towards the launch and decided I wanted confirmation from Ryan that the exact spot where I intended to initiate my launch run made sense to him.  I called him over, told him I was getting more nervous as the crowd grew and asked him my question.  He showed me where he thought I should start, which did coincide with my own thoughts, so that was good.  I still hesitated, though, and he did a pretty good job of reminding me that this was just another launch and I already knew how to do it, so I should just do what I knew how to do.  Unfortunately, he did also tell me that I needed to show Terry I knew what I was doing, because he was a bit nervous about me.  That didn't help, although I do believe he meant well.  However, Ryan did something that I will always love him for, and that was getting rid of the crowd.  He told them all to go check out the food truck or something, and before I knew it, we were left with Ryan, Majo (who had agreed to drive for me) and her sister Roxy. This, I could handle.  I picked up the glider and had a nice, smooth launch.  I hit a few bumps on the way, but no strong lift, and my mindset was to take a sledder, so I continued out to the LZ.  I also knew that I didn't like the look of the closest LZ, the Snake Pit (really a pit, with a road directly down the middle) so I really wanted to make sure I made it to the Corrals LZ and didn't want to risk losing any altitude searching for thermals I might not hook.  I made it to the Corrals with about 700 feet of altitude, plenty of time to check out the wind direction and set up an approach, and had a decent landing.  Not perfect, but safe and sound.  

As I broke down my glider, a couple of locals and some newly arrived pilots stopped by to ask directions or check out the LZ, and I had just finished packing up when Majo arrived. On the way back, we were talking and missed our turn, but found this incredible view instead:

When we got back up top, a bunch of people made a point of complimenting my launch, which was a relief.  According to Ryan I had slightly popped the nose, so that gave me something to work on.  When I saw Terry later he said he hadn't seen my launch, but heard that it was good.  His entire demeanor towards me had changed once again.   I also got to talking to Tip back on launch, and he was thinking about entering the competition but hadn't yet signed up. Well, I was thinking that I really didn't want to compete, but I had signed up many months earlier and paid a much lower fee than the onsite fee.  I offered Tip my entry, and after changing his mind a few dozen times he finally ponied up.  While on the emotional roller coaster of Tip's decision, I had decided for myself that I was going to drop out either way, but it sure was nice to get my money back.  I find competitions to be stressful, and I didn't want to be stressed out - I just wanted to enjoy myself.  

As the comp unfolded, I became more and more glad to have made the decision to drop out.  The weather was pretty crazy.  The first few days, there were several thunderstorms visible from launch by the time the launch window opened. Some were on or near course, while others weren't.  But you still had to launch with those storms in view, which did nothing to make me more comfortable flying this site.  And unlike aIerotow comps, if you sunk out you would be done for the day and you'd still have to wait for your driver to pick you up and bring you back up.  A bunch of people ended up with stories of landing in gust fronts or in backcountry, and Cory has some great video of a little hail storm he experienced one day after landing & packing up.  He had just packed up his glider and run into a nearby barn when it started hailing - in the video it looks like snow.  It was a cool experience to be there, but I'm glad I didn't have to make decisions about whether to fly in those conditions. The last few days of the comp were blown out or rained out, so there were only 3 valid competition days out of 7.

Even though I wasn't flying, I had a great time with old and new friends.  I played badminton for the first time in years, which brought back great memories of my time on the varsity badminton team during my senior year of high school (really).  I went exploring, both along the rim and down in the canyon.  And I got someone to help me change out my water pump!  As it happens, I think the problem was with the placement of the intake hose - it was preventing me from getting the tank full.  I thought it was full because it wouldn't take in any water, but really it was empty. In any case, by Wednesday I had moved my trailer up top to a site with a beautiful view right on the edge of the cliff.  It was way off level, but my next door neighbor Fred sacrificed some time and a couple of pieces of firewood to help me level it out. 
The view from my front door
My dream home, down in the canyon

Adrian at the Whispering Cave in Echo Park

Steamboat Rock
Either the Green or the Yampa River

Adrian out past the end of the Harpers Corner Trail

Me out past the end of the Harpers Corner Trail

AND...WE GOT TO TOUCH REAL DINOSAUR BONES!!  The Quarry Exhibit Hall at Dinosaur National Monument is worth a trip, if only for this reason.  It's a real excavation site, which has yielded a number of skeletons now on display at various museums around the world.  At some point they stopped excavating and built a glass enclosure, which now serves as an exhibit hall where you can see actual fossils still in the sediment...and in a few places, you can actually touch the fossils.  These are real, ancient bones, not replicas.  Where else can you touch actual dinosaur bones?  Pretty damn cool, in my book. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Point of the Mountain, or "Damn Paragliders!"

I would have loved to have hung out in Moab for a while longer - I didn't get to explore Canyonlands National Park, and there are so many other outdoor activities, but I wanted to make sure I had a full week at Point of the Mountain (POM) before I moved on to Dinosaur, CO.  

As I drove up towards Salt Lake City on Friday August 21st, two things hit me all at once: 1) I had once again managed to hit rush hour traffic precisely at 5 pm (a special talent of mine ever since I started towing the trailer) and 2) I was extremely tired, more so than I felt I should be.  #1 was easily fixed by pulling over and waiting until rush hour had passed.  #2 was harder to pin down, but when I thought I about it I realized I had been going pretty much non-stop since last weekend, which had ended up being pretty traumatic.  I also realized that I hadn't yet told the story to anyone close to me.  I wasn't keeping it a secret on purpose, I had just been busy and hadn't touched base with anyone that week.  That's not out of the ordinary for me, but given my experience on the Navajo reservation I was in need of a sympathetic ear.  I called my cousin Donna and told her the story, after which I went into Walmart to pick up a few things.  As I walked around Walmart, I felt really tired and sleepy - even more so than I had already. I realized that I had been carrying around a lot of tension all week, and it was finally being released.  I still had a long way to go to fully let go of what happened, but I had started the process and I felt good about that. 

Since my water pump still wasn't working, I had booked a reservation at the RV park in Draper, which put me about 10 minutes from the North Side of Point of the Mountain and 20 from the South Side.  This place's strong point is its proximity to the flight parks, but it's about 100 feet from the interstate so there's a lot of street noise...wouldn't recommend it if you can manage staying at the South Side with no hookups.  Nonetheless, with full hookups I'm able to run a fan overnight - that combined with the ear plugs allowed me to get a decent night's rest.  I hooked up the trailer and then went up to check out the North Side, where my old friend Alex met up with me around sunset.  We had a nice catch up and he got to be the 2nd person who heard the full story of my Navajo experience.  It was great to have someone to commiserate with in person. 

The next couple of days I didn't get much flying in.  I did meet up with Pat and we got to hang out a bunch, which was awesome.  He and Dave Beardsley each spent some time with me working on ground handling in the high (but mostly smooth) winds at the South Side of POM.  I would show up at the South Side in the morning and the North Side in the afternoon, as instructed.  However, since I'm not such a confident foot launch pilot I was looking for just the right conditions for my first foot launches there, and those perfect conditions are hard to come by.  Since I wasn't confident in my ground handling, I wanted to wait until the winds died down a bit.  But as soon as the winds did die down, the paragliders would I had the right wind conditions, but a whole bunch of traffic.  This traffic flies more slowly than I do, and leaves a wake to fly through.  I'm already somewhat nervous any time I'm flying near a mountain - I'm just so used to flying in the flats that it throws me off to know that I'm close to the ground.  POM is a place where you generally spend most of your time pretty low to the ground, even during a soaring the combination of proximity to the ground and proximity to other gliders while in flight, further combined with the stress of making sure I launched into a clear "lane", made for a perfect storm of nerves and psyching myself out on launch.  I would then wait until the paragliders cleared out, but by then it was either too thermic (North Side AM) or cross/no wind/catabatic (South Side PM).  Neither of those options were on my list of preferred launch conditions.  

I did manage to get a couple of flights off the South Side before I left.  I had a buddy on my nose just in case I needed help with ground handling, but also to help me check for air traffic.  I would then launch and do my best to stay in the lift band without getting too close to other gliders or to the ground...I'd last a few minutes, or several passes, before my overly cautious mindset got me pushed out of the lift band and I'd land in the LZ at the bottom.  I was so happy with those 10- and 12-minute flights!  

Sometime around the middle of that week, Lauren and Glenn showed up in their borrowed RV en route to Dinosaur, and four of us (me, Pat, Lauren & Glenn) went up to Inspiration Point.  When we arrived, we found six or seven paragliders packing up as the wind was very decidedly cross.  It was nice to get to at least see a new site, though, and quite a beautiful view.  

As a consolation prize, we were treated to a nice rainbow :)

On Friday I packed up and headed out to Dinosaur, CO, where I was registered to compete in the 2015 Dinosaur Hang Gliding Competition....but not before I was treated to this lovely view as I did some chores around my RV site.  I asked for captions, and the winning entry is below.
Despite centuries of service, Santa's retirement package left much to be desired.-Cory Barnwell

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Zion, Bryce, and Arches

Each of these three national parks could easily support a week of exploring, but I only had one week in which to drop in on each one of these on my way to the Point of the Mountain.  It continues to amaze me how much beautiful terrain is concentrated in the state of Utah - each of these places is incredibly beautiful and I feel grateful that they've been preserved as national parks instead of being developed into suburbs.   

When I finally got to the RV park just east of the entrance to Zion, the woman at the desk exclaimed relief that I'd finally made it.  I didn't go into the story, but I admitted that it had been quite an experience.  She made quick work of checking me in and even made it clear that she felt bad about putting me in a back-in site, "because she knew how she would feel in that situation".  Once she heard I'd been living in the trailer for a couple of months at that point, she calmed down quite a bit.  The best thing I can say for this place is that it's just a few miles from the east entrance to Zion - not much in the way of amenities, including almost no cell service and no wifi on the side of the street where the actual campsites are.  The location is also not as convenient as one might think, because in order to get to the Zion Visitor's Center and the shuttle that takes you to most of the hiking trails and the "must see" parts of the park, you have to drive several miles along switchbacks and through a tunnel that was built in the 1920's.  This makes it a real procedure to drive through with an RV, since traffic has to be stopped and can only flow in one direction at a time in order to allow oversized vehicles to move through.  All services are also on the west side of the park, so grocery shopping, etc required me to drive all the way through the park.  But, I hadn't been in any state to do much research before I got there, so the price was pretty cheap and I just booked it.  Overall it wasn't bad, but I might not stay there again. 

Zion itself was just as cool as everyone had told me.  I stayed two nights, which really meant I had one full day of exploring.  The Narrows sounded so cool and I would still really love to do it, but it also sounded a bit dangerous as most of the way you are actually hiking in the river - there is no trail, per se...and I just wasn't up to the risk at that point.  So, I chose to hike to Angel's Landing, which is one of the iconic viewpoints that you'll see when most people post pics.  This was pretty tough, mostly because I am not a morning person and by the time I hit the trail it was solidly midday.  Very little shade and midsummer desert temperatures combined with a high-ish altitude made this pretty rough.  But I made it.  There is a point at which most people stop and rest - it's a lookout of sorts, with a big rock with partial shade.  I stopped here and watched as people began the climb up, and debated for some time whether to do it or not.  I was tired, but was I really too tired to not get to the top?  I love getting to the tops of things.  And the hike up to that point, while not easy, had been kind of boring.  It's a smooth packed-dirt trail that feels almost paved, with a lot of switchbacks and not a lot of viewpoints.  So I finally got off my ass and started climbing up.  To say I'm glad I did would be a gross understatement. This was one of the coolest hikes I've ever done.  The scenery at the top was just a bonus - I was using my entire body to pull myself up and over and around boulders (there are chains to grab onto at the hardest parts), walking along ridges with steep dropoffs on both sides, and just generally having an incredible time.  I stopped a bunch of times to catch my breath but always kept going and was rewarded with an incredible view at the top.  Honestly, climbing back down was just as much fun as going up. 

Zion is also where I discovered the Polygamy Porter.  Everyone talks about "Utah beer" as this weak, horrible beer, but these guys know their way around a porter.  I drank this stuff for the next month or so as I hung out in and around Utah.  I also did a little research - the line on Utah beer is that it can't be more than 3.2% alcohol, which sounds very low.  However, that is 3.2% by WEIGHT (ABW).  The entire rest of the world measures alcohol content by VOLUME (ABV). 3.2% ABW equates to 4.0% ABV.  Still not strong by any measure, but more in line with, say, a light beer.  This ends your beer lesson for today.

I left Zion on Tuesday morning, 8/18 and debated whether to stop at Bryce Canyon National Park or not.  I was running out of time if I wanted to get a full week at Point of the Mountain, but I had heard great things about Bryce.  And since it's basically in the middle of nowhere, I figured that if I didn't do it then I might never do it.  So I did.  

I got to the RV park in the middle of the afternoon and went searching for a new sewer hose.  While at Zion, I had discovered that my hose had tiny little pinprick holes in it, which just let little tiny streams of water through.  This didn't worry me when I was draining the grey water tank - that's just shower & sink water and might smell, but generally is not toxic.  However, this is disastrous when emptying the black water tank.  I didn't need to drain that tank just yet, but as with people, when you gotta go you gotta I didn't want to be stuck with a full tank and no hose.  However, I really wanted to just replace the one I already had, which connected to my trailer and the sewer donut really easily and cleanly...and apparently Bryce, UT is not the place to be picky.  So I walked away from the super helpful chick at the local hardware store and went exploring.  I still had a bit of daylight left, so I hopped on the shuttle into the park, got off at the furthest point and started walking back.  But not before I took a couple of pics from the end.

Bryce is my favorite national park to date.  I love the rock formations, and this is where I learned how they're formed - freeze and thaw. During the day, water gets into cracks in the sandstone.  At night, the water freezes and expands, widening the cracks.  The next day, the water melts and drains, but more water gets in to the now bigger cracks.  This water freezes and expands the cracks further, melts the next day, and the cycle repeats until the cracks are big enough to break off a piece of the rock.  In this way, all of the rock formations at Bryce are constantly changing.  Maybe that's why I like them so much, because I can relate so well.  Change is the only constant.  And they are beautiful as they are changing - even more so because they are changing.  We don't know when or how Thor's hammer will fall to the canyon floor, so we have to appreciate it while it's here.  And who knows what it will look like afterwards? It might be something even more beautiful. 

Thor's hammer

Saw this adorable couple on my way out

I was also really happy when I realized that the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument is something you drive through, rather than go to.   I didn't have time for another full stop, but I was quite happy to drive though it, stopping to take pictures. 

Next up - Arches National Park.  I pulled into the RV park just North of Moab, started cranking up the jack on the front of the trailer so I could unhook it from the car, and it fell.  Just fell.  It was completely broken, in that it is designed to lift things and it would no longer do so.  I didn’t know how I was going to get the damn thing unhooked. I went back into the office, felt a cry coming on and went straight into the bathroom.  Got myself under control, went back out and asked for some help.  The old guy managing the place and his young nephew helped me get unhooked using a long crowbar and some wooden boards.  We balanced the trailer on the rinky dink jack that came with the car so that I could at least move the car, and they gave me a couple of ideas of places I might be able to buy a new jack.  Thankfully, this time it was actually a simple repair, although I had to wait till the next morning for the stores to open.  I did have to go back and return the first jack I bought – I had thought it would be best to go with the heavier duty version, but it was too big to fit through the little hole on my trailer.  Once I had the right size, it was just a matter of unscrewing 3 bolts.  Simple, right? 

Wrong. These bolts were painted on – I’m pretty sure they were the original bolts from 1987.  Took me forever to get them moving.  Eventually I was able to get two of them off, but the third one was completely stripped.  Once again, one of the maintenance guys came to my rescue. He ground it down and then popped it through with a chisel.  The frame ended up just slightly mangled, but I was able to screw in the 3 new bolts on the new jack and I was back in business.  And I still had plenty of daylight left to head over to Arches.

It was pretty overcast, so the pics may not be incredibly jaw-dropping, but the experience was extremely cool. I especially liked the walk to Sand Dune Arch.  It's all sand, like walking on a beach, and the arch itself is completely hidden until you get right to it.  There were also countless arches in process of erosion - you can clearly see how they're formed. 

Sand Dune Arch

Friday morning, after one last breakfast in Moab at the Jailhouse Cafe (excellent bacon), I headed out to Point of the Mountain.