Natural Bridges National Monument


May27 3

From Canyon De Chelley we drove north and eventually through what has to be one of the most poorly named towns in all of America—Mexican Water. There isn’t an American anywhere who hasn’t been warned about drinking Mexican water, and here is this town who has to share the name. The Mexican Water Trading Post didn’t seem to be doing much business when we went past.

We pulled off on some random dirt road for a break. The kids immediately went to work with shovels. We’ve—really, I’ve—sort of convinced Ouest that she is a treasure hunter, and now she is recruiting Lowe to help. She is constantly scanning for treasure, and hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t find a penny lying around somewhere. But when I’m sure there is no treasure to be found I often make things magically appear without her knowing. For instance, when she’s digging a hole, like the one below where she is looking for pirate treasure, I’ll drop a penny in when she’s not looking. And sometimes I’ll sneak away, bury a nickel, draw a big X over it, then point it out with a, “I wonder what this X is here for?”

So anyway, here we were out in the middle of nowhere and she found four cents. Not to be outdone, Lowe dug up a brand new Matchbox ambulance. Wow, what a lucky pit-stop that was.

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Just outside of Navajo Nation we were sailing past Bluff, Utah when a nice looking restoration caught my eye. We turned in and discovered Fort Bluff, a pretty well completely restored old Mormon outpost. Good fun for the kids. And I was pretty amazed as well by the dozen or so antique filled homes. Not that I know anything about antiques, but the place was filled with them, and nothing but good old-fashioned honesty was keeping anybody from taking any of them.

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The drive up the road from Bluff to Blanding was a bit of a bear for the old Travco. None of it was too extreme, but it just never seemed to stop climbing. We were grateful to see a nice clean campground and call it a day.

The next day we took our time in the morning and eventually headed out of town after noon for the short drive to Natural Bridges National Monument.

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We headed out as early as is humanly possible in our household—nine-thirty—and started the loop drive connecting the three big natural bridges throughout the park. Ouest had spent the day before diligently filling out her Junior Rangers workbook and only needed to find a couple of other things in order to complete it. She was stoked over the idea of getting a badge, and was so enamored of the whole idea of being a Junior Ranger that we had to read through the workbook word-for-word at least ten times.

We decided on a hike down to Sapipu, the largest, and not too long a trip down either.

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In case you ever wondered what Lowe carries with him in that backpack, here it is. That’s everything. One monster truck.

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All these people were walking past us on the hike and commenting the same thing, “How are the kids doing with those ladders?” Like they’d be struggling with them—when actually just the opposite was true. Hell, if there had been a ladder directly from the bus to the bottom of the canyon, the kids would have been overjoyed.

Everyone thinks they are Indiana Jones because they’ve climbed a ten-foot ladder made of wood. Heroic.

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Lowe fell asleep before we drove the three miles to the next bridge overlook. Ouest did indeed earn her very first Junior Ranger badge today.


22 Comments on “Natural Bridges National Monument”

  1. darryl

    Love that pic of Ouest and Lowe in the tree. Ouest posing and lil bro admiring his big sis. I bet the kids like this a lot more than the boat? I wish you were my parents when I was a kid.

  2. Cidnie

    Congratulations Ouest!! Love the idea of the treasure hunting and will definitely be doing the same for Kitty. She loves to dig and if there is a plastic bauble or a nickel dug up she will be ecstatic.

  3. Richard

    I drive through Mexican hat and Fort Bluff on my way to Phoenix all the time! Very unique terrain. So funny that Lowe carries the backpack solely for his monster truck.

  4. bill mcfadden

    great site being with you since catamaran days-my home page, hoping you get to Jerome az. was great little town in 70s and 80s not sure now. anyhow thanks for the site wish you all the best. bill mcfadden

  5. Jane T

    I just started following Bumfuzzle about a month ago. I look forward to the updates. Ditto on lovin’ the pic with Ouest and Lowe in the tree. The tree reminds me that you are getting into Bristlecone Pine country. While I don’t think this tree is one of them (too green and not garnly enough), you will find these at higher elevations across the Great Basin. Some of these trees have been around as long as 5000 years.

    I lived in Monticello and Moab until I was 10, I just love red rock country. My dad would take us on Jeep adventures on his days off. Hwy 163 has the most wicked switchbacks just before you get to Mexican Hat.

    I don’t know what your travel itinerary holds in store for you, there are sooo many National and State parks in the area. Might I suggest Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez CO; Arches National Park north of Moab, UT; Capital Reef National Park with nearby Goblin Valley State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zions National Park.

    Can’t wait to see where you adventure take you and your family…

  6. Loreen G

    The Jr Ranger programs are the best! Our “little” guy started doing them when he was 5 & he just turned 13 (the program goes through age 12) We will miss the fun activities. If you get over to the coast, be sure & visit Fort Clatsop, (Lewis & Clark’s winter fort), before you get to Portland. They have a fun Jr Ranger program & lots of reenactments & volunteers in period dress. It is one of our fav national parks 🙂
    Happy traveling!

  7. mitch

    Great to see the Bus running better, I always find it amazing how much ground you can cover driving less than a couple hours at a time. I can hardly wait until it’s my turn. Still reno-ing my RV, but it’s getting close.

  8. judith

    WOW, is it the camera angle or is Lowe about to be as tall as Ouest? Don’t you just love amateur tourist questions? My daughter was once asked if Key West was chained down to keep it from floating out to sea.

  9. John

    If you hit Mexican Hat Utah make sure to try out Swingin Steaks. It’s been on the food network. My wife and I rode down the Mokie Dougway on our motorcycle once I wouldn’t recommend it in a Travco.

  10. Chloe

    That’s awesome! I know I’ve said it before, but your kids are dang cute! Maybe I’ll see you guys up in northern Utah. Safe travels!

  11. Ken

    A small metal detector would be a great addition to the “toys”, and the kids might even find some real treasure.

  12. Berkeley Doering

    Hey Pat,

    One of the things I learned by doing is how easy it is to boil your transmission fluid on those long slow climbs. Not enough air moving across the transmission cooler. Had to park on the side of a mountain road and get a ride to town the next day. The autopart store at the bottom of the hill said several people a weekend cme to buy fluid. I installed a transmission temp gauge after that.

  13. Danno

    Hey Pat,
    You may want to check behind Lowe’s ear….pretty sure you might find a penny there too.

    Good stuff….


  14. Dave Denison

    I also installed a trans temp gauge in our old Winnebago – saw over 300f degrees on it while climbing up to Loveland Pass on the interstate 1n 1993; throttle floored, in first gear, going about 25mph. Usually you dont have those high trans temps for long periods or for daily work – so the transmissions hold up pretty well. The mopar A727 3 speed trans is a superworkhorse. I put the gauge sensor in the line going from the trans up to the trans cooler in the radiator.

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