Grand Circle — Treasuring the Moments and Set-Backs

July 2, 2011 by Barry & Monique Zander · 20 Comments  
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By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

A few days ago, Monique and I completed a whirlwind, unforgettable tour that took us to most of the “must-see” places in the Grand Circle of Utah, Colorado and Arizona, with a peek into New Mexico.  We saw a lot and still had opportunities to be in nature, along with Monique’s brother and sister-in-law from France.

In a blog early in our trip, I wrote a piece about why I take numerous photographs, emphasizing that I then delete more half of them, keeping the rest for memories and other future uses.  I was expecting at least one comment from among our nature-loving readers suggesting that I spend less time with the camera at my eye and more time savoring the views.  Just because no one questioned that doesn’t mean I don’t have an answer.

During our 35 days on this trip, we saw an incredible number of scenes that are already bringing back fond memories only a few weeks later.  I’m not one of those National Geographic-type photographers who spends weeks in one spot waiting for the perfect sunrise or a mountain lion ravaging an elk.  I like to take a few shots of what I see and move on.

Yet, when I find a vista that speaks to me … that has some quality that whispers, “Stop, sit, stare” … I usually obey that loud whisper.  Capital Reef Stares Back - 6804During our recent travels, as we hiked into a canyon in Capital Reef National Park, I perched on a rock at the base of a cliff and looked at the 180-degrees of escarpment across the canyon floor.  No matter which segment of that view I focused on, I found something interesting, something worth staring at, something that changed an endless wall of rock into a special place.BWZ in Capital Reef - 6811

That’s my Photo 101 lesson for this posting.  Take time to soak up your surroundings until it becomes implanted on your brain, so that when you look at the pictures, your mind will fill in the depth of the experience.

While on our May-June 2011 trip, we stayed in National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, Nellis Air Force Base and private campgrounds.  Over the five years on the road, stopping for at least one night at 380 places (a few twice, a couple three times) of all kinds, we have never found what I call “the perfect campground.”

Take all the criteria for being perfect — like all the hook-ups being on the right side, level parking, a campfire ring, adequate space to back in the trailer without hitting a rock or a tree, shade, phone and internet working well, all bathroom needs adequately supplied – and we have yet to find one that gets an A+.  Two more examples:  fresh water pump-faucets too hard for kids to use and dumpster container tops too heavy for little folks to open.  I’ll emphasize that we tent-camped all our lives before RVing, so we don’t need much in the way of amenities.  I’d be interested, however, in your comments about the perfect campgrounds you have visited.

Stopping to Appreciate the Views

On his way from New Orleans to Seattle, a bicycle rider stops to admire the view; and a young lady finds an endless vista of the Grand Canyon

Our Grand Circle Tour was wonderful despite a few set-backs, which I will list in general terms:  My camera was rendered useless by dust that got into everything requiring an overnight stay at a camera shop; temperatures got down into the 30s; after getting to where I should have had cellphone service, my phone didn’t work and had to be replaced; temperatures got over 110 degrees; park wi-fi systems didn’t work; the #7 glowplug in our diesel went out; we hit winds over 60 mph while hiking and in the trailer; a mouse got in the trailer; I was practically unable to walk because of a hernia (had surgery last week); a brand new heavy hose fell from its storage place under the trailer while we were on the road, and, I’m sure, I had to contend with a few other issues.

HOWEVER, for you new RVers, it’s all part of the sport … It just usually doesn’t happen in 35 days.  That’s when it’s time to focus on what you like about RVing and go back though those photos one more time to capture the moments worth keeping.

Independence Day Weekend –Whatever is on your schedule for this weekend, try taking a deep breath sometime along the way to appreciate our national and personal independence.  And please take a minute to say thanks to those men and women who show their bravery by signing up for the military, knowing that they have put their lives at stake to preserve your freedom.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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20 Responses to “Grand Circle — Treasuring the Moments and Set-Backs”

  1. butterbean carpenter on July 3rd, 2011 5:53 pm

    Howdy Barry,
    Thanx, for the Photo 101 lesson.. I surely enjoyed your trip with the ‘kinfolks’..
    All RV trips aren’t disasters; some are actually enjoyable and memorable.. I’ll
    admit having that many ‘unusual’ things on one trip would turn some people off of camping..

  2. Ol' Charlie on July 3rd, 2011 6:57 pm

    Check out the 7 Feathers RV Resort at exit 99Canyonville, OR
    It is rated A+ A+ A+. Everything you have missed is there.

  3. Gary on July 3rd, 2011 6:58 pm

    We think that the “perfect campgound” be it free or necessary is the “next one”. But, unlike you, the better ones don’t need wi-fi or amenities as such. The best come with good people, good neighbors, maybe good water and space to park. Be pet friendly, good campfire rings and a spot to sit and look. Doesn’t matter at what, it’s all different.
    But like you, remember those persons this 4th who have given their all to all of us.

  4. Ol' Charlie on July 3rd, 2011 7:03 pm

    Did not mean to leave out the brave ones that have and are sacrificing time and lives to keep our shores safe.
    Happy 4Th to all.

  5. John Solak on July 3rd, 2011 7:55 pm

    We have recently Completed the Grand circle with the exception of Zion. Even though there was no perfect campground, many were a great experience separate from the Nat’l Parks. We don’t look for recreation activities at the campground itself and prefer COE and State parks because they seem to offer more separation and privacy. Some of them are difficult for us to squeeze our 39 foot motor home into, so we have to pass some good opportunities. Keep up the good work. Happy 4th to you and yours!

  6. Barry Engleman on July 3rd, 2011 9:00 pm

    It was fun to see your canyon wall picture with the desert varnish and immediately think, that’s the canyon we were in two years ago in Capital Reef.

    I also liked the comment about the perfect campground beingvthe next one. We are in Summit County, Colorado and we have been dry camping in a NFS campground for eleven days two miles from our home. We are more at home here than at home. But, a shower and change of clothes two miles away doesn’t hurt! I even did four days of jury duty while we have been here.

    It’s been great following your trip.


  7. Ron Butler on July 3rd, 2011 9:02 pm


    Not sure there is a “perfect” campground since we all have different priorities. I know that ours changes as we travel along.

    The most “perfect” campgrounds we find are usually the national park campgrounds. 1. Fruita campground in Capital Reef NP – grass, trees & shade, big spots, flowing river, deer, great scenery and historical buildings. What more would you want? 2. Bryce NP campground – steps from the canyon rim, great sunrises, trees and shade, room between the sites. 3. Acadia NP and Glacier NP campgrounds also come to mind. Fort Stevens SP outside Astoria OR and right on the coast is still one of our all time favorite state parks, even though the sites may be a tad bit tight.

    Notice, no “amenities” at these places! Except for Ft. Stevens, no hookups, no pools, no wifi or cable! Sometimes, usually in national park campgrounds, no cell service!

    We have NEVER found a commerical campground that would come close to being “perfect” for us. Why? Because generally, you are are so close to you neighbor that you can pass the “grey poupon” through your window and we find them costing way more than what we want to pay for a spot! They have to pay for all of those “amenities” someway! We will of course bite the bullet and accept the tight spaces when we want to catch up with our email and favorite tv shows!

    Just my perspective. Happy travels.

  8. Ann Mitchell on July 5th, 2011 10:46 am

    Barry, followed your Alaska tour last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Found your Grand Circle tour preceeded us by several weeks but we did wander through many of the same spots. Also agree with Ron, Fort Stevens SP is a wonderful place to spend time in Oregon. Will be going back in September.

    Looking forward to future posts from the Zander’s.

  9. marianj on July 12th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Really enjoy your blogs and photos. Thanks for doing this. I liked the Alaska trip. we live here in the summer and winter in Texas some camp grounds are way too expensive for an overnight stay.

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