Finally found a repair shop

I can’t say I slept great that night because of the small seed of worry about being without the truck more than 2,000 miles from home. Not only was it our transportation but also our home away from home: we slept in the truck and had all our stuff in the truck.

Truck loaded onto the tow truck

Truck loaded onto the tow truck

The next morning I got a call about 9:30 that the shop at which I had my truck dropped off could not do the repair. I called a few other shops around town with no luck.

Frustrated, I called my mechanic back in Birmingham and asked him only half jesting how much he’d charge for me to fly him out to do the repair. Heath, my mechanic, was blown away by the fact that no one could do the repair. He said he had done one on the side of the road with a hammer. We talked a bit more about what to expect as far as price and time to complete and we hung up. And no, he did not agree to fly out and fix the truck.

With a bit more confidence that this might not be such a big deal to get the truck repaired, I called a few more shops and finally found one who would do it. BUT he said it would take a few days to get the part in from Salt Lake City. He said I needed to get the truck over to him pretty quickly so he could verify the size of the part and get it ordered before the cut off time. So back on the phone to schedule a tow truck, since Heath said do not drive the truck to the other shop even though it was only a mile away.

Finally, we got the truck moved, the piece measured and ordered. It was mid-day Friday by this time and the truck was promised to be ready mid-day Monday, so a whole weekend to spend in Moab, not a bad place to be stuck other than $250/night for the motel. But I didn’t want to sit around town all weekend with some of the most beautiful places in the world just an hour or two away. We needed some wheels. Preferably, something we could go offroad with. Time to call around town yet again.

Jeep rentals were running $250/day plus insurance so that was a no-go. Several rental agencies did not even have cars available since it was the weekend. I got back with the original shop and even though they wouldn’t fix the truck they would rent me a car, and for just $50/day. Done! That was the best deal yet.

The owner came and picked us up at the motel, we did the paperwork and we were off. We emptied everything from the truck we thought we might need and took it back to the motel.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

We had a long weekend in town so we discussed the best places to go for photos since that’s what we do: take photos. After talking and looking at the map and trying to remember how many miles we got on the rental per day we settled on Goblin State Park, about 2 hours away.

Some of you may remember the movie Galaxy Quest starring Tim Allen in 1999 that was filmed, in part, at this park. I remember watching the movie, and honestly, the only thing I remember was the scenery, it always stuck with me.

Silly sign

Amy and I came upon this sign in a state park in Georgia. Words fail me.


Guest blog - Amy on Angel's Landing

Chasing the light 2019 – Angels Landing by Amy Waller

The sign at the trailhead.

After months and months of planning and getting everything we need, we were off for our adventure, with our big truck and all the equipment we figured we’d need. We decided if we didn’t have something we needed then we would do without!

Rainy days, cold nights, beautiful sites and lovely company made this trip very memorable. With Mike taking thousands of pictures and me using my phone to take hundreds of pictures we have many special and memorable moments to cherish.

The one thing I really wanted to do on our trip was to hike Angels Landing, which is in the middle of Zion National Park. We had or at least thought had an idea of how it would be. We were told several different stories of the dangers of falling and the 1000-foot drops on each side of us. I made the mistake of watching YouTube videos the day before we were going to do this challenge. Those who know me well know that I am not too fond of heights, so I was really hoping this hike was not going to be as bad as what we had been reading and watching. The YouTube videos did NOT help ease my anxiety. Mike still wonders why I put myself through the torture of watching the videos.

The first set of switchbacks. At this point you are not even close to Walter’s Wiggles, much less the top. Pain and agony in the lower regions of the anatomy!!

The first set of switchbacks. At this point you are not even close to Walter’s Wiggles, much less the top. Pain and agony in the lower regions of the anatomy!!

We were told to be on the first shuttle of the morning to beat crowds. I rolled out of bed (Mike was already up) and we got ready. Mind you it’s still dark and cold out as we wait for the shuttle, which leaves at 6 am. The line started to get longer and longer behind us. It seems many others had hear the same thing!

It took about 20 minutes to get to the Angel’s Landing drop off. By this time the sun was coming up and we got to see it peak over the mountains as we started our walk. We walked and walked, uphill the whole way through switchbacks and more switchbacks. Well, we ended up being the last two from the crowd we left with. It felt like we just kept going and going up and up and up. Just as I thought we were getting to the top of the switchbacks we saw more! It leveled out for a short time so we could get our breath and then there it was…they call them Walter’s Wiggles, which is a series of 21 short switchbacks, maybe 20 feet long. It has been said if you can get to the Wiggles you are almost to the top. I looked up and just stared. Telling myself I think I can, Mike was telling me I can do this! So, I started up, at the end of two Wiggles I had to stop cause by this time my legs were shouting at me.

Amy is at the beginning of the chains at Scout’s Landing. From here to the top and back down it’s 1.1 miles.

From the trailhead to the top of Angels Landing it’s 2 ½ miles, and I figured by now we had to be there. We make it to the top of the Wiggles (after much stopping) and then the part we heard and read about was right in front of me. The chains and the narrow slippery parts where nearly certain death awaited according to so many of the online videos.

We started the trek over slippery rocks with only a chain to hold onto in the questionable spots. We climbed rocks and relied on the chains cause in some places that is all you had to balance. Just when I think we are at the top I look ahead and there’s more! It was the longest 2 ½ miles I have ever experienced. My brain kept telling me I could do it, but my legs weren’t too sure. This final portion of the climb is where the 1000-foot drops are. The place we read about that was the most dangerous. Even though we were so high up that birds flew below us I didn’t have time to think about or even notice the drop. I was concentrating too much on the chain and not losing my footing. Because we’d left so early we only met a handful of hikers coming back down, so the bottleneck wasn’t too bad.

The top!

We finally made it and wow, what a view and what an accomplishment. We took a break, ate a protien bar and headed back down. I thought down would be easier and, in some ways, it was. The biggest dangers is meeting the folks coming up. There is only one chain and both those going up and those going down have to share the same chain. So, some places we had to pass those coming up were questionable. I think I was more fearful of the heights going down then going up. We made it to the Walter’s Wiggles and by this time my legs had no idea what was going on. I told Mike I feel like I could run down but if I ran I wouldn’t be able to stop and that could be a problem.

I watched people heading up and felt a bit bad for them because I knew what was coming. Pain!

After 3 ½ hours we made it down to the parking lot where we waited for the next shuttle to take us back to the Lodge and hopefully food. We were sore, super tired and had an appetite we felt we could eat a feast. We went into the Lodge and when Mike saw that a pizza cost $40 (!) we turned around and took the shuttle back to town. We ate breakfast and then an early lunch.

Needless to say, I felt really accomplished afterwards and was so glad we conqured Angel’s Landing, especially after watching the over-the-top videos! Our legs hurt for several days afterwards! It was an amazing experience. Thank you to my amazing husband for his support and cheering me on the whole way!

Of course it happens in the middle of nowhere

Finally made it to Moab, the hub for all things outdoors. As usual, the city is packed with tourists. Mountain bikes, ATVs, 4-wheelers, Jeeps everywhere and 4x4s of every make and model as well as outfitters and guides. The city has billed itself as the gateway to all sorts of outdoor adventures and people have flocked here in search of it.

We found a motel, and after talking the lady at the front desk down to a reasonable rate (sorta) we moved into our room and headed out for our photo adventure that awaited. We drove to Dead Horse Point State Park. This is such a gorgeous park that only in Utah would it be a state park.

Double rainbow over Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.

The sky was iffy, as it was the entire time in Utah. We’d been to Dead Horse on a previous trip and the weather alternated between clouds and rain and gorgeous God-rays and rainbows. According to the weather app on the phone, looked like much of the same. That is one of the greatest frustrations and joys as an outdoor photographer, you never know what you are going to get.

The view is so immense and stunning that even though you know what to expect you are still overwhelmed with the beauty. God does great work!!

We found a spot to set up the tripod and settled in to wait for the show to begin. I was fiddling with my graduated ND filter and taking a few shots to dial in my exposure when a man and his wife asked what kind of filter I was using. I told them about it and took a test shot so they could see the difference. By holding the filter over half the lens it made it easier to explain, a picture being worth a thousand words and all. You can read more here.

The sunset was awesome and I got my photograph. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Moab. We were about 10 miles out of the park when we heard a weird buzzing sound coming from somewhere on the truck. We found a pull off and looked under the truck. Amy said, ”that doesn’t look right.” And she was right, the driveshaft was hanging oddly and obviously rubbing against a strap as it turned, thus creating the buzzing. Time to call the tow truck.

Cell signal was nearly impossible to find but by standing absolutely still she was able to connect with the tow company on the 9th try. Amy was trying to explain to the guy on the other end of the phone where we were, but other than a cow crossing sign we couldn’t help him pinpoint our location. We finally got it worked out and settled in to wait.

A mere 3 hours later the tow truck showed up. The very friendly driver loaded the truck, apologized for the delay and regaled us with details of the multi-car wreck in town that had caused the delay as he whisked us back to Moab. He dropped the truck off at the shop and drove us back to the motel.

Now the real adventure - finding a mechanic in town who could/would do the work.

Ummmm....what's wrong with this picture...?

So why I am sitting in the sand taking photos right in front of my tripod rather than using my tripod?

Good question. As you can see…

20190504_194152 - web.jpg

… the sun is getting low, the light is fabulous and I had set my tripod and camera up for the “winning” sunset shot. The sun was still high enough in the sky for me to run around like a crazy man and shoot different compositions. But I knew the camera on the tripod was going to be a great photo, so I left it set up, knowing I had only to get back to the tripod when the sun was just over the mountains and make the photo.

This is a really great way to make sure you use the “golden hour” time efficiently, especially if you are in a gorgeous setting that you won’t get back to any time soon.

I did capture several more photos that I really like PLUS I got the sunset photo, click here, that I had set up to get.