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    • A few months back someone started a great conversation about camping and glamping, #vanlife, etc. Was that you @kevin ?

      Even after attending the ultimate in glamping expos (Overland Expo) a few years back, I realized after being a previous Airstream Bambi (19') owner, that I want to develop an adventure mode that requires a minimal footprint, with a budget up under $5K (not including the vehicle), and mostly be inconspicuous from the outside.

      Looking back, it seems when you hit that aging milestone of 30, you feel like “oh, now I must act like an adult…”. Then, 40 arrives faster than thirty ever did and you maybe realize you had not made that first $Mill as you had hoped. Then, you wake up after to going to bed before 11pm and all of sudden you are 50 and your doctor reminds you that all sorts of undeniable things have happened to your physical vessel. You eyesite needs updating, it is time to have them stick a camera up your butt (colonoscopy) and lastly, sleeping on the ground in a tent while camping is no longer fun.

    • So, I have been diligently working on my personal "glamporama" and recently deployed it in Zion National Park over Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, I am just a solo dude and it took some careful and reckless packing to fit everything into the volvo.

    • Robert Baker

      I had never actually camped in Zion but two months in advance I did the appropriate reconn and found out that the best camping in the park is at the Watchman campgrounds. Named for the majestic peak that supervises the earth travelers below. I opted for the “F-loop” which is walk-in campsites and ended up with F12 which for how I like things, was the best site in the entire area.

    • Robert Baker

      Watchman campgrounds are the only campgrounds you can reserve online in advance and most of the other campgrounds are really setup for in and out with not much privacy.  The downside to glamping in a walk-in site is that it literally took me two hours to haul my gear in and another two hours to haul my gear out. Watchman campsites have steel overhangs, table but no fire pits.  There are community fire pits that tend to bring groups together and it can be loud as 5+ voices echo in the valley of these mountains.  But, I have a great solution I will detail later.

    • Recently purchased and setup once at a local park, I was ready to deploy my new CORE Equipment 9 person Instant Cabin Tent which measures 14′ x 9′. That really sounds extreme for a solo or party of two, right?  Not so Joe! The main motivator to migrate to a “cabin
      tent” is to then be able to implement a cot sleeping platform eliminating that crawling up off the tent floor to take a pee twice at night. And, since I am a jumbo-sized dude, I opted for the well reviewed  Kamp Rite Oversize Kwik Cot. (I tried to purchase mine on Amazon for much cheaper but Amazon buys in bulk and had run out of inventory.  I called Kamp Rite and, even though I paid a bit more, their customer service is great!)  In fact, Kamp Rite makes a really cool  ten-cot that would be great for road trips and quick car camping deployment.

    • Robert Baker

      Some people would be satisfied with their “glamping” experience at this point.   I am not even close.  Something that does not require a lot of space in the car are floor mats.  I am far from being a clean freak, but making the extra effort to have a soft matt for your feet when you roll
      off of your cot along with a doormat outside and inside the main entry look good and will help keep some dirt away from all of your tent. Plus it just feels more “home-ie”.

      Adding the IKEA outdoor furniture might seem excessive, but, it was my fav accessory for the entire weekend!

    • Remember that dilemma of noisy people at the community fire pit nearby your tent?  Well, the coup de gras for the RB Zion Glamporama was to implement my own “home theatre”! Since I mostly camp by myself, after a long day of adventuring, and finishing the last meal of the day, an evening in the tent is usually concluded by listening to music via earbuds or reading a book via the Kindle app on my phone.   Those conclusionary (yes, I made that word up!) activities still work in the glamporama environs, but, why not set the bar a tad higher?

      I stumbled across this Nebula Mini Project by Anker with 360º sound and was blown away.  Small footprint, big delivery.   A tad more expensive than maybe your other portable projectors but when you take into account how the visuals pop, the sound is great and the
      ability to connect an HDMI cord from your phone to the projector –that is gold Jerry, GOLD!” Combined with a inexpensive but amazing portable screen, all of sudden I was watching great content I had downloaded ahead of time on my Netflix app!  So, as the community fire pit got louder with more alcohol consumed, the volume and vibrations of my murder mystery movie got louder.  No doubt you could probably see the movie being
      projected within my McMansion tent from afar.  NOW, THIS IS HOW YOU GLAMP! 
      I only setup the theatre two of the four nights but, the one night it was raining slightly it just seemed it could not be a more perfect accessory for #tentlife!

    • Robert Baker

      Wednesday was designated as the day to find one of two required images for my 2019 custom Robert Baker Photography Appointment Calendar. Calendar images require a unique composition to ensure people enjoy looking at the image for an entire month. I had a couple of vague ideas but trusted my spontaneous road trip would afford me to stumble upon
      something. First on my checklist was to try and get a lottery permit to hike “The Wave
      which requires visiting the Kanab Visitors Center by 8:30am, filling out the appropriate information and then at 9am they called out the lucky 10 permit winners for Thursday and Friday (a total of 20).  I had thought that maybe most people would be traveling on that Wednesday and maybe there would be better chance.  Not so Joe!  Over 90 applications
      were submitted which translates to about 300+ people wanting to access these area in the next two days.  I am actually pretty lucky when it comes to this type of stuff but not this time.

      After the groans subsided, I jumped back in the adventure rig and headed to Page, Arizona – home to Lake Powell. I had only been here once before to run a half-marathon a few years prior but not much changes in Page.  The blue skies were plentiful as were the crowds to everything.  I tried to book a touristy slot canyon tour for $60 that was sold out.  I tried to park anywhere nearby Horseshoe Bend to grab some snaps to no avail.  Best I could do is drive up to the Wahweap Overlook and grab some pics there.

    • Robert Baker

      I noticed a BLM Outpost called the Big Water Visitor Center off Highway 89.  Still looking for inspiration, I noticed a somewhat do-able dirt road loop that drives up Cottonwood Canyon road that parallels the Paria river north to Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park.  Once you turn off and start hearing the crunch of gravel on your tires and the red dust covering your back window, you can only hope that this road with no signs does in fact get you somewhere.

      The drive was fairly unspectacular and the arrival to the Grosvenor Arch felt like a reasonable payoff for the wear and tear it had put on my Volvo wagon. As the long shadows of the trees started to decorate the road, it seemed that maybe a state park named “Kodachrome” would be a safe bet for a killer sunset shot.

    • Robert Baker

      Sunsets happen quickly in winter so as I rolled up to the Park entrance, I queried the Ranger if he thought the park has a sunset worthy shot.  He spoke with confidence and experience there were a couple of excellent sunset shots available so I paid the $8 and pulled through.  Nope. Nope, and nope.  Nice little park out in the middle of nowhere but it took me about 12 minutes to determine this was not the sunset calendar shot I was looking for.  Plus, this was my turnaround point to head down a different lesser marked dirt road to return to highway 89 and Kanab.  With no signs and no markings I was getting concerned about the return
      trip.  I forgot to mention, leaving my campsite in a hurry earlier that day, I had left my smartphone in the tent and thought it would be an interesting experiment to go a day with a phone.  Now I was realizing this could have dire consequences.

    • Turning right from the exit of Kodachrome Basin, it was probably 2
      miles before luckily saw from the corner of my eye the turnoff for Sheep
      Creek Flat Road.   The first 5 miles of this dirt road were quite
      challenging and as the sun was finishing it’s last duties for the day, I
      was getting more concerned.  I guesstimated my return trip would be
      slightly longer than the 35+miles and 90 minutes it has taken to drive
      Cottonwood Creek road.

      After 45 minutes I came across a family of men hauling dead
      firewood….friendly enough and they confirmed that eventually I would
      make it back to highway 89 on this road.  After forever and then some, I
      finally arrived at a “T” which I had not seen on a touristy map handout
      and opted to go right.   Now, my gas gauge told me I had about 60 miles
      left and I felt confident I was close but still not signs, no lights
      and no traffic.

      This part of the road was still dirt but even so I was able to clip
      along averaging 25-40mph which seems like I was hauling ass.  It was
      dark and the full moon had not offered up any of it’s illuminance yet.
      As my fuel gauge was going down I was starting to panic.   At this point
      I thought maybe my turning right was the wrong turn and I now was
      showing 20 miles left.  I flagged down another truck of people with
      Montana plates and they said I was also going in the right direction to
      get to highway 89 and it was about 15 miles away. It turns out my right
      turn got me driving northwest to 89 instead of southwest which would
      have led me into Kanab.  Instead,  I got off the dirt road in Glendale
      with a huge sign of relief as I filled up the gas tank in Orderville.  I
      am a veteran of road tripping and finding my way but I was a tad shaken up realizing that if I had run out of gas out in the middle of nowhere with no phoneI would have been jacked up big time!

      Grabbing a quick meal at the Thunderbird Lodge at Carmel Junction, I
      could hardly wait to get back to my little “home” of a comfortable cot
      and tent and solid night of sleep.  I was a little bummed as though I
      had grabbed some snapshots, I had not tapped the home-run calendar shot
      yet…Driving slower across highway 9 into Zion (deer populations are
      rising as are the road kills), once I got through the Zion tunnel, I was
      feeling a little bit of inspiration.

    • Thursday seemed like a good day to load up my camera backpack and
      take the shuttle into Zion and get off at the Temple of Sinawava bus
      stop and hike up the Riverside Walk that is the typical entry for access
      to hiking “The Narrows“. 
      I was surprised to see and talk to quite a few people that had rented
      dry suits and walking sticks to do the Narrows despite the 20 degrees
      ambient temperatures and 45º water.  On the bus ride back I saw some
      people that looked quite ready to get back to their hotel rooms and
      crank up the heat.  LOL

      I walked along the Virgin river trying to be present and have nature
      speak to me. Maybe I would get lucky and see some rock climbers or sheep
      on the cliffs.  Nothing but a teasing sun to provide temporary
      opportunities to capture the colorful leaves mixed with the shades of
      brown that a dormant winter dresses for. As serene as the hiking was, I
      was ready to offload my 35lb camera bag and walk around my ‘hood at
      Watchman campground.

    • Walking around Springdale on Thanksgiving early evening, I walked into a
      Adventure Outfitting store in hopes of maybe hiring a guide to get me
      out to White Pocket or at least some slot canyons that would be worthy of a calendar shot. 
      I was able to hookup and make a reservation for a guide on Friday and
      we were going to meet up around 10:30am for a half day tour to their own
      stash of slot canyons

    • Christian (the guide) was a super cool young guy and we both shared
      similar experiences of being Hotshot wildland firefighters.  After about
      40 minutes of driving in some sandy bog trails, we arrived at the secret spot
       I have never used a guide before and I sort of expected this to be a
      triple top secret location but it turns out to be fairly popular amongst
      Kanab locals – especially the ones that own and drive these 4WD
      side-by-sides.  We all got along and I got some decent shots but it
      reminded me that some of the best slot canyon photography I have seen is
      not by accident.  It might take someone multiple trips with different
      lighting and weather to “get the shot”.  I did come up with a unique
      shot that should look great for the calendar and even Christian
      commented he had never seen a shot quite like this.  (this is not the calendar shot)

    • With the overwhelming crowds at Zion, I decided to conclude my
      “glamporama” a day early and head back to Las Vegas on Saturday.  It was
      cold Friday night and probably got down to the high teens.  The CORE
      Equipment tents are really fantastic but they are three season tents. 
       One reason they are so affordable.  The great thing about travel
      adventure is that when you are in the middle of it, it is fantastic. 
      But, I also like the feeling when you know the adventure is complete
      (for now) and you can look forward to getting home.

    • Great adventure report! I lived in Kanab for ten years and am familiar with many of the landmarks you mentioned.

      If you’ll permit me to make a suggestion...? At the top of the west side of Zion known as Kolob Canyons (access is from I-15 between St. George and Cedar City) you might find an amazing “golden hour” shot. Looking east with the sun behind you (so not technically a sunset shot), the shadows and the colors on the cliffs across the canyon are simply amazing. Most visitors to Zion never see this part of the park.

      Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed reading about your southern Utah Thanksgiving!

    • Whoa....I wondered what it would be like to live in Kanab. Truly, the REAL outdoorsman's paradise.

      I have been up to Kolob Canyons.....It seems like it is always the last on the list and it has been in the winter both times...it gets crazy cold up on the overlooks in a car. I don't doubt that your assessment for the sunset shot would be magnifico up there.....I would actually like to do some hiking there maybe early June as well.

      You live in Ogden now, right? When I lived in SLC and Park City, it never stopped amazing me how many world class places there are to explore in Utah. When I transfered there from SoCal to open a sales office in SLC, my 1st drive through the canyon to Logan blew my mind. I would frequently do winter camping trips to Moab. I HEART UTAH. LOL

    • I lived in Kanab and Cedar City for many years after growing up in SoCal (Long Beach). I’m now in the Salt Lake Valley (Draper).

      Kanab is surrounded by beautiful country, which is how I kept my sanity since I did not have much in common with the people. Ha. Let’s just say I learned a lot about myself during those Kanab years...

      Utah has so much variety! The only thing I can’t find here is the equivalent to a solitary afternoon on the coast watching the waves crash on the beach.

    • LOL...I TOTALLY get everything you said without you having to say it. Being land locked I try to enjoy the lapping of water on the "beach" of Lake Mead but that requires a ton of imagination. hahahahahah

      I did spend $30 for a couple of pastries and sammies at Kanab Creek Bakery. Pretty upscale for a community like Kanab but people (like me) paid the price. lol But, it was worth it as they had a clean bathroom and the food was very good.

    • I love the picture of the mountains as it was getting dark with cars on the road making it glow. I've never seen a shot like that in Zion. I could see that every day on a calendar for a month and never get tired of it. It looks like something out of National Geographic.

      Thank you very much for a very interesting report. I like that you can glamp like that from a car!

    • I was in Kanab a few months ago for a funeral. I barely recognized it. It seems all the big hotel chains have a new property there now. There is talk of Kanab being the next Moab. Kinda sad somehow, as it will definitely change the economic dynamics. Some families will get filthy rich, others will bemoan the changes and eventually have to move on because they can’t live there like they used to. Reminds me of Park City, too.

      Progress.

      <sigh>

    • I was ready to deploy my new CORE Equipment 9 person Instant Cabin Tent which measures 14′ x 9′.

      Robert, your travelogue was a joy to read. I’ve only been to Bryce and Zion, but your pics make me want to see more of the state.

      Logistics question on your tent. We can fit a folded up two man tent easily in our hatchback. Any idea how much more space your portable cabin would take up?

    • Hi apm....thanks for your comments...

      Any idea how much more space your portable cabin would take up?

      I just went out to the garage....in it's nice carrying case, it is 48" long x 10" x10". And, it is a non-rigid case so you might have an inch here and there to shove as needed.

      Again, these are three-season tents...but, the super fast setup (poles are already engineered into the whole setup process), these are a tremendous value.

    You've been invited!