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I needed to drive into St. George to pick up a friend that was joining me.  To simplify the logistics, I reserved a camp site at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park campground.  The campground was as one expects, paved loop roads and camping neighbors.   After too many days with sponge baths the highlight for me was a hot shower.


The camp site

After settling in at the park, I was off to St. George.  I left driving west on the Coral Sands sandy/dirt road.  I had been traveling for over two weeks, driving the back roads and seeing the sights.   The timing, the day, the weather, the scenery, the karma all worked together to make this drive memorable.  I felt at home, driving the roads and waving at passing vehicles.  I had gained confidence in driving the sandy roads.  I picked up my friend; we shopped for supplies, then headed back.

In doing my pre trip research, I had read about dinosaur tracks located close to the park.  The visitor center had a brochure on the tracks confirming my information that it was a not-to-be-missed sight.  One can clearly see prints of different dinosaurs, can’t get much cooler than that.  In talking with the ranger, he saw my vehicle and let us know that we wouldn’t have any problems driving to the site.  Yes! We would see the tracks tomorrow.  The road was sandy but we could make it.  And he told me there were places to turn around if I thought it was getting too sandy.  I’m not an extreme off road driving type of person, I have no winch, sand mats, or air compressor.  I like simple easy driving, going to the tracks would be simple.

The next day off we went to see the tracks.  The road was sandy and soon became a rutted two track road.  I was losing all my back road driving confidence.  I shifted into four wheel drive muttering:  “I don’t like this.”  There was no place to turn around and I was afraid to stop, not knowing if I could get going again.  On we went, there wasn’t any choice.  We were driving in deep sand.  We arrived at the top of a little hill, we would have to go down and hope we could make it back up.  Down we went and we found a smooth rock slab at the bottom we could stop on.  Hallelujah.  A place we could stop.   I got out and admired the rocks and for a fraction of a second I was enjoying the sight instead of being worried.   But my thoughts immediately started thinking about how we would get back up the hill. 


The helpful rock slab

Driving or walking any further to the track site was abandoned.  I was too worried about trying to get back to the main road to care about seeing tracks.  I turned the truck around and attempted to drive up the hill.  No luck, I didn’t even make it half way.  I backed down to give another try. No luck.  Next effort was to lighten my load.  Jan and the dogs got out.  No luck.  Then I started to let air out from the tires.  No luck.  More air came out.  I reminded myself that although this might be a costly mistake if we needed a tow truck, we were close enough to the road to walk out.  We were not in a dire situation.  We had food and water too.  I let more air out and I was getting farther up the hill.  On this went for over a half hour.  Try, fail, back down the hill, let air out and try again.  Finally I got close enough to the top that I felt success was almost mine.  The dogs came running at me yelping with joy.  I still wonder how they understood a good thing had happened.  I got out my shovel and cleared a path to the top.  With the path cleared, I got into the truck, said a prayer to the get-the-truck-unstuck saint and put my foot on the accelerator.  The truck moved forward with tires spinning, and it kept inching forward until I reached the top.

Feeling more relief than joy we limped back to the state park driving slowly on the deflated tires hoping that someone at the park had an air compressor.  The ranger did have an air compressor.  He explained it was:  “For fools that thought they could drive to the dinosaur tracks”.  Huh? We explained what we had been told the day before.

Back at our camp site we toasted with a beer at 10:30 in morning, knowing that morning beer drinking was for the young and foolish.  We were old enough to deserve the right to feel young and foolish.

Location facts:

  • This is an area that allows OHVs on the sand dunes.  I thought the campground might be noisy but it wasn’t.
  • There are lots of boondocking sites along the Coral Sands Road west of the campground.