Father's Day Weekend 2011

Crandall Canyon MineFather’s Day weekend was pretty laid-back this year. I would have preferred some slightly more difficult outdoor activities, but I also wanted to include my family, so on Saturday we planned to drive up Nuck Woodward Canyon and have a picnic on Castle Valley Ridge. On the way up Huntington Canyon, we took the Crandall Canyon turnoff to see the memorial for the coal miners who died there in 2007. Just after making the turn, I saw a fenced-off area and a sign that said “Sherman Shelter.” We continued up the road but planned to stop there on the way back down. We parked just past the coal mine and took the walkway up a hill and through the trees to the memorial. After taking some photos there and finding a geocache, we headed back down the canyon to see Sherman Shelter. It’s an alcove where apparently some Indian artifacts were found, and the sign claimed that both the Archaic and Fremont cultures used the site. Although it was fenced off, I found a way around the fence so I could get a close look at the alcove. I wasn’t expecting to see any rock art, but I still kept an eye out for it, and I did find a few pictographs. The ground seemed to be littered with animal bones, and I assumed they were possibly left over from prehistoric human habitation. The ground under the alcove had obviously been excavated, which left me curious about what other artifacts were removed.
Nuck Woodward CanyonContinuing up Huntington Canyon, we turned off and started driving up Nuck Woodward Canyon. The road was narrow and steep, but not very difficult. The Forest Service had obviously had a small excavator up there to remove fallen trees and do some road work. The road is narrow enough, and with very few wide spots, that I was worried about another vehicle coming the opposite direction. After going about three miles up the canyon, I noticed that the overdrive “OFF” light on the shift lever was flashing. I didn’t even know what that meant, so I stopped and read the owner’s manual to find out. According to the manual, the flashing light indicates that the PCM detected a problem with the transmission, and said that the transmission would go into “failure mode” and shift hard when driven. Prior to this I hadn’t noticed any transmission problems. To play it safe, I decided to turn around and head home the easy way instead of continuing up the canyon. I had to back down the road a short distance, then do a multi-point turn to get pointed down the canyon. We stopped farther down the canyon at one of the small campsites along the creek and ate our lunch, then continued toward home. I checked the transmission fluid while were were stopped there on a fairly level surface, and both the fluid level and color looked fine. On the way down Huntington Canyon, we made a quick stop at one of the campsites along the highway to check out some flood damage that we’d seen on the way up. Huntington Creek had overflowed its banks and was running right through a campsite. An enormous pine tree had fallen across the creek, and may have been partially to blame for the creek diversion, or perhaps it was a symptom of the creek overflowing.
I drove home slowly, never exceeding 55 MPH on the highway, and the only transmission problem I noticed was the hard shifting that the owner’s manual said would occur in failure mode. I spent the rest of the weekend at home, being lazy and doing a few chores around the house and yard. Sunday was Bradley’s birthday, and though we had his party the following Wednesday, we took him out to dinner wherever he wanted to go, and he chose Pizza Hut (after we talked him out of his initial choice of McDonald’s). 🙂

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