Nampa, ID to Baker City
NO PICTURES :(
This will be short and sweet! We are home! Arrived at 9:45 PDT in the morning after getting the trailer winterized at Bish's RV in Nampa at 8am MT. That only took 45 minutes and we were on our way! Final stop for gas at Flying J in Caldwell, across the border into Oregon. Our last big switch was when we crossed back over into Pacific time...for good! (We were in Pacific momentarily yesterday going through the corner of Nevada.) The Elkhorn Mts did NOT cooperate and dazzle me with their snow covered visage as we drove around the corner at Pleasant Valley. Instead, we were greeted with foggy, overcast skies, and the beginnings of a few flakes of snow as we entered town! Total trip was about 5800 miles.
THIS IS THE FINAL POSTING FOR THIS BLOG PAGE.
TUESDAY, October 23
Wendover, NV to Nampa, ID
Pictures Click HERE
We are like two horses heading to the barn now! Bypassed our intended goal today of Mountain Home due to weather reports of sub-freezing cold and even colder wind chill. Decided to take the direct approach and go straight to an RV park a block down the road from Bish's RV. Stopped to see if any chance they could take us today, answer NO. But have an 8am appointment for Wednesday morning and then we are on the road to Baker City!
We eventually pulled the back bed out last night when the wind apparently died down, only to have two more wind storms come upon us during the night. We figured we were anchoring things down at that point, so rolled over and went back to a 'somewhat' sleep! It also sprinkled a few times, but nothing major.
|Snow on mountains south of Wells, NV|
|This isn't nearly as bad as the weather forecast|
made it sound!
|Isn't this cloud awesome?|
Arrived in Nampa around 3:30, got set up, and then took a field trip back to WinCo to stock up on dry good supplies a bit. Attempts to have a rendezvous with Erin Lair failed so we spend a quiet evening cleaning up the trailer and preparing for HOME!!
PS. Boise has the most incredible sunsets, but unfortunately tonight's came mostly while I was in the shower. :( I missed it.
MONDAY, October 22
Glendale UT to Wendover, NV
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This has been a long, windy day! We pulled out of Glendale right on schedule shortly after 8am. I have my “smart camera” (as opposed to a smart phone!) – I put all the gas and lodging info for our options from here to home on a Word table, and then took a picture of it on my camera. Everytime Rick wants to know how far, how much, or what were our options, I just tele in to the picture and tell him the information! It’s almost like having internet at your fingertips! ALMOST!
We gas up in Panguitch, so we can go all the way to Nephi south of Provo. Shortly after Panguitch, we change our plans of going directly over to I-15 and decide to stay on US89 as it winds its way through beautiful mountain valleys and canyons. Traffic is almost non-existent – we think everyone must be out hunting! Just before we hit I-70 for a short 20 mile stretch to the east, we stop for a ‘potty break’ amidst a beautiful canyon of rocks and golden trees. I still have trouble getting used to having the ability to just pull over and use our own facilities when necessary!
From I-70 at Salina, we take US28 north to Scipio and I-15. Our route takes us up a valley between two 12,000 and 10,000 high mountain ranges. In a few places to the west, we spot traces of snow on the higher range. It has been windy all day, but we really feel it when we hit the interstate and a bit more open area. Tumbleweeds are blowing across the freeway and as I take over driving, I have to dodge a few! I only drive the 40 miles up to Nephi where we gas up, and then 20 more to Exit 44 and lunch at the Subway. Our plan is to avoid Salt Lake City traffic and take US6 west to Utah36 north to Tooele and then to I-80 west. The plan worked beautifully as far as NO TRAFFIC was concerned, but the wind really played havoc! We stopped in Tooele to gas up AGAIN, and made a quick call to Patty Eardley to say hi AND to get the phone number for Road Conditions because we had heard that I-80 was closed to large rigs. Just warnings, especially for the area directly south of Great Salt Lake. We were going to miss most of that, so….onward we go!
|Out on the Salt flats|
|The Tree of Utah out in the middle of the flats!|
Somewhere about 20 miles east of the Nevada border we passed a most unusual sculpture out in the middle of the salt flats. It looked like a series of brightly colored balls mounted on a stick, with a few broken balls scattered around the base. Most odd. No sign. Nothing. I will google it later when I have internet access. (Note: Called Metaphor: Tree of Utah, the sculpture was erected in 2002. The description is of a concrete square pillar with leaves of colorful tennis-ball like spheres, the only vertical object for miles in the flatness of the Bonneville Salt Flats.)
|Wall of white|
Wendover, UT and West Wendover, NV straddle the border. The gambling is in Nevada. But mostly the two towns share everything, including Mountain Time Zone. Technically Nevada is Pacific Time, but the Nevada side of this town sticks with its Utah counterpart. We find the Pilot to gas up (as per my smart camera!) and then the KOA. Not a lot of choices here – KOA or the casino and reviews of it weren’t good! The KOA is nearly empty – just four other rigs. We ask to park next to one of them for a little ‘protection’ from the wind! A few sprinkles of rain as we start to unhitch and set up which quickly stops so we can finish the task.
We opted to leave the main bed up as the wind is coming from that direction. Instead we shall sleep on the front bed tonight, but we don’t drop it down until later in the evening – closer to when we will be helping to ‘anchor it down’ with our weight! Actually it feels like the wind is dying down a little bit as the temperature cools down.
Phone call from Annalea tonight to confirm when we are coming home. Evening spent watching TV and unwinding from a long day of driving (more Rick than me!) Hope we don’t blow away tonight! (Note: Internet not strong enough to add the pictures yet, so that will have to wait.)
SUNDAY, October 21
Cedar Breaks National Monument
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Each one of the past mornings has gotten lazier and lazier! Today we got up and moving to leave by 9:15, heading north to Long Valley Junction and then up to the Cedar Mountain area and Cedar Breaks National Monument. Rusty Munn had highly recommended this monument as a must visit. We are lookly closely at the skies, however, and we packed plenty of warm clothing. It is a cool and breezy wind blowing and dark clouds dot the skies. The forecast today is for rain showers possibly this afternoon. The nearest Presbyterian Church is 20 miles in the opposite direction and not until 11, so....I don't think I have gone this long without going to church on a Sunday ever!
|Duck Creek Community Church|
|I am loving the white aspen trees!|
We begin seeing patches of snow around Navajo Lake and more as we turn north on the road through the monument. Cedar Breaks NM is officially closed - all services are shut down. I couldn't get my passbook stamped, so I just wrote it in! The park will begin operating - with volunteers - a yurt during snowmobile and XC ski season. It's the backcountry, off season ranger headquarters. You can get hot chocolate!
|Cedar Breaks National Monument|
|Snow Inuksuk at Cedar Breaks NM|
This entire area must be a blaze of color the end of September when the aspens are in peak yellows. It would be a key reason to come visit at that time of year.
|Aspens in the lava flow|
We are back to the campground by 1:30 or so.... in time to hear rain drops fall on the trailer later in the afternoon. We planned and discussed our route home, got information, emailed Moms, and I got a chance to talk with Mike Braymen who is ready to take off in the morning and officially head east to Washington DC. We will miss him. Cook up spaghetti and meatballs for mid-afternoon dinner and in general get caught up and ready to return to civilization and Baker City!!
|All bundled up at Cedar Breaks National Monument|
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
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I made a vow today to limit my pictures to a mere 200 after spending so much time last night editing over 300 photos! That meant I also deleted some bad ones as I took them, and spent some time deleting some that didn't erase after loading last night. With all that, I did delete my first picture of today - an awesome sunrise shot of the hoodoos just five miles north of our campsite! Rats! We left today at 8am, just after the sun had popped over the hill and into the campground. We headed north on Hwy 89 - destination? Bryce Canyon!
Into the park and immediately to the Visitor Center. I wasn't going to be denied my stamp today! We also made up for missing the gift shop at Zion with purchases at Bryce! Ah well. Just after leaving the Visitor Center, we passed through a wide meadow - pronghorn antelope greeted us!
|Pronghorns ran right in front of us!|
|The main amphitheater from Bryce Point|
Then we drive to Sunset Point. We took this hike with the boys and Grandpa ten years ago during our last visit to Bryce. We can't remember what all we hiked then, but we definitely remembered the Wall Street part! Today we decided to do the three mile Navajo-Queen's Garden Loop, which started at Sunset Point, followed the rim trail to Sunrise Point, and then dropped down into the Queen's Garden. The trail was NOT well marked from the direction we approached and we walked right past the trailhead to Queen's Garden....we eventually walked back and found our trail, but not until we had walked an extra half mile probably!
|Queen's Garden area of Bryce Canyon|
|Through one of the tunnels|
|Baby Inuk in the Cairn Village|
|One of the fir trees at the entrance to|
|Fairyland with Sinking Ship in background|
We stop at Ruby Inn on the way out, get drinks, and then I drive back down to Glendale. Highlight of the return trip was the western sun highlighting all the aspen trees in the Long Valley region. This morning they were in the shade and not nearly as noticeable.
Back to the campground just before 5. Quiet evening as again it cools off quickly as soon as the sun sets.
FRIDAY, October 19
ZION NATIONAL PARK
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An early morning after listening to the wind blow all night! Both of us were concerned that it might be too windy to tackle our day's destination: Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. But the internet said it would be a BEAUTIFUL day in Zion....and it was!
|Sunrise on the rocks|
As we were early, we find a parking spot in the small parking area at Canyon Junction. The shuttle will pick us up here and take us the rest of the way into the heart of the canyon. Zion operates a free shuttle bus system similar to Grand Canyon during the peak months of the year. The Scenic Drive road will be open to cars beginning on November 1. We take the shuttle up to The Grotto - a shaded cottonwood tree area nestled below a 3000' wall of rock. This is where the Angel's Landing Trail (via the West Rim Trail) takes off. The trail is marked by warning signs right from the start: Danger! Dropoffs! Narrow trail! Don't hike if you are afraid of heights! Not appropriate for young children! Six people have fallen to their deaths since 2004 on the trail. They have reason to warn well. Amazingly, Rick and I were stunned by the number of families with children under the age of 10 hiking up! Hopefully some of them were stopping BEFORE the really dangerous section at the end.
|Rick heads up trail: Angel Landing|
Once we got to the top of the notch, we entered a narrow slot canyon - no creek this time of year - but you could surely tell where water often flows! The canyon was cool, breezy, and level!! Wonderful holes and depressions, carvings and lines in the sandstone rock. At the far end of the slot canyon, we came to the famous 'Walter's Wiggles', named for Mr. Walter who helped build the trail back in the early 1900's. This series of 21 switchbacks, all about 20-30 feet long and built up with brickwork and a series of drain pipes, ascends a virtual vertical wall of rock. Luke has a picture of Walter's Wiggles from our visit here in March of 2002 - we couldn't climb Angel's Landing then as it still had snow on it!
|Yes! The trail goes out this ridge of rock!|
From Scout's Landing the trail gets .... interesting! Basically it is a half mile out to the point - along the rock arete jutting out from the canyon wall. In places the trail is only 4' wide, with drops of 1200-1500' on either side! In other places you are rock scrambling up the sandstone, looking for steps carved in the rock or for blackened spots indicating good handholds. In the worst places, a thick metal chain was anchored into the stone and you could use it as a handrail. In several places, I literally pulled myself up by the chain because the step was too big for me. We had to work around several groups of hikers already coming down - they must have gotten a REALLY early start. This is definitely a one way only trail, so you have to look ahead for a good passing zone! I don't have alot of pictures from this area, except when we had to wait for people to pass, because I wasn't taking my hands off the chain long enough to take pictures!
|On top of Angels Landing|
|Inuk and views down valley.|
By 12:30 we are back down to the Grotto. The hike down from the top was slow - passing a great number of uphill climbers. I found coming down easier than I anticipated. I made good use of the many chains! The worst part of the down hike was the steep section of switchbacks further down! That was hard on Rick's knee and my toes always feel like they are pushing through the end of my boots! But it was a great hike!! Total of 5.5 miles.
|You can't miss the trail down!|
The park is literally crawling with people! It is October - where did they all come from?? Many, many families. We find out later that today is the Teacher Inservice Day for Utah - no school for the kids, and Monday and Tuesday are Fall Break Days, so many take an extended fall holiday this weekend! Nice timing, Rembolds!
Our plan was to return to the truck and drive down to the Visitor Center, get my passbook stamped and check out the gift shop, and then do a little Grocery shopping Springdale. When we got to the Visitor Center, all the parking lots were full - you were sent to Springdale to take the shuttle from there. But the entry station was packed with cars waiting to enter the park! What a mess! We drove around once looking for a spot and then I said, 'bag it, I'll just write our visit into the book!' We weren't going to Springdale and have to re-enter in that gridlock!
|Another Zion look from Visitor Center area|
Tomorrow.....Bryce Canyon National Park!!
THURSDAY, October 18
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|Check out the temp!|
BRRR!! A chilly morning! We went to bed last night early, knowing we would have the time change back to Daylight time today, and because it was cool in the trailer! When I got up around 6:45, the sun was just peeking through the trees, and the trailer thermometer registered 38 degrees! But we both slept relatively warmly! When Rick got up he turned on the propane furnace - that took the chill off quicker! In the meantime I wrapped myself up in the sleeping bag in the corner to do my morning devotion.
|Changing trees as we descend from the Kaibab Plateau|
By 10 MT we are finally on our way! Into Jacob Lake to grab a coffee and then north on 89. We gradually lose elevation as we wind down from the Kaibab Plateau and into a huge valley, bordered on the north by the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Somewhere out 'in the flats', our cell phone rings and we find Luke on the other end. I talk with him into Fredonia, where we get gas.
From Fredonia we head north into Utah and the town of Kanab. The cottonwood trees along the Virgin River (East Fork) are gorgeous against the deep red and white rock formations.
Today we drove all of 64 miles to Glendale and Bauer's Ranch RV Park, along the Virgin River and nestled between apple orchards. Friendly gal at the desk who hands us all sorts of materials about the parks. The cost is only 23.65 per night - full hookups AND free wifi. Rick is evening watching TV as I write - only a couple stations, but better than nothing!
|Valley views near Glendale, UT|
We decided to take the rest of the day to catch up - I had blogs to finish, pictures to organize, and devotions to post. Rick took a nap! The sun was warm and felt good at first, and then it got a little too warm! We put up the awning! But....when the sun goes down, and it dips below the ridge behind us early, it gets cold fast! Not as cold as last night however!
Showers were in order for both of us and they felt GOOD!! Then we took the time to actually COOK a good dinner - a recipe I found while waiting at Lowe's in the book section. Can of cranberry jellied sauce and equal amount of salsa (Rick did not use equal as all we had was medium salsa!) as a sauce for meatballs. We served it on rice. Really good!
Early night tonight as we will be on our way early to Zion National Park. Our goal is to tackle the Angel's Landing Trail tomorrow!!! Weather looks to be great! Stay tuned tomorrow for the results!
WEDNESDAY, October 17
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim
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I took over 220 pictures today….does that tell you what kind of God beauty we saw between sunrise and sunset today?
Up to pack up the trailer and depart from Trailer Village. We made our get away around 8:30 am…to a gorgeous sunny day and clear skies. Destination? The North Rim of the Canyon ….a mere 215 miles away!
As Rick noted, the first 50 miles backtracking along Desert View Road and then to Cameron was slow. We had already been over this way, the views are few, and we were anxious to get on and see new country! When we arrived at Speedy’s Gas in Cameron, Rick filled up while I made some phone calls to Jacob Lake and Bauer’s RV in Glendale. We finally had cell coverage! Good news and bad news. I couldn’t get any leads on campground in Jacob Lake – everything has closed for the season as it snowed last Friday and that was that! North Rim is still open as far as the visitor center is concerned. I called Jacob Lake back about the prices of rooms or cabins for the night. It would be $100 at the least. Ouch. The good news was I made reservations at Bauer’s for four nights – it is centrally located amid Bryce, Zion, and Cedar Break National Parks and will have internet!!!
|Rock formations north of Cameron, AZ|
North from Cameron is all new road for Rick and I! The first 40 miles up to The Gap was dry, desert land. A few rock formations, strata, etc. but mostly barren land. Reservation land – again we gave the Native Americans prime real estate. (sic) At the Gap we found another reasonable gas station, so we topped off the tank again. Thank shall be our pattern for today!
|Navajo Bridge over the Colorado|
Between The Gap and Bitter Springs (where we part company from 89 and follow 89A AND cross the Colorado River), the road was bordered on the east by a series of impressive rock outcroppings and ridges. In the distance we could see what I identified as Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, but it wasn’t until we actually crossed the river and stopped at Navajo Bridge Interpretive Site that I realized how impressive the cliffs are! I wasn’t able to get my passbook stamped because the office was closed for lunch! There really isn’t a Visitor Center for Vermillion Cliffs itself.
The Navajo Bridge over the Colorado was built in 1929 and at the time was the ONLY crossing in a 600 mile stretch of river. The original bridge is now a pedestrian crossing. A more modern replica (and it is a carbon copy) spans the river just 50 feet downstream from the original. The river was green here – much prettier than the brown we kept seeing from the top of the South Rim.
|Vermillion Cliffs National Monument|
The next 20 miles bordered the Vermillion Cliffs – a 2000’ rock wall of varying colors and strata. In places rocks had broken off and were located on the opposite side of the highway. Not rocks – car-size boulders! At the end of the cliffs, the highway climbed! Near the river crossing we were at 4000’. By the time we reached Jacob Lake, we were at 7800’. The entire terrain had changed to a Ponderosa Pine forest! It felt like driving around Baker County, up near Anthony Lakes! Beautiful!
We arrived in Jacob Lake around noon and asked about camping options. Basically learned that it is ok to camp anywhere on Forest Service land, so tonight we are going to Boondock for the first time! Literally! We decided to eat a good hearty meal for lunch and sidled up to the counter at the Jacob Lake Inn Café. Rick had a bacon cheeseburger and I ordered the Portebello Mushroom Burger. (Unfortunately, I am developing a fond taste for these more expensive burgers!) We gas up AGAIN at the gas station to make sure we have a full tank going into the North Rim. Price was only $4.22.
We take off around 1:45 from Jacob Lake headed toward the North Rim. About 2 miles outside of town, Rick pulls over where a road takes off from the highway. There is a flat spot and a campfire ring! We make it home for the night! We unhitched, grab some warm clothing and continue on with just the truck south to the North Rim.
|Slash burning adds to the eerie feel of the past burn.|
I can’t remember when major forest fires burned in the North Rim region, but the evidence lines the highway heading into the park. The aspen trees are making a comeback, however, and in other places the ponderosa pines were able to withstand the flames and still stand – charred, but whole. Aspen groves cover the Kaibab Plateau region here. Some were still in all their golden fall glory, but others have shed all their leaves and were white lines against the green evergreens.
While we were driving through the burned areas, we saw smoke in the distance – fire type smoke. We found out later as we entered the park that they waited until the park officially ‘closed’ for the season to start the slash pile controlled burns. The smoke will make viewing in the park difficult, but you can understand why they are burning now – the recent snow dampened everything down and it is cool.
|North Rim Lodge, Grand Canyon|
As soon as Rick drove into the North Rim area, he proclaimed “I will never go to the South Rim again!” This is beautiful! There were cars in the parking lot, but only two small lots. That alone tells you the North does not see nearly the number of visitors! The lodge is gorgeous, but also includes a host of small guest cabins scattered over the grounds. We walked out to the end of Bright Angel Point, got the passbook stamped, and filled our water bottles to guarantee plenty of water for tonight’s dry camp.
|View from Bright Angel Point across canyon to|
South Rim - smokey skies!
I drove the 26 miles from North Rim village out to Cape Royal. We stopped several times at viewpoints, took a short hike, visited some Indian ruins (they wintered down on a delta in the river and summered at the top of the plateau), and then parked at Cape Royal and walked out to Angel’s Window Point and the cape – the latter just in time for sunset.
Impressions from our drive out: --- North Rim is not as steep as the South Rim (duh – we learned that last night at the geology museum!)
---- North Rim is much greener due to more tree and shrub growth between the layers of rock.
--- From the Encantada Viewpoint, you can see past the Vermillion Cliffs to Navajo Mountain.
--- Smokey skies make for eerie sunset pictures!
--- Rick was happy as we walked out on TOP of Angel’s Window, and got to see it from two other viewpoints.
--- Surprised to find a number of people out on the Cape Royal point – several were more professional photographers capturing the light on the formations.
|North Rim sunset colors|
By 6:05 we were headed back to the trailer, Rick driving again in the darkening skies. The drive back was spectacular as we watched the setting crescent moon, first a silver sliver in the sky, then as it grew larger and oranger as it passed through the smokey haze as it set. The stars were glorious and bright. We must have seen 2 dozen or more head of deer, a couple right on the side of the road. We had to watch carefully as we neared Jacob Lake to make sure we wouldn’t pass our road and trailer!
|Sunset glow on rock formations|
We drop the bed and get set up. Run just one light to conserve the battery. None of the plugs work anyway off the battery – lights only. Good thing the computer was fully charged! And now….I am going to turn in – my feet are getting cold! All this can finally get posted tomorrow, perhaps, when we arrive in Glendale. G’Night!
TUESDAY, October 16
Grand Canyon National Park
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What a great beautiful day this has been! Sunshine in the 70’s! A clear crisp morning.
|Quick view of canyon while waiting for the shuttle|
We slept warm last night, setting the heater for low just to keep warm enough for the water pipes. The trailer was 47 degrees when I got up at 6:15 – I heard the heater come on several times during the night. Quiet time early in the morning, although we have no internet connection so I cannot post anything for several days! Maybe by Thursday!
After a lazy start to the day, we ready ourselves for a bike ride along the canyon rim. We bike about 2 miles down to the Grand Canyon Village – and the transfer point for the Red Bus line out to Hermit’s Rest – the end of the shuttle road. We are able to follow one of the new greenbelt paths much of the way. I was hoping to grab a little air for my front tire, but we never found that spot so I just road all day with it low.
|Entrance to Hermit's Rest|
Each shuttle bus has a bike rack on the front that will hold 3 bikes. Rick said it was a very slick and easy system to mount the bikes and lock them in place. We took the shuttle bus out to the end of the road, unloaded, and filled up our water bottles at the free water tap (they are not selling individual water bottles in the park, but do provide refill stations in several spots.) Hermit’s Rest is the site of a way station for a stage line that traveled from the Rim Village west to a trail built as an alternate to the toll-fee Bright Angel Trail in the early 1900’s. When the park service removed the toll, the alternate trail was no longer useful and fell into disuse. The Station, however, is still popular!
|Colorado River is visible from Hermit's Rest area|
For the first 2.8 miles, we were able to follow another bike path along the edge of the rim. For the last 5 miles we had to ride on the road, with instructions to be completely stopped and off the road when a shuttle bus passes you. They have first priority! Most of the time, that wasn’t a problem – the buses only pass by every 10-15 minutes. We stopped at several viewpoints, notably The Abyss (where the canyon wall drops about 3000’ in a sheer cliff) and Powell Point – a narrow promontory honoring Captain Powell. Great viewpoint up and down canyon from there. We could see the river below in several places, including a couple of rapids. Overall, however, the Colorado looks very sluggish and brown down below. Rick spent time panning the canyon with the binocs. We were able to pick out the North Rim lodge nestled below the rim. The Grand Canyon is just so…..GRANDE! BIG! I started to grasp the size when I realized the developed part of the park only encompasses maybe 60 miles of the 277 mile length of the Colorado River that is contained in the park. You have to really gaze and look to continually pick out different formations, colors, and shadows.
|Up on top of Powell Point|
Saw some orange mallow flowers in bloom and purple asters. I couldn’t believe flowers were still in bloom, although for the most part, everything has gone to seed.
There was plenty of up and down on the road – my legs were telling me so by the end of the trip! Maybe I can just blame it on a semi-flat tire! But tired enough that when we got back to the village, we hopped on the Village Transfer shuttle for a ride back to Trailer Village where we arrived at 3pm.
Threw together a quick ‘dinner’ of beans, salmon, and tortillas while Rick put the bikes away and took the legs off the dining table (we had decided while driving on Monday that the table would be more useable sans the legs that stick out!) By 4pm we are off again via the shuttle, this time bound for the Visitor Center and hopefully an internet connection. We found the VC and a café that we thought had advertised internet, and while I could get it to connect, I couldn’t get Firefox, Chrome, or Explorer to load! Ah well – we just wanted to check with Bauer’s RV Park in Glendale, Utah.
|Sunset from Yavapai Point|
Rick found a book (National Geographic on National Parks) this morning at Hermit’s Rest which he wanted to buy, but we didn’t have room to carry it on the bikes. We couldn’t get it at the VC, and they suggested Yavapai Museum. So, we changed our plans to watch the sunset at Yaki, and took the Orange Shuttle out to Yavapai. Good little geology museum and we learned why the South Rim is steeper than the North Rim, but no book. (The South Rim is only 3 miles from rim to river, while it is 7 miles from North Rim to river. Difference is due to drier conditions and the water running AWAY from the canyon on the south, hence less erosion. On the northside, all rivers run down into the canyon and erode faster.) Book should be available at the hotel gift shops. So ….. new plan. We walk the 1.75 miles of the rim trail as the sun sets, snapping pictures and admiring the changing colors and shadows of the canyon. By the time we arrive at the village, it is fairly dark! The first stop didn’t have the book, Hopi House had just closed, but Rick was successful at El Tovar Lodge! Whew!
Walk in the dark down to the Shuttle station where we got on this morning, and caught the Blue Line bus back to Trailer Village. It is pitch dark with a skyfull of stars! A crescent moon in the sky which set just an hour after the sun.
Relaxing evening at the trailer and ready to head to the North Rim in the morning! G’night!
MONDAY, October 15
Holbrook to Grand Canyon Village
Sunset Crater National Monument
Wupatki National Monument
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A cool night! But the stars were BEAUTIFUL and we used the sleeping bag finally as a cover so we kept snug and warm. The temperature in the trailer was a cool 45 degrees when I got up at 6am. And yes, I finally turned on the little space heater we bought in Albuquerque! By 8, the trailer was warmed up to nearly 60 degrees.
We forgot about the free coffee and muffins down in the office, packed up, and were on the road by 8:15. Rick had checked the truck tires and wanted to find some air. We had to charge $2.00 worth in a machine, but we got our air (and coffees as well!)
|San Francisco Peaks|
It is 85 freeway miles to Flagstaff, so I drive! As we head west we see snowcapped mountains in the distance. The only peaks I can think of are the mountains right north of Flagstaff. And it turns out these are those peaks, the San Francisco Mountains, and fresh snow fell on Friday night of last week. I love driving toward them for the next hour plus!
Luke calls as we are passing through Winslow (we sing the song for him) and Rick visits with him until we arrive in Flagstaff and the turnoff for Hwy 89 north. A stop for gas at Safeway and we are off for the National Monuments.
Sunset Crater is first – we enter with our Annual Pass and stop at the Visitor Center, where Rick realizes that our gas can is leaking. A little bit of a mess to vent it and then clean up, but all is well. The Sunset Crater is a recently formed volcano – it erupted and was created around 1000 AD – while native people were living in the area. The VC had some wonderful artwork done by Hopi artists depicting the eruption. Lava flows 100’ thick spread out from the crater. Damage to the sides of the crater and the slow rate of regrowth due to lack of moisture led the feds to close the crater to rim hikes in 1973.
Quick bite to eat and then we head off on the loop road which connects the two monuments. We take a mile hike out toward the crater and through a lava flow. Collapsed lava tubes, spatter cones, mini cinder cones, aspens turning colors, rabbit brush, and apache plume seed pods waving in the breeze. A really nice hike! And we can still see the snow on the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Humphreys.
Eventually the road leaves the lava and ponderosa pine forests and drops in elevation to the flat lands and views of the Painted Desert in the distance. Grasslands and some rock outcroppings, but very different from what we have gone through and expected!
|Wupatki Pueblo Ruins|
Wupatki National Monument is carved from land that was originally part of the a HUGE cattle ranch north of Flagstaff in the 1800’s and the ancestral home of Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni Puebloans. Native Americans were living side by side with the National Park employees as recently as 1940’s. In the 1950’s the natives were basically kicked off the land. The main ruins was probably more of a gathering place rather than individual homes – it was multi-level (four stories) and built among a rock outcropping. Big slabs of stone comprised parts of the walls. A ball court, kiva, and plenty of storage rooms for the corn, squash, and beans grown. We didn’t stop at the other ruins and got back out to the main highway around 2:30, ready to head to Grand Canyon!!
Just north of Gray Mountain we enter the Navajo Reservation, and Speedy’s Gas at the junction of 67, the road west into Grand Canyon South Rim. Speedy’s is priced reasonably – we will stop again on our way “out” on Wednesday.
Amazed at the number of scenic vista points that have been built on the road on reservation land – which then are lined with the booths for selling jewelry, pots, etc. As soon as we left the reservation and came onto forest land, the booths stopped – abruptly! The Little Colorado River gorge is pretty awesome as it winds north to join the Colorado.
|Watchtower at East Entrance|
of Grand Canyon
We enter the national park – our annual pass saving us $25 this time around! – and then stop at the Watchtower – built in 1930’s to replicate ancient native spiritual towers. The view of the east end of the canyon is awesome from here. We climb to the top of the tower, admire the native Hopi designs drawn on the interior walls, and watch the ravens soaring below us on the updrafts.
Twenty five miles from the Watchtower to the Grand Canyon village. We struggle to follow the signs to Trailer Village – the roads wind and twist here and it is so confusing to figure out where you are! But…we get settled into site B-8 and get all hooked up.
|A quick pose in the darkening skies!|
Then a quick unloading of the bikes and a ride out to the canyon rim to see the sunset. We aren’t really on the right spot to face the west, but still get a little color in the sky. We will make sure we are in a better spot tomorrow night. It gets dark so quickly AFTER the sun goes down, so we ride back directly to the campground, arriving just as it was getting dark enough I wouldn’t have wanted to be riding anymore!Dinner and reading through the materials to plan our day for tomorrow!!
SUNDAY, October 14
Las Cruces, NM to Holbrook, Arizona
Click HERE for today's pictures
|Mts. north of Las Cruces|
We are up and packed and ready to pull out from the Habitat 'Park' at 8:15 am. Good thing we said our goodbye's last night because no one else was up and about! Into the Chevron station for coffee and I take the wheel for the first stretch of the way - it's interstate freeway after all!
A BEAUTIFUL morning! Sun is shining, the mountains looked gorgeous all the way up the Rio Grande Valley. We stop in Truth or Consequences, again, because I have to go to the bathroom!! Rick drives the rest of the way into Socorro, where we arrive at 11 am. Meet Jed at the Denney's - his favorite breakfast place! He was even able to report that his volleyball team won a match last night up in Albuquerque! Good meal for us all - Rick and I were ready to eat as we hadn't eaten much breakfast (just coffee!) I ordered a FitFare Meal from the Senior Menu - an excellent little omelet and big bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit. It was good! Reminded me how much I enjoy oatmeal for breakfast.
|VLA dishes strung out in north direction|
Up over the mountain passes, across the Continental Divide at 2pm - elevation 7796' here - and through PieTown! We missed the Pie Festival earlier this month! Nearing the Arizona border the terrain flattens out more - the hills are gentler, the landscape drier. We cross the border into Arizona and realize it is now an hour earlier in the day - Arizona doesn't honor Daylight Savings Time! Mountain Standard Time here, which effectively puts us on Pacific Time for the next three days. Once we cross over into Utah, we will 'lose' this hour again.
|Flat roads in western NM|
North of Springerville (we gassed up there), the terrain is back to dry with a layer of black volcanic rock underneath everything. Not what I pictured it to be. We past St. John's, where we planned originally to stay, never even seeing the Moon Meadow RV Park we had considered!
|Sunset in Holbrook|
|Our spot at OK RV Park in Holbrook AZ|