Today has been quite an adventure… first, we drove out the same route that we drove last night to find and hike the Shakespeare Arch Trail.
30 April ‘08
Today has been quite an adventure… first, we drove out the same route that we drove last night to find and hike the Shakespeare Arch Trail.
It was a dusty 3 mile road to the trail head, but once we got there we kind of ignored the wind as much as we could. The hike to the arch was easy so we decided to take the full circle trail. The whole hike was about 2 ½ miles so it should have been pretty easy. Once we got around to the opposite side of the arch, we found that the trail had been covered with sand. Not only was it covered with sand, it was on a very steep grade. Again, we are very glad we made the purchase of these walking sticks. With them, it gave us the grip on the sloping hill side that we sure wouldn’t have had without them. It wouldn’t have hurt either one of us if we had slipped in most of the areas, but on a couple of them…well, it wouldn’t have been so much fun. The sights from the height of the hills and the Shakespeare Arch itself really made the hike worthwhile. We had heard of a couple of other places we must see while here in Kodachrome. There’s a dirt road here that runs 60 miles to Page, Arizona.
Well we decided that we haven’t had enough of dirt roads yet so we turned left and headed out. That’s just a part of it…at the 3 mile mark, we had to ford a river. The road split into an on-coming and on-going lane, just in case someone didn’t make it across. At the 9 mile mark we took a right and headed off to see the magnificent Grosvenor Arch.
This is one site that we could just drive up to. The wind was still blowing like hell, but seeing the arch was well worth it. OK, now let’s really do a hike…Cottonwood Narrows is a narrow Navajo Sandstone canyon that we can pick up 4 miles further down that dirt road. After finding a spot off the roadway to park, we grabbed our hiking sticks, slid through a small rock crevasse,
and found ourselves surrounded by 1000 foot high granite walls. The floor of the canyon was mostly deep sand and larger rocks.
With that kind of canyon floor, our leg muscles are going to get a good work-out, which they did. Driving back to the coach, we had to pass through the water hazard again, only this time we had to use the other “lane”. A couple of different things happened… First the water was much deeper and hit just above the bumper which splashed water over the top of the car. Next, we must have hit something like a nail sitting under the water because we had no sooner made it to the other side and I noticed that it felt like we were riding on a very low tire…yep, here we sat, in the middle of nowhere and we had a flat. Now I’m getting a little upset…wind, water, completely wore out from a strenuous day, and now a flat tire???
30 April ‘08
11am was check-out time and by the time we had packed up, filled the freshwater tank, and said our “Good-bye’s” to Bob and Laurie it was 10:48. I wanted to top off our fuel tank before we left town so we headed into Hurricane. With the prices of all the fuels going through the roof, I decided that after filling, we would try to find a place we could purchase lockable gas and diesel fuel caps. Just as we were leaving the edge of town, I spotted a NAPA store but the only parking for us was about 50 yards past them. Not seeing a problem with that and noticing a light pole that I would have to work around, I edged over to the curb. All of a sudden I hear this scrapping sound… I looked out of the passenger side mirror and saw that because of the steepness of the incline that was built into the shoulder of the road, we were now leaning into that damn light pole. The shoulders of the roads were made this steep as to allow a lot of rain to run easily to the storm drain system. Well fortunately, I was able to pull away from the pole without a scratch. Don’t ask me how, but luck was with me. Now what about the fuel caps??? Heck with it, I’ll find them somewhere else. Our drive took us back over to Hwy 15 and then continuing on east to Cedar City. At Cedar City, we took Hwy 14. This highway took us high up in the mountains. Fact is, when we finally stopped just a ½ mile short of the summit, our GPS told us we were at 9,987 feet. I knew we were high, but that really surprised me. The views from up there were amazing but unfortunately I don’t think the camera shots did them justice. Then it was on to find our campground. We will be (are now in) a state campground in Kodachrome Basin State Park. Prior to getting to Kodachrome, we had to pass through Red Canyon.
Going into Red Canyon was like driving through a private gate and then….BAM !!!! The most unbelievable red rock formations…yep, again with the red rocks and the formations.
There was a sign that told us we were about to enter this area, and that there would be a “scenic view” in ¼ mile…we saw the same sign every ¼ mile for the next 2 miles. You couldn’t believe the beauty of this place…it was something else. Well like I mentioned, we are now in Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Our campsite is surrounded with natural rock formations of red, white, pink, and dark burgundy. The trees and plants all complement the formations.
We have already taken a short 1 mile hike and a 6 mile off road ride (the car is again one big dust ball) to see some of this Kodachrome area. Tomorrow we will be doing a lot more of both if the wind will let us. Yep, the wind had found us again, blowing this red sand into every crevice available. Lets just say it’s tough to stay clean. The days are staying light well into the 9pm area, but after that…boy, do the stars make their appearance here. It’s hard to believe there are that many stars in the sky above.
29 April ‘08
Well it’s time to do a little shopping…this morning, following breakfast, we headed over to St. George for a visit to Wal-Mart and Costco. It wasn’t that we needed so much but for the coming week to 10 days, we’ll be away from the closeness of these two stores and we just didn’t want to fall short.
When we got back, we joined Bob and Laurie for a great paddle on one of the local reservoirs.
With the weather holding to “PERFECT”, we just couldn’t pass it up. Tonight, as well as last Saturday night, Louise joined with a group from the campground for a night of Texas Holdem…she had a good time, but not a winner, damn. Now on the other hand, Bob came home with $35 for coming in 3rd. Well it’s time again to move on…we’re heading to Bryce Canyon National Park. The weather report doesn’t look good. Today it’s supposed to be in the low 70’s but Wednesday drops to the mid 50’s with the night temp at 16…BRRRRRR….
27 April ‘08
I forgot to tell you about yesterday’s cinnamon rolls. When we checked into this campground, we received the usual list of “what’s happening in the park”. Listed on that list was the Saturday morning cinnamon rolls that “are the best you have ever tasted, and you had better come early as they sell out”… Seeing as how we had checked in last Saturday AFTERNOON, I didn’t have a chance to get mine, so I had to wait for AWHOLE week. Well yesterday morning finally arrived and I was one of the first to get into the line (well, I didn’t want them to sell out…). Remembering how good these cinnamon rolls are supposed to be, I bought 3…one for now, one for Louise (knowing darn well she is on a diet and would pass) and one for tomorrow’s coffee. Now I’ve paid my $3, have them in my hand, and heading home to my patio and my fresh cup of coffee. I can just taste that treat I’m about ready to enjoy….ya right !!! Without a doubt, these cinnamon rolls are the worst pieces of pastry that I’ve ever put my mouth around !!! Oh well, lesson learned.
After breakfast this morning, Louise and I decided to hike into the Red Hills, those red hills that rise across the valley from us. Last week we walked over there and did some hiking, but this time we drove to the base of the hill and started there. After paying our $1 fee, we checked out the different trails and decided to take the one that ran up one of the canyons. About the first mile we were walking the red sands of the area, and when we rounded the first bend, we found we would hike on shear rock that lined both sides of a stream. This was really a beautiful scene and we were just about the only hikers around. A little bit up stream we did come across another couple and being Sunday we just knew we would see a lot more soon. At one point, we got to where the water and the steep walls came together. The only way around to the other side was to slide your belly up close to one of the large rock slabs, put your foot into one of the many foot holds that were dug out of solid rock, and grab a hold of a knotted rope.
This rope was anchored at the top of the rock, and was long enough to swing completely around to the other side. In getting around to the other side we found that the stream went around and through another canyon. A second choice was a hiking trail that would lead us up and into a second canyon. After about the first 100 yards, we found ourselves climbing through and over rocks that took us to a wonderful overlook.
Actually, this “overlook” was a good stopping area. It gave us a good place to enjoy the canyons far below and contemplate what path would take us back down safely.
We made it down just fine, but picked up some red dust on the bottom of our shorts in doing it. After reaching the bottom we decided to hike up the second canyon. In doing that we found that we would either have to wear our hiking shoes in the stream or go bare foot as the walls of the canyon were too steep to allow us to walk around.
I did take my walking sticks with me for balance, but I also found them handy to measure the depth of the water. About 75 yards into our walk in the water we found a deeper hole that made us either get out on a sloping wall or go swimming…we chose to try the sloping wall bare footed…not a good idea. It’s been a long time for my poor ole bare feet to have been put to this kind of torture so we made our turn-around and headed home. We had a great hike and I guarantee you, we’ll feel it for a few days. Tomorrow we will be joining Bob and Laurie on the water…one more kayak outing before we head off to Bryce Canyon National Park on Tuesday.
25 April ‘08
Last Friday we pulled into Hurricane, Utah after a great drive through desert, valleys, and some wonderful mountains that took us up to 7,800 feet. We found ourselves driving through a large area of tall Pine while in the mountains, something we haven’t seen for quite some time. Coming out of the mountains we found ourselves driving down a 6% grade and the final altitude of 3,400 feet. About 3 miles before coming out of the pass, we started to see a sign that warned us of a “Stop Sign and SCHOOL” at the bottom of the hill….”30 MPH Maximum”… “What a hell of a place to put a school…” It wasn’t until we finally got to the bottom (and we still had our brakes), that we saw the school. Fortunately it was still 3 long blocks away after the STOP SIGN, which makes much more sense. Now we’re in Hurricane and on our way to our campground. Western Horizons St. George is located about 5 miles west of Hurricane in a now extinct, but historical, town of Harrisburg. Harrisburg was a silver mining area but now, a “Ghost town”. Just around the corner we’ve got 2 reservoirs to kayak and the Red Mountains to hike in…which we’ve done, and 25 miles east we have Zion National Park and Zion Kolob. On Tuesday Bob and Laurie joined Louise and me for a day in Zion NP.
On our drive up to Zion, we came upon a beautiful little town called Springdale. At the end of town, we were attracted to a “tourist” attraction…this beautifully built store that was nestled into an apple orchard and just said something to me…COME IN!!! I like being the driver… We pulled in to have a cup of coffee and to see if there might be a treat for us as well. Yep, there was, lots of them but we decided on a Raisin Oatmeal cookie and a guarantee that we would be coming back at the end of our day in Zion. You see, they make their own Italian Gelato… Continuing our drive into Zion, we found that we had to park our car and take a shuttle bus. The shuttle buses travel an 8 mile loop that takes you into the most popular areas of the park.
We first took the shuttle all the way to the end of the loop to see the sights and get the lay-out of the park before returning to the lodge. At the lodge, we again take another shuttle and head off for our first hike of the day…Emerald Pools. We did two hikes to two different pools at Emerald and found not only the golden colored pools but some spectacular waterfalls as well.
Having taken our lunch with us, we found a flat rock under one of the falls and beside the larger of the two pools. Settling down in the rays of the sun, the water, and the splash of the falls, we enjoyed our home-made meal.
Back to the next shuttle and onto our next hike…Weeping Rock. Weeping Rock was a short hike up to a large rock alcove with hanging gardens. Although it was a shorter hike, it was worth the stop and exercise to get to it. Now you can see why we waited to get our Gelato…we need the nourishment for the drive home (or back to camp). The next day the four of us was off to Kolob. Kolob is at another entrance of Zion NP and offers a lot more options to hike. By the time we arrived at the visitor center, we found that it was much cooler than any of us had anticipated. But, now that we are “here”, we will not be deterred. Our planned hike was about a 4 mile round trip that would take us up and through a canyon and cross over a small stream, back and forth over 60 times each way. On top of that, we were constantly climbing up the river bank to reach the next spot to which we dropped down into the river again…lots of good exercise today.
Thursday Louise and I decided to take a hike into the Red Mountains, which just happen to be across a small valley from the campground. Grabbing our hiking sticks and our backpack, we hiked out. Our hike took just over 3 hours but could have been done in 2. Louise wanted to take a “short-cut” through the valley. Well we knew there was a small river we would have to cross, and maybe a couple of small crevices we would have to go down into and back up from, but we were ready for this small challenge. We came across an archeological dig that turned out to be an Anasazi occupation. There was a small placard there that gave us a little information about the site and the approximate timing of the site…600-1000 AD. Now to find our way out…we had to back-track and go out the same way we hiked in. Well, it could have been done, but I just didn’t want to push our way through some deep brush and cactus and a possible hidden snake just to find out.
18 April ‘08
This morning we pulled out of the campground early so that we could stop for fuel and a stop at the lumber yard to pick up a piece of oak paneling. We had it cut to fit the opening, but unfortunately it was unfinished so I’ve got another project to finish soon. This paneling was to cover the area that once contained a wall of mirror which had to be taken down to install the shower faucet a few weeks ago. After stowing everything, we headed to Lees Ferry Landing. We were to meet Laurie and Bob at the campground in Lees Ferry and get ready for the Colorado River in the morning. The drive from Page to Lees Ferry was taken through some absolutely beautiful territory. We climbed through these red mountains to over 7,500 feet before dropping into the gorge while winding and twisting at a 6% grade, down to 3,200 feet. Lees Ferry is the jumping off place for all the “floats” through the Grand Canyon and in the morning we’ll be in the water too. The big difference is, we’ll (Bob, Laurie, Louise, and me) be picked up by a large river raft and transported kayaks and all up river.
We were dropped off just before the dam
at Lake Powell and from there we could float (and do a little paddling) the river back down to Lees Ferry. Our float/paddle took us just under 6 hours. The river was running at about 5 miles an hour through the canyon so it was easy to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
When we did paddle, it was to go from one side of the canyon to the other or to beach and explore. On one stop we were able to see some petroglyphs
that we were told date back over 1500 years. Another stop was for a potty break and lunch (not necessarily in that order or importance…). About every couple of miles there was a sandy beach that had a potty…pretty handy huh? It was great to get into the Colorado River at this point and especially to be able to paddle with another kayak. Bob and Laurie have had their kayak
about 4 years now and have been in a lot of incredible areas that we are looking forward to seeing as well. Well, with the day coming to an end, we finally paddle enough to get us back on land, deflate the kayaks, and head up to our RV’s for dinner and a de-briefing of our day on the water. Fortunately, Bob and Laurie will be heading to Hurricane, Utah as well for a few days. We also heard from Dave and Carol Welling (who recently purchased a kayak from us) and they are in Hurricane also. I hope that we will all be able to get into the water somewhere there.
17 April ‘08
One thing that continues to justify why we keep doing this “Full-Timing” is in meeting other “travelers”… those that like the feel of the wheels under them, those that like a hike, a paddle down a river, lake, or even the ocean, those that are looking for that piece of history or to watch the future in front of us, those that like to explore a glass of wine or taste a specialty beer (especially those)… Well let me introduce Bob and Laurie Lynch. We met them deep inside the Upper Antelope Canyon yesterday and today, we spent the day hiking the Toadstools and exploring Cottonwood Canyon by car. They had heard about this hike into “The Toadstools” and ask us to join them, so with a name like the Toadstools who would pass?
I am blown away with the different rock, sand, and mud formations that we have seen here in Arizona, and this one sure didn’t let us down. We did explore a couple of small canyons but most of our time hiking was at the base, or at the top, of some striking hills. These hills actually looked like someone had taken a large bucket of sand and water, added a little color here and there, reached in and pulled out a handful of the mixture, squeezed it through the palms of their hands, and formed these unusual walls, mounds, and spires. The Toadstools area was a mix of red rock and a dirty white hard sand that seemed to melt its way from the top of the hills to the bottom…it looked like the sun was melting a huge block of white cheese, and letting it run down the sides it droplets. Some of the “Toadstools” were of the “white cheese” and balanced on the top, the red rock.
Others were red on red…spectacular. Getting back in the car and driving about 2 miles south, we turned onto a well maintained dirt road and headed deep into the desert. The dust was flying (and most of it stuck to the every surface and crevice in and out of the car) as we approached the multi-colored mountains. This drive was to take us out to the mountains and a stream bed that was not visited much by “tourists”. The whole area was nice to see, but was it worth the effort? I would probably pass the next time, but for trying it this time, it was a lot of dust, but a good drive.
16 April ‘08
After pulling into Page and the Lake Powell area, we found ourselves totally involved with getting out and seeing everything (or as much as we could in the few days we are staying). Unfortunately, the wind hasn’t helped our plans… I remember when we were in Ramona, California and they had the heavy rain, followed with 3 to 4 inches of snow…”the most snowfall in 25 years”, was the story. Well Tuesday we had wind, and I mean wind. “The strongest winds in over 25 years” they tell us. We had planned to take a tour into one of the canyons. The Upper Antelope Canyon is supposed to be one of the most spectacular canyons available to visit anywhere so we signed up.
Across the highway is another spectacular canyon, the Lower Antelope Canyon, so we decided to see both of them in the same day.
The upper is available only with a guide so, with instructions clear to all parties, we followed the Jeep out to this location that we were to leave our car. As soon as we “all” pulled into the parking lot, Louise and I got our camera, jackets, tickets, and started to run to the Jeep. Just about 2 feet away from our car, the Jeep took off…”where the hell are they going?” Well, they took off through the dust and left us standing. Now remember I mentioned the wind? I got right on the cell phone and called the tour company and let them know what happened. Of course, they apologized and couldn’t have been more un-happy that this happened, but now they would have to ask us if we could do it the next day. Getting back to the wind…I, we, are so happy that they got away from us. After watching them blast away down that sandy, windy, bouncy road and catching all the above in their eyes, ears, nose, and CAMERAS…no thanks, tomorrow will be just fine. Tomorrow arrived and we did make the drive down that same sandy path (they called it a dirt road) but before we did that, we took a short mile hike to see the famous “Horseshoe Bend” on the Colorado River. The view from on top of the ridge to the bend in the river and the huge rock on the other side was amazing.
I wish we could find a way to put the kayak in and paddle that part of the river…wishful thinking. Arriving back in town we found ourselves about to enter yesterday’s canyon. As I mentioned, this is the upper canyon and all we had to do was walk through this very narrow entry and then into some of the most beautiful wind and water carvings you could imagine.
The walls that stood beside us, and sometimes over us, are carved out with the rushing waters of today and those of centuries ago. The winds also have helped. The winds yesterday actually “blasted” through the canyon and did its own bit of handy work. Along with doing a little etching, it sent sand down through the small narrow openings in the “ceiling” and doing that, actually created a few “sand falls”.
Now I didn’t mention the colors… The colors ranged from soft sand to pink, red, orange, and burgundy. The gorgeous sloping angles of the rocks, coupled with the shafts of light that make their way down from the rum of the canyon, combine for a scene that cannot be fully explained with words.
I must admit the pictures that we had seen at the different galleries in town and the pictures in the “tourist” magazines caught the moment and the beauty easily. This canyon was about a half mile long, so in an hour we had had the opportunity to enjoy it all and now, Louise and I had another appointment across the street to see the “Lower Canyon”.
We weren’t sure what we were going to see there, but in a short minute after arriving, we were walking across a solid rock area and looking at a narrow slice in the ground. Upon closer inspection we noticed the ladder… We were on our own on this adventure, so approaching the ladder, sliding in though the opening sideways, we descended about 15 feet down to the floor of the canyon. Centuries ago, when the water rushed through this canyon, it must have come-in swirling, as the length of the canyon kept us leaning either one way or the next. We were soon stepping down more ladders. One or two only took us down a step or two, and then there were the others that took us down another 15 to 20 feet. In my opinion this canyon was on par with the beauty of the “Upper”, but a hell of a lot more fun in making your way through.
11 April ‘08
We’ve left Albuquerque behind and now reside just outside of Canyon de Chelly (d’SHAY..) in the Northeast corner of Arizona. I found this description of the canyons to give you an idea as to what we are seeing: “A red-tailed hawk casts moving shadows on the sheer walls as it floats high above the canyon. A Navajo woman tends her corn on the canyon floor, surrounded by a cathedral of towering red cliffs.
A family at Spider Rock Over-look marvels at the 800 foot free standing spire and the quilt of colors far below.
For each there is a different view. Yet, for all, the canyon is quiet…its silence challenged only by the call of a distant raven.” After pulling in and setting up the coach, we headed right off to see the south side of the canyon, as it’s this time of day that the sun is right for the full impact of the canyon and of course, pictures. If you were to see Canyon de Chelly from the air, it would look like a huge “V” shaped lightning strike, with the campground right at the base of the “V”. Our drive today took us over a couple of passes of 6,500 feet and more, and the top of Canyon de Chelly is at an elevation of 5 to 7,000 feet so altitude is becoming a common thing to deal with. This evening’s drive took us to the overlooks of Tsegi, Junction, The White House Ruins, and finally Spider Rock. As we made our first stop, it was amazing to see how deep the canyons are, and the steep, vertical walls that seem to either push you back or pull you even closer for that breath taking “closer look”.
There is the smell of wood smoke rising from the canyon floor and the sounds of sheep bells, barking dogs, and kids playing…the crops of corn, alfalfa, and small fruit orchards all surrounded with fences to keep the animals out are laid out like a tapestry. The “new spring” colors of the canyon floor that complement the many reds and blacks of the canyon walls. All of this was brought to our eyes as one of the prettiest “canyons” we have had the chance to visit. They tell us that “The Navajo culture emerged from this land”, and from what we’ve seen of the canyon and the Navajo people that we’ve met today, it must be true. Tonight we had dinner in the cafeteria of the Thunderbird Lodge. In the late 1880’s, this cafeteria was established as one of the earliest “trading places” in the Navajo communities Believe it or not, the food was still good, even after all that time… I had the most incredible “Indian Taco” and Louise had a chicken fried steak…mine was by far the best… Well, tomorrow we will visit the north rim and then head back to the south to hike down to the White House Ruins.
9 April ‘08
About a month ago we had a little “accident”…Louise accidentally spilled some water onto and into our GPS. Well, we found out that GPS systems and water just don’t mix and if we wanted to send it to the factory they would try to fix it for us at a base price of $199 plus $17 shipping and handling. Monday we decided to drive down into Albuquerque to do a little shopping at Costco (who in the world goes to Costco and does a LITTLE SHOPPING???) Anyway, we found a new GPS system and yesterday we drove the Turquoise Trail (62 miles) to try it out. There was a little set-up work that was required to get the GPS system to follow the directions the way I would prefer, so I set it to avoid “Toll Roads” and besides that, they don’t have any around here. As our car pulled away from the coach, directions started to flow freely from our new system. I dutifully followed every turn and only questioned it once…when this road that we were traveling on (which definitely wasn’t even close to a toll road) all of a sudden narrowed down to a single lane and then became a dirt track… Well we could have turned around and driven back the 10 or 12 miles that we had driven, but we could also keep following our “GPS”. Thankfully Louise had fixed a lunch to take with us, so I knew that we wouldn’t starve no matter how far off the track our new system took us. Fortunately, this little dirt track did take us on a little short-cut and we finally found our way to The Turquoise Trail. Our first stop on Rte 14 was at Madrid.
Madrid was featured in the recent movie “Wild Hogs” and the famous, Maggie’s Diner.
Madrid is really nothing more than a curve in the road that once was a coal mining town that didn’t do too well. It really hasn’t changed visually a great deal except in color and inhabitants. The “artists” have moved in and now, it’s “The HAPPENING PLACE”. It’s so happening, Louise actually found a couple of pieces to purchase. Seeing as we live in the motor home, we are limited to wall and counter space, so having her find something to purchase is quite rare. Now if Lou can find something to buy, so can. On main street we found this great little coffee house…yep, I just had to stop by and check out their quality.
Now with the motto of “Bad Coffee Sucks”, who could pass the challenge???
We did walk from one end of town to the other (this took about an hour, including walking into a number of the galleries) and then continued our drive up the Turquoise Trail. 10 minutes up the road we found a turn-off to enjoy the “box lunch” that Lou had put together for us. 25 miles further up, we arrived in Santa Fe. I found it hard to believe, but Santa Fe, New Mexico is the 2nd oldest city in America. It’s almost 400 years old, but shows it’s age well with the modern Spanish Pueblo look. In our walk around the plaza, it was almost unbelievable that we were walking the same area as those 4 centuries ago. “Painters and photographers
have been drawn to Santa Fe because of its starkly beautiful scenery and undiffused Southwestern sunlight”. Santa Fe is located at the base of mountains that reach well over 12,000 feet, but as we found out, Santa Fe is its self at 6,989 feet. In 1610, the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi was located and founded where it is today.
It has grown but the beauty was and is today, magnificent.
We have had the chance to visit quite a few cathedrals in our travels, and this one doesn’t take a back seat to many.