Moab, UT: Sep. 17 – 24, 2017

I’m a little behind on my blog. We kept very busy on our month long trip to Aspen and Ouray CO, Moab UT, Yellowstone, Tetons, Cody WY, Mt. Rushmore and Badlands. I hope you enjoy this blog on Moab. I hope to publish the remaining trip blogs within the next few days.

We left Ouray, CO and headed to Moab, UT on September 17th, where we met up with friends from our RV homebase; Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort in Lake Toxaway, NC. It was our first time meeting up with another couple for an RV vacation. We could not have had a better time. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring Moab with Van and Jane.

The weather was very nice during our stay. Temps got up to the 70s and 80s in the afternoon, and cooled down to the 30s at night. The week prior to our visit, temps were up near 105 degrees! We would not have enjoyed that.

We stayed at the Portal RV Resort, renting an owner lot. All owner lots are very large with cement slabs and patios. Our patio included a pergola with a nice outdoor dining set. The resort is set off the main road about a ¼ mile so you don’t hear much traffic. We loved the resort.

For our first evening in Moab we tried out Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. I think it is the most upscale restaurant in town, although it is casual enough for jeans. The restaurant is in a restored historic sandstone building. We sat at a table on the patio and enjoyed the cool evening. It was a great setting for catching up with our friends, while enjoying excellent filets and wine.

During the week we toured Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park and Arches. Unfortunately, Arches National Park is closed from 7pm to 7am Sunday night through Friday morning for the entire year due to road construction. This left us only Friday and Saturday nights for sunset and Milky Way shots, and as luck would have it, the weather was not cooperative.

Dead Horse Point State Park reminded me of Gooseneck’s Sate Park, also in Utah. From the viewing point, 2,000 feet above a gooseneck in the Colorado River, vertical cliffs and canyons surround you. It is very scenic.

One afternoon we drove along Potash road from Moab to Canyonlands. It is a scenic byway, which ends at the gooseneck, seen from the Dead Horse Point State Park viewing point. We stopped at the river, broke out the wine and sandwiches and enjoyed sunset.

This is a good overview of the Potash Road landscape, where it meets up with Shafer Trail, from an overlook in the state park.

 

Pictures taken along Potash Road

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We really wanted to get some good Milky Way shots while in Moab. We were there during the ‘new moon’ phase, so star gazing was expected to be optimal. One evening, we found a nice BLM (Bureau of Land Management) spot off of Rt 128 near Castle Valley for shooting the Milk Way, and for having a cook-out. We grilled burgers off the back of the pickup while waiting for the skies to darken. It was a lot of fun.

 

The Fisher Towers were nearby where we photographed the Milky Way:

On another day we visited Canyonlands. While there, we took a short hike to see the Mesa Arch. The views through the arch are spectacular.

We then took sunset pictures at the Green River Overlook in Canyonlands. Following sunset we found a picnic spot in the park and grilled up some dinner. We cooked and ate under our headlamps, as it was pitch black outside. After dinner we headed back over to the Green River Overlook where we found the winds to be exceptionally strong and it was so dark you could barely see your hand in front of your face. The winds made shooting the Milky Way difficult and the darkness made it impossible to get any definition of the landscape, so I decided to simply play around with lightpainting.

We returned to Canyonlands for sunrise. It was still very windy, but sunrise turned out to be pretty good. We would have liked for a little more light on the clouds, but photographers are rarely fully happy with their shooting environment

The only time we really had for touring Arches National Park, considering the weather and road closures, was during the day. This made for lack luster photo opportunities. Regardless, we enjoyed seeing the park and now have a good reason to return to Moab.

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For our last day in Moab we rented ATVs and took a tour to a point called Hell’s Landing. The weather was perfect for the ride. The winds had finally died down and the temperature had cooled to the 70s. For those who like Mountain Biking, this is the place to be. There are miles and miles of land to explore.

After a fun-filled week of sightseeing, cook-outs in unique settings, star-gazing, and off-roading, we spent our last evening at the RV park and played a game of Euchre. I was thrilled to learn that Jane and Van knew how to play. Not many people do, unless you are from Michigan.

We had a great week in Moab and look forward to returning at a future time.

Our next destination is Yellowstone, while Van and Jane travel towards Zion.

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Aspen’s Maroon Bells, and Ouray, CO: Sep. 9 – 17, 2017

We left St. Charles, Missouri on Sep. 7th. After driving 11-12 hours we stopped at a Walmart in Colby, KS. While Walmart is not our favorite spot to spend a night, we found this one to be very convenient. We needed to get some grocery shopping done and there was a decent restaurant down the street.

The following morning we were back on I-70 by 7:15am. The trip was uneventful, even through Denver. It was a nice drive from Denver to Glenwood Springs. The RV did great on the steep mountain roads. We arrived at the Glenwood Canyon Resort early in the afternoon. We had a great back-in site. It was roomy and set against a mountain backdrop. After parking we headed into the town of Glenwood Springs. Unfortunately, the bridge into the town was closed due to major reconstruction. This led to a traffic nightmare. We found ourselves taking an hour to go about a mile. We got what we needed at the hardware store and returned to the RV without exploring Glenwood Springs.

The campground we stayed at offered cabins for rent and unfortunately, it appeared that a large group of young locals decided to spend the weekend in them. About half a dozen of them were stone drunk, loud and obnoxious throughout most of the night, walking up and down the campground street in front of our RV. It was the first time we had ever had an issue like this.

Early the next morning we left the RV and took the Jeep to Aspen with the goal of photographing Maroon Bells. These mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, are touted as the most photographed in Colorado.

We had breakfast in Aspen and then headed to the Bells, on a reconnaissance mission. I didn’t want to have the next morning be our first visit to the park, as it would be pitch black and we wouldn’t know where the best spot would be for taking the picture. We took in the spectacular scenery and then took a hike up to Crater Lake. It was a challenging 3.5 mile round-trip hike. We started at an altitude of around 9,400 ft and walked up another 750 ft. Since it was our first full day at the high altitude I often struggled to catch my breath on the hike.

The water level in Crater Lake was low and the scenery was anticlimactic after seeing the Bells. It was good to get some exercise in though after so many days of driving.

After hiking we strolled through downtown Aspen. We found ourselves in the middle of a Mac & Cheese festival. We enjoyed sampling each and every kind!

In the evening, we checked into the Snowmass Village Westin for the night. As we drove into Snowmass we came upon a very large buck strolling along in the middle of the road. The next morning we came across another buck in the road, and a fox. It was very nice to see the wildlife, and glad we were able to avoid a collision with them.

The weather was cold and rainy when we turned in for the night. I was afraid that sunrise would not be as I had hoped at Maroon Bells. However, when I looked out the window at 4:45 am the next day I was pleasantly surprised to see a clear sky. We quickly packed up and headed to the Bells where I captured the picture below.

 

After photographing Maroon Bells we hiked the short 1.5 mile Scenic Loop. It was an enjoyable and pretty walk.

We then headed back to Glenwood Springs to pick up the RV and continue our journey. Our next destination was Ouray, CO (prounced you-ray), where we spent a week.

We arrived at the Ouray RV Campground on Sep. 10th. The park is very nice, located right on the river and within walking distance to the quaint downtown district. They also have a small restaurant offering breakfast and dinner most days. We would definitely stay there again.

During our stay in Ouray we rented a Jeep Wrangler, from Colorado West Jeeps, for a couple of days. We began our off-road adventure on Corkscrew Gulch, and then merged onto California Gulch, over Hurricane pass, onto California Pass and then California Gulch. We also did part of the Alpine Loop, Ophir Pass and the Alta Lakes Trail. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area this way. The next day we took the Last Dollar Trail from CO-62 to Telluride and the Imogene Trail from Telluride to Ouray. The Imogene trail was the most aggressive, and a lot of fun.

The scenery in the backcountry is spectacular. You are able to explore old mining towns and get a feel for how life might have been for the early Westerners, back in the late 1800s.

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We enjoyed an afternoon walk around Silverton with lunch at Handlebars, a well-known Western Saloon. We then took a scenic drive on some of the back roads around the town. I’d highly recommend a visit to Silverton for acquiring a feel of the old West, although Ouray does a very good job of that as well.

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Our drive along the Million Dollar Highway, from Ouray to Durango, was very enjoyable. It is a fun, and scenic drive. In Durango we strolled around the old town area and visited the Train Museum. The Train Museum was very interesting and a highlight of our visit to Durango. On our return to Ouray we stopped by Honeyville, a honey specialty store that has been around since 1918. We sampled, and purchased, some good honey! Right down the street from Honeyville we found a ranch selling produce, meats and cheeses. We stopped in and purchased Filet Mignons, Hamburgers and Cheese. Since then we have eaten all of them and all were excellent!!

We loved our stay in Ouray and look forward to returning some time in the future.

Ouray, CO from the overlook

 

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St. Louis, MO: Sep. 5-7, 2017

Well, it’s been 4 months since my last post. During those 4 months we parked the RV on our ridge lot at the Mountain Falls Luxury RV Resort in Lake Toxaway, NC. We visited as often as we could, but were pulled in many directions over the summer. We had Hot Air Ballooning events to participate in, a wedding in Poughkeepsie, New York to attend and we welcomed our newest grandchild into the world in Atlanta. We celebrated the Solar Eclipse with friends at our place in Hiawassee, GA. In between, we caught up with family and friends in and around Atlanta. In the end, we never stayed in one place for more than 7 nights. In fact, most of the time we spent only 2-3 nights at a location. While it was an exhausting summer, we enjoyed every minute of it. We recognize how truly blessed we are to be healthy and to have the means to travel.

Now we are back on the road, and looking forward to staying in one residence for the next 6 weeks, with the exception of an overnight excursion here and there.

We left Lake Toxaway, NC just before sunrise on Tuesday, September 5th. We drove just over 12 hours to St. Louis. We went through a couple of thunderstorms between Nashville and Knoxville. After that it was smooth cruising. We arrived at the Sundermeier RV Park in St. Charles early evening. We had a large pull-through site so we didn’t have to bother unhooking the car right away. Instead, we broke open a bottle of wine and heated up one of my favorite dinners; Aunt Lena’s Chicken. I cooked extra the last time I made it and froze some for our trip.

In the morning we drove into St. Louis. We found the city to be eerily quiet. Literally, we only saw a handful of cars and people out and about. It seemed like a Sunday afternoon, but it was Wednesday. Granted, it was during Labor Day week so maybe many people were on holiday.

We toured the Old Courthouse, a Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850. Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves who sued for their freedom. They were granted it in 1847. However, in 1850 the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property, and as such, had no right to sue. The decision hastened the start of the Civil War.

Virginia Minor’s case for a woman’s right to vote came to trial in this courthouse, in the 1870s, as well. The Old Courthouse is a beautiful piece of architecture. You are able to tour it on your own at no cost.

We also took a tour of the Economy Museum, located in the lobby area of the Federal Reserve Bank. The museum is interactive and quite interesting, but a little boring for us.

Following our museum tour we met up with a friend of Charlie’s, whom he had not seen for many years. We enjoyed visiting with Diana over pizza at a local restaurant and then headed back to St. Charles.

We took a walk through Historic St. Charles, a quaint neighborhood of shops and restaurants along cobble-stoned streets. With the weather in the low 70s, the walk was very pleasant.

In the evening we met up with a couple, John and Debbie, whom we had previously met on a Viking River Cruise in Europe. We had a great evening with them, exploring areas we would not have otherwise seen. We traveled across the Mississippi river on the Golden Eagle Ferry and then across the Illinois River via the Brussels Ferry. We ended up at Aerie’s Winery in Grafton, Illinois. We enjoyed a spectacular view from the balcony, while sipping wine and snacking on flatbread.

Following sunset, we continued our journey along the river’s coastline. Our friends then decided that we needed to experience Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air in Alton, IL for a late dinner. The story behind this legendary place is interesting. In short, Anheuser-Busch opened this place as a drinking establishment in 1921 and called it Bon-Air. Ten years later it sold to the Balaco family and then in 1981 it sold to Eddie Sholar (alias Fast Eddie). Fast Eddie changed the place quickly. It quadrupled in size and became one of the most popular bars around. About 20 years ago Eddie added a food menu with basics such as burgers, hot dogs, shish-kabobs, brats and fries. Today, the prices of those food items remain the same as when they were added to the menu. Half pound burgers are $1.99, for example. We had a great time and loved sharing new river and dining adventures with John and Debbie.

Today we are heading towards Colorado. More on that later…..

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Chinle, AZ, Santa Fe & Albuquerque, NM: April 13-28

We left Monument Valley early April 13th with the intent of spending a couple nights in Chinle, AZ. This would give us a day or two for exploring Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The monument is managed by the National Park Service, but the canyon itself resides on Navajo land. The Navajo currently live within the canyon, farming and raising livestock. It is said that the canyon has been inhabited for over 4,000 years.

https://www.nps.gov/cach/learn/historyculture/index.htm

As we approached the monument we noticed that it was surrounded by a small city that didn’t give us a warm feeling of safety. Furthermore, Charlie remembered that he had read that there had been some break-ins in the campground located next to the park entrance. Considering this we decided to just make it a short visit and then continue onward to Santa Fe.

We parked the RV at the campground near the visitor’s center, which offered day parking for $5, and unhooked the Jeep. We then began our tour of the Canyon’s South Rim. There are 7 overlook stops along this particular rim. We headed out to the farthest one and worked our way back. We found the canyon to be stunningly beautiful and majestic.

We bumped into a group of professional photographers who were also enjoying the beautiful landscape with their large format cameras.

Unsupervised access within the canyon is restricted to the rim overlooks and to a single trail down into the canyon, leading to the White House Ruins. For all other trips into the canyon a Navajo escort is required. The ruins date from about 1200 and are some of the oldest in the canyon. It is a 600 ft hike down to the ruins. We decided not to do the hike due to our limited time and the fact that I was still not feeling well.

Once we were back on the road we called the Santa Fe Skies RV Resort. We had a reservation with them, but were not due to arrive for another couple of days. We couldn’t get anybody to answer the phone so we decided to just head there and hope for the best. In the end, we were able to get their last available spot. We were quite relieved since it was nearly 7pm when we arrived. The resort is nice. It sits on a hill, just south of Santa Fe, with expansive views. From our site we were able to see both sunrise and sunset.

We stayed at the Skies RV resort for 8 nights. It was the longest period of time we had stayed in one location for the entire trip. I had grand plans to see many things in the area. However, because I wasn’t feeling well we took it easy for most of the time we were there. We did venture out for a few road trips.

On Easter Sunday we took a ride to Los Alamos. This was the site of Project Y, the top-secret atomic weapons laboratory. We toured the museum and learned a little about how the secret city came to be and how some of the smartest scientists in the world came together to create the most destructive bombs known to man.

On another day, we took a day trip to the Abiquiu area, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Ghost Ranch. It is a beautiful area, as illustrated in many of Georgia’s paintings. For some interesting info on the Ghost Ranch, and Georgia O’Keeffe, check out this link: https://www.ghostranch.org/explore/georgia-okeeffe/

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There are towering white limestone rock formations, known as the Plaza Blanca – the “White City,” just outside of Abiquiu. This was another area of painting interest for Georgia O’Keeffe.

I can see why so many lovers of landscape and solitude migrate to this area. It is very peaceful and beautiful. We really enjoyed having the opportunity to see it.

On another day we took a drive to Taos. It is about an hour and a half north of Santa Fe. You can take major roads to get there, or you can take the High Road to Taos, a 56-mile scenic, winding road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The road winds through high desert, mountains, forests, small farms, and tiny Spanish Land Grant villages and Pueblo Indian villages. We opted to take the major roads to Taos and then take the High Road back to Santa Fe.

While in Taos we had lunch at a fantastic restaurant called Bella’s. It was Mexican cuisine like none other I had ever had. I had the Chile en Nogada – fresh fire roasted poblano chile stuffed with ground beef (they use filet), tomato, almonds, raisins, apples, and jerez. It was topped with a cream walnut and pomegranate sauce. OMG! Each bite was full of complex flavors. For dessert we had a fried banana sundae. OMG too!! The restaurant has a nice outdoor seating area. During lunch we were visited by a very colorful pigeon during lunch. Fortunately, he minded his own business.

We enjoyed strolling through numerous shops, including one that was reminiscent of an old five & dime store. We loved the colorful and artistic architecture found within the town.

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We couldn’t leave Taos without stopping by the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It is quite majestic.

We also couldn’t leave without getting a picture of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church. Georgia O’Keeffe described it as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United states by the early Spaniards.” Construction of the church began in the late 1700’s and was completed in 1816. The exterior of the Adobe walls is made of mud and straw. Citizens of Ranchos de Taos, parish members, and visitors gather for two weeks each June to re-mud the exterior. It is certainly a unique piece of architecture.

As we traveled along the High Road to Taos we felt like we were back East, out of the desert and back in the woods. It was a very scenic drive.

Before ending our week in Santa Fe we had to do some shopping. I was successful in finding a few gorgeous pieces of Native American jewelry. It didn’t hurt that my birthday, and our anniversary, was just a week away.

Below is a picture of the Plaza in Santa Fe where one can find great deals on authentic hand crafted Native American Jewelry.

Below is a picture of me sporting some of my new jewelry.

After leaving Santa Fe our plan was to park the rig at Charlie’s sister’s house in Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque, for a couple of nights. Sometimes our best intentions don’t end well. Charlie backed the RV into what looked to be an optimal spot. However, once we got almost in we found that the RV started to sink in the soft sand. By this time we were in a position that would require Charlie to make a 90-degree turn to get back out of the driveway. A combination of this turning requirement and the soft sand led to us having to call in a tow truck. Fortunately, with just a tug and pull we were back in business.

We found an RV park just 10 minutes away, in Bernalillo. The Stage Coach Stop RV Park worked out perfectly. After a couple days of visiting family and friends in the Rio Rancho area we headed over to the Turquoise Trail RV Park in Cedar Crest. This is just on the other side of the Sandia Mountains. It wasn’t our favorite campground, but the location was excellent, as I have friends just 10 miles from it. I spent the next couple of days visiting with them while Charlie flew out of Albuquerque to New York for a business trip.

On Friday morning we left Albuquerque and drove nearly 12 hours. We were working our way to Red Bay, Alabama. We were watching the radar and knew that storms were brewing behind us. We kept pushing forward, hoping to stay ahead of them. We ended up in Sallisaw, OK. It was a good thing we did as the campground we had just left in NM had gotten over 10” of snow by Saturday morning and Oklahoma City, just a couple hours behind us, got hit with tornadoes, hail and flooding. We left Sallisaw, OK early Saturday morning and by mid-morning they had tornados and flooding. Again, we were very fortunate. We made it to Red Bay, AL mid day Saturday, relieved.

In Red Bay we were happy to reconnect with friends whom we hadn’t seen since last summer. These friends are our neighbors at Mountain Falls Luxury RV Resort in North Carolina, and were instrumental in the crazy process which led to us making MF our RV home.

By Monday mid-morning we were in a service bay, getting our warranty work completed by Tiffin. What we thought were minor issues grew to bigger issues and what we thought might be big issues turned out to be minor. Fortunately though, by Wednesday afternoon all of our work was done. Storms were approaching so we made the decision to hunker down for the night and leave early in the morning for Atlanta.

It is now Thursday morning and we are just a couple hours outside of Atlanta, concluding our 3-month road trip. It is amazing to think of all the places we have visited in the past 12 weeks. We’ve enjoyed sharing our trip with you and hope that you have enjoyed the stories.

Until next time……

Take care!

 

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Monument Valley & Southern Utah: April 10-13, 2017

We arrived at Monument Valley’s ‘The View’ campground early in the afternoon. About a third of the pull through spots face cabins. Another third faces the restroom, office and tent campground. The last third has a beautiful view of the monuments. Fortunately, we were there early enough to pick a prime spot.

 

 

If you stay at The View campground consider that there is a $20/car fee to enter the Navajo grounds. This is over and above the campground cost, and they state that it is a per day fee.

After parking the RV we jumped in the Jeep and began our self-guided tour through monument valley. The 17 mile scenic drive was very bumpy and dusty, but the beautiful views made it worthwhile.

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Sunset from our prime spot was spectacular. Immediately after sunset there was a full moon rising between the monuments.

 

Charlie had been sick through most of our stay in Page, AZ, to the point where he finally visited the ER room before we departed for Monument Valley. He was starting to feel a little better at Monument Valley but he passed his cold onto me. Therefore, we spent our first full day at Monument Valley resting in the RV. We went out for a short walk and about collapsed with exhaustion. We were miserable.

The next day we were still moving slowly but felt compelled to get out and do some sightseeing. We headed up into Utah. We stopped in Mexican Hat to get a picture of the iconic stone.

We also stopped for breakfast at a great little café on the river: Olde Bridge Grill Café. Next to the café was a beautiful blooming cactus.

From there we went to the Valley of the Gods. We toured along the 17 mile bumpy and sandy road. Thankfully, it was a bit smoother than the one in Monument Valley. Valley of the Gods is considered by some to be a mini Monument Valley. However, we felt that the buttes, towering pinnacles and mesas of Monument Valley were far more spectacular. That’s not to say that Valley of the Gods isn’t beautiful in its own right.

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Our next stop was Natural Bridges National Monument. In order to get there we had to climb up this huge mesa, along Hwy 261.

Natural Bridges National Monument is Utah’s first national monument. Within the park there are three majestic natural bridges. We took the loop drive to view the bridges. I think the view from down in the valley would have been very nice. However, neither of us had the energy to take any type of hike, especially considering the higher altitude we were at.

Our final stop for the day was at Utah’s Gooseneck’s State Park. Here you get a view of the San Juan River making numerous tight turns around a canyon landscape that resembles goosenecks.

That wrapped up our stay at Monument Valley. Still feeling under the weather, it was time to move on. We packed up and headed to Santa Fe, NM, with a short stop in Chinle, AZ. More on that later…..

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Page, Arizona: April 3-10, 2017

We left the Grand Canyon South Rim and headed for Page, AZ on a very dreary day. Snow was forecasted for the South Rim and rain for Page so we got an early start. We arrived at the Wahweap Campground, right on Lake Powell, early in the afternoon. As soon as we parked the RV the rain started and it continued until around midnight. I was worried that with so much rain our pre-planned Antelope Canyon tours would be cancelled the next day.

The view from our campsite was very nice.

Below is a picture from a lookout above the campground.

The water level of the lake is very low in the winter, compared to summer. They expect the level to rise 40-50 feet over the next couple of months, once the snow in the mountains upstream begins to melt.

We awoke the next morning to beautiful blue skies and headed over to the Antelope Canyons. I was scheduled for a photography tour of the Upper Antelope Canyon, while Charlie was scheduled for a general tour. The photography tour allows you to carry a tripod, and the guide keeps people out of your photograph. We took the 10:30 am tour so that we would be in the Upper Canyon when the beam of light came through. We both enjoyed our tours, but the canyon was jam packed with people and that kind of takes away from its surreal beauty.

After visiting the Upper Antelope Canyon we grabbed lunch and then headed over to the Lower Antelope Canyon for a slightly different tour. There are no longer photography tours allowed in the Lower Antelope Canyons during this time of the year so we were both on the general tour. This meant that I could not use my tripod and therefore, could not get good detail throughout most of my photos without using a very high ISO. Regardless, I did manage to get a few good pictures. I found the Lower Antelope Canyon to be more visually spectacular than the Upper and I would definitely like to come back during the off-season, when the crowds are thinned out and I can take in my tripod.

The picture below is interesting in that you can see a lady exiting the canyon. The canyon is behind her and seen as a very narrow slit in the rock.

 

By the time we finished our Lower Antelope Canyon tour it was getting close to sunset. Horseshoe Bend was on my agenda for photographing at sunset. Horseshoe Bend is an iconic place, where the Colorado River meanders around a horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon. It is a breathtaking view from the top of the ridge.

 

It can be quite windy and people tend to take extreme risk venturing out on the rocks, which hang precariously 1,000 ft above the river, for that perfect selfie shot. They have had a number of people fall to their death over the years. I did get right up to the edge, but on my hands and knees. It was far too windy for me to stand there. I returned to Horseshoe bend a couple days later for a cloud covered afternoon shot. It was even windier and there were even crazier people out there. Consider this woman in her high heals standing on a rock for a photoshoot.

 

Here is another shot, with a different perspective. Look closely on the highest peak and you can see people standing there.

And finally, my mid-afternoon shot of Horseshoe bend

 

On my way back to the car I spotted this bike and was impressed that the owner was pedaling across the country. The sign on the back says ‘Cross Country’. The funny thing is that a couple days later, when we were moving the RV from Page to Monument Valley, we passed this bike (with his owner riding it) on the road.

 

 

Charlie was starting to come down with a cold and was quite exhausted by the end of the day. It was our 1-year anniversary with the RV and last year when we picked it up (literally to the day) Charlie came down with an allergy-influenced cold, which stayed with him for 7 weeks, the entire time of our first RV trip. We were not looking forward to anything like that again.

In an effort to take it easy, we took a scenic drive from Page to Kanab, UT via Hwy 89 and then from Kanab back to Page via Hwy 89A. On the way to Kanab, just west of Big Water, we stopped in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for a short hike to the Toadstools. These are balanced rock formations, which look like mushrooms.

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We had hoped to be able to hike to the Wahweap Hoodoos as well. However, Charlie was feeling quite under the weather and it was a much longer hike so we decided to put that off for a later date.

Further down Hwy 89 we turned onto a dirt road to visit the historic Paria movie set. The movie set depicts a “western town”. It was built in 1963 for the film, “Sergeants Three” and later used for other movies, including Clint Eastwood’s “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. However, shortly after we turned onto the dirt road we found this bus blocking the road! Not sure what he was thinking.

 

While we didn’t make it to the movie set, we did get to take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

We continued on our journey with a final stop in the Lee’s Ferry area, off Hwy 89A. This area brought back memories for Charlie, as he took off on a 2 week rafting trip out of Lee’s Ferry some years back. The surrounding area, of Marble Canyon, is very picturesque.

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Below are pictures of the Navajo Bridge in Lee’s Ferry. The original bridge was completed in the 1920s. By the 1990s it was concluded that a wider bridge was needed, and that the original bridge did not meet modern day federal highway requirements. In order to resolve the issue they built a new bridge right next to the old one and made them look nearly the same. One is used for vehicle traffic while the other for foot traffic.

Under the foot traffic bridge I found a couple of California Condors hanging out.

While in Page, we enjoyed a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. They had just opened up a brand new interpretive visitor’s center. They did a great job with it.

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We spent a day taking a boat ride on Lake Powell, over to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. This bridge is one of the world’s largest known natural bridges. The bridge stands 234 ft tall. At the top it is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.

I found a little creature on my walk up to the bridge, as well as some pretty purple flowers blooming.

The rock formations seen along the boat ride were also very interesting.

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These rocks were especially interesting. Look closely and you can see an owl and an elephant.

During our stay in Page I found a few blooming cactus bushes.

Outside our RV we spotted lots of Jack Rabbits. This one refused to look at me. I loved his ears though.

 

On our final day in Page, just before our departure to Monument Valley, I spotted a couple of Osprey. This one was taking some branches back to his nest.

And lastly, one more picture of beautiful Lake Powell.

 

Charlie is still feeling under the weather, but it is time to move on to Monument Valley. More on that later…..

*** For more pictures, and higher quality, check out my photography site: http://www.schobelphotography.com

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The Grand Canyon, South Rim: Mar. 30 – Apr. 3, 2017

When we arrived in the Grand Canyon National Park we were welcomed by an elk cow. I didn’t even know what an elk cow was before we went to the Grand Canyon. They are all over the campground and canyon.

After we parked the RV at the Grand Canyon Village RV Resort we headed over to the visitor’s center. The Grand Canyon South Rim park covers just a small section of the entire Grand Canyon, about 30 miles of it. In order to see the west area of the G.C. South Rim park, during this time of the year, you need to either walk, bike or take a bus. The bus stops at 9 points along the rim and takes about 80 minutes roundtrip.

Because it was later in the afternoon when we arrived we chose to simply check out the rim behind the Visitor’s Center and then explore more over the next couple of days.

We woke up the next morning to a dusting of snow on the ground. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to capture some pictures of the canyon with snow on it. Because it was so cold we did a car trip, as opposed to a hike. The Desert View Tower is 22 miles to the East of the Visitor’s Center. Along the route are a number of great canyon viewing areas. We found a bit of snow at a couple of the points, but it diminished as we approached the Tower, due to its lower altitude.

Desert View Tower

At the Tower, I found a Yellow Bluebird resting on a snow covered branch.

 

From the Tower you are able to see the Colorado River snaking through the canyon.

In the distance the low clouds spilled over hills of the canyon.

By late afternoon the clouds had diminished so we headed out to the west side of the park. We took the bus to Hopi Point, as it is noted as being good for sunset photography.

The next day we hopped on the west rim bus and took it to the end of the route, to Hermits Rest. From there we began our hike along the canyon rim. We hiked 6.2 miles to Powell Point. At times, we found ourselves precariously close to the canyon’s edge. In the picture below you can see the trail skirting the edge.

As if that wasn’t close enough, Charlie decided to hang out over the edge.

No harm came to him and he was, therefore, able to take a picture of me 🙂

Below are some of the pictures I captured of the canyon during our hikes.

Back at the Canyon Village Center we watched an Indian performance.

For our last evening we headed to Grandview Point for sunset. It is one of my favorite points along this area of the rim. I think my second favorite is Pima Point. Then again, they are all beautiful.

After a few days of glorious views and crazy weather (snow, sun, temps ranging from 20 to 65 degrees) we concluded our visit to the Grand Canyon and headed to Page, AZ. More on that later……

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Sedona, AZ: March 27-30, 2017

We only had two full days in Sedona so we worked hard to optimize our time. We stayed at the Rancho Sedona RV Resort, located right in the heart of downtown Sedona. It is a very nice resort, but like so often, we did not spend much time in there. We were busy exploring the area.

In the trees, within the resort, there are a number of Blue Heron nests. We frequently spotted the herons flying over our RV. Below is a picture of one of the herons in his/her nest.

On our first morning in Sedona we awoke early and headed to the Airport Mesa for sunrise. The landscape glowed in red, as the sun rose up behind us.

Later in the day we went for a great hike. The skies were fairly cloudy so I wasn’t able to get great photos, but we really enjoyed the hike and scenery. We had many mountain bikers ride past us. What a great area for that!

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The following day we took a drive around the area and enjoyed a few short hikes with fantastic views.

Below is a picture of the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross, built into the Red Rocks. You have to look very close to see the church in the mammoth sized red rock.

We also spotted a bird waiting for me to take his picture.

While driving around the area we stumbled into the small town of Cottonwood. Now, Charlie and I absolutely LOVE French Fries so we decided that we just had to stop by this cute diner for fries and a malt. They were great!

For sunset we headed to Mt. Doe. It is a 0.7 mile hike up 400 ft, so not too difficult. It was close to sunset time so we hustled up the mountain. We were rewarded with a pretty sunset. We even had time to capture a couple of selfies.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our short visit in Sedona. Our next destination: The Grand Canyon

 

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Prescott, AZ: Mar. 20-27, 2017

When we arrived in Prescott the weather was beautiful. It felt cool and refreshing, after having been in Tucson and Phoenix for the past couple of weeks while they were experiencing 15+ degree hotter than normal temperatures. We stayed at the Point of Rocks RV Park. Prescott hadn’t had precipitation for awhile and therefore, the park was quite dusty. The roads and sites are all gravel. Aside from that, we were happy with the site size and the surrounding area. The RV park is adjacent to the Watson Lake Park. After parking the RV we took a walk over to the park/lake. It is a very unusual lake with massive round boulders in and around it.

The photo below is of Point of Rocks RV Resort, as seen from atop the boulders. I decided to climb up and take a picture from above. Who needs a drone, right?

Pictures of Watson Lake and its unique landscape

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During our stay we took a day trip to Jerome. The drive there through the Prescott National Forest was fun, that is if you don’t mind hairpin type turns around steep mountain corners. The weather was perfect for a walk around Jerome. My favorite shop was one that was filled with kaleidoscopes. I could have spent hours in there looking into each and every one on display.

“The town of Jerome”

From Jerome you can see the red rocks of the Sedona area and the snow covered Flagstaff mountains in the distance.

 

We spotted a pretty neat old truck parked on the street. Based on the plates, I’d say its been around.

On the way back to Prescott we diverted to Mingus Mountain Recreation Area. After entering, we drove up a long dirt road on the edge of the mountain. It took us through the forest, but we ended up at a dead end. The park was closed for the season. We turned around and worked our way back down the mountain.

We returned to the RV exhausted. For the next 2 days we hunkered down. The weather turned cold and rainy. We were happy to have a reason to stay indoors.

The sun came out for the last couple of days we had in Prescott so we seized the opportunity and took a bike ride. We biked the Rails to Trails path along Watson Lake. It was very scenic.

At one point we parked the bikes and climbed up and over the rocks.

 

We enjoyed the town of Prescott. One street in the square is called Whiskey Row. It was developed after a fire in 1900 destroyed the entire original block. During the rebuilding phase a large number of saloons were added. It is stated that at one point there were 40 of them. The high number of saloons was contributed to the gold rush culture that drew all kinds of settlers, cowboys, prospectors, gamblers, and outlaws to the town. Of course when you put saloons and cowboys together you eventually end up with shootouts. Prescott considers that part of their heritage and has annual shoot out events. Today Whiskey Row is lined with not only saloons, but art galleries, shops and restaurants.

We were able to visit with some great friends while in Prescott and we were able to introduce them to a great restaurant in their town. If you are ever in the area, try out ‘The Local’:  https://www.facebook.com/thelocalprescott . It is a very small, off the beaten path, restaurant with a unique breakfast and lunch menu. Their food is fantastic.

 

After a week in Prescott we headed off to Sedona. More on that later……

 

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Phoenix, AZ: March 15-20, 2017

We spent 5 nights at Lost Dutchman State Park in Phoenix. It is a beautiful park at the base of the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest. I was hoping that a lot of Spring wildflowers would be in bloom. However, the high Spring temperatures and lack of water has made for a pretty dull bloom. I was able to find some flowers, but not many.

As soon as we arrived at the campground I was helping Charlie back the RV into our spot. It was a tight fit and I needed to see how the front of the coach was doing. I walked in front of the RV, along the edge of the road. I felt something, looked down at my legs and was horrified to find that a ‘jumping’ cactus had attacked me. Seriously! I should have gotten a picture. I had about 10 thorns (similar to Porcupine thorns) in one leg and another 10 in the other. One leg had the end of a branch with thorns surrounding it, making it impossible to pull out. Every time I grabbed one thorn and tried to pull it out of my leg another one would go in. It was horrible! Charlie had to bring me some tweezers and then it was still difficult. Some of the thorns had something similar to a hook at the end so they did not want to come out at all. I now avoid these types of bushes like the plague.

The attacking cactus bush:

Our site at Lost Dutchman State Park

Like Tucson, the temperatures in Phoenix were about 15 degrees above normal. The average was in the low 90s. It was too hot for us to hike in the middle of the day so we tried to get out early and do short hikes around the Superstition Mountains.

The 4 mile roundtrip hike to the basin of the mountains is a beautiful hike. We enjoyed it, and the scenery, very much.

Pictures of the Superstition Mountains:

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Birds in the campground:

The park is located on AZ 88, otherwise known as the Apache Trail. The Apache Trail is a 40 mile road of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road past magnificent scenery of twisted igneous mountains with dense forests of saguaro. There are several deep blue lakes along the trail. It is one of the most popular sight seeing roads in Arizona. We took a day trip along the trail, to Roosevelt Lake and Dam. It was fun driving around the curves, up and down the hillside. The scenery was spectacular.

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Roosevelt Lake Dam:

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The trail ends at AZ 188, which is also a pretty drive.

After a couple days of hiking and sightseeing we decided to spend an afternoon strolling around Old Town Scottsdale. We took a trolley ride around the area and scoped out the best galleries and shops to visit. We then had a fantastic lunch at Cowboy Caoi.

We were originally scheduled to stay in Phoenix for 7 nights. However, it was so hot that we decided to head north a little early. After 5 nights we packed up and headed for Prescott. More on that later…..

 

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