Category Archives: Camping

Skipping the South Rim

5/11/2014

Heading north we decided to make a detour and attempt again to enter the South Rim Grand Canyon this time from the eastern entrance. We camped a few miles outside the entrance gate planning to get up and go on in the morning. But…the next morning, as we were sitting in the LWV eating breakfast, I looked out the window, and calmly said to Fred. “It’s snowing outside.”

Within minutes, the snow was falling heavily and blowing everywhere. As we were back on a dirt forest service road, we quickly finished our breakfast, shoved our gear here and there, and scurried down the mountain, again, away from the Grand Canyon.

Vermilion Cliffs here we come!

But first a few stops along the way.

 

Navaho Nation
Painted Desert in the Navaho Nation Lands

 

Driving up 89, we took a little side trip into Tuba City. So glad we did this, as the drive was beautiful!! We gratefully filled up with gas while there.

Later, back on 89 again, we stopped at the Little Colorado River Gorge Navaho Tribal Park. Enjoyed these beautiful deep canyon views, and did a bit of impromptu shopping from the Navaho Artisan Booths selling custom arts, jewelry, pottery, and beadwork.

 

Immerse vertical cliffs down a steep canyon gorge
Little Colorado River Canyon

 

Came upon this…The Navaho Bridge.

 

Navaho Bridge
The Navaho Bridge

 

The bridge on the left is the original bridge built in 1929. It is now closed to vehicle traffic and is open for pedestrians to walk across and peer down almost 500 feet below to the Colorado River .

 

The Colorado River
Colorado River

 

As proof that we did indeed walk across even though the wind was blowing heartily, here is Fred and Pia.

 

Fred & Pia on the Navaho Bridge
Fred & Pia on the Navaho Bridge

 

No kidding…No jumping. We could hardly even look down!!!

 

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Duh!!

 

We weren’t the only ones in the area. These majestic California Condors, once extinct in the wild, now thrive here on the ledges of the Vermilion Cliffs.  They have been bred in captivity and released in remote areas not far from here.  We saw at least six different birds while visiting, including one juvenile. (Obvious because the young birds have dark heads.)

 

California Condors

 

Turning at the Navaho Bridge, we headed 6 miles up this scenic road to Lee’s Ferry…

 

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Rock Sculpture Along the Vermillion Cliffs

 

Enjoyed these amazing cliffs…

 

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A Few Little Pebbles Laying Around

 

Meandered among these tumbled down rocks…

 

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Putting Things in Perspective

 

And realized how small we are compared to Mother Nature.  Yes… that’s our LWV there below the shadow of the rock.

 

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Solitude is a Word

 

A last breathtaking view…before winding up here…

 

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Paria Beach on the Colorado River

 

At Paria Beach, where the amazing Paria River joins the mighty Colorado River.  After a nice hike, and a bit of doggy play, we camped at Lee’s Ferry Campground, and were wooed to sleep once again by the ferocious songs of the crazy blowing winds.

 

This And That Around Flagstaff

Pulled into Flagstaff to be greeted by more cold weather and crazy wind.

We drove out to Sunset Crater to check out the lava beds and trails, but the wind was gusting so hard we could hardly stand up. Then the trails all said “no pets allowed.” It just wasn’t in the cards that day. Many of the Monuments and Ruin sites around here do not allow pets for some reason.

We decided to head back into town, and after a little bookstore browsing and some warm coffee, we thought we would head towards the South rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove about half way and took a nature hike in the cold breezy wind, got back in the van and were met with snow flurries hitting the windshield. It didn’t take long of looking at each other, to rethink those plans. Soooo, we both laughed and decided to head east where the temps were much warmer. Fred wanted to go rock hounding, and the place to look for rocks just happened to be about 20 degrees higher up on the thermometer!

Standing on the Corner
Standing on the Corner…

 

Made this quick stop in Winslow…there’s not a lot in this town, except for this one very famous corner. “Standing on the corner…in Winslow, Arizona…” A tribute to the song “Take it Easy” written by Jackson Brown and made superbly famous by the Eagles. The town now supports this bronze statue of a hitchhiker with a guitar, (donated by the band itself) and the mural painted in the background of the flatbed truck from the song, and the corner sign where tourists now flock to take memorable photographs.  Amazing what a song can do for a rundown town.

We spent the night at Homolovi State Park, a park jointly operated by the state of Arizona and the Hopi Nation. It was abeautiful, sweet, immaculately clean campground, with oh such wonderfully free Hot Showers! Showers that one could stand in for as long as one wished! As it turned out, we were asked to partake in a Park survey, and for return were gifted a pass for a free camping night at any Arizona State Park, so we stayed another night.

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We checked out these Ruins (pets were allowed on all trails here, go figure.)

Besides for the historical and cultural interests and significance, all the trails were again beautifully maintained, with benches, canopies, viewing areas, tables, and nice signage all well placed along side them.

A few short hikes were rewarded by more sweet birds revealing themselves in the desert shrubs, and this awesome jack rabbit I encountered under a bush.

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I do believe he/she was equally surprised by my being as I was by it’s presence. It took quite a while for it to get up the nerve to scamper off.

We did do some rock hounding further on south around Woodruff, and found many beautiful chunks of different colors of chert, agates, and  beautiful smooth lovely rocks. We each collected (allowable here) a small pouch, well, at least my pouch was small…for soveneirs and token gifts. It’s nice to take photographs in parks, but sometimes it’s nice to have something tangible to hold and remember good times with. The drive back into Flagstaff was a “Day of Clouds.”

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We were graced with many beautiful formations all day long, as we went in to collect our forwarded mail. Our last night in the area, we found this lovely little park like setting to spend the night in.

Forest Road Campsite South of Flagstaff

It so reminded us of an alpine meadow like those in the Sierra’s. Onward north toward the Utah border we head. Hoping to glimpse the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this time instead of that Southern Rim, and to see the Vermillion Cliffs.

Walker Creek – Wildlife and Cows

We pulled into a beautiful little campsite and had it all to ourselves. Well we thought we did…until we realized how much life was here along this little red slick rock lined creek.

slick red rocks along walker creek.
Camp Area Below Where the Van was Parked

 

After spending time in the van, we  were eager to relax for awhile on these beautiful rocks. Pia was enjoying getting herself cooled off in the water, and started exploring a bit upstream. Gladly I was following her very closely, (always cautious around these parts) as we were soon met by this big dude taking his daily bath…

apr. 4 foot long diamond back rattle snake.
Western Diamond-back Rattlesnake

 

He was at least 4 feet long, and when first spotted was in the middle of the creek, bathing, hunting, or just cooling off, not sure which. He was actually quite relaxed about having visitors, and we gave him a wide berth once we spotted him. And rest assured, I retrieved my camera with the zoom lens on it. No close up iPhone photo here.  We spent probably about an hour, watching him make his way out of the creek, around a tree, under some rocks and across the road. (On the opposite side of the creek from where we are camped.)

Then the birds came out! We have been going wild with all the different birds here. Note that neither Fred nor I are expert ornithologist’s, but we do carry a good birding book, and a few bird apps on the iPhone.  We love to just sit and watch them and try to identify the species. Since being here, we’ve seen: Summer tanagers, Northern Cardinals (a southwestern species) Bullocks Orioles, Yellow Warblers, White-crowned Sparrows, and I think a Lark Sparrow. That’s in addition to the normal Juncos, Jays, Ravens, etc. It is so fun for us seeing the red and yellow birds. There is so much variation here!

No photos of the birds, as I was just enjoying sitting and watching them flutter around. Sometimes it’s good to look at life without seeing everything through a camera lens.

When the days get hot here, the birds settle down, and out come the lizards. More new species to identify. We are like a couple of little kids in a zoo.

And…when all else is  quiet, our camp is surrounded by cows. They too keep us entertained, coming to the creek to get water, mooing to each other,  and generally being cows! It is amazing watching them maneuver their mass of hulk around on these slippery rocks.

Lizard peeking over the rock near Walker Creek
A Small Visitor

 

Golden calf posing for a photo
A Large Visitor

 

Fred sitting in a chair by the creek with dog pia by his side on slick red rocks
Fred & Pia Relaxing

 

Entertainment is quite cheap in the desert.   ❧

 

 

 

Desert Boondocking

red-orange desert flower of the mallow family
Coulter’s Globe-mallow

 

We finally pulled out of Prescott.

Leaving our happy little campground home and new friends, we stocked up on groceries, filled the gas tank, and hit the road.  Destination – Sedona, Arizona.  All intentions were to arrive by mid-day, but we got sidetracked visiting the old historic mining town of Jerome, and a bit intoxicated by the scenery up and down the white knuckle highway over the Mingus Pass.

red-orange desert flower in the Mallow family
Field of Coulter’s Globe-mallow

Knowing accommodations (even camping) are scarce around Sedona, we took a turn onto a forest service road just to see if it might be good lodgings for the night, so we could get an early start into town the next morning.  Looking pretty nice, we set up camp, put out our solar panels to charge up all the gadgets, and were even able to take a quick solar shower. We had been hauling the camp shower on top of the van during the day, in hopes of enough hot water to clean up in the evening!

Beautiful jagged slick red rock mountains outside of Sedona, Arizona
View of Red Rock mountains around Sedona

Above is the view looking out of our door. Those mountains are the red rock cliffs of Sedona!

Early morning light greeted us (actually Pia got me up) to see a hot air balloon hovering so low in the sky over the van, I could not only wave to the ballooners, but could exchange “hellos” with them.

White Eurovan camped in the desert near Sedona, AZ
Boondocking in the desert

During the night, we heard the sound of another Volkswagon van pull in somewhere around us…(you can tell by not only the familiar engine sound, but also by the all famous sliding door whenever it shuts!)

Fred went to greet them and discuss of all things Volkswagon vans, and who do you think it was but the lovely couple from GoWesty fame, “Where’s my office Now?” a blog sponsored on the GoWesty Blog Page (Note the GoWesty solar case sitting on our van?)

What a small world this is! It was great to meet you Cory & Emily.

Onto Sedona..

  ❧

Prescott, AZ

New territory, new sites, new friends! Yuma is far behind us, and we’ve settled into Prescott, AZ for awhile.

 

Watson Lake, Prescott
Granite Boulders at Watson Lake, Prescott

 

The climb to over 5,000 feet in elevation has certainly cooled things down a bit, and we are now bundled up in jackets again. (At least in the evenings)  We really like Prescott a lot. We’re camped in a lovely spot call “White Spar” a forest service campground located only 2 miles from town.

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Watson Lake, Prescott, AZ

 

A combination of hikes, taking care of business, and meeting new friends has kept us busy.

Prescott is part college town and part old historic western town. We strolled down “Whiskey Row” an old area full of historic bars and cutesy little tourist shops, and went out for lunch at the “Palace Bar and Restaurant” built in the 1870’s.  It’s claim to fame seems to be that the old western movie “Jr. Bonner” was filmed there.  Aside from that, the service was fabulous, the costumes entertaining, and the live music – a tribute to Waylon Jennings – was enjoyable.

 

Lunch at the Palace
Lunch at the Palace

 

The Palace Bar & Restaurant
The Palace Bar & Restaurant

 

The really impressive thing for me though about Prescott is the wonderful trail system that surrounds the town, and connects with numerous forest service and wilderness trails. The city publishes an absolutely beautiful colorful map with ALL trails labeled clearly. And it’s free! Always love those freebies that are actually useful.

 

Pea Vine Trail, Prescott
Pea Vine Trail, Prescott

Day Nine

That week sure flew by!

Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park

The van’s running great for the most part. The fridge always has been and still is irritating, being oh so temperamental and undependable. It is one of those things we’ve never dealt with, and I know most people with this same Norcold fridge have the same complaints. We will one day deal with it! For the time being we are happily eating simple foods, and using it again mostly for storage.

We are all adjusting, sleeping well, and traveling contently. We have boondocked a few nights, camped in a National Park a few nights, spent our first night of this trip in a Wallmart parking lot, and tonight are in a nice soft bed at my relatives house here in Yuma, Az.

Mohave Mound Cacti

The most drastic adjustment has been the weather. One week ago, we were bundled in down jackets, hats and gloves, and still cold and damp. Today it was 100 degrees in the shade.

Big Rocks at Joshua Tree Joshua Tree National Park was as always lovely. The temps there were warm, but not too hot, the wind kept things comfortable, and we had a wonderful campsite for $5.00 a night, and no fee to visit the park. (Thanks to Fred’s senior interagency pass)

There was enough flora still in bloom to keep us happily busy identifying what was what, and we took turns taking short nature hikes while the other one hung out with Pia. We played on the boulders, took some driving excursions and ate leisurely breakfasts with coffee and tea. We met some really nice folks driving and camping in a Volkswagon Rialta – a small RV, bigger than our Eurovan, yet smaller than most other RV’s. They are pretty cool abodes, very roomy, but still get great gas mileage. Maybe someday, but for now we like the versatility and ability to go where other RV’s can’t go with our LWV. Our van has been lifted up and has larger wheels and tires than most Eurovans do. It therefore handles quite nicely off road, as well as on highway.

Blooming Silver Chollo Cactus

"Cactus Garden" in Joshua Tree

 Peace   ❧

Henry Coe Camp Trip

On the two days between storms we found our way to the top of a long ten mile long winding road to Henry Coe State Park near Gilroy, CA. for a final last two days with family.

Fun times were had! Good meals, a lovely long hike to Frog Lake (destination chosen by granddaughter Malaya) and Yahtzee games in the dark cold night with a bit of bubbly champagne, made for a fabulous send off.

Yet another cold morning rain finally did us in, and we scampered down the hill for a good breakfast with kids, before heading for warmer weather.

Destination Yuma Arizona, via Josua Tree National Park in the southern California desert.