Fred Puts on Shorts!

Since I’m becoming quite behind in this blogging thing, I’m now adding  accurate travel dates to the posts, as the posting dates seem to run about a week behind. Since I am doing this sort of as a reference, it seems like the weather should at least be when it really happened, instead of like the snow falling in the middle of June or something, when it actually fell in May…

May 12, 2014

We left Lee’s Ferry campground taking a scenic route into Utah through Jacobs Lake. We again decide to forgo the Grand Canyon, since the road to the North Rim (where we are now) doesn’t open for another three days, and we are anxious to get into Utah.

At the junction of our turnoff, we see this cute laundry, and needing to do some, stop in for a quick wash and dry, before heading out.

 

Marble Canyon Laundromat
Marble Canyon Laundromat

 

And this was next door!

 

Marble Canyon Showers
Marble Canyon Showers

 

It can’t get any better than being able to take showers, while the clothes are washing. Little did we know that 95% of the washing machines didn’t work, and 98% of the dryers were inoperable. And that the washers were sort of antiques and took forever…and the dryers took even more forever…

But oh well, while there we met two lovely ladies who were about to embark upon a six day river rafting trip down the Colorado. These ladies had been friends for over 30 years, have lived in different states for over 20 years, and decided to venture out together for this once in a lifetime trip together. They were awesome!!

We shared stories, histories, and soon photos and videos of our grandchildren. I can’t remember the names, but I’m sure they had a fantastic trip down the river, and have many many memories to share and take back to their families.

 

Leaving the Vermillion cliffs
Leaving the Vermillion cliffs

 

Hours later…we continue winding away from the Vermillion Cliffs, and head up to higher elevations. Much higher!

 

Fred Finally Dons Shorts
Fred Finally Dons Shorts

 

Those of you who know Fred, know he’s not much of a shorts kind of guy. In fact our kids have probably never seen this picture of their dad. So it’s pretty ironic, he decides to finally put on shorts…and we come across this. More snow.  (O.k., he did just wash his two pair of jeans – which maybe explains it.)

 

Pia Enjoying the Snow
Pia Enjoying the Snow

 

Pia, on the other hand, rather enjoyed the snow.

We made it to Jacob Lake, at almost 8,000 feet, just as it was about dark, and the one and only campground wasn’t open yet. It obviously opens the same day as the Rim Road to the Grand Canyon. Anyway, we found a nice forest road that wasn’t too muddy, spotted a wide area, and pulled over, popped the top and yay…turned on the heater!!!

You see, our Eurovan has a propane heater with a built in thermostat, which we’ve enjoyed quite liberally with all this cold weather.

 

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.

Pia Goes 4-Wheeling

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Ready for Adventure

 

Our last night in Sedona we took a jeep ride on back country trails around the outlying rim of Sedona.

 

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When making arrangements for the tour, we specifically asked about dogs, and were assured that it was fine if Pia went in the jeep. Dog’s have a special place to ride, the fellow told us…

Well, Tony, our driver and guide for the three hour trip was a crusty chap with lots of desert knowledge, great rock crawling abilities, and stories galore. But he didn’t seem so keen on the idea of the doggy, and was a bit put out at first, as we had to shift to a larger jeep to accommodate her. There were six of us going on the excursion.

Luckily, the other four passengers were all dog lovers, and once we got going, and Pia proved her ability to handle being bounced and jostled around and still remain calm, even Tony softened. After awhile, he kept asking “how’s the pup doing?” Everyone else, took turns petting her, holding onto her, allowing her to perch her head atop any body that was handy.

Secretly, we were not really sure how she would do, and three hours could become a hell of a long time, if things didn’t go right. It was a very rough and rugged trip, with many steep inclines and declines and very large rocks!

Pia was a champ! She came through it with flying colors, and I do believe she had a lot of fun! The wind was blowing through her long black hair and she seemed to be smiling, enjoying the journey.

The rest of us? We all had a blast! My personal thoughts that this was going to be boring, and a waste of time and money, were proven unequivocally wrong. This time.

Sometimes, you just have to get outside your comfort zone. If Pia could do it, certainly I could too.

A grand time was had by all.

 

Fred in Safari jeep
Fred Enjoying the View

 

Our return trip back to Sedona was met by lovely sunset orange glow colors.

 

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 ❧

 

http://www.safarijeeptours.com

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.   ❧

 

 

 

Red Rocks and Ruins

Red Rocks  and Art

Enjoying the Red Rocks of Sedona and their mesmerizing call to climb, sit, and commune with them. The artist and galleries here are incredible, filled to overflowing with talent and creativity. It is so amazing what people can do with their hands and minds. We’ve walked the shops and enjoyed without spending too much; mostly because we don’t have room for anything extra. I like to entertain myself with window shopping, and play a game of picking out my one favorite object in the window that I would buy if I was a mega rich person. I not only have fun, but it also makes me look really closely at all the pieces and see the detail, time, and work that goes into each piece of art. It’s nice too, to go around closing time. There are fewer people, the light is usually beautiful, Pia can enjoy strolling, and there’s even less pressure to buy…

 

Red Rocks of sedona

We’ve taken some outrageous hikes into some of the canyons here, hiking on this lovely slick red rock. In the late afternoon, the red colors cast a beautiful orange glow everywhere. And it is true what they say about the energy here. I’m not sure if you have to go to special “vortex” sites, but the energy definitely flows when you get into these rocks. More than once, I’ve had tears in my eyes from the blessed feelings and the intense beauty.

Ruins

We spent a day touring some of the ruins south of the Sedona area. Pia enjoyed herself…she was allowed to go everywhere we went. (We didn’t go to the places she wasn’t allowed into.)

Montezuma’s Castle is an ancient pueblo site built into the face of a majestic white chalk mountain. Folks lived here between the 12th and 14th centuries.  This is the main building – it has been mud plastered over to preserve it. Some of the original’s remain, but this is the most impressive.

Montezuma's Castle
Montezuma’s Castle

 

Montezuma’s Well was even more impressive. It is a natural limestone sinkhole over 450 feet across. It never dries up and over one million gallons of water flow into this well per day. Yes it really is in the middle of the desert.

Montezuma's Well
Montezuma’s Well

 

Tuzigoot National Monument. An ancient Sinaguan pueblo overlooking the Verde River Valley. Think I would rather have lived here. The views are fantastic!

Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument

 

For more detailed info on these sites, please check out the following websites!

Montezuma’s Castle

Montezuma’s Well

Tuzigoot National Monument

Sending Sedona Blessings to All

 

 

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

Relatives And Repairs in Yuma, Arizona

We’ve been in Yuma now going on 6 days. We knew we would be here  visiting our relatives for awhile before taking off for the wild blue yonder, so we left a few van issues to take care of while here.

First up were the brakes. We needed new brakes on the van all the way around, so that was the first item we needed to cross off the list. Luckily – our hunch was correct. The price we just paid for 4 new brakes and pads, with the rotors and back drums turned, an emergency brake adjustment, and the entire system bled, was less than half the cost they quoted us to do the job back in Santa Cruz. We just saved almost $500.00 by waiting to get to Yuma to do the brake job! UNBELIEVABLE.

Feeling now pretty happy and with a few pennies leftover, we decided to order the part for the fridge. We needed a new lighter ignition unit (not the technical name I’m sure) to get the propane to light properly.  After finding good guy Jerry who is going to put it in for us, we ordered it Friday, and it should be here Tuesday or Wednesday. Jerry also did some rewiring on our electrical to get that all working in top shape. Yeah!! Super excited to have the fridge run great off both electricity and propane once again. Before we left Santa Cruz, we also replaced the old propane tank with a brand new shiny one.

We are really itching to get on the road again, but trying hard to be patient. It is nice to be able to take care of these issues, while having a lovely place to stay, and good company to spend our evenings with! Of course getting all the work done for much cheaper is not too bad either. 😊

We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful spot to wait and work on our patience.  I took this little photo tour of the yard and Minneola orchard this morning after sipping my jo,  and here is my first wordpress slideshow.  Enjoy.    ❧

 

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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   ❧

Traveling and Living Simply in a VW Van