Arizona, California, Home Away From Home

Lake Havasu City and London Bridge

View of London Bridge from London Bridge Park

Today was a different day for us. Instead of getting up and hitting the trail we were heading to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge. Before we left though we ended up outside the coach visiting with our neighbors, Roger and Norma, a lovely couple from California. We talked about the possibility of us going on to Williams and the Grand Canyon tomorrow and they suggested Trailer Village RV right outside of the park. I later called and made reservations for tomorrow night.

The drive to Lake Havasu City is about an hour long through part of the Mojave Desert. Entering into the city one can immediately tell it is a busy city catering to the snowbirds and there were a lot of them there. We saw a gazillion motor homes and there was no shortage of RV parks. Jerry was quite impressed when he saw a Lowe’s, a Home Depot, an Ace Hardware and a Walmart saying he could possibly live there!

The tale of the London Bridge of course began in London where after many years the bridge was deteriorating. It was narrow and decrepit, it blocked river traffic and it also began to sink. By 1924, the east side of the bridge was three to four inches lower than the west side so in 1967 the Common Council of the City of London placed the bridge on the auction block and began to look for potential buyers. The winning bid of $2,460,000 went to Lake Havasu City founder, Robert McCullough who was also the inventor of the McCullough Chain Saw. The bridge was dismantled, block by block and numbered so that it could be reassembled just as the original. The blocks were then shipped to the Panama Canal, then to California and then trucked to Long Beach and then Arizona where it was reassembled. The total cost of the bridge was $5.1 million and it took 3 years to reassemble it.

Of course our first stop was the Visitor’s Center. We entered through the gate, a part of Witley Court in in Worcester, England. Although Witley Court was remodeled as an Italianate palace for the Earl of Dudley in the 19th century. Following a fire in 1937 it changed hands several times and eventually everything of value was sold. Robert McCulloch bought one of the gates and had it shipped to Havasu City.

Sitting at the Fountain
After entering the gate we immediately saw a lovely fountain. It was built in 1999 with stones from Mexico and the lions on the edges from a landscape company in Las Vegas. Although beautiful the fountain has nothing to do with the London Bridge but it surely is pretty and sets the scene.

After getting some advice from the Visitor’s Center we wandered around the courtyard. We could walk to the waterside and actually walk under the first arch of the bridge.

After wandering around for a bit we got in the car and rode to the beginning of the bike trail. We sat in the car, had our picnic lunch and then started our ride. Rather than go immediately to the bike path we rode over to London Bridge Park. What a lovely place. We rode the bikes as far as we could and then continued on to the bike path which was 3 ½ miles long. It was a good ride, good exercise and a great place to safely ride the bikes. We figured up that we rode a total of about 6 miles!

After the bike ride we retraced our bike ride and stopped to look at a couple of the 26 lighthouse replicas along the way. There are two from North Carolina, Cape Hatteras and Currituck Beach but we didn’t get to see either of them.

Next we headed back to the Visitor’s Center. Of course I bought a magnet and then we wandered around the area some more looking at the various shops. Naturally we ended up at the ice cream shop and then enjoyed the cool shade of the bridge while we ate the delicious ice cream. There is a statue of Robert McCullough but it is at the top of the bridge and at the top of A LOT of stairs so we elected just to see it from below.

A stop at Walmart and then we were headed back to Needles, California. As we entered California we had to stop at an inspection center. We were asked where we came from and Jerry told him North Carolina and then I explained that we were staying in Needles and had been to Lake Havasu City for the day. He asked if we had any plants and sent us on our way. I finally got my Welcome to California picture. Once we got back to the campground we immediately hooked the car up so we’ll be ready in the morning. We stayed outside and chatted with Roger and Norma for a while and then had a wonderful dinner of barbecue chicken, the best meal we’ve had since we’ve been on the road (or at least it was to me)!

Lake Havasu
Arizona, Home Away From Home

Wild Burros in Oatman

What a fun way to start a day. Campground checkout was 11:00 and there were still a few things we wanted to see so we were up and out before 8:00 this morning (I know – a record for us.). Last night we had discussed what we wanted to do and although there was one trail left that we had not hiked we elected instead to go on the scenic road where we could climb over those beautiful rocks we had seen yesterday for an hour.

The Atlatl
Our first stop was Atlatl Rock. We climbed up the metal staircase to the top and were surprised to see a wall of petroglyphs. At the top of the etchings was a petroglyph of a primitive weapon, an Atlatl, a short spear that attached by a notch to a throwing stick and was the precursor to the bow and arrow. Sadly among the petroglyphs were some names carved in the rock. For the life of me I cannot understand the mindset that would damage such antiquity.

Our next stop was the Arch Rock, a simple arch at the top of the rock. After a couple of pictures we headed on to our destination, the beautiful accessible rocks. We had such fun climbing up and down, over and under the beautiful red rock, no trails to follow, just wandering around in and out of the nooks and cranies. I saw a fairly large area of matted grass indicating that it was a bedding area for probably the big horn sheep. One other person briefly tried the rocks while we were there and asked some questions about the park. As we had been there two days we did have some recommendations. As he left he said he had just seen some big horn sheep but alas, we never saw them.

Back to the coach, showers, dressed, slides in, jacks up and we were leaving the campground at 9.59. We stopped at some level ground and hitched the car and were leaving Valley of Fire State Park by 10:06. Sometimes it works! A brief stop at the local gas station for gas and we were on our way to Needles, California our 26h state.

Driving through Las Vegas (I-15 is only a block away from the strip) was nerve racking. Again, Jerry did a tremendous job while I looked down. I can drive our coach and do occasionally but if I had to drive through a city we’d be in real trouble!

Check in at Needles KOA was quick and easy. After a quick lunch we were on our way to Oatman, Arizona, an iconic stop on Route 66. As we entered the small town we were immediately stopped by several burros. Yes, wild burros wander the street and seem to be pretty prolific. They freely roam the town streets and can be hand-fed hay cubes otherwise known as “burro chow,” readily available in practically every store in town. We were told not to feed the babies as they are still nursing – you can tell them apart because they have a white dot on their foreheads. Though normally gentle, the burros are in fact wild and signs posted throughout Oatman advise visitors to exercise caution. We were told that they were friendly but would grab food out of your hand. We stopped and got some ice cream but made sure we ate it all before we went outside. The burros are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors, and are protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior. No one seemed to know how many there were.

The other amazing site was the combination ice cream shop, bar and restaurant, the Oatman Hotel (and Dollar Bill Bar), which was built back in 1902 just before the final major gold rush. The two-story hotel is one of America’s most famous historic landmarks. A modest structure, built of adobe, it gained fame when the world’s most famous movie star at the time chose it as his honeymoon destination. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were the Hollywood golden couple and after a wedding in Kingman, AZ Gable and Lombard checked into the Oatman Hotel. Gable was a big fan of poker, and it’s said he loved the town and became friends with the miners. Today you can visit the “Gable/Lombard Honeymoon Suite” although it was closed when we were there. The walls of the bar and restaurant are covered in one dollar bills. They were everywhere and we were told there was probably about $140,000 on the walls and doors. Jerry got out a dollar bill, signed it and stapled it to the door. The waitress said there was one $50 bill and two $100 bills but they were hidden under other bills. Apparently the custom started when miners would come in for a drink after getting paid. They would present a dollar and then charge on that dollar for the nickel drinks. Both Jerry and I asked about insurance on the building because if there was a fire it would be a colossal loss.

A Little Close!
As we were driving away the donkeys kept coming up to us even sticking their heads in the car. Yikes! It was a little daunting but I just laughed out loud and kept on laughing. There were fewer in town when we left and we were told that they returned to the mountains to bed down for the night. It was amazing – I think I walked around with my mouth agape the entire time I was there.

We headed out to Walmart for some much needed grocery shopping and then to the campground where we watched the State of the Union address and I worked on bringing the blog up to date.

Home Away From Home, Nevada

More Valley of the Fire!

Since we had plans to go into North Las Vegas for lunch with Jerry’s former employee we decided to get out early and do a little hiking. Our goal was the Fire Wave Trail however on the way up the White Dome Road we missed it and also on the way down. We stopped at the Rainbow Vista trail but were not sure how long it was nor did we know if we had enough time to complete it so we decided to skip it for today and just went by the Visitor’s Center. Neither of us had any clothes for a 70 degree day but Jerry was lucky enough to find a short sleeve t-shirt. Of course, I got a magnet!

We rode around the park first stopping at the petrified logs. Had we not gone to the Petrified Forest earlier in the trip it might have been interesting but as it was I was glad it wasn’t their claim to fame. There was a short loop trail and on that trail were four different wired fences with a log inside. The fences were only four feet long so you can imagine the size of the four logs.

Next we rode the loop by the campground going by the Atlatl Rock and on into the canyon. While we saw some amazing scenery we didn’t stop for anything as we were sort of in a time crunch. We did see some rocks that we would like to have climbed but had no time.

Back to the coach, showers and a change of clothes and off to Vegas we went. We’ve been to Vegas twice before and each time I said that was the last time and here we were going yet again to visit a special friend. Kelly was one of Jerry’s teachers when he was a principal but had moved away some years ago. She was an excellent teacher and Jerry always held her in a special place in his heart so getting to visit her was a treat. She had prepared a delicious lunch for us, taco soup and taco salad. The lunch and the reminiscing were such fun plus we got to meet and visit with her precious son, Eli. Husband Dan was at work.

As soon as we got back to the campground we changed into our hiking clothes trying desperately to get in one more hike before leaving. We decided on the Fire Wave which was near the end of the White Dome Road. As we rode along I suddenly yelled “Stop” and nearly gave Jerry a heart attack but he did stop. I had seen some people who had pulled off of the road and were taking pictures so I looked to see what they were seeing and lo and behold, finally, I saw a big horned sheep. In fact there were about 10 of them, a couple of them babies. We got out and took some pictures being careful not to get too close to them.

The Start of our Hike
The End of the Trail, Time to Start Back
We headed on to the Fire Wave Trail. The park closes at 5:00 so we knew we didn’t have a lot of time but we started out anyway. Oh my goodness, what an array of colors, 50 shades of ochre and we could climb all over them. The path was fairly well marked, sandy and rocky but easily navigable. We walked until we realized that the sun had set and we needed to turn around if we were to get back to the car before dark. We cut it close as it was not dark but close to it when we got back to the parking lot. When we walked up we saw a guy at the other lone car and he asked if we had seen anyone else on the trail. Actually we had seen a couple of people about ¼ mile in front of us when we turned around. We could tell he was worried although he said several times that he wasn’t. One of the guys on the trail was ex-military and had a full backpack with him but the other guy was according to him “a city guy” with little sense of direction. Although he said we could go on we stayed with him until his friends arrived safely.

Back to the coach for dinner. We have reservations tomorrow at a KOA in Needles, California but will only have 30 amp. I surely do hope it’s not hot because we will only be able to run one air condition. The main reason for going to a full service campground is to wash over a week’s worth of laundry. Hope it all works on 30 amp!

Indescribable Beauty

Home Away From Home, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park

We got a later start than usual simply because they were RV things to be taken care of. Unhooking and pulling out took only minutes but then we had to stop at the entrance to empty the black and gray tanks and fill up the fresh water tank. In 27 degree weather poor Jerry had to stand out there and do those chores and then hook up the car. His hands were freezing! In the meantime I ran up to the Visitor’s Center yet again and bought another long sleeve T-shirt just like the one I bought yesterday. It is absolutely the softest shirt I have ever had and despite the gray color I wanted two, one to sleep in and one to wear. The sales lady said she had one and they were so cool, not exactly what I was looking for right then but I knew it would be nice later in the day because today’s destination was supposed to be much warmer.

I was a little sad at leaving Zion as it is definitely one of the prettiest, most refreshing, most serene place we’ve been. As Jerry said when you’re driving the scenic drive every time you turn a curve (and there were a lot of those) it’s a different stunning sight too beautiful to describe with my limited vocabulary. I would have loved to do a couple of more hikes, River Walk and Angel’s Landing but our time there was up.

As we left Utah, breezed through Arizona and ventured into Nevada the terrain and topography changed so. We had mountains covered in green with occasional cacti standing sentinel. With three conflicting GPS’s we continued on our way. For some reason the Garmin had us going an extra 100 miles so we chose to go with the Clarion and Mapquest and we arrived all in one piece.

Valley of Fire SP campground is a small park on a first come, first serve basis so after riding around the park and not finding optimum level spaces we finally decided on one. After spending nearly an hour getting level and setting everything up Jerry was getting things out for lunch and then…. There were two chairs in the picnic area but nothing to denote that the space was occupied. Just as we were sitting down to lunch a Class B pulled in and said they had already paid for the site and they had left their chairs to indicate it. Oh well, Plan B. Jerry got out and begin to scout out for another site. He found one and it was the dickens to level. When we finally got it leveled and the power and water hooked up I suggested he go and pay for the site immediately before someone else claimed it! He was gone for quite a while and I couldn’t figure out where he was as I thought he had just gone up to the camp host. No, he had to go to the Visitor’s Center which was not nearby.

When he finally returned we ate a quick lunch and then returned to the Visitor’s Center for some information and possibly a short sleeved t-shirt for him. It was much warmer here than in Springdale. No such luck on the T’s but we did get some information on hikes.

We rode all the way down the White Dome Road marveling at the differing colors in the rocks but not stopping at all knowing we’d do that on the return trip. We ended at the White Domes Hike, a 1.25 mile hike that should have taken about 45 minutes. Of course when we hike it always takes longer because we stop often to take pictures. The beginning of the trail is deep sand and then some rocky paths but the trail was well marked. We climbed boulders, sat in alcoves etched by the wind and then went through a narrow slot canyon. It was curvy so I kind of peeked around each corner to make sure that there was nothing ahead that I might not want to run into. The domes are spectacular, sandstone formations with brilliant contrasting colors, pinks, oranges, whites, sienna, purple, just so many vivid colors. Again, it was indescribably beautiful and a wonderful state park. It certainly was busy today but then it was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine but not too hot, just perfect for hiking. We learned later that the summer temperature ranged from 100 to 120 degrees. Now I know why people are flocking to the park in January.

After we hiked the White Domes we decided we had just enough time to hike to Mouse’s Tank, a ¾ mile, round trip trail. Mouse’s Tank was named for an outlaw who used the area as a hideout in the 1890’s. It is a natural basin in the rock where water collects after rainfalls, sometimes remaining for months. We hiked all the way to the end where indeed the water was still standing. It looked like a strange place to hide as there was only one way in and one way out. If they discovered him then he’d be captured for sure. Along the trail there were numerous examples of petroglyphs close enough in some instances to nearly touch them. There was a bulletin at the trailhead explaining the possible meaning of the different petroglyphs and it was interesting to try to figure them out. I especially enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs as the ones we had seen earlier in the trip were so far away that it was difficult for me to distinguish them. Poor distance vision is the pits!

After the hikes we came on back to the coach and got out one of the casseroles I had prepared at home before the trip. Believe it or not I found some pears in the pantry so we were able to have a pear salad along with the casserole.

Today was a good day and tomorrow promises to be busy as well. After a morning hike we are going to North Las Vegas to visit with a former employee of Jerry’s.

Home Away From Home, Utah

Our Last Day at Zion

We packed in a full day today beginning with a visit to the Visitor’s Center to get some additional instructions about Kolob Canyon (and some information on a nearby grocery store). That done we headed out for our hour ride. The view had not gotten old and we thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by such majestic beauty.

We chose to go to Bryce Canyon yesterday partly because we thought we’d be able to get some groceries. Little did we know that there was no close grocery stores and we would have been better off to go to Kolob Canyon as there was a grocery store in La Verkin which was on the way to Kolob. We rode all the way up to Kolob again admiring the diverse views and colors plus we saw some ostrich along the way. When we got to the Interstate Jerry pointed to the speed limit sign – 80 mph. Wow, that’s pretty fast.

We noted the grocery store on the way and knew we’d be returning soon. There was a Visitor’s Center at Kolob Canyons and the ranger quickly told us about the three trails, one 15 miles long, one 5 miles long and one 1 mile long. Which one do you think we chose?

At the end of the five mile in and out red road (yes, the road was red) we stopped at an overlook where there was a view of Kolob Canyons above the finger canyons. We could see Horse Ranch Mountain with an elevation of 8726, Paria Point with an elevation of 7817, Beatty Point with an elevation of 7520, Nagunet Mesa with an elevation of 7785 and Timber Top Mountain with an elevation of 8055 and right beside that was a butte. It was a clear sunny day so all canyons were easily distinguishable.

At the other side of the overlook was the trailhead for Timber Creek Overlook Trail, a trail that passes through a high plateau habitat with animals (yeah, we didn’t see any) and diverse plants. What we did see was a lot of either ice or mud, squishy mud so it was a bit hazardous. At the top we were rewarded with another view of the canyons plus a view of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It really was pretty and worth the moderate rated hike.

On the way down we stopped at a picnic area and had our picnic lunch. It was a balmy 41 degrees so we could eat outside although with the breeze it was a little cool. We didn’t linger.

We returned to La Verkin to the grocery store and were only able to get about half of what we needed so we located a Walmart 7 miles away in Hurricane and headed there. Our ride back to Zion was just as beautiful and then we hit Springdale where there was still road construction and traffic congestion. One way in and the same way out leads to slow moving.

We took the groceries to the coach and then returned for our last visit to the Visitor’s Center. We were shopping for the four older grands and found some cute jackets for them. Surely do hope they fit.

Court of Patriarchs
We then started our final ride on the scenic drive to take all the pictures Jerry wanted to take. We stopped several times and he got some stunning shots. One of the places we stopped was at the Court of Patriarchs. Since it was only a 50 yard hike I suggested that we take it. Oh, did I mention that it was all uphill but it was on pavement and was not muddy. The three towering figures facing us were named for the towering figures of the Old Testament: Abraham Peak, Isaac Peak and Jacob Peak and were named by a Methodist minister in 1916. Wow, what a view.

Our next stop was the Weeping Rock Trailhead, a short ½ mile round trip where we could see hanging gardens and natural springs. It too was all uphill on pavement and it was steep. In fact, we thought the trail was closed due to ice but there were a good number of people there so we soldiered on. It was beautiful and the view was astounding. The sun was just before setting and was peeking between two peaks. I tried to get a picture of Jerry with the sunlight in the background but the photo appeared foggy, don’t know why. He tried to get one of me in the same way and his too was foggy.

We meandered on down to the Sinawava Formation. Here the canyon narrows abruptly. The beginning hike is the River Walk which we really wanted to do but ran out of time. That trail leads on to the Narrows which we knew was out of our league.

Getting those last pictures
As we snapped pictures I suddenly realized that Jerry was taking pictures of a doe and a baby. The deer are very prolific here although they don’t look very healthy. They are pretty used to people so have no fear which makes them more aggressive and dangerous to people.

We returned to the coach very tired but very thankful to have visited Zion. Jerry and I often talk about places we would like to return to and some time ago decided that because there is so much to see in our beautiful country there is nowhere we’d like to return. Well, that has changed because both of us would love to return to Zion. Although we’ve spent 2 ½ days here I feel that we have barely scratched the surface. It is so clean, so fresh, so refreshing, just a grand place to be. Now, in the summer when the crowds are here maybe we’d feel differently but Zion in January will be hard to beat.

Home Away From Home

Bryce Canyon

Wow, what a day. We woke up not sure where we were going so we went to the Visitor’s Center for guidance. We had decided to either go to Konob Canyon in Zion or Bryce Canyon State Park. Konob was an hour away and Bryce was two hours. We looked at the weather and decided what the heck, we’d go to Bryce today and Konob tomorrow.

We left the campground about 9:30 and it took us over two hours to get to Bryce. The road out of Zion is constant switchbacks and many were icy so even slower than normal driving was in store for us. When we reached the tunnel we had to stop as there was a truck pulling an airstream in front of us. I would imagine they had to determine if it could fit through the tunnel. They proceeded with no problem and Jerry actually said he thought our coach could go through although he wouldn’t want to be driving on those switchbacks. No way!

The drive to Bryce was nice, the scenery was nice but it reaffirmed my decision to stay at Zion. As we were arriving we went through Dixie National Park and Red Canyon. Oh my, what beauty. Unfortunately the Visitor’s Center was closed for the winter. Otherwise I know we would have stopped and checked that out. We went through two tunnels that looked almost like arches but surely there were bolstered up somehow.

When we arrived in the town where Bryce was located nearly every business we saw had the name “Ruby” attached to it. They do have a monopoly it would seem. We continued on to the Visitor’s Center at Bryce where we looked around the gift shop and then got some recommendations from the park ranger. As we were exiting the building Jerry asked about lunch so we decided to ride back to the little town and get something to eat. We ended up eating at – well, guess where? Ruby’s. I had the soup and salad and Jerry had a burger and soup. It was underwhelming but we didn’t have many choices of where to eat.

Who is that masked man?
After lunch we rode back into Bryce and parked at Sunrise Point. We were bundled up like Eskimo’s and I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy – and looked it! When we entered the trailhead we had the choice to go either left or right. We went left but think we should have gone right. Oh well, we just walked along enjoying the hoodoos in the distance. The trail was snowy and icy so we stopped and put on the spikes we had bought at Arches. They worked well as long as we were in ice but the intermittent snow and then red dirt (mud) clogged them up. We stopped a couple of times to clear them out and then just decided the heck with it and took them off. They had really made walking difficult and the entire time we were walking it was uphill. How can that be?

Finally Jerry mentioned that we had been on the trail an hour and a half and we needed to turn around and head for the car. I was sorry that we didn’t see any specific point but agreed that it was time to turn around. In addition Jerry’s feet were wet and cold. I had worn my hiking boots but he had worn tennis shoes and walking in the snow had gotten his feet pretty wet.

We saw some awesome views of hoodoos and were actually pretty close to them. The panoramic view was beautiful and so diverse. To the left one could see the snow covered mountains. To the right were the snow covered trees and then right in the middle were the huge hoodoos.

Our walk back went much quicker most of it being downhill and I surely was glad to see my little red Jeep. As soon as we could get in the car we started on the 17 mile scenic drive. Instead of stopping at each site we rode onto the end first. The elevation at Rainbow Point is 9115. For a couple of flatlanders from 43 feet above sea level 9115 is mighty high. Interestingly enough although most of our hike was at 8000 we didn’t have any problems. Perhaps we are getting used to the higher altitude.

We stopped at Natural Bridge view point which is at an elevation of 8627. It really is misnamed as it is technically an arch rather than a bridge but boy, it is stunning. We stopped at a couple of other viewpoints also but it was getting so very cold and the wind was blowing as well. I have no idea what the real feel was but according to our car the outside temperature was 22 degrees!

By the time we finished the loop road the Visitor’s Center was closed so we stopped at – yep, at Ruby’s where we bought the usual magnet and got a snack to carry us home.

The drive home was simply put beautiful as we got to watch God’s stunning creation. As Jerry drove along the lonely highway I watched the sky with its pinks, mauves, sienna, grays and blues against a landscape dotted with snow and evergreens. As darkness descended the muted colors faded into shades of blue and darker grays. What a display of God’s handiwork.

I was a bit anxious about running into icy conditions again but apparently all of the ice and snow in Zion melted today. Navigating the switchbacks in the dark was a bit scary but as usual Jerry did a tremendous job and got us back to the campground safely.

Home Away From Home, Utah

Biking and Hiking Zion

As we sat at the table this morning discussing which hikes to take I was googling the various suggestions. As soon as I said something about a bike trail Jerry said whoa – that was exactly what we were going to do first. We have carried our bikes 3000 miles and have yet to ride them plus we had sort of fallen off of the band wagon at home so I was a bit anxious about a 3 ½ mile ride but first there was work to be done. The bikes had to be readjusted and the chains sprayed. Remember we had bought a cover for them but it only lasted 92 miles so they have been without cover and exposed to the elements the rest of the time.

The trailhead for Pa’rus Trail was at the Visitor’s Center so we drove the car down there and unloaded the bikes. Wow, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed bike riding. The weather was perfect, not to hot nor too cold and whenever we got a little warm it seemed a nice breeze floated across us. The trail is an in and out and lots of curves and bridges. We of course stopped along the way and snapped pictures, lots of pictures and continued to the end where we quickly turned around and headed back. We stopped at Diversion Dam and walked down to the river and just sat and enjoyed the scenery. The little waterfall over the dam was so pretty and refreshing.

Back at the coach we had lunch and then Jerry figured out how we could combine three hikes into one which resulted in about 4 miles. We parked the car at Zion Lodge where the trailhead for Lower Emerald Pool Trail was located and began the trek up. It really was not a difficult hike but a bit disappointing at the dry pool. By this time the wind had picked up and the overhead waterfall was blowing water pretty heavily so we scurried through as quickly as we could heading on to Upper Emerald Pool Trail. This was a sandy and rocky trail that climbed to the Upper Emerald Pool and though described as moderate it was actually pretty strenuous at times. The closer we got to the Emerald Pool the rockier it got until we were actually climbing over and around big rocks. The end result was the frozen waterfall at Emerald Pool. We chatted with a family from northern Utah who were there with their four children. One was three and I honestly don’t know how he was able to do the trail. Thank goodness we had our walking sticks because it would have been even more difficult without them.

As we left there and began the climb, yes it was a climb, we diverted and continued onto the Kayenta Trail which led to the Grotto. It was nearly all downhill so was fairly easy although sandy. At one point the ledge got a little narrow but there were chains to hold on to.

At the bottom we continued along the trail from the Grotto to Zion Lodge where our car was parked. I thoroughly enjoyed the hike although I wouldn’t do it again as the end result was not as promising as we’d hoped. In fact, one person we met said “It’s worth it – I guess”.

As we were driving back to the campground Jerry decided to ride into Springdale to get some Tylenol. I don’t think there is a grocery store in Springdale and we couldn’t even find a convenient store. There are lots of B&B’s, hotels and restaurants but that’s about it. In addition the extensive road construction is continuing and driving there is slow.

We came back to the coach, grilled steak and along with a frozen baked potato we had picked up in Louisiana and a salad had a nice dinner.

We had planned to go to Bryce Canyon National Park tomorrow and then spend Saturday back at Zion but when I looked at the weather for Bryce we changed our plans. Tomorrow the high temperature is supposed to be 28 with a wind chill of -5. Think we’ll postpone our trip a day as the weather for Zion is going to be pretty much the same as today assuming the light snow predicted doesn’t turn into a heavier snow.

Home Away From Home, Utah

Glen Canyon Dam and Oh My – Zion National Park

Since the government shutdown had closed the national parks Sunday and Monday we had been unable to visit Glen Canyon Recreation Area Visitor’s Center and Glen Canyon Dam. We had to be checked out of the campground by 11:00 so we got up early (it was difficult – my bed was warm and cozy and I could have stayed there another hour at least) and were at the Visitor’s Center for the dam by 8:00 for the tour.

Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River in north Arizona. It provides water to five states plus Mexico. Although the dam provides the water it is the responsibility of the recipients to get the water, e.g. lay the pipe, etc. The location for the dam was determined by choosing the narrowest place in the canyon with walls that were strong enough to support the weight of the water. Interestingly only 3% of water comes from rain, the rest from snow melt.

The bridge towering over the dam actually was built in Los Angles, assembled, measured to make sure it would fit, taken apart, delivered and then reassembled – the left side was sent to one side of the canyon, the right to the other. What an amazing engineering feat that they correctly met in the middle

The elevator for the lower part was inoperable so we were only able to go onto the dam but it was fascinating. Paul, our guide, was a retired policeman who volunteered as a guide. Besides the information he shared about the dam he also gave us some interesting information about Page.

Page was only incorporated in 1957. Prior to the dam the area was just open land, one of the reasons that location was chosen for the dam. No one was displaced in the building of the dam. The workers came but only stayed long enough to work the dam and then moved on to other projects. Apparently the biggest business in Page is tourism which used to be heavy only in the summer months, June, July and August but recently the winter has been drawing tourists as well.

The school system draws students from as far as 75 miles away from the Navajo Reservation. When we remarked about how far the students had to travel he said one got used to traveling if they lived in that area. When we were returning from Flagstaff yesterday we were behind a bus that was going pretty fast. Knowing the school buses in North Carolina can only travel 45 miles per hour we were amazed at the speed of that bus. We asked the guide about it and he said the speed limit for school buses was the same as for cars. I guess when you have to travel 75 miles one way to go to school going 45 would make an already long day even longer. Still it would seem that the students spend a great deal of time going to and from school. Then there are the after school activities that cause an even later departure.

Before we left Jerry tightened up the 300 amp fuse plus we had the propane tank filled so we left a bit later than anticipated. We took the longer way to Springdale going through Kanab and then on 389 rather than 89 to avoid going through the tunnel. Perhaps we would fit but we didn’t want to take the chance.

The day was sunny and a good day for traveling a wavy two lane road. We only had two stops for road construction and one 8% climb so not too bad. When we got to Hurricane I called the Watchman Campground in Springdale to see if they still had available sites. It’s a first come, first serve basis so before we drove all the way to Springdale I wanted to be fairly sure that they had a space. They told me that there was only one 50 amp and someone was in it but they were leaving that day so to come on so on we went and then we got to Springdale.

The ranger had told me that there was some road construction in Springdale, what an understatement. There indeed was road construction all the way through the small town so it delayed our arrival quite a bit. They appeared to be repaving the highway so we had to carefully travel the narrow lanes.

Upon our arrival at the entrance to Zion we were asked where we would be going when we left. When we told her she said that was good as we would not fit in the tunnel. Good to know I was right. The height restriction is 11’4” and we are definitely taller than that plus I hear that it is dark as night with the only light coming from the headlights and occasional air vent cracks in the rocks. Not somewhere I want to be!

The ranger was not around when we arrived at Watchman campground so we had to decide where to park. It is a small campground so after we circled it (and put a long scratch on the coach from an over-hanging branch) Jerry just stopped and we got out to walk around and see if we could find a 50 amp. We quickly recognized the pull through with 50 amp that was occupied but were hoping there was another one. Yea! Jerry found the only other one, A1 so we began the maneuver to get the coach in. Between the rocks, the signs and the drain it was not easy. Jerry finally got out and I backed in perfectly with no problem but I had superb directions from Jerry on the ground. When I back up like that I never look where I am going as I keep my eyes on Jerry and listen attentively to his instructions. We’re a pretty good team!

As soon as we got set up which was quick since we only had to hook up the power, put the jacks down and the slides out we had a quick lunch (at 3:00), made a couple of phone calls and then took off for the Visitor’s Center. We wandered around the gift store for a few minutes, got some park information and then decided to take the scenic drive since it was so late.

Oh my! Again, another indescribable view. Such majestic mountains and I finally had a good use for out sunroof. We opened it and could not only look left and right but also up! The views were amazing but we only had our iPhones so we will be making another trip later to capture some of the beauty. As we rode along we saw quite a few mule deer who obviously were not afraid of cars. They barely looked at us as we passed.

We returned to the coach intending to watch the sunset over the campground but got busy doing things and totally missed it. Oh well, we’ll be here for a few more nights. I have read that the sunrises and sunsets are phenomenal and as I know we will not be watching a sunrise I hope we can see some sunsets.


Unscheduled Trip to Flagstaff

Well, today’s activities were certainly not in the plan book for sure! Neither of us slept well last night so we were both up early. As soon as he could Jerry called Newmar who eventually transferred him to Magnum (inverter) and after a lot of troubleshooting and a couple of hours they finally determined that the 300 amp fuse had blown. We had this happen soon after we got the coach so we were familiar with it. We also knew those fuses were not very plentiful. At that point we went to Page Lumber where they carry RV supplies. They immediately said they didn’t have it but sent us to a marine service. They didn’t have it either but recommended we go to Ace Hardware which apparently is like a Lowe’s, etc. Our next stop was an electrical company. No one had the fuse but everyone could not have been nicer. Kudos to the Page folks.

The recommendation was to go to either Flagstaff or St. George. Before we went however we wanted to make sure that wherever we went had the fuse thus several phone calls ensured. Finally we located a Camping World in Bellemont just outside of Flagstaff that had one. When they quoted a price of $42 I was a bit skeptical because we had been told they cost $100.

After a quick lunch we headed toward Bellemont which is west of Flagstaff, about 150 miles from Page. The ride was uneventful thank goodness but long! Jerry had his earphones so he listened to his audio book but I had to settle for reading a not very good book.

We got to Camping World around 3:00, stretched out legs, bought the fuses (yes, Jerry bought two just in case), got some gas at the Pilot station, grabbed a bite at McDonald’s (I was desperate) and headed back to Page, another 150 miles but with fuses in hand. It was a pretty drive and amazing how the terrain changed from Page to Flagstaff. By the time we got to Flagstaff it was beginning to look like home with plentiful pine trees. Of course unlike home, the remnants of last week-end’s snow was still quite visible. Good-bye Flagstaff. Hopefully we’ll see you again in about 10 days!

As soon as we got back to the Page Lake Powell RV the first order of business was replacing the blown fuse. That was accomplished quickly and voila – everything was in working order again. What a 24 hours. We were both exhausted, both physically, mentally and emotionally. We had planned spaghetti for dinner but since we both ate McDonald’s at 3:00 we weren’t hungry so we passed on the spaghetti saving it for tomorrow night.

We spent the evening washing clothes and uploading pictures from the computer to my Google Photos. Since we most likely will not have full hookup or Wi-Fi at Zion we tried to get everything done tonight. Our plans after visiting Zion are to go to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and we won’t have FHU there either so it was necessary to get it done tonight.

We both collapsed into bed and slept like the dead!

Arizona, Home Away From Home

Great Day and Not so Great an Evening

We started the day off with a hike to Horseshoe Bend. Knowing it was cold and would be so for the remainder of the day we dressed accordingly. In fact I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy because of the layers I had on but they worked. I never got cold. In fact I even got a little warm as we were finishing our hike.

Horse Shoe Canyon
The hike is only 1 ½ miles round trip but it is uphill and downhill in sand which makes it more difficult. There were so many people there in January that I can’t imagine what it must be like in season, kind of resembling an ant farm I’m sure. It is a beautiful hike and at the end of the trail we got to do one of most favorite things – scramble over rocks, up and down, over and under.

After the hike we came back to the coach for lunch and then headed out to the highlight of the day, Upper Antelope Canyon. We had booked the tour earlier with Antelope Canyon Tours so we went to their office. After we signed in we sat down and started chatting with a couple and lo and behold, they were from Raleigh and were also RVers although not RVing this trip. They are fairly new to RVing so we answered some of their questions. Despite being on the road nearly four years I still feel like a newbie and boy did I feel that even more in the evening. The guy asked about towing so Jerry told him of our experience towing on a dolly and then told him about four down towing even taking him out and showing him out setup.

The tours were called and we went out and met our guide, Patrick as we loaded into the back of a truck. It was open air but had plastic panels on the side so was not bad at all. We had gotten a blanket from the office but we really didn’t need it. Jerry had the last seat so although it was probably the coldest he certainly had the best view as we traveled over the sandy desert to Upper Antelope Canyon.

Truthfully, Antelope Canyon is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen and it is all natural, nothing man made. Although January is not the optimum time for seeing the sun rays bouncing off of the walls it was still mesmerizing. I looked up so much that I found myself stumbling a bit to keep my balance. Patrick was a great guide as he pointed out various highlights of the canyon plus often took pictures for us. He had even initially taken our phones and cameras and showed us the best settings to use. I could not possibly describe the unbelievable and natural beauty of this canyon so I’ll just let the pictures speak for it.

After our tour we decided to ride to Antelope Canyon. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at a closed marina. No canyon or hiking there!
What trip to a new town is complete without a trip to Walmart so off we went to pick up a few groceries? Then back to the coach for the rest of the afternoon and dinner and a quiet restful night – WRONG!

We were cooking dinner and then suddenly a pop and all of the appliances went out plus all of the outlets. Then began several hours of trying to determine the problem, posting on RVTips on FB, calling Newmar support and generally troubleshooting all to no avail. Strangely enough we still had lights but then after a loud noise the furnace went off. What to do? Jerry asked me if I wanted to go to a hotel and I suggested just staying there with A LOT of covers on the bed. I just did not want to leave the coach. Eventually the furnace came back on so we had lights and heat and no need to go to a hotel for the night. Jerry thought that possibly there was no power on the post so we ended up moving the RV over one space. I drove while Jerry directed. That was scary! With no chance of solving the problem at night we called it a night and went to bed. As I said we had heat and in 20 degree weather that was the most important thing. Praise God for heat and lights.