Georgia, Home Away From Home

Perry, Georgia Take Two – FMCA International Rally

After we returned home from our long winter trip we knew we definitely had a problem with the coach so we called Howard RV in Wilmington. Because of a local RV show they were involved in they could not take our RV in until Tuesday, March 6. Since we had to be there at 8:00 that morning we elected to take it in on Monday. We explained the problems and told them that we had a scheduled trip and would like to have the RV back by Friday, March 9. We also said that if it worked out fine but if it didn’t that would be OK. I had called FMCA earlier to ask what I needed to do if we had to cancel. I discovered that I had until the day before the rally started to cancel our registration and get a full refund so that lessened the stress of making an immediate decision.

I cannot say enough good things about Howard RV. They apparently started to work immediately on our coach and within hours were calling Jerry to give him updates. When your coach is in the shop communication is so very important but there are so many dealerships that fail in that area. Howard RV is a shining example of good communication as they go above and beyond the norm. Although we had a hefty bill (had to buy a new inverter) Howard had our coach ready for pickup Friday afternoon. Finally we knew we were going to be able to go to Perry.

The next question – when were we going to leave. We had planned to leave on Sunday arriving at the Georgina National Fairgrounds on Monday. We had a meeting to attend on Tuesday at 4:30 but nothing else pressing enough to get us there earlier. If we arrived on Monday we would be in the holding area with no hookups so we decided to postpone our leaving until Monday morning.

Except for the last minute things had everything packed and ready to go by Sunday night. I had trouble going to sleep so Jerry moved to another bedroom to sleep. On Monday morning I woke up early and as I sat in the den doing my devotions, etc. I wondered why Jerry was sleeping so late. I just assumed he had had a bad night so I didn’t wake him. When he finally walked out he said he had awakened and wondered why I was up so early but then suddenly realized that there was one clock in the house that he had not reset to the new DST! Yep, the one in the guest room. So we left a bit later than anticipated.

We had no reservations because we really didn’t know how far we would drive. That’s becoming a usual situation for us and so far it has worked. After using Mapquest and projecting arrival times in various cities I called Heritage RV in Augusta and although their one pull through was taken they had one space left so we made the reservation. The manager remarked that there must be something going on in Perry, Georgia because he had a lot of people heading that way!

When we arrived there was a North Carolina coach pulling in right in front of us and as we parked I realized they were parked across from us. After we got set up we walked over to introduce ourselves. We visited briefly with Rougement residents, Travis and Linda and then returned to the RV for the rest of the evening. I had put beef stew in the crock pot at lunch so we had a nice dinner waiting for us and with some peas and rolls we had our last “good” dinner.

Up and out early Tuesday morning and on the way to Perry. Of course due to the freezing temps the car windshield was again frosted over so with my head hanging out of the window I carefully navigated the car behind the RV. Since we have a garage at home we’ve never had to worry about frosted windshields before but now we may need to invest in a covering for the windshield. Driving with my head out of the window on really cold mornings is must not fun! Just before we got to Perry we saw a Pilot gas station advertising “RV Friendly”. Wrong! They do not have an RV lane and the pump access is rather small. It took us about 20 minutes to get to a pump, much longer than it took us to pump the gas!

Can you imagine the logistics involved in parking 2900+ coaches?
We got to the fairgrounds a little after 11:00 and joined the line of coaches waiting to be parked. About 30 minutes later they led us to our spot in Lot B, Street 17. We found out a short time later that Travis and Linda were just a few coaches from us, Lot B, Street 19.

Jerry and I attended the Mentor’s meeting Tuesday afternoon and met up with Jan and Jim, our friends from Marietta, Ga. We decided to join them for dinner that night at Georgia Bob’s Barbecue. Well, actually that was our third choice as the other two restaurants on the list were either full or had an hour waiting list. We ran into Rick and Sandi, a Carolina Guroos couple and asked them to join us. We’d all meet at 6:00 at Georgia Bob’s. Jerry and I returned to the coach to get ready and ran into Travis and Linda and asked them to join us so off the four of us went to meet the other four. It took us a while to locate Georgia Bob’s and it was in an Exxon station! How surprised were we. We went in and got a table for eight and wondered why Jim and Jan who are never late weren’t there. About ten minutes after six Jan texted me and asked if we were coming. Yeah, we were there. Where were they? Oh, they were at the Georgia Bob’s in Perry while we were at the Georgia Bob’s in Warner Robbins so off we went to join them. We finally got there and eventually had a delightful dinner and great fellowship. I am so glad we got to spend time with Jan and Jim because we weren’t able to see them very much during the rest of the rally. By the way, Jan later told me if we were ever again meeting for dinner and we turned up at an Exxon station I could rest assured that I was in the wrong place!

Jerry and I both had meetings on Wednesday morning, his for training to be a seminar volunteer and mine, to volunteer in the FMCA store so we were up and walking around the grounds fairly early. The cold North Carolina weather had followed us to Georgia plus it was pretty windy so we weren’t outside very long.

On Thursday afternoon we were invited to a get together with the Peach State Travelers out of Georgia. Our friends, Jan and Jim encouraged us to join the group a couple of years ago so we did. Unfortunately due to distance we were only able to attend one rally so we decided not to renew our membership but we still love to see everyone. What a great group of people.

The rest of the week flew by with seminars, shopping at the vendor’s sites and meeting and making new friends. Perhaps one of the most informative sessions was about the FMCA benefits. The basic membership is filled with special perks for discounts but probably the most beneficial might be the Emergency Evacuation procedure if due to illness you are unable to continue your trip. Not only will FMCA assist in getting you home but will also get the coach home. This also included children under 18 traveling along plus a dog or cat. That in itself is more than worth the membership fee. Hopefully we will never have to use that benefit but it is reassuring to have it.

On Saturday evening we attended a Newmar Kountry Klub cookout sponsored by National Indoor RV where we enjoyed a good meal, some good entertainment and visited with folks we had met last year on our Williamsburg trip. As they say, a good time was had by all!

We topped off a great week on Sunday night by a performance by Jeanne Roberson. Before the show I got to go up and have my picture taken with her and when she realized I was from Kinston she asked about a mutual friend. Small world. It is so reassuring to listen to a comedic speaker who had everyone laughing until the tears rolled but who never used any profanity or off color jokes. Good clean humor – it is out there folks.

We didn’t rush Monday morning so didn’t leave until nearly 9:30 headed home. Again, we had no plans so I kept guesstimating how far we could drive. We finally decided on South of the Border at Pecos Campground. I called and apparently got the last pull through for the night. Having visited South of the Border briefly many years ago and still continuing to see the many signs that dot Interstate 95 I was a bit dubious of Pecos Campground but the ratings were good and I trusted them. Much to my surprise it is a delightful campground. After we set up we chatted with the fellow next door, a snow birder heading from Florida back to Maine. Then Jerry and I walked around the park and then over to the shops at South of the Border. I really didn’t want anything with Myrtle Beach written on it! Back to the coach and a very quiet night.

We didn’t get up until after 8:00 Tuesday morning and then we had to pull everything together for storing the RV for a while as no trips were planned at this time. I had washed three loads of clothes yesterday so all we had left were sheets and towels which could be done at home. Finally a bit after 10:00 we pulled out. Although we had a thunder storm and heavy rain during the night there was no rain this morning so Jerry was able to empty the tanks with no problems. I was a bit startled though when Jerry pointed out the Welcome mat at the steps. It was covered, literally covered in yellow pollen. Oh joy, allergy season here we come.

Since we have been having trouble with the braking lights we decided to stop by Campers Inn on the way home. To make a long story short, they could not determine the problem so we made an appointment to return and headed on home.

It was a great trip. We saw old friends and made new friends. FMCA is all about learning and teaching but it is also all about making life-long friends. Now, the question is do we make plans to attend the International Rally in Gillette, Wyoming in July? Um…

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Alabama, Home Away From Home

Heading Home

We woke up this morning to 30 degrees and a lot of wind. Fortunately Jerry didn’t have to hookup anything but of course he went outside to make sure everything was secure. While outside he spotted another traveler in the parking lot and though it was freezing cold he couldn’t resist taking a couple of pictures.

As we traveled through Texas the temperature begin to drop, 28 degrees with a wind chill of 18 and we had to stop and get gas! Brr… We were also getting alerts on our phones about winter precipitation coming in so we were anxious to get out of Texas. We also saw several warning about Ice Prevention Crews ahead although we never saw anyone.

I began to look for campgrounds for the evening and located Travel Centers of America in Greenwood, Louisiana. The gentleman I talked with was very nice and met us at the gas station upon our arrival and led us to the park. It is a very nice overnight park located right off of I20 not I10 as some reviews say. We got a pull thorough with easy hookups of light, water, and septic and the slides were all opened unlike a night at Walmart. I could also get my pajamas out of the drawer which I couldn’t do that last night

We woke up on Sunday, February 11 to another cold, overcast day. We pulled out about 8:30 headed to Coaches Corner in Tuscaloosa. The first 10-15 miles through Shreveport confirmed what I remembered about Louisiana highways. Wow, I knew if any nut, bolt, fuse, or waterline, etc. remained tight it would be amazing. After about 15 miles though the highway smoothed out. We began to see green grass and standing water, ah, thoughts of home. The entire day was overcast with occasional misting rain which made for easy travel plus there was not much traffic on Sunday morning. As we entered Mississippi we began to get alerts about flood warnings. – fire and dust warnings in Arizona, winter storm watch in Texas and flood warnings in Mississippi. Wow!

Unfortunately before we got to our destination it began to rain heavily so that slowed us down a bit but we still got there mid-afternoon. As we were checking in I mentioned that we had heard about the campground from Tami and Eric Johnson of TechnoRV and by golly, he pointed out that they were right next door to us. Small world. After we got set up I went over and chatted with them just a few minutes and then back to the coach to get ready for a visit with my nephew and his lovely wife.

Davidson and Sarah came over and we had a nice visit plus we got to show off our motor home. No one in the family has seen it and most of them probably think we’re a bit crazy. Hopefully Davidson and Sarah will tell them about our nice home away from home. We went out to dinner at Depalma’s Italian Café in downtown Tuscaloosa and then rode around a bit to see the campus. In conversation Sarah and I realized that her mom and I are sorority sisters!

After a tour of their apartment they took us back to the campground where we settled in for the night a little closer to home.

Home Away From Home, Texas

Goodbye Arizona

Bless Pat, we pulled out before 8:00 this morning! As Jerry and I both agreed, it’s Austin. Let me explain. Last year at the end of our Texas visit we returned to Fredericksburg to visit the Enchanted Rock. The next day we headed for home with a planned stop in College Station at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. As we drove toward College Station I realized that we were going to be close to Austin. I had heard many good things about Austin so was thinking we probably needed to explore the town. As we got closer I realized that no, we were not going to be close to Austin but were going right through it. I asked Jerry if he wanted to stop and after a few seconds he said no and we both agreed that it was time to head home. We were like homing pigeons and we were ready to travel east. Apparently we felt the same way yesterday as we were discussing whether to leave for home today or tomorrow. Today! We may stop in Tuscaloosa to visit family but other than that we are on the way home!

As we pulled out of Benson I began to see signs of “Brush Fire Danger – Extreme” bringing to mind the fears I expressed earlier. It is so very dry in Arizona. Nearly two hours later as we enter New Mexico we saw signs warning of dust areas and saw places for pull offs. I had read about the dust storms but fortunately we didn’t have any trouble this morning.

I spent the first two hours trying to plot out our route and find possible places to stay. I used the Harvest Host directory and found a possibility for tomorrow night. The RV park I settled on in Van Horn, Texas didn’t open until 2:00 so couldn’t make a definite plan with them at that time. It’s a Passport park and at $14 a deal for full hookup.

As we continued to travel through New Mexico I was periodically getting fire alert warnings for each area we passed. At times I felt as though we were running from potential fires. Of course the warnings for the next day but I couldn’t help but think that we left North Carolina hours ahead of a huge weather event for the East Coast and now we are leaving Arizona ahead of the fire threats. To hear that an area is dry and has the potential for fire and to see the area and realize how very dry it is, well, that’s two different things.

We took a short break at the Visitor’s Center at Anthony, Texas just across the New Mexico border and had a quick lunch. Jerry was feeling good so he suggested that we drive further than Van Horn so after we got back on the road I started looking for a place to spend the night. Between Van Horn and Odessa which was further than we wanted to drive there were not many options. I finally located a Walmart in Pecos and called to see if they allowed overnight parking for RV’s. Yes, they did so we headed on there. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about that hour we were going to lose.

About 100 miles into Texas we had to go through a Border Patrol inspection center. They just asked if anyone was in the back, then on to Pecos we went. Pecos had both a Flying J where we could fill up and a Walmart to overnight at. No problem. Right? Wrong! First, there was a lot of traffic and very long stop lights. It probably took us over five minutes to get off of I20. Then the Flying J was not easily accessible and the Garmin took us around Pecos. We had a nice little tour. Then back through Pecos to the Walmart. When I called they neglected to tell me that the parking lot was the size of a postage stamp and every available parking slot had been captured by cars. There was absolutely nowhere to park so back on the road we went. I began frantically looking for something but I20 doesn’t have much to offer. There was a Walmart in Odessa so I called them. Nope, they didn’t allow overnight parking. Our next hope was in Midland, eighty miles further. I called and they very nicely said sure. The 330 rule followed by many RVer’s is drive 330 miles or be off the road by 3:30. Boy, we broke that rule today. Jerry was feeling good so we decided to go on sure we’d be off the road before dark. Well, that didn’t work so well. There we were on I20 with trucks, work trucks, semi’s and a few cars flying by at 75+ mpg. Jerry competently drove and I prayed.

We pulled in the Walmart in Midland about 8:30 along with several other RVer’s and truckers and we were tired and hungry. I had dinner planned but Jerry saw a McDonald’s so we just walked over there and had dinner. When we got back to the RV Jerry pulled the steps in and we settled in for the night. I never heard a sound! Thank you to the Midland Walmart for being so kind and generous to some tired travelers.

Arizona, Home Away From Home

Tombstone, Arizona, The Town That Wouldn’t Die

As I do every morning when I awaken I looked at the clock at the foot of the bed and guess what? All was dark. I had no idea what time it was but I knew we didn’t have any power. Jerry woke up as well so he got up, turned the generator on and began to recharge the house battery. We have had a problem with a breaker on the generator tripping so Jerry went outside to see if that was the problem. Yes, it was and because it happen last night the house battery didn’t charge as it should have. Hopefully we were far enough away from our neighbors so that a generator at 6:00 didn’t bother them.

After showers and dressing we got everything ready to pull out except hooking the car up. Jerry wanted to ride over to the FMCA rally to see what the new RV’s looked like. Would you believe the Newmar dealer did not have a single Canyon Star? Apparently they are not very plentiful as he said they were still waiting for some to come in. We quickly walked through the vendor’s hall to see if Cummins had a booth but they didn’t so we went on back to the RV, hooked the car up in minutes and pulled out at 9:20. It was a busy morning.

We only had a little less than 40 miles to drive to get to Benson. At first I thought that I had probably make a mistake but as it turned out it was the perfect place for us to begin our journey home. We were at the Red Barn RV Park a little after 10:00. Set up was quick and easy. As we were setting up Jerry mentioned that we might want to consider starting home tomorrow instead of Saturday since we pretty much had a full day ahead of us to tour. We decided that we’d see how the day went and then decide. We walked up to the office to register. It is a Passport park so our overnight fee was only $15.10. We told the owner that we might leave early so we only paid for one night telling him we’d let him know tomorrow.

We headed to Tombstone and I’m not sure what Jerry and I expected but it was definitely not what we saw. It is definitely a tourist trap, oh excuse me, town with a lot of western shops, a few restaurants and ice cream shops and many people recreating the Old Tombstone. There were a couple of gunfights but we elected not to spend that $20. We did walk into the Bird Cage Theater and got a brief glimpse into the historical building. We ended up getting cones of gelato and then headed out to Bisbee. Again, not what we expected. A lot of shops plus a couple of mines. We stopped at the Queen Mine Visitor’s Center but since we had been on a mine tour when we were in Michigan we elected not to do that.

The Jail
At my suggestion we headed back to Tombstone to see the historic Courthouse and finally, a good idea. It is a beautiful building filled with history from the courtroom to the judge’s chambers to the replica gallows outside. We learned a lot about the Gunfight at OK Corral which didn’t actually happen at the OK Corral but in the street. October 26, 1881 “will always be marked as one of the crimson days in the annals of Tombstone. A day when blood flowed as water and human life was held as a shuttle cock, a day away to be remembered as witnessing the bloodiest and deadliest street fight that ever occurred in this place or probably in the territory.” Tombstone Nugget, October 1881. I was astonished at the ages of the people involved. They were so very young. Both Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were in their early 30’s when the gunfight occurred and Doc Holliday actually died from tuberculosis at the age of 36.

After spending a good hour in the courthouse and declaring that the day had turned out pretty good we had to stop by Boot Hill. Buried along with the upstanding citizens of the community were the outlaws with their victims, suicides, hangings, legal and otherwise as one person was hung by mistake. It is said that the cemetery got its name because the people died with their boots on. Several of the graves had money, both coins and paper on them so we went in and asked about it. Since some of the graves held people who upheld the law many law enforcement contemporaries drop money on their grave as a symbol of honor. Occasionally the town comes in and collects the paper money but leaves the coins. There was also money on the graves of children for no other special reason than people just empathize with the loss of a child.

Since we had done so much today we did decide to leave tomorrow. That left a lot to be done in the evening. We stopped by the campground and put our second load of laundry in the washing machine and then went to the grocery store to stock up for the trip home. We got some beef to prepare in the crockpot as we travel. When we got back to the coach I fixed some spaghetti sauce and some sloppy joe mixture so all we have to do is heat it up. I think we’ll be have enough food to get us back to Kinston even if we have to dry camp a couple of nights. Our plan is to spend the last night in Augusta at Heritage RV Park. We can get full hookup there and get all of the tanks emptied so that won’t be a problem when we get home. Wow, five weeks on the road, a wonderful trip and we’re just as excited to be heading home as we were when we started our trip.

At dinner tonight we discussed our trip trying to determine what our number one favorite place we visited was. Neither of us could answer that as there were many things that stood out, some more than others. Tomorrow I’m going to try to make a list of each place we visited and each hike, etc. we took. As Jerry said it’s difficult to remember each thing because we did so very much. He asked me what I would recommend to someone else and how long I would suggest their trip be. Again, I couldn’t answer. We came such a long way and we know we will most likely never come out here again so we felt compelled to do as much as we could and see as much as we could. Did we do so much that it all ran together? No, I don’t think so. Blogging each day helps me remember more clearly but it’s something I had to do every day so as not to confuse the packed days. It has definitely been a trip to remember and we feel very blessed to have been able to do it. Now, praying for safe travel home.

Home Away From Home

Saguaro National Park

We got an early start today and headed to Saguaro National Park, our sixth national park on this trip. A stop at the Visitor’s Center gave us the information we needed so we headed out to drive the eight mile Cactus Forest Loop Drive. It is a paved narrow one way road that we shared with a number of cyclists. We were absolutely astounded at the bountiful saguaro, the cholla, the mesquite and the beautiful palo verde trees. We stopped along the way to photograph some of the stunning landscape.

We arrived at the Mica View Picnic Area where we began our two mile loop though the desert beauty. Initially we were on a paved path but it turned into a sandy, dirt path. I was fine with the hiking until I saw the warning about rattlesnakes and mountain lions. Jerry said later if he had seen a rattlesnake it would have made the morning perfect. I’m not so sure I agree with that. One thing of particular interest to me was seeing the young saguaros under their palo verde “nurse tree”. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture before we turned off of the pavement and we didn’t really see anymore. As we hiked the Cactus Forest Trail we both noticed that the vegetation seemed to changed. Since it was a bit higher and closer to the Rincon Mountains we wondered if possibly there was less water there. Who knows? We are aware that Arizona is in a severe drought and it has been mentioned often as we’ve traveled. They have not had any rain during 2018 plus very little snow, meaning no snow melt from the mountains. With the summer months of May, June and July being the dry months it’s a bit frightening to think about the possibility of fires. In addition I read today where Arizona is the lightning capital of the United States. It could be an anxiety ridden year.

Guess he got tired of me asking him to smile.
After our hike we continued our drive around the loop stopping occasionally to view the beautiful Rincon Mountains and trying to determine how far up the mountain side the saguaros continued to grow. It is amazing to realize that we have visited six national parks in relative proximity to each other yet they are each so very diverse. Within just a few hundred miles are examples of such different life zones. In fact in the Saguaro National Park there are six different life zones going from the desert lowlands to the pine zones at the top of the Rincon Mountains. Along the way hikers might eve encounter animals not usually associated with the desert such as foxes and black bears. Rattlesnakes, mountain lions, black bears – reminds me of “lions, tigers and bears, oh my”!

After completing our drive through the loop road we continued on to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, part of the Coronado National Forest. As soon as we arrived we found a shady place and had our picnic lunch then went in search of information. We decided to ride the tram up the nearly four miles instead of walking hoping that perhaps we’d walk back down. After the first descent on the tram Jerry looked at me and said, “Nope, riding back”! The tram driver provided a very informative narration on the 25 minute drive up and answered one question Jerry and I had. Earlier on our trip we had seen some trees with completely white bark but we didn’t know what they were. We found out today that they were Arizona Sycamores. The trunks are so white they look almost painted. Fortunately we sat under the shaded section of the tram and the ride up was very pleasant as the driver pointed out different points along the way.

At the top we got off of the tram, took some pictures and then trudged up a slight trail going toward the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. We didn’t go very far before we decided that it was too hot for hiking so we just sat down on the trail and enjoyed the scenery. Soon a tram came up and we hopped on and rode back down. After getting our Passport book stamped we headed to the car.

Since I had brought nothing but turtlenecks and cold weather clothes we did a little shopping for cooler clothes and then stopped at Walmart for some groceries. Earlier Jerry had suggested that we have a steak and I added French fries. We haven’t had a meal like that since we left home. When we got back to the coach it was warm but as with yesterday the wind was blowing and with the windows opened and the exhaust fans on it cooled off very quickly. Since we are still dry camping we are still trying to conserve so it was an early night.

Arizona, Home Away From Home

On to Tucson and More Dry Camping

We finally pulled out of Kit Carson RV Park just before 10:00 headed to Tucson. I was a little anxious that the GPS would try to send us 89A but it didn’t and all but about three seconds was an uneventful ride. Hwy 17 out of Flagstaff is pretty rough plus we had some climbs of 6%. As we neared Phoenix we began to see saguaro and prickly pear cacti with their yellow flowers lining both sides of the highway. That’s the first time we’ve seen flowering cacti. I tried to take some pictures but was not very successful. Will have to get some more later. The three scary seconds – A big blue truck coming off of a ramp decided that he would just come on over to our lane and we had nowhere to go. I was reading and saw it out of out of the corner of my eye. It was several minutes before my heart was beating normally. Thank you Jesus for protecting us.

We stopped to get gas at a Flying J and had lunch there as well. We had decided to stay at the Pima County Fairgrounds which was first come, first serve and we knew there was an FMCA rally there and spaces were scarce. I called just to make sure there was room and the lady laughed and said definitely but we would be staying in the middle of a field. Ok, the middle of a field for $20 a night but with the gem show going on it was about all there was in Tucson and we knew we’d be safe.

We arrived a little after 2:00 and of course with no hookups to deal with we were set up quickly and yes, we were in the middle of a field. We met our neighbors and chatted with them a few minutes and then just took it easy for a while. After dinner we rode around the fairgrounds looking at all of the coaches hoping we’d see another Canyon Star. We didn’t.

Since we were dry camping we were conservative with our electricity and our water so we called it an early night. When we arrived it was pretty warm but with the wind and the setting sun it cooled off quickly and was very comfortable in the coach. In fact we finally had to close the windows because it got a bit chilly.

Arizona, Home Away From Home

A Day in Sedona

We headed out to Sedona this morning. Several people had warned me about Hwy 89A and initially we couldn’t understand why as it was four lanes and good driving and then… It got really curvy and steep, a typical mountain road. In the Jeep it was no problem but I surely wouldn’t want to do it in our RV. We will definitely find an alternate route tomorrow as we head south. It was a beautiful drive though through the Coconino National Forest. We even stopped at one point and took some pictures.

When we hit the outskirts of Sedona I was mildly surprised. It is not a sleepy little town but a very busy, touristy place and this is not even their busy season. We had talked about taking a trolley around town but decided to first go to the Visitor’s Center. After talking with someone in there we scratched the idea of the trolley and headed to Red Rock Crossing and Cathedral Rock.

On to Cathedral Rock we went. Supposedly it is one of the most photographed sites in the area and noted for the red rocks which is due to a thin coating of iron oxide mineral. It was a lovely place and had we not been tired of sandwiches it would have been a lovely place for a picnic. We stood in the center of the walking paths and took some beautiful pictures of Cathedral Rock. I can see why it is a popular spot for photography.

I’m not sure exactly what path we took but we followed a lovely stream as we walked along. We saw some people that were crossing the stream on stones but they eventually had to walk in the water to get out so we nixed that idea. We didn’t really hike, we strolled through the wooded path which quite often diverged into two paths. The weather was perfect for a walk but we were glad when we got back to the car because we had gotten a little hot. Unfortunately neither of us brought any “summer” clothes on the trip. In fact when I get home it will be a while before I wear black pants and a turtle neck!

We rode back into Sedona and we finally found a parking place which was not easy. Although there is public parking it was all full so we were forced to park in the pay to park on the street. $4 got us 2 hours which was ample time. I can’t imagine what it would be like in their busy season. We immediately walked into a shirt store right in front of the car and asked about a pizza restaurant. The lady was so nice and recommended Sedona Pizza right across the street. She did caution us to walk on the crosswalks as they were giving tickets to anyone who jaywalked and she wanted us to enjoy our visit.

Jerry had been wanting pizza for a couple of days so Sedona Pizza it was. The pizza was good however something must have happen with our order or our waiter. After we were seated four other tables were seated. They had been served and had finished eating and we still had not gotten our order. Jerry asked about it and the waiter brought it out immediately. Unfortunately it was just warm, not hot so I suppose it had been sitting somewhere waiting to be served. It still was good though.

Our next stop was the Original Red Dirt T-Shirt store. It’s a small shop and is where the dirty t-shirt originated. The sales lady was very informative and was eager to explain the different ways the colors were created. Jerry ended up buying both a shirt with “Older Than Dirt” on it and a cap. I told him that I was going to hide the State cap he has worn this entire trip!

We returned to the shirt store (that’s what it’s called – The Shirt Store) we had gone in earlier and I bought a t-shirt as well. The next stop – oh yeah, ice cream. Of course I got a chocolate and it was yummy.

We returned to the car and headed for the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona. Upon arrival we looked up and there seemingly almost carved in the rocks was the cross surrounded by glass. As we entered the chapel we realized that the entire front of the chapel was glass framed around the enormous cross. The inside of the chapel is very simple with only two tapestries on the wall and the lighted candles.

Before we reached the chapel we had seen a ginormous beautiful home or at least we thought it might be a home – or a hotel! Actually I found out later that it is one of three homes owned by a Romanian immigrant, now an American citizen who among other things invented laser surgery for eyes. They said he is rarely there though.

Our next stop was the Bell Rock and the Courthouse Butte. We parked in the parking lot, took some pictures and decided that three miles was enough for the day so we headed on to Flagstaff. As we rode I tried to find somewhere for us to stay in Tucson tomorrow night but had no luck. The gem show is there this week and apparently has taken every RV spot in town. I still have two places to call tomorrow morning before we leave. If that doesn’t work out I guess we’ll be headed to Tombstone for a couple of days assuming we can get reservations there and then wind our way east to North Carolina! Along the highway to Flagstaff we saw several signs saying beware of elk. Do you really think I saw one?

Home Away From Home

Ruins of An Ancient People and Nature All in One Day

This afternoon we were privileged to visit two national monuments, one show casing the ruins of an ancient people and the other the ruins and devastation caused by nature.

Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center at Sunset Crater Volcano located outside of Flagstaff. As we drove up we saw some picnic tables and with the sunlight it was a perfect place for our picnic lunch. After lunch we went into the center and talked briefly with the ranger about the trails however we decided to get Sunset Crater on our way out after we had visited the Wupatki National Monument.

As we drove the loop road to the Wupatki National Monument we got glimpses of the devastation that was caused by the volcano eruption thousands of years ago. After a few miles of blackened, dried lava we began to see revegetation with trees, possible piñon pines, on both sides of the road. There were also many trees that appeared to have been struck by lightening. Some of the trees, both living and dead had such twisted trunks. We later learned that was nature’s way of the tree compensating for the varying winds.

As we rode along we saw a sign indicating the Wukoki Pueblo Trail so we headed there. Built of a sandstone outcrop this pueblo is unique both for its location and it structure. Despite being exposed to the elements for 800 years it stands as a tribute to the people who lived there, constructed homes there and farmed there. It is a large structure and can be seen for miles. In fact, at a distance it resembles a castle. Wukoki is the modern word for “Big House” and indeed it was as it was most likely three stories high. We were able to climb up to the second level and walk around observing how very well the structure was constructed.

Our next stop was the Visitor’s Center where we received information about the Wupatki Pueblo Trail which began right behind the center. Most likely a center for trade the 104 room Pueblo features a ball court, a community room and a blowhole. What is a blowhole you ask. I had no ideas but I found out. It is a crevice in the earth’s crust that appears to breathe. In fact as you stand next to it you can feel the gusts of wind coming from within. Although archaeologists have yet to uncover any connection to the Wupatki Pueblo the Hopi, descendants of the people refer to the blowhole as the “Yaapontsa”, the wind spirit.

The Blowhole
We went into the ball court which is 78’ wide, 102’ long and had a 6’ high wall surrounding it. As we stood in that oval we could just imagine the voices of children and adults having their fun for the evening.

We stopped briefly in the community center which seemed to be a round pit with stones benches available for seating. Again, we could almost hear the voices of past peoples.

Back in the car we headed to the Lava Flow Trail, part of the Sunset Crater Volcano. We walked around on the pavement and then descended into the lava flow. We only walked a part of the trail as it was getting late. The black lava, the split trees, the devastation completely surrounded us as we left the pavement and followed the dirt trail. Amazingly, occasionally we would see sprigs of life, a sapling, a twig.

Looking at the devestation

Fortunately we are able to visit these national monuments today as they are now preserved and protected by the federal government. Before they were declared national monuments much looting went on and many of the relics disappeared. So did many of the answers that archaeologists search for today.

Arizona, Home Away From Home

Walnut Canyon National Monument

The visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument which is located southeast of Flagstaff started of course with a stop at the Visitor’s Center where we got pertinent information about the two trails, the Island Trail and the short Rim Trail. The ranger was very clear when he said the Island Trail had 273 steps down, 190 around and then back up and you know it, we took the Island Trail first. As we started down we saw the familiar sign “Going Down is Optional, Coming Up is Mandatory”.

The canyon rim is 6,690’ and the canyon’s floor is 350’ lower. The loop trail is approximately 1 ½ miles and descends 185 feet. As with the Bright Angel Trail, going down was a breeze and oh, so interesting. We were able to look right into canyon dwellings constructed by the Sinagu and located under overhanging cliffs. We could walk into some but were cautioned not touch anything or to sit down.

The Sinaguas appeared in northeast of what is now Flagstaff more than 1400 years ago. It is thought that they located there due to increased rainfall, trade and a population increase in the Southwest. The cliff dwellings were only occupied a little more than 100 years though and no one knows why the people left. It is speculated that they depleted the land of the nutrients and unable to provide for themselves they sought newer land. They also may have assimilated into the Hopi culture.

The walk down to the Island was so amazing, steps and then a small platform, steps, platform, etc. (Those platforms were really nice on the way back up as were the rare spots of shade!) Going down we stopped often to view the ruins, take pictures and just gaze at the various rooms.

As we were looking at one of the dwellings I happen to turn around and there on the other side of the canyon was a shady forest of spectacular, tall Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine trees. Sometimes we just need to turn around and look.

We made it back up to the top despite the altitude which we still are adjusting to. We rested periodically and then walked on.

After a brief rest and some water we walked the Rim Trail, a short trail that gives a nice view of the canyon. At the end of the trail was a viewpoint with benches. We sat there for a few minutes enjoying the beautiful vista before us, listening to the tweeting birds and just enjoying the sunshine on our faces. Sometimes you just need to sit, rest, listen and enjoy the moment instead of hurrying off to the next planned adventure.

Arizona, Home Away From Home

A Day of Enforced Rest

Jerry hasn’t felt well for the last two days and hopefully it’s because of the high altitude. We have been at high altitudes on this trip but it was a gradual climb. This time we went from 550 to over 7000 and it’s really been difficult for him. I got up early letting him sleep in and immediately got on the Internet trying to find somewhere to stay in the Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood area. I had to wait until 8:00 to start calling for some and 9:00 or 10:00 for others. After he got up we discussed it and just decided to head for Flagstaff and see what worked out. I have never left a campground totally unaware of where I was going plus I was aware that availability at this time of year in Arizona could be scarce. As soon as we started pulling out I got on the iPad and was looking down when I suddenly realized that a lot of cars had pulled over. I just got a glimpse of mabe 20 Elk dang it! I had been looking for them the entire time we were at the Canyon and had seen 4 but 3 were at night and I could hardly see them and the other one just showed us his backside and that was in the shadows. Oh well – I did see one – I think!

I called Kit Carson RV Park in Flagstaff and they had availability. Although I had my doubts since the ratings were vague I went on and paid for three nights. Frankly we are rarely at the campground during the day so hopefully this will be fine. One review said he felt safe and secure and that’s the most important thing – that and FHU and Wi-Fi!

We arrived just before noon and check in was very quick since she already had my information and we had paid. We had our choice of sites, one near the highway or others back in the park. We chose 113 near the highway as we weren’t too worried about road noise. Since they had a pretty big snow here a couple of weeks ago there was a lot of mud! Getting our coach into 113 took three attempts as there were close trees and the electrical panel was on one of those trees. In order to open our slides we had to maneuver a bit. When we finally got positioned before I even put down the jacks Jerry got out the leveler and bless pat, we were already level. That hardly ever happens. I put down the jacks and did not get an excess slope signal. That rarely happens too.

We had some lunch and although Jerry still was not feeling well we decided to go on to the Visitor’s Center. It is located in a train station and was so neat. We talked briefly with the gentleman there and he quickly gave us enough to do to fill up a day and a half. Jerry still was not feeling well so we decided just to go to the grocery store and then back to the coach for an afternoon of rest. We went to the local Walmart and it was unlike any we’ve ever seen. They had covered outside parking and then the store was totally arranged differently than most of them are. We got the groceries and headed back to the campground. When we arrived we drove around the park a bit. I think we must be the only transient or travelers here and the trailers are not new! Enough said.

Guess we have had our enforced day of rest. The drive this morning was less than two hours and half of it on I40E so it was fairly easy (according to Jerry). We spent the afternoon catching up on some chores, blog updating and I made a big meatloaf that I divided into one for dinner tomorrow night and one in the freezer. Hopefully we’ll be ready to go tomorrow!