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!

Arizona, Home Away From Home

More of the Grand Canyon South Rim

Our view from Bright Angel Trail

What a way to start a morning – with a 3 mile hike. We hiked the Bright Angel Trail, going down into the canyon 590 feet. Going down was a breeze. Coming back up was breathless literally! We went through the second tunnel before deciding that was far enough. As the magnet, sticker and possibly a shirt said in the General Store “Going down is optional. Coming up is mandatory.” We stopped only to take pictures of the very lovely view as we were going down. Fortunately we got a couple of pictures of the two of us, very unusual. Although there was a bit of ice initially that soon ended and the path was easy but all downhill meaning of course that the hike back to the trailhead was all uphill. We only stopped going down for pictures but going up – well, I lost track of how many times we stopped to gasp for breath! When we live at an altitude of 43 feet 7000+ tends to cause one to be short of breath. Neither Jerry nor I slept well last night, both a bit restless which we attributed to the high altitude. We’ve been in a high altitude before on this trip but our last stop was Needles, California which is 495 feet so a bit of a change in a day. Back to the hike – as we were going back up we had to take a number of breaks. I lost count after 5! When we had talked to the ranger earlier he had told us to be sure to look for the pictographs after the first tunnel. We looked on the way down but never saw them but we did see them on the way back. Amazing! I asked what kind of paint was used and was told it was probably from berries or things of that nature. Since they are sheltered from the rain that have remained for nearly 1100 years! The ranger also told us that we were part of only 7% who hiked down in the canyon. Can’t imagine not seeing all of that beauty from within the canyon.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona and parts of Utah are in a severe drought now. The canyon has only had one big snow this year and usually they are covered with snow with temps much lower than we have seen. It has made travel for us nice in that we have not had a day of rain, snow or any bad weather. Because of that however we have not taken a day of rest the entire trip!

After the Bright Angel Trail we came back to the RV for lunch. Instead of the usual sandwich we had our leftovers from Wednesday night’s dinner. Pretty tasty for a change. Actually we are quickly cleaning out our freezer – must be time to head home. We took our last bag of wings out for dinner tonight. Either go home or start really cooking. Um…

After lunch we went back to the Visitor’s Center where we got our Passport book stamped. We then watched a wonderful movie about the Grand Canyon, “a vista that stretches out to the edge of the imagination”. Interesting facts about the canyon: The Colorado River is the prime shaper that chisels and carves out the canyon. The canyon increases each year by the width of a sheet of paper. It is definitely a world of stone and light.

After the video we went back to Mather Point and again looked at the beautiful view, a world of stone and light, a world where the clouds cast part in shadow and suddenly bursts of light come through. The colors are indescribable and from Mather’s Point the reality of the depth of the canyon is daunting.

Mather’s Point

We wandered down the Rim Trail for about an hour stopping occasionally to take pictures of the view or to take pictures of strangers while those same strangers then took ours. When we got to the first shuttle stop we decided to take it back to the Visitor’s Center where our car was parked. By that time we were both getting a bit tired.

We returned to the coach for a little while before hastily heading back to Hopi Point for the sunset. There were many more people that tonight than last night I guess because it’s the week-end. There were fewer clouds in the sky but the sunset was still glorious. As we returned to the car we looked to the other side of the canyon and the sky was just as splendid if not more so. More examples of God’s beautiful creation. Oh my, what must heaven be?

No words

Operated by a concessionaire Trailer Village at Grand Canyon Village is a little pricey and naturally does not honor our America the Beautiful pass but we think the convenience is worth it. The other parks I looked at were in Williams which was an hour away. Being able to hike, then go back to the campground for lunch or just for a little rest before our next venture was worth the extra money we spent. We did have full hookup and the only negative was our Verizon was spotty at best. There were trees all around so I’m sure there would be good shade in the summer. As is often the case when we are traveling in “tourist mode” we don’t spend much time in the campground until we collapse at night, have a little dinner and hopefully get a good night’s sleep. We’ve been fortunate so far in that every campground we have stayed in has been extremely quiet at night lending itself to good rest. Guess that’s another advantage of traveling in January.

We returned to the coach two tired folks but getting things ready to leave in the morning for … Um, not sure exactly where we’ll be staying. Will we be brave enough to try some BLM land? Will we stay in Flagstaff? Sedona? Will there be availability in a state park in Cottonwood? We don’t know but that’s one of the nice things about RVing. We’re pretty flexible!

Arizona, Home Away From Home

A Sunset Finally!

Love it when someone we don’t know comes by us blowing the horn and waving. Who was that? No clue. We pulled out of Needles KOA at 9:02 and literally bounced down Park Road. If there is a worse road anywhere around I surely don’t want to be on it. Suddenly a car passed us on a double yellow line blowing the horn and waving. Initially it didn’t dawn on us that something might be wrong. I guess it should have as it has happened before when the tow dolly and car caught on fire. Oh yes, apparently the severe bouncing on that horrible road caused the main center strap holding the bikes on to break and I guess we were about to lose a bike. Just before we got on the Interstate Jerry realized what was wrong so he pulled over and using every tool and strap we had he hopefully secured the bikes to the rack.

The rest of the trip to Trailer Village RV at the Grand Canyon was uneventful thankfully. We stopped at a Love’s in Williams, got gas and had lunch. Before we left Kinston I had cooked some chicken, shredded it and then froze it so last night I was able to fix some good ‘ole home chicken salad and that’s what we had for lunch.
After a quick check in at the Grand Canyon using our America the Beautiful pass (for the park, not the campground) we headed to the campground. Check in was quick and easy and we had a full hookup pull through site. Yea!

As soon as we got settled we headed out to the Visitor’s Center. Our first stop though was the General Store where they had everything from groceries to clothes to of course, magnets. We wandered around there for a good while just taking in everything.

The parking lot at the Visitor’s Center was full but we were able to snag a place. I can’t imagine what it will look by spring when the busy season begins. We talked with a ranger who gave us some ideas for hikes tomorrow but suggested we walk out to Mather Point where we could see all of the canyon. Wow, what a stunning view. The wind was blowing and it was pretty chilly and not having planned for that we didn’t even have coats so we didn’t linger. Perhaps a repeat visit tomorrow if we have time.

The ranger also suggested either a sunrise or a sunset at Hopi Point for the evening. Jerry didn’t think we had time to get there since we didn’t know exactly where we were going plus there is right much road construction with detours going on.

We made it though. Fortunately both of us had left our heavy coats in the car so we were able to get out and view an unbelievable sunset – finally! There were a lot of people there but very little talking. The wind was rustling though the trees as the sun in all of its splendor begin to light up the sky with blues, yellow, golds, pinks, grays, lavenders, oranges and teals – what a splendid example of God painting the sky. Since it was so cold we didn’t linger long but since Jerry didn’t have his good camera we knew we’d be back tomorrow.

When we were in Maine years ago I took a picture of Jerry peeking out from behind a tree. It was a great picture and for some reason we started getting “tree pictures” everywhere we went. Today we were able to get two, one of each of us!

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.