Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The last of Moab

Friday, May 25, 2007
When we extended our stay here, we knew we had to move as our site was reserved. So we moved to the space behind us first thing in the morning. It took us all morning, as we did some much needed cleaning of the camper and washing of clothes. The sky was 97% blue, so we decided to have a good lunch, nap and then drive to Canyonlands to observe sunset. And so after five, we did. The entry station and VC were closed and the enforcement ranger passed us going out. When we got to the overlook, there were only three other cars. By 7pm, we were by ourselves. We put on two Charlie Christian CD’s and Dorothy had G&T and I had Ardbeg. As the sun went down the canyons to the east were bathed soft light. The sunset was not spectacular, but decent.

On the drive out, there were a few other cars, but the surprise was the number of cars inbound at 9pm. My guess was their plan was to get in for the weekend without paying.

Saturday, May 26, 2007
We are saving our third trip to Arches for Tuesday hoping for less people, so today we decided to go to Fisher Towers up Hwy 128. This is another of the places used in movies. We have found that the pictures in the morning do not turn out well, so we did not leave the campground until 10:00. The dirt road was not very good, but only a one mile or so. The hike was not advertised as easy, moderate or strenuous. It was silent on the subject. It’s a 2.5 miles to the end or one mile to the first tower. It was the hardest hike we have ever done. We had to scramble over rocks and my legs aren’t as long as Don’s, so I did some crawling. It took 1½ hours to go the mile because I had to take so many breaks. Starting out, we descended 200-300 feet and then we hiked up 400 feet and it was hot. I would recommend it to anyone in good physical condition and in cooler weather, but I would not do it again in the heat. But the main thing is that it was worth it. The scenery is spectacular and the only way to see it is to hike. When we back to the campground, cloud cover had moved in, and made the weather perfect for hiking – you just never know. I was totally wiped out for the rest of the day.

The rocks on this hike had many odd shapes, vastly different from Canyonlands or Arches. One spire that was favored by technical climbers was topped with a Geisha. When we rounded the spire and viewed it from the opposite side it looked like a duck on skis.

We see more than a few couples hiking with infants on their backs. You have to be in good shape to carry an extra 20 pounds any distance.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
A lazy day, some shopping in the morning, lunch, nap and a drive up the La Sal mountain road to see some green trees and a babbling brook. We hoped to find a camp site to take the LD this fall, but they are all quite primitive and most beside the road.

Monday, May 28, 2007
Another lazy day, we washed clothes, read, surfed the web, had lunch and a nap. After dinner we drove to Windows section of Arches NP. The light was perfect. Perfect until the sun went behind a cloud and stayed there until after sunset. And so it goes.

Two easy days has allowed Dorothy’s feet to partially recover. I am stiff from to little activity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Our last day in Moab. Thankfully we had the best weather day we have had in weeks. It was a little cooler in the morning with a nice breeze. The only clouds were on the horizon and the haze was nearly gone. We drove to the Garden of the Gods at Arches NP. We thought this is the best area in the park. We hiked about 2 miles and decided the save the rest of the hikes and Dorothy’s feet for our return trip this fall.

That's all folks!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Moab II

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
There was another light rain last night, that the weatherman did not expect. It added more snow to the mountain peaks, so the peaks really sparkle when the sun sneaks through the clouds.

Since the forecast was for mostly sunny, and it was not so we decided to do grocery shopping and get the tires rotated in the morning, have lunch and they head back to Arches NP. So we did. While the sun was out south and north of us it never did get to Arches. And so it goes.

Our friends, the Wood’s, told us to hike to Delicate Arch, if we could. Meaning, we would like it if we could manage to haul ourselves up the trail. It’s billed as a three-mile hike, with a 475 foot elevation gain. Phooey! It’s longer and much higher. We think it was the most difficult hike we have taken in some time. The trail path is fine, it’s going straight up that winded us. We took 1:15 to do it. Before we got to the end, some we started with were already headed back down. Maybe it was just a bad day for us, as we saw two old geezers in their 70’s, at least, one running it and the other fast walking it.

Since the sun did cooperate we will have to go back up the trail again sometime. Maybe in October?

Thursday, May 24, 2007
We decided to take a break from Arches and go across the road to the northern section of Canyonlands, which is called Island in the Sky. An island because you are on a mesa overlooking the canyons below cut by the rivers and streams.

We had more sun today and the much of the haze was gone, but we had thin cloud cover on most points of the compass all day.

In the morning, we did the short hike to Mesa Arch and spent some time just sitting and looking out at the canyons. After driving to a few more overlooks, it was lunch time. We had a short nap in the van and Dorothy said she wanted to try the hike to Upheaval Dome. And so we did. This hole in ground was likely caused by a meteorite. Whatever, it is a great view into more canyons. We lingered for an hour or so on top of one the slick rock overlooks. That’s when the feeling of tired muscles overcame us and we realized that we would not get back to the CG until after 5. Recreating is hard.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Moab, Utah

Sunday, May 20, 2007
We were up and on the road at 8:00 this morning. We had two destinations today, the Needles Overlook and the southern entrance to Canyonlands NP. We kept thinking that we had seen the best until we got to the next destination and declared it to be the best. This land is just so gorgeous I cannot do justice describing it. It would be a string of superlatives. At one overlook, Don said “Don’t need to go to Grand Canyon after seeing this”. It wasn’t three minutes later when a couple walked up and the man made the same the comment.

We were surprised there were no crowds on a Sunday, but as we left in late afternoon, the traffic was picking up. Our plans are to return to Moab after we pick up the Lazy Daze. There is so much to see. This place has it all, except a seashore.

One interesting thing today was a very large rock that we kept seeing and thinking that it looked like homes were built into the rocks. Finally we found the dirt road (of course) and drove to the rock. Sure enough, houses were being built into the rock. It’s Rocklands Ranch, home to a polygamist excommunicated Mormon family who has four wives and 38 children. There are several homes there and they are digging more home sites for another group of excommunicated Mormons that will be joining them. If you are interested in seeing it: http://www.ericandsylvia.com/pictures/2001/Utah/part5/

Don writes: There has been a slight haze over the SW the last month. Today, there were thunderstorms in the area. [We actually felt three or four drops on us in two different locations!] The combination of haze and clouds made taking pictures beyond my capabilities. With perfect weather, I still don’t know how to take a picture of such vast landscapes. The canyon area is 10 to 30 miles wide in every direction, with features from the fore ground into the distance. We just looked with slacked jaws and said Oh Wow all day.

Monday, May 21, 2007
It is overcast and windy this morning. 8am. A front came through during the night. The weather is supposed to cool off for a few days.

By 10:30 all of the gray clouds were gone, an hour later only a few high level wispy clouds remained.

The plan for the day was to drive Hwy 128 to Fisher Towers. We got as far as Negro Bill’s Canyon and started hiking the two miles to the worlds 6th largest arch. The canyon reminded us Capital Reef, which is not that far away to the west. It’s an unusual canyon in that the stream flows year around. We got about a mile up the canyon when the path narrowed so that poison ivy was going to touch you some place to pass. Given Dorothy’s reaction to being near the plant, we bailed out.

Our next stop was Red Cliffs Lodge where several movies were made. We toured their museum of movie memorabilia rather fast, as they did not feel that a/c for that part of the lodge was worthwhile. We had thought about eating lunch there, but they do not serve on Mondays’.

Our next adventure was up the La Sal Mountain Loop Road, which is not a loop this year, as the Mill Creek bridge is out. The road starts out at the Colorado River at 4,000 feet and climbs to 8,000 and has a view to the west of Castle Valley, the river and Arches NP. At the road closure, we parked and napped in the cool air. We discovered one unnamed and nearly unmarked forest service CG and some great sites overlooking the canyons.

We made it back to the CG by 4:30, three hours after our planned return time. There is so much to see here.

At 9pm, it is a delightful 77 with a light breeze, perfect for sitting outside.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I was wrong about the front moving through last night or maybe it was a pre-front. Anywho, we had more wind last night and three very light sprinkles.. Last night, I rinsed some of the dust off the van. The trace rain wet the van and the wind borne red dirt affixed to the van. And the mountains got fresh snow above 11,000 feet. This morning it is 56, so we put on our long hiking pants.

We went to Arches NP this morning. Our plan is to spend 3 to 4 days exploring it so as to not exhaust ourselves. Today, we spent some time in the VC and did the one mile hike through Park Avenue – tall monoliths that some think look like NYC buildings. The trail leads down a canyon and we took our time, about 40 minutes. I talked Dorothy into saving her energy and she waited for me to hike back up the canyon, get the van and pick her up at the end of the trail. I fast walked it in 15 minutes and got my heart rate up. The steps up to the parking lot were the most strenuous.

After a sandwich, we did the short hike to Double Arch. It’s a beauty. See pictures. Dorothy was running low on energy, so we called it a day and went back to the CG and had a short nap.

Moab is the best!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Monument Valley

Thursday, May 17, 2007
We drove 5:30 hours north to Monument Valley. This is THE place Dorothy has wanted to see since 1994. We arrived after 3, losing an hour to Mountain time. We toured the rather interesting Goulding “museum”, had a swim, dinner and then watched “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” in the theatre. We have watched it more than a few times on TV, but it was more interesting on the larger screen.

For whatever reason, we were assigned site 59, which is on top of the hill. Our good fortune with the site is that we have a view and they did not put anyone else on the hill.

Friday, May 18, 2007
We set the alarm so we could be sure to be ready for the 8:30 tour of Monument Valley. We were on an open “bus” with 18 other souls and saw all that you can see. It was worthwhile.

When we got back to the CG, we saw that “our” hill was filling up for the weekend. Even if it fills up, we have more space and privacy than the rigs down below.

We have been invited to party with four women from Colorado tonight, but we want to watch Big John in “The Searchers” ride around Monument Valley on the big screen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007
The drive to Moab was through some of the best, in our opinion, scenery in the southwest. We are in a decent CG four miles south of the confusion of Moab. We don’t recognize Moab from 1994. We found this CG through Passport America. This is the fifth one we have stayed on this trip. All have been above average and cost us half the price. Important for those of us, who have all we are ever going to get.

After setting up and resting during the heat of the afternoon, we drove Utah 168 a few miles north of Moab. In 1994, we drove it southbound from I70 to Moab. We think it is THE best canyon road in the country. The plus is that the road follows the Colorado River.

There is BLM camping along the road and some of the spaces are big enough for us. Maybe, just maybe, we can get one next week. We saw three Lazy Daze’s camping there. And $5 a night is a good deal.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Leaving CA, entering Red Rock Country

Sunday, May 06, 2007
Moving Day - We are in Silent Valley RV park, just south of Banning. It's is a real treat. It's a private CG, but open to Passport America members also. $15 a night, full hookups, wi-fi, pool, hot tub, etc. One of the top 10 CG's we have been in. It has trees! Lots of trees. There were several people here when we arrived, but we had no problem finding a site with shade trees. The weather could not be more perfect. The downside is that it is over 2,000 feet straight up from I10. When go back down, I am going to take the long way down through the valley.

Part of I10 around Palm Springs is dedicated as a memorial to Sonny Bono. You recall the guy who was killed when he snow skied into a tree.

Monday, May 07, 2007
When we got up, most of the rigs had disappeared during the night. Back to work I suppose.

When drove into “LA”, Yorba Linda actually to the Nixon library. It is an hour and half from here. I was never a fan of Nixon, but the library includes contemporary history with the story of Nixon. For instance, for all of his campaigns, they have as much about his opponent as they do him. Fair and balanced. Talk about no choice, Nixon or Humphrey. Factoid, he was opposed to price controls early on. It did not explain why he put on wage and price controls. I can recall the glee the company I was working for established wage controls.

I drove in to “LA” and Dorothy drove back home. It was not bad. The only problem was road construction on the way in. I looked at the map and counted 11 construction projects in “LA” this year. Maybe more than Atlanta?

We want to do the Getty and Regan’s library. Both are over two hours from here. We are thinking of getting a room in Simi Valley Wednesday night so we don’t have to drive back to Banning and then back to Malibu.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Back into “LA”, Montclair to visit the factory where our motor home will be built. I wanted to see how they are put together. Under the aluminum skin, it’s built like house, only stronger. Very impressive.

Back at the CG, we did the pool and spa. It is getting to be ritual. California life is good.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
We drove all the way across “LA” to Simi Valley to the Regan Library. It took 2.5 hours and we did not have any slowdowns. You can drive from Leeds to Fairfield in only 45 minutes. That’s the difference in size, 45 minutes versus 180 minutes. I had no idea they had some many freeways. Dozens and that’s not counting the interstates. I did count the number of freeway construction projects going on this year – 11.

The view from the Reagan library is impressive. It is more visual, while Nixon’s has a lot more history.

To avoid, five hours of driving, we got a room in Thousand Oaks tonight. Semi Valley would have been nice, but the prices are well north of $200.

We filled up the gas tank today and set a new record - $95. Only $3.50 a gallon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
We had a late breakfast at the motel and lounged around some more. We drove down Malibu Canyon to, where else, Malibu. Things sure change in 45 years. Malibu is run down. Still pricey, but the houses have turned to near shacks. The homes above the PCH are quite nice. Work trucks on every block doing something to every other home. We killed a half hour parked on Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica. We had lunch and watched the not so pretty folks jog in the park. The Jennifer Anniston types are not to be found out here. The gene pool is in sad shape.

We arrived on time at the Getty Villa and spent three hours looking at the collection of antiquities. I enjoyed the marble floors and walls as much as the Greek treasures.

We had not encountered real “LA” traffic until today. It started with the Topanga Canyon road we used to get from the PCH to the 101. This is the road I somehow always wound up on when I rode my bike from San Diego to “LA” circa 1964. The 101 was backed up as was most every freeway we got on east bound. It took 3:45, about an hour longer than it should have. Having logged 12 hours on the freeways, I can say I have no desire to live here. None at all.

Friday, May 11, 2007
Veg Day – We slept until 8. We drove to the end of CA 243, the road you take from I10 to the CG. A moderately scenic road, some of it through Forest Service lands, but more through private lands with lots of homes hung off the side of the mountain. We got back to the CG for lunch, nap and a swim followed by reading in the lounge chairs.

Tomorrow we are to plan our route to Moab, UT. Anyway we go it will be long, 12 to 14 hours and we need to chart out where to break the drive. The fastest route is through Las Vegas and we don’t want to go there again.

Saturday, May 12, 2007
We planned our route to Moab. We will do it in four hops. First to Salome, AZ for one night, then to Dead Horse Ranch south of Sedona for three nights. Then two nights at Monument Valley and finally to Moab next Saturday for a week.

After Moab, we will head east and home, though I expect it will take two weeks to get there.

We enjoyed our last day here at Silent Valley and it is real tempting to stay another week, but that would mean Moab would be even more crowded. And it has been our number one destination the whole trip as we missed it last fall.

One more day and we will be in red rock country!

Sunday, May 13, 2007
We over-nighted in Salome, AZ. This is out in the middle of no where in the desert. We have seen over a dozen RV parks here in the middle of no where. Small lots sell for $50,000 out in the middle of no where.

Nice enough CG, our price, $12. Thanks Passport America!

We left our last home at 4,000 and enjoyed the cool air even down below on I10 until we passed the desert cities (Palm Springs et al) We went to a/c for the rest of the trip. When we arrived here around 2, the dry desert heat was 91 and felt like 119. However, by 5, it was pleasant.

Monday, May 14, 2007
On the move north. We took US89 and 89A. Both cross mountains and have numerous hairpins turns and more than a few 15mph speed signs. You get up to 7,000 feet at one point. The real fun begins when 89A descends 2,500 rather quickly. We came close to being in a wreck. Some bozo in a beat up rice car passed several cars and bikes on a hairpin curve. We were in the middle of the curve and so was a small car headed up hill. The bozo somehow got by us. We stopped at a turnout and the bikers who saw it all marveled that no one got hit.

We are at Dead Horse Ranch SP in Cottonwood, AZ. A decent CG with W&E for $19. The big deal is that we are finally in red rock country with green trees. There are many things to do here but we have made reservations for next week, so we will not have time to do it all. This time anyway. We did not want to be in Moab for Memorial Day, so something had to give, so we cut this stop short.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We had a long day exploring. We made some stops in the morning that were not planned and we did not get back to the CG until 5:30. We were bushed. Recreating is darn hard work and you need to be in good shape to do it.

We took 89A north towards Flagstaff and stopped at Red Rock SP. How could we not stop, we love red rocks. We decided not to take any of the several hikes, as we wanted to conserve energy in the building heat. We did enjoy a rather long film in the VC which was an excellent orientation to the area. It made us want to come back here when we have more time and when it’s cooler.

Oak Creek Canyon is billed as a major hole in the ground. We have seen many canyons that we thought were a lot better. However, it was a little cooler at 6,500 feet, so we loitered around for awhile.

Our final destination for the day was down Hwy 179 to some fine red rock formations. We saw some kids on skate boards high up on one of them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
We are taking another lazy day. We did our marketing in the morning. It will be the last Wal-Mart for two weeks and also the last major town. BTW, this was the third or fourth Wal-Mart we have been to that has a view.

After shopping, lunch and a nap, we drove the short distance to Tuzigoot – yet another Indian ruin. This one has 40-odd rooms in one structure that blends into contour of the hill. What a view they had of the surrounding mountains. While we were in the ruins, dark clouds from thunderstorms thirty miles away blocked the sun and the cool breeze was divine. We could see rain to the west and north, but the drops did not get close to us.

We stopped by a rock shop on the way back, but their prices were quite dear. Rock shop owners are very introverted, They can barely say hello.

We did margaritas until 6 and Dorothy is cooking what we call Korean Chicken for dinner. After dinner we may try to find wifi. We downloaded updates from Microsoft last week and that shut off our web access. We could still get mail, but no web sites. I rolled back the updates and want to see if that cured the problem. It has been 10 days since we updated our web log. Funny thing, we are not hearing much from anyone back home.

Tomorrow, the long drive to Monument Valley.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The last of Arizona, California here we are

Monday, April 30, 2007
We drove to Saguaro National Park. There are a lot of saguaro cacti here - acres of them. The do not start to branch until they are 55 – 80 years old and they live 105 – 200 years. There are also a variety of different cacti, some we had not seen before. We went to the Visitors Center last and while we were still outside, Terry & Betty came up. We had just received a text message from them asking out site number, so this was a pleasant surprise.

We then went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It was $12 per person and well worth the money. They irrigate the plants, so there were lots of blooms, even though there has been a drought recently. Also there was a hummingbird aviary and then another aviary for the local birds. It was fascinating to see the birds fly/walk right by you.

Back at CG, we had cocktails with Terry & Betty and they will come over for hot tea and show pictures since we last saw them.

Note to file: Mr. T’s margarita mix is better then Sauza’s. But, it does not come close to the taste south of the border.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
We drove the Mt Lemmon Highway. It is a 27-mile mountain road, superbly maintained by the Forest Service. Downstairs, Tucson is around 2,500. Mt. Lemmon is 9,100, so elevation gain not only provides dramatic vistas, but cooler weather. No wonder the village near the top is called Summerhaven. The upper area is populated with firs and pines and the smell was welcome after weeks in the desert.

There was a brief rain shower in the afternoon - more clouds, than water. But, it cooled the air. It was a delightful night to sit out. Sadly most of the stars were obscured by clouds. Dorothy was watching a bright light just below the ridge of a mountain. It kept getting brighter. Surprise! It was moonrise. We never see that at home.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Errand Day. Haircut for Dorothy, oil change, new boots for Don, groceries and laundry.

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Moving Day – a LONG 5:15 hour drive over unremarkable terrain to Joshua Tree NP. We are in the south end of the park, near I10, in the Cottonwood CG. We have a grand vista for cocktails. There are only 8 in the CG tonight. We are at 3,100 feet, there is a light breeze, the weather is perfect and life is good.

Friday, May 04, 2007
We made the LONG 40 mile drive down and up across unremarkable terrain to the north end of the park where the jumbo rocks and Joshua Tree’s live. We did a short hike to Arch Rock at White Tank CG. Then we drove to Keys View at 5,100 feet so we could look down to Palm Springs. Well, the exhibit said the town was down there, but it also noted the name of the pass next to it that allows smog from LA to fill the valley. So we did not get to see the 100 golf courses in the valley. The view to the east as not bad and the drive through the miles of Joshua Tree’s was good, plus we had cell phone coverage at the peak and were able to make reservations for the LA jump.

Saturday, May 05, 2007
We did the long drive to the north end of the park again today to hike the Hall of Terrors and Hidden Valley. We were not terrified at all. We must have missed a turn on the trail? Still a good hike. Hidden Valley was crowded. A weekend, near large cities, with decent weather. Everyone that could afford to shop at Eddie Bauer’s was on the trail today in their new finery.

I was getting nervous about gas, so we exited the park’s north entrance and drove west to Palm Springs. It was not what we expected. Where the road intersects with I10 is a humongous windmill farm. Very green. All the gas stations were passed had prices north of 3.39. We got off of I10 in Indio seeking a Mexican lunch and gas. Two stations were selling for 3.79 and a Circle K was busy at 3.29. We had a near gourmet lunch - Carne Asada, seasoned Pinto’s, and pear cactus. The latter was divine. It looked like chopped green beans.

The breeze picked up yesterday afternoon and it got cloudy. Today, the breeze is 5 to 15, but crystal clear. Well as clear as it gets this close to LA.