Saturday, April 29, 2017

Petrified Forest National Park

I am writing this on April 29. We are near Ruidoso, NM at a BLM campground. We have water and electricity for $10 per night. The electricity is nice because it is getting very cold today. It is sleeting now and may snow later. The expected low is 27 tonight. The good news is I have no plans today. When it get's like this, we just hunker down and stay warm. I have two channels on OTA TV. The awesome news is that one of those two channels is FOX and they are broadcasting Supercross this afternoon. That will be the first race I have seen live this year. Yeah!! The forecast high is 70 in two days.

Update: As I was writing this entry, it started snowing hard. Here is what it looks like outside now:

April 29 and still snowing hard
OK, back to our adventures of a few days ago.

We left Homolovi SP on April 21 and headed to Petrified Forest National Park. There is no camping in the park and there are not any great options outside of the park. There is a road that bisects the park from north to south. Just outside the park on the south end, there are two gift shops that have some RV spaces. We found out that one has electric for $10 per night and the other is dry camping. Neither has water or dump. We went for the electric and set up in site #8.

There was some petrified wood right behind our site. 
We decided to go ahead and drive the 3 miles to the visitor center and check things out and plan our visit the next day.

They have a nice visitor center at the south end. We watched the movie, which was well done. Then we checked out the exhibits.

We both found the history and geology of the park very interesting. We then walked the Giant Logs trail that is just behind the visitor center.

The colors in the logs is amazing.

There are logs laying all around. They look like logs that have been cut by lumberjacks and are ready to be split.

Kim enjoying the very warm day in stark contrast to today.
This log is still partially covered in the soil. Much of the logs are at the top of hills acting as a cap to reduce the erosion of the soil.

We talked to the very helpful rangers and volunteers to gather information for the next day and then headed back to the trailer. It was a good first day and we even had a nice sunset out the back window.

We were at it early the next day and headed into the park to do some hiking. We started at Blue Mesa to do the 1 mile hike down in the interesting formations. There is some petrified wood in this area, but the main attraction is the painted desert formations and colors.

We then moved on to Newspaper Rock to see the petroglyphs. You have to stay a ways away from them, so pictures did not turn out well. It is sad how they have to protect these features from the people that do not appreciate the delicacy of the artifacts.

We then went on to the north end of the park to refill our water and check out the visitor center. It is much smaller that the south and not impressive. We then headed back south and stopped at the Painted Desert Inn. This is a historical landmark. The northern end of the park is mostly the painted desert, which is striking.

It was pretty windy up on this observation point. I just love Kim's hair in this shot:

Then it was on to the Route 66 crossing. This is where the old route 66 crossed the park. They put an old Studebaker there to mark the location. You just have to stop to take a picture.

Next was the old ruins at Puerco Pueblo. This is a set of ruins about the same age as the ones we visited at Holomovi. Around 1300. This area is thoroughly excavated and then refilled. I did not see one pottery shard on the ground. There were some nice petroglyphs.

Then the Teepee's:

I loved the colors in this next shot:

We had to check out the Agate Bridge. This was reinforced in 1911 and is still standing because of that.

We then stopped at the Crystal Forest and walked the trail. This was my favorite part of the park. There is large petrified wood all over the place and the colors in the wood are amazing.

I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed my day at Petrified Forest National Park. The beauty is striking and well worth the stop. Our camp site turned out great and was enhanced by meeting our neighbors from Oregon, Dennis, Jodie and DJ (Lab). They are into metal detecting and hiking in the desert. Great folks, hope to see them down the road.

We were once again watching the weather forecast very closely. They were calling for no wind the next morning, but picking up in the afternoon. We decided to get up early the next morning and move further east. I had a few options of places to stay, but no reservations. Come back to see if we could actually get out of bed before 8 and see where we ended up.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Winslow, Arizona

We left Williams, Arizona on April 19 and drove along I-40 through Flagstaff and on to Winslow. We had been watching the weather carefully and April 19 promised no wind and sunny skies. The surroundings changed drastically in a little over 100 miles. We had a pine forest until we left Flagstaff and then it turned to high dessert almost completely without trees.

Most of our generation knows that Winslow is known for being included in the song by the Eagles, called “Take it Easy”. I have always loved the Eagles music, so we just had to stop.

There is a visitor center on the right side of the road if you are coming in from the west, just as you get into town on Business 40 (Also part of the original Route 66). There is a large gravel parking lot to park the rig. We talked to a guy named Bob Hall (same name as my brother) in the visitor center. He was very helpful. We walked the city park that ran along next to the railroad tracks for 5 blocks until we turned left and came to the famous corner park. You can see many old buildings in town dating back about 150 years. There has been settlements in this area along the little Colorado river since the 1300's.

Here are a few shots in Winslow:

"I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.
There's a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me."

Me and Glen Frey of the Eagles
This statue was installed in 2016, just a few months after he passed away. 

I really liked this little Catholic church:

After our enjoyable walk around town, we headed over to the Homolovi State Park. We had heard good things about this park from Jim and Barb's Blog jim and barbs rv adventure . This is a nice little park that is just far enough off of the interstate to be quiet and $25 for water and electric makes it work fine. We got a good Verizon signal and they have a dump station. We even got OTA TV.

We went to the visitor center and read all about the park. The Homolovi ruins are here. They are what is left of a settlement of the Hisat'sinom people that lived here from 1250 to late 1300's. The area is prone to flooding from the little Colorado river. It is thought that the flooding and drought caused these people to move back to the Hopi pueblo about 60 miles north after they abandoned the area.

The area was also inhabited and then abandoned by some Mormon pioneers in the late 19th century. There is a cemetery on the park grounds from the Mormons.

There are two main ruins, Homolovi 1 and 2. On April 20, we toured Homolovi #2. It is the larger of the two and has a few extra features. The first thing we noticed was the amazing amount of pottery shards on the ground. There were everywhere.

People have picked them up and placed them on rocks to make them easy to see. It is amazing to think these have survived over 500 years.

The ruins have been excavated and some rebuilt.

This Yellow Ring Necked lizard was hanging out on the ruins.

There is a rocky canyon near the ruins that had some petroglyphs. There was no sign telling me to go that way, I just went to check out the canyon and saw the petroglyphs. There were signs in front of them, so someone knows they are there. Most people would just miss them.

Kim watching me scramble around on the rocks.

While I was scrambling around I saw a beehive built in the rocks. You could see the honey combs.

I really liked this area.

Here is another Yellow Ring Neck

We toured Homolovi #1 on the morning of April 21. It was more of the same and was also very interesting. I just could not get over how easy it was to find these ancient pottery shards.

We went to town to hit Walmart and get Fuel. Then we went back to the camp site and got ready to move. We were only going about 60 miles. We wanted to find a camp spot to use as a base for our planned visit to the Petrified Forest National Park. I will write all about that visit in my next entry.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grand Canyon National Park

I am writing this entry on April 24 from Datil, New Mexico. We are staying at a nice BLM campground in a pine and juniper forest. We are moving along highway 60 on our way to the DFW area of Texas. Update: I could not get it to upload in Datil. We moved today, April 26 to Fort Stanton, NM. The connection is slow, but it at least worked. 

Now back to the blog...

We were very excited when we arrived in Williams, Arizona on April 17. We were wanting to do the train ride to the rim of the canyon, but when we found out they were full, we were fine with making the drive. We don't like being on a schedule and the train would do that. We have both been to Grand Canyon before, but we love the place and were looking forward to doing the one day rim tour again.

I got up early and checked my email and was very distressed when I saw a note from my Dad. He sent me a news article about the loss of two hikers in the Grand Canyon. These were two hikers that one of which, I know personally.

In September of 2016, I went to Vernal, Utah to see a special person about an issue I have with my hiking boots. That person is Randy Merrell. He was one of the founders of the Merrell shoe company. He left the corporate world and went back into practice in Vernal doing custom boots and other orthodic devices. I wrote about my visit in this entry:

(just click the link above)

I spent two great weeks in Vernal and spent about 4 hours in the office with both Randy and his wife Lou-Ann. They were very friendly and I enjoyed working with them. We had time to talk about personal things like our lifestyle. They have also been married for many years and have a large family.

Lou-Ann and their grandson were the hikers that were lost while hiking in a remote part of the National Park. I can only imagine what Randy is going through.

I was stunned and it really put a damper on my mood for the day. Kim could tell I was having issues and suggested that I go be by myself for a while. That is a nice way of saying she didn't want to be around me while I was in a bad mood. I went out to the rim of the canyon and looked out at the amazing and wild canyon and thought and prayed for a long time.  As of this writing, they have not been found and are presumed to be dead. My prayers go out to Randy and the rest of the Merrell family.

I walked back to the visitor center and sat down to watch the movie. Just before it started, Kim walked in and sat down next to me. The movie was great! It is the best way to start a visit to a National Park.

We then went back to the rim at Mather Point. We decided to walk the rim trail all the way to Yaki Point. It was a nice walk and just what I needed. I took a bunch of pictures. The canyon is just magnificent.

You can see part of the South Kaibab trail in the next couple of shots. I hiked part of this trail in a visit back in 1985. I would love to go all the way, but I know I am on my own for that trip.

Look closely to see the trail.

We then took the shuttle bus back to the truck to eat lunch. We were now ready to head to the other section we had planned to see on this day. We took the bus to the Village and started walking the rim trail to Hermits Rest. We did not make it all the way to Hermit's rest, but we did see all of the observation points along the red route. The scale of the view is hard to imagine if you have not been there. I, of course, took a bunch more pictures. This is also the trail head for the Bright Angel Trail. I took a few pictures of that trail.

I just have to include these:

Kim and I
Shot of the Colorado far below. 

It was getting later in the day and the shadows were creating some interesting shots.

We ended up walking about 8 miles along the rim and had a good visit to the canyon. We know we acted like people on vacation and just saw all of the viewpoints, but this did get our adventure juices flowing. We are planning to come back to Grand Canyon and doing a real adventure. I am not sure what that is or if we will do in together.

Grand Canyon National Park is an amazing place it can also be a wild and hostile place. For many reasons, I will never forget this day.

Next up was Winslow, Arizona. Come back to see what we found in and around that area.