Since I was under the weather when I returned from New Jersey, Scott reserved our site back at Towerpoint RV Resort for another few nights so that I could recuperate. They gave us the same site that we had two weeks ago.
He knew that I really enjoyed this RV Resort. It was unlike any that we had previously stayed at. I wasn’t able to swim laps, but I would take a quick dip and then get back under the umbrella. The temperature was reaching 100 degrees, but without any humidity. Rest is what I needed as I was still coughing up a lung. Sitting under an umbrella took away the heat of the day. It was very relaxing.
You can see behind me that the outside bar and grill was taped off and closed for the summer season. At least 50% of the home owners spend six months from December-April here for the warmer climate and then head back to Canada. In the front of the facility there was not only an Arizona State flag and a USA flag flying proudly, but also a Canadian flag, which is representative of how many Canadians own property here.
By Thursday, I was beginning to feel somewhat better, and I wanted to do something more than just sit poolside. While I was away, Scott was busy finding new toys for us to play with.
We were proud owners of his and her kayaks, plus a stand-up paddle board. We took a drive to Saguaro Lake which was a short drive from our campsite. Scott took the paddle board and I tried out my red kayak. The weather was picture perfect…blue sky…low 70’s. We played around for about 3 hours and then headed back to our resort. I needed a nap after all that paddling.
The next morning, we packed up and headed west to California. Crossing over the Colorado River, we entered The Golden State.
The welcome sign tells you that you are “Entering Pacific Time”, but we were already in Pacific Time in Arizona as they do not partake in Daylight Savings Time. Whatever. It won’t be long until we get to our next destination, Joshua Tree National Park.
While I was back in New Jersey visiting with family and friends, Scott began his mini vacation on his own with the truck and trailer. He left our campsite in Mesa and headed north towards Flagstaff. He stopped and parked off of A1 Mountain Road west of Flagstaff in Coconino National Forest. It was a nice, cool, shady somewhat secluded spot. There were other people parked but he had a lot of privacy. You can see the peak of Mount Humphreys directly behind the truck.
The next day he did a bunch of work on the trailer before retiring for the night. On Monday morning, he began his trek to the summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona with an elevation of 12,633’. This out-and-back hike was 9.17 miles long with an elevation gain of 3,287’. The temperature was in the mid 40’s with high winds at the peak. The entire trail from start to finish was snow covered. This is just before he reached the summit.
Next, Scott headed to Kaibab National Forest which is east of Tusayan. He found his second boon-dock location, and this time he had it all to himself!
One of his favorite pastimes is to watch the sun rise and descend. Here is a photo of the sun beginning to go down.
On Friday, he drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to hike New Hance Trail for a second time.
This trail is not very popular as the incline is extremely steep, and the trail is not regularly maintained. Last October, we both hiked down for about an hour before I chose to return to the top. Hiking in canyons is so much different than hiking up mountains because you have to go down first. You know that at some point, you have to turn around and hike back up. Well, Scott hiked down for two hours this time, and here are some breathtaking photos.
He wasn’t really alone on the hike. There were friends on the ground…
…and friends soaring through the sky.
He was able to capture the brilliance of colors and the vastness of the canyon with his camera.
I don’t recall seeing flowers last October. But in April, they were plentiful.
It was time for Scott to head south to Phoenix in time for my arrival. Our next stop, together, is San Diego, California!
On our way to Sedona, we passed by Winslow, Arizona. Back in 1993, Jackson Brown and the Eagles recorded a video in the town to coincide with a line from the hit song, Take It Easy. “I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” This was not a planned stop, but how could we not stop by the check it out? We went into the Visitor’s Center and were told that this song put this small town on the map. We walked five blocks to the corner of Kingsley and East 2nd Street to find an iconic mural and sculpture of Jackson Browne on the corner “…in Winslow, Arizona…”and Glen Frey a few feet away. Here I am with Jackson.
Directly across the street is a gift shop with a sign depicting the famous line.
In the middle of the intersection is the image of the old road sign for Hwy 66. I got a shot of Scott driving down the road with our home.
There isn’t really much more to say about the town. It is super quaint and there are several restaurants as well as gift shops in the area selling memorabilia connected to this song and Highway 66. The song, Take It Easy, was the town’s claim to fame.
After we had our touristy fill, we continued on and found a place to boon dock just outside of Sedona.
The next morning, Scott took a walk up a nearby hill and took a picture of our campsite from up above. Can you find our trailer?
We headed out to hike Bear Mountain Trail, a 4.3 mile out and back trail located near Sedona.
It is rated as a strenuous hike and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. It has three peaks, two false summits before you arrive at the top. The trail had steep inclines (gaining more than 2,000’ in about two miles), large boulders and plenty of loose rocks. As the trail begins, you cannot see the actual summit.
A little ways ahead, just before the initial incline, I noticed the trail sign below. I didn’t take the time to actually read the bottom portion of the sign as I quickly snapped a picture of the trail sign as I always do. It wasn’t until I was writing this blog that I realized it was a memorial marker for a man who had lost his life falling off a 70’ ledge. OMG! I googled his name to learn more about it. Scary.
The weather today was sunny and pleasant with temperatures in the low 70’s. There were minimal spots with shade which is typical when you hike in a desert. On the way up, we passed a couple our age sitting in a little bit of shade with their two VERY large Irish Wolfhounds. The larger dog of the two was panting heavily. Scott said that he never saw a dog pant that hard before. They told us that the dog had lost one of her nails, and they were taking a break before heading back down. The hound had been bleeding from the wound, too. I asked how much the dog weighed and the owner said about 150 pounds. Then, I asked if he ever had to lift the dog. He responded no and said he hoped he never would have to. We continued on with our hike. When we came upon a rare shaded spot, we sat down to rest.
We walked to the edge to take a look at the breathtaking view.
By the time we made it to the second false summit, I wanted to turn around and call it a day. Some hikers on their way back down encouraged us to continue on as they said the view on top was spectacular. So, we continued on until I needed to take another short break.
When we got to the peak, there was a large group taking photos, and they offered to take our picture. If you look closely to my left, you can see the snow capped Humphrey’s Mountain in the background.
Here is another look from the opposite viewpoint.
And, here is another viewpoint.
The hike back down is always my favorite. Sometimes, it is hard for me to slow down as it feels like I am skiing on my feet. Today, however, things were different. I forgot to bring my knee band, which meant I had to be extra careful with each step so as not to mess up my left knee anymore. When we were two-thirds of the way back down, a young couple on their way up warned us that there was a dead dog on the trail up ahead. They didn’t want us to be surprised. As we drew nearer, we saw the same couple as earlier with one of their dogs under a small tree trying to find shade. The woman was crying and the man looked distraught. About ten feet ahead of them on the trail, lay the deceased dog covered in a blanket. They were out of water so Scott gave the rest of his water to the other dog, who lapped it up immediately. There were four hikers behind us and they gave their water to the couple, too. Apparently, they did call 911. By the time help arrived, the dog had passed away most likely from heat exhaustion. A firefighter brought up a blanket to cover the dog, and then he went back down to get a stretcher and call for more assistance. It is one of the saddest things I have every witnessed. I could have left this sad story out of the blog, but something pushed me to share it. That dog didn’t have to lose her life today. Should large, shaggy dogs be hiking in the hot desert? I read that they prefer cold weather and often seek a cold, hard floor in the summer months. Did this really have to happen?
On Monday, we went to Slide Rock State Park, originally known as the Pendley Homestead, it is now a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona. Pendley was able to establish a unique irrigation system and successfully grow apples. The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a summer-like temperature of 85 degrees. You have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the water. First, we chose to walk around the trail up above to see the swimming area down below.
In the picture below, you can see water rapids near the woman in a blue top. That is part of the rock sliding area.
We headed down the steps and found a spot to warm up in the sun before attempting sliding in the cold water, which was only about 40-50 degrees. I found a nice, private spot on the other side of the water.
If you zoom in to the picture below, look behind the man with the blue shirt. You can see people sitting on the water’s edge. That is where the slide begins with rapidly flowing water.
After a little basking in the sun, we both slid down the rock, twice! It takes your breath away! We couldn’t get out of the water fast enough. We have no pictures since we did it together. Somehow, on the way in I forgot to take a picture of the park sign…so I took this one on our way out instead.
When we got back to camp, our camping neighbors from BC, Roy and Shannon, asked us to join them later for a campfire. Another full-timing RV couple, Chris and Ann from Ohio, joined us, too. We had started out just before the sun set. I needed to go back to the trailer to get a fresh drink and use the facility. We left the trailer’s outside light on which made it easier to see. When I started walking back to the campfire, I realized that it had gotten much darker. I had to walk about 30 feet straight and then make a 90 degree turn towards the fire pit. My brain was saying, “Go back and get a headlamp”, but I just kept going. Next thing I knew something hard had stopped me in my tracks and I was lying on a rock with my arms stretched out in front of me. It was not very pretty. I ended up cutting and bruising my left ankle (which took the brunt of the fall), bruising my right knee (thankfully the bad left knee was unscathed), and pulling a muscle on my left side. That pain felt like a broken rib. Unfortunately, it changed our hiking plans for the next few days in Sedona. What I have learned from this experience is that if you have an ailment that is bothering you, just hurt another part of your body and the original ailment seems to dissipate. This is the rock that I fell on.
Here is a picture of Roy and Shannon from British Columbia that we took on our last day in Mesa, AZ.
The next day we walked around the beautiful town of Sedona. It is meticulously manicured with beautiful flowers all around, and the Mountain View is simply breathtaking. Take the time to zoom into the picture below.
On Tuesday, April 9, we took a drive to Jerome State Historical Park. Shannon and Roy had mentioned that is was pretty cool to see this old mining village that was built on the hills. It was considered “American’s Most Vertical City” and “Largest Ghost Town in America”. This historic copper mining town is located on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200’) between Prescott and Flagstaff . Today it is a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community. We parked at the museum and took a photo of some homes on the hill.
Outside in the back of the museum you can see a rather large private residence as well as old mining tools.
In the picture below, you can see the iconic “J” carved into the mountain.
If you zoom into the picture below, you can see the Cement Factory to the far right and Humphreys Peaks dead center.
We found a little cafe in the town of Jerome where we enjoyed lunch.
We returned to our campsite for one last night – alone. Everybody who had been camping out there had moved on.
The next morning, we headed to an RV Resort with pools and saunas…just what my body needed. It was nice to see palm trees lining the road that led into the resort.
It was warm but extremely windy, which made it feel a bit chilly. That didn’t stop me from getting in some laps. It was the one exercise that didn’t hurt the injury to my left ankle.
That night, we saw a beautiful crescent moon in the night sky.
My honey took me out for a nice Italian meal before I headed out the next morning for ten days in New Jersey.
As we drove out of Gila National Forest, New Mexico, the landscape was constantly changing. In the past when I thought about being in “the desert”, I did not envision tall evergreen trees in a forest. Did you? The winding road coming down into the valley had several signs indicating “DIP” and “Running Water” but we never saw any water. It is a warning sign for monsoon season when heavy rains flood the road.
The center line disappeared at times and the road became much narrower.
Below is another frequent sign that was much appreciated as it was pretty tight with the trailer behind us. We almost got side swiped by a woman in a mini-van!
We stopped at a high point to capture a picture with snow capped mountains in the background.
As we continued on, the view in New Mexico changed from an evergreen forest…
… to colorful flat land covered in yellow wildflowers…
…to brownish grasses and sagebrush…
…to the burnt remains from fire…
…until we arrived in Arizona.
We chose to stay at a KOA Campground in Holbrook, AZ. It was right off Hwy 40 which made it easier to travel to the next park. We spent all Friday, April 5, at Petrified Forest National Park.
Shaped by wind and water millions of years ago, this land holds vital clues to the past. The land preserved remnants of prehistoric forests, now petrified wood, plant and animal fossils, and artifacts that have told so much about this beautiful, wild land, but there is more to be learned. The fossils in the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center provide crucial clues to the past from the Late Triassic Period, the dawn of the dinosaurs when smaller dinosaurs struggled with various crocodile-like reptiles for survival. I find myself staring at the fossils and wondering what it must have been like. After viewing the film and looking around the museum, we began our self-guided tour of the park. We started with a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike to Long Logs and Agate House Trail.
This trail leads to the site of a Triassic-period logjam, where some specimens were over 180 feet long. The structure you see in the background was a replica of a seven-room Pueblo constructed of petrified wood. This is just a part of it.
We got in the truck and started down Petrified Forest Road to Agate Bridge pull off. In order for the bridge to stay up, they placed cement underneath the petrified tree to keep it from falling down.
Next stop was Newspaper Rock which displays more than 650 petroglyphs, some over 2,000 years old. The area was fenced off so you could only observe from up above. I actually only saw one that looked liked a picture carved into the stone. I look at the following picture, and I can’t make out what I was hoping to share. Can you find a petroglyph?
We had passed the Tepees and the Blue Forest/Blue Mesa trail since it was a non-published hike that I wasn’t interested in doing at first. After we left Newspaper Rock, I changed my mind and we went back and parked the truck near The Tepees. This trail was once accessed by a road which led to a steep, winding trail for adventure minded hikers. Today, you would drive right past it unless you had read about it online (as Scott did). See the pyramids in the background? That is where we were headed.
There was a narrow, dirt path spiraling up the badlands and at times there were deep holes in the ground.
The colors were magnificent, especially the purple and blue hues. Needless to say, I was leery of the holes wondering what may come out of them.
I turned to face the direction we had come from and took a picture. If you zoom in, you can see our white truck dead center on the road. We had come quite far, and Scott showed no signs of wanting to turn around. It is possible that someone else was ready to pack it in.
There was little plant vegetation and we were trying to figure out if this was one plant in its’ stages of growth. We think that it began as fuchsia bud that changed to green as it grew, and then sprouted fuchsia flowers on darker green leaves. Or perhaps it was two or three separate plants.
Off in the distance we could see larger green shrubs and a few small trees. Again, I turned back to where we had begun. If you zoom in, you can possibly make out our truck dead center.
At this point, I announced that I was turning around, and so we did. On the way back to the truck, Scott took some up close pictures of the petrified wood.
Our last full day at the Grand Canyon had arrived. Since we knew we would be traveling a distance when we hit the road in the morning, we decided to take one more hike today. This trail is not regularly maintained and we found ourselves alone.
We hiked down about two miles with roughly a 2,000’ drop.
Scott led the way as it was quite steep, and I felt more comfortable behind him. We came to an alcove and noticed some unidentifiable prints in the dirt.
Any ideas? We also saw some unusual wildflowers that caught my eye.
At this point I chose to head back up, knowing it would be two more miles straight uphill.
We woke up Monday morning to rain, thunder and lightning.I was feeling a little anxious and not really wanting to venture out on an overnight hike in this type of weather. We actually called to see if we could push our reservation back a day, but there were no vacancies. Apparently, you have to book the Phantom Ranch several months in advance. They even have a lottery system to try and make it fairer to get a reservation. We didn’t know it at the time, but the only reason we were able to get a reservation was because the mules had gotten ill. Any people who planned on riding up and down into the canyon on a mule had to reschedule. As a result, we were able to get in.
We decided to wait inside our trailer to see if the weather would change, and it did. In hindsight, having mostly cloudy weather was actually a gift. We got a late start, but at least the thunder and lightning had dissipated.
We started our descent at the top of South Kaibob trailhead.
We were wearing our rain gear since it was still drizzling on and off. You can see the clouds that engulfed us at times.
The sun was beginning to peak out while the view would only get more intense as we continued down the trail.
We ran into two mule-team drivers carrying supplies, and we briefly spoke to them. We were still unaware of the sick mules.
I recorded some of our conversation.
In the next photo you can see the winding trail that these mules had just come up and that WE would be walking down.
Time for a selfie with a view.
It was at this point that we had our first decent sighting of the Colorado River. Due to lots of rain, the water was a brownish, muddy color.
Not long after, we could see one of two suspension bridges that cross over the river.
If you look at the picture below and follow the bridge from left to right and zoom in, you can see the tunnel entrance on the trail that would lead us onto the bridge.
Once over the bridge, you get a good view of what was once a thriving Bright Angel Pueblo community.
Now we began the last half “flat” mile to Phantom Ranch.
Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of the lodge or our sleeping quarters. Phantom Ranch had one large building (the lodge) where breakfast and dinner meals if purchased up front, were served family style. They also sold beverages, snacks, and gifts. There were a bunch of small cabins that could sleep four in two bunk beds, and larger cabins slept ten in five bunk beds. Each cabin had one private bathroom and a separate private shower. I slept in a ladies ten-bed cabin and Scott slept in the men’s. It brought back memories of my Girl Scout leader training days.
Out steak dinner Monday night was delicious! Baked potato, broccoli, salad, and cornbread came with it. On Tuesday morning, we had the 5:00 a.m. time slot for breakfast. When we finished eating, it was still dark outside as we began what we thought would be an 8-10 hour hike. We were going up, after all, and the sign says to double the time it takes you to go down to hike back up. Off we went into the quiet, dark early morning with the hopes of finishing in ten hours
Thank goodness for headlamps!
Our ascent would be via the Bright Angel Trail. It was two miles longer than South Kaibab Trail but supposedly not as steep. Both South Kaibob and Bright Angel begin at the top of the canyon and end at the Colorado River. You can take one trail both ways or hike each one way. South Kaibob is shorter but steeper, which is why we chose to hike down it up Bright Angel. After crossing over another suspension bridge, we made our way along this unknown trail in the dark. The sun would soon begin to rise, and I welcomed the natural light.
At 1.5 miles, there was the first of two rest stops. We took a short break to take in our surroundings. We had been walking near a creek for awhile now, and the sound of flowing water is music to my ears.
We were back on the trail again and wondering when the we would actually start gaining some real elevation.
This route, so far, was not very challenging as the elevation gain was pretty gradual. Before long, Scott was first to spot a small waterfall .
At about 4.7 miles into the hike, we passed through Indian Garden, a beautiful oasis that was a special place for both the Native Americans and people seeking peace and quiet today. It is another popular camping location in the canyon.
Notice the lush greens.
At this point, we began to feel the elevation gain.
Here we are looking back on the winding trail we had just climbed.
Finally, we saw the first of two tunnels which meant we were closer to the end. Follow the brown dirt trail on the right from the foreground and it will lead to the tunnel.
And now another look back. We’ve come a long way baby!
Before we knew it, there was the second tunnel. My pace picked up at this point. The end is near.
One more selfie…
One more look…
We were tired when we got to the top, but it wasn’t as challenging as I imagined it would be. We finished in just over five hours, the same time it took us to go down less miles. We kept up a good pace, and there were only a few sections where the incline slowed us down.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon on October 18, 2018.
It was difficult to get one spot for our entire stay, so we spent the first two nights at Camper Village RV Park,which is the only full hook up RV park in The Grand Canyon.
We took a drive to the Visitor’s Center and walked to Mather Point, taking our first of many pictures of the spectacular rim view.
The next day we hiked Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa.
We hiked 3.5 miles down with an approximate elevation change of 2,500’.
We continued on to Horseshoe Mesa and took a break to take in the beautiful surroundings.
Check out the cactus…
…and the yucca plants.
It was time to turn around and head back up. I always enjoy hiking down while Scott prefers the hike up.Parts of this trail were quite steep, and I really needed to focus on my breathing to make it back up.In doing so, I didn’t have any problems with my breathing, but we were hot and sweaty. Perfect time for a selfie.
By the time we almost made it to the top, the sun was beginning to turn westward. The colors were so amazing!
As you can see, there was still little remnants of snow higher to the top.
On Saturday, we had to move from Camper Village RV Park to Mather Campground, the only other campground in the Grand Canyon.
Mather is a dry campground, but there are restrooms on the grounds, and there is also a laundromat with coin operated showers as well.I don’t know the exact number of campsites in either campground, but there seems to be quite a few.We did, however, have to move from the above site #207 to site #205 the following day.
Notice any differences? This site was twice as big as 207. Same price. Whatever.
Saturday was an exciting day as we met up with our dear friends, Brendan and Denise, as they were passing through The Grand Canyon.We took a walk along the South Rim taking in the sites and catching up on life.
Later, we enjoyed dinner with the group they were traveling with.Great time, many laughs, fun people!It was nice to socialize again.
On Sunday, I left Scott reading in his hammock at our campsite while I headed over to Yavapai Tavern to watch the JETS game.Unfortunately, they didn’t carry the game.I was forced to watch the Pats and get my team’s highlights/updates from the bottom of the tv screen.Argghhhh Tomorrow morning, we leave for an overnight hike down into the canyon to the Colorado River. More to come in my next post.
As we entered Arizona from the north, we had to cross over the bridge by Lake Powell Dam at Glen Canyon National Recreation Land.
Lake Powell is 186 miles long and ends at Glen Canyon Dam. It is a popular summer vacation spot and many travelers stop to visit the Visitor’s Center, where you can pay to take a walking tour over the bridge. The canyon to the south is breathtaking, but I was not able to get a decent picture of it. Just north of the bridge, we found a wide open spot (BLM) with six free campsites and a play area.
We set up camp, and then went to play in our backyard. There was a trail about 100 feet from our campsite.
That evening, Scott was really feeling discomfort with a back molar. (Memories of my abscess tooth nightmare from our honeymoon four years ago!) He had been dealing with the pain for several weeks now. It made sense to have it checked out while we were in a somewhat developed area as they are few and far between in these parts. He called a dental office in Page, Arizona, first thing in the morning. They told him to come in, but he would have to wait as they were completely booked for the day. (It was also the one AND ONLY day of the month that their oral surgeon was in😃.). It was mostly cloudy and rainy in the mid-50’s during the day and the low 40’s at night. Our plan was to rent kayaks and go out on Lake Powell, but the wet, cooler weather quickly changed our minds. Thus, all the more reason to go to the dentist. Sometimes, you make plans and then life happens, so you have to go with it. We were out of there before 11 a.m. and less one tooth. I drove back to camp so that my honey could get in bed to rest. Later, he would be treated to my soft food specialties…Mac and cheese/mashed potatoes and carrots.
One day in the future we hope to go back to Lake Powell with our trailer and do some kayaking. If you zoom in on the picture below, you can spot various RV’s parked along the shoreline. It looks like a great place to enjoy summer water sports.
The following day we left Escalante and made it as far as Carmel Junction, Utah. We found a place to boondock for two nights which was just off Highway 89 and approximately a 20-minute drive to Zion National Park.
It was still early afternoon after we got settled, so we took a drive to Zion to see it for the first time and figure out what we wanted to do there tomorrow.
The drive was so peaceful and beautiful. See for yourself.
We parked the truck and walked to the Visitors Center. We checked out our options and chose the most popular hike in Zion for tomorrow.
Then, we followed a short path to the Virgin River.
We got up somewhat early the next day so that we can get into the park and begin the hike earlier versus later. Most of the park can only be accessed by the free shuttle bus service provided. We didn’t have to wait long for our ride.
There was a chill in the morning air, and we were prepared for changing temperatures. The start of the trail runs alongs the Virgin River.
We were not the only ones on the trail, but it wasn’t super crowded in the beginning. You can see the winding switchbacks if you look closely. The length of this hike is five miles round-trip. After the first two miles up, you see this sign which means that there is only .5 miles to go…up, up, up!
So, the good news is that the weather was perfect and had been for a few days. I have to say that after four months of reading warning signs, I’m not sure that they are 100% accurate. However, anybody afraid of heights should not go past this point. A lot of hikers congregate at this point and don’t attempt to go on. Would you?
The trail was quite narrow in some parts, yet it was a two-way traffic trail. Sometimes, we had to back up to allow another group to proceed.
The view at the top was magnificent. The photos just don’t do it justice.
We sat and enjoyed our lunch and the view.
Time to go back down and take a few more photos of my honey.
This hike was well worth it,and Zion National Park is a beauty!