Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

How to wrap up a 46-day caravan

I think we could write a book about a seven week caravan. There are so many things to see, and do, and a lot happens to us and to our large group. A lot of what we think is interesting might not be for you. So we try to condense it for easier reading.

How to shorten it? No more prelims, here’s the straight stuff. We’re following our good friends, the Blanchards, advice on posting about the caravan. Lots of pictures. Except we cannot resist throwing words in also. Half as many words, ten times as many pictures, let’s see how this works highlighting parts of the great times we had sightseeing in the Four Corners region of the Southwest:

oldest continuously inhabited place in the USA, Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo, also known as Sky City Pueblo, is on a mesa over 350 feet above the desert. The Puebloans, after suffering years of attacks from marauding tribes, moved onto this very defendable site. It reportedly worked well against all except the Spanish conquistadores. Our guide treated us to a very informative walking tour of Acoma Pueblo.

Ages 48 to 88, everyone in our caravan segwayed well

The Segway Tour of Old Town in Albuquerque was less a tour and more a lesson on riding Segways. We’re hooked on Segways, but for two concerns: they are still very expensive and we don’t have anywhere to stow them while we travel. This was a fun way for us to get our first glimpse at Old Town. The Segway guides, Sean and Sean, shepherded us across intersections and kept a watchful eye on our maneuvering. They didn’t provide us any narrative and so this did not, for us, replace walking about Old Town.

San Jose de las Gracias Church, Las Trampas, New Mexico is very old and seems authentic. The church was built in the 1700s and appears not to have changed since. The original wood planked floor is still in use, and many of the artifacts and icons are also very old.

Did they do this without ladders, too?

Bandelier National Monument includes a great hiking trail down to the Rio Grande River, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and pictographs, and adobe villages with large kivas. We could have spent another day exploring and hiking this nice park. The hike through Frijoles Canyon to the river is worth doing again.

How often do you meet a Train Tycoon?

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train ride is a real neat treat. We rode in open cars, the genuine article from 125 years ago, for a few hours from Durango to Silverton. Silverton, at around 9,000 feet elevation, was chilly and breezy as we walked around the small residential and business areas. We had a fine lunch in Pickle Barrel, perfect salad, and sweet potato and carrot soup, followed by the hugest chocolate cake (five layers, five pounds, just kidding). Great train ride, great lunch, great day.

This is as close to mudding as we want to go

Canyon del Muerto, Chinle, AZ, is a beautiful place filled with sorrow. The name means Canyon of the Dead. The Spaniards, in the 1800s, trapped dozens of Navajo in the Canyon and killed them all. Ben and Adam Teller’s family business, Antelope House Tours, provided us a very good tour of Canyon del Muerto. The wash was full of water, the banks were steep, and our tour guide/driver Daniel did a fantastic job sharing the history and safely conducting us through the canyon in his Jeep Cherokee.

That's some great engineering!

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, the largest cliff dwelling in North America, is a wonder of engineering and execution. It was built around 1200 AD and occupied only until approximately 1300 AD. Many of the walls are intact and the National Park Service attempts to stabilize them with minimal changes.


The real thing was as twisty as the GPS image was

We drove to Garden of the Gods via the Moki Dugway, an old uranium ore haul road from Cedar Mesa. The GPS route map was pretty fantastic, until we realized the road really is arranged just as the GPS shows. These two pictures depict the GPS image and the genuine Moki Dugway routes.

Neat place for photography, but take old camera

Antelope Canyon, near Page, AZ, provides a business opportunity for the Navajo Tribe. Since the Canyon is on Navajo lands the tour companies all must be Navajo. We met our tour in Page where we climbed high up onto the rear of a souped-up Chevy 2500 pickup with the hugest mudding tires you can imagine (our guide told us the tires list at $1,300 each). We cruised a few miles onto the reservation to the Canyon’s entrance and followed our guide inside. He showed us the best picture opportunities, capturing the sun’s rays piercing down through sifting sands from high above. Almost ruined our camera, exposing it to all the wind-blown and falling sands, but caught a few really pretty pictures in Antelope Canyon.

A beautiful and large natural bridge

Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a very impressive structure and the boat ride there was nice. We got to see Lake Powell, a lot more of it than from anywhere else. The little canyon was interesting because it didn’t look like the boat was going to fit, it was a very narrow canyon. We thought we could have reached out from the boat and touched the canyon sides.

We awoke to an inch of snow at North Rim

North Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ, was one of our chilly stops. The snow started falling while we were asleep. We would have liked even chillier temperatures so the snow could stick around a couple of days, but it melted soon after sunrise. We hiked the Transept Trail from campground to the Grand Lodge, explored in and around the Grand Lodge a little, and visited several viewing lookouts including Cape Royal and Point Imperial.

This is the steepest trail we've ever hiked

Zion National Park in Utah is one of our favorites from this caravan. We could hike for days and days, never hiking the same trail. The mass transit is fantastic, totally eliminating any need to use our truck in the park or nearby Springdale while staying there. The Angels Landing trail was a big challenge for both of us. First we hiked upward four and a half miles. The remaining half mile is along a narrow rock spine and face and hikers are guided by heavy chains anchored into the rock face. We lasted all but the last 1/4 mile of the 1,488 foot hike. Maybe another time, maybe not.

Also while at Zion National Park we met Rob and Jan Wilson. They are on a fun adventure touring fifty national parks. They have calculated this will take over twenty thousand miles and 217 days. They are traveling in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van outfitted by Airstream. Mercedes is demonstrating this very capable platform can handle whatever they throw at it throughout the U.S. Rob and Jan are really neat people, never had RVed before and are on a whale of an adventure through the end of this year. Look them up at http://www.sprintertour.com/

A great trail ride throughout Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, is best seen walking or on horseback instead of from lookout platforms. Our trail ride into the canyon was fabulous, better than we could have dreamed. Our animals, of course, knew every step of the trail and could hardly have cared whether we were on board or not. This makes the trail ride easier for the riders — just hang on and let the mule or horse pace along behind his buddy.

This is some really old log book, carved in stone!

Capital Reef National Park, in Torrey, UT, is a surprise. It just doesn’t seem like it can offer very much but every turn reveals another significant settler’s cabin or archaeological feature. Or, the Pioneers’ Register in Capitol Gorge. This was the main passage into Capitol Gorge until the 1960s (when the highway was built). The settlers engraved their names in the sandstone above the wagon trail over one-hundred years ago. Isn’t it interesting they carved in cursive?

Can you see little Debbie under the Delicate Arch?

Delicate Arch, Moab, UT, is one of those must-see monuments in Arches National Park. It, and Landscape Arch, and Dark Angel, and Double O, and another dozen or so occupied our hiking energies for two days. We divided our hiking time between Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, where we hiked to the lookout for the Upheaval Dome. Very very interesting.

Our Caravan Finale Folleys are fun for everyone

Our caravan’s last hurrah was at the Sunset Grill in Moab, UT. The food was good, and the entertainment was fantastic. Our caravan’s music makers had practiced for days, and several characters created scripts and worked on their spiels. The result? A fun finale and fitting closing to this successful caravan led by Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague — Thanks for putting on such a fine caravan!

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr


How Grand it is

We had a nice stay at North Rim, Arizona, at the Grand Canyon. This visit is a first for both of us, and we’ll look forward to another.

near Bright Angel Point and Grand Lodge

We took a short hike from the campground to the Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge was another railroad-built North American destination lodge. The railroad companies in Canada and the States built many of these in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This one burned down in 1932 and they rebuilt in 1937. The Grand lodge is a nicely sized stone building with ponderosa pine ceiling beams. And the Grand Lodge is surrounded by matching buildings for gift shop, food service, and guest cabins.

Grand Lodge, still decorated with last night's snow

We checked out the Grand Lodge, including its famed “surprise” glass-walled room overlooking the canyon. The gift store is nice with roomy aisles and a wide assortment of books, hats, jewlery, gifts and many other things.

We most liked the hike beyond the Lodge to Bright Angel Point. The 1/4 mile paved trail has steep drop-offs on both sides and terminates on a nice platform with grand view of Bright Angel Canyon and of Grand Canyon’s opposite, or south. rim.

Nice snow in North Rim Cmpgrd

We’re camped at the North Rim Campground beside the Grand Canyon. Our facilities are very modest, even if our RVs are not. Still the campground comfort stations have flush toilets, soap and very cold water lavatories, and electrical power at the lavatories. All the roads and campsites are paved and well-marked.

This is a very attractive campground, well laid out amongst the trees. Tenters and RVs are mixed throughout the campground. They fit well together because the campground is so roomy. But the campground has very few level sites and is a big challenge for larger RVs.

Our weather the past several days has included very comfortably temperatures and increasingly windy days. We arrived at North Rim to a high of 52 degrees and at 9pm we already were down to 35. Our low was around 24 degrees Farenheit, the coldest for the caravan. And yes, we had an inch of snow the next morning. This really pretty white coating stuck on everything except the roads.

Point Imperial marker

The roads and trails were clear, and the snow melted away rapidly after sun-up. We drove to Cape Royal for views of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon, then to Point Imperial for the view from the highest point in the entire Grand Canyon Park.

Colorado River running far below us

The river is very distant but clearly visible way down there. This view helps provide perspective on how big this canyon is, ten miles across and 277 river miles long. (see info here)

We’re headed to Zion National Park next. As grand as this Grand Canyon is, warmer weather beckons and we’re ready for it. See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Blown Away by Glen Canyon NRA

Blown away, literally, by today’s winds. Max gusts of 50mph, per the weather guessers — our guess might be higher, based upon the wind tossing hardback books from the table-top to the ground.

Our group ambitiously will attempt a picnic here in little more than an hour. Debbie, Jerry and Ann Hall, Frank and Carol Colligan and I are hosts to our 55 fellow caravanners on the WBCCI SW Adventures Caravan.

We’re not doing anything fancy. We’re going to serve KFC chicken, fixings, and some pie from Safeway. It’s a picnic, after all. Some caravan guides material mentions caravan food competitive spirit. We’re here to help relax those who follow — it’s camping, after all.

Our first two days here were full of fabulous weather — mostly sunny skies, highs in the 70s, lows around 50. Oh, and sunrise is at 0515 hours, Arizona time. Wow, that’s really early. Jim’s waking and staying up, enjoying watching the morning unfold. None of this for Debbie. She’s arising to the clock time. Someone please pull the shades down early, okay?

We visited Antelope Canyon, a very pretty and narrow slot canyon. And we enjoyed a day-long rafting trip down the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. Our guide, Rico, is very knowledgeable about the river and its history and entertained us thoroughly with his stories and histories.

Today we enjoyed a “zero day”, no tours, no hiking, nothing until mid-afternoon. Now we’re setting up for the big picnic. This is our only occasion on this caravan to host a meal and we have a fantastic committee with the Halls and Colligans.

Since we lack any kitchen and dining setting and are eating in the park’s picnic area, we easily agreed to picnic food. What’s more picnicky than fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, and cole slaw? Well, homemade ice cream would have iced it just perfectly, but some things are a little out of reach for our caravan.

Glen Canyon NRA has several campgrounds. Our group is tucked into Wahweap Campground near Page and on Lake Powell. Many of our trailers have a very fine view of Lake Powell and the opposite shoreline. Our price for this great setting is five days camping with no utilities.

A little more than half of our group have a little less an overlook. They are sited on concrete pads and provided with full electric, water, and sewer connections. Maybe it’s an even swap. Debbie and I think so. We’re a little more than halfway through our fresh water tank supply (total 40 gallons, used 22 gallons). We’ve had great solar electric power generation to keep our batteries full.

Our main use of batteries has, so far, been in restoring the Dell laptop. Thus far we have reloaded Vista, MS Office suite, Picasa, Coffee Cup, FileZilla, Quicken, and TurboTax. This afternoon we started trying to reload backed up data files from portable hard drives.

We have no idea how much data we’ll restore, or how well it will work. But we do have the cleanest and sparest install we’ve ever seen on any laptop anywhere. Our desktop has exactly one icon, Recycle Bin. That’s it except the quick launch bar at the very bottom screen margin, where each of the above-listed apps has a small icon.

Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it this way. And we’re talking about how and whether to optimize the uses of the laptop. We’re starting over, we can make the rules any way we want, right?

I can’t keep typing — one hand is bracing the laptop screen to keep the wind from folding it over. Sand is driving, off and on, into my face. And I want to go talk with fellow caravanners nearby.

We’re enjoying this big wind country through tomorrow morning, then we’re driving directly into the wind to North Rim. Tomorrow will be Debbie’s and my first opportunity to see the Grand Canyon and we’re excited.

This windy Glen Canyon NRA is perfectly wonderful this time of year on the calm days. And no calm days are in the immediate forecast. We’re blown away from here, and will hope to visit again in calmer times.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Sitting in 75, At Last

We finally found the right latitude

We finally found the right latitude

We found this excellent temperature when we parked in Cottonwood, AZ, this afternoon. We have ARRIVED, finally.

Hated to skip through so much beautiful country between Salt Lake City, UT and Cottonwood, AZ. But we had finally reached our limit. We left Vancouver, B.C. and really nice weather approx Sep 12. We enjoyed a week of excellent weather in Washington state. Then we hit Idaho. The temperatures just kept getting colder and colder, day and night.

We had committed to working at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival. We would have fled south earlier, upon encountering unrelenting chilly weather. Instead we stayed in Ketchum for ten days. The place is gorgeous and nice and interesting. We’re glad we stayed despite snow showers, rain, and chilly weather. The music alone was worthwhile, and we enjoyed the music and much more.

A couple of days later we pulled into North Salt Lake City. We found a really excellent RV park, Pony Express, just off I-215. Very well run and nicely designed, this park is a great one and was reasonably priced (for the proximity to SLC) at $28.50. Nice showers, clubhouse, laundry, management, appearance, and location.

SLC was interesting to visit. We spent all our day in the Temple Square, listening to an organ recital on the world’s fifth (?) largest organ in the Tabernacle, touring one of Brigham Young’s houses, the Beehive House, peering up at the Temple, and visiting the Joseph Smith Memorial Center (apparently a very grand hotel from 1910 until 1970). We spent almost three hours on the LDS Church’s computers peering into our past. Very interesting, the information they have collected on us all.

But still it was darned cold. So south we headed. Don’t get me wrong, we understand many of you love your home location whether it becomes cold or not. We both grew up in western North Carolina and experienced a wide range of temperatures. But our present home has wheels. We choose warm weather.

So we thought, anyway. We haven’t done a superb job of attaining 75 degrees. Then again, we would limit our venue terribly if we first sought 75 degrees. Our goal of helping at the Jazz Festival interfered with getting south in time to avoid freezing weather. And the Jazz Festival is totally worth it.

This morning, with the windows frosty on the inside, we decided 24 degrees is just a little cooler than we have to tolerate. So southward we headed, and not by any small measure. The first hour of our drive the outside thermometer varied between 24 and 25 F degrees. We quickly decided to drive until we were in a warmer clime. We found it — Cottonwood, AZ.

We could have felt disappointed to have skipped so much great territory as Zion Canyon, Glen Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon. Instead, we are expecting to haunt these same areas thoroughly next April and May with the WBCCI Southwest Caravan, led by Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. The excitement of seeing all these wonders is still in store for us. And tonight we can sleep at 3,500 feet above sea level instead of 7,000 feet. It will be warmer, thank you.

We’re wearing shorts again for the first time in almost a month. 75 degrees feels good!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr