Tag Archives: North Rim

Dreamstreamr’s Best of 2010 — a short personal list

2010 was one of our best years in many ways.  We haven’t had a bad one, mind you.  We realized today we started Airstreaming seven years ago this year.  Four of the less than seven we’ve been full-time in our 25′ Airstream travel trailer.  All four years have been wonderful, exciting, different and often surprising.

What made 2010 great and different? A thumbnail sketch includes these things:

  • participating in a WBCCI Airstream caravan;
  • staying a month in Gillette;
  • visiting the oldest hamfest in the world;
  • visits to over a dozen national parks (and we’ll try to narrow it down to the best one;)
  • fun in Vancouver with our granddaughter;
  • three weeks volunteering with NOMADS, a United Methodist mission;
  • making a couple of smart purchases; and
  • stays at a wonderful pair of resorts.

Rainbow Bridge

We spent six wonderful weeks touring America’s southwest on a WBCCI Airstream caravan led by our friends Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. We were delighted to gain precious friendships with couples we hadn’t already met before the caravan while deepening our relationships with those we traveled with before.  And the six-week

Mule ride thru Bryce Canyon

guided tour throughout our country’s southwest was wonderful.  Our caravan leaders arranged tours, boat rides, and other special treats we either would have missed by scrimping or just wouldn’t have known about on our own.  Too, we enjoyed the company of many friends while trying to absorb the wonders in six weeks of sightseeing.

A month in Gillette WY allowed us time to really mine the area, so to speak.  We  toured one of their incredible and gigantic coal mining operations — nothing at all like the media makes it out; eat wonderful bison rib eye steaks at The Open Range Restaurant in Wright WY; tour the Wyodak air-cooled electrical generation plant;walk downtown Gillette; play tennis in Campbell County’s

That's a big pickup

incomparable municipal recreation center;  join the local ham radio club for breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen; browse and restock on electronic parts and custom cables from Chris Supply; participate in amateur radio’s annual Field Day with our WBCCI Amateur Radio Club; enjoy terrific convention management by the CAMPLEX staff; and celebrate another successful annual Airstream WBCCI rally.  We had a great month in Gillette!

best place for a hamfest

More than two years ago Dave Blum kf4gtj (SK) and Jim wanted to briefly slip away from our Airstream caravan’s tours for a look at the oldest continuously running hamfest in the world, the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest.  Dave and Jim didn’t make it then but it remained on their bucket list.  We (Jim and Debbie) put it on our agenda for 2010 and enjoyed a week in East Glacier with the best international group of hams we’ve been with.  Great weather, great scenery, great radio folks — This was a fine week.

North Rim Lodge

Debbie and Jim are divided on which was the best National Park we visited — North Rim of Grand Canyon, or Zion, or Mesa Verde.  We visited probably at least a dozen throughout 2010.  These three were our clear favorites for the year, and all were stupendous for roughly similar reasons.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde wins out for being the least crowded and still providing stunning history and scenery. Zion has incomparable hikes and public transit and a very accessible but separate town site.  North Rim gave us an inch of overnight snowfall, very nice days, such a great old lodge, and more views than we ever could have imagined.  How do you pick one best one?

Cradlepoint router

Hands down, no equivocating, our best purchase for the year is our Cradlepoint CTR-500.  Our Airstream trailer is a mobile WIFI hotspot and we are radioactive!  Okay, only figuratively, but for us nothing beats the convenience of our own mobile wifi network.  We work three laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  Friend Bob Simms highly recommended the Cradlepoint to us, and we owe him many megabytes for our happiness with local wifi.  All devices tune effortlessly and quickly to the wifi, the Cradlepoint can support up to 32 devices at a time (but please don’t ask us to share, okay?), and we don’t mess with VZ Access anymore.  Wifi is good.

We don’t usually stay in resorts, national or state or provincial parks are more our speed.  But several years we have stayed in two resorts, one in British Columbia and the other in Mesa AZ.  Burnaby Cariboo RV Resort 17 km east of Vancouver BC is really really nice.  But Towerpoint Resort in Mesa has it beat hands-down.  Towerpoint is a  premiere tennis resort with five gorgeous hard courts, two hot tubs, two swimming pools, and too many excellent facilities to mention.  If we weren’t tennis players, we’d find plenty else to occupy us at Towerpoint.  And the people are wonderfully friendly and supportive.  Towerpoint is clearly the best resort we visited last year and we look forward to many more visits.

building a shed at Ocean Park Retreat

The best short description for our past year is “active”.  We saw a lot, participated in a lot of guided tours, hiked and toured many places, volunteered three weeks at Ocean Park Retreat on Washington state’s coast on mission work with NOMADS, played tennis all winter in Mesa AZ — we had an active year.  Yet we moved fewer times, stayed longer in places.  Three months in Okeechobee FL, a month in Gillette WY, five weeks on Washington state’s coast, three months in Mesa AZ.

We might be getting the hang of this full-timing thing, living throughout the continent.  Life on the road as full-timers, as a recent responder reminds us, isn’t vacation — it’s life (thanks, Sue, for the excellent phrase) on the road.  Our house has wheels, but it doesn’t require constant rolling.  We can stay in one place awhile if we want. We’re enjoying our environs more as we dig a little deeper in each locale.

You’ve absorbed all you can in one reading — we’ll save some highlights from last year for another day.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

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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.

Our GPS said, SWITCHBACKS!

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
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©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