John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

May 2012 Journal

This morning we were up and out by 8am heading up to Bryce Canyon Pines Campground just outside Bryce Canyon Natl Park.  We got all set up then did some research on online TV.  This campground does not have cable and there is no TV reception in the area with our antenna.  I checked out Hulu, Crackle and Netflix.  I believe the wifi connection the campground has is fast enough to do the online TV.  Now we headed into Bryce Natl Park and stopped at the visitor’s center.  After watching a movie on the area, we headed to the ranger station to talk to a ranger and get info on the hikes and things to do in the park.  We still have daylight left and time enough for a hike, but we decided to check area stuff out.  We got home, had a couple cocktails and took a walk around our campground.  This isn’t a large campground, but its perfect location, great scenery and nice sites.  Right before the sunset at 830pm, we headed in.  The days are nice, but the nights are still cold.  It’s going down to around 39 degrees tonight.

30  Today we are having a laid back domestic day.  We are heading up to Bryce Canyon Natl Park tomorrow morning.

Another water day.  Yesterday we were rafting below the dam and today we are taking a cruise 50 up through Lake Powell and on to the Colorado River to the Rainbow Bridge.  Some say this should be considered the 8th natural wonder of the world.  We had a nice 2 ½ hour cruise learning about the geology and history of Lake Powell.  We made it to the dock for the Rainbow Bridge.  From here we had to hike about ¾ mile up to the natural bridge.  When you look at it, keep in mind that the Statue of Liberty can fit inside the rainbow bridge.  There were some National Park rangers there and they gave a short talk about the bridge and the Navajo beliefs about the bridge.  After our hike, we had a nice cruise back to Wahweep Marina.  Another beautiful day!!28   This morning we headed out for a ½ day raft trip on the Colorado River.  We put in right below the Glen Canyon Dam.  The raft company we went out with drives you down to the put-in in a bus. The bus goes through a 2 mile long tunnel that was built when the dam was being constructed.  This raft company, the dam employees and TSA are the only people allowed in this tunnel.  Chris was our raft guide and we had a great float trip down the Colorado River.  We made one stop along the way to check out the petroglyphs.  While we were stopped we noticed a herd of bighorn sheep on the other bank.  We continued on down the river.  Chris was very informative on the history and geology of the area.  We saw a herd of horses along the river right before we arrived at Lee’s Ferry our take out location.  Lee’s Ferry is the last take out for about 280 miles on the river all the way to Lake Mead.  Grand Canyon raft trips put in here for 5-14 day trips down the river.
27   Today we are headed North over the Glen Canyon Dam and into Utah.  First we stopped at the visitor’s center in Big River for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  John was ready for a hike, so we drove up to the Wahweep Hoodoos.  I enjoyed relaxing, reading and practicing harmonica in a very scenic setting, while John did a 9 mile round trip hike to check out the hoodoos.  When he was done, we headed up to the Toadstools.  This was a hike about 1 ½ miles up to the Toadstools which are hoodoos, but not as large as the Wahweep Hoodoos.  We were ready for dinner so we stopped at a Mexican place for an Italian dinner.  We headed to Windy Mesa to see when the jam night started, but it wasn’t for about 3 hours and we were done for the day so we headed home.

Today is another really windy day.  We decided to have a domestic day.  I am way behind on my journal and photos so I was able to get caught up on those.

Today we headed over to Lee’s Ferry area.  It’s not far the way the crow flies, but on the road it’s about 50 miles.  We stopped at the Navajo Bridge and visitor’s center.  This was the first bridge built back in the 1920’s that crossed the Colorado River in this area.  We took a walk across the bridge and saw some rafters below.  There is no pullout for hundreds of miles.  They will either have to hike up the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon or wait until they reach Lake Mead.  Either way, they are on a 5 to 14 day trip through the Grand Canyon.
John is ready for a hike and I’m not.  I dropped him off at Cathedral Wash.  This is a 3 mile round trip moderate to strenuous hike.  The ranger told us it would be 2-4 hours to hike it.  There is no shade and lots of wind at the trailhead.  So I headed up the road to hang out at a campground nearby.  Instead I found a great little beach area along the Paria Riffle which is the first small rapids rafters have on their way down the river.  I set up my chair, practiced my harmonica, did some reading and took a nap while listening to the wind and sound of the river rapids.  I did check out the water, I came to the conclusion; there is no swimming or wading in this river right here.  It’s freezing.  You would get hypothermia.
It was getting close to time to pick up John so I headed back to the trailhead.  Even though we have walkie talkies, him being in the wash and all the rock formations around us, it’s hard to get a signal.  It ended up taking him about 3 hours.  It was a rough hike, lots of rock scrabbling and climbing.  After regrouping, we headed out for a few cocktails to Windy Mesa Bar.  Our guide Curtis at Antelope Canyon told us about it.  We met Ed at the bar and talked to him for a while.  John was hungry so we went to the Chinese Buffett for dinner.

24   Right outside of Page is Horseshoe Bend.  This is a scenic overlook of the Colorado River.  This overlook is captured on many scenic calendars.  This is a 1 ½ mile round trip hike.  It’s up and down on rocks and sand so it takes some time.  Once you get to the overlook, it’s beautiful.  You have to be really careful.  There are no railings and the sandstone is unstable and can give away, so don’t get too close to the edge.  John was able to get some great pictures of the entire horseshoe.
Now we are on to the Lower Antelope Canyon tour.  The lower antelope canyon tour is much better than the upper.  It’s more strenuous with ladders and some climbing, but well worth it.  You are down inside the canyon.  We were there mid-day so the lighting was really cool.  Curtis our guide plays guitar and it was very relaxing going through the canyon and listening to the guitar sounds moving through the canyon.  The tour was about 1 ½ hours long.  I’ve had enough hiking for today and the wind is picking up again.  We headed back to the cow and took a time out.  

23   It’s supposed to get really windy today, so we got on the road by 645am.  We are travelling from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page AZ about 140 miles.  We got in and all set up by 1130am on site 52a at Page Lake Powell Campground.
After lunch and regrouping, we headed to the visitors center at Glen Canyon Dam.  After a short film about the history of the area and the dam, we took a tour on, inside and below the dam.  It was a very cool tour.  We got to go 500 feet down inside the dam and then out the bottom.  We toured the plant where turbines create electric from the dam.  After our dam tour, we stopped for some supplies and headed home.  The winds are really blowin.  So we hunkered down inside had dinner and reviewed the area info we got at the visitors center.  Tonight we hung out at the cow and I worked on our photos and journal.  We have been doing so much and I’m really far behind.

22   We set our alarm for 345am this morning.  We want to see sunrise over the Grand Canyon.  We drove to the visitors center so we could catch the first shuttle at 430am to Yaki Point.  Sunrise is at 519am and the sky was beautiful right before and after sunrise.  After sunrise we took the shuttle to the Pipe Creek Vista and then hiked along the rim trail to Mather’s Point.  We need breakfast and a nap so we drove back to the cow and relaxed until early afternoon.
John has one more hike he wants to do before we leave tomorrow.  We took the shuttle to the Bright Angel Trailhead.  This hike is a 2 day down to the Colorado River and back up with almost 4400 elevation change.  John and I started the hike down together.  Remember, however far you go down, you must come back up!!  I went about ¾ mile down and after some photos of John continuing on, I headed back up.  I found a nice shady area overlooking the canyon and did some reading.  John made it down to the first water house which is 1 ½ miles with an 1125 foot elevation change.  When he got back, we were both done.  We had a nice dinner, relaxed and got ready for our move tomorrow.  We had a great time at the Grand Canyon.

21   We started our day with Elks all around us outside while we were having coffee and we ended our day with Elks all around us while having cocktails.
Today we are exploring the Desert View Drive Area.  We stopped at the various viewpoints and then at Tusayan Museum and Ruins.  Perfect timing.  A ranger tour was starting.  So we went through the ruins with the tour.  Then we continued on to Desert View which is the farthest East you can go in Grand Canyon Natl Park.  We toured the Watchtower and the surrounding area.
A ranger was near an overlook so we stopped to talk to him.  He was keeping an eye on the two rattlesnakes to make sure no visitors got bitten.  It was good he was there.  One started rattling when a lady got near.  If the ranger hadn’t pointed them out, we would have never seen them.  Even though they look small, he said they were about 4-5 ft long and very venomous.
We were done for the day.  On our way back, we saw some mule deer and more elk.  When we got back, we had a mom with her male and female offspring right by our campsite.  She let us get close, but she didn’t want us too close.  John had to shoo off one of them because he started eating our plant.  A little later, we had a huge bull Elk right at our rig.
20   At 5am this morning I woke up so I got up and put our space heater on.  It’s a cold morning, down in the lower 40’s.  I looked out our bedroom window and saw one elk, then another and another until I saw 6 elks right outside the window.  I woke up John and we watched them for a few minutes until they moved on to another campsite.  When we did get up the sun had already warmed up outside.  We had our coffee outside and talked about our day.
Today we are very lucky!  The Grand Canyon is prime viewing area for the Solar Eclipse later today.  We got our special glasses yesterday because you don’t want to look right at it.  We drove over to the visitor’s center to get our tickets to a presentation by NASA “In the Shadow of the Moon” at 11am to learn all about the eclipse.  We got back to the cow, had breakfast and packed our backpacks for the day.
We hopped the shuttle to where we left off yesterday at the Bright Angle Trailhead and the start of the Hermits Rest Shuttle.  The rim trail from here to Hermits Rest is about 7 miles.  John hiked the entire trail.  I hiked some, and then I would grab the shuttle bus, take it to meet John, hike a little more, take the shuttle and so on.  It was perfect timing when we finally made it to Hermits Rest.
We were able to catch the shuttle back to Hopi Point where we watched the sunset yesterday.  Today we got there much earlier around 610pm.  Tonight is the Annular Solar Eclipse and the Grand Canyon at Hopi Point is one of the best places to view it.  We are able to see the entire eclipse including the ring of fire.  We have our special glasses.  We tried to take pictures, but they didn’t really turn out to well.  After the ring of fire and before sunset we caught the shuttle back to the cow.  When we got back, we had more Elks visiting our campsite.  Another great day!!!

19   We relaxed this morning and hit the road around 1030am.  We arrived at the Grand Canyon Trailer Village around noon.  Perfect timing since noon is check in.  We had site A2 in the first section which is perfect.  Close to the shuttle bus pickup.  After getting setup, we headed for the shuttle and to the visitors center.  Today is Endangered Wildlife Day.  So at the VC they had rangers with some endangered species, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrels, Red Tailed Hawk, Diamondback Rattlesnake and a few others.
Now we walked to get our first view of the Grand Canyon.  It is so much more awesome then you can even imagine.  Pictures in no way does it justice.  We started at Mather’s Point.  Another endangered animal is the California Condor.  Timing is everything.  When we were getting our first view of the GC, a California Condor was relaxing and enjoying the view as well.  We hiked along the rim trail from Mather’s Point to the Bright Angel Trailhead which is about 2 ½ miles.  It’s a great walk, most of it is paved but you can’t go fast.  The views are just so awesome that you stop all the time for pictures or to just take in the enormity of it all.
We heard that Hopi Point is great for sunsets, so we caught the Hermits Rest Shuttle bus up to Hopi Point.  Even though sunset is beautiful, the colors you get on the other end of the canyon are fantastic.  When the sun disappeared we caught the shuttle back to our campground and we were done for the day.  On the way back, we saw mule deer and elks along the road.
18   Today is going to be a very windy day.  Were glad we weren’t scheduled to travel because we would have changed our plans.  We are having a domestic day today.  We have another short move tomorrow.

Today we headed out for some hiking in the Williams area.  We stopped at the Forest Service office to check on some trail maps.  We found a nice trail starting at Buckskinner Park.  We started up the Clover Springs Trail.  It winds up through a pine forest to connect with the Bill Williams Trail and back to the Williams Town Trail.  I hiked in about 1 ½ miles then back for a 3 mile round trip hike.  John continued on to the Bill Williams Trail and then to the Williams Town Trail.  I met him back in the town of Williams.  He hiked about 5 miles.
We headed back to the cow for some relaxing, reading and an early dinner.  We headed out again around 430pm to hike the Summit Ridge Trail.  Even though we had a map, we could not find the trail.  So we ended up on a scenic drive up to Lake Williams.  We took a short walk along the lake and then headed back.  Since these are gravel and dirt roads and not clearly marked, we wanted to be back before dark.  

16   We were up and on our way by 9am.  Today we are traveling from Flagstaff to Williams AZ about a 45 mile trip.  We got all set up at Canyon Gateway RV Park.  After a little break, we headed into town and to the visitors center.  We picked up a walking tour guide to the historic part of Williams.  We stopped at the depot for the Grand Canyon Railroad, then we walked on over to Route 66 and walked down it for about a mile.  There are still some shops from the 1950’s.  We stopped for ice cream at one of them.
15   This morning is a cold morning.  It got down to the lower 40’s and at 8am it’s 49 degrees.  Too cold to sit outside for coffee.  Mid morning we headed out for a National Monument day.
We are heading up route 89 to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  This is where the Apollo 11 astronauts trained for their moon landing.  We stopped at the visitors center to learn about the area and find out what we should be sure and visit.  We stopped at the Lennox Crater Trail.  This is only about a 1 mile round trip trail, but it’s lots of elevation.  John headed up and I checked out the info form the ranger.  Next we headed to the Lava Flow Trail.  This was a great hike.  It’s about 1 ¼ mile trail.  It runs through the lava flow area with great views of Sunset Crater.  You can really see how the lava and ash just kills everything and how even after a thousand years, some areas are still dead.
After our hike we headed on the scenic road up to Wupatki National Monument.  Along the way we stopped at a few scenic overlooks.  Our first stop was the Wukoki Pueblo.  This is a really short hike up to the pueblo.  This is a smaller pueblo built on a rock in the middle of nowhere.  We stopped at the visitor’s center and took a hike behind it to the Wupatki Pueblo.  This is a much larger with multiple structures including a ball court, meeting area and blowhole.  We had a few really nice hikes today and saw and learned a lot.  Now we took the scenic route home. 

14   We were up and on the road by 8am and today we only have a short distance about 75 miles from Cottonwood AZ to Flagstaff AZ.  There was a shorter route but it’s not a good route to take when pulling our rig.  We got to Black Bart’s RV Park and got all set up on site 107.
We lounged around the cow for a while then headed into downtown Flagstaff.  We stopped at the visitor’s center to pick up some area information then walked on Route 66 and around the historic downtown area.  We stopped for some groceries then headed home.  Tonight we are grounding ourselves.  We closed all the windows and got out an extra blankie.  Even thought it was in the low 70’s today, tonight it’s going down to the low 40’s.

Like we always say, everything is changeable.  Patti and Jeff were going to head home today after lunch.  We started out with bloody mary’s and bagels outside at our campsite.  Then we headed to downtown Cottonwood for a nice lunch.  We stopped at the Tavern Grill.  We had a nice table outside where we were able to watch the people come and go on Main Street Cottonwood.  After lunch we walked through the town and stopped at a couple shops.
We continued on to the Rendezvous Bar.  Last time we were here not much was going on.  This time they have a guitar player and quite a few people are here.  It’s really a pretty comfortable place.  They have living room style tables and chairs outside and a regular bar and tables inside.  We ended up staying here much too long.  We met the guitarist, Alex.  He joined us when he finished playing for a few beers.  I told him I played harmonica but didn’t have one with me.  He gave me one of his and we did an impromptu jam session out on the patio.  John and Jeff played a game of corn hole bags.
Then we headed out and stopped at Kactus Kate’s for a while.  Jeff was playing the juke box, John and Patti were talking and I forgot to record my Survivor show, so I was watching Survivor.  Around 9pm we were going to go out for dinner, but the restaurants had already closed, so we ended up at Sonic for burgers.  That worked out fine.  We got back to the cow and all went to bed.  Patti and Jeff have to be up at 3am to make it back to Phoenix by 6am so Patti can start work.
12   Another nice morning.  We had bloody mary’s and bagels outside while relaxing and taking in the great scenery.  We had to regroup and head out by 11am.
We headed up to Clarkdale to take a trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad.  Patti and Jeff have been on this a few time before and they set us all up in a parlor car.  We were confirmed in the Sedona Car.  The parlor cars have couch style seats, champagne toast on departure and appetizers on the outbound trip.  However, we spent most of our time outside in the open air rail car.
A trainer from a local shelter had a juvenile bald eagle, Sonora, that had been injured and rescued and is not able to return to the wild.  He brings her on to educate people about bald eagles and lets you get some photos.  The train offers a full bar, so we had some cocktails while enjoying the open air car, the beautiful scenery and meeting lots of nice people.  The train travels 20 miles up to Perkinsville.  Then the engine is moved to the other end of the train for the return journey.  The entire trip takes about 4 hours.
After our train adventure, we headed to Old Cottonwood.  We stopped at the Pillsbury Wine Tasting.  It was nice but we should have gone to the Stronghold Wine Tasting.  They are much more laid back.  Then we stopped at Kactus Kate’s Bar for a couple cocktails.  We were going to go to dinner, but decided to stop for wood and have a fire and some appetizers back at the cow.  We listened to some music and we were all done.
11   This morning John was up and on a hike before I even got up.  I got up and worked a little on our photos and then John got back from his 3.4 mile hike.  We hung around the campground this morning and then headed to the store for some supplies.  We had a relaxing afternoon around the campground.  Our friends Patti and Jeff are coming up for the weekend.  They got here around 8pm.  We had a bunch of appetizers outside and started a nice fire.  We listened to trop rock on our mp3, and had lots of food and drinks.  A little after midnight we all headed in.

After coffee outside overlooking the beautiful Cottonwood valley, we headed out to Montezuma Castle Natl Monument.  There is a short ½ mile hiking trail that explains the history of this area and the people that lived here years ago.  Since we had to directly pass the Cliff Castle Casino on our way out, we stopped for a couple hours.  We played some video poker, slots and blackjack.  We had a good time and came out a couple bucks ahead.
It’s still early so we headed to Montezuma Well Natl Monument.  This also has about a ½ mile hiking trail.  Both above and on the side of the well.  Along our hike we saw a snake about 4 feet long.  I checked it out and it was a non-venomous Whip snake.  We stopped for dinner, and then headed home.  We took a nice short hike up past our campsite and around the hill.  It’s shortly before sunset and it’s perfect outside.

9   This morning we were up and out early.  We were looking for the Girdner trailhead.  We finally found it.  I dropped John off and he was going to do a 6 mile hike on the Girdner to AZ Canyon to Dawa trail.  I knew I had a couple hours, so I took a drive through downtown Sedona to check it out.  Then I found the place where John should end up.  I still had over an hour, so I checked out where Fay Canyon trailhead was.  That is where we are heading after his hike.  Now I found a scenic area to set up my chair and practice my harmonica.  I headed back to the pickup site and did some reading while I was waiting.
When John got back, we headed over to Fay Canyon for a 2 ½ mile hike.  This was a really nice level scenic hike.  Now we headed back to the cow, regrouped and headed to Old town Cottonwood.  Not much is going on there right now.  We stopped at Rendezvous for happy hour.  Then continued walking through the town.  We did stop one other place and was thinking about stopping for dinner, but decided to pick up some burgers and headed back to the cow.
8   Today we headed toward Sedona and to the Lower Red Rock Loop Road.  This is just a beautiful area.  We made a few photo stops.  One of the Cathedral Rock Formation.  We continued on the Loop road and stopped at the Crescent Moon Picnic Area.
We hiked the Templeton Trail to the Baldwin Trail.  After Baldwin, I headed back to the picnic area and John continued on Templeton to the Cathedral Trail.  We had more beautiful scenery along the hike.  I ended up hiking around 3 miles and John did around 6 miles.  On our way out on the Upper Red Rock Loop Road we saw a coyote right along the road.  We think he had his eyes on a rabbit we also saw.  We got home, had a nice dinner and a relaxing evening.

7   Since we have a short travel day today, John started work on repairing the stairs.  We got all packed up and headed out from Mesa AZ to Cottonwood AZ about 130 miles.  We got all set up in site 71 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  John continued to work on the stairs.  Then we headed into Cottonwood to stop at the visitor’s center for information on the area.  When we got back we took a short hike along the Verde River in our campground.  Afterwards, we had a nice relaxing evening and did some planning for our time here in Cottonwood and Sedona area.

   6   Today is our day before departure and we need to have a domestic day.  Our stairs broke, so we went to Home Depot to get supplies to fix them.  We got all our project done and then had a relaxing afternoon.

We headed over to Patti and Jeff’s early.  We have a big day today.  First we all headed over to Bleachers Bar for off track betting.  Today is the Kentucky Derby and we needed to get there early.  We bet on different races and of course on the Derby.  John did great.  He picked the winner “I’ll have another”.
Now we headed over to Jackie and Joe’s for Joe’s B’day.  We stayed about an hour then had to head out.  We regrouped, and then walked over to Arriba Mexican Restaurant for Cinco De Mayo.  We met Rick and Marie there.  Ricks friend Scott from Chicago was also there.  We also met James and Laurie.  I started talking to Scott and found out we knew each other when I was back in junior high.  He was good friends with my cousin Mary.  His family would come over to my Uncle Cal and Aunt Barb’s house.  We had lots of food and of course margarita’s and a few tequila shots.  We ended up on the patio listening to some live music for a while.  We walked back to Patti and Jeff’s and then headed back to our campground.
4   This morning we hung around the cow.  Dale, one of our good friends from Lazy Lakes down in Sugarloaf Key passed away last night.  We wish Sally strength in this hard time.  Early afternoon we headed over to Patti and Jeff’s.  Rick is still in town and was also at the pool.  We had lot’s of snacks and a variety of cocktails by the pool.  Marie stopped by later.  After the pool, we all had cocktails, then a great ravioli dinner at Patti and Jeff’s.  We watched a nesting hummingbird right off their patio.  We all got to talking about how much Jeff loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  So we ended up recording a video of him.  Check out “Johnny Peanutbutter Cup”.  If you like it, share it.

Our AC started acting up again yesterday, so we headed over to Camping World early this morning to get a replacement thermostat.  John got it installed and we’re good to go.  Patti, Jeff and Rick got to our campground around 1030am.  We all headed out to the Apache Trail area today.
Our first stop is Lost Dutchman State Park.  John had picked out the Siphon Trail hike.  It’s about 4 miles round trip with elevation.  We didn’t have that kind of time today, so we all did about 2 miles round trip.  Now we are heading over to the Dolly Steamboat.  We made a stop at a lake overlook for a few photos.
We got to the Dolly Steamboat and boarded right before 2pm.  We found a table up front which turned out perfect.  We saw a baby Bald Eagle in his nest wanting to take his first flight.  We also saw a large heard of Big Horn Sheep.  After our boat trip we had lunch at the dock.  We were going to continue on to Tortilla Flats and the Roosevelt Dam, but it was much too late for that.  So we headed back to our campground.  Rick called Marie and she stopped by.  Then Rick and Marie headed out for a movie.  Patti, Jeff, John and I took a walk around the campground and ended up playing 18 holes of miniature golf under the lights.  John was the big winner, and then Jeff, then Patti and I came in last.  We visited a little while longer back at the cow, and then Patti and Jeff headed home.

2   While we were enjoying our coffee outside, we reviewed some of the info we got at the visitors center on Arizona.  We decided today we are heading up Usery Pass Road.  So we headed to the Usery Mountain Regional Park.  We stopped at the nature center and talked to a ranger about some of the different hikes.
We decided our first one would be Wind Cave Trail.  This is a 3 mile desert hike with an elevation climb of 800 feet.  I made it a little over half way and climbed 400 feet.  John continued on to the top of the trail.  I finished up about a ½ hour before he did.  I found a nice little picnic area in the shade and enjoyed my apple and cheese.
When he was done, we headed over to the Merkle Trail.  This is about a mile long and pretty much level.  During our hikes we saw lots of different birds, some gambles quails, kangaroo rats, brown squirrels, and salamanders.  We had some nice hikes today.  We stopped for a few supplies on the way home, then grounded ourselves tonight and took a time out.

1   This morning we hung out at the cow.  I worked on our pictures and journal and John did some reading.  We walked over to the clubhouse and played a couple games of billiards.  We headed over to Patti and Jeff’s around 2pm.  After a couple cocktails at their house, we headed over to Lone Butte Casino.  We played some slots, 3 card poker and blackjack.  Now we headed over to Wild Horse Pass Casino.  Jeff and Patti have access to the players club lounge, so we went up there for some martini’s and a nice Asian appetizer buffet.  Now back to the casino for a little more action.  We didn’t win today, but had a great time.