Friday, April 29, 2016

Farewell Arizona

Here, as April, 2016 comes to a close, we cross the border into Colorado. We had spent the last four months or so evading winter, we hoped…to “Snowbird” in Arizona. While we were surprised by the desert chill at times, including frozen hoses, snow and hail, we had a beyond glorious exploration of this state, one of our country’s greatest treasure chest of natural wonders.
Cathy attained visiting every National Park, National Monument, National Viewpoint, National Parking Lot and National Outhouse throughout the state. There are many. If you have missed some, scroll back over the past three or so months. The photo opps are never ending and translate well to this little blog, thanks to the keen photo taking and processing talents my wife contributes. Arizona was astounding. Early on in our Vilia Adventures, Cathy and I felt mutual that we were not going to visit places and areas, but we were going to live them. The RV is our house, so we are home wherever we are. That has been a very enjoyable part of our travels as we have used this blog to create a memory for ourselves. The fact that a growing number of other folks have been and are stopping by this place now and then has added some fun to our travels. We enjoy so what we are doing, as we love this Country so. That we can share what we experience via the world of the internet, has a reward to it. Thanks for reading.

We arrived today to Colorado. Seriously Southwest Colorado, Cortez. We are about 30 miles from the Four Corners area where our map is precise in connecting four of its states. Cathy and I spent the first 12 years of our marriage in this state. We were “Front Range”, residing in the metro Denver area. Our son and daughter were born here. We ventured often and then some into the wonderful world of the 14,000 foot mountains of the Rockies. We never spent much time in the Western Slope of the state. That is what we have ahead of us for much of May.  We’ll be back in a home place, and exploring new, to us, western parts of it. And does the border here makes such sense as in, bam, we are not in Arizona anymore. Bye bye red rock cliffs hello wooded mountains. Here are a few cell shots of the early, blustery evening here at our camp. It is a nice location. Hello again, Colorado!

Petrified Forest National Park

After our unplanned side trip to Snowflake, AZ we arrived at the Petrified Forest. It is the largest collection of petrified wood in the world and it is amazing to see.
Many, many millions of years ago there was this huge mass of land on our planet known as Pangea. Over time it broke apart and chunks of land mass were pushed distant  forming North America, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Antarctica, with a lot of other "litter" spread around. Arizona, in Pangea, was once near the equator and wet and warm. What you see at Petrified Forest are the remains of huge rain forest trees well over 200 million years old. They grew alongside dinosaurs...They became preserved when the earth's movement forced Pangea to break apart. The trees were knocked over. Covered in water and a silica rich mud, they petrified as the silica replaced the wood fibers and fossilized, turning into stone. Minerals in the mix gave this stone a boggling and beautiful array of color and crystal. Erosion finally brought many of these ancient trees to the surface of the land within the park. Some of the logs appear to be culprits of some saw happy logger but they are victims of their own weight as they emerged from the land and split cleanly apart into sections.

Petrified Forest Park has another feature and that is The Painted Desert.  A short drive and the landscape totally changes. Pictures describe it best. Cathy and I took a great hike down into one of the painted areas. It is a surreal, otherworldly environment. 

Holbrook, where we camped, is the epicenter of the world for retail petrified wood, gathered from private lands that border the park. You can buy a nice 1200 pound log chunk with a polished top for a mere $7,500.00. But then, you have to ship it home. I would dearly love to have one for a backyard table for wine and cheese gatherings, but I'll just put out a photo for the occasion.

Snowflake AZ

Snowflake, Arizona

We set out from Holbrook, AZ to visit The Petrified Forest National Park and driver Bob decided to follow the brown signs. Wrong by 40 miles, we ended up in the charming little town of Snowflake before finally digging into our navigation software. Snowflake was intriguing with many very attractive old buildings and homes.  Turns out, the town was founded in the late 1800's by Erastus Snow and William Flake. Snow-Flake. Funny name for an Arizona desert town. Erastus, (love that name, wonder if his middle name was Jedediah...), was one of two Mormon scouts who first laid eyes on the Salt Lake Valley, reporting back to Brigham Young that they had found the place. After settling in Utah in the mid 1800's, groups expanded about forming other Mormon settlements. Snowflake was one of them. Here are a few pics of some of the very fine architecture.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wow...Swiss couple's trip

People think we are on an adventurous journey....we met this couple from Switzerland....they shipped their motorhome to Buenos Aires....Look at their route and mileage.....THis plaque was on their motorhome....a great conversation starter....

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon....Magical from top to bottom.....My two trips to the bottom rank in my "5 Best Trips Ever"....rafting down the entire length of the CG and swimming in many waterfalls and rivers at Havasu Falls....The top has an different kind of magic....caught a great sunset the first evening....rode bikes along the rim for 25 miles.....the bike path was tree lined so I felt like I played peek-a-boo with the ride in the trees, go around a bend and have a gorgeous canyon view in front of you was mesmerizing...never tired of it all day...While the parking lots were crowded, people disperse and we found ourselves alone often during our 4 days there....Oh and who is that cute little girl...Amy in 1978 at age 2 years old....

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dust Storm

Extreme winds in northeast Arizona today. 40 mph steady with up to 65 mph gusts. Our Vilia is in the shop with a stuck slideout. It's OK, RV's are less fun in weather like this. Thankfully it is stuck in, so we will be able to drive with it. This shop can diagnose, but can't do the work as we need to bring it to a factory authorized dealer. We are in a remote area, so will have to live with the slideout room "slid in" until we get to Grand Junction, Colorado and "civilization" again in a couple of weeks. So with our girl at the doctor, we were out seeing sights today in this wind storm. It is desert so winds like this kick up the dust and we went through some good patches of it today. Some audible as we drove and the sand hit the truck. Once when we stopped for a sight a gust hit us with the sand. That hurts the skin and then you spit out grit from your mouth for awhile. The other feature was the tumbleweeds. Check out this roadside fence loaded with them. Hundreds were skittering across the highway for miles.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sunset Crater

Just north of our rv park in Flagstaff is Sunset Crater National Monument. This place is remarkable. Set in an area where over 600 cinder cone volcanic craters exist, it is a field day of volcanic features. The eponymous Sunset Crater is the newest, having blown its top only 1000 years ago. Cinder cones are formed when a volcano erupts with a huge gas thrust causing the lava to be blasted into the air with a force that shreds the liquid rock into crumbs which fall to earth like hail. The landscape left behind is otherworldly. The colors fantastic. Reds, greys, black, oranges and burgundies. 

We had a very cool day, but lovely with clouds, blue skies and remnants of recent snow on the ground and slopes. Those weird snow stripes in one photo are All Terrain Vehicle carved roads on the cinder hillsides. Why that is allowed is beyond me. One of my favorite "finds" was the little yellow flowered plant scraping a life from the cinder covered ground. Another is the incredible old Ponderosa Pine growing a new life out of its own dead hulk. We have been in Arizona for some months now and it has not yet failed to amaze in its diversity and beauty of geology and Nature.

Day trip to Sedona from Falgstaff....the ride thru Oak Creek Canyon is the best...hike in Slide rock State Park.....Lunch on the patio.....a 10+++ day!...PS Bob has already written about this day in a previous blog...Hate when we are not chronilogical!!

Flagstaff...very wintery during our stay (April 14 to 18)....6000 feet elevation.....Home of Northern Arizona University, the Northern Arizona Museum, and some of the Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Big Bike Ride

April 20, 2016. We put our bikes into the back of our 2015 Ford F 250 diesel truck. It is our tow vehicle for Vilia and also our jack of all trades transportation. We are at The Grand Canyon. The park has trails that run across the South Rim. Sections of these are paved and for biking as well as hiking. My goodness...have I ever been on a more wonderful bike ride? We originally thought we would just do the run from the visitor center north to Yaki Point, about a 6 mile round trip. The day was spectacular, the ride was sensational. As we finished our loop, we were enthused, and agreed to keep on going. So we cruised the mostly downhill bike trail from the visitor center to the base of Hermit Road, in the other direction of the park, where it is bikes and shuttle buses only. And we started this journey, which was all severely uphill for the first leg. We made that and said we'll take the bus to Hermit's Rest, the end spot of this loop of the South Rim, and then cruise downhill back to the "bottom" where it seemed we had started. The park shuttles have those load your own bike racks on the front and we did that and took the somewhat tedious, stops everywhere, bus ride to get to Hermit's. We get to Hermit's and it is spectacular. It is the Grand Canyon in all its glory of depth, tranquility and rich color. The green Colorado River is within sight, the force that made this whole thing. Erosion at its finest. We ride our bikes along the path and quickly realize we have been bamboozled. This ain't downhill! It is mostly uphill! The views of the canyon help as we peddle in lowest gear along, stopping often for the beyond description panoramas.
How what seemed to be mostly downhill became mostly uphill boggles our minds. But we grinded onward. Biking along the edge of this Grand Canyon gives you resource. In all, we did a bit more than 25 miles this day. We awaited pain the next day but it did not happen. I think it might have been the 100 bottles of beer on the wall that awaited us at the end.
The Grand Canyon was not on our original travel plans as we have been there times before, especially during our life in Denver in the 70's. But we were going to be so close in this leg of Vilia Adventures that we made it happen. So glad.It is an amazing place and of such a pacifying grandeur in its majesty. It sings of a Higher Power at work.

An Alpaca farm Kingman Az...cute tour...bought a gorgeous sweater....I had bought an alpaca sweater for myself in Peru for $10.00...I had also bought in Peru a cape for Amy which she still loves and wears all the time...I paid $12,00 in Peru....$250.00 in AZ!!!!