16,000 Kms Later

That’s right, we travelled over 16,000 Kms this winter.

As a quick wrap up to our journey, we left Boulder City NV on Sunday, April 9th and ended up at a  Flying J Travel Centre in Nephi UT for the night. On Monday, April 10 we continued on I-15 and ended up at a highway rest stop just south of Butte MT.  On April 11 we crossed back into Canada (🇨🇦whoop, whoop🇨🇦) at Sweetgrass MT, continued north to Taber AB and then we turned right on the number 3 highway to Medicine Hat AB.  We stopped for the night at the Alberta Information booth in Walsh AB. You guessed it, on April 12th we pulled into the driveway in Saskatoon.

These last few days have shown us a vast change in scenery.  We started out in the desert and ended up going through the mountains and seeing green planted fields.  The mountain gorges were something to be seen.  As we approached another mountain range it would look like the road just disappeared into the face of the mountain.  But as we got closer, you could see the road snaked through a gorge that a river had carved out.  One canyon that we particularly enjoyed was the Virgin River canyon in Arizona.  It is well worth seeing.

The farther we travelled north the scenery changed again to what you expect to see in the late winter/early spring.  The fields were bare and on the shadow side of hills we would often see snow.  The population also seemed to decrease.  There were fewer cars and trucks on the road.  The Interstate exits became farther apart and the exit signs less informative.  I really had to keep an eye on the fuel gauge and Bev an eye on the map so we were aware of potential fuel stops.  Typically as we approached a city we would see separate signs telling us what exit had lodging, which one had food and which one had fuel.  These might all be the same exit or different ones, depending on the size of the city/town.  Now we are just seeing a sign announcing the next exit is number whatever, with no indication of the services available. We needed to be on our game.

All in all it was a good trip home.  We were ready to come home and now we have most of the important tasks that needed to be done right away all wrapped up.  We are patiently waiting the warmer temperatures.  It isn’t so bad now that I have gotten used to long pants again.

To wrap up, we had a wonderful winter.  So much so, we are going to do it again in 2017.  We have seen some wonderful and very interesting places and have met some very friendly people.  Some were even from Saskatchewan. To somewhat complicate things we have reserved 5 months on South Padre Island, we liked it so much.  We have also reserved 2 months in Tucson, we liked it so much as well.  I am not sure how this will play out.  We will either spend the whole time in south Texas or split our time between the two places. I guess you and I will have to wait and see.

Have a great summer, we hope you enjoyed our ride.  We sure did.

Bev & Richard

 

 

Getting Ready To Go

Today is another pseudo rest day.  We didn’t actually go anywhere today except to get fuel and provisions for our trip home.  Bev figures it will take 4 or 5 days to get back into Saskatoon so during that time we like to have everything we need for the journey (food, water and snacks).  So, although we didn’t go anywhere we were busy cleaning up, getting ready for our long trip home.

But yesterday, was another story.  We took the opportunity to drive around Lake Mead, well part of it anyways.  This was through the Lake Mead Recreational Area.  We started close to Hoover Dam and worked our way around the west side of the lake, taking in Boulder Beach, Hemenway Harbour and Callville Bay.  These are located in the Boulder Basin.  We then travelled northeast to Echo Bay in the Overton Arm of the lake.  It was interesting that only one of these places had a working boat launch.  All the other boat launches ended on dry land, nowhere near the water.

We exited the Recreational Area in the north and entered the Valley of Fire State Park.  This is a definite place to visit.  The rock formations were outstanding.  As before the pictures don’t do the landscape justice.  If only our eyes were cameras.   The person who helped us at the Boulder City Visitor Centre as well as the Park Warden both suggested we visit the Elephant Rock, the  White Domes, Arch Rock and the Beehives in the park.  We did and they were outstanding.  There is lots of hiking here and it is quite easy walking on the sandstone rocks.  In some of the photographs, if you look close, you can see people in the background.  It gives you a sense of perspective.

You may ask why the park is named “Valley of Fire”?  By the time we got there it was later in the afternoon.  Because some red rocks have a black or darker surface, with the late afternoon sun, it looked like they were glowing.  I can’t describe it any better than that so if you want to experience what we saw, you will have to come and visit for yourself.

One final note about the weather.  When we were at Hoover Dam the truck thermometer was registering 30℃, Friday we were seeing 28℃. Bev mentioned that last Friday while we were in Williams, it was snowing.  We have seen quite a change.

Here are a few of the sights we saw.  Hope you enjoy.

This isn’t elephant rock, but if you look real close, on top, you might see a baby elephant.

Spooky faces?

Some colour in the desert.

Contrasting colour.

Elephant Rock. The web has a better picture taken from the other side. I guess I missed out.

Twisty road.

Colour in the sand.

White Domes. See the hiker near the top?

More colour.

Beehives.

See the hiker?

One Huge Dam

The last post was titled “Slow Down and Catch Up”. We have been at Canyon Trail RV Park since Tuesday.  We took yesterday off to do just that, slow down and catch up.  It seems we have been constantly on the go the last little while and I had a pile of pictures to review.

Today we were back at being  tourists, we headed back down the highway to the Hoover Dam.  Here is another link for the dam.  The other day we were at the beginning of Lake Mead, today we were at the end.  We couldn’t find any parking close to the visitor centre on the Nevada side of the lake so we drove across the dam and parked for free, but some distance from the action, on the Arizona side.

I walked back across the dam and snapped a few photos.  I also walked across the new traffic bridge which provided a great view of the dam.  Here are some pictures you might enjoy.

The Arizona Spillway, overflow side.

The Arizona Spillway, lake side.

There is also a spillway on the Nevada side.  They are used to divert excess water that the dam can’t handle.  You will notice a white section around Lake Mead, this is the high water line.  There has been an extended drought which has lowered the lake by almost 50 metres, hence the bathtub ring. But when full, the lake would have enough water to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania to a depth of 1 foot. Reading the information plaques around the dam, these spillways have only needed to be used in 1983.

Spillway tunnel to the Colorado

When the water does flow over the spillway, it has to get back to the Colorado River.  These tunnels allow that to happen.  The plaques mention that this tunnel, as well as the one on the Nevada side, can handle the same amount of water as that flowing over Niagara Falls.

Arizona Intake Tower

There are two more towers on the Nevada side of the lake. A picture of the dam, shows a full lake and the water level is way up the tower, close to the horizontal walkway.

A look down the lake

A look down the Colorado River

View of the dam from the highway.

Slow Down and Catch Up

The last few days have just flown by.  On April 1st we did get to travel up to the south rim again, via Cameron.  We didn’t get into Cameron to check out the Indian Tacos but turned west before the town, to enter the park.

Before we got to the park gates we stopped at an overlook where you could see the Little Colorado river

 

After getting back into the park we took Desert View Drive and stopped at Desert View Watchtower, Navajo Point, Lipan Point, Grandview Point and Pipe Creek Vista.  Of course we took some pictures.  We then took another spin around the village part of the park. It was later in the afternoon and were able to spy many elk and deer munching on the grass. We got back to Williams rather late and instead of making supper, we were both too tired, we decided to stop at Goldies Route 66 Diner.  The food and service were great.

After supper we were back to the RV and get ready to hit the road tomorrow.

Desert View Watchtower

Waiting for my guy in the gift shop

On Sunday April 2, we are on our way to our next stop, Meadowview RV Park, in Meadowview AZ. We are booked in for 2 nights.  This will allow us one day to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk and then we will be off again. After we got set up at our new location, we headed into town to fuel up for our trip to the skywalk. While we were out we decided to head on down to the end of the road and dip our toes at the beginning of Lake Mead.  As the night settled in, I noticed how dark the sky was and how bright the stars were.  Out came the camera to see if I could capture some star trails.

On April 3rd we were off to the skywalk.  After finding a parking space and purchasing our two passes, one for the property and the other for the skywalk, we boarded a shuttle bus and were off to our first stop.  We got off the shuttle at Hualapai Ranch.  After a quite trip down main street, a stop at the magic show and watching kids learn how to rope a steer we took a short wagon ride and then boarded the next shuttle to the skywalk at Eagle Point.

If you notice in the skywalk picture, there seems to be a storm brewing. Well you would be right.  We proceeded to get in line to go out on the skywalk.  This included getting our tickets scanned, using a free locker to lock up your personal items and putting on little paper booties.  I had to lock up my camera, keys and cell phone. I guess they don’t want things falling onto the glass floor or over the edge and down to the canyon floor. The booties prevent our shoes from scratching the glass floor. No sooner had we walked out on the skywalk, the ushers got a call that there was an electrical storm on the way and their sensors had gone off.  What does this mean, we got to exit the walk right away.  Wow, we spent about 2 minutes walking out over the gorge.  Not really enough time to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the location. On our exit, the usher stamped out tickets “bad weather” and told us we may be able to get a refund.  There was no telling how long the walkway would be closed.

After retrieving my items from the locker, talking to the ticket agent and having a quick tour around the gift shop we headed outside (it’s raining now) and waited for the next shuttle.  While we were waiting, I took a couple of shots of the gorge.

Back at the main entranced, I talked to the ticket agent and explained out situation.  We were only here for the day and would be out of the area tomorrow.  She was able to refund our Skywalk ticket price and advised the ticket we purchased for the property couldn’t be refunded but we could use it for entry the next day only.  Well we took our skywalk refund and headed back to the RV.  We were both a little upset, a little cold and a lot wet from the rain.  We thought if we really wanted to get back out over the canyon, we could just drive back from Boulder City, our next stop.

Back in Meadowview I stopped again for some fuel.  I like to start a moving day with a full tank.  While in town there were some Prickly Pear cactus in bloom, nice splash of colour after a rain.  Back at the RV I snapped another panoramic picture that shows the disappearing storm.  In fact it was gone by the time it got dark, we could see the stars that night.

We are now situated in Boulder city for the next 5 nights.  Our intention is to visit the Hoover Dam and check out the area attractions.  So on Sunday the 9th we will be pointing our home on wheels north and heading home.

White on the Ground

Holy Cow!!

Last night was a little windy.  The weather report said we had gusts up to 60 MPH.  Along with the wind, we had rain but the rain quickly turned white.  By the time we went to bed the ground was covered.

This morning the sun tried to peek out but kept getting covered up by the clouds. Our thermometer was showing 5℃, brrrrrr. All day the weather was unsettled.  We would get some cheery sun and then grey clouds followed by snow.  Nothing collecting on the ground yet but as the night progresses, we may see it in the morning.

Today was a bit of a lazy day.  We stayed in, trying to stay warm.  While the sun was shining we popped over to Safeway to grab a few things that had disappeared from the fridge.  After leaving Safeway we took a quick tour around Williams.  It didn’t take very long as the town isn’t very big.  Their sure are a lot of shops with the Route 66 moniker.

Hopefully the weather will smarten up so we can at least get back to the Grand Canyon before we leave.  Only time will tell.  If we have to stay indoors another day, so be it.

This is what we woke up to this morning.

Selfie Stick, Selfie Stick, O.M.G.

Today we headed north for about an hour and ended up at the gates of the Grand Canyon National Park. We didn’t know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised the way they have things set up.  Of course the canyon was pretty impressive too.

We were advised to take the train from Williams to the park as the vehicle line ups could be an hour or so.  It is the end of March and we didn’t think there would be that many people, so we took the truck.  Our wait in line was about 5 minutes and you have to know there were about 5 or 6 lines waiting to take your money.  We were also told that if we took the trail we wouldn’t have to worry about parking and found, indeed, parking was a problem.  The three parking lots closest to the Visitor Centre were full. It turns out that these lots can be full before 10 in the morning.

The Visitor Centre is the best place to start your experience. Located here are the Park Store, the Cafe and Bike Rental, the Visitor Centre as well as the hub for 3 of the shuttle routes.  You are also close to the Mather Point which seems to be the most popular point on the south rim.  We drove on down the road to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum parking lot.  We stayed here for a while and then I walked back, along the canyon rim, to the visiter centre.  The distance was about ¾ mile, one way.

Along the walk, there were many places to have a view of the canyon, along with many people from different nationalities.  There were hundreds of people out doing exactly as I was, enjoying the canyon.  The area around the visitor centre was busy and the Mather Point overlook was extremely busy.  It seemed like every second person was running around, actually running, with their selfie stick trying to get that memorable picture.  I am not sure what the hurry was, the canyon has been around for years, I think it will be around for a few more.  I have never seen so many selfie sticks in one place ever before.

From here we traveled down the road to the parking lot by Maswik Lodge.  Here I was able to walk back to the rim and walk past the Kolb Studio, the Lookout Studio, over to Hopi House and ended my walk at the Verkamp’s Visitor Center.  After taking a few pictures and battling the wind, I was on my way back to the truck.  We then toured around the rest of the village and headed home.

The park is really set up well.  I mentioned the shuttle routes, there are 4, three which start at the visitor centre.  The shuttle is free to ride and comes by every 15 minute during the day with stops at the most popular viewing areas.  You can hop on or hop off as many times as you like. The path around the rim is paved and is limited to foot traffic.  There are other trails around the park that permit bikes but the rim trail is only foot powered.  The total distance for the rim walk is almost 13 miles.  There are also trails that will take you into the canyon and if you are adventurous, you can walk from rim to rim.  That’s right, down one side and back up the other. If you are a hiker or walker you would enjoy yourself here.

The weather was changing while we were on the rim.  You could see it raining on the other side and the wind was picking up.  Our intention tomorrow is to travel back into the park and travel east to Desert View.  That way we can take in a few more view points on the rim, take a few more pictures and end up in Cameron where I have been told you can get the best Indian Tacos.  But all will depend on the weather.

Here are a few pictures I captured.  The panorama shots are best viewed blown up.  Enjoy.

Here are the panorama shots.

Brrr

Today was a great day.

We woke up early today so we could get to Williams Arizona in the early afternoon.  The sun was shining and the temperature was already 22℃ when we pulled out of the RV resort at 10:30 on our way to Phoenix.

The highway was good and the scenery was changing.  As we passed through Phoenix the saguaro became scarce and as we approached Flagstaff the desert was slowly replaced with grass and then tall pine trees.  It was a nice change.

The elevation in Tucson is around 2600 feet,  We slowly increased in elevation until we reached the Arizona Divide at 7335 feet and then slowly descended to Williams at 6900 feet.  At times it was a bit of a struggle to climb the steep inclines and not speed in the declines as we passed through the mountains on our to Flagstaff.  Some of these declines were a 6% grade, watch out for brake fade.

Not only did we see a change in elevation, we also saw a change in temperature.  As I mentioned we started off at 22℃, this rose to a high of 30℃ around Phoenix but dropped as we got higher in elevation, registering 18℃ once we pulled into the Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort.  

There was a notice at the desk while I registered in Williams, it mentioned that I either had to have a heated water hose or I needed to disconnect my hose at night as they are in the freezing range at night.  I think tomorrow we will hang up our short pants and put away our sandals and pull out our long pants, socks and coats as we head off to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Here is an example of the change in scenery.  This is Humphreys peak, the highest point in Arizona (12,633 ft).  It was visible as we traveled north on I-17.