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2018-10-03 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 46 – Traveling from Gallup to Cubero, New Mexico

Another travel day… These days are my favorite – driving down the highway, watching the scenery, going places that we’ve never been before… Today we took the long way around, choosing to drive the back roads for three hours instead of the interstate for two hours…

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We drove south from Gallup, towards El Morro National Monument, then through El Marpais National Monument.  This area is very volcanic, yet the mesas still exhibit interesting rock formations…

We stopped at a few historic markers…

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The road eventually turned east, then northeast, where it intersected with the 40; about 20 miles later we were at Cubero, site of the Sky City Casino, Hotel, and RV Park.  Sky City is the name for the Pueblo at Acoma, where we will go tour tomorrow…

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We had an easy time setting up in a very modern, but very bleak RV park.  Naps, then Happy Hours, and dinner ensued…

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As Happy Hours were transitioning to Dinner we were hit by a sudden thunderstorm, followed by a rainbow…

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News flash!  This morning it dropped below 70 degrees in Los Angeles, and rain MIGHT happen.  Erin quickly dressed Evelyn in all her winter clothes:

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-28 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 41 – Driving to Gallup, New Mexico…

We left Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam and headed roughly Southeast across some of the most remote and desolate terrain I’ve ever seen.  This is mostly the land of the Navajo Nation…img_5963img_59611img_90631

We drove for miles and miles… and saw nothing but miles and miles…

At Kayenta, AZ, we stopped at a Burger King, home of a great exhibit telling the stories of members of the Navajo Nation who served in WWII, and, particularly, the story of the Code Talkers.

By the time we had finished looking at the exhibits other Airstreamers had also arrived…

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And then we left and drove to Gallup, NM.  Nothing too exciting.  In the evening we enjoyed a BBQ dinner provided by the RV park in their dining pavilion…

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We were visited by the representative of the ballooning folks to brief us on the coming days’ activities – we are going to be riding in hot air balloons!  We are scheduled for Sunday…

So, as is our tradition, on slow news days, we present some of our great grandchildren…  Maybe you’ve seen these before…

Roisin, age 5:

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Ian, age 4, and George, almost 3:

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Ian, Roisin, and Evelyn, age 6 months:

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Ian:

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Evelyn

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And, finally, Evelyn:

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-27 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 40 – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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We’ve had a busy few days… Today is a little more laid back…

The caravan broke into four groups to take a short trip to see Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon, on the Navajo Nation Reservation… We were lucky to get the Noon time slot.  We were able to have a leisurely morning…

To get to the Slot canyon, we drove into Page, then rode in a truck outfitted with 15 seats… We were driven along the highway for three miles, then we rode over dirt and rock roads for another six miles…

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Once the truck parked, we walked the last 1/2 mile…

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Once we reached the entrance to the slot canyon our guide told us about it… Slot canyons are formed by erosion due to water and wind.  While they are beautiful, they are dangerous if thunderstorms are in the area.  They can fill with raging torrents of water within seconds…

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The canyon averages about six feet wide, with many places only about three feet wide.  It is mostly open to the sky, but, because of the narrow width of the canyon, sunlight sometimes does not reach in to the bottom of the canyon…

We walked from one end of the canyon to the other, then back again.  All along the way are spectacular views up, out, around, and through the sandstone walls.  These canyon walls are Navajo Sandstone, and they really are this color red…

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Our driver, and tour guide, was a Navajo women who grew up on this land.  She first saw this slot canyon when she was six years old and the sheep she was tending wandered into the area.  Her grandfather was named Manson, and it was he that traded the land named after their family to the Federal Government for the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam.  In exchange for his land, the Navajo Nation received some much coveted land in Utah.

(The Navajo Nation Reservation is one of the few reservations in the US that is actually on the ancestral land of these particular Indians.  They owe this to  the Spanish explorers, who controlled this entire area, in the 1600s and 1700s.  The Spanish explorers and the subsequent Spanish government kept meticulous records of who owned what.  When the Federal government wanted to put the Navajo Indians onto a reservation, the courts held that this was their ancestral land and that they could stay on it as their reservation… Zuni, Acoma, and Hopi Indians are in a similar situation…)

After our tour we returned to the Villa and had a relaxing evening.  Most Caravaners went out for one thing or another, so the entire campground was quiet…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-26 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 39 – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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Today we took a boat ride around Lake Powell… We chose to sit on the upper deck in the sun all day…

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Lake Powell is a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona.  Most of Lake Powell, along with Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which we will be seeing today, is located in Utah.  It is a major vacation spot that around two million people visit every year.  It is the second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the United States, behind Lake Mead, storing 24,322,000 acre feet of water when full.  However, due to high water withdrawals for human and agricultural consumption, and because of subsequent droughts in the area, Lake Powell is currently larger than Lake Mead in terms of volume of water currently held.  The lake was filled to capacity in the early 1980s and has never been completely full since then.  Today it is about 150′ below maximum capacity, and about 50′ below average levels…

Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam, which also led to the creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  The reservoir is named for explorer John Wesley Powell, a one-armed American Civil War veteran who, as you already know, explored the river via three wooden boats in 1869.

Lake Powell is over 186 miles long, and averages about 25 miles wide.  There are over 90 side canyons, making the shoreline longer than the entire west coast of the USA.   We will travel up the lake over 50 miles today, then we will go into one of the side canyons, dock, and walk/hike about one mile to see the Rainbow Bridge National Monument…

As I mentioned above, the lake is below its historic levels, as evidenced bu the white cliffs seen here.  This “bathtub ring” shows where the water level was in the early 1980s…

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Along the way we passed by several marinas, all packed with several millions of dollars of idle boats…

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Our destination is Rainbow Arch, a natural bridge (an arch formed by water flowing under it…).  This particular bridge is quite sacred to the Navajo people, and its preservation was a major concern during the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam and the resulting Lake Powell.  Even at “full pond”, as they call it, the Rainbow Bridge will remain untouched…

But Rainbow Bridge isn’t the only geologic wonder… We passed by what appear to be frozen, or “petrified” sand dunes.  These are solid rock…

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We passed by many buttes…

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While it was quite warm on the boat’s upper deck, the sky and water and rocks were beautiful…

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After traveling about 50 miles we turned into this small side canyon.  There are hundreds of these small side canyons along the lake’s 186 mile length, which makes it an ideal place for boating…

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The further we went up the canyon the narrower it became…

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While I’m sure our pilot knew where she was going, it was nice to see a sign that reassured us that we were in the right place…

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Narrower and narrower…

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Finally we spotted the dock…

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We docked, and set out on the 1 mile hike to the Rainbow Bridge…

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Finally it appeared…

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But we walked on, and even went behind it to see it from behind…

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Whether this was worth spending over five hours on the boat was a topic of discussion amongst the various caravaners…

We returned to the campground along the same route, so if you want to see what we saw, review the pictures above, backwards…

We had a lovely dinner at “Bonkers”, an unfortunately named restaurant in Page, with another caravan couple, then we returned to the campground for another Drivers Meeting…

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Apparently, our granddaughter, Evelyn, enjoyed her dinner today, as well…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-25 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 38 – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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Another busy day on the caravan…

We began with a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam…

Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River, near the town of Page.  The 710-foot high dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) from 1956 to 1966 and forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. with a capacity of 27 million acre feet.  The dam is named for Glen Canyon, a series of deep sandstone gorges now flooded by the reservoir; Lake Powell is named for John Wesley Powell, who in 1869 led the first expedition to traverse the Colorado’s Grand Canyon by boat.  You will remember that we saw the Powell Museum in Green River, UT.

Because the dam site was in a remote, rugged area of the Colorado Plateau – more than 30 miles from the closest paved road, U.S. Route 89 – a new road had to be constructed, branching off from US 89 north of Flagstaff, Arizona, and running through the dam site to its terminus at Kanab, Utah.  Because of the isolated location, acquiring the land at the dam and reservoir sites was not particularly difficult, but there were a few disputes with ranchers and miners in the area (many of the Navajo Nation).  Much of the land acquired for the dam was through an exchange with the Navajo, in which the tribe ceded Manson Mesa south of the dam site for a similar-sized chunk of land near Aneth, Utah, which the Navajo had long coveted.  (Tomorrow we will meet descendants of the Navajo man named Manson.  Stay tuned…)

One of the first acts of construction was a suspension footbridge made of chicken wire and metal grates. At the time it was the only way to cross Glen Canyon.  Vehicles had to make a 225-mile journey in order to get from one side of the canyon to the other.  A road link was urgently needed in order to safely accommodate workers and heavy construction equipment.   A steel arch bridge was built; construction began in late 1956, reaching completion on August 11, 1957.  When finished, the steel arch Glen Canyon Bridge was itself a marvel of engineering: at 1,271 feet long and rising 700 feet above the river, it was the highest bridge of its kind in the United States and one of the highest in the world.  The bridge soon became a major tourist attraction.  The March 1959 issue of LIFE reported that “motorists [were] driving miles out of their way just to be thrilled by its dizzying height.”

During the construction of the Glen Canyon Bridge, the USBR also began planning a company town to house the workers.  This resulted in the town of Page, Arizona, named for former Reclamation Commissioner John C. Page.  By 1959, Page had a host of temporary buildings, electricity, and a small school serving workers’ children.  As the city grew, it gathered additional features, including numerous stores, a hospital, and even a jeweler. 

Prior to and during construction, three separate grants were issued by the National Park Service to document and recover artifacts of historical cultures along the river. These went to University of Utah historian C. Gregory Crampton and anthropologist Jesse Jennings, and to the Museum of Northern Arizona.  Crampton subsequently wrote several books and articles on his findings.

We walked atop the dam, viewing the bridge above and the river below…

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The visitors center perches atop the canyon rim above the dam…

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Lake Powell behind the dam…

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As the giant pipes carry water from the lake to the power plant at the bottom of the dam, the water forms such a turbulent force that the pipes vibrate and shake and would destroy anything rigid that seeks to contain them… Therefore, they covered the pipes with gravel, sand, and finally grass that would give pride to any golf course…

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From the bottom of the dam we looked up to see the visitors center…

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This is the water that seeps through the concrete that makes up the dam – about 1,600 gallons per minute…

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The power plant – 8 giant turbine generators providing electricity for the surrounding states…

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We can see Lake Powell stretching over 186 miles up-stream…

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Interesting facts:  See the tunnel entrance in the canyon walls beyond the power plant?

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The tunnel is two miles long and it extends from the power plant at the river to the rim of the canyon above.  It took two years to build, and it was necessary to get equipment to the dam foundations and to the power plant…

Stay tuned for more information… This afternoon we will travel through this tunnel…

It was an interesting tour, as all dam tours are…

We returned to the Villa in time to turn around and head out for our raft trip on the Colorado River.  We will be starting just below the dam and we will be going down the river about 16 miles to Lee Ferry.  This is a quiet stretch of the river.  Rapids in rivers such as the Colorado are rated from 1-10, with 10 being the biggest.  The “rapids” on this portion of the river are about .3!

We met at the Raft Tour office in Page.  After the Homeland Security check we boarded a bus (salvaged from LA Unified School District in 1959) to ride to the river.  Why a Homeland Security check?  We get to ride in our bus down the two mile long tunnel and park at the foot of the dam.  We were admonished not to take pictures in the tunnel, of the tunnel, or anywhere around the tunnel.  Nor were pictures allowed of the wharf at the foot of the dam.  The bus parked with its door directly adjacent to the ramp down to the dock.  We even had to wear hard hats!  Apparently people on the bridge overhead like to throw things off the bridge!  Who knew?  So we left the bus and boarded the rafts…

We were allowed to take pictures of the river and the bridge overhead…

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We boarded the rafts and away we went…

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The first thing we noticed were these holes in the canyon walls… They are “windows” into the tunnel.  (about 15 feet diameter…) We could follow them along the two miles, as they rose up to the canyon rim… They used these holes for ventilation, and to push the debris out, where it fell to the river below…

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All along the river we had fabulous views of the canyon walls.  They extend up above the river to a height of about 500 feet at the dam to over 1,000 feet at Lee Ferry.  In contrast, the rim of the Grand Canyon is about one mile, over 5,000 feet, above the river… We took literally hundreds of pictures.  I’ll only show a few…

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The “rapids”…

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Camping is allowed along the river, at about 10-12 sites.  Obviously, you must boat or kayak in, and pitch a tent… Restrooms are provided…

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Rocks…

img_8601img_8605We stopped at one point to stretch our legs and hike up a short distance to see some petroglyphs…

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We re-boarded the rafts and continued on our way…

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Our pilot, guide, and expert on all things Navajo…

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There is a fault that runs across the river – these rocks are virtually identical, on opposite sides of the river…

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We arrived at the end of the trip… Our school bus was waiting to take us back to the offices in Page…  The end of our trip, Lee Ferry, is a departure point for 4-7 day white-water rafting trips through the Grand Canyon and beyond… It sounded like fun!

We returned to the Villa quite exhausted.  However, we did have enough energy to spend a few happy hours chatting with another Airstream couple from North Carolina.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-23 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 36 – North Rim of the Grand Canyon – First sighting of the Colorado River…

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Slightly less vigorous day today… We drove, along with another caravaner, to another plateau, surrounded by more cross canyons.  This is in the eastern portion of the park.

We saw a meadow with a watering hole used by the wildlife in the area.  And a 19th century log cabin used by early settlers to store grain and salt for their cattle…

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We stopped at many overlook areas viewing east across and down into the canyon.

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We walked down a canyon to a spring, with water seeping out of the sandstone walls…

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The big payoff was Angel’s Window, an arch in the sandstone… (note the people standing atop the arch… )

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The valley below was quite green…

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We also walked atop the arch…

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And we went out onto Cape Royal to see the main portion of the Grand Canyon… And we could finally look down into the canyon and see the Colorado River far below – the river is about one mile below the rim of the canyon…

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That’s it – about five miles away and about one mile down…

The other views from Cape Royal were also spectacular!  Way better than Uncle Jim’s Trail yesterday…

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We returned to the lodge and enjoyed lunch in the dining room…

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We walked back to the campground via the Bridle Trail.  We enjoyed happy hours and had a quiet evening in The Villa…

We had our Drivers Meeting to discuss our drive to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, home of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-22 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 35 – North Rim of the Grand Canyon – 12 mile hike…

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We woke up early this morning – it was still dark.  We quickly got dressed and we were out the door before sunrise.

We walked the Transept Trail to the lodge.  Transept is the name of a cross canyon that leads to the main Grand Canyon.  The trail winds along the rim of the canyon.  We were generally walking south, looking west, watching the sun light up the east facing canyon walls across the way…

img_8190img_8194img_8196img_8197img_5559img_8202img_5566After 1 1/2 miles along the trail we arrived at the Lodge…

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After arriving at the lodge, (1.5 miles) we again walked out to the end of Bright Angel Point… (+.5 miles = 2.0 miles)  Not to many teenagers risking life and limb this morning…

We bought coffee at the lodge, then sat on the terrace and watched as the sun continued to rise and paint the canyon walls…

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Finally we went to the dining room and had a late breakfast of Pancakes and Eggs Benedict…

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We then needed to do some more walking.  We walked back towards the campground along the Bridle Trail…

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Then we continued to the trail-head for Uncle Jim’s Trail. (+3.0 miles = 5.0 miles)…

We walked the entire loop of Uncle Jim’s Trail.  (+5.0 miles = 10.0 miles)  Pro-Tip:  Don’t bother – views were less than overwhelming, and the trail contained many trip hazards – roots, rocks, pine cones, and mule poop…

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We walked so far I thought I spotted the ocean on the horizon…

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No, it was only more of this hole in the ground surrounded by rocks… And a hazy view at that…

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More trails, with more obstacles…

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After returning to the trail-head we walked back to the Villa.  (+2.0 miles = 12.0 miles).  Other Airstreamers were having happy hours, sitting around campfires, and going out to dinner.  We took off our shoes, drank a few bottles of water, and went to bed before dark…

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And a tiring time was had by us…

2018-09-21 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 34 – Traveling to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

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We started the day by realizing that we might need propane.  We are headed to a campground at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; there will be no electricity (or any other hook-ups) and it will be cold at night, so propane becomes pretty important.  So rather than having a leisurely morning and leaving at the indicated time, we hitched up and headed to the town of Kanab…

According to Yelp, there are 3 places in town that offer propane.  The first one we came to had a giant sign that said, “We’ve Moved”.  So we traveled on.  The second place was closed.  No signs or anything – just no one there… The third one looked good – large lot, lots of activity going on.  We pulled in and I walked to the office to see what the procedure was.  I was told, “Sorry – our RV propane guy is not here today…!”  I asked where else I could go, and the nice lady told of a nearby gas station that has propane.  So the fourth time was the charm and we topped off our tanks.  (It turned out we were getting bad readings from our gauges and we really weren’t that low…)

So we headed south, across the Arizona Strip…

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Our intermediate destination is Jacob Lake, a really tiny lake, campground, and lodge.  It gave us a nice break and a chance to stretch our legs.  When we arrived there were 5-6 Airstreams already here.  By the time we left, there were 20…

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We decided to stay for lunch with another caravan couple…

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After lunch we continued on south.  The scenery changed along the way…

We are traveling to a much higher elevation – about 3,000 feet higher…

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We soon were treated to the Aspens changing colors…

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This meadow is called Grass Lake… there are many similar meadows.  At one of them, there were several Bison in the distance… we just didn’t get any pictures of the bison…

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As we approached the campground we found ourselves in the forest…

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8,827 Feet!

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It doesn’t take long to set up when there are no hook-ups…

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We had been sitting all day, so we went looking for a hike (really a walk…).  We have 8:00 pm reservations for dinner in the lodge tonight, so we have some time to kill, too…

We walked the Bridle Trail from the campground past the Lodge to Bright Angel Point.  It was late afternoon and the sun was about to be setting, so it was lighting up the cliffs across the canyon…

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Out on Bright Angel’s Point some people are braver than others…

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The drop off into the canyon below is steep!

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More brave (or crazy) people…

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More steep canyons…

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Lynda was brave enough to walk across this bridge to get to the far point…

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She didn’t look down…

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More sun-lit canyon walls…

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More crazy people…

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We returned to the Lodge…

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And watched the sunset…

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The Grand Lodge is a spectacular pile of stone and wood.  It looks exactly like what you would expect for a National Park Lodge.  The Front of the Lodge:

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The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and was finished in 1928.  Native stone and timber were used to make the lodge with much of the main lodge featuring Kaibab limestone that makes up the cliff at Bright Angel Point.  The stonework makes it appear to grow right out of the cliff!  Very “organic”!  Frank would be proud!

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They built 120 cabins surrounding the main lodge then later added 20 more in 1928. The lodge was initially owned by, financed, and run by the Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, who also did the same in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and at Cedar Breaks National Monument.

The lodge flourished after it was initially opened, but a devastating fire that began in the basement nearly destroyed all of the main lodge and two of the cabins.  In spite of this setback, in 1936 the lodge began being rebuilt.  While the original stonework was reused, the lodge was scaled back to ensure it could withstand the strong winter snow that comes to the North Rim. For this reason, the original second story and the third story observation tower were not rebuilt; however the main Dining Room and Recreation Rooms were reconstructed with higher roofs.  It officially earned designation as a National Historic Landmark on May 28, 1987.

The Lodge is great fun and it has many places just to hang out.  After our viewing of the sunset we headed to the Saloon for a drink while we waited for another caravan couple who would join us for dinner

 

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We went to dinner in the Dining Room… Dinner in the grand dining room was much fun.  Food was OK, as expected in a remote location like this, but the service was good (most servers (and other employees) live here in the National Park, in dormitories…).

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Our friends gave us a ride back to the Villa (walking 1.5 miles on a dirt trail in the dark didn’t seem like a good idea…).

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-21 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Special Note

We will be traveling into the wilderness again today… We will be dry camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and we will have little electricity and little internet access…

Stay tuned!  You should hear from us again when we are at Lake Powell…

 

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