Lee’s Ferry & Marble Canyon

April 17-21, 2019

We headed east out of Grand Canyon National Park, skirted the beautiful canyons on the Little Colorado River and swung north and up toward Page. Before the climb up to that plateau we angled west on 89A toward Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, Lee’s Ferry and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. We were looking for a nice campground and heard that Lee’s Ferry just might fit the bill. Friends had been there just a few weeks before us and told us that they were thrilled to be mere feet away from California Condors resting on the bridge and flying overhead. This sounded perfect to us so we decided to camp out at Lee’s Ferry and make frequent visits to the bridge to enjoy the condor. Shortly before we reached Lee’s Ferry, we crossed the Colorado River via Navajo Bridge (in the picture below). This can be a little confusing. You aren’t seeing double. There are two bridges and BOTH bridges are called Navajo Bridge.

Original Navajo Bridge (right) and new auto bridge (left)

Navajo Bridge

The first highway bridge made the ferry obsolete and has itself become obsolete. A new, wider bridge was built next to the smaller one. Continue reading

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Grand Canyon National Park

April 9-17, 2019

Sunset at the Watchtower

John’s Writing Assignment: Compare and contrast your two visits to the Grand Canyon.

Glorious! Both times. There simply isn’t another word for it.

 

On my first trip I was with a Boy Scout Troop that backpacked rim-to-rim-to rim – 50total miles down the south rim, across the bottom, up the north rim, back down, across and up again… In six days… Carrying a 60 pound backpack… In 100+ degree heat! IN JULY! (Anyone that says, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” is lying. Dry heat, wet heat – it’s still HOT!)

Canyon View – Bright Angel across to North Rim

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5 Sites in 5 Nights

April 8, 2019

Many, many people are jealous of our wandering ways. Even others that full time or do lengthy part time stays in their RV marvel at our comfort with not knowing where we’ll be going, what we’ll be doing and (the biggie) where we’ll be staying. We have to admit it is REALLY cool to live this way and not stress over it BUT there is a price to pay.

We’ve had difficulty finding sites in the Southwest during Spring Break… which apparently runs pretty much all of March and April. This was a surprise to us. We were used to schools being out all at the same time either the week before or the week after Easter but what they call “Spring Break” in the Southwest seems to include elementary school, middle school, high school, college, Canadians, Europeans, Asians and tons of American “snowbirds.” In other words, EVERYONE is vying to stay and tour around in the moderate weather during those two months.

We seemed to always find a site but our last minute decision to visit Grand Canyon brought us to that title above: 5 Sites in 5 Nights. I managed to book three nights in Mather Campground right there in the heart of Grand Canyon National Park BUT it was on three different sites so every morning we drove the RV and the car out to a parking area, left them, hopped a shuttle, played for the day then returned to grab the RV and check back into Mather. It was inconvenient but no biggie. The biggest problem was that these were all dry sites (no hookups) and we were running on our batteries all night. We couldn’t really put our portable solar panel out in the parking lot each day so we had to run the generator to recharge our batteries… and I hate running the noisy generator.

But, I digress. Back to the subject at hand…

Our plan as we drove to the canyon was:

Night 1 – Mather campground, first site
Night 2 – Mather campground, second site
Night 3 – Mather campground, third site
Night 4 – NOT A CLUE (a Friday night, hoping someone cancelled and we got a spot- it was unlikely and it didn’t happen)
Night 5 – Desert View campground (first come-first served campground that opened Saturday for the season so we hoped to jump in, and did)

We were pretty much stranded for Friday night until I asked a Ranger out at the Watchtower and they told me about a National Forest disbursed camping area just 1 mile south of the Desert View Road. John and I wandered out there in the Subaru to check the condition of that dirt road, found it to our liking and returned with the rig on Friday. It was actually my favorite site at the Grand Canyon (AND we had awesome cell signal). We later discovered there were more disbursed NFS camping areas just outside each entrance of the park so we would have found something no matter what. Our motto is – no worries. I have an easier time with that than John does, but he’s getting better.

There was a serious silver lining to all of this. John has avoided going off into the National Forest disbursed campsites but he loved the site we found and happily settled in there. He no longer cringes when I nudge him to consider an NFS site so there will be a lot more beautiful, remote and random campsites in our future. I can’t wait!

H

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Meteor Crater – near Winslow, AZ

April 2, 2019

Meteor Crater Visitor Center

I wasn’t too sure about going to this site. First, it was privately owned and operated which makes me suspect that it was “just another tourist trap.” Second, being privately owned, how pristine and impressive was the crater? I shouldn’t have worried. It was spectacular and well worth the time, money, and effort to visit.

Aerial view of Meteor Crater

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Sunset Crater, Wupatki, and Walnut Canyon – near Flagstaff, AZ

April 1-3, 2019

Mother Nature keeps hitting it out of the park.

Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater

If you stand on a flat area and look around, every peak you see was once a volcano. The still snow covered San Francisco Peaks appear to be a small chain of mountains. It’s actually the remnants of a single volcano.

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Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, and Tuzigoot

March 27-28, 2019

It never ceases to amaze me what “primitive” peoples could accomplish. Those men, women, and children who built and lived in Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, and Tuzigoot were masters of how to live in harmony with nature. They used the skills passed down from generation to generation and what nature provided to create not only amazing buildings but amazing cultures. Everything they needed to sustain their society – land, water, plant and animal resources, and farmland were close by. Although their world may have been small, they were far from isolated. They did have contact with and traded between other cultures.

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Fear of the Unknown

March 25, 2019

People we’ve met have asked how we live as we do. How did we make the leap and give up everything that was familiar, comfortable, routine? Many have thought about doing it but the fear of the unknown has stopped them.

For me it was easy. I needed the change and felt restricted in my old life. I wanted out! It was much harder on John and I know he did it for me. This life isn’t for everyone but those that are interested, take heed; don’t let fear of the unknown control your life.

When I first met John (many years back), he was living a very neat, orderly, and planned out life. He wasn’t overly rigid in his plans but he also wasn’t comfortable with last minute changes. He liked to know what was happening days in advance. We are very different but that’s OK. People are who they are.

Dating me was hard on him. I disrupted that calm, peaceful lifestyle. If a Saturday dawned with beautiful weather, I’d toss any random plans we had and suggest we run off for a day at the zoo or a hike in a park. This would throw John off to no end. Our conversations would go something like:

Holly: It’s a beautiful day, let’s go to the zoo.

John: What? I was going to mow the lawn. We were going to hang out at the house and grill burgers. We can’t just run off somewhere. We didn’t plan. We have to check schedules. What about lunch? What time would we be back?

Holly: I don’t know. Grab the daypack, well pick up subs and chips and picnic when we’re hungry. We’ll just hop the subway and head out. The lawn and burgers can wait for tomorrow.

John: But… But!!

Sometimes we rolled out, sometimes it was too much for John to handle. I tried not to fry his brain too much but I know dealing with my personality was stressful to him. Nothing neat and organized in my brain. (Why did that sweet, quiet man ever ask the crazy lady out in the first place?)

Jump to about 30 years ago. I was a Boy Scout leader… Outside, camping, hiking, canoeing, checking out critters, doing basic first aid and survival stuff. All things that were pretty foreign to him. He was a rocket scientist, a computer guy, an enginurd. He liked things neat and orderly, not crazy with mud and leaves and bugs and snakes. But he rolled out with me and learned all that stuff he missed as a kid and his confidence grew. The woods were no longer part of the greater “unknown”. He accepted the outdoors and he lost his fear.

Jump again to our life on the road as it is today. We are sitting in our motor home in Arizona sipping coffee. I’m typing and John is reading the newspaper online. The sun is rising over the mountains. The birds are singing and calling from the trees around us. A cute  little ground squirrel is frolicking outside my window. Life is peaceful. Life is good.

We have plans for today and a site for tonight. After that, we don’t know. We are aiming for the Sedona area tomorrow but we may divert. We aren’t stressing over it. We’ll find a spot to camp and something cool  to see or learn.

More importantly, John isn’t stressing over it. It’s not a scary “unknown”. He drives the  rig with confidence (this man can pull off a U-turn on a 28 foot motor home towing a car… in traffic!) He has learned how to check and maintain all the basic systems in the rig. He isn’t a fix-it guy but we accept that and hire someone as needed (just like we did in the house in the suburbs). He can set up camp and be chilling in a chair enjoying life 15 minutes after he backs into the site. He is a happy, contented man.

All this was scary at first but not anymore. We still have unknowns but we don’t fear them. My advice to those that are considering a life on the road, just do it. You’ll be confused. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll find your way. 

John originally agreed to one year on the road then he wanted his old life back. Two months into the journey, he let go of the tether to the house and the old life. The fear of the unknown was gone. He was ready for the adventure. We tossed the one year limit.

It took a bit longer to reach the the level of comfort we enjoy today. At first he needed to know we had booked sites for at least two weeks out. He wasn’t comfortable totally winging it. Eventually be became comfortable with that and we seldom know where  we’ll be more than a few nights out. We embrace the unknown… And we roll!

Holly

 

 

 

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Biosphere 2 and Catalina State Park

March 24-26, 2019

We hopped on over to Catalina State Park to position ourselves better for a visit to Biosphere 2 where we planned to catch some very cool science.

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 1 is Planet Earth.

Biosphere 2, a mini-Earth, is a closed system. What does that mean? Simply put, once the doors are sealed up whatever’s in there has to support itself. Nothing is added and nothing is taken out. The air, land, water, plants, and animals have to work together to sustain themselves.

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Titan Missile Site, Sahuarita, AZ

March 18, 2019

There is ONE Titan II missile remaining in its missile silo. The silo and payload area have been rigged so it cannot be launched and a there is a hole cut in the cone of the missile so Russian satellites can see that no warhead is on the missile. The other Titan II missile silos were destroyed. Everything on site has been declassified so you can take pictures on the tour.

Tital II - Missile complex

Titan II Missile Site

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Tucson Area Adventures

March 17-24, 2019

Gilbert Ray Campground

This is a beautiful county campground west of Tucson. They don’t take reservations and fill quickly so people start lining up at 8:30 waiting for the office to open at 9:00. We enjoyed nice walkabouts, great conversations with other campers (we found another Phoenix Cruiser!) and it was a great base to explore the area.

Our campsite (hood up to discourage packrats)

There are desert hiking trails leaving right from the campground and we had beautiful sunsets, a gorgeous full moon on the mountains and just generally great views.

Sunset at Gilbert Ray campground

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