formats
Published on April 15, 2011, by admin in Adventure.

There is a mosquito in here. I can hear the tiny whine of her fluttering wings as she circles above me in the dark, waiting until I let my guard down, waiting for me to drift off to sleep. I know she’s up there somewhere, but her faint sound gives me little indication or target, even so, I flail and slap at the air in a futil attempt to strike her down. 

It’s too hot to hide under the blankets. I lay mostly naked, clad only in my boxers and socks, exposed flesh ripe and inviting to her blood-thirsty quest. Sometimes I feel the soft tickle and think she has landed. I slap my skin even though I know it’s only a ghost bite, my mind playing paranoid tricks on me.  I know she will win in the end. She will attack when I least expect it. She will take my blood. 

I stayed in Davy Crockett Nat’l Forest for a couple of days. They have some nice hiking trails and bike paths. There was a backpacking trail near there, but it was one of those hikes that starts here and ends 20 miles someplace else. I couldn’t figure out how to do it. 

The next day I visited Hot Springs, Arkansas. This is the place where families go to vacation. There are amusement parks, water parks, wax museums, petting zoos, shopping, dining, you name it!  All the fun you can imagine. 

It started back at the turn of the century. Everyone who was anyone wanted to travel to Hot Springs to bath in the therapeutic and curative natural spring water. Entrepreneurs happily built rows of bath houses, promising to cure all sorts of ailments with there miracle waters. Patrons willingly spent a week or more soaking their afflictions away. 

I toured one restored bathhouse (now under management by the Park Service) and strolled along the path where 140 degree water seeps from the base of a hill. It is very hot! Do you think I put my finger in it?

 
formats
Published on April 10, 2011, by admin in The Great Outdoors.

For five days now, I’ve been at a campground on Padre Island Nat’l Seashore near Corpus Christi, TX.  It’s a nice little campground right on the beach, cool in daytime because of the ocean breeze and mild at night for the same reason. I have taken many walks along the shore. 

I can’t say this is the nicest beach – or even close to the nicest beach – I’ve been on. The  Gulf Stream picks up trash from all over the world and deposits it in the Gulf on Mexico, littering the beaches with the worst dregs of urban waste. They try to clean it up but it’s a daunting task. 

When I arrived in Corpus Christi, I learned that the Blue Angels were in town for a weekend air-show at the Naval Air Station. Those of you that know me, know that I will go quite far out of my way to experience the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels demonstration teams, and that is why I’ve been in Texas for so long. I spent most of today browsing military aircraft on display, watching old warplanes and supersonic jets demonstrate their performance, and jostling crowds for a spot in the front of the flight line. 

But disappointingly, the clouds rolled in from the ocean, closing down the required minimum ceiling for safety, causing a last minute cancelation of the Navy’s flight demonstration. If the weather looks better tomorrow, I may try and catch the show then. 

I don’t think I blogged about stopping in San Antonio at the Alamo. I stopped in San Antonio at the Alamo. Like so many historical places around the country, no one knew that these places would be so cherished by later generations to come, and so, ages ago, communities and businesses tore most of the old structures down. They mostly wanted to forget the tragedy on those sites. Today, there is little left except rebuilt walls and rooms with artifacts on display. The grounds are dotted with plaques memorializing the brave men that gave their lives for Texas freedom, wall-size signs tell the history, speakers add a personal tale of the story, and a movie gives you a feel for what it may have looked like during the battle. It was all quite interesting and I didn’t even mind the gymnasium-size gift shop – there was no admission fee. 

 
formats
Published on April 4, 2011, by admin in Adventure.

What’s this!? I seem to be losing all the hair on top of my head!  I knew that radiation would cause problems with my body. Next, I’ll probably start losing my memory! 

Anyway, I decided to stop at Carlsbad Caverns (I don’t think I’ve ever been there before). Everything looked familiar… must have been a dream I had.  Seriously, it’s just such a neat place I could walk through there every week. Instead of riding the elevator to the top, I walked back up the path to the natural entrance, over a mile in length and 850′ of vertical climb. It’s a good workout but nothing compared to the Grand Canyon. 

Don’t let anyone tell you this country is over crowded. Just drive across Texas. I’ve never seen such miles of nothingness in all of Interstate 10. From Carlsbad to Pecos, to Fort Stockton and beyond, all there is is oil derricks and wind turbines, scattered along rolling hills as far as the eye can see.  I guess it’s one of those landscapes that grow on you, but I long for a tree or river. 

I may head for Corpus Christi in a few days. I don’t think I’ve ever been on the Texas coast.  

 
formats
Published on April 2, 2011, by admin in Adventure.

Today I visited a place called Trinity Site. It’s in a remote section of White Sands Missile Range, not far from Socorro, NM. The site is quite significant because of what took place there over 60 years ago. On July 16, 1945 the first atomic bomb was assembled in a small farmhouse two miles away, taken to what is now called ground zero, raised on a 100′ tower, and detonated just before dawn. After that, life on earth would never be the same. Like it or not, we entered the nuclear age.

There is not much left there anymore and contrary to general belief (I have to admit I was a little worried about the radiation), I didn’t glow when I got back to my camp. Because the place is only open twice a year, there were mobs of people visiting. It’s all free, even the bus that takes you to the McDonalds Ranch where the final assembly took place. 

I have a feeling the crowds will be smaller next year. When I left I noticed a sign stating that starting next year, because of budget cuts, there would be a charge of $25 per car to enter. It’s nice to say you’ve been there but not worth that much money otherwise. Most of the landmarks were only information boards with crowds of people standing in front of them. If you are really interested in ‘The Manhattan Project’, read about it on the Internet.

I’ve been staying at a campground called Valley of Fires Nat’l Recreation Area, about 50 miles east of Trinity Site. It’s the nicest BLM campground I’ve ever been at: spacious sites overlooking the valley of an ancient lava flow, new modern restrooms with showers, and even electric and water hookups if you need them. Tomorrow I will head on east toward Carlsbad Caverns. I can’t go by there without stopping. 

 
formats
Published on March 29, 2011, by admin in Pieces of my Mind.

People walk past one another hundreds of times each day. We pass in stores, in shopping malls, on the street, in neighborhoods on bicycles, and – it seems to me – usually without a glance or a smile of recognition, content in our isolated world of comfortable individualism. But take a hike, deep into the forest, anywhere in the country, and notice the change when people meet. Almost everyone I pass on the trail will smile and say a pleasant greeting, sometimes exchange comments or questions about the geography, or offer up words of encouragement.  The hiking trail seems to bond people like few other activities do.  It’s really nice, I can put it no other way

Today, as I hiked the Heart Of Rocks Loop in Chiricahua, I met two young ladies hiking the same trail I was on. They would pass me with youthful energy, disappear up the trail out of sight, and then as they stopped to rest, I would overtake them with my steady plodding stride. This continued for most of the morning, and each time we would meet, we exchanged greetings and talked for a few minutes. I learned that they were from Switzerland, here on vacation and seeing the sites in the Southwest. There next stop was White Sands National Monument.  

All this got me to thinking about something. Everywhere I’ve traveled across the country – all the parks and forests and attractions, on the trails and at vistas, at campgrounds in rental RV’s – are mobs of foreigners from all over the world. Tour busses unload droves of eager, camera clickers at each pull-out.  It seems that they can’t get enough of our country. 

A while ago I was caught up in the notion that it would be a great adventure – even enlightening – to be a world traveler. Let’s go to New Zealand! Let’s go to Australia!  How about some exotic local in the Caribbean? How I longed to tell everyone I had been there. How I wished I could fly away to distant land; cruise the oceans to adventure and beyond. 

There are over 390 National Parks in the United States and somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 National Monuments. Combine that with hundreds of State Parks, National Forests, and Historical Monuments – literally thousands of square miles of awesome beauty and wilderness – and there’s enough to keep a traveler busy for a lifetime. The average American has seen only a fraction of the beauty of this country.  A lot of people visit a National Park and never walk more than a few feet from their car, others may hike a hundred yards into the forest and then return to their cars, promising never to do anything that strenuous again. 

Is it just that we want to see everything on the run?  Do we want to enjoy this vast and beautiful world at the speed of a metal capsule. Do we want to say we’ve been there and saw it all?  Do we enjoy the thought of traveler to a distant country?

  Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with traveling to other countries and enjoying there beauty.  Sometimes there are relatives or history to be gleaned. I would love to see the Great Wall in China and the Pyramids in Egypt  Just that I hear stories of people that retire and travel around the world for a few months, come back home, sit in their easy chair, and then say, “now what?”  Take a look at what is in your own back yard.  The grass is not always greener on the other side of the ocean. 

 
formats
Published on March 28, 2011, by admin in The Great Outdoors.

There are few things quite so unsettling as to be driving along in the middle of nowhere and realize something is wrong with your vehicle. Why is it that vehicles break down on lonely stretches of highway, far from towns and civilization, never a single bar of cell service, and on Saturday night?  If ever there was a reason not to travel on a weekend, that would be enough. 

I decided to spend the first night of my trip in Chiricahua National Monument. It’s a nice, easy days drive to the park and the campground there is clean, quiet, uncrowded, and cheap. I also love the hiking trails that wind through the rock formations and along cliffs that once belonged to Cochise and his band of Apaches  I was looking forward to a couple of days of fun filled hiking and camping. 

But first I had to get there. On the map it looked like the shortest way was along a dirt road from Bowie, over Apache Pass, and then on to meet up with the highway out of Wilcox. I had driven the road before and knew what to expect, but it’s always a shock to actually transition from asphalt to dirt.  

A fine dust filled my van from the cloud kicked up by my tires. The leaky weather stripping and loose doors gave up the fight to keep it out and I finally opened the windows in an attempt to set up a crosswind evacuation battle, only to lose at that too. I tried driving slower but the washboard, rutted road set up a terrible vibration at anything less than dust cloud speed. 

As I neared Fort Bowie, I couldn’t resist the temptation to stop and walk back to the ruins one more time. I parked and made the 1 1/2 mile walk to the ruins in record time. I was interested to see if they had the crossed Cavalry swords on display that Richard found many years ago and returned for everyone to enjoy.  They did have the uniform decoration but there was no way to tell if it was the one he found. The Ranger on duty told me some of the artifacts are stored in Tucson. She said a lot of people now are returning items they or some relative found years ago. She remarked that it is a wonderful gesture. 

I returned to my van and drove the remaining dirt road to the highway between Wilcox and Chiricahua.  When I pushed on the brake pedal at the stop sign, my foot went clear to the floor.  I knew instantly that the constant vibration on my old rusty Ford had destroyed a brake line, weakened  by years of salt-saturated New York winters.  

Vehicles now have a dual system for brakes. If a line has a catastrophic leak, you still have some braking on the other cylinders. So at least I had a little bit of peddle. I pulled of the road and crawled under the van for a quick inspection – undoubtedly suspicious to the Border Patrol officer parked down the road – to asses the damage. The break in the line was in the worst place – behind the gas tank. Brake fluid ran down the frame and dripped onto the ground as I climbed in and headed for Wilcox. 

I thought I was destined to stay in Wilcox until Monday, but as I enquired at a auto parts store for repair service, I was directed to a couple of shops the clerk thought could help me. The first one said he was leaving and two more were closed already, but I finally found a repair shop just off of I10 that was open all day Sunday and even offered me a place to park and sleep out front. 

The next morning I hung around the shop and talked with the mechanics, walked to McDonalds for breakfast, and passed the time, as they fit me in sporadicly between other repair jobs. They ended up dropping the fuel tank to access the line, and then the straps holding the fuel tank broke when they were removed, requiring an improvised welded fix. I know that Eastern vehicles are hard to work on after the rust has attacked them for years. I’ve twisted off several bolts in my time. 

All said, it took until noon and $350 for a $20 line, but at least I’m going again. Tonight I’m at Chiricahua and will probably stay for a couple of days. I want to make sure the fix holds and I don’t have any other related problems before I head out. 

 
formats
Published on March 12, 2011, by admin in Pieces of my Mind.

There was a time very early in my life when I had a good healthy head of natural hair. It seems almost preposterous that I would even think about this now, but it all came back to me when I recently came across a photograph of myself taken shortly before graduation from high school. There I was – young, handsome, clear skin, innocent, and yes – hairy. It’s almost hard to believe that in the 60’s, I was considered a rebel sporting my “surfer hair.”
for blog 059

In the late 1960’s, I grew curly locks down over my ears to celebrate the hippie craze, but it wasn’t long after that that I started noticing a reckless thinning across the summit region of my forehead. For a while I did the comb-over method, involving displacing strands of hair in a futile attempt of homemade transplant therapy. If it wasn’t windy or I didn’t make any sudden moves, I could camouflage the balding area quite well. Eventually, however, most of my hair just gave up the will to live.

I never liked the way I looked when I lost my hair. Some men with small noses and round little faces look good bald, but I have prominent German features that don’t compliment baldness very well. I even tried to shave my head – the accepted fad today – but everyone said I looked like one of the Munsters. I guess I should have been OK with the fact that I was bald, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I looked goofy.

For a few years I always wore a hat. My work was mostly outside – farming, logging, and carpentry – so it fit right in with my occupation. Even danger had its rewards with the addition of a hard hat to my apparel. I felt comfortable with a hat on; it became a part of me and I a part of it. My hat protected my delicate head from sunburn and shaded my eyes. It would keep pesky insects from biting and add a bit of warmth on a cold day. I would sooner leave the house without my pants on (I don’t think I ever did that!) than without my hat.

And then I entered a period of my life where I knew I needed a change. The kids were getting involved in school and I would be attending concerts, plays and all kinds of parent activities. I wanted to take some classes at the local college, and I was training for an office job at work. All these activities suggested that I carry a code of conduct and dress that conformed to something normal. I either had to get over my self-consciousness about my baldness, or go to the dark side of deception.

There’s nothing wrong with a little deceit and deception – we all do it. We color our hair, paint our faces, replace glasses with contacts, shave our heads, wear uncomfortable shoes and clothes for style, drive pretty vehicles, wear wigs, and get implants. Please don’t tell me you don’t care what you look like. We all want a little admiration.

I hadn’t worn my hairpiece for many months and decided to put it on for Daryl’s birthday dinner. It was more of a joke than anything, and I was interested in how everyone would react. The wig was made many years ago and it really doesn’t go with my face anymore, but someone that didn’t know me, wouldn’t realize it’s not real. The reaction I got from everyone was all over the place. I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: We perceive ourselves a lot different than other people do and appearance is a mystical thing.

These are the reactions I got from everyone. See if you can figure out who you are: One person was shocked. One person had a sarcastic smile. One person was surprised. One person said, “What do you want to wear THAT thing for.” One person said, “Wow, it makes you look younger!” One person was disappointed because I didn’t look as much like Dad.
for blog 060

 
formats

Every once in a while, someone will ask me about the title of my blog. I get that same look you get when a dog tips his head, and they ask, “What does it mean ‘Searching for Bronson’?” I’ve been thinking of changing the title again just to keep everyone guessing, but before I do, I thought I’d explain why I chose it.

In the late 60’s, there was a TV show called, “Then Came Bronson.” It starred Michael Parks as Jim Bronson, a loner that rides a motorcycle across the country trying to renew his soul. The show opens with tragedy as he loses a friend to suicide. Faced with the dilemma of continuing on in his executive lifestyle, living the corporate dream of climbing the ladder to success, and kissing a few behinds to get there, he decides to drop out and become a vagabond of sorts. His travels take him to different areas of the west where he imparts his values and morals to a lot of mixed up people. Most of the time – it seemed to me – it involved a pretty girl in some way or another.

I’m not sure if he ever found the meaning of life in all of his travels (the show only lasted two seasons), but I would have liked to ask him. Back east, I used to run with deer in the meadows at night, and it was probably just as enlightening as searching for Bronson. Who knew?

 
formats

On Wednesday, Richard, Dianna, and I loaded my van with the bed for Carrie, pictures for Nancy (Dianna’s cousins), and keepsakes to store in there truck, and drove to Bakersfield.  The weather in Bakersfield was a lot colder than what I’ve been used to the last couple of weeks. It went down below freezing in the night. 

The next day we drove to Carrie’s home in Turlock. Dianna and Carrie went for a walk while Richard and I went to meet Carrie’s brother, Mike. I enjoyed talking to Mike and learning about nut farming. He’s a pretty cool guy. 

Carrie is a sweetheart. She and Dianna made a special dinner while Dick and I built a fire. There was wonderful conversation later that night as we sat around the fire, periodically snacking on maple sugar and bourbon balls. I’m so glad that I got to meet her. Bless her heart for letting me stay. 

The next morning, Dianna and Carrie went to breakfast with her dad. At 10:00 Carrie left for work and we said goodbye. Richard and I spent a couple of hours at the Castle Air Museum, while Dianna, feeling a little under the weather, sat in the car and read. We ate lunch at McDonalds, and said goodbye as they drove back home and I went towards the coast. 
Fun on 0ne 030

It was hard to say goodbye. I’ve had such a wonderful time reconnecting with my brother. He is right that it seems like we’ve never been apart.  After a teary goodbye, I drove until I was just outside Salinas, CA, where I spent the night. The next morning I discovered that Monterey has a wonderful bile trail all the way around the bay, winding through historical places like Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf. I rode for several miles taking in the sights until half the day was gone. 

My afternoon was filled with truly spectacular scenery as I drove down Highway 1. I stopped many times along the road through Big Sur to marvel at the beauty of the ocean where it meets the land. I could watch for hours as the surf pounds into the rocky cliffs, sending plumes of water high into the air. 
Fun on 0ne 036

I spent the night at San Simeon State Park, and bright-n-early the next morning, drove to Hearst Castle. Imagine if you will a mansion built high on a mountain, and in every direction some 300,000 acres of prime real-estate,  overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and you will have some idea of the location of Hearst Castle. Now imagine that you can spend all the money you can dream of to build it, and you wouldn’t even be close to what’s there. Ornate fixtures, paintings, tapestries, and sculptures from all over the world. Gold inlay throughout, even at the bottom of the pool. It is no wonder all the movie stars of the 30’s-40’s-50’s, loved to go there. 
Fun on 0ne 050

William Randolph Hearst was a fascinating man. I liken his ambition to build this mansion to the Egyptian Pharaohs building pyramids. And even all his money didn’t guarantee happiness in love. For most of his later life he kept a mistress some 30 years younger in age (Wait a minute…). 

From Hearst Castle it was only a short drive to Arroyo Grande, to deliver the remaining treasures to Nancy. It was nice to meet Nancy and we had a nice visit before I left to continue my pilgrimage. Tomorrow I will find a place to walk in the ocean, just to make sure it is real; I need to touch it before I leave. 
Fun on 0ne 058

 
formats

Not long after I arrived in Southern California, it became crystal clear why so many people live here. While every other part of the country lay buried under snow, suffered from ice and wind, or shivered from the cold, the LA area basked in warm sunshine. I have a hard time realizing it is January and February. 

I’ve had a great time here. To reconnect with my brothers fills me with such warmth, I can not tell you how good it has been. I met with Don and Betty on Sunday and we enjoyed breakfast together at one of their favorite places. Afterwards, we stopped at 24Hr Fitness where Michele, Betty’s daughter works so that I could say goodbye to her.   It was cool and rainy that morning so I recommended we take in a movie. I had seen True Grit before, but it is so good I wanted to see it again.  I tried to get Betty to close her eyes in one part of the movie but it was too late. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes popped out as one of the outlaws got his fingers chopped off. It was a fun time we spent together and a sad goodbye when I left. When we got back to Don’s, Jennifer and Patrick were there, so I got to say goodbye to them, too. 

Richard, Dianna, and I had made plans to visit Griffith Observatory that evening, but the weather was dreary and we thought we would have to cancel. As the afternoon rolled around, the sun came out and the clouds broke apart, inviting us to see yet one more attraction. 

We met Diannas sister, Julie, and her friend Ron just before dusk at the entrance of the observatory. From the top of Griffith Park, the lights of LA were just spectacular. A cool front associated with the weather brought crystal clear air that made the city sparkle. We watched a fascinating movie about our universe projected on a dome screen surrounding the theatre. The laser projector used in the theatre is state-of-the-art, displaying a phenomenal, realistic picture.  As you recline in your seat, it feels like your right inside the movie. 
Fun on 0ne 026

There were all sorts of displays about astronomical things scattered throughout the building, and it seemed that Richard knew an awfully lot more about them than the rest of us did. He did concede, however, that Daryl might be able to correct him on some points.

After the observatory, we all ate at an Italian restaurant, recommended by staff at Griffith. Then it was time to leave and we said goodbye to Julie and Ron. Over the last few
weeks I’ve come to know Julie quite well. Through these hard times, I’ve moved furniture for her, worked with her through the yard sale, and enjoyed her company when we all went out to eat. She is a very special friend and I will miss her a lot. 
Fun on 0ne 022

Between Richard, Dianna, and Julie, I could not pay for a thing. They bought me gas, took me to expensive restaurants, and Dianna fixed home cooked meals every night. Helping with moving and using my van was something I would have been happy to give, but every time I tried to pay for something, Dick would pull the bill away and say, “Your Money Is NO GOOD In California!”.

Right now I’m at a campground somewhere on the Pacific Coast Highway. This is turning out to be one of the most awesomely beautiful trips I’ve ever been on, and I will tell you about it in the next post, undoubtedly by the length of this post, more than you want to know. 

 
formats
Published on January 28, 2011, by admin in Adventure.

On Tuesday Jan 21, Richard, Dianna, and I drove to Long Beach, California. The plan was to visit the old neighborhood where, some forty years ago, we lived, worked, and went to school. I was hoping a drive through town would jog memories of bygone days of my youth.

Things sure change a lot in forty years. I remembered the names of streets I used to tool around on in my old Volkswagen beetle, remembered the place I used to work at, remembered the landmark of Signal Hill, and vaguely recall a place I used to eat. But there was so much unfamiliar to me, most of the time I could have been on another planet.

My brother is a super tour guide. As we wove through the streets of Long Beach, Dick pointed out points of interest and changes to the area. We passed by General Valve where we both used to work. I remembered some of the characters I met while working in the shipping area. The college I attended for a short while is no longer there, instead a housing development of run down buildings. The whole neighborhood seemed seedy, not even safe to walk through anymore.

The one bright spot in a community forgotten in progress was Signal Hill. Dick and I used to cruise up and down the twisting, steep, hairpin turns that characterized the dirty, oil field sloaps of Signal Hill. I’m not quite sure what the attraction was for driving up there except for the fact you could see the city lights below and scare girls with a roller-coaster type drop on the other side, but we were always going up there. Now the hill is built up with modern townhouses, beautiful roads, and a park on top with walking trails along the ridge. It’s really quite nice and we spent part of the afternoon strolling along the pathways, reading signs about the history of the oil fields and enjoying the views. Dianna prodded Dick and I into taking an extended hike all the way around the top of the hill. It felt good to walk.

After lunch at a nostalgic burger joint, ( everything was smothered in chili) we drove to the Queen Mary and signed up for all the tours. For the next five hours we ducked through hatches and compartments on a Russian submarine, climbed through five decks on a magnificent ocean liner, and learned the history of a cruise ship turned troup carrier during WWII.
Queen Mary 007
Later that evening, we found a nice restaurant on the waterfront where we had tacos and drinks, and then strolled through some shops where Dianna found a cute hat. Dick steered us next to an ice-cream shop where we sat on a bench, licking our cones, gazing across the water at the mesmerizing lights of the Queen Mary. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.
Queen Mary 018
My brother and sister-in-law are so good to me. We had a wonderful time. Thank you Richard and Dianna for a beautiful day. I love you both.

 
formats

High profile vehicles like mine are no fun in the wind. My van danced and rocked as I drove through the San Gabriel Mountains, demanding all my attention just to keep from being buffeted into another lane. To say that it was windy is a gross understatement. A steady wind is one thing but strong gusts are yet another. They hit you with a thud, demanding all your attention just to keep a vehicle on a semi-straight line.

I was headed north to spend a day at Death Valley National Park. With temperatures in the summer reaching well over 110 degrees, this January weekend would be the best time for me and my old truck to tour the park. Richard told me the climb over the mountains just to enter the park would give my vehicle a workout both going up and coming down and I didn’t want to have to worry about overheating, too.

Highway 14 north was very nice. Valleys, canyons, and distant mountains dot the landscape, and to my relief, the wind calmed down as I descended into the lowlands. It wasn’t long before the Sierra Mountains came into view and I turned away from them towards Death Valley. It is amazing that the highest point in the lower forty eight – Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Mountains -and the lowest -Badwater Basin in Death Valley – are less than 100 miles (as the crow flies) apart.

I have a hard time coming to grips with the price of gas in California, so I passed by more filling stations than I should have. By the time I reached the road that turns into Death Valley, I hadn’t seen gas for twenty miles. I’m not sure what felt worse, the apprehension of running out of gas in Death Valley, or the reality – as it turned out – of paying $4.45 a gallon for a tank full at a run down mom and pop quickie store.

I spent the night at Stovepipe Wells in a campground built on a chunk of desert wasteland. It was little more than a parking lot divided by cement curbs into a two dimensional grid, sporting only one restroom for five-acres of campers. But it was quiet, cheap, and conveniently located for my next day of exploring.

In the morning, after a good night’s sleep in mild temperature, I was puzzled by the fact that it seemed to take forever to boil water for my coffee. I always thought that water boils easier at sea level than high altitude, but it sure didn’t seem like it.

I spent the day visiting historic and scenic sights scattered along the Valley floor. My first stop was at Scotty’s Castle in the northern area of the park. The story of Scotty’s Castle is in itself a tale right out of Hollywood, involving deception, wild west trickery, and the romance of a mansion built on the edge of a wasteland. The tours were expensive so I walked around the property and read information boards in the visitor’s center. Then it was off to hike one of the slot canyons near Furnace Creek.

In most parts of country, there is usually a transition of plains to foothills and then to mountains, but the mountains seem to rear directly from the valley in Death Valley. It doesn’t rain much here, but when it does, the soft mountain base erodes to form deep, beautiful canyons. I hiked up Golden Canyon to the Red Cathedral, unfortunately joined by about a hundred other people, enjoying an afternoon of 80-degree temperatures in January.

My last stop took me to the lowest point in the USA. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin holds the record high temperature of 135 degrees. It is an inferno of heat in the summertime. I walked to the edge of the salty lake and took pictures of a sign high on a cliff above the parking lot, marking the symbolic point of sea level.

Death Valley National Park was a fascinating place to visit. I always imagined the park to be a desolate desert of sand and rotting animal bones, but it was surprisingly beautiful in a unique sort of way. I’m glad I got to see another natural wonder in this vast land of ours.

 
formats
Published on January 12, 2011, by admin in Adventure.

I thought I would take a few minutes and update everyone on what I have been doing. It seems like the days blend together so quickly that nothing is very important, but as I think back over the last couple of weeks, a lot has happened.

My first stop was in Quartzsite, AZ to explore the phenomenon community of RV living. Every year, the area around Quartzsite explodes with snowbirds escaping cold and snow in the north to live for a few weeks or months in the southwest desert. I drove through the campgrounds of two visitor areas and talked with a retired couple about the requirements for staying in the park. It’s really quite an inexpensive way to live and ideal for people on fixed income. By the time I explored several sections of campgrounds the afternoon was slipping away, so I staked out a section of parking area in a boondocking area and stayed for the night. The next morning I headed out early for Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree is a nice scenic area within the Colorado and Mojave Desert, and I enjoyed the drive along unique boulder formations and colorful cactus displays. The Mormons named the Joshua tree. They thought the trees looked like Joshua raising his arms to Heaven. There is a beautiful place in the park called Cholla Gardens, scattered with hundreds of flowering cacti, accessed by walkways winding through the desert. I took a couple of hikes during the morning and found a campground later in the day. Even though it was a fairly low altitude, it got very cold in the night and I scraped frost from my windshield before I could pull out the next day.
West Coast 010

Nothing on the West Coast moves at a slow pace. It is not a place to find restful activities or tranquil spots for relaxing. Even visiting the beaches at the Pacific Ocean sometimes involve traffic, parking troubles, and expensive admission to the State Beaches. Visiting the Los Angeles area usually involves trips to the wild and wonderful amusement parks scattered throughout the city, and I have to admit that I stood in line and became a kid again. For a few hours, and maybe my last time, I rode the cars, trains, and boats through Disney’s jungles and temples of adventure. It was a tiring two days but I probably got my moneys worth of enjoyment.

Don and Betty graciously opened their home to me and I enjoyed staying with them for a couple of days. I had a good time visiting with them and meeting Betty’s three daughters. Don and I went to the Getty Museum for a little culture on Saturday and then we visited the Ronald Reagan Library on Sunday. It was fun spending time with my brother, but I have to admit that one time at each place will be enough for me. The Reagan Library was a disappointment because there were so many exhibits closed for remodeling. On Monday, Don, Betty, and I will visit Universal Studios.

Don by Berlin Wall

Don by Berlin Wall

Right now I am staying with Richard and Dianna as they prepare final arrangements for Dianna’s parents home and belongings. The idea is that I’m helping them box, arrange, sort and distribute a household of belongings, but I am actually so glad to be here and spending time with them that it doesn’t even feel like work. I will help them for as long as they need me. My plan this weekend is to spend a couple of days at Death Valley National Park and I will try to update more quickly this time. There are a few photos on my gallery.

 
formats

On Sunday, the second day of 2011, Daryl, Les, and I went hiking in the South Mountains near Phoenix.  Les, a good friend and hiking partner of Daryl, and incidentally a professor of botany at Arizona State University, gave me an introductory lesson of plant life in the Arizona desert. It was amazing to learn the names of the various plants and their characteristics.  I hope I remember some of the interesting traits, and that I will be able to identify a few species when I’m in the field again. 

In the chill of early morning we had the trails mostly to ourselves. A few mountain bikers and scatted hikers were enjoying the bright sunshine and crystal clear views from the mountains.  We stopped to admire some petroglyphs left by ancient natives and then ate lunch in the lee of a rocky ridge. By the time we walked back to the parking lot, the place was getting crowded with bikers, runners, and hikers. 

 It felt good to exercise after a week of holiday feasting and inactivity. Both Daryl and I are aware of too many calories going in and not enough burning off. Only the day before, we took a 6 mile bike ride with Apollo, and while it was great exercise, Apollo got the ultimate workout.  I hope to keep hiking and be more careful with what I eat as I head out to the west coast for a few days. I owe many thanks to Donna and Daryl for putting up with me the last few weeks. 

Check out my Gallery to see a few pictures of our hike.

 
formats
Published on December 12, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

Yesterday, I drove to Santa Elena Canyon and walked the short trail back into the canyon. It’s an awesome place to see. The gorge narrows to 30 feet with vertical rock  walls 1500 feet high on either side. I took some pictures, but you really can’t capture the experience with anything but your eyes.  The Rio Grande River is famous for it’s beautiful passage through spectacular scenery in and above the Big Bend area, and that’s why many people raft/canoe the miles of waterway along the border.  I decided to drive the road that follows the river through Big Bend Ranch State Park to Presido and check out the scenery. 

Mexico is privileged to hold most of the beautiful mountains and canyons along the Rio Grande and I often wished I could explore them. I heard tell of one canyon, feeding into the Rio Grande, that is so lush with vegetation it is like a rain forest. The drive was very pretty and interspersed with information at canoe access points. 

From Presido I drove north and soon came to the Border Patrol checkpoint. I have the wrong kind of vehicle to pass through an inspection station in innocence, and they always give me the third degree. I answered questions about every part of my life for the last few years and even some about the future. I kind of guessed I was in for a grilling when I saw the narcotics dog held by one of the patrolmen as i pulled up. I guess it’s good that they are spending money and time with these inspection stations, but all the miles I drove along the border, not once did I see a Border Patrol vehicle. 

Last night i stayed at Davis Mountain SP in Texas, and tonight I will camp somewhere near Carlsbad. I want to see the cave one more time and then head back to Arizona. 

 
formats
Published on December 10, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

I guess I’d better catch up on my journal. It’s been so long since I’ve had a cell signal my writing fell into extinction. This section of the southwest, from the Gila National Forest to White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, down through Guadeloupe National Park all the way to Big Bend Nat’l Park in Texas never once gave me one bar of  AT&T signal. This is not the section of the USA to have an iPhone. 

The Gila Wilderness is the neatest place on earth. I would love to backpack there someday. It took forever to cross through the mountains but it was worth it. The road is so winding and steep it keeps you to about 20 mph all the way through. Finally, you come down from the mountains and skirt the Missile Range on I15 to White Sands Nat’l Monument. 

I took a nature trail through the sand dunes and drove the 8 mi loop around the park. There’s not much to see there except pure white sand. Most of the visitors were sledding down the dunes with there kids like they were on a hill of snow. 

Carlsbad Caverns Nat’l Park is worth the trip all by itself. I never remembered it being so hugh when I was there before. It took me two days to tour only about half what is open to visitors, and then I wanted to do them all over again. Two of the largest and longest cave trails are now self-guided:  the Natural Opening that spirals down a trail for over a mile to a depth 800 ft below ground, and the Big Room, another trail over a mile in length were free with my Golden Pass. I liked them so much that i came back the next day and did them again. I also joined two guided tours, a lantern walk and the Kings Palace. It is just such a place of alien beauty I may stop and do It again on my way back, if it is not too far out of the way. 

Guadeloupe NP was a good place to spend the night while I toured Carlsbad Caverns. I left there with a full tank of gas for what I knew would be a long lonely stretch of barren highway through southern Texas. Texas likes to put up a lot of Historic Markers along it’s highways, and for awhile I stopped at each one to marvel at some fact, but soon I tired of stopping from 70 mph every few miles to read about some cattleman killed by Indians, or where a railroad went through, and passed a few by. 

I’m now spending three days- or maybe more- at Big Bend NP. I’ll have to see how many Mexicans I can get in the back of my van to bring to Phoenix.  Donna says they need a lot more illegals there  That’s the only scary thing about being here, this park is pretty active with smugglers. Most of my hiking has been in the Chisos Mountains though, and the heavy traffic goes through the Rio Grand area twenty miles from here. 

Today I climbed Emory Peak, the highest point in the Chisos Mountains at 7825 ft. My legs are a little tired but otherwise I feel good. I’m not sure what I will do tomorrow

 
formats

The cliff dwellings were quite interesting. It’s one of the few sites they let you walk through the ruins, although, there are guides stationed strategically to keep an eye out for mischief. It was afternoon by the time I finished looking around so I decided to stay another night in Gila NF. As I drove the winding road through the wilderness, a wolf passed in front of me. I stopped in the middle of the road and watched him until he disappeared over a hill. Just before he vanished, he turned and looked at me for a few seconds. That was pretty cool!

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail runs through the Gila Wilderness, and I spent part of the afternoon looking for it. I have hiked small sections of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, North Country Trail, and the Arizona Trail. I wanted to add the CDT to my list, but after much searching, I couldn’t find where it crossed the road and gave up. 

I hope to get to White Sands NM tomorrow. I should find a cell signal for an update soon. Then it’s wherever I end up I guess. 

 
formats
Published on December 5, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

I just can’t get enough of Apache country. I spent last night at Chiricahua Nat’l Mon. again, and hiked a short nature trail this morning before heading into New Mexico.  Before that, I stopped at Colossal Cave below Tucson and had a VIP tour, I was the only one that showed up for the 3:00 group. 

Tonight I’m at a free campground in the Gila Nat’l For. I noticed some cliff dwellings on the map and I will take a look tomorrow. It is still cold at night with traces of snow both here and in Chiricahua where I stayed last night. I gathered up enough wood to keep warm for a while and then I will crawl in and pile the blankets on.  Tomorrow I will head east. 

 
formats

During the last month, Daryl, Donna, and I had been considering an overnight hike someplace in southern Arizona. It would be Donna’s first experience at backpacking and my first experience camping in a wilderness where rattlesnakes, scorpions, and coyote call home. Daryl has hiked in several areas around Phoenix and knows the climate and terrain we were likely to encounter, as well as having a vehicle that could get us to remote trailheads if need be. It seemed that everything was coming together as planned until an unusually, rare cold front moved into the Phoenix area and dropped nighttime temperatures dangerously close to freezing. We were beginning to think that our hike wouldn’t happen this year when Donna noticed that the weather for one of the areas we were considering reported a fairly mild night the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Two days later we were headed for Picketpost Trailhead and a section of the Arizona Trail just south of the Superstition Mountains.

Over the last few weeks, Daryl and I had searched for a trail in a forested area, but the altitude in the mountains of Southern Arizona where treeline begins also brings cooler temperatures. We wanted this hike to be fairly easy for Donna’s introduction into the world of backpacking, leaving out the long distance, mountain climbing, and arctic weather. This was my first time backpacking in a desert area and I have to say that I truly enjoyed it. The only drawbacks were having to carry a lot of water and wear long pants – it seems like everything that grows in the desert has needles sticking out of it.

The temperature for the first day was almost perfect. We hiked about 8 miles through rolling hills, canyons, and dry riverbeds (called washes out here because they only see water when it rains). There were several different kinds of cactus and innumerable plants and bushes, many of which Daryl knew their names. Daryl has a friend who is a botanist and they go hiking in the surrounding area and study plants. It was kind of interesting to learn the names of some of the plants and why they are called what they are.

Donna did great. In fact, I was the one usually lagging behind. I tried to lighten her pack by distributing some of the heavy items between Daryl and I, but by the time we divided up the water and food, she had a pack that weighed more than some of my overnight packs. Plus, she had to carry a whole bunch of makeup and her curling iron and blow dryer

newcamera 018

At about 3:30 we crested a hill and glimpsed a valley far below. There was an open area that looked like a good camping place, green trees near the edge of the valley suggested water nearby, and it looked protected from the wind. Our maps indicated that this place was called Spring Trough. The trail seemed to skirt the edge of the trough and it took us a long time to hike down from the hills and navigate a riverbed into the campground, but we all agreed it was a good place for our home that night. I began to gather firewood as Daryl scouted for water at the spring and Donna prepared spots for our tents. Apparently, this land is open range and cows also enjoyed this place. The ground was covered with cow pies.

newcamera 017

Daryl came back to report that the spring didn’t look like anything we would want to drink. We still had plenty of water for drinking and cooking but we would be careful not to waste any. After we set our tents up, we all gathered wood. The sun was beginning to set behind the hills and already the air had a chill to it. When we were sure we had enough firewood to last into the night, we made our dinner of Lasagna, chicken, and mushrooms – no, Donna and I did not like the mushrooms.

As we warmed ourselves by the fire, Daryl kept getting up to check the thermometer I had brought. By 9:30 p.m., the temperature was almost down to freezing and we were a little concerned that we would be able to stay warm in the night. According to the weather report we had so readily trusted, it should have been closer to 50 degrees at the minimum. Donna and I had tents but Daryl was sleeping out under the stars. None of us were prepared for below freezing temperatures, so when we crawled into our bags, we were wearing all our warmest clothes.

newcamera 029

I remember wakening in the night and listening to Daryl unfold an emergency space blanket. He asked me if I was still staying warm and I replied, “Just barely”. I never herd a peep from Donna in the night, but the next morning she said she was a little cold too. Clouds moved in towards morning and the temperature rose a few degrees. By the time daylight broke over the hills and Donna and I crawled from our tents, Daryl had a nice fire going and we breakfasted on oatmeal and coffee.

The hike out followed an old forest road for most of the way. At times it would rain and once we were pelted with hail. It was chilly but we stayed warm with the exercise of walking. We met a group of horses and riders that talked with us briefly, and when we were almost back to the car, two young day-hikers were in awe of our rugged accomplishment. The only other people we met on the trail were two motorcycle riders that Daryl reminded should not be on the trail.

newcamera 033

I had a great time on our desert hike. It was wonderful to spend time with Donna and Daryl. Maybe next summer we will be able to hike in the forests and mountains and get more relatives to come. Donna and I agree that one thing that definitely could have made this hike better was to have Karen with us.

 
formats

I took a long weekend break from National Park sightseeing and explored the region of desert east and south of Phoenix. Donna is willing and able to try a short backpack hike and I’ve been looking for someplace that would be fun but not too extreem. I don’t want her first hike to be freezing cold, or a struggle up a mountain carrying a heavy pack.  I’m not saying that she will have a hard time backpacking – she walks two miles everyday and is in better shape than I am – just that to see what it is all about dosen’t have to involve marathon distance and mountain climbing. 

I found a nice loop trail south of Superior, AZ that follows part of the Arizona Trail for a few miles and winds along the Alamo Canyon on one side.  It should be warm enough this time of year, and the terrain is relatively flat. Even though the landscape is void of forest, the canyon and unique vegitation should make for an interesting place to hike. 

I continued on to Catalina State Park where I paid too much for a place to park. I’m thinking of getting an electric heater to justify the price Parks are gouging campers in this economic portal. And I could have used one – the temperature in Tucson this morning was 38 degrees. 

I spent most of the day Saturday at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  There is so much to see – almost every plane made in the United States was represented – it would have taken several days to see it all. A lot of the information people around the displays were pilots and it was kind of neat to talk with them. 

Right now I’m in Kartchner Caverns State Park for the night. I’ll take a look at the cave tomorrow and see if it is anything I would be interested in. Then it will be off to see Saguaro NP and look at a lot of big cactus. 
    

 
formats

Daryl and I awoke just before dawn at our campsite in Grand Canyon National Park. We breakfasted on oatmeal and granola and prepared our backpacks with the lightest gear we had.  I was using my ultralight pack and Daryl left his tent behind in order to save a couple of pounds. Today was the start of our lifetime, adventure hike from the canyon rim to the Colorado River, returning the next day on the grueling 4400 foot climb back from the depths of the canyon floor. 

We drove to the backcountry parking lot where a shuttle bus took us to the South Kaibab Trailhead and deposited us along with about 20 other hikers at the start of our backpacking adventure. It was sunny and cool with a forecast of warm, dry weather for all but the tail end of our hike. All the hikers, including us, swung packs to shoulders and paused for photos before decending on the narrow path that leads into the canyon. The date was November 7, 2010.  

There are two main trails that lead into the Grand Canyon, and surprisingly, both paths are quite different.  Most people hike down on what is called the Kaibab Trail and return on the older – more famous – Bright Angel Trail, forming a semi-loop of sorts.  The 8 mile Kaibab Trail follows the ridges of the canyon, traversing open cliffs and exposed walls.  The views are always expansive and panaramic.  The drawback to this trail stems from the fact that hikers in summer weather will find little shade and no water along the entire route. The Bright Angel Trail, on the other hand, follows a natural side gorge along the Indian Garden River and most of the scenery is limited to the walls that tower above the trail. Both routes are quite beautiful, abundent with breathtaking views, awesome in shear expanse,  and formations even the imagination cant rival.

Going down is hard on the knees. Both Daryl and I had our knee braces on and I think they helped. I use treking poles to take some of the shock of downhill pounding away from my knees and I think that helped also.  My leg muscles are sore today from the workout, but that will go away in a few days with no lasting effects. It was a good workout and nothing near as streanous as the Sierra Nevada hike. I’ve decided that never again will I go backpacking with the premis that we need to get done and be back by a certain time.  

I had imagined the campground at the canyon floor to be a quiet little area of a few tents and hikers, but it was more like a mob of humanity, mostly young people, a little roudy but polite just the same.  Hikers seemed to trickle in all day until every campsite was occupied and the daily quota of 90
campers was reached. Rangers told us that before the days of permits, there would be as many as 800 hikers all compressed into this small campground. The impact was just too great. Now they are very strict and check permits religously. 

Daryl and I chose a campsite with a little isolation from the rest and made our beds for the night. Daryl was just sleeping under the stars, but I can’t do that and need a tent for protection from things that crawl around in the night. It was still early afternoon so while Daryl took a nap I put on crocs and waded in Bright Angel Creek. Afterwards, we sat and watched hikers dribble in to the campground.  It was interesting to me that a few of the backpackers were young females hiking alone. You hardly ever see that in the wilderness. I guess this would be be considered a community hike – like the AT – where there is more comfort with a lot of people around.     

Later that evening, we listened to Ranger led programs about the CCC and Bats. They were quite informative and interesting. In between times, we enjoyed a fine Mexican backpack meal which we devoured with great gusto. Both of us were quite hungry.

The night was fairly warm. The low altitude and protection from wind kept us snug in our camp.  Early the next morning, rude flashlights and banging pans from the camp next door, woke us to pre-dawn darkness.  We cooked some oatmeal for breakfast, competed for a turn in the restroom, packed up, and were on the trail by 7:30.

It was a tiresome hike back out but we both expected that. Our packs were lighter with less food and water and for a couple of miles the trail followed the river, sparring us the assent until our legs warmed to walking. The miles slowly fell behind end eventually- after quite a few rest for me – crested the rim at about 2:00 pm. There we were met with a cold wind and swirling ice crystals. 

It was a great hike and a wonderfun experience, something I had long desired to do but never imagined I would have the oppertunity to do. Thanks Daryl.             

 
formats

The Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, beautiful, awe inspiring, take your breath away magnificent… blah, blah, blah. Now, take that same canyon, put on a backpack and hike from the rim to the Colorado River, decending along a narrow path that drops almost a vertical mile to the canyon floor – then you’ve got something.  That’s Daryl’s and my plan for Sunday. Mondays plan is to hike back out. If I can’t make it, it wil one heck of an expensive helicoptor ride to the top. 

While visiting the park last week, I stopped by the backcountry permit office for some information. Amazingly, they still had a couple of spots avaliable for canyon hikes this weekend. It has always been something I wanted to do and the time seemed right. I was a little apprehensive to go down by myself so I called Daryl to see if he could fit it into his schedule. Everything looks good for our attemp. 

I have been hanging around Flagstaff for the last few days, exploring the sights and staying at camps in the National Forest. Today I saw Meteor Crator and Walnut Grove National Monument. I enjoyed both places. Tonight I will drive back to GCNP and reserve a campsite for the next part of my adventure. Stay tuned.   

 
formats

After spending two nights of freezing temperatures in the low twenties, I headed south to lower altitudes and warmer weather in a place everyone knows – Zion National Park. Nothing about this park is like I remember it, and it has become so commercialized it’s not even near one of my favorites. Even on the last day of October, the crowds are awful. I can only imagine what it would be like on a summer weekend. 

Like Bryce Canyon NP, Zion has a huge city just outside it’s gate with miles of gift shops, motels and resturants. Most days in the summer you can’t even find parking in the park and shuttle buses are the only way to enter. Even the road through the canyon is only accessable by shuttle in the summer. 

I found a BLM site just outside the park where I will stay for a couple of days.  From there i will drive into the park to hike some of the trails and read about the history. 
 

 
formats

Last night I camped at a primitive BLM campground outside of Capital Reef NP in the Dixie Nat’l Forest. This morning I drove through some of the most extreem country I have ever seen. The road to Bryce from follows the ridge of a mountain for a few miles between Boulder and Escalante, UT known as the Devils Backbone. The road is on top of the ridge, no guardrails, and 1000 ft straight down on BOTH sides. It even unerved me a little.

Tonight I am staying at Bryce. I will do some hiking tomorrow and catch up on cleaning. Outside of the park is all built up with all sorts of touristry things. I found a laundry and also an honest to goodness shower place- not that I need it or anything;)

 
formats

You’re right Mom, you can bathe in small amounts of water if you have to. I boil about two quarts and add another quart of cold water and it’s plenty for my shower. I have not found a National Park with showers yet. When Daryl, Karen and I were in Kings Canyon, they had showers for pay.

When I left, Daryl and I were kidding around about the show Then Came Bronson and I thought it would be cute to see how many people are old enough to remember it. I liked the nomad style of Cain in Kung Fu, but I couldn’t see myself walking barefoot and karate chopping bad guys.

I will hang around Capital Reef today and look for a hiking trail. I may try to gather some wood for a fire, yesterday I paid $12 for wood that lasted two hours. I won’t do that again.

 
formats

I’m at a place called Natural Bridges National Monument. It’s so neat to show this card and get in free. I’m really getting my moneys worth. There are a few campers here but only one tent that I saw. It will be another cold night tonight. 

Tomorrow I may hike down to one of the bridge formations if it’s not too cold. Then I will try to get into one of the free campground near Capital Reef; there are many listed in my guide book. 

Two days ago I was doing laundry in Moab and I noticed that Secratariet was playing across the street at the movie house. It was a really good movie. And don’t worry, I have figured out how to take a bath/shower in my van. I won’t go into details, but it’s very efficient and effective. I come out smelling like a rose. 

 
formats
Published on October 26, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

10.24.10

There was some pretty bad weather last night. It was the first time I made a campfire since leaving Phoenix, and I realized it was mistake soon after it blazed to life. Usually, the wind will die down after the sun sets, but it picked up and swirled with increasing force through the night.  The fire sent sparks in all directions and chased me with smoke wherever I sat.  On top of that, I cut my finger trying to use a screwdriver and vicegrip to split wood. I need to get a hatchet.   

Along about midnight, there came a driving rain that sounded like hail on my van roof.  I was snug and safe in my vehicle but campers in tents had a rough night. I talked with one tent camper that said sand blew through the mesh of his tent and coated everything with a fine layer.

I’m at Canyonlands NP today. I will hike some tomorrow when I have more time. The air is still cold but the sun is out. The forcast for the next few days looks pretty good.  Cell service is really bad in these parks.     

10.26.10

I hiked about 5 miles today to a place called Lost Canyon. It is no wonder Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid used these canyons to escape and hide out from the law, they are like a maze for miles and miles. I’m headed for Capital Reef NP today.

 
formats

This morning I drove back into Mesa Verde NP to finish sightseeing and take the ranger led guided tour of the largest cliff dwelling. Most of the Mesa was socked in with fog, but by the time I reached the ticket center, it had cleared nicely. I bought a ticket for the 12:00 o’clock tour and realized I had an hour and a half to kill before it started. I was driving from lookout to lookout, killing time, and then it dawned on me-I’m in a different State and different time zone. I just made it back before they decended the stairs. 

Tonight I’m at a BLM campground just outside of Arches NP. The campground in the National Park is full. I hope to get in there tomorrow. It has rained all afternoon and continues tonight. The first sun is not predicted until Sunday.

10.23.10

I spent the day hiking the trails in Arches NP, and I also got into the campground for a couple of nights. It will take all day tomorrow to see everything. There are still huge crowds in the NP on the weekends even this late in the year. Today was sunny and warm for a change and that must have been the reason so many people are here. 

I have taken a lot of pics but I have no easy way to put
 them up. Maybe I could email them to Daryl and he could insert a couple or put them in a gallery for me.  

 
formats

I only drove 150 miles today. Mesa Verde NP is getting ready to turn down for the winter -closed campground, closed visitors center, and only one guided tour. It takes several hours to drive the park and see all the ruins. I spent a long time at the museum and climbed down to one of the cliff dwellings. Tomorrow I will take the guided tour and then move on. Tonight I am at a Walmart in Cortiz CO. There are signs saying no overnight parking, but there are several campers and RVs here.

 
formats
Published on October 20, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

This morning turned out sunny with the promise of warm weather. I drove along the rim of Canyon de Chelly and stopped to admire the view from several overlooks. The view are totally awesome – sheer cliffs of hundreds of feet, colorful sandstone formations, meadows nestled in the valley below. 

The park is located on Navaho Indian land so they take advantage of every oppertunity to sell their wares to the tourists. Every place you stop the Indians have their tables set up to sell jewelry and other trinkets. There is only one trail leading to Pueblo Indian ruins that you can go to unguided, all the rest require that you hire a guide or join a tour.  You can probably guess which trail this high plains thrifter took. 

It was a fun walk down the cliff face to the valley where the ruins lay. Some of the trail was chisled from the rock face and in a couple spots tunneled several yards through. At the bottom, I had to pass more tables of jewelry and a fence kept onlookers back over 100 feet from the ruins.  

On the way back up it started to rain. I ducked under ledges when the showers became steady and hiked when they let up.  At the top, I could see lighting in the distance so I decided to call it a day, get something to eat, and head back to the campground. Tomorrow I will head to Mesa Verde NP. 

 

CyberChimps gives you the tools to turn WordPress into a modern feature rich Content Management System (CMS)