It’s been a while…

HELLO FRIENDS!!

Some of you may have been asking the question wondering if we dropped off the face of the earth? We are well, and since my last post about our visit to Crater Lake NP back in July, we have continued our travels through Oregon, Washington and into Canada. The RV and CR-V are performing marvelously, and we have settled into a routine of life on the road. We’ve not only been to many parks and places that we’ve always wanted to see, but met new friends and some relatives of mine whom I have never met!

I have been writing a journal (with paper and pen) keeping a record of our travels, and been taking lots of pictures, but the process of doing the blog takes a great deal of time and lacking good internet access in most locations, I’ve fallen so far behind that I’m not going to be able to catch up and continue with the detailed posts that I had hoped to send out. So for now, I’ll do my best to give you a summary of the past 7 weeks.

On July 22 we camped at Seaquest State Park near Mt St. Helens NM and from Johnson Ridge viewed the volcano that erupted so violently in 1980. We stayed a couple of nights in Mt Rainier NP, and a week in the Olympic NP. There we walked the beaches, hiked the Hoh Rainforest and saw Mt. Olympus from Hurricane Ridge. A highlight was staying a couple of days at Sol Duc Hot Springs where we enjoyed soaking in 104 degree water to sooth our tired bones. One day we took the CR-V on the ferry from Port Angeles to Whidbey Island and drove all the way up to Deception Pass. On August 2nd, we stayed with my Sister in Poulsbo for a few days and celebrated Carolyn’s Birthday. Next up was Kanaskat-Palmer Washington State Park and then North Cascades NP, where glacial water rivers and lakes are unbelievable.

On August 9th we crossed into Canada and met Jack and Cathy, distant cousins in Kelowna, BC who are the most wonderful people and gave us a tour to great wineries that are in the area. Then we headed North and to Jasper NP, Banff NP and Waterton Lakes NP. Truly, pictures and words cannot fully describe the Canadian Rockies. Among these mountains and lakes are hot springs resorts that are our new places that are “must stops” to relax!

On August 22nd we really started our trek East across Canada on the trans Canada Highway, with one night stops in Medicine Hat, Alberta and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Then we spent a couple of days in Brandon, SK, and connected with cousins that are related to my grandmother on my mother’s side, Mamie McKay Jensen. Sue-On and Bill, and Laurence and Christine were very gracious to invite us into their homes, feed us meals, and give us tours around the small farming towns in the area where my mother, Lois Munroe Jensen was born and raised until the age of about 11, before moving to Modesto, CA.

On August 26 we stopped two nights and visited the “BIG” city of Winnipeg before going to Fort William Historic Park on Thunder Bay, Ontario. Here we toured the “Fort” (not a military fort), that was the Trading Post built by the North West Company on the Bow River, where “voyageurs” (native and French trappers) brought their pelts and traded for goods and tools in the 1870’s.

Continuing across Ontario, we stayed August 30-31 at Rabbit Blanket Prov. Park on the North side of Lake Superior and September 1-2 at Chutes Prov. Park, North of Lake Huron. September 3-4 we stayed in Algonquin Prov. Park, Ontario’s oldest and largest park, which at one time had a National Park status. There are SO MANY lakes and streams in Ontario, they have trouble naming them all.

Well, without any pictures and without much detail, that’s where we’ve been up through September 4th. We still have the really big cities of Toronto, Niagra Falls, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec coming up. Hopefully, I’ll post a bit more frequently to let you know how the Great RV Adventure is going. We’ve been missing all you friends and family back home. Please comment or send us an email to let us know how you are. Thanks for tuning in.

Best to all, Bob n Care

Crater Lake via Lava Beds

July 19, 2019

It was great to spend two days at Burney Falls at the start the trip, but were looking forward to moving on to new territory. On our way toward Crater Lake National Park, we worked out a route to visit Lava Beds National Monument. We drove back south on 89 and took 299 east for 66 miles, where we turned north on 139, and found ourselves on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. I hadn’t heard of it before! The Byway starts around Lake Almanor and takes you by Lassen, Shasta and around Crater Lake. To get to Lava Beds we turned off on Forest Road 10 and drove about 15 miles on a terrible pot holed road until we arrived at the Visitor’s Center. We stamped our passport and checked in with the staff to plan what we would see on our short visit. Camping is available in the park but we had a reservation at an RV park that was very close to Crater Lake.

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There are over 600 known lava tube caves in Lava Beds, the highest number of tubes anyplace in the country. Many caves have been made accessible for visitors with steel ladders, steps, catwalks and pathways for easier access. However, some of the caves are quite challenging to explore. We chose a couple of easily accessible caves. Good shoes or boots and a flashlight is required and you can purchase a plastic hard hat in the visitor’s center for $8. I thought the hard hat would be a wise investment and bought one!

Mushpot cave is very near the Visitor’s Center. Soon after entering Mushpot the walls and ceiling were wet and we saw that they were covered with drippy looking mineral deposits. This cave has a mostly smooth pathway even has low level lighting throughout. It isn’t very long either, with just one really low section where you have to use your hands to scuttle through before having to turn back.

Next we drove farther into the park to “Skull Cave”. The entrance the cave opens into a huge cavern and before long it drops 100 + feet below the surface to a section where it is so cold there is ice on the floor. The cave got it’s name because when the cave was first explored there were two human skulls and a large number of animal bones discovered inside. One sheep skull has been left on the ice floor. It was so cold at this level you could see the exhale of breath, when it was over 90 degrees outside. Visitors are not allowed to go on the ice floor. Originally the ice was clear and it was said you could seen a few feet down below the surface. Now it is covered with dust and dirt and almost opaque. It’s sad, but once humans in numbers come to visit some of our natural wonders, just our presence causes them to deteriorate.

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Leaving the park we continued North on 139 and the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. This took us past a huge lava field that reminded us of the craggy rough black flows we had seen on the Kona Coast in Hawaii, but extended for miles and miles. We eventually wound our way on smaller roads to connect with 97 North, which took us into Oregon, through Klamath Falls and past the Lower and Upper Klamath Lakes. About 5 pm we found Walt’s RV Park, in Chiloquin OR. This place had been here for 40 years, and more or less looked like it, but it was in the woods, very quiet and we had power, something we had missed when camping at Burney.

July 20, 2019

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We packed up and left Walt’s at about 10 and drove a short distance on Hwy 62 to arrive at the South entrance of Crater Lake National Park. We checked in at the Mazama Campground and were fortunate to be able to book a Crater Lake Boat Tour for the following afternoon. Then we setup in our campsite, C13 where we would be dry camping two nights. It was only about noon so we had the entire afternoon to start our exploration of the park. From the campground we drove to the Steele Visitor’s Center, where we stamped the passport with our first National Park in the North-West region. From there we took East Drive about 8 miles to the Phantom Ship Overlook to get our first glimpse of the lake. It had been many years since we’d seen the lake, and it was SO BLUE.

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Our next stop was to hike to Plaikni Falls, 2.2 miles round-trip, through old growth forest and a fabulous display of wild flowers.

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We drove about 10 miles down a side trip to The Pinnacles, and walked about 1/2 mile down Pinnacles Valley to view the strange spires. What we saw are “Fossil Fumaroles” that pre-date the giant eruption of Mt. Mazuma that resulted in forming the crater that became the lake. They look a bit like they were sprayed on concrete and could have been made by the Disney Company. We turned around where we reached boundary of the park. Apparently the trail was at one time a main road to enter the park. A stone pillar made back in the day by the CCC marks the place where the road previously entered the park.

On the way back to the campground we stopped to see Vidae Falls which is right at the side of the road. It was a fantastic start to our stay at Crater Lake!

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July 21, 2019

We left that the campsite about 10 and headed back to the Steele Visitor’s Center and this time took time to watch the film about Crater Lake. Then we started up West Drive to see the sights along the way to the Cleetwood Trail at the North end of the lake to make it for our 3:30 boat tour. We stopped at Discover Point, where it is said that John Hillman, the first European American to set eyes on the lake, and gazed upon it and called it Deep Blue Lake. We had lunch at Lightning Springs Picnic Area and sat looking at the lake and Wizard Island.

For our boat tour, we needed to check-in at the Cleetwood Trail Parking lot by 2:30. Then we had to hike the steep 1 mile trail down to the lake where the boat docks. There are NO roads to the lake due to the steep walls surrounding. It only took us 30 minutes to hike the trail, and it was very warm, so I took off my shoes and dipped my feet into the lake – Ahhhh. There were lots of people on the trail just to get down to the lake, some of whom were going swimming or fishing and both. Fishing is allowed in the lake, and no fishing license is required. Many years ago the lake was stocked with trout and Coho Salmon. There is no limit (although we didn’t see anyone who caught anything), because the NPS considers the fish to be non-native and so therefore invasive.

Our boat tour took us around the Lake from the north end in a counter-clockwise direction. We passed Llao Rock that rises up 1,900 feet from the lake level, which is something like the El Capitan of Crater Lake. We got a great view of Devil’s Backbone, The Watchman, and Wizzard Island. We got a view from the lake of the Rim Village where the Crater Lake Lodge is located and cruised around the Phantom Ship island. Our tour ranger guide even offered to fill our water bottles directly from the lake! It’s that clean and tasted GOOD.

By 5:20 we were back at the dock and started the assent of the trail 1 mile back to the parking lot. I think we did pretty well making the hike in just 45 minutes, considering the altitude and 700 foot elevation gain! Way to go CARE! Driving back we continued east around the lake, stopping at Cloudcap Overlook and Pumice Castle Overlook. We have now made a complete circle of Crater Lake, by road and on the water!

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After this exhausting day, we ate dinner at the Annie Creek Cafe, right in the Mazama Village near our camp. Tomorrow, we pack up and leave for our first destination in Washington State and our visit to Mt. St Helen’s National Monument.

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Thanks for visiting! B n C

McArthur – Burney Falls State Park

July 17, 2019

The day has arrived. Phase II begins! Reservations have been made for two nights stay at McArthur Burney Falls State park, and we hit the road at about 9:30 am. The route is a familiar one for us, having made the trip at least 35 times: 101 North, I-80 East over the bay bridge, 505 North and then 160 miles North on I5. In Redding take CA 299 East to the town of Burney CA, and lastly 6 miles North on 89 to the entrance to MBFSP.

Around 1966 Carolyn’s father, David Cook, brought the family to the park for vacation and they stuck with it. I joined them for the first time in 1972. For the next 30 or so years, there were very few years when we didn’t go to Burney Falls. In 2006, when Dave celebrated his 80th birthday, we offered to take him on a cruise down the Mississippi River, or maybe some other place he had always wanted to go. All he wanted was for the entire extended family to come camping at Burney. So that’s what we did.

We arrived at Burney at about 4 pm and set up in site #80, Pioneer loop. The temperature was hovering in the high 80’s and first thing we got in our bathing suits and headed for the beach. The park is situated adjacent to Lake Britton, which has a great litle marina where you can rent paddle boats and canoes, and which is a favorite destination for power boaters from all around. The lake is created by a PG&E dam and fed mostly by the Pit River, as well as Burney Creek. It’s a little cold, but with average summer temperatures around 90, the dip in the lake is a necessity. After dinner we took a walked to the falls. It looked the same as always. Fed from an underground aquifer from the snows on Mt. Burney, the flow of water is constant through the entire summer and fall. MBFSP is open all year round and there are now 25 cabins with heat available. One of these days we’ll have to visit the park in Winter. After our walk we played a game of cribbage. Crib is another Burney tradition, having learned it from the CAMP MASTER, Dave Cook.

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July 18, 2019

I got up as usual, around 7. It’s nice to be up when it’s quiet, have a cup of coffee and see what the day has in store. I watched the sun move higher and filter through the trees, a mixture Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Cedar and Oak. Steller’s Jays were squawking and flying by checking out our camp, to see if we might have left a loaf of bread or bag of chips unattended on the table, that would be free for the taking. I could hear staccato rapping in the distance of a wood pecker. Occasionally a squirrel would scurry in looking for a scrap of food, or hoping that someone would be willing to share a morsel. A Burney breakfast should always include breakfast meats. Today I cooked maple smoke cured bacon complemented with fried eggs and toast.

After breakfast we walked to the falls and realized that we had never walked the 0.7 miles above the falls to the Headwaters Pool. It’s amazing that just a short distance above the raging falls, Burney Creek starts with a quiet pool populated by a few turtles sunning themselves on rocks. They watched us closely, necks fully extended, before opting to slip into the safety of the pond. Just another 0.1 mile up the trail is a foot bridge, which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Just to say we had hiked a stretch of the PCT, we crossed the bridge before heading back.

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It was getting warm, almost mid day, so we walked the trail to the base of the falls. On hot days, this is where to go to escape the heat in the natural air conditioner. The spray from the falls kicks in about 1/2 way down dropping the temperature about 15-20 degrees. On the way back to camp, we stopped in the Camp Store and shared a ice cream softy, even though it we hadn’t yet eaten lunch.

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That afternoon it was nearly 90, so again we went “To The Beach” and a swim in the cool waters and rest under the shade of the trees. Earlier in the day we bought a 1 day fishing license at the store for Carolyn to test out a fishing rod she’d received from William for Christmas. A favorite spot is the Fisherman’s Bridge, a bit above the falls. The creek is stocked regularly with rainbow trout, or there would be no fish in the upper Burney Creek above the falls. Carolyn looked pretty good fishing off the bridge and enjoyed doing it a good hour or more. As most anglers will tell you, it’s called FISHING, not catching. I think she’ll give it a try sometime down the road.

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Returning to the campsite, we engaged in but another Burney tradition, a coffee-mug martini. After dinner, another game of crib. I have won 3 games in a row. Wow, I’m on a roll! Another perfect classic Burney day!

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Tomorrow we leave Burney and start on our way to Crater Lake, so we broke camp and loaded the camping gear back in Honda. Earlier in the day we looked at the maps plotting our drive to Crater, when we noticed that with a slight detour to the east, we could make a stop at Lava Beds National Monument, someplace we had never seen before. So, the adventure continues.

B n C

Great RV Adventure Phase II

Note:  Geesh, I sure am behind in posting the blog.  Here it is August 9th and I’m just posting what I intended to upload sometime before we left on Phase II on July 17th!  Just been having a bit too much fun, and the absence of WiFi in most places we’ve been so far.  Don’t really know if I can ever catch up, but here goes…

Belmont, July 16, 2019

Long ago as we were planning the Great RV Adventuure, several destinations on our list were in Canada, including Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes National Parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Toward the East Coast we wanted to visit Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City and Halafax. My mother’s side of the family, Jensen, has ties in Canada. In fact my mother was born in Strathclair, Manitoba Provence. So we decided we should traverse the entire continent on the Trans Canada Highway and get to know our Northern Neighbor before continuing down the east Coast in the Fall, and finish up around Thankgiving in Florida.

To start we made reservations to stay a couple of nights in one of our all time favorite places, McArthur – Burney Falls State Park, in North-Eastern CA. We then have stops at Crater Lake NP, Mt. St. Helen NP, and Mt. Rainier NP before spending a full week in the Olympic National Park. We’ll also spend a few nights visiting my sister Mimi in Poulbo, WA.

Then it’s time to head for the North Cascades National Park before we cross the boarder and Kelowna, British Colombia, known as the Sonoma-Napa Wine region in Canada. After that we go to the national parks in the Canadian Rockies and come back down to Calgary, Alberta. Traveling East we cross the plains in Sescatchewan and Manitoba stopping such towns as Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw as well as Regina and Winnipeg. After that we’d be in Ontario and check out Thunder Bay. Continuing, we have stops in Toronto, Niagra Falls, Montreal, and Quebec City. After we cross the St. Lawrence River we’ll be in New Brunswick, and finish up with Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

By mid October, we re-enter the USA in Maine and with a little luck see the Fall colors in New England. On our way down the East Coast, we will be seeing friends in Rhode Island, Aunt Elizabeth in New Jersey, and our nephew Kyle in Raleigh, NC. By Thanksgiving, we’ll be in Florida, and stay with Carolyn’s cousin Jeanie, near Orlando. We’ve already booked a couple of nights in the RV park inside Walt Disney World, so we’ll see Avatar Land and the new Star Wars Land!

As we’ve planned it, Phase II is almost 4 months. I figured that by then we’ll be ready to see the family and friends back home again. So, we will park the rig at Carolyn’s cousins place in Florida and fly home to spend the Holidays! Sometime around February 2020, we’ll fly back to Florida to start Phase III. Plans for Phase III have not been fully cooked, but we know we could spend at least another couple of weeks in Florida, where the weather should be warm, before starting our way back West through the southern states.

Right now the RV has been fully checked out, the CR-V had it’s 125,000 mile oil and filter change, we’re resupplied and repacked, and we’re ready to roll! It has been great to be home, but now it’s time to GO. Tomorrow, July 17, 2019 we’ll begin Phase II.

See you on the road. B n C

The end of the beginning

June 19, 2019

We had a wonderful time in beautiful Sedona. We were rested, the RV was serviced and we were ready to GO to start our way home and the end of Phase I. We were expected to be home June 21 and stay for four weeks, during which time Carolyn would take over answering the phones for Cook & Associates, so that Williams valued office manager, Kirsten Vincent could take maternity leave! I’d also work for William and finish up getting the rig ready for Phase II.

We got a fairly early start from Sedona and drove back up the windy stretch of 89A to Flagstaff and then West on I-40 for what seemed like forever, not even wanting to stop as the temperature rose to over 100. We finally crossed the Colorado River and passed back into California for the first time since we left Joshua Tree on May 6th. We arrived at the Desert View RV Park in Needles late in the afternoon, where the temperature guage read 110. The AC in the RV wasn’t able to cool us down much below 90, so we took refuge in the pool. After the sun went down, the outdoor temperature dropped below 100 and the RV AC was able to bring us down to a more comfortable 80.

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June 20, 2019

It was already 85 at 7 am when we got on the road and continued West on I 40. We were looking forward to escaping the heat and staying at the Ocean Mesa RV Park in Goleta (Santa Barbara) for the night where we saw that the daytime temp was about 65. Around Barstow we switched to I-15 to connect us to the 210 to make our way through the LA basin. But as we were driving on I-15 Google Maps let us know that there were accidents and huge traffic delays ahead in LA. At Victorville (think Roy Rogers and Dale Evens – does anyone remember them?) we were directed to turn off the interstate and drive through town. Continuing past town we found ourselves on a lonely desert highway that followed the contour of the dunes, up and down like a roller coaster, such that 55 was about as fast as I could drive. Cool thing, as we drove along we saw oodles of Joshua Trees again! Finally we made a made a connection to CA 14 and drove down through the mountains to Santa Clarita, a short stretch on I 5, and then West on CA 126 toward Santa Paula and Ventura. Hwy 126 was a delightful change from the 6 lane freeways, down to a 2 land road winding through hills, farmland and little towns. In Ventura, we went north on 101 for the final leg through Santa Barbara to the RV Resort in Goleta where we arrived around 5 pm. I was exhausted. This was perhaps the longest and most tiring day of driving on the entire trip. It was however very COOL, thank the Lord.

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June 21, 2019

The last day of Phase 1. From Goleta we had a straight shot up 101 for 330 miles to make it home. As we drove north, we thought about stopping in Pismo Beach for Old West Cinnamon Roll again, but decided to just keep rolling. Last stop in Pasa Robles for diesel fuel.

We pulled in front of the house on Judson Street in the late afternoon. It felt so GOOD to drive in and see the house. Both of the Will’s were at work, and the house was quiet. The moment I opened the front door, I realized how much I missed not being greeted by Dorothy. For about the previous 18 years, we had 1 or 2 Corgis in the house who were faithful in greeting me at the door, and it just didn’t seem right. I backed the RV on the drive way which and hooked up to power and water, because this is where we would be sleeping for the next month.

For me, the reunion with William as we hugged was tearful! He and the business were doing great, and the house was looking good. (Okay, plants in pots on the back were mostly dead, but that was expected.) It was Friday night, and after Will “T” got home we walked over to El Matate around the corner for dinner, just as we did on many other Friday nights through the years.

Another reason we were back at this time was to attend the 29th annual “Memorial Camping Trip”, June 27-30, joining a large group of friends we call “TDIF”. Then on July 4th, I will be playing with the Paul Price Society Orchestra for “Independence Day, 1919” at Wilder Ranch State Historic Park near Santa Cruz. And generally we were really happy to see the friends at church and around home.

We hope that we’ll be back on the road for Phase II with our first destination, Crater Lake National Park on July 19th. See you on the road with much more to come!

Bob n Care

Here are some stats that I’ve compiled for Phase I

Days on the road: 53
Miles driven in the RV 2417
Miles driven in Honda 1500 (not towed)
Average RV mpg 14.66

National Parks, Monuments and Recreation Areas visited:
Joshua Tree NP
Grand Canyon NP – South Rim
Glen Canyon NRA
Grand Canyon NP – North Rim
Bryce Canyon NP
Zion NP
Escalante – Grand Staircase NM
Arches NP
Canyonlands NP
Capitol Reef NP
Mesa Verde NP
Aztec Ruins NM

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert NP

State Parks and other attractions:

Red Rocks State Park Utah
Horseshoe Bend, Utah
Colorado River Float, Page Utah
Lower Antilope Canyon, Utah
Petrified Forest State Park, Utah
Long Canyon Calf Creek State Park, UT
Anasazi Ruins State Park, Utah
Dead Horse State Park, Utah
4 – Corners Monument (Navajo Nation)
Monument Valley, (Navajo Nation)
Meteor Crater, Arizona
Montezuma Castle State Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater

June 14, 2019

Carolyn loved Monument Valley, but today it is time to move on.  We hit the road early for our next destination the Holbrook KOA and our short visit to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks.  These parks are close neighbors, and operate as one.   To start I drove back down US-163 and east on US-160, where Google Maps directed us on State Route 159 to cut across to US-191 south.  I should have known better and driven the extra 20 miles farther all the way to 191, as it turned out to be a rough road for something like 32 miles through remote prairie lands.  Also, the wind really picked up and sudden gusts were throwing the rig about 2 or 3 feet to the sides.  Had to keep my speed down and be alert for the entire time.   Then we drove 75 miles south on 191 to take I-40 west 45 miles to Holbrook.  Quite a long day of driving!

We arrived at the Holbrook KOA about 2.  We only had the one day to visit the parks, so we immediately drove the Honda back up I-40 to the Painted Desert Visitor’s Center for a check in.  In the Painted Desert we stopped at several locations with the wind blowing a gale and our stops were cut short but the landscapes were stunning.

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On the way out of Painted Desert on our way into Petrified Forest we came across a stop where the original Route 66 ran through just North of I-40.  The original 66 is no longer visible.  But there is a stripped down derelict Studebaker sedan that sits silently marking the spot where the road ran many years ago.

Just across I-40 we entered the Petrified Forest.  Care really likes petrified wood, I knew we would be stopping at every pullout, Petrified Bridge, Crystal Forest, and others.  I was particularly interested in the “Newspaper Wall”, where over many centuries the prehistoric natives made their art for perpetuity.

It was getting to be late afternoon when we made our last stop was at the Visitor’s center at the South.  There are many huge petrified logs here and also may flowering cacti.

After a long day of driving and visiting two National Parks, we decided to try the Chuckwagon, a little food shack located in the KOA , for grilled chicken dinners.  Pretty darn good, especially considering the price of $7.50!

June 15, 2019

Today we didn’t have far to drive and could take it easy in the morning, thank Goodness!  We headed to the Chuckwagon again for breakfast, pancakes and french toast all you can eat for $5.  We left at around 11 and drove west on I-40.  Unfortunately I-40 bypassed the original Route 66 through the town of Winslow, where Glen Fry of the Eagles wrote of “Standin’ on a corner” and arrived at the Meteor Crater RV Park around noon.

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Just a few miles up the road is the Arizona “Meteor Crater”, something that has been on our list for many years.   Carolyn’ dad, Dave Cook and good friend John Kinsey visited here 20 some-odd years ago and raved about it.  The crater and the surrounding ranch land is not a National Monument or Park, but through the years has been privately owned.   Today, a concession company has built the excellent facilities and runs the operation. There is a big parking lot, a modern Visitors Center, Museum or interpretive center, theater and good viewing areas on the rim.  There is also an option to take a 15 minute tour with a guide.  With a discount coupon and our senior discount, the admission was $14 a person. For an extra fee, you can experience the meteor “Impact” in a fancy “4-D” theater, but we opted to watch the free video, which was great as far as I’m concerned.

There was a lot of debate through the years if the crater was a result of volcanic activity or a meteor.  It wasn’t until a few decades ago that scientists studied the rocks in and around the crater and it was conclusively identified as a meteor crater. What happened to the meteor? It vaporized in an impact that was like a nuclear explosion!  In fact the rocks here resemble those that were studied at nuclear test sites!

I really found the crater and the experience fascinating.  Since the crater was identified as a meteor impact and the cataclysmic results of a similar impact studied, NASA has been tracking the asteroids and comets out there to hopefully identify a collision in advance to give us time to send a few nukes out there to blow them apart!  Carolyn still likes petrified wood more.

Phase I is soon coming to an end!  Tomorrow morning we drive to Sedona, in what will be our last stop in Arizona and a restful 3 days in a resort, and take care of some maintenance on the RV.  See ya soon.

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Monument Valley June 12 – 13, 2019

June 12, 2019

No trip into the “Indian Lands” is complete without a visit to Monument Valley. The dramatic rock formations rising up from the flat plains are the most recognizable sights that define the American West – at least if you’re familiar with the John Wayne movies from the 50’s. We booked a site in Goulding’s Campground and RV Park for two nights June 12th and 13th.

We planned our route to drive into four states and stop at a couple of monuments around the “Four Corners”. To start, took US 550 South from Durago along the Animas River and soon passed from Colorado into North-Western New Mexico. At the city of Aztec NM, we stopped at the Aztec Ruins National Monument. The ruins are not Aztec, but are really Ancestral Puebloan. They were called “Aztec” by the Spanish explorers and the name stuck. Here, there was a great deal of work done around 1916 by the archeologist Earl Halstead Morris. The Great Kiva is a very elaborate and grand design like none other we have seen, was reconstructed by Morris. This was a large community, another amazing architectural and engineering feat accomplished by the Ancestral Pueblans.

Continuing to follow the Animas River on NM 516 and West on US 64 we crossed into the North-Eastern tip of Arizona and drove the 6 miles North on US 160 to the Four Corners National Monument, a Navajo Nation Tribal park. A $5 per-person fee was paid to the Navajo Nation for the privilege of entering the monument. It’s now quite an big operation with a large plaza with vendor stands all around. There were about 40 people in line waiting to have pictures taken where they coule stand on top of a marker of the “Four Corners”, the intersection of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.  Carolyn bought a small Indian bracelet and we shared a Navajo Taco or Fry Bread taco for lunch.

We drove back down US 160 and continued West about 60 miles to Kayenta where we turned North on US 163 for another 24 miles to Goulding’s, which is very close to the Utah boarder. Along the way we got a taste of the Monuments.

After dinner we went down to Goulding’s Lodge and watched a video about the natives who lived in the Valley and about Harry Goulding and his wife, “Mike” Goulding. The Goulding’s arrive in the area in the 1920’s when few people even knew about the valley and established a “Trading Post”. They traded general goods with the Navajo for art, blankets and pottery and began to provide lodgings for the first visitors to the area. The Great Depression hard hit this area very hard and Harry and Mike struggled to stay on. It was in the 1940’s that Harry went to Hollywood and pitched to the director John Ford to come out and use the Valley as the back-drop for his Western Movies. Many John Wayne Westerns were filmed here. We stayed and watched “Stage Coach” a classic John Ford/John Wayne movie that was filmed here. Great stuff!

stage coach

June 13th.

It’s HOT. Afternoon high around 93 and little breeze. We hang out for most of the day, and then meet at the Campground store at 3:45 for the afternoon Deluxe Tour of the valley. Our guide was inside a truck cab, and we were outside riding in an open truck bed with bench seats. That wasn’t so bad, but the roads were quite rough. We did get treated to several special visits to a homestead where a Navajo woman showed us how they weave blankets and spots where there were petroglyphs and early Pueblan dwellings. Getting home just before dark, a dip in the pool and a shower to finish the day.

Tomorrow we take off for Holbrook and the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert NP.