Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Zion Rocks

We journeyed into the park today for some sightseeing and a bit of hiking on this absolutely glorious day. The same person who fired off 60 shutter clicks at sunset last night took a bunch more than that inside the park.

At Weeping Rock, she shot a bit of video.

Enjoy this peek at the park.


Our mode o’day in footwear is our trusty Keens. They’re rugged sandals that are perfect for light hiking. We love ‘em.

As we passed through the entrance gate to Zion this morning, M got the feeling you get when someone is looking at you...and looked around. As a group of four retirees was entering the park one of them was pointing at, of all things, our feet.

“Young people can wear those sandals without socks,” one of them said to others in their group. “The soles of their feet are tough.”

As just-turned 50-year-olds, we smiled with delight at being referred to as “young people”.

It made our day.

Seeing The Light

We love to watch the sunset. At home, it can be a real event. Sometimes we stop everything to look to the west and take in the combination of sky, water, fog and fading light that draws the day to a close.

Last night we were treated to a spectacular sunset by looking, oddly enough, to the east.

Our camp is at the base of “The Watchman”. It’s a monster of a canyon wall that welcomes visitors to the south gates of Zion. In the morning, it’s dark in shade. Its colors and patterns begin to emerge in the midday sun. As afternoon becomes evening, this guy comes alive.

As we prepared dinner over the grill, we planted ourselves with The Watchman in full view and watched the changing light. One of us grabbed a camera and over the course of the next 45 minutes or so fired off 60 shots. This is one of our favorites.

What a treat it is to take the time to sit and watch the light.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Thinkin'

After a day fighting desert winds, we arrived safely at our campground in Springdale, Utah. While we’re far from experts at evaluating RV parks, this one definitely has a lot going for it. And, the view tops the list. We arrived near sunset and captured the last light on part of the canyon from our doorstep. It’s stunning.

As we settled in at this picturesque spot, we took it all in: 360 degree canyon views, sounds of the nearby Virgin River, water, electricity, cable and internet access. We have it all for just $30 a day.

P is never far from his trusty calculator. He ran the numbers and quickly determined that we could stay here for a year for almost exactly the amount we are currently paying in property taxes.

Now, that’s something to think about.


When we checked out the RV, our attendant recommended we take a little detour and visit Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments. On the map, it looks like a little 35-mile loop off the beaten path. On the road, it’s a 2-hour history lesson with panoramic vistas.

Sunset Crater was created by a volcano that erupted almost 950 years ago. It made a big mess that’s still something to see.

Wupatki is a 56 square-mile salute to survival. In a place where water is scarce, next to nothing will grow, and volcanoes erupt from time to time, it was home to some 2,000 Hopi people at the turn of the 12th century. The ruins of several pueblos can be seen on the land today. Wupatki Pueblo was the largest building for at least 50 miles. With 100 rooms, a community room, a ceremonial ballcourt and a blowhole, this was definitely the place to be.

It, too, is still something to see.

Weather Dog

At home, we give just half a listen to the local weather forecast. We have two good reasons. First, the weather doesn’t really change all that much. Second, we live in a good sturdy house that protects us from whatever weather does come our way.

When you’re in a house on wheels, weather is something we’re learning to pay close attention to. And, it’s not the temperature or the UV index that’s most important.

It’s the wind.

Before heading out of Williams, we tuned into the Weather Channel and learned that the area of Arizona we’d be driving through during the day was covered with a dark blue blob, which meant winds up to 30 mph. Joy. Joy!

While the Weather Channel was helpful, the true sign of things to come was the little pup at the campsite next door. This little Toto look-alike braced against the breeze and looked like it could’ve been picked up anytime.

Turns out all the forecasters were right. Sunday turned out to be a two-hands-on-the-wheel kind of day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It IS Grand!

It's one of those places that pictures (our OURS, anyway) just can't capture.

But, here's one of our humble attempts to capture one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The farthest point in this view is the North Rim, which is 18 miles away as the crow flies. And, somewhere in the center of this photo is a blue-green semi-vertical swash. That's the Colorado River at a point where it's 350-feet wide.

This is one mighty big ditch!

Seeing Red

With the Shootout behind us, we boarded the train to the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed a 360-degree view of Arizona vastness from our seats in the observation dome.

The on-board entertainment also included a visit by "Red", a squeeze-box and harmonica playing cowboy who got a car of traveling strangers to sing a enthusiastic round of "Home On The Range". Given the scenery of the day, it was a most appropriate tune, indeed.

Here in the Wild West

Our grand day to the canyon started with a little morning entertainment at the Williams Train Depot -- A Wild West Shootout.

The show featured a fun cast of characters who we would see again later in the day.

The set depicted a town in the old West...complete with red sports cars and minivans in the background. Very authentic!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Many Miles...And Some Serious Coin

Today was our "big" day...in more ways than one.

We traveled the most miles planned for any day on the trip: 525.
(Note: When you're driving a house on wheels, that's too many!)

The co-pilot made her maiden voyage today. "Sure," she says. "Give me a desert highway with wide shoulders and this thing is a piece of cake."

And, we spent more bucks on gas today than the number of miles we covered.

O.K. That's not entirely true.
That was M's guess. P just added it up: $333.

And was the $3.95 a gallon you see here the highest price we paid?


The in-no-way quaint desert town of Needles is serving as "The Gateway to Laughlin, NV" this weekend -- welcoming 75,000 Harley riders to top of their teeny weeny tanks before heading to the annual "River Run" in Laughlin.

The per gallon cost to top off your tank in Needles: $4.29.

Now, that's some serious coin.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our First KOA

We've all seen KOAs. Interesting little pieces of temporary civilization wedged between a cornfield and a railroad track (or some such structures), all within sight of the highway.

Yep. We've seen 'em, too. And, until this afternoon, we'd always driven by. We had no reason to stop. But, tonight, for the first time ever, the cute little red teepee on the yellow background is home.

And, you know what? It's nice!

With water, electricity, cable, wireless and a level place to park, we can't complain.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

What do you think?

A hundred miles or so into the trip, the "commander" of our road beast looked calm and confident. Actually, he looks like he was having fun. (The co-pilot was finally relaxing into the idea of riding in something the size of a garage.)

So, how does it drive?

"Like a house on wheels," says the commander.

Careful Packing

Our first stop "on the road" was home. Many of you have been to our house. Just imagine a 26-foot RV parked in front waiting to be loaded.

O.K. Stop laughing.

Packing this road beast was a bit of a challenge. We were super organized, which helped alot. But, we quickly realized that special attention must be paid to breakables and valuables on the road. And that's what bubble wrap is for.

We bubble wrapped just about everything...the TV (yes, we brought a TV), the breakables (yes, we brought breakables), and the martini makings. See above. (The vermouth is there, too...under several layers of the bubbly stuff.)

Thankfully, we had more than enough bubble wrap and eventually everything fit. And, with that we were truly on the road...with a grand total of 13.9 miles of RV driving experience behind us.

We're On The Road

It all started 'round 9 this morning. We rolled into our local RV center, watched a 15-minute video, took an educational tour in and around our 26-foot long soon-to-be home away from home. Less than an hour later, P was driving this box on wheels down a six-lane busy city freeway.

Watch out world. We're on the road.