Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mesa, AZ, and Camping in the RV Renovators Lot-Only the Beginning of our Saga!

Thursday, Oct. 23.  Upon arriving in Mesa, we pulled into RV Renovators to get an estimate on the needed repairs to our unit.  Doug and I played a guessing game as to how much it was going to cost us.  Let’s just say we were both low! But, we had an expected high range limit.   It was pretty close.  Once that was taken care of, we found a site for the weekend at Mesa Regal RV Resort.   It was not busy for the winter season yet and is a Passport America park.   It is a big park with a couple of swimming pools, activities, etc., all the amenities you would expect for a park populated by so many ‘snowbirds’.  

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Each site has a grapefruit tree.   The problem with the park is the narrow streets that are very hard when parking a long rig like ours.  We had to turn down the first site because, with a tree on one side and a light pole on the other, there was no way we had enough room to back in.  Thank goodness, the second one was much better and the site next to us, being empty, gave Doug more room to maneuver.  We did make two attempts to get into the site.  One direction was blocked by a park model that was right at the edge of their lot, so there was no room to spare to turn the truck.  So Doug drove around the block from the opposite direction and managed to park us, just barely missing scrapes by the grapefruit tree.  The trees really are overgrown and need severe pruning.   We had the same narrow miss when leaving. 

We had to be at RV Renovators on Monday.  So from this….

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To this…….!  Camping in the repair lot!  Isn’t our scenery wonderful!? Ha! 

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At least we have an electrical hookup.  We don’t even know how many weeks we are going to be like this.  At least we aren’t in a hotel!!  But we have great expectations that the work will be done well.   We have seen the work done on our friend’s RV, so we have seen nice work.   I think I am going to have plenty of time to work on blogs and pictures for scrapbooking!!


Vermillion Cliffs of AZ to Camp Verde

Wednesday, Oct. 22.  Another interesting landscape we discovered were the Vermillion Cliffs just across the border into AZ.   Like the Grand Staircase in UT, there aren’t any scenic drives that take you up to the cliffs.  They are seen from scenic route 89.  The cliffs were on our list of things to see.  We knew we would be driving in that direction when we left Kanab, UT, so we waited until then rather than take a separate day trip.  Silly us, we have been in that area several years ago but don’t remember paying attention to the name of the cliffs.  I could have marked it off my list a long time ago! 

First we had to cross over the Kaibab Plateau, which was a pretty drive through the forest at the higher elevation.  What goes up must come down, so the route descended out onto the open plains and immediate views of the Vermillion Cliffs.  Very pretty in the early morning sun. 

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What a pleasant drive with such awesome colorful scenery.  With such views, hardly any other vehicle on the road, wide open spaces,  and the open road in front of us, life is great!

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The Vermillion Cliffs are the second "step" up in the five-step Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau. They extend west from near Page, AZ, for a considerable distance, in both Arizona and Utah.  112,500 acres of the region were designated as the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in 1984.  An even greater area was protected within Vermillion Cliffs national Monument in 2002.  The Vermilion Cliffs are made up of deposited silt and desert dunes, intensely colored by red iron oxide & other minerals, particularly bluish manganese.  The Vermillion Cliffs were on an important route from Utah to Arizona used by settlers during the 19th Century.  Present day Hwy 89 basically follows the old wagon route past the cliffs through House Rock Valley and up the Kaibab Plateau.  Famous locations in the cliff area include Lee’s Ferry, and Glen Canyon, and others.

The 1st picture is the very beginning of the Grand Canyon.  A bit hard to see when driving into the sun.  Lee’s Ferry can be reached from HWY 89 and is basically the beginning of the Colorado River that cuts through the Grand Canyon.  We had been to Lee’s Ferry many years ago and I remember it well because Doug almost stepped on a baby rattle snake.   Funny how we remember little stuff like that!  The line of rock in the middle of the 2nd picture is one of the walls to the Grant Canyon below where it is so very narrow at this point.  Hard to fathom this tiny canyon and small river becoming the Grand Canyon!  

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We stopped in Camp Verde, AZ, for just a one night stay at a Passport America Park.  This, too, is a pretty area.  We were here twice before.  Once was just passing through a long time ago, and we we stopped in 2012 for a few days to ride the Verde Canyon Railroad.  That was fun! 

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Here we go again for another drive!  This time we went to explore the southern area of the Grand Staircase.  Pretty formations of the staircase can be easily seen from highway 89, but we wanted to actually get closer to get a better idea of what the formations were like.  There is only a small visitor center in the town of Kanab, where we stopped to get more information of areas we could get close to.  There are no scenic loops or paved roads in the monument area.  You have to be adventurous and willing to drive down winding, bumpy, up and down dirt roads.  We can do that!  Always up for a little adventure!  The views and formations are awesome and will worth eating a little bit of dust! 

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The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996, is a US National Monument protecting 1,880,461 acres of land in southern Utah. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of Escalante - all of which are administered by the Bureau of Land management. Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses the largest land area of all U.S. National Monuments, encompassing 1.9 million acres.  The western part of the Monument is dominated by the Paunsaugunt  Plateau and the Paria River, and is adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park.  Since 2000, numerous dinosaur fossils over 75 million years old have been found at Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Our first dirt road took us to the trailhead of a hike into a slot canyon with a fee of $6.  It was a 3 mile hike just to the entrance of the canyon.  We will keep that in mind for another time.  But still enjoyed the scenery among the rocks. 

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We headed down Highway 89 back towards Paria Gulch and another dirt road we were assured would handle our truck.  Yep, more dust!  Thank goodness we hadn’t cleaned up the truck lately!  This took us deeper into the Grand Staircase.  This was exactly what we had wanted to experience.  We were just amazed at the unusual yet still gorgeous rock colors and formations.  Pictures just can’t show the true open massive areas these formations cover. 

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The Grand Staircase refers to an immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretch south from Bryce Canyon National Park through Zion National Park and into the Grand Canyon.  In the 1870s, geologist Clarence Dutton first conceptualized this region as a huge stairway ascending out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon northward with the cliff edge of each layer forming giant steps. 

The further we went, the dirt road wound up and over,  and down and around as we saw vista after vista.  Note all the different colored rock layers. 

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We stopped several times just to take more pictures outside the truck. 

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The road stopped at an open area with picnic tables and restrooms.  It is the perfect area for staging hikes and dirt biking.  We were surprised that a few other people were out in this same remote area.  This tall sandstone monolith seems to be the icon of the area.  Everybody was taking pictures of themselves in front of it.  Of course, we did too!!  There was a small fenced area that used to be an old western movie set, but vandals burned it down in 2010. 

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We were brave enough to continue on the dirt road out of curiosity to see if it would take us down to the Paria River.  The road became very narrow and very sandy, but we kept going.  That was our mistake!

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When we tried to leave we almost got stuck!  That’s what you get with a big heavy truck on thick loose sand!  Thank goodness we had some blocks of wood we sometimes use under the RV jacks.  We dug the sand out and slipped the blocks as close to the wheels as possible.  After some more wheel spinning, the tires grabbed and we made it out.  Whew, that was close!  That was the real adventure part of our day! 

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That was enough for one day, so we headed back to the main highway with more interesting views from our reverse direction.  Worth a visit!  That dirt road took us through some quite unique places! The whole area around Kanab is surrounded by such beautiful scenery.  We sure hope to return and spend even more time exploring the area. 

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A Second Trip to Zion on a Beautiful Clear Sky Day

Monday, Oct. 20.  We were so disappointed that our trip on Friday to Zion turned cloudy.  When we got up the following Monday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!  Since we love Zion so much anyway, we agreed we would return for better pictures and explore the east side of the park.  Oh, Boy! Are we glad we did!  It was such a beautiful day that we spent in Zion!  It was well worth the return trip!  We told the Ranger we were not going through the tunnel, so we didn’t have to pay the $15.00 fee.  We planned on turning around at the entrance where there is parking and a trailhead. 

We just took our time and stopped at each pullout just to soak in all the awesome scenery. 

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We just really enjoyed the pleasant, quiet, winding road that opened up to one great view after the other.  I must have taken hundreds of pictures!  It was so hard to decide which ones to post!

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We would take a few short hikes out onto the rocks for better views and be outdoors.  I don’t think I ever stopped saying “WOW!” all day long!!! I am truly a Nature’s Child!

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As we told the Ranger, we turned around at the tunnel.  We had even more gorgeous views heading in the other direction.  Wow! The crowd waiting to go through the tunnel was worse than on Friday!  Zion is just such a popular place.  

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We were even treated to pretty fall colors on some of the trees nestled in the gullies. 

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Shucks, we hated to leave this beautiful place.  Now we get to look forward to another visit in our travels. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Zion National Park-One of the Most Wonderful of the National Parks

Gosh, I am so far behind on my blogs!  Moving on down the road and out exploring almost every day, sure makes time for blogging a premium!  Now that we are camping in the RV repair lot in Mesa, AZ, (another blog later) and having to be out of the RV all day, sure cuts into my hobby time even more!!!  We are sitting in the local library now as I write, so hopefully I can get caught up soon.  

Oct. 17, Friday.  Our second day in Kanab, we drove out to revisit Zion National Park  We had been twice before several years ago, and both of us remarked that we had forgotten how truly beautiful the park really is.  We entered the park from the west, and when we stopped at the entrance booth, the Ranger said “that’ll be $15.00”.  That is what it costs to drive through the 2nd tunnel that is 1 1/2 miles long.  The tunnel is rounded, so wider vehicles have to drive down the center.  Traffic is stopped at each end while larger campers and vehicles do this.  The Ranger even measured our truck and we were right at the limit, so we had to pay the $15.00.  It used to be $10 a few years ago, and we thought for sure we were under the limit and wouldn’t have to pay the extra fee.  At least it was good for a round trip. 

The road winds through a beautiful canyon and every turn brings another fantastic view of the colorful rock formations into view.  Even the pavement becomes the reddish color of the surrounding rock.

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After exiting the 2nd tunnel, the vista opens up to even more gorgeous scenery as the road winds down to the valley floor and the main canyon of the park where there is camping and loads of hiking, plus the lodge.   Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cuts through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone along the North Fork of the Virgin River. 

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In the late 18th century with the exploration of southern Utah by Padres Silvestre de Escalante & Francisco Dominguez, the padres passed near what is now the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center on October 13, 1776, becoming the first people of European descent known to visit the area.  In 1825, trapper and trader Jedediah Smith explored some of the downstream areas while under contract with the  American Fur Company.  The floor of Zion Canyon was settled in 1863 by Isaac Behunin.  The Behunin family lived in Zion Canyon near the site of today's Zion Lodge during the summer and Behunin is credited with naming Zion, a reference to a place of peace mentioned in the Bible.  John Wesley Powell and his expedition visited Zion Canyon in 1872.  The canyon floor was farmed until Zion became a Monument in 1909.  Congress established Zion National Park on November 19, 1919.  

Zion is the most visited of all the national parks and visitors number several million.  With such beauty, I can understand why. 

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We thought a Friday would not be a very crowded day for October.  WRONG! The place was packed! We drove through several of the parking lots and finally found a spot in the very last parking area the farthest away from the visitor center.  We walked over to where the lines formed for the shuttle buses that take you on a loop through the canyon and drop you off at various trailheads.  The buses run about every 7 to 10 minutes.  I asked someone why it was so crowed and where all the hoards of children came from.  Unbeknownst to us, school was out for a teachers conference.  Had we known we would have waited for another day!  But after the bus stopped at the first couple of trailheads and most people got off, it wasn’t so bad in the rest of the park.  We got off at the trail at the end of the canyon.  We had taken this trail before.  It was nicely paved and follows the river so it really is a pretty hike.   

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It was nice and cool in the narrow canyon.  Of course, you find yourself looking up most of the hike!  The sun reflecting on the colored sandstone shows such gorgeous natural colors against a pretty blue sky.  At the end of the trail you can wade across the Virgin River and hike further up into the slot canyon.  We didn’t and most people have special foot wear for wading through the cold water.  The slot canyon can be very dangerous, so you must watch the weather so as not to be caught in a flash flood. 

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Then we headed back out to catch the shuttle back to the parking area. 

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By the time we reached the parking lot for a late afternoon picnic lunch, it had turned cool and the clouds had rolled in.  So, I wasn’t able to get very pretty pictures leaving the park.  But we returned several days later to explore more of the park on a clear day and those pictures are in my next blog.   To be continued……..

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