Pain at the Grand Canyon

It was approaching seven in the morning and the tops of the canyon walls in Zion National Park were starting to light up with sunshine. The winds were gusting causing the tent walls to whip about. The camp stove was sitting on the picnic table, and after several unsuccessful tries at lighting it, Ashton recommends we break camp and stop for coffee and breakfast along the way. That sounded like a fantastic idea…. better than bringing the camp stove into the tent in hopes of blocking that wind.

north rim of the Grand Canyon
Another day, another scenic view!

We quickly broke camp and did a fantastic job battling the excessive winds. We were getting good at this tenting thing and working instinctively well together. We managed to control the thin nylon tent and keep it from taking flight like a kite. We then loaded up Charlotte (Honda CRV) in a neat and organized manner. We still didn’t have a firm plan in mind for the day, but we were living on RV time and rolling with the winds.

Echo Canyon Zion National ParkBefore driving off, we took one more look around the campsite making sure we hadn’t left anything behind. We glanced over at the neighboring campsites…. no movement. Appears our camp comrades were still sound asleep. Fortunately, we had bid farewell to our neighbors the night before over a campfire.

With a nostalgic wave to our new friends and the gorgeous Zion Canyon, we reluctantly drove down the road. The day before, the Mt. Carmel Highway on the east end of Zion National Park had closed due to a landslide which required us to come up with an alternate route.

Recalculating and turning our road trip into a big loop turned out perfectly. We experienced things that we totally would’ve missed out on had we stayed with the original route.

First and foremost on the agenda was breakfast. We ended up driving through the quaint town of Springdale, located just on the outskirts of Zion National Park. For some unknown reason, nothing caught our attention. About thirty minutes later with our tummies growling and cravings for coffee increasing, we pulled into the River Rock Roasting Company. And what a find this was!

River Rock Roasters
Great coffee, great food, great view – River Rock Roasters, La Verkin, Utah

Ashton and I enjoyed the coffee and breakfast bagels so much so, that she and I agreed we’d go out of our way to visit this place again. Was it the view or the fact we were hangry or was it our need for caffeine (coffee addiction satiated) or is this place that good? Didn’t matter to us. We were a couple of happy campers and ready to face the day after our plates and coffee cups were empty.

About an hour or so down the road, we saw a sign noting the mileage to the Grand Canyon. In our typical mother/daughter fashion, we glanced at each other and said, “Hey, we’re this close, might as well stop”.

north rim of the Grand Canyon
Me on the left, Ashton on the right – at the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Turns out the north rim of the Grand Canyon had just opened to tourists a few days earlier. Good timing for us. I’ve driven this stretch of 89A in northern Arizona a couple of times in years past, and Road 67 to the Grand Canyon was always closed. Therefore, a visit to the north rim would be a first for both of us.

Access to the north rim is limited to the summer months, or rather from about mid May until the first serious snow fall which can occur in September or October. The south rim stays open year-round.

We found plenty of parking at the visitor center. As I stepped out of the car, I felt pain … pain all over and immediately used some colorful language. Not one of my finer moments considering I wasn’t setting a good example for my daughter. The car door was still north rimopen which allowed her to hear every inappropriate comment I uttered.

From inside the vehicle, I heard my daughter exclaim, “Mother. What is your problem?” Just then, she exited Charlotte and in our typical mother/daughter fashion, she joined me in voicing colorful expletives…. “Holy sh*t! WTF! OMG!” Thank goodness the parking lot was relatively empty and there wasn’t anyone else within ear shot of us. With each step we took, another expletive escaped our mouths along with a few laughs. Gosh, we hurt!

That eleven mile, strenuous, 2,148 foot elevation gain hike the day before in Zion National Park had finally caught up with us. Ah, the cockiness we expressed just hours earlier had come back to haunt us. We were feeling just fine when we woke up that morning. Guess our muscles just needed a little extra time to process the abuse from the day before.

We slowly and gingerly worked through our pain and walked to the visitor center and picked up a park map. At this point, any sane person would’ve called it a day and returned to their car. Nope! Not us. Let’s do some more hiking!north rim

We were at the north rim of the Grand Canyon which required a little sightseeing and photo taking and the fact that we had trouble walking due to pain was merely an inconvenience. Did I mention how much we hurt?

north rim of the Grand Canyon
“I can take pictures of the Grand Canyon from here”, exclaimed Ashton

When an Adirondack chair presented itself, Ashton didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation.

After strolling out to a popular scenic overlook (Angel Point – I think) and a little more photo taking, we enjoyed lunch at the Grand Canyon Lodge cafe. This is when we came to the realization that the thought of setting up the tent later in the day would be a grueling endeavor. Something we didn’t look forward to. We even had doubts that we could physically handle it.

Recalculating! Exuberantly, I said to Ashton, “Dad is in Phoenix spending the weekend with your brother, which means the RV in Prescott is empty. How about we drive all the way to Prescott and sleep in a bed tonight? Let’s forget about the tent.” I barely finished talking when Ashton, rather loudly, exclaimed, “Sold!” Yeah, a few heads in the restaurant turned, but we didn’t care. Neither one of us thought we were capable of the movement necessary to pitch a tent, let alone sleep on the ground. Once we made it to the ground on our air mattresses, we doubted we could get back up. Did I already mention how much we hurt? 🤣

Lee's Ferry Historic Site
Ashton finds another spot to take a break – historic site at Lee’s Ferry

With our new plan mapped out and a renewed spring in our step, we headed off to our next location – Lee’s Ferry. Even though our original plan to camp here was nixed, I still wanted to stop for a quick visit. It had been nearly twenty years since I last drove by this area and I wanted a refresher.

Colorado River boat tour
Boats return from a tour up river thru Horseshoe Bend and near the base of Glen Canyon Damn

When the boats pulled in after their scenic tour up river, I had an aha moment. So this is where the boats come from as they motor up the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend and to the bottom of the Glen Canyon Damn for sightseeing.

I remember peering over the cliff edge at the scenic Horseshoe Bend and wondering where the boats down below came from. How does one go about boating this stretch of the Colorado River? Lee’s Ferry is the answer.

Grand Canyon rafting
These are supply boats getting ready to head downstream through some serious whitewater rapids.

Lee’s Ferry is also the starting point for an incredible whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Ashton and I watched these supply boats getting ready to head down stream. I explained to Ashton …. rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a memorable once in life-time kind of adventure. When one signs up for such a trip, all they need to bring are their personal items. Thus, crews are needed to haul all Lee's Ferry historic sitethe supplies, camping gear, and food as well as do all the set up and prepare the meals. These were the boats we were observing – the supply boats and crew.

I’ll admit, I was relieved when I didn’t hear the comment, “Let’s do that for our next adventure“. I’m sure our current state of fatigue accompanied by sore muscles came into play.

It was getting late in the day and as tempting as it was to grab a campsite and call it a day, the thought of pitching a tent had us moving on down the road.

Three and a half hours later, we pulled into the RV park in Prescott Valley and a real bed in my home. It had been a long day of travel, twelve hours to be exact, but we weren’t complaining. We had just completed the best mother/daughter trip to date; a trip filled with amazing scenery and even more amazing memories.

I’m not sure how we’ll ever top this adventure, but we can sure try!prickly pear

Oh, yeah….Happy Hour!

Oh, yeah….Happy Hour!

Parker, ArizonaAfter our visit with the wild Burros, we continued our journey.  Between the towns of Parker and Lake Havasu City, highway 95 in Arizona parallels the Colorado River skirting between red rock cliffs, resorts, and shoreline.  I find this stretch of road particularly scenic.

While enjoying a lovely scenic drive, the four of us developed quite a thirst and appetite.  We had a destination in mind to satisfy our needs and the Pirate’s Den proved to be the perfect spot.  Ya-hoo…it’s happy hour between 3:00 and 6:00; drinks are $3 and taco’s are $1.25 each…..and talk about a fun atmosphere.

Yep, good food, good drink, great company………I could get used to this place!

We spend a couple of hours sitting under a yellow umbrella indulging in some tasty tacos and cool margaritas.  Hum, we wondered if staying at the adjacent Pirate’s Den RV Resort might be in our future?

Parker AZ
Pirate’s Den RV Resort

After some pondering and discussion, it became clear…… having the Pirate’s Den bar steps from our RV door may not be in our best interest.  The title ‘bar fly’ comes to mind.  Hum, would that really be so bad?  Ah, days swinging in a hammock, followed by slurping drinks while lounging under yellow umbrellas amongst blue skies and sparkling water….. 😕

With tummies full thirst quenched, we returned to camp at Cattail Cove State Park to watch the sunset over the warmth of a roaring campfire.Cattail Cove State Park

The following day, our last day in the area, was spent walking and picnicking along the shores of Lake Havasu.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed off to Rotary Park located in the heart of Lake Havasu City.

Al and I spent a couple of hours strolling the paved walkway that meanders along Lake Havasu.  We walked to the famous London Bridge and beyond taking in the sights.  This is really a beautiful park dotted with playgrounds, picnic tables, a huge skate park, sandy shores, marinas, and a wide concrete sidewalk for all to enjoy.

London Bridge
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, AZ

Lake HavasuShortly after strolling under London Bridge the sidewalk ended but we continued to the little lighthouse in the distance.  The lighthouse sits within Lake Havasu State Park boundaries.  Al and I walked further into the State Park checking out the campsites.  The campsites looked nice with a few even backing up to the water.

During our visit, they were completing various updates; adding water and sewer hook-ups to some of the campsites.  Full hook-ups at a State Park?  Location and scenery to boot? We’ll need to add this to our list of potential spots to call home during a future visit!

This State Park is not only located at the shores of Lake Havasu but is conveniently located within city limits and thus is a short distance to nearby stores, restaurant’s, and bars.  Yep, I’d say Lake Havasu State Park is worthy of a visit.  But unless you’re in your twenties, you may want to shy away from this area during Spring Break.  Lake Havasu is now one of the top places in the country for Breakers to party.Lake Havasu

Another popular time, not so much for the twenty something’s, but more for their parents, is President’s Day Weekend in February.  Reservations for this three-day weekend are a must.  Lake Havasu City puts on a huge and popular fireworks display in Sara Park.  There are live concerts, a hot rod show, and much more happenings throughout the town.  It actually gets quite crowded.  A couple of years ago, we just so happened to visit Lake Havasu during this popular time.  And although fun, it did get very congested.Blue Heron

In our opinion, no trip to Lake Havasu City would be complete without a visit to Rotary Park, as well as a walk over and under the famous London Bridge.

We loved our five-day visit to Lake Havasu, Arizona.  It was also great visiting with friends.  Although we may not have the opportunity to revisit Lake Havasu this year, we hope to make it a lengthy pit stop some time in 2014.


Yep, that’s my photo

Yep, that’s my photo

We point the rig toward Utah via Interstate 70 and head in a westerly direction for about thirty minutes before making the turn south.  Yes, our southern migration has started.  We pick up Utah’s scenic byway 128 which meanders along the Colorado River.

Scenic Byway 128, Utah
Scenic Byway 128, Utah… Fisher Tower and La Sal Mountains in background

The last time Al and I took this route was nearly twenty years ago.  I remember feeling very uncomfortable in this remote and desolate terrain.  It’s a far cry from the flat cornfields of Illinois or green forests of Wisconsin.  “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”.

Colorado River
Scenic Byway 128, Utah. Road meanders along the Colorado River

The discomfort felt years ago has long since been replaced with excitement…..excitement to explore and experience new and unique lands.

The distance between Grand Junction, Colorado and Moab, Utah is around 100 miles.  It doesn’t take us long before Al and I find a picturesque place to call home for a few days located just south of the town of Moab, Utah.  We had debated whether to stay in a RV Park or dry camp in one of several campgrounds operated by BLM (Bureau of Land Management).  Since we’ll be staying in a RV Park for a few months this winter, we opt to rough it.  It’s all about the views and open space in this gorgeous slice of the United States.

Moab, Utah
Our new home just south of Moab….complete with waterfall in the background

Like many folks, we like the conveniences of full hook-ups but love to have views and trails out our front door.   Al and I have found what works for us.  A little dry camping, a little RV Park, back to dry camping, followed by a RV Park.  We all have to figure out our own way and what floats our boat in this RV lifestyle.  So for this leg of our journey, we dry camp and what a sweet spot we found….complete with a waterfall in the background.

Moab, Utah
Trailhead across from our campsite….trail leads along creek up to the waterfall…waterfall pictured in next photo up

Once home is set up, hubby and I set out to take in the landscape, and oh, what spectacular landscape it is.  Our first stop is Canyonlands National Park.

Well known Mesa Arch in Canyonlands
Canyonlands National Park
We were glad we wore our hiking boots. Trails to overlooks aren’t always easy or short.

Canyonlands National Park is located in Southeast Utah near the town of Moab and is the largest National Park in Utah.  The park is divided into three different sections.  We visit the northern section; Island in the Sky.  Aptly named since Island in the Sky is a mesa surrounded by sheer sandstone cliffs sitting over 1,000 feet above the terrain below.

Whiling driving through the park, we’re greeted with panoramic views at the various pull-outs and scenic overlooks.  We’re told one can see as far as 100 miles (161 km) away.  Each overlook offers a different and spectacular landscape.


This colorful landscape has been eroded into canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado and Green Rivers.  These two rivers wind their way through the heart of Canyonlands.

Mesa Arch
Yep, this is MY photo!  Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park ……similar photo preloaded in  most computers desktop backgrounds

The highlight of my day was the visit to Mesa Arch.  I’m sure many of you may recognize this photo.  Most Computers have a similar preloaded photo option for your desktop background; found under desktop backgrounds – landscapes.  I’ve always been enamored with that preloaded photo.  To actually visit the place and snap my own photograph was sheer joy.

Mesa Arch
One of the rare times excessive winds made me smile….happy camper!

It was a super windy day whipping my hair around, but then again it is the wind that forms all these unique sculptures.  Visitors, myself included, are sure not to venture too close to the edge.  The gusts of wind play with one’s balance.  And it’s a long waaaay down!

“Hey, Ingrid….don’t get to close to that ledge. It’s a long waaay down”!

After our day exploring Canyonlands National Park, hubby and I realize we did not allow ourselves enough time in our travel schedule to stay in the Moab area.  Guess we were having way too much fun in Grand Junction.  We have a reservation in Phoenix starting October 1st.  Oh well, perhaps we’ll be a day late because I’m already dragging my feet with the thought of moving on.

My new backyard

Ah, the beauty of the RV lifestyle…..I get to come back in the spring when the heat of the Arizona desert pushes us north.  So as hubby says, “We don’t have to see it all today”.Canyonlands

Next stop Arches National Park.

The Canyon of all Canyons

Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon….wow, what can one really say about one of the Seven Wonders of the World?  We enter the National Park via the less traveled east entrance.  As the road bends bringing us closer to the canyons edge, we’re graced with spectacular views.  Then the road bends us back into the forest of pine trees.  The twists and turns in the road continue to tease us with amazing scenery for approximately 27 miles before we arrive at The Village.

Grand Canyon
Desert View Watchtower

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is more popular and commercial than the North Rim.  The weather front that brought our little wind storm to Lake Powell brought the first major snow of the season to the North Rim, officially closing the North Rim until spring.

There are two campgrounds within the National Park boundary at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Mather’s Campground does not offer hook-ups and all information indicates a 30′ length restriction.  The next day without RV in tow, Al and I drive through this campground.  And oh boy, are we ever glad we did not explore with the rig attached.  The roads and the sites are fine, it’s the pine trees.  Mather’s Campground sits within a highly populated forest of pine trees.  A narrow road with a series of tight twists and turns along with low hanging branches, makes it almost impossible for large rigs to navigate without sustaining some sort of body damage.Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonPrior to physically seeing this campground, we actually considered trying to squeeze in.  However, generators are not allowed and with below freezing temperatures anticipated, Al and I seek electric hook-up….heat baby, heat.  I need heat!  Thank goodness for the cold weather, (don’t expect me to say that too many times) we drive past Mather’s Campground and pull into Trailer Village.  The Trailer Village Campground is old, sites are unlevel, there is uneven pavement with large pot holes, but plenty of pull-thru’s with hook-ups and room for just about any length of RV.

We quickly get the rig set up at Trailer Village and get the heat running before heading to the “Rim”.  Al does not hook up water to the spigot due to night time temps.  We have water in our holding tank and with the forced air heat running, it’ll keep water in our RV system from freezing.Grand Canyon

It quickly becomes obvious, Grand Canyon National Park operates like a well-oiled machine.  We walk to the campground entrance and hop on one of many buses transporting tourists efficiently from one place to another.  The ‘blue’ bus line operates within The Village; hotels/lodges, campgrounds, stores, visitor center.  The ‘orange’ bus line operates mainly east of the visitor center from Yavapai Point to Yaki Point, making stops at some of the scenic overlooks.  The ‘red’ line takes a visitor from west of the lodges to Hermits Rest.  The buses are free and frequent AND very convenient.Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonOur first night at the Grand Canyon we go to bed early.  This click happy camera operator wants to get going before sunrise the next morning.  Al and I sleep great in our toasty warm RV.  By 5:45 a.m. the coffee is brewing and I’m out walking Bear.  It’s fricken a*s cold at 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  When Bear and I return to the Rig, Al and an RV neighbor are visiting.

It turns out all the water spigots in the campground are frozen.  The neighbor used something to warm up his spigot and offered to help Al thaw ours.  Al politely declines and was able to take a shower from the holding tank water….smart move.  A short time later we notice water spewing out from the rear of the neighbors rig.  That can’t be good!Elk

With kid like exuberance, I rush Al this morning.  We have to get to the Rim while the sun is still low.  Al leaves our sewer line attached.  Normally this is not a problem, but there are warnings posted that the Raven’s will peck away at the plastic piping if left connected.  Sure enough, we return later in the day to a destroyed sewer line.  I know, it’s all my fault for pushing Al to get going.  I accept responsiblity and bake brownies to make amends……….Grand Canyon

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore…

From Mesquite, Nevada, we decide to head south toward Bullhead City, AZ.  Folks we ran into recommended a Davis County Park along the Colorado River.  We find Davis Camp just below the Davis Damn and find a level, dry camping spot right at the shore of the Colorado River.  This neat little spot costs a whopping $16 a night (2012 price).  Not bad!

Davis Camp County Park

Al and I decide on our spot.  I stand at the rear of the site to help direct Al as he backs the Rig up.  I sometimes think he doesn’t even pay attention to me and my direction other than when to stop.  Maybe I should get some of those orange wands used to direct pilots.  So, Mr. former Airline Pilot, would orange wands give dear wife more credibility?  Probably not.  I’ll just continue with my “original” hand gestures, or as Al calls it “my song and dance routine”!

The wind is horrible and the Rig sways from side to side.  I hate the wind.  This Illinois gal has seen first hand the devastating, destruction wind can cause.  I immediately have a concern of our Rig being flipped over by a gust and look around for other campsite alternatives…..none.  My next priority is to put out the slides asap.  Perhaps the slides will act as outriggers.  You know, the kind they use on ocean-going canoes.  Yes, that was my thought.  Feel free to laugh, but please not as hard as Al did.  In my defense, the Rig did sway less with the slides extended, and we did have a great little camp spot here, wind and all considered.  And no, we never came close to toppling over.

We’re undecided as to how long we wish to stay here at Davis Camp and decide to pay for one night and can always extend.  The Laughlin Casinos are practically within walking distance and Bullhead City seems bigger than I originally thought.  It even has a Sam’s Club, not that I need one.  Smaller quarters, require smaller packages.

The weather here in Bullhead City is warm, but if the wind persists, we won’t stay long.  Since our Mesquite stay, Al and I have promised each other we won’t commit immediately to staying in one place.  We committed to staying a full week in Mesquite and were ready to hit the road after three days.  Lesson learned.

Laughlin Casino to the right

So our stay in Davis Camp will be determined by the winds.  Did I already mention, “I hate wind”?  Breezes are nice, but high winds are for Dorothy and Toto!