Citrus Rum Chicken & my Health

I find travel to be exhilarating and energizing but at the same time exhausting. Kind of seems illogical, huh! I also think it’s somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the go. Not that it can’t be done … it just takes a little more forethought and planning.

sitting on the dock of the bay

Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching my diet slip away …. ūü§£

Socializing and traveling …

When I add in a bunch of socializing along with our travels, I find myself getting easily derailed when it comes to my dietary restrictions and healthy eating plan. It’s easy for me to stick to my health plan when we’re hanging with friends that also focus on eating healthy and exercising, but unfortunately, some of our friends do not share those same goals, in which case, I get distracted.

I don’t have what I’d call food allergies, but I do suffer from food sensitivities. In essence, I can eat anything I want without the effects necessitating an EpiPen, but I do struggle with other less obvious aliments caused by eating foods I shouldn’t …. issues that can severely impact my energy, physical well being and ability to travel.

We spent the first three months of the year hanging with dear friends in Lake Havasu City, and as much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and loved exploring western Arizona, we didn’t fair so well with our goal of healthy eating.

Unfortunately, Al and I both gained some weight during that visit which is always frustrating, and I started feeling less than ideal. Hmm, aren’t January and February the months when everyone starts a new diet and exercise regimen? I think we missed that memo!

Not everyone understands food sensitivities …. gosh, I’m not even sure I do. However, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to realize, it’s a lot like the straw that broke the camels back .… a cumulative effect of small actions which turns into an unpredictable large reaction.

great egret

No need to get your feathers ruffled

Not wanting to be a party pooper or ruffle anyone’s feathers, I try not to make a big deal about my food issues during social gatherings. After all, it’s not like I’m going to have a life threatening¬†anaphylactic reaction to eating something I shouldn’t.

But after three months of socializing along with all the food indulgences, there was a final straw … the straw that broke this camel’s back. Sometime toward the middle of March, I started feeling like crap. My energy plummeted, I felt physically ill, and my mind was in a constant fog. I had trouble functioning, and I was not having fun!

Fast Forward …

Today, after focusing on diet and exercise the past few months, I’m fortunately feeling better than I have in quite sometime, and Al and I have even lost the weight we gained earlier in the year …. well …. Al more so than me.

One of the reasons (one of several) why we decided to curtail our travels this summer was so we could focus on our health. We wanted to look and feel our best for our son’s wedding this August, and the last thing I wanted was to experience his special day with my head in a fog.

picnic

Even while traveling, we try to stayed focused on our health by having healthy homemade meals and snacks prepared ahead of time, but it isn’t always easy. Sure, when we’re out exploring and hiking we get in plenty of exercise, but it’s also easy to fall into the category of I don’t¬†feeling like cooking,¬†or that restaurant we just passed looks interesting so let’s check it out, or let’s just grab some fast food (something we do our very best to avoid … but occasionally fail). I wish I was more “into” cooking. Perhaps I wouldn’t get distracted so easily and succumb to all those temptations!

During our stay in Page this past April, I got back in the kitchen and started focusing on meal planning. Since we were out and about regularly hiking and exploring in northern Arizona, we didn’t need to think about an exercise plan, at least not until we moved to Prescott.

Once Al and I were settled into a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona, for the summer, we formulated a regular exercise routine complete with the addition of a little yoga. I found this great¬†beginners Yoga¬†DVD that I started doing regularly and all was going great until ….

ducking doing warrior pose yoga

Warrior Pose – my version looked a little different from Mrs. Duck’s version

… until I pulled something in my neck while doing Warrior Pose. Seriously? Oh, but my luck didn’t end there. Oh no! The following week, I twisted my ankle while hiking which has left me unable to perform Tree Pose on my left leg ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

Egyptian Goose at sunset

tree pose at sunset

Oh well, this too shall pass! After icing the neck and taping up the ankle, I’ve been hobbling over to the local library and returning to the RV with a stack of books on cooking and health … anything to help inspire my active brain while my inactive body recuperates.

With my exercise plan derailed, guess I’ll be wearing Spanx to the wedding. See, there are always options when things don’t go according to plan. RV living has a way of teaching one to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. Actually, flexibility is a prerequisite for RVing. Trust me, it’s in the rule book somewhere!

Back in the kitchen …

Okay, so the exercising hasn’t gone according to plan for me (Al’s doing great ūü§¨ and getting in all his steps every day), but while he’s out exercising, I’m excelling in the kitchen and feeling so much better for my efforts.

picnic

No, we didn’t eat all that! The muffins were for friends, but I thought they’d look pretty in the photo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Food sensitivities are real!

So back to my food issues … When a person has a severe food allergy or a medical condition like Celiac disease, Western Medicine seems to know exactly what to do, but food sensitivities are not so clear or easily diagnosed.

For many, the journey can be a roller coaster ride, as it has been for me. Ultrasounds and CT Scans were inconclusive and provided no answers for my pain. Several years ago, a visit to a Functional Practitioner was helpful and enlightening. There has been a lot of trial and error along with note taking on my part and the journey continues.

look in the mirror a journey of self-discovery

Looking in the mirror and being honest with myself is the best thing I’ve done for my health.

What might work for me, may not work for another person. One thing I know for sure …. I can’t ignore the fact that I can’t eat what others can. Yes, such a bummer and very frustrating, and when I do ignore that fact, it’s the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Food sensitivities are real regardless if other’s disagree.

Let’s talk food …

So let’s talk about what I can eat …. Yay, I won’t starve! Chicken, my favorite protein and my stomach is never bothered by chicken. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sauteed … dark meat vs. light meat, doesn’t matter, I like it all.

One of my favorite things to do is marinade and grill a bunch of chicken one day and then use leftovers for the following day – cook once, eat twice, or sometimes even three times. I quite often plan this before a travel day which deters any urge for going out to eat. Not only does this help keep my diet in check, it helps keep us on budget.

Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe. The amount listed here is about right for 4 chicken thighs or 2 boneless chicken breasts. If you’d like to make more chicken, just double the recipe. You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours and more is even better. I prefer to then grill the chicken, but baking also works.

Citrus Rum Chicken Marinade recipe

In a large ziplock bag combine:
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of rum (I like to use Captain Morgan spiced rum)
1 Tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Once all the ingredients are well combined, add the chicken to the ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade, turning occasionally.

Food photograph of chicken with a side salad

Citrus Rum Chicken

Let me know if you give this chicken recipe a try and what you think about it! I like to grill up a double batch of chicken and use the leftovers the next day to make chicken and lettuce wraps with a drizzle of homemade honey mustard dressing. Yum! The wraps can be seen in the picnic photos further up in the post. Having healthy meals prepared ahead of time for our travel days makes the world of difference. We maintain a higher level of energy and clarity throughout the day. No junk food for this gal!

One thing that has become very clear to me these past few months is staying healthy, active and mobile is the key to an enjoyable life … the key to enjoying our adventurous lifestyle of full-time RVing. Happy noshing!

 

(affiliate links)
Gentle Yoga: 7 Beginning Yoga Practices
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity

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Homesteading

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine

I love this quote, but I’ll admit, the first time I read it I don’t believe it resonated with me then as much as it does now. Five years of traveling full-time in a RV has opened my eyes to all kinds of new experiences and landscapes.

Pink RoseI’ve always enjoyed travel which is probably why I pursued a career as a Flight Attendant when I was younger. But gallivanting around the country can be tiresome and sometimes a break from¬† travel is exactly what the soul needs.

With that said, Al and I are doing a little ‘homesteading’ this summer in Prescott, Arizona. We’ve settled into an RV Park for the next several months while we focus on a little rejuvenation …. for us and our aging equipment!

Oh, that doesn’t mean we’ll be sitting in a couple of rocking chairs watching the world go by. No, not us! Hmm …. now that I think about it, does sitting outside with a cocktail in hand while watching the sunset count? Or how about binge watching¬†Downton Abbey or House of Cards? Okay, maybe a little rocking chair time is part of the rejuvenation plan ūüėŹ¬†Yeah, a little down time and settling into a neighborhood is just what the doctor ordered. But anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sit still for too long.

Yarrow

Exploring the local life

So it’s time to explore some of the local sights and take in a little history. When I was younger, I rarely embraced history or historical sites. I’ve always enjoyed geography and studying maps, but the interest in history didn’t kick in until we started RVing full-time. Travel has a way of opening one’s mind!

First off, did you know Prescott was at one time the Capital City of Arizona? Yep, from 1864 to 1867 Prescott was the capital until 1867 when it then moved to Tucson but returned back to Prescott in 1877. Finally, the State Capital moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 where it has remained.

Prescott’s downtown historical area is known as Whisky Row which up¬†until 1956 was a¬† notorious red-light district. In 1900, a great fire destroyed almost all of the buildings along Whiskey Row.¬†Legend has it that the patrons of the various bars simply took their drinks across the street to the Courthouse square and watched the buildings burn, but the patrons of the Palace Restaurant and Saloon removed the entire bar and hauled it to the square as the fire approached. The solid wood bar was later re-installed after the gutted brick structure was rebuilt. That bar remains in use today.

The Palace Restaurant and Saloon was originally built in 1877, and was rebuilt after the 1900 fire. It is now the oldest continuous business in the entire state of Arizona. Past Patrons include the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday and well-known movies have been filmed here.

Sharlott Hall Museum

Sharlot Hall Museum

I have fun using the term “homesteading” when Al and I park the RV for an extended period of time, but when I think of the pioneers homesteading after crossing the country in covered wagons, I’m reminded how cushy my life is in comparison.

Rose Garden Prescott Arizona Sharlot Hall Museum

A large Rose garden near the Governor’s Mansion

Being a woman entrepreneur in the early 1900’s was no small feat. I’m always awed and inspired by strong women in history. Sharlot Hall was a poet, author, historian, activist and ranch woman whose passion to the preserve the Territorial Governor’s Mansion led to the making of this museum.

Sharlett Hall Museum Prescott Arizona

A beautiful rose garden greets guests at the Sharlett Hall Museum

I happen to visit the museum on June 11, 2018, as the museum was celebrating its 90th anniversary. The grounds are lovely and each historical building I stepped into had a Docent dressed historically correct, and each Docent was eager to share their historical knowledge on their area of the museum.

Some of the on-site buildings ….

Governor’s Mansion – built on site in 1864, this log structure housed the first territorial governor, John Goodwin. In 1928, Sharlot Hall opened the log-building as a museum.

Governors Mansion Sharlott Hall Museum Prescott Arizona

Across from the Governor’s Mansion is the Victorian¬†Fremont House. Built in 1875, it was home to the fifth territorial governor of Arizona, John Charles Fremont.

The Bashford House was built in 1877 by merchant William Coles Bashford and is a beautifully restored Victorian style home.

Bashford House Sharlott Museum Prescott Arizona

The Ranch House was built in the 1930’s to represent early ranch homes of the area. It’s a little one room log structure. The Docent shared an interesting tale of the stove costing around $100 but the shipping cost was around $1500. That was a lot of money over a hundred years ago … hey, it’s still a lot of money today. Guess they didn’t have Amazon Prime free shipping back then ūüėÜ

Fort Misery is the oldest log building associated with the Arizona Territory. Built in 1863, here you’ll find the local attorney. Interesting that they would put the words misery and attorney together!

The School House building is a replica of the first public schoolhouse in the Arizona Territory which was built in Prescott in 1867. Each child’s chalk board reminded me of today’s iPad.

school house Sharlott Hall Museum Prescott Arizona

The Blacksmith Shop and Transportation Building were also interesting.

blacksmith shop

Blacksmith shop

Sharlot Hall Museum Transportation building Prescott Arizona

For a couple of hours, it was fun stepping back in time and imaging what life was like over 100 years ago. The Sharlot Hall Museum was a worthwhile stop that I was glad I took the time to visit.

Prescott Designations

Prescott is located in North Central Arizona and sits at an elevation of about 5,400 feet. The town has received numerous designations.

  • Prescott was designated “Arizona’s Christmas City” by Arizona Governor¬†Rose Mofford¬†in 1989.
  • 2000: Downtown Historic Preservation District (which includes “Whiskey Row”) ‚ÄĒone of 12 such National Register Historic Districts within the City.
  • 2004: A ‚ÄúPreserve American Community‚Ä̬†in 2004 by¬†First Lady¬†Laura Bush.
  • 2006: One of a ‚ÄúDozen Distinctive Destinations‚Ä̬†by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • 2008: Yavapai Courthouse Plaza recognized as one of the first ten ‚ÄúGreat Public Places‚Ä̬†in America by the¬†American Planning Association.
  • 2012: Number 1 True Western Town of the Year¬†for 2011 by¬†True West Magazine¬†and One of the 61 Best Old House Neighborhoods in the U.S and Canada by¬†This Old House¬†Magazine.

Parks, hiking and lakes …

There’s more to Prescott, Arizona, than its Old West history. Guess I better strap on the hiking shoes, charge up the camera battery, and get outta that rocking chair. Time to explore!

******************************

Shows we’ve been watching (affiliate links)¬†¬†Downton Abbey
House of Cards
The 1970’s movie, Junior Bonner starring Steve McQueen, was filmed at the Palace Saloon in Prescott, Arizona

Junior Bonner: The Making of a Classic with Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah in the Summer of 1971 (Hardback)THE Magnificent Seven – Junior Bonner – Steve McQueen Double Feature

When my Gut is Right

Ever get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that says life has been so good lately that something bad is bound to happen? Just how bad, I never know, but my gut is usually right.

April 2018 РWe had a fabulous month hanging out at Lake Powell. As a matter of fact, it was one of our more enjoyable stays anywhere, which was totally unexpected. Although we’ve visited Page, Arizona, on several occasions in the past and always enjoyed our visits, we didn’t have any high expectations for this excursion.

sunrise at Lake Powell

the view from my RV – a beautiful sunrise over Lake Powell

Over the years, I’ve noticed when I am super excited about a certain trip, my expectations are rarely met. Yet, when I have low expectations, I’m usually pleasantly surprised and sometimes whelmed beyond my wildest dreams. And such was the case this past April.

Oh, don‚Äôt get me wrong, it wasn‚Äôt what I‚Äôd call a perfect trip, which we all know doesn’t exist, but it was still awesome. We‚Äôre still trying to rid ourselves of all the sand we accumulated during those sand storms while camping on a beach. Even a month and several vacuumings later, we‚Äôre still discovering sand in various nooks and crannies. Ah, but it was so worth it!

camping at Lake Powell

camping at Lake Powell

On the one hand, we were very sad to pack up and leave, but on the on the other hand, we were ready for a change of scenery as well as moving closer to our children.

It was the end of April and a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. After dumping our tanks, we were rolling down the two lane highway by 8:00 a.m. Al took the lead in the F-250 pulling the 5th wheel while I followed behind in the Toyota Tacoma.  With my Tom Petty CD playing, I settled into the drive while admiring the view. That contentment didn’t last long as I was startled by the sound of a loud boom followed by debris flying in the air.

highway 89 in northern Arizona

A beautiful day for travel – Heading south on Hwy 89 in northern Arizona

Only thirty minutes into our drive, a tire on the RV blew. (This post contains affiliate links). Fortunately, I was following far enough behind the RV that I wasn’t hit by any flying debris. I quickly radioed Al to inform him of the blown tire, which he seemed aware of but was glad for the confirmation.  We quickly found a safe spot to pull over and began to get to work.

Flat tire on a 5th Wheel RV

Al retrieves the spare and rolls it over to install

Sure we have roadside assistance, but it was a Sunday morning and who knew how long the wait might be for help to arrive. Plus Al and I were on some sort of roll. During the past month, we’d spent a fair amount of time exploring some remote back country on some rutted dirt/gravel roads. In so doing, the bed of the Tacoma was loaded with emergency provisions. In other words, we prepared ourselves for a flat tire, breaking down, or getting stuck in any number of ways. We do our best to be self-sufficient.

using a mobile air compressor after changing a flat tire on the RV

Spare tire installed. Al makes sure it has the proper inflation

This is the second time our Viair Portable Compressor has come in handy. We normally keep it stored in the belly of the RV, but because of all the off roading we had done during the previous few weeks in the Tacoma, the air compressor, hydraulic jack and lug wrench were all in my backseat and easily retrieved.

changing a flat tire on a RV

Al and his supervisor.

I’m not sure why we maintained our jovial spirits, but we did. Five years ago when we first started this journey, I would’ve been near tears and concerned when confronted with this mishap. Today? I view it as a mere inconvenience that had me recalculating the schedule of the day. And when you think about it, a flat tire is so much easier to deal with than engine trouble!

Highway 89 in northern Arizona

On the road again! Highway 89 in northern Arizona

Less than two hours later the spare was installed and we were on the road again heading south on highway 89 in northern Arizona. We had about a three hour drive in front of us, but we had planned to break up that drive by pulling over somewhere for lunch …. which was all prepared and waiting for us in the RV refrigerator. Traveling with your home in tow is the best and the only way I like to travel these days.

The rest of the day was uneventful and smooth sailing, thank goodness. When we pulled into our planned boondocking location near Cottonwood, Arizona, we snagged a nice slice of land to call home for a couple of nights.

Black and White photography of Verde River near Cottonwood Arizona

Verde River near Cottonwood, Arizona

Two days later, we hit the road again and an hour later we pulled into our summer ‘home’ (with the spare still on the RV). Fortunately, our one hour drive went without incidence.

Fairgrounds RV Park Prescott Valley Arizona

Our ‘home’ for the summer. I love watching cattle and antelope graze in the open field across the street. Prescott Valley, Arizona

I had concerns that I wasn’t going to like my RV site since the RV Park wouldn’t confirm which site they intended to assign us when I called a few days earlier to confirm our reservation. Turns out, they did assign us the site that I requested. This was one time I was glad my gut was wrong. I’m super pleased they were able to accommodate my request.

Yep, this’ll work nicely for the next few months while we tend to some maintenance on our equipment as well as some dental issues. Oh and did I mention my son (who lives in Phoenix) is getting married this August? The wedding planning is in full swing and I love being only an hour away so I can join in on any preparations or festivities. Should be a fun summer!

RV Fairgrounds Prescott Valley Arizona

Sunset seen from my RV site in Prescott Valley, Arizona

Products we used during the day of our travel. Note – affiliate links

Viair RV Portable Compressor Kit
Two-Way Radio
Hydraulic Jack
Lug Wrench

The Back way to Telluride

Stopping in at a local visitor center is the perfect way I like to start exploring a new area. The first time Al and I camped at Ridgway State Park was the first time we experienced this part of western Colorado, and I couldn’t wait to dive in and explore.

Lost Dollar

Last Dollar Road – back way to Telluride, CO

And by diving in and exploring, that meant taking the roads less traveled. One of the activities that is super popular around the town of Ouray, Colorado, is 4×4 back country travel. If you don’t have your own 4×4, there are several businesses eager to rent you a Jeep, ATV, or UTV or you can sign up for a guided tour. Free maps are available noting these back roads with a designation from easy to difficult.

This is another reminiscing post about our travels to western Colorado. Although, I will truly miss a Colorado excursion this summer, new adventures await here in Arizona.

Roads less traveled

It was July 2013¬† ….¬† Al and I review the¬†atlas and peruse all the information we picked up at the¬†Ridgway State Park¬†visitor center.¬† From the state park to the mountain ski town of Telluride should¬†be about a one hour drive¬†if we stay on the main roads.¬† Al and I talk about it, and contemplate our route. “Hmm, we have all day.¬† What‚Äôs the hurry?” one of us asks.

Telluride

This southwest part of Colorado was a buzz of mining activity in the 1800’s.  Even Telluride’s logo is that of a miner’s pick.   This mining activity created a multitude of back roads throughout the picturesque San Juan Mountains.

Today these back roads are available for Jeeps and OHV (off highway vehicles).

Some of these back roads are assessable by regular automobiles, but most require high clearance, and others demand four-wheel drive capabilities.  The roads might be gravel, dirt, rock or any combination of the three.

Last Dollar Road

Last Dollar Road ‚Äď this road is classified as ‚Äúeasy‚ÄĚ

The back way to Telluride

My little red four-wheel drive Toyota Tacoma should be able to handle most of the roads we were interested in and researched.¬† Al and I err on the side of caution and pick a couple of ‚Äúeasy‚ÄĚ roads to explore …. one of which is called the ‚ÄúLast Dollar Road‚ÄĚ.¬† As far as mileage goes, this is a shorter traveling distance to Telluride than taking the main roads.¬† However, time wise it would be double.¬† Obviously, we won’t be driving this road at¬†60 miles per hour.

Last Dollar Road

some ruts were a little deep, but no problem for us.

For the most part, it was an easy drive even though there were some mud puddles from the storms the day before.  The visitor center publication was informative, spot on, and we were glad to have read it before hand.  Some of the ruts, mud, and water would definitely present a problem for a vehicle without a high clearance.  We encountered no problems, and the drive presented some amazing scenery complete with wildflowers.

Telluride

Telluride

Telluride

It was the end of July and the wildflowers were starting to wane, but I was still thrilled with the tufts of color here and there.

Telluride

The drive from Ridgway State Park to Telluride took us about two hours and that included all the photo-op stops.¬† I didn’t think that was too bad considering the slow speed that the road necessitated. It was a beautiful drive that I would do again in a heartbeat. Plus it wasn’t too challenging of a drive and was relatively easy to navigate.

I might venture to say, mid July and mid September would be the two most perfect months to explore these back roads. Wildflowers in mid July are at their peak and fall colors mid to end of September are at their peak.

TellurideOnce in Telluride, we stopped at the visitor center in town to gather up some local information. Al always likes to ask locals for lunch recommendations.

We found ourselves at a kind of sports bar housed in an old house off a side street.¬† It appears to be¬†a favorite with locals.¬† Lunch was good, but nothing special, and I’m not sure I’d return, especially with so many other restaurants to try.

After lunch we headed over to the gondola station for a ride up and over the summit to Mountain Village.  The folks at the visitor center highly recommended this. Pretty cool that the ride is free considering other mountain towns in Colorado charge upwards of $25 per person for their gondolas. The Gondola here in Telluride operates year round free of charge and is a common form of public transportation for workers, school children, mountain bikers, hikers, and of course, tourists.  Oh, and it’s pooch friendly too.

On the way to the gondola, we encountered a farmer’s market and quickly took notes as to some potential purchases we should make before heading home.  A grocery list quickly formed in my head!

Gondola

 

Once we arrived at the gondola, we noticed all the mountain bikers and hikers. The Telluride side of the mountain is pretty steep while the Mountain Village side appears to be more moderate.  That’s where these two young mountain bikers were heading.  They’ll disembark at the summit and ride their bikes back down toward the town of Mountain Village.  We also saw quite a few hikers doing this as well.  There appeared to be very few hiking or biking down on the Telluride side of the mountain. Too steep perhaps!

Telluride

Telluride

With our ‚Äėtourist‚Äô day coming to an end, we picked up some goodies at the local farmers market held on Friday mornings during the summer months, and promised each other future visits to this¬†beautiful mountain town would be a must.

For our return drive to the RV, we took the highway back to Ridgway State Park and arrived about an hour later.  I’ll admit, even the scenery via the highway was lovely, although not quite as beautiful or adventurous as taking the Last Dollar Road but lovely just the same.

It was a great day exploring amongst some breathtaking scenery and we couldn’t wait to tackle another back country road.

Telluride

Al and me at Mountain Village – love the European feel

Another back country road

From our campsite at Ridgway State Park, I had an unobstructed view of unique rock formations known as Courthouse Mountain and Chimney Rock. My curiosity was piqued and I once again scoured the maps and information that I’d picked up at the visitor center.¬† The map indicates there’s a back country road labeled as easy that will take me closer to this mountain range.

Ridgway State Park Colorado Site 3

We catch County Road 10 just a couple of minutes south of our camp at Ridgway State Park and head east toward Chimney Rock.  The road is wide and gravel and no four-wheel drive is necessary. We pass some of the most beautiful ranches with unbelievable views.

Ranches near Ridgway Colorado and Owl Creek Pass with Courthouse Rock in the background

Somewhere along this stretch is the field where they filmed John Wayne taking on the bad guys in the movie ‚ÄúTrue Grit‚Ä̂Ķ. reins in teeth and guns a-blazing.

Ranches near Ridgway Colorado

We continue our trek up and over Owl Creek Pass toward¬†Silver Jack Reservoir.¬† Although the road is gravel, it’s in great shape and easy to negotiate. This is the perfect¬†Owl Creek Pass Ridgway Coloradodrive for anyone who has a problem with altitude because it doesn‚Äôt go much above 10,000 feet in elevation and there aren’t any sheer drop offs for those with a fear of heights.

It’s a great excursion easing oneself into the remote countryside. However, the views aren’t nearly as spectacular as the other mountain passes. Much of this road meanders through forested land.

Silver Jack Reservoir and Campground is about a 21 mile drive from Highway 550 and not the preferred route for RV’s.¬†¬†The easier route to take for campers would be from the town of Cimarron off Highway 50.

Silver Jack Lake near Ridgway Colorado

Silver Jack Lake, Colorado

The Silver Jack Campground sits in a forest of Aspen and Pine trees in the¬†Uncompahgre National Forest.¬† Some of the sites are large enough to accommodate our 31‚Ä≤ Fifth Wheel, but there’s no internet service.¬† We couldn‚Äôt even get one bar on our phones¬†ūüė¶¬†We didn’t find the¬†reservoir to be easily accessible, finding only one road leading down to the water‚Äôs edge.¬† There were, however, numerous hiking trails.

Owl Creek Pass, Colorado

Back road near Owl Creek Pass, Colorado

This was another great driving excursion offering us some beautiful scenery and solitude.

Still on my list

Our time in the area was over before we knew it, and I still had a few more back country excursions on my list. Unfortunately, those roads will have to wait for another time…. there’s Imogene Pass and Engineer Pass, but the¬†Yankee Boy Basin¬†Road remained at the top of my list. It’s classified as moderate and four-wheel drive is highly recommended.¬† We shouldn‚Äôt have any trouble¬†driving Yankee Boy Basin with the Tacoma, but it would be a more challenging drive than¬†Owl Creek Pass¬†or Last Dollar Road.

Mid July, when wildflowers are blooming, would be the perfect time to visit and do a little high country hiking at the end of this out and back road – that is, if I think I can handle the high altitude.

Columbine flower Colorado's state flower

For those of us looking for an “extreme” Colorado adventure, check out this video of Black Bear Pass. This is the one pass vehicle rental companies will not allow you to drive with their equipment. If you do not have your own Jeep/UTV or you don’t feel experienced enough to negotiate this treacherous pass, but are still interested in experiencing this adrenal filled excursion, there are tours available in the town of Ouray – something that’s on my bucket list.

Black Bear Pass is a one way single lane road starting from just outside of the town of Ouray and traversing¬†up and over the mountain into the town of Telluride. The road is only open starting sometime in July and closing sometime in September. Because there have been fatalities, (ya know – folks rolling off the side of the mountain) there are talks of closing off access to this high country pass. So knowing that, would you be interested in such an excursion? I’m game, if you are!

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue – John Muir

(affiliate links)

Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope (Falcon Guides)¬†

The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go T-Shirt

RVing in Colorado

This will be the second summer in a row that we won’t be spending any time in Colorado… sigh! I love Colorado and called it home for over twenty years. Once we sold our Colorado home and moved into the RV full-time, we still continued to spend our summers meandering around the state, that is, up until last year.

Cherry Creek, Colorado

The RV has allowed us to explore and see parts of Colorado that we never had the opportunity to experience while living in our sticks and bricks house. And while we aren’t returning to Colorado this summer by choice, that doesn’t mean a part of me isn’t missing it.

We arrived at our summer ‘home’ in Prescott, Arizona on the 1st of May and were quickly reminded how weather in the high country likes to surprise us with one last winter storm before giving way to spring.

Our home for the summer in Prescott Valley, Arizona – photo taken May 2nd ūüôĄ

Our first full day in Prescott Valley brought inclement weather in the form of rain, thunder, hail and sleet. Al and I chuckled as the loud sound of hail pummeling the roof of the RV made having a conversation impossible. After five minutes, the hail stopped leaving in its wake a thin layer of white covering the landscape which fortunately melted quickly. And also fortunate, the hail was small in size and caused no damage.

This spring storm reminded me of Colorado and made me smile as fond memories flooded my mind. With that said, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing by sharing with you one of my favorite mountain towns in Colorado. Here’s a blog post I wrote a while back….

Everyone’s Favorite Mountain Town

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like Telluride, Colorado.  If I had to recommend one Colorado mountain town to visit, it would definitely be Telluride.  There’s a little something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, how could anyone resist a place where there’s usually a herd of elk in a meadow on the edge of town welcoming visitors to the area?

Telluride, Colorado

We’ve had the pleasure of visiting this charming mountain town a few times over the past few years and each visit was truly a joy.  First off, Telluride is beautiful.  I mean, drop dead gorgeous. It sits in a canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs along with the stunning Bridal Veil Falls seen at the far end of the canyon.

Telluride was founded in 1878 as a mining settlement.  By the 1970’s, the extensive mining in the area was replaced by ski tourism.  By the mid 1990’s, Colorado’s best kept secret was discovered by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, and Oliver Stone.

Although Telluride is well-known for outstanding ski slopes, the summer months have actually become more popular with tourists as the town hosts a variety of festivals, including film festivals and endurance events all summer long.  The outdoor recreation is fantastic and even offers extreme hiking: Via Ferrata.

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrate in Telluride. Photo courtesy of Wiki

Telluride, CO

Newer home styles seem to blend in well with the surroundings.

I love the architecture in Telluride. Each structure is one of a kind. There’s a beautiful blend of old and new which captivates my attention and appeals to my taste. There‚Äôs a hiking trail that allows one to wander from town all the way out toward Bridal Veil Falls allowing a visitor to admire the houses along the way …. each unique and attractive.

Telluride, CO

I was in love with these houses – restored 1800’s

Trivia:  The famous bank robber, Butch Cassidy, committed his first recorded major crime in Telluride by robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in 1889 and exiting the bank with over $24,000.

Telluride, Colorado

This charming Rocky Mountain town located in southwestern Colorado is most definitely worth a visit and goes to the top of my favorites list.  The town boasts a population of less than 3,000 and sits at an elevation of 8,750 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls

At the base of Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls in the far distance

We‚Äôve enjoyed hikes to Bridal Veil Falls, shopped the Friday morning Farmer‚Äôs Market, and taken the¬†free Gondola ride – a bonus not to be missed. We‚Äôve¬†taken a back country 4√ó4 road¬†to get to Telluride which I call the ‘back way’.¬† We‚Äôve eaten at several tasty restaurants,¬†met fellow bloggers for a brew,¬†and generally savored the vibe and beauty that is quintessential Telluride.

Where to eat in Telluride

We’ve eaten at several restaurants throughout town but our personal favorites are eating at the local farmers market or Smuggler’s Brewery. At¬†Smuggler’s Brew Pub,¬†they serve up a great burger along with some tasty brews. Al always orders a beer called “Debauchery“. With its 10% alcohol content, it’s served in a brandy sniffer in lieu of the normal beer glass. With Debauchery’s high alcohol content combined with Telluride’s near 9,000 foot elevation, one drink is usually hubby’s limit, especially if I’ve planned lots of walking afterwards ūüėĄ

Telluride, Colorado

Camping near Telluride

Whenever we’ve visited Telluride, we’ve always camped at Ridgway State Park, about an hours drive away.  The park offers sites accommodating tents and large RV’s alike.  Ridgway State Park is one of our favorite campgrounds in western Colorado.

Tee PeeMuch closer to Telluride is a delightful National Forest Campground;  Sunshine Campground.  The campground is super close to Mountain Village where one can park and catch the free gondola taking you up and over the mountain into Telluride.

We would love to stay at the Sunshine Campground due to its stunning views and near proximity to Telluride, but unfortunately, we’d barely¬†fit into a couple of sites and the turning radius to navigate into and around this campground is tighter than our comfort level allows, but this campground is perfect for smaller RV’s.

Further down the road is the¬†Matterhorn Campground, also a National Forest Campground, and this place can accommodate just about anyone, but finding an available site might prove to be difficult. It’s a very popular place.

 For those traveling with tents, vans, or small RV’s,     the perfect place to camp to really immerse oneself     into the Telluride lifestyle is the Telluride Town Park   Campground.  Nestled in a grove of pine trees along   a   creek, it’s within walking distance to festival   venues,   restaurants, and shops.  Obviously where   there are   trees, there are low branches and tight   turning   radius’.  Thus, not an option for us.  Once   again, small   RV’s have the advantage.

Note; during festivals this campground is jam-packed making it difficult for even a Honda Civic to navigate.

Lodging in Telluride

And when it comes to other types of lodging, should camping not be your thing, Telluride has it all.  Check out this guide for more information on planning your visit to Telluride, one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns, and enjoy your own Rocky Mountain getaway. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

With so much natural beauty along with an abundance of things to see and do, it’s no wonder Telluride could easily be referred to as ‘everyone’s favorite mountain town‘.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away – Maya Angelou

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What I don’t like about …

What could I possibly not like about northern Arizona near Page and Lake Powell? After all, I’ve been gushing¬†about it lately. Just look at these photographs showcasing this amazing landscape.

It’s pretty darn special around here, but it’s not a panacea. As a photographer¬†and blogger, I like to showcase the best about an area and sometimes fail to disclose the downside. Yeah, there’s a few downsides … downsides I don’t like.

So let’s get real

Tourism is big business around northern Arizona (Spring, summer and fall). The town of Page is on the schedule as a stopping point for many international tours. You’ll see large tour buses (holding around 50 passengers each, give or take) all around town. You’ll see them parked at McDonald’s, Walmart, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, Horseshoe Bend overlook, the marina’s at Lake Powell, and of course, the slot canyons at Antelope Canyon.

What an unpleasant treat it is to get in line at Walmart after the bus load of tourists hit the registers or how about pulling up to a scenic area only to see buses unloading hundreds of tourists at a popular site like Horseshoe Bend ūüėē

Don’t even get me started with the tourists and their selfie taking …… ūü§£

Tourists taking a selfie … guilty!

Speaking of Antelope Canyon …. Hiking a slot canyon is an amazing experience. The sight is magical and surreal, but sharing it with hundreds of other tourists and being rushed through the canyon is the reality for many. Most of these unique slot canyons lie on Navajo Indian land, and therefore, tourists must pay for a guided tour if they’d like to experience a slot canyon.

slot canyon

The two most popular slot canyons are Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. There are a few other lesser known slot canyons where group sizes are kept smaller and some specialize in photographic tours. So depending on what your interests are in hiking a slot canyon (fun or photography), you’ll want to shop around.

Weather

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I called northern Arizona / southern Utah a land of extremes. The land is stunning, perplexing, and wild and so is the weather.

hoodoos

Mother Nature carves interesting sculptures with wind and time

During our four-week stay (April 2018), we experienced temperatures as high as 84 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to overnight temps as low as 36 degrees F and everything in between. On a nice day, winds were as low as 4 miles per hour, while on a bad day, we experienced sustained winds as high as 25-30 mph with gusts over 50 mph.

Those high winds made camping on a beach lively! The RVers that paid attention to the weather forecast usually packed up and left before the impending high winds started while others were caught off guard. Campers with a pitched E-Z UP didn’t fare¬†so well with those excessive winds as evidenced the next day at the dumpsters.

EZ up

EZ-up frames filled the garbage dumpsters after high wind storms. People can be stupid. There are a total of 5 dumpsters. While the one on the end was overflowing with trash, the other 4 were barely half full….duh!

On those extremely windy days, it was impossible to enjoy any outdoor activities without being sandblasted. I’m sure with all the wind and sandstorms Al and I endured, we ingested our bodily quota of minerals. The grit in our teeth confirmed no additional supplements were needed …. nor did I need to use any of my wonderful exfoliating potions as Mother Nature’s sandblasting quickly rid me of any dead skin cells ūü§£

The upside to all that nasty wind was it cleared out the beach leaving only the crazy¬†hardy to ride out the storm …. a reprieve from the crowds, I’ll take it.

But let’s face it, without all the annoying wind, we wouldn’t have this boggling landscape to ogle. And just so you know, March and April are the two windiest months out of the year. Guess we timed it right ūüėě

Guess I’ll endure the winds so I can admire this bazaar landscape

Camping

In my opinion, the camping options are sparse around the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area especially for the amount of tourism this area receives. Tourists driving RV rentals are everywhere and all vying for a place to overnight.¬† The nicest and most sought after option is camping at the Wahweap Campground.¬†It’s a beautiful campground if you can find an available site or have a reservation.

Then there’s the private Page-Lake Powell Campground. We stayed here several years ago and it was okay. But with the increase of international tourism and the renting of RV’s, this place fills up fast also.

Camping around sand is pretty on a calm day and not so great on a windy day

During our stay, we camped most of the time at the Lone Rock Beach area located along the Arizona – Utah border. Although it’s dispersed dry camping, there is a fee and a stay limit. The cost to overnight is $14 a day with the use of an American the Beautiful National Park Pass or $21 without the pass – ($7 a night for holders of a senior national park pass) 2018 rates!

Although my photographs may make the Lone Rock Beach area look quiet and enticing, the reality is this can be the wild wild west. People come here to have a good time and in the process bring all their toys.

regular roar of engines heard all day long

There’s a bunch of off-road trails at Lone Rock for folks to play on with their UTV’s.¬† I’ll admit, it looks like a lot of fun tooling around on the hills and sand. With the water right there, the sound of boat engines can be heard all day long, and of course, a steady hum of generators keeping all the RV’s charged up rumble at all times of the day (Quiet hours are 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.). The sounds of engines, music, and laughter fills the air. This is not a place for quiet solitude, but it can be a very entertaining and fun place to hang out for a short time.

Our friends Faye and Dave being entertained. Who needs TV when you can watch people being dumb sh*ts !

At the end of March, we even had some ‘Spring Breakers‘ show up for a couple of nights. Ah, to be young and silly again!

The guys showed up first with the motorhome and later the gals drove up with a popup camper – Party time!

Yeah, it was party central and the music carried all the way to the other end of the beach. I was more amused than bothered. These college kids were there to have a good time and I’d say they succeeded, BUT temps were only in the low 60’s and seeing them lightly clad had chills running up my spine. I’m sure the liquid heat was flowing freely in the form of spirits so they probably weren’t as cold as I was.

Watercraft

Al and I no longer own any form of a watercraft … sigh! Although there are a bunch of things to do around Page, Arizona, the real draw is the lake – Lake Powell. Camping near the water became more and more of a challenge for me once the weather starting warming. I began to miss my boat and wave runners. Visiting Lake Powell and not getting out on the water with our own boat was probably the thing I disliked most about our stay.

We looked into a bunch of different ideas to get out onto the water, but since it still wasn’t as warm as I prefer for boating, we forewent renting a boat and opted for a one-hour boat tour through Antelope Canyon. That was just enough to satisfy my¬† boat craving …. for now!

Another beautiful sunrise out my RV window

Most disliked

So aside from not having my own boat, the traffic was my least favorite thing. The way some folks drive around here was down right dangerous. I can’t count how many near head on collisions there are every day. People getting impatient seem to take chances passing slower moving vehicles like RV’s on the two lane highways. Plus, there are so many tourists (foreign and domestic) that slow down and make turns on a whim. Yeah, it’s important to be a vigilant driver on these two lane roads.

Did I already mention there are a lot of tourists around northern Arizona? Not only are they forever taking selfies, they drive like they are the only ones on the road, and have a tenancy to gawk at wildlife.¬†Check out the wildlife and the crazy tourists ūüėĀ

I’ll be back

Ah, it was still a very fun and awesome time spent amongst some of the most amazing scenery. Waking up every morning to a gorgeous view and beautiful sunrise made any of my minor dislikes about the area seem insignificant. Yeah, I’m already missing those killer views and stunning sunrises … sunrises that I could literally watch while still laying in bed. How awesome is that!!!

sometimes the sky seemed to mimic the land with its layers

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Adventures at the Arizona – Utah border

What started off as a one to two-week visit to Page, Arizona, ended up turning into four weeks. Yep, an entire month! Changing our travel itinerary on a whim is a wonderful thing and since we didn’t have our next RV Park reservation until May 1st, we took full advantage of the freedom to roll at will.

cairn

After a month of exploring around the Lake Powell / Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in northern Arizona and southern Utah, one might think we’d seen it all, but such is not the case. Although, we did manage to see and do a bunch of things, I know there’s still much more to discover. Guess that means we have to come back!

Our first week whizzed by as our adventures were shared with friends. We hiked a slot canyon with friends. We enjoyed a back road 4×4 excursion¬†with friends, and we also spent a week boondocking with friends. Sharing our adventures made our time in the area that much more enjoyable and entertaining. That week was filled with hikes, campfires, laughs,¬†and beautiful scenery.

Lone Rock Beach

Lone Rock Beach

Camping with friends

Al and I arrived to the Lone Rock Beach area a couple of days ahead of our friends which gave us the opportunity to scope out the lay of the land.

Once our friends arrived, the four of us found a level spot to call home for the week.¬†Faye and I began to gather rocks and set about building a fire ring. I recall there being a lot of laughter, especially when she and I decided to build some trail cairns to aid Dave in finding his way back to the RV from the campfire¬†ūü§£

cairns

Our friend Mona Liza had heard about our antics and expressed concern. Not to worry Mona, we broke no rules gathering the rocks and no rocks were harmed for the sake of our entertainment. All rocks were later returned to their original home ….¬†leave no trace¬†ūüėĀ

Unfortunately, our friends had a travel schedule planned and after a week they moved on leaving Al and me to our own devices. No problem …. I had formulated a list of things to see and do over the coming weeks.

Dining at Lake Powell

Our first stop was the Antelope Point Marina.¬† Al and I enjoyed a very tasty lunch at the recently opened J√°di To’oh Restaurant. Great atmosphere and good food. After lunch, we walked the docks looking at boats … boats or yachts?

Yeah, some of these boats were huge and Al and I had fun visualizing the owners, or most likely companies, that own these floating beauties. Walking up and down the docks served as a great way to not only entertain us, but also get in some exercise.

Next up, was a visit to the Wahweap Marina and the Lake Powell Resort. The views from the resort are beautiful and I would highly recommend a visit here. Al and I stopped by for happy hour and enjoyed drinks and a sandwich in the bar area.

But the dining room …. oh my, what a view! I’d venture to say, it might be worthwhile enjoying breakfast or dinner here in the Rainbow Room¬†(no lunch service). I can’t speak for the food or service, but those views are amazing.

While strolling around the Lake Powell Resort, we stumbled upon a wedding. Wow! What a great spot to get married. “Hey honey, wanna renew our vows?”

Hiking, hiking and more hiking

What can I say about the hiking possibilities around northern Arizona and southern Utah? …. Toadstools, slot canyons, mini waves, a rim trail, a hanging garden, and Horseshoe Bend …. and those are just the few trails we hiked. There’s many more.

Hiking a slot canyon in northern ArizonaWhen it comes to hiking, the slot canyons around here are the crème de la crème and a photographers delight. Folks from around the world travel here to experience one of these slots РAntelope Canyon being the most popular. Since the majority of these slot canyons are located on Navajo Indian land, permits and/or guides are required.

We hiked two slot canyons during our stay in Page. First was the Waterholes Canyon and second was Wire Pass Canyon. Both canyons had obstacles to negotiate, and this is when team work came in handy for me. I could not have hiked either canyon by myself, but I did discover several non slot canyon hikes that are easily doable solo.

New Wave trail – The newest trail around Page, Arizona, is what’s called the New Wave¬†and although it doesn’t come close to the real Wave, these¬†mini waves¬†are made up of the same Navajo sandstone with extensive fine detailing and cross bedding.

Rimview trail –¬†This 10 mile scenic Rim Trail loops around the town of Page. Hikers and bikers can access the trail at any number of locations.¬† I hiked this trail several times during my visit, BUT fear not, I never completed that ten mile loop. Nope, not me! Instead, I made my own much shorter hike. I parked at a small parking area near the¬† Lake View Primary School, and by hiking this northern section of the trail, I was able to take in the sparkling blue waters of Lake Powell below me.

Horseshoe Bend overlook – No trip to northern Arizona would be complete without a visit to the Horseshoe Bend overlook, but be forewarned, it’s a crowded tourist attraction that brings in bus loads of people from around the world …. literally, tour buses filled with tourists.

I was lucky to visit during a lull in tourism – spring break was over and ‘the season’ hadn’t yet begun. During spring break, I saw the line of traffic stretch dangerously down Highway 89 and there was no way I was going to join those masses. Currently construction is underway to improve access and parking.

The hike to the overlook is about 3/4 of a mile one way in a sometimes sandy trail and is uphill on the return to the parking lot.

Hanging Garden Trail – This is another short and easy hike not far from the Carl Hayden visitor center (Dam). The trail leads to an interesting rock overhang where vegetation grows out of the rock, but the real fun here begins with a little off trail exploring. Fascinating, perplexing and colorful rock abound with more wave like action.

Scenic drives

If hiking isn’t your thing, how about a scenic drive? We enjoyed two back country 4×4 excursions. Our first outing was to the most amazing scenic overlook known as Alstrom Point, and second was a drive via¬†Cottonwood Road through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

We didn’t need four-wheel drive on either excursion, but found the high clearance on the Toyota Tacoma was helpful, even though not necessary. Also, the weather was very agreeable for both excursions … meaning it hadn’t rained in quite sometime and the ground was extremely dry.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Without the Glen Canyon Dam there would be no Lake Powell, and Lake Powell is obviously the star of northern Arizona, and the Grand Canyon, of course. The Carl Hayden Visit Center is perched on a ledge overlooking the Glen Canyon Dam and the waters of Lake Powell and the Colorado River.

The visitor center is a great place to stop and gather local information, pick up a trail map, take a tour of the dam, or walk the Glen Canyon bridge. Walking across the bridge to take in the sight is a must do, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the bridge vibrating when semi-trucks crossed ūüėģ¬†The bridge and the dam are an engineering marvel, especially amongst such challenging terrain.

Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River

The above photograph was taken at a scenic overlook located on Scenic View Road near the Wingate, Baymont Inn and Sleep Inn. The overlook requires a short downhill stroll over sandy slick rock. For the more adventurous, hike around the ledges and bluffs for impressive views in all directions.

Lodging in Page

There’s no shortage of hotels around Page with more being built to accommodate the influx of tourism. However, there is a shortage of available RV parking (in my opinion) especially on weekends which is why many end up boondocking out at Lone Rock Beach or Wallie-docking at the local Walmart.

If money is no object, consider staying at the exclusive Amangiri Resort. No lookie- loos allowed beyond the gate …. sorry, I tried. Perhaps, it’s understandable that if guests are paying upwards of $3,000 a night, that they’d like their privacy. Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t allow this hiking clad RVer into their luxury abode for photo-ops¬†ūüėŹ¬†I don’t think they believed me when I told them my Louboutin’s were back at the RV ūüφūü§£

Fenced out ūüėē

Time to move on …

After having more fun in Page – northern Arizona, than we ever imagined, the time has come for us to lift the jacks and move on. It’s what RVers do ūü§ó It was a memorable visit …. one we hope to repeat!

 

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Hiking a Slot Canyon with Friends

Last week, I took the best hike ever! First off, the hike involved a slot canyon, and second the experience was shared with friends. Yes sirree, it was an awesome morning filled with amazing scenery and lots of laughter.

Up until we started RVing full-time five years ago, I had never heard of a slot canyon. I had no clue what folks were talking about, but by reading blogs, I was introduced to Antelope Canyon. The photographs intrigued me to the point that I had to see and experience this magical sight for myself.

What is a slot canyon?

The first time I heard the term slot canyon, I remember asking myself, “What is a slot canyon?” I was totally clueless. So what exactly is it? A slot canyon is a narrow canyon formed by rock wearing away by water rushing through it. The split rock crevasses are polished by water and time and are a photograper’s delight. A slot canyon is much deeper than it is wide and many slots are formed in sandstone and limestone rock …. the perfect conditions here in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

Water Holes Canyon slot

The most popular and world-renowned slot canyon in the United States is Antelope Canyon which is located in northern Arizona near the town of Page. Folks come from around the world to see this unique and stunning red rock slot.

Since Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Indian land, the only way to experience these canyons is via a paid tour. Tours are usually not my thing, but ever since I hiked my first slot canyon at Kasha-Katuwe, I was eager to hike one of these red rock wonders. I pondered the thought of a tour …. but then ….

Friends plan a hike together

Mona Liza on the left, Faye in the middle and me on the right

So let me set the stage for you ….. A couple of months ago, these three RV blogging pals began discussions on a potential rendezvous.¬† You see, Mona Liza and I met online via our blogs over five years ago. A couple of years later, I introduced Mona Liza to Faye, another friend I met via blogging.

friends made via bloggingOver the past few years, the three of us have crossed paths rather happenstance. I’ve bumped into these ladies separately in Texas, Arizona, Colorado and even Idaho.

The three of us have serendipitously  found ourselves camped in Texas and Arizona while Faye and Mona Liza have stumbled upon each other in Utah and Canada.

This past winter, Faye and I spent a month camped at the same RV park in Phoenix, Arizona, but it had been quite a while since either one of us had seen Mona Liza. Thus, a little planning was in order. Since Mona Liza (and her honey bunch, Steve) had a well planned RV travel itinerary scheduled with firm reservations, Faye and I did a little rearranging of our own schedules so the three of us could meet up.

After comparing notes, it was decided Page, Arizona, would be the best place for us to connect even though we’d have less than 48 hours to hang out together. With that said, we didn’t waste any time. During our first happy hour, we discussed potential hikes for the following day.

We all love hiking slot canyons and our first consideration was the¬†Wire Pass Trail, but that would require¬†at least an hours drive north into Utah and the group didn’t want to waste our short time together driving. Plus, Mona Liza and Steve would be heading out-of-town and traveling the next day anyway.

hiking near Page, Arizona

Our group – me center front, Mona Liza on the left, my hubby Al in the red, then Faye, Steve, and Dave

Unanimous decision

After a short discussion over drinks, we agreed on Water Holes Canyon for the hike of the day. Since this self-guided slot canyon trail is located on Navajo land, a permit is required. Obtaining the permits turned into a little laughable fiasco since much of the info we found online seemed to be outdated.

As of this writing, the only place to purchase a permit to hike Waterholes Canyon is at the  Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park Office located on Coppermine Road, 3 miles south of Page and next to the LeChee Chapter House. The cost is $12 per person and the office is closed on weekends.

Note: The state of Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time. We never change our clocks. BUT the Navajo Nation does. Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll want to verify and double check the time so you arrive at the appropriate time for any tours or stopping by a Navajo business. Nothing like keeping tourists on their toes!

the trail from the parking lot to the canyon

With permits in hand, we hit the trail around 9:00 a.m. (Arizona time). The trail is clearly marked with rocks leading from the tiny parking area down into the canyon. Once we navigated the steep descend into the canyon, we took a left heading east.

The trail also goes to the right, but once you pass under the highway bridge, you’ll need some serious Canyoneering skills…. as in ropes, ladders, strong upper body strength, rappelling, experience – I think you get the picture. So take my advice and go left, east of the highway.

Once you pass under the Hwy 89 bridge, the trail is for experienced hikers with canyoneering skills.

The trail starts out wide and sandy. Our group ooh’s and ah’s at the unique red sculpted sandstone. It was a beautiful morning with few other people on the trail …¬† just yet.

Eventually the canyon starts to narrow … hence the term slot canyon. More ooh’s and ah’s were heard!

As the trail narrowed, there were a few obstacles for those of us a tad more vertically challenged. But we all excelled in a our team building efforts.

The most challenging part of the entire hike for me was that first ladder because it wasn’t quite tall enough for my comfort level. Thank goodness I had help at the top. Mona Liza needed help being pulled up as well.¬† The two ladders strapped together made for a rickety setup and we all took caution climbing it.

Once past the ladder, the slot canyon continued to wow us with her beauty. With three out of the six of us carrying cameras, there was plenty of stopping. With all the stopping to admire the canyon and snap photos, there was no cardio workout for this group.

Dave and I compare camera settings

Photographing a slot canyon can be a challenge due to the light, but that’s also what makes it so interesting. I’ve heard great things about the Indian guides at Antelope Canyon instructing photographers on the best camera settings. Dave said he learned a¬† lot about his camera and the best settings from his guide when they hiked Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon a couple of years ago. Hmm, I may need to take one of those tours yet.

Depending on the time of day you visit, the colors of the rocks can vary greatly. So I highly recommend taking the time to admire the ever-changing light.

A word of caution …. Be sure to check the weather before embarking on any slot canyon hike. Remember how a slot is formed …. rushing water. You’ll want to avoid a flash flood, which can occur even if the rain is many miles away and upstream. This is not something to be taken lightly and even experienced hikers have lost their battle with a canyon flash flooding.

Once we reached the end of the trail (near the overhead power lines), it was time for us to turn around and view the canyon from a new direction. The hike is just as amazing on the return, but this is also when we starting running into crowds. Seems as the day progresses, it can get busy.

Time to climb back out of the canyon. We need to join Al up there!

The climb back out of the canyon is a bit steep and this was another area where I was glad I wore good hiking shoes for traction. In the above photo, the hike up is around that bend and up to where Al is standing. Seems I failed to photograph the trail back up ūüėŹ

But here’s one of Dave’s photos showing us hike down, and showcases the kind of rock we had to walk on. This could get real slick if wet. As it was, the rock is dusted with sand and gets a little slippery in spots.

slot canyonWaterholes Canyon is about a 3 mile (total) out and back hike. I loved it! It was so much fun …. partly due to the stunning scenery but a bigger part due to the wonderful camaraderie.

Yep, this was one great hike … a great hike with great friends. Doesn’t get much better!

I’m so glad we rearranged our travels so we could all connect for this fantastic hike. Unfortunately, as full-time RVers, it’ll be awhile before we bump into each other again. Seems we’re all heading in different directions this year.

Laughter and adventure near Lake Powell –¬†Thanks for the memories!

slot canyons

Hiking a slot canyon with friends

Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment. – Grenville Kleiser

UPDATE –¬†As of May 2018 access to the Waterholes Canyon trail has been changed. Supposedly permits are no longer being issued and a guide is required. The information regarding this trail is ever changing and confusing. Please do your homework for the latest information before embarking on¬†this hike.

(affiliate links) Good hiking shoes are a must for this trail for sure-footed traction. Al and I love our Merrell’s…..

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The Trip to Lake Powell

I can’t think of a better way to start the day than by watching a beautiful sunrise while drinking a tasty cup of hot strong coffee.¬† Throw in some stunning scenery and it just doesn’t get much better.

sunrise at Lake Powell

It’s Easter Sunday and while enjoying the view this morning … and the sunrise and the coffee, I couldn’t help but feel grateful and did a little reflecting. You might say, I was feeling a little spiritual. Since I’m not one to get too serious about things here on the blog, let me just say, it was the perfect way to spend my Easter morning.

We arrived in Page, Arizona, last Sunday, and the week has flown by, but then again, we’ve been very busy …. and social.

slot canyons

Hiking a slot canyon with friends

Our travel day

Last Sunday we bid farewell to Lake Havasu City. The drive from Lake Havasu City to Page, Arizona was just a little over 350 miles (564 km) and took us just shy of eight hours in driving time. I must add that in addition to stopping for gas, we spent over an hour stopped northeast of Flagstaff for lunch and to check out some boondocking spots for future reference in the Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Coconino National Forest

Our stop for lunch – Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater

That stop would add to an already long day and for a split second we thought about overnighting right then and there (well, not exactly ‘there’ because there was a sign clearly stating no overnight parking ūüėĒ). We could’ve gone down any number of dirt roads in the national forest and found a place to camp, but at 8,000 feet in elevation at noon time the wind was already brisk and cold requiring us to don a coat. Therefore, we knew once the sun went down, the temperature would plummet …. burr.¬† Time to keep the wheels rolling.

We don’t usually drive that kind of distance in one day. After all, we live on RV time and prefer to meander. Initially we planned to break the drive up by spending the night near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest where we did last September, but the weather there was also too cold for our desert acclimated bodies – near freezing temps overnight. Therefore, the weather kept us on the move.

By the time we arrived in Page, we were exhausted and more than ready to park the RV. If we were traveling with only one truck, we could easily switch drivers making the long day less tiring, but since we were traveling with both trucks (Al in the F-250 pulling the 5th wheel and me in the Toyota Tacoma), it made for an exhausting day.

When we travel outside of Arizona, we usually leave the Tacoma at our sons home in Phoenix, but since we’ve hung around Arizona all winter, we’ve been traveling with both trucks. As our week progressed, we were glad we had the Tacoma available for a little back country exploring, but that tale deserves its own post.

Getting stuck in the sand

When we finally arrived at the dispersed camping area north of Page and Wahweap Marina, we were eager to assess the road and get the RV parked. The Lone Rock Beach area is a popular spot with day users and campers alike. Located along the shores of Lake Powell, this would be our fourth time camping here.

Lake Powell, Page Arizona

One of the things we learned during our second visit here is the lay of the land is ever-changing. The sandstone buttes, mesas, and monoliths that make the landscape so incredibly stunning are formed from wind and rain, which means you can expect a regular dose of wind around here.

cairnsAnd all that wind, likes to rearrange the sand.

One year, the best packed road leading down toward the water might be to the left of the restroom building while another year it would be best to take the road to the right. Folks get stuck in the sand here all the time and this year it was our turn.

In an attempt to make his princess happy and give her an optimum view, Al attempted to find a nice spot closer to the water than where we’ve previously camped. After all, there were Class A’s and 5th Wheels bigger than us camped at the shore. Unfortunately, the packed gravel like areas are mixed in with the pure sand areas making it a guessing game about finding a good place to park.

It was near dusk. The wind was howling and whipping up the sand. We were exhausted from the long drive. Al stopped the truck and RV so we could talk about exactly where to park (remember he wants to make his princess happy), but what he didn’t realize was when he stopped, the 5th wheel tires were in a soft sandy spot. Once he tried to drive forward, the rear truck tires started spinning and digging deeper into the sand.

Lake Powell, Page, Arizona

Teenagers from the class A came to our aid.

Two teenagers camped in the Class A motorhome came running toward us with a shovel and wood blocks. This was one time I was glad it was spring break with kids everywhere. Between rearranging the sand with the shovel, using the blocks under the tires, and locking the hubs into four-wheel drive, Al managed to pull out of the sand and kept his momentum going until he found a solid gravel like area to stop.

Lone Rock Lake Powell

We kept the truck and 5th Wheel hooked up for the next two days while waiting for our friends to join us and then deciding together where to park our RV’s for the coming week. Little did we know, we’d be sharing some great adventures. What a week!

Here’s a hint of some of those adventures ….

Those tales will need to wait until I have some down time to write about them. Right now, we have some more exploring to do with our friends before it’s time for them to move on. Such is the life of an RVer!

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday! ūüźįūü•ēūüĆľ

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Goodbye Lake Havasu

After almost three months of hanging around Lake Havasu City, Arizona, the itch to roll became too strong to ignore. So today we said goodbye to Lake Havasu City. We’ve hitched up and the wheels are rolling in search of new scenery. However, we won’t be venturing too far from the Colorado River. We’re actually going from one man-made Colorado River lake to another.

sunset at Lake Havasu

The sunsets are always beautiful!

When jello jiggles

lighthouseWe’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Lake Havasu City. It was never our plan to visit western Arizona this winter, but when hurricane Harvey hit our favorite Texas Gulf Coast town square in the middle¬† …. well, let’s just say the jello jiggled ¬†and we were onto plan B.

When an RVer says, “Our plans are written in jello“, they basically mean their travel itinerary is flexible, ever-changing and not firm. Your lesson for the day on RVing jargon ūü§£

Once our friends,¬†the one’s we met last summer in Prescott, heard we weren’t going to Texas, they encouraged us to come spend some time with them on their property in Lake Havasu City (sure, twist my arm).They were eager to share their town with us and show us why they love living in Havasu.

When Al and I sold our Colorado home on a whim five years ago, we thought we’d only be doing this full-time RVing thing for a year or two. Thus, we’re always looking at real estate, especially me. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Hey, you can’t take the home builder/realtor out of me just because I live in an RV. I still love architecture and home design.

golf course

Golf is popular in Lake Havasu City

With that said, our search to find a new home base started the minute we sold that last house. But if we’re being honest here, this RVing gig is kind of addictive and the thought of putting down roots in one¬†location usually finds us hitching up and rolling before putting any ink to paper. To say we can’t (don’t want to) make a commitment would be an understatement.

float plane

We feel very fortunate to have stayed and explored some beautiful parts of this country, and when we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in an area, we think about the possibility of a¬†home base. That certainly doesn’t mean we’d ever give up RVing. Nope, we enjoy RVing way too much to stop anytime soon!

What we like about Lake Havasu City

For starters, there’s a lake here along with a ton of other recreational opportunities. All that recreation makes for a great destination for a variety of people. During winter months, the town attracts retirees from colder regions around the U.S. and Canada. During spring months, the community fills with university students on spring break.

Whatever hobbies or interests you may have, it’s most likely happening around here. There are all kinds of activities available for all ages. There are clubs to join for those living here and festivals to attend for locals and tourists alike.

If you enjoy gambling, there are a bunch of casinos up and down the Colorado River and many offer live entertainment including top name talent.

A variety of competitions take place in Lake Havasu City. Just a few of the events include the International World Jet Ski Races, a pyrotechnics convention, a speedway, professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, charity events, a balloon festival, and more.

Toys, toys, and more toys! It’s all about the toys around Lake Havasu City …. Boats – you’ll see¬†everything from¬†kayaks to jet boats and everything in between. Cars¬†–¬†hot rods, sports cars, old cars.¬†4×4’s¬†–¬†Jeep’s, ATV’s, UTV’s. Aircrafts¬†– large and small.¬†RVs of¬†all shapes and sizes¬†with plenty of RV parks, state parks and boondocks to camp.

Weather РFrom October to April the weather is wonderful and perfect for outdoor activities. The mild winter weather is a snowbirders delight.

A regular part of our day included a three-mile out and back walk along the Bridgewater Channel. Al and I would start our walk at Rotary Park and walk under the iconic London Bridge and turn around at the Lake Havasu State Park. Hiking the stairs at the London Bridge became part of daily exercise routine.

Bridgewater Channel

walking along the Bridgewater Channel is a popular activity

Housing and property taxes are relatively affordable and most lots have room to park those toys. There are some great hiking trails at the south end of town at Sara Park, and where there’s water, there are birds. So even though I didn’t get a chance to do my usual bird photography along the Gulf Coast this winter, I still managed to capture a few bird photos along the shores of Lake Havasu.

lighthouses of Lake Havasu City

Location – the location is great for connecting with like-minded folks. We kept very social¬†during our stay, not only with our Havasu friends¬†and their friends, but with other RVers. With Quartzsite only an hours drive to the south and Laughlin an hour to the north, there’s always someone passing through or stopping in Lake Havasu City.

Our latest meet up was with Debbie and Steve when they spent a week in the area. Then a week later when Al and I needed to make a Sam’s Club run up to Bullhead City, we reconnected not only with them but also with their friends.

RVers meet up at Bubba Gumps in Laughlin, NV. We meet some of Steve and Debbie’s friends. From left to right – Craig, Steve, Debbie, Al, me, Steve Dianne, Jo

The downside to Lake Havasu City

Weather is not only a huge plus half the year, it’s also a negative. Summer gets hot around here. Lake Havasu City is lower in elevation than Phoenix, Arizona, which means summertime temperatures soar into the 100 degree Fahrenheit range regularly. Lake Havasu City holds the all-time record high temperature in Arizona history with 128¬†¬įF recorded on June 29, 1994. However, on December 31, 2014, snow actually fell on the town.

The desert landscape around here is rather barren. You won’t find any majestic saguaro’s¬†or desert wildflowers, but you will find plenty of rock. The longer I was here, the more I was bothered by the lack of vegetation.

Shopping is limited. However, Havasu pretty much has everything I need these days. The biggest draw back for me personally is the distance to the nearest city. The closest major city is Las Vegas which is a 2 1/2 hour drive away while Phoenix is a 3 1/2 hour boring drive away. That means I can’t just pop in on my kids for lunch in Phoenix. Yeah, a bit too far away for a spur of the moment visit with one of the kiddos.

London Bridge

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Recommended businesses

When we spend a prolonged amount of time in a new location, we have the opportunity to learn about the area and that includes where to shop and good places to eat. Just in case you find yourself visiting western Arizona, here are some businesses in Lake Havasu City that we enjoyed and feel comfortable recommending.

Palm treesGrocery stores: I’m usually fond of shopping at a Kroger Grocery store (aka Fry’s or Smith’s in Arizona) but in Lake Havasu City, I prefer Arizona’s local supermarket brand, Bashas. The produce is fresh, local (when possible) and reasonably priced. Safeway comes in second. There’s also a RV friendly Walmart in town for non-perishables.

Repair shops: During our drive from Phoenix to Lake Havasu City, we discovered we had a broken shackle on the RV. Once we set up camp and reassessed the situation, Al decided he didn’t feel comfortable doing the job himself. After all, we were on private property plus set up on gravel. With a little research, we scheduled the work with¬†¬†Adrenaline Trailers.¬†They were more than happy to sell us just the parts, but we decided this seemed like a good time to have the bearings repacked and the trailer brakes tested along with having all the shackles replaced. They did a great job, although they were a tad messy with the grease.

My truck needed general maintenance. This was the second time I used this small, two-man shop for service on my Toyota Tacoma and both times I was pleased with the work and the price. I even recommended E & J Auto Repair to fellow RVers, Laura and Kevin, for needed repairs on their Xterra. They too were pleased with Ed’s work. He doesn’t have a website but he can be contacted at – E & J Auto Repair, 1600 W. Acoma Blvd #60, Lake Havasu City, AZ (928) 854-9399.

Lake Havasu Arizona

Lake Havasu, Arizona

RV Parts: The top rubber seals on our RV slides were starting to deteriorate from all the extreme sun that we experience here in the desert southwest. We have used rubber conditioner, but being exposed to over 300 days of sunshine a year and 70-100 degree F temperatures¬†takes a toll on our equipment. (I know, tough job dealing with all that sunshine¬†ūüėĀ) The folks at Sunshine RV were very helpful in making sure we ordered the right rubber slide seal for our RV. Sunshine RV became our go-to shop for RV parts. A new propane valve and shower seals were part of our purchases.

Computer Repair: Whiz Kid was extremely helpful when I encountered some computer issues.

Car wash: Our equipment was in dire need of cleaning. Mesquite Car Wash is owned and operated by a husband and wife team who enjoy RVing. As a matter of fact, they spent a year RVing full-time and would like to hit the road again if they could find a good manager for their business. Al and I had both our trucks detailed and the RV washed. They even have a nice outdoor sitting area and an inside ‘tiki shed’ with TV for entertainment while you wait. Good job and super friendly staff!

Restaurants: Lake Havasu City offers a nice variety of local establishments as well as some of my favorite chain restaurants. This is a tourist town after all. On the local front, our first stop had to be¬†Mudshark Brewery for their Vanilla Caramel Porter and Burger Monday special. Al¬† loves this porter and first discovered it being sold at Total Wine & More in Phoenix. Once Al realized the maker of this tasty porter was located in Lake Havasu City, a visit to Mudshark Brewery became tops on the ‘must do‘ list.

Next up was Hangar 24. Monday through Thursday during lunch they offer all their burgers at a special price of $7 and after 7:00 p.m. the appetizers are $5. The food here is really good, and I insisted we eat here one more time before heading out of town. A fun bonus for me was the ’70’s/’80’s rock music playing in the background. Guess with all the silvers in town, they considered the lunch crowd when choosing what music to play.

Hangar 24

Hangar 24 has a very casual party atmosphere with picnic table seating, occasional live entertainment, and even an outdoor swimming pool. Yeah, you read that right … a brewery/restaurant with a swimming pool. I’m pretty sure this is a popular spot for spring breakers. Silvers for lunch and breakers at night …. smart marketing!

Barley Bros Brewery

Barley Bros Brewery has a great location – check out the view of the London Bridge

I had heard mixed reviews from fellow RVers about Barley Brothers Brewery.¬†So we decided to check it out ourselves. The location is prime. Talk about a view! Of the four breweries we sampled, this one seemed to be the most expensive and didn’t offer any specially priced items. Although we enjoyed our meal and drinks, we enjoyed the view and location more.

College Brewery Lake Havasu City

Meeting up with Steve and Debbie at College Brewery

Near the end of our Lake Havasu City visit, we met Debbie and Steve at College Street Brewery and were pleasantly surprised with the happy hour prices … good food, good drinks, and of course, good company.¬†Steve’s flight of beer was $6 while my margarita was under $4. College Street Brewery turned into one of those restaurants we would definitely return to for happy hour.

Overall, Al thought Mudshark had the best beer. We both thought Hangar 24 had the best burgers. College Street Brewery had the best happy hour and Barley Brothers offered the best view!

The end of our visit

We had a great time hanging around Lake Havasu City and know we’ll be back … just not during the summer months. Hmm, after writing this post, perhaps Lake Havasu City should go on the short list of places to consider when we’re ready for that home base. It’s a thought!Lake Havasu Arizona

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