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

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Homesteading and becoming a Reptile

The more time I spend in Arizona, the more I like it. It’s a fascinating state offering diversity and extremes.  The landscape ranges from stunning red rock country to unique hills filled with cactus to dense forests of tall pine trees.  In the morning, I can enjoy a cup of coffee in delightful 70 degree sunny weather in Phoenix and a couple of hours up the road I can go snow skiing in Flagstaff (that’s if I was into snow skiing).

Grand Canyon

Me at the south rim of the Grand Canyon 5/6/17

This kind of diversity can catch visitors by surprise and quite often does.  A few years ago, we visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon the first week of November.  The north rim had already closed for the season.  We were well prepared for whatever weather Mother Nature had in mind, and I was actually hoping for snow.  By mid October, all the campgrounds located outside of the national park are usually closed for the season.

Grand Canyon

south rim of the Grand Canyon – May 6, 2017

We set up camp at the only campground open year round offering hook ups; Trailer Village.  With the overnight temps expected to dip into the twenties, we connected the electric only.  The next morning as Al and I were ready to head on over to the rim for sightseeing, we chuckled as numerous RVer’s were struggling unsuccessfully with their water hose connections.  Yeah folks, when the overnight low hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect things like waterline’s to freeze up.

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus are only found in certain parts of Arizona

When we arrived at the visitor center, we glanced at a couple of tour buses that had just pulled up.  The moment the tourists disembarked in their summer attire, they were assaulted by the winter weather. We noticed the shock, disbelief and discomfort on their faces.  While Al and I stood there comfy in our winter garb, we wondered if anyone bothered enlightening these European tourists.

Several months ago, I made mention to a friend back in Illinois that Al and I decided to spend most of the year in the state of Arizona, including summer.  My friend questioned our logic and wondered why we would stick around Arizona in 110 degree weather.

And just like those tourists at the Grand Canyon, my friend had no clue about the elevation changes in this state.  Let’s face it, Illinois is pretty flat.  You want colder weather, you drive north.  You want warmer weather, you drive south.  Easy peasy, huh!  But it’s not so easy in the west.  It’s all about elevation and has nothing to do with north or south.

reptile, lizard

This lizard and I both like sunny warm weather. Does that make us both reptiles?

A little over a week ago, the temps in Phoenix were nearing that three digit mark.  That was our cue that it was time for us to head to the hills.  Our one hour plus drive took us from Phoenix’s elevation of 1,100 feet to Prescott Valley’s 5,200 feet, and the temperature dropped more than twenty degrees…. brrrr.  Al and I were cold.  Had our time in the valley of the sun turned us into reptiles?  Anything less than 70 degrees and we were donning sweatshirts!

Prescott RV Parks

Our home for the next few months!

Since we’ll be staying in Prescott Valley at least a couple of months, I decided to do a little homesteading and plant a garden.

I haven’t done any digging in the dirt since we went full-time in the RV four years ago. I purchased three planters, a bag of dirt, and a bunch of plants;  parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, chives, and tomatoes.

I think I’d be dating myself if I said I was humming a Simon and Garfunkel song while planting my garden ….

It felt wonderful to do a little gardening and even though I’ve never been the best gardener, I’ve always found the activity enjoyable.  That said, Al and our two children have made bets on how long I’ll be able to keep these plants alive. Who needs fantasy football when you can bet on mom and her green thumb or lack thereof 😄

RV gardens

me planting my garden

So our first week in Prescott was a busy and fun one which included a day trip to the Grand Canyon for a picnic lunch.  Fun planting my little garden.  Hiking at one of my favorite locations – Watson Lake.  And trying to stay warm as a cold front accompanied by a record rainfall blew through the area.

Watson Lake

I love hiking at Watson Lake

reflection Watson Lake

Reflections at Watson Lake

I have a few more entertaining things planned for the month of May.  Let’s hope Mother Nature is agreeable and she won’t make me bundle up …. even more!

SONGMICS 7 Piece Garden Tool Set Includes Garden Tote and 6 Hand Tools W/ Heavy Duty Cast-aluminum Heads Ergonomic Handles UGGB31L

Getting Wet

RVingThe gentle sound of rain hitting the RV is some how relaxing.  I stare out the window as the rain leaves a random pattern of water droplets on the pane.  I can almost sense the cacti smiling, arms stretched, rejoicing in the much-needed moisture.

We’ve been camped in the Phoenix area for about a month now.  This cold, rainy day allows Al and me to reflect on the past month of travel.Grand Canyon

In November we were exploring the Grand Canyon.  Wow, what an awe-inspiring place.  Did you know the canyon is about a mile deep and 277 miles long?  The north rim of the Grand Canyon sits at an average elevation of 8,000 feet, while the south rim sits at about 6,800 feet (2072 meters).Grand Canyon

The average distance between the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the south rim is about 10 miles with the greatest width measuring 18 miles and the nearest a mere 5 miles.  The diverse landscape and abundant wildlife, make the Grand Canyon a MUST SEE at least once.  I know Al and I will return.Bighorn SheepOur journey takes us from Grand Canyon National Park to Cottonwood, Arizona.  After a little research, Al and I decide on Dead Horse Ranch State Park as home for a few days.  This turned out to be the perfect campground for us to regroup.Dead Horse State Park

The weather is sunny and warm.  We have hiking trails literally in our backyard.  The restrooms have nice showers.  Ahhhh….after weeks of Navy showers, I’m able to bask in gallons and gallons of hot water.  Hey, with my long, thick, curly hair a long hot shower is indeed a treat. Dead Horse State Park

Oh, but it doesn’t end there.  There’s a skylight perfectly positioned above the shower stall.  So as I tilt my head back and revel in the glory of tons of hot water streaming over my head, I watch the thin, white fluffy clouds slowly drift by against a gorgeous blue sky.Dead Horse State Park

The shower felt wonderful.  However, it was never my intent to resemble a raisin, thus all things must come to an end.  After all, tomorrow is another day.  And speaking of tomorrow….we have some serious exploring to do….. Sedona here we come!

A Day at the Edge

This morning our day started by driving back to the east entrance of Grand Canyon National Park and SLOWLY working our way back to the Visitor Center, stopping at all the scenic overlooks.  The views were spectacular. Grand Canyon

After lunch, we work our way west.  I take in the architecture of the various lodges and attractions as well as the stunning canyon views.Grand CanyonGrand Canyongrand canyonGrand Canyon

The highlight of my day was hiking a short distance of the famous Bright Angel Trail.  This is the trail that one can hike or mule trip to the bottom of the canyon.  It’s late in the day.  Al and I are tired, but a short little walk on this trail provided me with the unique experience of seeing a Ram up close and personal.  We watch these magnificent animals traverse the challenging terrain with ease.  I was totally mesmerized.  After this special encounter, I can’t stop smiling.  I won’t complain about leaving tomorrow because I can’t imagine anything topping this moment.Grand CanyonGrand CanyonAngel Trail

I managed to carry out a fraction of my intended plans during this Grand Canyon National Park visit.  Al agrees we’ll return next year.  We’ll be sure to return earlier in the fall, before the temperatures start freezing.  I’d like to target September and visit the North Rim as well.  I hear it’s even prettier.Colorado River

Tomorrow we hit the road again……destination Sedona, Arizona.

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

But I don’t wanna go!!!

RVingWe ended up staying at our little slice of paradise at the shore of Lake Powell for four nights.  The snow lasted all of about five minutes and felt like crumbles of styrofoam.  There was almost no moisture to the flakes.  It didn’t even make the ground wet….very strange.

The inclement weather kept us from exploring some of the truly unique sites in the area such as Antelope Canyon.  Rick over at The Great American Landscape highly recommended Antelope Canyon as well as Mesa Verde NP in Colorado.  I sincerely appreciate the time Rick took to send me an email highlighting these special places.  Al and I will need to return when the weather is more amenable.  Thank you, Rick.Lake Powell

If the weather had been warmer…..and less windy, I could have stayed here a month and been a very happy camper.  There is quite a bit to see and explore.  Unfortunately reality sets in – winter is coming and we need to keep moving.  So move we must…..but I don’t want to!Lake PowellRVing

We make the scenic drive from Lake Powell to the Grand Canyon.  We are so thankful we did not attempt this drive during questionable weather.  There is a section of road south of Page with a 7% grade, super tight curves, and built against a canyon wall.  The sun is virtually blocked by the cliffs.  Definitely a road to be traveled in nice weather.

Grand CanyonWe enter Grand Canyon National Park via the east entrance, not the main entrance.  I’ve only been to the Grand Canyon once before and that was three years ago.  It was our son’s first Thanksgiving living in Phoenix.  We drove down from Colorado to Phoenix for a visit and then went to the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving Day.  I packed us a picnic of turkey sandwiches with all the fixings.  We hung around the canyon for a couple of hours before taking the three-hour plus drive back to Phoenix.  It was a long day, but a memorable one.

This visit, I really want to savor the National Park and learn my way around.  Unfortunately it’s cold and windy.  Night time lows dip to a balmy 17 degrees farhenheit….burrrr.  Daytime highs are in the upper 40’s.  I was really hoping for warmer weather.  Guess we’ll just need to bundle up.Grand Canyon