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

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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