Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, September 29, 2017

Colorado and Fall Colors

At Enchanted Trails RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico...

We had a nice reunion with old friends Bubba and LouAnn at Priest Gulch Campground near Dolores, Colorado:

Here are our rigs, parked right on the bank of the Dolores River:

This is a very peaceful wooded setting at about 8,000 ft. above sea level, so it is a nice cool place to escape the Texas heat in the summertime. Since we were there in late September, there was already quite a chill in the air, with the temperature getting down to around 25 degrees one night while we were here. What we were really interested in seeing was the fall color in the mountains, and that did not disappoint. Take a look at these photos:

Near Ridgway, Colorado

Near Silverton, Colorado
Even when we weren't blessed with fall color views, the scenery in the clean autumn air was just magnificent:

Near Ouray, Colorado

Near Telluride, Colorado
Driving on the "Million Dollar Highway," we made a brief visit to Ouray, Colorado, a place we hadn't seen in decades, and we liked it so much that we have vowed to return next summer, if possible:

We are headed south from here, returning to our Livingston, Texas address of record to take care of some auto registration and driver's license renewals. Then we will continue to Conroe, where we will be in and out for the next few months. We are going to miss the Colorado mountains and our friends, for sure. 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  --Alexander Sattler

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sedona, The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

At Sun Valley RV Resort, Sun Valley, Arizona...

Yes, we are moving again, having enjoyed our stay near the Grand Canyon and some more fellowship with new "old" friends, Dave and Janice. Acquainted almost by accident through Janice's friendly hello on RVillage, we now consider these two like family. We come from very similar backgrounds, and we discovered that we are, in fact, neighbors when they visit their home base near ours in Conroe, Texas.  They've gotten us hooked on a game called "Rummykub," at which they are ringers, and we have them hooked on "42." The abuse at the table is brutal, but it's all in good-natured fun. 

Dave and Janice
We consider ourselves fortunate to have met so many really wonderful friends in our RV lifestyle, and we love to get together when we can. We hope to see these two again in Conroe.

We took a brief side trip to Sedona, about 35 miles south of Flagstaff. We had visited there before, but it was a long time ago. It's still the bustling, touristy place that it ever was, but few towns have ever been established in a more beautiful setting. We took this photo from the airport overlook:

Before leaving town, we had dinner at the Mesa Grill Restaurant at the airport. It was quite good--amazingly so, in fact, for an airport restaurant.

From here, we're making our way to southwest Colorado, where we will meet up for a few days with longtime RV friends Bubba and LouAnn. On the way, we decided to stop in and take another look at the Petrified Forest National Park and its environs, the Painted Desert. Here are a few photos we took:

I have long had a fascination for the history of Route 66, the iconic "mother road" that traversed half the country and was the means by which many families got their first look at the magical place that is the American West. In Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Interstate 40 follows much of the old highway, and I'm always delighted to be able to drive down any part of it, observing some of the relics of that golden age of travel. Here is a photo of the carcass of a 1932 Studebaker that is placed exactly where the now abandoned Route 66 traversed this national park. 

The desert plants have since reclaimed the highway, so the only indications of the roadbed location are the old telephone poles, also abandoned, that are visible beyond the car. This was only a few miles from the Painted Desert Inn, also in the park and overlooking the Painted Desert:

This place was built as a CCC project from 1937-1940, when it opened to the delight of travelers as a hotel. When Interstate 40 was built, it lost some of its allure for the fast-paced traffic and closed its doors in 1963. It was going to be demolished at one point but, after being designated as a National Historic Landmark, it will be saved for posterity. It now houses a museum and bookstore. We didn't get a look inside, as it had already closed for the day when we arrived. We love the architecture, and we were able to walk all around it, taking in the spectacular views:

A few miles farther down the park road, we encountered the fascinating areas of petrified wood that had once been part of a thriving forest eons ago. The trees fell and were buried in river sediment and, over unfathomable ages, absorbed minerals that displaced the organic matter of the trees, only to be unearthed through erosion and now visible to onlookers. We thought the minerals in the logs made them quite beautiful:

At the end of our day in the Petrified Forest National Park, we drove back to the little town of Holbrook, also situated on old Route 66. We were delighted to see the iconic Wigwam Motel, where all the rooms were designed to look like teepees. It was easy to imagine how many travelers stopped here in the heyday of Route 66, much to the excitement of their children:

Our summer travels are coming to a close, and what a summer this has been! We have been away from the Texas heat for the four hottest months of the year, and now we will be returning to milder weather--perfect for more spoiling of our grandsons! 

We will not be idle, though. We have rallies to attend in San Marcos and the Rio Grande Valley. The ladies have a trip planned to First Monday in Canton and, after the holidays, we will be headed back to Arizona for our first visit to Quartzsite--known as Woodstock for RVers. After that, we will probably be wintering somewhere in the great Southwest. Next summer, we will be taking a Hawaiian cruise and then spending the rest of the summer somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. And who knows what else?!!

So, stick around and travel with us as we make our retirement dreams come true! 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Las Vegas to The Grand Canyon

At Grand Canyon Railroad RV Park, Williams, Arizona...

We decided to stop in Las Vegas on our way to the Grand Canyon, knowing the temperature there would be even hotter than St. George, but we scored a Passport America discount at the Oasis RV Park and thought we might see a couple of shows. 

It was every bit as hot there as we thought it would be, but thank goodness for Phannie's new bedroom a/c! It took all three a/cs running to keep cool, but that's why we have them, isn't it?

We went to see 'Vegas,' a musical variety show with music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and it was just okay. It was pretty well done, but we didn't know a lot of the tunes. It is a bit unsettling that the 'oldies' shows in Las Vegas no longer include music from the 50s and 60s, which are the 'oldies' we know. My guess is that our crowd is largely confined to assisted living and nursing homes, and their Wal-Mart bus won't take them all the way to Vegas! 

I must say that I'm a little conflicted about our good fortune as far as our health goes; so many of our peers do have health issues that are commonly a part of getting older, and we feel extraordinarily blessed to be out here roaming the country in a motorhome while their world is steadily shrinking. I think that's a pretty good reason not to wait too long to do the things you've worked for and dreamed about.

The other show we saw was Donnie and Marie. Now that would be full of oldies, we thought! Well, they did include a few of their saccharine hits from the past, but the emphasis was clearly on attracting a younger crowd with insanely loud amplification and hard rock histrionics. This was not money well spent for us; it was very disappointing. We have arrived at the conclusion that the music we like is largely extinct--you know, the kind with a melody you can hum and lyrics that are meaningful and decipherable above the noise?  There are perhaps vestiges of this kind of music still around in Branson, but who knows how long that will last after our generation is gone? Seems like we're going full circle back to where we began beating on logs and chanting some kind of mystical nonsense and calling that music. Give me a break.

Our primo find in Las Vegas was one of the best Thai restaurants ever. Lotus of Siam was so good that it made our stop in Las Vegas completely worthwhile. It's in a very nondescript location that belies the very large and well appointed restaurant inside, and everything we had was just superb. We ate there twice, and it definitely goes on our list of favorite restaurants linked on this blog.

We had an uneventful trip to Williams, Arizona, the gateway to the Grand Canyon, except for the bone-jarring condition of I-40 east of Kingman. I think Trump is right about our infrastructure crumbling; we had to move Phannie over to the passing lane for quite a distance to keep the fillings from falling out of our teeth.

We've been in Williams a few days, again scoring a Passport America discount at this very nice RV park. The only problem with it is the BNSF railroad track nearby but, fortunately, there are very few trains per day that go by with their horns blaring.

We've also failed to find a restaurant in Williams that is worth mentioning. Friends Janice and Dave are showing up soon, and we're going to have to break the bad news to them. Looks like Flagstaff will be a better bet for eating out.

We made a trip to the canyon today because the weather was just perfect for taking some photos. Here are a few that I thought turned out pretty well:

We had a visit by some Indian dancers.
The next one is my favorite, caught just moments before sunset:

The weather here has been so nice, with temperatures mostly in the 70s and low 80s. What a difference after St. George and Las Vegas!

I'll have some more photos to share in the next post, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Adios, St. George

At Temple View RV Resort, St. George, Utah...

Aside from the sweltering heat, we have had a pleasant stay here in St. George. It is a city in which the residents take pride, with streets that are clean and wide, boasting numerous shopping areas, well-kept neighborhoods and nothing that caused any safety concerns. The topography around the city is typical of the desert area with multicolored buttes and mesas nearby. Here's a view of the city from an overlook north of town:

The city maintains a very nice desert garden on top of one of the buttes nearby:

We scored tickets to a local community theater that had ambitiously put together a production of "Singin' In The Rain" that was actually quite good. If you find yourself here, whether on purpose or due to bad judgment in the summer--like us--their theater group can afford some good entertainment at a bargain price:

During a hot busy day while we were here, the RV park had an electrical brownout of sorts, probably due to so many air conditioners on so many big rigs that came in for the holiday. Our EMS apparently sensed some anemic power coming into Phannie and knocked us off the grid for a time. When the brownout subsided, the system powered us up again, thankfully. If you don't have an EMS, you might want to reconsider. I know of some horror stories about fried electronics in some coaches, and that is easily preventable with one of these handy devices.

Next stop: Las Vegas. Yes, I know it's hot there, too. (I must be a masochist.)

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. 
-- Alexander Sattler

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park and Relief From the Heat

At Temple View RV Resort, St. George, Utah...

It was a treat finally to be heading back up into the mountains northeast of St. George to find Bryce Canyon. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, and we chose to go eastbound on highway 9 through Zion again to intercept U. S. 89 to Bryce. This was really good fortune, as we only drove a short distance through Zion on our previous visit and didn't see the section of highway 9 that continued beyond the Zion canyon. It was a gorgeous drive, and we highly recommend it. 

As we gained altitude toward Bryce Canyon, the temperature outside steadily fell until it read 79 degrees at the 8,000+ foot elevation in the park. Now this was more like it, since the Mae's outside temperature gauge read 105 degrees when we left St. George. 

Because it was so pleasant outside, we spent quite a bit of time walking around the trails overlooking the remarkable hoodoos (the totem pole-like pillars of rock that are more prevalent in Bryce than anywhere else. These are formed, according to Wikipedia, by the erosion of softer layers of sediment underneath harder layers that protect the spires beneath.) Here are some photos:

Such colors!
I liked this one because it reminded me of the entrance to some ancient temple with people standing in the entrance.

This one looks a bit like the Parthenon in Greece with smaller buildings around it. 

This grouping looks like people very close together lined up for something.

The setting sun in late afternoon proved perfect for accentuating the vivid colors of the canyon and the thousands of hoodoos. 

I loved the look of this long-dead tree standing sentinel-like over this amazing spectacle.

And so we bid goodbye for now to this fantastic geological wonder:

Before we left the small community of Bryce, Utah just outside the entrance to the park, we stopped at Ebenezer's Barn to see the western music show that also included dinner:

This was a recommendation by friends Chuck and Tita. The singers and instrumentalists were an unbelievably talented group doing western swing music probably as well as it can be done. I think their rendition of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" was the best I ever heard. The dinner, unfortunately, wasn't so memorable, but the show made up for it. Thanks, guys, for telling us about this.

What a fine side trip this was! I hope everyone has an opportunity to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon Parks. They are well worth the effort.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler