Saturday, April 30, 2016

Red Dirt and Heather Clouds

April 29 - 30, 2016
Page, Arizona

Driving north beside the Echo Cliffs on AZ 89 is a beautiful drive. Climbing the cliff face just north of Bitter Springs, the panoramic views to the west are breathtaking. Northbound lanes hug the side, allowing me to take peeks of the vista while not hyperventilating or peeing my pants. We will return to see the Vermillion Cliffs while we're here.

Page, AZ, is a pretty little town along the southwest corner of Lake Powell. Our new home, Page Lake Powell RV Park, is on the out skirts, tucked into red slick rock mounds.

View from our front window when we arrive
Sites are a decent size, gravel, and a few medium trees. FHUs with 50 amp and cable, with a nice picnic table. No fire rings. There are a some long-term residents but most are very neat. Small store at the office, laundry and bath house, an arcade, and short nature trail along the slick rock. 

We're expecting rain for the weekend so we drive over the river to a small dirt road above Glen Canyon Dam while we still have a little sunshine.

Yucca are starting to bloom
Muffin top
Mini arch
Here it comes!
It rains very little over night and the skies are dark and gray Saturday morning. Time to restock the larder and return a package to Amazon. Very nice Safeway in town - and the only grocery store.

We don't have enough time to see everything here even without the rainy weather, so we head out around 11:00 to check out this small piece of the very large Lake Powell.

It is a more subtle landscape under heather-colored skies, but still stunning.

Tower Butte
Wahweap Marina
Glen Canyon Dam
and magical monuments in the distance
My last, and only, visit to Lake Powell (the north side) it was storming as well. Mid June, it rained, the wind blew the whole three days - and we were out on the lake on Seadoos. It was miserable, so I'm happy we have no plans to be on the water this time - and that there is little rain or wind from the solid clouds overhead.

Rivers End Cafe serves a delicious light lunch inside the Colorado River Discovery outfitters store. Across the street Tessa does zoomies on the lawn of the large city park. No pics, she's moving too fast :-)

While it isn't raining or too windy, it is still chilly. Too chilly to be riding in one of the dozens of open-sided tour trucks we see all over the area. They are filled with tourists in parkas, hats and scarves. Nope.

If the weather clears we want to see Antelope Canyon, in the meantime we head out to Antelope Point. 

There is red dirt as far as we can see - which is a very long way. I love it. The whole area speaks to me in ancient voices. I'm immediately sorry I didn't give us more time here. There will definitely be a next visit!

Fluffy feet on the slick rock
Antelope Point
Smishy, swirly shoreline
Rock hound heaven
Frothy rock
More layers
Nice having the place to ourselves
When we get home it smells wonderful! Apple cinnamon pork tenderloin in the crock pot has been cooking all day. Together with wild rice and gingered carrots, it's a tasty ending to a lovely day.

There's still rain in the forecast for tomorrow so we'll see what we get up to :-)))

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Beautiful New Territory

April 26-28, 2016
Cameron, AZ

I inadvertently add 30 miles to our trip on Tuesday by not taking Hwy 162/68 to Kingman, instead going through Bullhead City and Needles to connect with I-40. It's a nice drive, just longer than it needed to be.

We get a long pull-through site back at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park where they let me use Passport America even though we've already used our "seven nights in a 30-day period". For the first time we leave the Jeep connected overnight.

Monday night in Laughlin, NV, the low was 58 degrees. Back in Williams, AZ, the high is 56 degrees. 5000 feet elevation gain makes a big difference!

It's a little less than a mile to Anna's Cafe - I'm craving their green chili burrito :-). The wind is "brisk", but it's a nice walk.

It is 29 degrees early Wednesday morning - we aren't doing a great job of "following the seasons" this Spring!

Our two-night stop at the Cameron Trading Post is so we can visit Desert View at the Grand Canyon and see some of the Navajo Nation. Intermittent rain is expected for the rest of the week.

Parked in the red dirt, Cameron, AZ
The colors of Northern Arizona
are varied and beautiful
We head out after 11:00 Thursday morning to see the southeast area of the Grand Canyon. The wind is up and there are dark clouds in the distance. Hwy 64 is a lovely smooth, wide road. Reservation homes are spread out among the canyons and rocks, the views are incredible.

The first Scenic View is staffed and maintained by the tribe, with rest rooms, covered picnic tables, and rows of Navajo vendors selling jewelry, blankets and other items. Donations are accepted at the entrance kiosk.

And the OMG Little Colorado River Gorge!

We are completely surprised by the size of this canyon
Like its grander cousin, there are multiple ravines 
The Painted Desert is visible in the distance
You I don't need to get all the way to the edge to see just fine
It is the very, very little dry Colorado River here
At the time we don't realize how much we should appreciate the sunshine
The tall, sheer walls are breathtaking 
A few sprinkles on our windshield turn into light flakes as we enter the national park. It's 39 degrees, the clouds are very dark, the wind is blowing hard.

We move quickly to the small trading post/snack bar at Desert View - we aren't dressed for this cold. Neither are the bus loads of tourists so we are all inside. There are pretty things to see.....

Outside visibility reduces to a few yards. Bill braves the low temps to check out the canyon. He returns with his jacket covered in snow and confirms nothing can be seen from the rim. 

Watchtower at Desert View - pretty huh?
Temps drop and the snow starts to stick
There's no sign it's going to clear up anytime soon so we make our way back to the parking lot. Our faces are burning from the sideways snow hitting us, and Tessa is covered. 

Back in the Jeep we are laughing (with the heater on blast) at this latest adventure. We'll come back and see this "end" of the canyon another time.

Once we leave the storm behind us, we make another stop to view the gorge. Our Grand Canyon visit may have been a bust, but we are still so glad we stopped here for a couple days in this beautiful area.

We make a last stop at the trading post and then relax at home for the evening.

The trading post is celebrating its 100 year anniversary
Little Colorado River (dry here too) behind the trading post property
Construction is nearly complete on the new four lane bridge, replacing the swayback bridge built in 1911 to create the first easy access over the gorge. 
Only a few clouds remain
as the setting sun lights the mesas to the northeast
It's wonderful to be back in new territory, exploring places we've never been. Friday to Page, AZ, for a week.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Blessing of Lifetime Friends - Fun Times in Laughlin

April 19 - 25, 2016
Laughlin, NV

We know how fortunate we are to come from a small town, to have friends we've known for decades, to have the opportunity to see them every year. 

It is especially sweet since our little town no longer exists. And the pumping plant village where I lived 50 miles away is now closed to the public. The fact that every year up to 100 of us get together in Laughlin, NV, is so unique. Not just classmates and their spouses (many who are also classmates), but several of our former teachers, and even a few parents. 

We arrive Tuesday afternoon to Riverside RV Park to stay for week. Friends start arriving on Thursday and we all meet for dinner and brews to kick off our weekend. The River Walk is quiet and we all enjoy hanging out by the water under the full moon.

The moon rises quickly
Jimmy, Coy, Bill, Rennie, Donnie
Janet, Pam, Sonya, Patty, Stacy, Cheryl
Friday morning Bill gets picked up at 7:00 to head to the golf course with a handful of friends. He drives one of the carts and has a great day of laughs while they play 18 holes. 

The day heats up fast and I end up hanging out at home doing absolutely nothing all by myself. Lovely.

We head to the Edgewater Casino for the Meet-and-Greet around 6 PM.

Nine years of year books and a sadly growing list of those we've lost

Me, Donnie, Stacy, Chris, Connie 
Bill's doppleganger, Kenny, and photo-bomber Patty
Guess who?
Neither of us were drinking - really!!
Wonderful to see many we have seen recently, as well as a few for the first time in decades. In all cases, we're so excited to see each other, to get caught up with our lives over the years.

Saturday morning Donnie and Anna walk up to join us for second cup, and soon there's a knock on the door. Cyndee was also out for a morning walk and found our rig - by the duct tape on the windshield!! Such a classy look :-)

The day flies by visiting by the pool and soon it's time to get ready for the reunion dinner. 

Even more people are in attendance, including one of my very best high school friends who I haven't seen since 1975.

We love getting to see Danny each year, but seeing his sister Kathy after 40 years is a special treat!!
Oldest and youngest
Teacher and student sharing photos
Classmates who haven't seen each other in 45 years getting caught up - Coy and Steve
Mr and Mrs Brenniese, Mrs and Mr Sparkman, Coach Finton, Mr McDowell - our teachers
18 from classes 1967-1979 who attended K-12 at Eagle Mountain
We all  had a wonderful time!
In addition to all these great friends, our new windshield is also in Laughlin. And Sunday is the day for installation. Don't know how folks will find us without the duct tape......

Woohoo, sealed nice and tight!
We're looking forward to the near future when many of these good friends will no longer have to head back to work on Sunday and Monday. For this year, we're alone again on Monday.

I find a medical lab in nearby Bullhead City, AZ, where I can get some overdue blood tests done and my Monday morning appointment is a quick in-and-out. The cost is very reasonable so not being able to use my California-based health insurance is not an issue. Nice to get that off my list :-)

We run a few more errands and spend a relaxing afternoon at home. Tuesday morning we'll return to Williams for an overnight stop.

It was another wonderful gathering of lifetime friends, something we treasure more and more each year.