Category Archives: Uncategorized

Petra from on High

Our second full day at Petra was one of the highlights of the trip. Fred had been impressed by several  photos taken of the Treasury from above and he had heard rumors that there was actually an easy route to get to the vantage point. The challenge was to find a guide who knew the way. A visit to the guide office found Achmed, who would guide us. He recommended taking horses to make the climb easier for Denise and although Fred was very unsure about this, we agreed. It proved to be a wise and most enjoyable choice. Achmed discussed horses just inside the gate and procured three excellent ones, complete with their owners, and we set off. The horses ambled at an easy walk, except for when the track was too dangerous for them to carry anyone and then we dismounted and walked beside them.

At this point we pause for a quick aside. Tourists today enter Petra through the narrow and spectacular Siq, but the site is, of course more easily accessible from the north and south as the city actually sits in a broad valley. And, of course, any invading army could easily climb over the mountains. So why is Petra where it is? Water. The mountains around Petra actually get a fair amount of rain and the Nabateans were experts at channelling that water into the city where it was stored in cisterns. And, while it is not immediately obvious from the tourist route, Petra is surrounded by large, flat plateaus which are perfect for agriculture.

It was quite fascinating to be up above the Petra Valley on the flat agricultural lands. The Crusaders destroyed the olive groves and they have never been replanted.

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A project is currently attempting to recreate and reestablish the Nabatean water control methods with a view to irrigating for agricultural purposes. The Nabateans grew grapes and olives and traded wine and olive oil from the Petra valley.

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We had quite a scramble to get to the viewpoint above the Treasury but it was worth it.

 

The first view was spectacular. (Like all of the images, this one is quite large, click and zoom.)

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And then, when you climb down, you come to this: Notice the people on the left, they have come up one of the steeper climbs. If you zoom in and look directly in front of the facade, you can see the underground rooms that have been unearthed.

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Denise paused to take in the view.

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And what can she see? Zoom in on the next picture and see if you can guess. Hint: Look for something man made. (Answer at the bottom of this post.)

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Back on the horses and off to the Place of High Sacrifice. After more riding, walking, and scrambling, we came upon the site from behind. The Nabateans weren’t adverse to digging and carving – notice that the two pylons are carved out of the mountain, not erected. Can you imagine the work it took to smooth the cliff faces on the right of the image?

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Back in the day, it looked like this.

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The High Place of Sacrifice.

The point of a high place is to build an altar and the Nabateans did some beautiful stone work with channels to carry liquid. We can simply imagine what liquid. From the stone work still remaining, it is likely that much of the site had walls at one time.

We wandered and took photos before beginning the descent of the steps. It was certainly an easier descent than it would have been to climb up. Fred was never able to find the section of stairs that had scared him so as a child.

 

Back in the valley, we admired the theatre. By this time, after Amman, Um Qais, and Jerash, we were about theatered out!

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We made our way back to the Treasury to hit the refreshment stands and to indulge in a bit of people watching.

Achmed composed and took a great shot of the Treasury in Fred’s glasses.

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Fred took one last stab at a slightly different take on the classic Treasury-through-the-Siq shot.

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Goddess through the Siq.

We hiked, OK, trudged, our way back up through the Siq, stopping to admire what had been a fabulous carving of a camel caravan. Complete with a person leading. Sadly, the soft sandstone has washed away, but you can see that the water course actually ran behind the camels’ legs.

We were back to our hotel by about 4.00 pm. Again after a shower and a rest, we headed to the buffet for dinner. Afterwards, we stopped to chat to a gentleman putting sand in bottles in various patterns and designs. Fred remembered these from his childhood and he was happy to purchase a couple. Sadly, he had closed up by the time Fred went back for his camera.

And what could Denise see? The top of the Monastery. Amazing! Actually, if you know where to look, you can see it from several of the higher points around Petra.

Pacific Coast Road

The Pacific Coast Road was one of our goals so we set out on Route 1 north of San Francisco.  We did not visit San Francisco on this trip as we had previously stayed there for several days two years ago, before taking the train back to Washington DC.

We had a gloomy first afternoon when we walked over the dunes for our first view of a grey and very windy Pacific Ocean at Bodega Bay. Thereafter, however, we had days of glorious sunshine with which to view rock arches and rocky promontories and a beautiful blue ocean. Working our way up the coast, we stopped in the little town of Jenner at the Jenner Inn for coffee and found the most amazing fruit muffins.  After voraciously consuming one, we had to buy a second!  We also admired the seals (from a distance) basking on the sandy mouth of the river.  It is a popular breeding ground and has been somewhat blocked off to provide the seals with some privacy from walkers.

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The Blue Cat was a bit less impressed by the scenery, but he did like toasting in his window, with his tail casually blowing out the window. (This is known as Cat-Under-Glass.)

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We were disappointed by the Fort Ross Historic Park, which was closed.  We were able to walk the grounds and see the buildings on the outside but the Visitor Center and all interior access, event the parking, was closed.  Fred was fascinated by this little known Russian colony which farmed and cut timber along some twenty miles of coast to support Russian colonization in Alaska in the early 1800’s.  (http://www.fortross.org) We shall have to do more research on Wikipedia.

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We then headed to our next Harvest Host winery, Handleys Wine Cellar.  (http://www.handleycellars.com) An older winery, we liked several of their wines and made our purchases in exchange for a night on the hillside with views of vineyards stretching in all directions.  The winery was on Route 128 which meandered through a redwood forest, and driving there gave us our first views of the coastal giant redwoods, and proved a delightful shady drive.  We completed our tree education by taking the Avenue of the Giants, through the Humboldt National Park, with its stands of giant redwoods.  These are taller than the Giant Sequoia of the Sierra Nevada, though do not live as long.  To be quite honest, tall is relative, especially when the trees as so tall you cannot see the top even staring up!  We continued  heading north and stopped for the evening at the Prairie Creek Redlands State Park, where we had the fortune to take the last space at the Elk campground.  Fred saw elk in the distance but Denise did not.  She has hopes of seeing some as we continue our travels north.

Still heading north, we crossed into Oregon heading for Crater Lake.  Fred had a yearn for ice-cream and we stopped at an amazing ice-cream stand, Phil’s Frosty in Shady Grove, OR.  Fred ordered a small sundae which turned out to be huge!  (http://www.yelp.com/biz/phils-frosty-shady-cove) Denise contented herself with a small cone!  As it was Saturday evening, we started checking for a campsites and found the last site in a small primitive campsite.  It was cool and pleasant if a little noisy.  The temperatures were slowly climbing and being shaded was becoming important!

There’s Gold in them thar hills …

Having been warned that we might be asked to surrender previously purchased fruits at the California state line, Denise dutifully made applesauce from our eating apples and as a result we successfully crossed into California without fuss.  We had no plants to declare, no firewood, and not much of anything else.  We had decided to spend a little time in Gold Country or Eldorado County, home of much gold rush history and full of quiet backroads, so we headed towards the Sonora Pass.

We started out by taking Route 108 across the Sierra Nevada. The views were spectacular and it was a most pleasant drive albeit with 26% grades! If you zoom in and look to the left of the image, you can see the Marine Corps mountain warfare center._ND84271

As the road was sporty it was packed with motorcycles and expensive sports cars,  Lamborghinis and Maseratis for example, were seen within a few minutes of each other.  We stopped counting Porsches!   We looked at several Forestry campsites which were unpleasantly full and were just beginning to despair when we stopped at Boulder Flats.  Almost empty when we arrived, we ended up as the only campers overnighting; a private campsite with a number of boulders and enormous trees.

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The next morning our first stop was at the Columbia State Historic Park, near Sonora.  An authentic gold rush town, it was greatly reduced in population after the rush ended but never actually became a ghost town.  Thus it was a prime candidate for renovation and life as a state historic park.  (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=5520 The usual variety of mid eighteenth century buildings were filled with a wide range of authentic items for view and less authentic ones for sale.  There were lots of costumed interpreters and in fact one of the choice views of the day was a costumed interpreter using the ATM on the side of “ye olde banke”.  We had a great time riding the stagecoach and indeed got held up by a masked bandit!  But it was most interesting to ride behind the four horses as they pulled the coach up and down grades.  It felt very authentic.  We enjoyed a long chat with the driver, while waiting for the next ride to begin.  Purely by chance, we were there during the “Diggins” weekend, a weekend when the tent camp which had existed outside town during the gold rush, is recreated.  We paid our entry fee and wandered through, admiring the men practicing their rifle fire, others prospecting with pickaxes and still more sluicing to find gold.  All the other services, dentists, lawyers and doctors for example, each had their tent.  It was our first day in the eighties since leaving Florida so we retired to an air conditioned restaurant in the historic town for lunch.

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Our next stop was the Calaveras Big Tree Park, so Denise could do her tree hugging.  Home to two groves of giant sequoia, we walked the trail to one grove, admiring the huge trees and sad to see the damage caused by tourism during the 1880’s when the trees were first discovered and promoted.  Two large trees are dead or dying because of losing bark or being hollowed out.  We spent the night in the campsite there, surrounded by younger and smaller sequoia and pine, a beautiful spot.

Denise posed on the stump of the “Discovery Tree.” This is the tree that first confirmed the existence of the giant Sequoias, and so, naturally, it was abused and finally felled. The picture gives at least some idea of the size of this mammoth tree._ND84299

It is almost impossible to capture the scale of these tremendous trees. (So Fred gave up trying; you will simply have to visit for yourself.)_ND84307

We paid a visit to the Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park and enjoyed the museum of Indian life.  There were a few bark houses and the ceremonial round house was being rebuilt.  A short trail around the park did allow for us to stretch our legs.

The site was most unusual, literally thousands of holes worn into the rock._ND84320 _ND84323

Then, as we moved into the winery country, we  decided it was time for a wine tasting.  We quickly learned one basic fact and that is that most wineries are not open on Mondays.  In fact, if you plan to visit the smaller wineries in any of the wine areas, you should plan on going on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  We researched our Harvest Host listing and found one that looked quite close that was open on a Monday.  So, off we went after putting the address into the GPS.  We drove and we drove down narrow country roads which twisted and turned over hills and down dales (as they say in the UK).  Sometimes the road was so narrow there was no line down the middle and there were appropriate pull off spaces to pass another vehicle.  Practice for UK (especially Devon) country roads!  We did meet the propane gas truck, though fortunately not in the worst part!  The 18 miles probably took us two hours to drive, but we saw some lovely scenery, and finally found our winery, DK Cellars, sitting on top of a mountain with a lovely view.  The owner was there, so we had a great tasting, great discussions, and bought three bottles of wine.  And of course we set ourselves up and spent the night. (http://dkcellars.com)

The Loneliest Road

We have camped at over 8,000 feet for ten days or more and have been rained on, hailed on, and snowed on! So instead of heading further north, we decided the time had come to head west.  California has a drought at the moment, so maybe if we bring only a little rain, they will be happy.  Maybe we shall see the sun also!  So, we set off on the Loneliest Road, US Highway Route 50.  Nevada here we come!

Our road out of the campsite at Cathedral Valley proved to be very rocky in places but we made it without difficulty and found our way to Route 50 and our first stop, the Great Basin National Park.  Crossing the desert, the landscape seemed amazingly green.  Obviously it has been raining here also, in fact, there was some water in Lake Sevier, shown on the map as a dry lake bed.  So we stopped to take a photo!

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As we drove west, we watched fascinating thunderstorms developing all around us and we finally drove through one, which helped to remove some of the mud from the truck (remnants of the Hell’s Backbone drive).

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After a quick stop at the Visitor Center for camping advice, we found ourselves a lovely spot in one of the more primitive campgrounds at about 7,500 feet, for two nights.  We settled in with one small problem.  The electric steps up to the camper no longer worked.  Fortunately we hauled out our trusty step ladder and got ourselves organized as another thunderstorm hit.  So much for arid desert. And so much for clear, starry skies. (http://www.nps.gov/grba/index.htm)

As it was sunny the next morning, we headed up the Mt. Wheeler Scenic Drive to the trailhead of the Bristlecone Pine Trail, which Denise wanted to hike.  Ndeke Luka is shorter than the 24 foot limit fortunately, although the road was not, in fact, difficult. There were stunning views of the mountain and across the Basin on every curve.  Mt. Wheeler is 13,065 feet and was well snow capped, and, to Denise’s disappointment, the Bristlecone Pine Trail was equally snow covered.  We would have needed snow spikes to feel comfortable in the snow and ice, so we headed back down, stopping to make espresso at one overlook and taking photos as we went.

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Our next stop was the Lehman Caverns Visitors Center.  Rangers lead guided tours of the caverns under the mountain and we signed up for the next available 90 minute tour.  (There are also 60 minute tours.)  Having visited Carlsbad Caverns last year, Denise had to have her shoes disinfected, (a minor procedure), and Fred wiped his camera with disinfecting wipes.  Then we set off.  It was a fascinating tour with lots of information provided by a knowledgeable ranger.  We saw the “shield” formations, which are rare, though apparently Luray in Virginia has them!  It was also low key, lacking the enormous scale of Carlsbad. The passageways were narrow and it was hard to avoid touching a formation or hitting one’s head.  It felt very personal and low key and allowed one to get much closer to the flowstone.

Needless to say, it was pouring with rain when we came out. We compensated by bolting to the tiny cafe for a piece of pie and a chat with the ladies who worked there.

Our next stop was Ely, Nevada for some essential camper steps maintenance, in order:

— Auto parts store for a new fuse for the steps. (We now have a lifetime selection.)

— Car wash. ($15 to spray most of Utah off of the truck.)

— Diesel station to top up.

— Coffee (and flower) shop for an espresso. (To restore the soul.)

— And finally, supermarket (the only one for 250 miles) for veggies and a re-grease of the steps and retractable running boards.

With our camper steps fully functional again, we took a wander down Ely’s main street. Like many small western towns, this was a flashback to the 1950’s and the end of the big mining operations in the area. Purely by accident, we stumbled upon a gem of a Chinese restaurant, the “Happy Garden.” Expectations to the contrary, all of the dishes were very fresh and served piping hot. (http://www.yelp.com/biz/happy-garden-ely) Chatting with the owner, we were reminded of the tremendous, but oft underreported, role of the Chinese in the development of the American west, especially the construction of the Central Pacific railroad. All in all Ely was a wonderful stopover.

The rest of our time on the Loneliest Road proved to be interesting!  At times there was quite a lot of traffic so it was not lonely at all.  At other times, it seemed like we were the only people on it.  We camped at the Hickison Petroglyph BLM Recreation Area where we took the trail to see the petroglyphs and enjoyed a lovely free campsite.

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Looking west from Hickison Summit. Frémont crossed very near here._ND84184

 

Historical grafitti? Look closely at the picture. You can just see a “JR” and “1858” inscribed in the stone. Believed to be original._ND84182

We also saw the petroglyphs at Grimes Point Archeological Site, all inscribed on boulders and some dating back multiple thousand years.  All are weathering.  One wonders how long they will be visible. Grimes Point is right next to the Fallon Naval Air Station and there is quite a juxtaposition between ancient petroglyphs and modern jet fighters.

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Everyone has heard of the fabled Pony Express, the Butterfield stage coaches, and finally, Wells Fargo and Company. (Remember all of those Westerns from the ’50’s and ’60’s, “Tales of Wells Fargo” and the rest?) We stopped at two sites to view remains of the stations dealing with the Pony Express and the Butterfield Stage at Cold Springs and Sand Springs.

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Ruins of Butterfield Stage station and repair facility at Cold Springs. Looking West along US 50._ND84193

The ruins at the Sand Springs site were especially interesting as they were not fenced off and you can see the individual rooms.  Sir Richard Burton, the famous African and Middle Eastern explorer had several uncomplimentary comments about the Sand Springs station. The amazing sounds of the Sand Mountain, a huge dune standing all by itself about a mile away, were inaudible as it was full of ATVs.  (The dune is supposed to sing when vibrations are at the correct level.)

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Our final visit in Nevada was to Virginia City, known for its gold and silver and as one of the settings for “Bonanza”, the TV show.  Now a major tourist attraction, it still retains a certain amount of charm with wooden sidewalks, original buildings and saloons. At the same time, despite a population of under 700 (down from 28,000 at its peak), Virginia City boasts very impressive and modern looking schools and a public swimming pool. All in all, a fascinating visit, especially when you realize that the town is not a movie set, but was the epicenter of an enormous mining enterprise. All of the mountains for miles around are marked with piles of spoil and there are even mines right on the city streets.

 

Virginia City is the terminus of a short line, the Virginia and Truckee, opened in 1869 to take the ore down the mountain. (http://www.virginiatruckee.com) It ran 45 trains a day during the boom and the Virginia City sector was closed in the 1930’s. Reopened in 1975 they run tourist trains to Gold Hill, three miles down the track, using diesels, steam engines and 100 year old carriages.

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Denise sees the light at the end of the tunnel._ND84251

The train runs to Gold Hill._ND84243

Our train was pulled by a diesel, but the steam engine arrived shortly after our return after pulling a train from Carson City.  N.B. The steam run to or from Carson City is the trip you REALLY want to take. Worth the effort to research the schedule._ND84263 _ND84265

After a great barbecue sandwich for lunch, (http://www.vcjerky.com) we headed for California.

A last view on the road back down to the valley. Everywhere you look there are great views, and huge piles of spoil from the mines._ND84270

 

Playing in the Mud

The next day dawned with a bright sun in the sky and so we decided to head for Capitol Reef after all, via  Hell’s Backbone. The Hell’s Backbone road turned out to be particularly ill named. It was, in fact, a lovely drive through the woods. The road was built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to connect the towns of Escalante and Boulder. (In the summer only; the road was closed when it snowed.) Up until that time, Boulder received its mail by pack mule in the summer and in the winter not at all. Today it is a winding, mostly single lane road, but even with the snow, it was not too slick for a heavy 4×4 and a bit of care. The Hell’s Backbone ridge narrows to a knife edge at one point, spanned by a one lane bridge. The original wooden bridge, which lies in ruins below the present structure was started by a local tractor driver nicknamed “Sixty” for his love of speed. In this case, he drove his Caterpillar tractor across the gap, towing a compressor, on two leveled logs. (Somehow, a safety rope around his midsection doesn’t seem that reassuring.) We had no such troubles and crossed the bridge with ease.

N.B. These are large images and will expand, in two steps, when clicked.

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Rejoining Utah 12, we continued down to the main highway, enjoying spectacular views of the Capitol Reef from above.

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We enquired at the visitor center about visiting the famous temples of the Sun and Moon in the northern part of the park, and thence continuing on to the campground, but were told that the road was impassible. So we headed off down the paved sixteen mile scenic route. The road and parking lots were all packed for the Memorial Day holiday. We turned off on one of the dirt spurs to the Grand Wash, but it, too, was busy. There was no room to park at the turnaround; indeed, there were cars and RV’s scattered everywhere. We decided to give up and headed back to the asphalt, carefully obeying the speed limit and trying to avoid puddles. This earned us a horn bleat from a motor cycle that decided to zoom past just as Fred moved left. So much for speed limits!

We turned east and were joined for lunch by three deer._ND84111

After lunch, we decided to ignore the dire warnings and try the Caineville Wash road heading north, which lies just outside the Park. This turned out to be remarkably easy dirt and in about an hour we came to a sign that confirmed that we were, indeed, on the right road.

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It was very exciting to see the famous monoliths in the distance. We soon arrived at the turnoff for the Temples of the Sun and Moon. We turned in and were treated to some wonderful views of two mud monoliths.

The Temple of the Moon is the smaller of the two. Looking at the background, you can see that they are parts of an eroded cliff; a form of large hoodoo, if you will._ND84131

Temple of the Sun, backlighted._ND84130Lovely little rock table, near the Temple of the Moon._ND84124

The smaller, Temple of the Moon, in all its glory._ND84120

While the road was easy, we only saw four cars, including one SUV parked in the middle of the road. He was heading south and we wondered if he had broken down. While at the Temples we received the compliment of the day from a gentleman driving a Toyota Forerunner, “That’s one badass motorhome!” (We tend to agree.) From there the road got much better, if punctuated by muddy water crossings. It is clear that it will be very hard for us to get usable information on road conditions. Clearly, at 11,500 pounds, we are heavier than a common 4×4, but, at the same time, we are much, much more capable than an normal car or RV. Fred was wary of the mud, but, in the end, we did not even need to air down the tires.

We continued and turned in to view the Gypsum Sinkhole. Denise found it and it turned out to be exactly what you would expect, a huge hole at the base of a cliff wall. We noted that one of the washes seemed to flow into a hole in the ground so the sinkhole will probably get bigger in the future.

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All of the scenery was just lovely._ND84134

We continued to the end of the valley, passing beautiful scenery and enormous monoliths. Finally, there was a steep grind up the wall and a last view of the valley. (Sadly, the Chevrolet does not have the tightest turning circle, so one switchback required us to back and fill to get around the corner.)

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The Cathedral Valley Campground had six sites and incredible views back towards Colorado. Stopping for the night was an easy decision. (And besides, the cat was tired of rough roads.)

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A Tale of Two Parks

Provisioned, cleaned and warmer, we set off north to Utah, planning to visit the National Parks in  Southern Utah (or at least as many of them as we could manage).  Our big problem was the imminent Memorial Day holiday, which we knew would bring a lot of tourists to the region. So we decided to pay at least slight attention to the two most known parks, Zion and Bryce, as we wended our way towards Capitol Reef and Arches.  Well, the best laid plans of mice and men …

Our stop at Zion was interesting.  We drove in on State Route 9, and having established that we could fit through the tunnel with no additional charges, we crossed the southern section.  The scenery is indeed quite spectacular and we stopped at a couple of overlooks to admire, take photos and generally appreciate.  _ND83976 _ND83979 _ND83980 _ND83982

The tunnel itself was an amazing engineering/construction accomplishment and is all the more unusual for having five “windows” along its length.

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These were used to provide ventilation and to expel construction debris. We also watched some climbers as they made their way up a stone face. (See if you can find them in the first photo.)

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This may be a bit easier.

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The sun even came out for a while, which helped the photos and our enjoyment level!

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The main tourist area was a mess, the RV parking area was jammed with cars and a few campers, even at 4.30 PM.  We were not inspired by parking in town and taking two shuttles to see the glories of Zion tourist scenery, so we moved on, spending the night at a very pleasant campsite, the Zion River Resort in Virgin. While not inexpensive, this camp easily makes it into the top five nicest RV parks that we have visited. (http://www.zionriverresort.com) Fred wanted to drive the Kolob Terrace Road, which starts in Virgin but it was unfortunately closed for rebuilding.  So the next morning we heading to the Kolob Canyons section of Zion NP.   Again it was a cloudy day. What happened to the southwestern sunshine we enjoyed last year? We drove the five miles of tourist route and we took various photos on the way up.  We hiked the short trail at the top and appreciated the view, though we wore rain jackets as it looked very threatening.  We ate lunch there because Denise thought it might be clearing a little and indeed it did.  The sun almost came out a few times so we took another photo or two.

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Continuing towards Bryce National Park, we took State Route 148 to 143, stopping at Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It was very closed but had some good views of an amphitheater filled with hoodoos.  Memories of Bolivia were upon us as we were back at 10,500 feet!  We stopped for the night just short of Panguitch in the Dixie National Forest at about 8,000 feet. We may be SOB’s (Survivors of Bolivia), but this obsession with altitude is getting old.

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Our departure the next morning was somewhat delayed by a bird who somehow got into the air conditioner enclosure.  Fred had to take one of the grills off and encourage it to exit.  We never actually saw it fly off but the scratchings stopped, so our fingers are crossed that it did indeed leave.  (A tip of the hat to Dan Rehack, who gave us a Number 2 square drive when we got the Tiger, noting that it was the one, essential tool for all purposes on a Tiger!) We replaced the grill and headed to Bryce via Route 12,  which took us through some spectacular scenery.  Once in Bryce, we drove the full 18 miles to the end of the tourist scenic drive and took photos of the various sites.  We had some sunshine at last though it was still quite chilly.  We were unable to park at Bryce Overlook, but at Inspiration Overlook we not only climbed to all three levels but walked a section of the Rim Trail.  Denise’s ankle, though still weak, is doing a little better. The combination of clouds, rain squalls, and sun made for a couple of lovely photos.

 

We headed to Kodachrome Basin State Park hoping to camp but found “Camp Full” signs up.  So, we checked in with the Visitor Center for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument regarding camping permits.  We were dissuaded from dispersed camping in the Monument as yet another winter storm was approaching. We were told horror stories of Bentonite clay and told that camping permits were not available unless you could specify where you were going to camp, a bit challenging as we could not assess the road conditions in advance and thus had no idea where we might camp.  Apparently the roads in the Dixie National Forest are gravel and better than those in the Monument and one is less likely to get stuck.  So, here we are with a 36 hour storm approaching and campgrounds full for the Memorial Day Weekend.  We decided to head deeper into the Dixie National Forest on the promised gravel road and arrived at the Posey Lake campground (8,500 feet) just as it started hailing.  It was time to regroup and reevaluate what was going to happen next.  Somehow Capitol Reef National Park did not seem that appealing in the rain. We settled in for the night and happily cooked on the diesel stove, the extra heat being most welcome. We woke the next morning to a couple of inches of snow and it continued snowing until about 3.00 PM.

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Needless to say, this seemed an excellent reason to stay put for a second night.  The campsite is lovely with pines, aspens and a lovely view of the lake (through the snow!), plus the usual chipmunks and a selection of wild turkeys.  So far no bears or mountain lions although there are food safes at all the campsites.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! (Overland EXPO West 2015)

This Overland Expo (http://www.overlandexpo.com will go down in history as the “difficult” and “different” one.  To put it mildly, the weather was not kind at all, and we all suffered.  We arrived on a chilly afternoon and settled Ndeke Luka into the Tiger spot.  We were soon joined by the the second Tiger show vehicle, a Bengal owned by Don, Barbie, and Mate Borinski, aka, “The Wanderers.” This was a thrill as Fred had perused their website for years during the design of Ndeke Luka. Donnie and Barbie produced mats and tents and all matter of things to make the site look better while Mate, the Australian Shepherd, supervised all aspects of the set up. It was windy and cold by evening, a foretaste of the weather to come. Mark Guild, the owner of Tiger Adventure Vehicles and his family arrived and it was fun to meet them and chat.

The Borinski's beautiful Bengal in the foreground.

The Borinski’s beautiful Bengal in the foreground.

Friday dawned cloudy and cold and then after a little morning sunshine, the heavens opened and reduced the parking and camping areas to quagmires. We were warm and dry in the Tiger, but the floor soon disappeared under a layer of mud.

Misty, Moisty Morning

We swept when we could but it was a losing battle. The mud and weather were too much for many, and we noted a steady stream of cars departing early. (In some cases, only after being towed or colliding with other vehicles.) Saturday was worse, adding snow to the mix and the weather didn’t really clear up until Sunday. (Blue cat was unimpressed and retreated to his cabover bed. Needless to say, jailbreaks were not a problem!)

And it felt just as miserable as it looks.

And it felt just as miserable as it looks.

This is when you are glad that you are camping inside, as opposed to beside, your vehicle!

This is when you are glad that you are camping inside, as opposed to beside, your vehicle!

Due to some cross communications, Fred’s dual battery course was conducted in an open tent without audio visual support. The attendees moved in close, both to hear better and to keep warm. The second session was much better; moving out of the tent into a moment of sunlight and lining up the participants to play the roles of “Starter Battery,” “Camper Battery,” “Relay” and other exciting characters. (Those who may wish to learn more on this subject will find information at the “Documents” page of this Blog.) Fred also gave a course, “Know Before You Go”, that deals with preparation for international travel and what can be expected when it all goes wrong. (aka, How not to get arrested/sick/robbed overseas.) Fred was also a discussant on panels on “Bribes and Border Crossings” and travel in Africa.

Fred also slipped away to attend Rick Howe’s session on shipping an overland camper while Denise enjoyed the Rob Blackwell’s presentation on travel in Iran and Turkey.

Beyond being a trade show, Overland Expo is a gathering of the tribes and an opportunity to meet many of what Denise calls Fred’s “imaginary friends.” This year we caught up with:

The Howes (http://www.travelin-tortuga.com/Travelin-Tortuga/index.html)

The Blackwells (http://www.whiteacorn.com)

Lance and Michelle of EarthCruiser (http://earthcruiser.com)

The Turners (http://robinsonfuso.com)

Cam Stone and Kris (http://www.mojoegriddle.com)

And we met many new ones. Many hours were spent in deep (and, according to Denise, sometimes pedantic) discussions of all aspects of travel and vehicle design.

Pretty XPCampers in the background.

Pretty XPCampers in the background.

Jon and Emily offer their reportage and photos here: http://robinsonfuso.com/2015/06/04/flagstaff-may-12-13/

On Monday we retreated to Flagstaff to do laundry, clean out the Tiger, and generally collapse, and not necessarily in that order! We got some nice photos on the way out.

Mountains above Flagstaff, Arizona. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Peaks

Mountains above Flagstaff, Arizona.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Peaks

Note the mouse or vole in the talons.

Note the mouse or vole in the talons.