29 Sept 2014

The Last Canyon

We left the biggest to last, but almost went on without seeing it. We arrived at Williams just south of the Grand Canyon on Friday evening after passing through a storm. It caught up with us a couple of hours later and continued through the night and on and off all the next day, with high winds, monsoon like rain and even some hail.

Fortunately the camp ground 'Railside RV Ranch' run by Patrick and Tammara (half Apache, half German) has an excellent communal room and they also provide breakfast, so made life a lot easier for us. We spent most of Saturday in the communal room, including watching 'Broken Trail' (a 3 hour western with Robert Duvall) from their extensive DVD library, after which the camp shuttle bus took us into town for dinner and collected us at 9pm.

If it was still raining the following morning we were considering moving on without seeing the Grand Canyon, if so the title of this episode would have been 'Rain Stopped Play'. Fortunately the sun was now peeking between the clouds so we headed for the Canyon, but decided on a round trip taking in a Volcano and some prehistoric buildings on the way and entering the Canyon via the East Rim. Trouble is we spent too long on the diversion and arrived at the Canyon at 4pm (I thought this would be a good time but much of it was already in shade), so headed back to Williams.

Plan was to head on to Las Vegas in the morning, but decided to give the Canyon a fair go, so headed back up by the direct route before heading on towards Vegas. When we got there we jumped on the shuttle bus along the south rim, a few stops and a short walk and by the time we got back to the cruiser we just had time to drive back to Williams before dark!

The Grand Canyon truly is immense, and not really what we expected, as it is really loads of smaller canyons inside one large one and is almost too much to take in.

 And finally a couple of female Elk taken through the window of a moving bus.

27 Sept 2014

Winslow to Winslow 15,000 miles

We spent 2 days in Mesa Verde, staying at a camp site in Cortez, moved on to Bluff (the other end of the hole in the rock road taken by the Mormons from Escalante, then moved on the Monument Valley, possibly the most impressive scenery so far! and from there to Winslow, on probably the hottest days so far (well into the 40's (at $3.70 per gallon, a US gallon is 3.8 litres, which makes it about 60p per litre!!!).

The last 2 days we have been in Prescott, getting the electrics checked out again and installing a 60 watt folding solar panel, which should be powerful enough to keep the fridge powered when we stop for a few days. A big thanks to Martyn at Adventure Trailers, who spent a considerable time with us yesterday going through everything, confirming that the output of the alternator was low and also putting me in touch with someone who can hopefully solve our problem. But the solar panel means we don't have to rely on finding a camp site with hook up so often and there are lot of free sites (with no facilities) so means we don't have to pay for a camp site at all (unless we want internet). It is fortunate we did stay in this campsite last night as the rain has been torrential, it is quite cold today and they provide breakfast! They have a really nice communal room with a large TV, easy chairs and a desk with a comfortable office chair (which I am currently sat in), so is almost like being at home, especially with the wind howling outside.

Mesa Verde was very interesting, but what I found incredible is that they did not start to build the first rudimentary houses until about 1100AD and Winslow (UK) was an established town before 800AD.

In Bluff they have recreated the original cabins (in the original locations) of the Mormons that travelled from Escalante (all except one were taken down to use for building other houses, when they moved to larger plots, the one that was left was expanded by using 2 of the other cabins). In each cabin pressing a button told the story of the original occupant. recounting not just the epic journey from Escalante, but of their journeys across America to get there.  One of the most interesting was that of someone originally from Wales who was working down the mines at the age of 6. His family emigrated and he used his blasting skills to create the hole in the rock that they brought the wagons through. But many of the stories were fascinating for the amazing hardship they endured even getting to Escalante in the first place, some having to push hand carts for 00's of miles in freezing conditions with just 17lbs of personal luggage each..

On the way to Monument Valley we stopped at  Goose Neck, part of the San Juan river, which started as a meandering stream 000's of years ago and still getting deeper.

 and at Mexican Hat

At Monument Valley they have a room dedicated to John Ford and John Wayne and they were playing She Wore a Yellow Ribbon on a TV, at the point where John Wayne and co are watching  Indians crossing the range in front of them. When we went outside we were directly in line with where that scene was filmed!

Although Winslow AZ is only 134 years old there is a lot about there early history, plus a statue and monument to the Eagles, (Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona) and make a lot about the fact that they were on route 66. It is a shame we do not make more of our own much longer history.


19 Sept 2014

Picnic at Balanced Rock

A few more stats before I begin, we have now topped 50,000 miles in the Cruiser since we bought it (only 2,000 of which have been in the UK) and that is according to the speedo! Due to the slightly larger tires we are actually doing approx 4% more! (well that is how I calculate MPG anyway), which by the way is now 20+, so having the intercooler fitted has improved consumption! We have also now slept in the roof tent for over 300 days, in just over 4 years, so it is all now starting to become cost effective.

We are now in Cortez, Colorado and in a few days will be in Winslow Arizona - (they are a lot closer in the US than they are in Europe!). Over the past week we have been in and around Moab, the 4x4 and mountain bike capital of the world! Unfortunately I have not had chance to get on the bike, but we have done a few 4x4 routes. The transfer case protection plate came loose again so I had a local specialist drill out holes in the chassis and weld nuts in so is now properly secured.

People here are constantly telling us that we have the steering wheel on the wrong side! I tell them that in fact it is on the right side! They think about it for a minute and then say, 'Oh yes, my mistake'

I am afraid the wild life photos are getting a bit tame, a toad, a rabbit and a bird,  the bird had amazing teal plumage, but unfortunately, at 50x zoom I could not catch it in flight. I also saw a coyote running across the road carrying something (possibly a rabbit) in its mouth, with 2 vultures circling overhead, by the time I stopped it was too far away to film.

Around Moab we spent a days in Arches and 2 days in different parts of Canyonlands, interspersed with 'short cuts' (that's what I told Chris) back to Moab via some quite interesting 4x4 tracks, with so many amazing photos it is difficult to pick out just a few.

We are pretty much canyoned out now (spell check wanted to change it to canonized and that is not too far off either). I did see 'Jesus Saves' on the back of a trailer, and was tempted to write 'and the rest of us spend' underneath.

We are visiting Mesa Verde tomorrow (and possibly the next day) to see the ancient cliff dwellings, which entails climbing long ladders and crawling through small tunnels (Chris doesn't know yet, she keeps telling me she likes surprises!)

Picnic at Balanced Rock

Delicate Arch, the most famous Arch, a 1.5 mile climb in searing heat, took 1 photo when I first saw it and the battery in my new camera died just as I was in position for a superb shot, under the arch with the sky behind it!!!!!!
Another Arch

This is one of the 4x4 short cuts back to Moab