Grand Circle – 6 + we keep traveling!

 

Camp Verde, AZ is our final caravan destination. It is a small town with a good museum and quite a casino. We visited Montezuma’s well among other sites, toured a couple more museums, went up to Jerome, Az – a copper mining town perched overlooking the Verde Valley, and had an elegant dinner at the premier restaurant of the local Casino. Then it was HUGS AND GOODBYES to new friends and fun times. We learned so much about the area, the tour is designed to dig into culture, geology, geography, history, archeology and architecture of this portion of the southwest and it does an darn good job of it! I look forward to doing the tour again in two years!

Barb and I were on our own! We explored the area some, made plans to meet up with Tina (our boss) in Albuquerque and planned to travel to our visit family in the Albuquerque area. We were both pretty exhausted. I’d simply had it with my hearing aids and scheduled an appointment with an audiologist in Albuquerque to have them adjusted.

We went to Winslow, AZ – Homolovi State Park – merely to camp and clean the RV after working but the visit was much richer than we anticipated. Homolovi is a wonderful State Park that includes trails and tours of extensive Puebloan / Anasazi ruins of pit houses and communities. We’ve stayed there several times and explored the park more each time. Pottery sherds!

Barb found out about an 1850’s ranch, still in family hands, north of Wilcox. Both of us were entranced by the rock art – pictographs & petroglyphs we had been learning about on the Tour – this was a natural extension. Rock Art Ranch.

Barb made us an appointment and we headed out on the appointed day with directions in hand (“GPS don’t work out here so good.”). Miles of dirt roads and strange geologic formations later we turned in to the ranch. Mr. Baird is the great-grandson of the original buyer of the ranch – I think I have that right, or grandson. He discussed the family buying the ranch and talked about when he was a youngster on the ranch.

He described working cattle after a windstorm and coming upon a large Puebloan-Anasazi black and white ware pot exposed by the wind, sitting on it’s rim in the dust. There’s a picture of him with that pot – it’s also in several of the books that have been written about the ranch. They have an extensive collection of ancient pottery that was found on the ranch – museums would love to get their hands on it!

The ranch has a pit house – that was excavated by the University of New Mexico who “Made us put a roof over top of it.” Mr. Baird’s granddaughter (our tour guide) explained. There were pottery sherds all over the ground inside and outside the pit house. It looks very much like Homolovi but here are layers and layers of sherds here.

We continued the tour out to a funny parking lot with an even funnier outhouse. That had a fully functioning bathroom inside! IMG_6025

 

The parking lot led to a tin building that was perched on the rim of a small canyon carved by a creek. Until we saw the canyon we had no idea it was there! The family had build the rough building and outfitted it so experts could study the canyon’s contents. The stairway down incorporated those carved foot holds that had been made hundreds of years ago. The canyon walls are decorated with some of the most unique and ancient pictographs in the area. Some are so old, desert varnish has nearly erased them. Desert varnish can take from 50 years to 2000 years to form, depending on the area.

The pictograph of Woman and Birth is the only such known in the US. There are hundreds of unique works, antelope, raptors, goats, people hunting, snakes, maps, birds, frogs and lizards… Some are picked out over top of others and one can see faint outlines behind the fresher works. We were told that the art has been dated to between 5000 BC to 1400 BC. We spent at least an hour in the canyon, alone, with the water gently running past and imaginations picturing the People resting, eating and working the art into the rocks.

Breathe deep and slow

 

Grand Circle – 5

Lake Powell has a wonderful set of campgrounds and visiting the dam is certainly interesting. One can see that in the high season, when’s schools are out, it would have many many people using that area.

In the afternoon, we drove up to a strip mall in town and met with a Navajo guide for another ride in open backed trucks this time with benches along each side. Everyone was excited, we were going to tour famed Antelope Canyon.

Below are some of the photos I took. I’ve tried to give you an idea of colors, light, the contortions of the slot canyon and scale. It is an inspiring place to visit if you like to be awed by nature’s hand upon the landscape.

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From Lake Powell we next camped right next to the Grand Canyon Railway depot in Williams, Arizona. Next morning we went over to the Depot but got waylaid by an argument between some gunslingers that resulted in a shoot out. Fun to watch – I couldn’t understand a bit of the dialog, as usual, because my hearing is so bad. Even though I wear very high powered (and horrendously expensive) hearing aids, my any experience involving a guide, a play, a group talking together leaves me asking Barb for interpretation. Ugh.

We all boarded the train and went up to our seats in the dome car. Soon we were joined by a singing cowboy and that set the tone for the whole ride up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Weeee-ha!

We rode up to the Canyon, greatly entertained by the scenery and the entertainment…

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Barb and I walked as much of the rim as we had time to do, made a new friend (I love tarantulas) and met the train on time. And then we rode back to Williams and got ROBBED! The sheriff came around questioning folks but nobody remembered the robber – we were traumatized, he had a six-shooter, after all!

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Another day, in Williams, we went to Bearizona. Photos follow.

From the White Board, you see we’re going to Sedona area – circling around and up and down seeing the sights from the window. The next day was a free day so folks, having had that overview, could explore on their own.

The next travel day we landed at Camp Verde, settled in and begin learning the history of the area.

Grand Circle – 4

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Four Corners Monument is a monument to changing technology. The monument commemorates the original placement of the marker of the joined corners of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. It is the only such place in the US. Also referred to as Teec Nos Pos, it is the border of the Navajo Nation and Ute Mountain tribal land. Wiki has the interesting history of how this spot came to be declared the official border between the states in 1925 despite increasingly accurate technology that would place it elsewhere.

The group settled in camping in Monument Valley at Goulding’s RV Park. Wonderful place to stay right in the thick of things! The group hopped in open backed trucks – bandana’s and dust protection applied – for a tour of Monument Valley tribal park. Our Navajo – Diné – guide had grown up in a sheepherding family nearby. First we visited a traditional Hogan. I had to wonder, where did all the wood come from? A Diné weaver gave a demonstration and answered questions about the Hogan. There was a large shade structure which adjacent, it would have been used in summer weather.

The trucks then bumped down a dusty road (following other similarly loaded trucks) and we toured around in the Valley of Big Rocks. Some of the formations are 1000′ feet tall. Commercials have been made on top of the largest – helicopters lifted a truck up top and then photographed the vehicle from all sides.

One morning, or was it afternoon? We took the little hike behind the campground to an arch. The view of the valley was wide and long- so many towering rock formations! The group had a good time posing and playing under the huge arch. At the beginning of the trip I did a tutorial on using walking sticks so the group had them out and used them to good effect along the narrow trail. The Goulding’s store and their home above the store made for an interesting peek into the lives of this important couple.

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Breathe, friends.

Grand Circle – 3

Arches National Park. Just go there. We hiked back to Dainty Arch and watched several bus loads worth of folk climbing around trying the get just that iconic photo with only themselves featured. The views throughout most of the National Parks in the Grand Circle tour seem to go forever. I cannot imagine what it was like 50 years ago, before air quality closed in the distances with its grey or muddy smudges.

IMG_5578skMHwQ02G8cHvnV+49QgyPs2+fNQoimMvZUdkDcmAIMG_5591IMG_5567IMG_5562IMG_5588IMG_5586I have mentioned before that we went rafting. In Moab we went for a pretty decent buffet dinner followed by loading onto jet boats. The jet boat tour guide provided an interesting bit of history, desert ecology and local lore (“see over there at 1 o’clock the face of the old witch?” “YES!”) at the beginning, but as dark fell? Oh my! We were treated to a light show on the cliffs complete with blaring music and narration of more historic occurrences – imagine a shadow of a wagon train cast by the lights on a large bucket type truck that was covered by klieg lights. It was pretty corny – but that’s my opinion. Other folks really liked the show.

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We took a nice bus up to Silverton, CO on a drizzly, cold rainy day (elevation 9318′). Wandered around a bit and had a (for me with my Gluten issues, a horrible lunch – tho the staff did try) mediocre lunch. In our wanderings, Barb and I came across a weaving shop. Though the owner was initially unfriendly (and never allowed a photo taken inside the shop), he did warm up. He explained the workings of the loom and his jacquard pattern work. The coolest thing? There were twinkle lights and twiggy branches around the front windows of the shop and while we were there a hummingbird joined us! The owner said the hummingbird sometimes spends the night (and poops) but goes in and out of the shop at will. It was terrific fun watching the little one dart about and settle on twigs. We took the Durango Silverton railroad down the mountain through back country with few roads. Gorgeous trip – I have a million photos which I will not torment you with (editing as we speak).

Breathe, my friends.

Grand Circle – 2

Canyonlands National Park to Moab, UT.

There is so much to see in this area, I’ll just share highlights.

Barb and I had a lot of fun arranging extra activities for folks. The trip calendar is already packed with activities (we rafted in Moab, visited museums and watched living history acted out) but we think some elective activities make checks on folks bucket lists.

In Canyonlands we went hiking with a group through the most amazing landscape – highlights here…

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The John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, UT was a great stop – big parking lot for folks RVs and lots to learn.

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We went to Moab, UT – several folks on the trip remarked that they liked the place enough to live there and so did we! Barb and three others from the tour signed up for rappelling – we went to Ephedra’s Cave and a grotto below a stone arch. A surprising experience for each of us! I was surprised at how calm and centered I felt as I walked down the first descent (90′) and the beauty of the second (120′) took my breath away.

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Barb and I side tripped off to Newspaper Rock. We’d been to another one in Oregon. This was marked by people long ago and of course folks through the years put their marks down as well.

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Thanks for keeping up with our travels. It’s fun having you along, thank you also for your expressions of appreciation!

Another Travelog! The Grand Circle!

Hello all, so glad to be back! 

After we crossed the border in Washington State, we flew through Portland and briefly visited our family (shortest visit in history). All because we accepted another assignment – to go on The Grand Circle RV Adventure.

Within two weeks of crossing the border, we were in St. George, Utah. We met up with a new group of RVers to be Assistant Wagon Masters. Purpose? Learn the route, vendors and see how many new activities we could generate and help the wagon masters have a positive final trip before retirement. 

We had a great time meeting everyone and looked forward to helping make their trip wonderful.  After diving in to prepping the RVs, shopping and planning, off we went – 16 RV’s full of excited travelers. Luckily, Adventure Caravan’s keeps their caravans to a manageable size – that way we get to dig in and show off each area and make sure everyone gets a chance to do those bucket list things they’ve dreamed about doing.

We traveled the Four Corners area: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico & Arizona; because the area is mind bogglingly gorgeous – photos will need to tell the story. I’ll interject a note here and there though. The trip was intellectually challenging and we all had the opportunity to learn about archeology, ancient peoples, geography, and the different desert environments we traveled.

One of the interesting things about beginning the trip in St. George, UT is Mormon History. I have my own bit of Mormon history – my grandfather’s people were Mormon, throughout their history on this continent. My grandfather Tom Witt was a descendent of the settlers of Provo, UT.  Well, anyway, St. George was on the Wedding Trail for Mormon’s who wished to marry. It was a major settlement with elders who could marry (and marry, and marry) and became a renowned center, with an ever growing Temple on the Wedding Trail.

Zion National Park was lovely – what we could see of it. I highly advise visiting at the start or tail of winter or summer. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and our guide for the day told everyone not to bother to [go on the shuttle deeper into the park – it would be crowded and just take too much time. So, we all went hiking nearby and some of us had a wonderful time in the creek.

The Grand Canyon North Rim, I heard, was amazing.  I was sick and ended up going to the ER in Kaibab. Barb said the lodge was just wonderful.

Bryce Canyon was completely amazing. We hiked, ogled, went star walking at the furthest point and were astonished so see tiny pinpricks of human habitation so far in the distance that they were almost invisible! The silence and beauty of the evening left an imprint. I look forward to visiting again.

Endings…

  • this was posted after the Alaska trip had wound down to its end. If you have questions, email us at twogalsgo@gmail.com

We are at the end of Adventure Caravan’s RVing Women 2019 59-day Alaska tour. Gosh it’s hard to say goodbye to our new friends.

Remembering group rig washes in Tok. Zip lining. Birding trips. That first long walk in Banff NP – where some saw bears, some saw three-toed wood peckers, most saw the herd of elk and got to experience the newest additions to the camping areas of the park. Gosh, so many memories.

Group travel is not for all but after 30 years of making our own way, our own discoveries and doing our own thing… well, it’s been mighty nice to be part of a community of folks doing those same things.

 

 

I paged back through photos posted here on the blog. What a terrific trip this has been. My secret? I know Barb and I will be back to do it again, to show another community of women BC, the Yukon Territory and Alaska. I know we’ll both be just as awed as we have been on this trip. I know we will make new friends to add the wealth of friends we’ve gained since we started traveling with Adventure.  Thank you to Tina Poole for the faith you have in the RVing Women – Adventure Caravan’s ‘partnership’ and in Barb and I. It was a wonderful learning experience traveling with you and Claudia. We look forward to our 2020 Gaspé Peninsula trip together!

Happy trails, y’all.

Breathe.