Northwest USA – 2016

We will soon be heading out for another 4-some trip! We survived our trek to Alaska and are ready to try it again, as it was so successful (except for our flat tires)!

Please follow along as we travel to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone,  down the west coast to San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite, etc. We’ll let you know where and whatever else we find ourselves doing!

Also, feel free to make suggestions of places or things to do!

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October 3, Monday

We were trying to decide what we were going to do before turning this rig south and east! We went to Royal Gorge in Canon City. This area was caught in a forest fire in 2013 and lost everything except for the bridge. Only a few boards burned and had to be replaced on the bridge, but everything else burned. They have already rebuilt the visitors center and gift shop; added a zip-line; rebuilt the gondola; added a bungee type jump; rebuilt the theatre; and rebuilt the carousel. All the attractions were closed due to high winds. The only thing open was the bridge! It is 953′ above the Arkansas River. 


Since all the rides were closed, (lol) we decided to take in The Seven Falls in Colorado Springs. 


The hike up was .8 of a mile up a gentle incline. Once at the top you may climb 220 steps up to the top of the falls. We opted to just climb 110. A gentleman told us the view was better half way up than from the very top. We believed him and enjoyed our view before heading back. 

On the trail back we enjoyed the wild flowers and wildlife along the way. 

Saturday, October 1 & 2

Saturday we left Woodland Park and moved to Garden of the Gods Campground. It is a very nice park, but the campsites are fairly close. This put us in better proximity to visiting Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge, and Garden of the Gods. We made a trip to the grocery and then relaxed for the remaining part of the day. Enjoyed BBQ chicken and ribs cooked by Ole Henry, a food truck of sorts affiliated with the campground. 


SUNDAY

We enjoyed pancakes in the campground pavilion on Sunday morning. The cash register was on the honor system, just setting on a table was a cash box with a sign that said – make your own change! Love campers!! 

We rode the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak and saw the beautiful aspens as the fall peak season is just winding up. The aspens and cottonwoods are so yellow!! The view from the top reminded me of looking out from an airplane. It was very rocky, lots of granite, and we even experienced a little snow/sleet on top. 

We had supper to celebrate Connie’s birthday in Colorado Springs at Edelweiss Restaurant. With Irv and Connie’s help we enjoyed a wonderful German meal!

Wednesday, September 27

We spent the day in The Arches National Park and had such a fun time coming up with what the many rocks looked like to us: the Titanic, the Three Wise Men and a camel, elephants, a little girl’s face, a cruise ship, an Egyptian, a teddy bear, skyscraper buildings, etc! Once again, we were like little children in a large playground full of HUGE rocks chiseled out by God’s weather. 

Our first hike was to the Landscape Arch 



. . . followed by a lunch in the truck. We then headed to Delicate Arch, Utah’s state symbol. 


And on to Balanced Rock . . .


… and Double Arches.


More pictures of ‘red rocks’ that are changing every day. 



Back on the road again and headed to Colorado Springs. We expect this to be two days of travel. Making it easy on ourselves!

Will ‘blog’ with you in a couple of more days!

Friday, September 23 – 25

Today we left Williams, AZ, and headed to Glendale, AZ. A beautiful drive along a scenic highway.

Saturday, September 24

This morning we headed to Zion National Park. We had been hearing how beautiful it was and we were not disappointed at all. After having spent most of our time at Grand Canyon on the rim, at Zion you are looking up at the walls of the canyon and driving right through the middle of them. 


We took the Riverwalk Trail, the beginning of infamous The Narrows Trail. This trail is literally the Virgin River for 9 miles, meaning you are wading in 56 degree water and sometimes walking in water up to your waist! 

We then headed to the Lower Falls and Emerald Pools. We only went to the Lower Falls as it was getting late. As you can see, the water is down to a trickle from the spring water levels. Still a lovely hike to enjoy the wonders of nature. 


Sunday, September 25

Irv and Connie had planned on hiking a portion of The Narrows, but we found out we could not get an extra day at Bryce Zion RV Campground so they came back to the camper to let us know plans had changed and Ron and Laura needed to get up so we could explore Bryce Canyon. 

The experience at Bryce was so different from Zion as you spend most of your time on the rim, unless you venture off on one of the trails. The trails we took were along the rim. We went to Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, and Inspirational Point. Beautiful views! 



As we drove south through the park, stopping at various points, we decided these made us think of the Roman Ruins. 


Our advice on seeing Zion and Bryce Canyons, go to Bryce first and the to Zion.

We will be heading to the Arches and Canyonlands tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 22

Thursday, Connie and Irv (being the early risers) went to the grocery while Ron and Laura slept in. Withe groceries and breakfast done, we headed back to the Grand Canyon with 90 % chance of rain by noon and dropping to 60% for the afternoon. Our faces were a little long as we (Irv & Laura) were hoping to do a little hiking. 

We headed to the east end of the canyon to visit the Tusayan Ruins and Museum and the Desert View Watchtower. We thought these partially inside stops would be good, as it was raining intermittently.  By the time we arrived at Desert View and got out of the car, the rain stopped and the clouds began to part! We headed into the tower to see the paintings and to climb up into the tower, but the portion for the wall paintings was undergoing some renovation. We went on to the viewing area from the tower and witnessed a different section of the canyon. More beauty!

And posted on the upper wall of the Watchtower was this quote: 


As the clouds continued to break up more and more, we headed back to the Sourh Rim to hike some of the Bright Angel Trail. The complete trail is 9.6 miles long to Phantom Ranch, dropping a mile in elevation to the Colorado River, with many switchbacks. 

Irv and Laura headed down the trail thinking they would make it to the first rest station, 1.5 miles. Hiking down, they met a volunteer ranger coming back up the trail from spending the day at the rest stop. He asked them where they were going and if they had water and food. He also let them know that the next ‘tunnel’ was the 3 quarter mile marker. Irv and Laura thought they were already at least half way to the rest stop. They decided they would just go to the 3/4 mile marker. It turned out to be a wise decision by the time they made it back up the trail! Definitely decided it was not a trail for us to take in the summer. When temps on the top are 85-90, temps at the bottom by the river are 25-30 degrees hotter!

September 19-21, Mon – Wed

Monday we left Barstow and headed to Williams, AZ. That seemed to be the closest we could get to the Grand Canyon. All the park’s campgrounds were already booked two weeks out. That’s a bit too much planning ahead for us!!

Tuesday it literally rained all day long! So we took that day to rest, plan future route, and adjust to the change in elevation. 

Wednesday we headed into the park after we had a very hearty breakfast at Mr. Smokey’s. We all had a delicious breakfast, but we believe this has to be the biggest pancake served. He managed to eat the whole thing!


We headed to the Visitors Center to view the film and to pick up some maps of the park. They have an excellent transportation system throughout the park making it very easy to maneuver without wasting a lot of time waiting and trying to find parking spaces. 

We can’t say it enough on this one, pictures just don’t do it justice! You just have to see this for yourself! It is not just a ‘big whole in the ground.’ It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world created by God! There is just no way to capture or describe this beauty. I have been lucky enough to have come here three times in my lifetime. Even at the third time of seeing and feeling God’s presence, tears well up in my eyes and my throat tightens! 



Monday, September 19

This morning we left Barstow and headed to Williams, AZ. We had over 300 miles to cover so we ate lunch on the road. Six hours is about our limit in the truck! Another hot day for traveling, but by the time we reached Williams, AZ, we were enjoying cooler weather! We grilled out supper – it was delicious. 

We were trying to stay closer to the park, but the campgrounds were full. We are staying in Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, about 55 miles from the south entrance.  

Roxy is struggling finding a place to potty with all the dirt and small gravel from the last place to the gravel and rocks they use here for dog trails and walking trails! I guess it is just too dry to try to grow grass. We get excited when we see green grass – usually it is for a golf course! 

There is a pet resort here and I may check into it but I’m afraid she may not behave!! Yesterday she ate a small bag of mini Reese’s cups while we went out to eat! I was so afraid she was going to get sick, but she’s doing fine. She has been restricted from any table food today!

Leaving Ahwahnee, CA

Sunday, September 18, we headed to Barstow, CA. Our trip to Barstow was uneventful but we weren’t quite for sure what we thought about the place! The only thing I knew about Barstow was it was at one end of I-40. The other end being In Wilmington, NC.  Every time Ron and I went to Wilmington, NC, to visit our daughter when she was in college, we would see the sign where I-40 started: Barstow, CA     2,587 miles. (Those may not be the exact numbers, but close.) We said someday we would just drive the length of I-40. We haven’t driven the length of it, but we have covered enough of it for me!!

We stayed at Shady Lane Overnight Campground and we were a little skeptical as we pulled in to the office 


But it turned out to be okay for overnight!

This morning I saw a worker in the campground grooming the sites with a rake. We had noticed all the sites looked like they had been raked fairly recently. I suppose that is one of the jobs of this gentleman I spoke with about the trees/shrubs. Nearly each campsite had this particular type tree on it and I wanted to know what it was called. He told me it was a “aphle” tree, like maple, only no ‘m’.  He cuts the tops off of them every November and trims the growth on the trunks so it spirals up the tree! 


Can you help me with this tree?! I’m thinking this might be a shrub of some sort since he said he topped it each November. His nationality may have been Mexican or Indian. I told him he needed to share his knowledge with the younger generation and he said, “I know, but all the kids want to do is play video games these days!”

He said the tree was found among the riverbanks. As you can see he dug out around the tree and outlined it with large rocks to keep the water around the tree when he waters it. He told me this was the largest one in the park. But all the trees to the right are the same kind. Each of the trees were equipped with their sprinkler! It sure was hot and dry there – 101 when we arrived!

Yosemite National Park

Thursday we went from one extreme to another. San Francisco to Ahwahnee- A land of plenty (people and more people, houses upon houses, roads full of traffic, etc.) to a land of rocks, prairies, and trees. Small houses, sparse and one block towns, and winding roads! Our campground, Sierra Meadows, is only 2.5 miles from the nearest town, but it takes us a good 20 minutes by truck to get there!! It feels and looks like we are in the middle of nowhere.

Friday we had gone to Glacier Point to see the Half Dome. 

Below are pictures from Saturday at Tunnel View and Bridal Veil Falls. The falls were not full like they are in the spring and summer, but you could still see where the falls get their name. We asked an Asian lady to take our picture and she spoke very little English but we were able to explain what we wanted. After Connie explained how her phone/camera worked, she was standing back trying to get us to smile and she exclaimed in a rather loud voice, “Hahaha! Hahahaha! Hahahaha!” We were laughing so hard, we had tears in our eyes! We decided it was because my brother, Irv, would not show his teeth while smiling, as he had just lost his front tooth while eating ice cream earlier in the day! 

Sunday, September 15-18

Wednesday, we left the crowds of San Francisco and headed to the solitude of Ahwahnee, CA. What a contrast! We feel like we are in the middle of nowhere; definitely in bear country. We see signs of their visit to the campground dumpsters every morning!

Okay, with all the information out about this park, I missed the section where it described the road conditions! If anybody knows me, they know I hate winding roads! 

But when we made it to Glacier Point, what a view. It was stunning! 


While looking out over His Majesty’s creation, a young lady was singing the words, “. . . beautiful America . . .” to the strum of her guitar. How appropriate!  

On Friday, we drove to Tunnel View, hiked to Bridalveil Falls, and back to the camper for a delicious dinner of stroganoff, cooked by Connie and Irv. Ron and Laura had laundry duty! Worked out well. 

Before dinner the guys worked on the next few days of our trip. Tomorrow we are headed to Barstow, CA!!