Category Archives: Arizona

Wrapping up Arizona; Flagstaff & Phoenix — October 16 – 24, 2018

On October 16 we said goodbye to Buck and Parks, AZ.  (Bill was in Missouri on a visit to his mother.  Colleen was in Phoenix, helping her sister adjust to the  sudden death of her husband Douglas.)  We settled into the expansive Phoenix RV Resort “Desert Shadow”, where Barb and I spent days (days, I tell you) cleaning and then applying 303 protectorant to the roof of the bus and then washing and then waxing the bus.  Days, I tell you.

On October 19, we had lunch with Barb’s second cousin Bill Carr, who shares Barb’s interest in genealogy.

On October 22 we got up early and drove up to Flagstaff to see some doctors, and then had lunch with Buck (on a shopping expedition) and Barb’s son Jeff (passing through on his way to Moab.)  They had plenty to talk about since they own similar Jeeps.

On October 24 Bill (back from Missouri) and Bruce met us at Phoenix’s RV Harbor where they helped us shoe-horn the bus into a covered storage spot, where the poor bus will languish for approximately six months.

We then drove our CRV to the Las Vegas home of Barb’s father Cliff.  Our poor auto will languish there for approximately six months.  

We are currently in Atlanta, Georgia to see Nellie and her Atlanta family and will tomorrow briefly visit Barb’s granddaughter Kristen.  But more of that and our subsequent visit to Savannah the next edition..

Sightseeing; Lockett Meadow Campground & Wupatki National Monument — October 15, 2018

After enduring several days of cold and rain and/or clouds and wind, the forecast predicted a clear and sunny day for October 15.  And so it was that Barb and I arose early and headed off to see some of the sites north of Flagstaff.  As we were departing the Parks, AZ area we broke into an open area that afforded a nice view of Humphreys Peak.  After stopping for a quick photo we continued on to Flagstaff where we took Highway 89 northward some 20 miles.  When we reached the turnoff for Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on our right, we instead turned left onto a gravel road that soon turned into a dirt road that displayed a sign reading “Warning!  Not maintained for passenger vehicles!”.  Nevertheless, we continued along the forest road that frequently narrowed to a single lane with a deep ditch on the left and a cliff to the right as it climbed uphill some 3 miles to the Lockett Meadow Campground at 8,600 feet.  The  campground is right near the Inner Basin trailhead, and Barb ventured up a few miles while I focused on the just-turning aspens.

Our second destination was the Wupatki National Monument, which we reached by returning to Highway 89 and then driving through the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  We didn’t have time to stop at Sunset, but took consolation from having seen some of it back in June 2018. Click here for a reminder.

There is a very impressive Visiter Center in the Wupatki National Monument.  Exiting out the rear door gives access to perhaps the most impressive of the ruins in the area.

From Wikipedia:

The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil’s ability to retain water. By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. Based on a careful survey of archaeological sites conducted in the 1980s, an estimated 2000 immigrants moved into the area during the century following the eruption. Agriculture was based mainly on maize and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation. In the Wupatki site, the residents harvested rainwater due to the rarity of springs. The dwelling’s walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with scores of rooms. The largest settlement on monument territory is the Wupatki Ruin, built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area’s tallest and largest structure for its time period. The monument also contains ruins identified as a ball court, similar to those found in Mesoamerica and in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona; this is the northernmost example of this kind of structure. This site also contains a geological blowhole. Other major sites are Wukoki and The Citadel.

Wupatki Site

Wukoki Site

Work and Play; Parks, AZ — September 30 – October 15, 2018

Back at the home of Bill & Colleen near Parks, AZ, we soon settled into a happy mix of play and project.

What kind of play? Weightlifting in the garage most mornings, followed by a walk through the woods. Frequent gathering for shared meals in the evening, often followed by card games punctuated by dessert and coffee. Special night on October 5, when we celebrated Buck’s (“Meat’s”) birthday.

An early project was the resolving of an “old” problem.  Bill, Buck and I wrestled the washing machine out of its enclosure and then removed the rear and top panels, revealing the cause of what had become excessive flopping of the drum.  Simple fix.  Re-attach the right spring that suspends that side of the drum.  How did the spring get loose in the first place?  Remember the problem we had back in Washington when the right rear shock and air bag of the bus had to be replaced? Click here to refresh your memory.  The bumpy ride that did that damage also disengaged the support spring.  Would that all bus problems were so easily and cheaply resolved.

Bill was an especially busy beaver, helping me with my projects and attending to his own. One project sent Bill to his roof to sweep his chimney, a messy job but relatively brief. Much more substantial was his project to improve the drainage in the area to the rear of his garage. Bill and Buck started by deepening and extending by shovel the trench running to the north from behind the garage. Next day they were joined by a neighbor with a backhoe whose efforts considerably speeded the project. Bill & Buck did some major surveying to get the right slope. After the drainage hose had been laid but not covered, Barb & I took up the tripod, level, and rod to help fine tune the gradient.

The most significant project on our bus involved a long-standing electrical problem. It all started months ago, when we were all lounging on the driveway in front of the garage.  Suddenly, the awning above the door self-extended.  We were all flabbergasted.  We used the controls to retract the awning, and after a few minutes of experimentation, during which the controls seemed to work fine, we dismissed the problem.  When the same thing happened several weeks later, we disengaged the electrical connection to the awning, for fear that it would one day extend while we were underway.  Now, we had time to investigate the problem.  We had strong suspicions that the problem was pinched and frayed wires lurking behind a plate on the “ceiling” of the right front wheel well. We raised the front of the bus as much as we could, blocked it up for safety, cranked the wheel to its right limit, and I crawled into the cavity to begin cleaning the plate of its obscuring undercoating.  When I had cleaned the sealing edges, it was clear that the plate had been fastened by spot welds.  I did my best to grind the welds away, but had little luck.  At that point my frequent guardian angel in the person of Buck came yet again to my rescue.  He replaced me in the cavity and eventually got the plate off.  At that point the source of the original problem became clear. There were several wire bundles running from the center of the bus toward the outer edge.  One of them was pinched at that edge because at the time of manufacture, the bundle had not been placed into the appropriate notch that would protect the bundle when the floor of the bus was placed onto the frame.  The bundle ran up into the coach.  We disconnected the wires in the coach and pulled the wires into the wheel cavity where they could be examined.  Several had bare spots that had apparently been grounding on the metal of the frame.  Bill & Buck repaired the wires and sent them through the notch back up into the coach, where they were reattached to the connectors and reconnected to the passenger console.

We repaired the somewhat-crinkled plate and reattached it to its position (using screws rather than weld) and sprayed it with undercoating.  Ta-da!!!!  Thank you Bill and Buck for repairing a chronic problem and removing a dangerous condition. 

On October 7 we woke up to a surprise!

My last project was to manufacture, under the tutelage of Benevolent Bill,  blocks for use under the bus jacks.

Catching Up with Loved Ones — August 26 – September 16, 2018

When it was time to leave Barb’s brothers in Washington, we made our way back to Bill’s home near Parks, AZ.  We left the RV Bus there and took our toad to Las Vegas. I flew to San Francisco to see my son Wil, and Barb flew to Bismarck to be with Mom while sister Zona spent about three weeks in Europe.  I spent the weekend with Wil, and then flew to Bismarck to join Barb and Mom.  Later, Barb flew back to Las Vegas to help her father Cliff celebrate his 93rd birthday.  

San Francisco

My son Wil has gotten into wall climbing, and has been very happy with what the new hobby has done for his level of fitness.  Unfortunately, he slipped one day and fell onto folks below who should not have been there.  Their presence prevented him from executing a momentum-absorbing roll and hence he sustained the “crunch” of two broken bones in his ankle.  When I arrived he had just gotten out of a rigid cast and was in a new boot and learning to use a peg leg.  

His new condition changed our plans, but we still got out to local coffee shops and one of Wil’s favorite local restaurants in the famous Castro district: Delfina.  We have been there on previous visits as well; it continues to be fantastic.  Not so good was a more remote restaurant that Wil had been to some time ago: Front Porch.  We went back because it features southern cooking and we thought it would be a fun way to recall our eating experiences in Savannah, GA.  Alas, not so. The boiled peanuts were saturated in something resembling soy sauce.  The fried green tomatoes were overcooked.  Even more so the tiny bits of okra so overdone as to be near lumps of charcoal.  The mashed potatoes were cold and lumpy.  The collard greens were drowning in overpowering vinegar.  The fried chicken, instead of having a tender tasty interior, was stringy and dry.  Folks, this ain’t southern cooking the way we knew it.  To taste the real thing, go to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, GA.

On one of our excursions we walked past a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Alas I din’t have my camera with me.  I had to ask Wil later what we had just seen.

From Wikipedia:

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. At their inception in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of nuns in visible situations using high camp to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District.

Las Vegas

A number of Barb’s family gathered in Las Vegas to celebrate her father Cliff’s birthday. They included her brother Mike, her sister Audrey, her son Jeff, Cliff’s brother John and his friend Barbara, and Cliff’s brother Joe and his wife Rita.  Cliff was presented with a special gift from a niece: a printed copy of a commissioned  painting she had done for a former school mate.  Now a successful eye doctor and a world traveller, he requested a painting with multiple scenes from his North Dakota upbringing.  The copy, by Theresa Stahl, now graces a wall in Cliff’s apartment.

A few days later, when the birthday celebrants  had dispersed, Audrey and Barb joined Jeff for a ride on Lake Mead on his new boat — a boat which bore strong resemblance to the one we owned so long ago in Savannah, GA.

We’ll write about our Bismarck visit in a subsequent post.  Here are some pictures from our two visits to Loved Ones:

On the Road with Norwegian Friends; Part Two — June 25 – July 6, 2018

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

On our way up to Lake Powell from Parks, we stopped north of Flagstaff at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, where we spent some time walking paths through volcanic flow fields.

Glen Canyon

When we arrived at Lake Powell, we checked in to Wahweap Campground. We stayed in the Page area for two nights, visiting (by car) Horse Shoe Bend on the Colorado River to the south, and renting a small motorboat one morning to explore some of Lake Powell near the Glen Canyon Dam. Kari and Rasmus did some swimming from the shore near the campground, and they and Bill and Barb swam from the boat. The Norwegians alleged that the water was “warm”, but no one stayed in for very long.

Bryce

Bryce is spectacular.  We went to a number of overlooks, including those on the far north.  But perhaps the best experience was the Navajo Loop Trail down from Sunset Point through the slot canyon of Wall Street, through the Queen’s Garden Trail and up to Sunset Point, down into the amphitheaters and labyrinths, among the hoodoos and spires, and through deep, stone canyons of pink, white, and tan, where 500 to 700-year-old Douglas Firs reach upward toward the sunlight at the top of the canyon. 

Panguitch/Brian Head/Cedar Breaks

We wanted to visit Barb’s brother Mike as we proceeded north, but his mountain cabin was up high near Brian Head, and his residence was on the other side of the mountain, in Parowan. So we chose to stay near the village of Panguitch [Southern Paiute for “big fish”], UT, on the east side of the mountain. Our base camp was the run-down private Panguitch Paradise RV Park. “Run-down” as in no attendant, but with a scribbled sign with instructions to leave the [minimal] fee under the door, using the [non-existent] pay envelopes to be found on the [non-existent] clipboard attached to the door. But the price was right: $15 for full hookups.

Mike came down to join us for dinner, and the next day we took a toad up to see his cabin, the little village of Brian Head, and the colorful cliffs of Cedar Breaks.

Capitol Reef

We love Capitol Reef National Park. But on our way we learned they had only one vacancy, so on 6/30 we stopped at Wonderland RV in Torrey, UT. Colleen and Bill took the opening at Capitol Reef, and we drove over to visit them. The Staff at Capital Reef advised that several sites would probably open up the next morning, and that if we appeared sufficiently early we would probably get one. However, we had to appear in person; Colleen could not sign us in. So Barb got up early and galloped ahead while I broke camp. The strategy worked; we were rewarded with adjoining sites and juicy apricots freshly picked from the long-ago Mormon-planted trees in the Park.

Rivers Edge

And then it was time to get close to Salt Lake City, so that Rasmus & Kari could fly back to Norway. We chose Rivers Edge RV near Heber City. We attended a Fourth of July pancake breakfast at nearby Midway and later went to Park City to join the massive crowd gathered for the fireworks. While waiting for dark, Rasmus & Bill rode up a ski lift in order to come barreling down a luge run.

Salt Lake City

On July 5 we went in to Salt Lake City, where we visited the State Capital Building and the Mormon campus. Afterwards, we were reminded of the Mormon influence in the city when we sought a cup of coffee in a downtown mall. None of the many establishments in a huge food court offered coffee. We were directed to a coffee and pastry shop on another floor. There, we were told that they had run out of coffee!!!

It felt strange to drop off Rasmus & Kari at the airport. They had been ideal guests, and we all, Barb & I and Bill & Colleen, were sad to have them leave.

On the road in our Allegro Bus; Part One — June 9-23, 2018

We concluded our last post with this paragraph:

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the [Las Vegas] KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway….

We enjoyed seeing Jeff and Zane and Abigail in Las Vegas.  Barb took Abigail for several trips to the Strip, and one day we took Abbey out for a quick visit to The Valley of Fire.  It was hot, but nevertheless we went for a noonish hike at White Domes.  We misinterpreted a trail sign and got diverted onto a long and lesser-used trail that we followed for a time before realizing our mistake and backtracking.  Abby was not a happy camper hiker.

We got together with Rasmus & Kari for lunch one day, and we joined Jeff and Zane and Abigail for some bowling. And we all, Rasmus & Kari, Jeff & Zane, Abigail, and Barb & I, enjoyed the performance of “O” at Cirque du Soleil.

Leaving Abigail with Jeff in Vegas, we returned to Parks with our RV and toad and guests Rasmus & Kari.  Bill & Colleen hosted them in their home after our arrival.  We spent about a week there, during which we hiked every morning before breakfast.  Bill showed Rasmus the nearby Lava cave.  Colleen took them both to the nearby Bearizona Wildlife Center.  And we had many group meals on picnic tables on Bill’s garage driveway, and we all gathered for a movie shown on the TV housed on the outside of Bruce’s  RV.

Joined by Buck in his own class A RV, we took our Allegro Buses up to “boondock” on National Forest land just a bit south of Grand Canyon.  We spent  three days there, taking our toads up to the South Rim.  Bill, Rasmus and Buck hiked down the Bright Angel Trail into the Canyon, descending all the way to Plateau Point.  And one evening we all splurged and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the historic El Tovar Lodge, which first opened for service in 1905.

We then returned back to Parks so that Bill could get some dental work done in Flagstaff.  While headquartered in Parks, Barb & I took Kari & Rasmus to The Walnut Creek National Monument near Falstaff.   

Walnut Canyon was formed by 60 million years of water flowing first as a gentle creek across the plateau, then etching and carving its way through steep passes. Deep gorges formed in the sandstone, limestone, and other ancient desert rock some 20 miles long and 400 feet deep.

The ledges formed by the winding Walnut Creek left natural alcoves that were perfect for sheltering native peoples from the wind and snow that reaches the Monument’s higher elevations. Sometime between 1100 and 1250, over 100 people lived in Walnut Canyon.

The Sinagua Indians grew crops along the canyon’s rim and along the walls. No one knows for certain why they left, but they left behind fascinating cliff dwellings that render the Monument well worth visiting.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we continue our account of our leisurely trip toward Salt Lake City with Bill & Colleen in their Allegro Bus and with our guests Kari & Rasmus aboard our own Allegro Bus.

Back in the States — April 30 – June 9, 2018

While still in Bonaire, we bought a 40′ 2011 Allegro Bus, sight unseen (by us).  After months of searching on the web, it was the first (and last) to meet our desires.  It had less than 23000 miles, and virtually no hours on the generator.  We wanted a single-bathroom floor plan.  We wanted a propane stove, the better to support boon docking.  We wanted a propane/electric refrigerator, for the same reason.  Paradoxically, Barb also wanted a dish washer.  And a stacked washer/dryer.  Barb wanted more counter space than we had on the 32′ gasser.  We wanted a queen-sized fold-out bed/couch for guests.  I wanted Diesel power to better handle hills.  We wanted a bigger Diesel pusher than Bill’s 36-footer.  🙂  (Just kidding.)  We had a contact in Eugene, OR, who took an initial look and reported back positively.  On March 13, Bill (nee Dolce Vita) and Bruce flew to Eugene and took delivery at RV Corral and drove it all the way back to Parks, AZ.  How amazing are that kind of friends?  After winterizing, Bill took it to Rt. 66 RV Storage in Belllemont, AZ, to await our arrival.

We left Bonaire about a month earlier than we had planned, because 99 yr-old Mom was experiencing some health problems.  Spent a few days putting Tusen Takk II to bed at Curacao Marine, and then flew to Bismarck, ND on April 30.

After about a week, when it appeared that the crisis had passed, we flew from Bismarck to Phoenix, where Bruce and Jan Dodge put us up and let us use their car so we could search for a vehicle to tow behind the bus.  On May 10, we chose a 2013 Honda CR-V, because we were impressed with it, and because Bruce and Bill had each also recently purchased CR-Vs and had already successfully modified theirs for towing by adding a base plate and braking system.

On May 11, 2018, we arrived with our new Honda in Parks, AZ, at the home of Bill and Colleen.  Next day, we began a month-long project to get the Allegro Bus and Honda CR-V ready for extended travel.  Why did it take almost an entire month?  Because we undertook so many tasks.

We

  • Replaced the transmission oil and filter
  • Installed an Eez tire pressure monitor system (EEZ-RV-TPMS10) on the bus and auto
  • Installed a Blue Ox baseplate for Honda CR-V
  • Installed a Blue Ox BX7365 Alpha 6,500 lb tow bar
  • Installed Blue Ox lock
  • Installed an Air Force One Braking System in coach and car
  • Installed a Cobra 75WXST CB radio in the RV
  • Replaced the Fleetguard CV50628 Crankcase Ventilation Filter in the RV
  • Added two additional Interstate GC2-ECL-UTL house batteries to the existing four
  • Checked air filter to replace, but it was in good shape so we stored the replacement
  • Installed Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50 surge protector in the RV
  • Installed two Canadian 310 watt solar panels on the roof of the RV, sending wires down to the controller in the basement via the inside of the vent pipe for the grey water tank
  • Installed Victron solar controller
  • Installed battery monitor in the RV
  • Replaced all four slide toppers (Tough Toppers)
  • Replaced the seal on driver’s side front slide
  • Installed Pioneer MVH-1400 NEX radio in the RV
  • Installed SiriusXM tuner in the RV
  • Installed Garmin 770 LMT-S GPS navigation system
  • Bought a 50 amp extension cord and a ‘ 50 to 15 amp’ dog bone
  • Repaired HWH hydraulic pump (for the leveling jacks) that was leaking, first replacing three o-rings and re-installing and then removing again and replacing another set of o-rings, this time with more success
  • Drained the RV coolant and replaced five different hoses
  • Replaced the alternator belt
  • Replaced the fan drive belt
  • Replaced virtually all tungsten bulbs in the coach with LEDs.

A large cast of characters was involved in the efforts.  The “service center” was provided by Bill & Colleen, who live on a large tract of land at an altitude of 7300 feet adjacent to public forest.  They have a beautiful home, and of significant relevance to the RV project, a very large “garage” that is well-equipped with all manner of tools and three bays, one of which has been expanded to accommodate the full length of their 36′ Tiffin Allegro Bus.

Bruce & Jan, long time friends of Bill & Colleen, often come for a visit, and they were there for some of the effort.  Bruce is as much of a gear- and electronics-head as Bill.  They had parked their “new” 43′ Allegro Bus, purchased just after we bought ours,  at the extra electric pedestal and sewer line that Bill installed near the garage.

Casey, a “homeless” free spirit who Bill met on a hike a few years ago, often stops by for a visit.  He owns no house, and sleeps in his car and subsists by eating mostly cold canned goods.  He is sympathetic to some aspects of Buddhism, is philosophically inclined, and seems to believe that by engaging in meditation he is not only attending to his own spiritual needs, but is also somehow helping the Universe to progress.  His role in the RV project was limited to being a bemused and benevolent observer.

Buck also became acquainted with Bill by virtue of their having met on a hike.  Periodically during the project he would take a day off and go charging up a mountain, sometimes carrying extra weight for training purposes.  He is a gentle giant of a man with a self-effacing humble attitude, despite the fact that he is every bit as mentally sharp as he is physically capable.  He is also interested in Buddhism, with an emphasis on becoming “mindful” and learning to tune out distractions.  He just retired early from a career as a lineman for a utility company.  His ex-colleagues and Bill call him “Meat”.  He recently purchased a class ‘A’ RV and accepted an invitation from Bill to park it back behind the garage and live in it for the summer.  He became an instant friend of Barb and me because of his attitude.  When my arthritis hindered my efforts, Buck would take over.  Soon, anticipating my handicap, he initiated his participation.  He was a tremendous help during the project.

Bill & Colleen and Casey (before he left) and Buck met in the house almost every morning for an hour-or-so of meditation.  Afterwards, they would be joined by Barb and me and (when present) Bruce, for a 2+ mile hike along a circular path in the woods.

Toward the end of the project, Bill and Colleen’s long-time friends Jeff & Donna joined the group.  They appeared in their new-to-them fifth wheel camper, pulled by their new-to-them truck, both of which they bought from Bruce when he traded up to the Bus.  Jeff brought along his tools for concrete work; Bill & Buck joined him in pouring a floor in the extension for Bill’s RV.

This enormous RV project could not have been completed were it not for Bill, who provided the tools, the know-how, and — frankly — much of the labor.  Bruce was there for some of the early projects,  providing important how-to check-lists for operating the RV and contributing specialized tools, since by the time we arrived in Parks, he had also accomplished many of the same tasks.  In order to continue to provide continuing service for the impressive fleet of three Tiffin Allegro Buses, Bruce and Bill purchased and invented important support tools, such as large tanks to capture fluids and a pump with appropriate attachments for fluid transfer.   I cannot overstate my gratitude to Bill, Buck and Bruce.

Barb was the de facto supply officer for ordering the to-be-installed stuff from Amazon and Tiffin. She installed the tire monitors and replaced the light bulbs.  And she made a thousand trips to Flagstaff to buy parts and/or supplies.  She found new homes in the new RV for the stuff we had in the old RV.  She advertised the old RV and the old tow vehicle, and successfully oversaw their (independent) sale in remarkably little time.  She also sold the Honda bumper that we removed while installing the baseplate.

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway.  But that account will have to wait for the next installment of “the travel adventures of Chuck & Barb”.

More Time With Friends — Lake Powell & Grand Canyon North Rim; October 17-27, 2017

The gang of six got settled into the Wahweap RV & Campground on October 17, and took the pontoon boat out onto Lake Powell the next day.  The day was mostly sunny, but fairly cool.  Our destination was Rainbow Bridge.

From Wikipedia:

A natural arch, or natural bridge is a natural rock formation where an arch has formed with an opening underneath. Natural arches are formed from narrow fins composed of sandstone or limestone with steep, often vertical, cliff faces. The formations become narrower due to erosion over geologic time scales. The softer rock stratum erodes away creating rock shelters, or alcoves, on opposite sides of the formation beneath the relatively harder caprock, above it. The alcoves erode further into the formation eventually meeting underneath the harder caprock layer, thus creating an arch.  The caprock itself continues to erode after an arch has formed, which will ultimately lead to collapse. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society identifies a bridge as a subtype of arch that is primarily water-formed.  [Indeed.  Bill & Colleen report that a number of years ago they were able to boat all the way up to and directly under the bridge.  Today, because of receding lake depth, there is a significant hike from the Park wharf to the bridge.  CTS ]

Rainbow Bridge is often described as the world’s highest natural bridge. The span of Rainbow Bridge was reported in 1974 to be 275 feet, but a laser measurement in 2007 has resulted in a span of 234 feet. At the top it is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide. The bridge, which is of cultural importance to a number of area Native American tribes, has been designated a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most accessible of the large arches of the world. It can be reached by a three-hour boat ride on Lake Powell [which is what we did] followed by a mile-long walk [not really that long] from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon, or by hiking several days overland from a trailhead on the south side of Lake Powell (obtain a permit from the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona).

 
The weather not looking favorable on October 19, we took a day off from boating and instead drove up to the Northern Rim of Grand Canyon.  The weather wasn’t perfect for that either, since the mostly cloudy skies provided sub-optimal illumination for the colorful canyon sides.  But then, just as we were on our way back to our vehicle as the sun approached the horizon, the sun broke through for a few precious moments.  Joan and I quickly grabbed a few consolation shots.

On October 20 we returned to the Lake despite a rather grim forecast of high winds later in the day. We told ourselves that we weren’t going far and that we would be protected by the cliffs to the west, since we planned to go south to the Glen Canyon Dam. On our way, we lallygagged at the marina, spending time looking at the huge pontoon boats moored and docked there, and perusing the gift and nautical shop. When we arrived in the vicinity of the dam, we had a leisurely snack of cheese, crackers, grapes and margaritas. And then the wind hit. We soon discovered that the winds were coming from the direction in which we needed to travel in order to get back to our launch ramp, and that the wind-swept waves were hitting the front of the boat and splashing up onto we hapless passengers. To make matters worse, the wind began to threaten to rip the canvas bimini, and so we had to stop and disassemble that. When we reached the launch ramp, we realized that the wind and waves at that site were broadside, rendering impossible getting the boat back onto the trailer. So we retreated to another ramp that was more protected, moved the truck and trailer to our new ramp, and ultimately arrived safely back at our campground, albeit more than a little cold and wet.

While Barb stayed back to do some RV chores, the rest of us drove out to Horseshoe Bend, on the Colorado River about 4 miles southwest of Page. It is accessible via hiking a 1.5-mile round trip from U.S. Route 89, and can be viewed from the steep cliff above the river.  The distance from the overlook to the Colorado River below is about 1,000 feet.

On October 21 the brothers and their wives got up early and joined a guided visit to Antelope Canyon. Barb and I had been there the year before (see our blog coverage here), so Barb did some laundry while I worked on our overdue blogs. When they returned, Matt & Joan split off and headed northward toward Utah’s National Parks and the rest of us returned to Parks, where we spent a few days cleaning our RVs and getting ours ready to be tucked into an RV storage facility not far from Parks. Late in our preparations we realized that the Chevy Tracker could fit into our rented space as well if only it could be put in sideways in front of the RV. Bill had four stands on wheels, and so that is what we did. We had inches to spare.

With Friends Again — Parks & Lake Havasu, AZ; October 9-13, 2017

We returned from the Valley of Fire to Las Vegas, where we spent a few days preparing to be gone from Barb’s dad for another year.  Then we drove straight to the home of friends Bill and Colleen, some 20 miles west of Flagstaff, located in the beautiful boonies about 8 miles north of the one-horse town of Parks.  There we met Bill’s brother Matt and his wife Joan.  Matt was there to help Bill modify his garage to accomodate Bill & Colleen’s new-to-them Allegro 36 Bus.  When we arrived they had already pushed out an extension to accommodate the length of the bus, and they were just about to begin raising the height of the front door.  The brothers are both accomplished mechanics and builders, so my role was confined to fetching tools and giving an occasional hand when a little extra muscle was needed.

Bill’s friends Bruce & Jan Dodge had left their pontoon boat with Bill, and so after the door modification was brought to a point that it could be left for a while, the six of us proceeded down to Islander RV Resort, a ritzy campground at Lake Havasu, AZ.  When we called for a reservation, we were asked the year of manufacture of our RV.  When we responded with 2004, we were told that they only accept RVs that are less than 10 years old, but that we could request special permission if we sent pictures of the RV so that the manager could consider the request.  We sent a package of pictures of the exterior, and were granted admission.

Bill towed the pontoon boat behind their powerful diesel-powered RV, we towed our Chevy Tracker behind our much-less-powerful gas-powered Allegro, and Matt towed their fifth-wheel camper.  The RV office and the campsites were indeed several cuts above the average campground, and the attendants were likewise especially polished and professional.  A very nice place to spend some time.

 

From Wikipedia:

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. Lake Havasu City sits on the lake’s eastern shore. The concrete arch dam was built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. The lake’s primary purpose is to store water for pumping into two aqueducts.

The London Bridge crosses a narrow channel that leads from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to Thompson Bay (also on the river). It was bought for US $2.5 million from the City of London when the bridge was replaced in 1968. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled for another US $7 million. Since its inauguration on October 5, 1971, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year.

Lake Havasu City is an active destination for a wide range of people. During the spring months, the community is joined by university students during Spring Break. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention, Havasu 95 Speedway, the Chilln-n-Swilln Beer Festival annual charity event, the Havasu Triathlon, the Havasu Half Marathon, and the Havasu Island Hot Air Balloon Fest & Fair.  In the winter months, the community is joined by snowbirds from colder regions of the country and Canada. 

We spent two lovely days on the Lake, and then returned to Parks to finish the modification of the garage. When we had done as much as we could do (lacking only an on-order additional panel needed for the longer door to fit the higher opening, the six of us took the pontoon boat (and our campers) up to Lake Powell. But that is the subject of the next post.

Visiting Bill & Colleen — Parks, AZ, September 2-16, 2016

We had an enormously enjoyable and productive visit with Bill & Colleen.  New friends Bruce & Jan Dodge were also often present.  We met a number of Bill & Colleen’s neighbors at a Labor Day neighborhood gathering, and again when invited over to a couple’s home and again when Bill & Colleen threw a neighborhood BBQ rib party.  We had a number of ladderball tournaments.  We played Spades most evenings — the girls somehow managed to erase their previously abysmal record and humiliated the boys.  We took quite a few walks through woods and clearings looping around a nearby hill.  The weather was beautiful; the skies bright blue and temperatures mild.

While rooting around under the RV one day early in our visit (sealing all cracks to keep mice out), I discovered some cracked supports in one section of the structure that anchors the coach to the chassis.  And so yet another project was entered into — yet another example of the generosity and abilities of Bill, who borrowed a welder from a friend and scrounged up some angle iron and rectangular piping and proceeded to give me some experience with being the right-hand man of a metal worker.  We had to take off the rear wheels in order to get access to the area needing repair.  When we were finished, several days later, we looked up the specs and learned that the prescribed torque value for the lug nuts on the wheels was a surprising 465 lbs. or so.  Bill’s largest torque wrench topped out at 150 lbs.  What to do?  Bill and Bruce put their heads together and created a torque-mulitplying arm by welding a nut to a long metal arm at just the right position.  By attaching the torque wrench to the nut at the end of the arm,  the nominal value of 150 lbs. was actually 465 lbs.  Is there anything these two guys cannot do?

Lava River Cave is a lava tube cave in northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, accessible from Bill & Colleen’s by about 11 miles of gravel roads . At approximately 3/4-mile long, the cave is the longest of its kind known in Arizona. The cave was discovered by some lumbermen in 1915. Geologists believe the cave was formed sometime between 650,000 and 700,000 years ago when molten lava erupted from a nearby volcanic vent. The top, sides and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified, while lava in the middle flowed out, leaving a hollow space to form the cave. Examples of both ʻAʻā and Pāhoehoe basaltic lava can be seen in the cave.

The cave is mostly dry, but due to the temperature change, there is a lot of condensation on the walls, ceiling and floor near the entrance, which makes it slippery. Temperatures inside are around 40°F  during the summer, and it is not uncommon for some of the rocks to be covered with ice. The cave can range in height from 30 feet  to only 2 to 3 feet. There are no light sources inside.

Barb’s sister Audrey drove up from Las Vegas and joined us all for a few days.  She slipped on a slick rock in the cave and hurt her back, and so wasn’t able to complete the transit of the cave.  Barb hiked the first half and then decided she had had enough of dark caves and joined Audrey on the surface.

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a United States National Monument located about 10 mi  southeast of downtown Flagstaff, near Interstate 40. The canyon rim elevation is 6,690 ft; the canyon’s floor is 350 ft lower. A 0.9 mile long loop trail descends 185 ft into the canyon passing 25 cliff dwelling rooms constructed by the Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that lived in Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250 CE.

Back in Flagstaff, we also visited the Riordan Mansion State Park, which features the duplex home of Timothy and Michael Riordan, lumber baron brothers who married sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth Metz. The brothers were members of an important Arizona Territorial family who played a role in the development of Flagstaff and northern Arizona and were involved in lumber, railroads, cattle, banking, and politics.

Cooperatively the Riordan brothers built their thirteen thousand square foot mansion in 1904 while Arizona was still a territory. The home consisted of two similar six thousand square foot wings for each family, connected by a large common room.

As we left early in the morning on September 16, we were bid adieu by Bill & Colleen and neighbor Willie and Bill’s friend Casey.

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